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December 2009

An Ode to the Stoicism of our Nation's Gritter Drivers


Man in lorry
in the snow
grits his teeth
and the road.

(Not a proper) round-up of the year

johnson banks is inviting contributions to its annual round-up of the best and worst of 2009, so here are ours.

The ‘wish I’d done that’ project of the year


Diego Monetti. As well as being funny, it's beautifully crafted and appropriate as a portfolio site for a multimedia designer. That's if Diego is a real person – we're still not quite sure. Hasn't yet got the full attention it deserves, although this may be the fate of all truly great artists.

Design / advertising trend of the year
Loser-generated content. (Charlie Brooker's phrase for the practice of involving the public in branding exercises, from the T-Mobile Flashmobs to democratic, ever-changing logos like Aol., to those Confused.com TV ads.)

Copywriting trend of the year


 'Appen it be the trend fert local copywriting, innit me old china? Like them thar wine labels from Co-op, and these pukka cashpoints darn sarf.


Worst design of the year


The Michael Owen Brand Guidelines. Not so much for the design, but for the decision to produce such a thing. (Although you could argue they worked well for the client, as he signed for United shortly afterwards – the best argument yet against the Design Effectiveness Awards.)

Iconic image of the year


The redacted MPs' expenses claims
. Beauty may be Truth, and Truth Beauty, but it seems weaselly two-faced hypocritical lies can be quite beautiful too.

Iconic image of the year (part two)

This photo (one of ours) captures something of the economic climate of 2009.


Teatime dreams


A couple of months ago, the people at Yorkshire Tea were nice enough to send us some free gifts – probably the highlight of our year, decade and lives so far. There's no way you can return a favour like that, but the one thing I can do is write a slightly forced poem. So here's a Corpoetic based on Yorkshire Tea's homepage copy (pictured above).

As usual, the rules were that you can only use the words supplied, you don't have to use all the words and you can use individual words more than once.

Yorkshire Tea

Yorkshire Tea is a major cause
of lovely dreams – teatime dreams.

Dreams of cakes the size of Yorkshire.
Dreams of biscuits big as a planet.

Delicious dreams of cuppa on cuppa
of lovely, simple, natural tea.

To all the people of Yorkshire Tea,
who put the 'tea' in 'quality',

who grow the tea and blend the tea
and treat our teatime properly –

all our love and respectful wishes.
Yorkshire Tea is so delicious.

Punctuation problems


As of this morning, Aol. joins the likes of vitra., EAT., MORE TH>N, LV=, Yahoo! and nineties rocksters Therapy? by incorporating a punctuation mark into its identity.

You can see how messy that sentence gets.

The whole thing gets a good write-up in the New York Times.

With the possible exception of Therapy?(?), these are all successful national or global brands. There's nothing wrong with a bit of punctuation (especially if it's an ampersand). 

But they do present problems for writers.

For the moment, Aol. is continuing to write its name as AOL on its website. It'll be interesting to see whether this discrepancy lasts, or the Aol. usage gradually takes over.

They could end up in the same situation as Yahoo!, who always use the exclamation mark, no matter what the context. It's especially strange when it comes at the end of a sentence, as in: "What's the point of Yahoo!?" or "Please accept our sincere condolances, from all your colleagues here at Yahoo!"

Either way, if these brands think they're onto something with their punctuated logos, they ain't seen nothing yet. Over to you, Aalto University in Helsinki.


In your face, Yahoo!!

Corpoetics reviewed, and other things


(our collection of found corporate poetry) has recently been reviewed in Sphinx, a magazine and website for independent poetry publishers and poets, run by HappenStance Press. You can read the whole thing here.

Over the past couple of years, I've been trying to familiarise myself with the ins and outs of the UK poetry scene – the magazines, the publishers, the events, the writers to watch, the writers you should be embarrassed not to have heard of, the conflicting fashions and schools – all that kind of thing. It's a long journey that leads you up numerous cul-de-sacs. But one of the great highlights has been discovering HappenStance Press.

Like so much of the poetry scene, it's fired less by economics and more by love of the art form and sheer generosity of spirit. Helena Nelson runs the entire operation, fielding countless submissions, publishing several titles every year, maintaining a lively blog and website, and editing and producing Sphinx. In a right and proper world, these would be the people getting six-figure bonuses every year.

If you're at all interested in getting poetry published, buy this:
How (not) to get your poetry published

And if you're interested in reading it, buy this:
Unsuitable Poems

And just about anything else from the HappenStance shop.