Geoffrey Long
Tip of the Quill: Archives

May 2003 Archives

The Big Dig.

Today, we started excavating the back yard of the house in order to install a brick pathway from the gate at the side all the way back and around the pool. Boy, am I going to feel this one tomorrow. Shovelling is great exercise, and it's going to look great once it's done, but right now... Whoof.


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Also in trouble: Reading Rainbow.

Wow. I hadn't realized that Reading Rainbow, the PBS show hosted by LeVar "Geordi LaForge" Burton, has been going on for twenty years. I remember that show from when I was a kid... And now it's in danger of going off the air if additional funding cannot be found. Full story at cnn.com. Any wealthy philanthropists out there willing to help our kids keep reading?

(Interesting element of note: there's not a single Star Trek reference on that page. Kudos to Mr. Burton for nurturing such a broad career.)

The return of the genre magazine?

Between Conjunctions 39: The New Wave Fabulists and The McSweeney's Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales, I'm wondering if we're seeing a literary resurgence towards "genre" fiction. One can only hope – a swing away from the midlife-crisis-on-paper school of literature can only be healthy. That, and there's a real shortage of good, literary genre magazines out there. For those of us with a taste for the slightly fantastic, it's difficult to find places to break into the market.

Quick polish on The Kingdom.

I just did a quick polish job on the design I'd posted on The Kingdom, for any of you that checked that out yesterday.

Feedback, as always, is appreciated.

Save Fantagraphics!

Jimmy CorriganFor those of you who enjoy the work of Chris Ware (of Jimmy Corrigan fame) or The Comics Journal, the time has come to take action. Fantagraphics Books got hosed to the tune of $70,000 when their distributor went bankrupt last year, and now they need to move as much inventory as possible to stay afloat. If you don't want to see a good number of comic artists – and I do mean artists – disappear, take some time today to browse through their online store and pick up something good (the aforementioned Jimmy Corrigan goes for about $28).

The full press release follows.

Fantagraphics Books Needs Your Help!

Buy Books! Keep Us Alive!

To Comics Lovers Throughout the World:

Fantagraphics Books has just celebrated its 27th year publishing many of the finest cartoonists from all over the world as well as our flagship publication, the magazine people love to hate, The Comics Journal. We are proud of our long-term commitment to comics as an art form and our dogged determination to push excellence down everybody's throats. This is all very well and good but it doesn't mean much in the face of brute economics - and it's the wall of brute economics that we've just hit, hard.

Due to two major financial obstacles over the last two years, we're hard against it.

Our former and now bankrupt book trade distributor went out of business owing us over $70,000 - which we will never see. (To add insult to injury, we learned that the owner is selling copies of our books that he should've returned on e-bay!) This unexpected shortfall necessitated taking out a couple loans which have now come due. In late 2001, our line was picked up by the W.W. NORTON COMPANY, who took over our bookstore distribution, and has done a magnificent job of providing us unprecedented access to the bookstore market. Inexperience with the book trade resulted in our erring on the side of overprinting our books too heavily throughout 2002, so that our anticipated profit is in fact sitting in our warehouse in the form of books. Loans must be paid in cash, not books. The only way to get out of this hole we've dug ourselves into is to sell those books. Which is where, we hope, you come in.

Over the last few weeks, we've worked to fix our in-house problems (which included, most painfully, laying off several fine and long-term employees). We have put in place a system of checks and balances by which we will watch our inventory growth scrupulously. But, we have a debt to pay down and wolves at the door. It's so severe that this month we envisaged shutting down our active publishing, seeking outside investors, or similarly odious measures. (Fantagraphics continues to be owned 100% by Messrs. Gary Groth and Kim Thompson. We'd like it to remain that way.)

If you've respected what Fantagraphics stands for and what we've done for the medium, if you've enjoyed our books, and if you want to insure that this proud tradition continues into this new and ominous century, we're asking you to help us now in our especial hour of need by buying some books. Put simply, we need to raise about $80,000 above our usual sales over the next month, and the only way to do that is to convert books into cash.

We've spent the last quarter century trying hard to produce the best comics the world has ever seen. You've rewarded us over the years with your loyal patronage, your moral support, your praise, your intelligent and honest feedback, all of which are more than we could ever have hoped for. We know we have tens of thousands of loyal readers: if even a fraction of you come forward and order two or three books that you've been meaning to buy, we'll be over this hump. We've published some some of the best books ever over the last year -Gene Deitch's (yes, that Gene Deitch!) THE CAT ON A HOT THIN GROOVE; B. KRIGSTEIN, Greg Sadowski's definitive biography of the pioneering artist from the '50s; the magnificent FRANK collection; and the third volume of the extraordinary KRAZY KAT series. Our publishing plans for 2003 include a huge coffee table book by Will Elder (WILL ELDER: MAD PLAYBOY OF ART); KRIGSTEIN COMICS, a 240 page follow-up collection of Krigstein's best comics from the '50s, and new collections and graphic novels by Gilbert Hernandez, Jason, Dave Cooper, Robert Crumb, A.B. Frost, Bill Griffith, Gary Panter...

We already sell books by mail, so, as clich├ęd as it sounds, we really do have operators standing by. You can view out catalogue online. You can order by calling our 800 number or on-line at our web site (all ordering information below.)

If this was a standard pitch, we'd offer you some extra incentive - a discount or free books or knicknacks or whatnot. But, it's not. We're asking those of you who believe we've contributed something worthwhile and meaningful to help us continue to do so, that's all. We need the full retail value of our books. But we can offer something that won't cost us any money: anyone (individually or collectively) who buys $500 worth of books from us will get a personal phone call from Gary Groth thanking you for saving Fantagraphics' ass. Think how much fun this could be at a party!

via FAX: 206-524-2104

via mail: FANTAGRAPHICS , 7563 Lake City Way NE, Seattle, WA 98115

Secure Internet Orders: http://www.fantagraphics.com

phone: 206-524-6165 or 800-657-1100

Doing background tiling before tiling was hip (again).

So Evan just redesigned again, and his new look is very... I'm not sure if "Arts and Crafts" is the phrase I'm looking for, but it's definitely pretty. He's jumped on the squidfingers bandwagon, like Matt and countless others.

If anyone's wondering where the Inkblots background pattern came from, it's a modified (with permission!) design from the one and only Don Barnett. He has a number of other tiles available as well – check 'em out right over here.


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Welcome to The Kingdom.

The KingdomSo Derek's posting of songs has me thinking about other things that I could share. Since I'm not to that stage yet with my own music, I've decided to post an excerpt from my other novel project, The Kingdom, over at geoffreylong.com.

In a nutshell, The Kingdom is the story of two brothers on the West Coast. The younger brother, in L.A., has fallen in with a group of guerrilla artists that take the "guerrilla" part a little too seriously, and are about to run into trouble. The older brother, in Seattle, is trying to get over his ex-girlfriend, who left him for another woman. It's a little weird, a little Lynchian, and its chapters are probably way too short, but what the hey. Another thing to note: Pi St. John is a very nebulous character and is still taking shape in both novels, so bear with me.

Feedback, as always, is appreciated.

A challenge to the iTunes store.

So my recent barometer for the success of Apple's iTunes Music Store has been the debut album by The Thorns, the new folk-rock supergroup made up of Matthew Sweet, Pete Droge and Shawn Mullins. It's a little Crosby, Stills & Nash, a little The Mamas and the Papas... Close harmonies, great guitars. Great stuff.

Anyway, it came out last week. This week, it showed up in the iTunes Store, but only as a partial album, which apparently means you can't buy the whole thing, only as 13 $.99 singles. The album itself is available at Amazon for $9.99. Added weirdness: when comparing the track listings on the iTunes store and at Amazon, they're the same. No missing tracks. So how is this a partial album? Is there a hidden track they didn't feel was appropriate to include? What's going on here?

That said, there's a lot of good music on the iTunes store that has me clutching my wallet and saying "No, no, no!" The new Joshua Redman album, Beyond, sounds super-smooth, as does the new album by Pat Metheny. There's some old Depeche Mode on there that I always meant to pick up, and some Jackson Browne that sounds really interesting. There's some Django Reinhardt and some Miles Davis... And there's some great stuff in there that I can testify is truly great, like the readings by Jack Kerouac and the new album by Pete Yorn. Fellow media addicts, guard your bank accounts with your lives.


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Why does academia have to be so joyless?

Maybe it's just a different type of joy, but whenever I sit down to leaf through some academic journals to see what kind of thinking is going on in the ivory towers these days, I always get depressed. Why does academia always seem so joyless? Why is academic writing so dry, why does it constantly focus on the tearing-down rather than the building-up? Why is so much of the work coming from creative writing programs so bleak? Why are the papers coming out of comparative literature and English literature programs so mind-numbingly dull? Where's the happiness, the joie de vivre, the signs of people enjoying themselves?

Sigh. Maybe I should just aim to earn an honorary doctorate from somewhere, somehow, someday.


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Photographic proof.

My good man Derek has just posted the photos from Fray Cafe 3 at SXSW this year. I'm here, my good man Scott Andrew LaPera is here, Jish is here, an extremely accurate photo of Ben is here, and Brad is here.

I miss these guys. On to Sedona!


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Doing OK, all told.

There's a big, fat orange cat sleeping on my bed. A late lunch was had, consisting primarily of half a my-God-that's-huge Baja Fresh burrito and some fresh-baked cookies. It's a gray, overcast Saturday, and I will probably finish it by working or reading some more of The Da Vinci Code.

I am not in Ohio, alas, due to an extreme disinclination to spend sixteen hours in a car for two weekends in a row. This, double alas, means I'm not getting to see my old Kenyon friends, as I'd hoped.

Still, aside from that, all is right with the world.


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Free Wilco.

Did you know that Wilco, the alt-country geniuses behind last year's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, have released a free EP? Anyone can stream it, and owners of YHF can download it. Swanky.

Bonus: I Am Trying to Break Your Heart, the documentary about the troubled birth of the aforementioned smash hit album, is now available on DVD. Even if you're unfamiliar with Wilco, the movie is well worth watching as a report card for the music industry and how artistic experimentation can be snubbed by the suits and celebrated by the masses. That, and it's really beautiful cinema to boot.

Tempted by the dark side.

I don't know if y'all remember me kvetching about Apple's yawnworthy trend in desktop industrial design lately, but if you do, then you'll understand why I got chills when I saw the new cases from Alienware. Not only are the desktop cases certifiably cool, but the laptops are swanky too. Note the chameleon color option – an irridescent laptop. Wow. Add to that the ability to tote around two batteries (a feature I've lamented ever since I made the jump from Kerouac, my PowerBook G3/400 "Lombard", to Gandalf, my PowerBook G4/667). This has me seriously considering buying a new machine sometime later this summer. Mmmm. Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne on an Alienware Area 51 laptop. Mmmm.

Scott Andrew never ceases to amaze.

Gosh dang it, would somebody give this boy a record deal already?

This song's going to be stuck in my head all damn day.


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The sound of a plotline deflating.

Rats. I just hit chapter 46 of The Da Vinci Code – a surefire way to tell when a novel is beach material: the chapter numbers run to 40, 50, 60, 120 – and one of my main plot devices just surfaced. Darn. Further, the author handled it fairly well, but he still made me wince with some shaky suspension-of-disbelief stuff. Which, of course, made me realize how ludicrous it would probably sound in my book. Back to the drawing board.

Maybe it's time to write my Twentysomething novel instead. I've been considering doing a small genre hop, to write a Nick Hornby-esque book for twentysomething guys, but I'm not 100% convinced that I could do it justice yet. Somebody once told me that a surefire sign that things are awry in one's life is the inclination to start doing stupid things just to have something to say at The Fray. The same can be said about living to have something to write about... But yet, isn't that what writers have always done? Gone to sea, trekked into the Yukon, gone off in search of adventures, so that they can not only live better lives but collect better source material?

As always, I have more reading to do, more living to do, and a whole lot more writing to do.

(A brief aside: are any of you familiar with Aimee Bender? She popped up on my radar today as someone whose work I should read, but I have so many books on my list already... Is her stuff worth extending the list?)

Fie, Internet!

A brief aside: I got more done yesterday sitting in a van in a parking lot for eight hours (a story I'm not sure my NDA allows me to truly spin here) than I've gotten done in weeks. Cursed Internet! How it sucks time and money! But blessed Internet, for it gives such sweet iSuccor.

Pun intended, kids. Pipe down, you back in the cheap seats.

On pageturners.

So I'm reading The Da Vinci Code. It's a pretty good summer blockbuster, although I'm more than a little peeved that its author beat me to the punch with a large number of the elements from my own novel. Grrr. What it is helping me do, though, is remind me why I loved reading and writing, and helping to rekindle old flames.

That said, there are a couple moments of really, really bad writing in this book. There's room in the field for improvement.


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Apple's iTunes Music Store needs more music.

The subject line says it all, I believe. The debut album from The Thorns just came out, and I can't download it from Apple. The last issue of Paste had a great anthology CD (as usual), and almost none of the artists on it are available from Apple. Basically, I never want to purchase a physical CD again, but so far it's just not there yet.


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Furious angels.

Wicked cool video for Rob Dougan's "Furious Angels", a song featured in The Matrix: Reloaded, which is also somewhat like the kind of music I plan to make as soon as I can get Reason working properly, dangit.

(The Art spoke also needs work, it would appear.)

The interminable issue of balance.

It's amazing. Most people out there who have worked at some consulting or research firm (like The Advisory Board) will know what a spider graph is: it's a method of plotting multiple data points on the tines of some multi-spoked object like a star, asterisk or bicycle wheel. The center is 0, the ends of the spokes are 10, and then you connect the plotted points with lines to come up with a graph that looks a little like a spiderweb. Basically this allows you to see which areas you're doing well in and which need help. If all the data points clock in at around the same distance from the center, you've achieved balance.

My personal spider graph is always, always skewed, but never the same way twice. This is because I'm still learning the art of balance – of dividing my time and attention between art, business/finances, love, health, and friendships. This week one spike peaked while another bottomed out. Next week I'm going to have to bend over backwards to fix that.

Another el quicko movie review: Down With Love was fairly fantastic. There were a couple startlingly risque sequences, a couple head-scratchers, a couple tired old groaners, and a large number of flat-out hysterical moments. You should go, really.

Tomorrow morning I'll be in Boston, attending Jesica's graduation at Boston University, assuming all goes according to plan. Possible issues that might preclude the success of this mission include time, weather, directions... You know, the usual. The drive's about eight hours. I need to be there around 10. You can see the posting time of this entry. Oy vey.


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Support your boutique T-shirt designer.

So I've been tooling through the shops lately, looking for cool things to wear this summer. For the most part, I've been disappointed -- much of it's the same old, same old, and a lot of it smacks of corporate droning. While I don't mind wearing branded clothing if it's subtle, nine times out of ten the branded stuff is blatant and boring. If I'm going to wear T-shirts in the summer, they're either going to be solid colors or they've got to have some style.

Enter the online boutiques. I just received the two shirts I ordered from Tank Theory, a nifty little designer store whose fusion of urban style with curlicues and subtle touches I really, really enjoy. They're made of nice fabric, not that cheap stuff the Gap uses, and the designs are pretty intelligent. My recommendations: the Total Information Awareness shirt and the Reconstructivism shirt. Way cool, and I probably won't run into a dozen other guys wearing the same shirt the same time I'm wandering through Georgetown.

"Reloaded" is right.

So a group of friends and I -- "a group" being Aurelia, Brian, Becca, Katherine, Nick Ferraro, and K.C. -- went to go see a preview screening last night of The Matrix ][. "Reloaded" is about right. All of the slowed-down bullet-time tricks felt like, well, more of the same. There were some scenes that were truly spectacular, like one of the best car chase scenes I've ever seen, but others... I'm no prude, but this one had what felt like some over-the-top sex scenes in it. Here's a crazy question: do porn stars in the Matrix have those little black ports on their arms, backs, legs and torsos? Watching Keanu and Carrie-Anne going at it with those little black circles everywhere was some new sci-fi kink. Which just goes to show, making a blockbuster Hollywood flick can make two comic-book geeks millionaires and give them carte blanche to make more movies, but it cannot get them laid. Yeesh.

One thing I did appreciate in this new one, though, was the way the Wachowskis didn't abandon philosophy. In the first one, it was all about epistemology, the study of knowledge and how we know things. (In actuality, the entire Matrix schtick is just an elaborate extension of the whole "brain in a jar" argument.) In the second, the brothers tackle causality. Which has me wondering what the philosophy du jour will be in the third one: metaphysics? Logic problems? The ontological argument for the existence of God? The mind boggles.


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The Dustbin of History, my ass.

JD Lasica, senior editor of Online Journalism Review, offers an interesting rebuttal to The New York Times' recent article, "'New Media': Ready for the Dustbin of History?" by Steve Lohr. Both pieces are interesting reading, and a discussion well worth having.

Like Mr. Lasica, I am agog at the Times' exclusion of weblogs in the piece. This strikes me as a deeply disturbing oversight, especially in the wake of such notable events as Google's purchase of Pyra/Blogger, Six Apart's successful round of financing and subsequent expansion, and the rumblings of AOL working on a weblogging tool of their own. What disturbs me even more, though, is the way that Mr. Lohr says first that "It's now obvious nobody yet knows how to create a successful, and truly new, medium", and then, near the end of the article, says this:


So the promised wonders of new media may yet arrive. In the meantime, the Internet has changed daily life in ways most people could not have imagined in 1994. People manage their lives and relationships via e-mail and instant messaging, and second-graders are skilled Google searchers.

It looks to me like it's already here. Further, saying the Internet isn't a "truly new" medium is like saying that television wasn't a truly new medium because we already had motion pictures, or that radio wasn't a truly new medium because we already had performance halls. The Internet most certainly is a truly new medium because it takes previously existing components (text, video, sound) and introduces new ones (interactivity, exponentially lower barriers to entry, an almost-utterly obliterated line between user and creator, and global community tools the likes of which we've never seen).

New Media on the Internet isn't a failure. New Media is the Internet, and it's epic. If you must adhere to the magazine metaphor, the most beautiful thing about the Net is the democritization of publishing, something previously only seen on a small scale in the zine industry. The only major differences between most zines and their big corporate counterparts were money and distribution. In many cases, it sure as hell wasn't the quality of the content. Now, weblogs are the new zines. Think of these half-million webloggers as columnists and their blogrolls as a big, huge table of contents, and you'll be getting close.

The deepest ridiculousness of Mr. Lohr's article is in his assertion that the Internet isn't a "new medium" and then his subsequent judgement of it as a failure because it doesn't adhere to the rules of old media. To truly understand the success of the web, you must surrender the idea of an advertiser-driven, encapsulated, quarterly/monthly/weekly collection of work being the only form of media -- the web is boundless, ever-growing, creator-supported and being updated every second. I'd call that a fantastic success, but then, I don't write for The New York Times.

I need to work on fixing that.


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Music within Reason.

ReasonSlowly, bit by bit, Nick and I have been building up a small music studio here at the house. All right, he's been doing most of the buying and I've just been playing with the new toys, but still: our house now contains a kickass trombone, a digital baby grand, a very impressive microphone, my tenor saxophone and his old euphonium. My favorite new toy, though, is a copy of Reason from Propellerhead Software. Reason is real pro-level digital musicmaking software. I futzed around with for fifteen minutes and already had a workable drum beat, and the program has tons of high-quality music samples. I have yet to wire it up to a real MIDI keyboard – that comes next – but from what I've seen already this is going to be fun. Shave my head and call me Moby.


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Zine Theory.

It's Friday, the globally-recongized Day of Slack. To facilitate said slacking, I'd like to share my recent recommendations from the world of magazines. All three should provide plenty of escape from a gray, overcast, humdrum Friday afternoon.

For all of us who still pine for the meteoric drop in quality suffered by Wired in the last decade or so, Res may be the answer. Originally dedicated solely to digital filmmaking, Res underwent a radical career crisis about a year ago and announced they were remaking themselves as a "resolution-independent" culture magazine. By expanding their focus to encompass art, music, lifestyle and culture as well, Res effectively became what Wired was in 1995. This is cause for celebration.

In other Zine news, folks like me who enjoy their rock with a little folkier twist should check out Paste, whose tagline "signs of life in music and culture" is pretty accurate. Paste is a bimonthly publication that ships with a free CD which, so far, has been utterly spectacular. They cover new bands like The Thorns, older artists like Lucinda Williams, and everything in between, so long as it qualifies as genuinely good music. Copies can usually be found at Borders, and D.C.-area folks can also find it at Jammin' Java in Arlington.

One final element to round out this trifecta: Strata just released their long-awaited fourth issue, and as always, it's a beautifully-designed, insightful piece of work. The schtick here is "the common man's fifteen minutes", which results in interviews with random people snagged off the street, art inspired by everyday life and a couple really good essays. Strata has a lot in common with Inkblots, truth be told, which is probably one of the main reasons why I enjoy it so much – which means that if you like hanging around here, you should probably check them out too.

So go on, shoo -- it's Friday, and you're not really working anyway, are you?


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And the rain rain rain came down down down.

It's a thunderstormy morning here outside of Washington, D.C., one of those spring storms that makes the grass even greener and confirms my fear that we will have to mow the lawn with a weed whacker. But the thunder is nice, and the rain is soft, not the driving, torrential, weapons-grade rain that you get sometimes in the winter.

Last night I spent some quality time with my old friend SarahScott, which was far exceeding lovely. We talked for hours about people and relationships and books and philosophy and X-Men and West Wing and, you know, the stuff you talk about when you're falling back in step with an old friend. We also spent some time getting her psycho kitty stoned. You can read about it over at her weblog (which I just realized doesn't offer permalinks -- another grump for LiveJournal).

I wound up leaving her place in the wee small hours of the morning, and decided to stop at a gas station for caffeine. Now, I love gas stations because they always have the newest, weirdest test-market drinks, which I'm always a sucker for. I still fiercely miss Crystal Pepsi, Mountain Dew Code Red is exactly the same as the kiddie cocktails I grew up with going to Red Lobster with my Grandma and Grandpa Alexander, and Vanilla Coke is the shiznit. (Important side note: I attribute any weight loss I've been able to pull off recently to the introduction of both Diet Mountain Dew Code Red and Diet Vanilla Coke -- the added cherry and vanilla tastes sufficiently mask that liquid-styrofoam taste that most diet sodas have to make those two drinkable!) Anyway, there in the cooler was a strange, alien-looking orange Mountain Dew. Mountain Dew Livewire. Okay, sure.

The execs at Mountain Dew have hit upon a brilliant formula: take any pre-existing soda, drop the carbonation by about 20%, increase the caffeine by a similar amount, and give it a new "hip" name. Dissolve a caffeine pill in a bottle of IBC that's been sitting out overnight and wham! Mountain Dew Electric Root. In other words, this orange Mountain Dew tastes like mildly carbonated, super-caffeinated McDonald's orange drink. Not good, not bad, just odd. However, it did the job. I made it home just fine. And then spent the next couple of hours wide awake, surfing the Net. If anyone got an email from me at 5:30 this morning, that's why. Ugh.

There has to be a way to concoct a two-part solution to this problem, like a beverage that comes in a half-and-half container (anybody remember the styrofoam McBLT containers that caused all the hubbub back in the 80s/early 90s?). The first half is a super-caffeinated Jolt/Red Bull/Mountain Dew concoction, and the second is the antidote, so you can shut it off and frickin' go to sleep when you get home. Calling all biochemists -- I've got your billion-dollar product right here. Call me when it's ready.

One final note: big huge enormous mondo super props to my friend Carrie, who graduated this week with her Master of Public Administration in Earth Systems Science, Policy and Management from the Bio-Dome. Attagirl! I'm proud of you!


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Pynchon revealed?

From The Guardian, a new documentary about the life of Thomas Pynchon.

Personally, I think the artistic inclination towards reclusivity has to do with the fact it's easier to think in solitude. But that might just be me.

The ghost of Ben Kweller.

All right, so this is one of those funky moments. This morning, I bought Sha Sha by Ben Kweller. It's really good, but that's not the funky part. That came later, when Nick filled me in on a nifty piece of data.

I'm living in Ben Kweller's house.

This house, now owned by the good Mr. Bastin, used to be owned by the Kwellers. As in Ben's parents. As in the house where Ben Kweller grew up.

Whoa. Cool.


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Homina homina homina.

All right, this is probably one of the lamest things I've ever posted to this journal, but what the hey. Allison Mack, who plays Chloe Sullivan on Smallville, is sporting a new hairdo in this week's episode. Mrowr.

Conquer-Monkeys!

Garry Trudeau has such a great way with words, bless him.

No, folk you.

Via Derek: Shannon Campbell and Kersten Hanson make some darn fine music as the folk twosome Folk You Harder. It's a shame they disbanded, but you can find some MP3s of their music, along with Ms. Campbell's other impressive work, right over here. Very, very nice. (Want... Bigger.... iPod...)


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But... But... But...

But I don't want Aaron Sorkin to leave The West Wing. Sorkin is what gives that show its rhythm, its beat, its fantastic comic cadence. Losing him will lobotomize the best hour on television. Darn.


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Netscape. Ah, Netscape.

Anybody who says we haven't made a whole ton of progress in the last couple of years should try designing a site explicitly for Netscape 4.7. Oy frickin' vey. I'd forgotten how abysmally that browser renders everything.


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No, really -- Danger! Danger!

So I just got my account on the iTunes Music Store working (you know, you'd think Apple would put a little "insert no spaces" note by the "enter your credit card number" space, but whatever). Damn. This sucker's going to be dangerous. Especially considering the recent reports of digital kiosks for purchasing and downloading straight to your iPod. The beauty of doing cross-country trips with stops at Apple Stores for iPod refills is a real mindwhirler.

Couple things I'd like to see: the week's Billboard top 40, since there are songs I've heard on the radio but I don't know the names, and better downloadable album art. How cool would it be to get readable liner notes? I don't give a rat's ass about printing 'em out, but I'd like to at least read 'em.

When the indies get on board, this service is going to be the bee's knees. That's right, the bee's frickin' knees, baby.

Danger! Danger!

May Day! May Day!

All right, that was admittedly super-lame. But it does bring into question just how a holiday focused around celebrating rebirth, springtime, and poles wrapped in strands of flowers and other whatnot came to signify danger in maritime lingo...? It seems like a bit of a stretch, unless the manly-man sailor in charge of penning the naval lexicon suffered a traumatic experience with a crown of posies at a young, impressionable age. Hmmm.

Right now, the only major danger I'm in concerns my credit card and those spiffy new iPods they just released. I can't buy one, I can't. I have the car problem to deal with, and rent, and so on and so forth. But wow. And the new top-of-the-line is six times the size of my dinky little 5GB, and slimmer to boot.

Maybe I'll make myself an impossible deal: if I can hit my new target weight, I'll buy one. The trouble is, this whole getting-into-shape-for-the-summer schtick is already getting expensive. I got hooked on watching an episode of The X-Files while working out in the mornings, which is great except that each season on DVD is $130. There are nine seasons. Ouch. That said, once I plow through the rest of them (I'm currently on season six, and season seven is meant to be released this month), I'll need something else to do while exercising, and I'm seriously eyeballing the idea of going cross-country hike-jogging for my cardio work. For which a sleeker, lighter, roomier iPod would be ideal. Hmm.

Final bit of dorky news: X-Men 2: X-Men United comes out tomorrow. I shouldn't be this stoked. This isn't even the incarnation that I really enjoy (I got hooked on Ultimate X-Men about two years ago, thank you Bill Coughlan), but I'm still jazzed. There's a shirt at the local comic shop that I'm so tempted to get and wear to the premiere: it's just a navy blue T-shirt with the X logo on the breast. Nice, subtle, cool. But still dorky. I'm not sure if I can bring myself to be that dorky.

So, yeah. X-Men 2, and then Finding Nemo, and then The Matrix Reloaded, followed by Bad Boys 2 and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. It's going to be a good summer. Pass the popcorn.

Cool clothes, cute models.

Normally models don't do it for me. The Ralph Lauren waifs with the vapid stares? Yeah, nothing. That's probably because I like my women brilliant, with large doses of personality.

Which is why Chicago-based Zoe Rothberg's xnx designs made me smile this morning, especially the girls in the quasi-military outfits. Would I come up and say "hi" to a girl wearing that at a party? Probably. And that takes a lot for me – my friends will testify to my perpetual wallflower status around people I don't know. But dang – someone with the soul to wear an outfit like that is someone I've gotta know. :)

Author, Designer, Troublemaker, Person, Minstrel.

So Derek just pulled a Scott Andrew and posted an MP3 of one of his songs, A Face Among the Rest. It's really pretty good – although Derek's voice reminds me of someone that I can't quite put my finger on. Hmmm.

I actually think there's something in the wind, because this is something I've been contemplating doing as well. Lately I've been scribbling lyrics in my pocket notebook, and while so far 99% of them have been utter garbage, some of them aren't so bad. The worst is that there are two songs still floating just out of reach, and it's totally frustrating because I just know that they're the good ones, as opposed to the dreck that's been showing up so far. And yes, Derek, my songs are just like yours – they're all about women. I'm trying to stay away from the "just another done-me-wrong song" genre and focus on some postironic flat-out love songs. Given the events of the last couple of months, this is a little tricky, but I have some little fragments about luck dragons and modern-day gypsies that hold some promise.

Here I go again, contemplating another project. Somebody shoot me. Worse, I'm actually contemplating two – but these two, for the most part, are ones I can do without much assistance from others. I think. Well, one out of the two, anyway. After doing Inkblots for so long, I'm tempted to officially shelve it for a while (instead of always feeling guilty for not doing it) and go play Kerouac instead of Ferlinghetti. One of these days I'll figure out a Dentonesque scheme to get Inkblots to pay for itself and there won't be quite as much squabbling for my attention between these projects, but what the hey. If Inkblots was a paying gig, it wouldn't be Inkblots.

On a related note, did you folks see that Slate turned a profit this quarter? Let me say that again: Slate, the lit/culture/politics zine published by Microsoft, turned a profit. I feel the snark building, threatening to burst out in a bilious rage. Slate?! Of all the boring, humdrum, mundane, flat-out dull zines out there, people are paying for Slate!? The indie publisher's mind boggles. Yuck.

That's it. I'm going back to writing my novel.


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