11 January, 2013

Warm Woolen Mittens

©Nick Bantock
1. Monograms

According to Wikipedia,
"A monogram is a motif made by overlapping or combining two or more letters or other graphemes to form one symbol. Monograms are often made by combining the initials of an individual or a company, used as recognizable symbols or logos. A series of uncombined initials is properly referred to as a cypher (e.g. a royal cypher) and is not a monogram."
Basically: I like them. And I like the letter 'A' a LOT. And though it is mostly because my name starts with A ("mostly" being somewhere between 70-95%) it is also because I find letters to be graceful things, and their shape, line, structure, movement, all seem to articulate a little something about us. I identify with the "A" not merely because my name begins with it, but because of the swoosh of the three lines used to make the uppercase model, and the blobby little bubble who wears a hat used mostly in type-faced version of lowercase "a" (which I have infamously utilized even when writing by hand for over 15 years).   

Remember how Mary Tyler Moore and her "M" made such an emotional impact when she moved from her small apartment to her larger one in 1975?  (if not, check out the clip at 13:22 here)...

How miraculous that a collection of almost random scratches come to form and represent all the words we know and some we have yet to know? Those scratchings, when stood on their own, serve as a symbol, a quiet reminder, a whispered essence of who we are. 

2. Dark chocolate with hazelnuts.
Why do people eat anything else ever? Dark chocolate with hazelnuts is better than kittens and sunshine and Christmas... and when all four of these things combine? 
Well that would be bliss. 
Bliss I tell you.

Emma Williams: blind friend-date
3. Friend-Dating
Some of the best pals I've ever met, and some of the very greatest in my everyday life are friends I have met on a "friend date."

What is a friend date you ask?
Why, according to the Urban Dictionary: 
"...a friend date is a situation in which two platonic individuals partake in activities (such as movies, coffee, or a walk on the beach) that have the appearance of a regular date, but have no romantic or sexual intentions."
 I was "set up" on a blind friend-date with fellow actress Emma Williams in London somewhere around 2006 by a mutual friend who thought the two of us would be great pals. It was love at first friend-date. We never looked back.

4. Drinking through a straw

I am going to openly admit here that I always steal an extra straw from Starbucks whenever I go so that I may take it home and drink with it at The Winter Palace. I love a straw! It is human innovation at it's most innovative and simple! 
  1. Place lips around long, hollow cylindrical device.
  2. Utilize suction: muscular action reduces air pressure in the mouth, whereupon atmospheric pressure forces the beverage up the straw.
  4. Repeat. Enjoy.
I mean: amazing. 

5. Rubber Stamps
Before the printing press, the written word was the responsibility of the monasteries. Each book was written and illustrated by hand, highly inaccessible and very expensive to produce. Each block was carved by hand with every ideogram in position, which meant a completely new carved block for each page! This was the year 1 B.C. (so... you know... give them a break...)

In 1444 Johannes Gutenberg, a German goldsmith and printer introduced modern book printing by inventing a mechanical moveable type and the printing press machine. It played a huge role in education, news and the Scientific Revolution. This was used widely until the second half of the 20th century. Primitive printing blocks were made of woodcuts, photoengraved copper, linoleum blocks, magnesium plates and zinc metals.

And while I am all into the Industrial Revolution and all-- THAT IS NOT WHAT THIS IS ABOUT. I love a rubber stamp and I am not afraid to show it! I remember the first time I ever used a rubber stamp: one of an almost lithographic-ly detailed heart. My mom presented me with a piece of paper and an ink pad and when I reproduced the heart over and over (and over) again I thought a miracle was taking place. There is something about the act of physical reproduction: an act of man-powered magic that cannot be replicated by the technological age. 

©nick bantock - responsible for my adult love of stamps
I would wager that engineers themselves still experience this feeling with their tablets and MP3 players, but for us ordinary punters out here in Normals-ville, nothing is comparable to the "real thing." When one touches a screen and "stuff happens" it is simply not the same as watching the cogs of a clock physically mesh together. Or pressing rewind and watching a tape actually roll backwards and play a recording from a different part of that same strip of tape. So it is with the rubber stamp. For one brief moment, our hands are a tiny little printing press that no laser printer can compete with.

The enhance any piece of paper be it a letter, an envelope, a note or a tax return. 
The are elegant and mystical.  
  They are like warm woolen mittens, and they get my *stamp* of approval. 

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