31 December 2007

[liff] A Rhetorical Question for Discussion Amongst the Salon

1220. What is is about a certain place ... if one was born there and spent their childhood there, regardless of where they go or what they do, even if there is a high certainly within norms of probabilty that they will never permanently return, they still feel like a piece of themselves is there, and when they pass through, they feel like they're visiting home?

Some philosophical poser once said You can't go home again.

Someone should have cc'd Home in on that memo.

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[liff, bloggage] Happy New Year: Submit To Me, I Tell You!

1219. Let's be honest here; the last year had its high points, but I didn't wring what I thought I should be able to out of it. We all have our ups and downs; Job searching is fine; job-not-finding kind of sucks, as such, a whole lot.

Latterly, while feeling particularly stymied, I was reading words of one of the "25 Emerging Talents" in STEP inside design magazine; I don't have the issue to hand, but (paraphrasing) he said the trick is to keep knocking on the door until it opens.

Well, I'm still knocking. Giving up isn't an option, not nececelery because it's noble or anything, but because the alternative – well, let's not think that way. I'm not a believer in positive attitudes being some magic elixir that actualizes the environment, but I do think positive attitudes amount to an anodyne that will pull one through when nothing else will. Why go on about this? Because one of the subtexts to this blog is my pursuit in finding some success in graphic design, and the flip side of that is, naturally, not finding success in design. There have been some high points, as I said, and low points. I will admit to the low points. There's been more than I needed to have, this time round the sun.

Well, enough about me. I have been given ample reason to just quit trying this last stretch, and there's no sin in simply refusing to quit. So continue I shall. It's the only thing one can do, really.

Now, all that lachrymosity out of the way, there's some reminders to those who land by here, and a new request:

  1. I still very much lust after street signs. Once again, I mean the blades that identify the streets themselves. Our Mid-Continent Bureau Chief Stan Kost (he with the lovely The Wife Nicole™) have provided me with solid gold in that department. I am different in this wise in that I'm not only looking for unusual blades, I'm also looking for the usual ... a blade that depicts how an average street is signed. I'd like to work it up into a gallery of such things, complete with review and crit. If you have one I'd be thrilled to post (with full credit) please send it hither.

  2. In view of my Channel Surfing series, the TV Logo Library, I'm wanting to also add TV News opens and animated logo footage. Does anyone have anything like that? if so, I'll post it in my YouTube Channel. Send it hither and/or yon.

Blogging is fun ... it's more fun if I can get someone to play with me.

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30 December 2007

[pdx] They Keep This Up, Even I Will Be Back ...

1218. From the OLive Blazers blog:

LIVE: Blazers 97, 76ers 72 Final

It's even starting to melt my hard-ass heart.

They keep this stuff up, and it's going to be the Miracle Blazers before long.

Yeah, I'm hardly the only blogger locally who noticed but ... dayum. They're getting good. Ain't no mean thing to go from a whining streak to a winning streak.

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[meme] ZehnKatzen's Weekly Winners #4: Lloyd Center Hypergammaspaces

1217. The fourth in an occaisional series (well, I've tried to make it weekly, but there's this life thingy, ja'know?). Meme central here.

I enjoy indoor spaces, especially spaces which enclose worlds which are small and large at the same time. Portland's famous Lloyd Center is just that sort of thing.

One of graphic design's central concepts in juxtaposition. Moving significant things next to significant other things creates a visual dependency, just as moving your significant things next to your significant other's things can create a sense of co-dependency:

At the end of the upper level of the food court is the office level of Lloyd Center. The Nephew™ (whose back is to us) mentioned the way the Apollo College sign near the Billy Heartbeat's (that burger joint in the background there) seems to imply that Apollo College (one of those modern-day churn-'em-out private vocational schools) offers sundaes, shakes, and hamburgers.

While we agreed that that would indeed be righteous, it was felt that Apollo should stick to milling out diplomas and let the burger stand do what it does best. We do, however, note that a pollo, in Spanish, means a chicken, so if that vocational school doesn't work out, they could transition into modern Mex food without much of a change to the name.

Again, interior spaces have thier own logic and reality. What I thought of when I sighted this line was the interior of the U.S.S. Cygnus from that risible yet oddly enjoyable Disney skiffy pic from 1979 The Black Hole.

Compare and Contrast:

The Cygnus' main corridor during a climactic scene:

The Lloyd Center's office level (low light, no tripod, gives a nice subjective feel):

See? I guess that's why they filmed Logan's Run in a shopping mall. These spaces just give themselves over to that use.

Badge! I don't need no steeking badge! You do, tho ...

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29 December 2007

[logo_design] Channel Surfing: To The Nines

1215. Nearing ever closer to the top of the VHF dial, we at last take our exploration to the nines.

Starting out down under, we have one of Austrailia's major networks, the Nine Network. Oz has three major networks all known simply by a numeric name, seemingly based on the over-the-air channel that they originally started out on: Seven, Nine, and Ten. Nine is plain, simple, and effective, once again proving that sometimes a little design goes a hell of a long way:

Next we come back stateside. Bay News 9 is a cable channel serving Tampa-St Pete. Usually squashing type results in a highly irritating appearance, but this squashed type seems to be working. Perhaps it's because it looks "designed" to be squashed (the strokes seem designed with this in mind) and the way the type plays nice with the red and blue parallelograms:

Albany NY's Cable Channel 9 started out as being owned by the same people (Bay News 9 being started by Time Warner Cable, but is now owned by BrightHouse Networks) so they used the same logo treatment – only a little darker on the colors:

Now we go back on the air. Independent KCAL, channel 9, LA, has a logo that's all but identical to CBS2's Mandated design; the CBS eye is a silver disc with the call sign. The two stations are, in fact, owned by the same people, and the Mandate-ish approach reflects a unified branding strategy:

KCAU, Channel 9, Sioux City IA, uses a familiar number-in-a-circle treatment that we've seen in the 5's and the 8's, that holds the ABC logo in a close orbit:

KCRG, Channel 9, Cedar Rapids IA: the 9 as bevelled ribbon, with a dark blue background making sure the attention goes there:

KETC, Channel 9, St Louis, is one of the few PBS local stations that feature the channel number as part of the design – it looks like a design they've held for a while. Has a sort of classic air about it:

Eugene Oregon's own KEZI has a logo that's more about the background (judging by its use on screen and on the website) than it is about the design of the type or the number:

I'd choose another background for the ABC logo – the famous black ball gets completely lost in that dark blue. It lacks a certain personality overall. Distinctive but not memorable.

Tucson's Channel 9 is the only station that could be described as a sidearm. On Your Side, after all the logos we've looked at, tends to get a bit tired as a tag line, but I'd be very let down if KGUN used anything but:

The dull gradiated silver is trés appropos, neh?

KIXE, Channel 9, Sacramento, is a PBS station that shows appropriate cleverness in the way the channel number, as a Roman numeral, is not only incorporated into the call sign but also the design itself:

KMBC, Channel 9, Kansas City MO, has a delightful Circle 9 that looks informed by the famous Circle 7. Note also the typography and the angle-line separating the call and the city which we've also seen before:

FOX TV, KMSP, Minneapolis Saint Paul. FOX empire style.

I adore KNIN's (Boise) logo. This is a dead-skillful riff on retro TV title card deisgn that recalls the days of the forties and the fifties as far as graphic style goes but doesn't look dated; even the gangly tagline Entertainment Television works here (kind of recalling the days of when a station like KPTV would bill itself The Northwest Personality Station, as an example).

The CW logo lives in the bottom of the 9, providing net identification completely avoiding the yawn-a-riffic CW empire style. This gets best-of-breed in the 9's for The CW:

KTCS, Channel 9, Seattle, is plain and simple, but has design logic. Notice the way the stroke on the outside of the loop of the 9 merges back into the backbone, in that accentuated acute angle? The type finds interest in inherent design properties. Someone carefully chose this face, and even though they didn't alter it in any way, that's design at work too; the logic reveals itself with admirable subtlety. That type was chosen because of that subtle interest-generator. Once again, a little bit of design goes a long way:

KTRE 9, Lufkin and Nacogdoches TX, gets it done with a unified obliquing. Not exciting, but solid;

KTSM, El Paso, TX, blends a few idioms; there's the number in a circle, there's the distinctive "NewsChannel" sobriquet in the typeface used by KGW in Portland and KTVB in Boise, the Peacock providing coverage you can count on, and the tagline First. Live. Local. Though the way the three cities are positioned below the tagline, the waggish might infer that you only get it first in El Paso, live in Las Cruces, and local in Juarez:

KUSA has a cool call sign that is elided from its logo. The logo is businesslike and strong, nonetheless:

KUSI is another station that identifies by its cable channel (probably because UHF channel numbers seem to make weak branding for a serious metropolitan news operation):

The visual pun in KWES's (Midland-Odessa, TX) logo is obvious, and the truncation of the red rectangle behind the blue one adds interest to a logo that would otherwise be locked-down and kind of boring:

Also, notice how the letters WES and T actually seem a little smaller than the K and the V? This is a visual property that can be worked around. Of course, the designer may have meant for this to happen in this logo; if not, you'd make the middle letters just a minim bigger, which would, paradoxically, make all the type look the same size.

KWTV, Oklahoma City, uses red-white-and-blue and a dependable 9-styling to communicate. Burly type also communicates seriousness. The 9 being bigger than the blue square and knocking out the blue makes it interesting (note how small the CBS eye is here, which is unusual):

WAFB, Baton Rouge LA, has a kind of reverse-Mandate graphic look to it (and makes the unstyled-9 work in a Classic TV-Guide-Like graphic mode):

WAOW, Wausau WI, has a 9 that has a classic air about it:

WCPO, Channel 9, Cincinnati. Note again the accentuated angle under the "armpit" of the 9, just as the KCTS 9, generates interest without specifically being designed for this application. The use of color is fun too:

WFTV, 9, Orlando FL, has Eyewitness News – and a line tying all elements together:

WGN, Channel 9, Chicago, one of the legendary independents, is a CW station now. The CW lives alongside a distinctive call-and-number design, and likes it:

WMUR, Channel 9, Manchester NH: works, but could use a just a bit more design (somehow a red stripe, yellow hairline, and sliver-gray gradation just don't bring this one all the way):

Channel 9, WNCT, Greenville NC – nothing much to say here (On Your Side, check, sliver crescent, check), we've seen this one before:

The CW on their DT subchannel is funny only because the phrase "Eastern North Carolina" has that odd ring that adding a directional affix to something that already has a direction in it has:

WSOC, Charlotte NC, has a 9-on-a-disk that works because of the subtle touches that make the 9 fit exactly inside the circle (the edges of the 9 respect the space), and the effective use of rich, kind-of-"pastel-y" color:

WSYR Syracuse NY uses a typeface that TriMet uses in its collateral (note the miniscule l) and some basic brushed-metal texture to make the 9 stand out. Not the first station to logoize into a series of rectangles, but it works:

WTOV has a typographical approach that we've seen before. As I'm writing this, I've forgotten which one, and I'm kind of rushed for time, so I'll run that down later (FWIW, I enjoy the way the W and V are longer than the T and O, and frame the Peacock. The warm gradient in the 9 is good too):

WTVA, Tupelo MS, has a really adventurous and fun take on the 9-in-circle:

WTVC, Chattanooga, also has an effective Circle 9, and if they're going to channel yet more news, at least they're not on my side. That's getting painful:

Me WTVM! Me have big 9! ME NEWS LEADER! People of Columbus GA, FEAR NEWS LEADER! (Seriously, this is a good one, but I love the staccato of WTVM News Leader 9, and we never pass up the opportunity for cheap humor, as has been amply demonstrated). Notable design point: the docked tail of the 9, which was docked not too long or short but just right:

And, finally it's appropriate that WUSA is in Washington DC. The 9 is cool because it reminds me of speech bubbles in cartoons, thus suggesting something that has stories to tell. I'd rework that CBS eye in the call though; I when I watch TV, I don't want the TV watching me back (I've read 1984):

Thanks for being with us for this episode, good peoples, and please stay tuned for episode 10. And, in the mean time, let's go out with a song:

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[pdx] Channel 2 News 95 Brings you Windows 95

1014. Reported by Ed Teachout 95, Introduced by JeffJulie 95, fronted with a teaser for ABC World News Tonight by Steve Dunn 95.

Goodness 95 courtesy YouTube and user DelimitR (who happens to be the first nerd interviewed).

Stumbled on it and just couldn't resist, FWIW.

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28 December 2007

[logo_design] Some More KOMO

1013. One of the more hard-to-get logos was the one for Seattle's 1st-magnitude star in the Flag net, KOMO, Channel 4.

The web page is one which completely elides the channel number, preferring to identify as simply "KOMOTV.COM" in the current graphic style. I was, however able to catch a few minutes of the live webcast tonight, and they've got some pretty good graphics going on. Here's a screen grab of the two anchors at work:

I enjoy the way the lower third merges into the logo.

The KOMO logo is incorporated into a video bumper that makes it part of a ribbon that rotates toward the viewer during the transition:

It's clever. Motion, but not too much, a flash of the station logo quickly supplanted by the point of the transition.

Here's a wider view of the news set, which we thought well done: all arcs and lines converge on the stars – the two news anchors – but it doesn't keep the weather and sports anchors in the shadows:

The real treat was to watch the close, though. A rotating cube over views of Seattle, with 'gel-like' Mondrianesque squares moving over the background casting areas within in a luminous light palette. The cube shows ...

KOMO's logo in delightfully rich color:

The cube rotates to display the KOMO-AM radio logo:

... While the copyright ID information animates in from the left ...

... and the cube continues to rotate, revealing the station's web URL ...

... finally rotating to reveal the TV station's logo again:

The KOMO graphics work on a variety of levels. It's interesting to watch. It has strong music driving it. It respects its own reality – the cube has six sides which logically work –when it revolves completely, we're back to the beginning. And even though I am of a Portland frame of mind, it's obvious to even my eye that downtown Seattle has always taken attractive pictures, and the close shows it off brilliantly.

Okay, you folken have been patient. The Borg jokes can commence now.

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[us_politik] Best Headline of the Day

1212. Good Tidings with the following gem:

Republican Candidates vs. Evolution

Man, it sure seems that way sometimes.

I would advise caution, however; if they really want to declare war on Evolution, they might want to stand that one down; judging on how various Wars (Poverty, et. al.) have worked out, they may find they'll wind up with more Evolution than they starte out with.

Just throwin' that one out there.

Oh, yeah, the post at Good Tidings is pretty good too.

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[liff] All We Have To Say About The TurboTax Thing

1211. The Wife™ never quite trusted TurboTax. I didn't think it was that bad.

The kicker check we actually recieved stands as unchallengeable vindication of her view.

QED, baby, QED.

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[logo_design] Some Older Station Reviews With Logos

1210. This is something just stumbled on, and bears mention in passing because it has a little history and a very sassy POV.

This page by a user at Geocities who likes to review stations has a good selection of logos which have changed. Particularly interesting is the KOMO 4 logo which was probably the last version of the "Square 4" that they used (If anyone can remember when the old UPN logo changed from the "Circle-Square-Triangle" to the lower-case upn in a circle, that would date it ... I don't have the date to hand right now)

The page is obviously by an opinionated watcher who pulls few, if any punches. Of WESH-2 Orlando's Newscast (then, okay, guessing 2002-2004ish) they bluntly opine:

A pretty cheeset (sic) NBC affiliate. The News has some poor talent, including a weekend Sports Anchor with a strong southern accent! The Anchors desk is covered with papers that the anchors appear to look at often. Are they trying to petend that there is no teleprompter? The constant paper shuffling is quite distracting, and definately brings the newscast down a notch

And, of central Pennsylvania's PBS station WITF, short, sharp, and sweet:

A run of the mill PBS station, with really bad local productions. Their pledges look as bad as public access, so please pledge money, they need it!

Oh, snap!

(Old Style KOMO Logo nicked from that page. Main page(The Media World) here.)

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[pdx] Portland Downtown Street Mnemonic Users' Guide

1209. After turning the Portland Downtown Streets Mnemonic (PDSM) around in my head (provided thanks to commenter JD, as per the last posting, I wanted to analyze it a little more.

The mnemonic, provided to us, was as follows:

All Across Portland Our Streets Wind Around Mossy Yards. Traffic Snarls May Mean Jammed Cars, Cranky Motorists Making Minimal Headway. Harried Commuters Just Love Going Slow.

This maps to the following street sequence (from north to south, not including Burnside):

Ankeny, Ash, Pine, Oak, Stark, Washington, Alder, Morrison, Yamhill, Taylor, Salmon, Main, Madison, Jefferson, Columbia, Clay, Market, Mill, Montgomery, Harrison, Hall, College, Jackson, Lincoln, Grant, and Sheridan.

JD had actually extended our sequence to just south of the I-405 in the 4th/5th/6th Avenues area (though there is a slight error; after Grant comes Sherman, and Caruthers and then Sheridan. But someone can tack on the extra C and S; JD did a fantastic job and has given us all a toy to play with.

Now, the key to using a mnemonic like this is to think of it as giving you an easy way to remember the first letter of each street. Once you have that, it's half the battle done. The mnemonic also make it a hell of a lot easier to keep everything in order. It doesn't give you the whole game though – you still have to get familiar with your streets' names (the famed Seattle mnemonic, for example, doesn't tell you the names of the streets or the fact that each initial represents two streets, not one, and which one of each pair comes first – this is all stuff you have to find out)

Once you are familiar with the basics, however, this mnemonic will provide ready-made 'sites' for the information to bind to, making it more easily rememberable. And that's the magic of the mnemonic.

So say it loud, say it proud, and spread it 'round:

All Across Portland Our Streets Wind Around Mossy Yards. Traffic Snarls May Mean Jammed Cars, Cranky Motorists Making Minimal Headway. Harried Commuters Just Love Going Slow.

Now, you've got it!

(PS: will someone BoingBoing this? The fame, I craves it!)

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27 December 2007

[pdx] We Have A Mnemonic For Portland's Downtown Streets

1208. Well, rough draft – but this is as good as done. Credit commenter "JD" for this bit of genius.

Back in September, I'd posted about how fortunate Seattle was, given that they had a nifty, rather irreverent mnemonic (that's memory aid to those of you who don't read books) to keep the order of downtown streets in mind easily: Jesus Christ Made Kurt Cobain Seattle Under Protest, and that this was a problem for Portland – where our alphabet soup of downtown street initials made composing a simple mnemonic a true feat of daring and strength.

For review, from Burnside south, the downtown streets run as such:

Ankeny, Ash, Pine, Oak, Stark, Washington, Alder, Morrison, Yamhill, Taylor, Salmon, Main, Madison, Jefferson, Columbia, Clay, Market, Mill, Montgomery, Harrison, Hall, College, Jackson.

Which generates an initial string as:


This has been an intractable problem since at least sometimes in the 1980's, when over at The Big O the inimitable Jonathan Nicholas mentioned it in his column. My memories of the situation are hazy, but my recollection is that nobody really could come up with an acceptable sentence. It is a long bugger, neh?

Today, long after I'd forgotten I'd forgot the original discourse, one "JD" (as previously specified) emailed me with the following bit of true genius. This is so appropriate, so fun, so ... Portland. And here it is:

All Across Portland Our Streets Wind Around Mossy Yards. Traffic Snarls May Mean Jammed Cars, Cranky Motorists Making Minimal Headway. Harried Commuters Just Love Going Slow.

If I was having a contest for this, I'd declare it closed right here, right now. Seriously. This bit of verbiage makes me smile. Hell, I wish I'd of thought of it.

Good on you, JD!.

Other credit where due: photo nicked from PSU's Physics Department Homepage gallery.

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