Geoffrey Long
Tip of the Quill: Archives

June 2004 Archives

Design epiphany.

On a completely different note, tonight I was fiddling around with this design that I'd put together and my client had pretty much already accepted. I'd found some stock photos, picked out some colors, and had started to merge those into the design, but I was feeling sort of meh about the whole thing. I'd been working on this project for a while, and the design still wasn't clicking. The layout was fine, the colors were fine, the whole thing was fine, but it wasn't cool.

Then something snapped. Specifically, one of my basic design principles. Anyone who's familiar with my work knows that I gravitate towards straight lines, grids, and lots of boxes. Oh, yes, plenty of boxes. This design was no different: boxes in the navbar, boxes holding the whole thing together, boxes boxes boxes. In this design, I was going to put a wide photo in the middle under the navbar, kind of like the way Apple does, but the page's background was a very light off-white and the background of the photos were pretty much plain white as well. The result: almost zero contrast, just a black outline holding the page middle stuff together, dividing white from white. It looked awful.


I ripped out the boxes. All of 'em. OK, well, maybe not all of them, but I traded in the boxes on the nav for staggered lightly-colored shaded areas behind each nav element. The white photos are now floating on a white background, with a single gray line dividing the bottom of the photo from the content below, and that content is floating in the middle of plain white. It sounds really stark and minimalist – and it is – but it's also beautiful. It's reminiscent of the text you see sometimes screened onto the walls of a museum – it's really just plain stunning.

Man, I hope the client likes this. I gave her an excited phone call at like 9:30 PM EST asking permission to explore this new design, and she granted it. I've sent it on – I guess I'll find out in the morning.

Keep your fingers crossed for me, OK?


On being virtuous.

I've been thinking a lot lately about the idea of virtues, and what it means to be a good man. Living in Chicago in a fairly multicultural neighborhood is a new and fascinating experience, which makes me feel more reconnected to what it means to be an American, as opposed to the fiercely partisan life that is almost inherent to living in Washington, DC.

(Note: I've cleaned up this entry a little bit to break it up into more readable subsections and add 'friendly' back into the Scout Law, which I'd inadvertently omitted the first time around. The memory is not what it used to be. Thanks to Bill Coughlan for catching the error.)

George W. Bush, Osama bin Laden and the Scout Law

Once upon a time, I was a Boy Scout. I made it all the way to Star (and was only a merit badge or two shy of Life) before other interests took hold and I moved on to other things. I still remember a lot of the Boy Scout teachings, though – not so much how to tie knots (although a do know to take a tin full of dryer lint along on camping trips to use as tinder in lieu of tiny branches), as the morals and ethics that they try to instill. The eleven points of the Scout Law go something like this: "A scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent."

This is a good start for living a virtuous life, but it still seems lacking. It bothers me that nowhere in the Scout Law is there any mention of ambition, intelligence or curiousity. Ambition is a strange element, often spat at others as an accusation, which is strange. Should we not, as Americans, be ambitious? There is a school of thought that says that ambition is often the drive to succeed at the cost of others, but what then is the drive to improve not only your own life, but the common denominator of human existence as well? Is that not ambition? And why wouldn't intelligence and curiousity be on that list as well?

If you look at President Bush and then consider the twelve points of the Scout Law, he appears to do a decent job on most of them. Yet I cannot look to him as a good example, or any kind of inspiration aside from, perhaps, a cautionary tale.
If you look at President Bush and then consider the Scout Law, he appears to do a decent job on most of these twelve points (excepting, of course, trustworthy – it still bothers me greatly that there's never been any real, satisfactory answer to the scores of black voters that were turned away from the Florida polls back in 2000). Yet I cannot look to him as a good example, or any kind of inspiration aside from, perhaps, a cautionary tale. Further, our current administration is an excellent example of powers run amok – despite the numerous offenses that the administration has committed, including the aforementioned electoral manipulation, ordering the creation of false evidence to justify the war in Iraq, repeated attempts to dissolve the separation of church and state, laying the groundwork for the reinstatement of the draft, the ridiculous abuse of Presidential power for the personal gain of Halliburton and its employees, and any number of other things that I'm sure Michael Moore will, for better or for worse, trumpet up to the highest skies in Farenheit 9/11, still no Democratic officials in Washington have called for any kind of impeachment hearings or calls of no confidence in the leadership abilities of this administration. This is something I simply do not understand.

The point is that a man can have ten points of the Scout Law pretty much down and still not be really and truly a good man. You can be loyal to your friends, help little old ladies across the street, polite in conversation, refrain from kicking puppies, a good listener, outgoing, smart with money, determined to stand up for what you believe in, wash your hands after every meal, and go to church on Sunday, but if what you believe in is actively detrimental to the common good, your life is doing more damage than good. If you compare Osama bin Laden to President Bush, you see two men that both ardently, vehemently believe that what they are doing is correct, and that they are justified in the killing of other people. Both men have the blood of thousands on their hands. Both men believe themselves to be great leaders, and both men have thousands of people following them, waving flags and cheering at the tops of their lungs every time they say a word.

According to the Scout Law, young men should be obedient. I believe that current events have shown exactly how dangerous obedience can be, when it involves taking orders from a religious zealot, be it Osama bin Laden or President "If You're Not With Us, You're with the Terrorists" Bush.

It bothers me even more that it's not hard to imagine how essays like this could be considered treasonous in our current administration. That bothers me the most of all – that I even need to worry about this kind of McCarthyism in what is supposed to be a free America. "If you aren't with us, you're with the terrorists" is not something you should ever hear come from the mouth of the leader of the free world. That mindset is the worst perversion of democracy, the worst form of powermongering – in the name of "Freedom," our President wants to take away our freedom to think for ourselves and criticize the actions of our government. This is not virtuous behavior, and is definitely not the behavior of someone who should be the greatest, most honorable and most inspiring man on the planet: the President of the United States.

So, instead of getting all worked up into a lather without presenting any preferable alternatives or solutions (like Mr. Moore tends to do), what would be a good set of virtues? What characteristics should the leader of the free world, or any good man, embody?

Benjamin Franklin tried to live his life according to thirteen virtues: temperance, silence, order, resolution, frugality, industry, sincerity, justice, moderation, cleanliness, tranquility, chastity, and humility. This could be a better start – 'industry' tends to satisfy my previous inclination to incorporate some form of ambition. What Mr. Franklin does not include, bizarrely, are wisdom and intelligence, which is very odd given what we know of Mr. Franklin's character. Chastity is also an odd inclusion, although one suspects he might not be only referring to it in the sexual sense. And does 'sincerity' mean simply meaning what you say, and not to 'spin' anything, or does he intend to extend that to include honesty and trustworthiness?

One part Boy Scouts, one part Benjamin Franklin

Perhaps the best solution is to take both of these elements, Franklin's virtues and the Scout Law, and combine them. Doing so, we get the following:

  • Trustworthy
  • Loyal
  • Helpful
  • Friendly
  • Courteous
  • Kind
  • Obedient
  • Cheerful
  • Thrifty (x2)
  • Brave
  • Clean (x2)
  • Reverent
  • Temperant
  • Silent
  • Orderly
  • Resolute
  • Industrious (i.e., Ambitious)
  • Sincere (Honest?)
  • Just
  • Moderate
  • Tranquil
  • Chaste
  • Humble

To which I would add:

  • Intelligent
  • Wise

There is some room for debate as to whether or not intelligent and wise are even separable; I would argue that it is possible for someone to be very knowledgeable (have memorized a lot of data) but still be utterly unable to determine what to do with it (have no wisdom whatsoever), and that therefore they are indeed two separate virtues.

I have ommitted obedience due to the argument I made earlier. Any great man should, at any point in his life, be free to take a step back, look at the world with as objective a standpoint as possible, and judge for himself whether or not the orders he is being given conflict with his other virtues, most importantly including wise and just.

Another modification that should perhaps be made are to the virtues of reverence and humility. I left both of them in the list because I do believe in God, and I believe that the majority of the teachings of the Bible are a terrific outline for living a life that is productive, happy and virtuous within a society of men. However. I also believe that much the same thing could be said for the teachings of the Torah, of the Buddha, and of just about every religion on the face of the planet. Where everybody runs into trouble, though, is when those religions become co-opted by zealots out to manipulate the masses into following their orders. According to Karl Marx, "Religion is the opiate of the masses" – a virtuous man should be wise enough to also realize when the teachings of his religion are being corrupted and being used to manipulate him. A clue: whenever a religious passage is cited that can in any way, shape or form justify the killing of another human being because of a difference in their religions, skin colors, sexual preferences or backgrounds. As a rule of thumb, the virtuous man should be reverent of the spirit and the wisdom, not of the men preaching it.

Another virtue should, therefore, be something like tolerant or open-minded. I'm not sure what the language should be here – it is such a short jump from tolerant of other cultures to permitting other cultures to exist that I usually refrain from the term 'tolerant'. What, then? Is it better to say 'accepting'? 'Worldly'? Or are all of these simply extensions of the wisdom inherent in not being close-minded? Could one consider not subscribing to the superiority of your own race/sex/sexual preference/religion/country as an extension of humility?

These modern virtues and the American President

Even with these questions, this list seems to be a much more complete set of modern virtues. How, then does our current President stack up compared to this new model of a virtuous man?

Not well, I'm afraid. Here are some hypotheses on how a virtuous man should behave, as opposed to what's actually been happening.

A virtuous man should not slaughter his neighbors over resources, but should consider the larger picture and embrace those resources not currently being tapped. Instead of going to war over oil, the virtuous man would consider the root problem and fiercely and adamantly pursue new energy programs, such as hydroelectricity and wind turbines.

A virtuous man would never declare, "If you are not with me, you are with my enemy."
If elected under questionable circumstances, a virtuous man would not further entrench the corruption in the system by squashing the stories in the media and sweeping the whole thing under the rug. Instead, upon being elected he would do everything in his power to examine how and why the problems occurred, and investigate any and all claims leveled against him to determine why and how anyone might have been deprived of their right to vote. A virtuous man would have publicly and openly ensured that such a catastrophe would never happen again.

A virtuous man would never declare, "If you are not with me, you are with my enemy." A virtuous man would wisely realize that anyone who is not with him could just as well still be undecided – and openly declaring them to therefore be his enemy quickly makes that decision for them. A virtuous man is a uniter, not a divider.

A virtuous man, when met with opposition, calls out differences of opinions and philosophies into the light and discusses them openly. A virtuous man does not order the creation of false evidence in order to support a claim that he may believe to be true but lacks the real, true evidence to support it. A virtuous man, when presented with evidence that contradicts his belief, is open to the possibility that he might be wrong.

A virtuous man, when presented with massive, overwhelming evidence that an action that he had undertaken was in error, would do everything in his power to make things right. A virtuous man takes responsbility for his mistakes. A virtuous man would apologize to the families and friends of the thousands of people whose deaths he had caused through his errors, and do everything he could to make things right, even if that meant resigning his position. He would not scramble to release more fearmongering reports and vehemently insist to the world that he was right, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

A call for a modern virtuous candidate

Given these notions, I cannot in good conscience call our current President a virtuous man. I do not have a firm belief that John Kerry is a virtuous man, either, and that makes me sad. I would like to believe that he is, but so far I have not been convinced by the evidence presented. Nor do I have an overwhelming belief that a truly virtuous man would win a popular election, which makes me even sadder.

I would like to believe that America, if presented with a truly virtuous leader, someone who embodies all of these characteristics, would sit up and take notice. I would like to believe that we are not a country of overweight, greedy followers who will blithely sit by as we arrogantly transform our allies into enemies for the sake of our own bullheaded glory. I would like to believe that America is still the land of the free and the home of the brave.

I would like to see a real, true leader of the free world step up and take the oath of office as President of the United States. If you are out there, please step forward. The world needs you, and it needs you right now.

Small proofs of something.

For all the times we see horrible, horrible things go and ask ourselves that age-old philosophical chestnut, "Why would a loving God permit something like this to happen?", we should remember stories like this: Puppy prevents Canadian killing spree.


When I am as I am.

As I'm typing this, a can of Campbell's chunky clam chowder is having its molecules vibrated in a tiny little box in the kitchen. As I was pouring it into the bowl, I was struck by the way it glopped out of the can – with almost the exact same sound and shape as a can of cat food. I thought, "When I am rich, I will really learn to cook. No more of this fast food, no more heat-n-eat, no more takeout or delivery, just nightly meals made with fresh ingredients from interesting, international recipes."

That thought was immediately followed by, "When and if I am ever rich, I will almost certainly be too busy to have that kind of time."

This is depressing. Bachelor life kind of sucks sometimes.


New music Tuesday.

Exhausted from all the hullaballoo over Wilco's new album? I've posted two new pieces over to my new music section at There's one all-instrumental piece (which starts out rough and gets better as it goes along) called "Secretly" and one combo spoken-word song called "God and Ducks". The latter has some serious microphone issues. When I get a chance, I'll replace the crappy vocals with some good ones, but this should give you an idea of what I'm working on!


LoveSac, bay-bee.

So Talon and I just added the coolest thing to our apartment – an enormous not-a-beanbag chair called a "LoveSac". The jokes have been flying fast and furious, believe me, but this sucker fulfills a dream I've had for years of getting a beanbag chair big enough to really sink into, the way I used to be able to as a kid. It's huge. I love it. We picked the one with the chocolate brown denim cover, which is really soft and comfy. I'm sitting in it now as I'm typing this, and lemme tell you, I think I just found my new favorite writing environment. The LoveSac rules.


A little blue on a Friday morning.

It's been an insanely productive week. If I can give one more push here today and maybe some this weekend, I stand a good chance of being finally on top of my to-do list, which is unthinkable. Well, you know, the short-term to-do list. I still have The Master Plan which has a ton of stuff to do in the long run – watch a bunch of classic movies, lose thirty pounds, travel to Spain, yadda yadda – but the short-term work list is finally getting whittled down to manageable levels. Yay!

Oh, and for the record, I didn't get to do any personal art last night. I wound up having a two-hour meeting that started at 6PM, then fixed dinner, watched a little television, did a little more client work, and passed out at the ridiculously early time of 11:30. Oh, well. Maybe this weekend.



Am having one of those days where I'm working like mad fury to get a couple things out the door, juggling some new potential clients, and keeping a skeptical eye on the bottom line. A good work day, in other words. However, for some reason I am also feeling unsatisfied with my chops as a designer – probably because I've been doing a lot of web conversions of other designers' work lately. Good money, but not as creatively satisfying. As a result, am feeling the distinct urge to go and sit with my notebook and just draw or sketch or create for a while. Alas, meetings and work and whatnot are too much in abundance to permit too much of that at the moment.

Hmm. Maybe I'll indulge myself just a little. If I wind up posting some new stuff here tonight or tomorrow, you'll know which route I elected to take.


I've been busy.

For your viewing pleasure (and my ego), a sampling of the freelance work I've been doing lately: twenty-seven of my favorite collaborations between The Dreamsbay Company and Sound Advice. Check out the middle one in the second row: it never produces the same two patterns of dots twice, my first venture into ActionScript programming. Warning: two or three of the links don't work yet, because I jumped the gun a little. Think of those as coming attractions. ;)

My friends rock.

So Jesica has a theater troupe who just got another great review. You go, girl. I'm so proud of you!


Ew. I mean, ew.

A whole bunch of sickos out there are celebrating because as of today, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen are legal. (Not work safe, but funny. In an ewwww sort of way.)


Why Garfield sucks.

Wow. When I was younger I thought that Garfield was really funny, but in its later years (like now) had somehow started to suck. Now, in a piece over at Slate called Garfield - Why we hate the Mouse but not the cartoon copycat, we learn that not only has the strip always sucked, but that it was designed to suck. After reading the article, I feel kind of betrayed.

Where's Charles Schulz when you need him?



So in this recent flurry of business expenses, I finally placed an order for my own batch of Jewelboxing cases. I'd been following these guys since their launch, since I'm sort of a Coudal and 37signals devotee. And, hell, when even Brian Taylor gets into the mix, you know the sucker's gotta be some kind of funky.

My box just arrived. With luck, I'll have some time this weekend to create the new Dreamsbay portfolio discs I've been wanting to make forever. My plan here is to use the Jewelboxing system's holds-two-discs feature to include both one disc of a client's project for their own archival purposes, and a second disc (DVD?) of the Dreamsbay portfolio, as sort of a cross-marketing venture. The goal is to get these Jewelboxing kits in peoples' hands and make them go, Oooooh, I want these for my stuff, and drive up some sales myself. We'll see if this works!


This town is manic.

Chicago has the craziest weather I've ever seen. Hotter than heck in the afternoon, and then wham, a big ol' thunderstorm rolls in off the lake with a bunch of cold air and the temp drops like twenty degrees in 45 minutes. It's like Mother Nature needs Prozac.

I just walked downstairs to stick my nose out the front door, and it's not fit for man nor beast out there. Yikes. Then, on my way back upstairs, I caught a whiff of someone's dinner. Someone in this building is making a tuna noodle casserole, like my mom used to make. Nothing complex, basically a Hamburger Helper meal, but dang. It's amazing how suddenly a guy can get homesick.

Oh, well. I still love this town, and I'm nestled among friends and family here. I just wish it weren't raining so damn hard – I'd pop over to the grocery store and get some casserole fixin's.

Back to my roots.
Canon i960
This week has been insane, workwise. Last night I stayed up until almost 4AM working on a client project, only to have it torpedoed this morning because the client couldn't get it to look right coming out of her home printer. Irritated and frustrated, I stormed out onto the Internet and started doing some research. My old roommate Nick had a Canon S9000 at the house, which was an amazing printer that I (of course) had to leave behind when I moved (as it was, of course, Nick's), so I knew I was in the market for one for me, especially in these moments when I couldn't definitively prove that the problem wasn't with the file. After some time poking around Steve's Digicams, I concluded that the sweet spot for me was a Canon i960, which has an equal print quality but doesn't print on anything larger than 8.5x11. At some point I will probably regret not opting for something that can do at least 11x17, but at this moment I only need 8.5x11 and I wanted to pay less than $200 for it. Lo and behold, the i960.

This is a sweet printer. The sucker's whisper-silent, prints out amazingly detailed photographs (and I mean amazing, even on its default setting) and is fast to boot. I'm happy with my purchase, and am now grinning like an idiot schoolboy at returning to my original print-design roots. Me and this baby, we're going to have some good times. And I've already got a client all lined up and ready for it. It's gonna be a work night, baby, and I'm gonna be lovin' it.

Yay for new toys! And double yay for new tax-deductible toys!


Spin control.

OK, so here's the scenario. On Monday, Apple introduced the AirPort Express, which seems like a pretty gee-darn revolutionary idea. An audio-streaming, print-serving Wi-Fi repeater. Pretty cool. (And not, apparently, able to do what I'd intended, but I may be wrong.) Lots of good press ensues. The Mac world is chockablock with good feelings. Gizmodo junkies everywhere are dancing in the streets like the filthy hippies they are.

On Wednesday, Apple unleashes new PowerMacs. Only, they're not that cool. Last year Steve Jobs promised that there would be a new 3GHz G5 out within a year. They're down to the final two weeks on that promise, and Apple just threw in the towel. Not only that, but they're also saying not to expect a PowerBook or iMac G5 at all anytime soon, either. Apparently the suckers are just too darn hard to cool – and the top-of-the-line model has resorted to liquid cooling in order to keep the dual 2.5-GHz processors from setting your house on fire.

What's happening here is that the new machines are pretty nice, but they're really not that much more amazing than their predecessors, which is where Apple is yet again paying the price for setting up our expectations and then regretfully shooting 'em down. The aforementioned Gizmodo-scouring hippies are now slumped on their back porches, morosely sucking mary jane through their iBongs.

Me, I'm looking at this whole state of affairs and thinking, Dang, a dual 1.8Ghz G5 for $2000. Not too freakin' shabby. And they're apparently available now. If I had the green for this project, I could go down to the Apple Store on Michigan Avenue and lug one of these babies home. (Of course, I don't have the greenbacks, yet – bring on the projects!) The new Macs aren't that much cooler than the old Macs, but they're a damn sight cooler than what I have right now, and would go quite nicely with this 1.25GHz PowerBook.

The other thing that I find myself wondering about: Where the great bloody flipping hell are the new displays?! The G5s have been out for almost a year. There have been rumors in the channel about new displays for even longer than that. Get with the freakin' program and get those suckers out the door, and I mean right now – the buzz was there for AirPort Extreme, but you've now lost some of your shine due to your missed promise. There have to be some Apple PR guys in Cupertino jumping up and down and crying, "Spin, baby, spin!"

There is one more additional little interesting tidbit in the new G5 package, one that I'd wondered about before. In the earlier models, if you wanted the Apple Bluetooth wireless mouse and keyboard, you had to buy them in addition to the ones in the box. That seemed really dumb to me. Now, if you pony up an extra $99, you can get the Bluetooth module and the wireless stuff instead of the standard set – and that Bluetooth module would've set you back $50 anyway. Nothing huge there, but a nice fix.

We'll see. If those new displays don't show up this week, they'll probably appear at WWDC in two weeks. It seems like the kind of thing that Steve would like to whip the sheet off of. Me, I'm already earmarking some pennies for a new machine and monitor. One thing at a time.


AirPort Express: sign me up!

How cool is this? AirPort Express is a tiny little base station designed for portability. Man, I'll take three: one to replace my outdated original base station, one for my stereo, and if my theory is correct, one for the PC on our network that we're struggling to get online. My big question there is, can I jack this directly to a computer without a wireless card to act like a wireless card, in the same way that I could do so with a printer? You know, to put an older Mac or PC on my AirPort network? Anybody know?


Fragmentation [poetic] devices.

OK, so I thought that a long time ago I made a post about how I keep having this beginning to a poem snaking its way through my brain: "It is in this way that..." I like the cadence of that, but I'm not sure what comes next.

It is in this way that the stars are made,
Fast as a twinkle and slow as a rush,
A flashbulb popping in a cosmic Kodak moment,
Leaving behind a permanent pinprick of afterglow.
Something like that. Still not sold on it. Perhaps I'll do a bunch of those and put 'em together as a series. No idea.

Anyway, so that's been bouncing around in there for years now. Another fragment that's been bothering me is this: "The Secret Dreams of..." This one gets a little more specific. For some reason "The Secret Dreams of Marion Brody" clicks, but I have no idea who Marion Brody is. I keep thinking it's an older, overweight Puerto Rican who works in a restaraunt somewhere, serving up empanadas and having a sort of Walter Mitty thing going. I dunno. I don't want to do a "remake" of Walter Mitty, but the idea is in there, slinking around.

I also had another idea this morning dealing with time travel. I don't really trust this one, though, because it's one of those things that hits you as you're still half asleep, which can often turn out to be sort of dumb. Anyway, I had an idea for a time travel story where a heartbroken inventor goes back in time to bitch-slap the earlier version of himself right before he screws things up with the love of his life. He succeeds, but when the inventor returns to his own time, he's already there. Having succeeded in preventing the breakup from occurring, he changed history (yeah, yeah, we've heard this before) but instead of him vanishing, a la Back to the Future, he becomes a temporal man without a country. He can't go back home, because there's no place for him there – there's another him there living happily with his wife. With his wife, his life. He has no money, because all his accounts are different – getting married changed everything, including where he banks and what he did with his cash. Everything he knew is gone, stolen by the version of himself that didn't mess up, and there's no way for him to get his life back, unless he either kills or kidnaps this version of him and steals his life (insert wacky hijinks as the original inventor tries to convince the wife that he really does remember their wedding day), and finally goes back in time to cause the problem that broke them up in the first place, which was probably something like the woman accusing him of doing something he didn't do, so he goes back and does it. It's a lot like Back to the Future, but more cynical: the point is that you can't change your own history. Everyone's history is personal; if things were different, you wouldn't be you, and you wouldn't be doing what you are now. The only way to fix things (as the inventor does once he returns to his own timeline, having successfully ruined his relationship with the woman he loves) is to do things now, to do the best you can with what you've got.

I dunno. It's okay, but time travel stories are so hackneyed; there isn't enough in that synopsis that's really different to make it work without resorting to some cheap Hollywood gimmick, like making the inventor Eddie Murphy. (Ooh, that always gives things a fresh new twist!) That said, if I hadn't just been totally floored by Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, I'd suggest Jim Carrey, but Gondry did a much better, much more original job with the same basic premise (the heartbroken trying to deal with the loss). I need to get out more, re-engage the universe and get some new ideas.

Yesterday I went to the Printers Row Book Fair with Ruth, where I ran into Frank and Janet Avellone, the illustrious parents of my good friend Jess; Frank and Janet have just moved here as well, so we're going to get together for dinner or something this week. It's so nice to have a support network preinstalled in a new city! Anyway, at the Fair I got to see Dave Eggers speak, which was fascinating. Despite the fact that I still begrudge him the success of McSweeney's because I was hoping to be the one to revitalize lit mags with a sense of humor (and the McSweeney's crowd does a much better job of it than I would have done), Eggers seems like a very nice, very funny fellow. We didn't stick around for the whole reading, because it was 110 degrees in the room they gave him to read in, which was jam-packed with people. Eggers definitely warranted an auditorium, but the more intimate venue was actually nice and informal, adding to the charm.

Today is a work day, unfortunately. I'm still trying to catch up from last week, and the to-do list is, as always, as long as my arm. Let's see if there's anything that can be done about that, shall we? I'm going to throw the laptop in my bag and head up to Evanston to work at a Peet's Coffee (!) for a while. Catch you later.


On Ronald Reagan.

I should make some mention of the passing of Ronald Reagan, but I'm not exactly sure what to say. Reagan is the first president I remember. I remember being flopped down on the floor of my grandparents' house, watching their big TV as Reagan began his address with his raspy "My fellow Americans..." No other President has made that phrase sound quite right to me. I'm not a huge Reagan fan (and I think the movement to put him on Rushmore is misguided), but I salute him in the way that I would almost anyone who has served in that office: with the greatest respect for having pulled it off. Being the President of the United States is a Herculean task, and anyone that can keep this country going for four years, much less eight, deserves our gratitude. (I think the only two Presidents to whom I wouldn't extend that courtesy would be Nixon and the one currently in office.)

Good night, Mr. President. Thank you.


Friday morning fun stuff: currently enjoying.

A couple of things that are worth noting here. First up, a beautiful diptych from Redrick deLeon, "Raining in New York". Wow. And second, as many of you know, my aesthetic has two sides: the light, whimsical nature of Inkblots and Dreamsbay, and then the darker, more brooding aesthetic of The latter received a major "Oooh, I wanna do that" boost this morning when I stumbled across the official site of Patrick Tatopoulos. Jinkies, that man is cool.

Are these two aesthetics so opposite that they cause great amounts of internal conflict and strife? Naaaah. Y'know who else did the same kind of thing? Jim Henson. Granted, I trend a little darker, but I still see him as inspiration. Except when I get sick I go get some antibiotics.

Sigh. Oh, well. In other Fun Friday news, Sara and Talon and I are going to grab an early show of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban this morning. I'm so excited! Then tonight I'm probably going to go hang with my friend Ruth, and then this weekend maybe get to see my friend Ken. It's shaping up to be a pretty nifty weekend right here.

Finally, turns in a spiffy review of McSweeney's #13, which is all about comics. I am understandably excited, and plan to pick up a copy as soon as possible.

And that's about all the news that's fit to print. More later, of course. Ciao!


Contemplating Inkblots.

Interesting statistic. If I'd kept up the numbering schematic from way back in the day, Inkblots would be up to #17 by now. We did seven print issues, and since then we've done ten online editions. Not a lot numerically, I suppose, but it's still a lot of work and a lot of fun.

I'm hoping to put out #18 this summer, with a dedicated focus on making it fun again. Lately Inkblots has gotten really really serious, which has sort of mixed results. We've been printing some interesting editorial pieces, some great critiques of classics, and some really terrific fiction, poetry and artwork, but a bunch of the levity that we had back in the single digits has sort of evaporated. I think part of that was a side effect of being in Washington, D.C. There was a part of me that never felt comfortable in Washington, which is taking to Chicago like a fish to water. Seriously. I've been here for, what? Two weeks? And already I've found myself saying that I'm never going to leave. Which could be tricky, since the grad program I want to do is in Boston, but maybe I'll take a two-year sabbatical to Boston and then come back. Lord, it feels good to be back in the Midwest again.

Anyway, the point of that was to say that Chicago is rebooting my creative instinct here. Things are percolating, and things are looking up. If you'd like to join me in relaunching the zine, let me know! I'd love to have you aboard.


How come the right thing to do is usually so darn expensive?

Today I went into an old client's project to finish up one thing. One thing. And, no joke, six hours later I was still upgrading things here and there, redesigning the way parts of the site worked, and making it all right. Yeah, the way it was worked before, but now it's going to be much better. Definitely the thing to do, but oy -- that's a lot of unpaid hours right there. Yeesh.


Run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run awaaaaaay...

Jeebus. It's been an insanely productive day so far today, but I'm feeling downright spastic as a result. Flipping back and forth between five different client projects, trying to get 'em all wrapped up and out the door, which is great, but ay yi yi!

Right. Back to work...