Geoffrey Long
Tip of the Quill: Archives

February 2003 Archives

Low-octane sweetie.

So rstevens over at Diesel Sweeties has been hosting guest strips for the last two weeks. Today, a guest strip went up by San Francisco artist Lark Pien, and it's a beauty. I love the gentle curves on this one.

Insert gratuitous "double" joke here.

Um, whoa. Playboy is apparently on the lookout for the hottest baristas in America for an upcoming women of Starbucks issue. The mind boggles. I wonder if the "babes of Borders" issue will be far behind...?


Allison road.

Wow. There are lots and lots of good Alison-related things out there. Like the Gin Blossoms song, the lovely Alyson Hannigan, the simultaneously lovely Allison Mack, Allison Janney (Kenyon alum! You go girl!), the fantastic comic strip Scary-Go-Round by John Allison... There's a trend here. Anybody know any other good Allisons?

Courtesy of the lovely Ms. Kim.

My friend Min Jung recently posted this poem from Pablo Neruda on her weblog, and I thought I'd pass it along. Memepoetry, if you will.

Saddest Poem I can write the saddest poem of all tonight.

Write, for instance: "The night is full of stars, and the stars, blue, shiver in the distance."

The night wind whirls in the sky and sings.

I can write the saddest poem of all tonight. I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.

On nights like this, I held her in my arms. I kissed her so many times under the infinite sky.

She loved me, sometimes I loved her. How could I not have loved her large, still eyes?

I can write the saddest poem of all tonight. To think I don't have her. To feel that I've lost her.

To hear the immense night, more immense without her. And the poem falls to the soul as dew to grass.

What does it matter that my love couldn't keep her. The night is full of stars and she is not with me.

That's all. Far away, someone sings. Far away. My soul is lost without her.

As if to bring her near, my eyes search for her. My heart searches for her and she is not with me.

The same night that whitens the same trees. We, we who were, we are the same no longer.

I no longer love her, true, but how much I loved her. My voice searched the wind to touch her ear.

Someone else's. She will be someone else's. As she once belonged to my kisses. Her voice, her light body. Her infinite eyes.

I no longer love her, true, but perhaps I love her. Love is so short and oblivion so long.

Because on nights like this I held her in my arms, my soul is lost without her.

Although this may be the last pain she causes me, and this may be the last poem I write for her.

Farewell, neighbor.

For those of you who haven't heard, Mr. Rogers passed away this morning. He was 74, and had been the host of "Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood" for thirty years. That's a lot of kids, sneakers, sweaters and owl puppets. A moment of silence for another Good Thing passing. (And you know what? Nobody will ever mourn the creator of Barney or the Teletubbies the way my generation is mourning now, or the way we mourned Jim Henson. To all you people out there involved with the creation of children's programming, please learn something.)



Due to an oversight on my part, I accidentally left my friends Hillary and Ken Tisdale off my blogroll, over there to the left. Sorry about that, guys.


Various and sundry.

The last couple of days – and, indeed, the next couple of weeks – have been/will be busy, full, erratic and fun. If weblog entries are brief, well, simply know that I'm trying to unplug and see more of my friends. Recent conversations have driven the point home that facetime is waaaay more fulfilling than emails, AIM conversations or weblog nitternatter.

I am not leaving, only scrambling to make it all fit.


Back on the air.

Our server was down all weekend due to it actually being physically moved to a new home, but now we're back, and regular posting will hopefully soon follow.


Today in Inkblots: Camper Van

Today in Inkblots: Camper Van Beethoven, Cigarettes and Carrot Juice critiqued by Cassie Wagner. You know, I'd heard of Camper Van Beethoven, and I'm a casual Cracker fan now, but I never knew there was a connection between the two until I read Cassie's review. Very cool.

I feel pretty...

An old friend of mine just called Inkblots "pretty". As a guy, I take that as a weird compliment for one of my designs, but I'm still flattered. :) The funny thing is that I consider this design to be pretty gender-neutral. What do you think?

(Heh. I just tried to imagine Inkblots with a raw, Rollins-esque design. So not happening.)


Today in Inkblots: Around the

Today in Inkblots: Around the Sound by Dawn Bustanoby. A collection of truly beautiful photographs from the Puget Sound area. I especially love the shot of the Space Needle and the Ferris Wheel... She's got a beautiful eye for colors.


From k10k comes the following buzzkill: both Shift and Cre@te Online are shuffing along after The Industry Standard and bidding us adieu. A confession: I never read Shift. The few times I picked up an issue at Borders, I wound up putting it right back down again because I was unimpressed by the whole package. I do, however, have quite a few issues of Cre@te floating around, and I'm sad to see it go. I'm nowhere near as bummed as I still am over not having The Industry Standard around anymore, but that's probably still just mourning for the excitement and confidence of this industry in the 90s. Now we're living in a recession, cowering from terrorist attacks, just begging for more attacks from not only terrorists or Iraq but the world in general as we tell the U.N. just where to stick it and practically announce our intention to start World War III... (I'm not even going to mention all the personal B.S. that's been going down.) I think I still have a couple issues of The Standard lying around – excuse me while I go tuck into a nice nostalgia bender.

And then I'm going to go and kick some ass.


Wuss rock.

Don't get me wrong. I love They Might Be Giants. But when your iPod drops "Birdhouse in Your Soul" into the mix right after a 15-minute full-rage rant by Henry Rollins, it's the mental equivalent of spark-tossing gear grinding, and it's all you can do not to toss the sucker across the room with a great earth-shattering furious roar.

I think I need to cut back on my Rollins intake.

Congratulations to the good Mr. Davis.

I feel like a heel for having missed this one for a couple of days, but a great big "congrats" to Joshua Davis, Flash master, playstation guru, interactive artist in the truest sense of the word, the Henry Rollins of the web and, as of February 15, a brand new dad. Way to go, big guy.

The effect of daily publishing on a weblog.

I just glanced over this page and realized how sparse my entries have become lately. Part of it's due to the nasty breakup, and a combination of not wanting to really discuss that here, the fact that I know she reads this weblog, and the simple truth that it's been the biggest thing on my mind for the last month-and-change. Another part has been the way I've buried myself in client work via my consulting company. And, of course, a third part has to do with the daily publishing taking up a great deal of the time I'd usually spend typing thoughts for this journal.

I'm hoping that will change in the next few weeks as some projects get finished up, some new projects get underway and I get on with my life in general. I've got some irons in the fire (as always) and I've been doing a great deal of reflecting on recent events, their impact and what lessons I can take from them. I'm healing, trying to shake off all the melodramatic nonsense that usually accompanies this kind of thing (no, I'm not going to blow off all my commitments and move to Paris) and getting back on track. These things just take a little while, that's all.

Today in Inkblots: The

Today in Inkblots: The Poet Who Didn't Show Up by Scott Poole. A terrifically irreverant poem from Scott Poole, whose poetry can be heard every Monday morning on Spokane Public Radio.


We'll be back tomorrow.

We've got a nice piece of work lined up for tomorrow, but I'm not coming through with the Feature for today. Sorry about that.

Life of a twentysomething blizzard-bound wuss.

My roommates and I shoveled out the driveway this morning, freeing my car from under two feet of the white stuff. A tip: don't do this right after eating a bowl of cereal – you get nauseous real quick. Worse, I'm still tired, and I probably did the least amount of real honest-to-God shoveling. Yet another sign that I need to really rededicate myself to this whole getting-in-shape thing. Whoof.


Today in Inkblots: Neutral on

Today in Inkblots: Neutral on a Moving Train by Ian Millhiser. In today's Voice posting, our local pundit argues that the perception of the Democrats as the preferred party for minorities has more to do with the Republicans' actively anti-minority behavior than any active Democratic pro-minority behavior.

Coming up tomorrow: I haven't decided yet. I'm going to do an On the Road, but while I was going to post my pictures from New Haven, I might go with a bunch of pictures from the blizzard currently paralyzing the D.C. area. Stay tuned.


What the...?

So Palm's new Tungsten W, which is supposed to be a Handspring Treo killer (in the same way that Adobe InDesign was billed as a "Quark killer"), hasn't even been released yet and it's already outdated. There's no Bluetooth on the thing and it doesn't run Palm OS 5, only Palm OS 4.1.1. What the heck? For five hundred and fifty dollars, I not only want Bluetooth on the S.O.B., I want a personal communications system with a built-in MP3 player, 802.11g and Rendezvous support for listening to streamed MP3s off a local wireless network and a wristwatch remote control. I swear, one of these days I'm just going to build the damned thing.

Holy white cats!

I laughed 'em off when I heard DC was supposed to get one to two feet of snow by Monday night. I'm not laughing anymore.

Holy cats!

Whoa. According to the good Mr. Gilmor, Google just bought Pyra, the tiny company that created Blogger. Wow. Watch for the fallout on this story to shake the blogosphere from coast to coast. I can't wait to see what some of our favorite ex-Pyra employees have to say about this... :(


Today in Inkblots: Blade

Today in Inkblots: Blade Runner by William R. Coughlan. Hm. I'm not sure what else to say in this little box aside from "Today in Inkblots: Blade Runner by William R. Coughlan." Perhaps I should move this daily feature to somewhere over there on the right. (Great, more sidebar stuff. Just what I need.)

Happy Valentine's Day.

For all of you out there in relationships, Happy Valentine's Day. For all of you single folks in my posse in the DC area, who wants to go out tonight and seek out our own revelry?

Significant others? We don't need no stinkin' significant others.


Today in Inkblots: hiatus. I

Today in Inkblots: hiatus. I was afraid of that. Looks like we've got one day dropped in our first week of going daily... Ah, well. Tomorrow we've a film review coming from William R. Coughlan. Stay tuned.

I joined the fray.

drugsWow. At moments like this, it's hard to decide whether you want to show how excited you are about something or if you should just play it cool. Today, one of my long-standing goals was realized: I had a story published in the fray. My story, "The Indian Princess", is a part of the larger "The Things We Do for Love", and can be found over at This just made my week.


Today in Inkblots: Shannon Farney's

Today in Inkblots: Shannon Farney's "Sainte Foy #1". Just squeaking in under the wire on this one, but hey, like I said, this first week might be a little wonky.


Uh, oops.

If you guys using Netscape noticed some weird hoodoo on the PHP pages, you might want to refresh them again sometime tonight. My man Jay and I found a bug that was blowing out the stylesheet on those browsers. Sorry about that.

Today in Inkblots. As of late yesterday evening, Inkblots is launching a new public experiment: we're trying to go daily. This may be very bumpy to start, and we may miss a few days here and there as we get all of our ducks in a row (getting all the content together on time, getting it laid out and posted on time, et cetera), but it's happening. A rough publishing calendar and more details are available right over here.

For today's On the Road update, we're taking our readers to with Jay Allen, of Enjoy!

A good article on McSweeney's.

An excellent article from Lorraine Adams in The American Prospect: The Write Stuff: From cult to culture, Dave Eggers and Co. are taking their idealism to the streets. Some interesting observations in there, including the following passage on their newfound stance on politics:

In 1840, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Margaret Fuller, founding editors of the Dial, published a letter to readers. The journal, Emerson wrote, was united against any convention that was "turning us to stone, which renounces hope, which looks only backward, which asks only such a future as the past, which suspects improvement, and holds nothing so much in horror as new views and the dreams of youth. ... And so with diligent hands and good intent we set down our Dial on the earth. We wish it may resemble that instrument in its celebrated happiness, that of measuring no hours but those of sunshine. Let it be one cheerful rational voice amidst the din of mourners and polemics."

While McSweeney's is hardly the Dial, and Eggers is no Emerson, there are interesting similarities. Optimism is only one. There are also commonalities between 826 Valencia and Bronson Alcott's Temple School, founded in 1834, with its colorblind admissions and emphasis on imagination to foster learning among children.

McSweeneyites also seem related to the pragmatist tradition, described in Louis Menand's The Metaphysical Club, a collective biography of Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., Charles Sanders Peirce, William James and John Dewey. While not their intellectual equals by any means, the McSweeneyites do seem to share that quartet's belief that ideas are, as Menand writes, "tools -- like forks and knives and microchips -- that people devise to cope with the world in which they find themselves. They believed that ideas are produced not by individuals, but by groups of individuals -- that ideas are social. ... Ideas should never become ideologies -- either justifying the status quo, or dictating some transcendent imperative for renouncing it."

Another favorite line:
There is an implied McSweeney's economics: What is valuable is made in batches, the hand of its maker much in evidence. There is a McSweeney's psychology: Previously outmoded warmth is defended with a force field of self-consciousness. And there is McSweeney's endorsed music: Exemplified by the band They Might Be Giants, it is a cross between understated rock and nursery chant, with quizzically cerebral lyrics.
Ah, my kind of people.


Making a few changes...

Note the switch from HTML to PHP. You may want to shift your bookmarks. :)


It's times like this, when I'm downloading a copy of Inkblots to back up, that I realize that this site is huge.

Don't look now, but...

Things are about to change.

Watch this space.


Back in Bethesda.

Just got back to the apartment. The trip was amazing. Aaron has cool friends, the school has cool architecture, and the whole experience provided a badly-needed kick in the pants. The only trouble now is that this here apartment is an ambition-sucking zone half of the time. Of course, that just might be the six-hour car trip talking. I'll see how world-ruling I feel tomorrow.

Quick update before crashing...

Yale rules. I've gotta go to grad school. And Henry Rollins gives the best concerts ever.


Off to Yale with The New Wave Fabulists.

Yesterday I headed down to Barnes and Noble in search of the recently-released Conjunctions 39: The New Wave Fabulists. If you haven't heard of this yet, whoo boy – let me tell you, people like myself who enjoy good, quality sci-fi/horror/fantasy ("fabulist" literature, apparently) should be beside themselves with joy when they see the contributors' list. Edited by Peter Straub, it includes new short stories from Neil Gaiman, Jonathan Carroll, James Morrow and China Mieville, among others. So far I've only read the stories by these folks – the ones I was already familiar with – but I'm looking forward to exploring some of the strangers this weekend. I'm heading up to Yale to go see a Henry Rollins concert with Aaron, one of my best friends from college. Expect an On the Road from this one, as it's just dumped about six inches of snow on the East Coast, which means that if Yale's architecture is anywhere near as beautiful as I remember, it's only going to be amplified by this frosting. See you next week!


Before I sign off for the night...

Happy birthday, Mom.


Over at Salon today, we find the following harrowing story:

At the end of the first week of January, the Princeton Survey Research Associates polled more than 1,200 Americans on behalf of the Knight Ridder newspaper chain. They asked a very simple question: "To the best of your knowledge, how many of the September 11 hijackers were Iraqi citizens?" ...Of those surveyed, only 17 percent knew the correct answer: that none of the hijackers were Iraqi. Forty-four percent of Americans believe that most or some of the hijackers were Iraqi; another 6 percent believe that one of the hijackers was a citizen of that most notorious node in the axis of evil. That leaves 33 percent who did not know enough to offer an answer.

Would you people wake up, please? There are going to be a lot of people dying because of the American people's susceptibility to the U.S. propaganda department. (Tip of the hat to the good Steven Berlin Johnson.)


Contextual literary criticism.

So I'm on this email discussion list with a bunch of my old classmates from Kenyon, and somehow we got onto the topic of "meaning" in literature. I almost never go for that kind of bait, but this time I decided to bite. The result was a short essay on my philosophy of meaning, which I'd like to share with you (and archive for my own personal reference) here. Apologies for any linguistic philosopher arrogance that may follow. :)

For the longest time I ranted and railed against this notion that we can
pick apart any work, rip out the symbols and cast them on the ground like so
many scryer's bones in order to learn its secret meaning. The older I get,
though, the more I feel like looking for meaning isn't such a bad idea, but
the notion that there is only one meaning to a work, like some encrypted
message waiting for the right decoder ring, feels wrong.

Literature is language, frozen in mid-leap. The little squiggles that form
letters and words themselves are devoid of any objective meaning, save from
our recognition that someone arranged them in a particular pattern for some
kind of purpose. That's how we know we're supposed to try and interpret
them. (The same goes for modern art -- even a seemingly meaningless pattern
can become "art" when somebody says it's meant to be seen as such, because
that's the trigger that sets us trying to interpret it.) The trouble with
trying to set a particular "meaning" is that all readers come to those
squiggles under different circumstances, and almost certainly under
different circumstances than the ones under which the squiggles were
written. To get back to Evangeline's associate, and I'll quote that point

"Art is (or should be, according to this guy) the communication of specific
thoughts and/or emotions, so any piece of artwork wherein the viewer (or
reader) cannot grasp the message the artist meant to convey is a failure."

This definition is impossible. No two people will ever take away the same
thoughts/emotions from any kind of artistic work, for the same reason that
no two people ever get the same thoughts/emotions from ANY kind of work: we
translate those little squiggles into thoughts using tools forged from our
own personal experiences. This is why I think that any given work can't
have "one true meaning", but a myriad of different meanings based on who is
writing or reading it.

If readers want to gain a clearer understanding of what the author was
thinking when it was written, then I think they should search the context in
which the work was created. What was happening in the author's life? What
was happening in the world at the time? Those are the keys to what the work
probably "meant" to the person creating it.

If readers want to understand what a work means to THEM, then they should do
the same thing for their own lives. Do they think there's a
postmodern/feminist/vegetarian message to be taken away from ULYSSES? If
they take something like that away, then fine, there must have been
something in it that triggered that reaction in them -- only that "meaning"
may have only come as a result of their own experiences. Did the author
have any postmodern/feminist/vegetarian experiences? If so, he might have
intended to infuse the work with that meaning, and both reader and writer
have that element in common. If not, then he probably didn't -- but that
doesn't mean that the work can't have that meaning to the reader.

If I ever become a professor, or try to get back into the academic writing
profession (apologies for all the intellectual sloppiness in this, BTW, I'm
really rusty), I'll ask my students to do contextual reports on a work in
order to analyze it for meaning. Whether they study the context under which
this "frozen language" was dispatched or the context under which it was
received, well, that should be up to them. A possible final exam question:
Would a reader in 16th century France get the same mental images and take
away the same impressions from reading THE ODYSSEY as someone in 21st
century China?

Quote week continues.

This morning's quote comes to you courtesy of the geniuses over at Play:

"The real measure of success is the number of experiments that can be
crowded into 24 hours."
– Thomas Edison



My e-mail's been down all day, and I'm pissed about it. This is the one URL I have that's not yet been transferred over to my own server, and I think it's just about time we fixed that particular slight. Hrmf.

In other news, I would be horribly, horribly remiss if I didn't post something about the 2003 SXSW Web Design finalists being posted. Go check 'em out! (FWIW, the only category that Inkblots was legible for was the Redesign/Relaunch category, and that one's got Scene 360, Zeldman and k10k as three of its five finalists, so I'm not feeling dissed at all. Now, if some of the stuff happens this year that I want to happen, maybe next year will be different. Mwa ha ha.)

On second thought...

I might just switch over to something like Movable Type, if I can convince it to allow me to post all my posts to my personal weblog at and my Editorial posts here. Hmm.


The appropriateness of elements.

For a long time now, I've been wondering exactly how appropriate it really is to have a weblog here, as the editorial for a magazine. Should an editor post about his love life? Are there limits to what an editor should feel comfortable posting from an official position? I'd say so. While it adds humanity to the site, I expect it also makes things a tad uncomfortable.

May I suggest bookmarking If things go dormant here rather suddenly, the safe bet is that I've retreated to more personal territory.

Good quote for a Monday morning.

Say what you will about the man, this is just what a man needs to hear first thing on a crazy Monday morning:

"The problems of the world cannot be solved by the skeptics or the cynics, whose horizons are limited by the obvious realities. We need people who dream of things that never were."
– John F. Kennedy


True, true.

A sense of perspective, brought to you by your friends over at (great URL).



Is it ethically acceptable to run a four-year-old picture of yourself with your bio, when everything else in the site is brand new?

Color theory.

It's ridiculous, really, how colors play with us. I'd been readying my new personal website for the last month-and-some-change, but now I think I'm even going to redesign the interim site. See, the new color palette was black, white and a nice golden-orange, with some blue tones for highlights. Now, it just looks too depressing. I think maybe cranberry is the way to go with this one.

Not again.

On the news of this morning's space shuttle disintegration: I wonder how this will affect the future of NASA. Since Columbia was NASA's oldest shuttle, they could argue that this is exactly why NASA needs increased funding, both to ensure that their fleet is completely shipshape and to help accelerate research into alternative forms of spacecraft (like the space plane concept). And, of course, given our current economic climate, I'm sure there will be lots of people wondering whether the space program is still worth the risk and the expense at all. It should be interesting to see what all goes down over the next couple of days.

Surprise, surprise.

Bush and Co. have cancelled the upcoming poetry symposium because they were "afraid it would be politicized". Hello? Poets have always been political. Cowards.

Thank God.

The hardest month in my recent memory is over. Dear sweet Jesus, I hope things look up from here.

Rabbit frickin' rabbit.