New Coupland Excerpt

There’s a new Douglas Coupland short story in this months McSweeney’s, here’s an excerpt of it. ( I copied it from Coupland.com)

A   N E W   E X C E R P T   F R O M   M c S W E E N E Y ‘ S   3 1Fucking fuck , there is no place worse than the port side of the Luxurious CBS Yacht. Each morning I’m greeted by sauna-like humidity and the perpetual odor of tuna sandwiches, plus, believe it or not, the sound of CBS executives playing racquetball. Their court is on the other side of my headboard’s wall. Thank you, British divorce laws, for handing me this sack-of-shit career move. We’re in the middle of fucking nowhere and sleep doesn’t even provide me with dreams, just an escape from those sniveling American shits I now have to shadow all day. Could these people have found a place on earth more remote? Excuse me, but were the Kerguelen Islands all booked up? Did Pitcairn Island shut down for an extended religious holiday? I tried Google-mapping this place: Fucking fuckity fuck.

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The Republic of Kiribati is an island nation located in the central Pacific Ocean. It comprises thirty-two atolls and one raised coral island, and is spread over 1.4 million square miles. Kiribati straddles the equator and, on its east side, borders the international date line. Its former colonial name was the Gilbert and Ellice Islands. The capital and largest city is South Tarawa.

OFFICIAL LANGUAGES: English, Gilbertese
POPULATION: 105,000
GDP: $206 million
INTERNET TOP-LEVEL DOMAIN (TLD): .ki
INTERNATIONAL CALLING CODE: +686

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Our ludicrous contestants had to choose names for their “tribes” today. I suggested Swallowers versus Spitters and got pursed lips all around. Fucking Americans: no sense of humor. Doubtless they all own Forrest Gump on DVD and have already asked each other what they want to be when they grow up. They are monsters.

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Kiribati has few natural resources. Commercially viable phosphate deposits were exhausted at the time of its 1979 independence. Copra (dried coconut kernels) and fish now represent the bulk of production and exports. Tourism provides more than one-fifth of the country’s GDP.

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I have eight fellow cameramen, five of them veteran crew members of this wretched show. They divide contestants into two categories: Fuckable and Unfuckable. They treat the latter like Molokai lepers. As far as I can see, our biggest technical issue is ensuring that our shadows not appear on the sand—very hard to do around sunrise and sunset.

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Survivor is a popular reality-TV game show, versions of which have been produced in many different countries. In the show, contestants are isolated in the wilderness and compete for cash and other prizes. The show uses a progressive elimination, allowing the contestants to vote off tribe members until only one remains and wins the title of “Sole Survivor.”

The initial U.S. series was a huge ratings success in 2000 and triggered a reality-TV revolution in the USA.

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Last night I got saddled with infrared night-shift filming. Ray, a fellow Brit cameraman, told me it’s too early in the season for the contestants to truly fuck around, and I was prepared for eight hours of drying paint when a storm came out of nowhere and blasted away the pathetic huts they’d made as shelters. Talk about sniveling! So much fun to see them get what they deserve. The Spitters also inadvertently spilled their rice canister. When they picked it up, it had become a big white lump filled with dead sand flies. It looked like raisin-bread dough. They are going to starve and it’s going to be very funny.

Ray tells me that it usually takes about three storms before the contestants discreetly offer blow jobs in return for chocolate bars, bug repellant, and antifungal sprays. Perhaps there is light at the end of this tunnel.

Am feeling a bit ill. Too much sun is getting to me, I think.

—from “Survivor,” a biji by Douglas Coupland.

Things I can't believe I didn't know, part 1

So, before they made the abomination that was Jpod – The Series (hi, Bree isn’t asian and descended from the queen) there was a 4 minute short, made by bookshorts, (this is the OMG I am an idiot for not knowing this part) and starred none other than current crush du jour, Scoot McNairy. You can watch the whole 4 minute spectacular on the bookshorts website here. I’ve embedded the trailer below. For the record, it seems much more Coupland than the series did, Bree does look like Bettie Page and there’s Helvetica everywhere..

All I'm losing is me

All this leaving is making me sad. It’s funny, you don’t expect people to leave London, unless they’re moving to NY, cos, where else would you go?

Anyway, with all the things that have been going wrong recently, I turned to my old friend Douglas Coupland to find something comforting or at least explanatory.. I remembered this passage from Life After God almost perfectly, it’s from In the Desert, the short story he wrote for  Michael Stipe. It’s about a guy who breaks down in the desert in the middle of nowhere while on a mission and the desert rat/hobo he finds who leads him to a service station and inadvertently saves his life. The protagonist is upset that he can’t find a way to connect with the hobo..

“The fact of the matter was he was simply a very far-gone desert rat. I felt naive and middle class for having hoped – even briefly – that I could bond with the unbondable, for thinking that all it takes to make crazy people uncrazy is a little bit of hearty attention and good sense.

And then I felt sad because I realised that once people are broken in certain ways, they can’t ever be fixed, and this is something nobody ever tells you when you are young and it never fails to suprise you as you grow older as you see the people in your life break one by one. You wonder when your turn is going to be, or if it’s already happened”

This blog post makes me seem more melancholy than I feel. But then, so does reading early Coupland… If you haven’t read Life After God then you should probably rectify that quicksmart. It exemplifies all the amazing smart, simple, warm things about Coupland, without any of the irony and less of the pop cultural infusion.

I don't like nature – it reminds me of hippies…

I’ve watched the first couple of episodes of jpod today.
It’s not quite as bad as I expected it to be (and by that I mean, slightly better than chuck) but it’s not good. They’ve got Ethan pretty much spot on, but Cowboy is completely different than I imagined him. And they’ve made Bree asian, in the book she was a Betty Page type, the father is either the most annoying or the most awesome character ever, I haven’t quite decided yet.
This is the way I spent my last sunday at Miles house.
Should hear back about reference checks and put down a deposit in the next couple of days, and if all goes to plan, I’m moving on Thursday. I’m excited about the cat, and my own space. I’m less excited about sleeping alone, but it has to happen….

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love in the age of office superstores

Last night Lou and I attended the Coupland talk *in celebration of The Gum Thief* at the Bloomsbury Theatre.
I’ve seen Coupland talk at this venue twice previously, for the releases of Hey Nostradamus (the boy I was with at the time, fell asleep during this one) and J-Pod (at the time no-one had any inkling just how bad it would be. The audience were pretty much the same as every other time. A few people you look at and think you might be friends with, but mostly you wonder what it is that these people find to relate to in the books that you love. Yes – I am shallow, I judge people on appearance – don’t pretend you don’t. Actually, it’s not just appearance, it’s the annoying pre-talk chatter and lack of reference. I know I’m being a nazi about this, but you know how I feel about the Doug.

After a bumbling introduction by a Blackwells employee (oh, how I miss bookstore folk) he took the stage, and was as warm and random and softly spoken and funny and smart and sarcastic as he always comes across. This is one of my favourite things about him. That he is the exact way you imagine him to be. Rants about chinese killer toothpaste and the made in china sabotaged Boggle edition he had bought for his Boggle tournament ( 5 letter minimum, but be prepared to be laughed at if you do) admissions that the character Mr Rant is mostly based on him.

The curious thing about Coupland is that regardless of the fact that he has been doing this for 17 years, he never looks that comfortable doing so. There was less sharing of his internal monologue this time, some sweeping generalizations about his readers (they’re mostly Mac users with an IQ above 110) which was then disproved by the idiot London crowd (Even if you did own a PC would you raise your hand, proud of the fact? I know that in the past when I paid for my own computers I didn’t feel good about the fact) he talked a little about Helvetica and Sharpies and all the things that make the universe okay. Read mostly from Glove Pond, and towards the end, seemed to have some kind of revelation on stage, and announced that he thought that this was the last reading he was going to do. Seriously. He thought that this part of his life was over now.

This is what spurred me into actually getting in line for him to sign my book. I don’t usually do that fangirl shit, but if this was really the last chance I was going to get to meet him, I’d probably regret it forever.

Lou and I queued for about 20 minutes, all the while trying to disassociate ourselves from the couple behind us who kept trying to join our conversation. I actively try and look unapproachable, are these people completely socially inept? A brief exchange about how hideous jpod was led into them telling us how awful they thought Girlfriend in a Coma was. It was then that Lou and I turned around and ended any dialogue. Don’t ever say anything bad about my favourite book, ESPECIALLY not when you’re wearing bootcut jeans.

So, we met Doug, he was warm (like, blooded) he signed our stuff, commented on how my copy was dog-eared ( I bought it on the day of release, I’m a proper Coupland geek) took our picture (that was Lou’s idea – AND it came out with us looking all-kinds-of-special) and we said goodbye.

The way you feel after seeing him speak, is the way you feel after you’ve finished one of his books. Sort of content but melancholic and like you’re living in a slightly different universe than everybody else.

Walking through Russell Square a bag lady was throwing tiny torn up pieces of paper on the floor as she walked, like some kind of a bizarre breadcrumb trail. After she’d passed us and we inspected them more closely, we realised that they were tiny torn up pieces of porn.

There couldn’t have been a more fitting end to our Coupland evening than a bag lady throwing porn confetti.

It’s those little things that fuck me up the most.

I didn’t go see Kevin Devine and Chin Up Chin Up tonight. I thought it might have made me worse. Yesterdays good mood completely evaporated by the time I got to the office.

I (eventually) finished Jpod today, and although I didn’t like it very much, and it felt contrived and wrong and like it was written to be broadcast by the people behind chuck at NBC, I was still sad that it was over, fictional friends are always harder to let go than real life ones. And it’s not just that these characters are percet, for I am a big fan of character flaws, in you know, characters. In real life people they tend to leave a bad taste in my mouth. Not least of all mine.
Why don’t the people i work with exhibit any fun geeky couplandesque qualities. I’ve often wondered what it would be like to live in Microserfs. Then I could partake in the breakfast cereals decadence conversation, and it would be the 90s. And everything would feel slightly less hopeless, and not so old.
I am getting better at being okay with realising I really can only rely on myself. People schmeople.
Today has been confusing.

Fucking solar eclipse in Virgo.

I don’t like not being in control of other peoples perception of me. I’m re-reading pretty in punk to try and make some sense of this. I think I need a punk rock therapist. I really don’t think that you can figure me out, without at least a slight pop-cultural frame of reference. It can’t all be as basic and Freudian as first assumed eh?

It’s 10 days tomorrow, til I turn 30. I’ve mostly stopped freaking about it, I don’t think I’ll stop beating myself up about the things I feel I should’ve done though. Fixing me is hard work.

But for now, I guess I’ll just sit here and listen to Jim Yoshii and think it all out.