Poor Richard’s Almanack: Proverbs Revisited

The Portland letterpress community participated in an print exchange in conjunction with Josh Kornbluth’s “Ben Franklin: Unplugged” show at Portland Center Stage. The broadside exhibit “Power of the Press” featured posters inspired by the character and spirit of Ben Franklin and Poor Richard’s Almanack. My contribution was an interpretation of proverbs entitled “Opposites Attract”.

“Opposites Attract” is type-driven mash-up of some of the Almanack’s most commonly recognized proverbs and math symbols, drawing inspiration from Franklin’s interest in both the literary and scientific fields. Proverbs revisited…

Two wrongs don't make a right. Do as I say, not as I do.

Wikipedia and other sources tell us that Poor Richard’s Almanack was a yearly publication put out by Benjamin Franklin, who adopted the pseudonym of “Poor Richard” or “Richard Saunders” for this purpose. The publication appeared continually from 1732 to 1758. It was a best seller for a pamphlet published in the American colonies; print runs reached 10,000 per year.

Poor Richard’s Almanack was notable for its extensive use of wordplay, with many examples derived from the work surviving in the contemporary American vernacular. Franklin also included the occasional mathematical exercise, and the Almanack from 1750 features an early example of demographics. It is chiefly remembered, however, for being a repository of Franklin’s aphorisms and proverbs, many of which live on in American English. These maxims typically counsel thrift and courtesy, with a dash of cynicism.

Birds of a feather flock together. The pen is mightier than the sword.

The poster was printed on a Universal III at Em Space with a single polymer plate and two hand-mixed inks. Because of the heavy ink coverage the split fountain, or rainbow roll, had to be re-inked every 15 prints or so. The paper is some sample Cougar stock I had on hand. The poster size is 12×18 with an image area of 8.5×15.5. All text is set in the wonderfully versatile font Knockout.

opposites attract poster
Proverbs revisited: love and be loved, two wrongs don't make a right, do as I say; not as I do, birds of a feather flock together, the pen is mightier than the sword, six of one...half dozen of the other

What Not to Wear?

Not every day can be a fashion hole-in-one; I thought it was OK to tuck my teal sweatpants into my cowboy boots until I was fourteen. Admittedly, middle school was not kind to me. Luckily those days have passed, but traces of my oblivious self still remain, and made a reappearance when I emerged Sunday morning in my special Sunday outfit.

Within 0.3 seconds my husband bleated in dismay. I think his exact words were “No, no, no…no, nooooooo!” He bullied, he cajoled, he pleaded with me to change into something more norm-pleasing. But I was adamant. My beloved puff paint souvenir t-shirt from my 4th grade birthday party was not going to be shoved to the bottom of the drawer. Nobody puts baby in the corner!

Drawing this outfit in pen and ink just wouldn’t do it justice, so I went the extra mile to give you this graphic representation of my technicolor fashion clash.

purple long sleeve shirt, puff paint shirt from my 4th grade birthday party, design nerd sweatshirt, indescribably pink corduroys, Tiffany Blue Jack Purcells, brown "dogs of the world" socks
I rode Portland's Sunday Parkways in this outfit. I estimate about 750 people saw me. At least.

My New Old Paymaster

Trolling the thrift stores on Hawthorne can be a laborious way to spend an afternoon, but every once in a while you find something that you just can’t leave behind. That is how I came home one day with a Paymaster (original price: $278.50, my price: $40). So far I’ve only punched a few fake invoices with the highest number possible, but in the future I’d like to learn more about the “repeat” lever and what happens if you disregard the WARNING: BEWARE OF UNAUTHORIZED PERSONNEL label on the front.

Behold my Paymaster!
Dollars and cents, dollars and cents.

Last Friday, in Food

I tend to metabolize quickly, to the point that I consider it a defining feature of myself. As far back as I can remember, much of my waking time is spent thinking about food. Having a Danish mother reinforced the importance of food; being raised in a culture that reveres Julefrokost isn’t quite sane, or so I’ve been told. Which might explain my actions last Friday, in which I consumed enough food for a bus full of teenage boys.

cereal, tea, orange, egg sandwich, coke, pumpkin pie, gum, orange, chicken wings, spring rolls, fried wontons, pad kee mao, mocha/hazlenut milkshake, fries

I admit, it wasn’t the first time I’d overdone it in the food department. One time my uncle Henrik asked my sister and I what we wanted for dinner, and we simultaneously yelled “fried octopus rings” and “stuffed turkey”. So he made both, and threw in some bacon-wrapped pork chops for good measure, because he’s nice like that. After our menagerie of meats and their appropriate side dishes, we feasted on a solid marzipan cake until my aunt brought out a liter of ice cream, plopped it in front of me and declared “If you don’t eat it, it will melt!”. You can’t argue with that logic.

So, yes, I tend to eat a lot. If I had traversed the Oregon Trail I would have been the first left behind, huddled next to a barrel of flour and a sack of jerky. Put in perspective, last Friday’s trail of foraging doesn’t really compare to my previous gluttonous episodes, but seeing as I was out of eating shape, it sure made my gut question my mind. Would I do it again? No questions asked. Now, I think it’s time for some pie.