Archive | January, 2011


8 Jan

Andy Mangold released a daring numeral set entitled Pompadour on his website in November last year. The typeface struck me as an exciting example of creative and thoughtful design. It was well-received and has been covered in Smashing magazine, Designers go to Heaven and I Love Typography (one of my favourite blogs).

A number of people asked for a TrueType or OpenType version of this creation as Mangold only released an .eps file. Due to the wonders of the Creative Commons License, here are those versions. I have also added a full stop (period) for writing numbers with a decimal component.


Pompadour (TrueType, 7.6 KB)

Pompadour (OpenType, 12.9 KB)

Pompadour (Encapsulated PostScript, 1204.7 KB)

Creative Commons License

Full stop added to an original work by Andy Mangold. Pompadour Numeral Set by Andy Mangold is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

When you preview the font in a desktop publishing or image manipulation program that depicts typefaces with the name of each typeface set in itself, the name of Pompadour will appear to be nine dots. This is because each upper- and lower-case letter is a full stop, as not to commit the crime of including letters in a numeral set.


A Letter

8 Jan

It has been a long time indeed since I wrote a letter.

From time to time, I receive mail. Typically, it consists of bank statements, advertising, or propaganda from the Church of Scientology, who have sent me fortnightly correspondence upon attaining my address. Sometimes, if I am lucky, I receive a card.

I was fortunate enough to receive a thoughtful letter a few weeks ago. It was not composed by a computer program, nor laden with effulgent images imploring me to buy something. It was two pages long. My subsequent reply was set in 12-point Hoefler Text and the address in American Typewriter.

I stuck on a pre-Euro Dutch stamp because it was far more aesthetically appealing than the floral garbage Australia Post sells. That meant I would need to deliver it myself, but it was worth it.

The use of a seal made it all the more authentic (although I did burn the first letter with which I tried this).

A letter published in Friday’s Sydney Morning Herald: “What’s Australia Post?”

The King’s Speech

7 Jan

The King’s Speech is an engaging account of the speech impediment that King George VI suffered from and the Australian speech therapist, Lionel Logue, who successfully treated him for it. The acting is outstanding; Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush are excellent as the King and Lionel, while Helena Bonham Carter and Guy Pearce illuminate the roles of the Queen consort, Elizabeth, and Edward VIII, the predecessor to George VI.

The film opens with a speech the protagonist made in 1925 at Wembley Stadium, when he was the Duke of York. In a time when attitudes to the monarch were rather different, the crowd is clearly bothered by his awkward stammering. The conclusion of the film depicts his successful address to the Empire upon the declaration of war with Germany, for which he receives resounding applause. Lionel Logue not only treats the King’s stammer, but also becomes his first friend and it is this relationship that establishes the heart of this film.

Not once throughout the film is the protagonist the subject of propensity or respect merely by virtue of his office; for Lionel and Elizabeth, each of who make it clear that they have little regard for whatever title the King might hold, the affection they have for him is a part of their personal relationships with him. In regard to the public, whose “God save the King” placards are interpreted by the King as a reference to his better-loved predecessor, the relationship they have with the King is one of apathy until they come to appreciate the innate qualities he has as were manifest in his successful concluding speech.

As the protagonist’s ability to speak improves, his sense of alienation from his world diminishes. He remarks to Lionel that he finds it disturbing how little the average man knows of him and how little he knows of the average man, and Tom Hooper’s use of a fisheye lens contributes to this alienation the King describes. The applause scene that concludes the film is evidence enough of the end of this troubling emotion that had heretofore stricken his countenance and a relief for the audience, who have experienced his suffering throughout the film.

The King’s Speech portrays the unusual and oftentimes uncertain relationship between the King and Lionel in a masterful manner and conveys the emotions of the characters superbly. Despite the thematic and character-based triumphs, much of what can best be appreciated about this film are the details: singular lines of dialogue or the use of Gill Sans to produce a typically British appearance. What is most disappointing, perhaps, is some unfortunate set design and the fact that it is less consistent with matters of royal protocol than many other recent films. All in all, however, it is a fascinating and highly recommended film.


5 Jan

They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon,
The moon,
The moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.

l. 27-33, The Owl and the Pussycat, Edward Lear, 1871

The word runcible is remarkable for a singular reason – namely, that has no meaning whatsoever. Our friend Mr. Lear quite liked his nonsensical creation; his verse talks also of runcible cats and geese, and a dashing runcible hat. As one Guardian reader plainly put it: “Runcible objects exist no more than pobbles or feline-hiboutic matrimony.” And he is correct. Nevertheless, the word has earned itself a Wiktionary entry. Lear’s nonsense word is but a part of a fine tradition of nonsense words and wit-smitten wordplay that has coloured the English language. His contemporary, Lewis Carrol, penned a fine example of nonsense poetry with Jabberwocky, a text which lovers of language have cut their teeth on ever since.

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

l. 1-4 (and, for that matter, l. 29-32), Jabberwocky, Lewis Carrol, 1872

Wordplay is found throughout languages, cultures and time periods; Virgil and Homer used wordplay in their poetry and the complexities of Mandarin have lent that language to wordplay. As a result of the strong traditions of wordplay in English, however, the use of nonsense words is rather more common in English than in other languages. The century since has certainly not been lost to this tradition – in literature, the best example might by Joyce’s Finnegans Wake, in which language plays a pivotal role in developing the text’s esoteric subtleties.

…while kinderwardens minded their twinsbed, therenow they stood, the sycomores, all four of them, in their quartan agues, the majorchy, the minorchy, the everso and the fermentarian with their ballyhooric blowreaper, titranicht by tetranoxst, at their pussycorners, and that old time pallyollogass…

III.3, Finnegans Wake, James Joyce, 1939

A Bit of Fry & Laurie, The Two Ronnies and the work of Monty Python all provide examples of nonces, nonsense and wordplay in television; after all, whoever could forget the Cheese and Tommy-to Toastie, or Eric the half-a-bee? But now it is bed time.

A most runcible new year to you all.