Cthulhu and me. And you!

from here.

And if, for some reason, Cthulhu isn’t doing it for you today, there’s always this:

via the always always always interesting Molly Crabapple, but look also here and perhaps maybe here, if you’re into that kind of thing. And let’s face it: you probably are, right?

Edited to add:

ALSO! Up next: Post #500! It’s been that many, can you believe it? Shocking, right? For that very special post we have something planned that may be very interesting. Or, it may suck hard. Either way… stay tuned! Until then, here’s a picture of Sarah Palin visiting herself from the future:

The Nightmare Child.

The following is an excerpt from an actual conversation between Conrad Noir and Marco Sparks last night. Yes, this is what they’re really like…

Marco Sparks: So, you’ll never believe this dream I had the other night…

Conrad Noir: I don’t know if I’m really up for a conversation about your hopes and dreams, man.

Marco: Well, when I say “dream,” what I really mean is sweaty, dread-dripping nightmare.

Conrad: Oh yeah? Shit. Nevermind. You know I’m all ears for that. Shoot.

Marco: Well, I’ll tell you about the nightmare in a second, but first let me tell you about my Saturday night…

Conrad: Always a catch, isn’t there? Shit. Okay, tell me about your Saturday ni-

Marco: It was awesome. But then, later on, I was just trying to go sleep, right? And it’s late, I don’t remember the time, but late. So I turn on the TV and put it on mute, just wanting some flickering light and alpha wave manipulation in the room. Or something.

Conrad: Sure, sure. Perfectly normal.

Marco: So then I lay down on the bed. The room I’m in though, there’s no remote. Or, if there is, fuck if I know where it is.

Conrad: Oh, yeah, man’s constant struggle.

Marco: Right, so I’m stuck with whatever the channel is because, well, I’m lazy.

Conrad: I feel that.

Marco: In this particular case, it was A&E. The former Arts & Entertainment channel.

Conrad: “Former” being the operative word.

Marco: Seriously. Airing that late evening/early morning was a seeming non stop marathon of CSI: Miami episodes.

Conrad: Wow. Ouch.

Marco: Ouch is right. And let me tell you, I could not sleep with that on.

Conrad: How do you mean?

Marco: Every five seconds they cut back to a shot of David Caruso! Constantly! And let me tell you, Caruso has two emotional speeds on that show. The first: Putting on his sunglasses. The second: Taking them off again. People could be on fire, running around screaming, bits of their skin melting off or whatever as creatures of the apocalypse commit homicides or devour souls or just what have you, and Caruso’s cool as Fonzie the whole fucking time.

Conrad: That seems accurate with the little bits of it I’ve caught occasionally.

Marco: Also, it’s freakishly bright. Like, too bright and dayglo for even Miami.

Conrad: Okay.

Marco: It would not let me sleep! I turned over, looked at the flickering light patterns on the wall, like some kind of twisted variation on Plato’s Cave and I felt like Caruso was picking me up from the airport and driving me straight to madness!

Conrad: Caruso’s like that.

Marco: This is the guy from NYPD Blue who subjected America to his ass. Why would you want to see this man’s ass?!

Conrad: Or Dennis Franz for that matter.

Marco: Well… obviously. But, so I lay there, squeezing my eyes shut. But it was no good, man. I knew that Caruso was in the room with me. Putting his fucking sunglasses on. Or worse.

Conrad: Worse?

Marco: He could’ve been taking them off again…

Conrad: Okay, so this was the nightmare?

Marco: Oh, no, this was real. Deadly real. Eventually I must’ve passed out from all the stress of his ontological torture and when I woke up, of course, A&E was still on, right?

Conrad: Yeah, of course.

Marco: So, the sun is shining through the window, birds are chirping little songs and I’m a little tired, but I’m breathing a sigh of relief. I’m all like, “Thank God, it’s morning, I made it. I survived!”

Conrad: This is going somewhere bad, isn’t it?

Marco: You bet your goofy ass it is, my friend. Because there on the TV…

Conrad: Yeah?

Marco: Motherfucking Chris Daughtry was on the TV. Somebody was actually interviewing him!

Conrad: Ugh. Gross.

Marco: Exactly! Why would anyone want to interview that fucker? Why is he on the TV? Why did my day have to start with these violent images? It was like… last night I couldn’t enter the domain of sleep and now… Now I can’t be awake with this in the world!

Conrad: I feel like I need a drink now.

Marco: Me too. From just, you know, reliving that traumatic experience. From being the plaything of the sandman.

Conrad: So what was the nightmare?

Marco: Oh, the nightmare. Yeah, sorry. That was last night. I was like in a room, but I wasn’t. I was like “the camera” or whatever. Anyway, there was a little boy and he was trapped in the room. No windows, yet there was moonlight slipping around. And he was sleeping like a little shit does and then goblins crawled out of the cracks in the walls and out from under the bed and cut off his eyelids or something.

Conrad: Damn. I like that. I mean, that’s seriously creepy.

Marco: Yeah, it was something. When I woke up, I knew you’d love it.

Conrad: You were right. And goblins, you say? Wow. Goblins. That part is especially wild. People don’t throw around the word “goblins” all that much anymore.

Marco: Let me tell you something about goblins, my friend. Something you may not know. Something very few people may actually know.

Conrad: Do it.

Marco: Goblins, man. They’re no joke. They’re fucking scary, and they’re fucked up. And they will fuck you up. You understand me?

Conrad: Yes, I believe I do. But let’s talk about something important now. Let’s talk about me and my dreams. And my nightmares.

Marco: Take aim and fire away, baby.

Conrad: So, you know, I’ve been taking melatonin a lot lately, right?

Marco: Cause you can’t get your hands on ambien, right?

Conrad: Yeah, sorta. I got tricked into trying to go all natural, which is a sham. Whenever in doubt, just go with hard drugs.

Marco: Put that on a t-shirt.

Conrad: Don’t tempt me.

Marco: But I feel you. I have several friends who don’t realize they’re becoming recreational vicodin addicts, which is cool, cause this is America and shit. But I can’t do that stuff anymore. It gives me freaky nightmares. I mean, genuinely freaky nightmares. Like, where the goblins show up and tell me I’ll have erectile dysfunction for the rest of my life and or will be forever locked in a mortgage I can’t afford.

Conrad: As long as you’re not longer dreaming about Avril Lavigne, you’ll be fine.

Marco: I’ll have you know: That was a very special time in my life.

Conrad: Anyway… me. And my nightmare.

Marco: Do it.

Conrad: So, I guess you’re supposed to take melatonin only so much, right? Until it stirs up your… well, I don’t know. Something. Some kind of chemical. I’m not a trained doctor or anything. But you take it short term, you get some rest, you move on.

Marco: Gotcha.

Conrad: But I keep taking it because it gives me juicy nightmares. And I’m a horror movie fan.

Marco: I remember that you were a Freddy guy more than a Jason guy.

Conrad: Exactly! Anyway, so the one I had last night… Wowza.

Marco: Oh?

Conrad: Oh yeah. So I’m like wandering around in this fucked up, dark version of Chuck E. Cheese’s, right?

Marco: This already sounds terrifying.

Conrad: Oh, it was. Believe you me. It so was. And there’s all these fat, sweaty white people around me.

Marco: Your ultimate nightmare.

Conrad: My ultimate daymare, you mean. But there they are. And there’s famous gross white people there too. Like Jeffrey Dahmer.

Marco: I remember that Peanut used to date a guy who looked like Jeffrey Dahmer. Man, I hated that guy.

Conrad: Me too. Well, Dahmer, anyway. But he was the guy who, later on I discovered, didn’t belong in the dream. But there was other famous people too. Like Mary Kay Letourneau. And Roman Polanski. And Joey Buttafuoco. And Debra Lafave. And Pete Townshend. And Bobby Fisher. And Gary Glitter!

Marco: Oh shit. You were at a child molester convention!

Conrad: Exactly. By accident, of course. Once I realized what was going on, I was like, “Oh shit, I gotta get the fuck outta here!”

Marco: Shit. I hope so.

Conrad: So I take off for the door, right? But right as I get to it, I notice the little bulletin board listing who all the speakers are going to be at this thing.

Marco: So, it was like a proper convention then? With speakers and talks and things?

Conrad: Yes! Terrifying, right?

Marco: Very.

Conrad: So I’m running my finger down the board, just looking at all the famous names. I remember that R. Kelly was on there, of course.

Marco: Right. Yeah. “Age ain’t nothing but a number,” after all.

Conrad: And then I get to the end. The keynote speaker.

Marco: Ooh, this is going to be good, isn’t it? Who was it?

Conrad: I’m not bullshitting you here. It was Jon Gosselin.

Marco: Oh… wow.

Conrad: I know, right?

Marco: Yeah. Wow. Eeesh.

Conrad: But, whereas everyone else had their name and like a title of what their speech was going to be about or whatever, after his name… there was just one word. One single word.

Marco: What was it?

Conrad: It was simply… “Gangsta.”

Marco: Oh. My.

Conrad: Uh huh. It shocked me away. And I sat there, in my bed, just catching my breath from the sheer intensity of the thing. And I just whispered it back to myself. “Gangsta.”

Marco: Wow…

Conrad: Yeah, I know.

Marco: Yeah.

Conrad: Yeah.

Marco: Yeah, uh… let’s talk about something else, okay?

I can see you.

The city is always watching you.

Man attends his own funeral! That’s the dream.

Speaking of the end of the world, could see Dick Cheney running for President in 2012?

The fuckers want to do a new TV version of fucking Charlie’s Fucking Angels.

“Is it any wonder I can’t sleep?”

Top 10 snipers in history.

Sean Connery was having sex with women at a very young age.

Missing girl recites fantasy novel but cannot remember own name.

Fuck off, Beard Rock.

William Goldman and Harold Pinter.

Woman wants webcam to replace her lost eye, see above.

Accidental dong.

An interview with Costa-Gavras.

Greyhound now offering direct service from Kansas to L.A. porn director’s driveway.

Why do some people see ghosts and others don’t?

Eye on the water.

David Brooks calls Sarah Palin a joke, and here’s the punchline: He’s right.

Gay sex scenes censored in From Here To Eternity.

Physicists: It’s what we don’t know that scares us.

Forever haunted by man’s suicide.

Enforcement Routine.”

I can see you!

…and I feel fine.

Hello! It’s Sunday. And Sundays, well, Sundays are boring, right? Right.

John Cusack goes out for a little jog in the middle of the apocalypse.

Went and saw 2012 yesterday, as promised. It was, well… Hmm.

the end of the world just got a whole lot more end of the world-ier.

My first reaction to it: Ehhhh. Not horrible, but not great. It’s exactly what’s advertised on the tin, I’ll put it this way. You’ve got a lot of real actors doing some cartoon shit while the world goes to hell all around them. The cast, when you think about it, is actually quite impressive. Also, Woody Harrelson’s in the mix too.

We can see you.

My second reaction to it: Why the fuck didn’t this come out in the middle of the summer?

It was literally this or ID4ever, right?

Third reaction: Comedy of the year, hands down.

Especially in a year when, if you think about it, the big comedy was… what? The Hangover? Right? Get serious. I never saw the movie, I won’t lie, but for a lot of reasons. Primarily, things like the trailer. Did you see it? It looks like it was made for retarded boys. But, you know what’s even worse than the trailer? Listening to people who actually liked the movie. They sound like retarded boys, don’t they? Anyway.

There is virtually no situation in which I will not find Thandie Newton excruciatingly gorgeous, except for maybe 2012.

But I really feel like 2012 deserves a good proper Counterforce review. It really does. It’s really our kind of movie, and I mean that in the best and worst possible ways. I don’t know that I’m the man for that job. Benjamin Light, I’m looking at you. Are you the man for that job?

Can you believe me actually made this ridiculous movie?

Anyway, I went and saw the film yesterday with Conrad Noir and walking out of the theater, still buzzing from all that ridiculousness, we saw this:

You are killing me with this ridiculous shit, Dwayne. You really are.

And we thought, “Dear God, who gave that man wings.” Much less Wings Of Desire and much more Red Bull: The Movie.

But then we got into a little conversation, talking about this and that and action heroes of the 80s, mostly cause we’ve been watching a lot of that horrendous/wonderful action movie fare from that decade, and we were talking about how action stars back then were so… foreign seeming. And maybe that contributed a lot to their allure. Maybe it also made some of the ridiculousness easier to stand, too?

For example there, Benjamin Light and were discussing a week or so ago what a remake of The Terminator would look like – since the franchise is up for sale, and should be sold to Joss Whedon, of course, cause why not? – And I brought up the question, “Does the killer robot from the future have to be Austrian?” Commander Light emphatically assured he that it indeed had to be. I’m taking his word for it.

This just looks magical.

Anyway, so Conrad and I, discussing action stars today, talking about guys like Dwayne Johnson, and how, in our minds, he’s not really latched on with America. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the idea of a “non-conventional” action star quite a bit, i.e. a non white guy running around screaming at people, doing high kicks, and blowing copious amounts of shit up. So why hasn’t “The Rock” caught on with us? I posit two possibilities:

1. In a grab for “credibility” or attempting to “not being as big a joke as he is,” he ditched his silly little wrestling moniker, “The Rock,” and went with his real name: Dwayne Johnson. Except, we can’t root for a guy named Dwayne.

2. Not foreign enough? Perhaps? I suggest investigating this has merit. Especially since it seems American action-loving fans get a bigger hard on from a ponce like Jason Statham than Dwayne Johnson.

How Statham picks up a girl.

Then, walking out of the theater, Conrad and I were looking at the various posters on display, the coming soons and the current releases. Part of me still wants to see This Is It. I’m a Michael Jackson fan, I won’t hide it.  But I’m also a huge Richard Matheson fan, and while I have serious reservations about the movie, I also kind of want to see The Box.

Cameron Diaz is trapped inside her own box.

But I don’t know that I trust Richard Kelly anymore. Donnie Darko was okay when it first came out, before you put it through any real tests of serious thought or logic and saw through it’s masturbatory philophosizing. It’s a glorified remake of Last Temptation Of Christ that doesn’t fully pan out. But Kelly also went on to make – speaking of Dwayne Johnson – the gloriously bad Southland Tales.

Dwayne Johnson Fever Dot Net.

Look, I’m not going to talk about the Philip K. Dick pastiche that was Southland Tales here. I’m just… not. I’m not going to do it. All I’ll say is I went into that movie wanting to like it. And I sit here now feeling like I’m a veteran of that war. It’s like Richard Kelly is George W. Bush and I was some dumb kid who supported the Iraq war until I went into the fucker and got my bits and pieces all cut off. Now I’m shell shocked.

But, yeah, there’s The Box, directed by Richard Kelly, starring Cameron Diaz and James Marsden, based on the Richard Matheson story, “Button, Button,” and was previously adapted into an episode of The Twilight Zone. We’ll see if I ever see it.

And again, here we are. It’s Sunday. Tomorrow’s the start of the “work week.” I’d love to Weeks In Review here at Counterforce, but lately it’s just me rambling and I’d feel bad directing the two and a half readers of this site back to more of me rambling. Poor fuckers. Oh yeah, the season finale of Mad Men was last Sunday. And we had a Friday the 13th happen this past week as well. There you go. Oh, and: Young women having sex with sea creatures. Now there you really go.

The Doctor hates funny robots.

But again, here we are. It’s Sunday. Let’s see, let’s see, let’s see… Oh! Tonight was the airing of the latest Doctor Who special over in the UK, “The Waters Of Mars,” the start of the end of David Tennant’s run as #10. You can catch it online if you’re good, if you’re very good, and it’s dark. And a bit sad. And leaves you kind of sweaty and breathless too.

Water Monsters! On Mars!

Also tonight is AMC’s remake of the classic 60s show, The Prisoner. I’d watch it, but I’m not sure I want to see my childhood get raped so thoroughly and with such production values. Ian McKellen is a good choice for just about anything, but Jim Caviezel? I think I hate you for that, AMC. Honestly, Jim Caviezel makes Keanu Reeves look like Marlon Brando to me.

You deserve so much better than this, Gandalf.

Oh well, here we are. The weekend’s almost over. I went to the movies to watch the end of the world as we know it and…

What?

What are you doing on Saturday?

…from Woody Allen‘s Play It Again, Sam.

The 13th.

Wait, is it - gasp! - the 13th?

It’s not that I’m an idiot (although, in the spirit of full disclosure, I sometimes am), it’s that I’m sometimes clueless. Or, forgetful. Or, mentally misplaced. You see, there’s a lot of shit floating around in my cranium. Some numbers, some interesting data, some bullshit ephemera about what episode of what season in what obscure TV show a character walked down the wrong hallway to go to the bathroom, tons of music, a few memorized beautiful things I’ve seen in my days, some horrors I’ve always memorized, and a collection of all the breasts I’ve come across and been mesmerized. Yeah, there’s a pun there. A bad one, at that.

This morning, I woke up and smiled that kind of smile that only happens on a day off. I got up, stretched, did the various things I do when I wake up alone, the scratching of places and releasing of certain human fluids, then went to the internet and began absorbing facts. A typical day. There’s “significant amounts” of water on the mother fucking moon!

Houston, we have enough water here to go skinny dipping!from here.

And I was reading some stuff about the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, which I knew I was a few days late to, but it’s still fascinating, right?

Fuck this wall, yo

I even put on some music as I did this. Made myself a little playlist in my music player and put it on random/shuffle, and you know what song came on several times? My favorite song by the Cure, that’s what. This one:

That’s “The 13th,” and I just adore it. Not the video so much, but the song, definitely.

TGIF!

There was a commercial on TV for a Friday The 13th marathon. And I thought, “Huh, that’s interesting.” Thought about 2012, the batshit crazy stupid but fun looking Roland Emmerich movie that came on today that I’ll probably see tomorrow with Conrad Noir, who tells me he’s not all that interested because he was let down by The Day After Tomorrow. Well, no shit you were let down by The Day After Tomorrow, right? Anyway, that’s most likely on tomorrow’s agenda.

This guy is going to save the world from environmental catastrophe? Bullshit.

Long story short, it took me until like noon or later to actually fucking realize that it was Friday the 13th. I probably shouldn’t be bragging about that.

Silly superstitions will fuck you up, man.It happened at some local coffee shop that I went to, and, well, it was embarassing, but interesting. I live in a small town, the kind where it’s hard to not get to know everyone and their quaint little stories. And all the Southern gothic ghost stories that goes along with it. So I do my best to avoid people as best I can, but today I felt like getting out of the domecile for a bit and going for a run and experimenting with various Pandora stations on my smart brilliant phone.

Pandora, you bring me closer to God. And I want to fuck you like an animal.

The search for the perfect Pandora station is man’s constant crawl towards enlightenment, nirvana, and the fingerbanging of God. The pleasure is in the quest, not the capturing because the goal is unreachable, but we still try. That’s the beauty of the humans, or something. Regardless, I’ve been bouncing back and forth, trying to find a good station while running/walking, and I took a chance on an 80s station.

Not bad, but you know what? As great as they can be, Duran Duran and Frankie Goes To Hollywood and “The Safety Dance” just felt a little too gay for this job. I needed something less festive, so I figured I’d shift a decade forward and did a search for an appropriate 90s station. Came up mostly zero, no joke, except for a fascinating station that played 80s music stars trying to make a comeback in the 90s:

Okay, that’s the lovely Bryan Adams song from the Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves soundtrack, which is fantastic all on it’s own (except when it’s used for a Dawson’s Creek fanvid, sorry), but in actuality, the first song that came on that station was Adams’ “Run To You,” which isn’t bad. And following that was some Tom Petty, which is always good in my book, and some Bon Jovi, which is atrocious (though old Bon Jobi works appropiately in some bar settings, I’m loathe to admit), and a whole fucking lot of Guns N’ Roses. It was weird, but I guess it did the trick, workout-wise.

Then I got to the coffee shop, got something to eat, something to drink, and meant to hide myself in the corner with some headphones and devour my meal and some more internet on my phone. Also with me were some printouts of various things I needed to revise and a copy of Warren Ellis’ new POD book, Shivering Sands, which had just come in the mail today. I feel like I’ve read most of it previously (it’s a collection of various writings of his from the internet of the past few years), but still, I was excited.

How creepy is this picture, right?

But as it sometimes can be when interesting people are in the vicinity, and frightfully true when there’s less than interesting people buzzing around you, I got sucked into some conversation. Found out it was 13th day of the month coinciding with the fact that it was also a Friday. Also absorbed some recent gossip. And, because of the recent anniversary, got involved with a conversation about the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War.

Sledgehammer.

You see, the conversation got even more interesting when it turned out that one of the women there was German, a former resident of East Berlin, who had been 18 when the wall came down, and moved to America shortly after. I’ve had a lot of bad experiences with Germans in the past (and no, I’m not referring to World War II, though that was no picnic either, ha ha!), but every once in a while, I have a good experience with their women. :)

The woman and I talked for some time about the Berlin Wall, and primarily what it was like for her growing up in East Berlin. Essentially, it was bleak, but fascinating. And we had one of those conversations that always pop where she mentions that she was feeling uneasy today because she had left her cell phone at home and she just feels like she’s naked and out of touch, but growing up poor in Germany, they didn’t even have a phone in their house til she was 16. “How did we live in that ancient, strange world?” she asked with a laugh.

The Lives Of Others

She had just seen The Lives Of Others a few weeks ago, she told me, and we talked about the movie, which is really quite good if you haven’t seen it yet, and about the Stasi in general. She told me that the movie scares her because back then, when she was growing up, you just always knew you were being watched, being monitored. You always suspected who was a Stasi man, but you never really knew for sure. And it didn’t hit you until later that it wasn’t so much agents of the Stasi you had to worry about, but those around you because everyone was informing on each other to get ahead.

Relations between Germany and America got a little weird after this.Could’ve been worse. He could’ve thrown up in her lap.

From there we went into little aspects of German history, talking about “The Iron Chancellor” and how the Prussians united the country a hundred years before the Wall fell, and we even talked a little about Merkel, or “Angie,” as she called her, and told me what a fan she is, being that they’re both East German girls. She told me how it was so weird for her to come to America in her twenties and get a more full view of her own little world up til then and to compare it to growing up in communist Germany, where history was repainted with a propaganda slant. She mentioned that as a teen they were never allowed to refer to the Wall as just “the Wall,” it was always as the “tool for anti-fascist defense” or something like that.

The children.

She told me how when she was in school, it was a mandatory field trip for the kids to be taken to the concentration camps and shown all the gross details, the rooms with human remains permanently staining the walls, with the empty shoes of little babies that were turned to dust, the lampshades made out of flayed skin featuring Jewish tattoos. She told me how the physical evidence of the darkest corners of history would never leave her mind and part of her was glad that she was forced to see that shameful part of her country’s past, but that it’s something she knows kids don’t go to see anymore.

The bodies.

I don’t want to use the word “fascinating” again in this post, but that’s what it was. A fascinating conversation, and a fantastic one, informative and insightful. I thanked her for her time and being so patient with my curiousity, and of course for letting me know that it was actually Friday the 13th. Then I left, since I had been there for quite some time and it was starting to look like it might rain. I wasn’t interesting in listening to sad old men with hair plugs crooning bar anthems into my ear, so I just walked in silence, my head heavy with thoughts about everything we discussed.

Come over!Komm rüber!” Hans Conrad Schumann defects, from here.

It did start raining before I got back to my front door, of course, but my mind was elsewhere and I didn’t actually realize it until I was pulling my key out to let myself back in and realized I was shivering there as the water dripped off of me.

Watching and listening.

And how did you spend your Friday the 13th?

Einstein on the beach.

Shattering Glass

Four videos in a series of Philip Glass video resource dumping…

Helo and Starbuck walking through the shadows of the...

1. “Metamorphosis One,” from Solo Piano, and used in that episode of Battlestar Galactica. It was used quite effectively and also, in that one episode in the last episode where Starbuck jams with the piano player, if you didn’t think that guy was supposed to be her dad after having seen this episode, well…

…then again, with the butchering of “All Along The Watchtower” that was so heavily incorporated in the final cycle of that show, I think I have to remain incredibly happy that Glass was used at all. It gave this show a certain touch of class that so many people mistakenly thought it retained it’s entire four seasons (and well into straight-to-DVD money grabs). But I digress. See a little of how “Metamorphosis One” was used here and here.

2. The trailer for Glass: A Portrait Of Phillip In Twelve Parts, the documentary on the composer who is a master of “existential dread” and “repetitive structures” by director Scott Hicks.

3. Einstein On The Beach, the approximately five or so hour long opera composed by Glass.

…of which there is an excerpt above. The opera is where the Counting Crows got the title for their song, “Einstein On The Beach (For An Eggman)” from. I don’t really like the Counting Crows except for just a handful of songs, but there’s just something infectiously wonderful about that one.

Einstein On The Beach.

Though, musical side note: When I think of their song, with that subtitle in parentheses, I can’t help but think of, of course, the Beatles’ “I Am The Walrus,” a lovely bit of juvenile Lewis Carrolling about and complaining abotu capitalism, and the eternal debate that followed over who exactly the Walrus was and who was the fucking Eggman. In “Glass Onion” on The White Album, it’s suggested that the Walrus was Paul, though in John Lennon’s solo song, “God,” naturally, he suggests that it was himself. But the Eggman was actually Eric Burdon.

Goo goo goo joob

4. How to play piano like Philip Glass.

Just fascinating. If I had ever taught myself how to play piano, well… now I’d be playing like Glass, wouldn’t I? Well, more soon, I imagine, but for now, enjoy the Phillip Glass. And… suck it, Michael Nyman, ha ha.

Knee plays.

“So you do want to be in advertising after all?”

Lets do something crazy!

“From one john’s bed to the next,” and here we are, sitting in our hotel suite office ordering room service and naughty adult movies, ready to ruminate on this past Sunday’s episode of Mad Men, the season 3 finale entitled “Shut The Door. Have A Seat.” And what an episode it was…

Onward to the littlest biggest divorce in the world.

Again, normally August Bravo would join me here, but that guy just can’t learn his lesson. Remember when he didn’t heed Peggy’s mom’s advice and moved to Manhattan and then was thoroughly raped? Well, now he’s moved to Portland and while there’s a bar on every corner and someone you can buy a hanjob or coke or both from every ten feet, apparently there’s not enough of a signal to watch Mad Men on youtube via your iphone.

Howdy Don. I am old and crusty. And if you want a father figure, I will gladly give you a spanking.

A brief recap (if possible): We discover that Don has been sleeping in Grandpa Gene’s room because of the strife between Betty and himself. Conrad Hilton gives him the cold brush off and informs him that PPL is being sold, and with it goes Sterling Cooper. Don tells his would be father figure where he can stick it. Then he goes and wakes up Cooper and brings Roger Sterling back to life and gets them excited about taking back their lives and their company and starting over. Together, they begin picking out their dream team from Sterling Cooper and assembling what will be their new company as Don goes around with both his dick and his tail between his legs and learning to value relationships. And sometimes valuing relationships means knowing which ones to say goodbye to, and so off goes Betty and her new boyfriend to Reno for a “quickie” (six weeks) divorce and Don discovers that he has a whole other family. But this, you see, is just a brief recap, so, as we’re told in almost every scene in this episode, “Have a seat.”

John John salutes.

Well, Kennedy is still dead. John John’s had to make his goodbyes, and America has not quite realized it, but everything is different now. The changes are no longer coming, they’re here.

Alarm clocks do not wake the dead.

And Don starts the episode by waking in a tomb, the former bedroom of a dead man and the newborn baby who shares his name. He then goes to meet Connie, the odd kitten who’s treated Don like a ball of yarn half the season, and really wakes up when Connie cuts him loose and then gives Don a self righteous spiel about how he’s impervious to whiners who can’t earn things for themselves. But Don couldn’t give a shit. His company’s about to get sold and he doesn’t want to go work for some sausage factory.

From there on, the episode becomes just a powerhouse of awesome, giving us some truly satisfying and exciting moments dealing with Don Draper and the exiles of Sterling Cooper as they play the phoenix from the ashes of their company, but before we go there, let’s get to what we all knew was coming, especially after last week…

...when both parties are guilty.

“The state of New York doesn’t want anyone to get divorced. That’s why people go to Reno.”

The thing is, after last week’s episode, this season finale was all set up in our minds to be the ultimate downer as the Draper castle was torn apart and washed away, and yet, back in the office, we saw excitement and joy, and more of a sense of family than we’ve seen in a long time in the cold walls of Don and Betty’s metaphorical bedroom. Just another way this show wonderfully plays with our expectations.

So, Benjamin Light hates Betty, and I can understand why, but I can still see where she’s coming from. And I’m glad she’s going. Don remains characteristically clueless about a lot of what she wants and needs, and really, she’s the same way about him. And now that she sees him, now that he’s no longer the “football hero who hates his father,” but the son of poor co-op farmers, he’s nothing to her. Everything that his double life has brought them is completely illegitimate to her, and she longs for the silver haired loser from the Rockefeller campaign instead.

In fact, I think Betty quite accurately throws it in Don’s face when he suggests that she may have to be sick to want out of their “perfect little world.” Well, actually, he just suggests that she’s had a bad year, which she has, and that she should probably find someone to talk, which she should. But her inference is also correct, I think, when it comes to Don’s real intentions there. I can defend Betty to a point, am curious to see who she’ll become as she now enters the real world that Don and her father have essentially protected her from up until this point, but she has been, and in this episode especially, a bit of a stone cold bitch.

“Why are we in the living room?” Bobby Draper asks, and he’s right. It’s the scene of Betty’s ultimate fantasy world and in it, the cathedral to which she can have those fantasies now ends as the family breaks up. This was easily one of the most heartbreaking scenes on TV, and so harsh, so cruel, so real. Don suggests this new status quo is only temporarily and Betty emphatically shakes her head no. And then there’s the kids, the real victims of the way people treat each other, and as Light suggested to me the other day, though it’s not said, you almost feel that for all the coldness they sometimes get from their father, they’d still prefer it to freezing to death with their mother.

Have a seat, Bobby.

As much of a fan of little Sally Draper as I am, the lasting image from that scene for me isn’t just Betty shaking her head no, but it’s Bobby’s ceaseless clinging to his father, clinging to his world that he barely understands as it all falls away. Oh, the fathers and sons this season. Don and Bobby, whom Don rarely shares moments with, honestly. Don getting kicked out by his pseudo-paternal figure, Hilton, which starts flashbacks of the loss of his real father (or real step father, whatever), Archie Whitman.

Archie Whitman sees you masturbate.

Which brings us to the night before the Draper family ended in their living room, when a drunken Don invades the master bedroom in the house, that his wife and their newborn baby now occupy alone, and he pulls Betty out of sleep and onto her feet, confronting her with what he’s only just learned about: Henry Francis. Don has the greatest line of the season when it comes to Betty: “Because you’re good… and everyone else is in the world is bad.” Don’s cruelty is usually cool, measured, but when he delivers these lines, it’s like he’s finally releasing some pent up venom. But it almost goes to far and we’re taken back to his imagined origins in the late night reverie from the season premiere, as he becomes his father, Betty becomes the whore, and then there’s the baby crying. It’s arguable in that scene that Don is confronted with a subtle choice as you half expect him to hit his wife: Does he want to be Don Draper or does he want to just another dick?

Who the hell is Henry Francis?

Which takes us back to the offices of Sterling Cooper, the kind of place that Don never expected to work at, but where he thrived, or, where he’s thrived for the last three years. With PPL being sold off and the SC along with it by their new British masters, Don is awake, and on his way to wake up Bert Cooper…

The dialogue in their scene is perfect, and I love that Cooper, who’s always kind to Don and his talents and his mysteries, and who purrs like a fat old wise and eccentric housecat with a bit of a Japanese fetish, lets Don know flat out that he doesn’t think he has the stomach for the reality of the future Don wants so brutally to regain control of…

Meow.

Cooper: “Young men love risks because they can’t imagine consequences.”

Don: “And you old men love building golden tombs and sealing the rest of us in with you.”

But something begins in this scene, the start of building something, a bridge out of their indentured servitude and Cooper hits Don with one of those harsh realities he’s going to have to face: He can’t do this on his own. He’s going to need Roger Sterling.

I was going to tell you. Well, no, I was not. Bros, hoes, whatever. Lets drink!

And let me just say: Fuck Yeah, Roger Sterling.

When the highpoints of this episode was literally everything that came out of his mouth. Don and Cooper both make their pitches to Sterling about taking the tough road and starting something new and Sterling breaks it to Don: You don’t care about people. And maybe that’s why you’re so bad at being real with them. And Cooper hits Sterling with some real talk too: You need the excitement and danger of this business to survive and feel alive like you’re used to. Retire now and you might as well move into a plot in the ground with your child bride. It’s funny how enduring Jane has somehow purified Roger in our eyes, made him possibly realize that Joan is the woman for him, not the girl for him like Jane is, and put him on a better path.

From there, they go to Pryce and put forth a plan: He’ll fire them, thereby releasing them from their contracts, in exchange for shared power in their new company, and over the weekend, they’ll assemble a dream team to take with them along with any clients and supplies they can swipe from the office. And the show literally explodes into life. It became the gathering of the dream team from something like Ocean’s 11 or the start of a mission from one of those crack team of guys going on a mission World War II or something. It was perfect and it was exhilarating.

Beg me? You didnt even ask me.

And it was a great moment for the characters to confront their own failures and move past them, to be happy beyond them. Don especially, as he does the walk of shame, first treating Peggy like dirty in assuming that she’ll just follow him blindly so he can beat her about as he pleases and then getting told off by her as she finally stands up for herself to him.

And then Pete, whom Don actually has to compliment for his eye towards the future. He’s not just wanted, he’s needed in the new company, Don tells him. And thankfully, along with Pete, will come his perfect partner, Trudy.

Sorry, August, but I guess Ken Cosgrove doesn’t make the cut.

This guy? Really?

Sadly, they took Harry Crane along too, but maybe since they’re literally sifting through the ashes of Sterling Cooper, maybe they’ll blow a little of those embers into him and ignite some potential. Or maybe he came along just so Cooper could deliver my actual favorite line of the episode, telling Harry that if he turns him down, he’ll spend the rest of the weekend tied up in the closet.

And, of course Joan is back. They’re all brilliant actors and they’re staging what could be a fascinating play, but they need a director, they need someone to coordinate them and make their needs accessible. And of course Roger knows that Joan is the person to do that.

But alas, no Sal. But in a small way, that could be a good thing. Sal may not be able to come back to the new company and the show in his old capacity, but more on that soon. Cause there’s always this:

Fuck doors. Fuck yeah.

And then there’s Don’s return and appeal to Peggy. He stops treating her like his former secretary. He stops treating her like just an employee. He actually sees her as a person. Possibly through a mirror, but still, he’s awake now and really looking at her. He’s really to lay down his sword and shield in front of her and stop holding the fact that he’s a man over her as something superior. I think one of the most realistic and truthful things Don has ever said is when he told her that she’s just like him, she’s his anima, and together they both can conjure the words, the “asa nisi masa,” if you will.

If I say no, you will never speak to me again.

“Because there are people out there who buy things, people like you and me, and something happened. Something terrible. And the way that they saw themselves is gone. And nobody understands that, but you do. And that’s very valuable.”

SHOW ME THE MONEY!

When he says that, it’s not just to her that he’s confessing things, it’s to himself as well. Peggy ventures a guess that if she turns him down, he’ll cut her off forever and, baring his soul to her, he says it’s the opposite: “No. I will spend the rest of my life trying to hire you.” It’s telling that the most touching scene of the episode isn’t between Don and his departing wife, Betty. It’s between Don and himself/Peggy.

Fan Fiction, start your engines.

But of course Peggy is her own creature as well, and I think everyone, not just Don and Pete, are going to see it. So classic was Roger asking her for a cup of coffee and her flat out saying, “No.”

Velveeta really is the cheesiest.

But then the long night of the weekend comes to an end and the sun comes up on Monday morning and the all stars of Sterling Cooper are gone, spirited away to their new home, an office in a hotel suite. In fact, really, all of Sterling Cooper is gone, shredded to pieces in the night…

And now:

Sultry phone voice.

“Good morning! Hello Sterling/Cooper/Draper/Pryce. How may I help you?” It’s nice to meet you.

Pip Pip. Cheerio. And good day to you then, sir!

“Very good. Happy Christmas!”

Pete tried to poach John Deere.

“He didn’t even leave a note!”

Still miss you, Sal, but you’ll have to change or die, as is often the case with history. As the always explosively brilliant Karina Longworth suggests when talking about the end of the episode as the camera captures the joy on the faces of the new SCDP employees/refugees:

The glow in the room that’s reflected on Don’s face in that shot—that is only there because they are all there, because he needs all of them to do his job, and vice versa. It’s arguable (probable, for all the lines like “we don’t have art”) that Sal could be back in Season Four and SCDP (and the show) would be better for it. But his sham marriage may need to fully deteriorate before he belongs in that hotel room.

One can only hope that Sal embraces his sexuality and himself and comes back into the fold as a contracted big time commercial director. Wouldn’t that be wonderful. Also, Fuck Lee Garner, Jr.

Will Sal be forever left on the cutting room floor?

This episode was everything I could ever want from Mad Men. Much like us here at Counter-force, sitting her in our hotel suite/bloggitorium, at least when I’m doing my song and dance, we’re obsessed with the future. But we see it through the multi-colored lenses of the past. The past was bombs, the present is rubble, and the future is fireworks and we’re looking up at the stars, to dangle as many silly pyrotechnic metaphors in your face as I can.

The limeys invade.

The Beatles are coming. Vietnam is coming. The world isn’t done being changed and the light from the future can’t be fully seen yet, but for now, in the world of Mad Men, the characters are happy. Excited. Don Draper has perhaps finally said goodbye to Dick Whitman and is ready to move on. Trudy is showing up with sandwiches. Joan’s husband can hopefully only be guaranteed a nasty ending. There’s Peggy/Pete stuff on the horizon. There’s Joan/Roger stuff on the horizon. And there’s always fucking Jai Alai. We may never seen Suzanne Farrell again (though she’ll live on in Twix commercials). Or Paul Kinsey or Duck Phillips or Ken Cosgrove, for all we know. But what happens in this world and in Don Draper’s life could be anything.

Don and his new family.

Especially when Don places that call to Betty. He won’t fight her. She can have whatever she wants. And he hopes that she finds out what that is. “Well, you’ll always be her father,” she pathetically replies with, but I think it was meant to be a kind statement, something Betty’s always been foreign too. She’s going to leave two older children with a vastly better mom, Carla (so classy, Betty), and take baby Eugene, her youngest child and ball and chain from the past, to Reno with her new boyfriend.

I just called to say  I do not love you anymore.

And Don’s going to crawl off into the city, heartbroken maybe, but feeling lighter and hopefully optimistic. We have a general idea of the future he’s going to see, but he doesn’t, and he’s excited for it. And we’re going to go with him.

And, wonderfully, Roy Orbison is going to sing a song about the whole thing. August and I had a great time talking about Mad Men and hopefully you enjoyed it too. And hopefully it’ll only get better since, after all, “the future is much better than the past.”

Future, here we come...

“We don’t have art.”

The future is better than the past.

We’ll be back tomorrow to talk about Sunday night’s awesome Mad Men season finale (and hopefully August will be able to join me after he figures out some technical issues), but I can tell you right now that we loved it. It was a lovely episode, a gorgeous play on our expectations as only Mad Men can pull off and an episode in which, as I teased all my west coast friends who wouldn’t see the episode until two hours after me, “everyone gets exactly what they want.”

Surfs up!

Thinking about certain elements of the ending got me thinking about this past season of the show in general, and in particular, the season premiere, “Out Of Town,” and the then latest acquisition to Bert Cooper’s eccentric collection of art: Hokusai Katsushika’s (best known for The Great Wave Off Kanagawa, see above) 1820 erotic painting, The Dream Of The Fisherman’s Wife, or also known as Diving Girl With Octopus. See:

Well, actually that came up because I also noticed that the Picasso museum in Barcelona is doing a special exhibition “Secret Images” talking about some of Pablo’s favorite bits of erotic Japanese art. We’ll be back tomorrow, but that’s just something to think about for tonight to hold you over: Mad Men. Erotic Japanese art. Young women committing sex acts with creatures of the deep. And Pablo Picasso, who, of course, was never called an asshole…