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

Murky waters.

Saw this today…

…and had a good chuckle. It’s by artist/journalist Chip Zdarsky, which I discovered it via Warren Ellis’ site and Zdarsky’s twitter, but who knows. It’s absolutely mind blowingly terrible. And wonderful. Like this:

from here.

Unrelated:

“They say, ‘Evil prevails when good men fail to act.’ What they ought to say is, ‘Evil prevails.'”

The underrated Nic Cage film Lord Of War is on Hulu and it’s not bad, if you’ve never seen it. Think Thank You For Smoking, but substitute guns and arms merchants for cigarettes and tobacco companies, keep the same level of ridiculous, but a much different and frighteningly relevant look at the world. It’s almost kind of depressing, but fun. Other movies you can also currently still find on Hulu include: Starship Troopers, Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove, Killing Me Softly (if you can believe it), the original Captain America movie, The Age Of Innocence, The Man Who Cried, Kubrick’s Spartacus, The Corporation, Richard Linklater’s Slacker, La Femme Nikita, and last, but not least, Doug Liman’s Go, a seminal film from my 90s youth.

May the Gods grant thee all that thy heart desires.

If I had a time machine, I’d travel to 2010 right this fucking second.

An abridged version of my reaction to the 4 minute pre-credits opening teaser to the episode: “Oh, hey, is that…?” “Well, look at that.” “Hmmm.” “I bet that’s… Oh, it totally is.” “Who’s this fucker? And who’s this other fucker?” “Are they… Is that… HOLY SHIT.”

There’s not even words to formulate an abridged version to my reaction to the ending. I’m literally typing this 8 minutes after the ending of the show and I feel like I got fucked hard. Or kicked in the balls hard, and it was glorious. I saw the light. Destiny found.

Looking around the room in the sweaty, luminescent afterglow, I see my underwear hanging from the ceiling fan. My pants are outside. I only have one sock on and the other is probably floating around there in time and space. I’m going to take a moment to collect all the various parts of myself, including my thoughts, and then come back with some quick thoughts on the season finale of Lost, entitled “The Incident.”

The Incident? You can sure as shit say that again, man.

The episode starts perfectly: Two guys enjoying a little chat on the beach as they scan the news on the horizon. They’re apparently (im)mortal enemies, working against or at least in conflict with each other, but there are rules to their engagements. One of these guys is Jacob and the other, the one who thinks that it always comes back to mortal sin, goes unnamed. And this tender little moment where one swears to the other that he’ll find a way to kill him? It all takes place in the shadow of the statue.

I just love that they can set up a huge overarching mythos for the show and this season in particular in the four minute teaser to the season finale and it already feels so natural and perfect.

Ben. Ben’s had one of the major storylines/character arcs this year and… Well. How fascinating that Ben has become the exact opposite of what we’ve known him as for the entire show so far: A victim. Haven’t you heard, Ben? Only fools are enslaved by time and space.

from here.

The statue:

Goddamn. Look at that fucking thing. Most likely, that’s still Anubis because of the ankhs, but there’s also the theories about Taweret (nahh) and Sobek, which actually make sense too. Sobek was a creator God and also carried around ankhs.

In fact, no, never mind, that is totally Sobek. You can tell by the crocodile mouth.

Jacob. More on him soon, because… it’s kind of hard even wrap your head around this character, you know?

But I find it very interesting that when he visited characters in the past, he always made sure to touch them. Physically. And the camera made sure to let you know that.

Is that his personal way of wrapping destiny around  you in such a way to deliver you to the Island?

Or is he giving them a second chance at life, not just in the moments he touches them, but in a reset post-Eden world? Are they still prisoners to time or are they free? Is the destiny that they’ll find in 2010 the ones that they themselves will create?

Little Kate. Wasn’t she adorable?

And she totally had the right stuff.

Big Kate. Not so bad, but you’re kind of all over the place here, Kate. But so were all of your friends too.

Jack. Jack does come off kind of crazy here, and a little possessed, but I guess it’s nice to see him there, to see him not so apathetic anymore. Also, Jack has a bomb! On one hand, there’s something very noble about his wanting to hit the reset button and see what was meant to be, but on the other hand, wouldn’t it be more noble to win back Kate the hard way? I’m going to have to agree with Sawyer on “what’s done is done” and suggest that if Jack wanted to be worthy of Kate, then he should get to work on being worthy of Kate. But then again, blowing shit up is also cool and they have to do that at the end of every season, right?

Desmond. I don’t mind mentioning that the last three episodes have suffered from an extreme lack of him, but maybe it’s for the best. For both Henry Ian Cusick and the show legally but also… Well, it’s nice that Desmond and Penny got a happy ending to this season.

Evil Twin John Locke. Oooh, Jacob’s Enemy is interesting, isn’t he? Knowing what we know now, I love that in “Follow The Leader” he made sure to have Richard go talk to his past self/past Locke to ensure that Locke does indeed leave the Island and meet his fate (death) like he’s supposed to.

The Real John Locke. You know what? This feels like the perfect ending to the real Locke’s storyline. Throughout all of his struggles to be his own man, to be something more than himself, he was always being used by somebody for something. Even after he died. Also, I loved that they used the same camera angel reveal for his body here that was used in the funeral home at the end of last season’s finale when they opened that mystery box.

The ending to every classic science fiction time travel story ever. I like how Miles has seen at least one and can suggest that maybe this is a predestination paradox. Which all leads wonderfully to…

“Aw, fuck it.” Isn’t that the gist of the rest of the 815ers in ’77’s decision? It kind of echoes Sayid’s sentiments from the previous episode. Either Jack/Faraday was right and this will work or at least they’ll all be put out of their misery and go down swinging.

Charlie. I like how the show is starting to slowly fold back in on itself, ouroboros-style, echoing itself.

Foreshadowing. It was all over this episode and hinting at nothing but bad things for Juliet. And then bad things happened to Juliet. And then that glorious ending…

Sawyer. I’ll say this for Sawyer: “What’s done is done.” That and he’s the kind of guy who kicks a man in the balls…

Bro Fight! This starts off a serious tussle, with some solid punches being thrown, some manly grimaces and growls, and even a kick in the balls They Live-style. Nice. But then it quickly devolves into…

A coupla guys having a sad little cat fight in the jungle. That may be a little harsh but still. Beat some sense into each other, fellas, if you can.

Everything That Rises Must Converge by Flannery O’Connor. You have interesting taste in literature, Jacob.

Rose and Bernard. I respect their new take on life up to a point. To them, it’s not “whatever happened, happened,” but “whatever happens, happens.” They’re very much in the present day, living each moment as it comes and enjoying it as if it’s the last, as long as they’re together. That’s nice and sweet and all, but it’s also a kind of giving up. But for them, it makes sense since every moment they’ve had on the Island so far has felt like borrowed time to them. But more to the point: Are they the Adam and Eve skeletons?

The Rules. There are so many. One set applies to Jacob and his Enemy. But there’s also rules to time travel, iron clad rules it would seem, and I’m happy that so far the show has never deviated from those rules. In fact, every fascinating thing they do only seems to reinforce the stated rules when all is said and done. But even those rules just need a loophole, right?

Time Travel. What do you think? Are our heroes going to make it home? Or, just like Scott Bakula in Quantum Leap, are they going to be left hoping that the next flash is the one that takes them home?

Sayid. Damn.

Sun and Jin. I was hoping these two would get back together this season, but having another thing to look forward to next year is not such a bad thing.

Quick theory on Jacob’s Enemy: He’s the smoke monster. A Loki/trickster type, one has no problem reading people and then impersonating them, especially the dead, and if you remember Ben’s judgment from a few episodes back then you’ll remember that Alex and Locke were never in the same room together. That and I’m going to assume that Jacob was never in that cabin, not that we’ve seen when Ben or Locke or Hurley visited it, and that it was Jacob’s Enemy.

Jacob’s Cabin. “Someone else has been using it.” I’d even theorize that Jacob’s Enemy was probably imprisoned there in the circle of ash and that when Locke came to visit and his foot disturbed the circle, he freed him. And not just freed him, he introduced himself to Jacob’s Enemy and gave him exactly what he’s been looking for all this time: A loophole.

Also, Jacob’s Enemy: would presumably be named Esau, right? That or Edom?

Locke, again. This whole season the writers of this show have been working a magnificent magic trick on us with this character, playing on what we’ve always wanted to see and what little knowledge we’ve had about where all this is going. The knowledge they’ve given us. The knowledge we’ve followed faithfully, even when it conflicted with other knowledge they’ve given us, like the fact that “Dead is dead.” But I guess that’s just part of the beautiful dance that writers and con men have in common with their victims and audience: they desire to be so perfectly and wonderfully fooled.

People with guns. They just don’t understand shit at all. That’s why they have the guns, right?

The argument above is rendered invalid when it comes to hot girls with guns. They can do whatever they want pretty much always.

That guy Phil. He can eat a dick. Or a metal pole! Ha ha!

And let’s not forget this:

Or:

“Come on, you son of a bitch.” Great last line, great last moment. “The Fork In The Outlet?” Please, they may as well have just called this “One last WTF.” Way to go, Juliet. I think she shows, not just in that last moment, but in the entire episode that one person changing their mind can make all the difference.

One last thought for you, just a little something to hold you over for the next 8 months or so: THEY’RE COMING!

Hidden Indicators of Bad Taste

A few weeks ago, the Onion’s supremely less-talented AV Club did a feature where all the main writers talked about which piece of cultural art — generally considered to be a masterpiece — that they secretly didn’t like/get. Two of these “writers” who get paid cash money to write about film, had bad things to say about Network and Dr. Strangelove. If that shouldn’t disqualify you from ever earning a cent in the movie review business, I don’t know what should. If only the AV Club could team up with Stephanie Zacharek, they’d form some sort of vortex of shitty taste that could be isolated and dealt with.

Beyond Reproach

Beyond Reproach

But it’s pretty easy to identify people who don’t like 2 of the greatest films of all time as having bad taste. What I’d like to talk about today are the more subtle hints of it. These are movie, television shows and people in general whom it may not seem so shameful to enjoy, but in actuality, are what I like to call Hidden Indicators of Bad Taste.

o_rly

You see, it’s easy to point out someone who loves Heroes or American Idol or Transformers as being a douche. I mean, we all saw that episode of The Office where Amy Adams goes to bat for Legally Blonde. Painful, but obvious. What we’re after here is that category of folk who think they’ve got good taste. The stuff they champion isn’t obviously bad until you think about it for a while.

 

Still ahead of its time

Still ahead of its time

Now, before you get all riled up because something you like is on this list, just understand, it’s probably forgivable if it’s just one. Two is pushing it and three means you suck. And also understand, when I say hidden indicators, I mean it’s not just that a person likes this movie, it’s that they think it is a legitimately quality piece of art. These are films and shows they will proudly announce as their favorites. If they do: shun them.

The Boondock Saints

 

boondock saints

Unless you’re really into Queer Cinema, having a deep affection for this movie does not speak well of your mental might. My general feeling about The Boondock Saints is that the people who revere this film are the same morons who watched Fight Club and then wanted to start their own. It is one thing to consider this movie stupidly entertaining, but far another to grant it any sort of higher artistic merit. If you meet someone, and they try to make a serious point in conversation about drugs, gangs, Irish people or the Church, by referencing this movie: just politely nod and move on. And double that if they happen to boast of being Irish themselves. Fuckin stinking Irish pigs.

Almost Famous

 

Almost Famous

Cameron Crowe has managed to convince quite a few people that he is a good writer. I think it’s because his movies are really long, chatty and have lots of pop music. People just assume that all that talkin equals talent. Almost Famous is about 45 minutes too long and, lets be honest here, is just one big masturbation session for Crowe to idealize his youth. Also, Kate Hudson: I just don’t see it. But that can wait for a whole separate column on Female Celebrity Sex Symbols Who No Males Think Are Actually Hot. And the kind of music writing Crowe is jizzing all over in this movie is exactly the sort of make-myself-part-of-the-story hackery that drags down journalism today.

…I was really tempted to put Pitchfork, in general, on this list, but decided music is too subjective.

Stranger Than Fiction

 

Stranger Than Fiction

It’s like this: smart people like I Heart Huckabees. People who think they’re smart like Stranger Than Fiction. It’s got Will Ferrell! And he’s still shouting a lot, but it’s a drama! And Spoon is all over the soundtrack (virtually ruining my opinion of them). What do we learn from Stranger Than Fiction: that all you need to do to shake things up and start really living life is to buy a guitar and throw a few humps into Maggie Gyllenhaal. But the most egregious sin here is the characters constantly talking about how great Emma Thompson‘s tragedy writer is; what a brilliant novelist and all that. Note to screenplay writers: if you’re going to announce that something is really great writing, it had better be really great writing. The people with secretly bad taste: they think it is.

Battlestar Galactica

 

Death by bad writing

Death by bad writing

This show was actually pretty good for  season and a half, then it just went more and more downhill. A victim, I think, of the shows producers reading too much of their own press. But there is this core deluded fan base, whom I keep seeming to run into, that insist this is far and away the best show on TV. I think these are the same sorts of people who think over-acting is good acting. That excessive montage and endless sitar-and-drum scoring means inspired directing. Battlestar Galactica is what happens when a writer only shows and never tells. And if there’s one thing I hate in serial narratives, it’s when characters act completely different episode to episode depending on what stretched allegory the writers are shooting for. If you thought the insurgency against the Cylons on New Caprica was a brilliant metaphor for the Iraq War then you are an idiot.

Ridley Scott

 

Ridley Scott

Seriously, this guy just screams mediocrity. How doe she get away with it when Brett Ratner gets pilloried by fanboys? I think I blame him for a lot of the shitty shakey-cam we see in action movies these days. He started that whole cop-out excuse of “The footage is confusing and hard to follow because that’s just what war is like.” Tell is to Steven, you hack. Also, Blade Runner is the most overrated sci-fi movie ever, and was secretly better before the Director’s Cut. Ridley Scott is like the poster boy for style lacking substance, so of course people with no substance themselves will think he’s a great filmmaker.

Hellboy 2

 

Hellboy 2

This one’s kind of fish in a barrel, but seriously, there are people who out there who think this was the best film of the year. People like Stephanie Zacharek, who gets paid to write such things. (I can’t heap enough scorn on her. Come on, Salon, how do you let hacks like her and Camille Paglia draw a paycheck?) Hellboy 2, a lazy and uncreative movie at every turn, is the kind of flick that people without the ability to discern a director’s talent from a CGI artist’s competency will think is amazing. At this point, I’d like to sweep up Peter Jackson‘s recent oeuvre as well. Pure hackery.

I really wanted to add Freaks and Geeks to this list, but in fairness, I’ve not seen enough of it to make that call. Though I strongly suspect, based on what I have seen, that the show is wildly over-rated.

Please feel free to nominate your own candidates below, I know I’m forgetting a few.