Past Prologue: October, 2010.

The end looms large, but it 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…

Previously: September, 2009 in parts one and two.



10/02/10: And Then…” by one Marco Sparks: Pictures and Borges and links to previous Counterforce posts… Sigh. The more things change, the more they don’t seem to matter, right?


10/04/10:Tongues Of Flame by yours truly: Pictures of girls in some sort of relationship with the water, and the horizon, and the poetry of T. S. Eliot. Well… Who knows what I was thinking or where I was coming from back then. I mean, I could tell you, but who cares?

It seems like the hipsters are all shit talking Eliot now, but I don’t care. I still like him. Whenever I’m at my most lost, there’s usually a few lines from Eliot that can perfectly describe where I am, what I’m feeling, and sometimes that’s enough. Also, this poem was quoted in The Magus, which was a notoriously bad movie.


10/04/10: The End Of The Story Is Unwritten by myself: I really like Harlan Ellison, though it is sometimes to do so. I think at this point, when I was writing this post, I had yet to see the documentary about him, Dreams With Sharp Teeth, which is a fine film.

I’ll always be a science fiction nut – maybe you’ve noticed? – but once or twice or thrice a year I really get back into it, and Ellison is one of those writers I go back to. To me, he’s the ur-Neil Gaiman, but less magical and twee. I respect that Ellison doesn’t suffer fools well, that he’s serious about his craft and those who practice it. In many ways, it would appear that he is not a human at all, but a new creature, one best described in works of his favorite genre: all sharp edges and protected, wounded heart and acid and witty talent.


10/06/10: Powers And Responsibilities/Up, Up, And Away We Go by myself: Spider-Man and Superman! Perhaps some day I’ll write a book about super heroes, and how they’re trapped in our world and in desperate need of being given life beyond it, and just get it all out of my fucking system, you know?

Also, it’s not like I need a reason to do a post with copious amounts of Emma Stone pictures. Seriously. And: Jon Hamm really should be playing Superman/Clark Kent.


10/06/10: Crucifixes by myself: I like Richard Pryor and I don’t like religion. In fact, if I remember correctly, I shit talk about it a little on the latest episode of our podcast. But that’s a whole other story, and one for another time.

If I were to get into the nuts and bolts, a post like this comes about like so many others that exist out there in the internet: I saw it somewhere and I liked it. Someone shared it with the world and I was one of those folks in the world who saw it and wanted to pass it along to the rest of my own little corner of the internetting world. I came, I saw, I reblogged.


10/08/10: Animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others,” by myself: Pictures by Dave Eggers, quotes by George Orwell and Voltaire, links from the internet. What a bizarre mixture.


10/09/10:Nobody told me there’d be days like these,” by myself: People who have problems with authority always gravitate towards John, don’t they? Lennon is the favorite Beatle of the perpetually disenfranchised and the smart, smug assholes. I look back at some of these posts and want to delve into a little of the making of them, but… I don’t know. Sometimes it’s all right there in the post, you know? I wanted to do a post about my favorite Beatle, and maybe I was itching for a little Instant Karma.


10/09/10: Vendettas by myself: Tom Gauld!


10/12/10: Running by myself: This is just another thing I saw online and thought was funny. Also, it’s October, the month of Halloween, the time for goblins and things that are a bit ghoulish and macabre, right?


10/12/10: Who Is Natalie Portman Fucking These Days?” by myself: One of my favorite posts on this site, actually. If we talked about solely about celebs, then… Well, I imagine it’ll be something like that. Of course now this post is severely dated… Black Swan has come and gone and we all know who Natalie Portman is fucking these days, and thankfully it’s not John Mayer.



10/14/10: Video Killed The Internet Star,” by myself: Videos and links about movies and shit I found on the internet. You know… whatever. And a picture of Eric Stoltz as Marty McFly.


10/14/10: Meditations by myself: “Music is the mediator between the spiritual and the sensual life.” That sounds about right.

Some of the things you notice already about this month: Too many posts by me, which is boring. Lots of doubling up on days, with two posts a day for some reason. Lots of just little things from around the internet. The blog was the pin board for things I found interesting from around the web. Well, I guess in a lot of ways that’s what it always was.


10/16/10: Chaos Reigns by myself: Ahhhh, YouTube comments. They are frequently a treat. I don’t even understand why people bother to engage in “intelligent” discourse there.

In fact… most conversation on the internet is flawed. Severely. Nobody wins an internet argument. Like the famous webcomic says, you can spend your whole life standing vigilant, the sentinel against the raping of the truth, strong against the fact that Someone On The Internet Is Wrong, but there are no winners. You’ll never best someone with your logic. Your insults and your put downs will never be properly scored. All people will see is that you were in an Internet Argument and everyone will be pronounced “Loser.” State your case, and move on. Also, fix your typos.


10/16/10: The Patient Labyrinth,” by myself: Again, I was mesmerized by Borges and the ideas of puzzles and mazes of our own design during October of 2010. That was the theme running around somewhere in my head back then, I guess, and it was weakly explored, for sure.

(Also, you’ll notice another picture of a young woman who has a curious relationship or proximity to the ocean…)

Again, I apologize that all these posts are just me. The difference between myself and my co-authors, I believe, was that they wrote when they had something to say and the energy to say it. I always had something to say on this blog, and usually pursued that impulse even when I didn’t have the energy to do it right, or as coherently as it should’ve been. I think it’s fair to say that I deserve the lion’s share of credit for any failings of this blog. A lot of my favorite posts on Counterforce were those written by the others.


10/18/10: Red Dawn by myself: Ahhh, Laura Leighton. Proto-Emma Stone, perhaps? Perhaps not.


10/18/10: Bad Things by myself: True Blood! Looking at this, I’m just reminded of how weird the finale of the latest season of the show was.


10/19/10: I Got You Babe by August Bravo and myself: This is us talking about Mad Men‘s fourth season finale, “Tomorrowland.” Just so weird to see us looking over the episode and being curious and confused and pondering where the show would go next.

And now, two years later, we’ve seen the season that followed it and saw where things went from there and we’re still left wondering, What’s Next?


10/20/10: The Fate Of The Blogger by myself. I’ll be brief on this one: I like Eddie Campbell. Also, it’s two years later and I’m still pondering the fate of the blogger.


10/21/10: What a man is is an arrow into the future and what a woman is is the place the arrow shoots off from,” by myself: Ha ha. A mash up between Sylvia Plath and Saved By The Bell.


10/22/10: I Walked With A Zombie,” by myself: Links and funny pictures, but there’s something else here too… Something that I sense and feel now, but perhaps didn’t notice at the time, a kind of darkness. Beyond the seasonal darkness, I mean. I guess that would make sense. The second half of The Year We Make Made Contact was especially hard on me.


10/23/10: The Boob Tube by myself: This is me ranting about what’s wrong with popular TV and how it could be fixed/saved. And now Benjamin Light and I do a podcast about this. We’re on a mission to civilize! But, anyway, a lot of these notes still make sense and feel relevant, and desperately need to be read and followed by the people running some of these shows. Now more than ever, perhaps. The thoughts about The Office and Community, especially. But thankfully The Office is (finally) ending after this season, and Community is most likely ending this year (if they ever decide to air the new season at all). Why? Because NBC is dumb as shit and they’re not afraid to show it.


10/23/10: The Year Of The Depend Adult Undergarment by myself: David Foster Wallace!


10/24/10: Nintendo Power yours truly: The idea of the “friend zone” is total bullshit but I just thought this image was funny and wanted to share it. Thanks, Mario, but…


10/25/10: All Things Truly Wicked by myself: Ernest Hemingway! Paper Hemingway was a mean, messed up old bastard, but I still like him, despite all his flaws. And I feel that every time I start to accumulate those flaws, just the obvious ones, and add them up… Well, then I’ll see one of his quotes out of the blue and it’ll just fit into something missing puzzle piece in my brain at that moment and I’m flashing back to what a great writer he was. Also, it’s funny, but we still get a decent number of hits to this particular post from an old BuzzFeed post from a year ago that’s nothing but pictures of Ernest Hemingway partying like a maniac.


10/25/10: This Is Still True by myself: Again, more authors and pictures and quotes. This time, it’s Vonnegut. I hope the kids these days are still reading Vonnegut. His was such a delicate balance of moral righteousness and self loathing, but married together so charmingly.


10/27/10: Which Came First by myself: I don’t know what to say about this post, though it’s weird to look at these almost a full two years later.


10/27/10: Ma-Sheen Manby myself: From pictures of and quotes by famous authors to… this. I regret blogging about Charlie Sheen. About Charlie Sheen and so many other things.


10/27/10: You were an island and I passed you by,” by yours truly: Not the greatest post, but one of my favorites by myself here on the site. Roger Ebert has a great quote in his recent Cloud Atlas review: “Any explanation of a work of art must be found in it, not taken to it.” I agree with that wholeheartedly, but I keep thinking about the questions and the digressions of thought that come out of the works of art. I keep thinking about the way works of art can act as explanations for ourselves, for our lives, for the way we live and exist and make our way through the complicated cosmic murals we’re all sloshing around in.

Anyway. If you know me or not, illustrated in this post about Lost is basically a diagram for how my own personal thought processes tend to work, bouncing from thing to thing, riding along the little connections, going from medium to medium and then essentially looking back at where I started from. As you’ve seen, it’s a convoluted process, and one that doesn’t always yield the most fruitful results, but hopefully it’s been fun at times for you. It certainly has for me.


10/29/10: Vampire Sluts by myself: Kate Beaton! I really like Hark! A Vagrant. I like it a lot.


10/29/10: The risk of going too farby myself: Pictures and links and words by T. S. Eliot. Too far is never far enough, right? Or something.


10/31/10: Samhain by myself: I like how this post starts “Another year, another Halloween.” It’s said with such weariness, or, at least, that’s how I perceive it now. That’s how I feel now, anyway. Another year, another Halloween, and a little more of the magic is gone. The masks are getting heavy, folks. Also interesting that the second line is about how once Halloween arrives you have to accept the inevitable: the year is fading away. The same can be said for now, just as it was back in the year we made contact, only when this year fades away, so does this blog.

Edited to add: I meant to post this at the tail end of October and obviously that did not happen. Sorry. Real life shit got in the way.


10/31/10: Las Ruinas Circulares by myself: This is one of my favorite stories by Borges. Fitting for the time of the year, perhaps. I’ve always felt that there’s a tenuous connection between dreams and the dreamer of those dreamers, something akin to the chicken and the egg. That may be a little too heavy.

from here.


10/31/10: Season Of The Witch by myself: Ha ha. Christine O’Donnell. Ha ha.

The odyssey of the Republican party in the last ten years or so has only gotten more sad and tragic, and Christine O’Donnell is just another one of their sad war stories, I think. Ignoring her for the most part, or this Gawker story about some guy’s claims of having had a one night stand with her, what I really was interested in was the comments section on that post. Internet comments are, of course, terrible. Trolls begetting trolls, all hiding under their bridges and flinging out their shit and hate upon the world with no consequences. And I guess that’s what fascinated me: the way people weigh in on things when there’s no rules, no consequences.


10/31/10: Paradise Circus by myself: I first heard this song in an episode of True Blood‘s third season and it just floored me. A few years ago, during a particularly hard time I was going through, this song was my summer jam, which kind of tells you what that summer was like for me, I think.

It was during that summer that I first started watching the cop show, Luther, a British show starring Idris Elba as the titular detective, and “Paradise Circus” was the theme song for the show, which instantly tells you that it’s going to be unlike any other kind of cop show that you can imagine. Luther is a fun show, a bit silly at times, but darkly interesting and all the actors on the show do very interesting work, Idris Elba especially. I’m glad that he backed out of playing Alex Cross to keep doing (other) movies and eventually a third series of Luther.

And Ruth Wilson, who is exceptional on the show as his sociopathic ally of sorts, is rumored to be in the next Avengers movie. I kind of doubt that will happen, but I’d really like to see it.

But anyway, that’s another thing for another time. Again, in a less interesting way, this post was similar to the one about Lost from a few days earlier… Just a glimpse into the way a thing will pop up into your life and spawn legs and connect to other things. And those things, be it songs or TV shows or whatever, will just find you. Claim you, when you think you’re claiming them. It couldn’t been tackled in a much more interesting or succinct way, definitely, but that stuff still fascinates me.

And that’s how the month of October, 2010 ends. Maybe we didn’t create the blog. Maybe it created us?

* * *

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?

Go write your novel.

It’s NaNoWriMo, so go write your novel. Though you probably shouldn’t wait just until it’s NaNoWriMo to be doing that, but whatever. And while you’re at it, go vote.

Meanwhile on the internet…

How to blog.

Why we always vote on Tuesdays.

5 year old girl gives birth.

A man fights a shark to save a woman’s life!

Roger Ebert hates top 10 lists. And your face!

Brazil elects first female president.

Nerdiest signs from the Rally to restore Sanity and/or Fear.

Good NaNoWriMo advice from Merlin Mann.

A look back on the possible alternate futures of Back To The Future.

Gavin Rossdale’s past is more interesting than this present.

I don’t understand the appeal of Bret Michaels, or his dick (featuring Miley Cyrus’ mom).

Carey Mulligan looks amazing after finally dropping that dead weight otherwise known as Shia LeBeowulf.

Here’s the plot of a potential romantic comedy for you: Justin Long and the internet film critic (who thinks he sucks).

It’s so wonderfully dorky, but I think this TARDIS dress is really cool and adorable:

from here and here.

Schwarzeneger bans welfare use for psychics and pot.

NaNoWriMo/LOL Cat pictures from here, but also from here, here, and here.

Shirley Manson says that Garbage is coming back with an album and a tour.

I think it’s time I started developing shows for either CBS or ABC.

Could you give up showering?

The GoldenEye video game getting remade with Daniel Craig.

Can social media break up a marriage?

Kill your co-workers (with kindness)!

The girl with 7 evil exes.

The trailer for the long awaited Scott Pilgrim movie came out yesterday. It’s based on the much loved six part graphic novel series by Bryan Lee O’Malley and stars Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Chris Evans (the new Captain America), Anna Kendrick, Aubrey Plaza, Mae Whitman, Jason Schwartzman, and like a thousand other people as well.

The film, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is directed by Edgar Wright, of Shaun Of The Dead and Hot Fuzz fame. Haven’t seen Hot Fuzz but Shaun Of The Dead left me flaccid. Only saw a few episodes of Spaced. I guess Wright’s not terrible, but a little overrated, and seems to be a junior member of Tarantino’s homage trapper league. I pray that he doesn’t end up directing the next Mission: Impossible movie.

And I should point out that while I’ve only read the first entry in the Scott Pilgrim comics series, is not Michael Cera horrible casting?

Somebody, please, enlighten me on that one. I’ll probably see this movie, it seems fresh and not totally horrible, but like Where The Wild Things Are, something designed to appear magical and lure in and then capture hipsters or whatever we’re calling them these days and those who want to seem cool.

Also, will this be the film adaptation by which people have to go out and read the original material, like Watchmen, and act like they were always down with it?

And, honestly, all of that’s fine with me as long as I don’t have to endure Michael Cera fingerbanging somebody again.

Mad linkage:

Music is replacing religion,” says academic.

Will Broken Social Scene be able to “recapture the magic?”

13 year old prodigy is being discriminated against because of his age. Geek.

Possible explanation for ghosts: The “Stone Tape” theory.

The ten worst jobs in science.

The most beautiful death of Aldous Huxley.

David Mamet sends a memo to his writers on The Wire.

Hash browns.

The world’s most feminist country? Motherfucking Iceland, yo.

Chicago architects to design the world’s tallest building to be built in Saudi Arabia.

Brie Larson, who plays Envy Adams (the character based on Emily Haines) in the Scott Pilgrim movie.


Are serials losing forward momentum with television audiences?

Speaking of which, 24 is officially cancelled.

Obama tells the GOP to suck his dick, re: health care reform.

Roger Ebert producing new movie review show. RIP At The Movies.

China’s female astronauts must be married mothers. That wouldn’t be the case in motherfucking Iceland.

John Kerry’s regrets about John Edwards.

Du Pacque “Walk Straight

“And this I know, his teeth were as white as snow.”

The postal service is moving closer to a five day delivery schedule.

Only slightly related, I don’t think the other Postal Service will ever put out a second album.

How to get chatroulette girls to flash their boobs.

Ben Lyons raped and killed a girl and her name was Pauline Kael.

Peter Biskind, Steven Spielberg, Jaws and “Bruce.”

Is it better to cheat with normal girls or “trashy girls?”

Extinction events that almost wiped out humans.

The night time you say forever

Breakfast pizza.

Carrying a gun increases your risk of getting shot and killed.

Finally have something in common with Peaches Geldof.

Psychologist invents butt bra.

Kid Cudi “Pursuit Of Happiness” (feat. MGMT, Ratatat)

Oral sex to blame for rise in head and neck cancer?

Lesbian Holocaust memorial.

Vienna boy’s choir sex scandal, by Roger Boyes.

Interview with Atom Egoyan.

Butch returning for a sequel, minus Sundance.

The hubble telescope confirms that the universe is getting bigger, faster!

Adults are just obsolete children.

“Nonsense wakes up the brain cells. And it develops a sense of humor, which si awfully important in this day and age. Humor has a tremendous place in this sordid world. It’s more than just a matter of laughing. If you can see things out of whack, then you can see how things can be in whack.”

-Dr. Theordore Geisel, AKA Dr. Seuss.

Today is Dr. Seuss’ birthday!

The thing that always captured me about the works of Dr. Seuss as a kid wasn’t that there was some joy of reading out there for my childlike self to discover, not yet. Sure, that would follow soon on the heels of discovering Suess’s fascinating world of characters and silliness…

And it’s funny, when my mother first started taking me to libraries, and first started showing me that books contained not just knowledge, but whole worlds inside them, whole new amazing discoveries, she would say things like, “Oh, the places you’ll go!” I knew it was cheesy back then, but didn’t know she was cribbing it from Seuss himself. It didn’t matter though. When she said it, I believed her. She was my mother, after all. And her boundless enthusiasm about the world of literature that was about to come crashing down on me was far too intoxicating.

But, no, the world of Seuss isn’t just a gateway to the joys of reading. His works and the works of someone like Shel Silverstein, whom I see many parallels, taught you more about the rhyme and reason, to pardon the pun there, of the world that awaited children. They showed you something else: silliness and nonsense.

Your parents and teachers read these stories to you or introduced them to you and they too thought they were nonsense. And as a kid, there’s so many things you don’t understand, so many things that you know you don’t understand and you look at your parents for those answers and some things are just too big to explain to the mind of a child. And there’s far too many questions that you can have to which the answer “…when you’re older” just hurts to hear. But then Seuss comes into your hands. You read it with your parents or any adult and that smile comes on both of your faces, that smile and laugh at something so ridiculous, and it’s shared. It’s a simple world, one of hilarious images and rhyming dialogue and no narrative descriptions, and it’s easy and fun. For a second there, you’re on a plateau with anyone of all ages. And then you get your footing, you grow and develop, and you continue climbing.

The wartime political cartoons of Dr. Seuss:

from here.

Some linkage, unrelated:

Two literary superstars (Ian McEwan and Rick Moody) publishing science fiction soon.

Abe Lincoln, Vampire Hunter.

Nanotube thermocells hold promise as energy source.

Looting in Chile.

Speaking of which, the earthquake in Chile may have changed the Earth’s axis, shortened days on the planet.

The mystery of nuclear scientist’s “bizarre” disappearance.

Roger Ebert gets his voice back.

The world’s first temple?

Jumbo shrimp.”

Doing an about-face on “overmedicated” children.

Really, Carly, it’s about David Geffen? Really?

Roger Ailes is a self-loathing liberal.

The fascinating letterheads of Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison.

The universe is “hella big.”

“Adults are just obsolete children and the hell with them.”


Seuss and the frequently mentioned cat, from the Dr. Suess Memorial.

The decade gone past (through the eye of the film projector).

from here.

Tomorrow we’ll be presenting our best films of the decade list, and yeah, we’re a few weeks late, but you know what? Fuck off. That’s what.

Now, normally, I don’t like to talk needless shit, but as Benjie Light and I were waxing and musing about various films that we felt deserved to be on this list, we also, of course, were taking a gander at others’ lists. Some of them are really, really interesting. Some… not so much.

If you click over to the trainwreck of a website that is Ain’t It Cool News these days, you can take a look here at the best of the decade lists by one of their regularly featured… I don’t know what you call them. Are they writers? I’ll be charitable and just say: bloggers. Anyway, the fella calls himself “Mr. Beaks.”

Now, there’s some quality films in this list, there really are. In The Mood For Love in the top five? I respect that. You Can Count On Me in the list at all? I can definitely get behind that. There’s two films by Michael Haneke on the list, which is surprising, but I applaud it. WALL-E‘s on the list, which is a no brainer, and so are films like The Constant Gardener, which people always told me were good but I never saw. All of this sounds fine.

But the list itself? Deeply flawed. For example, there’s way too Ridley Scott happening here. Way too much. I’m surprised that Peter Berg isn’t on the guy’s list. And Brian De Palma’s Femme Fatale. Seriously. There’s weird caveats as well, like, sure Bad Santa makes it onto the list of top 100 films of the decade, but only the “January 2003 Pasadena Test Screening Cut?” What? That’s ridiculous. Oh, and the that the #100 film is Bring It On, seriously, and the #1 film – and it’s important to note that this appears to be a ranked list – is Irreversible. Which is… wow. Indeed.

Also, here is a list of films that “Mr. Beaks” says “just missed” finding a place on his best of the decade list: The Dark Knight, Juno, May, Closer, Old Joy, Bad Boys 2, Unfaithful, Lovely And Amazing, Unbreakable, Mission To Mars, Humpday, The Prestige, Paranoid Park, and I’m Not There. And The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou. Just consider for a moment that these titles are together in one section, and then think about how they’re good enough to make it onto the best of list. A-mazing.

Then again, this list is perfect for AICN, and their larger than life founder, Harry Knowles, who once deserved mention in early 90s when it came to how film was discussed on the internet, at least upcoming films. Benjamin Light’s been saying it for a while, and maybe he’s right: I don’t think we care about spoilers anymore. Not that AICN has had them for a while. The system merely absorbed them and spit them back out.

Harry Knowles = the anti-Roger Ebert?

So, it just goes without saying: Reviewing anything is a careful process. Take any review with a grain of salt. If you’re reading a review of a film you’ve never seen before, the review should be enlightening, only slightly spoiler-ish, giving you a good tease, and in clear, firm, and smart language, illustrate for you whether this is something you’d like or not, for whatever reason you like or don’t like things. A review for a film you’ve already seen should feel like a conversation with somebody you’ve either just met or feel like someone you’ve known for years. It should be smart, of course, and thoughtful. It should point out things to you and and excite you, and bring you into a conversation you’d be lucky to engage in. Or not. It’s up to you.

Hell, maybe Bring It On is on your 100 best movies of the decade list. SPOILER: I’m pretty sure it’s not on ours.

That said, our 100 Best Films of the Decade list is (most likely) dropping tomorrow. It’s fantastic. Trust me.


Who are the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, really?

Joss Whedon could potentially be going to FX.

The new memoir by Patti Smith.

Scientists turn stem cells into pork.

Ben Kingsley in Bollywood.

The 100 greatest sci fi/fantasy novels of all time?

Diamond oceans possible on Uranus and Neptune.

The founder of Taco Bell made a run for the border…

The end of time, part one.


This is a Doctor Who post. Sort of.

I should talk about the part one finale of the Tenth Doctor era, “The End Of Time, Part One,” but instead, especially in the spirit of the approaching New Year, this is about the anticipation of the concluding episode, which airs on New Year’s day in the UK, and the day after here in the colonies.

If I were to talk about part one, I’d tell you that it was a truly silly and ridiculous episode, just incredibly over the top at times. But wonderful. Just perfectly strange and nonsensical at times, but then within that wildnerness of weird, you’d get little scenes, like the one between David Tennant and Bernard Cribbins in the cafe. With just the faintest possibility of a tear in my eye, I could probably watch that scene again and again.

Also, thank you mightily Timothy Dalton for all that Time Lord spittle.

Definitely something that I think the thespians in America need to appropriate from across the Atlantic: The glorious art of just throwing some of your own saliva in another actor’s faces while chewing the scenery. Making someone blink and possibly having to take a handkerchief to their face is really what should decide who gets Oscars and things like that these days.

Play along at home:

from here.

Now, some mad linkage as the year draws to a close…

Ricky Jay and the secrets of the magus.

The man who is scaling Mt. Criterion film by film.

Julie Klausner and the end of the 00s.

15 reasons to live for the next ten years. If a meteorite doesn’t kill you, that is…

The Russians are going to chip in to save the Earth from destruction via meteorite in 2032. I remember reading about 99942 Apophis, the asteroid that will get dangerously close to our planet two decades from now and emailing a few people about it, not freaking out or anything, just saying, “You know, this is kind of interesting.” And I remember people telling me, “If this was a big deal, we would’ve heard something by now.” The time is now.

Notes on A Lover’s Discourse.

My Dinner With Andre is online.

Why do so many terrorists have engineering degrees?

Dear Benjamin, Light: Ap-Ro-Po. You cunt.

Jeff Dunham’s show has thankfully been canceled.

The sudden exoticism of Africa, and how ridiculous such a notion is.

Joeblog, you are missed.

Dylan Moran’s Black Books is on Hulu!

Republicans, Obama, and failed airplane bombs.

This article linked here: 2009. Independent film. Brave. Free thinkers.

Clean your screen.

In love with the past, present, and future.

Saw The Time Traveler’s Wife today. It’s… not a great movie. If you never read the truly fantastic book by Audrey Niffenegger, you’re not going to know what the fuck is going on there. Nor will you care. In fact, you’ll desire time travel to take you out of the theater. And you’ll probably never want to pick up the book.

And that, I think, is the film’s greatest flaw.

Adapting a novel is tough work. So few works of prose are really created to be cinematic, and this novel, with dual perspectives, is equally tough. The screenwriter here gave me the same sense when watching some of the latter Harry Potter movies (of which I’ve never read the books): Here’s a list of all the big scenes that have to be in the film because they’re huge in the book. Why are they huge in the book? Sorry, we don’t have time for things like character development or story arcs.

Here’s the gist of how the novel starts: Henry, 28 years old, works in a library in Chicago. One day a 20 year old woman comes in looking for a book. She’s young, gorgeous, and her name’s Clare. She recognizes Henry instantly. She’s ecstatic to see him. He, however, has no clue who she is, and has never seen her before. That throws her for a loop for a moment because she’s known him her entire life, and has been in love with him since she was 6 years old.

Henry’s a time traveler. It’s a genetic disorder, something called chronal displacement. One moment he’s here, and then: he’s not. Poof. Vanished into thin air. Leaving just a pile of clothes wherever he stood. He travels to the past, the present, and the future, constantly anchored in by the big events: Clare, the woman he’ll fall in love with and marry. And his mother, who dies tragically when he’s a young boy. He constantly travels back to the site of her car accident, probably hundreds of times. But you can’t change the past, no matter how hard you try.

And realistically, you can’t change the future either.

The thing that makes the book work so good is that beyond that simple set up of time travel, this is a mature story of romance between two people. And like any real romance, for every happy moment the couple is allowed, they’re forced to live through two moments of pain and suffering. In fact, the ending is absolutely heartbreaking, and what makes it worse is the fact that we’re told what will happen well in advance of the moment it happens. But there’s nothing we can do because just like Henry, we’re slingshot throughout the narrative, going along for the thrilling ride.

None of that applies to the movie, I’m sad to say. Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams, who play Henry and Clare, are great actors. I can’t even begin to think of how much worse this movie would be without them to just make it all… nice. And “worse” is too harsh. Confusing? No, that’s not it.

Even Ebert, who seems to enjoyed the film enough, questions many of the logical flaws of the film’s story in his review, all of which are actually addressed or not present in the book.

Let me put it this way: It’s like someone tried to adapt a synopsis of the book, and not the actual book itself.

In that, they succeeded, which is a shame because this really wouldn’t have – or, shouldn’t have – been that hard to bring to the screen properly. In fact, had it been done so right, this would’ve been that new, crazy tragic love story that people go to see over and over again. I believe that’s why the book became such a mega best seller.

One last night, about the music: In the novel, Henry and Clare are going through what you might call their present day courtship in the 90s, but are both obsessed with the great American punk bands of the 70s. In fact, some of Henry’s preaching about the primal animal rebellious spirit of mankind being turned into music and called punk rock is a bit ridiculous, but you get the point. The man knows his shit. It’s such a shame that instead of that, in the film, you get a single by Lifehouse of all bands.

Odder still: In the film, not only is the song used, but members of Broken Social Scene actually perform a cover of “Love Will Tear Us Apart.” In fact, it’s the first dance of the newly married Henry and Clare as family and friends watch. It’s… kind of creepy. A touch romantic, yes, but really creepy. Perhaps as it should be.

Your movie sucks.

Roger Ebert!

“I lost faith in the Oscars the first year I was a movie critic–the year that Bonnie And Clyde didn’t win.”

-Roger Ebert, 20 questions with Playboy.

He’s not Pauline Kael, but you know what, he doesn’t need to be. Film review is a tricky patch of dangerous woods to get lost in. Nobody is going to share your thoughts and feelings on a film more than you are, with your own voice, so your best best is to find someone close. For me, there’s probably four or five reviewers I always check for a movie, sometimes just because I want to dip into the quality of their words and their opinions, and while the critics on that list shift from time to time, Ebert is always on there. I’d say that he and I agree something like 93% of the time on a movie, and that’s even better than you can get from your friends sometimes.

Roger Ebert and his wife, Chaz.

For example, I just got a text from a friend telling me how good Transformers 2 was and have I seen Knowing yet because they thought the trailer looked really, really, really, really, really, really cool.

Unrelated, email me if you want to be my friend. Please be interesting and not sucky. And have good taste in movies?

I grew up on Siskel and Ebert at the Movies and their simple thumbs up/thumbs down. Too simplistic a criterion sometimes, sure, but the there were two things I absolutely loved about their show: It was for the regular people and the reviews were based around having a modicum of intelligence. Were you Joe Average movie goer who wanted to know if a movie was good or not? Great, they could tell you. Were you a snarky pretentious film major who wanted to talk about metaphors and eros being sick and the shapes of regrets in the shadows and the male gaze? That’s cool, but you could slum it nicely with Siskel and Ebert.

Another thing I loved about those guys that I didn’t realize to much, much later was the fact that they probably hated each other:

Sometimes the bigger the asshole you are, the more authoritative you seem. In that regard, Gene was like us and Roger was a prick. Catholic and Jew. Good cop and bad cop. Holmes and Watson? Close, but no. Together, they were Tango and Cash, even though one looked like a car salesman and the other looked like an old school lesbian.

Remember when they guest starred on Jon Lovitz’ horrendously underrated The Critic back in the 90s?

Ha ha, Brilliant!

“Dammit, Gene, I’m not Roger! I’m never gonna be Roger! I wish I were!”

Ah… RIP Siskel.

RIP sleazy porn mustache:

Also, Roeper fucking sucks. Seriously.

Some of my favorite bits of Ebert:

- Dated Oprah way back when. Credited with suggesting to her that perhaps she should go national? And then she became one of the most powerful entities in the universe.

-His favorite actor is Robert Mitchum and his favorite actress is Ingrid Bergman.

-He actually went to the other side of the biz and co-wrote three films!

And they were wonderfully horrible: Russ Meyer’s Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls, Beneath The Valley Of The Ultra-Vixens, and Up!

Russ Meyer and Roger Ebert, OG film people, in 1970.

And no, not this Up:

Though that does look like a crotchety old version of Ebert, right?

-By the way, that quote referenced in Austin Powers: “It’s my happening and it freaks me out!” is from Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls.

-He’s written more than 15 books (some just collections of his reviews) and his column is syndicated to over 200 newspapers. And in 1975, he became the first film critic to ever win the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism.

-In 2007 Forbes magazine named him “the most powerful pundit in America,” taking a lovely shit on even bigger windbags like Lou Dobbs and Bill O’Reilly.

-He has his own film festival! And it’s charmingly called Ebertfest.

-I’m so jealous of that last bit (though, to be fair, even no talent hacks like Harry Knowles have their film fests so really, it’s no big deal, I know) that in a few months I’ll be hosting my own film fest: Marco Sparks Beyond Thunderdome! Email me for details.

-In 2005, Rob Schneider criticized a Los Angeles Times reviewer for giving an unfavorable review to Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo, and said that the reviewer was unfit to comment upon the film because he didn’t have a Pulitzer. Ebert then stepped in and said that since he did have a Pulitzer, he was qualified enough to say to Schneider: “Your movie sucks.”

-They later mended fences as human beings when Ebert had some health problems.

-He’s a big public supporter of Werner Herzog, even as Herzog’s popularity has waned. In a move of special thanks, Herzog dedicated his 2008 film Encounters At The End Of The World to Ebert.

-Back in 2004, while guesting on Howard Stern’s show, he predicted that the then-junior senator from Illinois, a guy named Barack Obama, would be very important to the future of this country.

-in 2002 Ebert was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and has had a slew of health problems relating from that, including having a part of his jaw removed, causing him to lose his ability to speak (but not the ability to write, so suck it, Clive Barker). This is hardly one of my Ebert greatest hits, but I love that he not only has one of those computerized voice systems (think: Stephen Hawking) but that for a long time, he programmed it to speak for him in a British accent and he named it Lawrence.

-Oh, and let’s not forget that he sometimes chills with party animals like the eternally classic Peter O’Toole and the forever skeezy Jason Patric:

And then, of course, there’s always…

The Brown Bunny.

Yes, the Vincent Gallo movie. My personal take on it: This is a really bad movie, almost unwatchable. But if you do watch it, you can kind of – if you squint and are hopeful – see what Gallo was going for, and see that he has a filmmaker’s soul somewhere within (though he may have snorted it off of someone’s asshole). Sadly, you can also see his dick.

But back in 2003, Ebert saw the movie at Cannes and said that it wasn’t just bad, it was the worst film in the entire history of the Cannes film festival. Upset by that, Gallo then cursed Ebert health, and put a hex on him, wishing that he got colon cancer.

Ebert, in response: “I had a colonoscopy once, and they let me watch it on TV. It was more entertaining than The Brown Bunny.”

Gallo then, in response to that, took the high road and mocked Ebert’s obesity, saying that he has the physique of “a slave-trader,” to which Ebert came back with: “It is true that I am fat, but one day I will be thin, and he will still be the director of The Brown Bunny.

They’ve since worked out their differences and have probably even hugged a few times.

The best of Ebert’s reviews for films that recieved zero stars:

- “This movie doesn’t scrape the bottom of the barrel. This movie isn’t the bottom of the barrel. This movie isn’t below the bottom of the barrel. This movie doesn’t deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence with barrels.”

from the review of Freddy Got Fingered.

- “Caligula is sickening, utterly worthless, shameful trash. If it is not the worst film I have ever seen, that makes it all the more shameful: People with talent allowed themselves to participate in this travesty. Disgusted and unspeakably depressed, I walked out of the film after two hours of its 170-minute length. That was on Saturday night, as a line of hundreds of people stretched down Lincoln Ave., waiting to pay $7.50 apiece to become eyewitnesses to shame…’This movie,’ said the lady in front of me at the drinking fountain, ‘is the worst piece of shit I have ever seen.'”

from the review of Caligula.

- “Deuce Bigalow is aggressively bad, as if it wants to cause suffering to the audience. The best thing about it is that it runs for only 75 minutes. … Does this sound like a movie you want to see? It sounds to me like a movie that Columbia Pictures and the film’s producers … should be discussing in long, sad conversations with their inner child.”

from the review of Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo.

- “I like good horror movies. They can exorcise our demons. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre doesn’t want to exorcise anything. It wants to tramp crap through our imaginations and wipe its feet on our dreams. I think of filmgoers on a date, seeing this movie and then — what? I guess they’ll have to laugh at it, irony being a fashionable response to the experience of being had. … Do yourself a favor. There are a lot of good movies playing right now that can make you feel a little happier, smarter, sexier, funnier, more excited — or more scared, if that’s what you want. This is not one of them. Don’t let it kill 98 minutes of your life.”

from the review of the 2003 remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

- “Dirty Love wasn’t written and directed, it was committed. Here is a film so pitiful, it doesn’t rise to the level of badness. It is hopelessly incompetent… I am not certain that anyone involved has ever seen a movie, or knows what one is.”

from the review of Dirty Love. And last, but not least…

- “I hated this movie. Hated hated hated hated hated this movie. Hated it. Hated every simpering stupid vacant audience-insulting moment of it. Hated the sensibility that thought anyone would like it. Hated the implied insult to the audience by its belief that anyone would be entertained by it.”

from the now infamous review of North.

I’m glad Roger Ebert’s still with us, I really am. And more importantly, I’m glad he hasn’t stopped doing what he does best: going to the movies and reporting back to you what he’s found there. He’s treated the public like a friend and shared wonders and horrors with them. He’s the reviewer for everyone. He can talk to you, he can talk to the people smarter than you, and he’s not too scary for the people who are dumber. And he’s waiting there in the dark for the projector to start.

The kind of trash that glows in the dark.

Red hot confession time: I, like a few of my fellow perverts here at the merry ol’ Counterforce, love trash. Not so much the people (dirtbags and trashy people aren’t always one and the same, though they probably poop in the same hole), and not always in our music, but otherwise in our pop culture? Hell yes. A trashy film or the occasional trashy TV is our wheelhouse. It’s our nasty little raison d’etre. It’s our thing that we love so much, we say, “I want to take it behind the middle school and get it pregnant.”

Well, for the most part.

Cruel Intentions:

Awesome stuff. Those liaisons just got a whole lot more dangerous, if you know what I mean.

Wild Things:

You can’t deny that this movie does what it does perfectly. You know what I’m talking about. And Matt Dillon is on a whole other level of professional sleaze (here and especially with his brilliant turn in There’s Something About Mary). And suck it, Doc Manhattan, because Kevin Bacon is the original unnecessary dangling penis cameo.

New Best Friend:

Never seen this movie? Well, of course you haven’t. This is the most B of B-trash, but look at this cast that surely has to regret they ever came near this thing: Dominique Swain (naturally), Mia Kirshner (naturally), Meredith Monroe (Andie from Dawson’s Creek), Oliver Hudson (eat a dick, Kate Hudson’s brother), Scott Bairstow (you too, Bairstow), and bizarrely, Taye Diggs slutting it up for a paycheck.

I promise you that the lesbian kiss theme is (mostly) unintentional.

You know what’s bizarrely just as good as the previously two mentioned super films (and as bad as New Best Friend)? Cruel Intentions 2, that’s what:

No bullshit there. Originally meant as the pilot for a Fox TV show to be entitled Manchester Prep that didn’t get picked up, a few scenes were re-shot and it was edited together (shades of Mulholland Drive) as  straight to DVD sequel (one of the first of many of it’s kind):

The original Roadhouse is brilliant 80s cinema exploding to life, the last gasp of a dying world on fire, and with The Swayze so damn near death, I highly recommend a viewing of this film for everyone who likes a good laugh, trashy good times, and high kicks (and who lives by a bizarre code of ethics). See it not as memento mori because of The Swayze, no, no, no. Instead view it as a brilliant viking funeral sailing into that blazing horizon of tomorrow. Or just go watch Point Break again. That movie is still the business.

This is just a fraction of my (and ours, but mostly mine, if we’re to be honest here) credentials on the glory of the trash cinema and broadcasting. But here’s my question for you, o fair reader: What’s the new shit?


…is still not bad, but the current season is almost over, and though there’s another season left in this plastic bitch, you can feel that it’s struggling to make it over the finish line. Forget going out with any relevance, I just want the show to end while it’s still pretty (fat chance of that though, I’m guessing). Also, bring back the Carver.

The new 90210:

…something tells me that this show isn’t so much trashy as just kind of dumb. Watered down for the watered down generation, I wonder? Perhaps. Also, let me ask you this: Is this show even still on?

The OC:

…believe it or not, I actually kind of miss this show. Well, actually, I can’t fully back up that statement.


You’ve heard me go off on this show plenty, haven’t you? Well, it’s not plenty enough, let me tell you. The new season with the debut of a new cast kicked off a few weeks ago and while it’s initial legs were shaky, it’s getting to some good places. It’s a little goofier than the last series (goodbye pathos, hello twisted almost John Hughes-ian juvenile charm!), it’s got a certain freshness I’m enjoying. This is American ridiculous trash shows like Gossip Girl and Dawson’s Creek (and Canada’s mega monster Degrassi)(or even Edgemont, the adorable Degrassi clone) lit on fire and put out with MDMA and then fucked on top of while a rave is erected around it’s storylines.

Gossip Girl:

…I remember pounding out the first season of this show on DVD in a weekend and not loving it, but considering myself fairly invested. Then the second season started, I caught a few episodes, and slowly started to drift away from it like the continents. Or, maybe like a lover that I feel asleep on top of during the physical act of love, I don’t know. Maybe that one works better because, like a once cherished lover, I ponder from time to time, Is this show still good? And, Will it be canceled at the end of this season? I rely on you, o faithful reader, to provide me with much needed answers here.

Granted, trash comes in a great many shapes and forms and sizes and bizarre genre types, but that’s a little more of my credentials in the skeezy teen “drama” market. That’s what I’m referring to in particular, if you haven’t guessed yet. Quick, let’s do a little time travel…

Hidden Palms:

Remember this show? No, of course you don’t. This Kevin Williamson corpse (which actually started Amber Heard before Pineapple Express and All The Boys Love Mandy Lane)(and also that villainous douche Oliver from The OC is the star, ugh) only lasted a few episodes on TV and was actually canceled right before the last episode, in which answers were to be provided to the show’s big mystery suicide blah blah blah. Sadly, I watched every episode of this show and you want to know why? Because I fucking hate myself as a person. Clearly.

Young Americans:

Why did I watch this show? See above. Though, sadly, my comrade Benjamin Light saw more of this than me, but then again, he was aided by the glory days of Mighty Big TV to get through it. This show also featured every straight girl’s secret (and sometimes not so secret) lesbian crush, Kate Moening.

Swans Crossing:

This stupid piece of afternoon teen soap was the first time I ever laid eyes on Sarah Michelle Gellar (and we’re talking 3 whole months back in the halcyon days of Bill Clinton, baby: 1992!) and let me tell ya, it was love at first fucking sight (her co-stars here were Mira Sorvino, Brittany Daniel, and the douche who went on to star in Airborne). This was before she went on to snatch a daytime Emmy away from Susan Lucci (which is seemingly not that hard cause, I mean, shit, even I have a daytime Emmy) in All My Children, and before she went on to become the definitive Buffy the Vampire Slayer (sorry, Kristy Swanson, you were hot an all, but let’s face faces here: You fucked Alan Thicke) and firmly cemented that my tiny little heart was hers. Of course, then she went on to marry Freddie Prinze, Jr. and show me that not only did she not desire a potential mate to be talented, but that love was fickle and I would be alone forever. Anyways…

Enough about me and the tortured love affairs of my youth.

So, I put it to you, since you are the new scum, to tell me, if you please, what is the new dirt? What is the new trash? Granted, I could probably just go and discover Valley Of The Dolls or something. Or, even better, Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls, which Roger Ebert (from who the title of this post came from thanks to his review of Wild Things) co-wrote with Russ Meyers. I could do that, but I really don’t want to. Give me something new. And don’t suggest The Hills or The City to me or I will bite your jugular out. Talk to me!

The Auteur Theory, part two: The ribbon of dreams.

“A film is a ribbon of dreams. The camera is much more than a recording apparatus; it is a medium via which messages reach us from another world that is not ours and that brings us to the heart of a great secret. Here magic begins.”

-Orson Welles.

And here we continue with part two of our films that we love, and perhaps even adore, that we feel should make the jump over to the Criterion Collection, if, for no other reason, just to make ourselves a little happier. But here we hit a little closer to home with some domestic picks…

Marco Sparks: My first choice is Putney Swope, 1969, directed by Robert Downey, Sr. and it’s a simple and easy choice.

This film is red hot burning satire, hilarious at times, and an excellent example of what an American film can look like. We’ve all seen it and it’s been better described elsewhere, so I don’t have to say a whole lot here, but if for some reason you haven’t seen it (and you’ve certainly seem homages to it if you’ve ever seen a single P.T. Anderson film), get your ass on it. It’s worth your time.

Obviously, a Criterion no brainer, I would think. August?

August Bravo: Shadow Of A Doubt, 1943, directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

Probably my favorite Hitchcock film (David Mamet’s, too), and most likely Hitchcock’s as well. I had the pleasure of watching this for the first time in my cinema class. My teacher told the class to pay particular notice to the number 2 in this film, something I thought nothing of until much, much later.

The story is about a man named Charlie. The first scene shows him on the run from two men. Not much is known, but one thing etched into my memory are the bars over his face, coming from the shadow cast by the window. A great bit of foreshadowing. Or maybe not. He visits his married  sister, and her kids. His favorite of the kids is also named Charlie, who’s ecstatic to see her uncle. Weren’t we all like that as kids? So excited to see family, but now as adults we do anything we can to get away from them. But maybe that’s just me.

I don’t want to reveal too much, but the relationship between the two Charlies and how it develops throughout the movie is something that I’ve always found interesting. There’s a pretty strong theme here for 1943, something I still find eerie to this day.

Once again, not having a completely satisfying ending, or maybe it does, is something I thoroughly admire about this film. I enjoy thinking about a film days after I’ve watched it, or at least, I like movies that stick with you for days after you’ve finished them. Not many have that kind of staying power anymore, but Shadow Of A Doubt stays with you for years. Several of Hitchcock’s other films have made their way into the ranks of the Criterion collection and I feel that this film strongly deserves that same level of infamy.

Marco: August has just shamed me wonderfully since Shadow Of A Doubt is one of the few films by the master that I have yet to see, along with Notorious. I’ll get there, man. I’ll get there.

But for my last film for today, I’m going to keep it painfully simple: My Dinner With Andre, 1981, directed by Louis Malle.

There’s quite a bit I could say about this film, which is easily in my top 5 of all time and one that I watch at least once a year, so the trick here will be to say the least. I saw it written somewhere that this film is about two men who meet for dinner, eat in real time, and talk. Yeah, but that’s kind of missing the point, and they don’t even really eat in real time, but there’s such a fine attention paid to detail here that you probably do feel like you’re the silent man at the table during the conversation that takes place here.

Semi based on their real selves, Wallace “Inconceivable!” Shawn is a playwright on his way to dinner with an old friend, New York theater director Andre Gregory, “a man I’d been avoiding, literally, for a matter of years,” who had troubled out of sigth for a while, reportedly traveling the world. But one day a friend encounter Andre  leaning against a building in Manhattan and weeping, having just walked out of an Ingmar Bergman film, where a particular piece of dialogue had left him devastated: “I could always live in my art, but not in my life.” This is what sets up their dinner encounter.

And what an encounter it is. Andre has indeed been around the world and seen some amazing things, and the stories he has for Shawn are incredible. Shawn, a man of simple desires, who wants merely to have a littl money and to be able to lay in bed with his girlfriend, warm under their electric blanket, and read his biography of Charelton Heston, has his eyes opened by a Gregory’s almost explosively adventurous and spiritual look at the world. And so did I. What starts like the ravings of a mad man from Gregory will slowly begin to show you that there is so much more to life if you take one second to not be content with just being another fat, dumb, and happy somnabulist.

Both men are wonderful here and the script was compiled from their real life conversations together, and when you add to the beautiful way that Malle photographs this film, it’s perfect. Like I said, I watch this movie at least once a year and I’d love to tell you that it’s my litmus test for people to pass or fail as they enter my life, but I can’t. Everyone would fail, sadly, and this just isn’t a film for everyone.

I’ll end with this bit from Roger Ebert’s review of the film: “Someone asked me the other day if I could name a film that was entirely devoid of cliches. I thought for a moment and then answered, ‘My Dinner With Andre.'”

Anyway, August and I will be back tomorrow or the next day with a few more domestic selections from you, continuing and possibly concluding our series. I don’t want to leave you with a cheesy statment, like… “Go watch a good film!” so instead, I’ll just say… Watch your step.