Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Casey stared at the pile of pink slips, a mix of dread and ennui forming deep in her belly. The imagined pains of customer interaction sloshed alongside the salted pretzel and cherry Icee she wolfed down before clocking in.

Tuesday mornings were considered the shortest straw of shit-shifts. You had to call every reservation slip to let customers know their DVD was sitting in a box collecting dust — and would continue to do so until they coughed up the money they promised the Suncoast Video Company in good faith.

No one liked this part of the job. Most reserve customers had forgotten they had even ordered anything, and were furious you were bothering them while Judge Judy was on. That was the best-case scenario. Other deadbeat customers had since changed their minds about paying for the DVD, spouting a litany of excuses why they couldn’t. …

On a sticky summer morning, I finished the remainder of a cinnamon raisin bagel, then stepped outside to check the mail. There was a large moving truck being unloaded by three massively-swollen delinquents in the neighboring driveway.

The Andersons had moved to South Dakota months ago, and I’ll admit I was morbidly curious what sort of neighbor I’d be stuck with next. There were only the shifty-looking mover men, however, no homeowner-types in sight.

Throughout that day, I braved the balmy heat of my front yard for a chance introduction with the incoming neighbor. I felt silly sipping my third lemonade, taking up residence like a peeping tom in a beat-down lawn chair. …

As we are plagued once again by the holiday shopping nightmare, our malls have begun their descent into the hellish chaos that capitalism demands. If you need proof, search YouTube for mall fights. I’ll wait.

Now that we’re both familiar with the subject matter, I’d like to brag about the best goddamned mall fight I was lucky enough to witness. Only a minor bit of hyperbole has been added. The names of the people and stores have been altered to protect the innocent (and to keep the corporations from suing me).

Selling high fashion sunglasses from a mall kiosk is certainly one of the strangest ways I’ve earned a living. Also, it was one of the most boring, as $300 shades didn’t sell very often at the poorest mall in town. Despite the insane amount of foot traffic that circled my booth from all sides, I mostly functioned as a living mall directory, pointing confused seniors and lost children toward the food court. …

I met Kirk Kiefer through an old friend of mine, quickly bonding over a mutual love of Batman comics. As it turned out, Kirk was also a well-rounded musician, playing bass and singing in the alt-country band Yardsale. After attending one of their shows, I got the itch to start playing music again.

I revisited a few un-used Sad Bastard demos, and then started writing new material for the first time in over a year. About a month later, I had enough songs written to fill a new album, but I had no desire to record it by myself. …

In early 2009, Matt Goodlett, Chris Humphreys and I decided that we wanted to start a new media collective. Apartment 2 as a brand identity had been dead for years, and it seemed like the right time to begin a new project. The three of us had several script ideas, but we lacked the right label for our varying content. After a few chats about the different kinds of pieces we wanted to produce, a general direction was realized. Our mutual love of comic books led us to the name ANTI-VILLAIN.

Matt and I had collaborated to write comedy sketches for three or four years, but we didn’t want to just throw something together the way we had in the past. We decided to bring Chris on board to improve the quality of our shoots. He’s a trained photographer and knows a bit more about lighting than I do. Once the three of us had hammered out a few scripts, we filmed two shorts, “iMatch” and “Tweet Tweet”. Both skits featured romances ruined by the internet, a theme we found relevant to our own lives as well as those of several friends. …

If I were to pick one accomplishment in my life that I’m most proud of, it would be Hibernation Season. I don’t listen to it often, but when I do, I’m instantly reminded of a snow storm in January of 2007, during which Brad Annis, John Birk, Andy Guilaran, Russell Brooks and I recorded an album in a funeral home. The experience was a challenge and a joy that I’ll never forget.

On my sixteenth birthday, my dear, sweet mother bought me an electric guitar. I played it loud and often, making her regret the decision within hours. Soon after, I joined several bands, among them Aneurism, Wish, Church & State, Quote-UnQuote, and a few others that are too embarrassing to mention. None of these bands accomplished more than a handful of shows apiece. We certainly never recorded an album. When I got to college, I stopped playing rock ’n’ roll, instead immersing myself in blues music. My social outlet was playing dive bars for twenty dollars a night. It was in these darkened bars that I actually learned how to perform, singing and playing rhythm guitar simultaneously. …

For far too many years, I juggled two different jobs. By day I was a web designer while my evenings were spent working various retail jobs. I worked in retail because I needed extra money and wanted to meet new people. At the time, it seemed like a good idea — in fact, it was the only option. Competing with my day job for web projects was frowned upon (what with the no-compete I foolishly signed).

After five years of working sixty to seventy hours a week, dealing with the unwashed and unforgiving masses, I thought I might have a nervous breakdown. I learned many valuable lessons about people: how to sell to them, what types to avoid and when to run for the hills kicking and screaming. …

Every red light is an invitation for voyeurs and habitual rear-view-peepers. I myself have witnessed many amazing, disturbing, and often unsanitary scenes while gazing into the vehicle behind me. Recently, I witnessed a real treat.

The Saturday before Christmas, I made the mistake of venturing out into public. Traffic was a mundane hell, as expected. To halt the madness, I took in my surroundings — to the right, to the left, and of course, what lay in the rear-view. Just two lights down from Oxmoor Mall, my patience was rewarded with a ghastly vision.

The car was one of those hatchback jobs, short and clownish in stained burgundy. Behind a dirty windshield I spied the driver, a woman in her early 60s with cropped hair and glasses an inch thick, sporting a pink windbreaker outfit. Beside her was a perfectly round head. Just a head, that’s all I could make out. …

A content-first WordPress theme

In a previous post I introduced Iterative Development, a process for rapid prototyping websites in the browser. Using this method keeps VIA Studio’s production team in constant communication with clients, demoing new features weekly. These demos are powered by a set of custom-developed tools, namely, Silencio.

For years now, WordPress has been VIA’s preferred content management system. The last time we checked, WordPress powered over 16% of the web. We’ve built hundreds of WordPress themes over the years, constantly evolving our set of best practices. Silencio is the culmination of that knowledge.


Seriously, doesn’t every development shop on the planet have a custom starter theme on Github already? Yes, there are lots of them around, every developer SHOULD have one, if they want to be efficient. What sets Silencio apart? It was designed to solve a particular problem – content! …

A Short Film Starring Death Metal Dave

Slightly NSFW

Last winter, myself, Josh Keown, Matt Goodlett and Chris Humphreys stood in Chris’ kitchen, throwing around ideas for a movie about our good friend Dave. The concepts ranged from a bank robbery to fund an abortion to an action flick where Dave would get beat up a lot. Why build a movie around this guy?

For years, Dave has said things like:

“Hey, make a movie about me, I’m funny.”

“Put me in a movie, I’m entertaining.”

“People love my face, I can’t help it.”

Dave’s appeared in several of our collective films, usually in small doses. Despite his limited screen time, he steals EVERY scene he’s in. …


Shawn Coots

I’m a product manager and writer living in Louisville, Kentucky.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store