Saturday, March 28, 2009


Bought a new pair of tennis-shoes recently. (Those would be what non-Middle Tenneesseans refer to simply as sneakers or athletic shoes.) Anyway, my previous pair of ASICS had served me quite well (over-served me by probably almost a decade or so, actually) and a local store was having a good sale, so I bought another new pair of the same brand. I wasn’t aware of this before, but the little tag I had to clip off informed me that the name is actually an acronym standing for anima sana in corpore sano. This in turn is based on Juvenal’s mens sana in corpore sano. Either way, the meaning is essentially a sound mind in a sound body. Mens is properly translated mind and anima more properly soul or spirit, but it works – especially given that you’d otherwise be left with MSICS for a brand name!

That Hideous Strength

This is a very relevant book for our times. It’s also C.S. Lewis. Those two factors alone make it a more-or-less mandatory read – and one that is virtually guaranteed to be above average, at least. I do have to say, however, that I did not find it nearly so enjoyable to read as Lewis’ very best fiction (which would be Perelandra and Till We Have Faces, in my opinion).

While I embrace with satisfaction the overall trajectory of the narrative – cold, calculating rationalistic-materialism on the one hand effectively contrasted with enthralling, incarnate (and erotically charged) spirituality on the other – I do have to admit that I somehow found the ending rather anti-climactic. In addition, there are a number of elements here and there which I found quite puzzling and disjointed. (For just one example, what’s up with that one little segment of first person narrative in Chapter One which is never again taken up?) Perhaps some of this apparent lack of cohesion is by design, I don’t know. Lewis was a very clever one.

On the plus side, the book is chock-full of very interesting characters, some great individual scenes and is deliciously rich in irony. At times the satire (it took a while, but I eventually began to see why many reviewers describe the work as “satirical”) approaches laugh-out-loud intensity. So it really is a very good book. Probably the biggest thing working against it is that it follows right on the heels of Perelandra, which is positively sublime.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Please Kern Responsibly

Found this at Type for you.

I suppose no additional explanation is really needed. It looks like the clever folks who came up with this have applied it to t-shirts, coffee mugs, etc., to the delight of graphic design nerds everywhere.

Bad Type Sighting, 090316

In virtually any discipline, the via negationis, the negative example, can be an effective teacher. This is at least as true with graphic design and typography as it is with anything else, and in our era of aesthetic devaluation good examples (which is to say, bad examples) are to be found in abundance.

Case in point, this little photocopied beauty that struck me like a Three Stooges jab to the eyeballs when I opened a well-meaning card from a local bookkeeping business. (Pertinent information is blacked out to protect the guilty.) Y’know, I freely admit that my accounting skills are laughable. That’s why I hire a pro to do my taxes and provide consultation. But since these folks didn’t feel the need to hire a professional graphic designer to handle their promotion that got sent to this one (I know…times are tough), I feel all the more justified in rubbing it in a little!

If you insist, in the face of all protestations to the contrary, on doing it yourself, here’s a little typographical tip for you, free of charge: don’t use script fonts when any all caps work is required! (Or, vice versa, just refuse to use any all caps if you’re dead-set on using a script font. Or explore some other option like substituting a roman font for obligatory acronyms, etc.) That “Congratulations” is just painful. And the only thing scarier than the IRS itself is seeing the acronym spelled out in gaudy, flourishing, jostling, self-contradicting script capital letters. Kinda like those pantyhose commercials that Joe Namath did back in the 70’s. Ick! No thanks.