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

Four more years.

Please show yourself out, Mittens.

And this:

http://whitepeoplemourningromney.tumblr.com/

…which has this great image:

Ha ha. I figured the TTMM guys would appreciate the return of that meme.

Past Prologue: September, 2009 – Part Two.

Continued from Part One.

As I said in the previous post: The end looms large, but is still a ways away and down the road a bit. But I kind of wanted to look back a little, month by month, at this blog. Maybe not every single month, but most, if I can. I guess I’m getting reacquainted with what I’m saying goodbye to? Or maybe in the back of my mind I’m always remembering that you have to put the chairs up before you turn the lights off and go home…

And we continue.

18.

09/16/09: Children Are Our Future by Conrad Noir: Linking to the then current Newsweek cover story, “Is Your Baby Racist?” And in the comments section, you’ll see that Peanut St. Cosmo offers a good point on this.

19.

09/17/09: The Post-Modern Prometheus,” by yours truly: I’ve always been fascinated by the Frankenstein story, inside and out. The story itself, the way it’s constantly adapted and how it is, but also with its writer and the creation of the story.

There’s one more post in September of 2009 about this, and I was going to do a whole series of things, just exorcising some of my fascination with everything to do with Mary Shelley and her monster and the connections I was seeing between that and other things I was interested in. The series fell through, obviously, and I never said everything I wanted to say, and sadly, that moment has passed. For now.

But it still interests me, the way we focus all of our frustrations and excitements and failings into the characters and monsters that we create, and then we let them loose into the world. Sometimes those monsters redeem us and sometimes they destroy us. Sometimes they live on long after we’re gone, stuck between the darkness and the light.

20.

09/18/09: Hell Is A Teenage Girl by myself: Speaking of Megan Fox and whoa!-mankind and monsters. Jennifer’s Body was not a great movie, but it was certainly an interesting one. Easily the best possible vehicle for Megan Fox (and for Adam Brody).

21.

09/19/09: Spirits and Sexy Singularities in the Noosphere by myself: This post is so typically me. Honestly, this is the kind of wacky shit that I’m reading about all the time.

It’s just interesting to me now to see discussion of The Lost Symbol turning into Dan Simmon’s The Fall Of Hyperion, then turning into talk of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, the Omega Point, and a thinly veiled pondering/lusting about 2012.

22.

09/20/09: The Post-Modern Prometheus, part two: Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves,” by yours truly: Again, with the Frankenstein, but also tying into that classic (it is a classic, right?) episode of The X-Files. Otherwise known as “The Cher Episode.”

What can I say? This series, or longer essay, or whatever you want to call it, was going to start small and then get bigger. Instead, it just stayed small. The lack of further movement on it really betrayed its connective tissue.

23.

09/21/09: American Jokes Are Better Than British Jokes,” by August Bravo and myself: Ha ha. This was a great episode of Mad Men. Ahhh, the tractor episode. The British are coming, they came, and then they left, and they left part of their feet behind.

Also, August Bravo is barely hiding his desire to be physically dominated by Ken Cosgrove here.

24.

09/22/09: There Are Two Kinds Of Light,” by myself: More links, interesting quotes, and pretty pictures. The light that glows, and the light that blinds: that’s interesting, and charming wisdom from Thurber.

Part of why I started with this month to look back on first is that it’s September, just like it is now, here in 2012 as I write this, but also because it was just a little over a year after the blog had started. You’d think we’d have found our legs a little, kicked off some of the training wheels, for example. In intrigues me to notice that when Counterforce was really rolling, there was always two kinds of themes to each month, as if each month was its own issue of a magazine or some kind of periodical: the theme that was intended, and the one that was unintended.

I know, I know, that’s some hardcore Wittgenstein-like wisdom there.

25.

09/23/09: Because It Needs To Be Said,” by me: Well… yeah. What’s said is here is as true in 2012 as it was in 2009, only more so, I guess. Enough said.

26.

09/24/09: PSA by me: Whatever. Cthulhu is funny to me. We create our monsters to embody that which we most find fault within ourselves, and then those monsters proceed to drive us insane and enslave humanity and collapse reality upon itself. It’s just one of those things.

27.

09/25/09: Just because we saw this show doesn’t mean it has to happen,” by myself: I wonder how similar me ranting about the pilot to Flashforward is to Benjie ranting about the pilot to Revolution.

Neither of these shows is or was the new Lost, and I think that’s important to say because clearly the ghost of Lost still haunts network TV. They were trying to resurrect it with Lost even before the show was officially over.

I remember reading Robert J. Sawyer’s novel, Flash Forward, and thinking it was interesting, even if it was a little weak. There were certainly elements there to create an interesting TV show out of it, but David Goyer and the rest of the show’s makers clearly avoided those parts altogether. Instead Flashfoward the TV show plays out like the most pathetic of all Sideways Universes, in which Charlie and Penny Widmore are still out there somewhere, and things are just really, really mediocre.

28.

09/26/09: Cosmic Caturday.” Meow.

29.

09/27/09: It’s only a matter of time before we all burn by myself: I really like that Death Cab song, and it’s interesting how music can transform and transport you. In this case, a song took me back to a place that I used to live in, one that only exists in my memories now, and was on fire.

Also, this was back when Benjamin Gibbard and Zooey Deschanel were still married, LOL.

30.

09/28/09: Maybe I’m late because I was spending time with my family reading the bible,” by that fucker August Bravo and myself: Again, it’s just weird to me to relive this season of Mad Men through these posts as I look back at them. The show was always so good about the connection between and identity and a name, about crossing boundaries, and playing with all of those things at the same time.

And Don’s always been very hard on Peggy, hasn’t he? Telling her what he’s needed to hear, as if he’s fully recreated himself within her. I’m looking forward to how they keep her character integrated into this show as it continues, but that’s the future, and that’s another place, especially when we’re talking about the past.

31.

09/29/09: Perennial with the Earth by myself: I really liked this ad campaign, or at least, it stuck with me as a piece of art, beyond it’s creation as a piece of advertisement. The perfect marriage of Walt Whitman, jeans, and the “idea” of America.

32.

09/29/09: Things that make you say, hmm…?” by the always amazing Peanut St. Cosmo: Roman Polanski and Woody Allen. Someone should remake My Dinner With Andre just starring those two guys. Maybe it could be directed by Peanut St. Cosmo, who is always sorely missed when she’s not appearing in Counterforce.

33.

09/30/09: Eternities Of Darkness by myself: The month ends like it began, with links and pictures. But now there’s men and women, pictures in black and white, and words by Nabokov. The continuation of that quote, which is from Speak, Memory, is: “Although the two are identical twins, man, as a rule, views the prenatal abyss with more calm than the one he is heading for (at some forty-five hundred heartbeats an hour.)”

As I’ve said before, my favorite band name (but certainly not my favorite band) is I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness, which is just a great name.

And that’s how this month, September in 2009, ended, with us declaring our love for you (perhaps), and abandoning the light for a time to sail away into the darkness.

* * *

I enjoyed doing this, so I think I’m going to do a few more retrospectives of other months in the history of this blog before it becomes permanently just that: History. Again, I don’t think I have the time, space, nor total desire to do every single month, but at least a few more, if I can help, and quite a few more, if the universe is kind. Any suggestions for which month to look back on next?

Past Prologue: September, 2009.

The end looms large, but is still a ways away and down the road a bit. But I kind of wanted to look back a little, month by month, at this blog. Maybe not every single month, but most, if I can. I guess I’m getting reacquainted with what I’m saying goodbye to? Or maybe in the back of my mind I’m always remembering that you have to put the chairs up before you turn the lights off and go home…

Right, so:

01.

09/01/09: The House Of Mice/Ideas,” by yours truly: This was back when it was announced that Disney had bought Marvel comics. Such a weird idea at the time, the idea of a mash up between your favorite comic book characters and your favorite Disney characters, or the concern that a certain “family friendly” and “neutered” aesthetic might bleed over into the monthly tales of your friendly neighborhood super powered costume fetishists.

Also, a chance to share links! I like sharing links. I like sharing a little bit of what I’m reading with anyone who might give an inkling of a shit.

from here.

The thing about the links posts is that I don’t claim to always endorse those links, their content, or their authors. I’m not saying, “I read this and I loved it and now you must read it and fall in love with it!” Hardly. Half the time when I would post these “mad linkage” posts, I had not read some of these stories I’ve linked to… yet. They were place holders, something easy for me to get back to and read later. Counterforce is and was my portal to the internet, just as I had hoped it would be for you as well.

02.

09/01/09: Apocalypse Please by Benjamin Light: I like this post. Usually Benjie trucks primarily in words, and yet I think he sets up a nice mood with a preamble of pictures of doom and destruction. As he’ll eventually say in the text bits, there’s a collective mood there, a seductive one of embracing the end (though not necessarily being consumed by it), that I think is somewhat universal.

03.

09/02/09: Humans Being by yours truly and “Lollipop Gomez,” otherwise known as the immensely talented Maria Diaz: This is us getting down and dirty and talking about the sexualized fascination and symbiotic relationship between man and machine, or whoa!-man and machine. In other news, (hu)mankind doesn’t want to just rise up and meet the approaching Singularity, we want to have sex with it. That’s either how we understand things, or how we go about not having to understand things.

from here.

In case you’re wondering, this is pretty much what it was like whenever Maria and I would talk. Pretty much every one of our continuing gmail/gchat conversations would be like this, and some nights we were just “on” more than others. I think about halfway through some of those conversations we realized that we were going to save this conversation and post it online somewhere. So perhaps during the second half we’re performing a little more. Posts with Maria were always some of my favorite because they were less about writing, and more about just being, and us bullshitting and having fun, which lead to some of the writing I most enjoyed reading.

04.

09/03/09: Between The Covers by Occam Razor, Maria Diaz, and Conrad Noir: We never did a lot of big group posts like other blogs and websites, but I think this was an interesting one, especially since it’s such a funny idea, the writers of Counterforce talking about summer reading selections. Perhaps because we’re so outside the norm of what other people on the internet would talk about for their summer reading, perhaps that’s why I like it so much.

by Andy Vible, from here.

Plus, it’s always nice to see anything from Occam Razor and Conrad Noir. Those guys are awesome. Looking back, the original title for this post should’ve been “The Pimp Game, Globalization, and Revolting Youth.” I don’t know. Something like that.

05.

09/04/09: F Is For Friday,” by me: Orson Welles’ F For Fake is a great movie. Half documentary, half essay, and an extra one half magic trick. What else needs to be said?

06.

09/05/09: Super Secret Smile Saturdays by myself: Labor Day weekend, links, and a lot of videos. This is kinda sorta what my average internet browsing probably looks like when I’m pretty substantially bored.

by Lily Camille Clark, from here and here.

07.

09/06/09: 1960s Dance Party by Conrad Noir: This is before I got Conrad hooked on Mad Men. I think this GIF perfectly represented what he saw whenever he saw people gushing about the show online.

08.

09/07/09: Why, yes, you should receive a Victory Medal for beating the clap,” by myself: So weird to read this now. Not just because it’s old, but because it’s from a different time in Mad Men. The new status quo on Mad Men is so ingrained in me now, I guess, that it’s weird to time travel further back into the 60s and see Don and Betty still married, dealing with the trials and tribulations of their lives together, etc.

Also, I always enjoyed doing the Mad Men posts with August Bravo. It certainly kept me more on focus, I think, and made me ramble less, maybe. He would’ve been involved with this one, but he didn’t heed certain advice, moved to Manhattan, and got raped by some sailors, or something.

09.

09/08/09: The Kids Of America by myself: The Republicans were being dicks to Obama, trying to deny him even the most rudimentary respect deserved by his being our elected President of these United States. Funny how few things change. Stay classy, Republicans. Keep celebrating the fundamental lack of education within your party.

10.

09/09/09: 09/09/09 by myself: It doesn’t take much to amuse me, I tell ya.

11.

09/10/09: In my younger and more vulnerable years…” by myself: The Great Gatsby really is a great book, and truly one of the Great American Novels. I used to despise it because it was too simple, too easy, such a perfect textbook for a high school class, but now I suspect that’s part of its charm. I used to think the movie starring Robert Redford and Mia Farrow was incredibly boring, but now I’m dreading the new one with DiCaprio and Sally Sparrow and the Peter Parker I’m hoping we can all forget about. At least it’ll be in 3D, as if that mattered.

12.

09/11/09: The Food chain by Benjamin Light: LOL.

13.

09/11/09: NEVAR FORGET by yours truly: Well…

14.

09/13/09: Bloodletting by myself: Just a nice reminder, I think, of how good the first two seasons of True Blood were. That’s not to say that the subsequent seasons have been terrible, because they haven’t, but the first two seasons were just excellent, I thought. Just a perfect balance between the human and the supernatural, between comedy and horror, between mystery and romance, between the darkness and the light.

15.

09/14/09: RIP Patrick Swayze by myself: Seriously. RIP Patrick Swayze. I’m going to go watch Road House again.

16.

09/14/09: Are you aware of the number of handjobs I’m gonna have to give by August Bravo and myself: Once someone says “hand jobs,” then BOOM, there’s August Bravo, suddenly out of nowhere.

Looking back, this was a very interesting episode of Mad Men, the biggest aspect being the birth of baby Gene Draper, but there was so much more going on there. Both in the episode and in our writing about it, talking about Kanye, for example, and for me finally realizing how truly amazing Alison Brie was.

17.

09/15/09: The Development Of Strange Things by myself: I like Harper’s magazine. I like it a lot. But I especially like the “Findings” section at the end, as you may have noticed here on Counterforce time and again.

* * *

Months are longer than we think, especially since we posted something every single day of September, 2009 except for one, so let’s take a break here and resume this after a…

TO BE CONTINUED!

Paradise Circus.

The other day as I was wasting time away on the internet, as I’m typically wont to do, someone posted this song for all the world to hear and join in on appreciating…

That’s Massive Attack’s “Paradise Circus” featuring Hope Sandoval  (whom you might know from her Warm Inventions or, of course, Mazzy Fucking Star), from their last album, Heligoland. The person who posted that song the other day, Sarah Lynn Knowles, had previously listed Heligoland as one of her favorite albums of this year so far and mentioned that “Paradise Circus” was probably her favorite track of the year.

It was so weird to me, seeing those words from another person, which basically forced me to realize that this is also my favorite song from this year. I had wanted this song to my song of the summer, and what a great summer that would’ve been, but instead “Paradise Circus” became, if not the song I most identified with in some sad way over the summer, than certainly the song I probably listened to the most.

Months and months ago Conrad Noir had sent me a link to the original promotional video that went with the song, directed by Toby Dye, and I had enjoyed it, thought it was the usual amusing and charming NSFW stab at internet marketing that a serious musical artist with cred usually takes (think Sigur Rós’ “Gobbledigook” previously), but, while I loved the song, and thought that promotional video really fit it, I think something about the novelty of it just… lost me. I forgot about the song.

Not shocking. It’s been a busy year for me, and the summer has been especially crazy. Crazier than I usually am, and that’s a pretty astounding feat. Plus, I cram a lot of new music into my head. It’s a sponge most times, sucking in all the good and the bad and the everything in between, but sometimes things go in one ear and bypass the chewy center and slip right out the other ear…

But then somewhere in the past few months this song worked it’s way back into my life, back into my head, as songs are wont to do. Something about that first hearing (second, actually) was amazing, and it was probably due to my having heard it before, but either way, the song started to grow on me. I downloaded it somewhere, possessed it, played it whenever I wanted, commanding it like a snake charmer, summoning it like a genie in a musical bottle. And, like I said, it became the song of my summer, if you will. And if it wasn’t that, then it was certainly, as my itunes will certainly attest to, the song I listened to the most.

And when I started to slowly realize that, that was when the universe started throwing it in my face. As the universe is wont to do, of course. First it’s used in an episode of True Blood from this past season…

…and it’s used perfectly. And the dancer in that video is absolutely right when she mentions that she knows the secret to life and it’s simply this: “A hell I’ll never get out of alive.” And then Bill the vampire tells her, “No one ever does.” And then he adds, SOOKEH IS MAHN!”

And again, the song is used perfectly there. It’s the perfect song to be playing during a particular poignant moment with a stripper in a darkened club somewhere. It’s also the perfect song to be playing on a show about vampires and werewolves, with all the metaphors for darkness between humans at play there, and all that dirty, raunchy, wonderful sex. “Paradise Circus” is just a song that evokes something in you, something twisted but smooth, something sexy but hidden away from light. It reminds you of a time in your life that you had something nasty but wonderful going on, of when you related in a way to parts of season 6 of Buffy The Vampire Slayer and you have a hard time putting that resonance in words.

Or maybe not. Maybe that’s just me.

As I was sitting down to write this, just browsing around the wildways of the internet, as I am always so wont to do, I found another video that someone made, somewhat amateur-ish, but a glossy production.

Then, the other day I’m laying in bed watching something on my ipod, watching the first episode of Luther, the police drama that Idris Elba (Stringer Bell!) did back in his native country not too long ago, and of course “Paradise Circus” is the theme song to that song. Of course.

But, again, it fits perfectly. Luther is a dark, sexy show about a brilliant cop who’s always walking just little bit more than just a little across the dark side. I truly wish that American cop shows had not just the weight and intensity of a show like this, not just the style, but the intellect. And it’s nice to see Idris Elba (who is soon to take over the role of Alex Cross from Morgan Freeman, in addition to starring in both Kenneth Branagh’s upcoming Thor and the new Nic Cage/Ghost Rider movie) in a role where he sacrifices nothing of his presence but does shed the cleanness that we’ve seen from him on The Wire or on The Office a year or two ago, whenever it was.

The show starts with Luther tracking down his prey, a killer of women and children, and quite possibly letting the man fall to his death intentionally without helping him. The first episode, trying to avoid spoilers as much as i can here, ends with Luther’s new antagonist, whose nothing that he’s faced before or can predict, finding that killer of women and children, who survived the fall and ended up in a coma. Somewhere between those two points, Luther went a little crazy from what he did, took some time off from the job and was separated from his wife for a while. When he’s cleared of all wrong doing (oh, you foolish police inquiry boards) and returns to the job, he decides that he’s well enough to return to his wife…

When it finally happens, we’re dreading it because we know that his wife will have some bad news for him and Idris Elba’s Luther is a big and ferocious guy. The moments after she tells him her bad news in the living room of the house they once shared, the screen is absolutely charged. It feels for a moment as if no room will ever be big enough to hold his rage and sadness.As he storms off into the night away from her, I heard the echoes of the Massive Attack song just pinging around in my brain.

And then I saw the thing there on tumblr, from SarahSpy, and all of this coalesced together in my brain. But that’s okay. It’s a great song, one to be appreciated by people who have great taste in music, but also those identify with a certain something, maybe. A kind of long ago sadness or darkness, and an appreciation of that time in their life. You only see connections and links after the fact and pain, suffering, and/or sadness can only really be learned from far removed from the infliction of the wounds. And it’s all so much better when it’s set to music.

Closer.

The day before it was 23 things about Lost, and yesterday it was five things about men and women, Don Draper and Liz Lemon and Meg Ryan and Nic Cage. And today it’s just three things. It’s almost as if time is speeding up as we get closer and closer to something, right? But today… three songs:

1. Blonde Redhead “Silently”

For starters, Benjamin Light: I’m not going to say it. I want to. You know I want to. But I won’t.

Secondly, Conrad Noir: Yes. It sounds like cunnilingus to me. Sweet, seductive cunnilingus… Only instead of legs spread and a tongue moving over the the wetness between, it’s your ears that are spreading and a mouth upon what’s between them…

This is one of my favorite songs. Perhaps ever, actually. It’s from their last album, the lovely 23. (The title track is also fantastic.) Don’t just listen to this song. HEAR it. Put on headphones, turn up the volume, and prepare to go somewhere as you hear it, prepare to smile, prepare to kind of sway a little. Contains the lyric that I find terrifically appropriate far too often: “I realize now that you’re not to be blamed, my love. You didn’t choose your name, my love. You never crossed the seven seas!” But when you listen to this song, you’ll feel like you had, and that you came home from that sexy journey.

2. Architecture In Helsinki “It’5!”

There’s no denying it, this song is fucking ridiculous.

But at the time, which was years and years ago, I desperately needed something ridiculous and catchy to find me and this song did. Caught me when I was falling and I fell in love with it’s cheesiness. And then I grew to love the band, which was the original psuedointellectual tweecore, even before Los Campesinos came along to do it just as well, but with more point and bite perhaps. This song contains and both asks the eternal question: “Have I failed to impress you?” And it also reminds you the inherent dangers of strangers as well? Maybe. I’d also recommend the incredibly sexy “Maybe You Can Owe Me” by the same band. You don’t have to thank me for the recommendation, but maybe you can owe me. :)

3. Well…

Today I had to go on a trip with a co-worker. About two hours one way, for a meeting, then two hours back. She drove, I rode shotgun. On the way back to work, we made small talk for a bit and then I retired to my headphones and Pandora radio and let her sing along to the country music station I could tell she was desperate to put on. As we drove, the weather here got more and more severe. The skies were darkening quickly and before long everything was gray, the color of life desaturated and soaked with impending doom. Wind was blowing songs, turning the hard rain sideways. The man on the radio was saying that quarter sized hail was to be expected, then hail the size of ping pong balls, then hail the size of a baseball. She and I half joked that we were expecting him to come back with a warning about basketball sized hail, but that was our way of joking about how terrifying the sky was getting.

We still had a ways to go and in the direction we were heading: Lightning. And lightning is scary the longer it lasts. A quick flash is worrisome, foreshadowing. But this wasn’t a quick flash, these were big, thick bursts of electricity puncturing the landscape ahead of us and it was lasting 1 second, then 2, then 3, then 4, then…

“It’s so close,” she whispered and without saying anything, without looking at me, she moved her hand closer. I could tell she was scared and honestly, so was I. I held her hand and let myself get worried.

The whole time I kept one ear bud in my ear. I need something loud to distract me. At one point on my Pandora station, it was Death From Above 1979 but part of me felt that just wasn’t going to work. Then some Ratatat (by the way, their new album is good), then Crystal Castles at one point. I kept cycling through vaguely techno songs, needing something to take me out of this moment as she and I were flinging ourselves headlong into it. And then it happened, this song:

M83 “We Own The Sky”

…and I just knew it was going to be okay. This is as close as I get to a spiritual experience at times, as empty as it may seem to you, but everything about me that was concerned was gone. I turned the volume up, squeezed her hand gently, and said, “Don’t worry, everything is going to be fine.”

“Really?” she asked me. This was the first time she looked at me. She was looking to see me flinch, or hesitate, watching for the slightest sign that I might just be saying something to make her feel better. There was none of these signs.

“Really,” I said, and then turned the volume up higher.

Déjà Entendu.

So, last night I was going from one place to the next and stopped at the supermarket on the way. It was late and I was hungry, looking for some kind of quick snack, hopefully a sandwich from the deli, or… something. No luck because it was late and the deli was closed. So I just started wandering amidst the bright lights, the muzak renditions of pop trash, and the glitzy brand names…

And as I prowled the aisles, this strange feeling crept over me, one that I’ve sadly only experienced on a handful of occasions, if ever, and one that’s hard to romantically recall. The feeling was as close as I could literally think of déjà vu being. Or perhaps jamais vu. I mean, obviously I’ve done that same thing, staring at the contents of the supermarket hundreds of times in my life, no, thousands of times. But why did it feel particularly heavy this time? What was different. I looked at the brands, the names, the new code words used to entice me: “low fat,” “low sodium,” “lite,” “toasted, “flamefresh,” etc. and I looked at the tabloids, immersed for a time, as Don Delillio put it, in the world of “the living and the dead.”

Eventually I decided, “Fuck it.” I took it all in and kept walking. It was only a thing if I made it a thing.

While wandering up and down the aisles still, I passed some guy, someone I barely know, just a familiar face. It took me half a second to place him: Some guy who comes into my place of work every now and then. We did the “S’up” head nod thing that men do and we went about our business.

Moments later I passed a couple I only kind of know. Had dinner at their place once, invited by friends of a friend. It was an awkward dinner and an even more awkward night. Long story short: Someone performed a sex act in their house that night and the hosts did not approve. A silent deal was made that should anyone who there in that time and place ever encounter each other again, they’d do a cold stare and then keep walking. That’s what we did.

Then I passed another guy I’ve seen come into my job before. This dude doesn’t recognized me, which is fine with me. I keep looking for something to eat.

More wandering and I see a girl walking around, laughing as she talks on her cell phone. I sort of know this girl through Conrad Noir. He’s had a thing for her for years but hasn’t been able to make that romantic connection with her, mostly, I think, because she’s not interested. But also, she’s kind of dumb. Those two facts are unrelated, but most equally important. But seeing her made me stop in my tracks and look around…

There was her, the two guys I see come in to my job now and then, that couple, and myself. Two women and three men. Five people in a grocery store. Not all of them know each other, but there’s a tenuous connection of recognition between them, and they’re all in the same place late into a Monday night. Why did this feel important to me? Maybe, and I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but just go with me here, but maybe I was just in a wacky place, or perhaps in a whole other universe, the five of us were on a plane that crashed in the middle of the ocean, landing on a mysterious island with magical properties and weird indigenous people and science fiction monsters and… you know, shit like that? This whole other universe could be sideways to the one we’re currently in, and could feel more real, more accurate. Perhaps this universe, the one we reside in now, is just a tangent, or perhaps just a shard of the whole prism? Perhaps when people who have this connection to another time and place occupy such closer quarters at the same time, there’s this weird effect on reality, something that causes it to resonate? It’s possible, right?

Ehhhh, probably not. Maybe the world is just too damn small. I was only in the supermarket for like five minutes, if that. Had a weird experience, noticed that the price of bananas had gone up, and eventually walked out with a candy bar and a bag of sun chips. Oh, and hey, tonight’s a new episode of Lost. Enjoy it, everyone. In 13 days it’ll be gone forever.

Search Party 02.

Continuing from the last time we looked at it, here’s just a few more of the things that people have searched for and then found ye old Counterforce through…

The weirdest: “Priceless arse slap.” No idea what post they found with that.

Also weird: “sexyhousewife271@aol.com.”

And, yes, also weird: “men with big dicks always cheat,” which brought up this, which isn’t terribly off, I guess.

And, “60s milkshake machine,” which brought up nothing that I can tell.

Lost Desmond Toroid Coil.” Sorry, Desmond, but Google Search is not through with you yet!

Nobody human has anything to say to me today!”

“Amelia Pond, like a name in a fairy tale.” Nice.

And also “Karen Gillan” along with “nightie,” and then there’s always this…

An interesting one: “Lois Chiles in The Great Gatsby.” Also, “Gatsby style.”

Blair Brown.”

Cindy Meston.”

“Sylvia Plath vs. Anne Sexton.” Who do you think would win?

Tracy Clark-Flory.”

Some people are hot for teacher: “Miss Farrell.”

Every possible thing you could tie in with Kim Kardashian

“Sextape” and “tape” and “video” and “sex video” and “sex” and and “bikini” and “boobs” and “tits” and “ass” and “pussy” and “crazy.” Oh, for the love of Ray J, people! It troubles me that no one wants to google what Kim Kardashian thinks of the Fermi paradox or what happened to the Roanoke colony or even what her favorite color is. But I’ll get over it.

Also, I imagine that, based on the picture above, we might finally start getting hits for Kim Kardashian and “oral.” One can only hope…

Empty movie theater.”

At least someone out there searched for “Oak Island.”

And “ghost town and ghost city pics.”

Amber Tamblyn is hideous.” Ouch.

The lady in red betrayed him.” Oh man, that’s the story of my life.

Peanut St. Cosmo is insane.”

Also, every single thing you try to tie in with Tina Fey

“Sexy” and glasses” and “hot” and “hot pics” and “Sarah Palin” and “butt.” Butt? Really? Of all the things you people are curious about when it comes to the lovely and immensely talented Tina Fey, you want to search for pictures of her ass?

Fuck Yeah Sayid.” Nice.

Robert Mapplethorpe” and “black men” together.

Gene Siskel moustache.”

Thurber bad riding wolf.”

Sean Connery on the set.”

“Bartlett” and “War of the roses” together.

“Crazy mad linkage.” Ha ha.

“Crazy juice” and “I saw you and him walking in the rain” together.

Failsafe condom.”

“Levi’s campaign go forth.”

Deep red cover,” which… I don’t what that means. It sounds either dirty or nasty though.

“Sci fi landscapes.”

Super eclipse.”

Time wave zero.”

Is Megan Fox a fucking robot?”

Pills, porn, and poker.

The 3 Ps, they’re called. The most common types of e-mail spam/business that clutters your inbox, or your spam folder.  Also, replica watches too, apparently.

Here is, for your viewing pleasure, 47 random and unopened entries from my spam folder, with the sender and subject line:

1. Jet Blue Rewards. Apparently I’ve been chosen to receive two free tickets just about anywhere. Go me.

2. Blockbuster online. This makes me laugh a little.

3. Extenze. “Natural male enhancement. It works!” the email promises. I’ve been promised things before.

4.Island Rock. Apparently, according to this email, Bon Jovi wants me to pick a song for him to perform at the Grammys. Hey Jon, I’m trying to think of something clever to say, or to even think up a Bon Jovi song, but I’m just thinking about that Bret Michaels thing over and over again.

5. BlackSingles.com. “Meet African American singles in your area,” the email suggests. I’d love to.

6. Tiger Woods Fan Club. The subject line is: “Please contact us immediately to tell us if you still support Tiger or not?”

from here.

7. Locate Plastic Surgeons. “GET BREAST IMPLANTS!” Don’t tease me.

8. Cash -4-Gold. Sure, I’d love some cash, but honestly, people, if I had a bunch of gold sitting around…

9. August Bravo. “What do the numbers on Lost mean?” and “I think Locke is Jacob. Is he?” Yeah, sure.

10. Cash in 24 hours. One of my favorite subject lines: “Get CASH wired into your account tomorrow! $lut$!”

11. Sexyhousewife271@aol.com <Priceline Updates @ fandangonews.com. “Why wait when you can be having an affair with a sexy housewife right now!” You’ve got a point there, friend. Why am I waiting?

12. Rachel Ray Package. “You’ve been selected to receive a Rachael Ray package worth up to $500!” Ehh.

13. Criminal Justice School Finder. “Take criminal justice classes online. AT YOUR OWN PACE!” Now we are talking. The all caps tells me that you are serious.

14. Cheating_wife007@aol.com. “There are SO MANY cheating wives in YOUR AREA.” I figured as much. I like the “007” add on there, though. Ladies are pimps too. The AOL makes me think less of all that cuckolding though.

15. COBRA health coverage. “Can’t afford COBRA? You’re not alone!” Uhhh, I’m weary of this one, you guys.

16. Oksana. “Come to me. I’m in a hotel. Come on top of me! I’ll still love you!” Dream girl.

17. Brandie. “Did you get email? I miss the way you suckle my pussy.”

18. Svetlana. “Hello.” This one is subtle, and therefore, as far as Spam goes, more insidious. I love these brands of “normal sounding” women’s names. You almost want to click on them. “Brandie” is a decent name, but when I am ever going to know an Oksana or Svetlana, really? For more than one night, I mean.

19. Dolores. I include this one because Dolores is a nice name, but one you don’t see very often anymore, right? (Also, unrelated, it was Lolita’s name.) Anyway, the subject line is: “Remember that passionate night we shared in Tokyo?” I wish, Dolores. I wish.

from here.

20. APPLE. “Your iphone is waiting to meet you!”

21. Shop until you drop! “Target gift card!”

22. HotBabyGirl4U. “I’m Cute and I know it :) Hehe.” I gotta admit. Her confidence is a turn on.

23. Conrad Noir. “The Gayest tennis serve.” It can be found here, apparently.

24. Approved Tester. “Thank you! You’re an approved tester now!” Uh… great.

25. Internet TV. “Fuck your cable bill in the ass.” I like the way we’re talking here.

26. Legally reduce your debt. “As seen on CNN!” That sounds legit.

27. VIAGRA where you want it. Where I want it, huh? The subject line is probably the most effective marketing statement ever: “80% off!” Thankfully, the only entity that cares more about my penis (and my finances) than me is my good friend, the Internet.

28. Kim. “Blinded by those white teeth!” Thanks, Kim.

29. Cash4Timeshares. “Don’t you hate it when they make you pay for those time shares?” Like you would not and could not believe, bro.

30. G.I. Bill. “January 12 to January 29: You qualify. Afraid to see if you have what it takes?” Afraid? No. I’m pretty sure that I do not have what it takes.

31. Diamonds. “DIAMONDS!”

32. Lesslie. “COLD CASH. Weight loss made easy. Eat whatever you want. No more diet pills!” This is that sweet spot where “sounding good” eventually translates into “looking good.”

33. Fling.com. “Spice up your life, Marco.”

34. Savings. “Get a credit check. Be debt free in 2 to 36 months.”

35.Yesenia. “VISA and MASTER CARD and AMERICAN EXPRESS. Get VIAGRA and CIALIS together in ONE PILL.” Tempting.

36. Troy. “Make your blog do things with my help. Financial magic.” Also tempting. Troy, are you a wizard? A warlock? Are you going to initiate me into your blogging coven?

37. Smoke shop. “What goes between your lips?”

38. Gimmesumluvin. “I’m look’n for something strange!” Now we’re talking.

39. Davison. “We challenge you to pursue your dream.” Hmm.

40. Perfect hair every day. “Celebrity hair secrets REVEALED.”

41. (500) Days for $1.99. “You need business cards!”

42. Piss loving sluts find Jesus and $alvation! I’m a red blooded American male, one who loves mixing business and pleasure, spirituality and golden showers as much as the next guy, but even still… I think I’ll wait til this is in reruns after Steven Seagal, Lawman on A&E.

43. Hi-tech Husband. Fist it says, “Want to make a little money at home?” Yes, I do. Then it says, “Want us to ship you a wireless notebook?” Oh, you tease.

44. Peanut St. Cosmo. Just the usual. She asks, “DID HE ASK FOR ME BY NAME?” when talking about internet celebs. Oh, Peanut. Of course he did!

45. Remove Dark Eyes and Circles. “Stop looking like a heroin addict in mere weeks!”

46. Help Haiti Homeboy. I actually click on this one because I’m amazed at how timely it is, how it may actually want to do some good. But… no. It says: “Get a loan. Get a condo in Haiti. Fuck some sad bitches.” As horrible as that is, it’s pretty much the spam trifecta, right?

47. Limited promotion. “Are you a real person?” Honestly, this one blew my mind. The last thing anyone on the internet wants is to have their “realness” questioned. And a close second is, “A/S/L?”

So, there you go. Nothing particularly revelatory, but that’s hardly the nature of your inbox anymore, right? Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be on the internet…

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?