Geoffrey Long
Tip of the Quill: Archives

September 2006 Archives


On my morning run around the blogosphere, I stumbled across Twitter, which is, for lack of a better word, a 'microblogging' service. Basically you send text messages from your phone to the Twitter service and it pops them up on a sort of miniblog. To see mine, swing by, and ping me if you sign up!

Hmmm. This is kickstarting some of my mental machines. (Microblogging as narrative engine, as ubicomp, as mobile media, as...?) A good way to start a Monday.


Welcome to Brackenwood.

I spent a ton of time this morning looking for good examples of original creative work being published online (instead of merely posting clips from existing anime DVDs) and, courtesy of Aaron Simpson's Top 10 Most Influential Online Flast Shorts, I stumbled across Adam Phillips' Brackenwood, which is a series of short, creepy-fun animations perfect for this time of year. The guy's work is inspiring, even when you consider that he's an ex-Disney animator. Watching this guy push the limits of Flash cel animation reminds me of what Frakn Espinosa has been drilling into our heads this semester – observe how everything in a character adds up to the sum total of its, well, character – especially the walks and subtle gestures. Very cool stuff.

Interesting opinion.

"The elite are the people who have a much higher probability of getting things done the way they want them done." -- Yochai Benkler

An original Bantock?

I stumbled across this earlier this weekend while cruising Technorati for art links: Nick Bantock Original Mail Art For Sale. $500 is awfully steep, but the "Bird-dragon fragile temperament envelope" would be fantastic framed in my studio.

Rats! Missed another one!

Dammit! I don't know how I missed this, but UbiComp 2006 was last week in California. Luckily, Molly "Girlwonder" Steenson was there and she's posted a solid recap.

Xbox Live Arcade: Microsoft's real trojan horse, part II.

Remember that post I made earlier about Xbox Live Arcade being Microsoft's killer app? There's been a spate of other posts made recently over at GarageGames that back my theory up:

To be fair, GarageGames is currently building a CodeWarrior-style developer's environment for XNA (the Xbox dev language) so they're not 100% unbiased, but I'm willing to drink their Kool-Aid if it means the democratization of game development.

Further, none other than Raph Koster delivered a major doom-and-gloom scenario at the Austin Game Conference (which I'm still annoyed I had to miss this year) that's reflective of the general doom-and-gloom scenario that Chris Weaver delivered to his game development class here at MIT in the Spring. Apparently the games industry is so hit-driven it's even worse than Hollywood – way worse than Hollywood, because there's little to no second or third wave of income, unlike the cinema-DVD-rental-cable series of income waves built into the movies. Theoretically, a system like Xbox Live Arcade could destory the 'shelf space crisis' built into the current distribution system and make it easier to deliver more 'long tail' properties like 2D side-scrollers (*cough*Castle Crashers*cough*). Keep your fingers crossed.

At least that's what *I* came to MIT for.

"I find that MIT students are a bit too smart. In my courses I try to make them 'dumber' in a sense." – John Maeda

THESIS: Buffy season 8 in comics!

A quick note for my THESIS: Buffy the Vampire Slayer is doing the Transmedia Shuffle with its upcoming comics-only Season 8. Written by Joss, art by Georges Jeanty.

BioWare comes to mobile media.

Neat. According to Sci-Fi Wire, BioWare is moving into handheld gaming, specifically the Nintendo DS:

"hand-held technology is now at a point where we can create those rich and amazing adventures that we've had in mind for some time," Dan Tudge, project director of the BioWare Handheld Game Group, told SCI FI Wire.

Hand-held gamers tend to be younger, Tudge said. "Japan makes up the largest portion of that audience," he added. "The Japanese market is obviously very strong, but it's also an extremely tough market for us as a North American company to break into."

Interesting note there about handheld gamers tending to be younger; all four of the twentysomething people in my current house have DSes, as do many of the grad students in my cohort. Interesting. Verrrrry interesting.

Wal-Mart throwing its weight around? Naaah.

As if we didn't having enough trouble getting films to be purchasable online – now Wal-Mart is threating studios over iTunes. Jeez...

Last year when Disney announced it would begin offering episodes of the hit shows "Lost" and "Desperate Housewives" on Apple's iTunes, the reaction of the world's largest retailer sent shockwaves through the entertainment industry.

Wal-Mart, worried that offering the shows for viewing on iPods would cut into DVD sales at its stores, sent "cases and cases" of DVDs back to Disney, according to a source familiar with the matter.

Now, following Apple's entrance in to the business of selling full-length films for download, the battle between Hollywood and its largest client is getting uglier, as studio executives say Wal-Mart has overtly threatened to retaliate if they go into business with Apple.

Jerks. I give these guys an F for 'plays well with others.' This is doubly annoying when Disney pulled in a million bucks from online sales in one week. That translates into a forecast of $50M in online movie sales in the first year alone. Hmm. It looks like Wal-Mart is having the classic reaction to the game-changing scenario as most old-media, big-business ventures: well-warranted abject terror.

Suck it, Walton.


That doc can dance!

Tonight I was watching the special "making of" documentary on the original Labyrinth (yep, for the THESIS) when up popped the choreographer – one Cheryl McFadden. Who looked an awful lot like... Blink, blink. Wait a second! That's Gates McFadden! Yep, Dr. Crusher from Star Trek: The Next Generation was the choreographer on both Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal. Bonus cool points: she's from Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. Also discovered while briefly trolling IMDB tonight: Katie Holmes is from Ohio, too – from the eternally-maligned (although somewhat rightfully so) Toledo.

Ah, Ohio. It's a great state to leave. :-)


On An Actor Prepares, Hellboy, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and Return to Labyrinth.

Yesterday was, all things considered, a fairly great day. The meeting and class scheduled for that afternoon were both canceled, so I suddenly had the opportunity to catch up on my coursework and other various projects – so catch up I did. I ran errands, I updated websites, I posted some new shots to Flickr, and I did half the reading for this week. (I did the other half this morning, but more on that in a minute.) The errand-running was the obnoxious part – I ran to the post office to get a check mailed off to finish up a project in Ohio, then booked it over to the bank to get some fiscal matters ironed out, only to discover that the Bank of America in Davis Square closes at four o'clock. Man, I'm in the wrong line of work.

However, this rapidly proved itself to be a blessing in disguise. Undeterred (only mildly annoyed), I hopped a train and headed down to the big BoA in Harvard Square (and I do mean the big one – this sucker's pretty much the BoA Mothership here in Cambridge). I took care of my stuff there, then ducked into the Harvard Co-Op to pick up one of the books I needed for this week.

Talon, Jess and Caitlin will all be amused that despite my abandoning the stage for other forms of storytelling, I'm still reading Konstantin Stanislavsky's An Actor Prepares, for the world design class I'm taking with Frank Espinosa (of Rocketo fame). What's intriguing about An Actor Prepares is how much of it translates directly into other types of storytelling. The book's description of inspiration could just as easily be describing writing, design, visual arts, music... As could its description of discipline and philosophy about art. First three chapters by Friday: check.

After that, I headed over to The Garage and stuck my nose into Newbury Comics to see if there was anything new and cool in stock – and there was! I am now the proud owner of three of the Hellboy Comic Series 2 figures from Mezco. Dorky? Sure. They still look awesome in the studio.

While at the Garage I also found a copy of the new Return to Labyrinth manga at Tokyo Kid. I love being able to buy stuff like this and have it be legitimately considered research for my THESIS. This was doubly cool because I got to experience something I definitely plan on going into in great depth in said THESIS: the use of transmediation as a "gateway drug". This was the first book of manga I'd ever purchased – and for a big media student (and bigger dork) like me, that's saying something. I definitely enjoy good anime (like Full Metal Alchemist, Witch Hunter Robin and Hellsing) but I'd never read the anime versions before. Much of the characteristics of manga are actually off-putting to me. I dislike the full-body distortions, I find a lot of the waving arms and flying tears silly, and for the most part I just haven't gotten into it. Now, though, since this is a property I'm very interested in, I took the plunge – and discovered the upsides of manga. The physical size of a book of manga is much easier to slip into a pocket, it's much more cost-effective (getting essentially an entire graphic novel for $10, as opposed to the $20 one expects to shell out for a "regular" graphic novel), and, at least in the case of Return to Labyrinth, the book is fairly fast-paced, so it was a real page-turner. There were things I disliked about the execution of the story, of course – many of the 'call-backs' to the story in the film felt forced, both in structure and in dialogue – but for the most part it's a fascinating project to watch unfold, and I'm thoroughly excited to see how Tokyopop handles the manga versions of The Dark Crystal and Mirrormask. I can't believe I get to do my Master's work on this stuff!

Yesterday night also saw the premiere of the new Aaron Sorkin show, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. I went into it a little anxious – I'd read the script for the premiere episode months ago, when it leaked onto the Internet, so I had some inkling as to what to expect, but I didn't know how they'd execute it. Turns out Studio 60 is very much The West Wing II – the new show lifts not just the dialogue and pacing from West Wing (and a good portion of its cast) but also the cinematography, theme song composer (Snuffy!) and even the font treatment for the show's titles, which echo West Wing's white-lettering-on-black-screens design. When I saw the camera tracking the fast-talking characters swooping through the hallways, I whooped with joy – I didn't care if they were the hallways of a studio or the hallways of the White House, it's the inspiring level of intelligence and contemporary sociopolitical philosophy that I'd missed so much from Sorkin's glory days. Wells is a hack. It's absolutely thrilling to have Sorkin back in the saddle, and I can't wait to see what they do next week. I honestly don't care that much about shows like SNL, but as I argued with my classmate Ivan last night, I suspect that Studio 60 may have a greater appeal to the American masses than West Wing because, well, more people care about TV than politics. Sad but true.

So that was yesterday. Today has been much slower; I plowed through the rest of the reading I had to do for seminar tonight (some mildly yawn-inducing stuff on social constructivist approaches to the sociology of science and the sociology of technology, which I'll be interested to see how the prof makes interesting) and I'm about to head over to a colloquium presentation on Will Newspapers Survive? featuring Dan Gillmor. I think I've heard Gillmor present at SXSW before, but I may be confusing him with J.D. Lasica (who I know I've seen at SXSW before). I'm really hoping the presentation crackles, because right now I'm totally in a mid-afternoon slump – and class tonight doesn't let out until 10. Whoof. A day in the life of a grad student is thrilling, sure, but also occasionally extremely loooooong.


Meeting Scott McCloud.
Scott McCloud
I didn't post about this before the event because I was nervous as hell, but last Thursday night I had the honor of being the first of three student respondents to none other than the world's foremost comics theorist, Scott McCloud.

When I was first asked to do this, I freaked out a little. I've been following McCloud's work for years, ever since Understanding Comics, and was highly anticipating his new book, Making Comics. Now I was going to be up on stage at the MIT Media Lab, trying to follow up his presentation with a short pitch on my own research and demonstrating how the two tied together. As the British might say, I was slightly chuffed – as we Americans might say, I was terrified.

As it turned out, I had no reason to worry. Despite not just having to follow McCloud, but having to follow his cute-as-heck 13-year-old daughter Sky's presentation on their Making Comics Fifty State Tour, the whole thing came off fairly well. My work on transmedia storytelling tied into his stuff much better than I would have thought, and the audience was warm and receptive, and after the dust cleared, all in all it was a high point of my career so far. The questions I fielded were about what aspects of comics were necessarily lost when a property was brought to film (his answer: pretty much none), whether comics were a good starting point for a transmedia property (his answer: comics are an excellent first step for control freaks – good answer, good answer), and what his further thoughts were on comics on mobile devices (his answer: Apple wields too much control over the way content is delivered and navigated on the iPod, which restricts how most mobile content would develop, but it's still an embryonic field).

I was followed onstage by my friend Laura Nichols (whose new comic, Jumbly Junkery, I've been meaning to plug here for weeks), who was in turn followed by my other friend Alec Austin, each of whom fielded three questions of their own (a precedent I set onstage completely on the fly, but which worked astoundingly well – give it up for the old Rule of Three). The good Mr. McCloud answered each of our questions politely, thoroughly and intelligently. McCloud was recently compared to Edward Tufte on the webcomics blog Fleen, but having now met both, I can tell you which one I'd rather hang out with and listen to for hours – and it sure as heck ain't Tufte.

Actually, I was lucky enough to hang out with McCloud for hours, since after the event the entire CMS department and some of our guests retired to Henry Jenkins' house for the reception. We exchanged bad knock-knock jokes, ideas for Flash webcomic structures, and stupid funny stories, and eventually Ivan, my girlfriend Laura, and I all wound up sitting on the floor with McCloud's daughters Sky and Winter, talking about video games, Veronica Mars and getting stabbed in the back while getting pancakes at IHOP. Or something like that. Weird, long story, involving musical numbers and spun by a nine-year-old. Scott McCloud raises great kids, even if they may someday run the halls of MIT as students themselves, crying "Stab! Stab! Stab!" at the tops of their lungs.

Man. I can't wait to see that, actually.

So, yeah. I've now met Scott McCloud. How cool is that?

Vamping Adult Swim.

Is it just me, or does Adult Swim's new Trinity Blood look almost like a sort of fluffy retelling of Hellsing from the POV of the Vatican?


Crossover films?

Lately here at CMS HQ we've been discussing what one media type has to offer over another media type, or what makes one type of media better than another for different types of stories (or, in my case, for different chapters of a single story). One characteristic of comics that doesn't seem to be appearing in other media is the crossover event, like this summer's 52 from DC or Civil War from Marvel. In a crossover event, some big happening impacts the storylines for multiple books, and characters from one book often appear in other books – hence the "crossover" moniker. Aside from the occasional publicity stunt (like when Dr. Ross and Dr. Green from ER showed up once in Friends, for example), this isn't something that you see a whole lot in other media.

Now, however, Marvel may be bringing this concept to the big screen. According to Cinematical, the next year-and-some-change will see film versions of Iron Man, Captain America, Ant Man, a new The Incredible Hulk, Black Panther and Thor. The geeks among us will note that this lineup reflects the majority of the superteam The Avengers (minus maybe Hawkeye, Wasp and Vision). Cinematical has mused about this before, but the idea of one big uber-movie was blocked largely by the film rights for the different franchises being in different hands. However, now that Marvel's handling more of its own IP rights, an Avengers movie is looking more likely. It's vaguely possible that some studios will team up for crossover films (Universal would have to team up with Fox for a Hulk vs. Wolverine movie for instance), but that may be the only way to pay for the requisite actors' fees. Can you imagine the cost of an Avengers vs. X-Men film?

It'll be interesting to see how this plays out from a narrative structure. What if the studio opted to release each of the individual films in the summer of 2007, each one planting clues to some bigger story arc, and then feature a trilogy of Avengers films in the summer of 2008? This is likely too ambitious a concept right now, but man, wouldn't that just be an impressive piece of work?

Guillermo del Toro on Pan's Labyrinth.

I've got a bunch of tabs to close this morning, so here goes. First up is an interview from Cinematical, where The Devil's Backbone director Guillermo del Toro discusses his new film at the Toronto International Film Festival. The clip is being hosted over at the new Netscape site, which allows you to embed video clips on your own blogs, so let's see if this works. If not, you can find it here.

For more information on Pan's Labyrinth, check out the trailer over at CHUD and several reviews from the excellent right over here, here and here.


Xbox Live Arcade: Microsoft's real trojan horse.

Some people get all excited by flashy titles like Gears of War, but I'm convinced that the real hidden goldmine in the next-gen systems are games like Castle Crashers from The Behemoth (the same guys who did Alien Hominid). As soon as I saw the footage from PAX, I knew this was a game I desperately wanted to have – it's a serious throwback to the old four-person button-mashing days of TMNT and the arcade X-Men games. Dude. Duuuude. Talon, if you're reading this, it's on.

Also, the big game news this morning is that the Nintendo Wii is set to drop on November 19th with a price tag of $250 and the new The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess will be one of its launch titles. Time to start saving those nickels and clearing some space in my schedule – because Nintendo's own "virtual console" will provide classic games for $5, $8 or $10, depending on which old console the game was originally published for, and that alone will suck up whole weekends. Oh, yes. Bring it on.


Second Story in The New York Times.

My favorite web-dev shop in the world gets a nifty writeup in today's NYT: History and Science: The Video Games profiles Second Story, as "how it invents techniques to use these platforms, and who it recruits to do that work is a journey that large media companies should watch". Just yesterday I was making up a list of possible options for life post-THESIS and Option Four was to return to the web development industry. If that happens, Second Story is one of the companies I'd love to work for – despite its requiring a relocation to the Pacific Northwest. It's not Ohio, but I do love me some Portland – and hey, I'd get to spend copious amounts of time (and money) at Powell's, so how bad could that be?


It seems doubtful that this little gadget will drop at today's "It's Showtime" press conference, but for the purposes of my research I'm really, really excited about Apple's multifunction handheld plans. According to the patent, Apple's got a combo device in the works that's a video iPod, game device, phone and kitchen sink all rolled into one. Wow. I for one welcome any device that lets me stop schlepping around a whole pocketful of devices as long as the UI and storage capacity is there. My Treo 650 is a great little doodad, but it's a bitch and a half to get actual content onto it. And trust me – despite the fact that I really can't talk too much about what I'm working on until it's published, I now know way too much about this sort of thing.

What Apple is likely to drop today: an iTunes store for movies, plus maybe a new full-screen video iPod and something the rumor sites are calling "TubePort", which is a wireless streaming video solution that gets any purchased movies from your Mac onto your TV. C'mon Steve-O – screw this bigger-screen video iPod stopgap solution and go straight for the iPhone. You have the patent! Grab that shiny brass ring!


Great Caesar's ghost, I made Grand Text Auto!

I'm sitting here in the studio enjoying a self-congratulatory bottle of Sam Adams' Oktoberfest. Why, you ask? I don't often Technorati myself, but I did so this morning and discovered that I snagged a mention in Nick Montfort and Noah Wardruip-Fruin's Grand Text Auto, which is a kickass "group blog about machine narrative, games, poetry, and art". If the name Nick Montfort sounds familiar, it's because he's the guy who wrote Twisty Little Passages and, also with Noah Wardruip-Fruin, The New Media Reader. Where do I enter into this? This summer I gave a presentation on transmedia storytelling at the 2006 ACM SIGGRAPH games sub-festival, Sandbox. Jeffrey Howard was one of the presenters (and thus, one of the attendees) and he submitted the following post to GTA: "How ACM Sandbox Shaped Up". In it he calls me his "favorite panelist". Holy cats.

The only thing more outright astonishing than being asked to present at a conference is finding out someone in the audience genuinely enjoyed what you had to say. Wow!

Heh. You'll have to excuse the string of exclamatory post titles – it's been a pretty darn good couple of weeks. :-)

Code folding!

It's rare that something related to web development gets me really excited anymore. Most Flash stuff doesn't thrill me. Most Web 2.0 stuff strikes me as Web 1.0 rehashed. But this – this rattles my chain.

Bare Bones Software has just released what might be the most amazing upgrade to their flagship product BBEdit to date. BBEdit 8.5 offers a whopping 160+ improvements over 8.0, but the reason why this baby is such a must-have is one killer feature: code folding.

Code folding is something I've wished BBEdit would do for years. The premise is so simple it's mindblowing: HTML is a language structured around tags opening and closing. You open a DIV tag, you close a DIV tag, you open a TD tag, you close a TD tag. So what if you could hide everything between the opening and closing tag? If you know everything inside a particular tag is kosher, why not conceal it so you can focus on the stuff that might be giving you trouble elsewhere? That's exactly what code folding does, and it's amazing. This is the single biggest improvement to my web development workflow since Adobe added image slicing to PhotoShop/ImageReady. It's that huge.

Okay, well, it may only be that huge to megadorks like me who insist on hand-coding everything, but still... Excellent!


Late-night bookcase run!

So I started this post first thing on Thursday morning, and then got sidetracked with all the unpacking and whatnot, but the vast majority of yesterday Wednesday and Thursday was spent continuing to unpack boxes and organize all of our clutter. Man, we have a lot of stuff. After making a flying trip to IKEA late Wednesday night for a couple extra BILLY half-height bookcases, DVDs have been reorganized, books have been redistributed throughout the house, bulletin boards with massive collections of knicknacks (how many k's in knicknacks, or knickknacks, or knick-knacks?) have been hung, but perhaps one of the most dramatic improvements has been the combination of new lighting in the studio and a freezer for the back room, which is now being referred to as the pantry.

A pantry always seemed like a silly and frivolous luxury, but now that I live with three other people and am starting to cook (or at least help cook) on a semi-regular basis, a pantry is genius. Daily-access stuff goes in the kitchen proper, but all dry goods, soups, pastas, and so on get schlepped down the back stairs to the pantry. I'm sure this is where one of my friends' old ideas for a wireless in-house food inventory system will come in handy, but that's still a ways off.

The lighting in the studio, on the other hand – this is a little home-decorating fact that I've known for a while now. Of all the things one can do to a space, sometimes changing the light bulbs is the most cost-efficient high-impact option. I replaced the main light bulbs with those new swirly energy-saver bulbs (a shout out to my man Al G) that are meant to approximate solar light, but actually throw off this weird kind of harsh blue-white light. It's a good light to work in, but an awful light to relax or read in. Therefore, following the installation of over twelve feet of shelving on one side of the room (and an additional four in another), I began to investigate those under-shelf lights you see in the catalogs. I tried some of those stick-on battery-powered lights from Bed, Bath and Beyond, but as it turned out their light was REALLY blue-white and super-harsh. No go. Having failed that, I turned to the NON lights at IKEA. Ignoring the fact that their name means 'no' in French, I picked up two single-packs of the NON lights and, after spending some time on my back, staring up at the underside of the shelves while lying atop my workbench like an auto mechanic, I now have some absolutely beautiful lighting for reading. Wham! Instantly cozy.

Anyway, it's bedtime – my first real class this semester is tomorrow, and I'm looking forward to getting back in the swing of things – especially since now I can think of my studio as a studio instead of One Life in Many Boxes. Onward!



I have in my hand the registration form for my third quarter at MIT. The list of classes on here are much different than last year. A full load is four classes, in the Spring semester I took seven, and this semester i'm taking five. So I'm still technically overloaded, but I'm being a smart cookie this time around and making one of my classes my THESIS.

My classes are as follows:

Media in Transition
Topics in Comparative Media: World Building with Frank Espinosa
Portfolio in Comparative Media (read: Transmedia Storytelling, or THESIS)
Topics in Comparative Media: Comics with Henry Jenkins

Normally students take a class in the Spring semester that is ful-time dedicated work on the THESIS. I'm starting early, hence my assertion that I am, in fact, a smart cookie. Depending on how things go, I may try and take a class at Harvard or the Media Lab instead of one of these, but we'll see how it goes. I definitely think I need the time to work on my THESIS.

It's funny being back. Last year at this time I was beside myself with excitement, going ohmygodohmygodohmygodI'matMIT, but this year I'm kind of blase. I'm happy and comfortable and relaxing about my commitments this year, and everybody is totally supportive of my new mindset, which is to say no to everything I possibly can instead of saying yes to everything. This is because of the aforementioned big bad monster looming on the horizon: the THESIS.

In case you hadn't caught on yet, dear reader, my plan is that every time I mention this particular dreaded beast on my blog it's going to be in all caps. THESIS. I'm working on my THESIS. Today someone asked me about my THESIS.

The only thing better than this would be coding in some kind of rollover that added some booming bass drums every time someone moused over the word THESIS. THESIS! *bum bum bum*

So, yeah. I'm a little punchy. But all things considered, I've feeling much better about the state of the universe, and totally looking forward to this semester. :-)

Here we go again.

Huh. 3:30 AM in the new studio looks a lot like 3:30 AM in the old studio. This is ridiculous – the school year hasn't even started yet and I'm already up until the crack of dawn when I need to be on campus at 9AM the next day. Blech. The trouble is that I'll stay up until I certain point and then either totally collapse or get crazy productive around 2AM. Tonight was a crazy productive night, driven by my desire to get the studio as finished as possible before the school year officially starts. That's why I was still hauling trash out to the curb, unpacking boxes, filing stuff away, and otherwise straightening up until the wee small hours of the morning.

The studio is looking sharp, but I'm a little bummed about how much is left undone – and I still can't find the power cable to my G5, which has me a little weirded out. I remember unplugging it from the back of the machine, and I remember it being among the piles of cables on the floor of the old studio, but somewhere between there and here it decided to take a walk. Ugh. Still, all things considered there's been a crazy amount of progress made in the last few days.

Registration Day is tomorrow – excuse me, today – and the orientation for our research group is all too bright and early in the morning. Lock and load and rock and roll, here we go again and all of that. Wish me luck!


First post from the new studio.

This weekend has seriously put the 'labor' in Labor Day – who would have thought that merely moving two rooms downstairs into two rooms upstairs – and moving another person in – would result in almost the entire house being uprooted and shaken up? I exaggerate, of course – all storytellers do, which is what makes us storytellers – but really and truly, there is much chaos afoot around here. Jeepers.

I am, however, thoroughly excited about the new studio. It's not done yet – not by a long shot – but it's a very cool little space. It has approximately one-fifth as many windows as its predecessor, but it also has one-fourth as many doors (by which I mean it has exactly one of each), and so it goes a long way towards restoring my need for what Laura (and most of my other friends before her) refer to as my 'cave'. I prefer to think of it as my studio. Whatever. Today Laura's dad and I built a twelve-foot shelf just below the angle of the eave, an it looks fantastic. It's a great display place for coffee mugs, papers, and action figures (I have the three Four Horsemen staction figures of the Evil Horde from Masters of the Universe up in the corner over my monitors, next to which are my Mezco Comic Series Hellboy figures – good Lord, I'm a dork, but really, they look awesome).

My stress about deadlines has been set aside while I get all this housing stuff straightened away, but it's nice to know that even my heroes stress about deadlines, albeit in a much more literary manner:

Big Deadline is still a thing of madness. The other two little deadlines at its feet chivvy and squeak and grunt and bare their sharp little teeth. Several smaller deadlines howl impatiently from the bushes outside.


Me, I'm taking a break to check my email and catch up on my weblogs. With a candle burning and a glass of port close at hand. Hey, I may be a dork, but at least I'm a snobby dork.


NPR details its Online Music Service.

Not sure how I feel about this, but it has the potential to be extremely cool: according to this article, NPR's new online service "will launch in first half of 2007, and will 'create a unified place to showcase all genres on present and future media platforms.'
The new effort will be a supersite pooling the public radio system’s collective resources…it will have all music forms – including classical, jazz, folk, opera, AAA, electronica and alternative – from its 815 public radio stations around the country and their partner websites." I'm not sure why I'm so apprehensive about this idea, but I'm leery of another music portal showing up, even if it IS from NPR.

How Video Killed the Video Star.

Interesting article in The New York Times: Outshining MTV: How Video Killd the Video Star, which is about how online video is impacting MTV and other aspects of music video culture. Favorite note:

...More and more CD’s are bundled with DVD’s, or reissued with DVD supplements, or followed by stand-alone DVD companions. From the Arctic Monkeys (who recently released “Scummy Man,” described as “a short film inspired by the song ‘When the Sun Goes Down’ ”) to Chris Brown (whose fans are invited to buy “Chris Brown’s Journey,” a DVD cash-in), extended music videos are finding a home in record stores.
Neat stuff.

I support myself.

Today I'm supposed to give a presentation to introduce myself to the new first-year students in CMS. Since I've been so busy with other stuff, I totally haven't gotten around to making something new, so I've been wracking my brain about how to repurpose something old in a creative way. You know, show off something I've done that the new guys will appreciate that the old guard might not have seen yet. Then I remembered something that I've been including in most of my recent bios.

I'm on the iTunes Store.

The story is one that I told at Fray Cafe Three, at SXSW a couple of years ago. Listening to it again is really kind of fun – I can hear touches of Henry Rollins, touches of Eddie from Ohio, and maybe a couple touches of Denis Leary. (I wear my influences on my sleeve.) And you know what, for $.99 and the time it takes to download the file, my problem is solved – and I think Derek just got a nickel. Good news all around. I hope the other guys like it.