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June 2007

Greek Relics

A week later, and I’ve finally had a chance to unpack from my trip to Θεσσαλονίκη. (I’m procrastinating on the typeface, naturally.) I brought back some lovely souvenirs to remind me of my Greek adventure:

Greek lollipop

Candy is essential for keeping drowsiness at bay during a long conference. These weren't the tastiest, but they have embedded Greek letters, and that’s cool.

Men's sunscreen

A pasty Irishmen like me would burst into flames if I tried to face a Mediterranean heat wave without protection. When I went to the pharmacy to grab some sunscreen, I had to wade through labels in Greek, French, and Spanish but not English. I selected a nice, strong cream, but the lady at the counter was very adamant that I buy men's sunscreen. I tried to explain that it wasn't a big deal, but she finally convinced me that the men's version was better for the top of the head. (To her credit, there were no signs of pink on my bald pate after a week in the sun.) Mostly,she just seemed a little embarrassed that I might get something packaged for women.

A certain culture of assumed machismo was all over the place in Greece. I was sharing a hotel room with my flatmate Rob, like I usually do, but this is the first time I’ve ever checked into a hotel room and had the clerk automatically assume that sharing a room with another guy was proof enough that we absolutely need a room with two beds. It was the truth in this case, but it caught me off guard that it seemed so urgent to him that no female roommate meant no double bed. Luckily, we got a roomy triple all to ourselves, even if it wasn't especially chic:

Triple at the Queen OlgaTriple at the Queen Olga

There are newsstands all over the city, and while making one of my many stops for bottled water I picked up some comic books published for the Greek market:

Greek Thing

I had to come all the way to Greece to finally find a book that dared to use upper- and lowercase lettering. See how nicely that works? I wish they'd try it in English one of these days.

Greek Batman

I especially love that even sound effects were translated into Greek. I would have assumed translations were only done using the layer with the black inks, but obviously they reprint the whole thing with the translations. That would have been a lot more expensive before the days of digital prepress.

The Bionic Nun

Oscar and Jaime

There are so many reasons why The Bionic Woman is an all-time favorite of mine. And that was before I remembered there was an episode where Jaime poses as a nun to uncover a diamand-and-heroin smuggling ring operating out of the winery at a convent.

The nuns save the day!

TV in the seventies wasn't better, really, but it was certainly simpler.

Sister Jaime explains it all for you

Of course, if you have any memories of the show at all, you were probably traumatized by the same images that have haunted me all these years...

(Read the rest...)

Night Terrors

Ugh, the insomnia! I’m waiting to get drowsy again, after waking up at 3:30, instantly getting preoccupied with thoughts of optical sizes and fitting and class kerning (does any of that even make sense to normal people?) and the millions of other things I need to finish in the next three-and-a-half weeks. When I think of the due date for the typeface, though, I then think that I have another two weeks to document the whole process, and then another few weeks to write a dissertation, and...

Well, you get the idea. So busy! So stressed! I’m going to need a hell of a nap at some point today.

(P.S.: Greece was hot. Hotter than Brazil. It was a hundred-and-hellish degrees every day, so I never wandered much to see the city. The conference was swell, though. And food is cheap and tasty, unlike in England.)

A Dispiriting Venn Diagram

Today's Lunch

I’m off to Greece for a week to go to this conference and stress out about school surrounded by different scenery. As with all my trips this year, there's a significant perk: relief from the tyranny of English food!

What's old is new

Some things naturally cross the cultural, racial, and generational gaps. Watch what happens when Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon get mashed up with Unk.

Bonus! Check out the original clip.

Just in Case

I don't suppose there are any deep-pocketed eccentrics out there who feel like sponsoring a brief transatlantic research trip about typography and math, right? It looks like this year's TypeCon in Seattle is having a workshop on Microsoft's new math stuff on the very same day I begin writing my dissertation on that exact topic.

I Love Charlie

My pal Charlie is cuter than he has a right to be and I am totally shameless when it comes to getting on his good side. Bribes work well. Especially pastrami.

Still Life

Back in my art school days everyone in the visual arts program started out with two years of pretty rigorous, traditional instruction in drawing, painting, and sculpting from life. This was all about skill-building and exploring form and color, not so much about any touchy-feely artistic expression nonsense. (All that was meant to happen later on in our artistic careers.) We were really pushed to figure out how to faithfully reproduce what we could see, to the extent that a professor once said how when he'd been teaching elsewhere he could always spot the portfolios of applicants who had come from our program. Whether or not their work was very good, they were always faithful enough not only to include the plug for the model's space heater, but also to make it screamingly obvious that the department used the same sets and props year after year after year.

Still Life

This is just a random image from my kitchen this morning, but those espresso pots always give me flashbacks to the prop closet. You could probably find one in the paintings of every single B.U. art student ever. If most of my stuff weren't stored in my brother's attic, I could probably dredge up a handful of examples for you, but you'll just have to take my word for it. Or ask any B.U. art-school veterans you might know. They'll see that espresso pot — especially when it's placed just so and lit from an indirect source of natural light — and probably have a brief psychotic episode.

Ska and Stars

I mostly want Dave to hear this, but since we're not the only ones who can appreciate the sheer awesomeness of a Romanian gypsy brass band fused with ska beats, I present it for you all:

Mahalageasca (Bucovina Dub) — Mahala Raï Banda vs. Shantel
(Buy this version or one of the original tracks)

While I’m at it, let me also share a piece of genius that Dave sent my way. This is originally from here, but the links are dead now, so here's a copy for you. It's a marima-rrific reworking of my favorite bit of music ever written by John WIlliams:

The Asteroid Field — The Evil Genius Orchestra
(Buy the album or the original)

While hunting down some more info on the Evil Genius Orchestra, I stumbled across other blog post about Star Wars covers. Enjoy!

It's England Land!

Big Ben and the London Eye

Sure it's touristy, but how do you NOT take that shot when it's right there in front of you?

High Strung

A piping hot bath helps take the edge off things every now and then, but I think I need something like a six hour massage to work out years of accumulated tension. I might pass out part of the way into it, but that would only be a sign it was working. I’m like a macramé plant holder — flimsy pieces held together entirely by all the knots.

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