Monthly Archives: July 2010

This week in Burn Down Blog

It has been a fun week at Burn Down Blog, and I’ve gotten lots of attention, which I need to survive. How much attention? Well, this clip is not 100% accurate, but does an adequate job expressing my feelings.

Wes Anderson ahead: DO NOT BE ALARMED

In light of this hilarious AVClub article about signs that Michael Bay is filming in your town,

and some inspiration from Julie, I provide this:

Soundtrack by Mark Mothersbaugh

Mad Men Font Secret Success?

After yesterday’s heated heated discussion in the blogospheres about the actual font used for Sterling Cooper Draper Price’s new logo (It is Akzidenz-Grotesk, damn it!) the question still remains about why they would not just go with Helvetica.

There is the question of whether Helvetica would be popular enough state-side by 1963-’64 to be used for major signage. Heck, maybe the rise of Helvetica would mark a subtle plot point in the fourth season. However, as @TheRevDoctor pointed out, Helvetica had already been used in the American Airlines advertising campaign from season 2.

Still, one campaign is not enough to mark a complete awareness. It is not like they had some huge sign in the office that was like: THIS IS HELVETICA AND IT IS AWESOME.

Oh wait they totally did!

Look at the circled poster to the far right side. You probably know a designer who owns that poster. If not, buy one and become that guy!

Thanks to Doc’s keen eye, we know that the designers at Sterling Cooper Draper Price were quite aware of the modernity-defining typeface that is Helvetica. But the question still stands of why they would go with Akzidenz-Grotesk for the company logo even if they were aware of its typeface design progeny.

Maybe there is some credence to the idea that it easier to get giant metal letters and other random branding paraphernalia set in well-established typefaces. But then again, with something as important as company branding, you probably go custom-made. Furthermore, as the poster and American Airlines advertising campaign demonstrate, the typeface was well known by then.

Perhaps instead, the newly founded company wanted to go with a typeface that, while connected to the new era, still communicated a sense of establishment and stability. Therefore, they went with the proto-grotesk that is Akzidenz-Grotesk.

Or maybe the creators knew very well that people scrutinize Mad Men to such an insane degree that they could build up Internet buzz about the show simply by choosing a typeface that looks at first glance like the reviled Arial, rather than Helvetica, but is actually something that would have been somewhat appropriate for a company to choose at the time.

But that’s crazy, right? Right?

In conclusion, Akzidenz-Grotesk is a typeface of contrast.

Mad Men Font Fail… or was it?

Tonight was the first episode of the fourth season of Mad Men. It was a bittersweet moment, in which we once again can revel in the mid-century modern adventures of the anti-hero Don Draper, but also mourn the approaching summer’s end.

One of the many enjoyable parts of the Mad Men viewing experience (besides laughing at the characters’ ignorance of upcoming historical events. Fools! Johnson was planning on sending more troops to Vietnam the whole time! And you will have Nixon to kick around anymore!) is watching in awe how the show flawlessly recreates the ’60s style down to pinpoint accuracy. Sure there are a few mistakes, but overall it is very impressive and does a better job at truly immersing the audience than almost any other show.

This is why typeface purists were shocked, shocked, to see the logo for the new Sterling Cooper Draper Price.

Behold! The high quality of taking a picture of a paused DVRd show with my iPhone.

Instantly, Twitter was a twitter with shock and disgust.

Is that…

Can it be…


For those who do not know, Arial is one the typefaces, behind comic sans and papyrus, most likely to get you in trouble with a font nerd. What makes it so repugnant is its obvious ripoff from, yet inferiority to, Helvetica (a typeface so wonderful it merits its own documentary). What is worse is that Arial was created by Microsoft as a stand-in for Helvetica simply so it would not have to pay for the superior original. Therefore, the ubiquity of the Microsoft software has ensured that Arial is used more often as a generic sans-serif than that pinnacle of the modern sans-serif that is Helvetica.

But certainly Mad Men’s art directors would know this, right? They wouldn’t use such an obvious Arial anachronism? So perhaps there are a few arguments that can save Mad Men from such a damning mistake in its first episode back.

1. It is not any typeface.

The logo isn’t on paper. It is not typed. It is not pre-fab lettering. It seems to be a stand-alone, one-time creation for the new company of Sterling Cooper Draper Price. Perhaps the craftsman who created it merely made up his own lettering and went from there, rather than adhering to an established font as a guide.

This would explain the similarity to Arial. The artist looked at whatever sans-serif he had around to get a sense of design and then just kind of deviated from the standard shape.

2. It is Akzidenz Grotesk

I took the super-duper high quality camera-phone picture of a paused TV show and tried putting into What The Font. However, the website had a problem with the shape, contrast, etc. So I fumbled around with the SCDP logo and came up with this:

If you turn up the contrast really high and make it black and white, its modern art!

When I put this into What The Font, its top answer seemed awfully close: Berthold Akzidenz-Grotesk.

Akizdenz-Grotesk would actually be a great typeface for the Mad Men art directors to have used. According to Wikipedia, it was created in 1898 and was the first sans-serif typeface to be widely used, and it ended up influencing many later neo-grotesk typefaces. Neo-grotesk typefaces like Neue Haas Grotesk, or as it was renamed in 1960: Helvetica.

So lets compare Akzidenz-Grotesk to Arial.



The height of the C in Arial in comparison to Akidenz seems to be the most obvious difference, but is it notable enough to prove that the Sterling Cooper Draper Price slogan is not in Arial?

I have enough faith in the Mad Men art directors to believe that they would have gone with not the FAIL of Arial, and not the obvious choice of Helvetia, but instead would have chosen something old and classic for the ’60s. Lest we forget, Helvetica was just released in 1960, only a few years before tonight’s episode. Furthermore, one can imagine that it would be slightly difficult to get large metal letters in the shape of newly released typefaces. One would have to get letters in something that had been around for a while. Something that factories had been putting out for a while, making in bulk. Something like Akzidenz Grotesk.

Mad Men art directors, I will never doubt you again.

Why Twilight is ruining America: An Essay by Evan Mintz

I saw the most recent Twilight movie this weekend. Critiques and commentary of Twilight (eg: lulz, teen girls like dumb things! this is poorly written!) have been done. However, upon urging from Rae and Elena, wrote this blog thing:

Throughout history, many things have threatened to ruin America. Whiskey taxes threatened to ruin America in its infant stage as a nation. Rock music threatened to ruin America by turning listeners into disciples of the Antichrist via backwards messages. Even, according to the cover of Ben Stein’s new book, paper shredders currently threaten to ruin America. However, in this blog post I will discuss how Twilight is ruining America.

First, I will discuss how Twilight makes it seem OK to act like a crazy person. Second, I will discuss how Twilight makes it seem wrong to have sex in a committed relationship. Finally, I will cram in all my other one-liners and pop-culture references that I probably already wrote in my livetweeting of Twilight: Eclipse, which didn’t even have a single actual eclipse in it (neither the astronomical event nor the car. I guess you could say that it was an eclipse in the sense that the werewolf guy eclipse the relationship with the vampire guy. In this sense, he blocked it, but only temporarily, with knowledge it would return. I guess that makes sense.)

The main focus of Twilight is upon the relationship between Bella, an attractive and popular 18 year old girl, and Edward, a 100-something year old “Vampire.” The term Vampire is loosely applied here given that they can apparently enter homes without invitation, can go into the sun, and do not have a constant lust for blood dripping from an exposed neck, pulsing and coursing through veins, begging to released of its mortal human prison and sucked, devoured, providing that life giving essence that consumes every waking moment, every need, every desire.

This relationship is a Crazy. First of all, she is a teenager and he is 100something years old. Now I would understand if he wanted to tap that. If we must fetishize anything, let us fetishize youth. She is a looker, and she totally wants to do it. I can totally sympathize. But that is not why Edward like Bella. Instead, he is in Love. Except not Love. Nor love. Thats not the right word to describe what he is. What is it… oh yes. Crazy.

At one point in the movie, Bella is encouraged by her father to hang out with the werewolf guy, because he’s all around very nice and relatively normal. Edward gets jealous and breaks Bella’s car so that she can’t.

To repeat: The 100 year old vampire breaks a 17 year old’s car because he is jealous of her visiting a friend who has a crush on her. That would be nutso for another 17 year old, let alone someone with 100 years of experience, no longer ruled by the insanity-inducing teenage hormones. Furthermore, Bella is a hot teen girl. All of her guy friends probably have crushes on her to some degree. Is he gonna just trap her in his vampire fortress and never let her leave?

Admittedly, we’ve all been there. I know I have. Heck, I was always the superjealous boyfriend whose face would go stone cold when supergays would sexydance with my girlfriend. But by the ripe age of 23, I at least learned that such attitudes are unhealthy and immature. And when silly suspicions about my girlfriend arose, I trusted her and everything turned out OK. Right?

But to the teen girls and middle aged Mormon moms, nothing is more romantic than a grown man who is willing to destroy and threaten violence to show his love. I believe the applicable country-western song is “I Kissed My Baby With My Fist.” The popularity of this film ensures that its inane concept of the ideal relationship will warp teen girls into thinking such an attitude is normal, leading to a generation of girls who want nothing more than a man, no matter how old, who loves them so much that he won’t let them leave the house. This threatens to ruin America!

Secondly, Edward doesn’t even want to have sex with her. Oh no, he only wants to do that after they get married. When you’re 18, the wrong thing to do is talk about getting married. When you’re 18, the right thing to do is have safe, protected sex with your long-term monogamous partner. Yet Edward talks about it as if he is going to steal her dignity or something. She wants it! They’ve been dating for a while and she wants it. Who will judge her? Who will say she lost her dignity. The only one doing the judging is her boyfriend, judging her for having a healthy sexual appetite. That does not sound like a good boyfriend to me.

Not only does this give the completely wrong idea of a healthy high school relationship, but is historically inaccurate. In an incredibly painful monologue, Edward explains that back in his day they’d go on escorted dates and romance and wouldn’t touch until a wedding. Wrong-o! His character grew up in Chicago during the beginning of the 20th century. The Roarin’ 20s marked the rise of  modern sexual mores in the US, not to mention an urban Jazz hotbed like Chicago. Maggie: A Girl of the Streets, with its teen-dating and sexual undertones, was written in 1893. Dating that Edward describes is cliche imaginary claptrap that only exists in crappy romance novels. But the idiot author apparently didn’t do even a base level of research. And this threatens to ruin America.

Finally, just in general the main characters are horrible. Bella is a pretty and popular high school girl who wants to run off with vampires. Despite her appropriate popularity and  status as an object to be praised by young men, she wants to run off and join vampires. Oh, is life too tough? Things must be hard for Bella. So hard that she wants to run off, with but 18 years of life experience, and leave society. Not only that, she’s abandoning her parents. Has she thought about them at all? No! Because she’s a stupid teenage girl and a 100 year old vampire should know better. But he doesn’t. Because he’s horrible.

He’s so pathetic that he keeps going to high school. Why? What does he get out of this? Did he not understand the Great Gatsby the first time? Maybe he’s just so pathetic that he feels the need to relive high school because he’s afraid to grow up or explore a world beyond what he is used to just like the teen girls and mormon moms who read this trash.

Both characters cant realize that their love is doomed. And thats all nice and romantic and such, but usually characters not smart enough to realize this kill themselves in the end. But unlike Romeo and Juliette, Edward and Bella are too dumb to know to kill themselves.

In conclusion, Twilight is ruining America.

Now, my livetweeting of the film, in reverse order, because I was too lazy to include every hilarious thing I said:

This concludes Evans livetweeting of twilight: eclipse. I hope you enjoyed it. I’m available for weddings, birthdays and bar mitzvahs July 17, 2010 12:43:58 AM CDT via Twitterrific

Now we have to do the most difficult thing… Tell my dad! Really? It’s not die and leave society forever at age 18? July 17, 2010 12:42:59 AM CDT via Twitterrific

What’s wrong with this Bella girl? Being pretty and popular isn’t enough, now she wants to be a teenager forever? Ick July 17, 2010 12:39:44 AM CDT via Twitterrific

Only a month to plan a wedding? Do vampires have superplanning powers or something? #therewontbeacaviarbar July 17, 2010 12:38:35 AM CDT via Twitterrific

And then the vampire government shows up. Are they elected or what? How does the system work? July 17, 2010 12:35:40 AM CDT via Twitterrific

When The vampires die, they break like the fake vase in Last Crusade. July 17, 2010 12:29:35 AM CDT via Twitterrific

Redhead vampire lady: “ngngngngngnnnn!!!!” #whatthescriptmusthavesaid July 17, 2010 12:26:53 AM CDT via Twitterrific

This fight scene isn’t bad, but I want a better view of them ripping off limbs July 17, 2010 12:24:37 AM CDT via Twitterrific

So she gets engaged but then makes out with the other dude? Also, why isn’t she freezing while wearing a tanktop in the snow? July 17, 2010 12:21:14 AM CDT via Twitterrific

This girl and werewolf love really reminds me of inyuasha. #sitboy July 17, 2010 12:20:00 AM CDT via Twitterrific

@evan7257 is live tweeting his viewing of #twilight. Check it out, its some funny ass shit. (via @ErikVidor) July 17, 2010 12:19:01 AM CDT via Twitterrific

I can’t believe someone actually wrote this, it’s so hilarious and prone to slashfic July 17, 2010 12:13:09 AM CDT via Twitterrific

@etothemax sitting in the back row July 17, 2010 12:12:12 AM CDT via Twitterrific

All three sharing a tent? #threeway July 17, 2010 12:11:40 AM CDT via Twitterrific

Why doesn’t he just go down on her during her period? #bestofbothworlds July 17, 2010 12:03:50 AM CDT via Twitterrific

If she’s worried about edward hurting her during sex, why don’t tie him up? July 17, 2010 12:03:12 AM CDT via Twitterrific

So if vampires are legally dead, how do they get marriage certificates? July 17, 2010 12:01:23 AM CDT via Twitterrific

Wait, why did werewolf have to carry her to cover her scent if she’s spending the next scenes walking everywhere else? July 17, 2010 12:00:02 AM CDT via Twitterrific

I wanna see a spinoff series about the dad. July 16, 2010 11:59:00 PM CDT via Twitterrific

What’s with this obsession with the werewolf smelling? #racsim July 16, 2010 11:53:49 PM CDT via Twitterrific

.@youloverae has to pee, but doesn’t want to miss any of this amazing movie July 16, 2010 11:52:18 PM CDT via Twitterrific

“I was heading back to Galveston” and then rides over large hills. #isntitamazonghowtexaslooksnothinglikesoutherncalifornia July 16, 2010 11:48:06 PM CDT via Twitterrific

This is like Romeo and Juliette, if there weren’t smart enough to kill themselves before having to deal with reality July 16, 2010 11:46:43 PM CDT via Twitterrific

So some guy not her bf kisses Bella, she’s pissed and bf is pissed. So then she wears necklace from that guy? July 16, 2010 11:45:17 PM CDT via Twitterrific

Fight training montage! July 16, 2010 11:43:45 PM CDT via Twitterrific

Wait, why are the vampires graduating from high school? Haven’t they already done that? July 16, 2010 11:36:41 PM CDT via Twitterrific

What’s the big deal with vampires being infertile. Lots of people are, and they seem to live on. #adoption July 16, 2010 11:33:39 PM CDT via Twitterrific

Rape scene! #moneystootightforrape July 16, 2010 11:31:32 PM CDT via Twitterrific

Life really sucks for bellas dad July 16, 2010 11:29:04 PM CDT via Twitterrific

All Bella has is looks. She doesn’t seem smart or funny or willing to do that weird thing in bed I like. 11:27 PM Jul 16th via Twitterrific

Do vampires hair keep growing? Could Edward grow a mustache? He needs a mustache. 11:24 PM Jul 16th via Twitterrific

@JellicleLoon blast and a half! 11:22 PM Jul 16th via Twitterrific

So does the us dept of Indian affairs regulate the werewolves? What’s their legal status? 11:20 PM Jul 16th via Twitterrific

“from now on I’m Switzerland, ok!” #idskithosepeaks 11:14 PM Jul 16th via Twitterrific

Why are these guys obsessing over her. I mean she’s got nice lips, but I don’t think she puts out. 11:09 PM Jul 16th via Twitterrific

So why don’t guy werewolves never wear shirts, but the girls do? #wereboobies #thereboobies #whyareyoutalkinglikethat? 11:07 PM Jul 16th via Twitterrific

Running through the forest chase scene #itsbeendone #forestmoonofendor 11:03 PM Jul 16th via Twitterrific

Alaska #Hawaii #thefreakstates 11:01 PM Jul 16th via Twitterrific

Alaska #Hawaii! 11:00 PM Jul 16th via Twitterrific

Everyone in the movie is sane except the two main characters #whenharrymetstupid 10:59 PM Jul 16th via Twitterrific

These vampires are superstrong, fast, and magic powers. Why don’t they help people or fight crime? #likejumper 10:57 PM Jul 16th via Twitterrific

Wait, why Is sokka blond and doesn’t have his boomerang? 10:55 PM Jul 16th via Twitterrific

“vampire-human divorce rate” #unintentionallyhilariouslines 10:50 PM Jul 16th via Twitterrific

Change me? #diaperfetish 10:49 PM Jul 16th via Twitterrific

Wait, is he sparkling or sweaty? 10:49 PM Jul 16th via Twitterrific

These romance scenes remind me of naboo. Edward is softer than sand! 10:48 PM Jul 16th via Twitterrific

Do vampires ever worry about bloodbornr diseases? 10:47 PM Jul 16th via Twitterrific

Apparently vampires have the power to be blurry

Another way in which Houston is like the Simpsons

A few weeks ago commented on the stark similarities between Houston and Springfield, from The Simpsons, noting the failed monorail, tire fire, and other various follies. Well today, another parallelism grew forth from the bowels of the internet.

Houston: City on the Grow(click to play)

And, of course, the Simpsons equivalent.

Though I suppose the Houston video is the sort of 1960s pseudojingoistic claptrap that the Simpsons is mocking. Its just funny to actually see one, because I think that most people’s exposure to this sort of media is through the satirical and mocking references to it, rather than the genuine article.

This reminds me of a time I was in middle school and made a reference to: “If you build it, they will come.” Some other kid thought I was talking about an episode of Married, With Children.

I suppose that The Simpsons is the ultimate source of knowledge of cultural tropes for people who actually haven’t seen the original source, from A Streetcar Named Desire to The Planet of the Apes. Though perhaps these days Family Guy is contesting for that title.