Ooops. Forgot to upload yesterday. There's a reason I'll let on in a minute. Right now it's Thursday night, and I'm half-watching a scratchy old copy of a movie I really don't know why I have. It's called "Fired Wife." This caught my eye:



Was he? He was. He died of a heart attack when he climbed up on the roof of his restaurant, the Marquiz - he bought it with proceeds from a TV show, to provide a stable income for his family. Perhaps he was particularly worried about his son, who seemed to be interested in music and acting - fine for a hobby, George Junior, but what are the chances you'll make money at it?

Around the web, as they say: this article by local font designer Mark Simonson - I guarantee you've seen his work, especially if you've set foot in a Target in the last ten years - sums up everything that got under my skin about fonts in "The Artist." You will learn things.


Fans of the Ghost Signs site will enjoy this. The publisher sent me a copy, which was kind, and I was delighted to see it: I didn't know Frank had done a book. There's absolutely no reason he should have put me in the acknowledgments, but he did, because he's that kind of a guy. We exchanged a few emails on the subject in the early days of the web, back when my pictures consisted of 240-pixel wide videocamera frame grabs.

His are much better, to say the least. Congrats, Mr. Jump!

I found this fascinating: "Imagine for a brief moment, that world’s last five remaining communist countries decided to unite forces and hire the world’s top advertising agencies to re-brand and create a resurgence in the ideologies of Communism?" The result is here, and while it's inane and insulting to the memory of millions, A) the use of the C for a brand is reasonably clever, and B) it all gets bonus points for being hashed out in an ad agency in VIETNAMESE branch of a global company.

As for why I forgot to post: lots of novel lately. Everything's coming to a close. Next week, probably Tuesday, it'll be my favorite moment of writing a book: the big slam-bang penultimate POWER SCENE, which I usually write with headphones on, lots of raving guitar music playing. If I finish next week, I'm taking a week off - and then it's a slam-bang revision of the first novel in the series, so I can get it out by June. That's the plan.

Anyway, yesterday follows.





A damp day, very English. Or so I presume; no idea, beyond the usual cliches. Very Washington State, then. I (just has a moment where I thought “why would people live in such a perpetually gloomy climate?” then realized because they were born there, and grew up there, and it was familiar and comforting, and people would probably wonder why anyone lives here where it’s cold half the year, but some flee after high school, and look back on their stay as a form of imprisonment, and hence I wondered where my daughter would go some day - seemed an interesting thought - and then wondered if she would leave at all, and that seemed terribly sad. You have to leave. You can’t come back if you don’t leave) drove to a street I’ve not been down for months. Wanted to get a picture of this.



Also, this.

Closed, alas. For now.



Proof that if you use a simple phrase with an attractive font, concoct a public mood-pacification program to appeal to patriotism, you’ll have something that speaks to everyone. Provided you wait seventy years.

The story behind the Keep Calm and Carry On poster:



“It is hard to say exactly why such a phrase from a bygone decade should have so much appeal and resonance now . . . although perhaps it is the words on the poster that people find enchanting.”

Perhaps it is, since the only other reason would be the font or the crown. The sentiment might not make people feel warm and grown-up if it had been lifted from “1984,” though. I’d bet most people intuit somehow that it’s from WW2, something you saw when you went down to the Tube, stiff upper-lip, and all that . Brings to mind an image of civilized behavior that seems commendable and brave - getting on with your daily life in the middle of an existential threat, old stout ladies sweeping rubble after a buzzbomb took out half the block, muttering oaths at that blackguard in Berlin. A lot of people admire that sort of culture, although they would be horrified to find themselves living in it, and spent a good deal of time denigrating the things that made it possible, or gave it cohesion.


So now you find the slogan on mugs and posters in offices, where it applies to lives lived without the threat of invasion or death by bombing or gas or deportation or execution in a pit on the edge of town. Which is good! Don’t get me wrong. But people who put it up today aren’t reminding us of the spinal strength of imagined Britons under fire; it’s supposed to have modern resonance. What, then, is the thing that seeks to unnerve our calm? It’s not terrorism. If you asked a hundred people who had this poster up, I guarantee not one would say “it’s a reference to the threat posed by illiberal Islamists,” even though that’s the only possible analogue to modern times.

Has the phrase been reduced to dealing with people in the office who get on your nerves, then? Or difficult work loads? General economic uncertainty? If there’s a significant peril, isn’t “Carrying on” as usual a mistake, since unlike the appearance of German bombers, we have some mastery over our own events?

If the poster included the phrase “For God and Country,” it would either a) be adapted by less than 20% of the people who put it up in the office now, or b) it would be airbrushed from the commercial versions. Because, well, “God and country,” that’s the sort of nonsense that gets us into these scrapes, isn’t it.

As the little documentary shows, there were two others. The most famous one wasn’t widely circulated, and was held back in case of really bad news. There was another:



Imagine the looks if you hung that one in the office.









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