Atomium Escalator: Travelling through hyperspace in the Belgian tourist attraction
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As a copywriter I'm confronted by the Oxford Comma question on a daily basis, but when it comes to the usage of this controversial piece of punctuation I definitely fall into the pro camp. However, I've never considered where it came from or the etymology of the phrase "Oxford Comma". The good folks at Vox have done their research though and in one of their recently uploaded (and very nicely produced) videos explain the Oxford Comma origin story.
My case for using the old Ox Com is that even if it isn't completely necessary all the time the assurance of 100% clarity when listing things is always better than anything less. The video above certainly isn't going to settle any debates but it will at least add some interesting new content to discussions about this copywriters' bane.
The pictures I want to share in this post aren't from a book which is that old, but features sketches for the illustrations of two of my favourite old books – Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.
Tenniel's Alice was printed in 1978 by the Department of Printing and Graphic Arts at Harvard University and features images from the university's archive by Sir John Tenniel – his preliminary sketches for the Alice books.
These drawings provide a fascinating glimpse of his iconic wood-engraved illustrations before they were carved into wood. According to the introduction the sketches would be made on paper, transferred onto the woodblocks and then carved into the block (the white space being the bits that got removed) by the well-known Victorian engravers the Brothers Dalziel.
Equally as interesting is Carroll's own illustration of Humpty Dumpty, an example of one of the author's drawings which weren't considered good enough for publication but gave Tenniel a place to start.
Tenniel was a pretty prolific artist, who was blind in one eye and lost his sight entirely later in life, but is best known for his Alice drawings. They're inspirational as artwork and as an example of how images can work with storytelling and writing to create something that's even greater than the sum of its extraordinary parts.
I've been assembling a list of the lesser-known books Tenniel created illustrations for and hope to track them down and share the scans in future posts. Check out my Pictures from Old Books Pinterest Board for the full gallery of Tenniel's Alice.
Choc Edge has often proven itself to be one of the more unusual tangents my freelancing journey has taken me on and this week was no exception. When BBC Radio 1's Academy asked Choc Edge to participate in its week-long series of workshops in Exeter I jumped at the chance to organise our day there and get one of the DJ's involved with 3D chocolate printing for some unique on-air content.
My pitch was simple – print 2D chocolate portraits of all DJs present (which only required a photograph) and a 3D chocolate head from a scan of one of the DJs that they could be presented with on their show. The Radio 1 Academy producers liked the idea and from there it was only a matter of getting the chosen DJ Scott Mills scanned in 3D with the help of Exeter's Fab Lab.
In the end the scanning happened on the day prior to the event leaving me with only a few hours to process the 3D scan and make it suitable for chocolate printing, but I managed to create a trio of 3D printed chocolate Scotts.
The tasting seemed to go down well on air, providing a rich source of inspiration for Scott's legendary innuendos. The joke was that he was expecting a life-sized clone of his head in chocolate but instead got a more bite-sized version. Social Media also seemed to enjoy the reveal which proved to be one of Radio 1's most popular tweets that day.
Getting to create such fun content for a radio show I'm a fan of and in a building where I hangout and work was an exciting experience, and it was great to meet and see the response of the bright young people attending the Radio 1 Academy.
Although 3D printing or the company wasn't mentioned on the show I've optimised the full story on the Choc Edge blog to make sure that anyone who searches for Scott's chocolate head will be able to find out where it came from.
Maybe it’s the Shakespeare in the air this week, or maybe it’s the tested.com Still Untitled podcasts I’ve been listening to where I first heard this story, but I’ve been thinking about the meaning behind names – specifically WD-40.
Firstly I’m a WD-40 fan for many reasons; for being a joke in King of the Hill, silencing squeaks, removing the left-behind sticky from sticky labels, and most recently for loosening a stiff lock.
For all the time I've had a can in my toolbox though I never really thought about where its name came from.
Turns out it stands for “Water Displacement perfected on the 40th try” as it took the three people working at the Rocket Chemical Company forty attempts to formulate the ubiquitous lubricant, for use in the aerospace industry.
It’s a pretty interesting story for a cool name that sounds like it could be a Star Wars robot. And like so many products a bit of research reveals it’s a common household essential that has its roots in a very specialised industry. In fact it was first used to protect the USA’s inaugural Intercontinental Ballistic Missile from rust and corrosion – thankfully since then it has been used as a solution for peace, if only by people with high-pitched hinges.
Check out more WD-40 trivia on the official site.
Mark is a freelancer who specialises in creative copywriting and content creation. Starting out as a freelance blogger he's experienced at putting his copywriting skills to work on a variety of subjects and can easily turn his hand to different styles. In his years as a freelance writer he's always brought a creative edge to everything he's written.
In addition to being a freelance copywriter and a hard-working wordsmith Mark has also forged other forms of content for the web and print working as a photographer, video editor and a general content creator on a freelance basis.
Based in Devon Mark lives within questing distance of the UK's Middle Earth aka Dartmoor. He likes his detectives hard-boiled, his eggs runny, and his time travel non-paradoxical.
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