Archive for May, 2012

[design] Secret Messages In Packages, Or, How I Know Post Raisin Bran Is America’s Cereal

Posted in fnords, Graphic Design, package design, teh_funnay on May 31, 2012 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis
2836.We messed-up people are afflicted with something called pareidolia. This is the psychological act of seeing a significant message in random inputs, like seeing faces on the Moon or Mars, Jesus, Mary and Joseph on a toasted bagel, or a big thumbs-up in the fork between the Willamette and Columbia rivers (squint your eyes, bunky, it’s there, trust me).

Last night’s weekly to the market gave me food for thought (and untrammeled conspiracy theorizing, when, as we were in the cereal aisle (not isle, that would be a mound of cereal surrounded by water which would not only be soggy but most unpalatable) and, as I turned to look, my fnord detector went off.

I swear, out of the corner of my eye, for just the briefest moment, that raisin-bran-laden spoon resembled this:

Take a look at this …

Do you see it yet? No? How about now?

What about now?

Anyhow, sometimes accidental folds will deliver a wildly different message. Without the fold, Morris likes 9 Lives. But With a fold in the right place?
Turns out his favorite cat food is really “Olives”.
Shop wisely, everyone. 

[design] Mitt Romney for President Of Some Other Country

Posted in FAIL, Info Design FAIL, Mitt Romney on May 30, 2012 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis
2835.(Via Talking Points Memo) Breaking news: Newly released screenshot of Romney iPhone app shows he isn’t really running for President of the United States, but some heretofore-unheard-of country called …

… “Amercia”.

I haven’t found it on a map, but I suspect it abuts both Narnia and Westeros.

Maybe. Unless it doesn’t.

Mitt Romney: the gift that just won’t stop giving, no matter how hard he tries.

[PDX_liff] A Tomb Opens In Westmoreland

Posted in liff in PDX, Painfully Portland on May 29, 2012 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis
2834.The report at KGW’s website calls it An unusual Portland tradition.

Indeed? We had a 24-hour Church of Elvis and slacksters Zoobombing down from Washington Park. We’re defined by unusual traditions, so it’d have to be pretty strange, yes?

Well, this qualifies. Every year, on Memorial Day, the tomb of George and Elizabeth Rea, located at Wilhelm Memorial Home, 6705 SE 14th Avenue, opens at 12:30 PM for 90 minutes to the public. You can get the view at KGW, and you’ve missed this year’s, but you know, there’s always next year.

I think this is known as becoming a Portland icon over your own dead body.

Yeah, sorry about that.

[art] Leo Dillon Is No Longer With Us

Posted in art, artists, passages, SF on May 29, 2012 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis
2833.If you had to name, as a member of the reading hoi polloi, you (nothing personal), who had a great influence on the way SF and speculative fiction was looked at through the 60s and 70s, in terms of the gestalt … not only what was written on the page but also what contributed to the general perception, stance, expectation, the indefinable aura about the literature that not only informed the reader opening the usually-thoughtfully, sometimes-phantasmagorically decorated covers off the day but also opened the reader up to the changed environment of the story within. … I don’t know who’s name you, dear reader would come up with. But I wonder if you’d come up with The Dillons?

The Dillons – Leo and Diane – became one of the most famous illustrative artists of the speculative fiction field, beloved of by more than one author. I met their work through the books of my favorite author, Harlan Ellison; the cover of a copy of Approaching Oblivion, a collection I got through one of those ‘get-10-books-for-a-penny’ book clubs, was done by then.

If you read paperback SF through the 70s and you got an Ellison book you probably was introduced to The Dillons through the Pyramid Harlan Ellison Uniform series, a line with identically-designed covers different only by the color scheme and the cover art. The books are easy to identify: the name HARLAN ELLISON fills the upper third, designed in a typeface that seems of-the-times, with the counter in the O replaced by the number-in-series of the book itself. After the boldfaced book title and a short tagline takes up the remainder of that upper half, the lower half is reserved for the cover art.

When I’d heard that Leo Dillon had passed away, it gave me cause to think about the effect great cover art has on the reader. A book without cover art or design is fine enough – you’re going in for the meat anyway, and some books comport themselves by reputation alone. A book with bad or mismatched cover art is irritating; you feel like you’re told a lie just to get you to open a book. But cover art that speaks intimately to the subject matter inside – or at least respect it – makes you ready for the material within. It softens you up in the good way. If you opened Ellison’s No Doors, No Windows with any other sort of cover art, I don’t know if you’d be as receptive to the contents within. And each one had an easter-egg; somewhere in the cover art was a depiction of Harlan. Some were easier to find (see right) than others. I own six of them: No Doors, No Windows; Gentleman Junkie; Partners in Wonder; Spider Kiss; The Other Glass Teat; Memos From Purgatory.

Leo and Diane Dillon had a real understanding of where Harlan was trying to get to with his strange and wonderful stories. They must have. How else would they come up with cover art that so intimately suits the material? And how else would they get the intense and sincere favor of Ellison, if he didn’t think they picked up what he furiously put down?

The Dillons illustrated a lot of speculative fiction works over the years, and their work has won plaudits: at least one Hugo, two Caldecotts, Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame; the list goes on (and is provided by some Wikipedian for your convenience). I feel lessened that such a man is gone.

I’ve never met them, but I feel for Diane, in as much as I have a lifelong romance with a spouse, as well, and I can’t even begin to imagine what life would be like without her.

Leo Dillon, 1933-2012.

[pdx] Downtown Portland: The Good Old Days Weren’t That Long Ago

Posted in liff in PDX, Lost Oregon, Oregon Visual History, pdx, PDX History, PDX Visual History on May 27, 2012 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis
2832.John Chilson, the esteemable chronicler at the helm of Lost Oregon, has shared an album of what he calls ‘Recent Portland Losses’. This is an album of stuff that has been razed in aid of putting something else there.

These were the Rose Friend Apartments.

Rose Friend Apartments Prior to Demolition - May, 2006

They were on the southwest corner of SW Broadway and Jefferson Street.

This was in 2006, just six years ago. What’s there now? Take it away, Google Maps

It’s a condo and upscale retail tower. Does anyone care what the name is? Given what it replaced, I don’t, not really At least they saved the Ladd Carriage House, just in sight to the right of the tower there, rather famously moving it a few blocks west in typical Emmert style, but can we really say what’s been put there was better, when this:

Rose Friend Apartments - Courtyard and Entry Arch - May 29, 2006

… seemed just fine?

Can you really blame the people who moan all the time about how something in Portland these days is only worth something if it can be replaced with something else? Can you really say they’re moaning? I think they have a point.

Now, I know I’m quite lucky to be able to call myself a Portlander. We have a sense of history here, and despite what’s been deleted from the public view in just the last 10 years, we actually have more of our history than most places. I know a guy in Phoenix who laments that whenever anything … anything … is more that 10 years old it gets pulled down in favor of something else.

I think we can do better than we have been though.

This circumlocution actually was in aid of a goal. This album crystallized something for me; when me and The Wife™ returned to Portland after a break in Corvallis, we went downtown as often as we could. You couldn’t pry us out of that place. So much charm. There were nifty places and shifty places. There were new places and gritty places. I saw Waiting for Guffman at the old Music Box Theatre, on Yamhill between Broadway and Park. The block of Broadway between Yamhill and Taylor was beautiful with its Fox and Music Box marquees. Anyone remember Barbara Clark, Social Stationer? We browsed there once. Where the Columbia Sportswear store is now used to be a food court business, Metro on Broadway, where all sorts of colorful downtowners would eat.

That’s all gone now. Downtown is kind of a sterile thing, a sanitized vision for the office workers and the hotel patrons we seem to lust after in an unseemly way, and the über-prosperous condo dwellers we wish would fill those towers. Downtown Portland looks wonderful, but it’s gotten just skin deep.

There’s very little there there any more, to kype a thought from Gertrude Stein.

Me and The Wife™ now spend our time in Montavilla, along Hawthorne, places that still have a little soul to them. Foster and Powell, a bit of Woodstock, and our beloved Russelville, which even has a cart pod of its own now. But we almost never go downtown. Why bother?

It’s our downtown any more. Not really. It’s someone else’s.

Did you  know that there used to be an Arctic Circle restaurant on the corner of Broadway and Yamhill, on the first floor of the Jackson Tower? And you could get yourself a bit of soul-satisfying junk food and sit at the big window and watch the Square and Broadway. Nothing like that downtown now, certainly not that’s not overpriced and effete. I couldn’t picture myself sitting in The Original watching the world go by (and neither could my budget, for that matter).

Sic transit gloria mundi, I suppose. One must live with it.

Here’s the rest of the album, from Mr. Chilson. Give him propers; he’s an Oregon transplant that loves Oregon history more than most Oregonians I know, and as a native-Oregonian, I say he’s doin’ a hell of a job.

Here’s the link to view the rest:

What a difference 10 years can make.


Posted in KGW, liff in PDX, Matt Zaffino Has A Posse, oregon broadcasters on May 27, 2012 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis
2831.We have a certain (well, perhaps a little too unique) affection for KGW-8’s meteorologists. Led by The Mighty Zaffino, the First Alert Storm Team (which will be First Alerting the Storm even if there isn’t one to Team up on), lays into Cascadian weather with a passion we find quite intimidating.

In all seriousness, the whole crew adopts a very ‘scientist’s’ attitude about it. They must have a passion for the weather from its scientific angle; we’ve learned a great deal about atmospheric science from them, and when they drill down, it’s like watching a kid with a toy who wants to share and show and wow you with everything about it.

But they’re the best, really … and I can’t but respect a station that had the sheer good sense to hire Rod Hill. We enjoy Nick Allard from The Square in the mornings. And then there’s Matt … the weatherman’s weatherman. That’s why we say …


Make your stickers, mah peeps.

[art] Is Your Signature Style Killing Your Art?

Posted in art, art resources, art techniques, artists on May 26, 2012 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis
2830.Being an aspiring artist, I read ere and oft about the importance of finding your individual “voice”, mostly expressed as distilling a signature style that can make your work recognizable and then developing that personal métier. This is marketed as a laudable goal on the way to becoming an accomplished artist and, to the beginner and the aspirant, makes some sense.

Eugenia Loli, however, prefers not to:

In my opinion, “finding your personal style” is ARTISTIC DEATH. It doesn’t show maturation, it shows old age. The artist, unable to think differently anymore. The artist, stuck in seeing the world in one way. The artist, doing art for art’s sake without further exploration. The artist, becomes single-dimensional, no matter how complex his artwork is.

She makes a good case in very few words. At least it deserves some consideration, I think: the idea of doing one thing in a certain way for so long that it becomes second nature seems to imply a lack of further development so prima-facie obvious that it requires no proving.

However, I think there is some advantage to having a signature style to go-to, where you can let your inspiration just flow onto the page without thinking about some new way of doing something. Eugenia makes a good point, complete with chewy food for thought, but I think I’ll probably stand somewhere between the extremes. I don’t think any tool is worth ignoring or disregarding, and I regard a signature style as a tool in the tool box.

Perhaps a third way to think of this is to be ready to lay down your ‘personal’ style, to keep a watchful eye on what one does as an artist, and if the idea of sameness creeps in to your work, and it becomes more of a chore than a joy, then it’s time to do something different for a while. Put away your signature style for a while and come back to it when you’re refreshed. What you’ve found out in the meantime will feed back into that style, and make it more fleshed out, more deep and interesting.