Justin Hall's personal site growing & breaking down since 1994

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31 January

Posted an account of some socially incestual relations.

30 January

I just got laid off! The end of my time at Gamers.com. Now that I have a vision for what I am going to do next! The timing couldn't have been better.!

Freedom! Liberation! Off my ass wondering whether the big boss brains are going to find a miracle well in a time of draught!

My time is my own! So now I begin freelancing, and building televideo prototypes in my living room.

28 January

Thinking of what I'm going to do next, I think I'm gonna get myself a tv show.

Wherever I work, I work best at interviewing people, brainstorming and entertaining. It seems to me that the right TV show would finally make me feel wholly utilized by my job -

As much as i love this web site, it's only one way to share my learning process with the world. with TV, a camera and access to resources I can do all this learning and sharing at full speed, full stimulation. Conceiving it reminds me of my radio show. That was so much fun!


And for years people have been telling me I'm made for TV. People watch me speak or listen to me tell a story and say that's what I should be doing. I think on my feet and I reach out to people I talk to. Heck, my friends always accuse me of interviewing people in social situations - I might as well make it my job! I guess if I'm not going to sell brushes door to door, or work for a PIRG, I could do constructive things with television.

People hear I write a web site and they say I should write a book. I've been trying for the last few weeks to come up with a book idea. I've had at least three:

"Technology and the Search for Intimacy"

"Understanding Games"

"The Adventures of Jericho - Pure Media Mojo"

I know writing takes work, but whenever I sit down to focus on a single book idea, my thinking is too fragmented. I write hypertext. These book ideas end up being little web sites with links and pieces. Today on the way to the airport, thinking to myself, what will I say to Warren Spector when I meet him again? What do you do, he might ask. I thought, as the Giants fumbled at the 35 yard line during a kick return, "I'm a researcher and hypertext writer." I could live with that, it's a simple statement, but it didn't have some of the electricity I feel when I am standing speaking. Standing speaking is about when I feel like I'm doing my thing. Fully wired up, aware, and people respond.

Then at the airport, the flight was delayed an hour. I had grabbed Rabbit Run from the house on my way out, remembering how glowingly Howard had described it. As I sat reading it I couldn't ignore the fidgiting woman across the asile from me. She sat not reading her book, but adjusting her very furry blue sweater, or pulling her earlobe, or crossing her legs or adjusting her glasses or looking up or moving her belongings around. I couldn't help myself, after she sneezed, I tore myself away from the depressed Mt. Judge, moved across the way to sit near her and said "gezunteit." Then a few minutes later, after some reading (the long flight delay meant I could be gradual entering conversation) I said, "you have an enormous amount of nervous energy."

That turned into a conversation about art and marriage and career and greek people and oakland and los angeles. Once I got close her hands marked her as definitely in her fifties. Short dark hair, which she regularly readjusted. She was attractive to me, and once we began talking it was clear that it was something beyond her style and looks that drew us together. Suicide in the family can be like that. Dating Amy gave me a fantastic vocabulary for talking to artists, and I am often drawn to women who make. This woman is an artist who works with fabrics and textiles. She used to do installation work, her stuff is in some museums. Now she makes very high end sweaters. She said she thought I was an artist by the way I was dressed - coordinated, colorful.

She told me I should have a television show, that it clicked into place, along with the other advice I've been given and the crossroads in my career that I'm manufacturing with some help from Alan Greenspan.

So now I have something else to work on. I'm writing from the Hotel Figueroa, in downtown Los Angeles, where I have come representing Gamers.com at the Entertainment in the Interactive Age conference. In 1995 I came to this hotel to spend the night with a lady after appearing at SIGGRAPH. I didn't last the night - my appendix burst here.

I'm not speaking at this conference, but I will be watching panels of people I admire and respect and want to hear from. A year or two ago, I decided I want to learn about gaming. Now I am presenting a talk about gaming to the Canadian Film Centre, I'm helping South by Southwest organize gaming panels and I wrote up a panel description for E3 and got it approved and now I'm moderating "Gaming: A Cultural Legacy" and helping to pick the guests for it. The people I get to work with are all sharp minds and lively personalities. I found that these conferences are looking for people who could take sophisticated concepts and break them down into compelling public knowledge consumption. I offered my services and I've found myself well-utilized here. One perk - I get to pick my heroes from the gaming industry and invite them up on stage with me. That mattered more to me when I thought I'd hit them up for apprenticeships, now I'm back to seeing myself as an independent agent.

"Hi, nice to meet you. I'm a practicing student who shares his studies with the world through media. It could be fun to visit you and interview you some time."

27 January

Some people write me cuz they can't believe this page is so revealing. Or so it seems to them. Maybe they haven't seen Lorie's Page (minors prohibited).

*   *   *   

Last night around seven post meridiem, I was sitting at my office playing Bridge Builder as people trickled out of my office to go to movies.

Bridge Builder
If you have a PC, you should try this bridgebuilder game - it's awesome. You can download a demo free.
I had spent most of the day raising money from my coworkers, going cubicle to cubicle to get enough cash to buy Joel a PlayStation 2 since his place was broken into and seven or eight hundred dollars worth of gaming stuff was stolen. It was amazing - the seventy odd people there coughed up over $400 and someone sold us a barely used PS2 and so he was able to get his game machine back just a few days after the robbery.

So that felt great, but persuing that had left me without any plans until it was so late in the evolving beginnings of the weekend night. I called Amy's place, Amy was already going out on a hot date, and Joanne was asleep. I wanted to go see "O Brother" but no one seemed up to it. Terence was leading several young men to dinner in Concord (why you drive past all the nice places to eat in Berkely and Oakland for that slab of meat fest is beyond me) and then they were going to a movie, except that I would have had to drive to California suburbs to see it with them.

Discontent to sit at my desk playing engineering computer games into social friday night, I was roused into action when Lyle (Den's brother) came into the big room looking for people to play StarCraft.

Most of the time I play StarCraft against a human opponent, I play Eli. He's nine, and he's not very efficient. You have to be really efficient to win that type of game. And I thought I was pretty okay, until I went up against Lyle and I was schooled. Ozy came riding by my darkened desk on a scooter and pointed out that I was a fool asking for a beating if I didn't know what I was up against. I ran into the other room to watch Lyle play and it was as though he was playing a different game. The speed and fluidity Gary Wolf saw in me on the web that night paled in comparison with Lyle's fingers and flicking of the mouse, marshalling troops and building a temporary military society to successfully take on two or three human foes. StarCraft is a massive experiment in capitalism. Each game you play, you won't succeed unless you grow fast and hard and use all the resources around you. You've got to build a massive war machine before your opponent does. It's like having sticks and a knife and sitting down to whittle furiously to make your pieces during a game of chess.

After Amy didn't take so kindly to the gaming world and my immersion in it, I've wondered what it would be like to have a girlfriend who enjoyed gaming. Tonight I got a taste of that, as I watched Pookie, Lyle's girlfriend, sit at his computer and use his custom headphones and deluxe keyboard setup to play StarCraft against him, against his mild protestations. I guess if I had a girlfriend who liked games it would be a competition for resources maybe! That competition could be fun perhaps.
So Lyle, seeing my awe and inability to compete at his level, he sat behind me and drove my hands in another game against his girlfriend and Gilbert and Matt. I learned build orders - the proper shape to an early society. I've read the materials before, I've done some homework, but this was like boot camp versus liberal arts college - less theory, more practice. I'd never even used the keyboard before! But I learned you can't be an efficient StarCraft player unless your left-hand fingers are flying at great speeds.

Phantasy Star Online

My StarCraft skills improved markedly last night. I played that game until late, when the pizza arrived, and we watched the young console dudes playing Phantasy Star Online, "International online multiplayer console RPG" they played with Japanese people, chatting in the game with broken English and broken Japanese. "Are you from Hokkaido?" "Should we attack the mothmen?" About five of these editors dudes, each at their own TV with a Dreamcast, playing online with Japanese dudes, while I was in hyper-computer-capitalist-warmaking study hall.

The Economist on Counter-Strike:
"a surprisingly social game"
"violence in a more cerebral form"
Later Bob lead an exodus from StarCraft to Counter-Strike and it was good fun to cuss and run about shooting after so much micro-management and brain-work. I have a second computer at my desk and I was surfing Slashdot between rounds - it really decreased my game skillz. The madiera I was sipping didn't seem to have an effect, and I was drinking enough water to force me to pee often - that seemed to keep the RSI at bay. I stopped multi-tasking, stopped gaming, and after two I sent out a delinquint report on email customer support.

Three ante meridiem, I was getting set to go when Robert and Mike "Shufly," drunk on their scooters, pulled by my Honda Civic to wish me well and talk a bit about all of our futures in the great uncertain internet startup that is life. I told them some truth as I knew it, allowing that there wasn't much truth to go around these days. This is Robert's first job, Gamers.com, the job that got him out of playing Counter-Strike in his parents house in Arizona, to playing Counter-Strike with sixty other boys at Gamers.com. As much as it may seem momentous to move out, I argued that you can return home with dignity. I used to be in the business of telling everyone to move out and move around and do stuff as soon as possible. But that doesn't suit all people, all goals, all situations. It's too darn American. I like it, but you don't see me moving all the time.

Mike and Robert and I argued over who had the shittiest car at the company. Mike was disqualified because his car is cool - a sixties Mustang. I had the most miles on my car, 178 thousand, but Robert had a run-down old American car, which is definitely shittier.

24 January

Focusing is difficult today. Dissettlement is brewing around me. I try to wrap myself in a sonic cocoon, but Bob Dylan and Blonde Redhead create distracting moods. I don't know exactly what I want, except to tell the truth and it's hard when I'm being asked to wait and be silent. And I don't even know the truth except that I have some faith in the future, but if I were to die today I might feel my day had been more wasted than some.

*   *   *

Naughty sex feels better. People recommend leaving the bedroom, or using food, or buying toys to spice up a mundane intimate relationship. People don't usually recommend fooling around with your ex-girlfriend's good friends to spice up a single man's sex life though.

Joanne has been a friend of Amy's since Amy went to college. I met Joanne when they were working on the film. Joanne's a lively gal - she has some of the most artful and deep-seated defense mechanisms I've ever seen. Sometimes she's reluctant to get into the shit; she hated it when Amy and I bickered. Other times she's Super Antagonist. I remember her crying out "Yeah! America!" at the top of her lungs in a movie theatre during previews for The Patriot. Last year her Halloween costume was a giant tampon; this year she was a human-sized maxi-pad.

You're in a relationship for a long time, you maintain monogamy while you grow close to a group of folks. Joanne and I have travelled from Oakland to Los Angeles and back, in cars, staying with her family. Joanne watched Amy fluff me during the filming of blood. Joanne took care of Fernando sometimes when I left town.

So when I started feeling a deep itch in my pants yesterday, I thought of Joanne. When you're a monogamous man in a long relationship, you think of most of all your lady's female friends in your quiet moments. Joanne has been attractive to me, and very much in touch because Amy moved in with her and I see them folks regularly.

So I checked in with Amy first -

jah: i'm working on joanne - trying to make her hot and bothered
egg: oh gross
Sloth (4:19 PM):why is justin harrassing me
egg (4:19 PM):hes horny
egg (4:19 PM):give him a mercy fuck joanne
jah: why you want her to fuck me?
egg: im just egging her on
jah: "egg"
jah: ing
egg: Ru really trying to scroo her
jah: i would screw her, yeah. i think i'm just getting carried away with agressive chat tho
jah: screwing her is probably a bad idea
jah: but it would be fun
jah: what do you think?
egg: i dont see why not
jah: you're just being tough - i think it would be weird for your house
jah: i can't see how it wouldn't - maybe you're looser about this stuff than i am
jah: maybe it's all in my head
egg: it would be worstest for you, wed be laughing about your penis together all day long
jah: hah hah hah
egg: "shell talk about you to all of the girls"
jah: and how fast i finish, etc
egg: heh
If you approve of casual sex between open [young, horny] friends, this didn't seem to be that strange. Joanne's hesitation seemed to stem mostly from not wanting to create drama and tension. I figured if Amy could joke about it and she didn't discourage it then it was going to be okay.

Joanne and I have been meaning to play tennis together for weeks. I haven't yet used my racquet. Yesterday it was pouring rain, so I picked her up after work to drive around after dark looking at wet tennis courts. We stopped by my house and had some dinner. I had bought some Lyla's chocolates last week with Howard so I served them up. My place was clean because my Mom visited this weekend, and I had prepared a fire but never lit it, so I had a nice fire going in the fireplace. Terence gave me a "beers of the world" sampler for my birthday so we drank some Latvian brews and Singapore ales.

Howard: Then you DID seduce her.

Well I figured she's her own gal. I told her I wanted to roll around with her before I picked her up. When you tell someone you want to fool around with them, and they come over to your house for hours and hours and enjoy your hospitality, it shouldn't be hard to make physical contact with them.

Joanne and I had some delicious heated rolling around. We'd spent long enough laying there talking about how or whether it would impact our friendship and her friendship with Amy - by the time we got close enough to touch it was both forbidden and anticipated: hot. Yimney. Viscious tongue-lashing and grasping and rolling around. We kept from sharing fluids beyond saliva. Either we were saving something to look forward to, or trying to minimize the impact of our evening - it seemed like a test to see how it might matter if we just fooled around a bit and then took a break.

So break we did, after a nice time together. I drove her home, came back, cleaned up, had some quiet moments with myself and went to bed. Today Amy wasn't quite so forthcoming with jokes and prodding. Joanne was at home reporting some nausea. Kathy called me to get the gossip and share her disapproval. I told her I realized I had made a mistake as soon as I had started fooling around with Joanne - I hadn't invited Kathy to watch.

egg: i mean, its kind of a weirdo thing to do.

I'm either going to hold this idea together that I knew what I was doing and so did everyone else and so it was strange but okay. Or it was a wicked evil purposeful act designed to strike out at my ex-girl and her community and revel in delicious sin. Somewhere between those poles I wax and wane at work.

Meadows - Rasputin or Sodom

the part of my personality here is played in pictures by Mark Meadows, from Three Days in the Land of Many Gods, A photo essay of journeys through Bethlehem Jerusalem and Gaza during the last week of December.

19 January

Amazing internet finds today -

From Plastic.com, a He-Man web site. From Matt Wenzel, He-Man fans who couldn't keep their hands off themselves (read the user comments here). From Devin, He-Man object of desire fan-fiction, and a picture of the cartoon of touch-yourself fantasy.

I check out SeanBaby's Superfriends Page, and find hilarious critiques of the characters in this cartoon.

Then, a reward for getting her on AIM maybe; a link to a little bit of the culture and history of San Francisco, from Kathleen: One Weird Church.

18 January

People around me are breaking up, companies around me are laying off. This is an ugly ugly time, only as ugly as things got beautiful near the top peak of the internet hype. It was an astonishing euphoria, when people were so high as to believe that the internet had created a beautiful paradigm for business and success so as to make us luminaries for life. Well now we can at best take cover from a raging shitstorm on the horizon, as all the reality we repressed for the internet inhalation is coming back to kick our ass.

As ugly as the layoffs are, they are no more than simple pride and ignorance. I've seen four companies fail on their potential.

It's the breakups and the divorces that are truly tragic, because of the intimate scale of two people who consent to try to love one another. If you have that feeling that you love someone and you're committed to it, and then it turns to lies and deciets and infidelity, that's a bigger lie than a failed company where any one of a number of people or market forces can be held responsible. A failed relationship is a lie that has lived with you every day for months or years. It's a lie that says you failed to make the relationship work. It's a lie that says you're not so lovable that this other person won't ignore your bullshit.

So it all comes back to personal bullshit - piled high and deep. We're wrapped up enough in wanting so hard to believe we're destined for paradise that we can't see that we're leaving behind the heaven around us. Kathleen called it the "trade-up mentality." It's thinking that what you got isn't good enough. Well just as soon as I get my life together, I'm resolved to start enjoying it.

14 January

I'm doing a relationship accounting for my resume.

Of the women I've had sex with, I know the astrological sun signs of all but three. Of the remaining twelve, two were Pisces, two Cancer, two Scorpio, two Sagittarius, two Aquarius, one Taurus, one Gemini. Further analysis reveals that nearly half of the women I've had sex with have all been water signs; not much of the other three elements.

The best way to propel myself dangerously into overexherting exercise is Jane's Addiction, which I just don't do enough of. (on an ideal day, I do sitting meditation, a little tai chi, and then some jump rope - i try to do at least one of those three once a day).

Howard Power California has been having power troubles - too many people need too much juice. Juice to work, juice to play, juice to distract themselves, juice to keep themselves warm or cool.

I usually leave most all of my lights off. I keep the house around 68 degrees. I don't run the TV much. My big energy expenditure has been computers - usually there's at least two or three computers on around me.

With all the talk of power outages and more expensive energy, it seems like a good time to experiment with cutting my power usage, so I've started to turn my computers off (except my home server). It's a wild strange world - to enter a house where it's mostly quiet - no cooling fans, spinning hard drives, whining monitors, bleeping communications. Instead of coming home from work and parking ass in front of computer again, I end up on the couch reading. Or listening to the radio cleaning the kitchen. Just different kinds of activities that make my home life seem more distinct from the hours I spend at work each day.

Now of course it's the weekend and I'm getting my computer on! Hell yeah! It seems like more of an event, or at least more of an appointment.

9 January

A quick "fling" can take your mind off your troubles! Go ahead and help bury the memories of your old longtime gal with the psychic debris of another failed relationship!

7 January

Love continues to be a complicted understanding.

Amy joked on chat the other day - "Give up games if you want me." I thought that was wild, and then Patty pointed out to me that I have been saying to her, "Give up smoking if you want me."

I've got to feel my confidence, that I'm not just taking all the love and passion I have and pissing it down some kind of unhealthy hole - studying these games is going to take me somewhere. Cultural history - it sounds dry, but when you put the fate of young minds in the balance, and you add some big breasts and aliens bleeding neon blue snot, it should keep me twitching for another few weeks at least.

Gamers.com is helping me develop my power. It's got to be true, because today I believe in personal progress. And a big part of personal progress is understanding where you came from and reflecting to help move forward.

pixie head In the case of Amy, the breakup grows ever more confusing. At first she moved out, and then it seemed to make sense that we would be "taking a break." I started to want to see other women and so then it became something more of a breakup. Still I harbored the idea that we might someday reunite, when we had come to understand more of what it was that a real lasting relationship might require - like listening and patience. Four years is just about 15% of my lifetime, you just can't throw that away. Taking a break could just as easily hurl us back together as drive us ever apart; aren't you more likely to dive in deep with the one you know you can love when you feel the aching agony of lonliness trying to relate to so many other people with whom it doesn't come so easily?

But perhaps in fact it doesn't come easily because you can't listen. Lately I've found myself in these strange moments of having initiated conversation and then I'm just sitting there trying to focus on what people are saying while my mental soundtrack and analysis is going ten thousand times the speed of ordinary reflections and I'm just barely able to remember what they were just saying in order to pick up normal conversation when it's my turn to talk. Of course it's not always that way, but it's annoying to notice yourself feeling distracted against your will when you're not even on drugs.

What am I thinking about? I'm judging I think. Or I'm making links, and plans. I'm not in the moment.

So I have to work on my focus. Tai chi and meditation come to mind immediately. This last week I discovered that I can focus at work. I have gotten better at it - I've shortened my work day from 12 hours to 8 hours. I have a list of tasks and I make sure to contact people in a timely fashion. I make schedules for my work. I leave when I'm not working, and I go visit people who live across bodies of water.

Still growing In my private life, I went to visit Amy. She's actively rekindling feelings with a boyfriend she had just before me. And I discovered that we could talk long enough about her emotional life that finally we came to break through some of the tension that was between us before. I could poke at her again, make fun of her for being on the rebound, and she returned the jokes without fear or anger. Finally beyond some of those quips I might have been saying that I love her either way, no matter what she does, I hope she has fun, and in fact it might just be clear that it's time for me to keep moving. If she's pledging alternating two week vacations with an old lover, I'd be a sorry boy to be trying to get in the middle of that. The love she spoke of feeling with him, an unresolved love many years old, she sounded so brightened when she spoke of it. It was exciting to hear, at the same time it drove me a little nuts. I have a hard time being straightforward talking feelings, at least today Amy afforded me some of the loving irony I crave. It's like emotional methadone I guess; I'm still addicted to a bad substance, but loving irony is nowhere near as bad for my system as bitter irony.

It's so strange. Being honest, even straightforward, in a relationship. It requires risking everything. Exposing your ugly imagination and your insecurities and your perversions and your judgements. And confonting your fear, that you will be something repellant and unlovable. And yet, whenever I can seize hold of my meandering mind and explain exactly what I feel, the woman with me grabs me and wants to kiss me. It doesn't happen often. I think I need to work on my emotional courage more if I want to get laid.

Amy said, "you want to make out?" And I did by then, I was surprised. I guess I took some dark pleasure in kissing a woman whose heart will belong to her other ex-boyfriend two weeks starting tomorrow. Amy, this is confusing for us to be kissing now. Good to have as much confusion in life as possible, huh? She nodded. Messy.

I can feel tugging notions at my consciousness - creeping notions of cleanliness. Howard keeps a relatively immaculate office. I have to reconcile my interest in building a multimedia library (from floppy diskettes to magazines, including stickers and odd cocktail napkins - commentary on the world of design, the culture of the world, and the ways people mediate their existence. God exists in every particle you could say! The love of the world is in everything ever wraught. How can you throw away? Hah!), reconcile that with a need to clear clutter and focus on fewer potential projects.

Slowly I am doing these things. Give me another sixty years and I'll have one or two more answers to the vexing questions of life posted here.

Truman book I like reading, I remembered; reading is focus and concentration and relaxation at the same time. Still working on Truman. I'm reading one book at a time these days - multi-tasking may be overrated.

My sister Chris has two boys and a girl. Gideon, the oldest, he's smart in school, very articulate. The youngest, daughter Cassidy, she's a natural performer and artistically inclined. The middle child Elias, at nine he's a rambunctious child, a lot of enthusiasm and wild notions and while he's good at some sports, his passion for electronic gaming isn't really something Chris can always appreciate as readily as she can appreciate the talents of her other children. If there's anything I've felt called to do lately, it's to work with that boy some to give him a strong sense of himself. My next project: he doesn't have a computer, so Chris might pay for enough spare parts that I can supervise him building his own PC. I'll get such a charge out of it when Eli puts the chips in the slots on the motherboard and puts it all in the case and connects the cables and turns it on and realizes he can control machines.

5 January

I wake up after a dream that makes my whole relationship situation crystal clear.

4 January

Today was a good professional day. I'm helping compose panels on gaming for E3 and for South by SouthWest - it's a fantastic opportunity to get some good minds to argue over lively issues.

I've got a Home in my Heart for Ola Mae. Earl Burt from Canada wrote in to let me know that there was a piece about her on As It Happens.

Feeling a bit overwhelmed, I left work early (game night) and went to Howard's for a quick sauna and some good guy talk. His family is my family. I love them. They faught. They bought a Tivo.

2 January

At Farmer Joe's yesterday, a woman said "Happy Space Odessey." I like that - although Krusty thinks it's gonna get old.

Strange and sobering times in the world of online personals. I'm writing up an account and I'll post it when it's been refined past the point of previous poems.

Last Month

2001 |

daze | justin's links

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justin hall | <justin at bud dot com>