Geoffrey Long
Tip of the Quill: Archives

December 2007 Archives

Pretty Good Year.

Things are nice and quiet in our Belmont apartment at the moment. There is a jet passing somewhere overhead, the cats are playing outside my office door so the bells on their collars are going jingle-jangle-jingle in a muffled sort of way, my computer tower is whirring softly on the floor beside me and the only other sound is my fingers punching away at the keyboard. It's a pleasantly tranquil feeling to be rounding out what was a largely hectic year.

If you take a look at my personal timeline, you'll see that 2007 was a big year for me. I completed my Master's degree from MIT and promptly began working there as a Communications Director for CMS and the fledgeling Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab, as well as worked as a TA for the Interactive Narrative course at MIT in the fall, gave presentations at multiple conferences (SCMS in Chicago, MIT5 in Boston, FuturePlay in Toronto), guest-lectured in multiple classes... All in all, it was a great way to ramp up the academic part of my career. Other personal highlights included Laura and I getting an apartment of our own (woo-hoo!), adopting two rambunctious kittens, attending the Austin Game Developer's Conference and the 2007 Festival for Cartoon Art at OSU, seeing Beowulf in 3-D with Espen Aarseth (a somewhat famous media scholar, for those of you unfamiliar with the name), and being in the wedding party of one of my bestest friends on the planet.

The sum total of this is the constant replaying of two songs in my head, both by Tori Amos: "The Closing of the Year" from the Toys soundtrack and "Pretty Good Year" from Under the Pink. Right now iTunes has a close third up as a free download, "My Dear Acquaintance (A Happy New Year)" by Regina Spektor, who I'd rank right up there with Vienna Teng as the true inheritors of Tori's vibe.

Mercifully, MIT shut down from Dec. 24th through New Year's Day, so I've had a little end-of-the-year time to get my affairs in order before wading back into the mire that is the day-to-day business there. I never would have thought that it would be more challenging to work at MIT than to be a student there, but that is most definitely the case. I'm still looking at PhD programs, but it looks like I won't start that until 2009 – I have this wonderful once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be doing amazing work at the game lab, and a shortage of time to spend examining doctorate programs, so I've deferred that project for at least another year. This may well mean that I'll wind up going to Ohio State for my PhD, but we'll see what happens.

Christmastime was fantastic this year; I managed to get both of the big things that Laura wanted for Christmas, which was awesome, plus I found this fantastic Rudolph-style Gloomy Bear for her stocking that is probably now my favorite Christmas decoration evar, right up there with the Santa hat on my dragon skull (which, alas, did not happen this year due to the Santa hat going AWOL during the move). For myself, it was a very HD Christmas, which makes me extremely happy; when we moved into the new place I had to buy a TV for myself for the first time ever, so I ponied up the extra scratch and picked up a Vizio 42" 1080p LCD HDTV from Costco. It's not the greatest TV in the world (we hung it over the fireplace in our living room, which looks awesome but doesn't have the greatest viewing range, turning the blacks to grays if you go too far left or right of it) but it definitely had the most bang for the buck at the time. Coupled with the HD-DVD add-on drive for my Xbox 360, I've been getting into the HD scene pretty passionately. When the smoke had cleared after the holiday, Laura and I had been gifted with The Ocean's Trilogy, The Bourne Ultimatum, Stardust, Shrek the Third, Pan's Labyrinth, The Fountain, and all five of the Harry Potter movies. Granted, some of these were presents from me to us, but still... I also picked up on the after-Christmas sales a surround-sound system for my Xbox for $100, which has pretty solid customer reviews, given its bargain-basement price. We don't currently have a surround sound system at all, so I saw this as a great entry level point. I also have a little Christmas money now to put towards something else, although I'm deliberating between a GPS, a PS3 (to keep the HD theme going) and this utterly amazing leather bag that my friend Ariel recommended to me earlier. I keep coming back to the bag, but we'll see what they unveil at MacWorld; I keep hoping that there will be some kind of iPhone GPS system announced, but, like I said, we'll see.

As far as New Year's resolutions are concerned, all the standard ones still apply: lose weight, be better with money, publish that novel, publish more in general, earn that PhD, etc., etc. I'm making progress on at least some of these fronts; one of my favorite Christmas gifts was a copy of Jamie Oliver's new Cook with Jamie, a 'cooking for dummies' style of text from one of my favorite celebrity chefs. If I can get better in the kitchen, I figure that would do wonders for both my waistline and my budget, but I've been trying to get up to speed there for about five years with little progress. Hope conquers all, I suppose. I have a couple of other irons in the fire that may become realities this year, but, as always, we'll see. I don't like to talk too publicly about these projects, assuming they may never come to fruition, but maybe there will be some more conferences and other things showing up on my calendar soon.

Have a very happy New Year, everyone! Be safe, and I'll post more soon!


At Home in the Fire.

Not particularly holiday-related, but I'd like to share a recent short piece nevertheless.

Embers alight, tiny bulbs flickering on
Smoke smoulders and crackling chars the scents and sounds of home
Comfortably warm in blistering heat, cool and relaxed in licks of blue flame
I stretch out and snuggle deeper beneath a quilt of ash
My parlor the fireplace, my bedroom the bonfire
Home and hearth, hearth and home.


Links list: 12-21-07.

A couple of little notes before leaving the office for the rest of 2007...


Links list: 12.14-19.07.


Way to go Matt!

Congratulations to Aurelia's brother Matt, who just sold his first novel!

Amy Einhorn preempted world rights to Matthew Flaming's first novel, The Kingdom of Ohio, for her imprint at Putnam; Stephanie Cabot at the Gernert Company made the sale. Set in New York City in 1901, the book revolves around a young workman on the first subway lines beneath the city and a beautiful mathematical prodigy, as the two are drawn into a tangle of overlapping intrigues involving Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla and J.P. Morgan. Tentative pub date is 2009, with Berkley to follow in paperback.

Sounds like one part Neverwhere and one part The Prestige. I'm sold!



CNN: Scientist finds fossilized claw of man-sized sea scorpion.

The B-movies are real! The B-movies are real!



Any lingering doubts in my mind that I am really and truly an adult have been thoroughly obliterated by the following fact: on Friday, I treated myself to a copy of Rock Band as an early birthday present, and now, just before bedtime on Sunday night, it's still sitting in its shrink wrap in our living room. Where did the weekend go? How did I spend it, if not enjoying my eagerly-anticipated purchase?

I spent it cleaning the apartment, organizing closets, hanging curtains and so on. Furthermore, this was 100% my idea.

I have got to work on my priorities.