Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Are you a folder or a crumpler?
If you've read JPod, you would have a ready answer to that. And the conversation sparked by that question is vintage Douglas Coupland, the kind of mundane, yet so relevant in a purely pop culture context, observation that made me love Generation X and Microserfs so much.
In JPod, Coupland has once again honed in on the pulse of society as he did so brilliantly in both of those books, and in a sense revisits the denizens of Microserfs, only this time around they are techies toiling away in a computer game company in Vancouver, instead of on the campus of Microsoft.
And JPod is certainly does succeed in capturing the zeitgeist, in its references to mothers with grow-ops, ballroom-dancing fathers, people smuggling, the emergence of China as a global giant, a cartoon turtle based on Jeff Probst, and Ronald MacDonald as a psycho killer. It's fun, it's clever, it's hip. The fact that Douglas Coupland is a character who features quite prominently in the novel, a character who is essentially thought of as an asshole by the protagonist Ethan, gives the story a surreal and very post-modern slant.
But somehow it lacked the heart of either Microserfs or Generation X. Perhaps this was intentional, perhaps this was meant to signify the soullessness of the post tech-bubble reality, but I found myself missing Dag, Andy, and Claire. They were seriously flawed, but they had lots of humanity.
But the crumpler versus folder question? It's a moment in the book which brought me pure joy, the joy that only a Douglas Coupland observation can bring me. It's one of those moments which pinpoint a truism, which may or may not be true, I don't know, but it feels so real.
Here's an excerpt:
John Doe asked, "What's a folder or a crumpler?"
"Both are technical terms used by the pulp and paper industry," said Kaitlin.
"Meaning?"
"Toilet tissue manufacturers divide end users into two categories: people who crumple their paper and people who fold it. Each is fifty percent of the market."
Mark said, "What about you, Bree - crumpler? Folder?"
Bree said, "This is like the black vs. white 'Spy vs. Spy' thing."
"You're changing the subject."
"I'm a folder ... obviously."
"No! I would have had you down as a crumpler."
"Surprise."
"Do geeks skew in any particular direction?" I asked.
Kaitlin said, "I suspect they're more likely to be folders."
A quick and highly viral email campaign throughout the building revealed that game builders are eighty percent folders, but the few crumplers took pride in their stance. ...

So, what category do you fall into?

35 comments:

Neil said...

I fold, then crumple.

John Mutford said...

I'm a definite crumpler.

Sounds like an interesting book- despite the lack of a heart as you put it. You're description of Ronald MacDonald made me think of Adbusters magazine.

(btw, loved the critique!)

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Really Neil? You are so complex! Good to see you again, sweetie.

haha you sound so proud, John! It IS an interesting book. I may have been expecting too much from it, but if I hadn't read the others first, I would have been all over it.
What's Adbusters? Sounds familiar...

She's Crafty said...

If it is the paper, I fold...it's the recycling thing. I do the same with the cardboard so "I am a FOLDER".

I have been meaning to read this book, but will probably wait for paperback (which takes a painfully long time!) Most recently read by me, Douglas Coupland book - "all families are psychotic". The title is soo consoling!

Barbara Bruederlin said...

SO far we have one of each and a mutant...
All Families are Psychotic was also good, Sarah, but didn't quite have the appeal of my two favs. Although even a bad Coupland book is a good thing...

Alana said...

Toilet paper? I'm a folder, 100% of the time. More like a wrapper, I suppose. Around the hand, three times, everytime.

Clothes, on the other hand? Definite crumpler.

mellowlee said...

I'm a crumpler. I would like to read this book, but first I have to catch up on my Douglas Coupland. One thing I'm finding since I started blogging (In May) is my to read list is getting massive!!!

She's Crafty said...

for clothes...I suggest a whole new category..."PILE-R"! That would be the basket of tried on or worn once in my room!

John Mutford said...

Adbusters is an anti-consumerist magazine based out of Vancouver. They often do spoofs of popular ads, usually taking the sheen off in a humourous and/or shocking way.

kees said...

A folder. And a geek.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

A wrapper, Alana? You're throwing the stats off here - we're going to have to go with non-parametrics. I am going to place wrapping in the folding category, as you suggested.
Clothes, now that's a WHOLE new kettle of fish!

I know what you mean, Mellowlee - I'm going to have to quit my job to read all of these recommended books, I see no other way out of this.

Piler, Sarah - haha. My daughter follows a similar technique, only instead of a basket,she uses the entire floor of her room.

Thanks John, I'm going to check out Adbusters. I feel a need to be both humoured and shocked.

See, Kees? You could be a Douglas Coupland character! You fit the demographic. Ever designed a computer game, by any chance?

Leazwell said...

Gee, Barabara, unless I've overlooked something, you've gotten all these people to reveal their private toilet habits without giving up your own. Well then, I'm not telling either. ;)

Jetson Stamina said...

Everything I throw in the garbage is origami. So that makes me a folder. This morning I threw out 2 paper boats, 6 paper plains, 12 lotus flowers and a heart shaped box.

Jetson Stamina said...

Everything I throw in the garbage is origami. So that makes me a folder. This morning I threw out 2 paper boats, 6 paper plains, 12 lotus flowers and a heart shaped box.

Allison said...

Leazwell, that is a good point :)

I fold, and crumple. And I'm a geek as well ;)
This book is the next book on my nightstand. Glad to hear its good.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

haha Leazwell - you caught me! Okay, I am a crumpler. And I'll tell you why.
Crumpling the toilet paper increases the surface area, allowing for more of the tissue to come into contact with the material, thereby effectively increasing the absorbancy potential of the tissue. PLUS, a crumpled wad of tissue is a stronger structure than some folded layers, thereby cutting down on the potential for tear-through.
Your turn.

Man, Jetson, you must be on the toilet forever! But I'll bet it's lovely in there.

Do you fold first, Allison? Because it's important to the integrity of the structure.
The book is vintage Coupland, although not his finest, but it's hard to beat those two imho.

Leazwell said...

Ha! Funny you say all that because at a very young age I made the transition from crumpling to folding. To me, folding got the job done better.

Leazwell said...

"To each his own", said the old woman as she kissed the cow.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Ahhha so you had a change of heart as you grew wiser, Leazwell.
Folding vs crumpling was simply something I had never considered before.
I'm not sure why the old woman was kissing the cow, but she had a good point.

Maureen said...

crumpler here - I think I'll have to pick the book up

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Yay, another crumpler! I have to go to the library (I'm stuck reading NME and Spin in bed tonight). Any suggestions for books, Maureen?

Allison said...

Your description of crumpling to give more surface area -hilarious- but so true!
Which is why I fold first, then crumple. I still can't believe this conversation ;)

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Good system, Allison. I think you have a good basis for a strong structure there.

Yeah it's not a conversation I thought I would ever be having, but there you go...

Will said...

I think I've said it before, but I have to read this book - and his others. They seem way up my alley. Which reminds me, have you read William Gibson's Pattern Recognition?

Barbara Bruederlin said...

No, I've not heard of it, Will, but I am putting it on my list right now, along with the Burroughs books which you and Jacquie have been recommending.

By the way, I like how you deflected your way out of answering the folder vs crumper question. Very smooth.

Jas Bhambra said...

folder thru and thru! :)

I am quite impressed with Jetson, origami and all...and his earlier horticulture tips! :)

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Folder eh, Jas? Hence the science geekism.
That Jetson - never fails to surprise and delight.

She's Crafty said...

Barbara, tell your daughter to get a nice big tupperware container or something of that sort, only attractive. Then when you go into her room, you will be SHOCKED at the cleanliness. Seriously, I swear by it!

Ruhee said...

CRUMPLER! I can't understand why one would take the time to so neatly fold it if it's going to meet such an unpretty end anyway.

... I meant end as in demise, but I guess that could be taken as a rather awful pun :D

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Yes, excellent point Ruhee! What's next? Put a bow on it?

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Oh Sarah, we've tried all manner of containers. This kid is incorrigible, I tell you!

Jacquie said...

I am looking forward to this book.
I love the cover too.
Never thought about it. I probably am more conservative at home (fold) and "generous" in public restrooms (wild, luxiuriant crumples). I am pretty sure that is too much information but there you are.

And, yes, as John said, it was a great critique.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Oho an opportunistic folder, Jacquie! I'll remember that if you ever come over to use my bathroom.

The cover of JPod is really cool, isn't it? And so fitting. I'm sure you will enjoy it.

phlegmfatale said...

I'm a full-on folder, baby. I think there's less crack in the tp surface for dook to fall through.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

the dook! Phlegmmy, you have the best ever terms for things.

I shall put you into the folder column.