Past Prologue: October, 2010.

The end looms large, but it still a ways away and down the road a bit. But I kind of wanted to look back a little, month by month, at this blog. Maybe not every single month, but most, if I can. I guess I’m getting reacquainted with what I’m saying goodbye to? Or maybe in the back of my mind I’m always remembering that you have to put the chairs up before you turn the lights off and go home…

Previously: September, 2009 in parts one and two.

And…

01.

10/02/10: And Then…” by one Marco Sparks: Pictures and Borges and links to previous Counterforce posts… Sigh. The more things change, the more they don’t seem to matter, right?

02.

10/04/10:Tongues Of Flame by yours truly: Pictures of girls in some sort of relationship with the water, and the horizon, and the poetry of T. S. Eliot. Well… Who knows what I was thinking or where I was coming from back then. I mean, I could tell you, but who cares?

It seems like the hipsters are all shit talking Eliot now, but I don’t care. I still like him. Whenever I’m at my most lost, there’s usually a few lines from Eliot that can perfectly describe where I am, what I’m feeling, and sometimes that’s enough. Also, this poem was quoted in The Magus, which was a notoriously bad movie.

03.

10/04/10: The End Of The Story Is Unwritten by myself: I really like Harlan Ellison, though it is sometimes to do so. I think at this point, when I was writing this post, I had yet to see the documentary about him, Dreams With Sharp Teeth, which is a fine film.

I’ll always be a science fiction nut – maybe you’ve noticed? – but once or twice or thrice a year I really get back into it, and Ellison is one of those writers I go back to. To me, he’s the ur-Neil Gaiman, but less magical and twee. I respect that Ellison doesn’t suffer fools well, that he’s serious about his craft and those who practice it. In many ways, it would appear that he is not a human at all, but a new creature, one best described in works of his favorite genre: all sharp edges and protected, wounded heart and acid and witty talent.

04.

10/06/10: Powers And Responsibilities/Up, Up, And Away We Go by myself: Spider-Man and Superman! Perhaps some day I’ll write a book about super heroes, and how they’re trapped in our world and in desperate need of being given life beyond it, and just get it all out of my fucking system, you know?

Also, it’s not like I need a reason to do a post with copious amounts of Emma Stone pictures. Seriously. And: Jon Hamm really should be playing Superman/Clark Kent.

05.

10/06/10: Crucifixes by myself: I like Richard Pryor and I don’t like religion. In fact, if I remember correctly, I shit talk about it a little on the latest episode of our podcast. But that’s a whole other story, and one for another time.

If I were to get into the nuts and bolts, a post like this comes about like so many others that exist out there in the internet: I saw it somewhere and I liked it. Someone shared it with the world and I was one of those folks in the world who saw it and wanted to pass it along to the rest of my own little corner of the internetting world. I came, I saw, I reblogged.

06.

10/08/10: Animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others,” by myself: Pictures by Dave Eggers, quotes by George Orwell and Voltaire, links from the internet. What a bizarre mixture.

07.

10/09/10:Nobody told me there’d be days like these,” by myself: People who have problems with authority always gravitate towards John, don’t they? Lennon is the favorite Beatle of the perpetually disenfranchised and the smart, smug assholes. I look back at some of these posts and want to delve into a little of the making of them, but… I don’t know. Sometimes it’s all right there in the post, you know? I wanted to do a post about my favorite Beatle, and maybe I was itching for a little Instant Karma.

08.

10/09/10: Vendettas by myself: Tom Gauld!

09.

10/12/10: Running by myself: This is just another thing I saw online and thought was funny. Also, it’s October, the month of Halloween, the time for goblins and things that are a bit ghoulish and macabre, right?

10.

10/12/10: Who Is Natalie Portman Fucking These Days?” by myself: One of my favorite posts on this site, actually. If we talked about solely about celebs, then… Well, I imagine it’ll be something like that. Of course now this post is severely dated… Black Swan has come and gone and we all know who Natalie Portman is fucking these days, and thankfully it’s not John Mayer.

Thankfully.

11.

10/14/10: Video Killed The Internet Star,” by myself: Videos and links about movies and shit I found on the internet. You know… whatever. And a picture of Eric Stoltz as Marty McFly.

12.

10/14/10: Meditations by myself: “Music is the mediator between the spiritual and the sensual life.” That sounds about right.

Some of the things you notice already about this month: Too many posts by me, which is boring. Lots of doubling up on days, with two posts a day for some reason. Lots of just little things from around the internet. The blog was the pin board for things I found interesting from around the web. Well, I guess in a lot of ways that’s what it always was.

13.

10/16/10: Chaos Reigns by myself: Ahhhh, YouTube comments. They are frequently a treat. I don’t even understand why people bother to engage in “intelligent” discourse there.

In fact… most conversation on the internet is flawed. Severely. Nobody wins an internet argument. Like the famous webcomic says, you can spend your whole life standing vigilant, the sentinel against the raping of the truth, strong against the fact that Someone On The Internet Is Wrong, but there are no winners. You’ll never best someone with your logic. Your insults and your put downs will never be properly scored. All people will see is that you were in an Internet Argument and everyone will be pronounced “Loser.” State your case, and move on. Also, fix your typos.

14.

10/16/10: The Patient Labyrinth,” by myself: Again, I was mesmerized by Borges and the ideas of puzzles and mazes of our own design during October of 2010. That was the theme running around somewhere in my head back then, I guess, and it was weakly explored, for sure.

(Also, you’ll notice another picture of a young woman who has a curious relationship or proximity to the ocean…)

Again, I apologize that all these posts are just me. The difference between myself and my co-authors, I believe, was that they wrote when they had something to say and the energy to say it. I always had something to say on this blog, and usually pursued that impulse even when I didn’t have the energy to do it right, or as coherently as it should’ve been. I think it’s fair to say that I deserve the lion’s share of credit for any failings of this blog. A lot of my favorite posts on Counterforce were those written by the others.

15.

10/18/10: Red Dawn by myself: Ahhh, Laura Leighton. Proto-Emma Stone, perhaps? Perhaps not.

16.

10/18/10: Bad Things by myself: True Blood! Looking at this, I’m just reminded of how weird the finale of the latest season of the show was.

17.

10/19/10: I Got You Babe by August Bravo and myself: This is us talking about Mad Men‘s fourth season finale, “Tomorrowland.” Just so weird to see us looking over the episode and being curious and confused and pondering where the show would go next.

And now, two years later, we’ve seen the season that followed it and saw where things went from there and we’re still left wondering, What’s Next?

18.

10/20/10: The Fate Of The Blogger by myself. I’ll be brief on this one: I like Eddie Campbell. Also, it’s two years later and I’m still pondering the fate of the blogger.

19.

10/21/10: What a man is is an arrow into the future and what a woman is is the place the arrow shoots off from,” by myself: Ha ha. A mash up between Sylvia Plath and Saved By The Bell.

20.

10/22/10: I Walked With A Zombie,” by myself: Links and funny pictures, but there’s something else here too… Something that I sense and feel now, but perhaps didn’t notice at the time, a kind of darkness. Beyond the seasonal darkness, I mean. I guess that would make sense. The second half of The Year We Make Made Contact was especially hard on me.

21.

10/23/10: The Boob Tube by myself: This is me ranting about what’s wrong with popular TV and how it could be fixed/saved. And now Benjamin Light and I do a podcast about this. We’re on a mission to civilize! But, anyway, a lot of these notes still make sense and feel relevant, and desperately need to be read and followed by the people running some of these shows. Now more than ever, perhaps. The thoughts about The Office and Community, especially. But thankfully The Office is (finally) ending after this season, and Community is most likely ending this year (if they ever decide to air the new season at all). Why? Because NBC is dumb as shit and they’re not afraid to show it.

22.

10/23/10: The Year Of The Depend Adult Undergarment by myself: David Foster Wallace!

23.

10/24/10: Nintendo Power yours truly: The idea of the “friend zone” is total bullshit but I just thought this image was funny and wanted to share it. Thanks, Mario, but…

24.

10/25/10: All Things Truly Wicked by myself: Ernest Hemingway! Paper Hemingway was a mean, messed up old bastard, but I still like him, despite all his flaws. And I feel that every time I start to accumulate those flaws, just the obvious ones, and add them up… Well, then I’ll see one of his quotes out of the blue and it’ll just fit into something missing puzzle piece in my brain at that moment and I’m flashing back to what a great writer he was. Also, it’s funny, but we still get a decent number of hits to this particular post from an old BuzzFeed post from a year ago that’s nothing but pictures of Ernest Hemingway partying like a maniac.

25.

10/25/10: This Is Still True by myself: Again, more authors and pictures and quotes. This time, it’s Vonnegut. I hope the kids these days are still reading Vonnegut. His was such a delicate balance of moral righteousness and self loathing, but married together so charmingly.

26.

10/27/10: Which Came First by myself: I don’t know what to say about this post, though it’s weird to look at these almost a full two years later.

27.

10/27/10: Ma-Sheen Manby myself: From pictures of and quotes by famous authors to… this. I regret blogging about Charlie Sheen. About Charlie Sheen and so many other things.

28.

10/27/10: You were an island and I passed you by,” by yours truly: Not the greatest post, but one of my favorites by myself here on the site. Roger Ebert has a great quote in his recent Cloud Atlas review: “Any explanation of a work of art must be found in it, not taken to it.” I agree with that wholeheartedly, but I keep thinking about the questions and the digressions of thought that come out of the works of art. I keep thinking about the way works of art can act as explanations for ourselves, for our lives, for the way we live and exist and make our way through the complicated cosmic murals we’re all sloshing around in.

Anyway. If you know me or not, illustrated in this post about Lost is basically a diagram for how my own personal thought processes tend to work, bouncing from thing to thing, riding along the little connections, going from medium to medium and then essentially looking back at where I started from. As you’ve seen, it’s a convoluted process, and one that doesn’t always yield the most fruitful results, but hopefully it’s been fun at times for you. It certainly has for me.

29.

10/29/10: Vampire Sluts by myself: Kate Beaton! I really like Hark! A Vagrant. I like it a lot.

30.

10/29/10: The risk of going too farby myself: Pictures and links and words by T. S. Eliot. Too far is never far enough, right? Or something.

31.

10/31/10: Samhain by myself: I like how this post starts “Another year, another Halloween.” It’s said with such weariness, or, at least, that’s how I perceive it now. That’s how I feel now, anyway. Another year, another Halloween, and a little more of the magic is gone. The masks are getting heavy, folks. Also interesting that the second line is about how once Halloween arrives you have to accept the inevitable: the year is fading away. The same can be said for now, just as it was back in the year we made contact, only when this year fades away, so does this blog.

Edited to add: I meant to post this at the tail end of October and obviously that did not happen. Sorry. Real life shit got in the way.

32.

10/31/10: Las Ruinas Circulares by myself: This is one of my favorite stories by Borges. Fitting for the time of the year, perhaps. I’ve always felt that there’s a tenuous connection between dreams and the dreamer of those dreamers, something akin to the chicken and the egg. That may be a little too heavy.

from here.

33.

10/31/10: Season Of The Witch by myself: Ha ha. Christine O’Donnell. Ha ha.

The odyssey of the Republican party in the last ten years or so has only gotten more sad and tragic, and Christine O’Donnell is just another one of their sad war stories, I think. Ignoring her for the most part, or this Gawker story about some guy’s claims of having had a one night stand with her, what I really was interested in was the comments section on that post. Internet comments are, of course, terrible. Trolls begetting trolls, all hiding under their bridges and flinging out their shit and hate upon the world with no consequences. And I guess that’s what fascinated me: the way people weigh in on things when there’s no rules, no consequences.

34.

10/31/10: Paradise Circus by myself: I first heard this song in an episode of True Blood‘s third season and it just floored me. A few years ago, during a particularly hard time I was going through, this song was my summer jam, which kind of tells you what that summer was like for me, I think.

It was during that summer that I first started watching the cop show, Luther, a British show starring Idris Elba as the titular detective, and “Paradise Circus” was the theme song for the show, which instantly tells you that it’s going to be unlike any other kind of cop show that you can imagine. Luther is a fun show, a bit silly at times, but darkly interesting and all the actors on the show do very interesting work, Idris Elba especially. I’m glad that he backed out of playing Alex Cross to keep doing (other) movies and eventually a third series of Luther.

And Ruth Wilson, who is exceptional on the show as his sociopathic ally of sorts, is rumored to be in the next Avengers movie. I kind of doubt that will happen, but I’d really like to see it.

But anyway, that’s another thing for another time. Again, in a less interesting way, this post was similar to the one about Lost from a few days earlier… Just a glimpse into the way a thing will pop up into your life and spawn legs and connect to other things. And those things, be it songs or TV shows or whatever, will just find you. Claim you, when you think you’re claiming them. It couldn’t been tackled in a much more interesting or succinct way, definitely, but that stuff still fascinates me.

And that’s how the month of October, 2010 ends. Maybe we didn’t create the blog. Maybe it created us?

* * *

I enjoyed doing this, so I think I’m going to do a few more retrospectives of other months in the history of this blog before it becomes permanently just that: History. Again, I don’t think I have the time, space, nor total desire to do every single month, but at least a few more, if I can help, and quite a few more, if the universe is kind. Any suggestions for which month to look back on next?

Intensity, part 3.

Previously: Intensity, part 1, and (Intensity, part 2).

I miss Lost. I miss having a TV like Lost on the air. Polarizing to some viewers or not, I miss having a show that flirted with the genre, that provided depth and mystery, that provided spectacle and characters you could enjoying following, and did all of it together in a dazzling array.

Anyway.

I guess I just miss good TV shows. I know the game has changed, but I miss the idea of “appointment television,” or at least I miss the idea of content that’s worthy of being labeled “appointment television,” you know?

And now… J. J. Abrams has a new TV show out every other week, sometimes with no electricity, sometimes with robots. Damon Lindelof did a movie with Ridley Scott that was not particularly great, and then had to go on to explaining the ending of Lost to “journalists” on the publicity tour for said movie. Kate is a hobbit, or an elf, or something. Matthew Fox is freaking us out, and antagonizing the new Alex Cross. And Charlie has nothing nice to say about Mathew Fox. Hurley was on Alcatraz and now he’s on that Once Upon A Time show, which I haven’t watched, but it looks terrible (Is it terrible?)(It looks terrible). Boone is a vampire, or something (though I’ll still always remember Ian Somerhalder better from his roles in Young Americans and The Rules Of Attraction), and Shannon is getting Taken. Again.

Sayid is still Sayid, somewhere out there in the Sideways world. And I think Locke is now supposed to be the Devil?

Anyway. Sorry about the nostalgia trip. Sorry about the “Where Are They Now?” tour. Benjamin Light and I have both watched the Revolution trailer. I imagine we’ll be talking about it on the next episode of the Time Travel Murder Mystery podcast, amongst other things. And that, Kate, that is how we go back.

76 posts to go.

The boob tube.

Since there’s been a few posts on TV this past few week, I thought I’d throw out a few quick thoughts on a handful of TV shows. Nothing too in depth, nothing too glamorous, and possibly nothing too well thought out. But, around here, what else is new?

Those shows being…

The Office. The last episode with Timothy Olyphant was not bad, but not particularly great. The previous episode, the much talked about one featuring the return of all of Michael’s exes… not so great. And the few before that, about the same. As even Benjamin Light has mentioned to me the past few times we’ve talked about it, you can really feel the show going through the motions this year. Also, during the summer there was a lot chatter and speculation online about who would replace Steve Carrell when he leaves the show at the end of this season but, honestly, sadly, horribly, heinously, overly dramatically, doesn’t it seem like they’re trying to set up Andy as the new boss-type character?

I can’t think of anything I’d dislike more than that. Andy really feels like a character who should’ve been around a season or two and then maybe have gone bye bye. Also, let’s get serious here: Andy and Ellie Kemper and the dude from Sabre have to make the least attractive love triangle on television.

I hate to say it, but I’ve really checked on out on this show after Pam and Jim’s wedding. Maybe that would’ve been the fine conclusion this show will potentially have to work hard for (and would mirror the end of the original British version interestingly). Also, for a “documentary” about the life of people in an office, when does this “documentary” actually air?

30 Rock. This show is still going strong. Not every episode is a home run, but it is consecutively strong. As long as you have Tina Fey’s Liz Lemon, Alec Baldwin’s Jack Donaghy, and Tracy Morgan’s Tracy Jordan, nothing can harm you. What this show does with it’s guest stars is frequently brilliant (Jon Hamm, Matt Damon, even Kelsey Grammar in the most recent episode) and there’s a joy to the dialogue and it’s one liners and non sequiturs that is intoxicating. I thought that the live episode was a good deal smarter than it was funny, but I applaud this show for taking it there. And I found it fascinating that the last episode dealt with Liz Lemon’s long simmering “fear” or general uncomfortableness with sex.

Community. I wasn’t so much a fan of the last episode of this show, and I kind of feel like it maybe tackled people’s biggest two gripes with the show itself: Abed (all things “meta”) and Chevy Chase. And the episode prior to that certainly paled in comparison to what many would consider the show’s strongest outing: the paintball episode from season 1.

All that said, I honestly feel that this show and Modern Family were the best new comedies of last season and I don’t see anything that feels like long term signs of that changing anytime soon.

Things I would change about this show though: 1) Get rid of Chevy Chase, who’s character is not funny and is lazily portrayed. You just get the sense that Chase is bored or perhaps unhappy, and maybe that unhappiness has something to do with watching Joel McHale doing a variation of the Chevy Chase persona from the 80s, just better? I’d watch a Joel McHale iteration of Fletch, sure.

2) Keep characters like Ken Jeong’s Senor Chang to a minimum, and the same with some of Abed’s “We all live in a TV show” stuff. I think some of the references catch with the smart folks in the audience, and some literally watch fire with the simple minded, but as Shirley said recently, I think far too much of it doesn’t play in Poughkeepsie, and bores the rest of us. The only thing worse than being not funny is trying too hard. Keep Abed’s character simple and utilize more gags like the Abed in the background/pregnancy bit in the background a few weeks ago:

from here.

3) More characters. For the background or whatever. Along with 30 Rock, I feel like this is the show that has the best chance of inheriting what there is of the Arrested Development mantle, and yet, the vision of Community almost feels too limited in some regards. Maybe give someone like Star Burns a little break, okay? Also, the character of the dean? We get it. It was funnier when it was called Tobias Fünke.

Running Wilde. Sorry, Mitch Hurwitz and Will Arnett, somehow even you shall not be inheriting the throne that once was Arrested Development, I fear. Kudos to you fine chaps though for bringing Felicity along for the ride.

The Event. I watched four episodes of this show and came to the same realization I had before the show even started and was just a much hyped but vaguely explained situation coming soon on NBC: I could not give two halves of a shit about whatever the fuck “the event” ends up being.

We complain about the meta-ness of Community and it amazes how we don’t talk about how not an event the actual release of The Event is. “Lost meets 24,” huh? Go fuck yourself, NBC. This show could do with a little more Lost and a hell of a lot less 24. Talk about a textbook example of not getting what made both of those shows goddamn brilliant at their heights. This is the briefest I shall ever be on this blog: Character.

from here.

Also… casting. Jason Ritter? Give me a fucking break. Jason Ritter is the guy who should be getting coffee for the stand in for your lead actor.

Lost. This goes without saying: You are missed.

Also: this. Interesting.

Hawaii 5-0. Go fuck yourself if you like this show. I watched two episodes that would’ve had the exact same effect on me if I had seen them either in or out of a coma. Also, Hollywood: Stop trying to make Alex O’Loughlin happen.

Modern Family. As I said before, this is a strong comedy here. It shouldn’t work as well as it does, but it does. I don’t think that, once you get what’s going on with it, that it’ll ever blow you away, but it stays consistently funny and watchable and every single character is endearing. And it will hopefully stay that.

Smallville. This show is still on. Did you know that? People are still watching this! It scares me, that thought. (Almost as much as the notion that people were ever watching it.)(I mean, obviously I’m a comic book nerd here, but this show? Come on. Shit is shit, right?) Who are you people? Who are you? It terrifies me that there’s an audience for this show still and they’re providing market research to people in suits who can’t buy a clue from the general public. (Though I still like Erica Durance.)

True Blood. This past season had a lot of ups and a lot of downs, as usual, but the finale was incredibly boring. I guess it was a bit of a serious dramatic let down and also not compelling at all. But, though it may be an uneven supernatural soap opera, it’s amazing how much more it appeals to me than some fucking police procedural on CBS.

Party Down. I miss you. Come back? Please? Was it something I said? Was it the fact that I don’t subscribe to Starz and watched you solely via megavideo and just that once via itunes? Is it Starz? If it is, you don’t have to say anything. Just nod your head and blink. Do that and I will stab a stake through Starz like the life sucking vampire monster that it is.

Parks & Recreation. Is this show still on? Coming back at midseason? That’s a shame, but not shocking, I guess. This show is not bad, not bad at all, but it lacks… something. Sadly, you still have to kind of compare it to The Office in some way. This is a show where you like all the characters/actors involved, but I don’t feel anything for them. They seem like they’re swimming twice as hard for maybe half the results. Except for Ron Swanson. Brilliant televisionary character and I’m so thankful that they keep him to the minimum. I guess I’m glad that this is where Adam Scott landed after Party Down, with a paying gig, but I’d stick this show’s head in a full bath tub until it stopped kicking and squirming if that’d bring back Party Down. No joke.

The Walking Dead. This show hasn’t even aired yet, but I don’t care. I’ve read the comic book so that gives me the right to voice an internet opinion! Ugh.

That said, within the comic is all the things that would make for a good, solid cable TV drama, especially on par with a level of quality and intrigue that AMC seems to be trying to covet (the snoozefest that is Rubicon aside), but I hope that the producers of the show don’t stick too strictly to the comic. It’s not… great. There, I said it. It’s not that great. It’s good, but it’s true to it’s story and incredibly bleak. It picks up where your average zombie movie ends, with characters having to survive in this world that’s swarming with the undead and it’s something for fans of suffering, for sure. The TV show hasn’t wowed me with the actors they’ve cast, and that sizzle reel didn’t get me hard, and it doesn’t help that Frank Darabont hasn’t brought his A game to anything in a long, long while (though he’s thankfully finally gotten out from behind Stephen King’s skirt). But, despite all of that, I’d like to be pleasantly surprised.

Glee. I saw the pilot not this last summer but the summer before when they showed it months and months before the show’s actual premiere and I thought, “Eh.” Never saw a single episode throughout the rest of the first season because it was just not the show for me and somehow it become this popular media juggernaut. Then I saw two episodes just a few weeks ago from this current season. Not bad. Not all that interesting, but intriguing from a distance. But I do believe there’s credence to the “Three Glee” theory.

But, I have to say that this GQ controversy is ludicrous. Who are you people who are upset about this nonsense? Apparently you’ve never see this show or it’s content or just ignored the Rolling Stone cover from a few months ago altogether. Way to go, Dianna Agron, you are mystifying both onscreen and off. Some people should find bigger things to get super excited and bothered about. Like Taylor Momsen. Speaking of which…

Gossip Girl. Is this still on TV?

House. House is a show that, like Glee, is quality but that I wouldn’t normally watch because, well, I’m just not going to watch a weekly medical procedural show. Or, that’s why it was that I used to not watch House. But then I started watching it semi-weekly (Thank God Hulu is still free), because it’s well written and I saw a bunch of episodes last season by accident and because House and Cuddy are dating now and, well, just because. Also, I like Sherlock Holmes pastiches. Speaking of which…

Steven Moffat’s (and Mark Gatiss’) Sherlock. The show debuted in England in the past year and is fucking brilliant. This is what I would like all TV to aspire to as far as intellectual quality. Eventually this will come to BBC America and you’re a goddamn fool to miss it. The man with the unfortunate name of Benedict Cumberbatch is shocking and mesmerizing as a modern day take on the classic detective and Martin Freeman (“Tim,” the original Jim in the original British version of The Office) is in fine form as his sidekick, John Watson. The little nods to the classic stories are enjoyable and where the show deviates is even better. My only real quibble with the 21st century updates is that rather than just chronicling their exploits in a conventional manner, Watson now blogs about the cases he and Sherlock engage in. Sigh.

The first season was three episodes long and the pilot is amazing (written by Moffat), the second episode is fine, but the third episode (written by Gattis) is immaculate. And what a fucking a cliffhanger.

Freeman was recently cast as The Hobbit after months of everyone knowing he pretty much had the role locked down, but you may have noticed the internet screaming out that the two movies better not stop production on a second series of Sherlock and quite right so.

Speaking of British originals translating stateside: MTV’s Skins, which you can see a trailer for now. And if you click here, you can read my thoughts on that.

Doctor Who. This Christmas special and new season (next Easter, sadly) can’t come quickly enough. I don’t know how I feel about this “split” season. I guess it’s fine, though I’m not crazy about them calling it two different seasons, rather than just one split with a hiatus. It sounds like a fancy way of getting out of contracts quicker, frankly. They recently cast Mark Shephard in a big role, sigh, presumably the two part season opener set in America and featuring Richard Nixon? Cool. I guess. Except for the Mark Shephard bit. That gravely voiced motherfucker hasn’t been in enough big name sci fi shows? Sigh. But, like last season, paparazzi photos have informed us that River Song will be in that episode(s). Great.

Now the theorizing can really begin as to who or what River Song actually is. A future version of the Doctor? Lame. The Doctor’s mother? Lamer. Amy Pond in the future in some form? Lame and tired as far as guesswork goes. Just the Doctor’s amazing wife/partner from a future point as we’ve already been lead to believe? Perfect. But let’s get crazy here: A future version of the Master or the Rani? Hmmm?

Mad Men. Nothing to add here.

Still an amazing show and I’m kind of dying to know where they’ll go next season.

It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia. For what it is, this show is perfect. Especially once Danny Devito joined the cast a few years ago. I’m so glad that we have a mindset like this available to us. And, if you think about it, since we mentioned the inheritance of legacies earlier in this post, this is today’s version of Seinfeld.

Fringe. Man… Whatever. Benjamin Light and I add a long conversation about this show about a week ago because we’re fucking dorks, I guess. Maybe, if you’re nice to him, he’ll do a write up about his thoughts on that show and we’ll have a nice discussion on what we dislike about that show and what we would change (almost everything). And, if anything comes to us, maybe we’ll talk about what we like about the show?

The Venture Bros. As always, a strong, smart, funny show, but I’m trying not to use the words “treading water” here. I keep wanting this show to move forward into telling a larger story, and just when I think it’s going to reveal itself to be doing that… it pulls back altogether. At first it was like, “Ha ha, we are playing with your expectations,” but now it’s just like they’re treading water. Damn. I said it. It’s funny that the last episode was all about Doctor Venture’s brain being hacked and the Monarch trying to force him to commit suicide since I feel like that’s the only logical conclusion to the show.

South Park. I haven’t seen an actual episode of this show in fucking forever. I miss it. Conrad Noir tells me that I really need to see not this past week’s, but the one before, the one pertaining to Jersey Shore. “The Jersey problem,” is how he referred to it. I haven’t seen this last one, the Inception one, either. But now I see that Matt and Trey are in some shit for plagarizing a College Humor video. Jesus. I’m sorry, no, it’s “borrowing.” I get the gist of Matt and Trey’s “take” on Inception, which is a good example of how I can like this show and still pretty much never agree with their take on anything. I don’t think anyone is claiming that Inception is cool because it’s complex, are they? Also, how complex was Inception? Was it really that hard for anyone to follow? I mean… Really?

Louis. I like Louis C.K. I like him a lot. I haven’t loved this show, not like I’ve wanted to, though the Ricky Gervais cameo was a lot of fun. But I’m just glad that Louis C.K. has a show on TV that I don’t think has been canceled  yet. I can’t wait to watch it progress. And I think that is the underlining factor that too many showrunners on television don’t take into account: Shows should progress. There’s a long game at work. Consider your package as a whole.

Eastbound & Down. I’ve only seen the first episode of this current season so far, so I can’t say much, but this show defies your average reviewing format. You’re either in or out. Anything else and maybe you should just fuck off. Me: thumbs up.

Bored To Death. Talk about your meta end to a blog post… I’ve only seen about five episodes from the first season of this show. They were meh, honestly. I see the promise of the show picking up and getting interesting, but I’ll get there at some point. But, during some of those first few episodes, I just felt like maybe I wanted to go read an old detective novel and drink some wine instead.

In conclusion: Am I missing any worthwhile shows or any shows that are the exact opposite? If so then by all means, please, please, please let me know.

And: Before we go, if you click here you can read an interesting post about David Foster Wallace and the connection between fiction and television.

Public relations.

Thank fucking God that Mad Men is coming back, right? Right? After the end of Lost, I kind of felt like I wanted to take a break from TV, and for the most part, I have. The only shows I tune in regularly to in any regard are Party Down and Doctor Who, though by “tune in regularly,” I do, of course, mean via the internet. Oh, and True Blood too. And yet, all that said, it’s funny how I realize what a Mad Men-sized gap there’s been in my life once I really start to visualize the return of the show. Does that make sense? Do I care? Either way, I think we can all take a vote on it and it’ll come out unanimous that it’s time for Mad Men to return, yes?

Mad linkage:

This is the greatest story you’ll see today.

Gen. Stanley McChrystal, The Runaway General?

Alleged fugitive drug lord arrested in Jamaica.

Wikileaks founder emerges from hiding.

It’ll be good to have you back, January Jones.

Serial killers, religious cults, human hair.

Various upcoming movies: Inception, The Green Hornet (which looks, if possible, more terrible than I could’ve imagined in my wildest dreams), Pumzi (a short film by Kenyan director Wanuri Kahiu about a world decimated after “water wars”), and A Topiary, the second movie by Shane Carruth, who directed Primer.

Oh, and just so there’s no confusion: According to Wikipedia, “Public Relations” is currently listed as the title of the first episode of Mad Men‘s upcoming season.

Adam Mckay directing Garth Ennis’ The Boys? Whatever.

A tale of Anne Frank’s fictional sex life.

Gigantic green algae slick heads towards China.

Just click here for your moment of daily zen.

The reader is warned in advance not to believe what he is about to read.

Big Blue PKD can see you.from here.

In my writing I got so interested in fakes that I finally came up with the concept of fake fakes. For example, in Disneyland there are fake birds worked by electric motors which emit caws and shrieks as you pass by them. Suppose some night all of us sneaked into the park with real birds and substituted them for the artificial ones. Imagine the horror the Disneyland officials would feel when they discovered the cruel hoax. Real birds! And perhaps someday even real hippos and lions. Consternation. The park being cunningly transmuted from the unreal to the real, by sinister forces. For instance, suppose the Matterhorn turned into a genuine snow-covered mountain? What if the entire place, by a miracle of God’s power and wisdom, was changed, in a moment, in the blink of an eye, into something incorruptible? They would have to close down.

But which is the actual robot?In Plato’s Timaeus, God does not create the universe, as does the Christian God; He simply finds it one day. It is in a state of total chaos. God sets to work to transform the chaos into order. That idea appeals to me, and I have adapted it to fit my own intellectual needs: What if our universe started out as not quite real, a sort of illusion, as the Hindu religion teaches, and God, out of love and kindness for us, is slowly transmuting it, slowly and secretly, into something real?

Existence as entertainment?We would not be aware of this transformation, since we were not aware that our world was an illusion in the first place. This technically is a Gnostic idea. Gnosticism is a religion which embraced Jews, Christians, and pagans for several centuries. I have been accused of holding Gnostic ideas. I guess I do. At one time I would have been burned. But some of their ideas intrigue me. One time, when I was researching Gnosticism in the Britannica, I came across mention of a Gnostic codex called The Unreal God and the Aspects of His Nonexistent Universe, an idea which reduced me to helpless laughter. What kind of person would write about something that he knows doesn’t exist, and how can something that doesn’t exist have aspects? But then I realized that I’d been writing about these matters for over twenty-five years. I guess there is a lot of latitude in what you can say when writing about a topic that does not exist. A friend of mine once published a book called Snakes of Hawaii. A number of libraries wrote him ordering copies. Well, there are no snakes in Hawaii. All the pages of his book were blank.

Gnostic Superparty.

Of course, in science fiction no pretense is made that the worlds described are real. This is why we call it fiction. The reader is warned in advance not to believe what he is about to read. Equally true, the visitors to Disneyland understand that Mr. Toad does not really exist and that the pirates are animated by motors and servo-assist mechanisms, relays and electronic circuits. So no deception is taking place.

We are not alone.

And yet the strange thing is, in some way, some real way, much of what appears under the title “science fiction” is true. It may not be literally true, I suppose. We have not really been invaded by creatures from another star system, as depicted in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The producers of that film never intended for us to believe it. Or did they?

Alien light show.

And, more important, if they did intend to state this, is it actually true? That is the issue: not, Does the author or producer believe it, but—Is it true? Because, quite by accident, in the pursuit of a good yarn, a science fiction author or producer or scriptwriter might stumble onto the truth… and only later on realize it.

Your reality is currently a mess.

The basic tool for the manipulation of reality is the manipulation of words. If you can control the meaning of words, you can control the people who must use the words. George Orwell made this clear in his novel 1984. But another way to control the minds of people is to control their perceptions. If you can get them to see the world as you do, they will think as you do. Comprehension follows perception. How do you get them to see the reality you see? After all, it is only one reality out of many. Images are a basic constituent: pictures. This is why the power of TV to influence young minds is so staggeringly vast. Words and pictures are synchronized. The possibility of total control of the viewer exists, especially the young viewer. TV viewing is a kind of sleep-learning. An EEG of a person watching TV shows that after about half an hour the brain decides that nothing is happening, and it goes into a hypnoidal twilight state, emitting alpha waves. This is because there is such little eye motion. In addition, much of the information is graphic and therefore passes into the right hemisphere of the brain, rather than being processed by the left, where the conscious personality is located. Recent experiments indicate that much of what we see on the TV screen is received on a subliminal basis. We only imagine that we consciously see what is there. The bulk of the messages elude our attention; literally, after a few hours of TV watching, we do not know what we have seen. Our memories are spurious, like our memories of dreams; the blank are filled in retrospectively. And falsified. We have participated unknowingly in the creation of a spurious reality, and then we have obligingly fed it to ourselves. We have colluded in our own doom.

Lizard Dick.from here.

And—and I say this as a professional fiction writer—the producers, scriptwriters, and directors who create these video/audio worlds do not know how much of their content is true. In other words, they are victims of their own product, along with us. Speaking for myself, I do not know how much of my writing is true, or which parts (if any) are true. This is a potentially lethal situation. We have fiction mimicking truth, and truth mimicking fiction. We have a dangerous overlap, a dangerous blur. And in all probability it is not deliberate. In fact, that is part of the problem. You cannot legislate an author into correctly labeling his product, like a can of pudding whose ingredients are listed on the label… you cannot compel him to declare what part is true and what isn’t if he himself does not know.

The bigger it is, the easier it is to hide.

We want to thank Philip K. Dick, author of The Three Stigmata Of Palmer Eldritch and The Man In The High Castle amongst many other novels, for sticking it to reality and taking time out of his busy afterlife to share with us another excerpt from his 1978 speech “How To Build A Reality That Doesn’t Fall Apart Two Days Later.” It also appears as the introduction to his 1985 short story collection, I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon. The first excerpt he shared with us is here, and…

Literally.…you have to love that PKD fans are called dickheads.

Fake fakes?

For the sake of truth, we can tell you that Mr. Dick will probably return with another excerpt for us in the next few days. But until then…

Adam Gopnik on PKD.

Stanislaw Lem on PKD.

Jonathan Lethem on PKD.

Jonathan Lethem being interviewed about PKD.

PKD on Kurt Vonnegut.



Three quotes about politics.

Like it says there, three quotes about politics, which we sorely miss talking about here at Counterforce, and then we’ll call it a night.

Thank you, Hunter S. Thompson.

Quote #1:

“I don’t like it. I think the cables have a lot to do with it. I’ll take you back to when I was president – we got tons of criticism, but didn’t seem day in and day out quite as personal as some of these talk show people.”

That’s former President George H.W. Bush, during in an interview in Texas about the lack of civility in politics. The interview was supposed to be about his support for volunteerism, but he had to address how we can’t be nice to each other anymore because of the reception Obama was getting in Texas. He goes on to say:

“And it’s not just the right. There are plenty of people on the left. If you want me to name a couple of names, I’ll be glad to do that for you.”

Of course a reporter would love for him to go on from there…

“Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow – I mean here are a couple of sick puppies.”

This quote fascinates me, especially as Olbermann pointed out in his response on the Maddow show, this is from the man who arguably started the era of dirty political attacks we’re in now by employing guys like Roger Ailes and Lee Atwater, and the kind of shit that would eventually beget guys like Karl Rove.

It’s funny that the elder Bush then added: “And the way they treat my son and treat anybody that’s opposed to their point of view is just horrible,” as his reasoning for specifically naming Maddow and Olbermann. Cause that’s what he’s really upset about, I’m sure. The way they treated his son, yeah, which I believe, but that they attack people who don’t share their beliefs. That’s something that Bush, sr. really wants to stand up against, I’m sure.

Before I go onto my next quote, I want to share this link with you about an interesting supposition about the wedding storyline in the Archie comics – seriously – and how it’s an allegory for the state of America right now. What happened was: a few issues ago Archie proposed to Veronica, shocking everyone, and then in the most recent issue, he ended up changing his mind and instead proposing to Betty. The semi-serious gist of the post is:

“This is clearly a reference to America’s voting for Barack Obama, then turning against the very things he stood for, such as greater public healthcare coverage.”

Good enough for me, man.

Quote #2:

“Why should we hear about body bags, and deaths, and how many, what day it’s gonna happen, and how many this or that do you suppose? Or, I mean, it’s, it’s not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?”

That’s former first lady Barbara Bush, wife of George H.W. Bush, is from March 17, 2003 when she was asked about the coming Iraq war. On it’s own the quote is just ridiculous and damning about this family of east coast intellectual elites who made a career out of posing as Texas good ol’ boys and “real Americans.” Taken within the context of the interview itself, the statement makes a little more sense, but only just a little more. But it was one of the first things that came to mind, along with “a thousand points of light,” when I hear the “sick puppies” comment.

The comment, of course, also reminds me of that Tony Kushner play, “Only We Who Guard The Mystery Should Be Unhappy” starring Laura Bush during the Iraq War. Ah, seems like it was just yesterday.

I don’t want to fully bash the Bush family, so it’s important to remember this, showing that they really aren’t all that bad.

And last, but not least…

Quote #3:

“Crime, boy, I don’t know.”

But in context, you’ll have to see it here:

“In the future, if you’re wondering, ‘crime, boy, I don’t know,’ is when I decided to kick your ass.”

That’s from the third season finale of The West Wing, entitled “Posse Comitatus,” and deals with President Bartlett, played by Martin Sheen, meeting his rival in the upcoming presidential election, Flordia Governor Robert Ritchie, a clear George W. Bush analogue played by James Brolin, backstage at a performance of “The War Of The Roses.”

My God, I miss this show, not because of it’s “liberalism,” or what most moderate liberals would call simply “common sense-ism,” but because it was just a solidly written, performed, produced show. Aaron Sorkin wasn’t always great with long term story planning (blame it on the cocaine?), but he had a playwright’s excellent sense of immediate personal drama in a single moment and doesn’t get nearly enough credit for his abilities with comedy, but that’s a story for another time.

This particular storyline dealt with President Bartlett being up for re-election, despite lying about having MS, and in a bid for a taste of the real world, he was going up against the Governor of Florida, essentially a take on GWB. The storyline was good enough, just hard to believe in that Bartlett was a great president and in this wonderful television world, you couldn’t believe he’d actually struggle in an election against such a moron. In real life, morons tend to have the advantage over the smart because of a successful attack on “intellectualism” that has been sweeping through this country during the past few decades, perhaps starting with the days of Lee Atwater and Roger Ailes?

Well, no, I wouldn’t give them all the credit for that, but Sorkin does point out that beyond Clinton fatigue, anti-intellectualism was a large part of the 2000 election contest between GWB and Al Gore. That, and outright thievery, but that’s a story that’s been told many times before.

The storyline between Bartlett/Ritchie essentially ended with their debate…

…in which Bartlett so mercilessly and effortlessly kicked his opponent’s ass that it seemed like science fiction. But it was so good. Not just for liberals, democrats, and “intellectuals,” but for people who liked good TV and were American porn enthusiasts. It’s Bartlett’s line in that debate – “I’m the President of the United States, not the President of the people who agree with me” – that has strongly affected my rather simplistic view on politics. Left, right, right, wrong, smart, dumb, agreeing with the President, disagreeing with the President, or somewhere  drifting in between any of those so called absolutes, in this country, you’re still in America. Every part of America is “the real America,” it’s changing every single day, every single moment, and not necessarily drifting towards socialism just because you don’t understand it, don’t like, or are scared of the color of the skin that the man running the show has.

I’d love to throw out the question of why is it necessarily a bad thing to have a smart President who’s considered elite and recognized as being so? I’d love to, but that’s a losing debate amongst the hoi poilloi, I know. Oh, and to continue the tenuous thread between the here and now and the halcyon days of The West Wing, one of the many things I like that Barack Obama and Josiah Bartlett have in common: They’re both Nobel prize winners. 🙂