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Say hello to the homepage for The Kitchen Sink literary journal. I guess now would be the time for me to wax eloquent on my stellar and eccentric design philosophies, but I actually already did that here… If you just happen to be looking at this page and you just happen to like what you see and you just happen to be in the market for an exceptional graphic designer and you just happen to want to see more of my work, PLEASE CONTACT ME.
I’m not desperate or anything, though…
Legomenon Online Literary Journal is a new literary magazine that I find interesting for a few different reasons. While the “what is the meaning” theme of this new literary journal is very cool, one of the things I like most about Legomenon is how this online magazine publishes new non-fiction content continually, not just in the old-fashioned “edition” format used by most online journals. One thing that I don’t think makes much sense about most literary journals “online” is how most of these types of web publications will only release new editions once a month or even less often than this. To me, if you publish all of your new material all at once in set increments you are almost going out of your way to not take advantage of the many benefits there are to publishing online in the first place.
If you own an online literary magazine and you release all of your new material on a certain date, you might be putting too much pressure on your most loyal readers. While people who enjoy your online magazine might read a new article, essay, or poem each day, most people are probably not going to read all of your new material in one sitting. In most cases, readers of your literary journal will probably just read the articles written by the most recognizable authors and skip the rest. If, on the other hand, you published new content daily or as it becomes available, all of your authors–including the new and unknown–would get a more equal chance at having their work read. Also, your journal readers would get into the habit of checking out your online literary journal more frequently instead of just visiting at the beginning of the month or whenever they expect a new edition to be released.
Another thing I like about LEGOMENON: What is the Meaning? is the way that this online journal gives authors who write non-fiction critical essays a chance to get their work published. On the LEGOMENON homepage, the editors specifically state that one of the main goals of LEGOMENON is “publish compelling content that people actually want to read, with a special focus on analyzing the work of current artists.” I think this is a unique goal for an online literary journal, because most of the lit mags I see published online focus only on fiction and poetry. If an online journal does accept nonfiction submissions, they’re usually personal memoirs or autobiographical essays. I know there is a big market out there for people who want to get their original poetry and fiction published, but I’m sorry to say that I doubt there is as big a market for people who actually want to read original poetry and short stories. Maybe I really am a minority in this, but if you ask me I’d much rather read short essays about the hidden meaning of popular paintings, movies and songs than most of the new poetry I’ve seen online lately. (If you think I am being too harsh and know of some good poetry I should be reading, let me know.)
I think LEGOMENON literary journal offers a new and more modern approach to the online literary magazine format. If you think LEGOMENON sounds like a cool online publication yourself, according to the LEGOMENON homepage you can see your own essay related to the topic of “What is the meaning?” published as soon as your article is greenlighted by the editors. Come to think of it, I’ve been wanting to write out and publicize my own ideas about the secret meaning to Forrest Gump for a while now…
Prettypolis is a small personal photography website I created in 2007. I used Adobe Dreamweaver for the web design and Photoshop to jazz out–that is, edit and enhance–some wild images I caught with my pet camera, Snaporaz the Sony Cybershot. Since the site featured a relatively small portfolio of images, I opted for this old-fashioned “tube television” format–complete with Round Corners–allowing the pictures to just speak for themselves, you might say. By clicking on any of the sixteen thumbnails, the user is presented with a high-resolution magnification of each image (as seen below) and can return again to the homepage simply by clicking on the logo.
One footnote: like all “HTML” files I will preview on W-O-R-D-D-R, the JPEGs below are not really real HTML files at all, but cropped screenshots of HTML files. And yes–for all you employers out there on the fence about hiring me for your next great design project–I know how to do that!
Whoa. I think I almost got stuck in a word-repeating infinite loop à la Howard Hughes in The Aviator in my title line… (That was a close one.) So I originally planned to write my online literary journal review on Vinyl Poetry, but I’ve got to admit that I was kind of turned off once I quickly discovered that it in fact had absolutely nothing to do with music at all, even in spite of its rather misleading bluebird emblem. However, while I was scoping it out I just so happened to check out their LINKS page (Good idea: I’ll make a note of it…) and wouldn’t you know it? A certain Sink Review featured there just so happened to catch my eye, along with this completely attractive birdman artwork that I have included here because I just love its Max Ernst vibes. So says I, “Wouldn’t it just be mind-blowing and incredible if an editor of The Kitchen Sink literary review reviewed another, arguably more established literary review that was just called Sink Review?” There’s your infinite loop for you, and now I say just go with it.
Let me just begin by providing some expository information about the format of Sink Review, an apparently biannual literary journal that specializes in poetry in particular. Given the very non-bloggy layout and feel of the website–there’s got to be a better way to put that–it’s hard to believe that Sink Review is “proudly powered” by WordPress, as the page-footer informs us. Personally, the only tipoff that Sink Review is “just another WordPress site” is really only their Làb Nötes page, which fittingly features even some chapbook reviews (including some published by the Ugly Duckling Presse), making the date and comment functions typically associated with blogging I think wholly appropriate in this case. Although we at The Kitchen Sink have already broken ground on our website and have decided to build from HTML scratch, some of the stuff that can be done with prefab templates is actually pretty impressive, as the professional and streamlined design of Sink Review attests.
Along with the tip of the hat to WordPress obligatorily provided at the bottom of every page of Sink Review, the footer also includes another telling tidbit of information that I for one appreciate. The line, “Sink Review uses Modernity” also appears again and again throughout the site, and the word Modernity, as you can see, is underlined with a double meaning. More than just the name of the design theme used on the website, the word Modernity here also includes a little joke about the perhaps out-of-date character of not just Sink Review, but literary journals in general, even if they are only issued online.
And Sink Review is by no means fashioned as a “cutting edge” website, but instead boasts a very homemade and slightly eccentric aura, as though it were hobbled together by someone living in a slightly different dimension and not wholly acquainted with modern technology. Personally, I love the misused and unnecessary symbols used in the linkage, as in the navigation bar through the previously mentioned Làb Nötes anchor (not to mention Pôetry and Masthèad). The inappropriate accent marks also show up in the logo for the journal itself, transcribed there as Sink Reviéw, with a little symbol under the “n” so crazy that I can’t even reproduce it here. Along with the artiness these symbols add to the overall look of the journal, this little design quirk also brings to mind the scrambled nonsense that sometimes appear in connection with broken HTML, only further suggesting the lack of technical know-how on the part of the creators of the website, with just a touch of self-deprecation thrown in for good measure.
The out-of-touch character of Sink Review is also evident in White-Breasted Nut Hatch (pictured above) by artist and bookmaker Joseph Lappie, who created both of the frontispieces on display in SR7, the current issue of the biannual Sink Review. With his almost nineteenth century illustrator’s style–somewhat similar to the illustrations found in historical chapbooks, you might say–and weird but harmless monster subject matter, this image is a dead ringer for the magical realism of particularly Max Ernst, a prominent surrealist of the 1920s. The effect of prominently displaying this and other images like this against an otherwise minimalist and monotonous design layout gives Sink Review, in my opinion, a very modern, but not necessarily contemporary, character. While Lappie’s work appears only in SR7, a perusal of earlier issues of Sink Review indicates that their approach to the selection of display images generally follows the same line of thought, as the similarly old-fashioned sepia-toned photographs featured in SR6 show. On the same note, the taupe-and-gray color scheme is likewise dated, but still very sophisticated, if you ask me. In fact, you just might see this earthy color palette show up in another up-and-coming literary journal in the near future…
This brand of quirky and old-fashioned “modernity” carries over to the actual poetry featured in Sink Review, as well. In his poem 1959, Franklin Bruno provides the reader with an irreverent but still literary how-to for the preparation of processed foods: “Here’s a novel way to cook the ever-faithful hot dog,” the poet begins. As you can see, Queens native Bruno approaches the topic as though he really were a desperate housewife (so to speak) coming up with an inventive dinner menu on the quick in the year 1959–perhaps the last time that anybody could ever find the prospect of a “fresh garden salad” topped with chopped frankfurters “novel,” let alone appetizing. Upon closer inspection, much of the poetry published in Sink Review falls under the same category as 1959: good old American satire. Maybe Kim Gek Lin Short sums up the Sink Review and its backwards take on American culture best when she asks innocently, “What would Patsy Cline do?”
Unfortunately, I last checked my email Friday morning around 8:00AM, so I had no idea our class had been relocated until approximately 12:28PM. Since I still have no clue where HPER is, I also don’t know what we discussed in class or if/how we are supposed to update our blogs this week. Partly to knock out some groundwork on our literary journal but mainly because I am just a straight-up control freak and have some weird obsession with designing banners in general, I am proud to present the mockup header for The Kitchen Sink that I slaved over this weekend. Props to my team members for coming up with a fabulous name for our journal that also includes an obvious wealth of design possibilities. As for this blog post, prepare yourself for one last geek-out because I am about to go wild!
Making the most out of Adobe Photoshop’s layer opacity setting, some industrial designs I robbed from Google images–if you crop and edit them significantly is that still considered plagiarism?–and also Hammer Keys, I must say I am pretty pleased with how the logo turned out. (pats self on back) As for the font, I downloaded it from this totally awesome free font website dafont.com a few years ago and rushed at the opportunity to use it again, mainly because it’s one of my all-time favorites. Don’t let the goofy faux-ghetto domain name fool you–this site actually has loads of really classy fonts, with which I have bogged down my computer and, now that I think of it, also maybe managed to crash my dad’s work PC with once… (I got chewed out for that even though I’m still pretty sure the crash had absolutely nothing to do with that, so watch yourself.)
I also want to congratulate myself specifically for the “a literary journal” text description that I painstakingly arranged to make look like water trickling out of the tap! (I used Beccaria for that part.) “How can the faucet be functional,” you might ask, “When the sink is clearly not even installed yet?” Such are the miracles of design, my friend. I’ll be honest, I actually thought of this particular touch later, after I had already gone to sleep. However, I actually got out of bed in the middle of the night to add that in, because apparently I couldn’t just wait until morning to do that, like a sane person… Still, I think the words-as-water metaphor is a good fit for The Kitchen Sink–but, then again, isn’t everything?–which we can possibly develop even more later, if we so choose.
IMHO, I think it will be a good idea for us to replicate the black-and-white color scheme used in the header above throughout our whole website, in hopes of mimicking the clean minimalism of industrial illustrations and layouts. However, I’ll make sure to OK this with my teammates first, because I don’t want to turn into a tyrannical group boss or anything… I hear from our email moderator that we actually are receiving submissions, so hopefully The Kitchen Sink runs smoothly–no pun intended!
I’ve heard of Alice Munro, but this totally weird short story Some Women is the first thing of hers I’ve actually read. Most of the time I don’t get a chance to read gossipy page-turners like this, so let’s just say my pages were turning quite–or should I say qwat?–fast. In my opinion, Some Women does a fine job of revealing not only the weird and ugly side of (unfortunately) female nature in particular, but also just how quickly the desire for domination can turn into an undignified and essentially ridiculous cat fight.
For me, the most interesting and well-developed character in Some Women was that of Roxanne. Maybe it’s just American culture–or, on the other hand, maybe it’s just me assuming that a Jennifer Love Hewitt Lifetime movie I watched last summer with my mom is American culture–but I’m pretty sure that if you invite 100 people to perform a free association with the word “masseuse,” 99 of them are going to say “prostitute” right off the bat. That being said, I found it really weird that Munro writes Roxanne more as an escort than as a legit massage therapist: beyond her questionable profession, she also tells “smutty” jokes and starts dressing sexy for each of her meaningful visits with the young and bedridden and married Mr Crozier. As Roxanne allows herself to get pulled into this weird (not to mention pathetic) competition with the man’s wife–whom she hates but apparently has never even met–it is really interesting but also kind of sad to track her downward spiral. In the beginning of the story Roxanne is this hip bohemian admired by the narrator for her offbeat manner, but by the end of Some Women her desire to best not only the absent wife, but also the rigid class structure of 1950s America, really does turn her into this insecure and entirely uncool monster, much as the qwat incident referenced in my first paragraph–as well as the stalking–succinctly suggests. The downright pathetic quality of this character is only compounded by the fact that it doesn’t even seem that Mr Crozier is interested in her at all, but just puts up with her presence at the behest of his mother.
This brings me to the part of Some Women I personally found to be the most unbelievable. Why is there this double meaning to Roxanne’s visits at all? It is obvious to the narrator as well as the reader that Old Mrs Crozier has hired Roxanne for more than just her skills as a masseuse, with Munro clearly playing on the whole “She’s not good enough for you” weird jealous in-law dynamic here. While a mother who cannot help but undermine the authority of her daughter-in-law is one thing, I find it really hard to believe that Old Mrs Crozier would actually want a hired masseuse to replace the history professor wife to whom her son is still married. However, although Old Mrs Crozier’s motivation isn’t exactly believable in and of itself, I think Munro is drawing a connection here between a mother’s inability to cope not only with the loss of control that she once wielded over her now grown son, but also just with his loss in general. Overall, Some Women is a psychologically in-depth and also very engaging read, in my opinion totally deserving of the 2010 Pen/O. Henry Prize. Publish? Yes!