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May 2007

Heavy Metal


Casting
Originally uploaded by Jaypeg.

I followed a link to this lovely Flickr set of one woman's pictures of the letterpress workshop at an old place where she housesits, and I suddenly realized I had already been there! It's the Alembic Press, run by Claire and David Bolton. Claire is a PhD student here at Reading, and her husband David had me over to the workshop last winter to show me how their Monotype casters worked. (I was researching how math was set in metal type, and you can see in the photo here a galley of the HUGE index of math characters David has been working on for a while now.) I’m really jealous of this woman getting to freely tinker with all their type and presses: they have an amazing collection of stuff.

Not Interchangeable!

campfire_wmt.jpg

My classmate Ian e-mailed me this link with the subject "T-Shirt for Dan". It doesn't take long for folks to realize I love a nerdy type t-shirt, and I can't resist a little pedantry when it comes to typesetting.

Spring Cleaning

Ah, a fresh start to this rusty old contraption. Ten years or so of archives were weighing me down, so I figured it was time to toss them out and stop competing with my more prolific days. Maybe I'll post more now without the burden of all that old junk mocking me and my laziness.

Where Are Those Cameras?

I was a little creeped out when I checked out the new "Street View" feature on Google Maps and instantly found exactly the view from my old Brooklyn apartment's window that I looked at every day. I mean, it was the same angle and everything. Flipping to the other side of the street, I could see that the new tenant has put in an air conditioner but, like me, has never bothered to hang curtains. Of course, I assumed there was no point since the only view inside was form an empty warehouse across the street. Who knew the entire universe could have a peek eventually?

The Terrorists Have Finally Won

It's a sad day here on Ultrasparky: the latest onslaught of comment spam (I average hundreds a day!) has caused me to ban the word "blowjob" from any discourse in the comments. My sincerest apologies.

Semiotics

Ride the Gay Bus

Believe it or not, this flyer is not reaching out to some vast army of homosexual commuters traveling between Reading and scenic downtown Bracknell each day. No, it just looks like some ad wizard didn't think long and hard enough about what that blunt, hideous usage of a rainbow motif wrapped around a smiling twink has come to suggest. Hilariously, this was on a bus shelter around the corner from Reading's only gay disco.

Typecasting at the Plantin-Moretus Museum

Brass Matrices

One of them many incredible places we visited during last week's whistlestop tour of Holland and Belgium was the extraordinary Plantin-Moretus Museum in Antwerp. (Flickr it.) From the world's two oldest printing presses to the incredible array or original type punches and old books, it's a mother lode of treasures and treats.

We were guided through the museum in the morning by Guy Hutsebaut, who gave us a great talk about the materials and techniques involved in handcasting metal type. Here arer a few snippets of video: part one, part two, and part three.

Gerry and the gang

If It's Friday This Must Be Belgium

Hotelin Brussels

OK, so in the last week I’ve been to lots of places — Hahn, Frankfurt, Oberhausen, Essen, Amsterdam, Haarlem, Bussum, Den Haag, Antwerp, and now finally Brussels. This was supposed to be a couple of days for me to pamper myself and catch my breath after all the educational travel, but fuck this place. I once spent a half day in Brussels, when Miki and I had a layover with a tour group after a glorious week in Southern Italy. I kind of hated it then, but I chalked it up to bad weather and an unfair comparison to the previous week of Italian bliss. I wanted to give it a second chance, but no more. The weather is magnificent but this is still a mostly dreary and dingy place. I should have taken my little holiday in Antwerp. Antwerp! Oh, how I have a little crush on the city of Antwerp, despite all that incomprehensible Dutch. So pretty! I guess I'll have to make the most of Brussels until tomorrow night and at least be glad I can find my way around a menu in French if I have to.

Update: To be fair, I had a lovely time in Brussels once I got my bearings. It's not the most dazzling city, but it's got some small pockets of grooviness here and there. The touristy bits are actually lovely, but a bit desolate without the tourists. There's a cool area just off the Grand Place with a lively street scene of cafes and shops and bars and such, and there seems to be a pretty active demand for shops with comics and graphic novels. So it wasn't that bad in the end, but I’m not likely to go back without some other reason to.

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