Friday, March 09, 2007

If Your Elba Looks Like An L, & Your L Looks Like An I

When you're propped up in bed at night reading about al-Qaeda (Looming Tower: al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 by Lawrence Wright,) sometimes you need a diversion, so I picked up a book on penmanship at the library: Power Penmanship: An Illustrated Guide to Enhancing Your Image Through the Art of Handwriting Style.

In our texting age, it seems odd to receive a personally written letter or note anymore, beyond the scribbled signature of the greeting card. I was taught cursive handwriting, but sometime in my teens (mainly through the influence of an older friend) I decided my handwriting would have more flair is I started printing everything, giving it pizzazz. I started playing around with fountain pens and nibs and inks and educating myself on rag content in paper in terms of how it would absorb the ink, trying to avoid anything too slickly surfaced, or not wanting the pen to bleed through the page.

I half considered doing the practice exercises shown in Power Penmanship, just to make sure I was following the right stokes and that everything have proportion, hit the proper baseline and achieve " attractive balanced effect." The cursive "Q" can do you in. Uppercase, it can be mistake for the number "2" and Lowercase, it could pass itself off as a "g" if you aren't careful:

Oddly enough, while I was reading this book, I received a letter from my childhood doctor's office, announcing his retirement. The paper had weight and felt good in the hand, the return address was copperplate, it was laid out well on the page, and his signature conveyed everything the book said a signature should be: it had flow, it had balance and it looked confident.

I started rooting around in my desk and I found a family of fountain pens:

My antique Moore fountain pen, made in Boston and purchased in Boston.

My Mother's fountain pen: an antique on purchase. Mom did some serious correspondence, given the wear on it.

My father's fountain pen, given to me when I turned 21.

This is a vintage ball point pen. Upright, you see a pinup girl in a bathing suit. You flip the pen, and the liquid bathing suit drops, leaving a nude figure. There was a recent episode of Extras on HBO where Ricky Gervais' agent has a pen like this, and he's sitting in his office playing around with it and having a wank. Later, he is in a meeting with Robert DeNiro, and DeNiro wants the pen.

Our signatures change over time. Mine certainly has. I was studying Napoleon's signatures since he had a life of highs and lows and partied hard in a short span of time, and it was quite interesting to see how things quickly changed for him over the years, just by studying his handwriting:

Nappy B: Counsel For LIFE! (1803)
L'Empereur Est Merde Chaud (1807)

Napoleon After His Retreat From Moscow (1812)

Trying To Raise A New Army (1813)

Napoleon Two Weeks After Waterloo

:::texting:::'Roid Rage4U::::texting::::

Times change. Napoleon would be PowerPointing his campaigns now, googling porn while Josephine waited, and yes, probably blogging: "A blog revolution is an idea which has found its bayonets." Better, n'est-ce pas? Publish and save.
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