Geoffrey Long
Tip of the Quill: Archives
Miscellaneous updates.

There's been a whole ton of stuff happening in me-land lately, so much so that the blog has sort of fallen by the wayside. I should be doing copious amounts of work and reading right now, but I also suspect that if I don't take 10 minutes or so to type up some of this stuff, it's just going to keep piling up to the point where I won't be able to ever update the blog again due to the sheer length of the update. So, some highlights.

Futures of Entertainment Conference

Not last weekend, which was Thanksgiving weekend, but the weekend before last weekend was the ginormous CMS/C3 Futures of Entertainment Conference, which may have been the greatest conference I've ever attended. This has taught me that, much like my experience in just about anything else, if you want something done just right you have to do it yourself – so if you want a kickass conference, help organize the bloody thing.

Instead of dozens of little short, cross-programmed panels, we offered five subsequent panels in two days – Television Futures, User-Generated Content, Transmedia Properties, Fan Cultures, Not the Real World Anymore (virtual worlds and MMOs) – and each one lasting a whopping 2.5 hours. This sounds like a horrible recipe for the auditorium-seating equivalent of bedsores, but as it turned out the panels were barely long enough! By making the panels so long, the panelists were given the opportunity to really dig into their topics of choice, and the resulting discussions were infinitely richer and more compelling than "normal-length" panels. The talking points were briefly hit, and then each conversation went spiralling off into uncharted territory before Henry Jenkins and Joshua Green opened the floor up for questions.

We'll have video of the conference up eventually, but until then you'll have to make do with the rough transcripts compiled by myself, Ivan Askwith and Sam Ford, illustrated by our photo pool on Flickr. (Double-nifty points: one of my photos was reposted over at The Beat in Publishers Weekly.)

My personal high points were, of course, seeing the design I did for the conference plastered all over the Media Lab (including using the framed version of my poster to conceal the Media Lab's logo on the lectern in my own lame version of a hack) and meeting some amazing people. The best of the latter included lunches with Michael Lebowitz, founder of the NYC-based experience consulting firm for The Da Vinci Code and official strategy game for Casino Royale), one of the producers for Smallville and DC Comics publisher and president Paul Levitz. That afternoon alone well and truly blew my mind. By the end of the weekend I was thoroughly jazzed to not only work on the THESIS but also to start researching how to implement some of these things myself. Which brings me to...

Thanksgiving Weekend

After the conference, pretty much the entire C3 team was utterly blitzed. Luckily, the following academic week was extremely short, due to the Thanksgiving holiday. On Wednesday afternoon, Laura and I packed up Fawkes (my '86 Mercedes 190) and rolled for Ohio. Despite the traffic on I-90 between Boston at 84 south to New York being only a few mph short of a parking lot, once we got past that the traffic was actually fairly decent, and we made it back to Wooster at a moderately decent hour. (By which I mean before 3AM.) Thanksgiving day proper was spent first by missing out on a cheap xBox 360 due to Amazon's horrible mismanagement of their "Customers Vote" promotion – the site wouldn't even load from five minutes before the thing went on sale until well after the whole allotment had sold out – and then enjoying an excellent supper with Mom and Dad at the Des Dutch Essenhaus in Shreve before an evening showing of Casino Royale.

I actually have a lot of thoughts bouncing around my head concerning the new direction in the Bond franchise – Daniel Craig did a much better direction that I'd feared, but the film's working title of Bond Begins felt much more apropos after I'd seen the film. Before, I'd simply likened it to Batman Begins because they're both prequel/relaunches of existing franchises, but now additional similarities emerge. Casino Royale, like Batman Begins, takes a somewhat cartoony character and renders them in a much more realistic, gritty fashion that makes the story feel more plausible. The problem with Casino Royale, though, is that Bond doesn't have the same alternate forms of distribution that Batman enjoys. Aside from the novels, the films are pretty much it – there is no Bond TV show, no Bond cartoon, no Bond comic books. This is kind of sad, because I think that there's room in the world for both a gritty Bond (which is arguably the void that Matt Damon's spin on Ludlum's Jason Bourne aimed to fill) and a more stylized Pierce Brosnan Bond with a John Cleese Q. My hope is that the producers may seize upon this as an opportunity to create new Bond stories in other media, perhaps even using the wildly popular games and creating new old-Bond stories kind of like E.A.'s From Russia with Love video game, which drafted Sean Connery himself to do some new voice work. They've already done a little of this; Everything or Nothing, Nightfire, Agent Under Fire and the wildly popular Goldeneye all do sort of this type of thing already. Here's hoping for more.

Anyway, Friday found Laura and I going to two Thanksgivings in rapid succession. First Laura made her debut at the big Long family Thanksgiving, which was a solid success in part because the family already kind of knew her through her Dad working for the company Grandpa Long and my Uncle Bill used to own (I'd link to it, but the website is astoundingly weak) and partly through Laura just being Laura. We got to play a little with my new second cousin Samuel (my cousin Phil's baby boy, and the first Long great-grandkid), which was awesome, ooh and aah over Grandma's new tile floor for the kitchen, and generally gorge ourselves on good food. After that we hightailed it across town to Laura's house, where we had dessert with her family and a houseful of practice kids puppies. Her sister and her husband have two puggles, and her brother and his longtime girlfriend just got a new puppy, so the three of them chased each other around the house while the adults humans played Apples to Apples. A good time was definitely had by all.

On Saturday, I met up with my old brother-in-arms Nick and the two of us drove around Ohio for most of the day, talking and making grand schemes for future projects. We hit the Pottery Barn outlet south of Columbus (which was pretty picked-over) and then headed back North to poke around Columbus. My Ohioan tribesmen know about the awesomeness that is the Village Bookshop in the outskirts of Columbus – it's a huge bookstore specializing in used and remaindered books that was opened in an old United Methodist Church in 1969. It's one of my favorite bookstores in the world, and whenever I visit I either walk away with an armful of books or nothing at all (because I hadn't given them proper time to restock since my last visit). Lucky for my library but unlucky for my wallet, this time was one of the former. Oh, well – there are much worse things. After that we hit Easton, then headed north to pick up Laura and some Coccia House pizza to munch on while playing Dragonology and Word Thief at Nick's place while he watched the Notre Dame game in the background.

Sunday was the return drive, which was mercifully largely uneventful until I threw my back out somewhere just over the NY state line. I've been on Advil and heating pads ever since, and although it's starting to let up it makes for a fairly cranky time. Oh, well – I'm plowing through numerous books for the THESIS and other research, so I have more than enough to keep me occupied while 'm semi-bedridden. To that end, look for some more THESIS reports in the next couple of days.

In short, we're barrelling down on the end of the semester, the end of the year, and the end of my 28th year in all too rapid a fashion. Once more unto the breach, dear friends! Life is great – hectic, but great.

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