the candler blog

Warner Bros. Logo Design Evolution

Design, Link, Movies

Christian Annyas on the Warner Bros. logo:

I couldn’t find a good overview with all logos gathered in one place, so I started to collect them myself, in 2009. Now, five years later, I think I have enough to paint a picture of Warner Bros logo design evolution.

Comprehensive and gorgeous. I feel like I should have known (or even surmised, honestly) that Saul Bass designed the 1972-1984 logo (#10).

Set aside some time and mouse over the over 200 logos Annyas collected.

(via Coudal.)

Alec Baldwin on (Leaving) Public Life

Journalism, Link, Media

Alec Baldwin in New York Magazine:

I used to engage with the media knowing that some of it would be adversarial, but now it’s superfluous at best and toxic at its worst. If MSNBC went off the air tomorrow, what difference would it make? If the Huffington Post went out of business tomorrow, what difference would it make?

I agree with much of his piece but Baldwin’s disdain may be misdirected. The question isn’t what if MSNBC or the Huffington Post goes dark tomorrow, it’s what if Facebook does. What if Twitter disappears? Which is to suggest that the problem isn’t the media, it’s us. Baldwin intimates as much later in the piece:

The heart, the arteries of the country are now clogged with hate. The fuel of American political life is hatred.

And still later, on living in New York City since 1979:

To be a New Yorker meant you gave everybody five feet. You gave everybody their privacy. I recall how, in a big city, many people had to play out private moments in public: a woman sobbing at a pay phone (remember pay phones?), someone studying their paperwork, undisturbed, at the Oyster Bar, before catching the train. We allowed people privacy, we left them alone. And now we don’t leave each other alone. Now we live in a digital arena, like some Roman Colosseum, with our thumbs up or thumbs down.

And:

There was a time the entire world didn’t have a camera in their pocket—the first thing that cell phones did was to kill the autograph business. Nobody cares about your autograph. There are cameras everywhere, and there are media outlets for them to “file their story.” They take your picture in line for coffee. They’re trying to get a picture of your baby. Everyone’s got a camera. When they’re done, they tweet it. It’s … unnatural.

Yeah, I know, boo hoo for the famous the person, but I think he’s on to something that requires at least a little introspection on our part. How do we separate the person from the celebrity? How do we tell the difference between the gossip and the news?

Anyway, Baldwin closes with the worst thing a person can say about New York:

Everything I hated about L.A. I’m beginning to crave. L.A. is a place where you live behind a gate, you get in a car, your interaction with the public is minimal. I used to hate that. But New York has changed. Manhattan is like Beverly Hills.

Oof.

Why I Write

Writing

I write a lot.

I write a lot of chats, texts, emails, tweets and the like. Now, you might say that that’s not writing. You might say that one needs a document or a blank page, that one must have a goal in mind to call it writing. That’s incorrect though. Writing is writing. One needn’t be a lecturer to speak nor an Olympian to swim. Communicating by the word is writing; so be it.1

I also write articles here on the candler blog and, sometimes, elsewhere. Everything I publish starts with an idea. Before I start writing a complete piece I can usually (usually) see where I would like it to end. Often I’ll even come up with a headline before I get started. There is a clear structure to these sorts of writings. As such I have generally approached them in as efficient a manner as possible, sort of like following a recipe.

The bulk of my writing, today, doesn’t appear on the web. Much of it isn’t even digital. Given how many little hacks and workflows I’ve tried out (and apps I’ve accrued) over the years, you’d think I’d have mastered digital writing by now. But I haven’t. And sometimes looking at a screen makes me not want to write. It’s not just about distractions, it’s about the form of digital text itself that sometimes holds me back.2 So for now I write by hand. Daily. Constantly.

How I write is another story. Why I write is my focus today.

I write to slow down my thought process. In my mind I tend to jump ahead while thinking through a new idea.

Say I have an idea for a new website. While I’m considering the site’s function (the idea) I’ll also think of names for it. Are there decent domains available? What would the logo look like? Typeface? Can I build it with Octopress or should I go back to Wordpress? Oh the domain is taken. Nevermind.

The idea gets lost while I fumble three steps ahead. If I write through the idea, though, I can slow down each of those steps and think through each part more thoroughly. Writing, then, helps me think.

The other reason I write is to remember. I don’t mean to recall an event while reading it; I mean I write to create the memory, to fortify it.

Last weekend I went through old notebooks. Some of the events I wrote about in them have stood out vividly for me over the years. I think they are strong memories not because I read about them again but because I wrote about them at all. Writing made them a memory.

I write so that I may remember. Publishing is a bonus.

  1. I will add, though, that this is usually wasted writing. I often “talk” ideas out of myself in this manner.

  2. For example, a new document is always blank whereas I have to pass recent writings to get to a new page in a notebook. This is subtle but significant and worth exploring in another piece.

An Actor Prepares (for Primetime)

Last night it was announced that Greta Gerwig will star in and produce (and potentially write) a pilot spinoff of How I Met Your Mother, titled, predictably, How I Met Your Dad. Reaction was swift: many of her fans are none too pleased. That’s idiotic.

A friend once referred to Gerwig as “a national treasure,” and I don’t disagree. She has that intangible, unlearnable spark that makes a great actor. To watch her perform is a treat. It is strange, then, that the opportunity to see her perform week in and week out would elicit jeers.

I think there are two issues at work here. The first is the idea that Gerwig is “selling out” by doing a sitcom. The second is a broader topic for another day: the weird relationship cinephiles have with television. For now I can speak on the first.

Despite her remarkable talent, Greta Gerwig has spent much of the last decade in relative obscurity. Yes, she has worked with A-list talent and now has a Golden Globe nomination to her name for Frances Ha, one of my favorite films of 2013. Yet only two of her films, Arthur and No Strings Attached,1 have opened wide in the US. Her starring vehicles are popular among the indie film set, but if I were to, say, ask my mother if she knows who Greta Gerwig is, not only would she not know but she probably wouldn’t even be able to back into who she is if I named five of her films. It’s a shame that Gerwig isn’t more popular than she is, which is why it’s welcome news that she is making the jump to network television. I should also note that this is all still pie-in-the-sky talk; Gerwig is making a pilot that may not get picked up (though I’ll bet it does). How much more popular could a sitcom make Gerwig? Let’s look at some numbers.

How I Met Your Mother is now in its ninth season and an unmitigated hit. No one can say what the future holds for the spinoff, so take this with a grain of salt. Just last week How I Met Your Mother pulled in an estimated 9.26 million viewers. Frances Ha, by contrast, made just over $4 million at the box office on 233 screens. Since the National Association of Theater Owners estimates the average ticket price for 2013 was $8.13 we can ham-fistedly arrive at a number of people who saw the film during its theatrical run: 500,594.2

That number says nothing of film festival audiences, DVD sales and rentals, digital downloads and streaming plays, all of which are not easily calculated. However, I still think it’s fair to say that in 17 weeks Frances Ha reached 5% of the audience How I Met Your Mother reached last Monday. In fact, I’d wager that 9 million people still haven’t seen Frances Ha.

My point is simply this: Gerwig is going where the audience is. That’s not selling out. That’s entertainment.

  1. Neither of which, I feel compelled to share, I have seen.

  2. This is actually a generous calculation. Since the film’s release was so limited, the locales in which it played likely have an even higher average ticket price between them.

Weekend Read

Apps, Fountain, Link, Screenwriting, Technology

John August and the team at Quote-Unquote apps have done it again. Weekend Read reformats screenplays and other text files to fit comfortably on an iPhone screen. PDFs, Fountain, Markdown, Final Draft. Dark mode, four fonts and text resizing. And a brilliant file browser to boot. (Oh and character highlighting because why stop there?)

Free for iPhone. $9.99 In-App Purchase to unlock unlimited library storage. Go get it.

Against the Rage Machine

Link, Politics, Technology

The editors of n+1:

Right and left, tech corporations beg you to say your piece for the sake of content-generation, free publicity, hype, and ad sales. America’s speech is so free, it pays—just not you. Even when we don’t opine, just clicking around, we’re like cilia on the tracheal lining of some gross beast, and our small work of enthusiasm, liking or passing along or reiterating or linking, is like the wriggle of a hair, pushing the story down the throat of the culture, filling its lungs so that it may breathe. We can accept this. We are a hair.

And later:

The point is that there are microworlds of controversy everywhere—as regionally specific and pervasive as gossip, but bizarrely impersonal—and they torment everyone, and we’re all unhappy, drinking too much iced coffee, hating the haters, meta-hating.

Speaking of meta-hating:

And around we go.

David Cronenberg on Kafka’s The Metamorphosis

Books, Link, Movies

From David Cronenberg’s introduction to Susan Bernofsky’s translation of Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, republished at The Paris Review:

When The Fly was released in 1986, there was much conjecture that the disease that Brundle had brought on himself was a metaphor for AIDS. Certainly I understood this—AIDS was on everybody’s mind as the vast scope of the disease was gradually being revealed. But for me, Brundle’s disease was more fundamental: in an artificially accelerated manner, he was aging. He was a consciousness that was aware that it was a body that was mortal, and with acute awareness and humor participated in that inevitable transformation that all of us face, if only we live long enough.

“I want the power to create what is in my mind. That’s my dream.”

Interview, Link, Movies, Music

Steve McQueen interviews Kanye West for INTERVIEW Magazine and the result is just delightful. In response to how he makes beauty:

I just close my eyes and act like I’m a 3-year-old. [laughs] I try to get as close to a childlike level as possible because we were all artists back then. So you just close your eyes and think back to when you were as young as you can remember and had the least barriers to your creativity.

On influence:

Well, influence isn’t my definition of success—it’s a by-product of my creativity. I just want to create more. I would be fine with making less money. I actually spend the majority of my money attempting to create more things. Not buying things or solidifying myself or trying to make my house bigger, or trying to show people how many Louis Vuitton bags I can get, or buying my way to a good seat at the table. My definition of success, again, is getting my ideas out there.

And then there’s this side-project:

I also shot a film in “surround vision,” where I had seven screens—three in front of the audience, one above, one below, one to the left, one to the right. This is after designing Watch the Throne—and I was putting my money towards it. I put the amount of free income that I could put into it, which went into the millions. I went around and showed people what I’d done and said, “Hey, I made Watch the Throne, I made this amount of music for the past 10 years, I have this level of visuals, this level of communication, I can sell this many albums, and I also have these new inventions. Will anybody help me out?” I met with 30 billionaires, 30 companies, and basically everyone said, “Fuck you.”

As Glenn Kenny aptly put it on Twitter, “Clearly the problem with most Kanye West interviews up until now has been the interviewer.” Case in point: Jimmy Kimmel.

The Truths Behind ‘Dr. Strangelove’

History, Link, Movies

Eric Schlosser for The New Yorker:

Half a century after Kubrick’s mad general, Jack D. Ripper, launched a nuclear strike on the Soviets to defend the purity of “our precious bodily fluids” from Communist subversion, we now know that American officers did indeed have the ability to start a Third World War on their own. And despite the introduction of rigorous safeguards in the years since then, the risk of an accidental or unauthorized nuclear detonation hasn’t been completely eliminated.

Chilling. If you think Dr. Strangelove is a farce just read Schlosser’s piece. Here’s another bit:

Although the Air Force now denies this claim, according to more than one source I contacted, the code necessary to launch a missile was set to be the same at every Minuteman site: 00000000.

Oh and just wait until the part on who’s in charge of the US’s nuclear arsenal today.

(h/t Eli Valley.)