Seattle, Washington, United States
For those who love coffee, poetry, art, or stories - stay. Have a cup with us.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Sunday Sip: In the Spirit of Thanksgiving. . .

I heard it said once that Thanksgiving is the only day that Americans devote to pure pleasure, the only day that we over-stressed, over-committed workaholics devote to simply enjoying ourselves (for no apparent reason other than we want to be thankful). So, Coffee Lovers, this Sunday I'm hoping we can start trying to preserve that feeling of pleasure and thankfulness all year long, because life doesn't have to be a to-do list!

Join me for a cup.
-Michael

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Beautiful, Passionate, Meaningful, Magical Music

A few weeks ago I discovered an incredible band. They are called Florence and The Machine. Not only does Florence sing beautifully and have a completely original sound, but she writes lyrics like a Victorian poet writes verse.

Anyway, I started listening to Florence and fell more and more in love with the beautiful music that she creates. So today I went out and bought her CD (Lungs), put it into my mom's car, and started dancing in the passenger's seat to such beautiful, passionate, meaningful, magical music that I wanted to scream myself silly.

So we are on paragraph three and you're probably wondering by now why I'm telling you about lovely, talented Florence. And the answer to that question is this: Florence and The Machine embodies everything I am thankful for about modern culture.

People seem to think that the golden age of art, music, theatre, and literature is gone. They think that sometime around 1990 all of America and Europe's pop culture and popular art became caddy and pointless. People seem to think we respect sex, drugs, and Hummers more than we respect passion, soul, and language. I am here to tell you that is INCORRECT.

Florence and The Machine were nominated for an MTV Video Music Award for their incredible hit "Dog Days are Over". The world heard that song and, quite suddenly, the world was very excited. Florence was then featured on Saturday Night Live and The Ellen Show, performing with incredible gusto.

Florence won her way to stardom without autotune, electronic beats, or gangster rap. Florence won her way to stardom because of her words, her messages, her originality, the sheer QUALITY of her art (and the British accent probably helped).

The more I thought about Florence, the more I thought about my favorite bands. They are all bands who understand that art is still art. Just because we call Kanye West an artist, doesn't mean that The Decemberists (an incredible band from Portland. They are my favorite band, in fact. Their lead singer/songwriter, Colin, is a creative writing major) aren't to be respected.

Look at modern culture. People think we don't believe in anything but sex and dance beats, but the world published 336,814 books in 2008. Our modern culture produces new and incredible authors, poets, singers, dancers, playwrights, actors, screenwriters, painters, sculptors, directors, producers, and composers every year.

So I guess I'm saying that I'm thankful (this Thanksgiving, and every single day) that my generation's art isn't "crap" and we aren't "shallow." Or, at least, Florence doesn't think we are.

Happy Thanksgiving, Coffee Lovers!

May your coffee be strong, your passions electric, and your laughter easy.
-Michael

Monday, November 22, 2010

Whose Woods These Are...

I know you all know this poem (quite well), but I can't think of a better collection of lines for today's weather (and tomorrow's snow day!). By the way - this is the third poem I ever chose to memorize.

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;

He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
--Robert Frost
"Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening"

Many thanks to my father for teaching me to love and respect Frost (or else).

Happy Snow Day, Coffee Lovers!

May your coffee be strong, your passions electric, and your laughter easy.
-Michael

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunday Sip: HELP

We are in a serious decline, Coffee Lovers. Looking at our stats over the past month, we have consistently lost more and more views and readers each week. I hope this has nothing to do with me! But for this Sunday Sip I'm asking for your guys' help. Tell EVERYONE you know about us here at http://strongercoffee.blogspot.com! Pass the Java around.

Join me for a cup.
-Michael

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Generation of Dancers. . . .

"We are raising a generation of dancers." --Harry S. Truman

After a particularly long day and evening, I put on "Human" by a little band that calls itself The Killers. The song asks a simple, yet cryptic, question:

Are we human?
Or are we dancers?

I was surprised to find out that the song was based on the above quote by Truman. He thought the same thing The Killers think - there is a slight possibility that, instead of being humans, we are dancers.

And someone please tell me: What does that mean?

So I got to thinking about it. Even as I write this I am listening to "Human" and stewing on the question.

We are in a new era of America, of the English language, of technology, of information, of interaction - this is a new world. And we are dancing across it. Our lives have become, now more than ever, like a performance on a stage. And we dance across that stage - striking, sexy, powerful, captivating - without saying a single word. We don't articulate, we move. We are busy, we are running, we are fighting to be seen, to be noticed, to be loved, to be adored,


TO BE WATCHED.


What do all of us really want beyond being watched? We are our own idols, made to be looked at, prayed to, made to gather a cult-following. But that's pop culture for you, right?

I've always found dance to be an irresistible art form. There is something primitive, real, human about it. It is movement, it is harmony. It doesn't require lots of thought or listening, it requires feeling and believing. And what do humans do better than feel and believe?

So, is it so wrong that we love to be watched? Why would we dance for an empty theatre? Getting caught up in the music, being human - that's fine with me.
The Killers' chorus goes on to say:
"And I'm on my knees looking for the answer:
Are we human or are we dancers?"

I'm on my knees thanking God that I am a dancer. Because what is more human than that?


May your coffee be strong, your passions electric, and your laughter easy.

-Michael





Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunday Sip: "Lua" by Bright Eyes

I'm going to do something I have never done before on Stronger Coffee. I'd like to share someone else's art with you. The following song has been one of my favorites for a very long time, but I can't listen to it very often simply because it's so emotionally powerful.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5aZh261KZWI

Join me for a cup.
-Michael

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Duality of Beauty

As you may have noticed, Coffee Lovers, we have a whole new look here at Stronger Coffee. It's pretty exciting (in my opinion), and I hope I don't get sued for using this fantastic picture of a man in the rain.

In keeping with new appearances, I'd like to talk today about presentation. They say (don't they?) that it's nine-tenths of the law. Why is that? Why would we peg a whole nine of the tenths of our law on how we look?

Everybody is a dual being. Our duality is the key to our humanity. There is an "inside" and an "outside" to everyone (even those people with the emotional depth of a teaspoon). The inside is, of course, more important. But to ignore the outside (and the relationship between the two) is a serious crime of ignorance.


To be perfectly honest, I'm rather vain, but I don't respect vanity. I think it's a commonly accepted form of extreme arrogance. However, I do believe that we should foster a healthy relationship between both sides of ourselves. My inside can be great, but if I only shower once a week, how can I hope to connect to other people? I can look stunning, but if none of that "stunning-ness" has seeped through to the thoughts I'm thinking and the words I'm saying, why even try to connect with people?

I'm not saying we should judge on appearance. That is, in fact, the opposite of what I want to communicate. A lot of words and paper are used every year to draw attention to eating disorders and insecurities in our culture. What if (humor me for a second) we stopped writing about being lovely and beautiful just the way you are. What if, instead, we wrote:

Sure, you may hate yourself now. But remember, in a few days, when you're
eating a slice of pizza (that you're undoubtedly going to punish yourself
for later) that you are the same after the pizza as you were before. You are the
same now as you will be tomorrow. You are the same as you were when you were
born. It's not about looking perfect. It's not about feeding that ego until
you feel perfect. It's about seeing both sides of yourself - the physical
and the spiritual/psychological - and saying, "Hell, I look like crap. Oh well.
I'm me."


So you see, life is a balancing act. So is blogging. If you logged onto this blog every Thursday or Sunday and saw a stark white screen with tiny black words, would you really want to stare at it long enough to take in what it's saying to you? Same if it was flashy and beautiful and I just talked about cats the whole time.

I didn't do so well last week. And, as always, the blog posts that weren't as great weren't read as widely. So I guess that means that, even if Stronger Coffee was in a gorgeous mug, you'd all still be here for the java.

Do me a favor this week: look great. But (but for God's sake!) don't forget to feel great.

May your coffee be strong, your passions electric, and your laughter easy.
-Michael

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sunday Sip: Opportunity

It's so easy to say yes to opportunity. Why not?

Join me for a cup.
-Michael

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Wishing for Sick Days?

First off, I'd like to take a quick moment to wish a slightly belated "Happy Birthday" to my grandpa, John Emery. I know I called you, but I thought I'd make it official, eh?

Anyway, today I'd like to blog about being sick. For some reason, when I'm not sick, being sick sounds like heaven. Staying home from school (if you're lucky), having a perfect excuse for being tired all the time, and that glorious sympathy - well, it all makes it seem rather fantastic, no?

But when you're actually sick?

There are very few things more irritating than sneezing (explosively) and coughing (painfully) every few seconds. Especially, when you've already skipped school several days in a row and you know you have to down a few doses of cold medicine and drag yourself to the infernal hall of mental cultivation. And, of course, you spend the entire day milking the illness for all its worth.

"Michael, are you sick?"
*Sniff* "Yeah. Really sick, to tell you the truth. But don't worry about it. I'll be fine, I'm sure..."
"Oh! You poor baby!"

It's so validating!

So why write to you about being sick today? Besides the fact that I am sick, I think it's funny the way we look at disabilities, obstacles, and handicaps when we're outside of them versus when we are battling them. We see a handicap and, often, all we really see in that handicap is what we could get out of it if we were "lucky" enough to be faced with it. I hope that sentence made sense, because it's an important one. We don't tend to grasp the negative of a negative situation until that situation is all about us.

Now I'm not saying that we wish we had cancer. I'm not saying you want oral surgery or Down Syndrome. But have you ever thought: How nice it would be if my legs didn't work and I could sit in a chair all day long? Sure, you don't really mean it; you're just tired of standing up. But isn't the thought - just the very thought - disrespectful to someone who wants nothing more than to walk on a beach?

I guess it's just something to think about.

Hope my rambling strengthened your coffee this week. Hopefully, I'll get my coffee up to snuff by the weekend.

May your coffee be strong, your passions electric, and your laughter easy.
-Michael