Something I’ve never noticed before: the flags on Observatory Hill reflect current astronomical alignments. I was most pleased to make this discovery! Here is the full moon, the Southern Cross, Jupiter, as well as Mars and Saturn, which were retrograde. I’m inclined to check out the flagpole again next week—it should look rather festive because for the first time in ten years, five heavenly bodies will be retrograde at the same time, including Mercury, which is also about to transit the Sun.
M is for Meta
Meta was designed by Erik Spiekermann and was released in 1991 through his FontFont library. He reputedly intended the typeface to be ‘a complete antithesis of Helvetica’, however, due to its great popularity and extensive use, it was lauded as ‘the Helvetica of the 1990s’—not because the typefaces look alike, but because Meta has become so influential in modern typographic communication. The Meta family has 28 weights, from Hairline to Black, and its comprehensive character sets include small caps, ligatures, fractions and many other typographic features. In 2011 Meta was added to the MoMA Architecture and Design Collection. Meta is classified as a humanist sans serif typeface.
I have Prince memories that define moments in time. So long ago, in Carlton with my Melbourne radio friends when the first Prince album arrived in the studio, and how they laughed at it, convinced this strange new artist would never make it. In London, with my good friend, seeing Sign o’ the Times at the Leicester Square Empire Cinema, emerging late into a still-light balmy midsummer evening. In New York, with old friends newly met, staying up late watching footage of Prince in concert. And in Sydney in 2012, seeing him live, oh how lucky to have done so.
L is for Life
Whether it’s Adobe Life, Bitstream Life, Linotype Life, or any other Life, this typeface was designed in 1964 by Wilhelm Bilz and developed by the Ludwig & Mayer type foundry and Simoncini, the highly regarded manufacturer of linecaster matrices. Life is a transitional typeface designed for use in text settings where printing and production quality tend to be low—such as newsprint—and it’s characters are based on the forms of Times.
We recently had a visitor from California. She was in Sydney only for a few days, but it seemed to me that her tour group managed to fit in quite a lot, doing things that I wouldn’t have thought of, like going to the Queen Victoria Building (it’s a great building, but it’s just a shopping arcade) and the koala park. I’ve never been to the koala park, but every time I drive by I glance up at the trees hoping to catch a glimpse of a koala or two. (No such luck, leading me to question the veracity of their existence.) When our visitor showed us some of her photos, it pleased me greatly to see that, rather than being predictable tourist pictures, they were of signage and words. She was particularly fascinated by the instructions posted on restroom doors, the likes of which I had never seen until yesterday when, myself playing tourist for the day, I visited Echo Point in the Blue Mountains.
K is for Kabel
Kabel was designed by Rudolf Koch in 1927 for the Klingspor foundry. The naming of the typeface is reputedly a metaphorical pun, referring to the typeface’s monolinear construction and the role of type as a means of communication rather than the just-completed Zugspitze cable car and Berlin–Vienna telegraph cable. Kabel is a geometric sans serif typeface and is distinguished by the angled cut of the terminus of vertical strokes, and weights range from light to black. Kabel is widely used: from board games and record covers to university campus signage and presidential campaign material.
Not only deep, but Woolwich Dock is long and narrow, a chasm-like drydock overshadowed by towering sandstone walls. Eighty-five thousand cubic metres of sandstone were excavated from the site to construct the drydock, and when it opened in 1901 it was the largest in Australia. Now, there is a raised metal walkway and a keep-between-the-yellow-lines footpath forming part of the Sydney Harbour foreshore walk, so you can walk all around the channel of water, from Goat Paddock to Horse Paddock, without having to get your feet wet.
J is for Janson
Janson is an oldstyle serif typeface whose design can be traced back to the matrices of Miklós Tótfalusi Kis, a Transylvanian Protestant priest and schoolteacher. Kis was sent to Amsterdam to help print a Hungarian Protestant translation of the Bible, and his resulting interest in printing led to a second career as a punchcutter. Janson was named for Leipzig printer and punchcutter Anton Janson, but research in the 1970s and 1980s led to the conclusion that the typeface was Kis’s design. Janson was digitised by Linotype as Janson Text, and by Bitstream as Kis.
Unless I win a greencard lottery and become a citizen of the United States, I will never be allowed an opportunity to join the Elks. Regardless, my reasons for wanting to join are far from altruistic: I’d like to become a member for the purely selfish reason that I could visit the Honolulu lodge at will for the regular evenings of Hawaiian music. Not to mention the view across the water to the glittering lights of Waikiki, which is really something. Or the comfortable and relaxed ambience, a quiet old-time haven (oh, that 60s sunken bar!), a civilised escape from the hustle and bustle of the tourist strip. I know about these charms because one night I had the rare experience of being signed in as an unaffiliated guest. But now, I need to be satisfied with admiring their rather fabulous street-front sign.