30 April 2007

[design] Sunday Night At the Hollywood

792 I have a short, no-longer-shameful confession to make: I adore Helvetica.

The font–and the movie. No better survey of the intersection of art and culture at this point exists. In tracing the history of the little Swiss font that could (and did), Helvetica demonstrates the connection between history in the form of standing on the shoulders of giants and artistic evolution, trend, fad and backlash, and context.

As mentioned in my personal reaction at Designorati here, it's also a crackling good time. I came away with a newer appreciation of this font, which had humble beginnings as an updating of a font called "Akzidenz Grotesk" (a font itself with a name as humorous sounding as it is strange to look at) with the awkward name of Neue Haas Grotesk (it was developed by the Haas Type Foundry, a Swiss concern). Along the line someone realized that that wasn't terribly marketable and renamed it with the inspiration of the Latin name of Switzerland, Helvetia, and the rest, as they say, is history.

It was the right font at the right time. Typographical and graphic design during the 1950 was well-nigh drunk Modernism and on what was being called the "Swiss Style", a school of design thought that emphasized the basic, clean, and functional. Once released into the wild, it spread pretty much everywhere, changing the look of print seemingly overnight.

Eventually, gorged on Swiss Style, the art and design world reacted with more recent evolutions that eventually had us arriving at iconolclastic destinations such as the so-called "grunge style". Helvetica, regarded at its debut as fresh and energetic, became so establishment that then up-and-coming typographer Paula Scher (interviewed in the film) called it (with a shot of dark humor) the "typeface of the Vietnam War".

The film doesn't lambaste or lionize Helvetica really; it leaves that to the designers who were asked to participate in interviews. Type design gods who you might have heard of (such as Zapf), that me and other type geeks have heard of (Hoefler, Frere-Jones, Carter, Speikermann) and that I haven't heard of yet (International Jetset collaborative) all had opinions runnning from soup to nuts. Some love Helvetica, some hate it, some are indifferent. It is in these moments, these interviews, that the film has real power; Rick Poynor's enthusiastic riffing on the design sea change that Helvetica represented had the audience in stitches.

It wasn't derisive laughter, it was laughter of understanding; the audience was full of AIGA members, people of design bent, those who have been similarly moved by passions which may seem austere and arcane to others. It was exhilarating to see the range of unafraid opinions; all of us, regardless of our situations and success, had been there before.

And these people were genuinely funny and witty. You don't bask in that sort of interchange every day in this world of ours.

Truly, as the movie demonstrated, Helvetica is everywhere all the time, and its triumph is that it's become a universally-accepted carrier of information; if you read Helvetica, you don't look at the design of the font, you look at the information it obtains; if you see the word "road", for instance, you don't dwell on whatever artistry there is in the letterform design, and you don't even dwell on the sheer coolness and geometricity of it.

For some this is a good thing; for some this is a bad thing. The film tells nobody how to think about it; you're still left up to thinking about it for yourself.

But really, you don't have to be a type geek or even a designer to enjoy this film; anyone with an eye for visual culture–in other words, just about all of us–can find something there to take away. It's one of those works that help bring alive the mundane world by reminding us to look, not just look at it.

Short Subjects

There were two entracing short-shorts that played just before the main feature.

The first, How To Draw Clouds, is a film by Seattle's Salise Hughes. A mere two minutes in length, it's desciribed by some as "a poetic meditation on the desire to make permanent what is ephemeral". What it amounts to is a loop of a time lapse picture of a cloud being re-rolled over and over, while an unseen hand attempts to draw what an unseen eye sees over the top. There's a sort of desperate futility in the repeated attempts to capture what is in motion, which the audience found quite humorous; in the last repeat, however, the unseen hand gets the frame to pause, and traces a rather good interpretation in the last, and when that was finally done, the audience kind of seemed to share a "wow" moment.

The second, Neuro Economy, by Aucklander Jill Kennedy, was a surreal sort of animated trip based, the film asserts, on a found audio message on an answering machine. Seeming to begin in a realistic world, a well-ordered and somewhat sterile apartment and its surroundings get more and more beautifully bizarre as the reasoned ravings of someone who seems to be saying he's near death and trying to express the idea of a "neural economy" continue on. The animation is sure watchable–it reminded me of all that interesting work Jim Blashfield was doing back in the 80's with photocopies in animated shorts and that video he did for the Talking Heads song "And She Was."

I felt exhilarated by all these films.

But we really want to do is own Helvetica when it becomes available for home video. It's a hell of a good film, yo.

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29 April 2007

[pdx_radio] Congratulations, AM970–You Almost Had A Regular Listener

791 I'm not one who thinks that radio stations should necessarily cater to my interests (well, yes, I am actually, kind of, but I'm no fool; I know they're really out to please advertisers. Anyway!), but I've got a bone to pick with AM 970. Solid. State. Radio.

Up until recently, my long dreary nights at work were much enlivened by listening to Stephanie Miller's show, especially the howlingly funny regular feature "Tinsel Talk". Stephanie Miller, in general, is as funny as hell.

Lately, someone in programming at AM 970. Solid. State. Radio. had the braindrizzle to acquire the no-longer-funny Dennis Miller's latest exercise in media...stuff...and programmed it to start at 0800, overlapping Stephanie's show.

Nice going, people. So I quit listening during the weekdays.

But at least I got to hear her on Sundays, for that third hour. But AM 970. Solid. State. Radio. has had periodic quality control problems. I remember weekends when listening to them was like listening to someone's voice piped through a desk fan (which was a fun thing to do when I was but a neat thing, but nowadays, not so much). Today, they played not only her program, but another one called "Troop Talk"...simultaneously.

I don't have anything against "Troop Talk", I'm just thinking, maybe, in the interest of what few listeners they have and sheer politeness, maybe they couldn't play the programs separately, at their proper times.

Just throwin' that one out there.

Parenthetically, I wonder why no one complains. I mean, obviously they don't...the simulcast goes on and on and on, and nobody corrects it. I mean, paging board op...come out of the bathroom please...

But I'm done with AM 970. Solid. State. Radio. That's it. No more.

You almost had a regular listener, but you done chased me away. Good going, guys.

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28 April 2007

[bloggage] Business As Usual During Alterations

790 Well, we've pussyfooted around about it and decided to make absolute hay of the place.

Until now, we've used the old Blogger's version of Minima Black because we'd gotten used to the way we could tinker under the hood with the HTML pretty much at will. But we wanted to take advantage of the spiffy new features of the new Blogger's ways and means and tinker with that; this old way will deprecate eventually.

However we changed our template instead of upgrading, and completely trashed the blogroll. So, we'll be rebuilding that. If what few of you do come by and want to remind me to replace your link, please do so unreservedly; I want to link to those who want the linkage.

Above all, I just want to be loved (don't we all?)

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27 April 2007

[design] Logoworks Owner Cashes In–HP Means to Buy Arteis

789 This appears to be breaking stuff.

HP, in its finite wisdom, is looking to buy Arteis, the parent company of the controversial online-design concern, Logoworks.

Logoworks became somewhat of a bête noir amongst designers since it debuted its business model for many reasons. I won't recapitulate the whole story here; Kat at Katz-i Design has the definitive archive of the imbroglio at her site here. Suffice it to say that undervaluing design services and plagiarism were two of the charges that made a big impression with me, as well as what I personally felt was an arrogant attitude on the part of Logoworks' parent.

Now that HP is seeing fit to purchase Logoworks' parent, my feelings are entirely mixed. I like HP hardware. I have an HP Officejet 6110 that is going strong despite its age (nothing in town is older than 3-year-old printer hardware) and have long admired their other products (I still own and use an HP-41CV calculator). As many people know, when you buy HP, you've bought quality.

But I wonder why HP would contemplate buying a company whose business model , in my opinion, undermines the ability of designers to make a respectable living–thus decreasing their ability to purchase the very products they produce? Logoworks injures one of HP core constituencies. It just doesn't make sense.

I've posted the press release from HP as a news item at Designorati here.

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26 April 2007

[design] Y Kant Elle Magazin Spel?

788 Now, naturally, I'm not sure who was responsible for this gaffe, but it caught my eye like a hook. Dig, if you will, this picture:

Submitted for your approval: one banner ad from the MSNBC site which demonstrates why you have proofreaders.

Because I'm pretty sure Elle doesn't have a fasion director. Heck, anyone, what is fasion? Anyone?

When hundreds of thousands of people will see it, there is no such thing as a minor spelling error.

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[bits] Mancini 1975–Audacity Is Priceless

787 So, I've been working on my latest obsession, hinted at twice; I am editing a piece of music. I didn't know I'd go that direction, but passion leads you to strange places sometimes.

My rediscover of the 1976 KATU-produced short film This is Oregon at the For Portlanders Only website revealed a serendipitous discovery; the name of the tune the images are synched to. As noted one or two entries back, that tune is a Mancini tune, "Symphonic Soul", the title track from his 1975 album Symphonic Soul (I repeat that because I love the look of an italicized title with such interestingly shaped letters. Especially the S. Mmmm, S...anyway!).

Thanks to Everyday Music (the only damn' music store you'll ever need) we were able to obtain a copy of Symphonic Soul, and was surprised by more than merely how unlike my perceptions of your average Mancini the piece was. Credited to "Henry Mancini and his Concert Orchestra", the album (re-released on CD in 2005 by BMG) is a brief one, containing merely 9 tracks of music, the longest one (a tune called "Butterfly") clocking in at a brief 4' 35". The rest of the album (with a seductively updated "Peter Gunn") is low key but feels very experimental, at least for the day, with tunes titled "Soul Saga (Song of the Buffalo Soldier)" and "African Symphony". Amongst the credited soloists are the mononomial "Mayuto", credited with the African finger piano.

This is a really interesting album, and I'd recommend it to anyone.

Two-Thirds of a Song

The most surprising thing about the title tune is that it's shorter than the version KATU's film used. If you've seen the short or listened to it (here's the link again) you know the pattern; it scans rather like a pop tune, with an intro, what I call a "first verse", a crescendo (what I think of as the "chorus"), a reiteration of the verse and chorus, a "bridgey" leading into another "crescendoey" section bringing the whole piece home.

But that middle section–the one that repeats the first verse and chorus–don't seem to be on the original piece, if the re-release is faithful to the original. The duration of the song on the album is a mere 2'27"; the version in This is Oregon is closer to 4'.

I was a little startled but not dismayed. After all, it is a fine piece of music. Anyway, for some reason, instead of thinking that I'd just have to like it as is I got it in my head that I could somehow import the music and edit it into the way I remembered it. And this is how I got to Audacity.

How Audacious And Free

I'd like to introduce everybody to Audacity. It's a sound file editor that's surprisingly complete and nimble. And, it's free–free as in you don't pay for it, and free as in Open Source. With the addtion of a plugin (also found on the site) you can export MP3s. It reads AIFF, WAV, AU, and Ogg Vorbis (which is a fun format just to say) files and exports as same, and will import MP2 and MP3 files with another plugin. For the tyro and basic self-producer, it's just the thing to kludge together your own sound files.

Once the interface is learnt it's amazingly easy to do basic editing. Highlight the area you want copied or cut, cut out, place the selection point somewhere else in the file, paste. Done. I have an almost passable version (what I call the KATU edit) of "Symphonic Soul"...it needs a little more work, mostly getting the selection timing right (I'm just off by a fraction of a second or two on either end). It's a learning process.

Another nice thing I found out was that in the extensive HTML help system, there are a lot of terms and concepts your average sound engineer and sound geek should know about–reverb, lambda calculus, &c &c. This program could help a professional get their job done. Now, I'm no Ben Burtt, but I'm more smart on acoustics now than I used to be, which can't be a bad thing.

Anywhoozle, you'll want to download Audacity if you want to bash around with sound files for play or for serious. Windows and Mac. No cost, no obligation, no salesman will call. And it's all right here.

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25 April 2007

[design] Helvetica Is Coming

786 Helvetica is coming? Should be be afraid? Will be wake up one day soon to be uncannily adept at the Swiss school of type design?

Not to worry. Helvetica is an unusual and popular creature, the first feature-length film about a font. It's coming to Portland as the last event in the PDX Film Fest, to the Hollywood Theater, Sunday 29 April at 20:00. I got an invite, so I'll be there, with articles to follow at Designorati and/or Quark Vs InDesign and/or both (it's rather exhilarating to get such an invitation, to say the least).

It's a feature-length film about a type face that you've seen everywhere...but that's not all. From the film's promotional website:
Helvetica is a feature-length independent film about typography, graphic design and global visual culture. It looks at the proliferation of one typeface (which is celebrating its 50th birthday this year) as part of a larger conversation about the way type affects our lives.
These performances have sold out everywhere they've been held, so if you're interested in seeing this film (which sold out its world premiere at SXSW) then you'll want to get your tickets now. You can do that here. The director, Gary Hustwit, and the designer David Carson will be too for Q&A. So will I.

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[music] Electric Light Orchestra: Latitude 88 North

785 After this discussion on Successful-Blog, me and my The Wife™ went out for a bit of food and a bit of music purchasage. Since peeping this video (and effusing about it perforce) a week or two back, I was in search of the music, and was surprised to find that is was Henry Mancini–a piece called Symphonic Soul, from the album of the same name from 1975. That tune surprised me. Most un-Mancini, at least as far as I was concerned. But this missive isn't about Mancini, worthy though he is.

The iceman came to me tonight,
So very near but out of sight.
I heard the footsteps in the hall
And I heard a cold voice call,
It’s such a lonely world.
It would seem that Jeff Lynne, a/k/a Electric Light Orchestra, has released a new single that's been 30 years in the making, and it's named with the wonderfully quirky name Latitude 88 North.

Then I knew that you were gone,
It came to me, I was alone.
Now I’m left out in the cold
But the story’s far from told,
It’s such a lonely world.
Naturally, since I generally live in a cave (going from one job to the next) I kind of missed the campaign to make this song a charter on iTunes. You see, after that discussion on Successful-Blog, me and my The Wife™ found ourselves at Everyday Music over on NE Sandy Blvd, to pick up the Mancini album that we had special-ordered. And there I found the 30th Anniversary re-release of ELO's Out Of The Blue.

The recent re-releases have had nifty extras and bonus tracks that, in some cases, are more tasty than some of the original releases: "Julie Don't Live Here Anymore" from Secret Messages and the remix of "Endless Lies" from Balance of Power spring to mind.

But Latitude 88 North...that got under my skin immediately. I've been playing it and replaying it. I still have a The Wife™, so she must like it too.

Chorus:
It’s like Latitude 88 North,

It’s so cold, cold as hell.
35 below and falling,
How I wish that she was calling me
To hear this song is to be teleported back (how very Time of me, neh?) to the days when ELO was one of the rock monsters. I adored each one of thier hits when I heard them on the radio; it was Out Of the Blue that finally won me over. Gerry Rafferty was my first favorite solo act; Electric Light Orchestra became, and still remains, my favorite band.

Frozen shadows in the doorways,
They will linger there always
And as the dawn begins to break,
She’s gone it’s hard to take,
It’s such a lonely world.
The ironic thing about Latitude 88 North is that it was intended to be released back in the 70s, but it was like Jeff had only one part left...and it took 30 years to discover. As a result, we have the first new ELO song in over 5 years–that was 30 years in the making. Sure, I missed the campaign by about three months, but nevermind that now.

You need this song. Go to iTunes and get it, will you?

If you need more information, check out ftmusic.com's excellent stuff here, where they have wallpapers, lyrics...and a sleeve for the single you can print out.

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24 April 2007

[pdx] Couplet Wisdom

784 Isaac Laquedem makes an excellent point.

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[book, book_design] The Road

783 At last I have read that most-talked-about Book, Cormac McCarthy's The Road.

I have long had a bizarre affection for stories depicting catastrophe; books like When Worlds Collide and CUSP and Deus ex Machina are on my list of favorites. When I'd heard that an Authentic American Novel Writer™ had written such a book, and moreover he was one of those Important American Authors™, I was unsure of approaching this one.

I finally have, though, and not because The Big O herself inducted it into her Onliest Book Club. To give some idea of its demand, I put my name on the waiting list at the Multnomah County Library and waited almost five months for my name to come up (if memory serves–it might not here). I then missed picking it up, and put my name on the list–only to wait several more months to get the chance to read it.

The book has lived up to all the promises its reviews made–it's a compellingly told story that exists in a world that it must have taken no small amount of courage to envision. Everything is essentially gone. There's no society, no community, no countries, states...no cities, except as a word for the ruins they pass by. It has been noted widely that the exact form, dimensions, and nature of the tragedy that produced the world that is the setting for the novel was never described, and that makes the story indeed maddeningly compelling, as the reader searches the descriptions in the text for some clue as to what it may have been. The author gives us no indication, but does hint at widespread conflagration and extreme heat. Some have hinted at either a nuclear war or an extinction-level asteroid impact.

One of the most quoted lines of the novel is one which hints at the event itself, told from the viewpoint of the father character: The clocks stopped at 1:17. A long shear of light and then a series of low concussions. This excerpt is ended, I think, prematurely. Consider in its proper setting (punctuation as in the original)–from the top of page 45 of the first hardcover Knopf edition:

The clocks stopped at 1:17. A long shear of light and then a series of low concussions. He got up and went to the window. What is it? she said. He didnt answer. He went into the bathroom and threw the lightswitch but the power was already gone. A dull rose glow in the windowglass. He dropped to one knee and raised the lever to stop the tub and then turned on both taps as far as they would go. She was standing in the doorway in her nightwear, clutching the jamb, cradling her belly in one hand. What is it? she said. What is happening?

I dont know.

Why are you taking a bath?

I'm not.
The description cited suggests a cataclysm delivered from above, resulting in a wide-scale inferno. But what? We'll never know. I dare say McCarthy will never tell us. Bereft of all but the most basic punctuation, the author's staccato delivery richochets around in one's head, pinging endlessly, and draws one into the world that the man and the boy inhabit. I find it worth mentioning per se that the two principal characters inhabit a world some years removed from the initial disaster, as the character of the woman–the boy's mother and presumably the man's wife–was pregnant with the boy in the above excerpt, and, overwhelmed by the disaster, takes her own life at an unspecified (but perhaps not too removed) time hence. The boy has no knowledge of the warm, colorful world that ended just as he begun, other than his father, who copes by making the boy's safety and welfare into nothing so much as resembles a religion.

The arc of the novel–a journey across what is generally assumed to have once been the southeastern United States, in quest of the sea where there might be a little more warmth and perhaps a haven–is unrelentingly grim. There is one benign character, but what other straggling survivors they find are either out to steal what little they have or, failing that, cannibalize them. There are a wealth of colors, but they are all shades of gray; the world is cold, so well described as such that one shivers even thinking about it.

Aside from the dwindling survivors, there is no life at all. There is no stunning climax, no happy ending (unless one feels that the man and wife who apparently find the boy mourning his father's death amount to a happy ending–but the future is still, at best, dubious). The dearth of life and color is so complete that when the father and son find an old-fashioned fallout shelter about halfway through, just as their last supplies run out, sealed tight and stocked with edible supplies and absolutely undamaged, it's a burst of color even though it might not be particularly colorful. Even then they can't stay; there would be no way of knowing if someone else might come upon them and do them to death there.

It made a mark on me; I think any bit of literature that is so unrelentingly grim would. If one would be alive, then there are situations in which the determination to remain alive, in the face of all reasons not to, is the only difference between life and death. Whether or not that is a desirable thing to consider is something each one of us must decide for ourselves. That's as may be. But it seems to me that in some situations striving to remain alive may be the only alternative–even if it's not a desirable thing (the wife character chooses the quick way out in the back story–she takes the place of those of us for whom there is no point in remaining alive if there's no apparent point to living). The father pays the price for this, and the son reaps the rewards.

Designing the End

McCarthy's work in this book has been noted for (as I myself said) a staccato style, a sort of rat-a-tat-tat rhythm while at the same time, not crescendoing in any way. The result is a prose style which aptly communicates the smothering, gray sameness of each cold day the protagonists must endure.

More than that, though, the book's design aptly enhances the feeling, which is ironically claustrophobic given the characters range over the open countryside; though they are not prisoners in fact, they are prisoners in scope: a monotonously gray, cold world that has no ending and no way of communication with anything beyond the sound of a voice. The book's type, cited by The Believer magazine as Bulmer, is an unadorned serif face, somewhat like Bodoni, whose plainness and matter-of-factness stands above its artistry. The folios–book title at the top of the verso, page number at the top of the recto–look like a downmarket variety of Koch's Neuland; hand done but cut rather sloppily. Designer Peter Anderson has designed to the subject matter, and has done so superbly; the rigidly-obeyed margins and the generous leading enhance and reinforce the author's prose style.

The entire design of the book is spare and dressed down; the dark, sparse cover, designed by Chip Kidd, features distressed, out of focus type in two ugly colors; the author's name is scarcely visible, and the books title gets distressingly close to the edge of the book. The Road is not a story designed to make you feel good (I hear they're making a movie from this one...the mind truly boggles), and the physical design–type, jacket, everything–are every bit as discordant.

These are all ways that indicate how type and design can be used to support the message or, in this case, defining the atmosphere. The design here acts like a musical score sets the mood for a movie or play.

As such, it's wicked successful.

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[design] CS3 is In The House; DVD Tutorials Rock.

782 We are now CS3 enabled here at the Station and we are having mad fun with it. The biggest pleasures so fare ar to be found with Flash CS3 Professional and the DVD tutorials.

In about ten minutes, starting from very little experience, we created a complete SWF movie. It wasn't much; we created a green circle which moved across the top, diagonally, then across the bottom in the letter-Z, and shrinking, then expanding and skewing then fading out as it transitioned from green to blue-gray and back to green again.

I also learned about keyframes, motion tweening, and what tweens are...all in about 15 minutes.

Adobe's DVD Tutorials rock...and you don't have to get the Suite to seem them. Adobe offers them here to anyone who can load them up.

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22 April 2007

[bloggage] New Connections

780 New links when stuff that has latterly turned me on:
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[liff] Evironmentalism Isn't New

779 One of the daily heartbreaks of our current society is the way smug moderns mock those whom they call "Evironmental wackos", usually to make a crass point, and quite often for the benefit of they-what-already-gots.

One might agree with them. But one would be wrong. Our grandparents recycled as a daily activity. It didn't come with convenient plastic curbside tubs or calls to remember that everything we use has a consequence somewhere else. It was thought of as practical and sensible.

Lelo has the right of it, in a post that should be read and thought about by everyone. Next time anyone feels like ganging up on "the envrionmentalists", it should be remembered that if you take the modern environmentalist and strip away the modern frou-frou, you wind up with someone who isn't all that removed from our old-fashioned great-grands.

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[liff] In Which We Dare Not Ask "Wh*t's N*xt"

778 Well, as some wise woman once said, "It's always something. If it's not one thing, it's another; you lose the part time job you really liked, and then it looks like the tranny dropped out of your beloved 1972 VW Beetle."

As my The Wife™ picked me up from work this morning, I mentioned that it was a good thing I don't buy omens, as they say that bad things happen in threes. "Look," she said, "I broke one of my nails!" So, hey, it looks like we're covered there.

She's awful proud of her nails, she is.

And when things look really rough, she knows just what to say. That's why she's The Wife™.

Now, I know I'm not exactly generating readership or compelling everyone to link to me; the idea behind this general mess is to comment on my adventures in graphic design (with plentiful detours along the way as I examine pretties scattered alongside the road). But like I said, not every day is an "up" day. And sometimes, you get hit more than once by disappointment and misfortune. So this is mine.

The next thing is, we'll try to hitch up our kit and make it all go up again.

19 April 2007

[liff] Not Every Day In Design Is An "Up" Day

777 That number to the left of these words is the post number, and there is some irony there today (and part of the reason I think numerology is b.s. anyway). Triple sevens are supposed to be lucky, but that is not today. The design job I had, ended rather suddenly today; they couldn't afford to keep me part time, and there was no way this job was going to go full time.

I didn't see it coming.

And right now, I'm kinda tired.

I'm not one usually to say "If I don't post here for the next few days", because, as far as I can tell, my traffic (while up just a few lately) isn't the kind that warrants it. However, there's a first time for everything.

I might not post here for the next few days.

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[tech] Funny-both Haha and Strange

776 A few bits from the tech world that caught our eye today that are somewhere between here and "hmm...":

You Get What You Pay For: Windows/Office for $3? 'Strewth! However, there are conditions...You have to be a government for one...Clickly thee hence.

A Lifetime Supply, If you Live 26 More Years...: Good at Pac-Man? Love Quizno's? Want 26 years of free sandwiches? There's a competition coming up...Details hither.

Didn't they Put a Fork in Darl's Ass and Call Him Done?: I thought after that decision that the SCO Linux lawsuitzen were mostly air that was going to go away. Apparently I'm wrong; they're still after the mighty Groklaw. Extra Texture: read all about it.

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18 April 2007

[design] Adobe CS3 New Feature Resonance: Ripple Three

775 This one is from a blog kept by a cartoonist and illustrator. I grok his point implicitly:

But man am I jonesing for the zooming anchor points! With all these new highfalutin’, high-resolution monitors out nowadays, man do those anchor point get small. Some days I think I spend half my time just trying to click on the one I want - without having to zoom in just to do so.

Yep, you heard it right...zooming anchor points. I've lost count of the number of times I've missed a bézier handle (and stopped keeping track of the contribution to my hair loss it's perforce obtained).

Zooming anchor points.

Sweet.

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[design] Adobe CS3 New Feature Resonance: Ripple Two

774 This one is a reflective wave back on me.

For a while I've held off learning Adobe's web-based color theme community Kuler because–well, I'm on dialup and waiting for a web app, even one this nifty, is trying. But Adobe Illustrator CS3 will make me want to learn Kuler.

Why?

Kuler is accessable though a swatch panel.

Kuler is not only uploading your swatch theme ideas for the world to see–it's yet another designgeeky social networking community. And you don't have to have any Adobe app to use one...but one of the CS3 apps will talk to it, and who knows where your next inspiration will come from.

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[liff] All I Have To Say About Virginia Tech

773 There are far too many people who weren't there who are saying that the Virginia Tech students should be ashamed for not "taking out the shooter."

These people should shut the hell up and learn some shame themselves.

They've Seen The Fnords (Update 2007-19 Apr): In a what should be, by now, a much-linked-to-post, Meteor Blades at Daily Kos has what should be the last word on these sorts. Hat top to Little Thom's Blog.

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[design] Hard Drive Hygiene for Adobe CS3 Installers

772 One thing that Adobe would like everyone to know before installing your sparkling-new CS3 apps is, if you are a Mac user and have run the betas and/or any prerelease software, is that, like a new garden, you've got to make the ground ready.

All CS3 prerelease and beta software must go, as well as all traces of the supporting files. Adobe has made this easy to do by providing a script at this page, which can be downloaded.

So, download the script, run, and then install your way to CS3 Nirvana...

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16 April 2007

[liff] Mount Hood: A Visual Addiction

770 I'm additcted to Mount Hood. But not in the healthy way.

Actually, by "healthy" I mean "active"; I am as far away from a Mazamas membership as any given resident of Irvington is from walking to Madras. No, I love looking at Wy'east, and I'll do it for hours on end.

When me and The Wife™ finally moved back to the Big Smoke from Corvallis, we found a place to live on SE 8th Avenue, in Brooklyn (motto: eternally resentful we can't be Irvington). This was great because we were on a ridge, and I used TriMet at the time to get to my then-current job; it involved walking down SE Rhine Street toward SE Milwaukie Avenue, which allowed me the the look at Wy'east at dawn. Wouldn't trade that thrill for anything.

Indeed, I've lived my whole life in the shadow of Mount Hood. When I was but a neat thing, in Silverton, my house was at the very edge of town, on a street called Steelhammer Road. Across the street was (and still is) a field, and across that field couldn be seen Hood. When, in the 1970's, it became fashionable to report on the Cascadian volcano hazard, I began to get as fond as a flatlander had a right to be of "my" mountain, because, who knows, next year it might not be there.

But it's still there. I doubt it will go away anytime soon; I like to think that Loo'wit "took one for the team".

Clicky on the illustration to load a larger version of it. The full size version (2.5MB) can be found at the Wikimedia commons.

I adore this mountain. It's the backdrop of my life.

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[design] Adobe Creative Suite 3 is On the Loose

769 As of today, the Creative Suite 3 era is in effect at Adobe.

I've posted the press release here at QuarkVsInDesign.com.

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14 April 2007

[sunday_zeitgeist] It Was Either This Or That Dog-Themed Restaurant on SE Powell Blvd

768 What's to be said about public discourse in the post-IMan world now that Don Imus is an ex-broadcaster?

Just like every shmoe in the blogging-o-sphere, I have a couple of things, and I wanted to get them out so that at least I'd quit thinking about them.

1. The Whiny Wurlitzer: It took not long at all for people who should have known better to stick up for Don Imus. Some of them were signal disappointments–when Tom Oliphant was a regular on the Al Franken show I looked forward to his chats with Al. He was always entertaining and seemed smart and funny, so I was kind of astounded when he stuck up for him.

It has developed that the conventional wisdom has it that the Imus show was a center of low humor and high-brow talk, with those wanting exposure and validation as part of the pundit class willing to grimace and pay the price of not objecting to ugly and insulting speech in order to get their Pundit ticket punched.

Ana Marie Cox, nee Wonkette, she who seemed to have grown interested in being a stylish pundit rather than the persona that made her famous when she was elevated to the status of colleague at Time magazine, wrote a mea culpa that gives heart, however. Going straight to the heart of it:
I'm embarrassed to admit that it took Imus' saying something so devastatingly crass to make me realize that there just was no reason beyond ego to play along. I did the show almost solely to earn my media-elite merit badge
Once they are in the media elite, of course, is when they forget that they were once human being and start playing to each other. The punditry isn't talking to us; they haven't been for a very long time now.

But I digress. The referenced bit splash of cool water is sadly in the minority, however, made up with a torrent of how unfair it all is to Imus, that he's being criticized by people who themselves are intemperate or a phrase such as nappy-headed hos is used at large in hip-hip culture, so it's okay that Imus used it as an offhand josh.

All of it's beside the point, and misses the mark by a mile. Words such as these come with baggage and meaning, and if one uses it at all, one must understand what it is that they are saying, and especially if they are flippantly talking about people they don't really even know. The description of hair as nappy goes back into a history of white oppression of black cultural and beauty norms, and ho...do we really have to define what that is and what it means?

If that was my sister, girlfriend, cousin, or friend he'd slighted, I'd be mad as hell. Depend on it.
Did he deserve to lose his job over it, even though nobody around him is an angel? Hell yes. Actually, AFAIC, he deserved to lose his job long ago. He's always been tasteless and not funny.

If Imus was prompted into saying it by his executive producer, then he was stupid as well as insensitive. Regrettably, in our society, wealth equates to success and to validity, so it wasn't merely enough that he acted like a Neanderthal to get him fired; he also had to lose sponsors by the droves before he was shown the door.

2. Well, What About....

Well, what about 'em?

In the ensuing discourse we've heard much about how unfair it was for people like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson to call for Imus's head. Maybe it was unfair for them to do so. But, like I said, this misses the point.

The dialog we ought to be having, I think, is why Don Imus was fired for saying what he said, and why certain appalling behaviors haven't cost some others: why Bill Bennett hasn't suffered for wondering out loud that maybe the crime rate would fall if you aborted all black fetuses; why Glenn Beck still has a job after the way he treated a legally-elected US Representative with thinly-veiled scorn; why Neil Boortz can get on a station anywhere (I'd be typing all night if I took on why this buffoon is offensive, and not just the "ghetto-slut" hairdo remark he made about Cynthia McKinney, why Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage and anyone at FOX News gets to make a prosperous living despite the way they act and the things they say.

People, you think they are on your side. They aren't. Their livelihoods depend on you swallowing whatever they say and taking it to the bank. They think you are funny dumb people who can be whipped into a frenzy whenever they get upset about something. They act as though they care about you while, inside, they're laughing their asses off at you.

And they are setting the tone for our public conversations on race and economic inequality. They're eating you out from the inside.

The tagline on Neal Boortz's site reads "somebody's gotta say it". I disagree.

3. And Let's all complain about Political Correctness

When I was but a neat thing, I was taught some basic rules for getting by. We didn't spend a whole lot of time on table settings and how to cut your meat; I'm from the lumpen side of the tracks. But I was schooled on some basic rules of human behavior. These included:
  1. Speaking well of others
  2. If you don't have something nice to say about someone, don't.
  3. Don't make gratuitous remarks about someone's race.
  4. Don't imply that someone you're talking with is a criminal or worse if you don't know better.
The list goes on. These days, people call it "political correctness", but when I was a kid, we called it good manners and politeness. There seems to be little of it these days.

Now, I am after all a human being. I can't say I've been perfectly conforming to those rules, but when I mess up and know I'm in the wrong I try to make amends (and not in the Imus-style, "well, they're saying it so it's got to be okay for me to say it too").

But these days, the term "political correctness" gets tossed about almost as a code for "gee, I'd really like to be able to say whatever nasty thing I want about people I dislike, disrespect and fear and not get rung up for it".

Okay, then call it politeness. Call it genteel society. Call it the sort of mindset which would not necessarily go for the insult when gracious style can be used.

Or think of it this way; one hopefully wants to be respected for who they are and what they believe. Respect is an exchange, and if you want some, you'll have to extend some.

An aquaintance whose words I usually find most engaging, Susan Kirkland, has insightful words on this general subject which I also find inspiring, and should be read by all.

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13 April 2007

[tech] A New Optical Drive...

767 One of these things can really open up your horizons, let me tell you...

I just obtained and installed a SuperDrive update to my stalwart PowerMac G4 system. The originally-installed Combo Drive was always kind of finicky when reading DVDs but lately its behavior has been more of an insurrection, meaning, if I did another foolish thing that killed my OS, like I did in November, it'd be a real tough time reinstalling my OS to the inboard hard drive.

And, besides, MCE Technologies has a 18x, DVD-DL upgrade that was priced right. So we went for it.

There is now no optical disc we can't read. And we can burn up to 8.5 GB onto a single disc-what's not to like about this.

If you're looking for an upgrade to your Mac, I've got to say so far that I have no complaints with this model, and you should check MCE out.

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12 April 2007

[zeitgeist] It's QOTD Time: Woody Allen

766
More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly.
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11 April 2007

[logo_design] KATU, Channel 2

765 For the last word on a busy day, we consider the KATU logo. Dig, if you will, this picture:


I give you the Portland ABC station, KATU, then and now. The then picture you may recognize from two entries back.

I don't recall exactly when the switch was made–it was a couple of years back, more or less. I recall no big announcement; they just started using the new branding. At the time, I thought it apt whilst I did regret losing the old "2", it had become a bit dowdy–not only had KATU been with ABC and on Channel 2 since Pontius was a pilot but the swashy, squished-looking numeral had been KATU's logo for as long as I coutl practically remember.

The new logo, viewed in and of itself, seems to be an apt updating of the staid old "2". But then, one day, whilst just bopping about the intarweb, I came upon the Fisher Broadcasting site and, knowing that KATU is part of a multi-state constellation of broadcast outlets, started looking at her brothers and sisters (I've always felt "2" was a feminine number, but nevermind that now).

I found that not just KATU, but all the television broadcast outlets had adopted the same look. Peep this:

Clockwise from top left: KEPR-19, Tri-Cities, WA; KVAL-13, Eugene; KIMA-29, Yakima, WA; KBCI-2, Boise ID (the network logo does not seem to be mandatory, as can be seen with the KVAL logo (which also happens to be CBS). It's clear from this (not to mention the logos on the KVAL Wikipedia page–KVAL co-owns KCBY-11, Coos Bay OR and KPIC-4, Roseburg OR), to state rather the obvious, that the relogoing of KATU is part of a coördinated graphic branding strategy to unify the Fisher station with a Fisher "look". Even the websites are similarly designed: Compare KATU's site to KVAL's. If you have the time and inclination you can surf over to Fisher's stations page and view the whole setup.

Unifying the station identities like this accomplish two things; imparts to the consumer that the areas served are served by a regional entity with a local flavor, meaning that any goodwill Fisher has gets leveraged all over the Northwest, and brings the stations' ownership from something hidden to something subtly stated.

Likely this is lost on a great many of the viewers; after all, probably the last thing on a KVAL viewer's mind is that their local TV station is owned by the same group that owns KATU, KOMO, etc. But to Fisher, at least, it will make a difference, and maybe that's all that's important.

And it is a clean, simple, and effective treatment for television, which is always a winner.

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[bloggage] 20,000

764 Well, seeing as I was obsessing on it for the last several days, I thought I owed it to everyone to report that, at last, I've crossed 20,000 visitors.

We have the tape:


So whoever it was came in from somewhere undetermined in the USA, via Stan's excellent 'blog stayed for more than a couple of minutes, and showed the extreme good taste in seeing that genius clip at For Portlanders Only.

So, congratulations Whoever U. Arre, from Somewhere, Inthe, USA. You're number 20,000 with me. Regretfully, I'm not rich nor am I famous (not yet) (hint here, people) so there's no prizes. Check back in a year or two.

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[liff] This Is Oregon-1976

763 The fellow over at For Portlanders Only just made my year.

Between 1976 and 1980, back when stations signed off for the night, KATU had this masterpiece of film paired up with this catchy-damn instrumental that were matched up so sweetly that it got under my skin and stayed there. I'd engineer staying up late just to see this little film.

Please, please go see it. This was as good a snapshot of Oregon in the late 70's as ever will be, complete with killer time-lapse of Portland going into night, Broadway movie theaters downtown, yes, 70's fashions...and "Strawberrys".

Seriously, you have to see this thing to understand. Would someone please give me money and a camera so I can make a new version?!?!

Thank you, FPO, Thank you.

This is our state...This is Oregon.

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[zeitgeist] A Couple of Odds'n'Ends Before We Go Find Something Design-Related

761 Staccato Bursts of Constant Information:

Stupid-Headed Host: We don't need one more observation about what a cretinous mook Don Imus is, so I'll just mention that it's nice that the rest of you all have caught up. He might survive his broadcast slap-on-the-wrist, but sponsors are deserting like [insert cliché here]. Although I must admit, he and I are of one-mind on Tucker Carlson (though I hear he doesn't wear the bowtie so much anymore).

More proof irony isn't actually dead: The President is looking for someone to oversee the war effort in Afghanistan and Iraq (wasn't he saying that was his job?). Nobody wants it. What I find funny is that they want to refer to it as the "War Czar". WTF is it with the compulsion of the Federal government to title these positions with that of the Russian emperor? Drug czar, War czar, bizarre.

God Love Tres Shannon: We've found crazy mad inspiration in Tres Shannon for quite a while. We never went to the X-Ray Cafe but he had so much fun with it that you couldn't dislike the guy. His mayoral campaign, whilst quixotic, was a delightful one. And he's come out quite bluntly that we should leave Burnside alone already. He makes such a compelling case (via BlueOregon) that we'll say that his position is our position too.

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[bloggage] Day of 125 Hits: Did I Make it?

761 Short answer; no. Long answer; no, but it wasn't a waste of time, and it was kind of fun.

24 hours ago, as of 0800 on 10 Apr, I issued a call, with my eye on the 20,000th visitor, for anybody who had a moment to spare to hit on my blog, here. At the time the deficit was about 125, and I decided to go for broke.

Well, we didn't quite get there. As of 0800 this morning, I'd found that I'd notched 19,958 hits, in total, getting 85 hits in a single 24-hour period, almost 70 per cent of my goal. As that's well over twice the amount I usually get in a day, that's a qualified success.

Also, as I've mentioned, I've got three URLs which I'll be linking to. Most bodacious of course was Josh Bancroft and tinyscreenfuls.com.

I will admit to a bit of disappointment on one angle; there aside from Josh and a couple of others, there were no comments at all. Sad am I at this; I was hoping for at least one conversation to come out of this, and a couple of links; if I got any new links, they aren't showing up (well, at least not yet...some of those monitoring items I use take a day or two to show up).

But I do have a takeaway here. Sure, I'd love to be popular and linked- and subscibed-to, but above all I should be probably doing this because I like writing and I have passions.

I do. And, I do.

Now to update the blogroll.

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10 April 2007

[bloggage] Thanks, Josh! (Welcome surfers from TinyScreenfuls)

760 By the way, I mentioned that I'd made the acquaintance of Josh Bancroft. He did make a righteous mention of this blog here, so, for those who came over today from tinyscreenfuls.com, Welcome. Make yourself to home, by all means!

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[bloggage] 31 Percent Of the Way There

759 Earlier today, at 0800, I stated the observation that I was about 125 hits away from 20,000 visitors and cast my message in the bottle out to see how quickly I could gather those, hoping to go over the mark by 0800 tomorrow. The results I've gotten so far are pretty cool.

So far, I've notched 39 visitors, which is a definite uptick from my ususal pegging by this time during a typical week day. It looks possible.

Even if it doesn't happen, I've already accrued a couple of benefits:
  1. Two commenters left me thier URLs: Bpaul at bugthumper.blogspot.com and Becca (I love that name, "Becca". Very sweet.) at escape2000.spaces.live.com
  2. Also, made the happy acquaintace of Josh Bancroft (here). Nice fella.
We all have ideals of what we want to achieve. Not always do they match our realities, but along the way, whether we succeed or fail, we almost always pick up valuable things along the way. So far, I'm finishing ahead.

The original post in my campaign is here if you are in the one-article view. Come. Comment! Link!

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[bloggage] 20,000 In My Sights

758 Well, after a lot of posting and waiting and basically having fun with this, I have my eyes on the 20,000th visitor. That's more than a lot, but not as much as some. Nevertheless, I'm looking to get over that hump. In the next 24 hours, I'm hoping to get at least 125 hits.

Now, I'm hardly the most popular kid around here, but that's okay; some people I really really like have linked here and sent clicks my way without my asking. I appreciate you, each and every one. And I don't plan on quitting this if I can't get over 20,000 in the next 24 hours; it's not a pathetic attempt at approval, I'm not dying of some undiagnosed disease, just a semi-pathetic and audacious attempt at notching some numbers.

All you have to to is stop by and, hey, leave a reply if you're so inclined. A link would be cool. But a hit would be stellar.

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09 April 2007

[liff] If Orwell Were Spinning In His Grave, Part 2

757 From the intarweb collection of Steve Beattie:


Now, I'm no Spanish speaker (or Catalan, if that be Barcelona), but I believe that the legend essentially says Area under surveillance–radius 500m. The name of the way, of course, seems to be George Orwell Square.

And
the drawing of the camera is sucky.

The irony, if not bluntly evident, is definitely left as an exercise for the reader.

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08 April 2007

[logo_design] A State Of Kramden*

756 It is safe to say, I think, that a state of direst kramden* exists between Moonstruck Chocolatier and Moonray Espresso. It's all over their logos, of course.

First reported in The Oregonian about two weeks ago, our very own Moonstruck, them whose exquisite and quite delectable truffles have seen two tours of Oscar® swag-bag service has seen fit to ring up Moonray Espresso, a coffeeshop of but a single branch in Duvall, Washington (though, to be fair, there seems to be aspirations to empire; their single store is listed on a "Locations" page.

As anyone who was raised in the age of "look and feel" must be aware of by now, subjective impressions count for a great deal. Microsoft and Apple tusseled over it for a very long time with respect with the GUIs of Mac OS and Windows. At the basic level, subjective impressions are the stock in trade of logos. This little graphic image must not only be designed brilliantly, it also has to leave a first impression that the logo-bearer is of a percieved benefit to the consumer or user.

Similarites also tend to, on a certain level, promote the impression of a relation–or, more succinctly, things that look alike tend to have something to do with each other, and in the world of commerce, usually means either the one is born of the other, or the other is trying to identify with the one. This is what Moonstruck is accusing of Moonray.

M-O-O-N, That Spells Copyright Infringement

The beef that Moonstruck has with Moonray seems to be that the Moonray logo (featuring a crescent moon with a highly- (and highly-effectively styled...we enjoy this logo muchly) lady lounging within) is very close to the Moonstruck logo (featuring a crescent moon with a dancing, Pan-eqsque flutist within)...close enough, in fact, that Moonray is effectively hoping that consumer confusion with the Moonstruck logo will garner them more sales.

In essence, Moonstruck's position is that Moonray is trying to hitch themselves to Moonstruck's star...or, moon, perhaps.

To the man on the street, the assertion might seem just a little bit risible; our initial off the cuff reaction is that they both trade on the Moon and perhaps some legendary imagery but we are having little trouble distinguishing between the two. From our POV, we'd expect not so much to be sold Moonstruck at Moonray except as, perhaps, an item on one of thier shelves.

Taking a more analytical view, though, we still find significant differences. The presence of the crescent moon supporting (in heraldic talk) the figure are indeed both common to both designs. However, we feel that's where the similarities definitely end. For there to be a real indication of alliance, in our minds, there must be more differences. The dancing male flutist is clearly not a recumbent female; the rendering style is clearly different; the Moonray symbol is closed with a brilliant disk backing it; the logo type styles are different, and the type is even arranged differently.

J'accuse!

Regrettably, however, the dispute has been sent to the courts; this humble assay would perhaps be irrelevant, regardless of how perceptive we feel it to be. And we don't necessarily disapprove of Moonstruck's basic behavior; frequently, protecting business identity is important enough that it must be taken even when it seems pointless to the average man or woman on the street. We believe there's a principle in the law that holds that if you don't move to defend your design, then you didn't really care all that much to protect it; IANAL, of course.

But also there's the street-level concept of wisely choosing ones' battles, and we fear that Moonstruck hasn't exactly struck properly here. From our reading of the news article, we recall that one of Moonstruck's concerns was that they would be seen as a bully here, and both sides have been strenuously casting themselves as Davids, with no Goliath to be found.

Regrettably as well we feel that, despite Moonstruck's averrings to the contrary, they will be seen to be the Goliath here whether they want to be or not.

Like we said, we are not lawyers. But, from the point of view of the consumer, perhaps a strategic withdrawl is warranted for Moonstruck. You can't unsue a person, and Moonstruck's already bruised themselves on that accord, but you can say "hey, maybe this wasn't such a good idea."

Moonstruck thinks we'll be confused by the similarities in logo. We rather disagree.

* kramden is a term used in the satirical book Doon, by Ellis Weiner, which in case it isn't clear, makes mad fun of Frank Herbert's masterwork. Kramden, a play on the vendetta called kanly, is said to be "a state of vendetta between two Houses who ought rightly be best pals".

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[liff] The Sorts of April Fool Jokes People Fall For These Days

755 One of the biggest buzzes of the last few weeks was the one where it was rumored out loud that the Vice President, in a speech, had actively advocated for the repeal or suspension of the 22nd amendment...people of all stripes, from amateur journalists to professional journalists and media types forwarded this, then found themselves embarrassed as they looked closely at it, finding itself to be the hoax that it was.

The article purported to be a news article from the New York Times reporting on the VP's speech. The URL, however, was http://www.newyourketimes.com/content/article76649.html (to which we add the emphasis) which, in the superheated world of information, spread like your favorite spreading metaphor.

Going to that URL today, however, gives you this:


...and clicking on the "See why this page was removed" link will initiate a download of a PDF from the real Times telling them, as the Chairman might have said, to "knock it off, or it's ring-a-ding-ding for you bozos".

None of this is a revelation; the smarter people in society have long since realized their mistake here, but I does raise a question that I think should be on everyone's mind who gives a damn about our country and the direction it's headed: What is it about the party in power that people would swallow this one hook, line, and sinker, even the smarter ones, without so much as a question?

How bizarre has American life become that this sort of April Fool's joke would go over so big?

The answer is, of course, left as an excercise for the reader.

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06 April 2007

[logo_design] The New Look of OPB

754 I missed the announcment of this, but like a good campaign, eventually it'll get your attention. And it got mine, particularly that cool billboard...

The OPB identity has been through three changes over the past ten years. The first, was the simple "O"; then next, the letters OPB emanating from what looked like a sliver-crescent moon. This new one is a real standout from the restrained presentation of the past two incarnations.

A truism of rebranding, from my impressions anyway, seems to be that if a company or organization feels they aren't communicating their outlook well or that it just feels dated to someone, it's time to rebrand. As the Quark, Inc fiasco of 2006 and and the NBC embarrassment of the 1978-79 teaches us, sometimes going full-tilt boogie into an identity rethink isn't the best thing to do...and sometimes, you can't be ablsolutely sure.

I imagine that rebranding is a bit like standing on the edge of a swimming pool, blindfolded, wondering if there's any water in it.

The new OPB logo splashes blocks of color and knocks the letterforms out. Compared to the earlier logos, it's not just a freshening up, it's Mardi Gras. Let's take a left turn into the world of logo-talk and find out what it is they're trying to say with it:
The LKP campaign also firmly identifies OPB with Oregon’s unique state of mind, its activism, community involvement and thoughtful opinions,” explained OPB President and CEO Steve Bass.” We are thrilled with the quality and creativity of LKP’s work and look forward to seeing it and hearing about it throughout the region (source: this news item on the Portland Advertising Federation's website)
Of course, what I see are the letters OPB reversed out of three pastellish color blocks, which, if you're taking notes are C77M4Y3K0, C17M4Y64K0, and C55M38Y85K18.

And perforce the need for logo-talk. But I come here not to bury the work, but to praise it; as a lifelong Oregonian, I'm still not sure what the logo's supposed to say about my experience thereupon, but it is a freshening up on the brand, and when viewed in relation to OPB's restrained graphic identity previously, must be viewed as a success; my internalized reaction is one of interest and of admiration. They brought this one up, and it pretty much hits the target.

The agency that did the work, Leopold Ketel & Partners, is responsible for more than one local brand: they count ODS and Kettle Foods amongst thier satisfied clients. Judging by that work, it's not surprising that OPB went with them. Looks like money well spent.

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[pdx_media] KPOJ's Punctuated Equilibrium

753 Despite the snarkiness of my title, I'm actually quite pleased with the changes at KPOJ. But evolution is a gradual change, and if they want to borrow a term from the biological sciences, then that should be it.

Anyway! I am thrilled to hear that Mike Malloy will be coming back. This is a an upside/downside thing: if Mike were being broadcast live in Portland then he'd be on from 1800 to 2100. But that's okay; Mike's full program on tape delay is about 100% better than no Mike at all (the situation since he was terminated with no warning from AAR last October). For us Mike fans, KPOJ's rather lighthearted, gradual approach to changing the schedule have been a little maddening, but they have well redeemed themselves by making it worth the wait.

One thing I didn't count on was the shifts to the morning sked. Thom Hartmann, already a winner here amongst us lefties, didn't just have a three-hour morning show, he has for quite some time had a synidicated national show. When he came here to Oregon he continued, meaning he was on the mike for 6 hours a day–a marathon, apparently, in radio host terms, and in a market where the brightest local light is Lars Larson, this raises the average IQ of this market's radio output considerably.

They've gone to 6 hours of Thom in the morning, adding his natonal show live from 0900-1200. At first I was a little concerned; while Thom is stunningly intelligent, he gets a bit dry at times. But not to fear; the 0600-0900 block is adding a comic personality who goes by the name of Carl Wolfson. From what little I hear of him, he's quite funny and rather wry, which is right up my street; the dryer the comedy the better (you know, like Dennis Miller before his brains fell out).

I think the biggest takeaway here is given away by KPOJ's adoption of the term "The Flagship" when referring to Thom in general (it occasionally boggles the mind that Thom, with no shortage of fans already, relocated to Portland two years ago from Vermont–he was secure and popular there. Our grass must really be greener). Really, KPOJ, in three short years, has become a legend in the radio industry; first Clear Channel AAR affiliate, possibly the first of all AAR affiliates; it's programming and logo style have served as a template for other progressive stations; quadrupled listenership and kicked Lars's plastic ass with Randi Rhodes (Lars was beaten by a girl!).

But I digress just a little. KPOJ has really carved out a niche for itself as a radio power, and is a strong enough draw (based on the buzz I'm hearing–I'm not a media insider, there's other sites for that action) that I think it can stand on its own as a source of progressive programming regardless of who it affiliates with. KPOJ is big enough that it can become a center in and of itself, and that's the meaning of a Flagship.

I think in the future KPOJ will become more than a flagship for Thom Hartmann. I think it's going to become even more legendary.

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[logo_design] A Couple Of Chuckles from The Past

752 Depend on The Register to bring a smile to ones' face.

The info source, with the tagline "Biting the hand that feeds IT", is usually funny and very trenchant. It gave us the BOFH (you know, if you know what that is) series. And occasionally it sweeps up other stuff...such as logo design.

Since I'm rather knackered right now but wanted to post something but didn't have much to say, I'll cut to the chase with two logo-design centered articles which are definitely on wry:

MasterCard International's rebranding from mid-2006.

Quark, Inc's re-rebranding from Q2 2006.

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05 April 2007

[design] Adobe CS3 New Feature Resonance: Ripple 1

751 I don't know yet who likes what they've heard about in CS3, but Russell Viers over at the Yabb-adobe-dabba blog likes him some Place cursor previews and some placing Indy files in Indy files.

I've got to admit, those are high on my list, too.

Read his take here.

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04 April 2007

[logo_design] The Rise And Fall of The Portland Art Museum's Logo

750 Noted in passing was the new Portland Art Museum logo, which see to the right. At the time I noted it caught my attention for its cleverness; embedding the word ART and the interesting breaking up of the word Portland made it interesting to me.

Well, perhaps it's my proletarian upbringing, but it's starting to look like I'm the only person around who admired it at all. Noted here in the art blog PORT, it was roundly disliked as being hard to read and generally non-communicative.

Now, I'm not one to contradict others, but I must say I rather enjoyed the logo. But then, did I enjoy it as a technical exercise or an actual example of a working logo, one which meshes with what it represents and communicates? I think I can see the problems with it. Though the type play is very ingenious. this may be a case of being too clever by half–the logo is all about the gimmick.

Adding insult to the injury is apparently the fact which the logo cost some mumble thousand dollars to develop and create, which really smarts when the final product doesn't exactly go over well.

As noted by other sources, the logo never really even gained a foothold; I too had a hard time finding an adequately-sized logo for my own commentary (I nicked it from Jeff Fisher's bLog-oMotives...you give the word, Jeff, it goes, promise!).

So give it a good look, as it descends to the design and branding purgatory also inhabited by New Coke, the Apple Newton, and QuarkXPress's 2005 logo.

Sic transit gloria logo.

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