Cut to 600 words


My husband has developed an uncanny knack for spotting typos and dummy text that has been published inadvertently. The first time I realised this was when he steered me towards the local bookshop window and stood back until I found it for myself—a glaring mistake on a poster for Kobo eBooks, so shocking that I was embarrassed to call myself a publishing professional. Apart from the usual typos and mis-use of punctuation he has found bullet points in authoritative books that read ‘one more point here if you can come up with one’ and paragraphs of ipsy lipsy lopsy lorum in tertiary textbooks. He came upon this instruction to the subs while reading the weekend paper on the iPad.



This sandstone block was part of the building that occupied the corner of Pitt and Little George Streets, Sydney, between 1860 and 1916. The building was demolished in 1916 and its facade was rebuilt in Mentmore Avenue as part of the Rosebery Model and Industrial Suburb—a planned housing estate providing detached housing close to industrial employment sites. When the building was reconstructed the original L-shaped facade was straightened, and although some of the original detail was lost in the relocation, much of it, including this ground-level rusticated sandstone detailing, was retained.



I don’t have much interest in the Easter Show amusement park rides or show bags (although the rides have some good names: elephant jet, jurassic coaster, XXXL, alien abduction, hangover, rockin’ tug), but I am fascinated by the agricultural exhibits. Not just the look of them, but the behind-the-scenes stories. This pumpkin weighs more than five people! How did it get from wherever it grew to its display position inside the pavilion? How was it weighed? Is it edible, and what happens to it later this week when the Show ends? Did this one win because it was the biggest, or are other factors taken into account? I like its sculptural qualities and multicoloured, textured skin, and the no-fuss way its weight is recorded by writing on it with blue texta.

Texas sized


This week I went to the Royal Easter Show for the first time since Sydney Showground relocated from Moore Park to Olympic Park—which has to be at least 15 years ago because the move took place before the 2000 Olympic Games, for which the park was constructed. The Show, first held in 1823, is an annual event where ‘city meets country’. My favourite events are the woodchopping and working dog shows and the district agricultural exhibits, but just milling with the crowd is its own entertainment. The food on offer verges on the scary, however. The vast array of junk food includes fairy floss, spiral chips on a stick deep-fried to golden perfection (don’t ask), hot dogs slathered in something that looks like sauce, giant buckets of popcorn, burgers, enchiladas, ribs, pluto pups and donuts. This is just one section of the over-the-top signage of one food stand, which fortunately was located a decent distance from the animal pavilions. The graphic depiction of BBQ and a jaunty typeface was not enough to lure me, although had I not just eaten a sensible serve of sushi, I might have been tempted by a pulled pork roll.



I suppose this warning is somewhat effective because it made me stop to look, but everything seems, proportion-wise, just a little out of whack. Small dinosaur catches a plane mid-flight, just for fun, oblivious to the flames on its back; the written warning—door blows open/shut in the wind—is small enough to require reading glasses and seems unrelated to the plight of the dinosaur; and both are rendered superfluous by industrial-strength door hardware. Regardless (or because of) this, the shapes and textures of paper, plastic, wood and metal, hold great appeal to my aesthetic sensibilities!



It has been raining and raining and raining and raining. The sky seems permanently grey, the air is damp and the ground is soggy. On rainy days traffic doubles, washing stays wet on the line, and I can’t watch Spicks and Specks because ABC reception drops out. And there are no shadows. But one day, when the sun comes out again, shadows—like the one cast by this quirky, rusting, painted metal lettering and the shrub that half conceals it—will reappear, and the sky will be blue again.

Italic and oblique


A true italic is an angled typeface designed to accompany its roman counterpart. It is designed with its own features and character widths, and is often quite calligraphic in appearance. An oblique is usually a slanted version of the roman face, often with very little change to the design of the letter shape. Of course, as with all things, there are exceptions to the rule: Helvetica and Optima are two examples where the oblique is actually an italic. Programs like InDesign make it possible to slant any typeface, which can come in handy if the type family does not contain an italic weight, but where an italic has been drawn, it is usually much more complementary to the roman face it is matched with.



On Friday night, at the Hunters & Collectors gig at the Enmore Theatre, I missed an excellent photo opportunity. In my effort to carry as little as possible I left the house phoneless and cameraless, so when the giant digital screen which formed the stage backdrop displayed DOG in huge letters, I was unable to capture the moment. Luckily I have a pretty good memory for letter shapes—and the shape of the G was the giveaway that the typeface was Arial. The song ‘Dog’ is from the 1986 album ‘Human Frailty’ (released 28 years ago tomorrow), the record that brought the band commercial and critical success.



I didn’t win the lottery this week so I won’t be buying any diamonds from this fine establishment. It’s free to admire the lettering, though. How modern it must have been at the time! A close look reveals a somewhat strange drop shadow, but the inaccuracies only add to the appeal.