After reading in the New Yorker about the great type designer Matthew Carter, and then stumbling across James Kochalka’s personal font, I decided to make a font of my own. It’s a real pain in the ass to letter comics, and I’m always wanting to make revisions after I’ve inked, so if I had my own font, I could simply make the speech bubbles and type the text in after I’ve scanned, finished the layout, etc. Supposedly, you should be able to draw your letters in a vector-based program, then copy them to a font creation program, and voila you’ve got a font. No problemo…if you’ve got the cash for the program. Right now, I’m looking around for a bootleg copy of Fontographer, the program used by the pros (list $300). In the meantime, I’m learnin’ about serifs and glyphs and all other kinds of crap about typography. Here’s a great list of links about font creation, and there’s also this cool Typography wiki at Typophile.com
by Paul Hemphill
LOVESICK BLUES is a bare-bones telling of the life of Hank Williams, written with the love of a true fan. Hemphill makes a Southern, blue-collar point to strip away anything unnecessary, (page count: 210) and that’s probably what makes the book such a compulsive read from start to finish. Wiliams used to tell his band, “keep it vanilla,” and LOVESICK BLUES reads like the best of novels: it keeps the prose lean, and the plot mean.
To hear it cold in one sitting, the drama of Williams’ life is Shakespearean. A superstar at 25, dead at 29, the great American poet of lost love grew up essentially fatherless due to his father’s stints in VA hospitals. He would seek affection from two Lady MacBeth-like women: Lilly, his overbearing mother, and Audrey, his tone-deaf stardom-seeking wife. Both would fail him to his demise. But it was only amongst the men of his life–his mentor Tee-Tot, his producer Fred Rose, and his best friend and lap steel player Don Helms–that he would find brief love and acceptance.
While LOVESICK BLUES sticks close to the tale, Hemphill also uses Williams’ life to illuminate three truths of writing:
1. Genius doesn’t come out of nowhere.
Hear the lonesome whippoorwill / He sounds too blue to fly
The midnight train is whining low / I’m so lonesome I could cry
While many wonder how a hillbilly dropout from rural Alabama penned lyrics like these, Hank’s early life roaming the woods of the South and chasing a black blues singer named Tee-Tot around town provided all the observations and inspiration he would need for his poetry. The woman troubles would come later…
2. Every good writer needs an editor.
In the producer’s seat, Nashville music publisher Fred Rose provided the arrangement know-how and polish to turn Hank’s songs into classics.
3. At the end of the day, the work is what counts.
While Hank might’ve spent most of his days drunk and rowdy, he treated the studio as a sanctuary. He poured his soul out into the microphone, so for those of us who never got to see him on the Opry stage, his true vision and lasting legacy–the 66 recorded songs he cut–are with us forever.
LOVESICK BLUES is lean, but it could be leaner. I found Hemphill’s intro and closing chapters about his truck-driving Hank-loving father to be a little sentimental. Does Hank really only belong to the truck drivers and waitresses working that lonesome highway? Doubtful. Hank belongs to all of us who are listening.
Now I’m just waiting for someone to write a novel based solely around Charles Carr: the college kid who found himself in the middle of a New Year’s Eve snowstorm with the father of country music dead in the backseat of his car. There’s a character with a story to tell.
based on a real call we got at the library
10 bands that wrote good songs that sounded good to me this year. Some with legal MP3s, some with videos.
…with two children.
Bill Callahan’s songs are the sound of home–the landscape that haunts my head. He recorded it in a new city, with his back to Chicago–and I listened to it in a new city, with my back to Chicago.
Andrew Bird – “A nervous tic motion of the head” [MP3]
Somebody should make another spaghetti western, so Andrew Bird could score it. On stage this song becomes epic–toes tapping pedals, looped violins, and that whistle. That whistle!
Feist – “Mushaboom” [ITUNES]
collect the pieces / one by one / guess that’s how / the future’s done
i got a man / to stick it out / and make a home / from a rented house
Sheer domestic bliss.
Abel, come on, give me the keys, man | I’m a perfect piece of ass
Good guitars, good singer, good songs–it ain’t brain surgery, folks. These songs follow each other on the album, so it’s best to just listen to them both.
Crooked Fingers – “Sleep All Summer” [WEBSITE]
Sunday morning, moping around the apartment. Heartache, even if you’re happy.
Decemberists – “Engine Driver” [MP3]
I am a writer / a writer of fiction / I am the heart that you call home. And I’ve written pages / upon pages / trying to rid you from my bones.
And the creative writing students swoon.
Animal Collective w/ Vashti Bunyan – “Prospect Hummer” [MP3]
No idea what they’re saying. Don’t know, don’t care. It’s the beat, and that “wha-wha-wha-wha-wha-wha-wooooooooo.”
Antony – “Hope There’s Someone” [MP3]
The good stuff is always about death, or the fear of death. Check out that ghost vocal line.
Jeremy Warmsley – “I believe in the way you move” [VIDEO]
My mind is in the gutter / but I’m looking at the sky
You get the privelege / of being with me
Sugary singer/songwriter pop with Bjork or Aphex Twin doing the instruments.
Wolf Parade – “Shine a Light / I’ll Believe In Anything” [MYSPACE]
Further proof that Springsteen is an unshakeable influence. Arcade Fire, Wolf Parade, Walkmen…all copping The Boss.
UPDATE: suggestions for making your own list
trying my best to ape Olivier Kugler
“Poseidon sat at his desk, going over the accounts.”
So here’s Kafka at his desk. At the insurance company. All he wants to do is go home and get to Work, but instead, he’s got to be at the office, doing work. The problem is: he’s competent. This was supposed to be a “temporary” sort of gig, but they’ve promoted him twice in the last six months. They’ve got him writing memos. They’ve got him writing articles. Annual Reports. Lectures. Evaluations. The work piles up. Everybody loves him. “That Kafka,” they say, “he sure can write a memo!” He’s in his twenties. It’s a respectable job. His father brags to friends. He enjoys the bread, but the work means nothing to him. He dashes off e-mails to his girlfriend: “The office is a horror!” He only wants to Work, but he must work. So he writes in secret. He writes a story about a god who can’t be a God because he’s too busy doing godly paperwork. He writes a story about a faster who’s pretty much out of a job, because nobody sits around and watches fasters anymore–they have cable and internet. He writes a story about a guy who hates work so much that he transforms himself into a giant cockroach. (Think of the sick pay!) Then one day, with the Microsoft Word cursor blinking at him, his fingers hovering over the Minimize Shortcut [WINDOWS key + M], his nerves shot from looking out over his shoulder for snoopy co-workers passing the cubicle, Kafka has a revelation. “Screw it,” he says. “I’m going to go get my MFA.”
*sketch from Kafka’s notebook
1. On memory: “What we, or at any rate what I, refer to confidently as memory–meaning a moment, a scene, a fact that has been subjected to a fixative and thereby rescued from oblivion–is really a form of storytelling that goes on continually in the mind and often changes with the telling. Too many conflicting emotional interests are involved for life ever to be wholly acceptable, and possibly it is the work of the storyteller to rearrange things so that they conform to this end. In any case, in talking about the past we lie with every breath we draw.”
2. “Nobody I know in the Middle West has ever gone out of his way to avoid ending a sentence with a preposition.”
3. “…generosity might be the greatest pleasure there is.”