Geoffrey Long
Tip of the Quill: Archives

December 2006 Archives

May old acquaintance be forgot, etc.

Well, that's just about it for 2006. It was a good year – a long year, a crazy year, in which I visited both China and Japan, presented at SIGGRAPH in Boston, published my first white paper, saw the Democrats retake the House and the Senate, welcomed Laura back to the U.S., and did a whole ton of other crazy stuff.

2007 looks like it'll be even better, God willing – barring any unforseen disasters, I should graduate from MIT with my MS (or SM, depending on who you ask) in Comparative Media Studies, land some kind of job, maybe move again, present at least one conference, turn 30, and see at least one of my oldest, best friends get married. Hopefully I'll publish some other work, present at another conference, and make some more cool stuff along the way.

2006, you were a beautiful year. Thanks for everything. 2007, welcome to the neighborhood.


...And I feel fine.

Here's a little present for me this morning: when checking out my Technorati stats, I found that Sean-Michael Dore over at Imaginarywar used the Mayan Shaman I created for Goldworld to illustrate a post on the Mayan Apocalypse. Very cool.


What I really want for Christmas.

Dear Santa,

What I really, really, really want for Christmas is to be able to write faster and better. I am currently topping out at about 2500 words a day before my eyes begin to cross and I collapse into an exhausted pile of worthlessness – and often a great amount of those words are relegated to the circular file the next day. If you could do that for me, that would be great.

Thanks, Geoff
THESIS: Bendis on cross-media work.

Newsarama has an excellent interview with the super-prolific Brian Michael Bendis, who is responsible for everything from Powers to Jinx to Ultimate Spider-Man to the most recent animated Spider-Man series. My favorite bit is the following exchange:

DF: You've anticipated a question of mine. You're clearly not a guy who's using comics as a stepping stone, because you could have stepped if that was your intent. Why haven't you?

BMB: Because, well, I've gotten a taste, I have gotten to write a couple of movies-I just wrote one recently-and I've gotten to work on television shows. I worked on the MTV Spider-Man show, which is a perfect example. See, when I was offered the show, I actually didn't even understand that I was going to be working on the staff of the show. I was offered to write the pilot. I was writing the Ultimate Spider-Man comic, and it's the greatest job I'd ever had in my life. It's completely fulfilling on every conceivable level. So I figured that writing the TV show in addition would be twice as good. And when I started working on the show, immediately it was not fun. I would, literally, have a meeting where the executive would say, "Why does it have to be a spider?" And he wasn't joking! And the movie was already out! And I'm like, "No, seriously, what's the meeting about?" And then I find out that that was really what the meeting was about!

And then you find out this is not as fun or-"fun" sounds immature-as inspiring and as fulfilling as working on the comic book. There's this false thing that floats out there that movies and television are better than comics. And they're not at all. In fact, there's a lot of arguments that say that comics are five years ahead of every pop culture curve that has come our way. Whatever's going on in comics, five years later happens in movies. I remember some executive telling me when I was working on the show and I was frustrated with some lines getting dropped or whatever, and he said, "Well, you know, in television, if you get forty percent of your script on-screen, it's considered a success." And I was like, "Wow! No wonder all of TV sucks." Not that everyone ever thought it was genius, but you're shooting for forty percent? You're aiming for it? How about aim for a hundred? Which has never occurred. I mean, it was just so frustrating. And then I realized, oh, yeah. You get spoiled. Even though you're working for a big corporation, Marvel Comics, every word you write gets on the page. Everything you write. You know, if I f*ck it up, you, it's me who did it-not some faceless producer or whatever whose name no one knows.

DF: And comics get out to the world much quicker.

BMB: Yeah, it's immediate and it's visceral, and there's a lot to be said for that. And that's why you see so many television and film people actually coming towards us more than we're coming towards them.

DF: It's been a remarkable thing.

BMB: A lot of us in comics and TV and movies are friends and we put it out there, "Boy, every word I write gets seen by the public" That's an intoxicating feeling, especially for people who have been frustrated that a whopping forty percent of their work is seen on screen. And they come to comics and they have a blast. The double edge is that I love movies and I love great television, even though you can count the number of good television shows on one hand.

THESIS: Battlestar Galactica comics.

Another case study for the THESIS (and one of the final papers for this term): Battlestar Galactica: Tom Zarek is a four-issue transmedia extension that explores Zarek's origins.


It's the end of the semester and my brain is going haywire. I have at least two major papers to write, each one in the 15-20 page range; I need to finish my Christmas shopping; I have some client-type projects that have to be polished off... Arg!

I find tackling a day of such magnitude (well, week; there's no way I can finish all of this today) is like tackling a big meal. First, cleanse the palate. To that end, a collection of links I wish to share with all you peeps out in peepland.

  • EA Opens Chicago Studio. There would be definitely worse lives – I wouldn't mind moving back to Chicago for a couple of years, but I'm not sure EA is the best employer for a guy who doesn't play that many sports games.

  • A Revamped Yahoo Turning to Users. Since Yahoo! is now one of the C3 partners, I've been paying a lot of attention to what's going down over there. The pros: they're cranking up the stuff we're talking about: user-generated content, folksonomy tagging, social networking, etc. The cons: they're dialing down the stuff I'm the most interested in, like providing original IPTV content.

  • String Theory in Ex Machina. "It's not about the branes, it's about the bulk." I love it.

  • Me and Toys. How cool is this? I'm going to be giving a guest lecture for my friend (and one of the most inspiring people I've ever met, OMG, look at the stuff he's done!) Barry Kudrowitz's toymaking class this spring. Be sure to check out Barry's appearance in Psychological Science, of all places.

  • Forbes on Books. Excellent report from Forbes on the current trends in publishing. I love the whole counterintuitiveness of Cory Doctorow's giving-books-away-sells-books and Internet-breeds-literacy concepts. Hey, I bought my copy of Eastern Standard Tribe after reading it online...

  • Xbox ready to rumble against PS3. Sounds like all the similarities are more remarkable than the differences.

More to come, obviously... Onward!


Older than some topsoil.
Soon I'll be 30, I don't want to be 30...
– Moxy Fruvous

Today, alas, I kissed 28 goodbye and 29 hello. The 365-day countdown to 30 has begun.


That said, I had a more-than-fairly decent birthday. The first part of it blew a little (had a bit of a tiff with my research manager, was met by a cardless mailbox, and had to call AAA because the door lock on Fawkes [my Mercedes] died a miserable death last night right before seminar, uck) but I picked up Laura after work and we proceeded to have an absolutely wonderful evening. We went out to dinner at Solas, this Irish pub near the Prudential Center, then wandered around the Pru and Newbury Street for a little while. While on Newbury Street Laura bought me this truly awesome ceramic dragon skull that I'd been eyeing for a while now, which was a terrific present, and then we came home and had some of the birthday cake she'd baked me for dessert. Fantastic cake, a butter cream beast rich enough to make your head spin. All in all, an excellent natal day.

Still... Damn. Where did my 20s go? It's been a great decade, in which I got to live in Washington, Chicago, and Boston; start up and run my own consulting business; get accepted to (and hopefully finish) a Master's program at MIT; and travel to England, Italy, Scotland, France, China and Japan. It's been an amazing decade, just a real whirlwind.

Now, I just have 365 days in which to do the things I'd sworn I'd do before I hit 30. Damn, I gotta get me an agent...


Good to remember.
Great trees are envied by the wind.
– Japanese proverb

My old motto used to be, "If it works." I'm thinking about adopting this as a new motto, until I can find something story-related to take its place. Courtesy of one of my favorite novelists, Jonathan Carroll.


It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

This weekend Laura and I purchased and put up the Christmas tree, strung pine garland and lights on the banister, and put up a shelf and a wreath over the TV. Just like that, wham! the apartment began to feel much more homelike, not to mention a whale of a lot more festive. The tree is beautiful – Laura picked out these little frosted globe lights that are really pretty, and we also picked up some fake pinecone-and-berry garland, a mess of little copper bells with stars cut out of them, a few tiny lanterns, and some green and red ball ornaments. To go along with the sort of rustic look we're assembling, Laura tied bits of twine to each of the ornaments and bells while I did a bunch of THESIS reading, and the end effect is really quite stunning. In short, the tree is fantastic. Photos to follow.

Aside from that, I plowed through a pile of THESIS stuff and missed getting a Wii by all of five minutes. (Which, I'm convinced, is for the better. If I still can't find one after all my papers are turned in, I may reevaluate that assessment.)

Next up: the Monday morning THESIS report.

Closing tabs again.

Just some little bits and pieces from across the web this weekend....

Art & Design

  • I love their mission, but the art dork in me loves the hand-drawn telescope logo for 826 Seattle even more.

  • I want a t-shirt with the logo for BEASTS! splashed across the front. That thing's just bad-ass. More information on the BEASTS! book blog.


  • K.G. Schneider makes some interesting comments about Movable Type over at Free Range LIbrarian, in her post Movable Type: Declaring Victory and Moving On. I'm not yet to the breakup stage of my relationship with Movable Type, but I may implement some of the things she's tried Media Manager sounds awesome.

  • Also in the make-my-blog-better category: Smashing Magazine has an intriguing post up called Web 2.0: Buzz-Monitoring and Tracking. Useful stuff.



Mobile Media


  • Courtesy of Warren Ellis: Electric Gypsyland. Technobalkangypsytunes. Sweet. Check out the track "Homecoming" on the album's MySpace page.

  • Laura and I caught part of the James Taylor tribute special on PBS last week, and I was amazed by the size of Sting's lute. (Wow, that sounded dirty.)




THESIS: Yeah, that pretty much sums it up.

So I'm chugging through the truly excellent book Writing for Animation, Comics and Games by the inimitable Christy Marx, which I'm expecting to serve as a cornerstone for a decent-sized chunk of my THESIS. I was a good ways into the "Writing for Games" chunk when I came across this passage, which made me literally laugh out loud because of how well it sums up the challenges inherent in being a writer for any media form, much less across multiple forms:

To be a good game-world creator, you should have at least some knowledge of a wide range of subjects – such as geography, sociology, politics, economic structures, mythology, personal combat, weaponry, war, military strategy and tactics, religions, foreign cultures, linguistics, physics, art, architecture, technology, weather, biology, plants and animals, trade systems, various professions and skills from primitive to technological, the development of civilization, government power structures, and all forms of human interaction. There's your reading assignment for the afternoon.

Amen, girl. Sing it to the choir.