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Howdy. I'm Justin Hall, a freelance writer living in Oakland California. I spent much of the last two years living in Japan, researching the social impact of new technologies and electronic entertainment. Now I write articles, contribute to Chanpon, Game Girl Advance and TheFeature.

Thanks for stopping by this old web site.

My memories of


Thus spake:
> on deposition notes
> kay on wordless
> Damanda on wil stache update
> on likewise
> juju on mentorment
> stan hodgson on for 2005
> sojun ikkyu on Wil's Mustache Death Mask
> roBin on meet an angel
> C(h)ristine on whew

waka waka! by Robin


Photo by: Robin Hunicke

I saw this girl at the Tokyo Game Show wearing these totally rad glasses. I asked if she was a game designer; she said she was just talent, a model, a booth babe sort of. But she looked like a young artist! Quirkily arrayed. I encouraged her to take her funky wardrobe and make some software. Then my disappointment was offset when she offered to let me wear her glasses after I heaped praise on them. And Robin snapped this photo!

October 2004

face front archives

I write for Game Girl Advance quite often - here's a list of my last few posts there:


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January 10, 2005

deposition notes

Q. Yes. What I am trying to find out is at any time, did you make any notes that have to do with the kinds of things that you saw, that you actually observed with your two eyes?

A. Yes.

Q. During the time of the arrest on June 26th, 1995?

A. Yes.

Q. Okay. And did you make -- when did you make those notes?

A. I made notes during the period of my incidence until my notebook was impounded. I then procured a pen and a pencil and made further notes inside the prison. And in the days immediately following my arrest, I compiled notes from memory.

Q. So if I understand you correctly, at the time that -- around the time that -- or at the time you were arrested, you had some kind of notebook or something that you were making notes in at the time until they took it away, until the police took it away from you, is that right?
You have to answer yes or no.

A. Yes.

Q. Where is that notebook?

A. That notebook is one of many notebooks from many years of note taking, and I am personally saddened to notice that somehow in my personal archives, notebooks are missing. For example, the very first notebook I ever kept, I was 14, and my heart had been slain by a rather beautiful young woman. That notebook is no longer to be found.

Q. I am not interested in that notebook. All I'm talking about -- let me focus the question.
All I'm talking about is the notebook that you had in your possession at the time of your arrest that was later taken from you by the police. Where is that notebook?

A. I am not at this time certain of its whereabouts.

Q. When was the last time you looked at it?

A. I have not looked in that notebook for at least a year.

Q. You also said after the notebook was taken from you, you were able to get some paper, and you made some notes while you were in jail, correct?

A. Yes, that's correct.

Q. Do you still have those notes?

A. I am not at this time certain. I am not certain of that at this time.

Q. When is the last time you looked at those notes?

A. I estimate it was in 1995.

Q. Then you said you also made some notes after -- once you got out of jail, you also made some notes in the days following getting out of jail, is that right?

A. That's correct.

Q. And where are those notes?

A. On the Internet.

Q. On the Internet.
Where on the Internet?

Posted by Justin at 11:51 AM | TrackBack

January 07, 2005


the best first dates would seem to be about 20 hours. I'm just coming off of one - I knew it too, that it would be hard like the rain: hey, this morning, we're so happy. What's the evening alone like?

I'm biting my lip at hera come down from an amazing "immediate deep intimacy" she marvelled, this morning again. This morning rolling awake with someone having slept all bodies tied up like years of familiarity. Something deep in me was being fed, and it made my hunger greater.

Satan's Tears - it was pissing rain on the way home from all this, driving away from hiding under her bed, where I could emerge at night. Sometimes I feel like a freelance lover; if I'm inspired I'm flexible to do what the job demands. I'm inspired. But I'm home and so is she, with hours inbetween our newly familiar faces. Responsibility.

Much of the 20 hours was speechless staring at each other from two inches away giggling, laughing, smiling 'til our faces hurt. Further investigation required I agree.

A friend invited me to a strip club when I came back to my Los Angeles; I readily passed on that to make art. I'm staring my own hunger, desperation in the face. Ah! It looks like a lover, it looks like a friend, a photograph, a teacher, me.

Some smell of our night lingers in my lungs; all of her breath I shared I look forward to feeling leak out of me slowly as I use my lips alone to understand my affection. And blow it her way! North.

Posted by Justin at 10:51 PM | Comments (17) | TrackBack

January 06, 2005

wil stache update

SAMEWilson sends another mustache update; face on the scanner:

wil stache

previous growth

Posted by Justin at 12:23 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack


I'm practicing casual action. Persistence, still, but relaxed-seeming. Somehow I'm almost nearly moved to explain raw feelings, like "I feel something strong for you" which is just kind of silly because it's really a demand: "step up to this" and "what are you going to do?" and "can you reciprocate?" which is a silly thing to ask of someone you barely know.

Moving in the intuitive, liking someone at a distance, based mostly on instinct and a few of her dreams retold. It's enough to hear her say simply, casually, "likewise" when I say, "I hope to see you again." Enough to make me feel motivated in my madness!

Posted by Justin at 12:20 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 05, 2005


Weeks away from my primary commitment: school. Winter break! Mai Tais and fuckin' on the beach, paperback novels and fried chicken from Tony's shack on St. Martin's yeah!

No escape, I drive from Los Angeles to the Bay Area for good camaraderie; the minds I remember and the surroundings that gave birth to the modern me. I share a Bay Area temperament; a cultural leaning towards the compassionate and casual comfort in cultivated pleasure with a slight practical or leftward political edge.

Wandering between my groundless new life in the offworld colonies of Southern California and the minds I left up here, I leave myself open for interpretation. I was broadcasting some kind of mentorship distress signal, probably from having an over-open heart. A recent short chaste date had me struggling to have a handle on my blood-pumping organ; I don't take crushes well. So I ask people what to do with my life by way of explaining my general confusion in the absence of a clear chance to profess my overstrong feelings in the context of a quiet bedroom. Really what I want is to bond with a new deep soul; instead I'm stuck trying to manage my swelling feelings with my meager mouth in the company of smart older men with active minds.

So these old friends of mine reminded me this trip that if I was lacking direction, well I had uprooted myself from serious self-directed study. I had plunged myself into Graduate School defying their charge to deepen myself as a writer. Going to grad school was splitting my attention - learning new skills that didn't seem to cultivate anything I had been doing before.

Perhaps the most damning criticism came from Howard: "I just don't hear the same passion coming out of you now" he said, as he did when I was a frothing-at-the-mouth nineteen year old web evangelist. And I was sitting there in his garden, staring up at the cloudy sky through bare branches, thinking that I might have lost some kind of fire I had in my pre-pubic web days. It's true - I don't say "holy shit, I'm going to grad school to learn interactive media! watch this yeah! greatest ever!" But I did work hard in my classes and had a good time making heartfelt films and Flash-based explorations of human evolution. I'm in school and I don't know what it means yet; I'm giving it a chance to teach me something, I'm participating lacking important expectations.

Maybe my life is the quest, I asked him. Maybe the search is the thing. I don't know what I'm doing, but experiencing and participating. It's tough to consign myself to never arriving, but there's a dignity in curiosity. Chris used the word dilettante, which has an immediate disarming, depressing air for me - signaling a lack of commitment and strength and meaning. Gosh.

I came of age creatively, professionally, on the web: I could publish myself and I had the feeling that I could write about my life and connect with people. It gave me this confidence in the power of stories at an early age. And a sense of the value of experimental culture - watching my friends and I perform online trumped most of what I saw in commercial media. Maybe I'm working to make a serious career in that world; if such a thing is possible. I still don't know what a solid career as a web storyteller looks like.

checker clem stareChris suggested that at grad school I'm broadening my skillset without a goal. You're learning to do a little bit of video, sound, animation, programming, game design; all these new skills, he said, they're not developing your writing - what seems to be your root skill. You're a decent writer, but you have a long way to go until you can touch the kind of storytelling he pointed to in a nearby New Yorker article.

Maybe it would be easier if I told these friends "I'm going to be a video game designer!", eyes wide, panting slightly, because that's what my school teaches. But having met and spent time with video game designers, exploring that creative process, I have a hard time to envision myself happily ensconced in the commercial video game publishing business. I'm definitely going to be a personal storyteller and culture explorer, and maybe there's a place for me in video games, in a fringe or form that doesn't yet quite exist. Either way, I still believe that learning a bit about video, film, sound production is a good set of skills for a 21st century storyteller and media watcher. My school seems to be good for cultivating that. But, my friends cautioned, you might have a hard time translating that broad media literacy into tangible adulthood without more focus.

Immediately after this solid sustained inquiry from Howard and Chris, I was thoroughly depressed. Lonely, isolated, wondering if I'd set my life back with a "randomization"; Chris uses entertaining computer programmer metaphors, he accused me of seeking random new inputs in difficult times. Plateaued in writing, I chose to sideline myself learning a bunch of pointless stuff, he seemed to be saying. I felt my back curl as thought I might believe it.

Recently I met a girl with deep religious leanings I like to talk with about art and philosophy. egggingI told Amy, my best ex-girlfriend, that I was wrestling with this mystical attraction. You're so desperate for spirituality you're eager to see some extreme, she said. And maybe it's true. I'm neck deep in the tools for media making, and I'm not sure I'm any closer to understanding the native religion of the internet. But I crave that sense of certainty in meaning and intimacy, developing an understanding of human interconnectedness in a media age.

And so I wander. I've got plenty to study wherever I am. These men shared their vision of Justin, encouraging me to ground myself more as I seem to be floating around. After a bit of these talks, they each said they feel they waste their words on me - in spite of my doubts and my advice-seeking I'm heaven-bent on something I may not understand but won't shy away from. They told me all of the same things before I went to school, they explain; so what's the use in this rehash? I invite them to advise me with moments of insecurity or confusion and then I continue doing something they see as a distraction. And they worry that I won't be able to be happy, fulfilled or able to support myself. And I carry this worry in my tightened stomach for the last few days.

I didn't expect this heavy a trip as I travelled up here. I long for their company, these independent creative men I remember. Without seeing it in advance, perhaps I was eager for their critique. If I could submit myself to their review and see my purpose on the other side of that, well then I've arrived. It was almost like kissing my late-20s as a Bay Area writer goodbye.

Learning to be a better writer might make these web pages better readable, like, you know. But these times call for a broader understanding of storytelling. In my lifetime I will make films, songs, articles, pictures, database entries, screenplays. Chris and Howard raise an important point about livelihood - specialization is key for paying mortgages and sending daughters to college. I hope a well-rounded digital creator could still have value. I have the feeling that a system of support for itinerant web ranters is taking shape around me. And the skills of a web publisher media maker are good fallback for itinerant laptop laborers.

I made a decent living packaging bits of digital culture for publication. School has given me a chance to think about the other stories I might want to tell. I have three years to experiment; at thirty that's a luxury. If I want to make something meaningful that improves communication and teaches compassion I've got a lot of work ahead of me.

* Howard Boneman Costume Design: Mike Love

Posted by Justin at 02:47 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

January 03, 2005

for 2005

Brussel Sprouts are the new Cauliflower.

Posted by Justin at 06:59 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Wil's Mustache Death Mask

Briefly, Wilson and I had a mustache growing contest in December. I lost - I shaved mine. But while it was running, I encouraged Wilson to send me photos. He complained he didn't have a digital camera; I told him to stick his face on the scanner (like he did in college).

I got this email from him on 26 December:



Head in a jar

hed n jr

head injury

hd ngry

so angry




Wilson has a side that can be described in short as "angry impulse" - he mostly restrains himself from the true bottoms but at times he likes to skirt around evil, or wear its mask and dance around a bit. I don't have the photo scanned where he wrote "666" on his chest in big black permanent marker one halloween - it seeped through his clothes and stained his bedsheets; remnants of his wicked participation. Being his friend I get to see him hit the reset button on his life every few years: alienate a serious lover, jeopardize his work, go a bit crazy, binge, upset his whole balance. There's not really anything that seems to precede it, as I can tell from a distance, except his restless mind.

I don't mean to make him sound like too much of an actor in this; I think Wilson is a victim to some of his own hyperactivity. Maybe we share that trait a bit. I found the computer a consistent lover; Wilson favors a pen.

I was chiding him at my birthday weekend - if you're broken up with your girl, and created chaos with your business, you should at least be drawing I told him, probably wagging my finger. Wilson thrust a thick bound notebook in my face - "four days, motherfucker" - so much easy anger came off of him, feeling misjudged and underestimated. I marveled at his reply - flipping through the book, I saw four days worth of Wilson's drawing: dozens and dozens of pages covered in hands and feet and faces and typeography and scenery and cartoons and animals and people. It was a torrent of perspective and inquiry.

Sometimes I think I could have a pretty good business just working to focus and publish Wilson's talent. I'm not sure I'm capable; we have our short term collaborations, like the three week-mustache off. We live on opposite coasts of the States; we meet up a few times a year. I like to stay in touch with me because he's so smart. So fast, so creative, so fun. Also volatile. I'd like to think that I offer him some kind of taste of maturity but then he points out my madness with a T-shirt like my birthday present; perhaps we have complementary mental illnesses, a sort of support group we form as friends.

Wilson made a "Chester in a Latex Bodybag" t-shirt for my 30th birthday. Without having seen my Sex Church film, but working from verbal descriptions.

I've mostly gotten out of the habit of writing publicly extensively about friends; too many folks didn't seem to enjoy the coverage. But Wilson called me up a few days back and said, "Go ahead and write about me Chester - I can take it." I think he said more than that, but his phone call had woken me up and I was in a bit of a daze. I think it was late at night his time; maybe he was tipsy. Either way, I enjoy experiencing Wilson and expect I will for years to come.

Posted by Justin at 12:00 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

January 02, 2005

meet an angel

Late last year, I met a smart, motivated gal, eager about ethics. She was excited to start working to draw a story involving angels.

I had never really talked to anyone who put a lot of stock in angels, who saw them as actors, or vessels for hope or story. Today hanging out at Howard's house, he loaned me paper and pencils and I sat down for a visual meditation. Without doing any image research, I pulled from my memory, imagination and free association to describe the essential characteristics, shapes and colors of winged do-gooders.

Here's what I found:

angel shape
Angel Shapes - full size

angel shape
Angel Colors - full size

The experience leaves me curious to explore the presence of triangles and the color red in angel imagery. And to ask this woman how she plans to depict the flying and the fallen.

Posted by Justin at 10:46 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


I really enjoy urinating.

Posted by Justin at 06:22 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack
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