Geoffrey Long
Tip of the Quill: Archives

April 2009 Archives

30|09:18 Ksenia

Welcome back, old friend
Academic, translated
Tell Harry pривет

30|09:17 Noir

The blonde in black leans against the iron railing,
Exhales long and slow, whispering smoke,
A promise formed in the plume,
Tells our man what he needs to know,
What he doesn't want to hear,
And he disappears into the fog
The sound of his departure cleverly masked
By the thunder of the 9:45 Express rumbling through.
The world is blacks and grays with bits of red for emphasis,
Punctuating flowers and lives and femmes fatales,
The drumbeat set by the cocking of revolvers,
A saxophone somewhere, a clarinet in reply.
The timeworn detective shakes his head and grits his teeth,
The corpulent crime boss leans back in his chair and brays laughter,
Two thugs loom up out of the darkness like battleships or tanks,
And the women - oh, the women - lay in the heat and pout.
The ice clatters in the glasses like dice on a table,
The whiskey pours in after like a flood bearing down,
The smoke is either from cigarettes or the early morning fog,
And the screams are sirens or sirens.
What does the city want, demands the mayor -
The city wants its own back tonight, the city wants revenge,
The city wants to be heard, to be seen, to be felt,
The city wants nothing but to be standing tomorrow.

30|09:16 Salem

Air is crisp, sky is gray,
Cups of cocoa as handwarmers,
Friends in tow, leaves are fireworks,
The tall ship in harbor welcoming us to town,
Pumpkin ale at dinnertime, jelly pumpkins for dessert,
The witch is lit up in green neon and the game is on,
The bookstore sells games and movies and awesome,
A wooden book, a store of a million paperbacks,
Don Quixote watches over us as we plan our assault,
Museums and mansions and tours and terrors,
A dozen candy ghosts on sticks haunt us,
Marionettes and masks in shops by the water,
Children in costume run by screaming laughter.

30|09:15 The Next Big Little Thing

Gender is done, racism is done,
Sex and bodily fluids and carnage and the inside out is done,
What is next in art? What is left?
Let us turn inwards, perhaps,
What would it be like if urban sculptors and animators and designers
Moved on to the next bit of the cycle,
Checked the grotesque and shocking off their to-do lists
And turned their playful gaze
To the issues of the renaissance,
After all, isn't that what we need now,
A renaissance or re-enlightenment,
To see us through the great recession?
What would Leonardo Da Vinci have created in Flash?
What would Michelangelo have sculpted in vinyl?
What is the shape of happiness when semen and stains aren't involved?
Skateboards are done, the city is done,
Let us turn for the Next Big Thing to the wilds and the villages,
Let us recognize the beauty in the local hyperlocal,
Let us know what art is being made in a tiny town a hundred miles outside Vienna,
Let us see what is being made a hundred miles from anywhere,
What is being filmed, what is being written,
What is life when the headlines are gone, when the clichés are gone,
What is life beyond the chemical and the Hollywood, the Bollywood,
What is the story of the marriage that isn't driven apart,
What is the good life still good,
What is the love and peace and quietude that isn't small-town racism,
What is the wisdom of the corner store, the bodega, the spa,
These lives that aren't constant clichéd struggle but are in fact still wondrous things,
Life in cars with fast food hamburgers and iPods and conversations,
Late night joes told over hot chocolate at Denny's,
Band practice in the basement or out in the garage,
Dreaming not of fame and fortune but of being right here,
Of being in the music, the story, the art,
Of doing what they're doing and having that be amazing,
Have it be enough, how much is enough,
Is that the glory? Is that the Next Big Little Thing?

30|09:14 Puppetry

Just down the street from the Staatsbibliothek
A group of street performers in black jumpsuits and white facemasks
Are using a full-body puppet made of yellow and orange styrofoam
To deliver a form of exquisite harassment upon a poor tourist
Just trying to determine what exactly it is
That sets a Starbucks in Berlin apart from one in Denver.
The puppet bobs and weaves, waves and thrusts its hips,
Beholden to a strange determinism at the end of long spindly poles
Wielded by the merry pranksters, their identities concealed
And thus rendered safe to act out their frustration
With this invasion of foreign currency, of foreign coffee,
Americans go home, they seem to be thinking,
While the puppet itself thinks I'm sorry, I'm sorry, it's not me.

30|09:13 Henry

Suspenders, stripes, beard,
Convergence or spreadable,
Miss you when you're gone.

30|09:12 Yatta

This wasn't quite what they had in mind.
Towering overhead, brushing skyscrapers aside like nuisances,
Shrieks a hundred-odd storeys of doom, destruction and chaos,
Shooting sparks the size of buses from its gaping plastic maw,
Eyes flashing with bulbs like tiny suns,
The clockwork gears inside its mammoth chest
Grinding and screeching so deafeningly loud
The noise shatters any windows its clacking claws leave intact.
The otaku should be overjoyed, the geeks should be dancing in the streets,
Voltron has come to New York, Ultraman has come to Los Angeles,
The giant robots have finally emerged from the sugary imaginations
Of a billion young couch jockeys and arcade dwellers,
On the scene, large and in charge,
Autobot Decepticon Battletech Mighty Morphin Power Whatever
Ain't so pretty when it's your Grandma's apartment going flying.
Call in the military, can we get Godzilla,
G.I. Joe, He-Man, the Inhumanoids, Chip and Dale's Rescue Rangers,
If these guys are here then it's all up for grabs,
Hell, get Jeff Goldblum with a PowerBook 1400c and a 14.4 modem,
He'll get these alien motherfuckers fixed right up,
Just you wait and see. By sunset this'll all be good as new.

30|09:11 Coffee to the People

COFFEE TO THE PEOPLE, reads the big green letters
Mounted to the beige backdrop above the storefront door,
Its logo a fist gripping a steaming cup,
A caffeinated, subjugated form of rebellion,
And I suppose it's a coincidence that they're Starbucks colors,
That these Haight-Ashbury baristas were here before the Seattle invasion,
I suppose that they'd be furious to read these lines,
But walking in, it's not that different,
The menu is hand-drawn, the wi-fi is available,
Kids are reading Voltaire and writing poetry on computers,
Unobjectionable music is playing over tinny hidden speakers.
I wonder if they'd give me coffee for free,
If I asked for it, if I pled my case,
If I explained my hardship and my right to caffeine,
As a citizen of our shared country, coffee to the people,
A Columbian mother's milk to nourish one and all,
I'd point to the neon sign in the window,
I'd shout the joint's own name back to the tattooed kid behind the counter,
I'd start a rally. I'd instigate a revolt.
Pitchforks and tampers and latte spoons at dawn!
We'll march up and down the street,
We'll recruit the stoner wannabes hitting up the tourists for change,
Promise them twenty bucks and some Doritos in exchange for their support,
We'll rise up and overthrow those who oppress us!
Those who stand between us and our cappucinos!
Coffee to the people, Goddamn it, coffee to the people!
Give us your cold, your sleepy-eyed masses,
Stand aside and let us at those Illy machines,
I pull these shots to be self-evident,
That all mochas are created equal,
That we all have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of jitteriness,
Coffee to the overworked underdrugged and just trying to get by people!

30|09:10 Modernity

In the lobby of the hotel beside the convention center
You stand and seethe, smoke curling from your ears,
White-knuckle grip on the credit card in hand
Which has just been so politely declined.
There are thoughts you think at these moments,
Crazy trainwrecks of credit card fraud, of hacked systems,
Of banks that had collapsed without warning,
Of fat cats in billion-dollar suits blowing your savings
On trillion-dollar toilets and vacations on Mars.
You think to yourself what could have happened,
The money was there last week, yesterday, this morning,
You've been traveling frugally, but did something happen?
Was there a bill you'd paid but forgotten about?
Did you buy a car when you weren't looking?
This is America, this is fear,
This is terror not of Jihad but of grocery bills,
Of unexpected children, of opportunities missed
Due to the chains clapped round your ankles by student loans,
The bill for the American Dream coming due
And despite all your work and glory and degrees
You're still found so, so wanting.
In the end, the truth comes out -
A freeze slapped on your card not for lack of funds
But for lack of locality, a skepticism of travel,
A suspicion of fraud that you find all too understandable,
Cleared up with the help of an operator and a few clicks of a mouse.
If only all of our fears could be assuaged so easily.

30|09:09 Justified

The trouble with poetry is what you think of it,
Not a manly art, not a practical art,
Not a good use of a grown man's time,
Especially in times of overcommission,
Debts of money and time and promises
Stacking up against you,
Barking while you sleep,
Squatting outside the bathroom door
Demanding justification for time on the crapper.
In times like this, you write?
In times like these, you write those?

Yes, I reply, I write these.
In times of chaos, reflection is needed,
A cool head in the midst of the destroyer's storm,
And poetry is a manly art, not just when deployed
As oratory from a President soothing savage fears
Or caged up on stages or in undersold volumes,
But as therapy, but as strategy,
But as coping mechanisms and respites,
To gather the courage to step back into oneself
Throw obscene fingers at the wolves at the bedroom door,
To say fuck off, I'm busy.

Would it be different if I were Bono? Stipe? Byrne?
If these lines weren't presented in pixels or ink
But accompanied by growling guitar chords or ambient noise?
If they were performed live, before screaming crowds,
Or crooned from tiny earbud speakers straight into the ears
Of adolescents rocking back and forth in bedroom corners
Struggling to come to terms with teenaged revelations?
Would it be different if it had a chorus?
If I repeated myself every other line, would that be fine,
Would it be different if it had a chorus?

It could be worse, I think, and shrug,
I could be doing lines off a hooker's back,
I could be shacked up with a fourteen-year-old runaway,
I could be a derivatives trader.
Instead, I do this,
Yes, I write those at times like these.


New Deadline for Indiecade!
Considering submitting something to Indiecade, but worried about the April 30 deadline? Good news - the deadline has been extended until May 15th, 2009 at Midnight PST. For more information, visit or check out our earlier post. Good luck!


This is GAMBIT on CNN
A few months ago, our lab opened its doors to Boston University journalism student Andrea Peterson, who was doing a piece on the process of making video games. Lo and behold, this morning we got an email from one of our alumni who had just spotted the resulting video on the Tech page of!
Peterson's video was uploaded to, the user-generated subsite from CNN, and has apparently been vetted for airing on CNN. The video features GAMBIT's Clara Fernández-Vara, Matthew Weise and Marleigh Norton speaking about a wide range of topics. "What is it that we want to do? We have a world, what has happened in this world? And from that, what does the player have to do in order to discover that story?" notes Fernández-Vara. "The imagination has no limit. The limit that we have is time." "I actually joke about how the game industry doesn't like to talk about the 'F' word, which is 'fun'," says Norton. "We all agree that everyone plays games for fun, but it's hard to quantify what that means." (Note: if the video above isn't appearing, you can check it out on or on YouTube.)


30|09:08 The Hotel Ghost

The hotel ghost wanders from floor to floor,
Rustling starched sheets, rattling loose windowpanes,
Scaring the bejeebus out of an occasional tourist,
But she gets no joy from this.
A man who saw her claims she's a lost woman,
A murdered prostitute or a forbidden abortion gone wrong;
Another declares with absolute certainty
She's the specter of a wife who took her own life here
After following her wayward husband to some illicit tryst,
but neither of these wishful dramatists come close.
A woman who saw her one alarming June night strikes nearer,
She guesses the phantom is an innkeeper herself,
A former owner dissatisfied with the current corporation,
But even this isn't quite right.
In fact, it's only one young girl who nails it,
Solves the mystery of the lady in black,
And only because she's the only one to hear as well as see,
To catch the faintest strain of the ghost's frail singsong rhythms,
Humming softly to herself an old cheerful Cuban folk melody,
As she keeps on performing the same routines
That brought her such comfort after she fled her mournful life,
Changing soiled sheets and
Cleaning smudged windows
Of the fingerprints from a million curious wandering children
Pressing their noses against the glass to gaze at the sea,
As her own once did,
And asking their madres what lay on the other side.

30|09:07 1A

Forty miles an hour up old route 1A,
Wending rolling weaving its asphalt path from Boston to Portland,
Salem Ipswich Rowley Newbury Freeport Camden
Charting our progress less by the miles rolling up the odometer
Than by the years proudly proclaimed on tiny little plaques –
1739, 1692, 1891, 1775, 1835, 1831,
Mounted to the sides of hotels and houses and homes
Clad in shingles and brick and siding
In a thousand shades of pastels and browns
And another shades of disrepair.

The sky is gray and sheathed in clouds,
Promising rain in cool, chill whispers,
Not yet, we plead. Not yet.

30|09:06 Little Worlds

I dream of barns,
Great vast structures a century or so old,
Weathered boards painted a noble red or deep blue,
Trimmed in white edging and rough stones,
Lit from within by the warm, flickering glow
Of tableside lamps with stained-glass shades,
Coaxing me to linger a while on cracked leather couches,
Curled up with one of ten thousand escapes
Bound up in paper and bordered by clothboard.

I dream of trees,
Of wind whistling through wild Ohio woods,
Streams winding between their roots
And around mossy boulders, giants' marbles
No sound of traffic or neighbors fighting,
Just the cracks and crumbles of squirrels and deer
Setting about their business
Of timeless, of natural, of life.

I dream of family,
Wife, two kids, a couple of cats,
Bickering over simplicities like homework and chores,
Football games and band concerts and trips to the grandparents',
Celebrating tiny achievements in the local papers,
Remembering the places we used to go and live
When we were younger and still fighting
Tooth and claw, body and soul,
To gather the materials needed
To forge this, our little world.


Tonight: On the WOW Pod
This evening (Monday, April 13th 2009), the MIT Museum and the Comparative Media Studies program will be hosting a special colloquium panel discussion to examine the WOW Pod, a new collaborative project from artists Cati Vaucelle and Shada/Jahn. Here are the details:
On the WOW Pod:
A Design for Extimacy and Fantasy-Fulfillment for the World of Warcraft Addict
Panel Discussion Monday, April 13, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.
MIT Museum
265 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA A discussion about the inducement of pleasure, fantasy fulfillment, and the mediation of intimacy in a socially-networked gaming paradigm such as World of Warcraft (WOW) in conjunction with the exhibition SHADA/JAHN/VAUCELLE, "Hollowed," which includes the WOW Pod, a collaborative project by Cati Vaucelle & Shada/Jahn.
World of Warcraft (WOW) is a massive online multi-player game that attracts millions of players. A typical scenario for teenagers addicted to the game is to settle down in front of the monitor on Friday night and collapse on Sunday night. Sleep deprivation as well as high saturated fat diet is the pride of these players who barely take any breaks, and when they do they sign the typical "AFK" ("Away from Keyboard") that pops up on top of their avatar. The average AFK is two minutes, time to run to the fridge, to open a bag of potato chips, to replenish the glass of milk, or go to the bathroom. A model for an immersive architectural solution that anticipates all life needs, WOW Pod by Vaucelle/Shada/Jahn responds to these conditions. Panelists include:
  • Jean-Baptiste Labrune, Postdoctoral Associate at the Tangible Media Group, MIT Media Lab
  • Raimundas Malasauskas, Curator, Artists Space (NYC)
  • Henry Jenkins, Co-Director of the MIT Comparative Media Studies Program
  • Marisa Jahn, Artist in Residence, MIT Media Lab
  • Steve Shada, artist collaborator
  • Cati Vaucelle, artist collaborator and PhD candidate at the MIT Media Lab
  • Laura Knott, Curatorial Associate, MIT Museum
This event is presented by the MIT Museum in collaboration with the Visual Arts Program, MIT School of Architecture + Planning, and the Comparative Media Studies Program, MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences.


A Chair for Dr. Juul
One of the greatest high points of an academic's career is when they are awarded a chair in recognition of their work. Today Ian Bogost brought it to our attention that our own Jesper Juul already has a chair – at IKEA.
Jesper Bench
As Ian notes in his blog:
On first blush it looks like those ill-fated ergonomic chairs of the 1980s, but it's really just a bench at two heights. The user is meant to straddle the lower height and use the upper to rest his arms while holding a videogame controller, avoiding the strenuous and annoying work of holding up his own arms. Even more remarkable is the seat's name: Jesper. No matter the commonality of this forename, surely we can only conclude that this product represents the Swedish company's attempt to take advantage of fellow scandinavian and well-known games researcher Jesper Juul. The difference between him and his namesake bench? Juul can hold his own arms up while playing videogames.
We're going to have to pick up a couple for the lab. One can never have too many Jespers, after all. Anyone interested in their very own signed Jesper (the bench, not the ludologist) can ping the good Dr. Juul via his blog or his website. (Thanks to Clara Fernandez-Vara and Ian Bogost for the story and the image!)


Philip Tan and Eitan Glinert at IGC East
IGC East
Boston-area indie developers, take note – GAMBIT's US Executive Director Philip Tan and recent GAMBIT graduate (and Firehose Games Founder and Creative Director) Eitan Glinert have both been added to the speakers lineup for the 2009 Independent Game Conference East conference happening May 7-8 at Northeastern University. Philip and Eitan's talks are as follows:
Steal This Idea!
Philip Tan, US Executive Director, Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab Are you wrestling with pipelines? Managing multiple projects? Designing emotional games? Or just looking for a different way to play? Games developed by the Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab challenge assumptions about how games "should" be designed, developed, and played. We'll demonstrate a few of them and describe opportunities for intrepid teams that want to rethink their game development processes and methodologies. Rapid and Iterative Prototyping, or How to Rip Off Dinosaur Comics Eitan Glinert, Founder and Creative Director, Fire Hose Games Ethan Fenn, Programmer, Fire Hose Games You want to make a game, but you're missing an artist, you don't have the design nailed down, you need to find funding, and you don't know what platform you're going to develop for. How do you even start? With prototyping! In this energetic talk we'll walk through the iterative rapid prototyping process we went through making our first title, and we'll demo builds created along the way to highlight key points. The lessons we'll cover are geared towards new developers figuring out how to get off the ground, but we'll have plenty of tips for more seasoned industry vets.
Other speakers currently scheduled to appear at the conference include:
  • Dallas Snell, Co-Founder of Origin Systems Austin
  • Vladimir Starzhevsky, Co-Founder and CEO of Creat Studios, Inc.
  • Brett Close, President and CEO of 38Studios
  • Norma Crippen, VP of Executive Recruiting and Client Services at the Mary-Margaret Network
  • Darius Kazemi from Orbus Gameworks
  • Steve Meretzky, VP of Game Design at Playdom
  • Judy Tyrer, Networking Engineer at Red Storm Entertainment
  • Duncan Watt, Founder and Creative Director of Fastestmanintheworld
See you there!


30|09:05 Pixelpushing

Bits to teraflops
Twenty-first century art
Still something missing

(Okay, the haiku schtick is starting to fail me – but this afternoon I was wandering around GameStop and was struck yet again by how much still-untapped potential there seems to be with video games as a medium.)


30|09:04 Lost in Translation

I briefly wonder
If mama knows that 'gaga'
Is baby for 'braiiiiiiiins'

(Not traditional haiku form or fodder, I know, but hey - the mental image was too good to pass up. Special thanks to li'l Scott Edge. We're onto you, buddy.)


30|09:03 The Thin Man of Comedy

Old friend back in town
Chicago Comedian
Sorry Ken Cubs suck :)

(Does an emoticon count as a syllable?)


30|09:02 Albus

Four in the morning
Abruptly rudely awake
Stupid little cat


30|09:01 Touching Down

Berlin or Boston
A cold wind, another strange room
Where the hell am I

(Note: although I have little to no hope that I'll be able to pull off another 30|30 project, as I did for National Poetry Month in 2007 and attempted in 2008, a man's gotta try. Since I'm still a little run-down from my recent travels, I thought I'd ease into things with a timely haiku.)

GAMBIT Alum's XNA Article Wins Further Acclaim
Back in January I posted about how GAMBIT alum Skeel Lee Keng Siang's "Introduction to Soft Body Physics" won the Ziggyware Fall 2008 XNA Article contest, but apparently the accolades for Skeel's work don't stop there! The piece was also entered into the Intel Havok Physics contest, where it won two more prizes:
For his win, Skeel took home a gaming PC worth a cool two grand. I said it before and I'll say it again: "Way to go, Skeel! Congratulations!"