Sunday, December 06, 2009

Welcome to Rice Park

One of a few signs taped up around Rice Park a couple weeks ago. I missed the event, but the signs were still there at midnight. The park was empty, put apparently still under copyright protection.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The problem with street signs

The problem with street signs is they are on the street. They are always getting bumped by vehicles. This sign for Lexington Parkway is a little worse for wear, but it's at least still readable.

Friday, November 13, 2009

A publisher for "Cornered!"

(Click image for a really close view.)

Big news! In December, Nodin Press of Minneapolis is going to publish my anthology of In This Corner comics. I self-published the book this summer and sent it around to a couple real publishers. And Norton Stillman at Nodin decided to go ahead with a new edition!

Having a new print run was an opportunity to critique my original design and make it better.

There are just a few tweaks inside -- I've added some new comics, an additional introduction page and a few more entries in the index. But the biggest change is the cover.

I felt that, while I liked the original design, it didn't address the origins of the comics. The comics were first published in the St. Paul Pioneer Press newspaper. On newsprint the pristine computer-drawn lines make a nice contrast with the textured paper. And and a nice contrast with the visible halftone dots. When the cover drawing is perfectly printed on glossy paper using very tiny halftone dots, the final result looks a little too perfect. So I decided to try to bring some of the newspaper roughness back.

I scanned some blank areas of the Pioneer Press -- hooray for white space! -- and used those as a basis for the front and the back covers. I took the color tint areas of the original drawing out of Illustrator and plopped them into Photoshop. I applied the Pixelate > Color halftone filter. (The document is 250 dpi and the dots are 15 pixels in diameter) I put the dots on top of the newsprint scan and set the layer to Multiply -- so the newsprint texture would soak through.

Then I brought that picture back into Illustrator to be used as the background for the black line drawings and the type.

Linda Koutsky also consulted on the design. Linda, among many other things, designs books for a living at Coffeehouse Press. She had a few suggestions. She said the book needed a subtitle. So I did one. She also said that it needed an author photo and short bio for the back of the book.

I did what she suggested and, doggone it, now it looks like a real book. (Pioneer Press co-worker Ben Garvin took the author photo.)

Look for "Cornered!" soon at your local bookstore!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I go Ross Thomas

It's election time and one of the striking lawn signs is for Pat Igo.

Igo's name makes me think of one of my favorite authors, the late Ross Thomas. One of Thomas's books, "The Seersucker Whipsaw," is about political campaigns. Specifically about an American advertising/public relations firm running a political campaign in a small African nation. The cynicism of the characters -- and of Ross Thomas -- is breathtaking. Anyway, a slogan for one of the candidates, Sunday Akomolo, is "I GO AKO." The cover of my copy of the book highlights the phrase.

Which brings me back to Pat Igo's lawn sign and Igo's Web site address: Whatever disagreements I may have with Pat Igo's positions on education, his signs and Web site address always bring a smile to my face.

Those awful, spendthrift educators!

A sign attached to the fence of a pretty nice house on Summit Avenue in St. Paul.

I don't understand the animosity toward public education. Training future adults the ins and outs of useful employment and citizenship seems to me to be a good thing. Worth paying for.

I like the drawing of the pig, though.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Teasing ad

There's a teaser ad out now for a new Android-operating-system-based-phone. The new phone is the Verizon Droid. The ad's slogan "Droid does" features a mix of upper- and lowercase letters that is difficult to parse. The lowercase "r" in particular doesn't make sense in this context. But the lowercase "r" is the star letter, so that has to stay.

So, I fixed the "d" letters. Left the "e."

But that's maybe a little too much, so I just fixed one "d" and left the rest. I think this is a huge legibility improvement. And the cute little eyes or fangs or whatever under the "r" are left intact.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Stuart M. Kaminsky

Stuart M. Kaminsky, an author I admire, died last week. Age 75.

Although I'm sad there will not be any new books by him, he wrote a heck of a lot of books. His obituaries mention "more than 70" books. And I haven't read them all yet. So I have to thank him for his astonishing productivity.

He wrote mysteries. Four different series, basically.

Toby Peters mysteries set in 1930s-40s Hollywood. The detective does work for movie stars. For a fan of old movies these are wonderful. Kaminsky was an expert on movies -- he taught university classes about film in Chicago and Miami -- and his love of movies is obvious in the Peters books.

Abe Leiberman mysteries set in Chicago. An old cop. I don't remember much about these books, but they are enjoyable.

Inspector Porfiry Rostnikov mysteries set in Russia. These are my favorites. So foreign and yet still recognizable murder mysteries. Full of insights into repression and bureaucracy.

Lew Fonesca mysteries set in Sarasota, Florida. A process-server who sleepwalks through his life. He's depressed. But it's not depressing to read because through his ability to solve problems he keeps acquiring friends.

One thing I have to mention here is how funny Kaminsky's books are. Even the ones set in depressing Russia and the ones about the old cop and the ones about the depressed guy in Florida. Funny!

For me, picking up one of Kaminsky's books is the start of a visit with cherished friends.

Thank you, Stuart M. Kaminsky.

Thursday, October 08, 2009


I was trying to come up with an insult for the new logo for the Sci-Fi Channel. Couldn't think of anything.

Then, out of the corner of my eye, I started misreading it -- as if there's a kerning error and the "r" is just too close to the "F." Here, I've "corrected" the kerning with a bad Photoshop job.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

"Bicyclists Stop On [arrow, bike] For Green"

What does this mean? I'm assuming it means "Bicyclists should stop here on red," but that's not what it says. The pictures aren't helping. Spotted at a stop light on Hewitt where it crosses Snelling.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

I think it works better at night

This guy is great

This guy -- Lunchbreath -- does the kind of stuff I try to do. But he does it really well. He posts his stuff not on a blog, not on a Web site but on That's a cool way to go. People can comment. It's low maintenance. It makes for easy browsing. Good for images, not yack. Where was I? Oh yeah, go see this guy's stuff. Thanks to the always-inspirational Daughter Number Three for the link.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Adobe Illustrator error

Not that this is necessarily an Illustrator error, but it's the kind of thing I've done plenty of times while using Illustrator and FreeHand. You grab what you think are all the pieces of something and move them. And then you realize you didn't grab all the pieces. Sometimes you don't notice until the piece is printed. That is a bad feeling.

This error -- on the side of a beverage cup -- was made in 2001, according to the copyright notice. I've been to every Fair between then and now and this is the first time I've noticed it.

Unrelated note: The Minnesota State Fair has been trying out a new logo in the last couple years. More of a retro logo. I like it.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Bar code variation

This was on a green pepper. Note the double bar code! A regular sized one and in the middle one of those digital things -- but really tiny. The sticker is a half inch tall or so (around 12mm). Kinda relates to this earlier post about data matrix codes. Click on the image for a much larger view.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Pretty picture

Got a flat tire on my bike. Took the bike home on a bus that is not my usual bus. As I was walking my bike home from the bus stop, over a bridge, I saw this scene. Ooh! Had my camera so I took the picture. Would not have been on the bridge at all if my tire hadn't flattened.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Moment of silence

Just wanted to note that it was about a week ago that a bunch of my pals and co-workers at the Pioneer Press were tossed overboard. I miss them. And I'm not as good at their jobs as they were.








My best wishes to you all. You will do great, but I'm sorry to see you go. Thanks for your years of excellent work.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Swing set

There have been some innovations in swing sets since the last time I paid attention. There's the basic strap swing. Uncomfortable, but it does adjust to any size of bottom. The baby swing looks like a diaper in shape and a bit like a used diaper in color. And finally, the bucket-seat style -- so you are able to swing in back-supporting comfort.
The baby swing comes with a handy Warning/Disclaimer for you to read to Baby -- perhaps as a lullaby.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Face a day, but, you know, daily

You want a face a day? Scott Cohen directed me to this site: Send Me Your Head. You send in a picture of yourself (via e-mail or Flicker or some such, the info is here) and maybe Karen Schmidt will paint you. And in color.

She's been doing this since January. No telling how long she'll continue.

Nice work! Go, Karen!

Monday, June 01, 2009


"What's good for General Motors is good for the country."

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Monday, May 25, 2009

Nice logos

I love the old Mysterious Press logo. It's got it all -- nice lettering, good shape, complex meaning (I mean it looks like an open book and a vintage sign hanging outside a creepy old print-shop or publishing house or book store or something). The newer Mysterious Press logo looks like, uh, the two words end in the same letter? Or maybe the point is that, uh, the letters "M" and "P" can be pushed together to share one vertical line? What the heck is it beyond an "M" and "P" pushed together? Is there something I'm missing? Ugh.

But I feel better after looking at this logo for Hard Case Crime books. Great lettering. Great symbols. Great drawings. Gun. Crown. Banner. ("Where crime is king"? Maybe.) Nice all the way around. Thank you, Hard Case.

A face

A face

Friday, May 15, 2009

Monday, May 11, 2009

Sunday, May 10, 2009

A face

A face

Ta-da! So I used a computer and traced. So?

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Friday, May 08, 2009

Sunday, May 03, 2009

A face

I'm thinking of renaming this blog, "Another Failed Attempt to Get a Likeness of Julia Roberts."

A face

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Monday, April 27, 2009

A face

Defeated by Julia Roberts.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

A face

Not close. Oh, well.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Friday, April 24, 2009

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Monday, April 20, 2009

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Makes me think of . . .

When I saw this week's New York Times Magazine cover I was struck by two things.

The first was that the drawing was made out of bodies. Credited to Moses Pendleton's Momix dance troupe it reminds me of the contortions the dance troupe Pilobus used to do. Not that interesting, in my opinion -- but I like the white space.

The second thought was I haven't seen the typeface Windsor used for a long, long time. And it, to me, really brings back the feeling of ecology urges and Earth Day. A real early 1970's feeling. Windsor -- though in upper and lower case -- was used for the cover type on the "Last Whole Earth Catalog."

So, good choice for this "Green" issue!

A face