Archive for June, 2007

Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld album art Yesterday while I was in Berkeley (headed to unicycle basketball, natch) I stopped by Rasputin Music.

Rasputin music is an awesome chain of music stores in the Bay Area. They’re a little freaky (named after the dead siberian witch doctor…) but they carry a bunch of my music which, in the US, is pretty impressive. They have a great selection of Dance/Trance/Electronica – which in my book gets them mad props.

Anyways, out there in downtown Berkeley I was able to get a hold of the Orb’s Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld, one of the first and most important ambient albums from the 90′s. And it wasn’t any watered-down American version either, it was the original UK 110min two-disc release – so exciting!

Helvetica.

Tuesday, June 19th, 2007

Helvetica book side 1 Wednesday evening Joey and I left WWDC for a bit and attended a screening for Helvetica. A film that as the director, Gary Hustwit, says is “a movie about a font”*. The screening was at hosted by the San Francisco AIGA for their Design Week, and it was excellent.

For those of you who don’t yet know, Helvetica is “among the most widely used sans-serif typefaces internationally”1 and this year (2007) happens to be its 50th anniversary. Over those fifty years it has been in the wordmarks of an uncountable number of corporations and has developed quite an reputation both good and bad among graphic designers the world over.

And yes, Helvetica is also the default font for much of OS X.

Helvetica book side 2 The film is a meditation on Helvetica and the impact it has had on design over its 50 years. It has interviews with a number of designers from the US and Europe, including a brief appearance by Hermann Zapf. Interspersed throughout were cuts of Helvetica sightings, on busses, bathrooms, mail bags, billboards, etc. that emphasize its overwhelming, yet unnoticed, ubiquity.**

The designers in the movie all had strong feelings about this notorious typeface and each of the had some choice quotes- like those next to this post (which are covers to a cool notebook by Veer).

Most criticism took on Helvetica’s complicity in supporting “god-awful conformity”. Naturally, in my own nihilistic way, I choose to accept it for what it is, a finely crafted and very popular san-serif typeface. And to direct my criticisms of modernism to the school of thought, not its instrument of design.

I hear that the DVD will be released later this year in October- I’m waiting anxiously for it and you should too!

* Helvetica is not really a font, but rather a typeface.
** While Helvetica type is everywhere, it takes some skill to distinguish between it and its brethren.

Unicycle Madness

Wednesday, June 13th, 2007

Unicycle Tshirt If you’ve seen me at University, you probably already know this, but if not, there is a post for you… It is about my recent involvement in the vast unicycle conspiracy.

It all started last summer when I, once again, pondered the unsuitability of the bicycle for the campus commute. You see I’m terrible at getting to class on-time, and so am in dire need of a efficient mode of transport to and from class. And, as you could probably guess, the usual choice didn’t suit me.

On campus bikes are a pain. To use a bike on campus you need to make all sorts of accommodations for it. Bikes need storage space; you need to use bike racks at each of your destinations (any of which can be crowded, inconvenient, or both). You need to lock them up everywhere, they usually require municipal registration, you can only ride on bike paths, and they demand the use of a helmet.

Blech, riding a bike would mean making all sorts of inconvenient compromises – not things which I’m keen on doing…

Now back to my pondering- I had considered trying the skateboard, it’s small and quick, but also a bit dangerous to use on a crowded footway. Remembering once seeing a student ride a giraffe through our engineering quad, I had also joked to my brother I should see about using the old unicycle in our garage. But for the most part I resigned myself to plodding to and from class on foot.

Long story short, when I returned home that summer from California my brother had picked up the unicycle and was prepping to bring it along with him to school. It took me a few more months, but by November I had a new unicycle in had, a few more weeks subsequent I was pedaling about on the ultimate class commuting machine.

Coming soon: The internet-famous, wild parties, and traffic incidents!