Geoffrey Long
Tip of the Quill: Archives

March 2004 Archives

Finishing Season: Medhire.

Medhire After a brief hiatus, Finishing Season is cranking up again. First up: a small site for medical staffing agency MedHire. Not a huge project, but a nice one.

I should have some more of these rolling out this week, both on personal and professional fronts – stay tuned.


Help fight breast cancer.

Courtesy of my friend Sara, The Breast Cancer Site is doing for breast cancer what The Hunger Site does for starvation: a one-click thing that then earns financial donations from their advertisers.

I love the theory of things like this, but... Well... Sometimes it's too much of a pain in the ass to deal with. I know, I know, I know -- it's only one click a day, but come on. You can't set it as your homepage when you do what I do, because that homepage gets opened literally dozens of times in a day, and for something like that I use The New York Times, to keep me informed on what's happening. You could theoretically create a page with those buttons down the side and a cookie to tell whether or not you'd clicked them today, but that would circumvent their advertising. Maybe if The Hunger Site Network set that cookie every day, with a autoredirect thing? So you could set your homepage to be their site, with a SECOND homepage set as a variable in the cookie, so that once you'd clicked all the buttons once (the max number of times you can do so anyway), you'd be automatically redirected to your given homepage for the next 24 hours? I'd go for that.

Freelance perk abuse.

Mom always told me that working outside was a great way to get in shape. So I'm writing this from the back porch, where I've set up my laptop and my Aeron chair and a pile of stuff from my to-do list, all out in the sunshine.

Personally, I don't see it. ;-)


Thanks for the help!

Hey, guys – thanks for all the feedback. I've brushed up a couple of tiny things and posted the new!

Now for the next upgrade... With Flash and bells and whistles and stuff, to show off the work I've been doing lately! Yeesh, this is never done.


Public beta: the new

Hey, everybody – after much hammering and polishing, the new is about ready to roll out. I've posted it in all its glorious almost-readyness over at – would you all be so kind as to go over and kick the tires? Let me know what you think, and if you find any bugs? Thanks!

(Man, this has been a long time coming. The old site still has a "Portfolio coming Fall 2002" note in there somewhere. Ugh!)


January Visiting.

Okay, so while the last one is kind of painful to listen to, this one's pretty cool. "January Visiting" is my continuing the spoken-word-over-music approach. I like the way this one came out a great deal. While "Sunday Afternoon" probably wouldn't ever come near anything I'd ever release with my name on it (although it's hella fun), this one's pretty cool. Check it out, and please let me know what you think.

(While the last one's very McFerrin, I don't know what this one is! Aside from hugely lame, that is...)

This is the silliest thing I've ever done.

So, today I worked on a couple of projects, then got sick of coding and starting looking for something a little more fun to do. Since our Internet was down due to a dysfunctional DNS server, I wound up breaking out GarageBand and started fiddling around.

What I discovered is that I am my own a capella group.

After years of listening to great vocalists like Bobby McFerrin and Keller Williams and so on, I started working on laying down my very first a capella track. Appropriately enough, I called it "Sunday Afternoon". Not very creative, but since there are no lyrics, well, it was as good a title as anything. It's not great by a long stretch, but that was the most fun I've had at a computer in weeks.

For your pleasure and my utter embarassment, I present 3 minutes and fourteen seconds of utter silliness: Sunday Afternoon.



There's a fascinating discussion going down over at Bill Coughlan's Prometheus Unleashed. The topic: whether or not the Bush Administration isn't so much "neofascist", "neo-Reaganite", or "neo-conservative" so much as "neo-Imperialist," and whether or not a modern empire would be such a bad thing.

No comments here, please – let's keep this tempest in Bill's teapot.


Must-hear music: Great Big Sea, Keller Williams, Eddie from Ohio, Moxy Fruvous and now Carbon Leaf.

My taste in music has been shifting somewhat lately. My favorite band is still Counting Crows, but while I can sing along to almost every song they've ever done, they tend to bring me down. And lately, there's been enough other weirdness in my life that I don't need any more down. (Move along, move along, we're all full up of down here.) Therefore, I've been looking around for great pick-me-up music. You know, bands that sing more than just the usual love songs, or, if they do, they do so with such style and grace that you don't notice because of their fantastic vibe. Groups that you'd want to buy bumper stickers to slap on your old Jeep Cherokee and follow 'em around on tour. That kind of thing.

I have hunted, and I have found. Keep in mind that I have a thing for really good, fun, folk rock music, and I prefer acoustic to electric guitar. Therefore some of these are obvious, groups that I've loved for years. Jenny Sieber turned me on to Moxy Fruvous back in high school, and Talon Beeson turned me on to Eddie from Ohio in college. During my time at Kenyon I was also turned on to Great Big Sea by Ryan Ruopp and SarahScott Brett. Now I'm hoping to return the favor to these guys (and all y'all) by introducing two of my recent discoveries, Keller Williams and Carbon Leaf.

Keller Williams

Keller WilliamsKeller Williams is this happy-go-lucky guy about my age with mad guitar skills and an incredible live show involving loops. Lots and lots of loops. He takes a loop box, records a snippet of something with one guitar, loops that over the speakers and then tosses that instrument aside. Snatching up another, he lays down another loop, and then reaches for another instrument. Repeat. The end result is amazing. I wish I could find his live album, Loop, on the iTunes music store, but it doesn't seem to be up there yet. His studio recordings are great too, especially Laugh, which is a whole lot of fun. Think Dave Matthews Band, kindasortanotreally. Lots of guitars and fun lyrics. His most recent one, Home, is pretty good, but not quite as much fun as Laugh, IMHO.

Carbon Leaf

Carbon LeafCarbon Leaf, on the other hand, is sort of like an Americanized Great Big Sea. So much so, in fact, that they also do a version of Mary Mac on their live 2-disc set Five Alive (which is available on the iTunes store, and which I bought on a whim last night when I found out they're touring with GBS). Five Alive is the only album of theirs I've heard yet, but it sounds like a great place to start – I suspect this may be another one of those gotta-see-'em-live groups, because this live album is very impressive. Lightning-fast guitar pluckin', tight harmonies, and, again, a whole lot of fun and energy. Plus, there's an absolutely chilling tight-harmony gospel song near the end of the second disc called "Gloryland". Beautiful.

Who's on your ticket?

So, imagine your perfect musical festival lineup. While a U2/R.E.M./Counting Crows ticket would be cool (which reminds me of the Counting Crows/Gin Blossoms/Cracker show Jenny and Talon and I went to go see back in high school, which was one of my favorite concerts ever, right up there with the Eddie from Ohio/Great Big Sea/ Fighting Gravity show at Wolf Trap a couple years ago), an Eddie from Ohio/Keller Williams/Carbon Leaf/Great Big Sea concert would rock the block. (You can thank Ms. Vonderheid for introducing that ludicrous phrase into my vocabulary.) Any would-be concert promoters out there, please take note.

Who have you discovered lately? Who would be on your dream tour?

Keller Williams photo by Rebecca Montman. Carbon Leaf photo unceremoniously swiped from their website.


Aw, crap!

Great Big Sea is playing right now in Baltimore, and I just found out about it. Dang it!


Well, on the upside, they have a new album, and it's available on the iTunes Music Store. Go, go! Go now!


Reader's Bill of Rights.

Courtesy of Rebecca Blood, the nicely refreshing The Reader's Bill of Rights. This reminds me of why the English major at Kenyon pissed me off – the blatant disregard of numbers 5, 6 and 10.

Admiring: Kerry Conran.

Again from the Times, Mr. Invisible and the Secret Mission to Hollywood is a great profile of another creative guy who sat around with his computer hammering on his dreams until they came real – Kerry Conran, the fellow behind this summer's Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. (I admire the dedication and the outcome, but I've learned that I need more sunshine and socializing than that. Still, I will one day have my big home studio, mark my words.)

Enjoying: Bookless in Bavaria.

Beautiful, poetic ode to living in a modern home with too many books in The New York Times' Style: Bookless in Bavaria.

Technolust: Toyota Volta concept.

Dang, it's too bad this is only a concept. Earlier this month, Toyota and Italdesign unveiled the new Toyota Volta, an amazingly sexy hybrid sportscar that looks like something plucked straight from a James Bond movie. Wow.

Admiration: Warren Ellis.

Now here's a man who makes good use of his time.


Memefool: Take my Quiz!

Meme courtesy of the good Ms. Brett: Take my Quiz on!

This has to be one of the silliest things I've ever posted... :)


I'm currently looking over my more recent works and pondering the possibilities of fusing the design work, the interactive and the narrative, a la Dave McKean or Nick Bantock. Hmm.

Meanwhile, I'm also cranking up the engine for the next edition of Inkblots, which should be the Winter/Spring 2004 edition. Again, fusion. It's a double issue in large part due to Finishing Season; all my resources that I'd usually be throwing at Inkblots are currently going to building other projects for people, and one fairly-sized one for me. Details soon, although most have you have probably been able to figure out what I'm talking about by now.

Sorry for the nature of the navel-gazing post; more actual content should be ambling along any time now.


Starbucks in-store CD burning.

starbucksEarlier this week, Gizmodo delivered its report on Starbucks To Provide In-Store CD Burning, and wrapped it up with the question, "Does this interest anyone at all, or have services like iTunes and Rhapsody leap-frogged the need for in-store CD burning?"

Since Gizmodo has moronically disallowed any commenting, I will respond here. My answer is a resounding yes.

While I was in Seattle with Jenny last year two years ago (jeez!), I stopped in this fantastic Starbucks just down the street from our hotel. It was huge, filled with neat art and nice architectural flourishes (not just the out-of-the-box artwork that you find on every Starbucks in the universe), and, now here's the kicker, a big kiosk that told you what was currently being piped over the store speakers. You'd be working away, and they'd play something nice and jazzy and cool, and you could look up and take note of the artist and the title of the song.

Now, the snootier among us may take issue with using Starbucks as a filter for new music, but I think Starbucks' Hear Music CDs are fantastic. I've found quite a few new favorite groups by picking up those CDs, and they make excellent road trip mixes. (This cool-friend role has since been ceded to Paste Magazine, but that's neither here nor there.)

Picture this. I'm sitting in Starbucks, working on my laptop and using their T-Mobile wireless network. (It happens.) Something comes over the speakers and I really dig it. I fire up iTunes or whatever their little web client is to find out who the artist is, then either 1-click the song or pop over to iTunes to look it up. This could be great. Now, according to Gizmodo they're talking about only doing the CD burning thing, which I think is a trifle shortsighted, but if this allows for the same kind of functionality as the Starbucks in Seattle (which I suspect might have been an alpha test kiosk or something), then I'm all for it.

Brief aside: what does gall me here lately is Starbucks' sponsoring of independent film. I don't know why, exactly, but there's just something so anti-indie about Starbucks that their insinuations that these two things fit so perfectly together is just nauseating. Note to Howard Schultz: there's nothing indie about Starbucks. That's okay. I'm fine with having you cater to the artsy and the techno and the stylish and the foreign-film art house market and so on and so forth. But indie? Nahhhh. When I hear "indie", I think of something way more urban than Starbucks. I think of places like Common Grounds in Arlington, or little record shops like the one John Cusack owned in High Fidelity. Likening Starbucks to indie film is like trying to link Best Buy to the latest indie music. It just doesn't click.

Of course, any ad campaign attempting to link Starbucks to Merchant Ivory films would be equally laughable, so I guess what they've done isn't that bad.


Finishing Season continues, in a slightly different vein.

After a furious week-and-change of work, I'm taking a bit of a breather. Finishing Season will resume next week. In the meantime, I've got a couple other little things I want to tinker with. Some thoughts about random things, like fashion and springtime and weblogs and so on, which I want to write about. To be honest, I'm getting tired of staring at this screen all the time. After a couple hours, a man wants to stand up and yell, There's more to life than this! And, of course, there is.

My friend Kevin (who is, unlike me, currently enjoying himself immensely at SXSW, darn him) pointed out that I should be focusing on getting my writing out there. And, of course, he's right.

(Lots of "of course"s in this post, aren't there?)

So what will I write about? My more recent short stories have been flitting in and out of focus, so I'm going to write other things. Like reviews. And essays. And off-the-top-of-my-head stuff. And, with a little luck, I will improve both my portfolio and my life in the process.

Stay tuned.

Hot diggety.

Elizabeth Spiers (of one-time Gawker fame) is cute.

Ahem. Also, brilliant and an amazing Renaissance woman. And she can write like nobody's business. Ahem.


Derek M. Powazek rocks my socks. He just shot me a very large help on the aforementioned problem. War on these evil spambots begins now.

Thanks, bro.

On spam comments.

I've just about had it with the people who leave spam comments around here. Every so often I'll go into my archives and clean out some of them, but there's no great way to list all the comments on all the posts at once in Moveable Type, and I'm disinclined to upgrade the installation until 3.0 hits the streets.


Today I found people leaving spam for drugs and penis enlargement and other such rot in the post I made about my Aunt Marcella passing away.

You people who do this are making a buck off of me sharing the fact that one of my loved ones died.

You people are the lowest form of life on this earth. I hope you all burn in hell.


Holy wow.

Today I discovered an amazing person: check out Breathewords - The Twisted Show - portfolio of Adriana de Barros.

It's always cool when you find someone else who does what ou do, and does it so spectacularly. I feel inspired, and the distinct urge to kick up my own stuff about a dozen notches to compete.


Finishing Season Part 4: Green.

Green As promised, I'm happy to release out into the wild another one of my older stories, a sci-fi thriller called Green. It's a novella (approx. 20 pages) about two doctors who are on a God-given mission to revolutionize the prosthetics industry. When one of them returns early from a vacation to the Himalayas, his discovery may very well drive them both into madness.

I still get thrills from rereading this one. It has its rough bits, but I think it does what it sets out to do very well – a nifty little B-movie-esque horror story. I'm presenting it here as a free downloadable PDF (a little under 1MB) so, if you enjoy it, you can pass it along to your friends. I'm currently seeking literary representation, so if you know anyone that works with this kind of thing, please let me know. Thanks!

(Also, the cover art looks a lot spiffier on black.)


Green As promised, I'm happy to release out into the wild another one of my older stories, a sci-fi thriller called Green. It's a novella (approx. 20 pages) about two doctors who are on a God-given mission to revolutionize the prosthetics industry. When one of them returns early from a vacation to the Himalayas, his discovery may very well drive them both into madness.

I still get thrills from rereading this one. It has its rough bits, but I think it does what it sets out to do very well – a nifty little B-movie-esque horror story. I'm presenting it here as a free downloadable PDF (a little under 1MB) so, if you enjoy it, you can pass it along to your friends. I'm currently seeking literary representation, so if you know anyone that works with this kind of thing, please let me know. Thanks!

Or not. (Finishing Season part 3 1/2.)

Have instead decided to fix and update my writing journal. I've fixed the archives, repaired the RSS feed, and am now sifting through my recent writings to find things worth posting. I have stuff lying around, like another giant chunk of Bones of the Angel, but there's a weirdness about uploading these novels-in-progress. The old paranoia about people wanting to steal them and use them for their own nefarious purposes. Of course, at this point it's probably way better to build up Brand Me and get my stuff out there, a la the good Cory Doctorow. Besides, it's like the old chip commercial. Crunch all you want, we'll make more.

Writing journal repaired, revitalized, and renewed.

At long last, I found the time to squash a couple of the bugs that had been plaguing this journal for the longest time. I've fixed the RSS feed, repaired the links to the PDFs, and am about to add some new content for the first time in months. As you might have noticed from the additions to the timeline, things around these parts have been busy lately.

Anyway, long story short, it's time to get this ball rolling again. New stories are on the way!

Woke up this morning feeling bad.

Not sure why exactly, but I woke up this morning feeling kind of blah. One of those what's-the-point type mornings, where you wake up with no get-up-and-go whatsoever. I'm sure you've had them too.

Am currently trying to come up with an antidote. It's a nice day outside, so perhaps I'll go out and play with the camera, try and stockpile some new photos for my portfolio. Something like that. Honestly, I'm just feeling a little toasted around the edges from all the busybusy activity lately. Last night I went down to the Apple Store in Tyson's Corner with my old friend David, where he picked up a new hard drive for backups and a car kit for his iPod, and I skeptically eyeballed the new iPod minis. They're cool, and they are indeed small, but they're not for me. Personally, I'd prefer a bigger iPod and the long-rumored home-on-your-iPod functionality that was meant to be built into Mac OS X 10.3. Something about carrying around a backup of everything on my hard drive just appeals to my paranoid self.

Right. Time to go see what there is to see out there. More later.

Oh, and the next Finishing Season project will be posted here as soon as we get some kinks worked out with Network Solutions and IE5 on the PC. Of course.


Inspirations: Michel Gondry.

There's a great article in the New York Times right now on videomaker Michel Gondry, called "Captain Video Prepares for Takeoff". Gondry is the one responsible for the upcoming movie, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, starring Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey (apparently in another antiCarrey role). Gondry does nifty things with yarn and Legos and other such materials – read the article, you'll see what I mean.

I'm headed off the grid for a big chunk of today in order to finish up one of the next releases for Finishing Season, a long-overdue project that hits close to my heart. You'll see what I mean soon!


Finishing Season Part 3:

voiceproblem.orgNext up in Finishing Season is The Voice Problem Website, a project I've been working on for – no joke – three years. (which is also the enormous project I alluded to earlier) is the brainchild of David Bradley, the founder of The Advisory Board and the owner of The Atlantic Monthly. The content was written by seven of the most well-known otolaryngologists in the country, edited by Drs. Pranav Kothari and Vicky Herrera (two really great people, I should add) and designed and built by Hillary Tisdale, David Seitzinger and myself. My official title for this gig was "online production editor." It's still in a sort of "public beta" phase, but it's open for everyone to swing by and check it out. This is, after Inkblots, far and away the largest online project I've ever worked on. Seeing it go live was an amazing experience.

Warning: the site is huge, and some of the graphics are pretty intense, like the ones of advanced laryngeal cancer. They can get pretty gross.


Finishing Season Part 2: CollaborationTown.

CollaborationTownAs part 2 of Finishing Week Season, I'm proud to unveil the website for CollaborationTown: a Theatre Company. CollaborationTown is a theatre troupe doing neat political satire and commentary theater up in New York City. One of the founding members is my old compadre Jesica Avellone, of whom I'm insanely proud, and happy to help her group along on their way to stardom.

The site itself is pretty nice, with a little Flash at the beginning, some microsites for each of their shows and a weblog for news, although some of the minisites and the weblog are still under construction. It's one of the niftier sites I've put together this year – check it out!

Finishing Season Part 1: The Yellow and the Orange.

Kimberley ReidI've got a couple things rolling out this weekend, after the long work of Finishing Week. First up: Kimberley Reid Voice Over, another little site for my friends over at Sound Advice. Nothing too complex over here, just a pretty little design. With fruit.

More to come!

Update: Since getting all these wrapped up feels so good, and since I have a few more here up my sleeve to launch in the next immediate future, I'm extending Finishing Week into a Finishing Season. As you can see, I'm crafting some images to commemorate these accomplishments, which will each link to the new project in question. Please leave feedback in the comments! A few of these are kind of experimental in nature, so I could use the constructive criticism. Thanks!

Bigha, betta, more!

So I've been reading over at Matt Haughey's blog about his recent trip to the Bigha bike factory. Bighas are those weird-looking bikes that have you seated more upright than the bent-over models. There's something about those suckers that appeals to me, although I'm not entirely sure what it is. Maybe it's the high-tech gadgetry built into every model, maybe it's the quirkiness of the design, maybe it's just my desire to get outside and exercise again after a tummy-building winter. Regardless, at $3000 a pop, I'm not going to be affording one anytime soon. I have better things to do with my cash. Things like rent and car repairs and eventual purchasing of the Dreamsbay Compound.

I've been thinking a lot about houses lately. I've spent the last eighteen months in this great little house in Bethesda, a posh neighborhood on the outskirts of Washington, DC. It belongs to my old friend Nick, who bought it a few years ago when the company he works for relocated to Bethesda. I'm in no way, shape or form knocking the house – but it's not what I want, in the long run. What I want is something (of course) closer to where I grew up – lots of trees, lots of land, and a barn/workshop where I can spend my days doing what I'm doing now, just not in my room. There's too much allure of Everything Else when you work out of your home. The dishes in the sink, the laundry, the new boxed set of Stargate SG-1 that your roommate brought home... Too many distractions. I love working from home, but what I need is an office of my own. What I want is a detached studio, much like the way my parents have converted our old barn into a giant workshop and storage area. I've been fantasizing about what I'd do with my workshop/barn. An area set up for photography, a big library area (assuming I can get the sucker completely weatherproofed, which was always the trouble Mom and Dad had with theirs), and a huge workshop area for the computers and the bulletin boards and the other equipment. You know, a studio.

The trouble is, even in Ohio this stuff don't come cheap. Granted, it's hella cheaper than land out here, but still. I've really got to get the whole multimillionaire-novelist-filmmaker project off the ground. Maybe next week. ;)


I mean...

Finishing week. That's what I meant. Finishing week.



Life: The Lightning Round.

Right now things at Dreamsbay HQ are moving fast and furious. One project I'm working on now doesn't look like it's going to go live until after SXSW (which I'm still pissed about missing, BTW), so I have a leetle breathing room on that front. My compatriot, brother-in-arms and programmer for the video game is also up to his eyeballs in work at the moment, so that one's getting put on the back burner without too much guilt, but some other friends' thing is winding up tight and needs to get done, as well as another three or four client projects, so those are next in the queue.

All this and it's seventy frickin' degrees outside, so the lure of the porch and the lawn chair is strong. God bless laptops and wireless networks.

Uck. I keep saying it's finishing season and then things drag on and on much longer than I expect they're going to. Just the way of the world, I guess, but it's getting a trifle annoying. Please, Lord, can't some of these just get done and settled?

Right. Today's finishing day. I swear. Finishing day. Bigtime.



Had a great day yesterday. Bounced back from Sunday's stomach bug with a vengeance, resulting in a long day of client meetings and hammering on projects. I'm hoping to follow that up with another one today that's almost as productive – which means I'll probably be offline for most of the day. Suffice it to say that two or three more projects are in the wings, and I need to dedicate some major time this week to finishing them up.

Of course, these are the same projects that I've been teasing about here for the last couple of weeks, but they really are coming together very quickly. I'll post details as they solidify.


Last night was geek night.

So last night The Lord of the Rings won all 11 Academy Awards for which it was nominated, tying the record held by Titanic and Ben-Hur. What a night for the genre, and what further proof for my theory that really great work in the fantasy/sci-fi vein can equal or surpass works from other genres. It's all about the story and the humanity of the characters – even when those characters aren't exactly human.