New shoes will take you somewhere you want to go. ~ Peking Noodle Co.
Something wonky is going on with the comments. It's like a direct response to my demand for more interesting spam. Anyway. I've closed all comments for the moment, mostly because I'm tired and our house is teeming with strep so I'm not enjoying the wonky the way I otherwise might.
So last night, just after I tucked Secret Lulu in bed, I went to find Mr. Poppins. He was off in a corner playing scrabble on his iPhone. No surprise there. I did not hesitate to interrupt him. Also not a surprise.
I rattled off a couple of Netflix titles by way of coaxing him away from the scrabble but, apparently, he was not impressed. Instead he asked, "How about my Helvetica movie?"
Finally someone has cause to be surprised. And it must have shown on my face because Mr. Poppins felt the need to remind me that he had mentioned this movie to me as an option over the weekend. So I say, "Oh, I remember. But I thought you were joking."
Let's rewind a little.
On Friday, Mr. Poppins came home with a movie, maybe documentary is a better description, devoted entirely to the typeface Helvetica. Now you may be familiar, through the wonder that is the Word program with this typeface. Perhaps, you refer to it as a font. If that is the case, I suggest you desist with such reference immediately. I cannot be responsible for what Mr. Poppins will think of you.
Let me explain: there is a difference between typeface and font, just as there is a difference between the alphabet and written words. A typeface is the meta-level structure of the letters. A font is that meta-level structure reduced to a particular point size and iteration, such as bold, italic, light, or some other combination. This is all very designerly and there was a time when I didn't think it really mattered but, well, I've learned not to say that out loud.
Which brings us back to Mr. Poppins coming home with a documentary based entirely on a single typeface, albeit one that revolutionized the world in much the same completely ignorable way that, say, to borrow from the movie, off-white paint made traditional white walls more easy on the eyes. How, pray tell, will the director fill up the time?
Turns out that there's a lot to say about this particular typeface: little-known history, conflict, revolution, reinvention, and ideology. Sweet Pete, there's even a woman's studies angle. Okay, maybe I made that part up, but I do distinctly remember one designer blaming the typeface for the Vietnam war. And also the current war in Iraq.
I say this for true. Although to be fair, the designer was halfway joking. At least about the war in Iraq, maybe not so much about Vietnam.
And designers are warriors. I had no idea. But they are. They are on a crusade to stamp out ugliness in the world. Or to messy it up, depending on which school of thought the particular designer subscribes. The arguments are passionate, the f-bomb was dropped. This Helvetica controversy is all far more complicated than I ever imagined, not that I ever imagined it, and--again with the surprise--surprisingly engaging.
I cannot say the same about the forced march of "The English Patient" that Mr. Poppins led me on in the early days of our relationship. Do you know that I seriously thought the title of the movie was "The English, Patient"? Emphasis on the comma to underscore how much I thought the movie was about English people being long-sufferingly patient. Although, I have learned that this, too, really is better off not being said out loud at our house.