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Beer Label Color Separations

In the past few years I’ve accumulated all sorts of bizarre saved eBay searches – things I’m interested in being emailed about whenever they are listed on eBay. This is because I am insane.

One of the more random searches I have saved is “Color separation” – these are the transparencies that were once used in full-color printing – often one sheet each for Cyan Yellow, Magenta and Black. I like them because looking at these color separation sheets both individually and within their shared context can serve as a nice, procedural narrative of the production of the final printed piece (See, I told you I’m insane. Further insanity: ‘separation’ is frequently misspelled as ‘seperation,’ so I have that search saved as well).

I’m generally obsessed with the artifacts of mechanical reproduction – but I’m also obsessed with comic books, so it works out nicely that what most frequently pops up under this search are comic book-related separations (Baseball / trading cards are also well represented). This past week, an interesting batch of separations were listed – beer labels. It looks like these were used in producing cans for a few regional / store brands, as well as a few I recognized (ie Schlitz).

That’s pretty much it – I just thought these were cool looking, and thought I’d post them: Pathmark, Brew II, Horlacher, Schlitz, American Dry.

“Ivan has a masterpiece in him; it’s just getting him to do it.”

Chip Kidd, art director at the Alfred A. Knopf publishing house, says, “I think Ivan’s been following a reductive path, trying to see how much he can pull out of a character and still have it read emotionally. It takes Ivan like one or two brush marks now to do it, like Charles Schulz. Which is hard.”

Brunetti’s one-page artist biographies, structured within panels echoing the artists’ work are the best thing ever. Several appear in Schizo #4 – there’s a tiny image of the Mondrian strip here.

Self-defeatist Vintage Valentine

     Sarah recently went through a giant bundle of used valentines that she bought from an estate sale, some dating back to the 1940s. There were all sorts of gems in the stack, but the one below was my favorite. While I’m a fan of the literal, sad-sack interpretation, we did manage to puzzle out a few alternate explanations (ie if the penguin isn’t a “cool valentine,” then he’s a “Hot” valentine, maybe?).

Click the image to embiggen.


Crossword Puzzle as Musical Notation

     As a part of my ongoing effort to become indistinguishable from a senior citizen while still in my early 30s, I’ve been doing the New York Times Crossword lately. In order to protect myself from feeling like an idiot, I usually only attempt the Monday and Tuesday puzzles. Occasionally I’ll try the Wednesday. Often Sarah and I will work on the puzzle together at a restaurant, intimidating other patrons with our coolness.

     Anyway, it should come as no surprise that my very favorite puzzles are the ones with some sort of “high concept” built in. The best is when the answers not only follow a theme, but when something about that theme is echoed in the visual structure of the puzzle. The NYT recently ran my most favorite concept puzzle of all time. SPOILER ALERT: if you plan to do the March 15th NYT crossword – STOP READING NOW!

     Below is an image of the completed puzzle. The theme answers, in green, are as follows:

  • Composer of 20 across: Beethoven
  • Work by 16 across: Ode to Joy
  • How the circled letters of 20 across are played: In C Major
  • Items you might play 20 across on: Piano Keys

Coded Joy.


     So, yes: the theme is Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy.” Ok, ready to have your mind blown? The circled letters, highlighted in yellow, denote the key musical phrase from “Ode to Joy,” with the letters moving up and down within the crossword grid corresponding to notes moving up and down the keyboard.

     Awesome, right? I know, I was pretty excited. If you’re into stuff like this (And really, who wouldn’t be?) the special features section of the DVD release of Crossword documentary Wordplay has a great collection of theme puzzles being described by their authors. Nerd alert!