Monday, October 27, 2014

The font of wisdom

By Felix Carroll

HI DAD.

CONSIDER THIS AN INTERVENTION.

THIS IS REGARDING YOUR EMAILS AND HOW EVERY WORD YOU TYPE IS IN CAPITAL LETTERS. IT’S AS IF YOU'RE STILL SHOUTING AT YOUR CHILDREN AFTER ALL THESE YEARS: “HEY, YOU KIDS KEEP IT DOWN UP THERE!!!!” 


DAD, I KNOW YOU'RE STILL GETTING USED TO EMAIL AND ALL, SO I'M ONLY HERE TO HELP. USING “ALL CAPS” GIVES THE WRONG IMPRESSION. IT SUGGESTS MAJOR NEWS, LIKE A CATEGORY-5 HURRICANE, A SHORT, JARRINGLY PRECISE TELEGRAM FROM PEARL HARBOR, OR THAT YOU’RE CROUCHED DOWN IN THE LOBBY OF THE LOCAL BANK IN A STAND-OFF WITH THE BUREAU OF ALCOHOL, TOBACCO, FIREARMS AND EXPLOSIVES WHILE SIMULTANEOUSLY LOSING YOUR HEARING. ...

OUR FIRST INSTINCT WHEN WE OPEN YOUR EMAILS, DAD, IS TO REPEL DOWN TO THE BOTTOM OF THEM JUST TO MAKE SURE THERE’S A “LOVE, DAD” AT THE END AND THAT YOU HAVEN'T HURT YOURSELF.

MAYBE YOU COULD TREAT YOURSELF TO A FRESH, WELL-VENTILATED FONT LIKE “TEMPUS SANS ITC” EMPLOYED IN THE SENTENCE CASE. NO?

JIM SWEARS THE "ALL CAPS" IS MERELY A MATTER OF YOU HAVING ACCIDENTLY ENGAGED THE CAPS LOCK, AND THAT YOU HAVE NO CLUE HOW TO DISENGAGE IT, AND THAT YOU’RE NOW PRETENDING NOTHING IS THE MATTER.

THAT’S POSSIBLE.

WE EVEN CAME CLOSE TO MAILING YOU A PRY BAR WITH INSTRUCTIONS ON HOW TO EXTRICATE YOUR KEYBOARD FROM AN ALL-UPPERCASE PILE-UP, BUT THEN RECONSIDERED SINCE OUR INTENTIONS COULD BE MISCONSTRUED AS OVERLY SARCASTIC, AND WE ALL KNOW THE WORLD HAS ENOUGH OF THAT, RIGHT?

ANYWAY, LOVE YA!!!!

Felix

* * *

Hi Dad. 

I see what you’re up to now.

You just cannot leave well enough alone, can you? When I suggested you use the Tempus Sans ITC font in your emails, I thought it was implied you’d be using a black font. What is that — Aqua?! Are you kidding me?! Was this your watercolor instructor’s idea?

Every time I open an email from you now I feel as if I'm on the verge of being invited to your wedding shower, or that I'll encounter something like, “Hi kids! You wouldn’t believe where I am! I’m on roller blades in South Beach and I’m very confused, and the weather is great!"

Black font, Dad. Stick with the black.

Love ya,

Felix

* * * 

Hi Dad,

Okay, here’s the thing:

I was only trying to be diplomatic when I suggested the Tempus Sans ITC font. I thought, “Hey, maybe meet the guy half way. He likes ALL UPPERCASE so let's arrange it so his emails still draw attention to themselves in a way that make us recoil but that don't keep us constantly on guard that someday we'll encounter an email like: “HI KIDS, I’VE LOST THE ABILITY TO UNCLENCH MY JAW, AND IF I COULD LIVE MY LIFE ALL OVER AGAIN, THERE ARE ABOUT 400,000 THINGS I WOULD DO DIFFERENTLY."

Now you've gone Tempus Sans ITC, black, sort of (more like "Gray-50%"; I won't quibble), but I spy boldface, do I not? Did I say use boldface? I didn't.

I don't feel like we're making any progress. Do you? I need to think about all this. Hold tight. I'll get back to you.

Felix

* * *

Dear Dad,

Jeez, here I am giving this matter careful consideration, and what are you doing? Sending out emails in Tempus Sans ITC, aqua-something, bold, and all caps. What the — ?! Enough! It's time for a radical email font makeover. Try to keep up.

You’re 72-years old now, right? Thinking about retirement? If anything, Dad, your emails should be in all lowercase — every single friggin' letter. You deserve it. And consider using an old, reliable, no-frills, plain-Jane font like Ariel — bold or not, I don't even care. And you could even make judicious use of italics for emphasis and no one would complain.

If you're feeling funny about it, you and I could practice emailing each other, just the two of us. Go back and forth. No one would need to know. Discuss the good times, you riding the tricycle around our kiddy pool and tipping over and falling in … you tipping over in the canoe, you tipping over in the kayak. What I assume you may discover is that with Ariel, all lowercase, your font would conform to the intentions of your content. It would reveal a man who has retraced his steps in the uppercase and reemerged on the tippy-toes of the lowercase, now on the move, no time to waste, just a quick email and then you've got to fly …

“hi kids, i’ve just eaten a delicious grapefruit, and now i’m going to take a leisurely walk at Peggotty Beach and think of the wonderful light cast upon the rocks and whether i should eat crab cakes for lunch. i wish you were here. I really wish you were here. love, dad”

Ariel, lower-case — go for it, you big, uppercase lug!

I wish I were there.

YOUR FAVORITE,

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