Tuesday, May 09, 2017


A long time ago I knew more about typefaces, fonts, and points, than I do now. Aside from a marked affection for Helvetica and Times New Roman, such details are no longer on the forefont (stet) of my mind, and the fact that use of Comic Sans is enough to disqualify a text from serious consideration is a mere minor matter.

[Comic Sans: "Describing it, Microsoft has explained that "this casual but legible face has proved very popular with a wide variety of people."
"The typeface's widespread use, often in situations for which it was not intended, has been criticized."]

I think my affection for Times New Roman and Helvetica probably goes back to my early childhood, but in that I was entirely unexceptional, as both are among the most popular letter-styles in the world. Since the computer age, Arial has come to rival them, along with Courier and Verdana.

Still popular, for some bizarre reason, are typewriter fonts.

That is probably the result of World War Two, during which more people were introduced to typewritten communication than at any time before. Subsequent conflagrations furthered that development.


A reader (Kostis) wishes me to now write something "scholarly" about Aldus Manutius (a Bassianoan/Venetian publisher, born 1449, died 1550) who designed fonts, and standardized the use of certain punctuations.

He forwarded a link to a book description:
"The Greek Editions of Aldus Manutius and his Greek Collaborators was first published in Greek in 2015, in order to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the death of the Venetian printer. A succinct introduction on the pioneers of Renaissance humanism in Crete is followed by a thorough presentation of the graphic aspect of Aldus's Greek editions, that is, initials and headpieces as well as different families of typeface and other features. The second part of the book consists of a catalogue and commentary of all his Greek editions in chronological order. The comments focus on the main subject of each work, its previous editions in Greek or in Latin translation, if any, and on the Prefaces written by Aldus. With an Introduction by Stepanos Kaklamanis. Illustrated in color."
[See more at: Oaknoll - pages - books - Konstantinos Staikos]

Something scholarly? Me? I wish I could. But I do best at neurotic detail and absurdity. Serious subjects are not my strength. Did Aldus Manutius eat Chinese food? Smoke a pipe? Say something about the Dutch?
Well, he probably did say something about the Dutch.
At some point in his career.

Fifteenth century Venice was not known for pipe stores and Chinese restaurants.


Regarding that first subject, visit: Pipa Club Del Venezia. And please note that they cary Gawith and Rattrays, so you won't have to smoke dessicated beaverpelt in your Priceless Castello briars.

via Piave 62, 30171 - MESTRE (VE)
Tel: 041 98 97 81
Fax: 041 98 97 81
E-mail: vepipaclub@gmail.com

As far as Chinese restaurants in Venice are concerned, there are a number, but unless you speak Cantonese or Wenchouese, you may very well end up consuming the usual slop of which Westerners are so fond. Sweet and sour pork, General Tzo's chicken, eggrolls, kung pao unidentifiable protein, cream of mushroom soup, and fried rice.

If they are not Hong Kong Cantonese, even the won ton noodle soup will be mediocre, and bitter melon fish slices won't be on the menu. If they are Hongkongers, the won ton noodle soup could still be awful.
It depends on how dispirited they are.

Sorry. I got distracted by the potential ghastliness of Venice.

In any case, a cursory scan of material on the internet brought me to this book as mentioned on Wikipedia:


"Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore combines elements of fantasy, mystery, friendship and adventure as a way of looking at the modern conflict and transition between new technology (electronic) and old (print books). The protagonist is a laid-off Silicon Valley tech worker who begins working at a dusty bookstore with very few customers, only to start discovering one secret after another. The mysterious old books, along with the store's owner, lead to a 500-year-old secret society."

[And a book description at Amazon.]

This novel is highly regarded, and might be worth reading.
Typefaces are mentioned, as a minor detail.
I am slightly curious.

I think I will have won ton noodle soup for lunch today.
Because I live near Chinatown, I can do that.
The Venetians probably can't.
Manutius didn't.


FYI: If it isn't won ton noodle soup (雲吞湯麵 'wantan tong min'), it will probably end up being pickled vegetable and pork shreds stirfried over rice (榨菜肉絲飯 'jaa choi yiuk si faan') plus a cup of milk tea. Preceded by an overdue haircut, and followed by Germain's Club Mixture in a straight bulldog with a silver band.

Germain's Club Mixture is a mild product, very satisfying over time, suitable for contemplative moods -- almost trance inducing -- that initially does not seem particularly distinct. Two unsauced Cavendishes and some Virginias, plus what I believe may be Maryland. A topping that fades with airing.
Like all Germains products it needs drying out before use.

I knew you'd want to know this.

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All correspondence will be kept in confidence.

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