Birthday Presents for Counterforce, a new header:
And a new mascot, the author of this blog’s namesake, Thomas Pynchon:
Love, your favorite blog crasher,
Birthday Presents for Counterforce, a new header:
And a new mascot, the author of this blog’s namesake, Thomas Pynchon:
Love, your favorite blog crasher,
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.
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.
by Sylvia Plath
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.
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 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.”
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
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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?
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.
Songs to listen to at 5am by the blue light of the MacBook:
80 Windows is the best song on Nada Surf’s sophomore debut, The Proximity Effect. It is insomnia, dark nights, expanses full of nothing. And lyrics so exquisitely sad you’ll want to scrawl them all over your mead composition notebook.
My co-bloggers like the more recent Death Cab for Cutie, which makes me want to bleed from my ears. I prefer the angrier Ben Gibbard, before he cashed in on the Dork Lottery by marrying Zooey Deschanel. Something About Airplanes is DCFC at their lo-fi, un-polished amateur, biting, cynical best. The selection: Champagne From A Paper Cup.
Most of Elliott Smith’s catalog is perfect for middle of the night self loathing, but Between The Bars is hit going to hit really close. I promise.
Being up all night produces rapid mood swings, from euphoria to profound sadness to frustration and back again. This song, a remix of a Modest Mouse/764-Hero song is for the happy stage. Lay on your bed and stare at the ceiling. If you have windows and live in a place where stars are viewable, look at them. Smoke em if you got em. Etc.
When it comes time to think of all the relationships you’ve no doubt messed up and get wistful and longing, the time has come for Depeche Mode. Go ahead and mouth the lyrics: vows are spoken to be broken, feelings are intense, words are trivial.
When the sun starts to come up, you’ve finally hit that elusive wall and the exhaustion settles into your bones, put on Zero 7′s Distractions to slowly carry you onto the other side. Congratulations. You’ve made it. See you in a few hours.
I owe so many people stories about South by Southwest (if you don’t know what SXSW is, kill yourself) I’m starting to think I should just print out the million text messages I must have sent to get some kind of comprehensive account of what the fuck just happened in the past week.
As Marco mentioned, Bruce Sterling had his annual talk (his legendary post party was supposedly canceled) at SXSW Interactive. Yeah, you know who else had a talk at the conference? Me. And guess what this bitch got? A mainstream news mention. Which means… you will never hear from me again. I’m moving on to the big leagues. Now we sip champagne when we thirsty.
The best party at SXSW was the Gawker invite-only party, where they served theme drinks based on all the Gawker media properties (red wine for Jezebel, a screwdriver for Lifehacker, and a Manhattan for Gawker, etc). The second best party was the RVIPLounge, a party that came out of my dreams and into reality. It was a moving karaoke RV with cheap tequila and wine on board.
I lost two items of sentimental value and most of my dignity as I harassed an Internet celebrity who’s online clique I used to worship (uber.nu for the old school dorks) and then went on to berate the founder of a new location based iPhone app we were all using that gives you fake badges for the amount of times you announce your location. I asked if I could just cheat and get the badges anyway and he was upset that I was pissing on all his hard work. I never did get the Slut badge (which you get for checking into three hotels in one night) but I did get the Redford badge for attending film screenings, like one of Creative Non-Fiction directed by a fellow Oberlin College survivor.
One of the films I saw was a short called Coffee, about a woman just trying to get a cup of the tasty nectar of the gods. It starred Amy Locane, who you may remember as being from Melrose Place. At least I did. Her transition from TV actress to starring in a short film at an independent film festival is intriguing. How did she get here? The short was kind of perfect because it was just a moment in time, but it had a clear beginning, middle and ending. It was just enough of the character.
Don’t ask me about SXSW Music because I’m still flaggelating myself for not upgrading my badge when I had the chance and missing the chance to see Third Eye Blind and get even more free drinks. Instead, I kicked it with the anti SXSW festival of free shows in Austin. One was an acoustic show at a dirt parking lot where I imbibed on Barefoot Cellars Pinot Grigio. Because the 7-11 we stopped at was too classy to carry Sparks. I did get to catch Casiotone for the Painfully Alone, an old college favorite, who was playing a free show across from the dirt parking lot show at an old man dive bar that only served two kinds of beer. Here, have a dance party break:
In numbers, let’s put it this way. Number of Julia Allison sightings: two. Number of real celebrity sightings: just one, of Dave Navarro in the airport. Number of times consumed things covered in smothered cheese: every time. Number of times I consumed barbecue: 4. Is it a nerd spring break? Yes. Is it filled with marketing wankers who want to monetize the Internet? Totally. Is it also filled with people rambling on about their shitty band and trying to get their film picked up? Uh huh. But you know what? The haters can hate and the jealous ones can envy. The reality is that this one of the highest concentrations of pure awesomeoness (and smoked meats) in one location and that is a beautiful, gorgeous thing. So South By, I can’t wait to see you next year, where we we can drink tequila at 1pm and lick barbecue sauce off of each other’s fingers before exchanging business cards.
On this week’s The Bachelor (that’s a television show ), Jason, the bachelor, dumped the girl he originally chose, Melissa and picked his second best, Molly (Mollies get everything). In six weeks, he will have moved on to the next girl he eliminated, Jillian (never mind, she has just been cast as the Bacholerette) until he works his way through all the eliminated fame-mongers and the camera crew. His true love is Dolores, the Craft Services lady. She unwraps the Hostess plastic donuts and lays them out just the way he likes it, in a semi-circl, not a straight line. He’ll move into her apartment in the Valley, and become a stay at home dad to her 3 cats and pet lizard. She’ll bring him home leftovers from the craft services table: “Here’s some spinach and artichoke dip in a bread bowl from the set SisterHood Of The Traveling Pants 5. That Alexis Beidel is wasting away! She won’t eat anything but carrots and Orbit gum!” And he’ll smile, feed her a bit of the dip off his finger, before throwing the bread bowl to the floor and ravishing her underneath her vintage All About Eve poster that hangs above her bed while the cats feast on the white and green delicacy below.
One other obsession I’ve maintained while lounging about in my sickbed was the TMZ website and their hours of cheaply shot paparazzi videos of celebrities. The real gold is their nightly television show which airs at around 11:30, the typical hour most office workers are just about to doze off after the Daily Show. The television show is just the web clips aired with some very cheesy voice overs interspersed with scenes from the TMZ news room, with head Harvey Levin, usually seen clutching a tumbler full of coffee with a straw hanging out the top, to protect his delicate mouth from the scalding hot tempature of the beverage. The staff bounce stories off of him, which usually involve saying they saw a celebrity at a store buying something. We’re supposed to believe this is like a real newsroom, but of course, the joke is, if the story has made it to the show, there’s no need to run it by Harvey. Just read your lines and think about all that work you spent getting your MA in J-school has lead you to: working at TMZ.
TMZ is like landing on soft core porn, making it past the one sex scene and staying up to find out who killed Shannon Tweed’s husband. The tastelessness at which they handle everything is both horrifying and enormously entertaining in a way that makes you want to puke: they juxtapoz a water skiing Chris Brown with photos of his beat up girlfriend Rihanna to Katrina and The Waves’ “Walking On Sunshine.” TMZ just broke a real news story, inexplicably someone fed them a tip that Northern Trust Bank had used unsolicited bail out money to fund a three day party in Los Angeles for its clients, which forced the bank to return the money to the government. Harvey Levin is proud of his staff, but not as proud of the hours of footage of a confused Britney Spears, hounded by dozens of paparazzi, needing their help to drive her car out of the Hollywood Hills. He added a little Bailey’s to his coffee that day and changed the straw to a My Little Pony one in celebration.
SickBed Mixtape :
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