Archive for April, 2011

April 12, 2011

Access Granted: Welcome to jPod!

by disentrance

Within the jPod, we explore the eccentric life of the protagonist, Ethan Jarlewski, as he narrates the story of how an implemented character of the author, Douglas Coupland, came to steal Ethan’s life and made it into a book. The title of the book comes from the nickname of Ethan’s workplace, which is a small office group consisting of six random programmer techies whose last names begin with the letter “J”. The novel’s main storyline is very simple but takes a numerous amount of detours due to the jPodsters’ digressive office shenanigans; from writing love letters to Ronald McDonald, to inserting a sadistically blood-thirsty version of the clown himself into a fantasy role-playing game –with the intent of sabotaging the game.


The book features a vast amount of references to 21st century mainstream society as Coupland mocks and ridicules it, beginning with Douglas Coupland himself in the very first sentence. The setting of the novel is also the real-life location of British Columbia’s lower mainland, but the biggest allusion Coupland tends to emphasize on is the extent of Google™’s power, which stretches from the ability to creep on your co-worker’s private life, to creating your own brand of cola.


Overall, jPod is the ideal book if one were thirsting for the need to be smitten with ads, pointless puzzles, a small insight of philosophy, internet humour and turtle jokes caused by a cast of slightly autistic characters, wrapped up in a world where entropy is at an all time high.

April 11, 2011

Unusual and Unique

by aaronbui103

Jpod, a novel by Douglas Coupland is a rather unusual piece of work. It has nothing to do with the iPod. However, it talks about a group of youthful people in a videogame company that has names starting with the letter “J”. The character Ethan have a very abnormal family through the marijuana grow-op that his mother runs and the involvement of his brother with a Chinese mobster. The book also tackled events such as gore sites, human trafficking, and ballroom chancing. All of these created the novel to be very dramatic. Aside from the confusion over the genre and purpose of the book, it’s that Coupland wrote himself into the book as a character. Coupland in the book was found to be an asshole and at the same time a very funny character. It is rather unusual to find an author that would include himself/herself into a book and all together making himself/herself an asshole. The book gives the readers a taste of the author and how he/she is not afraid to be judged by the readers. Therefore this is very unique. Lastly, the book was set in Vancouver, BC. Furthermore, he mentioned specific places in Vancouver where readers that lives or lived in Vancouver can visualize and picture it in their minds.

This book at quick look may seem to be one of the strangest some have ever seen, yet once the story progresses, one can’t help but look forward to each and every time they have a chance to read it. Will everyone enjoy the book? Very unlikely; nevertheless it was an entertaining book, enough to keep you reading, and parts of it were very funny.


April 10, 2011

Not Your Typical Novel

by alessandranakhleh

Along with being an active designer and famous author, Douglas Coupland can be described as a man with a vivid imagination.  Or, at least how I can begin to describe him with regard to JPod, a novel written by Coupland and later published by Random House of Canada during 2006.  Creating real life, but not at all typical situations for his characters, readers are taken on a long journey in just over five hundred pages.  Narrated by main character, Ethan Jarlewski, Coupland tells a story of the reoccurring individuals in Jarlewski’s life; his co-workers, family and close friends, along with their not-so every day dilemmas.  Described by my classmates as “annoying” or “difficult to pay attention” to, I could not help but disagree, as JPod kept me fully entertained from page one.  Coupland’s sense of humor effortlessly translated to his writing urging me to continue flipping each page, allowing the book to fully consume my day.  Yes, I can easily agree that perhaps Coupland’s storyline was a tad unrealistic; Jarlewski’s mother killing and burying a man she had a relationship with, his brother smuggling illegal immigrants into Canada, his father with a secret younger girlfriend, or his boss being kidnapped and brought to China, aren’t mainstream problems an average man would face in a short time period – let alone during a life time.  But I can honestly say; I don’t think Coupland was aiming for an average novel.  Based at a Vancouver video gaming company, Coupland exposed his readers to an online feel his characters were more than likely experiencing.  Theoretically spamming the novel with their junk mail and time-wasting pages filled with useless numbers, Coupland added a modern twist to what could have been a standard novel, allowing his work to be extremely unique.  Separating the novel into three parts, Coupland is able to expand his story in terms of time, fast-forwarding through to the future when need be.  Critics would say Coupland could also be viewed as selfish towards the end of the novel by adding himself as a character into Jarlewski’s fictional life. This egotistic act by Coupland tops off an unrealistic novel with an even more impractical (but highly enjoyable) ending.  I would recommend JPod to folks of all ages.  Tactfully flowing from page to page with ease, readers are taken into the lives of each character while staying in the comfort of their own home.

April 9, 2011

Forage: Speaking to You

by janeO

Jane Odchowen

            Rita Wong, a local of Vancouver, British Columbia. She is a teacher, a writer and a researcher that speaks through her creative writings, poems.

            One of her promising work is her collection of poems in the book entitled Forage. Her poems talk about confidential issues such as environmental and political issues, to which over all contributes to economic disaster. She expresses her subject through the use of extra textual elements such as, use of research, photos and epigraphs in her poetry. Her creativeness moulds the poetry into a beautiful and meaningful work that raises awareness to such issues.

            Her use of references adds credibility and authority to the poems. Just as she includes a reference to the native and borrowed names to which the names of the provinces of Canada are derived in the poem forage, fumage:

                        Verb the kanata, verb the ottawa, verb the saskatchewan, the                                                                      

                        Manitoba, quebec, start in the middle of rupert’s lament And work                                                            

                        Out, start from the coasts and work in, start (30)

            This particular poem is about colinialization and how it creates a big difference to the country after they have occupied the land. And Wong uses the particular native words to raise awareness that these are native words, and not a conquerors’ language. She indicates the reference to “the political economy of conquest and trade [that] can give more detailed answers than philology”(31).

            Rita Wong also acknowledges the issue of genetically modified products in her poems nervous organism and the girl who ate rice almost every day. She uses creative words such as “jellypo fishtato”, “jellypish for tato smack” and she also gives a direct description to the “science lab… [in her] esophagus”, as well as a direct accusation to “industrial food [that] defeats nutrition” (20). Wong uses her poems to raise awareness against the unnatural way of producing products especially foods. Her poem the girl who ate rice almost every day summons everyone by mentioning the “dangerous allergies and surprising properties [which] make[s] each object that cross her lips an epiphany.” She has managed to tell a story with the character of a girl in a world where everything is modified, like the huge beets crossed with the cow and causes the beets to be huge (16). Wong also adds the reference to the “US patent database” (16) and asks her readers to do a more in depth research about the subject. In this way, she expecting the readers’ curiosity would lead them to the awareness of the issue.

            Over all, Rita’s poems are beautiful and are very strait forward. This makes the readers understand her goal more easily, as to raise awareness with the given issues.

Word count: 448

April 8, 2011

@MG!!! pigSLUTteenHORNycumCoke® – PoMo V2.006 SmArmTIRE

by bubblesheets

If you ever wondered about the authenticity of Coupland’s cultural critique’s in JPod, you have your answer. I hope no one bought this book new, he’s got moola to spare. Even his house looks like an asshole.  This guy gets it.

April 7, 2011

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by Parmis

Countless multivolume works, dissertations, scholarly and non-scholarly articles have been written in attempts to understand the current phenomenon of Generation I, the Internet Generation. University professors, Psychologists, and Social scientists have tried but have achieved little success in this venture. In 2006, along came a visual artist by the name of Douglas Coupland, who changed the landscape and architecture of appealing to a newer, somewhat misunderstood generation forever.

A national bestseller, JPod is the ninth novel written by Coupland in his authoring career. It explores the connection one has with life and family while encompassed by a world of accelerated technological advancement. JPod samples through the mass media diet currently being consumed by youth today as Coupland investigates and rummages through consumer culture and writes about it with authenticity and a touch of irony.

JPod begins with the sporadic life of Ethan Jarlewski. He is a video-game programmer on the verge of developing the next “big thing” in the gaming industry: an edgy skateboarding turtle named Jeff. Ethan and his five co-workers are stationed together in jPod, a nicknamed derived from the fact that all of them happen to share the letter “j” as their last initials. However, rest assured, Coupland does not give us any sort of ordinary work environment for our narrator. JPod is running rampid with office pranks and outrageous antics that distract from absolutely anything work related. From auctioning one another on eBay to inventing a hug machine to cope with stress, our JPodsters are a bizarre and entertaining ensemble.

Written with the architectural brilliance of an artist, JPod is a handbook for a generation.

Word Count: 282

April 7, 2011

Consciously Aware

by alyssajai

Local poet Rita Wong demonstrates her willingness to raise questions regarding ecological, and political issues in her collection of poems titled Forage. She is able to capture truthfulness in topics that society often turns a blind eye to. Each poem brings awareness to various crises on an international scale. Wong’s connection to he environment is evident in the passion provided by her words. She harnesses the desire for awareness of these ecological issues to be essential in our daily lives.
The crises that Wong sheds light on vary vastly throughout the collection yet all are significant in the ecological, social, and political world. The wordplay in “Nervous Organism” identifies the advancements in food technology. It brings awareness to the issues behind the changes in food manufacturing and the negative effects they have on people and on society. As the poem introduces “jellyfish potato/ jellypo fishtato” Wong playfully captures the trend of genetically altered food (20). To sum up the focus of “Damage” and the collection as a whole Wong addresses how “people walk around in various states of damage” (45). She identifies the injustices associated with these environmental issues. By forcing people to become aware of these problems it allows them to identify the role they are playing in society. As society often faces these issues as “out of sight, out of mind” Wong forces us see them in a new light. The collection inspires people to take a conscious in our life and make ourselves aware of the issues that Wong fearlessly tackles.

Word Count 256

Works Cited

Wong, Rita. Forage. Gibsons, BC: Nightwood editions, 2007. Print.

April 7, 2011

The Earth is Calling Out

by kristiemendoza

A pleasant read that unites language play with lyrical reflection on the late consumerist background is found in Rita Wong’s Forage. It is clear that Wong has observed everything to seem materialistic in this moment of time, so in her collection of poems, we instantaneously wonder about questions of labour exploitation, provision in this age of globalization, and the stress that has cumulated on profit limitations.

Given the catastrophes of the international economics, the current discussions regarding global warming, and the broadening difference between the rich and poor of society, Wong’s work uncannily seems almost psychic. While being part of a growing Asian-Canadian poetry community, her collection powerfully speaks to them. Korean and Chinese characters come up on the page to interrupt a single semantic reading that was being experienced. The lyrics break up into different parts all throughout the text which holds a more dynamic prose in poetry.

Wong writes about the elegy for a Korean activist who killed himself while protesting the World Trade Organizations polices in “for Lee Kyung Hae Korean farmer martyred in Cancun.” The characters for Lee’s name has been widely apprehended as a racial politic instead of an ethnic politic. Wong poses with an interethnic thought through “WTO/smashes rice farmers/into the enduring/earth” (62). She brings us back to Canada by “biking down the august streets of vancouver I find my pride at powell street” (72). The shift between Asian culture and Canadian culture is outstanding.

Her attention towards other cultures is a way of thinking about diversity and the encouragement of change is greatly invigorating. Rita Wong is an exceedingly brilliant writer who is able to create meaning against each other in juxtaposition. This collection would be appropriate for any course on contemporary poetics in literature.

Word Count: 292

April 7, 2011

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

by spencersmyl

Rita Wong promulgates through her most recent collection of poems called Forage, a rather fierce and informative rebuke towards modern political and cooperate discourse and their unfavourable implications on the environment. Targeting these developments, Wong allows her relationship with the environment to flow out to the reader though her poems in a hope to re-bond and re-connect them to the earth and its environment. In such an informative and sometimes blunt manner, many of these some short and some long poems, focus on the unfair developments which occur in rebound to the crusades of global economic capitalism. Illustrating this begins right from the cover, hills of outdated computer technology proportionally fill up most of the cover; it’s contrasted with the smaller upper portion of the cover with that of real hills. Symbolizing precisely what is to come in Wong’s Forage; a sadly miscued and forgotten reality of what really matters.

One thing that Wong does throughout Forage is that she is able to always write in such an informative manner, without loosing her creativity and abstractness in her poems. The reader can sometime feel that life is a rather redundant thing, where we the average person are lost in a myopic trance, sleepwalking through our daily tasks. Through these developments Wong can begin to elaborate and point out the irrationalities of society and the capitalist system, telling the reader wake up to reality. In the poem ‘perverse subsidies’ Wong states “will pay for you to take my garbage away so I never have to look at it, never have to imagine the roaches & rats…ragged underwear…[and] seagulls & crows feeding on rotting leftovers…”, from this Wong goes even further to talk about the economic implications of war and cooperate development, and that it is something of the same thing we do when we leave our garbage out at the end of our drive way; we turn a cold shoulder, as once it is out of sight it is no longer our problem, it’s someone else’s. This is exactly how Wong bases her work – she builds her poems small and then ends them in a larger perspective. This is why and how Wong makes her pieces so informative and powerful to the reader.

The beautiful thing about Rita Wong’s informative poetry is that it offers people a different medium in which they can come to terms with understanding modern day implications and developments. In this case she poises to the reader the political and corporate injustice towards the environment in the form of poetry. No news article, no scholarly journal, no political and cooperate rhetoric, and no ideological spectrum can offer such a perspective and personal understanding that can find refuge within almost any reader. That is why if you are tired of reading the same old information coming down the same old grapevine, then you should most certainly get your hands on Wong’s Forage.


April 7, 2011

JPood A Pile of Papers Into A Novel

by giannabasso

Jpod, Written by Douglas Couplnd is an acquired taste. I have another one of his books hiding between university papers and seven seasons of The Office on my shelf. The first fifty to seventy pages are strange. The reader is taken to a place that seems way out of the normal real, but yet still familiar, as the setting takes place in Vancouver and the lower Mainland of British Columbia. From the dead biker to placing a turtle, designed after Survivor host Jeff Probst, using the term bizarre to describe this novel would be an understatement. I felt the book was just as underdeveloped as the numerous characters that are in it. The pages are crammed with a plot and then spammed with thirty pages of binary code? Numbers? some pi system? And then another twenty to forty some odd pages of 40pt font. This is a huge waste of paper. I believe the purpose it serves is to relate the autistic like qualities that come along with being a nerd cooped up in Jpod and the lack of
attention span of the average JPoder, that can’t even focus on a given task for more than twenty minutes. The wasted pages give the reader a break from the mundane madness; that is Jpod. It gave me the opportunity to drift inside my head in an attempt to unscramble what I had just read as I carelessly flipped the pages until it returned to the standard novelistic writing style. Douglas Coupland has had several successful books before Jpod and I fail to see how this could be seen as one of his “greatest works” or that “Jpod is without a doubt his strongest, best observed novel”-The Guardian (UK). The only thing that kept me reading was hoping that at least the ending was decent, which in the end lead to the final words being “play again? Y/N?” A few strong words fumbled out of my mouth after that. It does make for a nice paperweight or doorstop.