Friday, February 29, 2008

Incredibly Detailed, Useful (and free) Dingbat Fonts

You know how when you're designing the perfect office document, the one you want to illustrate beautifully, except every piece of clip art you come upon looks cartoony and amateurish? Or maybe you want to make your own t-shirt for your kick-ball team, fantasy football club, bachelorette party or whatever and you couldn't find any of those elusive silhouettes that make such projects possible. You don't need to get Photoshop, you need better dingbats!

Bitbox's "Dingbat Roundup" sets you free at last. From little bunnies to mujeres of all shapes and sizes, from skulls to maps of Florida, these dingbats are really detailed, useful and (best of all) free.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Leave It On Your License Plates

I know everyone has probably noticed that the U.S. Government's strangle hold on my right to an uncensored internet extends to every URL with the word "blog" in it and has therefore drastically effected my ability to post on a daily basis. I promise to figure out every way possible to post more often. Starting with this laugh out loud column from Marc Fisher, "Mint to D.C.: Leave It On Your License Plates".

It details the lightening fast response of the U.S. Mint to the District of Columbia's coin design submission that included the slogan "Taxation without Representation". You can read excerpts of the actual response in the column, (However, one poster succinctly described the official response as "Get bent."). Make sure you don't end your reading at the words of Mr. Fisher. The real gems of this column lie in the comments at the end. From submission ideas that the coin should portray "the Redskins emblem & the words 'Dallas Sucks'" or depict "...a car with several parking tickets and a boot on it. Something that captures that DC "je ne sais quoi". To one eloquent poster (can you hear my sarcasm?) who decried:

So I suppose the "no taxation without representation" folks also support allowing children who pay sales tax (or even just teenagers who pay income tax) to vote? (Or alternately exempting everyone under the age of
18 from all taxes?)

I guess even intelligent adults in the greater metropolitan area equate the tax paying residents of the District Columbia with children, and therefore have every right to be treated as such. Nice.

Nothing gets a poster back in the game like a good civil rights issue.
Go forth and conquer.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Name Game

As a writer (and especially a fantasy writer) I find the business of naming things to be of singular importance and that knack and believability of names in word culture can make or break not only a character setting but a marketing campaign. In the fourth grade, I often "doodled" by making up culture, mythologies, and languages for the stories in my head. It was no Tolkien feat, being as I was nine, I just fooled around with letters until I thought they sounded masculine, or feminine, like war or like food. I even made a list of letters that I thought should only be used to describe, say metal things, and other should only be used for female farm animals. During one sunlit, boring afternoon I realized something that I would be taught in a college linguistics class twelve years later. Sounds have no intrinsic meaning. Right then, I decided to write down how I felt about every letter of the alphabet with the intent that such knowledge would make naming characters and made up places that much easier. Who knew that twenty years later big companies would be doing the same thing.

Read about drug names and big business in, "Drug Makers Make Name Games Big Business" from Forbes. This informative article talks about how "X" seems scientific and "Z" convey speed. It also describes how naming things is big, big business. It recalled an article I once read in the career section of the Washington Express about a private, professional namer with such a good reputation, she paid the bills by selling cleverly crafted words. Naming for profit is such a modern concept! I mean, talk about wordsmith, the very idea was so Stephensonian (oooo, I just made that word up) to believe that people really can make money by selling intel to the highest bidder.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Thrifty Threads

I don't know if it's my adoration of steam punk or a love of the environment but toss last year's scrap lace onto this year's tweed discards and I'll toss it into my shopping bag. You can't deny that deconstructed and reconstructed threads are a hot, hot trend. Sustainable, fashionable, and often home grown, they may survive to be the hallmark of our age the way pencil skirts recall the 40's, a mod shift signals the 70's, and wedges brings the 70's back to life.

It used to be that I scoured the internet to find independent designers and seamstresses who were hawking their reconstructed duds online. But this article from USA Today which ran in last Tuesday's Washington Express about Thrifty Threads, proves you don't have to. Check out the article to see how big names like American Apparel and Rag & Bone are making moves to locally grown organic fibers and carbon free processes. The hot, new bolts of fabric for next year's fashion shows just may be thrift's store cast-offs.

Monday, February 11, 2008

11 Don’t Tell the Wife Secrets, All Men Keep

We all have them. Our dirty little secrets. However, it was Bono in "the Fly" who suggested, "A secret is something you tell another person." I always imagined secrets were rather like doves, soft and fuzzy while you hold them, but made to be released beautifully for dramatic effect. Were there people in the world who keep their fuzzy, little doves close to their chests forever?

The answer is, yes. And one of those people is most likely your spouse. Now, I'm not advocating that there is anything wrong with a secret kept here and there. Nor that the other way (secrets kept all the time) does anyone any good. But I can acknowledge that some people like to drive on the highway of life with their windows down. Some people like tinted windows. Some like to ride with the top down. And some (not naming any names, but her initials are CB) like to ride with their head out the window, sitting on the door, driving with their toes.

The toe drivers sometimes have trouble understanding the tinted window crew, which is why, "11 Don’t Tell the Wife Secrets, All Men Keep," is a little funny, a little reassuring and a little refreshing. Perhaps, reading this cute article about hidden truths (which I think happens to be accurate for both sides of the marital divide) will help us compulse a little less over every little secret our significant other keeps.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Welcome to America...Your Under Arrest

Sometimes I suffer from, what I call, the "Attack of the Embarrassing Moments". You know what I mean. Everyone has had an Attack of the Embarrassing Moments. Its when some minor image or smell brings you back to the day you marched right instead of left during the half time show at Homecoming in marching band in High School and now every memory of every horrifically embarrassing moment of your life comes to attack you at the same time. Now, your palms are sweating over your palpitating heart and your pretty sure the other rider on the bus to work can smell your panic.

Well, similar to the "Attack of the Embarrassing Moments", is the "Attack of the Insignificant Injustices", which, while not as prevalent, is just as ridiculously palpable. The overwhelming emotion derived from this attack is generally anger instead of self-disgust. My friend Jessica once described this attack to me and she finished with "So I was stabbing the mirror with my finger and pretending I was talking to her, and I got all worked up for a fight and there was no fight."

When recovering from these attacks, I generally try to think of how they are common to other people. Ands some people have it quite worse than me. Enter the subject of today's post "Welcome to America...Your Under Arrest: Tales of a Pakistani immigrant dealing with racial profiling, the Patriot Act and the INS as he tries to make a life in New York City". After reading this, sometimes sad, sometimes shocking and many times humorous post will leave everyone thinking that the Insignificant Injustices are universal to everyone and being able to laugh at them help them to lower their ugly heads.