You’ve got to have something of a coffee fetish to operate a coffee blog–even half-assedly like I do. Being the coffee shop junkie that I am, I always considered the coffee shop to be an ideal social destination–mainly because I couldn’t really think of any other ideas. That said, I also considered the coffee shop an ideal place for doing homework, business meetings, family reunions, and sleeping. Coffee’s a social drug drink, and is therefore adaptable to a variety of social situations.

On the other hand, maybe it’s not that simple You may recall my report on my hometown being overrun by bikini coffee shops. While the subject inspired some spirited (and entertaining) debate, I never made any serious correlation between coffee and sex. I mean, bikini-clad women and coffee seemed like a pretty arbitrary pairing to me, and  it turns out that business model may not really have much to do with the coffee anyways. I figured since you could substitute wings, burgers, and internet domain name services, sex and marketing is a proven formula, coffee was just replacing the variable.

…or so I thought. To start things off, let’s hear from executive transvestite (not “weirdo transvestite,” mind you) Eddie Izzard who shares an often quoted anec-joke about the coffee/sex correlation:

So “coffee” is street slang for sex. That’s cool, but at the same time it just seems…confusing. Sure, there’s the possibility of social faux pas with heads of state, but given coffee’s wide social presence, that can’t possibly be a hard and fast literal rule. Perhaps, like all slang, you’ve got to pay attention to the context. Case in point:

Hearing this information again flashes me back about nine years to one of my very few experiences cold-asking someone out on a date. I asked a barista out for coffee and she declined, having already made plans to go to an Incubus concert that weekend. Realizing now that I had possibly propositioned and been turned down for sex certainly changes the flavor of that interchange. In my defense, she was sending mixed signals by being a barista.

Perhaps it’s not entirely about the coffee, but more about opening that door to extend (or start) the evening. If there’s anything we learned from the Land Shark, you’ve just got to have the right line (everyone loves candy!). Perhaps if your date is on the fence about you, you’ll sell them on the coffee. “Would you join me for a cup of coffee?” certainly beats a number of alternatives:

Holy hell, they totally went there.

Being a married man now, I’m forced to re-evaluate the role of going out for coffee in my life. What kind of signals am I sending when I join a friend for a casual cup of coffee? Are others whispering behind my back about my coffee shop promiscuity? Am I being honest with my wife about going out for coffee and what role should it play in our relationship? Before you ask, no, I don’t know what I’m talking about anymore, but I will say that if you don’t have an honest coffee talk with your spouse, your feelings may surface in inappropriate ways.

Yeah, I’m sure he’ll get some at the plant. Perhaps the plant has a “desk sergeant” as well. Ugh. Men are such dogs. Actually, if I’m going to cite advertisements as proof, I should point out that coffee also apparently turns women into dangerous vengeful maniacs. Par for the course I suppose.

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Daria logo

"...you're standing on my neck."

As much as I hate to admit it, I’ve been choking on this post for almost three weeks, and I’ve been sitting on the material for almost three months. It all started when I got a new job and on my third day attended a book reading by literary critic Bill Deresiewicz. I was thrilled to attend, as he’s an author that I’d praised in the past.

Deresiewicz has gone on record and in print stating that everything he needed to know about life, and especially friendship, he learned from Jane Austen. While attending a short lecture by Deresiewicz at Lewis and Clark College, it suddenly hit me that Bill D. and I shared a mutual experience. I too had come to several life revelations due to a re-discovery of the stories of a certain sharp tongued, precocious teen that I couldn’t seem to take seriously enough when I was a teen myself. Even though she lived in an era almost unrecognizable from mine, and her story still has significance today.

I’ve realized that everything I need to know about friendship (and Jane Austen), I learned from Daria.

Like a certain Lizzie Bennett, Daria Morgendorfer is a smart, snarky girl who rolls her eyes in the face of an utterly moronic society fueled by excess and superficiality. She knows who her friends are, and—unfortunately—who her family is as well. Also, in all her precociousness, Daria was still blindsided by her first love who crashed into her life like a modern-day Mr. Darcy. Daria and Lizzie are literary soulmates separated by a century, that still have plenty to teach to us 21st century folk…particularly when re-visited in your mid- to late-20s.

Daria helped shape what kind of girlfriend I wanted to have (I eventually married a Jane Lane), and what kinds of friendships I wanted to have: honest, unsentimental, and largely based on food and bribery. Daria taught me to accept that my family is crazy and I’m just as crazy, and that television serves us by convincing us that the rest of the world is crazier. I learned (in retrospect) that high school was far from the best years of my life, and that your first taste of wisdom comes when you accept that fact. More than anything, I learned that deciding against pursuing a career in music made me smart, but not cool.

“Daria, huh? Never heard of it.” Bill Dereczewicz said, the gleam in his eyes betraying his attempt to hide the synergy of the moment. I respect his desire to downplay the intellectual spawn that had been born between us, since it would only alienate the rest of those present.

Sorry people, we can’t all be visionaries.

Was it good for you?

May 1, 2011

So this, this, and definitely this got me thinking…

Joe Wilson shouting.

"You lie!" Congressman Joe Wilson shouts in wild, sexual, extacy.

I’ve been baited into a more political exchanges in the last few months than I’d care to remember…two actually. Whether my arguments were intellectual, personal, political, oreven irrational, the heart of it was always the same thing. I wanted to win. I wanted to be right. Rooted in the theory of consumerism as an extension of our primal hunting instinct which has no modern outlet (thank you Jane Lane), I’m entertaining the idea that our often insatiable appetite for moral justification is merely uncontrollable, misplaced sexual aggression. I mean, really, what feels better than being right? What outside of sexual climax could possibly compare to achieving intellectual checkmate?

Nothing.

In that sense, what better manifestation of primal, passionate argumentative energy exists than democratic politics? This begins with electoral primary; elaborate, awkward, and boring foreplay. The real action, starts with campaigns which revel in protracted, competitive, contemptuous orgies of arguments, promises, and allegations. Unlike religious arguments (which always end in stalemate) political arguments have the advantage of inevitably leading to the ultimate “justifcatious coitus” of electoral victory.

Politics isn’t just sex. It’s GREAT sex.

Democrat Barck Obama (L) and Republican

That's it boys. Don't be shy.

Don’t get me wrong. Of course there’s genuine sincerity in there somewhere and many (most, I believe) candidates are essentially good people. In the heat of the moment, though, honest communication doesn’t ignite the passion. News networks don’t want pillow talk, especially when there are hundreds of thousands out there tuning in for hardcore political pornography. At the particularly kinky fringe, there’s always wild conspiracy theories to satisfy those with..*ahem*…unique interests and desires. In whatever form, the masses want to see action. If you’re going to win that election, you’ve got to be a tiger in the proverbial sack.

Of course, when it’s all over and the post election cigarette (inauguration) is burned down, we’re left lying in this intimate relationship with someone we barely know that will likely screw us a few times and make an abrupt unceremonious exit.

Hopefully we had a good four years.

So, I’ve reached Friday of my first week at my brand spanking new job. I’ve got a head full of new names, places, and procedures, and I’ve got a new, daunting morning and afternoon commute to tackle. A whole new community of faculty and staff to integrate into, and welcome new morning and afternoon routine to carve out. So I found myself churning my way through a lynda.com Adobe InDesign tutorial (played at double speed) and reflecting on my experience at the William Deresiewicz  book reading and Q&A when suddenly it hits me:

The title of my blog sucks.

I’ve been telling my students for years “don’t let anything be automatic.” Everything you do should be a conscious choice, which takes into account your objective and desired outcomes. Make a deliberate decision, and resist becoming a backseat driver in your own car. Well, I’ve failed. Not only is it silly that the domain name, blog title, and blog subject matter have absolutely nothing to do with each other, it’s a tad hypocritical to bemoan nonsensical marketing slogans when I haven’t the slightest idea what “Extroverted Introversion” is supposed to mean. Actually, I whimsically came up with that title when I was a bright-eyed twenty-two year old college graduate musician working night crew at a grocery store. Now I’m a twenty-eight year old pseudo-intellectual techie musician with a coffee shop fetish. It’s definitely time for a change.

Welcome to “Caffeinated Counterculture”

Picture of a coffee cup.

It's, like, I'm the cup, ya' know? And society is, like, the table. And I'm, like, "counter" that.

It’s not perfect, but it feels right. Not only does it return few Google search results (when typed in quotes), it has a glorious hint of pretension, which sells like hotcakes in my neck of the woods. Besides, I’ve done some market research (read: asked a few friends, my mom, and my wife) and it’s tested well.

In case you’re wondering, I’m not changing the domain name. I’m far too vain for that. Besides, why type thirty characters when you can type eight?

Roomba: the anti-cat.

December 20, 2010

Despite having full knowledge of the dangers of each, I have for years wanted both cat and a Roomba vacuming robot, for very different reasons. In the last year I had the opportunity to cat-sit  for a couple months, and recently received a Roomba as a gift. Having now lived with each of the two creatures (but not both, sadly), I can resolutely call the Roomba vacuming robot the antithesis of nearly everything that is a cat–for better or worse.

 

roomba

Roomba

 

 

cat

Cat

 

When it needs something, it does nothing. When it needs something, it makes sure I focus on nothing else.
Charmingly subordinate Charmingly insubordinate.
Feels horrible on my lap. Feels comfy on my lap.
Resolutely avoids places it can’t easily get to. Resolutely invades places it can’t easily get to.
Particularly adept at cleaning messes. Particularly adept at making messes.
Obsessively cleans everything but itself. Obsessively cleans only itself.
Cleans all of it’s owners’ dirt. Treats its owners like dirt.
Smacks into walls until it runs out of batteries. Prowls silently and patiently until it gets bored.
Has no hair, and removes it from everywhere. Covered in hair, and leaves it everywhere.
If it were just a bit smarter, it would be the ultimate household slave. If it were just a bit smarter, it would probably kill and eat me.

If only I could combine them into one thing…wait, that’s probably not a good idea.

Non-Klingon Translation: “To boldly go where no one has gone before.”

Star Trek uniforms for sale.

Okay, it may look goofy now, but in the future we'll all dress that way.

From Apple Stores to Natural Food supermarkets, there’s a certain excitement in bringing together people united by a common rabid fanaticism passion. It’s rare in our day and age to find gatherings of the genuinely passionate (*insert orgy joke here*). No, don’t say it: “What about Facebook groups?” Sorry, but no. Facebook groups are to passion what Spaghetti O’s are to Italian cuisine.

I’m talking the people who pay exorbitant sums of money to purchase four-day passes to a Las Vegas Star Trek convention—the largest Trek-themed event in existence. Dressing up as Klingons and bridge officers, and cheering with genuine geek-tastic glee as supporting cast members of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine sing Trek-themed karaoke. That’s passion. Irrational, uncontrollable, and, quite honestly, shameless passion.

While I  spent more time than I care to admit searching for the perfect Starfleet Academy t-shirt, my geek-lifemate and I exhibited more “elevated enthusiasm” than passion. Wearing our “Captain’s Chair” weekend passes like high school letterman’s

Vegas Hilton

The Vegas Hilton, by pure coincidence, looks like a warp core.

jackets, we were shamed only by the truly passionate “Gold” pass holders. When it was all said and done—really came away from the weekend a handful of signed photos and one Thursday night extravaganza (which, rumor has it, trumped the Captain’s Chair party) ahead.

I got to enjoy the whole gamut of Trek actors including the oddly charming bitchiness of John De Lancie, Avery Brooks who seemed to surprise everyone with his hip eccentricity, the warm gratitude of Leonard Nimoy, and William Shatner who pretty much was what you’d expect. Sir Patrick Stewart made a brief Saturday cameo before his Sunday appearance, gracefully crashing the Nimoy/Shatner fireside chat in a gesture that said: “It costs $79 to see each of you guys and $149 to see me. What, bitches?”

I slept with Kirk

For the record, I most certainly did not.

With the exception of $250 tickets to private meet and greets with actors (too rich for my blood), the best moments were free. More than anything else, it was moments when former cast members made unscheduled appearances to greet their old buddies, and talked to each other with the same casual camaraderie that their characters displayed that really gave the fans the moments they so desperately wanted. Of course, guilt-free trek gush-fests with other fans (“I’m telling you, Voyager gets really good in the later seasons…”) are priceless as well, but if I want that I just wear my Starfleet Academy t-shirt in public. Believe me, closet trekkies will not only take notice, but will out themselves faster than a Scalosian after a triple espresso.

Oh yeah. I went there.

Movie poster for "Metal Man."

I really would like to know how many folks will accidentally rent this. It's almost cruel, really. Did they steal the tagline too?

Imitation is the best form of flattery. It’s also an equally effective form of marketing. It’s been biologically observed that older animals–particularly humans—lose their sense of curiosity and adventurousness as they age. Even in nature, young animals are more apt to try new foods and explore new places than their older relatives. Just as we can foster our sense of adventure and curiosity we can also erode it, and nothing quite encourages intellectual stagnancy like…marketing.

I was chatting with someone about my musico-hetero-crush on Paul Simon, which eventually led to some casual browsing of Wikipedia for information about his past non-me romantic pursuits. This, in turn, led to my investigating the work of Harper Simon, “the child of [his] first marriage” (Paul Simon, “Graceland”). I wouldn’t say H. Simon is imitating P. Simon as much as he’s influenced by him—very strongly. Naming Bridge Over Troubled Water as one of his major influences, Harper Simon’s hit “Wishes and Stars” drinks so heavily of Simon and Garfunkel that it leaves me wondering whether I’m sold on Harper or subscribed to Paul.

Tip: Buy a new album and resist the “Track 1 trap.” Play it only on shuffle and if you’re really feeling adventurous, remove the hit single from your playlist.

A year or so ago I shared my casual admiration for the work of Sara Bareilles, whose style resonated with my affinity for quirky singer-songstressess. A first listen of her new single “King of Anything” hooked me in, just as “Love Song” had initially piqued my curiosity. A second listen, however, revealed it was essentially a carbon-copy of “Love Song”—and neither of which represents her strongest work. From the rhythm of the hook, to the form, to the subject matter (“I don’t need you! You’re such a downer! I’m independent!”), it’s all been sold before.

Tip: Want a real gauge of artistry? Search YouTube videos for live performances, where the hand of the producer may not be as heavy. Heck, I even enjoyed Lady Gaga.

I have nothing against Bareilles or Simon (either one) for their work. One shouldn’t be appalled by consistency, influence, or similarity, but we should be wary of forces that reinforce it. We’re already fighting biological and psychological battles against predictability; must we fight a sociological one too?

I leave you with an excerpt from the NPR interview (link above):

Mr. MILLER: I’m no neuroscientist, but I think that as time goes on, you know, something that people tell us about that music is that you know, when I hear those songs, I can see what I saw and hear what I heard and feel what I felt when I first heard them.

KRULWICH: So they become a kind of form of time travel that tells you there is something firm, something permanent, in a constantly changing world, and that feels good. The familiar makes an older person stronger, even if they’re calling your favorite song an oldie.

You know what that means, too, don’t you?

Professor SAPOLSKY: Yup. Dipped in bronze and put up on the mantel place.

KRULWICH: So this is a double-edged thing.

Professor SAPOLSKY: It’s not pleasing.

KRULWICH: No, because in the end, Sapolsky says, while continuity may make us comfortable, it’s when you dare to do that new thing – that’s when you grow.