30 December 2011

[type] LOL: You're Doing It Wrong.

2738.This photo (found at the URL http://www.picsthatdontsuck.com/web/Lol_Drowning.html) demonstrates exactly what what can happen in the modern world when simplification goes just a bit too far:


If it weren't for the Internet, this would be a totally-clever way of depicting a drowning man reaching for air … which it is.

Totally clever, I mean.

But with the Internet culture we all find ourselves immersed in (designers perhaps a little more than most), I defy you, depending on your age cohort, to see this as anything more than a procedure to laugh out loud, then call 911.

Pays to be cognizant of these things.

[art] Paper Zone Stores To Close

2737.It's with a heavy heart that we mark this passage, and deem it Not A Good Christmas Gift At All:
As you may have heard, we will be closing all of our Paper Zone locations. After receiving an overwhelming outpour of concern, we felt compelled to further explain our unfortunate situation. Paper Zone is a company with 20 year roots in the Northwest. We are based in Seattle, operating eight retail locations throughout Oregon and Washington. However, due to the current economic downturn, we have experienced three years of sales declines between 6%-8% annually. As a small local retailer we were unable to sustain these losses.
The economy eats another one, and it is a local business, at least local to the PNW, to Cascadia. We've enjoyed many a nice moment at the Paper Zone, they've always had good service and good selection. And local, like the other art-based businesses we prefer: I've Been Framed and Muse Art and Design.

Now, as far as I know, IBF and Muse aren't in danger of going away, but if you want them to continue, you'll continue to patronize them. Local people spending money locally, providing great local value (there's a whole lot at Muse and IBF that wont' break your bank, trust me here).

I'm not trying to lecture you guys … I know money's incredible-tight, and like me, if you can spend some, you do. I think this should make everyone aware of what happens when local businesses don't get the support they need.

They go away.

In the meantime, thanks for the memories, Paper Zone. It's been a good run. Shame it had to end.

If you want to, you can read the entire announcement at the Paper Zone's blog here, as long as it remains up.

28 December 2011

[liff] Peach On Earth, Goodwill Stores To All Men

2736.Hey, these jokes aren't so easy to write, yaknow.


The original title of this post was to be Seasonings Greetings.

Thank you. I'll be here for the forseeable future. Tip your veal, try the waitress.

26 December 2011

[pdx_liff] So Long, Just Out (1983-2011)

2735.Sad news for print publishing in the Portland area as Just Out, the alt-paper serving the LGBT community since 1983 has just now announced it has published its last.

It was a paper that could be enjoyed regardless of sexual orientation, however. It introduced my comic-readin' self to Dykes To Watch Out For, by the still-incredibly-underrated Alison Bechdel, whose soulful storytelling and rich-yet-simple style, reminiscent to me of ligne claire, told real, authentic human stories.

I suspect that the hole the loss of this media leaves in some lives will be larger than this, however.

[liff] Merry Trololo Christmas, From Mr Trololo Himself

2734.Back earlier this year, when Edward Hill, the 'Trololo' Guy, a/k/a the Russian Rickroll went viral, most people didn't know what to make of it.

Turned out he was just this happy Russian singer who was beloved by his country and his fans both during the days of Soviet rule as well as the present day. And, at age 77, he's still kickin' it, old-school Trololo-style, and still as happy and joyous as ever.

Merry-what-ever-you-call-it. Enjoy.



H/T to fellow Ellisonian John E. Williams. Thanks, guy!

20 December 2011

[net_liff] Some Facebook Cover Images If You Don't Have One Yet

2733.I enjoy the new Facebook Timeline. Visually, it's a winner, being much more visually engaging than the old profile views. And the banner - the 'cover image' - across the top can make it all hum, in a visual sense.

You may not have any idea what you'd want to have as a banner. Well, Bart Grootveld is showing off 25 of them that he considers sexy, views such as this:


They're all sized to fit the new cover photo banner area, so there shouldn't be any cutoff.

There are a few that I don't consider sexy; there's realistically-shaded versions of favorite image-macro memery such as the Y U No Guy, the Forever Alone Guy, and the Me Gusta Guy. Actually, I find them kinda disturbing. But someone might like 'em.

They're all here: http://www.bartgrootveld.com/design/25-sexy-facebook-timeline-banners/. Yeah, there're 25 of them.


[type] Pilcrow, Ampersand, Section Mark and Hedera, LLC

2732.The four marks alluded to in the title are more popularly known as "The Paragraph Sign"; "The And Sign", "That Funny Double-S", and "The Fleuron".

The article at Retinart, "Marks Unknown", (http://retinart.net/typography/marksunknown/), should smart you up a little … or at least get you to appreciate them.

16 December 2011

[diary] Diary Friday #1 … Start One

2731.This'll be the first post in the Diary Friday series, a series I hope to keep going once-a-week without fail.

Why Diary Friday? There are no end of expositional-writing memes afloat on the Internet Sea these days. In the meat of the form, I'm not really breaking any new ground here.

What I am trying to do is suggest that people, instead of doing something bloggy (nothing wrong with this, of course) do something diary. That is to say, think of writing it down and keeping it for yourself. Diaries give us a certain freedom that blogs or any other sort of online media don't. They can be kept absolutely secret (if you so choose). They can't be Googled, Yahoo'd, or searched. Your thoughts there are your own. And evidence suggests they make us more mentally-healthy. I'm of the opinion that they make us more eloquent and literate.

Thinking your thoughts and putting them on paper also preserves the time for the future. Days fly by; they fade into memory, but if you write down what delights you, moves, you, makes you happy (or sad) then you've captured them, and they're yours.

Also, with increasingly fewer people writing letters in the old-fashioned way, there's a real risk of our cultural memories going with it. You diarists aren't just feeding your own head; you're leaving a record that people in a future time might actually find enlightening.

So, between now and next Friday, think about how you'd keep a diary. Blank book with a ribbon bookmark? Looseleaf binder? Spiral bound notebook? The only real rule is to write it down.

If you feel like sharing you're thoughts here … please, feel free. 

[typography] Because the SarcMark™ Worked So Well …

2730.Now someone's come up with a "sarcasm font" which is … wait for it … just regular typed obliqued leftwards instead of rightwards.

Yeah, that'll work. Like the SarcMark™, that went over so just so very well.

It's the Sarcastic 'Font', and you can find it at http://glennmcanally.com/sarcastic/index.htm.

Yeah. This'll go over well, too.

The nifty thing about that answer is it'll hold true whether that is especially dry satire … or not.

[net_liff] What Yelp! Needs … More Cormac McCarthy

2729.What Yelp! needs? A voice with style, with gravitas (which is a veggie I think I had on one of my salads recently), with world-weariness and the ability to see through lies.

I mean, of course, Cormac McCarthy:

Four stars.
I am going to remove a star, he said.
Please don’t mister.
Don’t move. It’s better if you don’t move.
Please.
It’s important you know why. Do you understand why this is happening?
Oh God.
It is because I clearly shared with you my condition. I cannot countenance gluten. And yet I see croutons here. Do you see them as well?
Yes. I’m sorry.
Do you understand that sorry does not remove the croutons?
Yes. Oh God.
Good. Then we can agree your action has changed the course of the universe in some infinitesimal but irrevocable way. To remove the croutons would not remove the action. You see?
The waiter closed his eyes.
That was Cormac at Chili's. Rating: four stars. Read the rest, and here's the whole thing.

[web_design] Google Chrome … Winning the War

2728.Remember those days when they said The browser wars were over, and MSIE had won?

Remember?

Yeah, those were good times. Then MS went complacent, stopped developing Internet Exploder, and pretty soon, Mozilla and Firefox were, at first nibbling at, then eating up, its lunch. It left the Mac market to all the other browsers too, so us Mac users had to find something else.

Then IE begat tabs … years after FF made them first fashionable, then de rigueur, then freakin' indispensable.


Then Google, at last, came along, and put Chrome on the thing. By that time, being a Mac user, I'd made Firefox pretty much the most important app on my machine, no matter what else I was doing. And I was a hard sell on Chrome … I was very dependent on Firefox extensions such as ScribeFire for blog posting and other things. If there was a way for the Web to be made easier and more intuitive, the Fox had it.

I liked Chrome at first, but not enough to switch. Then ScribeFire came to Chrome and I started using it. that got me over. Since then I've moved away from using a blog-posting app as the cloud-interface - the Blogger interface - gives me all the functionality I need, and then some.

No offense, ScribeFire. It's not you; it's me. Well, it was you, just a little bit, but no harm - no foul, eh?

That's not to say Chrome is perfect; the number of Web Workers, Renderers and null processes it spawns never fail to make me raise an eyebrow. And, once in a while, the browser crashes on startup – a quick reinstall usually fixes this problem. But I like Chrome a lot.

So, when I found out that Chrome had passed IE8 in popularity, I was surprised only that it happened so quickly – never underestimate an installed base, someone once said to me. Browsers, I guess, obey somewhat different laws of physics.

Here's the word: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/technology/2011/12/google-chrome-internet-explorer.html

13 December 2011

[diary] Diaries of the Just and the Unjust And Everyone In Between

2727.When I talk to people about creating diaries, I find that a lot of folks think this is the province of the 13-year old girl, the young lady who loops her i's instead of dots them, and who begins every entry in a little pastel book with a cute little lock with the phrase Dear Diary.


That's not necessarily to disrespect a notional, stereotypical 13-year old girl. But adults who have little time for reading, never mind writing, think that it's not for them because it's something kids do.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

This diary was kept by Robert Goddard, credited as the father of modern rocketry. His word made possible - even necessary - such things as the Apollo moon missions and the Space Shuttle, and, sadly, ICBMs as well. Here's a graphic of what he wrote on the day he launched his first liquid-fueled rocket, an event which opened the modern age of astronautics:


For the rest of the pictures and transcriptions, go to Clark University's page on it at http://www.clarku.edu/research/archives/goddard/diary.cfm.

For a more modern person of renown, the recently-released-from-Italian-prison Amanda Knox also kept a diary:


The subtitle in Italian, Il mio diaro del pngione (sic), is poignant. The pages are dense with text, neatly scribed in that particular oval, almost uncial, font stereotypically favored by young women. You can read it (the photocopies are a little tough on the eyes, though, be warned) at TruTV here: http://www.trutv.com/library/crime/notorious_murders/young/amanda-knox-diary/1.html

And wars create war diaries, and diaries by soldiers. Ed Blanco kept a war diary as a soldier in Vietnam which was just a day-by-day chronicle. The thing which attracted me about it was the medium … he picked up a bookkeeper's journal in a Brooklyn stationers shop, and he kept it with him throughout his tour. It lived in has back pocket for a year, and recorded what happened each day as well as the members of his company who got wounded and who he lost. You can see a few graphics here:

Diaries are here and now, they're real, and despite what you've heard about the Internet (much as I love it) taking over, they're happening.

They're also for everyone.


[art] Real-Time Animation, With Bicycle

2726.Just found this on YouTube, after the words 'real-time animation' caught my eye. Of course, you can't film animation in real time, the terms seem to be at odds; animation is designing frame-by-frame and real life is much more analogue.

But, as it turns out, if you lay out your animation on a bicycle wheel … and spin it just so …



Kinda brilliant.

12 December 2011

[type] The Most Horrifying Picture A Graphic Designer Can See …

2725.… is the opening splash to any Adobe Creative Suite app … in Comic Sans …




There's even more tomfoolery at The Comic Sans Project, a tumblr blog whose unholy purpose seems to be re-imagining all sorts of logos and stuff with CS in instead of what belongs there.

Sinful. You'll want to watch, of course: http://comicsansproject.tumblr.com/

28 November 2011

[design] The Apple Logo And Natural Proportions

2723.Seen today, via Google+, was this picture, which appears to suggest that the famous logo of Apple, designed by Rob Janoff, was developed using the mathematic princples of the Fibonacci sequence and the golden proportion:



The diagram was created by Thiago Barcelos, and is dead clever and quite insightful. On the left, a rectangle in the golden ration subdivided via the mean; inside are circles of radii that fit within and work out to be the Fibonacci numbers. And, on the right, you see the various circles as they might have been used to construct the logo.

The diagram does tempt one to think that the designer used the mathematical principles in designing the shape. Janoff, so far as I know, has never said, but I have a feeling that he didn't actively use them.

They may have, rather, informed what he did.

I'm about to go down a rhetorical rabbit hole of my own making. Come along, if you wish. I grasp this on the gut level, but whenever I try to put this in words I wind up chasing my own tail and gibbering like an idiot at the end. Words sometimes fail.

When someone creates a bit of work with the idea that it should be pleasing to look at, we reach down to a common intellectual store. Each of us has this. The reason each of us has this is that we were all grown in the same world. This is not zeitgeist strictly speaking, but it contributes to that. Kind of a naturalistic weltanschauung, if you will.

The Fibonacci sequence is recapitulated in nature, or maybe our mathematics recapitulates it. The fruitlings of a pineapple; branchings of a tree and leaves; the honeybee's family tree. This all combines into a sort of gestalt sense of what the world is and how it pieces itself together. You may tune the world out around you, but you can't not notice it.

This feeds into a sense of what we find 'right' and 'pleasing' in a visual sense. Since the golden mean and Fibonacci numbers come into play there, then this informs our thinking, kind of like a voice gently whispering into our ears.

So when Janoff set down to create the Apple logo, he didn't work out circles and arrange them about until they supported the apple shape. However, this gestalt awareness probably informed him when he was nudging the curves about until everything had a sort of visual resonance. It's why the gap between the leaf and the apple seems just right. It's why the bite in the apple seems more or less at the right shape and in the right place. All the parts obey rules that nature and intellect have hard-coded into our skin and bones.

Have you ever looked at something that 'just wasn't quite right' somehow? Not everyone wants to design or create art, but we all have, I believe, this sort of sensibility, and we all rely on this shared experience. How? I take a naturalist approach, you may take a more mystical one, it doesn't matter and that isn't really the point. It's something we sense in the world around us and we feed back into it in a way. We all intrinsically know when something is well-proportioned. We may not be able to see it or put it into words, and maybe some of us don't care all that much, but we know. And when you know,  you're probably tasting the same thought process that Janoff used to make all the parts of the apple just so. 


In a real way, design comes from the world around you. It has ever been thus.

[type] A Peek In Typographer's Sketchbooks

2722.(via my newsfeeds) One of my favorite things to do is to watch artists work, and artists' sketchbooks are amazingly fun to get a peek inside.

Ryan Heshka, amongst others, have contributed to yet-another-design-book-coauthored by Steven Heller,  Typography Sketchbooks, by him and Lisa Talarico, published by Princeton Architectural Press. I'm hoping to get a look at this myself sometime soon, because it's filled with wonderful pictures of the insides of these wonderful little tomes, including this by Heshka:


Good gosh, I don't draw nearly enough.

Here's also a link to a bit at the Laughing Squid.

27 November 2011

[teh_funnay] Why Is This Man Applauding?: Juxtapostion Funnies #2

2721.Sometimes one wonders if the newsy-feeds are trying to mess with our heads. I think so, myself:


My guess? That's got to be an Arsenal supporter.

26 November 2011

[liff] What I Learned At NaNoWriMo 2011

2720.The culture that's sprung up around NaNoWriMo is your atypical typical Intertube social culture, with history and customs that're all its own.

Herewith a brief list of customs and cute terms I learned whilst submerged in NaNo culture, in no particular order:

  • NaNoWriMo: National Novel Writing Month, aber naturlich. Obvious from the brouhaha, but I thought that putting this up first would set the table for what follows.
  • NaNo: What WriMos (which see) call it for short.
  • WriMo: What members of the NaNo tribe call themselves and each other. I'm a WriMo, you're a WriMo, he's a WriMo, she's a WriMo … wouldn't you like to be a WriMo too?
  • NaNoMail: Every social website has their own internal messaging system. Did you think this one would be any different?
  • Regions: Activities in NaNo are organized geographically, as are the forums on the site. Portland has one, Salem has one, Vancouver has one.
  • Pep Talk: Regional coordinators and national team members send out emails of encouragement to WriMos each week. These are Pep Talks, and any of them can be useful. They're not so long that I'd kill you taking a few minutes to read each one. One of them helped me a ton and generated an interesting sub plot.
  • Winning: There's just one condition for 'winning' NaNo: produce a novel, a prose work of 50,000 words or more, by midnight, November 30th. Since you're participating in NaNo to test your mettle or just to have fun, the biggest prize is bragging rights. Other prizes include knowing you can do this thing, increased creativity, a slightly limbered imagination, the desire to go create something else. You get this even if you don't cross the 50K Rubicon, but completing the victory conditions is just … so … satisfying.
  • WriteIn: When a group of WriMos get together to work on their novels in a social setting. Since everyone is together for the social, many times, not a lot of actual writing gets done, but a lot of bonding does. In the end, it's all good.
  • TGIO: Thank God, It's Over … the sigh of relief when NaNo is finally over, whether or not you get that novel done. TGIO parties ensue.
  • OLL: The Office of Letters and Light, the group of crazies who push this stuff, year-after-year. Big on teachin' y'alls how to create, n'stuff.
  • WordWar: When two regions go up against each other in order to produce even moar verbiage. Works great as a group motivator. I don't know how PDX stacked up against others, but the graph I just saw indicates that PDX area WriMos produced, in the aggregate, nearly thirty million words. If I had a nickle for every one of those words I'd have … well, I'd have a whole lot of money!
That's just a smattering of it. I enjoyed the hell out of it. It's my serious intention to try to write a short story now, to see if I can sell it.

Yeah, I loves me some writins.

[liff] A Winning Score In NaNoWriMo 2011

2719.I had always fancied what it would be like to write an actual book.

Now, I have some idea.

Over the past 25 days, I've taken the NaNoWriMo challenge, which is, as you know, to write a novel within 30 days. Novel, as NaNo defines it, is a document of 50,000 words or more. My "novel", The Way Of The Courier, clocked in at 50,712 words. As witness my stats page as of today, this day, like, right now:


The levelling-off means, of course, that I quit expanding at at that point.

As a person who hit the goal, I am entitled to display this badge:


… and ere shall I do so.

NaNoWriMo … it does a body good!

07 November 2011

[PDX_liff] Portlandia Releases Her Sex Tape! Can An NBA Wedding Be Far Behind?

2718.Portlandia has a point. Because, let's face it folks, you wouldn't know how to spell "Kardashian" if she didn't do the "nastah" on tape for everyone to see (aren't you sorry you paid attention now?):



Yeah, I'd tap that. But the love, it would ring hollow, I suppose.

If Raymond Kaskey were dead, he'd be rolling in his grave now.

(Please may I have a big hand for Mike Vogel, who apparently gets these ideas from a very dark, wet, and sometimes scary place)

06 November 2011

[liff] NaNoWriMo Holding Post

2717.Thanks to the cadging of a very good friend, I decided to take the plunge and do NaNoWriMo this year. Web badge!
Posting will therefore be more erratic than usual. This is a public service message. In the meantime, I leave you with this:


Funnay! Larf!

PS: On NaNoWriMo I'm SJKPDX_Diarist.

31 October 2011

[liff] Be Nice To Others … They Outnumber You 7 Billion-to-One

2716.Sometime today, the world will welcome its seven billionth human being. We'll never be sure for certain exactly which one of us will be #7,000,000,000, but, odds being what they are, it'll be someone in India.

If you counted out loud, at one per second, it would take you about 113 years to count to the  number 7,000,000,000.

7,000,000,000 seconds ago, George Washington was being inaugurated President of the United states.

I went to this nifty website mounted by the BBC, The World At Seven Billion,  and I found out this much about myself:

… so you can call me sir, thankyewverymuch.

No fair guessing my birthday from this. Have some couth.

So, take a moment. Celebrate. Have a Twinkie. And look with love upon the horizons before us … because, likely as not, you're probably staring at someone. And staring is rude, yo.

They say that seven billion people, if placed shoulder to shoulder, could stand on Los Angeles. Of couse, looked at another way, we could also say they could stand on Zanizibar.

And so it goes.

26 October 2011

[type] A New Font For Dyslexics

2715. (VIA) Dutch type designer Christian Boer's Dyslexie is a font which is designed to make reading for dyslexics much more possible.

The font is interesting even if you aren't so affected. Dyslexie achieves its aim by distorting shapes to, for instance, make the d and p less symmetrical, which prevents the dyslexic brain from "flipping" the shape. Other irregularities make for a very organic feel, which is not altogether unpleasant to look and is actually rather artistic.

Dyslexie font sample screenshot from designer's website

The font can be seen in action at this article in Scientific American (which has a link to a PDF of the article formatted in Dyslexie), and the designer's website Project Dyslexie (most of which is laid out with the font). A single-user license will set you back 69 Euros, or about USD 98.00.

[liff] France Is Bacon

2714.Seen on Google+ today: a person who had recently added me to one of their circles posted a sweet little story apparently seen on Reddit somewhere in which the correspondent related how he'd misparsed the famous dictum, expressed to them as Knowlege is power - Francis Bacon as Knowledge is Power, France is Bacon.


A dumb graphic wasn't far off, for me.


Aural graffiti has always been one of my favorite things.

14 October 2011

[type] Can You Tell the Cheese From The Type?

2712.Cheese or Font is a quick, nifty, and simple little game that throws up a word … it's either a cheese name or a font name … and then just asks you to choose.

It's surprisingly difficult.

Http://cheeseorfont.com

[pdx] When a FOX12 Newsie Identifies With the Occupy Portland Troops …

2711. … even with all else being equal, it seems a game-changer, somehow, when a reporter from FOX 12 comes off so honestly.



I appreciate her candor. In a time like this, when so many are hurting and the news (FOX, particularly) just kind of hang on the sidelines with a "gosh, how interesting" detachment, it's nice to see honesty.

Jamie Wilson's been amongst our favorite KPTV reporters for a long time … oh, heck, we'll admit it, she's easy on the eyes.

But now we have to ask ourselves: how much will it cost someone like this to be caught out in the wild having an opinion … especially like this … of her own?

Stay (as they say in the biz) tuned.

07 October 2011

[liff] And Now, This Word On Behalf Of My Bass Guitar

2710.Some time ago (here, in fact) I rhapsodized about my humble Harmony bass. Over on the WordPress mirror of this blog (http://zehnkatzen.wordpress.com) I got a cool comment that I'm just in silly love with, so I'm repeating it here. A visitor named Victor wrote:
Sweet man, She’s a beauty, not worth a ton, but I have the same one. Got it for 25 bucks at a flea market. Mine plays like a dream, do her a favor, and play her! Start simple, like money, and work from there.
And I can confirm it’s a h704 there not expensive, but rare to come by.
What a nifty thing to say, yes? I love the fact that Victor clued me on the model humber (H-704) and just had such a nice thing to say about her.

I wasn't buying a famous geet, I knew that. Just a good bass that'll be there for me. And apparently, that's just what I got. And I do know something about rarities … a thing can be rare but not terribly valuable. What determines collector value, other than the availability, is the demand. If collectors don't care about it, no matter how rare it is, it won't have a huge monetary value.

But, as I said, that's not why I got 'er.

And the phrase Start Simple, like money? Is this not poetry or what?

This has been a word on behalf of the bass guitar.

29 September 2011

[teh funnay] Movies We're Not Sure We Want To See: Baldwins In The Mist

2709.At first we thought that this was a "Movie We'd Like To See", but the more we think about it the more we're not so sure:


Actually, I rather like Alec, and Billy is to be commended for his own efforts trying to remake Portland into Indiewood. But it's just so easy to make fun of Baldwins. So, I am a little guilty.

Still, I've got to wonder - isn't this the time of year they clone the newest Baldwin?

[comics] Comics Code Authority Seal Now Belongs To The Good Guys

2708.The unassuming little mark you see illustrated hereunto is the seal of approval of the Comics Code Authority, and as of today, it's switched sides.

Back in the day when self-censorship was essential to stay in business (as William Gaines found to his travail - fortunately, that guy never would lay down) The CCA stamp was a powerful thing. Having it meant advertisers would like you, and if they liked you, the money would follow.

Times have changed. More channels exist; Marvel and DC have their own ratings systems, and even Archie comics have given up using it. The Comics Code Authority has died with not just no bang, but not even a whimper.

Through legal means I'm certain I have no means of understanding, the stamps new owners are the CBLDF - The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, standing for First Amendment rights for creators:
(CBLDF Executive Director Charles) Brownstein adds “It’s a progressive change that the Comics Code seal, which is yesterday’s symbol of comics censorship, will now be used to raise money to protect the First Amendment challenges comics face in the future. That goal probably would have been unimaginable to the Code’s founders, who were part of a generation of comics professionals that were fleeing a witch-hunt that nearly trampled comics and any notion that they deserved any First Amendment protection.”
So now the stamp has changed sides, and it's not at all a bad thing.

28 September 2011

[teh funnay] As A Matter Of Fact, Gordon Ramsay WOULD Make A Kickass Russian Army Officer

2707.Replaceface is the project of a so-far-anonymous artist that does the old mash-up with the unexpected twist of putting modern celebrities and well-known-personalities' heads on the tops of uniform portraits of Imperial Russian Army officers done by the English portraitist George Dawe during the late 1810s and early 1820s, all officers who helped successfully repelled Napoleon's invasion. There were 329 of these portraits done, and Replaceface has perched heads such as Mickey Rourke, Sean Connery, iSteve, and, of course, Charlie Sheen.

Tiger blood, indeed. My favorite, though:


Gordon Ramsay, of course. You know he would have made a mean, kickass officer.

The mashup is amusing, the technique immaculate. 

27 September 2011

[teh funnay] Mormons Are Borg? Juxtaposition Funnies, #1

2706.Sometimes YouTube's related lists and the sponsored video work together to suggest disturbing connections which may (or may not) lurk beneath the surface of This Modren World. I swear the next screenclipping is not Photoshopped:
Now, you all know how these things work. You go looking for things and YouTube's engine (they all are engines these days, like you'd find them under the hood of the car or sommat) serves up suggestions based on whateverall it is you're doing. So, I go looking for videos about the Borg … and YouTube serves up a promoted video about Mormons.

Artificial intelligence, artificial stupidity, or artificial humor in dubious taste? You be the judge. This blog offers no opinion one way or the other on Borg, Mormons, or religion in any form, for what that is worth. 

[design] Infographic Cliches You've No Doubt Seen

2705.Design humor is at its best when it's metareferential, sometimes.

Via Google+ user Dustin Hoffmann (no, not the actor) and served forth from the blog of FastCompany, there's a very chuckle-funny summary of the most popular infographic cliches:


That's four of them. To see the whole magila, click on the graphic or the link in the text above to the FastCompany blog. The artist is Alberto Antoniazzi, whose site is http://www.albertoantoniazzi.com/

25 September 2011

[comics] How iSteve Ruined Comics

2704.(via Gizmodo) Well, iSteve didn't ruin comics, per se, but Apple, with it's dead-brilliant design regime, have made technology that was once easily renderable … such as the phone, the TV, and such - so subtly designed that, when they're used, they need almost as much exposition as a supporting character:


Compare with the idea off a man getting outraged at a magazine or newspaper article. You don't need to be told what that is. This? Why is that tiny replica of the 2001 monolith making that monkey so angry?

The subtle, usually elegant design regime inspired by the Apple iLine of, oh, just about everything, has created articles that are beginning to require entire new ways of storytelling, causing a sort of evolution in comics. Just how do you tell a story with props that, depending on the context, need to have their stories told before you know what they and what the characters are doing with the small oblong objects that could be, well, just about anything?

Tom Pappalardo asks the question in the article Cartooning vs Technology: How Steve Jobs Ruined Comicsbut he's trying to make a point with that title. He don't really hate iSteve, or the toys he created. But it's a smart, funny article that asks a good question.

[design] Books We'd Like To See: I Am Not Claudius, By Derek Jacobi

2703.Of course, the character Claudius never was as big for Jacobi as the signature character of the inspiration of this photoshoppery:



22 September 2011

[or_liff] Ringo Not Here; Try Next Ocean Liner

2702.Remember that ginormous luxury yacht (actual pronounciation throatwobbler mangrove) that everyone thought Ringo Starr was on that was supposed to be history-buffing Astoria?

Well, it was a luxury yacht. But it wasn't Ringo's.

Yet another Oregonized brush with fame averted.

[design] It's Lorem Ipsum's World; We Just Consecectur There

[bloggage] Confirmation That I Kick Ass: ZehnKatzen Enters The Alltop Zone

2670.Apparently, as Aretha once sang, we been livin' right:

Alltop, confirmation that I kick ass

As of now, the feed of this blog has been added to the aggregator Alltop, which is the niftiest thing that's happened of late. I'm in the Graphic Design topic, aber naturlich, which can be peeped here:

http://graphic-design.alltop.com/

Now it's time to really up my game. And this is quite an inspiration to do so.

That badge - and the newsfeed from the Alltop aggregator - will henceforth be found in the Connections section of the sidebar, up immediately to the right of the topmost posting.

Thank you, Guy Kawasaki!

21 September 2011

[design] When You're Tired of Mother&@!*ing Lorem on a Mother&@!*ing Ipsum!

2699.All credit goeth to Darrel Troxel for stumbling on this one.

Placeholder text. To the experienced designer, even your regular Lorem Ipsum becomes a bit tiresome. Sometimes you're just Puckish enough to want to imbue a certain sense of style, and Klingon Ipsum and Hipster Ipsum have become dreary, and nobody cares you know Etaoin Shrdlu and all the little Shrdlu kids anymore.

What to do, what to do.

How about a little Pulp Fiction, instead?
Do you see any Teletubbies in here? Do you see a slender plastic tag clipped to my shirt with my name printed on it? Do you see a little Asian child with a blank expression on his face sitting outside on a mechanical helicopter that shakes when you put quarters in it? No? Well, that's what you see at a toy store. And you must think you're in a toy store, because you're here shopping for an infant named Jeb.
That was the "Slipsum Lite" version. Attitude without the salty language. Slipsum comes in "classic" Ipsum … no Samuel L. or attitude, and full-on NSFW Samuel L. Ipsum, mutherf&@#$er.

Just go to http://www.slipsum.com. The proper choices are on the upper right of the screen. And fill that placeholder text with some pulp ipsum.

19 September 2011

[net_liff] "Spot the Unicorn", Zach Dundas Twitter Edition

2698.If you love something, they say, set it free.

Whoever came up with that folksy aneurysm must have had the internet in mind. Latterly, this bit of Unicorn-oriented Photoshoppery:


Which I created in March, 2010, has been showing up in interesting places. The newest find? The Twitter icon for Portland Monthly editor, Zach Dundas:


Am I irritated? Hardly! Flattered! Look, I know this about that; when you create something like this and fling it down the 'tubes, it'll get lifted and passed about. That was kind of the idea here. Right now, it's as close as I'm getting to fame, so, hey, it's cool. Definitely cool.

Remember the unicorns, my friends. You don't know you flattered me, Zach, but if you read this article, now you do. Thanks. Long may Saint Unicorn fly. Even though he hath no wings, yes, I know this.

[bloggage] My Dallas/Space:1999 Theme Mashup Gets Kudo

2697.Occasionally someone I've never known before notices something nifty I did and gives me a warm fuzzy about it, and I'm flattered and a bit happy.

This time, it was a TV theme-mashup I did some time ago … The opening to the 80s nighttime soap Dallas as seen through the stylings of the opening to Space:1999. And here it is:


.
It was so honored by the blog at Channel-37.net here: http://channel-37.net/?p=1727. It came in as a tie for fifth place with a dead-clever treatment Star Trek: The Next Generation as a Love Boat (even had Charo!).

In that company, a tie for fifth is nifty indeed! Thanks, Channel 37!

15 September 2011

[pdx_liff] Sam Elliott Watch

2696.That rugged Portland resident, actor Sam Elliott, is popping up here and there:

  1. Here, Facebook Presence PDXPipeline catches a uniquely gray-touseled head from the back in what we presume is the Sunnyside Zupan's market (SE Portland, they say … the only SE one I knew of is along SE Belmont in Sunnyside).
  2. And, here, world-famous Portland Mercury raconteur, lothario and occasional editor Wm.™ Stephen Humphrey happens to meet Sam who's stopped in to the Merc offices to say "hi" … and causes Ezra Ace Caraeff to man-cry (via iPhone).
Of course, those who are acquainted with local personalities know that Sam Elliott graduated from David Douglas High School, near my home out 122nd way, and it's said that his mom is still alive (about 97 years old, I think) and still lives out in this area.

So, to recap, Sam Elliott: Awesome, Sam Elliott sighted twice via PDX social media: Awesome, Sam Elliott's attitude about his mom: Awesome, and David Douglas High School graduates: Awesome.

14 September 2011

[OR_liff] True Oregon Facts!, Volume One

2695.Being an Actual Oregonian, born in Actual Oregon and All That, I can be considered to be an authority of Actual Oregon Stuff, provided you haven't Actually Checked With Anyone Else First.

But nevermind that now! I have decided, having little else to share, to share my immense trove of genetically-coded Actual Oregon Knowlege with you. Herewith, the first volume of True Oregon Facts!
  • Scotts Mills, Oregon, was founded specifically so that the residents of Molalla would have a town they'd be allowed to make fun of.
  • The locality of Four Corners, just outside of Salem, was named because State Street and Lancaster Drive met at an intersection with four corners to it. This also gave rise to the Intersection Act of 1905, which ruled that, to prevent confusion with Four Corners, all subsequent intersections must three or fewer or five or more corners to them. This greatly restricted urban sprawl.
  • Eugene, Oregon is only a legend and has no basis in fact; its reputation is based solely on a Ken Kesey novel in which the mythical town was laid out, titled "One Flew Over The Duck's Nest".
  • Oregon's only "town", the Town of Hammond, was made extinct in 1991 when it was eaten whole by the mayor of adjacent Warrenton. To this day, Warrentonian children are made to behave with veiled threats by their parents that if they don't shape up, the mayor's coming over.
  • Celilo Falls' name was based on a Chinuk word meaning "Great Thundering Water the White Man will soon submerge behind a dam, but at least we get to sell him fish at the side of the road, livin' the dream."
  • The city of Astoria was founded by about 50 New Yorkers who took a wrong turn on the Triborough bridge, found themselves 3,000 miles from civilization, and were too arrogant to admit to each other that they didn't know where they were.
  • Enterprise, Oregon was named after the USS Enterprise … just not the one you're probably thinking of.
  • We actually have a town called Milton-Freewater. We're all trying to figure out WTF about that, too.
  • Roseburg was named for a mysterious, gigantic floating flower of which only 1/10th showed above the surface of the South Umpqua River.
  • Frank Herbert write the iconic science fiction novel Dune after spending some time in Florence near the Oregon Dunes, but it was really the dry and arid social life there that influenced him. The Fremen, it is said, were inspired by the Florence City Council. Nobody knows where he came up with the spice. That stuff's whacked, man.
  • Scio, in Linn County, comprises 3/10ths of a square mile … all of it land, broken dreams, despair, and weariness.
  • Chinuk Wawa - Chinook jargon, the trade language of the Northwest native tribes - as 12 words for "waterfall", fifteen words for "salmon", forty words for "rain shower", but only three for "leveraged buyout".
  • Salem" was a name chosen for the capital city that was inspired by the Santiam name, "place of rest", or "Chemeketa". Other alternative names were "Kickoffyershoes", "Youkidsstayouttamyyard", or Lars Larson's suggestion, "R'lyeh".
  • The Willamette Valley is estimated to have been inhabited for the last 10,000 years … but only stylishly for the last 30 or so.
  • "The Dalles" were taken from the French "La Dalles". It's said that "La" is French for "The". Nobody knows what the hell "Dalles" are. Or were. Or if there's more than one of them. Or … hey! Look over there! Milton-Freewater!
  • Tom McCall was Oregon's first cyborg governor. All governors since (with the exception of Kulongoski) were, to some degree, augmented bionically in a plan to create the perfect Governor. Saxton was a clone. We're ALL still trying to figure out what Sizemore is/was.
  • Oregon's current motto is "She Flies With Her Own Wings",changed from "The Union" (1957-1987). Other mottos we used include "Between Washington and California" (1901-02), "Pull My Finger" (Most Holiday Seasons Between 72 and 76), "Not Idaho" (Jun-Aug 1943), "No, Cut The RED Wire" (37-39), "Take the Red Pill, Neo" (Odd numbered months in 97), "Home Of Leverage" (Sundays 8pm, 7pm Central) and "Nadine, Get Me A 6-Pack of Beer At the Plaid Pantry" (incomes of $30K and under)
My personal research is coming up with new discoveries all the time. So stay tuned to this blog and I'll post them … as soon as I can find them. 

True Oregon Facts! May we advise you to Accept No True Oregon Fact Subsitutes? Ours are the original and genuine!

10 September 2011

[liff] The New Incuriosity

2694.A very insightful article about the new crop of authors, many of which don't feel that they should also be readers.

Apparently, the journaling quality of these works lends itself to Justin Bieber fan fiction laced with text-message acronyms. Notions of “craft” are not a real issue for these authors. But let there be no doubt, if these are the sorts of books publishers can sell, then these are the books the publishers will champion. It follows, that in the same way certain fiction writers recognize aspects of themselves in books about writing fiction and propagate more of it, fans of social networking fiction will see themselves in it and continue this new tradition. Driven by sales, it will become popular and the thought of reading the canon, or even Danielle Steel, will be considered tedious and unnecessary.

Read more: The Consequences of Writing Without Reading — Imprint-The Online Community for Graphic Designers.

It explains a lot as to why some modern fiction is so ultimately non-compelling and self-indulgent. The article is well worth  your time.

09 September 2011

[logo] If This Logo Doesn't Return To You, They Call It A Stick

2693.As reported by LogoLounge.com, a major rebranding has occurred on an Australian air carrier, and it caught my eye because of its cool modern style and the whimsy beneath the style.

You've heard of Qantas, no doubt … that's probably Australia's most famous airline. For about the last twenty years, though, there's been a up and comer. You haven't heard of it. Partly because it's just all about Australia right now (a country that's a continent, and easily as big as the USA), and partly because the name - Strategic Air - is kind of strange. It sounds like a very serious airline, one that only type-A business people and members of the military might enjoy.

The name grew from its original name and remit - Strategic Air Services, an airplane brokerage company. But now, it's Air Australia … and I love the new look.


The colors are light an appropriate, but not low-contrast. And since Quantas has staked out the 'roo as well as the koala, what great national symbol remains – why, the boomerang, of course.

I adore the boomerang design here. It's deft and clever. Allows a visual unity with the wordmark and lives comfortably on the tail. The boomerang is one of the most wickedly-funny and wickedly-clever things ever devised … a stick which comes back to you. Uniquely Australian. And it transmits a positive message … if you take an Air Australia flight, you're sure to come back, if that's what you mean to do.

[branding] When You "Make Your Brand Work" For A Bigger Brand, Does That Make You Seem Phony?

2692.This may sound odd coming from me, since I don't really even care for Project Runway, but I happen to think that Tim Gunn is one of the most fun TV personalities out there right now.

The whole elegant, confident "Make It Work" thing. He's turned his personality into a pretty powerful brand and it's really taken him off and taken him places. As a matter of fact, he's recognizable and big enough now that he can hire his brand out to promote other brands, as this recently-released commercial where Expedia gets the Project Runway treatment …



I'm hardly a brand guru (yet), but I get a certain feeling when I see things like this.

Now, I've got to say, the commercial is very slick, and nails the PR vibe with preciseness. And it's not unentertaining. Expedia got their money's worth, and more. Tim Gunn's smoothness and personality lend a certain style to Expedia's brand that's hip and unique.

But here's where I think this might be going a bit far. I'll try not to ramble, because I'm going way subjective here … but then, that's what branding is all about.

Tim Gunn's signature phrases … Make it work, Major WOW factor … were uniquely him. They expressed his personality in ways nothing else quite could and that nobody else could ever own. He is suave and smooth in a way that's obviously sincere and authentic. I get the impression that, when we see Tim doing his Timness, we aren't seeing an act. He's not a put-on.

However, when he does it in the service of another brand, that removes a the honestness about it. More's the pity, it seems insincere now. I'm left with the impression that Expedia has enhanced his brand … but Tim's unenhanced his, and now, it's not as fun as it used to be.

Now, I'm not exactly saying that it's a bad thing to hire your brand out. Branding is a tool. It's a powerful tool with more edges than a Gillette disposable razor (see what I did there?). It can be used for evil, good, or awesome. But I do wonder if it's always a good thing to hire out your brand to support someone else's for advertising in this way. And branding, when it's used in this way, to me, sucks a bit of the sincerity out of human emotion.

Or … am I just being too sensitive here? Obviously this use of Tim Gunn's identity to promote Expedia obviously moved me in a way.

I'd be interested to know what people think. Comment, please.

08 September 2011

[web_design] Jim Greenfield For Congress, Now Lorem Ipsum Free!

2691.For a few posts I poked fun at Oregon 1st Congressional District Republican contender Jim Greenfield for apparently posting a website that consisted of a template and significant contributions from a Mr. Lorem Ipsum … that is, remarkable areas of placeholder text.

In fairness I am happy point out now that he has a proper campaign website with not a trace of placeholder text thereon, and its address is actually http://jimgreenfieldforcongress.com. H/T to his campaign manager, Richard P. Burke for pointing this out.

[type] It's A Wood Type Revival!

2690.Via the HOW Blog: Wood Type Revival is an attempt (so far, succeeding) at bringing wood type into the digital age as OpenType fonts.

The way they're doing it is to print sheets on a Vandercook proof press (probably not too much different from this one) and scanning the result, then digitizing it.

So far, they have four sumptuous faces done, including a very delightful Roycroft:


Each so far will set you back $15.00.

The address to know is http://www.woodtyperevival.com.

[art] More People Have Walked On The Moon Than Photographed The Analemma

2689.And just what is this analemma?

For those that don't know, if you record the position of the sun in the sky at the same time each day and plot that, it will form a long, graceful figure-8, with an angle that depends on the time of day and the latitude. Many globes have an analemma on the Pacific hemisphere, in the middle of the ocean where there's room to put it.



This is a difficult thing to actually photograph, of course. This article claims that the analemma has only been successfully photographed seven times but if you run a Google image search you'll find a few more than that, or at least it seems that way.

A close approximation to what it should look like would be this photograph from Wikipedia (by a creator credited as "jailbird"):


You would, of course, have a figure-8 pattern of solar images without the connecting lines and such. This is a simulation of what an analemma would look like. The images themselves are copyrighted, so I won't be posting them here, but here are some links:

This link (http://www.astro.lsa.umich.edu/undergrad/labs/analemma/index.html) contains Dennis DiCiocco's analemma image - reportedly the first successful attempt at such a work, done ca. 1979. 

This link (http://www.perseus.gr/Astro-Solar-Analemma.htm) contains the analemma work of a Grecian named Anthony Ayiomamitis, who has given his analemmae (?) suitable Greek landscapes to provide a certain thrilling effect.

And, this one (http://www.zullophoto.com/sub_analemmaphoto.html), the photography site of Frank Zullo, has some very accomplished and moody shots taken from the American southwest.

The question is raised, of course … how can one do this? It takes a great deal of planning. By hook or by crook, you have to be in the same place with the same camera pointing the same direction several times a year (all 365 don't seem necessary - I find the ones taken every few days or week or so to be a bit more interesting than one taken every single day - which would form a solid line. Because the real challenge for these photographers seems to be to get all the solar exposures on the same frame of film. Noticeably, the two most successful analemma photographers live in areas of extended fair weather - namely, Greece and Arizona respectfully. Enough cloudy weather and there's no use to it. 

The photography of the Sun is of course taken with a very dark filter. This results in a series of exposures of the Sun but naturally excludes all the scenery. After the analemma is duly recorded, however, this photo can be composited into a photo of the scenery taken with a more routine lens, resulting in the analemma display.

This is something, quite clearly, most of us won't find the time, camera, or coordination to do. Fortunately, these people have done it for us. And the effect is not only quite lovely, but a little bit surreal.

06 September 2011

[digital_tools] Bean: More Than TextEdit, Less Than MSWord, Free-As-In-Beer

2688.I like little tools that do a lot. When it comes to creating digital text documents, I like programs that are just enough - not too much, and definitely not too little.

And I know from too little. I used EDLIN.

Bean is a nifty, extremely lightweight, free (as in beer) word processor for OS X. Well, not really a word processor, actually more of a rich-text editor, but it's got more and finer (and more intuitive) controls on text formatting than TextEdit does. It's a hell of a lot lighter than MSWord or NeoOffice - nothing against NeoOffice, but it's a behemoth when all you want to do is quickly throw together text files or edit an RTF. And while I heartily approve of TextWrangler, it always was a bit abstruse for me … more a programmers' text editor than a writers'.

It's got all the useitude and slickitiude and good looks that you expect from an OS X application, and it was done by someone who came at it from a UI direction. It's not meant to replace Word or your favorite full-service wp,  but why go out for a big plate of greasy food when all you wanted was soup and half-a-sandwich?

It requires a PPC or Intel Mac, OS X 10.4, 10.5, and 10.6. It has not been tested on but may well run on 10.7.

Download Bean here: http://www.bean-osx.com/Bean.html.


(Via Cult Of Mac at Facebook)

05 September 2011

[web_design] The Sort Of Website You'd Expect From The Country That Gave Us Existentialism

2687.When I was a kid, there was this toy. It was in the form of a sort of crank, which was attached to a wooden block with two channels in a cross. Two sliders were in each of the cross-channels, and the handle of the crank was attached to both, and the leverage was such that, as you rotated the crank handle, one slider would be pulled in its channel, then, as the limit of that would be reached, the other one would be pulled through its channel … over and over and over … never quite touching but coming very close, and if you did it long enough it would make you this sort of crazy, that you'd vary the cadence of the thing, trying to make the two sliders meet, which was, of course, impossible.

Sort of my introduction to existentialism, I guess.

Anyway, somehow I stumbled on this German site, Nirgendwo is irgendwo, http://www.nirgendwo.de/. Go ahead and go there, and come right back. I'll wait.

Back? Good. Did you see what they did there?

First you see a black screen with the words as such:


This, if you'd not yet figured it out, means nowhere is somewhere. Mousing around the screen you find no links except for over the words, and when you click it, you get this:


Or, somewhere is nowhere. And when you click on that, you just go back to the other one. And that's all there is, there is nothing more. Has the online experience been better encompassed ever? It's like this bizarre German version of the taijitu

But that isn't all. If you missed it before, go back now and click the links, but this time look at the address bar.

Did you see it this time?

Not satisfied with just this sere experience, the designer didn't stop at making this one site with two pages, no sir. He/She actually put the two statements on two seperate webpages. The second phrase is at a site called http://irgendwo.de. This is truly awesome. 

Web design is complete with this website. Screw Web 2.0, or even 3.0, this transcends that. We can close up the internet and all go home now.

[pdx] The Great Seal Of The City Of Unicorns

2686.Everyone knows …

Everyone knows. Don't you just love appeals to authority? Well, everyone knows that this is the city seal of the City of Portland …


But we know what they seal they really use, don't they?


They use this seal for the really important stuff.

I'm taking something into my own hands by telling you this, I'm sure. Not my life, no … they may take away a bicycle pedal or something though.

[map_design] Cameron Booth Gets Portland's Rail Map To Grow Up

2685.While i like the TriMet rail system map and have grown to like the new TriMet empire style, it has not been lost on me that, just as the old style (which I still miss) was destined to give way eventually, this style will too, eventually, give way to another look. And I've seen the direction it ought to go.

Cameron Booth likes designing maps, and he's come up with a brilliant take on the combined Portland area rail display that makes the current look rather … well, provincial. A bit of it is at right for illustration's purposes, and the rest of his work is at his blog here. Go there, because that's where all the closeups are.

The thing I enjoy the most of it is that this map feels like it could stand, style-wise, next to the great transit maps of the world - the NYC subway, the London Underground. By eschewing the ever-present 45-degree angle, using instead 60- and 30-degree angles, he's hit upon something the other map doesn't have … a high degree of congruence with the way the Portland street and ground grid actually looks, so it's easy to picture where you might actually be in relation to the reality, but it allows it to be schematic enough to clearly show the system in a usable way.

The choice of type face is quietly sophisticated, and the choice of using a dark background brings a sort of drama to it and lets the network stand out from the supporting background. Nice touch.

The real innovation about the map is that it shows all passenger rail services here in Portland - unlike the TriMet Rail System map, which reduces the Portland Streetcar line to an unannotated line that kind of fades into the background. Showing the Amtrak lines gives a sense of a link into the greater world. To top it off, it includes proposed or under-construction lines and stops extending to Vancouver and Milwaukie.

The whole effect is very big-boy, very sophisticated, information-rich without being cluttered … very grown-up. And very well-done.