Category Archives: Let Me Introduce You

Introducing: Ambigrams

Today I’d like to take a small deviation into artland for a moment to spotlight something that absolutely fascinates me: ambigrams.  I’ve been noticing this insatiable fascination with type faces and words cropping up in my thoughts lately, so I’m going to encourage it and see what happens.  Ambigrams are a trifle difficult to describe, so I’ll use Douglas R. Hofstadter’s definition.

An ambigram is a “calligraphic design that manages to squeeze two different readings into the selfsame set of curves.”

It’s almost like code writing, but instead of having a distinct set of symbols for the alphabet, the regular letter forms are used and manipulated to create dual-words.  Let me show you some examples:

I just couldnt resist showing this one.  I didnt make it, but its pretty amazing anyway!

I just couldn't resist showing this one. I didn't make it, but it's pretty amazing anyway!

Okay, look at the name Casey above.  If you flipped this image upside down, it would look exactly the same, even though all the letters would be reversed.  The C and the Y are formed the same, as are the A and the E.  This is a rotational ambigram.

Same idea with Mississippi here.  This would look precisely the same if it was rotated 180 degrees.

Another ambigram that works when rotated.  This one is for a new series of comic books.  It’s even better than the others because it has an accompanying reversible graphic.

Another rotational.  I think this doormat is my favorite. :)  I found it in the Uncommon Goods catalog earlier this year and used it for a class presentation I had to do at the time.  I think it kind of bewildered my friends.  I seemed to be the only one who could see the amazing coolness of something like this.  *sigh*  Just another kooky facet of my personality, I guess. ;)  Anyhow, the doormat welcomes you as you enter and properly sees you out, too.  It’s perfect for all those guests who drop by unexpectedly and must be admitted.  It’s quite real, and can be yours for a mere $24.

This is a mirror image ambigram.  Instead of flipping or rotating this one, you hold it up to a mirror and see the exact same image.

This magnificent painting by ambigram master John Langdon is a figure ground ambigram.  It forms two words: one with the positive space (the white blocks), the other with the negative space (the photo of the field).  You have to stare at it for a while to get your eyes adjusted to the changes.  (it says “optical illusion”)  If you’d like to learn more about ambigrams or learn how to start making some, check out John Langdon’s website.  It’s a wealth of information.  One of my favorite ambigrams is on Mr Langdon’s site, but I couldn’t link to it.  If you go it his site and click “Logos” in the top menu, look for one called “Victoria.”  It’s beautiful.

This ambigram thing is wildly popular and has even sparked it’s own thriving Flickr group.  It seems that the easiest way to make ambigrams work is by using a graffiti type script.  That’s not really my cup of tea.  I’m more partial to the traditional ones.  I’m going to give it a whirl and see what I come up with.  I’m armed with the tips from Mr Langdon and full of amazing inspiration from my searches this morning.

Okay, that’s all for art class today.  Let me know what you thought of this post.  I’ll be happy to do another art class post, but I don’t want to bore you when you only came to talk about movies or sewing.  Never fear, I’m not giving up either of those anytime soon.  I’m starting a new sewing project and will be posting on it soon.  Happy Sunday, my dears!

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Movie Review: Divorce, American Style

Im seeing conflicting reports on DVD availibility.  Amazon sells it used, but TCM says its not on DVD.  Hmmm.
Availability: Amazon has is on Instant Watch and sells it used. Netflix has it on DVD only.

Divorce, American Style (1967) is way out of my normal viewing range, but I watched it for several reasons.  First, Raquelle over at Out of the Past did a series of posts a couple of weeks ago about films from the 60’s, encouraging her readers to give them a chance.  She was terribly optimistic, so I decided that my close-mindedness about 60’s films needed to end.  I had to swallow my preconceived notions and watch one with a new outlook.  My other reasons for viewing Divorce, American Style were the stars: Debbie ReynoldsDick Van Dyke, Van Johnson, Jean Simmons and Jason Robards, Jr.  It’s a first class cast if there ever was one.  So, long story short – I’m very glad Raquelle pushed me on my 60’s dislike, because I found Divorce, American Style to be funny, smart, entertaining and earnestly sweet.

Debbie & Dick are Barbara and Richard Harmon, a married couple that continually quarrel.  With the help of a dubious marriage counselor and their friends, they decide that they would be so much better off divorced.  (This aspect struck me as being similar to The Women (1939), btw.)  The  film deals with the logistics of their divorce and the treacheries of dating.  A lot of the humor is derived from the divorce laws of the time, which strongly favored women and made it highly undesirable for men to get divorced, since they pretty much got shafted.

Richard meets up with Nelson Downes (Jason Robards, Jr.) while having visitation with his sons.  Nelson is divorced from his wife, Nancy (Jean Simmons) and is living in poverty because of the settlement.  Nelson wants to remarry his now-pregnant girlfriend, Eunice (Eileen Brennan) but can’t until Nancy gets remarried and disqualifies herself for alimony.  Nelson plays matchmaker for his wife, bringing home possible beaus for her to choose from.  (I found that aspect of the story to be rather disturbing and kind of bizarre.) Nancy and Nelson seem to have a mutual fondness for one another, but are bound and determined to be married to other people.  Anyway – Richard becomes Nancy’s love interest, but there’s a problem .  Richard can’t marry Nancy until Barbara remarries (that pesky alimony!).  So, Nancy and Nelson set out to find a new hubby for Barbara.  This is where Van Johnson comes in. Van adds a lighthearted touch to the whole mix as “Big” Al Yearling, a lovable, mama’s boy car salesman.  If this sounds ridiculously complex, it is.  I think it’s a purposeful complexity to make the 60’s divorce craze look silly and pointless.

I really liked Van in this film.  He is a joy to watch.  He’s not supposed to be likable, but he is sweet and honest.  Jason Robards was rather creepy, I thought.  He has an almost evil quality that shines through a couple times and it’s undesirable.  Debbie and Dick are a very believable married couple.  It always annoys me when the couple in a film don’t seem to truly be in love.  You can always tell when actors and actresses don’t like each other and it makes the film less enjoyable.  Jean Simmons is amazingly lovely.  I would venture to say that she looks better in this film than in her earlier films (if that’s possible – maybe age was becoming to her?).

My most favorite scene of the whole film is the nightclub scene with Pat Collins, the hypnotist.  Barbara & Al, Richard & Nancy, Nelson & Eunice all go on the town together to celebrate Barbara & Richard’s divorce being final. (Like I said, it’s got it’s bizarre aspects.) They end up in a nightclub where Pat Collins is performing and Barbara & Al get up on the stage to be hypnotized.  I tried to find a clip of it, but it doesn’t seem like there is one (at least not on YouTube or TCM’s Media Room).  Pat Collins totally steals the show in her lovely 60’s gown, big hair and enormous sunglasses.  According to this article in the New York Times, Pat had a successful nightclub in Hollywood on the Sunset Strip.  She used her hypnosis techniques to help people quit smoking and overcome fears.

There is an episode of The Lucy Show that Pat appeared on.  I’ve got it linked below.  It’s in several parts, and it’s not the best quality, but you can get to see Pat Collins at work.  If you’d like to see the rest of the act, click on the video, they should be in the sidebar.

Enjoy.  :)

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Filed under Classic Movies, Film Bloggers, Let Me Introduce You, Movie Review

Let me introduce you…

1.  Errol Flynn

A handsome devil if there ever was one.  EF is most famous for his spectacular portrayal of Robin Hood in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938).  I saw his costar in that film (Olivia de Haviland) describing the making of Robin Hood in a documentary once and she sheepishly admitted that while filming the climatic kiss scene, she deliberately kept ruining each take so she could get to kiss him as many times as possible.  It’s not hard to understand why.  ;)

2. Ronald Coleman

The man with the dreamy voice.  My favorite RC film is the little known Random Harvest with Greer Garson.  He is the perfect husband.  Yet another reason why I am convinced that I was born in the wrong era.  RC is probably most famous for The Prisoner of Zenda with another dreamboat, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.    In Zenda, RC has a dual role as two men who look exactly alike.  It’s an unlikely story that would not “work” if RC were not such a marvelous actor.

3.  Robert Donat

Robert Donat was a real underrated hunk.  I don’t think he was as popular here in America as he was in England.  What a shame.  He was Mr. Chips in Goodbye, Mr. Chips, but my favorite of his films is The 39 Steps (this photo to the left comes from that movie).  The 39 Steps was made in 1935, co stars the beautiful Madeline Carroll and was directed by Alfred Hitchcock.  It is definitely worth watching if you ever happen to have the chance.

Well, that’s my first Let Me Introduce You post.  I’m hoping to have a new one every Wednesday.  Feel free to leave me comments or questions.  I’d be thrilled to hear from you!

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Filed under Film Bloggers, Let Me Introduce You