Lies, Damned Lies & Statistics

This is a picture of two baby bears playing:

This is a picture of a fresh plate of cookies:

And this is a picture of a man with a funny mustache:

The most popular post on Counterforce is by the least prolific writer, Occam Razor, and is called LA Face With An Oakland Booty. The least popular is about sports. The most popular “bio” page is the Marco Sparks one. The interview with the most views is Tess Lynch‘s, but the Topher Chris interview is catching up. Coincidentally, the day the site got the most page views was March 28, 2009 when Topher Chris posted a link to the interview on his incredibly popular Tumblr. The most popular outgoing click that is not a link to another page on this website is a blog post on documentaries on Hulu. In the past thirty days, the most popular search term was simply “chuck.” For the past quarter, the most popular was “junk in the trunk,” followed by YouTube star Caitlin Hill.  At the bottom of the search terms list is blogger Lena Chen. Just searching “counterforce” or “counterforce wordpress” is also a slightly popular search term.  In the last quarter, 4 of the top 5 viewed posts have been interview posts. Peanut St. Cosmo‘s bio page has gotten 146 more views than about 20 (I didn’t count) other posts, two of which were related to Lost, one about abortion and another about Obama.  Almost all referring links come from the Counterforce tumblr, followed by the Tumblr dashboard. 18 referring links came from within Gmail. 22 referring links came from a Sylvester Stallone message board. Overall pageviews started increasing in January, doubled in March, and have stayed about the same for April & May.

Again & Again & Again.

It’s time. Sylvia Plath vs Anne Sexton.

Both women were brilliant writers, “confessional poets” (the original oversharers, they’d probably both love Twitter if they were around today), and both suffered from severe mental illness, the kind that turns people into brilliant writers. When Sylvia killed herself in 1963, Anne felt like Sylvia was trying to steal the spotlight. The two women studied under male oversharer Robert Lowell in Boston. While Sylvia was educated at Smith College and was a Fulbright scholar; Anne was a model and spent a lot of her life in a mental hospital, where she was encouraged to write. Both women killed themselves by carbon monoxide poisoning, about 11 years apart leaving their children behind. Sylvia’s son commited suicide last year and Anne’s daughter wrote a book about her mother’s sexual abuse of her. They’re both Pulitzer Prize winners, Sylvia getting hers after she died; Anne getting hers in 1967.

sylvia at her typewriter

Lady Lazarus

by Sylvia Plath

I have done it again.
One year in every ten
I manage it——
A sort of walking miracle, my skin
Bright as a Nazi lampshade,
My right foot
A paperweight,
My face a featureless, fine
Jew linen.
Peel off the napkin
O my enemy.
Do I terrify?——
The nose, the eye pits, the full set of teeth?
The sour breath
Will vanish in a day.
Soon, soon the flesh
The grave cave ate will be
At home on me
And I a smiling woman.
I am only thirty.
And like the cat I have nine times to die.
This is Number Three.
What a trash
To annihilate each decade.
What a million filaments.
The peanut-crunching crowd
Shoves in to see
Them unwrap me hand and foot——
The big strip tease.
Gentlemen, ladies
These are my hands
My knees.
I may be skin and bone,
Nevertheless, I am the same, identical woman.
The first time it happened I was ten.
It was an accident.
The second time I meant
To last it out and not come back at all.
I rocked shut
As a seashell.
They had to call and call
And pick the worms off me like sticky pearls.
Is an art, like everything else.
I do it exceptionally well.
I do it so it feels like hell.
I do it so it feels real.
I guess you could say I’ve a call.
It’s easy enough to do it in a cell.
It’s easy enough to do it and stay put.
It’s the theatrical
Comeback in broad day
To the same place, the same face, the same brute
Amused shout:
‘A miracle!’
That knocks me out.
There is a charge
For the eyeing of my scars, there is a charge
For the hearing of my heart——
It really goes.
And there is a charge, a very large charge
For a word or a touch
Or a bit of blood
Or a piece of my hair or my clothes.
So, so, Herr Doktor.
So, Herr Enemy.
I am your opus,
I am your valuable,
The pure gold baby
That melts to a shriek.
I turn and burn.
Do not think I underestimate your great concern.
Ash, ash—
You poke and stir.
Flesh, bone, there is nothing there——
A cake of soap,
A wedding ring,
A gold filling.
Herr God, Herr Lucifer
Out of the ash
I rise with my red hair
And I eat men like air.
anne in her office[]
Again & Again & Again
You said the anger would come back
just as the love did. I have a black look I do not
like. It is a mask I try on.
I migrate toward it and its frog
sits on my lips and defecates.
It is old. It is also a pauper.
I have tried to keep it on a diet.
I give it no unction.There is a good look that I wear
like a blood clot. I have
sewn it over my left breast.
I have made a vocation of it.
Lust has taken plant in it
and I have placed you and your
child at its milk tip.

Oh the blackness is murderous
and the milk tip is brimming
and each machine is working
and I will kiss you when
I cut up one dozen new men
and you will die somewhat,
again and again.

I like Sylvia’s cutting, biting approach. For this round, she wins.

Turn Down Service

I want to live in a hotel, just like Eloise, who lives in the Plaza and who is “not yet pretty but is already a person”.

Most people can’t wait to leave the hotel and go back to their beds. Having slept in very uncomfortable beds (and its inferior cousin, the futon) for many years, my favorite part of traveling is getting to sleep in a hotel bed. All hotel rooms smell the same, with their attempts to wipe the memories of the other people who were there away. When I first get to a hotel room, I like to find the bible, spread out all my stuff, get some ice and water and read the room service menu.

But it’s not just the rooms that turn me on. I also love hotel bars, a cross section of people who shouldn’t be in the same place, but are. And the lobbies! It’s like going into someone’s house and being allowed to sit in their living room. No one can bother you in a hotel lobby. You don’t have to buy anything or do anything. I’ve done some of my best writing (and freaking out) in hotel lobbies while sports silently plays somewhere and buttoned up waiters bring me water after water.

The Driskill Hotel in Austin is easily one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to. It’s eerily out of place on Brazos street, which is full of bars, pedi-cabs and street sausage vendors. And then all of a sudden there’s this gorgeous Southern mansion right on the corner. Built in 1886, the Driskill is believed to be haunted by a few ghosts, including its namesake Colonel Driskill who likes to turn bathroom lights on and off.

Upscale hotel lobbies are a wonderful place to take refuge from bustling downtown centers. In San Francisco, I had two hotel lobbies I liked to loiter in: the Westin on 3rd and the sexiest place on earth, the St Regis Hotel. Typically I am an old school dork who likes everything to be either art-deco or pre-war, but the St Regis makes me happy in a way typically reserved for .. well, for almost nothing. The extremely expensive bar offers expertly made drinks served by waitresses in asexual black uniforms and top notch escort watching. Last but not certainly least, the touch activated fireplace is a fun way to freak out your date or make you feel like you are evading some kind of fire inspired death.

The hotel Abba in Amsterdam is so budget they only have twin beds. This leads to you almost falling in between them in the middle of a hash induced make out session. The other thing about budget European accomodation is you don’t get your own bathroom. We shared it with one other room, who luckily we never saw and who were apparently able to hold their space cakes. It was a huge bathroom with almost no ventilation and I spent about half an hour staring at the blue tiles in the shower after eating half a box of mushrooms. The window in our room faced a giant courtyard with different tiny Dutch apartments to look into, with a band of roving cats that would jump from balcony to balcony. That came in handy as well, when you’re stoned and need to look at something. I would recommend the Hotel Abba if you are traveling cheaply in Europe but really hate people (hostelling requires too much interaction).

I could write an entire book about hotels in Vegas (don’t dare me because I will). I love all the hotels on the Strip except for Imperial Palace, where no one should stay or enter, ever. For a group? The Venetian. For hot sex in the most comfortable bed you will ever sleep or roll around in? The Wynn. You want to drink out of a medieval chalice and watch brides drink 40s while wearing stonewashed cut offs and a cheap veil they bought at Claire’s? Excalibur. The hottest waitress uniforms are at Caesar’s Palace (togas). If you’re going to stay downtown because you have some kind of problem with things that are nice, the Golden Nugget, with a shark tank by the pool is white trash perfection. The pina colada they serve at the pool bar is spectacular and actually is kind of spicy. A mixologist after my pretentious little heart.

The worst hotel I stayed at was also in Amsterdam, in Vondelpark. The elevator smelled like there were a million dead rats in the wall and the TV that night would show one channel, which was playing the Demi Moore movie Striptease. I’m sure you can understand why I hold it as the worst hotel stay ever. The travelodge in San Jose was also a terrible place, but at some point I started to feel better and this happened:

Hotels are possibility and secrets and intrigue. It’s your pretend home so you can have a pretend self, too. Or it’s where you can finally be the person you’ve always wanted to be. You can eat in bed and not worry about cleaning it up. You can order porn and no one will know. Best of all, it’s one of the few places in life where it’s socially acceptable to tell everyone to stay the hell out of your room with a cute little sign to hang on the door. At worst, hotels are sad places where you will end up covered in your own vomit and tears. Whatever it is, it’s not the same old. It’s not the usual. You’ll have a story to tell. And sometimes, that’s the best we can hope for.

[All images belong to the author, except for the first, which belongs to Amazon]

7 questions with… Tyler Coates.

7 Questions returns! This is a special one for me because I feel that I am Tyler, if I were a young, thin red-headed dude living in Chicago who loves musicals. I first really knew of Tyler when he blew the lid off some particularly juicy Tumblr gossip and he has failed to disappoint ever since. We’re going to switch gears just a bit and switch up the questions. For this one, I decided to go with my favorite Vanity Fair feature: the last page, where they ask a celebrity questions from the Proust Questionnaire. Here were his answers:

1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?

I would like to constantly be surrounded by friends. In the last year I’ve had some crappy things happen to me, and the only constant have been my friends. I’ve found that I’m most likely to be down in the dumps when I’m on my own. I don’t like to think of myself as co-dependent, or having to rely on being in a relationship with someone, but I have always been the kind of person who really enjoys being surrounded by people I like. I think, perhaps, I make up for those years in high school, when my “friends” were mostly folks with whom the only common interest we shared was our proximity. It’s quite a relief when you get to college – and later, into the real world – to make connections with people based on something more substantial than having the same homeroom teacher.

2. If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be?

I’m hoping it will be a red panda, because everyone would think I am cute and take pictures of me. And then Molly Lambert would finally love me.

3. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

Generally, it’s my vanity. I have a compulsion to blog, to tell stories about myself, and to share my opinions with strangers. I don’t really do that in real life (well, not with strangers, anyway), but I don’t think most people who BLOG (ew) are so open with people they don’t know, either. I’d love to explore this idea and figure out WHY we, as a blogosphere (ew, ew) do this, but I’m pretty lazy (which is another thing I hate about myself), so the chances that I will write The Great American Blog Book are very, very slim.

I also hate my propensity to insert parenthetical asides, which is something I also do in real life. A friend told me recently, “All of your stories require so much exposition.” I blame the blogging.

4. What is the trait you most deplore in others?

I hate it when people eat on public transportation. Specifically, I hate the mysterious people who eat sunflower seeds on the CTA red line. WHO ARE THEY? I have never seen anyone eat seeds on the train, but I always see piles of the seed DROPPINGS on nearly every train car. I don’t think I’ve ever seen McDonald’s bag filled with an empty cardboard Big Mac box or a super-sized cup with the remnants of Dr. Pepper. I have never seen a Popeye’s tray containing the bones of a chicken. What is it about sunflower seeds that makes people feel like it’s appropriate to eat them on the train and then spit them out onto the floor? (This particularly blows my mind because I don’t think I have ever eaten sunflower seeds in my life, much less on mass transit.)

5. What or who is the greatest love of your life?

I suppose I could say that I’m in love with SOMETHING rather than SOMEONE, but, let’s face it: the only thing I could think of is “The Internet,” and I do not want to be that person.

I’ve certainly been in love with people, but my strategy for falling out of love with someone is to hate them. And hating someone is to reject the idea that you could love them in the first place. I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s the wrong time to ask me this question, as the most recent person I was in love with is someone I now hate, and the others are so far away from my radar that I don’t really think about them all that much.

I suppose, though, that if I could pick one abstract thing that I was in love with, it would be my emotional maturity.

6. Who is your favorite hero of fiction?

This is a tough one to answer. I immediately think of which literary character I relate to the most, and I want to say Quentin Compson from Absalom, Absalom! and The Sound and the Fury. It’s a bummer of an answer because of the whole, you know, SUICIDE thing, but I understand his dichotomous, “She’s my sister! She’s my daughter! She’s my sister! She’s my daughter!” connection to The South.

In the same vein, and slightly less depressing, is Stingo from Sophie’s Choice. William Styron is my favorite author and it’s fitting that one of my favorite characters in fiction is his literary doppelganger. Stingo, it should be noted, is the only main character in the novel that doesn’t kill himself, so he’s got that going for him. He’s kind of a failed hero, which is maybe what I like about him. I not really attracted to people who actually accomplish shit.

7. What is your motto?

Last year when my life was going – and went – to shit, and I became incredibly angry at pretty much anyone who did as much as gave me a look I could interpret as flippant. After a while, when I had one of those “ONLY YOU CAN MAKE YOURSELF HAPPY” epiphanies that I get every few months, I decided that my motto was: “Fuck that guy!” It worked in nearly all scenarios. Did your boss call you from Germany to yell at you because he missed his flight back to the states? Fuck that guy! Is the dude you have a crush on being obnoxiously aloof and won’t give you a straight answer in response to your obvious feelings for him? Fuck that guy! Is your ex-boyfriend sending you his condolences after the death of a family member (by way of his co-worker whom you do not know very well)? Fuck that guy! Does your Internet connection keep failing when you’re trying to blog about your FEELINGS? Fuck that guy!

These days I’m trying to be more POSITIVE (I had one of the aforementioned epiphanies about a week ago), so I’m trying to come up with a new motto. In the meantime, I’m going to steal one from Troy Dyer, my favorite hipster philosopher: “The only thing you have to be at the age of twenty-[five] is yourself.”

Tyler’s writing can be found at This Recording and his Tumblr.

Are You Fascinating?

I’m looking for new subjects for my weekly interview series so I can actually start publishing it weekly and not when I feel like it.

For a glimpse into what a typical interview looks like, check out the three previous installments:

1. Tess Lynch

2. Peanut St. Cosmo

3. Topher Chris

Whatever you do, don’t make me create another video of myself talking again. No one wants that.

If you’re into it, comment via this post or email me:

LG aka MD

7 Questions with… Topher Chris.

7 questions returns! And in tonight’s very special segment we talk with internet enthusiast and prolific web developer, Christopher Price, AKA TopherChris. And though he’d refer to himself as an “internet jackass,” we’d seriously disagree. Hell, even Julia Allison would have to disagree with that.

Well… You never know with her. But we’d rather talk with Topher instead:

1) How tall are you and how tall do you feel?

This is a good question for me, because a serious gulf exists between the two values.  According to my official identification, I’m 5-9. Clearly, a lazy government employee screwed it up.  I can’t explain how, but I just _know_ I’m really 5-10 1/2.  I can feel it.

from here.

2) You awake to find an alien using your computer staring endlessly at a picture of a pirate eating a cupcake wrapped in bacon with the words “fuck yeah sharks” written on it. He asks what a meme is. How do you explain it to him?

Indeed, this is always a possibility to be prepared for.  I have to say, when I got your interview request, I thought that’s exactly what was happening.

It really all depends what kind of alien it is.  For instance, if they’re the kind of alien that bred our entire human civilization, then I really have bigger things to worry about than an answer to his meaningless query.  He’s just making small talk before he and his minions capture me, since those particular breeder aliens only make house calls to “fix” certain problems with the system.  If you catch my drift.

But the response to use in the more typical humanoid alien situation would be something like: “A meme?  First, let’s talk about what Wikipedia is,” and then look it up with him.  I figure, since I might accidentally say something that offends this guy, better to let my laptop do the explaining and end up disintegrated than me.  I don’t know his background or his values.

But if we’re talking the most nonviolent creature in the universe, which presents no reason at all to fear it…  Well, I’d probably try to trap it.  I mean, this is a huge deal obviously, and I could teach it about internet culture or I could trap him and become rich and famous.  Seriously.

But finally, a straight answer, since I assume aliens will receive this signal in 10,000 Earth years, and I don’t want them to be offended:

A meme is a nugget of thought, which is much less than an actual idea. When you break up the human thought process in the smallest chunks you can find, memes are what you’re left with.  Memes are like atoms. Or, more accurately, single-celled organisms, because memes are very clever at reproducing.  They evolve faster than fruit flies.  They can be about anything our tiny brains can wrap itself around, but the most popular use of memes in internet culture is for humor.

3) What kind of single use website would you use to propose to someone?

I have two distinct, unrelated answers to this.

– One that says “If you’re seriously considering an agreement to marry me through a proposal on a website, then please run in the other direction.”

– One of nothing but my face and some text about how you’ll have to see it for the rest of your life.  I’m also thinking an age slider that ages my face as you move it to the right.  I think it’s fair that she know what she’s in for.

4) Of all your projects, which is your most favorite? And don’t tell me they are like your children and you can’t decide. And on the same tip which is the red headed stepchild you wish you’d put in the orphanage?

My most favorite is the one that’s the most appealing to me on any given day.  (Technically that was a cop out, but I didn’t break your stated guideline, so I feel okay about it.)

To be honest though, I’m being honest.  I get bored with my own stuff easily, just like most of the rest of you, so I switch gears often. If I feel like using one part of my brain, I have a project for that. If I feel like using another, I can start one.  In the end, the one that people like the most is my default favorite, because I’m just an entertainer who happens to use the internet as my weapon.

I’ve definitely killed off some embarrassing projects, too.  The one that hurt the most to close down was a little site where people submitted photos of the last animal that bit them.  I was sure there was a book deal in there somewhere, but apparently people rarely have a camera ready right after they got bit by something.

5) Dance party break! What song do you pick?

No question: I’m On a Boat — The Lonely Island (Feat. T-Pain).  Or anything by Steve Perry.

6) Obama is thanking you for the Obama porn tumblr by creating a special Topher Chris Day. How do we celebrate?

Huzzah!  We write bad poetry and read it to each other.  We dress up in nonsensical costumes.  We pick up brushes, instruments, hammers, and make stuff.

Holy crap, did I just describe Burning Man?  Oh no.

Well, there’s all that, plus the annual Jerry Lewis telethon, the running of the bulls, and cake.  The official drink is the Irish carbomb.

You are required by law to decorate your home with old pizza boxes.

7) How long have you been doing this Internet thing and how did you start? (I’m an Internet historian, I gotta ask)

I’ve been on the internet since it was possible for me to be on it.  I used every free webhost I could find (Tripod? Holla!) to do wacky stuff.  This was before blogging was even a thing, so I’m not even sure what I did.  Crossing the threshold into the territory of paying for domains and hosting was a big deal.  I mean, how could I rationalize this?  That was easy, actually, since I was just a kid.

I got some notoriety early on for doing satirical campaign websites for former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and former President George W. Bush, and I started a satirical news site for the area’s favorite NFL team.  This was back when people wrote in newspapers and gave you radio interviews about your funny website.  I suppose the rewards of those early experiments shaped my ethos on the entire enterprise of doing whatever it is that I do.

Thank you for answering our silly questions!

My pleasure, Maria.  Hopefully I don’t come off too insane here.  It’s early and I was up until 4.  So, uh, please tell me if I’m an idiot. :)

Thanks so much.  I’m really honored and tickled by this.  I hope I didn’t let you down.


TopherChris, with his thinking cap on, hard at work on the task of making the internet a better place for the likes of you.