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

The Oxford English Dictionary in Limerick Form

Nineteen years of designing typefaces has amply proven H&FJ’s Third Law, which states that for every act of exhaustive research, there is an equal and opposite act of total silliness. This principle extends from typography into other disciplines as well: behold — no kidding — the Oxford English Dictionary in Limerick Form.

Precisely the kind of project that the internet was made for, the OEDILF (stop snickering!) has brought together contributors from around the globe for the purpose of rendering every entry in the world’s most famous dictionary into a-a-b-b-a form. The fascicle A-Cr is well underway, with 45,297 entries so far, making this a site you don’t want to stumble upon when you’re up against a deadline.

Continues…

My Thoughts Exactly

Hey where can I get that Brady Bunch font. Hey where can I get that Star Wars font. Hey where can I get that Red Dwarf font. Do you have font that looks like bird feet? Do you have font that looks like cat paws? Do you have any “futuristic” fonts? Do you have any “hip hop” fonts? Do you have any “retro” fonts? Do you have fonts that are retro but don’t look retro? Where are all the graffiti fonts. Where are all the funky fonts. Do you have any fonts that are totally extreme. Do you have any fonts that say “comic book.” Do you have any fonts that are high style art deco of the twenties? What fonts are good for computers? What fonts are good for MySpace? What fonts are good for LiveJournal? What fonts are good for Twitter? What fonts are good for nothing?

Why, it’s those attractive, useful, well-produced, intellectually rigorous, and definitely not at all copyright-infringing free fonts on the internet, of course! —JH

Unicode Poetry Slam

I feel certain that I’ve seen the logo for Fermata Festival on canvas totebags at the greenmarket, and that Fox Fraction is part of the Action 10 News Team. I’m equally convinced that Falling Family and Feathered February are Lifetime Original Movies, and that Fit Fita Five once opened for Afrika Bambaataa at the Mudd Club. Legendary turntablist Fricative Fritu was the driving force behind that act, before leaving to found Forward Fostering Four in 1979; signed to Furx Records, they were one of my favorite bands, along with Flexus Flight Flip and Facsimile Factor — who these days you can catch on Fly FM, home of a great morning drivetime show hosted by Fongman Foo

Novelists and MCs seeking inspiration are hereby directed to the Unicode Character Name Index, once a mere reference for cosmopolitan type designers, but now also a wellspring of found poetry (and a sure-fire way to blow an entire afternoon.) The above nonsense comes from adjacent entries on the F page, and other letters are no less fertile: doesn’t the M page make you yearn for the comeback of wrestling legend “Manacles” Manchu? —JH

Eric Siry adds: You neglected gangsta rap legend Fat Fatha, Thai-Senegalese throat singer Fthora Fu, and goth pioneers Functional Funeral — as well as the front man’s solo excursion into atonal noise rock, Fwa Fwaa Fwe Fwee.

…and Non-Fontogenic…

A journalist recently asked what it is about Gotham that we think suits the Obama campaign. We’ll defer to designers John Slabyk and Scott Thomas to make that call — they selected the font for Obama for America, we merely provided it — but one thing we can say as type designers is that Gotham isn’t pretending to be anything it’s not, which makes it an unusual and refreshing choice for a campaign. Political typefaces have a way of being chosen because they underscore (or imagine) some specific aspect of a candidate, working hard to convey “traditional values” or “strength and vigilance,” or any number of graspable populist notions. The only thing Gotham works hard at is being Gotham.

2008 is clearly a year of unusual thinking in political circles, because none of these familiar approaches can explain the utterly confounding typographic dress chosen by Senators Hillary Clinton and John McCain. Hillary’s snooze of a serif might have come off a heart-healthy cereal box, or a mildly embarrassing over-the-counter ointment; if you’re feeling generous you might associate it with a Board of Ed circular, or an obscure academic journal. But Senator McCain’s typeface is positively mystifying: after three decades signifying a very down-market notion of luxe, this particular sans serif has settled into being the font of choice for the hygiene aisle. One of McCain’s campaign themes is “Making Tough Choices:” is this the one you would have made? —H&FJ

The Guerilla Anagrammer

Photo: Jack Szwergold

One of Andy’s photographs features his friend Albert walking before a giant FU on a Williamsburg sidewalk. “The letters used to spell out You Are Beautiful,” Andy explained, “before someone started moving them around the neighborhood…” It reminded me of a similar bit of guerilla anagramming in my neighborhood: a few years ago, our local movie theater finally gave up the ghost after 93 years. During the brief interregnum between tenants, someone had a few weeks of nighttime fun with the marquee.

For a while, I got most of my news from this sign, whether it was the looming SARS epidemic or the equally ominous appointment of Chief Justice Roberts. Jack Szwergold has collected them all on Flickr; the ones that make the least sense are among the most entertaining. —JH

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