Goodnight, Moon.

When you were a kid, because it was the simplest of all possible answers, they told you that God was up in the sky.

As you got older, when you wanted more complex answers, they told you that God was somewhere within.

As a kid my mother always told me that she knew I’d grow up to be smart. She just knew, she’d assure me. That’s nice to hear, for a boy from his mother, but you have to press on and ask why? Without quantification, that kind of praise can be dangerous. So I pressed on. Why, why, why?

The answer, she told me, was because as a kid I understood about the moon and the sun and space. “Huh?” I’d ask. And she told me that she was always amazed that even before kindergarten I understood that the moon orbited the Earth, the Earth orbited the sun, and the Sol solar system orbited around the giant black hole at the middle of the milky way galaxy, and the galaxy was just a string of other galaxies, probably in a snowflake shape, rotating around something else. “You even knew the name of the sun!” she’d tell me, her eyes beaming with motherly pride.

Of course, when I was a kid my mother explained to me what black holes were, as best as she could, as best as I could understand it then, and that’s probably had more effect on me than the memetic concept of God.

The moon, too.

There’s just something beautiful about the our gray satellite up there, isn’t there? “Magnificent desolation,” Buzz Aldrin called it. And he’s right. It looks so much to me like the physical manifestation of an actual human soul: bleak, sad, barren, empty, but with beautiful patterns within the dust and craters if you want to see them.

When I was a kid, we constantly would hear things like, “Tonight the sky will be clear and the planets will be aligned enough that you’ll be able to see Pluto!” Of course, this is back when Pluto was still a planet, because it was neutered by classifications. But I kept looking up in the sky and not seeing it.

Same with comets. Supposedly we could certain comets up in the night sky. I never saw them. And I kept looking. I kept wanting to see them. I was like Fox Mulder and John Locke. I wanted to believe. That there was something up there in the sky, that maybe there was something resembling a God-like thing in our universe, and, worst of all and most devastating of all, you know what? I wanted to believe I was special and somehow seeing these things up there would confirm that for me.

But I never saw them.

But there was the moon. You could see the moon. You knew mankind had gone there and come up and could, theoretically, go back again whenever we felt like it. It’s up there, whenever we want to visit it, that first step on a greater journey. No matter how bad life is Earthside, there’s something up there for us. There’s tangible proof just within grasp that we can escape Earthly troubles and change our whole view of the universe, for good or for worse.

A few days ago my mother was telling me about the day of the actual moon landing, when she was a little girl. She had been playing in a friend’s yard when both her and the friend’s mother came out and told them they had to come inside and watch something. “What is it?” they ask. “Something important,” they were told. “The future.” So inside they went and watched as man set foot on the moon.

My mother described the friend’s mother’s grave reaction to the event, her still face as she watched the grainy television images with cold eyes. “God is dead,” the woman kept whispering. Mind you, this is two years before The New York Times announced it.

My mother is somebody who still firmly believes in the idea of a God, if not a specific religion, not out of a firm belief, a strong faith, but a strong hope. She tells me that’s all there is. “All human beliefs, at their core,” she tells me, “have that hope at their center. When you fall in love, you hope it’s with the right person, and you hope they won’t be a shithead or damage your heart or your sense of the world.”

It’s from my mother that I get a lot of my sense of the world, those beliefs and hopes that you get before you actually enter the world and see how bad/wonderful things are for yourself. She’s also the first person to walk me out into our garden at night as a kid and point up at the sky and say, “Look at that thing.” She’s also the person who first put on Star Wars for me as a kid and said, “You’re going to love this.” And I’ll never forget her walking in during the scene and saying along with Obi Wan Kenobi, “That’s no moon. It’s a space station.”

But I said this is would be the end of me howling at the moon. So as I get to the end of this, I’ll say this one last thing about my mother, besides the fact that I love her, that she read Margaret Wise Brown’s Goodnight Moon to me as a child…

The moon isn’t a real thing to us. Just a symbol. It stands for something different – probably several different somethings – for everyone. Even in the art it inspires. But we don’t really think of it as a real place we can go to. Just somewhere we dream about going.

So this is about me. About childhood, and about symbols. So here’s something that’s not a shock, something I’m pretty sure I’ve said before: Batman is my favorite “super hero.” My favorite comic book character, if you will. My obsession with him starts where a lot of comic book fancies start: he’s just cool, right?  But to me, he was always cool because he was real. That could be you under the cape and cowl, fighting crime and fighting a hopeless battle to make the world a better place. That could be me.

How sad that I don’t believe in God, at least not God the way others do, but I do believe in Batman?

But Batman is dead now. At least the Bruce Wayne version of him. I believe I linked to it before, but I talked a little about the passing of the Dark Knight in a post at This Recording a week or two ago.

Whenever it came up to write that piece, the editor at TR, Alex, who’s a really nice guy, suggested something about comics. Not a tough subject for me since I’m a bit of a dork, but I’d also say a bit of an amateur expert in the field. And there’s a billion things that I could’ve written about then, but the biggest, most current thing at the time and the thing most prevalent comics-wise in my thoughts: Batman was dead.

Shortly after that piece was written, a story by Neil Gaiman came out, entitled “Whatever Happened To The Caped Crusader?” It was written to be in the similar vein as Alan Moore’s classic “Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow?” and seen as the last Batman story.

The gist of the story is simple: Batman, recently deceased, is watching his own funeral from the cusp of the afterlife. The attendees of the funeral are all his friends, loved ones, and the criminals he spent his entire life fighting. And everyone has a eulogy, telling a story of how Batman died, all of them starring a different iteration of the caped crusader and depicting a different death.

But when the stories run out and it’s time to move on, Batman is ushered into the sweet hereafter by his mother. He’s fought the good fight, she tells him, and he’s to be rewarded. And the reward for being the Batman? To continue being the Batman.

And we learn that young Bruce Wayne’s mother read Goodnight Moon to him as a child and it was his favorite book growing up.

And as he fades away, in the style of the book, he says goodnight to the things that mattered. His friends. The Batcave. The Bat signal.

And then he’s reborn.

And the story continues anew.

The same here, mostly. No more talking about the moon, I promise. Unless something really, really, really interesting comes up. The story up there has been done for a while, but at some point we’re going back. At some point, everything starts over again.

Keep looking up at the sky and wondering, okay?

See you out there, space cowboys and cowgirls.

“I pursued nature to her hiding places.”

from here.

We choose the moon!

No Sense” from Moon Pix.

“It’s a marvelous night for a moondance.”

“Dancing in the moonlight.”

“Walking on the moon.”

“…from the cold sunlight that’s reflected off the moon…”

“The moon gazed on my midnight Eggan, while, with unrelaxed and breathless eagerness, I pursued nature to her hiding-places.”

-Mary Shelley, Frankenstein.

“The Moon aged 9 days,” taken by Joseph Turner with the Great Melbourne Telescope on Sept. 1, 1873. via here and here.

No more talking about the moon after tomorrow, I promise. Tomorrow’s the big/not so big finish.

Nerd Prom is over.

Is it me or was there nothing really of super duper interest that came out news-wise from this past Comic-Con?

I mean, the Lost panel sounded interesting, but it always does. No real super huge news teased from the last Lost panel ever, more just silly videos and what have you, it seemed like. Probably to preserve the mystery about what direction the new/final season will take? Whatever direction it is, I like how they’re teasing us with the strong possibility that next year will start with the rebooted timeline created via Jack/Juliet blowing up Jughead. Hmmm.

Damon Lindelof: “The time travel season is over. The flash-forward season is over. We have something different planned.” Great. But you guys always do. Is it next January/February yet?

Speaking of flash forwards… that show Flash Forward sounds interesting, but with Charlie in it? Ehhh. I’m sure this means that the silly little hobbit will weasel his way into the new season of Lost.

Other things of note from the just concluded Comic-Con 2009:

Felicia Day.

Apparently this young lady is on fire. She was good in Dr. Horrible as the harmless decent sweet Mary Sue female lead, and while her online show, The Guild, is just not for me, it’s apparently quite popular. She’s in those commercials for whatever the hell appliance store it is and she’s in that as yet unaired episode of Dollhouse which will supposedly lead to more appearances in season 2. She’s on fire!

And having witnessed her in person earlier this year at Wondercon, I can’t begin to describe to you how lovely she is in person. She almost looks bad for your teeth.

Iron Man 2.

Well, no, not really. The first Iron Man movie was okay, not bad at all, and kind of refreshing in what a trainwreck it wasn’t. But it wasn’t spectacular and part of that, I think, has to do with how uninteresting the Iron Man character is. If I was writing an Iron Man comic/movie, you want to know how I’d do it? Exactly the same as the first movie, just minus the actual suit of metal and guys in suits of metal hitting each other and just all of that bullshit, really. And maybe add in a little more sex. But it’d be a lot of Tony Stark just traveling the world, getting drunk, and solving all the world’s problems with money. Trust me, it’d work.

Zombieland.

Honestly, I could give a shit about this movie. In fact, it looks kind of stupid to me. But look at that picture up above. That’s hardcore, right?

The trailer for the new Tron movie, Tron 2.0, Tron: Legacy, Tr2n, whatever the hell it’s called:

The quality on that video is crap. Go here to see it in much better quality, minus the soundtrack score.

Granted, if it were up to me, I’d suggest they just remake Tron, because who’s honestly seen that movie recently? The last time I saw it, I was probably 4 and back, then I thought it was awesome, but back then cames like Pong were The Shit.

James Cameron’s Avatar.

I’ll admit, while I’m not on the edge of my seat with excitement, I‘ve got some curiosities.

Marvelman/Miracleman returns!

The only actual bit of comic book whatever news that I’ve heard out of SDCC that was remotely interesting, and believe me, this is. And a long time coming too. So much so that it’d be impossible to sum up quickly, but for now, let’s just say: Fuck Todd McFarlane.

The new season of Heroes!

No, I can’t back that up. Sorry. Not even close. August Bravo told me not long ago that he had to eventually drop this show and it sounds like he picked the perfect time. From what I can tell the next season will focus on some kind of weird carnival bullshit, Sylar looking creepy, and a very special episode where Claire the cheerleader gives lipstick lesbianism (with the lovely Madeline Zima) a on off try, probably right around Sweeps.

Doctor Who‘s new specials and the next iteration.

In short: Fuck the haters. And pity the confused. Sadly, the movies rumors were way off, but that’s probably for the best right now. The trailer for the next special in the UK, “The Waters Of Mars” is here:

That’s the new trailer, from the recent Comic-Con panel, and you can find the original teaser trailer here, and the preview scene here. I’ll spare you the teaser for “The End Of Time” because it’s just a kind of placeholder. If you know what I’m talking about, then you know.

And, of course, filming is underway on the new season already with the new Doctor and the new companion:

I’m digging half of this combo, and the jury’s still out on the other half. Avoid the rest of the filming pics for spoilers, which works as a lovely inside joke of it’s own.

Badass ladies and super empowerment.

The panel with Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Elizabeth Mitchelle, and Eliza Dushku (who is now dating Rick Fucking Fox) sounded interesting. Kind of fan service-y with no real depth, but interesting nonetheless.

Semi-unrelated, it’s been suggested to me that perhaps Counterforce should go to Comic-Con next year? That would be… something, wouldn’t it?

Also, apparently the San Diego Conference Center has been told that they need to seriously expand by 2011 or the Comic-Con folks are going to take Nerd Prom elsewhere.

Everything old is new again:

“All this science I don’t understand. It’s just my job, five days a week.”

My second favorite line from this song: “Mars aint’t the kind of place to raise your kids. In fact, it’s cold as hell.”

And a quiet old lady whispering, “Hush…”

Susan Sarandon narrating an animated version of Margaret Wise Brown’s classic children’s book, Goodnight, Moon:

My last bit on the moon will be on Wednesday. Thanks for hanging in there so far.

She gallops night by night through lover’s brains, and then they dream of love.

From A Little Girl Dreams Of Taking The Veil, a collage-novel by Max Ernst, from here.

Hark! whence that rushing sound?
’t is like the wondrous strain
That round a lonely ruin swells,
Which, wandering on the echoing shore,
The enthusiast hears at evening;
’t is softer than the west wind’s sigh;
’t is wilder than the unmeasured notes
Of that strange lyre whose strings
The genii of the breezes sweep;
Those lines of rainbow light
Are like the moonbeams when they fall
Through some cathedral window, but the tints
Are such as may not find
Comparison on earth.

Behold the chariot of the Fairy Queen!
Celestial coursers paw the unyielding air;
Their filmy pennons at her word they furl,
And stop obedient to the reins of light;
These the Queen of Spells drew in;
She spread a charm around the spot,
And, leaning graceful from the ethereal car,
Long did she gaze, and silently,
Upon the slumbering maid.

Miranda Richardson as Queen Mab, from that miniseries about Merlin starring Sam Neill.

Oh! not the visioned poet in his dreams,
When silvery clouds float through the wildered brain,
When every sight of lovely, wild and grand
Astonishes, enraptures, elevates,
When fancy at a glance combines
The wondrous and the beautiful,-
So bright, so fair, so wild a shape
Hath ever yet beheld,
As that which reined the coursers of the air
And poured the magic of her gaze
Upon the maiden’s sleep.

from here.

The broad and yellow moon
Shone dimly through her form –
That form of faultless symmetry;
The pearly and pellucid car
Moved not the moonlight’s line.
’t was not an earthly pageant.
Those, who had looked upon the sight
Passing all human glory,
Saw not the yellow moon,
Saw not the mortal scene,
Heard not the night-wind’s rush,
Heard not an earthly sound,
Saw but the fairy pageant,
Heard but the heavenly strains
That filled the lonely dwelling.

-from Queen Mab; A Philosophical Poem; With Notes, by Percy Bysshe Shelley, somewhat based on the character of Queen Mab from Mercutio’s speech in Romeo And Juliet by Shakespeare. You can find the full text of the poem here.

Queen Mab In The Ruins, from here.

Gone to the movies…

In the men’s room of the cinema beforehand, for a pre-movie evacuation when two kids, probably around 10 or 11ish, and the bemused dad who accompanied them walk in and take up all the urinals directly around them.

Kid #1: OH MAN, that was so awesome. The way he killed The Fallen. RIGHT?!

Kid #2: YES! OMG YES!

Kid #1: Yes. But I wonder if he’s really dead.

Kid #2: The Fallen? Yeah, the way he killed him? Awesome. Totally dead.

Kid #1: Unless there’s a third one. Do you think there’ll be a third one?

Kid #2: OF COURSE there’ll be a third one. That was SO GOOD. Better than the first!

Kid #1: So you think he’s not dead then?

Kid #2: Who?

Bemused dad: I don’t think there’s enough explosives left in the world to make another one of those movies, guys.

The kids ignore him, go to wash their hands.

Bemused dad (continuing, presumably to me, since he started staring at me): That might be the cure to all the troubles of the world, right? Take all our explosives and destructive weapons and give them to Hollywood to fight computer alien robots, right?

I just shrug, then go over to wash my hands. I use soap, the kids at the sinks next to me, however, do not.

Kid #1: Man, I want to get high later.

Kid #2: Yeah, me too. You think this guy (gestures to me) could sell us drugs?

I leave in a hurry.

And then: I decide, Fuck it, I’ll get some popcorn, and I go and get in line. Me and this group of two girls are both angling for the same slot and get there at the exact time. I decide that, even though my movie starts in less than 3 minutes, I’ll be a nice guy and let them go first. I start to drift back when…

Girl: Fuck this guy. He needs to move.

I hear that and decide, Okay, chivalry’s out the door. I’m gonna get some popcorn. These girls can wait.

Girl: Hey ASSHOLE!

I hear that and just smile.

Girl: Don’t smile. I’m talking to you!

Me: Oh, I’m sorry, are you talking to me?

Girl: Yes!

Me: Okay.

And I turn back to the dude behind the counter and order what I want.

Girl: HEY!

Me: Yes?

Girl: You should’ve let me in front of you.

Me: And why is that?

Girl: Because I’m hotter than you!

Me: What?

Girl: I am! I’m hotter than you. You should’ve given up your spot in line for me.

Me: What?

The girl continues on but I decide to save everyone a little trouble and cut her off, then…

Me: Okay, listen up. You’re like 13. You’re not hotter than anyone. Fuck off.

The girl is shocked, but eventually goes and gets into another spot in the line to get popcorn/sodas/milk duds/whatever.

Guy behind the counter: Dude, she was hot.

Me: Dude, she was 13. Actually, you know what? I’m not even going to debate this with you. What do my popcorn and soda cost?

Guy behind the counter: 15 bucks.

Me: What?!

So, after a time, I get into the theater and the movie starts. The movie, by the way is the new Harry Potter movie. Don’t judge me. I went with my mama, who loves them, and we’ve seen them all together. I don’t know anything about the books other than what I can ween off the wikipedia, but you could tell that much was sacrificed to continue the ongoing story in this film, which just feels daunting knowing that there’s at least two more films to go in this series.

Also, poor Emma Watson, who is usually one of the most delightful part of these movies, is barely in this one. And that red headed kid who got the swine flu? He looks like swine flu.

Earlier in the day, I had been in line to buy the tickets for the showing we were going to see and the line at the box office was long. In front of me was a couple that were on a first date.

Girl: So, when did you first realize you wanted to ask me out?

Guy: It was a synergy thing, actually.

Girl: What’s that mean?

Guy: Synergy is when two things-

Girl: No, I know what synergy is. What was the synergy thing?

Guy: Oh, oh, sorry. What I meant was, I knew we had to go out at the time I realized, “Hey, I haven’t seen the new Transformers movie yet,” you know?

Girl: Right.

Guy: The movie just looks so good, right? Just soooo good.

On the inside I’m thinking to myself, “Come on, man. Tell her that she looks good too!” Alas, he does not.

Girl: Yeah, sure. I barely remember the first one.

Guy: So where do you want to eat after this?

This is the question I pose to you, ladies and gentlemen: Do you really want to fuck somebody who actually really wants to go see Transformers 2? And because they think it looks good too?

Then again, you’ll notice that I’m careful not to ask if you’d want to fuck a guy who went to see the Harry Potter movie.

My Moon, My Man.

The moon is very slowly waning away…

At least here at Counterforce.

The Great Moon Hoax!

From Wikipedia: The “Great Moon Hoax” was a series of six articles that were published in the New York Sun beginning on August 25, 1835, about the supposed discovery of life on the Moon. The discoveries were falsely attributed to Sir John Herschel, perhaps the best-known astronomer of his time.

And this is…

The lithograph that accompanied the Great Moon Hoax on August 28, 1835.

You can find the “Great Moon Hoax” in six parts: One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six., which I discovered via the awesome site, Comets, Stars, and Moons.

Speaking of comics…

Moon Knight? Ehhh. I never could get behind Moon Knight (who is illustrated by comics legend Alex Ross up above). I mean, I get the gist of his character, but what a half assed rip off of Batman, right?

Speaking of comics, by now, I’ve outed myself as a huge old school comic book dork, right? Try this on for size then, geeks:

I’ll say more about comics probably… in Tuesday’s Counterforce post? Yeah, probably, but the above issue, Uncanny X-Men #137, the end of “The Dark Phoenix Saga,” is probably the last great comic book story I’ve read. And I’ve read a lot of really, truly great ones since then, but the above issue/storyline could very well have been the end of comics, and of Scott/Jean, or Cyclops/Marvel Girl for some of you, and I would’ve been fine with it.

The gist of the issue: The X-Men are on the blue side of the moon (and observed by the mysterious Watcher). Their teammate, Jean Grey, has recently had the nearly omnipotent alien lifeforce subdued within herself (it’d be possessing her and going on a violent, destructive rampage for some time now) and even though she currently has it under control, the Imperial Guard of the Shi’ar race wants to kill her, so not to risk the Phoenix ever hurting another soul. But the X-Men aren’t going to have any of that, so a deal is struck: The X-Men vs. the Imperial Guard for the life of Jean. The battle  is intense, but the Imperial Guard is just too strong and one by one the X-Men fall in the name of their friend. But the image towards the end of the lovers, Scott and Jean, holding hands as they run through the ruins of a former moon civilization, fighting off the Shi’ar, is one of the most beautiful, epic, tragic, wonderful things I’ve ever seen in comics.

First crush in four colors.

Here’s a little bit of my childhood, kids:

And then…

Colonization of the moon.

Werewolves and the moon.

The moon in art and literature, including:

Credence Clearwater Revival, of course. There’s a bathroom on the right! And:

The work of Chairface Chippendale, from The Tick, and other famous defacings of the moon, and:

The Man Who Sold The Moon by Robert Heinlein, and of course:

That wily bastard, Nick Drake. Of course. And:

The terror of the Mooninites! And:

Paul and Linda McCartney, naturally. From here. And:

Superman IV: The Quest For Motherfuckin’ Peace. And…

Well, and I could go on forever, but I won’t. This whole thing of me talking about the moon was supposed to be about that big sexy lunar satellite up in orbit and about art and human history and… well, sometimes it’s just suffered from poor planning on my part. But it’s ending very soon, and I think maybe perhaps ending not so badly. Thanks for reading so far.