The End.

Exactly!Everything that has a beginning has an ending.

As it has been written, and promised, and prophesied, so it is, and so it has come to pass: This is the last post for Counterforce. I’m going to try to avoid any melodramatics or perceived grief or anything like that because I’ve sure done enough with it in the past, and hey, it’s just a fucking blog on the internet, right?

But I’ll miss it. And I’ll miss you, and doing blog shit with the people I did blog shit with here.

The end is not near, its here.

I think Counterforce was fun, but flawed. I don’t think it ever reached its potential, and I think it’s safe to say that the blame for that lays entirely with me. So, to that I would say: Sorry, everybody.

But also thanks. There were some good times and fun things to read/look at. Thanks, Benjamin Light. Thanks, Peanut St. Cosmo. Thanks, Occam Razor. Thanks, August Bravo. And thanks, Maria, whom we stuck with the name Lollipop Gomez. I hope you guys had some fun too.

Anyway. It’s the end, but not totally. Benjamin Light do two podcasts which are very much in the spirit of Counterforce, and which you’ve probably heard of on here before: Time Travel Murder Mystery and Greedo Shot First.

Listen to our fucking podcasts! Plz.

Right now TTMM is on a brief hiatus, and could return as early as next week, though it will certainly be back sometime in the next few weeks. Greedo Shot First just posted its latest episode today, in which we rewatch one of our favorite movies ever, The Empire Strikes Back, so go check it out in iTunes.

The corridor of lights

And we’ll follow that next week or the week after with an episode about rewatching Return Of The Jedi.

It’s kind of sad that I won’t be able to plug our podcasts here anymore. Or talk about any of the other things I had planned to ramble on about it, but… oh well. Tomorrow, like today, is another day in a brand new year. I’m sure there’ll be more opportunities. And other spaces, other places.

We’ll meet again. Don’t know how, don’t know when…

One last thing and then I’ll shut up for, well, a while (at least here): I’m going to go rewatch the last episode of Lost right after I hit “Post” on this post. I feel like our love for that show so strongly informed this blog and we bounced back and forth between it so much. I don’t mind telling you that the day we did our post on the last episode of the show, that was the day we got the most hits ever on this blog. So I guess a lot of people’s hearts were either filled or burst along with the passing of the last truly great television show too. It just feels right to go watch that after this, at least to me.

Oh well.

Thanks again. For everything. I’m glad the blog is over, because it mattered to me, and I’m glad to start something else. Hopefully we’ll see you there at the beginning of that.

-Marco Sparks

VLUU L210  / Samsung L210

Countdown.

The end is where we start.

from here.

Don’t let the lack of activity here fool you… I’m going to miss this blog when it’s gone. But I am looking forward to a new year and to starting the all important question of, “What’s next?”

We’re not even remotely near the 1000 posts that I had assumed would be the final number presented here, but… Oh well. On one hand, the blog could stretch into next year, and reach those 1000 posts, but then again, ending it in 2012 sounds nice and feels right. It’s just a blog, of course. It’s not like the world is going to end just because the blog ends…

To be continued.

Either way, it’ll all be okay. The end is where we begin.

Imagine the fire.

It’s so weird to live in a post-The Dark Knight Rises world…

What is the next big movie/event/thing to come to our lives? At least in a pop culture sense, I mean. I’m very curious to see The Master, but that is not nearly the same thing, of course.

This is just a digression, of course, but I think it goes to show you: savor the expectations and the moments where you’re left waiting, desperate to will the hands on the clock to move faster. Spoiler: I really liked The Dark Knight Rises, it met all my expectations and then some, but I also enjoyed those times in my life when I had not yet seen it, that all I had was the imagined storylines and scenes in my head, when I just had the curiosity and that unbridled enthusiasm. What I have now is no better (well, it’s probably better) nor worse, but different.

Anyway. That’s a story for another time.

Also, I’m clearly going to use a ton of Batman pictures in this post. This is nothing new on Counterforce, but all the same…

Deal with it.

Also, a few entries ago, WordPress greeted me with this beautiful sight after I hit the “post” button:

For some reason that image has stuck with me. Stuck with me beyond me screencapping it, I mean. And it has stuck with me for a lot of reasons, I think… But that is a story for another time, a long story, and right now I do not have the time to make it shorter.

Anyway.

Just wanted to give you a heads up: The Counterforce podcast is over.

We’re not finished podcasting, and this site isn’t done, no, not just yet, but in a few days you’re going to see something new and different from us.

I’m sure not many folks out there care, which is fine because I care and that’s all that I need, but I like that for at least another day or two it’ll remain a mystery. As much as I would like to travel through time to get to that place, I’m thankful to be here in this place right now, dreaming of the future. If that makes sense.

I think/hope it does.

I’ll just say this… A new site and a new podcast. Somewhat the same, but a little bit different…

“For the World Is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky.”

Like my previous post, this will be just a few things, some half way there thoughts…

One: The sky is still falling, and this blog is still coming to an end. We’re getting there, but slowly.

After this: 89 posts to go.

Have you listened to our podcast? You’ll notice that a majority of the posts now are just tools for you to download each new episode (but we’ll be on itunes soon). Not every post from now til the end – from this time to the end of time – will be solely about episodes of the podcast, but a good chunk of the rest of this blog will be eaten up by the creature that is consuming it and evolving out of it.

Evolution imagery is gruesome and interesting.

Two: It’s probably been a hundred years since I saw the Star Trek episode from this post borrow its title.

I vaguely remember it had a premise that sounded less interestingly like a very interesting (at least in its promise and potential) show that Harlan Ellison created way back, called The Starlost.

I won’t rehash the show’s plot, especially since you can just read about it on the Wikipedia link, but from what I gathered the show was terrible. But in reading what’s there, to me, I see the potential for something amazing, something that could be brilliant with a little bit of re-conceptualizing and competent execution.

Brilliant and intriguing puzzle/mystery box shoes still seem to be highly lusted after by network TV execs in these post-Lost wilderness years, but it seems like no one has the time to invest in competent conceptualization and execution. So it goes. Instead of our altars, we’re building our own coffins.

Three: Speaking of The Starlost, also read up on the idea of generation ships, and holodecks, and the Danger Room from X-men comics, the Dreamatorium from Community, and Arthur C. Clarke’s Rama series.

And see also: the “Mystery In Space” and “Rendezvous” issues of Warren Ellis and John Cassaday’s Planetary comic series, which was one of the best pieces of storytelling that I’ve had the pleasure to read in the last ten or so years. On its surface, it’s about mystery archaeologists, but in reality its a love letter to certain kinds of storytelling from the previous fifty years of our culture.

Four: We eat our young. Only those lucky or tough enough to crawl away are potentially worthy of living to tell the tale.

Five: This is the new decade. There’s bigger and better thinkers who are more capable of this, better suited to the task, but I wonder what this new decade will look like. What innovations and disasters and pop confectioneries will define this new unit of measuring time.

And from that, I say… Does this decade, still in its relative infancy, still feel remarkably similar to the latter days of the previous decade? Isn’t that how it goes? Did the initial years of the 80s feel similar to waning years of the70s? Did the first few years of the 90s look anything like the middle years of the 90s?

Six: I’ve never seen Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s World On A Wire, but I’ve always wanted to. I guess that, amongst other things, what’s been holding me up is that it’s a piece of old 3 1/2 German sci fi. That and it wasn’t readily available until the it was released not too long ago as part of the Criterion Collection.

The Criterion Collection. Of course.

The movie is based on an old novel, Simulacron-3 by Daniel F. Galouye, and I have seen the American movie adaptation of that book…

Seven: When something is said, or when art is created, mixed with business and pleasure, how often does it come from a real, authentic place, answering questions or curiosities that are out there amongst the community? Or, especially when you lean more towards business rather than pleasure, or the pleasure of business, does it come from the perception of an interest within the larger community, the popular imagination, or a desire to create and inspire that perception and then make money off of it?

Eight: In the 90s, especially towards the beginning of the 90s, but a little at the end of it, it seemed like we didn’t know what we had on our hands. Not yet anyway.

It’s like Murphy Brown’s baby, that was born amidst a certain level of generated/unnecessary controversy. It was raised by the guy who was painting the house for years and years and wouldn’t be named until it could be deciphered, or understood. I know that kid eventually got a name, but wasn’t he, like, twenty at that point?

In Sci Fi trends in the 90s it seemed like they were mixing the 70s paranoia rehash that was being re-conceptualized in The X-Files with this desire to pursue the new, the fringes of oncoming technology and the things that we assumed would be important.

Spoiler alert: I’m going to start talking about virtual reality in a moment.

On top of that, you had boy bands and you “alternative rock” and I remember going to high school and hearing bullshit arguments about who was or what constituted being a “poser.” I heard some kids of being accused of being “wiggers.” On one hand we were growing up to want to start living lives out of the movies that had raised us when our parents were busy, and on the other hand we were accused of appropriating lives and roles that it was felt we had no right to. In music and society and goofy cultural matters there was this question of authenticity.

Perhaps you’re not real. Perhaps you only existence in the simulacra of someone else. And perhaps because you think, therefore you are…

Unless you’re just programmed to have thoughts, or to think you’re having thoughts. Who is telling this story? And to whom?

Anyway.

The American movie that came out of Simulacron-3 in the 90s was The Thirteenth Floor, starring Craig Bierko, Gretchen Mol, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Vincent D’Onofrio, and Dennis Haysbert. It’s a murder mystery set within a company that’s created a new simulated reality, and there’s a twist. The twist is not hard to guess.

from here.

The tagline for the movie was “Question Reality.” I find that interesting since the tagline for American Beauty, which came out int he same year, was “Look Closer.”

Is it possible that we’re missing something?

The Thirteenth Floor was/is not a bad movie, just a movie that wasn’t thought out far enough to its natural conclusion. It reminds me in some regards of a movie that would come today in that it seems like it’s two drafts of a script away from being much, much better. It’s a very American movie that’s concerned with the nature of our reality, with existential paranoia, mashed up with echoes of a film noir feeling.

But then again, a lot of its problems can be summed up with two words: Craig Bierko. Another bizarre, failed experiment in creating a leading man out of literally nothing.

Nine: Granted, The Thirteenth Floor was not a movie from the early 90s, and in fact came out in 1999, around the same time as The Matrix, a movie with an arguably incredibly similar premise, especially concerning how many elements it ripped off from Grant Morrison’s The Invisibles.

Also, there was David Cronenberg’s eXistenZ and Alex Proyas’ Dark City (which I never saw cause it looks stupid), and The Truman Show, which had similar heavy overtones. But earlier in the decade you had the short lived Fox TV show VR.5 which, if I were to watch it now, I’m sure I’d more than cringe at, but at the time, I thought was incredibly intriguing. That show starred Lori Singer, Anthony Stewart Head, Will Patton, and David McCallum.

Ten: At the start of this I talked haphazardly about the idea of a newborn decade dreaming of the past, but really it’s a matter of the new decade dreaming of the future, of what is to come? I should be talking about Christopher Nolan’s  Inception here probably. Something something something THIS DREAM IS COLLAPSING.

Eleven: From Borges to Pynchon to Phillip K. Dick, so much of our fiction comes back to questioning the layers of reality and how we perceive it. What is real? What is really happening? And what is the reality of what is happening, real or otherwise?

Reality may be real, or it might not be, at least not real in the sense that we think of, but we share it, and we create it together, don’t we?

from here.

Twelve: Personally I would state that the experience of an event is the reality of it, at least in the moment. Reflection is easy, but it only casts a shadow over reaction in retrospect.

Thirteen: For now, this blog is moving forward, but it’s marching onward to its eventual demise, of sorts. Even on the internet, matter can only change forms, not be fully destroyed (I hope). Soon, what is currently thought of as Your Friendly Neighborhood Counterforce will become a time capsule, once it’s fallen completely out of this virtual sky that we’re all looking at together.

You could have it all.

Mad linkage:

What happens when the scary predictions of speculative fiction start to come true earlier than expected?

I guess you could say that I’m excited to see A Dangerous Method.

Best Coast and WAVVES.

An interesting interview with Steven Soderbergh about Contagion.

Did Chris Martin cheat on Gwyneth Paltrow?

J.J. Abrams is doing some cool new shit.

Science fiction magazines and The Joy Of Sex.

from here.

Noah Baumbach is developing Jonathan Franzen‘s The Corrections as an HBO series.

Post-apocalyptic porn. Sure, why not?

Matthew Fox could be in some trouble.

Saturn is beautiful.

The critics of Joan Didion.

This is Peanut St. Cosmo’s new favorite picture on the internet.

What does clitoral stimulation do to your brain?

Post-Sept. 11 Saudi Arabia is modernizing, slowly.

Mos Def will no longer be Mos Def.

Kitty Ravenhart’s selection for The Best Of Yahoo Answers.

Did you drain your balls at DragonCon?

More leaks from David Fincher’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

from here.

A guy jerked off to me in the subway and the NYPD didn’t do a thing.”

I feel like with each passing day I’m a little more amazed that The Avengers movie is happening.

The beginning of the end for Yahoo?

Johnny Depp to star in another fucking remake, this time of The Thin Man.

Female blogger threatened with defamation suit after writing about TSA rape.

Jeff Tweedy and the Black Eyed Peas.

Tech company to build science ghost town.

A new story by Haruki Murakami.

Very cool fan art.

A huge list of deleted scenes that are awaiting you on the new Star Wars blu-rays.

Yelping with Cormac McCarthy.

NYC bans dogs from bars.

A movie about Keith Richards?

Reality as a failed state.

Headphones.

An introduction: Months ago the amazing Maria and I had this little chat, and like most of our chats, it started off most interestingly…

Maria Diaz: Hey…

Marco Sparks: What an interesting video. That man stabbed himself in the chest! Multiple times! That is some serious follow through.
MD: Huh? Oh, I sent you the wrong one. But i do love that song. Look at this:
:) and…
:)
Marco: Oh man, that song.
MD: This one is better:
Marco: I just remember hearing it one night, late at night when I was homeless and living with a friend, and I remember loving the song. It’s a tired complaint, I know, but this was back when VH1 and MTV still played… sigh… music videos.
MD: Which one, the Nine Days one? Or Vertical Horizon?
Marco: Oh, the Nine Days one, sorry. But I think a lot part of it had to do with really thinking that the girl in the video was super duper cute.
MD: Yeah, that was probably the real reason. Especially because that Vertical Horizon song is terrible.
Marco: Part of it was also because I was really trying to win over this girl who looked like the girl in the Nine Days video and… I don’t know, maybe I felt justified in my affections by the song/video?
MD: the song is kinda cute, I think.
Marco: She was dating this ginormous drug dealer at the time. Well, not “ginormous,” neither physically not, you know, stature in the suburban drug selling racket, but… well, either way, I just couldn’t compete with the guy. And yeah, the song is fine. Probably better than fine.
MD: Awww. Yeah, drug dealers are very attractive to women. All that money. And all those drugs.
Marco: That particular Vertical Horizon song… I liked it maybe the first time I heard it, but every time after… grating.
MD: It’s the reveal at the end of the song… that HE is the one the girl doesn’t want.
Marco: Of course she doesn’t want him. (He’s hideous.) This…
“Love can be so boring.”
MD: OMG this song.
Marco: There’s a very sad, very tragic playlist of recurring songs that I listened to a lot circa 1999 – 2002ish, and this song was on it intermittently.
MD: I bet we had many of the same songs. This was definitely on mine.
Marco: I feel like I was carrying around this very shallow sense of sadness or regret… like I had lost something that should be crucial but wasn’t, not really, though you at the time you couldn’t convince me of that… and my music reflected that.
MD: Exactly.
Marco: It’s strange that you got me thinking about that cause I was really thinking about a lot of music from back then lately the first summer I moved to this shithole state I live in… I did nothing. Absolutely nothing. Ate shitty food. “Ate shitty” as in “ate terribly.” Drank beer. Lots. Laid on the couch in my huge bedroom listening to music and reading. That was it. Oh, and thought up ridiculous plots of silly Clive Cussler-esque thrillers.
…but that one U2 album, All That You Can’t Leave Behind? I associate that album so strongly, oddly enough, with Bret Easton Ellis’ first book and with Hunter S. Thompson’s The Rum Diary because I listened to that album on repeat while reading those books for the first time that summer.
MD: The first Bret Easton Ellis, that’s Less Than Zero?
Marco: Yeah, Less Than Zero.
Okay, that invisible pain I mentioned… do you want to see a really bad example of a song from that period?
MD: Of course. Always.
Marco: okay, this artist I’m about to bring up is ridiculous and you kind of knew that when she first debuted, but just how ridiculous and plastic hadn’t quite hit yet…
Anyway, her first two singles were just silly radio pop fluff, but this was her third single, I believe, and I remember hearing this song for the first time on headphones while walking somewhere late at night… and it just seemed to resonate with that tragic void living inside me…
MD: hahaha YES! I felt similarly about this song…
Marco: (Holy shit, Lizzy Caplan is in that video.)
It’s probably been so long since i’ve bought an actual CD i’m sad to say because I still like CDs, I’m still a guy who likes CDs, but I have a lot of bad pop punk CDs from that circa Avril era. I mean, I probably have 700 cds and it’s just this incredibly awesome, sexy music collection, but just figure that 30 or so of those cds are from artists like…
and
MD: Nothing to be ashamed of.
Marco: Well, maybe a little, but it was a time and a place and everything changes and you make explorations and sometimes what’s bad is good and vice versa. And blah blah blah. And anyone who doesn’t get that is an idiot, right? Plus, these tiny revelations made here are hardly the worse musical sins I’ve committed as a listener…
Though, thankfully, this was the time period in which was i also really discovering, like, The Get Up Kids, so it wasn’t all bad. And that said, I gotta tell you, I’m sorry, but I can’t join you on the Jason Mraz journey.
MD: hahahahaha.
When I was flying back from Europe with an ex, we had a HORRIBLE fight. And this is like 10+ hours of flying BTW, and I just listened to this Jason Mraz song over and over again on the airplane radio system. It was really quite sad.
Marco: I can imagine. I think I’d like the song if it was a different artist, you know?
MD: Yeah. Jason Mraz is easy to hate.
Marco: And it’s something about Mraz himself that I just despise.
Okay, so I am about to hit you with two megahits from that time period. i don’t know if you’re ready for it.
MD: I’m so fucking ready.
Marco: That is exactly what I wanted to hear. But first, let me just say… Thinking about that Unwritten Law song… I was working where I am currently already when that song was unleashed on me and it’s so vivid in my memory the girl I had a crush on then that I associate that song with… I mean, nothing ever happened with that girl. She thought I was profoundly weird without ever realizing just how right she was and yet I still think of her when I hear it. Anyways… Prepare thyself!
MD: Getting ready…
Marco: You say that but can ever truly be ready to go back to… this:
…and also this:
BOOM!
MD: OH MAN, that Lifehouse guy. Do you think he made his voice sound like that?
Marco: Ha ha. Do you remember where you were when you first said out loud, “NO WAY, THAT BIG VOICE DOES NOT SOUND LIKE THAT LITTLE GUY FROM THE CALLING.”
MD: Wow. Seriously. I had no idea this band even had a name. It was just a song that was everywhere at the time.
Marco: Like back then, as they were signing their record contract they must’ve known they would not last.
It would be so much easier if we were talking about just the 90s here…
from here.
or late 90′s fin de siècle music, but this period we’re talking about, that early 00s, was just so fucking weird. Here’s a really, really sad fact: I also recall the first mp3 I ever downloaded and while this wasn’t the very first, I believe that lifehouse single was either #2 or #3.
MD: Hmm has this song been on a lot of commercials?
Marco: Probably so very many.
MD: Here’s one for the ages:
Marco: the first comment on that video’s youtube page is:
“I paused my porn for this. (:”
Editor’s note: This was a few months ago, mind.
MD: The ultimate compliment for any music video, really.
Marco: For serious. Yeah,back then I really liked the Bleed American and Futures album, which made me go back and look up Clarity. So emotastic.
MD: yeah, all the emo kids were soooo mad when they got popular for 5 seconds.

Editor’s note: I then told MD again about the 600ish page political novel that Benjamin Light and I started writing back during the time period being covered in this music discussion. (Separate editor’s note: Those 600 pages ended up only being probably 1/8the the novel’s probable length had it lived past its infancy. Jesus.) Anyway, about 75 pages of that book were written to Jimmy Eat World’s Clarity album. -Marco.

Marco: Wow, the neural pathways of memory and musical taste progression that this trip and fall down memory lane is opening up for me…
MD: That’s what it’s supposed to do!
Marco: I remember there was a period where I went to Burger King for lunch every day – ugh – and I’d order my food and sit myself in the corner, with my back to the TV and so I could see everyone there and I’d listen to music on headphones and eat and read articles from the internet I had printed out earlier in the day at work and just write. I was working on so many things back then and I had downloaded the Wicker Park soundtrack of all soundtracks because I had heard it was “hip.” And on it was this song:
MD: Very interesting that the video you found is a fandom vid for The Office.
Marco: …and that begat me downloading their album at the time and I would listen to that Snow Patrol album all the time during that period and write and, of course, it’s strongly associated with a girl at the time and all that blah blah blah. Words and music and women… funny how they’re all so strongly tied together in my head.
And yeah, I thought that was funny too, re: The Office video. I guess Pam/Roy was someone’s OTP at the time?
But anyway, that Snow Patrol thing… I think that was the start of me pushing into a new aeon on musical interests, as far as cruising on the surface of mainstream “alternative rock”ish type music for the masses, and enjoying something about the generic nothingness there.
And that strange sadness that belonged to nothing real in my life? I really think that perhaps it died when I first heard this song…
MD: Ah, such a lovely song…
Marco: I remember listening to this song on headphones on a lunchbreak at work and just breaking down into tears. I had to call in to my job from 100 yards away and tell them I’d be late and I just walked around, listening to this over and over again and feeling terrible, and wonderful, and terrible and sad and wounded, and it was like somewhere around then I stopped feeling sad about nothing and it was like the real regrets and misery entered my life.
MD: Like catharsis, like a breakthrough of sorts.
Marco: Yeah, exactly. I mean, like everyone, I have things that happened when I was younger that I carried the pain of those things with me, but I was always too shallow to really be affected by them properly, I think. I was suffering from a different kind of pain, I think, as my early 20s were crystallizing around me, and with that song… It was like the end of something more innocent and silly in my emotional dealings with the world, and the start of me experiencing real world sadness and hurt? Perhaps.
If all of this right now was a part of a documentary about my sad dealings with music at the dawn of my 20s, then the song that would be playing over the end credits sequence would be this:
MD: Ha ha, nice. And what does the hero learn at the end?
Marco: Nothing. Nothing is ever really learned.
And that end titles sequence, also, would just be sitting on the sidelines of a Quinceañera, watching young Spanish girls in pretty dresses dancing around with their family.
MD: You know, that sounds oddly hopeful.
Marco: Le Sigh. Remember when everything was just so simple and innocent and… BRITPOP?
MD: And it’s probably right there when i realized that this whole conversation would a blog post.
Marco: Yeah, sorry about that, but I think you’re right… Or maybe it’ll even be two!
Editor’s note: TO BE CONTINUED!

From the flames…

I really feel this right now:

via the always wonderful Married To The Sea, but I first noticed it here. Also:

And: