Geoffrey Long
Tip of the Quill: Archives

May 2007 Archives

The unexpectedly creepy Doug Jones.

I'm sitting here watching the extras on the 2-disc deluxe edition of Guillermo del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth, which are even better than I'd expected. The featurettes are really and truly fantastic; one is all about the mythology behind the films, one is about del Toro's color and symbolism, and another is about the special effects of the film. The SFX one is right up there with the extras on the Lord of the Rings extended editions (and one of the SFX guys has the same Hellboy t-shirt that I do, which is cool). One part explains the cheek scene, which is sort of comforting, but the scenes with Doug Jones in the Pale Man and faun costumes are unexpectedly deeply creepy because they're so bloody convincing. Jones is talking to the camera, explaining what all the parts do, but for some reason the disconnect between 'creature' and 'man in suit' is largely oddly absent, so it feels like a giant freaking faun walking around the set, which is somehow even creepier than the scenes in the film. It's bloody brilliant.

Putting the design in game design.

Lately I've been thinking a great deal about game design, although in a different style than some of my game designer friends. I now have a number friends working in the games industry – Alec Austin, a friend of mine from C3, is going to be a game designer for Activision this fall; Chris Casiano is graduating from MIT as a CMS major and is heading to Austin to work for Midway; Kristina Drzaic, one of my cohorts, is heading to Australia to work in the games industry this fall; David Edery, a cofounder of the C3 group, is now working for the Xbox Live Arcade group in Seattle; Nick Hunter, who graduated from MIT last year, is now working as a producer at EA; Kent Quirk is the founder of Cognitoy here in Boston and is working on games for change; Dan Roy, one of my cohorts at CMS, is heading to San Francisco to work on an edutainment game after graduation; Chris Weaver is a cofounder of Bethesda Softworks and served on my thesis committee. This list doesn't even include Philip Tan, Peter Rausch, Scot Osterweil, Alice Robison, Doris Rusch, Ravi Puroshotma, Ben Decker, or a bunch of other folks. Tons of gamemakers, tons of game players, and tons of people thinking about games. I am proud to be one of them, although my own interests are a little different from these guys.

Each of these folks have noted strengths and interests – Dan's huge on edutainment games, Alice and Doris are looking at games in academia, Peter's looking at games and philosophy, and Alec's fascinated by the rule systems that make up the underlying architecture of game mechanics themselves. Me, I'm thinking about interactive narratives and how to emphasize design in game design.

I'm fascinated by the aesthetics and story of games. I'm fascinated by the moods created by games like Shadow of the Colossus and some parts of World of WarCraft. I'm wondering where the high design games are, about where the sense of style in games will come from, where the sense of auteurship comes from and, all too often, goes. I'm interested in the Shigeru Miyamotos, the Fumito Uedas, and so on. I'm interested in using the systems for alternative uses, such as digital poetry. I'm interested in the rise of indie gaming on widespread console systems with new initiatives like XNA. I want to know what happens when you make a game that feels like an issue of Vanity Fair, or what happens when you shift the emphasis in the game away from the interactivity and more towards immersion in a sensual experience.

I have a theory that says that all of these people who hoot and holler about how interactivity is the be-all and end-all of these new media forms need to go back and re-examine their media history. When television first appeared, its primary use was 'remote viewing', and it was only later that innovators began using it to broadcast pre-recorded narrative entertainment. The Internet was first developed as a military application for communications and backups; look at how far it's grown past those initial models. I suspect that the games industry is headed for a similar course of development, if the infrastructure can be ironed out. The current market system for games is so ludicrously broken that I think only the digital download path can really offer the degree of continued commercial accessibility that the game industry requires to continue to grow.

I'm curious to see where all of this takes us, and where it's all going for the next couple of years. Suffice it to say that I'm in the right place at the right time for this whole thing – I'll post more about this once the ink dries, but I'll have something to announce here soon enough. Stay tuned!

On the shredding of magazines.

I mentioned this briefly in my last post, and I was going to leave it at that, but then I carved up a particularly massive issue of GQ and realized that I still had something left to say.

My relationship with magazines is a weird one. I subscribe to at least half a dozen different magazines and pick up another two or three on the newsstands each month, and that doesn't include my comics habit. I've always loved magazines – I remember discovering weird, beautiful literary journals like Globe when I was in junior high or high school, as well as the weighty, super-glossy advertising magazines like Communication Arts, Print, HOW and Step (both in its Step-by-Step Design and Step Into Design incarnations). I was intoxicated by the beauty of these things as objects, the cumulation of writing, storytelling, photography, illustration, layout, and so on. That's why I still can't help myself when I get the opportunity to help design a new print document, even when so much of my work now is done online. When I was in elementary school I made my own Kids' Ghostbusters magazine and served as the editor for the Titan Times Jr. newspaper, I co-edited the Titan Times in high school, I founded Inkblots in 1995 and published it off and on for over a decade, my "senior prank" was designing the literary magazine for the high school next door when its editor recruited poor Nick to do it (even though layout was never his thing for Inkblots), and in college I did layout and design for Hika and Catechresis, a little for the Kenyon newspaper and some for Exposé, the newspaper at the University of Exeter while I was over in England, among other publications. I've done newsletter designs for RBB Systems, book design for Ben Brown's So New Media, and here at MIT I redesigned In Medias Res for the CMS department as soon as I could. Still, in almost every design I've done, there's been something largely (blissfully) absent: ads.

This evening I took an x-acto knife to an issue of GQ that weighed in at over 400 pages and neatly sliced out the content that I found worth keeping. The total amount of keeper material? 20 pages, and about a quarter to a third of those actually were ads, pictures of noteworthy outfits or color combinations that I wanted to remember for future projects. There's one article on Zach Braff, one half-page piece on coffee, a couple pages of gadgets and doodads, a page on hosting, a page on how to make a really great sandwich, and the rest wound up in my wastebasket.

I find something deeply satisfying about destroying a magazine, which seems ridiculously at odds with that earlier paragraph until I clarify: there is something deeply satisfying about destroying a magazine from Condé Nast. I simply don't view most of these Condé Nast bricks as artifacts of the same stuff as the literary journals and design magazines. I would never slice up an issue of Communication Arts, for example, and I'd be hard-pressed to take scissors to an issue of Dwell, but I barely bat an eyelash at cutting open an issue of Architectural Digest, and chopping up an issue of GQ or Vanity Fair is a real visceral treat. This is so because these issues are so completely and utterly bloated with ads. To me, these ridiculous Tijuana bibles of commerce are artistically criminal; yes, they have some great articles, but flipping through twenty, thirty, even forty pages of ads in an issue of Vanity Fair before you even reach the table of contents is absurd.

I still find things in these issues worth keeping – the 20:400, or 1:20 ratio is actually about right – but still, grabbing the two halves of a magazine and tearing it right down its spine is really quite satisfying. Ripping out page after page of silly, pointless pictures of models with eyes like Jersey cows (behind which can be found usually about a tenth as much intelligence) feels like a strike for good in the world. Am I saying that literary and art journals don't suffer from a similar signal to noise ratio? Hell, no. Most literary journals are loaded to bursting with page after page of writing that, if not out-and-out crap, isn't my cup of tea. The same can be said about any type of publication; most stories in the sci-fi magazines usually aren't that great, the majority of the content in The Wall Street Journal falls outside of my area of interest, and so on – yet even there it's a noted difference between the ratio of signal to noise and the ratio of signal to relevant signal. Publications like Vanity Fair and GQ are often so swollen with ads that they're mostly noise, and then the high-fashion stuff isn't anything that most people would wear, so that's irrelevant signal, leaving only one in twenty pages (if you're lucky) to prove relevant to a reader like me.

Rip rip rip rip rip.

Lately Uncle Warren has been ruminating about magazines and Burst Culture, and there are some ways in which Ellis is right and other ways in which he's full of crap. For instance, he writes that "I love magazines that commit and pay for long articles and long fiction. The web rewards neither approach. It’s a packeted medium, a surf medium. Short bursts are the way to go." I disagree with this analysis. If the content is right and the execution is right, people will consume content off anything for hours on end. Arguing that content delivered over the web has to be short is horribly short-sighted because it woefully ignores the hours upon hours upon hours of time spent by people watching long-form shows and films sucked down over BitTorrent or YouTube, or reading weblogs, or running around as an Orc or an Elf in World of WarCraft. One could argue that reading webcomics or blog posts or watching the short clips on YouTube isn't the same, but even books are chopped up into smaller bits, be they sections or chapters or even pages. A compelling story keeps audiences clicking the same way that it keeps them turning pages. Length is irrelevant, as long as the story quality remains consistently high throughout. Will people's eyes get tired after staring at a screen for a long amount of time? Sure. Will their hands get tired from holding up the latest Harry Potter brick for hours on end? Absolutely. Each medium has its weaknesses and strengths, but I think arguments that say that web-delivered media has to be short is simply, well, short-sighted.

I think that online magazines are due for some sort of revolution. I was heartily encouraged by Derek Powazek's JPG Magazine and 8020 Publishing until Derek was unethically forced out by one of his cofounders, at which point my loyalty to Derek (and my own personal code of ethics) won out over my interest in the company. Still, I think 8020 is a step in the right direction, and I think that other publications would be wise to follow suit. Still, I think there's more than enough room online for real good, solid publications with high-quality writing and a strong design aesthetic, powered by Google Ads and produced with a much lower overhead (and a much lower impact on the environment).

Perhaps someday I'll bring Inkblots back and try out my theories. For now though, I'll have to be satisfied with cutting up the pile of magazines that arrives on my doorstep every month. Money is money and the ads aren't going away anytime soon, but at least I can control (to some extent) the signal to noise ratio in my own library. This is some small comfort – which, along with the joy of tearing an issue in half, should keep me satisfied. At least for now.


All roads lead to...

This weekend I availed myself of Dotster's Memorial Day sale – half off all .com, .net and .org domains with the right code, and please don't start in with the "Yeah, but so-and-so is always cheaper, blah blah" because I've used Dotster since like 2002 and am a faithful customer, so there – and now a couple of long-term oddities have been rectified. First, now redirects people to the appropriate site,, and (thank you, Ivan) now redirects people here. Similarly,, and all redirect people to my Writing page. These little domains may not mean much now, but if I ever turn these stories into full-fledged books, games, movies or whatever, I'll have my bases covered.

Aside from that, I spent my day dealing with little projects that had been piling up while I was otherwise occupied with school stuff – primarily cutting articles out of magazines, scanning them, adding them into my database and chucking the remains. I figure I've reclaimed several feet of shelf space today alone. Go me.


So very, very true.

I know this feeling all too well – curse you, wikipedia! And weblogs! And newssites! And games! And, and, and... Yeah!


Links list: 05-25-2007.


Our thoughts exactly, Tom.

My friends Ivan and Vicki and I watched the season finale of 24 on Monday night and we, like most of America, shared a moment of delightful commisseration with Peter MacNicol's Tom Lennox:


(Image by Ivan, of course.)

Barry Kudrowitz, Boy Genius.

Remember my friend Barry, the guy with the Toy Design Workshop I've been yammering about here? Yeah. He's a freakin' genius. He's also the player in the wide-collar suit about halfway through that video. (Warning: big movie!)

Any of you cats who wonder what life is like at MIT, it's just like this.

Links list: 05-23-2007.
You know you're an MIT designer when...

...You spend all evening recreating Spacewar! in Adobe Illustrator.
My reasons for doing so will be revealed as soon as the paperwork is actually done.


We all have our d(a)emons.


Links list: 05-15-2007.


Links list: academics edition.

There have been a number of interesting academic programs and resources flitting across my desk in recent weeks, so I thought I'd compile some of them here.

Links list: 05-10-07.


The termination of interminability.

My friend Peter actually came up with that title, but it so perfectly sums up my current state of affairs that I had to swipe it. Thanks, Peter.

At 9:31 AM this morning I received the email from my THESIS advisor. The document has been accepted. I am now officially graduating.


On interactive narratives, part I.

I'm sure that this is going to be just the first part of a long-runnng series of ruminations on the art of interactive narrative, hence the tacked on 'part I' above. Still, this is something I've been thinking about for a long time, now more than ever.

In recent years, there's been a quite heated debate going on – in academic cricles, at least – between narratologists and ludologists. Narratology in this sense is different from the Barthes-Genette-Kristeva type of structuralist narratology; here it simply means that story is of the utmost importance. Ludologists, on the other hand, argue that the play's the thing, so to speak. I've spoken to die-hard zealots in each camp and I've found both sides to be equally myopic. I think that when we say "video games," we need to have in mind something as general as "books" or "films". A narratologist might assert that story is a critical component to video games, but how silly is it to assert that story is a critical component to books? How, then, to explain economics textbooks, or books of poetry, or books of photographs? A ludologist might argue that it's the interactivity that takes point of pride, because that is what video games do that no other medium can, but saying so would be like chastising intimate character-driven cinematic dramas because they don't take full advantage of the giant screen and surround sound environment that only movies can offer. (Well, fine – home theaters can now afford the same luxuries to standard TV fare, but I digress.)

Chris Bateman recently posted a piece to his blog called "The Nine Basic Players (Maybe)", in which he describes – surprise, surprise – nine basic classes into which players might fall. I applaud the exercise, but if we were to attempt to classify all readers into nine categories, or all filmgoers into nine categories, I would find myself equally skeptical. In truth, people pick up books or watch movies for a myriad of different reasons, and trying to whittle those reasons down into narrow categories feels overly constrictive. Academia is especially guilty of trying to slap these kinds of restrictions onto the games universe because as a media, games are new. Games are sexy. We want to map out games with our labels and terms, drive flags into the field and claim new models and concepts for our own, make names for ourselves and mark our territories. That's what academics do; it's a side effect of the whole "publish or perish" phenomenon. We have to make names for ourselves. Come to think of it, maybe this isn't something that just academics do... But again, I digress.

I feel that story is extremely important to games as a form in general, and especially so to the subset of games that I myself find particularly interesting. Of Bateman's nine classes, I'm a definition Wanderer. Story's my thing, as is purely exploring the wide world. I get annoyed when games like World of Warcraft place artificial constraints on my ability to see what's over the next hill, and I thoroughly enjoy little things like the way the stars come out at night in Azeroth. I'm impressed by design, by character, by narrative, by plot. I am also utterly willling to concede the ability to shape the direction of a plot if I'm assured that the person to whom I'm surrendering that control will tell me a good story. Interactivity is important, yes, but I also feel that the industry is in danger of swinging too far into the sandbox camp, swinging too far away from providing storytellers with the control to carefully plot out and develop their stories.

Similarly, I feel that the recent rash of gamemakers bemoaning the full-motion video clip between gameplay 'chapters' is equally overblown; dogmatically insisting that the verbal exchanges take place using the game's own engine seems to me to unnecesarily concede the gamemaker's right to cinematography. And yes, I know many of these same characters will rant and roar about using cinematic terminology to discuss something that is not, in fact, cinema – but I also subscribe to the McLuhanian concept that each new media contains that which came before; text contains speech, drama contains text, radio contains drama, and so on. We should not willfully ignore the volumes of learning that we've acquired while developing film, but pick and choose from the wealth of information they provide. I think we should use cinematography in games, making as many frames and sprites into art as possible.

I'll return to this topic soon, but I'd like to leave with a quick rumination on Bioshock and Lost Planet – there's something in me that reacts brilliantly to both of these games, even though my experience with each has been limited. The worlds in which they're set appear to be rich and robust, with a look all their own. What is it that excites me about them, then? Is it the thrill of exploration and discovery? Is it the hope for a fantastic story? Is it the desire to see more of the stunning artwork that's previewed in the blogs or zines?

My answer is 'yes' to all three of these things. I just haven't fully fleshed out why.

Anyway, I'm falling asleep at the keyboard. There's tons yet to say on this topic, so stay tuned for part II.


Defending Goliath.

There's a brilliant essay by Mahohla Dargis in today's New York Times called Defending Goliath: Hollywood and the Art of the Blockbuster. It's brilliantly written, includes dashes of insight (such as contamination anxiety being a core motivation behind many film purists' snobberies) and has a poetic twist to it that feels reminiscent of a really well-done NPR piece. Check it out.

Hello goodbye.

I haven't written much about this here, but lately I've been mourning the loss of several of my favorite little lights: the largely introspective comic strips m@b by Matthew Blackett, and Bruno by Christopher Baldwin. Also, the largely irreverent Mac Hall has changed into Three Panel Soul, which seems to be struggling to regain its cheerfulness, even before all the crap went down.

Some other strips have been taking their place, kind of – most notably the beautiful All Over Coffee and the deeply surreal A Softer World, but it's not quite the same. I don't know how I'll cope if Achewood or Scary-Go-Round ever fold, or, for that matter, Questionable Content. And no, Shannon, I still haven't quite gotten into Sluggy Freelance.

Links list: 05-08-07.


The end times.

All right, I'll admit it. I'm in a little bit of trouble here.

My THESIS is due on Friday. I'm meant to be doing final revisions to the paper – and I have been doing revisions, but I'm concerned that I might not be doing enough revisions, or the right revisions. The defense went well, but pretty much my entire panel said something to the effect of "Yeeeeeah, about Section 3..." Which, you know, is completely fair. I myself had been saying similar things before, but now that I've written it (and presented a good chunk of it at MIT5) I feel like it oughta be in there. Maybe not all of it – the section I wrote using the Clive Cussler/Breck Eisner Sahara fiasco as an argument for why transmediation can be better than adaptation for popular series wound up, I think quite appropriately, on the cutting room floor – but the "Radial Maps and Mike Mignola's Hellboy" bit does, I think, offer some good models for ways to think about modeling transmedia applications and then capitalizing off of those models.

Which brings me to the trouble. I'm waiting to hear back from one of my committee members so I can incorporate his edits into what I give the others – but if he comes back saying something like "you need another 15 pages' worth of thinking here in Section 3," I'm sunk. Because, as I noted last week, I have hit the Wall. Were I a cartoon character my face would be smushed flat as a pancake, my body would be flattened out and I would be wobbling around like a piece of paper trying to stay upright as I teetered about on 2-D feet. I'm sure I'll have more to say about transmedia storytelling later, but right now my conceptual tank is empty. I remember feeling this way after wriitng my research paper for C3, that all my thoughts on the subject have been wrung out of me, leaving me struggling to reinflate like a crushed stress toy. I'm hoping up to Heaven that I don't hear "Fifteen more pages," because if I do, my inevitable response will be, "Uh, I got nothin'..."

I suppose I should clarify – part of the trouble isn't that I have nothing, it's that what I have to say is way outside the scope of this document at this point. If I were to turn the THESIS into a book (which is, admittedly, still part of my grand scheme), then my next steps will be to further develop my thinking about what goes into a transmedia franchise and in what order. I'll probably interview creators working in each media type (as well as a couple working across media types) and find out what they've found the strengths and weaknesses of each media type to be. I'd talk about how those strengths and weaknesses might help determine what type of media to use when first starting a transmedia franchise (books are cheaper, movies have bigger audiences, television is omnipresent, games are interactive, etc.). I'd create more graphs. Basically, I'd keep going the way I'm going, but I still think all of this complexity is book-level stuff, or doctorate-level stuff, not Master's-level stuff. There's plenty yet to do, but I don't have the juice to do it now and this isn't the right time for it. Scope, people – it's all a matter of scope.

So, yeah. I've been trying to heal my brain with judicious amounts of other media. Laura and I went to see the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie this weekend and I picked up the Xbox 360 TMNT game while I was at it. Both have left me saying, "Um... Cowabunga?" They were fun, don't get me wrong, but maybe not as much fun as I'd hoped. The game is a real quandary – you can tell that the dev team spent most of their energy on the sets and movements, which results in a game that focuses less on ninja combat and more on ninja acrobatics. I've gotta say, this is extremely cool, up to a point. The battle scenes are repetitive, there have only got to be about a dozen different bad-guy models in the game, it's tricky as crud to get the tag-team function working in combat, and the biggest sin is that it's a freaking one-player Turtles game. What the heck? I haven't seen a one-player Turtles game since the original 8-bit NES game, which, if I remember correctly, was freaking impossible. The 360 game doesn't have that problem, at least – for the most part, it's a cakewalk. This is probably due to its being targeted at kids, but it has the nice side effect of being largely relaxing. It's fun to take your Turtle out for a run around New York when you can run up the sides of buildings, leap from building to building, and even occasionally engage in bouts of nunchuk-assisted flight. The low difficulty level also means crazy Xbox Achievements – I feel kind of guilty for using such an easy game to catapult my Gamerscore, but hey, I pretty much doubled it in less than 12 hours. Nice! (I've added my Gamertag info to my elsewhere page for the interested.)

Oh, and when I haven't been playing TMNT, I've been playing Pinball FX from the Xbox Live Arcade. Lots and lots and lots of Pinball FX. This may very well be the best virtual pinball game I've ever played. Seriously. It's so cool my trigger fingers are threatening to blister. I've already thoroughly spanked Edery; any other takers?

(Time passes...)

I think, all things considered, the THESIS will be fine. Since I started drafting this post around 8:30 AM, almost 14 hours ago, I've crafted some more graphics, rewrote a good portion of it, and polished up a ton of typos. I still have some time left, and I'm still waiting to hear back from William... All in all, though, I think the document is pretty solid. It's a good examination of the theoretical underpinnings that enable transmedia storytelling to exist, as well as a solid bit of idea-generation for where it can go from here (and how it can be capitalized upon).

Now, whether or not Henry and William think the same way remains to be seen... *gulp*


Sorry for the silence.

A quick note here to apologize to anyone who's still waiting to hear back from me on something email-related. I've just spent an hour and a half hacking and slashing at my inbox and I've still only managed to get it down to 92 actionable emails (admittedly from over 200, but still). The final draft of the THESIS is due on Friday, so you'll probably hear something from me the week of the 14th-18th. Thanks!


What value transmedia?

I'm knee-deep in reworking Section III of my thesis this weekend, wherein I'm trying to demonstrate the actual value of canon when it comes to transmedia storytelling. My case study of choice? The new 'season 8' of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, told in comics form by Whedon himself. Why? Simple.

When Whedon's Fray, a comic about a slayer in the far-flung future of the Buffyverse (and somewhat iffy in its canonicity) debuted in June of 2001, it entered the charts at #98, with sales of 18,247 copies. The first issue of Season 8 debuted in March, 2007 at #9, with sales of 109,919 copies. I know there are other factors at play here, but I'm hoping to do a graph of sales numbers for each of the Buffy comics to demonstrate how important canon actually is... We'll see if the data backs me up, but still – one hundred and nine thousand, nine hundred and nineteen copies sold. Da-yum.


Links list: 05-03-07.

Apologies for not posting this yesterday, but I have now (more or less) successfully defended my Master's THESIS at MIT. I still need to do some last-minute revisions, but it looks like I'm going to graduate!

The defense was both a lot of fun and kind of awkward, since I wasn't wholly certain what the procedure was supposed to be like (and because one of my four committee members failed to show). When I got into the room, Henry asked me to talk for a little while about my work, why I chose this topic and so on, and so I took a deep breath and proceeded to yammer on for a little while about the particularly odd road I've chosen for myself as a storyteller in academia, and about how I started thinking about transmedia storytelling several years ago when I read Henry's article, and how I came to MIT, and where I might be going from here. After that, Henry and William and Frank and I sat around and talked about transmedia stuff for about an hour and a half, which was great fun. Lots of laughter and notes-comparing, some harrowing bits but mostly a lot of just chatting and thinking and conversation. We talked for a little while about the weird hybridity of the room, with Henry and William as academics and Frank as an artist, and about the few people out there that are practicing hybrids, like Umberto Eco. That's what I want to be when I grow up – an Umberto Eco, storytelling and writing and thinking and doing my thing. William told a story about having Eco guest-lecture in a class of his once, which was just brilliant. I was officially jealous. We spoke for a while about the trajectory that this thesis has taken, and about where it has to go after this – as William puts it, I'm in cow stomach 3 of 4 – and about timelines; I have to get a revised draft to William by Sunday so he can read it and punt it back to me to polish up on Monday to give to Henry on Tuesday. If Henry likes it then, I can dot the T's and cross the I's and turn it in next Friday.


What happens after that? Well, a few days ago in a one-on-one meeting, William looked me in the eyes and said, "Well, here's a hard question – do you want to graduate on time?" I blinked. "With another six months' worth of polishing, this could really be something," he added.

I thought about that for a second, then nodded. "Yeah," I replied. "I do want to graduate on time. But there have been a number of other CMS grads who have gone on to turn their theses into books. Since it looks like I might be sticking around MIT for a while, do you think that would be an option?"

"Oh, definitely," he said.

So there's that. Maybe this time next year I'll have a pile of copies of Transmedia Storytelling: The Book to start passing around. We'll see. For now, though, I think I'll be satisfied just to get its THESIS incarnation done... And then, perhaps, I can start writing the word as simply 'thesis'.

But yeah – I'm not entirely out of the woods yet, but I'm close! Woo-hoo!


The 44,558 and the 9,900.

My THESIS defense is this afternoon from 1-3. That means that as I write this, I have approximately two hours and forty-five minutes in which to shower up, format a title page for people to sign, get something for lunch and hustle my butt in to campus. That translates into right around 9,900 seconds.

The latest draft of my THESIS, which incorporates many of the changes suggested to me by Henry and William so far, is 44,558 words. This translates into 174 double-spaced pages, with a few graphs and a table. I have no idea what my committee is going to tell me this afternoon; feedback so far has been positive, but I remain nervous. The last draft they'd seen, the one they reviewed, was somewhere around 4,000 words and 14 pages lighter, which I'm going to have to explain this afternoon. This means I probably won't get signatures from everyone today, which is okay. I fully expect to have to run this thing under Henry's nose at least once more before I can turn it in, which is too bad since I know he's swamped to the breaking point these days.

Anyway. Hopefully I'll have some good news to report here this afternoon. Wish me luck... Here we go!


Links list: 05-01-07.
Expensive weekend.

After MIT5 wrapped on Sunday, I headed over to the CambridgeSide Galleria for a little THESIS work, and wound up spending a huge chunk of my Federal refund check.

First I caved and bought the upgrade to Adobe CS3, which seems pretty dang cool from what limited amount of time I've spent with it so far, although the first thing I did when I got it installed was replace the crappy icons. Much better. I've got three or so C3 papers to lay out after the THESIS fog dissipates, so I'm looking forward to playing around with them a bit.

Second, I was wandering past the temporarily-relocated Gamestop in the mall (or maybe it was an EBGames; six of one, half-dozen of the other anyway) when lo and behold there was a sign on the window: "WIIS IN STOCK TODAY!" Hey, if I'm going to be doing research into stories in games next, I gotta have the hardware, right? Besides, it looks like Ivan's taking off for other pastures and he'll be taking his Wii with him, and I still haven't gotten to play Super Paper Mario or The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess yet. This is a scenario that will be rectified as soon as the THESIS is out of the way, I assure you.

So, yes. A Wii for me, and better tools with which to do my design work. Life is good!

New Ratatouille trailer!

The full trailer for Pixar's new film has gone live over at, and it looks fantastic. Like I said before, this is going to be a great summer for movies...