Archive for the ‘A Few of My Personal Favorite Posts’ Category

Fondly: Cold.

January 2, 2010
fndlygrphc

Standing outside the bar, cold nose, blowing wind…a light dusting on the street and cars, swirling in the winter mistral, I pulled the collar of my coat up around my ears and wondered which was colder: The snow or the world?

I could escape the snow by going inside, but the world would still sit underneath, no matter where I ran.

But then, this was just a season, and aren’t seasons prone to change now and again?

I reminded myself that snow melts eventually, then went inside, dreaming of the warmer days to come.

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Have You Ever Watched a SuperBall Bounce?

December 3, 2009

Well, have you?

Have you watched it hit the ground, shooting straight up to the sun—a miniature eclipse in the sky?

It’s gotta come back down to earth sooner or later.

Because ultimately, the gravity of the world is too much.

Eventually, it stops bouncing back.

Have You Ever Witnessed a Train Wreck?

November 17, 2009

Well, have you?

Have you seen two opposing forces bearing down on one another, steel scraping on iron, nowhere to go but forward towards imminent disaster?

All you can do is brace for the impact.

Sisyphus Incarnate: Looking for Love in all the Wrong Places…

November 12, 2009

sisyyphus_hdr

I’ve been married for over ten years now. My wife and I have been together even longer. Once I found that special someone to spend holidays with, someone I could fart in front of while sitting on the couch in my underwear, rife with the knowledge that she’ll be there tomorrow and the next day—well, I thought I was in the clear. I thought I was retired from the dating scene.

Foolish mortal.

mid2

I’m unemployed. I used to be just another corporate soldier, entrenched in the front line of the cola wars, sitting in my fabric-lined cubicle wearing my corporate casual uniform.

Now, I’m just another casualty. I wear a bathrobe all day, and haven’t shaved in over a month. A day once filled with meetings and busy work now consist of job hunting and old episodes of the Rockford Files.

It’s amazing how much unemployment is like my bachelorhood—only with less internet porn.

ringsThe similarities between dating and job hunting are rather uncanny. Finding a job is just like trying to pick up a strange woman at a bar.

It’s true.

Instead of a pickup line, you have a cover letter—dates are replaced with interviews.

Being fired is akin to being dumped for someone better looking, and getting laid off is the professional equivalent of “It’s not you, it’s me…we can still be friends.”

And of course, there’s the hiring process.

That first interview is like a blind date—you met on the internet and seem to have a lot in common…You clean yourself up and watch what you say; you find yourself acting a little more polite than normal. You conceal your bad habits and pop breath mints like candy.

You pray they ask you out on a second date.

And when you get home, stomach full of butterflies, body a buzz, you wonder just how long you should wait before calling. You don’t want to seem desperate or psycho.

Sometimes they lead you on—you think you’re about to get lucky but it turns out they’re just not that into you; it’s the corporate equivalent of a tease.

Sometimes they say they’ll call, but never do, as you sit and stare at the phone for weeks—waiting, wondering what you might have done wrong.

mid

It has been said that everyone has a soul mate out there, just waiting to be found. In the arena of love, I know this to be true; my wife reaffirms this belief almost every single day.

Let’s just hope the same can be said of careers—I’m not cut out for the bachelor life.

In the meantime, I just keep pushing that boulder up the mountainside, trying to make it to the top.

(F*cking) Hipsters: A Heartwarming Tale of Self Discovery & Kickball

October 3, 2009

hipster1

“You’ve gotta see it from my point of view,” I said as we walked the perimeter of the park. “It’s the production of it all.”

My friend Cass put his hands in his pockets and said nothing. We had been friends long enough for him to understand my reverence for the dramatic pause. I took a drag of my cigarette and exhaled slowly. It was the end of summer, and the weather was sitcom-perfect.

“Don’t get me wrong,” I continued. “I like games. I’m a fun guy.”
“Yeah, Coupland, you’re a regular mushroom.”

I stopped walking, as Cass shuffled on for a few steps.

“What the hell does that mean?”
“Fun guy. Fungi.”

Blank stare.

“Fungi? Nothing?”
“As I was saying, I like games. There’s nothing wrong with kickball itself, it’s all these tube sock wearing, mustached hipsters in cutoff jeans shorts that have taken over the sport. It’s like a bad Ben Stiller movie. They’ve ruined it for the rest of us.”

On most weeknights the park hosted softball games. Beer leagues, Corporate leagues, Old-College-Friends-Who-Just-Can’t-Let-Go leagues.

Sunday afternoons, however, belonged to kickball.

At first pass, the idea of kickball sounds great. A trip back in time to those carefree years of the voluntary exclusion and sadomasochism called recess. The ball is the same textured red rubber; it has that same hollow sound when kicked, the same slap to skin when caught—it even smells the same. The physical requirements are minimal in comparison to most adult sports.

But then the hipsters came in and ruined it. One minute, it’s friends at a B-B-Q drinking too much while trying to relive their youth—the next, teams with ironic names have formed with sponsors and umpires.

Hipsters ruined irony for the rest of us.

“That’s an awfully skewed assessment,” Cass said as we walked past diamond 7a.

The Unicorn Nuts V. Blarney Fife (sponsored by an Irish pub, of course)

“Just because you don’t like them, doesn’t mean they ruined kickball.”
“They ruined it for me,” I responded, flicking my cigarette in their general direction. “And it’s not just kickball—they’re everywhere.”
“Everyone’s everywhere, Coupland. You’d have to be a recluse to avoid everyone you hate…because you hate everyone.”
“I don’t hate everyone, Cass my friend…just those who deserve my scorn.”

We continued walking as a skinny, semi-androgynous kid with a tailored filth, emo haircut and low cut Chuck Taylors walked up to bat.

“All that hate’s going to burn you up one day, Coup.”
“Summer’s almost over,” I said with a grin. “Gotta stay warm somehow.”

A loud cheer emanated from Diamond 8b just ahead, distracting us from our conversation.

Grass Kickers V.  Jazz Hands

Truth be told, it wasn’t just the hipsters who were destroying kickball. A more sinister element to the sport had infiltrated the scene in recent months; washed up soccer players complete with coaches and a game face. They were very dedicated to the official rules and regulations—they were there to compete.

They were the bullies of the league, in search of domination over the weaker of the species. We called them “Kickball Nazis”.

They weren’t in it to have fun. They were in it to win it. The coach would pace up and down the first base line, barking at the team. The players all wore their old soccer jerseys and equipment: shin pads, goalie gloves, cleats—they took it far too seriously.

But the Kickball Nazis could kick my ass, so my rage and blame always went back to the hipsters. Emaciated kids wearing girl’s jeans and bulky glasses were a lot easier to hate.

And they were everywhere.

My band, Ultimate Montage, couldn’t play a venue in town that wasn’t corrupted by the PBR swilling heathens, out in numbers, more concerned with their appearance than the music. Ultimate Montage was a band dedicated to playing nothing but the inspirational songs found in montage scenes of 80’s movies. We always closed the show with “You’re the Best” from the tournament montage in The Karate Kid.

My local neighborhood coffee shop and favorite cocktail bar had been over run as well. It was maddening.

We kept walking, the backdrop of heated battles filling the air as our soundtrack.

hipsters3“You know, Coupland,” Cass started as we cut through the grass between Diamond 12a and 12b, “Some people might call you a hipster.”
“I’m no hipster. I’m not hip enough,” I answered dryly.
“Think about it. Bulky art-geek glasses? Check.”
“I have to see. Glasses are kind of mandatory.”
“Slacker haircut, manufactured to look messy? Check.”
“It’s not manufactured, it really is messy.”
“Indie band with an ironic name and theme? Check and check.”
“It’s not ironic if you lived though the 80’s, Cass.”
“The only differences between you and them are their fashion sense and about ten years…and a crapload of denial.”
“25-year-old Coupland would have wanted to kick their asses just as much as 35-year-old Coupland does.”
“Tell it to the judge,” Cass said as an over enthusiastic Kickball Nazi launched a ball directly at the back of a mesh-shirt clad hipster’s head, connecting with a resounding *thud*.

Cass’ assessment hung over my head like a dark cloud as we walked on in silence.

“Did it ever occur to you that you’re threatened by them?” Cass asked, pulling me from my brooding solitude.
“Threatened?”
“Threatened.”
“This should be good. Please, Cass, continue.”
“These hipsters are essentially a younger version of you. Fashion aside, they’re just like we were when we were in our 20’s.”
“How’s that?” I asked, lighting another cigarette.
“Their future is still ahead of them. They still have dreams yet to be squashed by time and responsibility. It’s wide open for them.”

An errant kickball rolled over to us.

“A little help?” a Kickball Nazi barked at us from Diamond 14a.

Alcoholics Unanimous V. Sugar Crash

Cass kicked the ball back before elaborating further.

“We used to be the same way. You thought you were going to be the next Annie Lebowitz, now you work at the Sears Portrait Studio.”
“You’re no better off, Cass. You sit in a cubicle all day updating spread sheets.”
“That’s my point exactly. I thought I was going to be a race car driver, or an astronaut.”
“You were a communications major in college.”
“Irrelevant. The point is, our big dreams are gone. We have mortgages and responsibilities to concern ourselves with now. These kids still have a chance at being something better, and it’s eating you up inside.”
“I’m going to call bullshit,” I said as we neared the final diamond in the park. “They’re just a bunch of pretentious kids jumping onto whatever trend comes by. They have no respect for their elders, and no clue what it means to be responsible. They don’t threaten me, they sicken me.”
“Deny it all you want. These hipsters are nothing more than your own little personal Ghosts of Christmas Past. You hate them because they’re you ten years ago.”
“I’m no hipster,” I mumbled in a half-defeated tone as we arrived at Diamond 17.
“You’re totally a hipster,” Cass responded. I pulled off my sweatshirt and began stretching out.

My team, Sweep the Leg, Johnny, was about to play our league rivals, The Swayze Crazies.

Fucking hipsters.

An Open Letter to HBO

September 13, 2009

Dear HBO:

Ahem.

Few, if any shows have been able to achieve such an extraordinarily high level of depth within its characters. Fewer still have risen above the shallow, surface layer at which most characters lay amicably; never once challenging itself to push forward past the boundaries of the predictable—running its course as little more than a name, insulting what we really want.

Insulting what we truly need for our idle moments, whether we know it or not.

Ours is a landscape of mind numbing predictability. A broken idea of serving the lowest common denominator, forcing the rest of us to regress with no other options available. Forcing us to take sad refuge in the status quo, the only choice we’re given.

In short, while there are many shows, both scripted and naught, very few have risen to the truest acquaintance of greatness.

Deadwood did.
ringsAs if Shakespeare had fathered a bastard son, left to claw its way out of the mud, Deadwood was a show covered in filth yet standing beautiful underneath, speaking true poetry and challenging our understanding of the human condition. It gave us a machiavellian glimpse into the mirror and forced us to see the world for what it was, while subtly reminding us of what it is today.

Left as real and foreign to the normal disposition of understanding as if we were dropped blindly into the past itself, this show forced us to experience something new and different—and sometimes outside the realm of what’s comfortable.

It pushed the boundaries of what television can be; a subtle and refined work of art.

And though lauded by many, and followed devoutly, you saw fit to slap us collectively across our faces, leaving us wondering why, our cheek still burning to this day.

Deadwood produced a harsh yet not altogether unbeautiful look into the annals of what truly drives us as human beings. Cerebral and visceral at once, not unlike a life lived full, it encapsulated man in its truest, sometimes ugliest forms, but with a beautiful voice to guide us through and remind us what it means to be alive.

That it was never given the dignity of a proper ending shows how little respect you have both for we, the people, and the virtues of art itself. That you would abscond with something so cherished shows a true contempt for those that butter your bread and fill your cups.

And for that, like many others, I refuse to support what’s left of you and yours, having proved how little consideration you have for your audience—having sold your soul to something so ugly.
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So give us back our show, you dirt worshippin’ hoople-heads, lest you fall victim to the fury of scorned abandonment from those both loyal and new. Unseasoned and fresh, tried and true.

Coltrane & Houdini

May 17, 2009

Coltrane & Houdini: the Wonder and Oddity of Watching the Rain

It’s more a fun exercise in fonts and layout than anything poignant…

I had to rotate this to fit here, so it should sufficiently hurt your neck trying to read it…

(insert maniacal laughter…here)

coltrane&houdini

Don’t Eat the Snow: My Winter of Disrepair

March 6, 2008

We had a blizzard yesterday.

At least, that’s what the news channels were calling it. Bottom line, it snowed…a lot. They warned us. By 9:am, the world was covered in a blanket of soft fluffy snow.

Schools were smart; they closed. The public education system is required by law to care about the general well-being of the student body.

Safety concerns, apparently, are something we grow out of as we hit adulthood. It goes hand in hand with giving up a rousing game of kick ball at recess and the afternoon nap.

And believe me, I miss those naps.

So while children were nestled safely at home, enjoying the miracles of nature, I was at work…

Instead of sending us home, before the highways became a death trap on ice, they rewarded us by ordering pizza for lunch.

So not only were we not going to avoid the blizzard, but my company thought it’d be fun to also endanger the life of some poor kid paying for community college by virtue of delivering pizzas.

I just sat there in my fabric lined den of despair watching the snow cover my car, the parking lot, the street…

I was wondering how long it was going to take to get home.

St. Louis doesn’t handle adverse weather conditions very well. It’s anarchy on the streets. Normal rules and laws don’t apply, and common sense goes out the window.

I’m okay in the snow. I drive carefully and celebrate four-wheel drive. I’m not worried about me.

It’s everyone else. They’re nuts.

People can barely make it from point A to B on a clear, dry, spring afternoon.

So, Corporate Charlie eventually decided that after 5 hours and 10 inches of snow, it was time to send us home. I took a deep breath, and grabbed my briefcase. I made a special point to hit the bathroom before leaving, knowing it would be a long, arduous journey home.

I bundled up and headed out into the blizzard to dig my car out of a snow drift.

Thanks to the “Great Highway Shutdown” I have but one route home; a long stretch of Page Avenue, onto a highway, then another highway, then I’m safely back in the confines of the city and my beloved zip code, far from the office parks of the county.

Usually.

This time, I essentially pulled out of one parking lot right into another. Traffic was at a standstill, with no hope in sight.

One hour brought me less than a quarter mile. Aside from the tail lights directly in front of me, and a crap load of snow falling, I could see nothing.

It felt like the end of the world…or at least scene from a movie about the end of the world–people were abandoning their vehicles in the middle of traffic. They just left their cars in the road and began walking.

I watched one car to my right, stuck, and desperately trying to move forward, to no avail. As my truck crept forward a few feet, I thought about helping the stranded car, but that would just block more traffic, and let’s not sugar coat it, I wouldn’t be much help.

Eventually I made it to the top of a hill. I could at least see the cause of the snow-blind grid lock: At the bottom of the hill was another hill, just waiting to stop all the fuel efficient rear wheel drive cars in front of me.

I watched as every third car got stuck for about 10-15 minutes, wheels spinning, the smell of burning rubber filling the air.

Eventually, almost miraculously, they all eventually made it over the hill.

The stranded cars were occasionally broken up with delivery trucks and semis jack knifing, getting stuck at the bottom of the hill, blocking all lanes of traffic. I watched them spend close to a half hour putting chains on the tires, their curse words turning to fog as they hit the air.

I read three chapters of a book before my car moved an inch.

At one point, I opened my windows, and let it snow inside my truck, letting the harsh winter air cool my lungs. I stuck out my tongue and let a snowflake fall on it. I hadn’t done that since I was a kid. For some reason it made me feel better.
When I got home, nearly 3 hours later, I saw a news report about the large amounts of bacteria found in fresh, falling snow.

It was at that point that I really, officially hated winter.

Tourettes: Winners Never Quit

February 15, 2008
ashtry

Fuck.
Shit.

It was one of those mornings where I woke up confused and disoriented…devoid of coordination, motor skills and rational thought.

I missed a step on the way down to the kitchen. I then proceeded to spill my coffee all over the counter.

I also over-sugared, and I’m sweet enough as it is.

Crap on a hockey stick.

The shower decided to play evil mind games with me, giving me two options: scalding hot or freezing cold. Lord knows I could usually use a cold shower, but that’s more a figurative thing.

I opted for flesh burning hot.

Piece of monkey shit.

I left the house late, forgot my cell phone and spent an hour scraping ice off my windshield.

Every dumb bastard on the face of the earth was in front of me on my commute, driving 10-30 miles below the speed limit, because two days ago it rained or something. I really knew I was in trouble when I noticed the handicap tag hanging on the rearview mirror of the car swerving between two lanes, directly in front me. She, of course was a part of the “Greatest Generation” and therefore, older than dirt. She was also on her cellphone and applying lipstick simultaneous to “driving”. I’m fairly certain that she was also doing her taxes.

Directly in front me.

Jesus Harold Christ.
Goddammit all to Hell.

Someone took my parking spot at work, so I had to park around back and hike through the rigorous January cold to get to my fabric lined den of despair. A large pile of work was sitting on my chair, just waiting for my arrival.

Why the chair? I have a perfectly good desk, perfect for putting things on. Putting it on my chair will not make me notice any quicker.

The steaming pile of work not sitting on my desk, of course, was a hot project. That meant working at the speed of light to meet the unfeasible deadline set forth by another.

Son of a bitch.
Biscuit-eating fart bubble.

It’s a translation project, so I’m staring at 5 different foreign languages, of which I know none, blindly cutting and pasting with an imaginary gun at my head.

謝謝不抽煙
Suck my White Ass.
Merci du tabagisme.

I worked through lunch as the guilty party responsible for the hot project and unrealistic deadlines dined with the management team at a fancy restaurant for an extended period of time on the company dime.

J’essuie mon âne avec le jour.
Ass-lickers.
danke für das Rauchen nicht.

Ellie from Product Development can’t use her inside voice, and Dan from Design’s cell phone is on it’s last dying breath, resulting in an annoying *Bee-Boop* every five minutes. The combination is like a paper cut on my ear drum.

können Ihre Füße verwandeln in auspumpen.
Crap-flinging chowder-kicker.

*Bee-Boop*

And through it all, the only thing I can think about is how much I’d enjoy a cigarette right about now.

newestrings2

Growing up, my dad always said, “Winners never quit, and quitters never win.”

優勝者從未被放棄
los ganadores nunca paran
gagnants non jamais stoppés
Sieger nie beendigt
vincitori non rinunciati mai

I don’t want to be a quitter. I love smoking. I love to smoke. If I died of emphysema tomorrow, I’d still love smoking.

But.

I don’t want to die of emphysema tomorrow. Or the next day, for that matter.

*Bee-Boop*

Cockleberry crunch.
Ass-flaming poople berry.
公雞吮吸者
Merde sur un baton.

In my lifetime, I’ve smoked somewhere around 175,200 cigarettes. That can’t be good.

So I’m a quitter. Good-bye, Flavor Country.

Because I’m old enough to know better.

Gracias por no fumar.
Fart-licker.

Today I hate the world and everything on it, especially cute and heart warming things. I want to strangle a wood sprite, and eat a unicorn.

The Care Bears had better watch their backs.

Fucking fucker.
母親笨蛋

*Bee-Boop*

I can only imagine how day two’s gonna be.

*Bee-Boop*

Dear God

February 2, 2008
rev

When I was a kid, I went to church every sunday…not because I wanted to, but because that’s what my family did on sundays. I didn’t really even consider if I believed in anything they were preaching. When I was old enough to develop free will, I labeled myself agnostic, and stopped going. I decided I needed proof, before I could believe in something like that; I had already been burned by the whole santa claus and tooth fairy thing.

Even 5 years ago, as I sat in my home office, frustrated and sad by my long stint of being unemployed I clung to the agnostic label. One day, I threw my hands in the air and said “dear god, something needs to happen, anything!!!” within minutes, I heard an explosion, and looked out my back window, only to find that my car had been set on fire by a random arsonist who was never caught…Even then I chalked it up to an ironic instance of timing, and kept on believing that I didn’t believe.

Then a few years ago I learned that a very dear friend has been fighting cancer, and without thinking about it, I found myself praying for her.

That’s when I realized, I guess I do believe in god– otherwise, why would I pray?

Now, do I believe in the whole jesus died for our sins/organized christianity thing? Not so much, I’m not a fan of the heavy judgement that goes along with organized worship. I don’t need a prada-wearing pope telling me how to have faith…but I have come to realize very recently…yes, I believe in god.

let’s just hope he still believes in me.

Tales from the Cubicles; My Life as a Corporate Whore

January 29, 2008

I am a corporate whore, it’s true.

It was an accident, I swear. It just kind of happened by default. Nobody says, “When I grow up I want to be a middle-management lackey trapped in a fabric-lined den of despair.”

No child aspires to a corporate casual lifestyle filled with team-spirit and ass kissing. I certainly didn’t. I never dreamt of sitting in a cubicle hunched over a computer writing bullet points for upscale luggage, while mumbling profanities under my breath.

When I was younger, I believed anything was possible with a little talent and a lot of dedication. I believed that ultimately the nice guy would win, and the higher ground would be rewarded. I believed honesty to be the best policy. These are all admirable qualities, a way of life we should all aspire to, but it won’t get you a job, nor help you ascend the corporate ladder.

I’m not a fan of buzz words and I can’t laugh at a joke that isn’t funny, just because the President of the company said it. Mine is a company full of false pride and fake cheer. Full of people whose life is their job. A world full of happy hours and softball leagues.

I mean, for the love of god. They do skits.

SKITS.

40 year old women from the customer service department mimicking a game show to teach us about the importance of productivity. They spend a half-hour conveying the importance of using our time wisely; a half-hour that could be spent working towards my unrealistic deadlines. Skits were barely relevant when I was 8 years old and spending my summer being eaten alive by mosquitos at the YMCA summer camp.

I’m not really throwing out the whole “woe is me” routine, it’s not really a bad racket. I can bitch all day long about the annoyances of false corporate cheer, but…

I did just take a week-long vacation spent sitting on a beach in mexico drinking frozen drinks that would bring my masculinity into question stateside, all while collecting a salary. I do have the option of seeing a doctor if I’m sick, a dentist when I have a tooth-ache and someday, a shrink when I finally go nuts.

The work I do neither saves the world nor damns it. We make luggage I can’t afford to purchase. I write about the wonderful features and benefits of having a 22-inch wheeled upright with a removable suitor. There’s no heavy lifting involved, and no animals were harmed. Sure, the luggage is probably made by 12 year old chinese kids working 16 hour days in a sweat shop, but that’s really far away, and they can’t blog, so I have no proof.

I never set out to be a corporate whore, but the service industry really, really sucks. coffee.jpg