30 December 2010

[comix] Unicorns: Stabby When Angered

Best not to have a monster eat a unicorn in a previous strip, as the artist of Mister Woodles did. Because if you did, a guest artist, sufficiently friendly to unicorns, might fill in one day and even the score:

Go hither to see. http://www.misterwoodles.com/comic.php?comic=52.

Unicorns: Stabby when angered!

Read Smellabell while you're at it.

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25 December 2010

[logo] Myspace: There's No "There" There

Honestly, I don't see how I missed this one, which debuted about two months back, but maybe that's just a sign of how many of us have moved on.

I never was a passionate user of MySpace (heck, that remark implies I could have been one, when in reality, I was so far away from that it's what they used to term a "toll call"). Absolute and honest truth, there were friends that I could stay in touch with no other way. I actually moved on quite some time ago.

I do recognize, however, that the Myspace (it's no longer CamelCased) logo - taglined a place for friends - was rather stale. It seemed almost 1995ish. I'm usually of the opinion that some logo redesigns are, like endless "celebrity editions" of game shows, a sign of a media in decline. That's not to say that some redesigns are timely, and Myspace was, indeed, due for one. So, they turned on the clever: and here's what they got:

Myblank. Yep. They took one of the most recognizable brands of the first decade of the 21st century and made it a question straight out of Match Game '74. And the BETA? Nice. Very 2004.

In the middle of 2008, I've read, Facebook surpassed Myspace as the premier online social destination. Regardless of what one thinks about FB, it's not too hard to see why. FB not only gives you a simple way to stay connected with your peeps on line but with a clean design doesn't tax the eyes, and the fact that the technology is extensible - with guides out there as to how you can create your own FB apps - mean that FB can be as many things to as many people as developers have the gumption to create (as Zynga has somewhat appallingly proved).

Myspace is always just - Myspace. Here's me, and here's the bands I like. And my website design skills, which are ass: just try to read my text over the hideously eye-bending, low-contrast anime/rock band wallpaper I've used for my background.

I was a member of Myspace but, trust me, I never surfed it. There are some things even I won't do.

But the flat of it is best illustrated thusly. Gertrude Stein is famous for having said, of her childhood hometown, Oakland California, "There is no there, there". Critic Sonja Streuber holds that this is because when Stein went back there to find her childhood home, but could not do so; therefore her "there", her old house, was no longer there.

I would say the same about Myspace. Whatever reason I had for going there has gone, and nothing on that site can - or will, judging by the trend, replace it.

There is no there, there.

The new Myspace logo has that, and how.

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[liff] A Video For Those Who Are Conflicted About Being On Facebook

I'm not the only person in the world, I'm sure, who, given all the news and FUD about Facebook, is more than a little conflicted about having an account there.

And Mark Zuckerberg as Time's Person of the Year? Heh. Can't deny the man is a canny success, but all he did was provide us with a new way to pish our lives away on the computer. I did not need any help there - though I suppose teaching the populations of the less-developed countries how to do it might be considered something of an innovation.

To wit, this video. Done with a riff on Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues" video short, the video asks you to think, nothing more. It's not a preach, it's more of a warm, friendly rejoinder.

You know, the fellow might just have a point, there.

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24 December 2010

[design] Words As Emphatic Punctuation

The Wife™ spotted this lovely ad latterly:

Look at the title and squint a little.

Squinting is a very useful tool in your visual arsenal, by the by. If you're seeing what I'm trying to get you to see, you'll understand exactly why.

The designer, in a very deft touch, has pressed the words THE MUSICAL into double-service. not only is it tucked in very efficiently, it makes the impression that it's an exclaimation point. It's not merely BILLY ELLIOT!, nor is it merely BILLY ELLIOT THE MUSICAL, it's jointly and severally BILLY ELLIOT! THE MUSICAL, and this is done without using an actual exclamation point at all.

You register this even if you don't see it. You, yourself, might not be much a designer, but your subconscious eye catches all, and deep down inside you register that maybe this is something energetic and exciting.

This is called painting with type, mah peoples. This is what the man meant when he said that.

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[vw] Sam and the Art of VW Maintenance: Running the Freeways and Highways

There is a certain spark to driving a 72 VW Beetle from here to Salem.

Having been born in Silverton and growing up in Salem and points proximate, there is the taste of memory, a little bitter with irony. As in, crossing Silverton Road at Lancaster Drive in Salem, and realizing that, some years ago, I did the same thing only my late father was at the wheel, and remarking to The Wife™ for perhaps the twelfth time "On Silverton Road in a VW! Doesn't that bring back the memories!"

Bill Trafton's work stood us in its stead. The four-banger boxer engine, powering away, drove us without complaint and without a hassle from Home Base to Mom and Pop's in Salem, and back again on the freeway.

Freeway driving was approached with no small bit of apprehension. But, as I learned to finesse the little rebuilt engine in the way it was wanting, it became second-nature.

Being a child who grew up during the 80s, 65 miles-per-hour is plenty fast enough anywho.

And, being a 1972-tech engine running on 2010 fuel (including biodiesel whether we want it or not), the fuel economy will be perhaps never what I want. But it closes on 20 mpg on the freeway, and I guess that's okay for now - on an engine that will be dependable for a little while.

Must remember to check the oil level. This is to be a weekly thing, now.

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[liff] On Fugues And Interregna In Blog Posting on a Not-Terribly-Popular Blog

First, almost as a self-abnegating reflex, is a dislclaimer. This is not, though it may appear, one of those self-absorbed "sorry I haven't been posting for a while" posts, because there is nothing so amazingly arrogant - to me - than a post apologizing for not posting to a blog that hardly anybody reads.

If this chronicle has become anything, though, it's kind of become a laboratory for my mind. I try to straight-jacket it into the, as it turns out, very fuzzy rubric of graphic design.

I am still trying to find steady work in graphic design, for what that's worth. Anybody who's been impressed by my verbiage, I do layout, can use Quark XPress and InDesign, Photoshop and Illustrator, and Dreamweaver; can write, and edit. Just sayin'. If you know any leads, do a brother a favor, thus-and-such, et-cet-er-AH.

The flat of it is, that I enjoy just the act of writing so very much that I really can't stop, and I guess I find this as performance art that I just can't quit doing. So, 20 days ago, more by accident than design, I stopped posting. And I'm looking at myself looking at what I've done, and letting everyone else see too, because, like I said, it's performance art, even for me.

Sometimes, you don't have a lot to say. I think the world would be a better place, or at least a not-so-worse place, if we didn't feel we had to share everything with everyone all the time. So, for a few days, I turned off the flow.

My refuge became my dead-tree diary, and I would read and record my experiences into my environment. It's hard to explain cogently, and sounds kind of corny, but sometimes I've felt, for the past few weeks, that I've taken everything in and projected it out into the world around me, and now I'm reading the echoes - like some sort of intellectual sonar.

I've gotten some interesting ideas out of it … I found some ideas flipped inside-out, and inverted, but not in that melodramatic way you sometimes hear of. There's no eureka! or ZOMG! moments.

So this gets projected into the aether, and I don't know how it will ping on back, but it will.

This was designed to make no sense ... but only after the fact.

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10 December 2010

[logo] Comedy Central ReLogoIzes - But Is It Teh Funnay?

What you see is what you get. Comedy Central is redesigning its logo, and you'll either love it or hate it, me thinks. Here's a version I have screenclipped from the page where you can see a preview of next season:

The approach is clean, dressed-down and simple. You can look at it in two ways: cool and corporate, or zany within the bounds.

That the graphic component resembles the copyright symbol, ©, would seem to be intentional; the logo pops up just where you'd expect to see it in the video - above and to the right of the content of interest. Here's the clip:

Comedy Central: This Is 2011
Funny JokesIt's Always Sunny in PhiladelphiaUgly Americans

The dry humor I find in keeping it real tightly designed but flipping the type in the word "central" works for me. But it depends on where one's sensibilities lie, I suppose; Paul Constant of the PMerc finds it rather nifty; the first commenter equates it with the Gap logo faux pas of a few months back.

I disagree there. The new Gap logo seemed thrown together in Word as WordArt; this identity gives me the feeling that, despite its simplicity, there was a good deal of care involved in settling on that font. One does not choose Gotham lightly.

Read Paul Constant's article on it here: http://blogtown.portlandmercury.com/BlogtownPDX/archives/2010/12/10/this-is-how-you-update-a-logo.

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[web comix] Smellabell Sings Her Arsenal Lullaby

Thing you need to know about little Ella is, she's one kick-butt girl. She knows, implicitly, that you take care of your loved ones; moreover, she knows that it your weapons and armor don't get the proper amount of rest, they won't perform so well for you:

View it bigly and comment by going here: http://smellabell.com/2010/12/10/arsenallullaby/, and get familiar with Smellabell, a comic by a really cool mommy down in the lower left corner who has this really cool daughter. If you don't smile … well, take your pulse, Tex. You probably daid!

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[VW] How Long Would You Wait To Recover YOUR Stolen VW Type 2?

Would you wait 36 years?

Submitted for your approval: Stolen in 1974 in Spokane, Washington; Recovered, 2010, Rancho Cucamonga, California.

For those less purist: the type 2 VW is what the rest of you all's call a VW Bus, VW Van or Microbus.

And so it goes.

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09 December 2010

[map design] When Map Designers Bicker

In the past, I've commented a little on the evolution of the design of TriMet's maps, particularly those of the MAX system as it becomes more complex over time. Rail network maps are a product, just like many other things, of their environment, particularly visual styles and fashion; my take is that most systems try to follow the lead set by the justly-famous London Tube Map, which has become iconic of its own system.

New Yorkers are, in their way, like us here in Portland; they like things the way they like them, and tampering with something considered by them iconic can be as disastrous as New Coke was. This probably also extends to the Subway map - a map of something uniquely New York.

The website Gothamist reported very recently on a panel held by the City Museum of New York where designers who've developed the subway map over the years held forth on what they thought was good and bad. They were, in fun way, most opinionated.
The panel of speakers included Massimo Vignelli, the revered designer of the 1972 subway map; cartographer John Tauranac; Paul Shaw (of the Helvetica documentary); and Eddie Jabour, inventor of KickMap and its iPhone app. The four men traded barbs, and went into detail about their own relationships with subway maps; Vignelli talked about the criticisms of his '72 map design, and noted he never perceived the map as a navigational tool. He also made an impassioned plea for sleek, modernist maps like there are in Europe, which Capital New York said
was "a League of Nations-like response in a WikiLeaks era."
The '72 map design referred to above can be seen here, courtesy of the blog IdeaOrange. It completely abandons the geographically-oriented subway route display in favor of the utterly-schematic, almost electronic-diagram modernist style pioneered by the London Underground and similarly-styled maps, and works very well indeed. Of the current style, a member of the panel savaged the style of having "bilious" colors and the lack of a service guide.

I guess there's just no pleasing some people.

But the subway is part of the identity of NYC, and no matter what you do, there's someone who's going to point and say "her? Oh, she's had work done, you know"

Myself, I'm a fan of the way Vignelli did things. After all, it is in the Museum of Modern Art.

H/T Atul 666, on the web at http://cyclotram.blogspot.com, twitter @brx0

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[type] In Case You Ever Wondered How To Say "Tschischold"?

Well, even if you haven't wondered, you'll find this bit of stuff interesting. It's a short list of how to pronounce various names of fonts and famous font artists, many of which are from Europe - typography is a global art, after all.

I was a little surprised. Though I had been correctly pronouncing Lubalin and Hermann Zapf for years, I had been mispronouncing Licko (Zusana Licko, the great co-founder of the Emigre house, is from eastern Europe) and Neutraface (pronounced litch-o and neu-TRA-face, respectively).

The rest of the list (Tschischold? Gesundheit!) yon hier (http://typophile.com/node/28051), wanderer.

H/T: Twitter friend @Sternooo (Mark Stern, designer and cartoonist)
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05 December 2010

[net] A Rising Facebook Meme Lifts All Cartoon Character Blogs

Any uptick in hits on my blog has been a cause for private celebration. Since I haven't yet figured out how to incite the national love affair with me I so richly deserve, it's been a bit like trying to induce lightning to strike - and happens about as often (there's a corollary to Murphy's Law which I've codified that essentially states that while it is true that if anything can go wrong it will go wrong at the most inopportune moment, it most certainly will not come when you actively attempt to induce it (but you won't keep it away permanently by inviting it)).

So, when it happens, it's a treat ... but the real triumph comes in finding out why.

For the last two or three days, I've been notching around two-three hundred hits a day, a welcome influx. I've deduced why. Apparently there's a Facebook meme in full effect, where everyone is replacing their profile pic with their favorite cartoon character. In as much as I am my own favorite cartoon character, I resisted the bandwagon for a while, then, realizing that I did quite adore Speed Racer (who had to duke it out with Tintin), I changed my Facebook avatar for a little bit to the illustration you see left.

After this I found out that this has something to do with an online awareness campaign about child abuse. Being against child abuse, I didn't really have a problem with that, though one would want to do something a little more material, I'd think.

But the real reason I did it was to marvel at the connectedness of things these days, and that the virtual sphere is just as chaotic in its way as the real. You see, the endless searches for "cartoon character" is pinging this off-the-cuff article like mad.

Traffic is still fun, though. So I'll just enjoy it and hope people stop by to read the rest.

On Facebook I'm http://www.facebook.com/samueljohnklein, and on Twitter I'm http://www.twitter.com/sjkpdx, of course.

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04 December 2010

[comix] Tintin At The Mountains Of Madness (spoof gallery)

Remember those simple days, of the simple stories?

Remember how Tintin and Capt. Haddock found themselves in R'lyeh?

Remember how Tintin beat Dr Herbert West at his own game?

And what happened to Snowy and the Thom(p)sons?


That's because it didn't really happen.

Well, it should have.

Viewen you hier: http://muzski.darkfolio.com/gallery/470268#3

Disturbing? You bet.

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02 December 2010

[VW] Sam and the Art of VW Maintenance: Ye Olde Generator Brushes

I, for one did not know that generator (Type 1's before 1973 or 74 or 75 or summat, didn't have alternators, they had generators) brushes wore out.

Perhaps that's because in the past, whenever any car I had had an alternator problem, it was just replace the alternator time. This is one of the simpler fixes - depending on car, of course - that the unskilled DIY mechanic can accomplish. On the 70s VW Dasher, the alternator was held to the engine block by a pin hinge and was spaced off by an arm down which a nut-n-bolt slid. swivel out the alternator far enough to get proper tension on the belt, tighten down ...   you're g-squared.

What the brushes do is quite important. The part that spins round in your gen/alt, the rotor, creates electric power because it's a collection of loops of wire whirling around in a stationary set of magnets (the stator). Because of The Way Things Work Around Here™, when you physically pass a wire past a magnet, the wire's cutting the lines of magnetic force cause a current to flow. Get enough of them whirring past a magnet fast enough and you have enough current to power a car, charge the battery, and run your trusty AM radio or what have you.

If you've got all this electric potential going on in the rotor you've got to get it out of there somehow. Therefore, from another point on the stator you run a short rattail of thick copper wire to a piece of metal that rides a set of contacts on the axle of the rotor, where you tap that current off. And that's where your brush is.

Now, it stands to reason that enough years of friction there will cause it to rub away (though this won't necessarily occur to you if you haven't ever taken a generator apart, even if you do know a thing or two about electricity and how it's produced). What you do know, however, is that after all that expen$ive work getting a new engine into the car, all of a sudden, you have a generator light that won't go out.

Glad we got us that new Schwab battery back when the old engine blew. It got me started and around town for a few days. And the generator light, to be fair didn't suddenly go out: it would pop on at idles, the go out when I revved, until one evening when it wouldn't go out any more no matter how much revving I was doing.

Back to Mechanic Bill's house. He nailed it pretty quick. Generator brushes shot, no more left to them. It was a $70 repair, but what Bill's crew fixes tends to stay fixed, and the generator light hasn't given me a problem since.

Now, we will have the horn (which won't) and the four-way flashers (which don't), and Bill pointed out to me and The Wife™ what parts to go looking for. Like a true old-school VW mechanic, he'll do the work and bill you fairly, but if you're out of bread and might be able to fix it yourself, he'll point the way.

Oh! Which reminds me! I mentioned to him that I was a fan of Muir's famous Idiot's Guide and he said he had an old copy he could let me keep, and he did, and I do. The meat and potatoes of the book are unchanged enough that the copy I now have - a 1982 edition - will serve me in good stead until I get a more modern printing (which has nifty background information). But that's a pretty sweet thing to do for a customer, give them such a valuable book and advice on top of the repair, which made it really worth the $70 - turning it from money from a tight budget spent into money invested in having a 72 VW Beetle that'll keep running and be dependable for a good long time (it is to be hoped!).

Here (http://www.reluctantmechanic.com/step-by-step/change_generator_brushes.php) is a very good description of what the tyro should go through in replacing the generator brushes, with apropos photos. Be enlightened!

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