Saul Bass & Star Wars

If the late, great Saul Bass had designed the opening credits to Star Wars…

via my friend, and yours, Yangblog.

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Best Picture

Taking a cue from The Original Mud Puppy, below is the list of films designated as BEST PICTURE by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences® since 1976, the year I was born.

Film titles in italics are films that I’ve already seen.
Bold titles are films which I still need to see.

2007 – No Country for Old Men
2006 – The Departed
2005 – Crash
2004 – Million Dollar Baby
2003 – Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
2002 – Chicago
2001 – A Beautiful Mind
2000 – Gladiator
1999 – American Beauty
1998 – Shakespeare in Love
1997 – Titanic

1996 – The English Patient
1995 – Braveheart
1994 – Forrest Gump
1993 – Schindler’s List

1992 – Unforgiven
1991 – The Silence of the Lambs
1990 – Dances with Wolves
1989 – Driving Miss Daisy
1988 – Rain Man

1987 – The Last Emperor
1986 – Platoon
1985 – Out of Africa
1984 – Amadeus
1983 – Terms of Endearment
1982 – Gandhi

1981 – Chariots of Fire
1980 – Ordinary People
1979 – Kramer vs. Kramer
1978 – The Deer Hunter
1977 – Annie Hall

1976 – Rocky

I did have a good run from 1988-present, having missed only three films… but I have a lot of catching up to do with the older films. Anyone want to suggest the order I see them in?

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Long First Name

While lifting my dripping wet 3-year old out of the tub the other night, I could tell she was pretending to be someone else. So I asked her, “Who are you?”

“I’m Arial, mermaid princess.”

And then, giggling, she asked, “Who are  YOU??”

“I’m the daddy who’s going to dry you off.”

“No…” she whined, clearly not satisfied with my answer… “I mean your LAST name!”

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I’m a twit.

What is Twitter?

I’ve finally joined the ranks of the twitter revolution. Not really sure why… or how exactly it will improve my life, but I’m willing to give it a trial period.

For those who are twittilliterate™, twitter is a program that lets you make short updates about your day, life, situation in real time and have it appear either my account page on twitter’s website, or if you are following my twitter RSS feed, or if you visit my blog and see my updates at the top of the sidebar.

Since I can send updates via Instant Messenger, I may do it more regularly than I think. But like all new technology, I’m sure the novelty will wear off and I’ll go through periods where I don’t post any updates and eventually just let it die a slow death.

But for now, enjoy my twitters!

PS – “twittilliterate” is MINE. Use with permission only! 😛


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Clip Art 101

I was browsing the latest issue of HOW magazine (the 2008 International Design Annual) and the advertisement above caught my eye. Pratt Institute is my alma mater (’98), and they’ve placed this weird 1/8-page ad way in the very back of the issue… back with all the crappy ads for cheap handwriting fonts, $15 business cards and creative head hunters.

Why do I think it’s a weird ad? Well, let’s take a closer look…

First off, I can kinda get into the heavy black text on the brown, recycled paper look. The green/eco-movement is sweeping the design world just like the rest of the world, so that’s a good start on the layout, and the simple black text can be visually powerful.

Unfortunately, it all goes downhill from there.

Moving from the outside in, the rounded corners on the box is so dated (as in, it was cheesy a decade ago)… not to mention the stock thick/thin white border that comes standard with most popular page layout applications… Both the rounded corners and white border(s) are completely unnecessary to the integrity of the design. The colored background is enough by itself to make the ad pop off the white page. They only lend to the layout feeling more cluttered.

The “Think” headline with white accent marks over the ‘k’ is interesting. It’s a fairly modern typeface and the accent marks imply action/thought. Though they feel a bit cartoonish, they compliment the chosen typeface. What has always separated Pratt from other NYC-based art/design schools is that they pride themselves on making sure their students can think creatively, opposed to mass producing commercial artists and sending them packing out into the advertising world, with their crisp, nearly identical portfolios.

The Pratt logo and URL are a decent size, in relation to the ad size, and are typeset well, though I think the URL’s line-spacing is a bit tight to the white border and should be brought up a point or two closer to the logo.

Finally, we have the eight round symbols… the elephant in the room. They make the entire ad confusing and sophmoric. The spacing between each circle is nice, but the two on each end are too tight to the border. You want to have as much, or more, space on the outer edges to keep it from feeling crammed in and too tight.

Now, let’s examine the content of these tiny gems of clip art…

  1. The first appears to be a floating, yet lit, light bulb within the pages of a book… no doubt signifying thinking, and bright ideas… The granddaddy cliché of all visual clichés… As I wipe up my tears, let’s continue…
  2. The second is the bitmapped hand icon you get when rolling over an internet hyperlink… I suppose it is meant to suggest interactive/web design? What kills me is, it’s the hand icon you get on a PC, not a Mac. Brilliant.
  3. The next is a Helvetica lowercase ‘a’… one can only assume to represent typographical design.
  4. The fourth circle is a swerve of ink and the nib of a pen.. which — again, only assuming here — signifies the fine arts (drawing, painting, sculpture, etc…).
  5. The fifth icon looks to be a closed door at the end of a hallway… Is this possibly the career path of someone specializing in the Clip Arts?
  6. The next icon is two interlocking gears, which of course is the second most cliché and generic symbol in the world, needing no explanation whatsoever… because something so generic can mean pretty much anything.
  7. The second-to-last icon appears to be the head of a hammer slamming down a nail, reminiscent of the old Soviet-era propaganda posters. I don’t recall construction and general contracting being an available course at Pratt, so maybe this symbol represents Pratt’s architecture school… because, if nothing else, you learn how to swing a hammer after 5 years of architecture classes.
  8. The final icon is a box… or a Rubik’s cube. My guess is either Package Design, Industrial Design, or that your diploma will qualify you to work for U-Haul.

Seriously, how do these cheesy circles of clip art help reinforce the message that Pratt will provide a superior art/design education? If I had seen this ad as a junior in high school, I would have thought Pratt was a joke. It really is embarrassing as an alumni, because I would think that the quality of education in the graphic design/advertising departments is as good, or better, as it was when I was there. How could they let this ad represent their department or their school? I’m going to try and be a little optimistic and hope that this was simply the best entry in a student design competition, and they were bound by the contest rules to publish the winning entry. Yuck.

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Paul Rand & Enron

Michael Bierut has written a fantastic post titled “The Smartest Logo in the Room” over at dissecting the significance of Paul Rand’s final logo design… the now infamous Enron “E.”

As brilliant as many of Rand’s most famous identities, the “crooked-” or “falling-E” begs for the age-old debate of art imitating life, or life imitating art… Bierut’s post is well worth the read, even if you know very little about Paul Rand’s work or the business of logo/identity design… and if that’s the case, shame on you for not knowing who Paul Rand is!

The Smartest Logo in the Room, by Michael Bierut.

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(I would credit the painter/designer if I knew who it was)

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Linking Ethos

Two days ago, I was approached – via e-mail – by a salesman with a very specific task…

His job was to scour the net for certain combinations of keywords on personal websites and blogs. If he found the right combination – as he did on my blog – he would offer the owner of the site $0-$20 to hyperlink those words to his client’s website. My offer was a whopping $10 via PayPal.

“It’s straight and simple actually: you put the links inside the article, I pay you, and then we both forget about it.”

I considered the legality and ethical ramifications over that afternoon, and ultimately turned his offer down. My main reason was that I had never used his client’s service before, and so – especially because the service was directly related to my career – did not want to be seen by you, my six faithful readers, as endorsing something that I have no firsthand knowledge of.

I’ve heard of this before, and not naive to the fact that this happens each and everyday around the blogosphere. I’m sort of flattered (in a sick way) that I was even asked, but confident I made the right decision.

The lesson to be learned? Pay attention to the endorsements you see on blogs. Is the person really endorsing that company, or are they paying him for the link?

Now, if Apple had approached me, I would have linked it immediately… and probably for free.

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Oh dear God…

I found out (via CECWorship blog) that NKOTB are putting together a reunion.

Oh.. what? Right, sorry… NKOTB stands for New Kids On The Block… the late 80’s boy band from Boston that had millions of pre-teen girls in maniacal convulsions – finally understanding what their moms may have experienced with that other boy band a couple decades earlier.

I was filled with pure giddyness this morning as I approached Kate to tell her the big news… You see, when she was 12, she and her girlfriends managed to get tickets to a NKOTB concert. They were HUGE fans. Her favorite was Joey McIntyre. Well, after the concert, they convinced their driver (whichever mom was the chaperon that night) to FOLLOW THE BAND’S BUS BACK TO THEIR HOTEL. Screaming in giddy excitement the whole way, I’m sure. Well, the hotel staff wouldn’t let anyone but hotel guests enter, so the mom went in to see if she could purchase a room for the night so that the girls would be able to hang out with the other crazies at the hotel…you know, in case Joey couldn’t sleep and decided to go hang out in the hotel lounge and get to know some fans… Well, no rooms available. So, as my wife puts it, they just “took pictures in front of the tour bus and ate cold Pizza Hut pizza, and then went home.”

Well, that story has provided an endless source of entertainment to me and I enjoy teasing her now and then about it. And this morning did not disappoint… I wish I had a video camera to capture her face lighting up. It was simply joy in the purest sense. It made us both very happy for different reasons.

I showed her the new website, with teaser video, and signed her up for the e-mailing list, as any loving husband would do. It was much fun.

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The Art of the Business Card II

Akin to my previous post on good business cards, here’s a new collection that has popped up on the net. I would encourage you to give them each more than a cursory glance, as they each have a little bit of wit, sophistication and/or brilliance in their own right.


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