December 25, 2009
In my book, Douglas Coupland’s latest novel Generation A will go with the similarly dystopian Girlfriend in a Coma and the infamous jPod in my “Why Doug, why?” category. Generation A drank deeply from the Vonnegut well, to the point of quoting Vonnegut in the epigraph and even pulling the title from the quote. Now I love Vonnegut as much as the next guy, but the next guy happens to be the leader of the “Why Kurt, why?” fan club. No, no, I won’t whine and cry and demand that Doug write novels to cater to my whimsical demands, but I will say that Doug is 0/2 for re-hashing his old novels–Generation X is better than Generation A, and Microserfs is better than jPod. The Gum Thief, by the way, was balls-to-the-wall awesome.
I love you Doug. I will buy your next novel without thinking. Be my friend?
I also gifted myself with two of the three books of the Marvel Ultimatum series on Christmas Eve. Shockingly violent, but entertaining enough for me to read one in Barnes & Noble, buy the second, read the second while eating a gyro, return to Barnes & Noble, and buy the third. It seemed deliciously Coupland-esque to see plot being moved forward by gore, tragedy, and homicide. Who doesn’t want to see Dr. Strange constricted until his head turns a gruesome beet purple and explodes? Well…most most don’t, since the series was almost universally s**t on by critics. Well, Generation A was nominated for The Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and Girlfriend in a Coma is considered by critics to be one Coupland’s strongest novels to date, so what do I know?
I had hoped to be reporting on The Blend Juice and Java, but it appears that they’ve gone the way of the dodo. *Sigh* So it goes.
Anyways, Merry Christmas all.
Craig: Isn’t it weird that Hotmail accounts still exist?
Bev: It really is.
November 18, 2009
With two days off last week, a weekend trip to see some old friends get married, and a new Douglas Coupland novel hitting the shelves, I was hard pressed to imagine how the week could get any better. Enter the Paper Tiger.
Paper Tiger Coffee (on the corner of Evergreen & Grand) reminds me of a miniaturized version of Albina Press on Hawthorne, but with more character–not to mention a 1940s cash register. It’s quirky, humble, and personable which means its the kind of place I’ll go when I have a lot of work to do and need to be distracted from doing it. Adding to the character are a manual typewriter, used books for sale (I picked up a copy of Miles at a bargain-bin price. Let’s call that a win), and hand-labeled bags of beans personally roasted by the owner. Of course, they have the essential NW trifecta of chalkboard menus, free WiFi, and local artwork on display, but missing one of those things would be like having no front door.
Oh, and the cappuccino was a thing of beauty.
August 30, 2009
Getting up at a reasonable hour this morning started a causal chain which directly led to my needing to take an emergency trip to Pete’s Bass Shop to repair a gruesome split at the bottom of my beloved upright doghouse. For the record: Pete of Pete’s Bass Shop is a god among men. I’d make a sacrifice to him, but technically I already did and he’s repairing my sacrifice right now. It’s funny, because I was supposed to be exchanging a broken piece of my futon today, but the bass kind of takes precedence. Man, I don’t think I’m safe to be around.
As I drove my injured friend to the repair shop, I resisted the urge to blame certain choices I had made this morning for my predicament (getting up early due to the extra sleep I had gotten, thoroughly cleaning my apartment with the extra time I had, practicing bass in the extra space I had cleared up, etc.). As Janet Drummond, matriarch of the disastrous Drummond family, says: “blame is a lazy person’s way to make sense of chaos.” How fitting then that I would pass the Chaos Café on Powell not once, not twice, but three times as I dropped off the bass, searched for an ATM to pay the repairman, and refueled the car. While I don’t believe in “signs,” the repeated reinforcement did make me hungry.
True to their name, Chaos Café served me a generous helping of chaos, even though I only ordered coffee and a bagel with hummus. Firstly, the place is absolutely gorgeous, displaying original artwork and an all-encompassing color scheme (I would have loved to snap a few pictures, but I forgot my phone. Chaos!). The food menu, offers vegan and carnivore options for nearly everything, as well as a strong selection of gluten free options as well. Coffee mugs came in all shapes, sizes, and colors (one was dropped and broken as I asked for a refill. cHaOs!!!), and each table has salt, pepper, and a bottle of All Natural Bragg Liquid Aminos. Curiosity made me want to put it on my bagel, while a much more random urge made me want to put it in my coffee. They’ve also got wireless, but it happened to be down (c4a()5!!!!!).
Oh, and the not-foreign people a few booths in front of me are chanting in a foreign tongue. That’s not chaotic though. That’s just weird.
Anyways, if you’re a vegan looking for good food or you’re suffering from a debilitating chaos deficiency (or both), I recommend Chaos Café. Really, who can say no to all the bottles of Liquid Amino you could ask for?
“Don’t Save jPod” or “Only millennial hippies, bored college students, poser activists, and whiny fanboys join Facebook groups as a show of solidarity.”
June 28, 2009
Dear Coupland-aholics (and Douglas Coupland, if you’re listening),
If you’ve had a conversation with me that’s lasted longer than 36 seconds in the last two weeks, you’ve probably heard me mention jPod, a doomed early-2008 Canadian television show based on my second-to-least favorite book written by my favorite author (Girlfriend in a Coma FTW!). I love my favorite Douglas Coupland books about as much as I despise television, which may explain my conflicting emotions when I not only discovered fairly recently that the show was made, but realized that it’s the one of the worst shows ever mistakingly syndicated onto the idiot box we call television…and I couldn’t stop watching it.
After four drafts of this post, I’ve yet to find the right words to properly describe the hearty plot casserole that jPod serves up in every episode, or how prime-time buzzword “edgy” translates to “brutal” in Coupland’s screenwriting hands. I love senseless violence as much as the next person (…), but to see characters fall victim to kidnapping, detonation, murder-suicide pacts, electrocution, assault with a deadly weapon, vehicular homicide (x2), heroin addiction, and assault with a cuddly weapon was a bit much for one season!!! Fortunately the super-saturation of plot actually made me feel like I got a twelve-hour jPod movie rather than one season of a TV show, which I kind of dug in a weird way.
Critics (read: myself and other people vaguely referenced on Wikipedia) chided Coupland for inserting himself into the jPod novel as an insufferably dickish character. In the series, Coupland merely cameos as a character dead in an elevator (woo hoo for gore!), but drops enough references to his books hat he may as well have written himself into the series. The Gum Thief got a few nods through the appearances of Glove Pond, while the series ends with a humorously literal nod to Girlfriend in a Coma. All Families are Psychotic could have been a working title for the series, and Microserfs is basically the show played backwards. He’s even nice enough to foreshadow his next book through a documentary on bees which plays on television in the final episode. I love you Doug, but please get over yourself or get over pretending to be way into yourself, whichever applies.
In the end, Doug, I’m still watching the show, well, because I love it. Not because it’s particularly good, mind you. It’s a disaster in every way a tv show can be. In fact, it’s a microcosm of all the strengths and weaknesses of both jPod and what draws me to your books in the first place. Like Ethan, Cowboy, John Doe, Caitlin Kaitlin, and Brie, I always felt like a twisted spawn of Generations X, Y, and whatever the hell we’re in now, conceived by the overactive gland we call the information age. I can’t help but be drawn to the unwatchable mess that is jPod because, good or bad, it presents me with what I’m looking for when I pick up each of your books, an honest interpretation of what it means to exist as an individual in the 21st century.
Thank you, Mr. Coupland, for giving me that experience.
…and thank you, WB for cancelling that gruesome, mindless train-wreck.
June 20, 2009
I’ve performed enough improvised music to recognize the odd, chaotic way related events can line up to make fortune or misfortune alike. Buying Douglas Coupland’s All Families Are Psychotic on a whim a couple days before my own family life played a variation on that exact theme was, if anything, musical. Long lost uncles who work on fishing boats dropping in from Alaska and unheard-of cousins calling me on my way home from work, for me, is getting off light.
Am I complaining or am I celebrating? Neither. As I said, this is business as usual for me. Attempting to
genetically decipher your future balding patterns, discomfort with flying, and condiment preferences from people you last saw before you lost your baby teeth is simply part of the fun. I quote a purple haired vixen from a fanfiction novel based on an anime series from the mid-‘90s:
It’s just nice to think that there’s a reason why you’re so messed up. That there are people somewhere that just by the sheer power of their genes made you this way. It’s nice to think the way you are isn’t an accident.
Wise words, Ms. Valentine.