Thursday, September 25, 2008

Designing the stop sign

Since this blog is nominally about design... here's what would happen if the stop sign was designed today. BRILLIANT.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Who am I?

Some results of random introspection I've had going on lately:

I'm a former cheerleader who can name all the major characters in both Star Trek and Star Wars, as well as a good portion of the starting lineup of the Green Bay Packers. I'm a nerd who collects as much information on every useless topic she can and uses MAC and Yves Saint Laurent cosmetics. I watch Doctor Who, I Claudius, NOVA and NATURE and have made it exactly five minutes thru an episode of Sex and the City before turning it off. I will bend myself in a pretzel to stay in any relationship or friendship, and I chastise my friends for not caring enough about themselves. I own two Kate Spade bags I purchased at goodwill. I am passionate about the environment and the right to bear arms and bare arms, though I am unsure about arming bears. I think Orlando Bloom, Sean Connery, Harrison Ford, and Mark Walhberg are all amazingly attractive. I want my cell phone to withstand a 50 foot drop off of rocks into a lake and be able to look up where a nice restaurant is on it afterwards. I love cats and dogs and guinea pigs and steaks and pork chops. I tell white lies and am honest about saying I do. I love clothes and hate labels. I love taking fast car rides on windy roads and get motion sick in movie theaters. I wish everyone cared enough about politics to investigate what politicians actually do and not just what their soundbites say. I have written fanfic and disparaged furries. I've been a fan of ninja turtles and professional wrestling. I wear high heels all the time to the point of having high heel converse and I love going backpacking solo in the dusty california backcountry. I read Shakespeare, Marx, Nietzsche, Tzu, Orwell, Huxley, Bradbury, Simmons, Niven, Tan, King, and Rowling. I think that subtexts should be analyzed but sometimes a bat signal is just a bat signal. I love wine and beer and good liquor and have drank a king cobra outside a bowling alley. Many women scare me. I play D&D, Mega Man, and the worst game of volleyball ever seen. I enjoy dining at Michelin star restaurants and back home with my parents. There are certain words I rarely spell correctly, like "definitely". I love you all very, very much, even tho you drive me totally insane.

So who am I?

I dunno. Who do you think I am?

Friday, September 19, 2008

Burn After Reading, best since Lebowski

Went to see the new Coen bros. film Burn After Reading this week. Now, the Coen bros and I have a storied history. Some of their films I love (The Big Lebowski, O Brother Where Art Tho, Fargo, The Hudsucker Proxy) while others I don't enjoy so much (Blood Simple, Barton Fink, Intolerable Cruelty.) Not that most of those are exactly BAD movies, I just don't enjoy them. Quirk of my personality.

Burn After Reading is in the first category. Its dark, yes. But its the funniest take on spy culture ever. Instead of being about an uber-spy that seems to be able to find everything out and is ultra-competent, it is instead about a group of rambling idiots that couldn't find their grocery list if it was stapled to their forehead. Most of the group (with notable exceptions) are likeable bumbling idiots tho, so that's ok.

Clooney gives his usual great performance, complete with an odd obsession with wood flooring. Pitt is the best I've seen him since Fight Club (or maybe 12 Monkeys). His character is spot on and cracked me up more than any other - and I'm not usually a Brad Pitt fan. Francis McDormand shows once again her amazing acting chops and reminds me that not all actresses are amazingly beautiful and under 30. Malkovitch is a total and complete jerk, and Tilda Swinton is the best (or worst) English upper-middleclass stereotype I've seen.

The "supporting" cast deserves a mention here to, as they have to deal with all these loonies. Especially happy for me to see was David Rasche (best known to me as Sledge Hammer, a great mostly forgotten 80's comedy cop show) and J.K. Simmons (best known to everyone as J. Jonah Jameson, aka Spiderman's boss). Simmons is basically doing Jameson over again, but he's so entertaining at it that it makes it all worthwhile.

The writing and directing are, not surprise, superb. I don't even have anything to add.

Despite darkness (and it is dark) this is the funniest Coen film since Lebowski. I'm going to see this one in the theater again. One note: more than any of their comedies, if you're easily offended and/or shocked, don't see this. It is offensive and shocking. And hilarious.

I always find it much harder to review films I really liked than I really hated. The most I can say is that the thing that Clooney is building in the basement is ... pretty shocking.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Pro-Obama D&D D20 Dice T-shirt

"It may be typical of the pro-Obama Dungeons & Dragons crowd to disparage a fellow countryman's memory of war from the comfort of mom's basement..." -McCain aide Michael Goldfarb

When I read that, I was all, "Uh-uh." So... I designed a pro-Obama D&D Dice t-shirt. Unfortunately, because of the logo use rules on the Obama logo, I can't offer it for sale (even at no profit). So... click on the image and download it, then go to http://www.zjavascript:void(0) and create your own. May I suggest some text?

"Critical Vote"

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

When did it become ok to treat voters like this?

Seriously? Right now I'm so angry I'm almost crying. WHEN did most of the media stop doing their jobs and not call and outright LIE what it was? Is there any responsibility left anywhere for telling voters the truth, no matter how ugly?

Oh yeah, there is. McCain referenced it in a commercial. And it made them angry.

Both sides in the presidential contest have told whoppers... but one side has definetly told bigger ones. Hint: rhymes with "McPain" (or McVain, McStain, McPlain, McLame, McTame... ) - know the TRUTH.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Salvador Dali, surrealist color master

Returning to my influences (which I haven't blogged on in a while!) Salvador Dali is one of the first artists I can remember really loving. I think I was about five or six when I saw "Persistence of Memory" - the melting clocks - and remember falling instantly in love. I have so many pencil-on-notebook paper drawings of things melting over the backs of chairs and table and whatever from grade school that I could probably make a nice softcover out of them. Back then I didn't really understand many of his subtexts - I just loved how the stuff he painted looked and the "weirdness" of it all.

Even today I'm entranced by his soft, smooth shapes and lines, and brilliant colors. And more than a little in love with the surrealist vision where nothing is as it seems and everything has a subtext - even if the subtexts get a little too Freudian. There are so many lessons in Dali paintings for the graphic designer... composition, movement, shape, line, color, and the element of making something more than its face value.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Any Given Sunday, jersey design, and the XFL factor

I watched "Any Given Sunday" the other day. Now, unlike a lot of people, I LOVE that movie - its my favorite Oliver Stone by a long shot. It gives just the right amount of history, brutality, showmanship, modernity, drama, and humor that make it the perfect (for me anyway) football film. Unlike baseball, which I love to watch glorified, stylized, and mythologized (favorite baseball movie: The Natural), football to me is much more visceral. I don't want my football heroes perfect. And I want there to to be some acknowledgement that there is a defense as well as an offense (and maybe even special teams...)

There's just one thing about the movie that has bothered me since the first time I saw it (ok, two things, but we'll pretend the "eye-popping" didn't happen, ok?) The uniforms for the Dallas Knights looked like they had been designed by... a costume designer. They were seriously, unbelievably, totally, completly, god-awful. I STILL can't see the movie without cringing every single time I see the giant ankh on the front and the "eye of providence" on the helmet. I know that Oliver Stone is in love with the Illumaniti, but crap, thats got NOTHING to do with football!

Well... wait a year... and apparently Vince McMahon's costume designers thought that the uniforms in Any Given Sunday were great, and although none sunk quite to the level of the Dallas Knights, they were still a step in the "Poochie" direction ("We at the network want a dog with attitude. He's edgy, he's "in your face." You've heard the expression "let's get busy"? Well, this is a dog who gets "biz-zay!" Consistently and thoroughly.") Crazy fonts, big blocks of contrasting color, and above all, edginess. A couple of my least favorite and apparently the ones some teams in the NFL liked the most: NY/NJ Hitmen, Memphis Maniax, Orlando Rage (SHUDDER), and San Francisco Demons.

When XFL folded after one year, the NFL took some of its innovations to heart. The Skycam was a good one. XFL uniform design... not so much. But today many teams have done the XFL one better and we have such designs as the Chargers, Vikings, Falcons, Broncos (the Orange Crush needs to return - I may hate them as a team but I respected those uniforms), Cardinals, Ravens (actually, these would be ok without that font)... and then the real offenders like the Titans with their hideously ugly san-serif font and hockey jersey look, and the Bengals who have the absolute worst uniform in football. Its hard to know where to start.. with the ridiculous tiger-striped sleves and contrasting side color to the tiger striped pants. AGGGG. Sorry Bengals fans, but them things are UGLY.

Maybe I'm just old-fashioned and I want to see football players in uniforms that look like they're going to be playing football and not modeling for a Nike ad... or dressing in something a costume designer could have put together.

Thursday, September 04, 2008 launches too!

Oh yeah, and today we launched (say THAT 5 times fast!) This is a place where women who have advanced / metastatic breast cancer can go and find information - lots and lots and lots of information. Basically the site works as a "portal" to metastatic information on most of the major sites about cancer and breast cancer. You can see all the partners that contributed to it on the site.

I did the site design, but the logo and pink/blue color scheme were decided by others. I did colorize the picture on the front page tho.

Inspire's new homepage

I've meant to blog about this for a few days, but Inspire has a new homepage. Designed by yours truly! Wooo!

In case you don't know, Inspire is my employer. We make online support groups for health and wellness... the thing that makes Inspire special is that we team with known and trusted partners (mostly non-profits) to create the groups.

Have I mentioned I love my job? I friggin love my job.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Singin' the praises of tulle

Design isn't just about visuals; its also about learning it see things differently - not just accept their intended use. Take today's example: tulle. Ah tulle, is there nothing you can't do? Fluffy, frothy accompaniment to weddings and proms galore, this is one of my favorite pieces of outdoor gear.

Confused yet? After my wedding I had several yards of the stuff leftover. What to do with it? At the same time, I was thinking about backpacking and the need to strain noodles on the trail. Hmmm... AHHHH. Tulle! Nylon netting that melts well above the boiling point of water, and weighs as close to nothing as can be imagined. So I grabbed some leftover, washed the starch out of it, and tried it out. The method that works best, as it turns out, is to have enough tulle so that you can wrap it entirely around the pot (take it off the burner first and let it cool a tad) and grab it on the other side, then just turn the pot over over a cat hole you've dug a good distance from water.

Because the ultra-light hikers mantra is that everything must serve more than one use, here are some other things I've come up with:
  • Tea strainer. Nothing lighter or easier to clean up if you use loose leaf tea (I'm a total tea snob) like me.
  • Pot cleaner. Scrubbies can get germy FAST... but if you use just a little scrap of tulle you can dispose of it after use. OR, clean it with some soap (if you use soap on the trail) and use it again; it should keep much less germy than a sponge or scrubby.
  • Bandage wrapping. Don't laugh - it works really well in long thinnish strips to hold gauze pads on, and its still crazy light
  • Mosquito netting. I haven't had to try this one to keep mosquitoes out, but I have made a great light-weight bug catching net out of it.
That's right: tulle. Now more GI Joe than Barbie.