… that unless I push the hell out of this blog, it’s not going to be read. So I am giving up — at least for the time being. Again. What is this, the third time? I just can’t leave it here, lying fallow, though. I have to own up to not being able to write. I will try to post to the Twitter account (@newsdesign) for awhile and see if I can muster 140 characters. Facebook page? Nah. Social media and I are not the best of buds.
I have been busy with the start of classes and getting ready for my Son, The Younger, to wed his girlfriend in few weeks. So I haven’t been posting. I get the ideas, but I never manage to get around to doing the work of writing. To assuage my guilt, here is the link to a post from Jan. 11, probably 2008 or 09, about how a linotype machine works. Not many of them still in operation, I would assume. I can remember two rows of about 5 or 6 these things in the Composing Room at the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, my first newspaper. Watching an experienced operator was like watching ballet with the hands. Here is the link.
When I walked through the front door of my condo one morning last week, I was greeted by….no one. It was weird and hard to believe that The Muse had finally gotten rid of that scrofulous mutt, Homer, her purported service dog.
I had thought The Muse was gone as well – be still my beating heart – but, no, that was not to be.
I had thought The Muse was gone as well – be still my beating heart – but, no, that was not to be. But the condo was quiet, too quiet. I put down the many bags of groceries I had just purchased – mostly to meet her copious caloric needs — and hauled up three flights of stairs and began looking for her.
I found her in the den, with the drapes drawn, the white noise machine on low, sitting at my computer with darkened swim goggles covering her eyes. She was removing the keys on the keyboard one by one.
“Hey! What the hell are you doing?” I shouted.
She winced as if I had slapped her. “C’mon, Elwood, easy now,” she moaned. “I have a yourgrain headache.”
“That’s migraine,” I said.
“That’s what I said,” she said, while popping off another key, “Yourgrain. Ya going deef or somethin?’
“Anyway, just what the hell do you think you are doing?”
“These keys make too much noise during those few times when you aren’t deep into the throes of writer’s block,” she explained while taking a break to rub her temples. “I can’t take the din.”
“But how will I know which keys produce which letters?”
“Hey, man, you type doncha? What, you don’t have the keys memorized yet? Who was your typing teacher?”
“Hell, I am a journalist!” I said with clenched teeth. I was quickly getting a migraine, too. “I have to look at the keys. Now what am I going to write with? I’ll have to get a new keyboard.”
“What? With your phthisic hands? You think they write well enough to deserve a new keyboard? I bet your writing will actually improve were I to put the keys back randomly.”
“Wait just a minute now, I…”
“I know, I know, you represent that,” she said, with a look on her face like a triumphant teenager’s. “Big deal. Listen to me. You want to write better? Don’t wait for me to be nice to you. I think it was Harper Lee who said ‘I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career that before developing his talent he would be wise to develop a thick hide.’
“You came up a little short in the thick hide department,” she added, with obvious satisfaction. “Thick head maybe. But thick hide?”
I was steamed, but I suspected she was probably right, though I would never admit it. Certainly not to her.
She was still pulling off keyboard keys as I grabbed the iPad and headed for the living room. “Let’s see her get the keys off a touch screen,” I said aloud to no one.
Then I sat on the couch and tried to mentally thicken my hide. I tried texting Muse International Headquarters in hopes of receiving inspiration in return. Instead I got a come-on from AT&T. Ugh.
Dear Dr. Design:
My wife and I are having an argument that I hope you can settle. I say that you pronounce “sans serif” so it rhymes with “mans sheriff”; she insists that knowledgeable typophiles pronounce it so it rhymes with “sahn sa’riff,” which you say while pinching your nose. Who’s is right? (And there’s a bet between us. I can’t tell you what it is, but I REALLY, REALLY want to win….). — Kent Wynn
First, Kent, having spent some time in the throes of unholy matrimony, I can tell you the answer before I even hear the question. Your wife is right. She is always right, right? That’s part of the Divine Right of All Wives. It’s like it is given to them during the wedding ceremony somehow, through some sort of secret signal or incantation that the minister slips in during the mumbo-jumbo part that nobody ever listens to.
It’s a good thing there’s no annual test on what you agreed to during the ceremony. The wedding routine is kind of like those 55-page site policy statements that we agree to on web sites without even reading the first paragraph. Most men are standing there thinking, “OK, yada, yada, yada, let’s have those drinks and get to the honeymoon!”
One more thing before I get to your question. I think it is incredibly unfair to accuse all typography mavens of liking children a tad too much. It’s one thing to freak out about all-CAPS in long blocks of body type, and quite another to be interested in….(Editor steps in)….what? Oh, that’s a pedophile! I thought a pedophile was a person with a foot fetish. Oops! My mistake. Move along, nothing to see here.
At any rate, the pronunciation depends on who you are with while discussing typography and what part of the country you are from. For instance, if you are from the South, the correct way to say it is, “tahpe without those funny little thingies on the ends.”
If you are from the Northeast, your response would be, “Yeah, so what? Who’s askin’?
If you are from Colorado, you are too whacked out on medical marijuana you got from your hangnail physician (left hand specialist) to really give a damn. I mean, like…who cares?
So Kent, the answer is that, unless you are French or French-Canadian, trying to say it right will just bring on more acrimony and disdain from the Francophiles (don’t ask) in the crowd. Speaking French is kind of like being married: you will never please the other person, so give up trying.
If you would like to ask Dr. Design a question, send it to Dr. Design, in care of bobnewsdesignschoolcom. He will get to your question in the order they came in or he will forget about it totally and you won’t get a response for years, if ever.