About Hank

I am H.M. Talbot, chief driveller, intrepid journalist and poet laureate of fantasticdrivel.com. You can call me Hank. I am a pseudonym.

the hunt for pink october – hall of fame repost

I figured I’d better get this hall of fame repost up before October has come and gone. It’s one of my favorite pieces of drivel to ever disgrace the blogosphere. Be sure to read the disclaimer first, lest ye be offended. Unless ye be offended by the disclaimer…in which case this might not be the right blog for you.

I will add that I have not seen the pink pumpkins in the last two years (incredibly, that sentence is devoid of euphemism). Judging by their website, the group is still around—and growing much more attractive pumpkins these days. But I didn’t encounter them at the grocery store this October.

Also, the hulu video I had embedded in the original post has been taken down. It’s actually quite difficult to find some of these Celebrity Jeopardy! episodes online. I tracked down another version that (for now) seems to be working. It’s still a classic, and still worth watching if you can.

OK, enough preramble. On to the drivel. Enjoy.


originally posted november 14, 2012
The Hunt for Pink October

Join the hunt.
Buy something pink.


If you’ve read fantasticdrivel at all (or even just perused the tag cloud), you’re probably well aware of my fondness for breasts. I think they’re great. Moreover, I really like women. Especially strong-willed, capable, intelligent women—like Lady Liberte, the unofficial mascot of fantasticdrivel.com. Therefore, I have no problem with National Breast Cancer Awareness Month: a month devoted to saving women and their breasts by raising awareness about breast cancer.

I’ll also add that, as a graphic designer and an advocate for a public awareness cause (Adams Place), I’m beyond impressed by what the Susan G. Komen Foundation et al have been able to accomplish in terms of branding (i.e. the pink ribbon).

I do feel, however, that sometimes companies go a little too far in trying to get a piece of the Pink October pie. I’m not talking about pinkwashing (yes, it’s a word; read more about it on wikipedia); I’ll give these folks the benefit of the doubt and assume that they are dedicated to the cause and not their own profit. Just because it’s for a good cause, that doesn’t make it a good idea. I think you’ll see what I mean by the time we get to pink pumpkins (below).

October is the pinkest month of the year, and it seems to be pinker each time it rolls around.

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signs of corruption – hall of fame repost

This Hall of Fame repost is the only onion-style post on fantasticdrivel. After this post, I decided to limit fantasticdrivel to completely real facts, often used to support completely ridiculous conclusions. “Signs of Corruption,” however, remains one of my favorite pieces of drivel to ever disgrace the blogosphere.

Just to be clear: Mark Zeiger is not a real person. I made him up—and I am rather proud of the name. The name Mark means “warlike” and Zeiger is a German surname meaning “signmaker.”

Furthermore, I believe the new garage sale signs are completely legitimate. They are still being used in 2014, and they look very nice. So, thank you to whoever made that happen. And yes, those spraypaint signs were saved and reused year after year for quite a while. Without them, there would not have been any inspiration for this post. So thank you to whoever made that happen, too.

OK, enough preramble. On to the drivel. Enjoy.


originally posted june 4, 2010
Mark Zeiger seeking answers about alleged no-bid signage deals #fantasticdrivel

Zeiger: “I didn’t sign off on this.”

signs of corruption

no-bid contracts raise eyebrows, ire

An area man is demanding answers from local government following recent allegations of no-bid deals.

Mark Zeiger is a committed family man, a devoted community member, and—until recently—the custodian of the annual neighborhood garage sale signage.

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how many holes does it take to fill the albert hall?

Four thousand, right? That’s the obvious answer for any Beatles fan.

That number comes from this verse of A Day in the Life:

I read the news today, oh boy,
4000 holes in Blackburn, Lancashire,
and though the holes were rather small
they had to count them all.
Now they know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall.

A Day in the Life lyrics John Lennon #fantasticdrivel

Lennon’s lyrics

But I’m not so easily convinced that four thousand is the answer.

Reading the lyrics strictly, we only can be sure of two things: (1) they have counted four thousand small holes in Blackburn, Lancashire and (2) they now know how many holes are required to fill the Albert Hall. The song does not explicitly state the number of holes it would take to fill the Albert Hall, it just tells us that they now know that number. The number would be 4,000 only if there is some direct equivalency between Blackburn, Lancashire and the Albert Hall.

Not knowing much about the Albert Hall, or Blackburn (or Lancashire, for that matter), I decided to do a little research. The results of my investigation might surprise you.

(click more to find out!)

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Impressive work by a 14-year-old kid. You should read the article, but Suvir Mirchandani did the research and the math and determined that US governments (Federal and State governments combined) could save $400 million dollars per year by switching from Times New Roman to Garamond. That $400 million is just for the cost of ink (compared to Garamond, Times New Roman requires more ink to print the same text).

Here’s an example of Times New Roman:

Times New Roman

Times New Roman

Now the same text, same point size, in Garamond:



Clearly, Garamond uses less ink (and less space). The article didn’t mention it, but switching to a professional OpenType font with optical kerning and standard ligatures would help a lot, too. At least in terms of saving space. And being super-classy.

Same text, same point size, using Garamond Premier Pro with optical kerning and standard ligatures:

Garamond Premier Pro with standard ligatures

Garamond Premier Pro with optical kerning and standard ligatures

Despite Mirchandani’s findings, I wouldn’t expect the government to be making the switch any time soon. The cultural and societal implications of a move from Times New Roman to Garamond are enormous. Don’t get me wrong; I use Garamond as my go-to serif, and would only use TNR if I was forced to. But Microsoft made TNR the standard “default” font for computer typesetting, and its ubiquitous use has made an indelible impression on the cultural subconscious. TNR represents stability, tradition, conformity, even normalcy. If you open up a legal document, Times New Roman just FEELS right. Garamond, on the other hand, feels more erudite, delicate, and refined. A legal document set in Garamond doesn’t have the same feeling of authority and authenticity.

To put it another way, asking the US Government to switch from TNR to Garamond is tantamount to asking Americans to use British spellings (e.g. colour, centre, organisation). It’s still English, of course, but it doesn’t FEEL right to an American eye.

The other difficulty, of course, is that any document created today needs to be legible both on the screen and on the page. Garamond reads just as easily as TNR on the printed page, maybe even slightly better. But TNR is easier to read on the screen. From that perspective, a switch to Garamond doesn’t make sense.

Personally, I cast my lot in with Calibri. Microsoft commissioned Luc(as) de Groot to design Calibri with the screen AND the page in mind. First released in 2004, Calibri has now become the default font for all things Microsoft. It’s a humanist font that bridges the gap between man and machine. It’s not as hip as Helvetica, which works to its advantage, I think—it feels serious enough to be used in business without feeling trendy.

Calibri doesn’t save any ink, but it’s more practical for screen-reading. And the biggest savings will come when we don’t have to print it out at all.