7 January, 2010
Because We’re, You Know, Cyborgs
Odd choice of fonts. Only one way to improve on it. —JH
28 August, 2009
Mortal Enemy of the Hyphen
Typeface: Chronicle Text Grade 2
Above, full name of the Philadelphian typesetter who was otherwise known as “Wolfe+585,” or “Hubert Blaine Wolfeschlegelsteinhausenbergerdorff, Sr.” to his friends. Could there have been many? —JH
6 June, 2009
Don’t Believe the Type!
We will, we will Rockwell. Rock the Caslon. I Meta Girl. ITC Clearly Now. Tempted by the Frutiger ’nother. Weiss Do Fools Fall in Love? Rockwell Amadeus. Dax The Way (uh huh, uh huh) I Like It. Please Mistral Postman. If I Could Turn Back Times. Gill Sans in a Coma. Get Down Onyx. Myriad a Little Lamb. Clarendon (I Know This World is Killing You.) On the Wingdings of Love. I Wanna Bold Your Sans. Some Like it Haettenschweiler. Janson Queen. I Do Not Want I Avant Garde. Scenes From an Italic Restaurant. Hang On to Your Eagle. Take a Janson Me. My Name is DIN (and I am Fonty.) Font Like an Egyptienne. Hotel Caledonia. Electra Avenue. Garamond (My Wayward Son.) My Tahoma. Fear of a Black Italic. I’m So X-Heighted. Nothin’ V.A.G. Thing.
Twitter is reaching a cultural apotheosis right now with the #fontsongs topic, still trending strong. (Ms. American Typewriter Pie, Burning Down the House Gothic, Love Me Two Times Roman, Ring My Bell Gothic...) Special thanks to everyone who included an H&FJ font in their title (We Are The Champion, Knockout on Heaven’s Door, Whitney Baby One More Time, Dirt Didots Done Dirt Cheap, Auld Verlag Syne, It’s a Hard Knox Life, Chronicle Man...)
Yesterday I asked — rhetorically, I thought — “who can work Arnold Böcklin into one of these?” Meeting the challenge triumphantly came @mattwiebe with It’s Arnold Böcklin Roll (But I Like It), @mlascarides with Keep Arnold Böcklin (In the Free World), @angvalenz with Block Böcklin Beats, and @e_limbach’s No Sleep Till Böcklin. (I would also have accepted They Say The Arnold Böcklin Roll Is Still Beating.) Anyway, next challenge: “Figgins’ Two Lines Pica Antique No. 2.”The thread’s still running if you want to join in. And if you really love me, darling, bring me Exocet. —JH
30 March, 2009
Laminitis, or English As She Is Drawn
Typeface: Mercury Text Grade 3
Some would argue for Bleak House, others Middlemarch. The Great Gatsby has its proponents as well, along with Lolita and Heart of Darkness. But for me, it is none of these: there is a clear winner in the category, a single book that is the finest work of literature written in the English language. It is English As She Is Spoke, an 1853 phrasebook by Pedro Carolino, offered to Portuguese speakers as a guide to the English language. Uniquely, Carolino spoke not a word of English, and was not possessed of an English-Portuguese dictonary.
He overcame this disadvantage through the clever combination of a Portuguese-French dictionary and a French-English one, through which the entire corpus of English idioms was dragged, backwards, screaming. Thanks to Carolino, Portuguese readers of the nineteenth century might have learned such workaday English expressions as "to look for a needle in a hay bundle" and "the stone as roll not heap up foam." Other timeless chestnuts include "take out the live coals with the hand of the cat," "he has fond the knuckle of the business," "he has a good beak," and, bewilderingly, "to craunch the marmoset." Mark Twain said of the book, "Nobody can add to the absurdity of this book, nobody can imitate it successfully, nobody can hope to produce its fellow; it is perfect." Twain wrote the introduction to the American edition, which was first published in 1883 and has remained in print ever since. It is a classic.
Our industry's standard-bearer seems to have gotten the Carolino treatment this morning. This profile of Matthew Carter that ran in the Washington Post has somehow found its way into and out of another language, presumably courtesy of some cruelly indifferent software. Of the craft of type design, our subject is quoted as saying, "the options are rattlingly limited. I can't determine one forenoon I'm fatigued of the 'b' and I'm attending redesign it from excoriation. There holds defeat and captivation." (What type designer has not experienced this?) Pay special attention to the passage in which Carter designs "the lowercase hydrogen," whose ascender, of course, distinguishes it from the lowercase nitrogen.
Tobias and I were honored to offer up an encomium or two. "He holds the footing to be sort of haughty or elitist," says Tobias, "but that ne'er haps to him." And I obligingly identified Matthew as "the bozo who formulated brown." But in any language, I think we all agree that Matthew Carter is "the Jehovah of Georgia." —JH