Blog Redesign

by F.

WordPress just kicks ass. The blogs are free, the custom upgrades are reasonable, and WordPress.com keeps publishing more and more—and better and better—themes.

With this latest change, I’ll have used five WordPress themes, all of which had their virtues. But at the end of the day, Helvetica on white is where my heart is, mostly for historical reasons. You see, kids, back in what we used to call “the 70’s” the Feds commissioned some really beautiful brochures for our National Parks in the US. Apparently, there’s some connection with Massimo Vignelli, who is still turning out quality design. Peter Merholz has some nice examples of “nat park style” on his blog. My family went to a few National Parks and I remember these brochures. I thought they were beautiful then, and I think so now. This style—Helvetica, grid, black and white—is like Mozart or Impressionism: both the experts and the novices like it. So there must be something right about it.

For so long have I dreamed of a design for my blog that would be this gorgeous. But I didn’t really want to, like, have to do it myself. Fortunately, Chris Pearson coded up Cutline. I love it. Mostly. Not sure about italics for quotes, but that’s easily fixed with CSS.

I’m a theme whore. I hesitated a long time before getting the CSS upgrade at WordPress.org because I know my weaknesses: I could screw around with fonts and colors and spacings for days. And I have. I don’t know how many hours I spent farting around with my FVWM rc file on my Linux machine. Like, hours. I mean, when you got 2 gazillion colors to choose from, you have to be certain that you want the widgets to be cornflowerblue rather than, say, slategray. I was running WindowMaker on my BSD box for a while and I spent a good deal of time prettifying that, too. I still love that NeXT interface. Ah, memories.

Fortunately, Apple products come pretty and don’t require massive cosmetic surgery, like Linux and FreeBSD. (That other OS is so goddamned ugly, it looks like the spawn of two seventeenth-generation inbred cousins from Arkansas, both of whom looked like Ernest Borgnine to begin with.) OS X is so pretty, in fact, that I don’t want to touch her blushing face—not even with a little mascara. And now I have a nice blog theme to match.

I love you, Cutline, you little cutie, you. At least for now.

Update: I changed the blockquote font to normal, which is more readable on-line. Italics tend to blur together—at least that is the received design wisdom and is consistent with my own experience. I also changed the hyperlinks to red, with a cange to blue on hover. Seems like an improvement. Next: the picture alignment and text flow. This seems odd to me.

Update to Update: Turns out, the oddness I described came from a kluge I used to get the pictures to look right in another theme. So the problem, Dear Brutus, “was not in our stars/But in ourselves.” I think there may be a lesson there.

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