December 30, 2008
Any of you who know me or have followed the blog for a year or two know that it is tradition for me to meet up with my best friend, Myron, in Key West every New Years. It turns out that tradition had to be broken this year because Myron was unable to make travel plans for work reasons, so I decided to come to New Orleans. Its been many years since I've been here, and I'm a little struck at how similar it feels to Key West - just on a much larger scale. This really is only coincidence in deciding on New Orleans - my issues are finding someplace that is likely to be somewhat moderate in temperature, and where something actually happens at midnight on New Years (because I hate the traditional new years buildup/countdown to...nothing). And since I'd be traveling on my own, New Orleans seemed like it would be more fun by myself than a smaller place like Key West. My friend Kevin offered to give me a ride from the airport - he didn't tell me it would be in his police cruiser right after he got off work. Can't beat a police escort! We went to one of his local favorite spots for dinner and he gave me a basic tour of the lay of the land and hotspots or recommendations in the French Quarter and nearby areas. It already feels like this was a good choice for ringing in the New Year. I hope the next few days are as fun as the last few hours have been.
Posted by Jon Berry at 11:06 PM
December 29, 2008
In Virginia for a couple days visiting an old friend in the DC burbs... sorry for the lack of updates: the visits been fun, but not a lot to show besides strip malls. These were outside a restaurant we had dinner in tonight. Tuesday puts me back in the air again for a Big Easy New Years... stay tuned.
Posted by Jon Berry at 11:55 PM
December 26, 2008
Tonight, Mom was going through a box of drawings and papers my brother, sisters, and I had made when we were kids. Most were drawings or stories written in school, but others were just things we had done at home, like my note to the tooth fairy that explained about the tooth it must have been left with, but then added: '2 or 3 dollars would be nice. or less.' Also in the stack was this one. Mom and Dad - oops - Santa Claus gave me a typewriter when I was in the second grade. (Perhaps the beginning of my love for typography? I mean seriously, look how beautiful that lower case 'a' is.) It was an old Royal "portable" that was probably from the 30s or 40s. This must have been one of my first notes. (Heidi Read was a neighbor.) I'm not sure where the declaration of my love for Jesus came from?! Maybe I felt guilty about the mentions of Santa Claus and had to be sure to spread the love. To this day I still type incorrectly (but plenty fast) from teaching myself at an early age.
Posted by Jon Berry at 10:10 PM
December 25, 2008
December 24, 2008
As many of you know, every year Mom & Dad shoot a poor-man's William Wegman style Christmas card featuring their dogs Phantom and Edn. Dad has released this years card at the link below. Also the second link is for an index of all the cards (2003 is one of the best if you don't feel like surfing through all of them). Enjoy the cards, but more importantly, enjoy your holiday. Merry Christmas.
December 23, 2008
I know everyone has bad airline experiences with every airline - my favorite is probably the one you'll never fly on - so in fairness this has to be taken with that perspective. But this trip was a big reminder of how dismal many of my experiences have been with United. If I'm still mad two days later, I can only imagine that it's gonna stick. I guess what irks me so much with this one is that I played by the rules and still got penalized. I've railed about the luggage fees of some of the major airlines and the added delay and unpleasant boarding and unboardings they cause for all passengers. But once they started being adopted by some other airlines, I did my research and bought carry-on size luggage, learned to pack smaller and tighter so that I could avoid having to pay extra fees. I bought my 3oz bottles and spend the time the night before a flight transferring my liquids and gels to them so that they fit in the proper size clear bag. So Monday I get to LAX with plenty of time, get my boarding pass, and head to the gate. But the passage guard says my bag is too big, I have to go back. I know its not. I've flown with it as carry-on many times by now, including on United. I ask to put it in the measurement display box and show her. She says no - go back and check it. The line that I've already been through is huge. I walk outside and start to go to a skycap line, but decide to go back. She relents and lets me put it on the measurement box - and sure enough, it fits. Its clearly small enough to carry on. And she says "its still too large, you have to check it". Seriously. I'm a little stunned now and protest, but what else can I do? With time ticking, the only option now is to check the bag at a skycap. $17. And another long line. And an extra hour wait added after I get to VA. And on the flight: lots of carry-on bags larger than mine, and plenty of empty carry-on space. So be warned that when flying United, packing a carry-on size bag doesn't mean that they still won't make you pay the cost to check it. Be sure to add $40 to any United search results that come up in your airfare searches - whether you plan to check your bag or not. If that's still your best bet, book it, but go with the proper state of mind. Their flights aren't pleasant, but they'll get you there.
Posted by Jon Berry at 11:28 PM
December 22, 2008
December 21, 2008
So while doing some last-minute shopping tonight (shut up), I had a question about something I found on the website for CB2. CB2 is an offshoot of Crate and Barrel, with a more modern and cheaper bent. I've always liked a lot of CB2's stuff and the way they present it, but I have to say I was shocked tonight. I called their customer service number and after 2 or 3 rings someone answered. A live person. Right away. And she was clearly in America and understood everything I said. I cant even call the doctors office or the grocery store and get a live person. It really threw me off guard, which made her laugh. Her name is Nicole, and she was nice and pleasant and fun. At 11:30pm Pacific time. Is that crazy or what? Or am I just crazy for being so shocked? Either way, they just earned more points in my book.
Posted by Jon Berry at 11:53 PM
December 20, 2008
The blog Bibliodyssey has posted an amazing collection of architectural renderings by S. Charles Lee. Most are theaters that were built in Southern California, but other buildings and theaters from other places are included as well. A link from the page takes you to a list of his theaters (74 of them!!), and while most, sadly, are demolished - I'm actually surprised that 16 are listed as open. I'm going to have to try to hunt some of these down or at least find out more information about them, but in the meantime, the drawings are beautiful as drawings alone. Still, knowing that so many of these drawings that look like fantastical concepts were actually constructed to be real buildings is even more amazing to me. (via Design Observer)
Posted by Jon Berry at 11:25 PM
December 19, 2008
I don't know if its just here or not, but there seem to be a lot more yellow pages deliveries showing up on my doorstep this year. I swear the two different sets delivered this week bring the total to at least four this month. Who even needs a single yellow pages in this decade, much less four? The funny thing is that they are always delivered in plastic bags, and all up and down the street, you can see that they go straight from the doorsteps and into the recycle bins, never even making it into anyone's home. Its really a shame that its such a massive waste of paper and resources. I'm just surprised they still make them. Does anybody use yellow pages anymore?
Posted by Jon Berry at 11:00 PM
December 18, 2008
If you've watched CNN this week, you might have noticed a change in their on-air graphics. The part that is getting the most attention is that they have done away with the godawful, annoying and illegible bottom-of-the-screen ticker that invaded most newscasts after 9/11. At first glance, I thought they had just adopted the ticker format used by CNN International which doesn't scroll the text but instead flips from line to line of color coded headlines. Instead, CNN is using the ticker space for a line of text about the story being featured above. At some times and during some shows, however, the space does change to rotating headlines which thankfully don't scroll, but instead flip from line to line, making it much easier to read and less distracting. Adding to the smartness, they have adopted a coding system with these headlines appearing on a black bar (as opposed to the story information appearing on a white bar). While maybe not necessarily obvious to the viewer, this creates a visual language that subconsciously helps to tell the viewer what kind of information is being presented.
But beyond the whole flipper vs scroller change, the overall look of the new lower third graphics is now consistent across the network. It is now much cleaner and easier to use. They clearly have taken a cue from the look of CNN International, which I've written about more than once (link below). Gone are the overdone beveled edges and gradations and light flares and multiple typefaces and other nonsense, replaced by clean type over solid colors. While lacking the style and sensibility of the CNN International look, its still a welcome change and a move forward that I never thought I'd see on the US version of CNN. Though the type is not as easy to read as the Helvetica used by CNN International, CNN's screaming all caps type is still clean and consistent. And the boxes create a consistent system of information that give everything a place rather than trying to jumble a bunch of unrelated elements together (like in the last pic above). Best of all, at times, the changing system of boxes can reduce to allow much more video to be seen (with the odd exception of some inexplicable curved red animating texture bar that comes up to block half the video during breaking news in AC360 shown above - as if the flashing black and yellow BREAKING NEWS isn't urgent enough?! - and the new breaking news segment opener animation is full of equally bad 3D and light flares, etc).
I haven't completely figured out the rationale of the changing box that holds the CNN logo, which sometimes is simply (nicely) just the logo, other times expands to include a world map that as far as I can tell is only decoration but also sometimes serves as background for a humongous LIVE bug that overpowers the CNN logo itself, and at other times expands to hold what I call the 'box of yuck'. The box of yuck is the one old-style holdover - constantly 1990's style animating graphics that have no purpose except to sell - and for some reason they are fairly consistently terrible: truly awful type and cheesy graphics that must have been done by some news intern (red type with a white drop shadow? wtf??) flying and rotating back and forth over and over and over. But at least now its only relegated to that one box. If you put a post-it note over that part of the screen, the viewing experience is much better.
Having designed my share of news graphics packages, you can't underestimate how difficult it was to get this through. (I would surmise that the necessity for the humongous LIVE and the Box of Yuck are probably concessions to different people in the mix of approvals). Hopefully this is the beginning of some modernization, cleanliness and consistency at CNN. They deserve kudos for this step in the right direction.
Posted by Jon Berry at 11:29 PM
December 16, 2008
December 14, 2008
While you may be hearing about the rain drenching LA right now, it actually held out tonight long enough to allow for one of my favorite events of the year - Manhattan Beach's Christmas Fireworks. Although it was dry, it was freezing. So after a few drinks at my place, we bundled up in layers and biked down to the pier, lit up like a Christmas tree as it is every year. We ducked into the fire department quickly for their annual spaghetti dinner and managed to get out and find a spot just in time for the fireworks to begin. Somehow the ride back is always the hardest part, but at least now it really feels like Christmas.
Posted by Jon Berry at 11:36 PM