May 03, 2003

More on Haag-Drugulin

werkstätten und museum für druckkunst leipzig, Workshops and Museum for the Arts of Printing Leipzig has an elegant website with English and German versions. The Museum and the type foundry seem to be the labor of love of Eckehart SchumacherGebler, described on the site as "Master compositor and printer and a real hunter-gatherer."

There are some gems in their collection.

Among the oldest is a font of matrices by the famous punch cutter Jakob Sabon of 1572, as well as an original cutting of an Old Schwabacher from the well-known type foundry of Johann Christoph Zanker in Nuremberg, Frankonia, which likewise stems from the middle of the 16th century.

Anyone want to fund a type excursion? We could take in the bauhaus in Dessau at the same time.

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Haag-Drugulin 1932 Type Sample Book

One of my favorite possessions is the 1932 "Anwendungsproben der schönsten Drugulin Schriften erstes heft" published by Offiziin Haag-Drugulin in Leipzig.

Apparently, the type house is still operating although it had passed into state hands (East Germany) after the war. It has been preserved as part of a Printing History Museum. In September 2000, the Association Typographique Internationale conference was hosted at the Museum. There's an interesting history of the firm at the conference site.

The Offizin Haag-Drugulin has played a significant role in publishing, printing and literary history. Its origins can be traced back to the 18th Century. 1829, when Friedrich Nies from Offenbach acquired the printing workshop, is regarded as the year of its foundation. As early as 1831, Nies had attached a type foundry to the business, which he equipped with typefaces for setting Oriental languages. Since then, the printing workshop has always been a synonym for typographic diversity and quality. At the end of the 19th Century, it was even trying to take the place of the lavishly equipped state printing works in Vienna and Paris in the field of Oriental languages.
[...]
In spite of these conditions, business did not always develop smoothly. After the First World War the interest for Oriental books waned. And people no longer had any money for lavishly designed books, once a speciality of the company. In 1928 the company merged with the Haag printing house, which had moved into the area, and it has traded as Offizin Haag-Drugulin since that time.

Each page is a magnificent example of letterpress setting. Samples of Hebrew, Arabic, and other languages as well as a range of styles and fonts from classical Fraktur to the "à la mode" Bauhaus style.

I'm scanning the book now (of course, I'm starting with my favorite pages). Anyone interested in the finished product, or even the progress, should get in touch at haag @ clicknation.com.

The large version of the cover is in the extended entry.

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More on Canada and Weapons of Intense Bureaucracy

Now US Ambassador to Canada Paul Cellucci has weighed in with more warnings on marijuana legalization.

"If the perception is it might be more easy to get marijuana here, then that could lead to some pressure on the border because U.S. Customs immigration officers . . . would have their antennae up."

May I make some suggestions?

1) US Customs should open special express lanes for marijuana smokers. That would allow the rest of us to get down to the business of answering the dumb questions about "visiting a farm" or "shaking hands with anyone in Toronto."
2) If you're holding when you get to the border, ask the Customs Official to hold your stash until you leave the country. They are usually more than willing to oblige for our Canadian friends.

While he understands the concerns of the American administration, Mr. [Justice Minister Martin "the Pothead"] Cauchon said Canada is a sovereign country that enacts its own laws.

Why do US officials constantly need to be told this? Do you think their pot-smoking has affected their memory?

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May 02, 2003

Blair: Bush "Highly Intelligent"

I'm no fan of George W. Bush on most things, although I think he did pretty well on Iraq. Apparently, so does Tony Blair, who is a fan of Bush on some things.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair, whose closeness to U.S. President George W. Bush earned him praise from Washington and derision at home, says he thinks the American leader's lightweight image is "complete bull."
[...]
"I was about to say, 'He's not someone who will philosophize,' but actually that's not true, because he does. But 'directness' is the best way I can describe it. He has a very, very direct way of stating exactly what he feels about a situation."

Blair added about Bush, "He is highly intelligent, and it's not clotted by so many nuances that the meaning is obscured. The good thing about (Bush) is that once he does really think that an issue has to be tackled he has big reserves of courage for doing it, and he won't really be diverted."

That is sometimes known as integrity (strange in a politician).

I never understood this idée fixe that some on the left have that Bush is some kind of "moron" or "idiot". He may be a good old boy, and his impromptu articulation is weak, but "misunderestimating" him is a sure way to get 4 more years (and further "misunderestimating" then gets you Jeb for 4).

But, hey, the Democrats have a death wish. Forward into the breach.

As an added bonus, the article refers to Scottish Labour MP Tam Dalyell, Saddam-appeaser, distant relative of Harry Truman and general-purpose antiwar loony. It's good he's keeping up the antiwar side. To spare you suspense, it's the Jews' fault (surprise!).

The author then quoted Labour Member of Parliament Tam Dalyell, the longest serving member of the House of Commons, as saying he thought Blair was unduly influenced by a cabal of Jewish advisors.
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Blogvert

I just received my first ... what shall I call it ... blogvert*. By way of the Great Gray Lady, an entertaining note from John Malkovich, written in blog-style, with insights and stories about his new picture:

After some time, we set up the film with an English distribution company, a singularly disreputable group of people who after paying to option the book spent several fruitful years ensuring that it would never be made into a movie."

Reaction: Works surprisingly well, at least on me! Fox's one mistake: it's not available as an actual blog, with a link so I can insert that in my weblog, e-mail it, etc.

*in homage to Max Headroom's "blipvert".

I put the entire text in the extended entry section. Worth reading:

In the winter of 1995 I was making a film in Poland. I got from somewhere a copy of an English newspaper - The Daily Telegraph - which often has articles about what various people are reading. Actually, they're less articles than little blurbs or encapsulations. "I found so and so's book blah blah blah rather stimulating" etc. Someone, I can't remember who, was reading a novel called The Dancer Upstairs by Nicholas Shakespeare and gave the briefest synopsis of the story, and if I remember correctly, commented favorably on the tone of the book. I called my crack staff in Los Angeles for them to hunt up a copy of the book and send it along to my little cabin in the forest next to the requisite icy lake. I read the book, liked it immensely and we immediately set about trying to option it in the hopes of eventually making a film of it through our company Mr. Mudd.

After some time, we set up the film with an English distribution company, a singularly disreputable group of people who after paying to option the book spent several fruitful years ensuring that it would never be made into a movie. Why would they do that? Why would they behave that way? I actually couldn't tell you, and during the two or three years I wasted with these felons I actually didn't much think about it. I've spent many years in the film industry and have on occasions dealt with other liars, some accomplished, poetic and just plain likable, others lacking imagination, creativity or inventiveness.

The film eventually fell apart five or so years ago in Spain when we were only a few weeks from the start of shooting. Every couple of days we were told that the money to make the film would be arriving in the bank on Monday morning. Sorry, Wednesday afternoon, Thursday during siesta hours, and on and on. After a few weeks and a few hundred-thousand dollars of this, I called the owner of the distribution company, made some not so veiled threats, employed the "c" word and shortly after our relationship ended. I tried to rescue the film in a government bailout sort of way, and in the movie industry the government is the studios. I sent the script to several companies in the States and most responded promptly, some (I'm thinking of a gentleman at DreamWorks) were quite fulsome in their praise of the screenplay, but were in no way interested in financing the film.

The film was cancelled; the actors and crew notified, and The Dancer Upstairs became another of the film industry's dreams deferred.

During the ensuing few years we searched high and low for film financing, had scores of meetings and heard some immensely curious and entertaining reasons for financiers' distinct lack of interest. "Who is Javier Bardem?" "It's political." "It's too political." "She's old and has a fat ass." "Who cares about terrorism?" "It's about European Mexicans." "It's not political."

Eventually I met a Spanish film producer and although our relationship was at times less than fully gratifying, he said he would make the film, and wonder of wonders, he did. The Dancer Upstairs started shooting in May of 2000. We shot in Spain, Portugal and Ecuador over a nine week period. The film cost around $4,500,000 or so. Among the nationalities represented in the cast and crew were Spanish, Portuguese, Ecuadorian, Italian, British, German, Belgian, Mexican and American.

During the shooting we lost our electrician and our first and second assistant directors due to deaths in their respective families. The production company had neglected to open a bank account in Ecuador and so we arrived there after having shot in Europe for seven weeks with no money to give the crew, so I spent my two days of final preparation for the shoot going around to cash machines in Quito. The maximum amount one could withdraw was fifteen dollars, still quite a bit of money in Ecuador. A highly trained and tenured university professor might make $40 (U.S.) per month. We had a very dedicated cast and crew and with some per diem money which I had left over from other films probably still Con Air I should hope-we were able to pay people until we eventually received our production money a few days later.

Looking back over the seven years it took us to bring the film to fruition, it seems astonishing to me that it took so long, that so few people were interested, and I must say in closing, that they were so incredibly and so pompously wrong.

JM



John Malkovich makes his directorial debut with The Dancer Upstairs - now playing in select cities.

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Canada Threatened with Weapons of Intense Bureaucracy

US threatens Canada if it legalizes marijuana:

Murray didn't spell out what the American response would be, but he invoked images of tie-ups at border crossings and intense bureaucracy.

Ooooh. Somehow I don't think the Canadians are going to be scared. Having worked for the Canadian Ministry of Transport, I can tell you that intense bureaucracy may be the one threat that Canada is equipped to deal with.

The US may finally be outgunned.

Thanks to Mad Mitch for the heads-up and some appropriately cogent advice to the US drug agency.

Mitch is probably mad because he's in Ottawa, or else he's in Ottawa because he's mad. Either works.

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Kristof Meets the Enemy He Wants Locked Up

I had to check the date on this New York Times column (registration required), it seemed like an April Fool's joke.

Nicholas Kristof advocating breaking down the door in the middle of the night, hauling off people and detaining them against their will?

One main obstacle has been shrieks of protest by civil libertarians, whom I'm usually sympathetic to — but not this time.

Well, okay, Nick. Take a deep breath.

Having just come back from Sars-lyvania (Toronto) myself, I agree with Kristof on the issue and the response. However, if we substitute the words "suspected of terrrorist intentions" for "suspected of having the disease" and "chemical weapon" for "smallpox" — we just fell through the looking glass.

Why is this suspension of civil liberties any more acceptable than the Ashcroft variations? I liked the "shrieks of protest" line, sounds like Charles Krauthammer.

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Caution Men Working

May 1, 2003, Chambers Street, New York

International Worker's Day!

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May 01, 2003

Journalism's Dream Team: Sahhaferaldo

Iraq's irrepressible information minister has been unemployed for almost a month now. But don't fear. Looks like a job is coming his way, according to this Arab News article.

DAMMAM, 30 April 2003 - The Al-Arabiya satellite channel has confirmed that it has offered employment to the former Iraqi Minister of Information Mohammed Saeed Al-Sahaf ... he could choose between presenting special programs or being a political analyst or both ... [...] In explaining the offer, the director said that Al-Sahaf had been part of the former Iraqi government and that because of that, he knew many things of interest to viewers. He also has wide knowledge and experience that could help in explaining Iraq's history and discussing the country's future. [...] Al-Sahaf is internationally known and many people, especially in the Arab world, would welcome him as a TV personality. Even President Bush admitted last week that he sometimes broke off his official meetings so that he could watch the Iraqi information minister on TV. His press conferences were eagerly awaited during the war when he was called the minister of misinformation.

Why stop there? I propose MSNBC's new dream team to replace Press and Buchanan: presenting Sahhaferaldo:

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April 30, 2003

But We Knew This All Along

"Men are more than twice as likely as women to die during thunderstorms, mainly because they do not come in from the rain, new research suggests," the National Post reports.

Mainly because we don't know enough to come in from the rain.

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April 29, 2003

MT Follies

If anyone wonders what is going on: Moveable Type seems to occasionally "lose" entries. I was able to access them live, but not in the database. Curious, but annoying. So I had to reconstruct entries. Now I have to figure out how to stop that from happening again.

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The Slo-o-o-o-w Creep of Fascism

Henry Norr, tech writer, was suspended and then fired by the San Francisco Chronicle after being arrested in an antiwar protest. Fascist suppression of dissent or innocent labor dispute? I'll let you conspiracy nuts sort that one out.

Norr himself apparently feels that the real reason was... Well, it was the usual reason. You know, the Jewish conspiracy. According to an interview on the loonatarian web site, Indymedia, Norr published an article last July that was too pro-Palestinian. Gee, 10 months before they figured out a way to get rid of him. I guess when fascism comes to America, it will creep in on little cat feet, with the slow oozing of a Canadian royal commission.

Lizard of AskMrLizard was pondering how a technology writer could get too political:

Capitalist pig William Gates today released a new version of the Windows Operating System, continuing to enrich his bloated, parasitic empire while billions starve in the street.

The new interface is workable, but fails to express the isolation and disempowerment of the oppressed office workers who will use it.

The new 'helper' characters for Word include the usual assortment of anthropomorphized animals, contributing to the humanocentric worldview which pervades decadent Western culture. Also, it didn't work with my graphics card.

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A Croissant Too Far

Boy, here's news that will have Rummy shaking in his shoes:
noted military powerhouses Belgium and Luxembourg are joining with "weasels" Germany and France to form a defense union.

If they make a war movie, let's see who'll play the military command:

Belgium: Barney Fife (Don Knotts)
Luxembourg: Mini-Me (Verne Troyer)
Germany: Colonel Klink (Werner Klemperer)
France: Inspector Clouseau (Peter Sellers)

We could call it A Croissant Too Far.

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George Figures it Out for Me

George figured out what Berger was getting at. He posted a comment which is well worth reading.

Thanks, George. (If you don't know George, you should know George).

He has given me something to think about. I honestly felt that Berger had just gone over the edge. But, yes, this makes more sense than he was able to achieve.

I see this Berger article as an attempt, so common to the semiotically-inclined (of which I am not one, I have finally figured out after some 30 years) to invest politics with a motivation that arises from someone's, dare we say it, soul or at the least psyche.

Which I guess is behind this "Bush is a moron, bush is an idiot" mantra that seems to substitute for political debate these days. That is just a simplified form of the same ascribing of metapsychology to what are pretty open political issues.

Unfortunately, I also feel that this is all springing from the same well as the romantic myth-movements of the early twentieth-century that led so disastrously to the Fascist and the Communist movements. I wish I had time to explore that terrain. It may not be a mystery that this is the time when Lord of the Rings is being released. Mind you, I love the movies, but I recognize the dark form present beneath the surface.

That romantic notion is that there is some healthy, truth-seeking, peaceful path that Europeans are following and the bad, dark forces of America are undermining.

One of the problems in the world is that those on the left cannot shake off their extreme prejudice and ideological blinders and come up with a new paradigm.

But I'm too old and dull and busy, even if I were so inclined. (And lazy, of course).

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April 28, 2003

John Berger: Not Dead Yet

It's nice to know that John Berger is not dead, just brain-dead.

It is beyond me why The Nation would waste its paper and ink on such landfill as this.

Can anyone tell me what the hell this means?

Married as they are to fear, they cannot come to terms with, or find a place for, death. Fear keeps death out, and so the dead desert them. And people deserted by the dead lose any sense of continuity. The past becomes obsolete and the future frenetic and short-term. The present is reduced to a sequence of instants, unrelated to the experience of past and future lives. Those deserted by the dead find themselves alone on the planet. Married to fear, deserted by the dead, they still wield incomparable power, both economic and military, and are terrifyingly dangerous. But, in the long run, can their power survive? Ask the dead and the not-yet-born. I doubt it.

Oh well, Ways of Seeing was a pretty good book for it's time, but Berger's kindergarten Marxism got old long before this.

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Italians require Pantone intervention

Seems that some Italians are seeing red (and green) about a subtle shift in the colors of their flag. They are accusing Silvio Berlusconi of tampering with the shades, darkening the green and red and making the white ivory.

"It's a veritable chromatic coup d'etat," said Green Party president Alfonso Pecoraro Scanio. The party is so angry it wants a national referendum to allow the public to choose the right shades.

Given that Berlusconi was a publisher in his earlier life, I would be surprised if he didn't muck with the colors, it's bred in the bone. As a designer, though, I shudder at the opening of design decisions to a committee as large as a country. Looks like an opportunity for civil war.

Meanwhile, Serbia and Montenegro (the last remaining components of the rump Yugoslavia) are at knife point over their respective flags.

Looks like the UN could do more for world peace if it parachuted elite art director troops into these countries packing some serious Pantone chips and the will to use them.

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April 27, 2003

Talk about "Heavenly Coffee"

Generally I steer clear of religion, but this item was too good to pass up: The pope has beatified the "father of cappucino."

Marco d'Aviano, a wandering preacher for the Capuchin monastic order, is credited with rallying Catholics and Protestants on the eve of the Battle of Vienna in 1683, which was crucial to halting the advance of Turkish soldiers into Europe.

He is also remembered by some as the man who, by legend, inspired the fashionable cappuccino coffee now drunk by millions across the globe.

The monk, who was born in the city of his name in northern Italy in 1631, was sent by the pope of the day to unite Christians in the face of a huge Ottoman army.

Legend has it that, following the victory, the Viennese reportedly found sacks of coffee abandoned by the enemy and, finding it too strong for their taste, diluted it with cream and honey.

The drink being of a brown colour like that of the Capuchins' robes, the Viennese named it cappuccino in honour of Marco D'Aviano's order.

The BBC also notes out that the Catholic Church once considered coffee an "infidel drink."

More big "saint" news: the pope also beatified Giacomo Alberione, who will certainly someday become the Patron Saint of Mass Media. Sorry, Marshall McLuhan.

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