Monday, October 31, 2005

Happy Halloween!


Logos, Flags, and Escutcheons

Logos, Flags, and Escutcheons
by Paul Rand

Originally published in 1991 by AIGA, the professional association for design.
Also available in "Looking Closer: Critical Writings on Graphic Design" from Allworth Press.

"It reminds me of the Georgia chain gang," quipped the IBM executive, when he first eyed the striped logo. When the Westinghouse insignia (1960) was first seen, it was greeted similarly with such gibes as "this looks like a pawnbroker's sign." How many exemplary works have gone down the drain, because of such pedestrian fault-finding? Bad design is frequently the consequence of mindless dabbling, and the difficulty is not confined merely to the design of logos. This lack of understanding pervades all visual design.

There is no accounting for people's perceptions. Some see a logo, or anything else seeable, the way they see a Rorschach inkblot. Others look without seeing either the meaning or even the function of a logo. It is perhaps, this sort of problem that prompted ABC TV to toy with the idea of "updating" their logo (1962). They realized the folly only after a market survey revealed high audience recognition. This is to say nothing of the intrinsic value of a well-established symbol. When a logo is designed is irrelevant; quality, not vintage nor vanity, is the determining factor.

There are as many reasons for designing a new logo, or updating an old one, as there are opinions. The belief that a new or updated design will be some kind charm that will magically transform any business, is not uncommon. A redesigned logo may have the advantage of implying something new, something improved—but this is short-lived if a company doesn't live up to its claim. Sometimes a logo is redesigned because it really needs redesigning—because it's ugly, old fashioned, or inappropriate. But many times, it is merely to feed someone's ego, to satisfy a CEO who doesn't wish to be linked with the past, or often because it's the thing to do.

Opposed to the idea of arbitrarily changing a logo, there's the "let's leave it alone" school—sometimes wise, more often superstitious, occasionally nostalgic or, at times, even trepidatious. Not long ago, I offered to make some minor adjustments to the UPS (1961) logo. This offer was unceremoniously turned down, even though compensation played no role. If a design can be refined, without disturbing its image, it seems reasonable to do so. A logo, after all, is an instrument of pride and should be shown at its best.

If, in the business of communications, "image is king," the essence of this image, the logo, is a jewel in its crown.

Here's what a logo is and does:

A logo is a flag, a signature, an escutcheon.
A logo doesn't sell (directly), it identifies.
A logo is rarely a description of a business.
A logo derives its meaning from the quality of the thing it symbolizes, not the other way around.
A logo is less important than the product it signifies; what it means is more important that what it looks like.

A logo appears in many guises: a signature is a kind of logo, so is a flag. The French flag, for example, or the flag of Saudi Arabia, are aesthetically pleasing symbols. One happens to be pure geometry, the other a combination of Arabic script, together with an elegant saber—two diametrically opposed visual concepts; yet both function effectively. Their appeal, however, is more than a matter of aesthetics. In battle, a flag can be a friend or foe. The ugliest flag is beautiful if it happens to be on your side. "Beauty," they say, "is in the eye of the beholder," in peace or in war, in flags or in logos. We all believe our flag the most beautiful; this tells us something about logos.

Should a logo be self-explanatory? It is only by association with a product, a service, a business, or a corporation that a logo takes on any real meaning. It derives its meaning and usefulness from the quality of that which it symbolizes. If a company is second rate, the logo will eventually be perceived as second rate. It is foolhardy to believe that a logo will do its job right off, before an audience has been properly conditioned. Only after it becomes familiar does a logo function as intended; and only when the product or service has been judged effective or ineffective, suitable or unsuitable, does it become truly representative.

Logos may also be designed to deceive; and deception assumes many forms, from imitating some peculiarity to outright copying. Design is a two-faced monster. One of the most benign symbols, the swastika, lost its place in the pantheon of the civilized when it was linked to evil, but its intrinsic quality remains indisputable. This explains the tenacity of good design.

The role of the logo is to point, to designate—in as simple a manner as possible. A design that is complex, like a fussy illustration or an arcane abstraction, harbors a self-destruct mechanism. Simple ideas, as well as simple designs are, ironically, the products of circuitous mental purposes. Simplicity is difficult to achieve, yet worth the effort.

The effectiveness of a good logo depends on:

a. distinctiveness
b. visibility
c. useability
d. memorability
e. universality
f. durability
g. timelessness

Most of us believe that the subject matter of a logo depends on the kind of business or service involved. Who is the audience? How is it marketed? What is the media? These are some of the considerations. An animal might suit one category, at the same time that it would be an anathema in another. Numerals are possible candidates: 747, 7-Up, 7-11, and so are letters, which are not only possible but most common. However, the subject matter of a logo is of relatively little importance; nor, it seems, does appropriateness always play a significant role. This does not imply that appropriateness is undesirable. It merely indicates that a one-to-one relationship, between a symbol and what is symbolized, is very often impossible to achieve and, under certain conditions, may even be objectionable. Ultimately, the only thing mandatory, it seems, is that a logo be attractive, reproducible in one color and in exceedingly small sizes.

The Mercedes symbol, for example, has nothing to do with automobiles; yet it is a great symbol, not because its design is great, but because it stands for a great product. The same can be said about apples and computers. Few people realize that a bat is the symbol of authenticity for Bacardi Rum; yet Bacardi is still being imbibed. Lacoste sportswear, for example, has nothing to do with alligators (or crocodiles), and yet the little green reptile is a memorable and profitable symbol. What makes the Rolls Royce emblem so distinguished is not its design (which is commonplace), but the quality of the automobile for which it stands. Similarly, the signature of George Washington is distinguished not only for its calligraphy, but because George Washington was Washington. Who cares how badly the signature is scribbled on a check, if the check doesn't bounce? Likes or dislikes should play no part in the problem of identification; nor should they have anything to do with approval or disapproval. Utopia!

All this seems to imply that good design is superfluous. Design, good or bad, is a vehicle of memory. Good design adds value of some kind and, incidentally, could be sheer pleasure; it respects the viewer—his sensibilities—and rewards the entrepreneur. It is easier to remember a well designed image than one that is muddled. A well design logo, in the end, is a reflection of the business it symbolizes. It connotes a thoughtful and purposeful enterprise, and mirrors the quality of its products and services. It is good public relations—a harbinger of good will.

It says "We care."

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


Voice of Jolly Green Giant dies at 80

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. (AP) — Elmer "Len" Dresslar Jr., who extolled vegetables to generations of TV watchers as the booming voice of the Jolly Green Giant, has died. He was 80.
In addition to his stint as the Jolly Green Giant, Dresslar did ads for Rice Krispies, Marlboro, Amoco and Dinty Moore over the years.
By Jim Mone, AP
Dresslar died Oct. 16 of cancer, according to daughter Teri Bennett.
Dresslar was an entertainer and singer for nearly six decades. But his voice rang through millions of households when he sang the simple refrain, "Ho, Ho, Ho," in an ad jingle for Green Giant foods.
"His was the most consistent and most frequent voice of the Jolly Green Giant over the years, the one consumers are going to recognize," said Tara Johnson, a spokeswoman for General Mills, which owns Green Giant Co.
Dresslar, a Kansas native, moved to Chicago with his wife in the early 1950s to study voice after touring with a production of South Pacific. By the 1960s, the Navy veteran had carved out a career singing in clubs, on television and in advertising jingles.
He recorded 15 albums with The Singers Unlimited jazz group and appeared on the CBS television show In Town Tonight from 1955 to 1960. He and his wife, Dorothy, retired to Palm Springs in 1991.
Ad jingles were the most consistent part of his career, and he landed roles for Rice Krispies cereal, Marlboro cigarettes, Amoco oil and Dinty Moore canned beef stew.
He periodically re-recorded the "Ho, Ho, Ho" for Jolly Green Giant commercials, most recently about 10 years ago.
Bennett said her father auditioned for the Green Giant job without any idea his baritone would become so recognizable.
"He never got tired of it," she said. "If nothing else, it put my sister and I through college."

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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Sunday, October 23, 2005


Blown away: A long overdue documentary recounts the catastrophic explosion that still burns in the memories of Roseburg residents
By Mark Baker
The Register-Guard
Published: Sunday, October 16, 2005

ROSEBURG - It blew people out of their beds. It blew windows out nine miles away.

And it blew Chuck McCullum away, in more ways than one. It still does.

The then-15-year-old was riding home with a friend three miles west of downtown at about 1 a.m. on Aug. 7, 1959, when they felt the earth move under the car and heard the magnificent boom on the other side of Mount Nebo.

"And you looked back over the mountain and you could see the fire coming up over it," says McCullum, standing in the Texaco service station he's worked at - and now owns - since about a year after what locals call "The Blast."

What else would you call something that blew up seven downtown city blocks, blew a mushroom cloud into the sky, killed 14 , injured 125 and caused $12 million in damage in 1959 dollars?

The Texaco station has been at the corner of Southeast Stephens Street and Southeast Mosher Avenue - about 3 1/2 blocks and one street east of where the dynamite-filled truck blew - since 1936. When the explosion rumbled through 23 years later, the station suffered minor damage, McCullum says. But the buildings and the people who were closer to ground zero weren't so lucky.

At 10:30 p.m. Monday, Oregon Public Broadcasting will air "Roseburg Blast: A Catastrophe and Its Heroes." The documentary is 26 minutes long and, according to many whose lives were touched in one way or another by the explosion, 46 years overdue.

Narrated by longtime ABC News correspondent Barry Serafin, a Roseburg teenager in 1959, the film tells the story of one of the worst disasters in small-town America history. Produced and edited by Southern Oregon Public Television's production manager, Victor Dailey, it also has knocked loose memories that, although buried, never really went away.

"It was some night, all right," says Del McKay, 81, with a laugh. McKay is featured in the film and was a 35-year-old radio announcer at Roseburg's KRXL at the time. "We called that our instant urban renewal."

McKay and other longtime Roseburg residents can joke now - sometimes - about the unthinkable tragedy for what was then a city of 12,000 residents.

"The Blast" happened at 1:14 a.m. when a fire that had started inside the Gerretsen Building Supply Co. on Southeast Pine Street ignited 6 1/2 tons of dynamite and other explosives loaded onto a delivery truck parked in front of the three-story building. It not only leveled buildings and blew to bits those nearby, it left a crater 52 feet across and 20 feet deep.

It also changed local, state and federal regulations governing the transportation of hazardous materials - the main one being that you could no longer leave a vehicle carrying explosives unattended. The combination of fertilizer compound and explosives responsible for the Roseburg blast was similar to that left by Timothy McVeigh in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in April 1995. That explosion killed 168 - intentionally.

The majority of those killed in sparsely populated Roseburg were members of two separate families sleeping in a nearby apartment building. Also killed were a teenage boy who stopped and tried to help put out the fire as his girlfriend ran for help; Roseburg's assistant fire chief, Roy McFarland; and a rookie patrolman for the Roseburg Police Department.

George Rutherford, a driver for the Pacific Powder Co. in Tenino, Wash., had parked the truck there for the night - for delivery the next morning - and walked a few blocks east to the Umpqua Hotel. Most of the load was to be used to blast logging roads along the North Umpqua River east of town.

The film tells how Rutherford ran from Room 207 at the hotel after waking and learning of the fire, and where it was, to try to move the truck. But it was too late. After hearing the blast, Rutherford was held back by bystanders and is quoted as saying, "Let me go, let me go! I've got to go back and see how many people I've killed."

A room devoted to "The Blast" at the Douglas County Museum - in conjunction with the OPB special - illustrates the destruction. Photographs mounted on the wall show an apocalyptic scene with buildings gutted, automobiles thrown aside as if they were toys, and the smoldering remnants of what was once a core chunk of downtown.

"All of a sudden, it looked like the end of the world," says Roseburg resident Norman Neal in the film, a Douglas County Sheriff's Department employee in 1959.

The axle of Rutherford's truck landed 3 1/2 blocks away. Shaped like a boomerang today, it is now part of the museum's exhibit and sits out in the open where you can put your hand to the cold steel and imagine that it must have been a touch warmer a little more than 46 years ago.

The blast was so powerful that a Western Airlines jet flying 17,000 feet over town radioed the Medford airport to report that a nuclear attack might have hit Roseburg.

"They talk about it going 300 feet in the air?" McKay recalls of the mushroom cloud. "I swear it went 2,500 feet in the air."

On a hot, muggy August night, most folks had their windows open as they slept, including the McKay family, where Del McKay and his wife, Virginia, still live today on Northwest Beaumont Avenue just west of Interstate 5 and a couple of miles from the blast site downtown. Over the years, Del McKay had developed a habit where he would grab his tape recorder and head out the door whenever he heard a siren. In the early morning hours of Aug. 7, 1959, as the McKays and their three young sons looked out the window and could see the town on fire, and then were shaken by the explosion, Del McKay grabbed his tape recorder and headed out the door.

This time, however, he went straight to his wife's parents' house to make sure they were all right. He tried to drive his father-in-law downtown to check on his office, but they couldn't get into the area. Del McKay ended up meeting Douglas County Sheriff Ira Byrd - whom he later took back to the radio station for an interview in the early morning hours - and flying in Byrd's plane above the burning downtown to survey the damage and fire.

"One thing I can remember," Del McKay says, "almost every road that led into Roseburg, you could see the (fire engine) lights and see that help was coming."

It was coming from as far away as Eugene as emergency vehicles rushed to the scene.

A scene that is now marked only by a rock with a commemorative plaque attached to it by the Horizon car dealership's service and parts department. A scene that is unrecognizable to the one that was here 46 years, two months and nine days ago.

This story is of course of particular interest to me since it's local history, but it also has a certain relevance when I hear my father tell how he had been downtown Roseburg that night. As a teenager of just 17 in 1959 my father had actually stopped at the local Dairy Queen that night which had been within spitting distance of "Ground Zero." He had returned to his home in Myrtle Creek when the actual blast had occurred, but recounts how even as far away as Myrtle Creek, about 16 miles away if I recall correctly, he'd heard the explosion. The explosion impacted my mother's life in another way as the junior high school she was about to begin classes in was irreparably damaged, forcing her to bus to another school. My grandfather was a local policeman at the time, and recalls receiving a call in the middle of the night to report for duty and spent many weeks after the event serving in any capacity he could helping to keep the peace in the ravaged downtown.

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Thursday, October 20, 2005

Vintage Halloween Photo Goes Big Time...

Recently I shared one of my personal Halloween photographs with Keith Milford, the guy behind the Old Haunts site I'd spotlighted a few posts ago. I was pleased to see the photograph make an appearance on his site. October 1976 and Rhett and I never looked better. Check it out below. ;)

Tuesday, October 18, 2005


Ran across this website recently, found some interest there. It's a website basically devoted to movies geared towards children made before 1985. Check it out, click on the image to be directed to the website itself.

From the website's introduction page: is a website devoted to the golden age of world children's cinema. We will try to cover feature films and short subjects shown theatrically, in the U.S. and elsewhere, between appx. 1930 and 1985.

As you can see, this project is a work-in-progress. Our goal is to eventually have a database of over 1001 fantasies, fairy tales and adventures from the golden age of children's cinema!

We will not attempt to cover, for the time being at least, the following film categories:

silent films (ALICE IN WONDERLAND, 1914, etc.)
made-for-TV movies (THE NIGHT THEY SAVED CHRISTMAS, etc.)
made-for-TV specials (RUDOLPH, THE RED-NOSED REINDEER, etc.)
made-for-TV series (FAERIE TALE THEATRE, etc.)
comedy series (ABBOTT & COSTELLO, BOWERY BOYS, etc.)
adventure series (TARZAN, BOMBA, etc.)
films produced after 1985
We realize this grouping is very subjective, and we apologize if your favorite film is not listed here. We decided to start with the core group of films which could be considered the true children's cinema of yore.

As for not discussing productions made after 1985, there are two reasons for this apparently arbitrary cutoff point. Firstly, we saw a radical decline in the quality of world cinema after 1985. Secondly, the large group of films produced in the past twenty years is covered extensively elsewhere. We are trying to focus on older, better (?), and certainly more obscure films.

If you have a favorite film (or films) listed on this website, please consider submitting a guest review for posting. We love to read guest reviews! It can be nothing more than your memories of seeing a film in the theatre, your opinion of the film's charms, or anything else which the film evoked in you. Contact us!

The history of children's cinema is wide and diverse. From the earliest days of the medium, films intended for the younger citizens were produced. And as film stumbled awkwardly into the sound era, when it truly became the great art form of the 20th century, films made by and large for children became an ever-growing category.

The "Kiddie Matinee" is a phenomenon primarily of the 1960's and 1970's. Weekend matinees, however, have existed since the birth of the movies. From the silent era on, kids and grownups would gather at their neighborhood theatre on Saturday or Sunday afternoon to watch their favorite cliffhanger serials, newsreels, westerns, comedies and gangster films.

Weekend matinees continued through two World Wars and into the 1950s, as adventure series such as Tarzan, Jungle Jim and Bomba. as well as comedy series like the Three Stooges, the Bowery Boys, and Abbott & Costello took over the matinees.

Of course, Walt Disney changed the face of children's cinema forever. From the first sound cartoon, STEAMBOAT WILLIE, to the first full-length animated feature film, SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS (1937), Disney and Co. created and fueled a market for children's product for the rest of the 20th century, and beyond.

Ironically, it was a low-budget imitator of Disney, the Florida producer K. Gordon Murray, who actually created the peculiarly 60's phenomenon known as the "Kiddie Matinee". Starting with the bizarre Mexican fantasy SANTA CLAUS, Murray began a trend wherein a film specifically designed for weekend matinees would be shown ONLY on Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons. All tickets would be sold for a fixed price, adults and children alike.

In addition, rental fees for Murray's films were a flat 50%, which was very generous at the time, and proved lucrative for theatre owners and distributors alike.

Murray's idea took off like wildfire, and before long, Disney, and other quick-buck outfits such as Childhood Productions, were releasing product designed especially for this new market.

Of course, it helped that the demographic of the United States had changed radically since end of World War II. An unusually large population of young people, tagged "the Baby Boomers" and born after 1946, were just coming to movie-going age in the late 1950's and early 1960's. Murray, Disney and company were quick to tap into this ever-expanding kiddie market.

The proliferation of fairy tale cinema worldwide after the end of World War II can be seen as culture's attempt to recapture the innocence shattered by the horrors of the global conflict, just as the postwar Baby Boom is often seen as the species' desperate attempt to persist through massive propagation, after glimpsing its plausible annihilation in the dark mirrors of the Holocaust and Hiroshima.

Whatever the stimulus, The Kiddie Matinee grew like wildfire, and by the mid-1960's was a force to be dealt with. For many kids in the U.S., the Kiddie Matinee was their first exposure to world cinema, as many exotic and bizarre foreign fantasies from countries such as Mexico, Germany, Russia and Japan were released. As such, the Kiddie Matinee was truly a melting pot of world culture, and one of its everlasting gifts to all.

The Kiddie Matinee market dwindled as the Baby Boomers matured and went to college. In addition, in the early 1970's, the major studios conspired with the big exhibition chains, and created contract clauses whereby exclusive "Weekends Only" product was no longer allowed. This bold move dealt a death blow to the largely-independent Kiddie market, and although Kiddie Matinees limped through the 1970's, by the early 1980's it was dead. It was no help that home video came in at this time, and created a ready-made babysitter.

Dead, but not forgotten! Browse our A-Z files, our people pages, our overview of Kiddie Matinee studios and distributors, and take a trip back to a magical time we will surely never see again!

We hope you enjoy your trip the through world of! Check back often, or better yet, write a review of your favorite film and send it to us!)

Saturday, October 08, 2005


Came across this blog recently and was so impressed with it I thought I should share it. For anyone who, like me, is into classic comics of the 60's, 70's and 80's this one is very entertaining. It bills itself as the "World's Greatest Comic Blogazine" and the "Most Original Web Log in Comics History", and I tend to agree. It seems to be maintained by Robby Reed, the hero of the classic "Dial H for Hero" comic. Regardless, I love it! Check it out! Click on the image to be directed to the site.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005


Thought I'd post this in honor of Halloween being just around the corner.

A while ago, I'd come across a great blog dedicated to "old photographs of Halloweens long past. Faded, out-of-focus snapshots. Far away memories of the chilly Autumns of our childhoods. Turn of the Century, to the '60s & '70s." Alot of that introduction comes from the site itself, but it gets the point across most effectively. The blog creator, Keith Milford, is one of my new heroes, this blog and a number of other blogs he maintains, which I'll list below, are some of my favorite visits. As always, click on the images to go directly to each site. Enjoy!

Retro Junk

Hardly "junk" in my opinion. More like Retro Treasures!

This is a site I came across that has some great old commercials, movie trailers and opening sequences to a ton of old TV shows too. The site categorizes everything by era, (70's, 80's or 90's) and alphabetically as well. I've barely scratched the surface, there's alot of stuff to see here. As an example, Click "TV Shows", click on an era, click "Alphabetical" and then choose a show and click "Show Opening".

Prepare to waste some time here! Click on the image to be taken to the site.