Geoffrey Long
Tip of the Quill: Archives
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.

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