Thursday, July 06, 2006

The Dark Design

I've looked at three thousand plus fonts over the past three days. And the best lettering of them all, as far as I can make out—the cleanest, the kindest, the most careful for clarity, the most stand-tall, most Aslan of them all—was cut by the Romans into their plaques and monuments around two thousand years ago. Arial is a serviceable font and Courier is like mercury, quick and silver, of course. Those Old English recut William Morris types are wonderful and intricate, and anything by William Caslon is a minor masterpiece, and I can only guess at how Mythica (according to Thomas Wharton, the "last typeface from the hand of the master Atlantean engraver whose name did not survive the inundation of that great city") could appear, since, sadly, that font is unavailable. But the greatest of them all, the beast which carries the biggest burden best, I believe, is Roman. Wonderful.

Understand, I think text-tattoos are much more pleasing than the traditional hearts-and-ribbons, the roses, the various crosses, eyes, semi-realistic portraits of the loved one, the Suicide Girls half/quarter/full-sleeve, the line-drawn stars ("Hello, Ashlee!") and phallic cherries which one spots on nearly every part of the anatomy parading up and down Whyte Avenue towards evening. And, yes, I've seen Memento. There is nothing new under the sun.

I found a concrete unicorn, by the way. Not a true unicorn—no goat's beard, lion's tail or cloven hooves. The statue was white and dull. So I painted it. And I took a picture of the painted image of the fabulous one-horned animal. That is all.

lifestyles&vistas + "Go To The Crossroads" Which is the latest song I have fallen in love with, really, and, like all good loves, I cannot tell you precisely why I love this track so much. Where I picked it up, I don't know. Let's take a wild stab and say the internet, shall we? Of course it was the net, but, I'm sorry, I cannot remember where or when I picked it up. The song is wonderful, sure, breezy and slightly menacing, like cubicle air-conditioning on a hot summer's day, and the girls on the sidewalk outside of the office are wearing polka-dotted short shorts and that evening (oh, that evening) the guys will decide to walk the darkening streets outside the well-lit patios. THAT kind of air-conditioning. THAT kind of song [sidenote: le google tells me that I got this song from Fluxblog, OF COURSE, and that this song comes from Asthmatic Kitty, and that the main singer also happens to be the wife of a member of Royal City. So. Just goes to show. Because who doesn't love the RC?].

Edgar Rice Burroughs + The Gods Of Mars Mars, in this sequel to The Princess Of Mars, has more than the red men and green men of the first book. Mars has 1) plant men, with vacuum-like mouths in their palms, and gigantic feet, and long razor-like kangaroo tails and but a single eye which grows upon a thin stalk sprouting from the middle of the forehead, 2) white men, who are bald and wear blond wigs and are fraudulent priests, and eat the red and green men who come to die in the Valley of the Gods, and 3) black men, who are arrogant, and powerful, and live in a sunken world beneath the south-pole-surface of Mars, from which they piratically fly across the Valley of the Gods and make life fairly bitter for the whites, let me tell you. Whenever Burroughs seems to feel his plot flagging, the man invents a new race to terrorize the old, and, in this book, at least, it is a good gimmick. The Galactus-sized irony which makes the white men victims of the black men in the same manner which the regular red and green men of Mars are victims of the whites is well-related, and provides the basic engine of the plot (and Philip José Farmer probably started taking notes for his Riverworld series as soon as he read this novel). John Carter finds himself, once again, on Mars, fighting beside his Best Companion Ever, the gigantic four-armed Tars Tarkas, who has taken the long pilgrimage of death up the River Iss to the Valley of the Gods. The green man should have stayed home. The Valley of the Gods is nothing but a trap to take in every man or woman who dies on Mars, and take them for everything they've got. The white apes in the valley, and the plant men, too, kill every traveler. The white men get the clothes and treasure and the occasional escapee, especially the attractive female ones. Oh, but the irony! Just as all Mars travels up the Iss, so all the white Holy Therns and their wives and daughters travel toward what they also think is paradise but is also actually a clever trap by the Black Pirates of Mars! John Carter, of course, draws a blade and cuts through all the nonsense to where his wife, the lovely Dejah Thoris, is being held captive. Will he find her? Of course he will. But can he rescue her? Only if he can defeat the dastardly politics among his own people!

This is a badly-written book. This does not matter. Also, it is VERY well told.

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