Archive for March 30th, 2008


March 30, 2008

Just saw Superbad, the dirtiest, filthiest, vilest, foulest, most profane movie I’ve seen in a while. Loved it! Seth Rogen is like a god to me.

Speaking of whom, if you liked Superbad and Rogen’s other raunchfests you might like this, also featuring super-hot and very funny Elizabeth Banks (apparently soon to be going all sexy librarian as Laura Bush(!)). NSFW! Oh, so very NSFW…


Metal vs Digital Fonts

March 30, 2008

I seem to be on fonts now.

I just ran across an article entitled, “Why Bembo Sucks.” Intrigued–I love Bembo, I think it’s one of the very nicest of typefaces (also, see this!)–I read it, and found that it’s really about “why digital fonts (often) suck” and “why inappropriate and poorly used fonts suck.” It’s a great article; if you’re into this sort of thing, go read it now. One of the main points is that digital fonts tend to be pale and lifeless imitations of their metal originals (many of which, including Bembo, are in turn copies of much older and quirkier typography).

This seemingly superfluous dilemma [which original point size of a metal font to digitize] can only be truly understood when the original metal typefaces are seen in print. Oh, what a joyous sight! The subtle variation of letterform, the slight impression into the paper, the vibrant warmth of a page of text. It is not only beautiful, but an absolute delight to read. The effect of these typefaces is impossible to emulate with their insipid digital ghosts. Modern printing has become so perfect, so uniform and precise that the spirit of the original is crushed. It is like spending a lifetime slurping instant coffee and never experiencing a proper espresso.

That’s a well-known problem with digital typefaces. The great Edward Tufte even went so far as to design his own digital Bembo, having found Monotype’s existing digitization unbearable (there is now what looks like a better one).

Not long ago I was struck by this when reading two books, both set in Fairfield, back-to-back. Here are two examples from books I just picked up off the pile on our coffee table:



Maybe you can’t tell from my lousy scans, but I find the older one much livelier and more interesting. The newer one also doesn’t bother with the double-f ligatures (lazybones typesetters!).

How nerdly am I for noticing this?

March 30, 2008

While typing that last post, I noticed a typographical pun(!): my old copy of the Oresteia is set in Electra. I really hope that was on purpose.

Robert Fagles, RIP

March 30, 2008

I see that Robert Fagles has died. In my admittedly limited experience, Fagles’ translations are among the best at capturing the power and raw beauty of the great Greek poets and playwrights, something which I can experience only in translation. From his Eumenides:

You younger Gods!–you have ridden down
the ancient laws, wrenched them from my grasp–
and I, robbed of my birthright, suffering, great with wrath,
I loose my poison over the soil, aieee!–
poison to match my grief comes pouring out my heart,
cursing the land to burn it sterile and now
rising up from its roots a cancer blasting leaf and child,
now for Justice, Justice!–cross the face of the earth
the bloody tide comes hurling, all mankind destroyed.
…Moaning, only moaning? What will I do?
The mockery of it, Oh unbearable,
mortified by Athens,
we the daughters of Night,
our power stripped, cast down.