Matching fonts when messing with images

I recently did a run of abusing the images of others, specifically taking movie posters and album covers and inserting the character ROM, Spaceknight into them. This got some very good response, and one commentator was particularly amazed at how well I was able to match the fonts of the existing text when inserting a credit for Rom on the poster or altering the title.

There are actually several ways to go about this, and if you’re messing with images with text, you should be prepared to use any or all of them.

1. Get the actual font

For a lot of things, this is quite possible. There are a variety of online tools to help you – Google “font identifier” and you’ll find ’em. Some have you upload an image of a bit of the existing text and then try to match fonts from their database against them. Others take you through a series of questions about the text you’re seeing to try to find a match. When it finds a font, it may be one you have, or it may be one that’s free online, or which someone has crafted a free lookalike.

I don’t think I did this for any of the ROM images.

2. Find a similar font

For example, in creating this image, it clearly wasn’t a computer set font. The squished W, the flares on some of the letters, this was obviously carefully handcrafted.


In order to extend “Mac” into “Machine”, I found a font of similar attributes – serifed, right height, right-ish weight (it’s a little too light, so it ain’t perfect), added the HIN, and made it look right by using a combination of stroking the letter with the background color and adding a drop shadow to get the added thin lines down and to the right of the letter.

3. Steal letters

For Fleetwood Machine, I wasn’t going to find a font with E’s that matched what came earlier… but because it came earlier, I didn’t have to. I just copied one of the E’s from Fleetwood. For that matter, the first O in ROMOURS is just the second O, shrunk a bit to fit the space and to look designy.

4. Build letters

For letters that aren’t anywhere else on the image, you can often build that letter from pieces of other letters, creating something that looks right.


To convert Run Lola Run to ROM Lola ROM, I relied on this… even for putting the O in ROM when I had an O I cold steal in Lola. The build was really easy – the O is just the bottom half of the U that was there, copied and flipped upside down to make the top. This made it easier to match the surrounding color than copying the O. Similarly, I took the left part of the N and flipped it horizontally to make the right half of the M.

5. Replace the whole font

Really, people don’t have memorized the exact font of a movie poster (well, Star Wars’s they do. Don’t mess with Star Wars.) If you can’t match the font of some of the existing text to your satisfaction, delete that text and rewrite it in a reasonably similar font that you do have.


The font on the Stepmom soundtrack disk looked commonish, but whatever it was, I don’t have it. The M’s on it are so wide that simply sticking a similar R into it wouldn’t work so well, no R wants to be that wide. So, I erased the whole thing, found a similar font, and dropped it in.


It’s not the same font at all, but looking at it, it clearly works. I replaced both the title and the credits at top.

And now that I’ve given you all my tips, you can now challenge me directly at my big-time career of messing up images for free.

Published in: on March 31, 2016 at 4:52 am  Leave a Comment  

New season summary

Well, I’m well off the run of reviewing everything, but for the new season, I will say that I’ve found two keepers so far: The Grinder, which features Rob Lowe as an actor coming off of a long run as a popular TV lawyer trying to bring his inappropriate skills to the family law firm, to the consternation of his brother, Fred Savage (oddity note: the dad is played by the same guy who played Savage’s dad on the sitcom Crumbs years ago.)

And very, very much Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, an hour-long musical comedy on the CW. It’s a bit cringe-y, for those allergic to such things, but ah, witty!

Published in: on October 29, 2015 at 4:30 pm  Leave a Comment  

Emmet Lego Movie badge costume

Emmet Lego Movie costume badge

For anyone else making their own Emmet costume (made it for my kid, I swear!), here’s an image I put together of Emmet’s badge from The Lego Movie. Click on it for the full resolution (4 inches wide at 300 dpi.)

Published in: on October 29, 2015 at 4:16 pm  Leave a Comment  

Playing House? More like Playing Home Run!

It’s been a while since I swore off reviewing everything that came on TV, which has proven to be wise because there is simply one ridiculous whateverload of new fiction TV coming on. Between the cable networks getting more aggressive and the streaming companies coming into play, there is now on average more than one new scripted TV series being released per day. I’d have to check, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there were more new prime-time and prime-timey series released in 2014 than there were in the entire 1960s. There is a lawwwwt of TV.

And I turned away from doing reviews in general for professional reasons; my business has come closer to Hollywood in some ways, and I don’t want a talented person whom I want to work with to stumble across that review of the last thing she did which I didn’t like as much as some of her other work. But that doesn’t mean that I cannot make an occasional recommendation, particularly for something that might be otherwise overlooked.

And thus: Playing House. No, this is not the Hugh Laurie biopic we’ve all been waiting for. Rather, its a USA Network sitcom that somehow reached season 2 before I had any hint that it existed at all. It is created by and stars two women whose other work I don’t know, Lennon Parham and Jessica St. Clair. A high-powered executive type returns to her small hometown to help her pregnant best friend. There’s various other good comedy folk brought in, whether it’s Keegan-Michael Key (whose series Key & Peele I’m only just discovering, yes I am late to some parties!) as a regular (cop/friendly ex-boyfriend), Jane Kaczmarek as a recurring mom, or various one-shot appearances.

This stuff is smart, and because they created it, the leads have a strong hold on the tone of the show, making it flow nicely.

The whole first season and what exists to date of the second can be watched online, if you don’t have this show in your On Demand. Try it, do!

Published in: on August 26, 2015 at 12:19 am  Leave a Comment  

Smokes and Chickens

I recently did some writing for the stage for the first time in a long time (and for the first time ever where I wasn’t involved in the production.) It was for “The Box”, a project being staged at the Sacred Fools theater in L.A., where writers are all provided with a setting and characters and situations, and told to write scenes, while each being unaware of what the others were writing, and then the selected scenes are staged in random order over three nights, with some linking narration added. Seventy writers submitted, and 43 scenes by 35 writers were selected. Mine ran as part of the final night of the run, July 25, 2015. Since this particular set of scripts won’t ever be staged again, I figured I’d share them here. (The script here is as it was written; the producers trimmed it down some for time.

The characters used are Young Will, who has just returned from World War I and carries some secrets, and Molly, a suffragette.

Smokes and chickens”

by Nat Gertler

SETTING: The chicken farm, night.

AT RISE: MOLLY stands toward center, facing stage right, smoking a cigar. (All props can be mimed.) YOUNG WILL enters from stage left, walking backwards, skulking, really, a shovel in hand. He stumbles a bit, noisily, causing Molly to turn.







Don’t want to wake the chickens?


I think they’re closing in on me.



(no response)

I’ll keep an eye out. If I see a “them,” I’ll let you know.

(takes a puff)

But why run here, of all places?


I buried something here. A week ago. I need it.

(He scans the area, points to a spot.)


(notices her cigar)

Could you put that thing out?


Cigars bother you? Or just a woman smoking them?


No, it’s… in the war, they gave us all cigarettes. The cigarette makers donated them, free, said it was a patriotic thing, a gift to the boys. Couldn’t’ve been worse for us if the Kaiser had planned it. On a moonless night, you could see the tip of a cigarette glowing from a fifth of a mile away. Further, when someone was lighting up, a lot further. Made our boys easy to find, and that wasn’t good. And that was just little sticks. That stogie of yours…


(twisting the end of her cigar against the ground)

Got it. Was about to put it out anyway. Didn’t want to take it into the henhouse. Too much straw there.


Why are you going into a henhouse at night?


To name the hens.


Aren’t these Chicken Dave’s chickens?




And you’re going to name them because…?


Because Chicken Dave is the worst kind of male animal.


Oh? Seemed like a nice guy when I met him. Bit of a joker, but nice.


That’s the worst kind. A total misanthrope, when he’s bad to you, that’s just part of who he is. But Chicken Dave’s the guy who if he knows that you’re hungry, he’ll bring you a sandwich. You know if you need help putting the fence up, he’s there. He’ll spend an hour on some silly prank to make you laugh. But if you want something that costs him nothing, like respect as a person or the right to vote, he’ll stand in your way. It’s bad enough that the mean folks are bad. When the nice folks are bad, it strips you of all hope.


And naming the chickens will change that?


Just the hens. You see, Chicken Dave is a nice guy to his chickens… he thinks. He feeds them, he sings to them, he acts as if he loves them. Then when they stop producing eggs, he kills them. He eats them or sells them to someone else to eat. And that’s probably easy, because he just sees them as chickens, as just this group. It’s no problem turning chickens into chicken, fried, boiled, maybe chicken salad. But if they have names – if tomorrow I tell him “this one’s Brenda, this one’s Marguerite,” then maybe, next time he’s got the axe out, he’ll suddenly realize that he’s not “making chicken,” but he’s “killing Brenda.”

(YOUNG WILL starts to dig.)


Maybe. Prob’ly not.


Probably not. One-in-five, one-in-six chance, I reckon. And it’s still not going to stop him from killing chickens, because that’s his business. But if I can get him to see hens as individuals, then I’ve set him down a path. Then I can make him see women as people, worthy of full personhood. Maybe.


Prob’ly not.


Probably not. It’s a longshot. But I didn’t have anything better to do tonight. Wasn’t getting any more sleep.


Why not?


Oh, bad dream. Bad, bad dream. And I’ve got a friend I’m worried about, she’s in a bad way. And my brain kept coming up with names for chickens.

(YOUNG WILL is on his knees, scraping something out of the hole he’s dug.)


You’ve found it!


(lifting a locket out of the hole)



No? It wasn’t that…?


Locket? No.


So that means…


Either someone took it, dug it up, and someone else later reused the same spot to bury this, or someone dug it up and swapped it for this.


B sounds more likely.

(YOUNG WILL opens up the locket. He recognizes something in it.)




Published in: on July 27, 2015 at 4:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

Amazon Echo – I review my new toy

EchoAmazon’s new Echo device, heading out to early adopters at this point, is basically a landline version of Siri, letting you talk into the cloud to get answers, information, and other services. This black tube about as tall as a Pringles can and slightly wider only plugs in for power. Internet access must be gotten through wifi, which you must configure using an app on your smart phone or tablet. The app ends up being a necessary partner in making full use of your Echo. If your Echo can’t answer your question directly, it tosses a search engine link over to the app (a Bing link, of course, because Google is not chummy friends with Amazon.) You can add things to a maintained shopping list by talking to your Echo, but can only remove things using the app. And if you want to configure your Echo, such as giving it a name that it will respond to, you do that through the app.
(Oh, giving it a name. Now there’s a disappointment. The Echo sits there quietly, until you say its name, then it lights up, perks up, ready to answer a question or obey your command. And some of the promotional material made it sound like you could pick a name. Which is actually true in the most trivial sense possible – you get your choice of two names. You can call your Echo “Alexa”, or you can call it “Amazon”. This is not only inconvenient if you happen to have named your two kids “Amazon” and “Alexa”, but it’s a disappointment because I wanted to name mine “Mata Hari”. I really, really, really wanted to name it Mata Hari. Why? Because it’s an honest-to-goodness always-on live microphone sending out things I say over the Internet, to one of the biggest data-gathering operations there is. What kind of sufficiently paranoid person volunteers for that? Me apparently.)
(Note to youngsters and the under-read: Mata Hari was a spy.)
So basically, the devices does things that you could do with a tablet or a smartphone and you need a tablet or smartphone to fully use it. So what’s the advantage to having it? Well, the biggest reason is that it makes your life feel real science fictiony – you’re walking through your living room, you just shout out a question, and a ring of cool lights spring up at the top of this tube, with one light pointing toward you, and level, female voice answers your question. It seems so Minority Report.
(Youngsters: Minority Report is a film from 2002. Science fiction.)
Second thing is that it really can be convenient for the basic things it does. Telling it to set a timer is simply a shout, no matter what you’re in the middle of, what your hands are full of.
The third is that it’s a music-playing device, streaming your tunes to the room… at least, those tunes you have stored by Amazon. As with most Amazon devices, the primary goal is not to serve you but to encourage you to use Amazon services. Buy your tunes through Amazon, and you can request them through this. Subscribe to Amazon Prime, and you have voice command access to the Amazon Prime Music library. It will support whatever things that Amazon chooses to let you access through it, like IHeartRadio. But you aren’t getting your iTunes on this.
I’m no stereophile, I won’t claim to judge sound quality. It sounds good enough to be my ambient music. It plays streaming music without me having to turn on my TV. For me, it’s an improvement. Volume can be controlled by voice command, by remote control, or by turning a ring around the top of the tube.

Once I’d gotten it set up, I put the Echo through some very basic steps.

  • “Alexa, what time is it?”
  • “It’s 1:10.”
  • “Alexa:Set an alarm for 1:50.”
  • “Alarm set for 1:50 this afternoon.” (I would later find that one of its weaknesses is that it wasn’t an alarm, it was the alarm. Try to set a second alarm, and it will indeed be set, but the first alarm setting disappears. Learned that one the hard way.)
  • I decided to try its look-up-in-Wikipedia function. “Alexa: Wikipedia Nat Gertler.” (yes, I have a Wikipedia page.)
  • It starts to read me the Wikipedia for a town whose name is similar to my last name.
  • I try again. “Alexa: Wikipedia Nat Gertler.”
  • It reads me the introduction to the Wikipedia page for Republic Steel.
  • “Alexa: Wikipedia Nat Gertler.”
  • While it is admitting that it didn’t understand what I am looking for, my phone rings. I grab it, and say “Good afternoon.” The Echo starts reading me the Wikipedia page for “Greeting”.
I tried to destroy the Echo by asking it “What is love?”, but it just quoted the Dalai Lama at me.
Another thing it’s good for is keeping the kids distracted for a little while, as they work out what it will do. Yes, they can ask it math questions. No, it can’t tell them how far it is between two cities, but yes, it can tell them how far each city is from here. No, it won’t sing you songs, but yes, it will tell you a joke if asked. The kids added a lot of silly things to the shopping list, and were surprised when it read them back a list with even more silly things (I was in another room, augmenting their shopping list via the app.)
The thing that delighted them most was when my daughter sang  “Alexa: Do you wanna build a snowman?” and gotten the spoken response “Come on, let’s go and play!” (And it even has multiple responses to that question.)
Overall, at this point, it feels more like a novelty than a necessity. Some of what it does, it does impressively well, like hearing a command over other noise in the room. Some it does so-so; it’s generally good at understanding my requests, less so my five year old, but luckily it tends to repeat back what it’s asked, so at least we know it’s answering the wrong question. There are odd quirks in the data set it’s using for some things; ask it to define “sister”, and the one about a female sibling isn’t the first definition, it’s the fourth. Similarly, the definition of “knocker” went through the more lurid slangy sense and a yiddish term before getting to the item that hands on a door.
But those concerns are software, not hardware, and software upgrades, so there is hope for something more full. As the Echo will tell you when you ask it (her? The voice is most definitely a her.) “Where are you?”, she is here, but her head is in the cloud. Additional services could be added without even a download. So this could be more and better; whether it will probably depends on whether enough people adopt it to give Amazon a belief that there should be a future for this. If they don’t, this will be another Apple Newton.
(Youngsters: if you haven’t heard of the Newton… that’s kind of the point.)
The Echo is orderable here. It currently has a steep discount for Amazon Prime users.
Published in: on February 20, 2015 at 3:20 am  Leave a Comment  

On those of us who try to be funny

In the wake of a recent suicide, there are discussions and articles going around that anyone who tries to be funny is so desperate, sad, and lonely that they are at all times one small step away from taking the Big End To It All option.
People also frequently note that I am often trying to be funny.
So let me start by assuring everyone out there that I am not on the edge, I am nowhere near that edge, I don’t foresee myself ever being at that edge absent real physical suffering or impending complete collapse of intellect.
This is not to say that I am without depressions – really, more frustrations, I’m a very frustrated man in some ways, having squandered both abilities and opportunities (all of which is on me). I feel I have achieved most of what I’m likely to, and there are some genuine achievements in there, but the pile could have been bigger. As a writer, I am both more successful than most people who see themselves as writers and less successful than most of the people folks are apt to think of when they think about writers. And I’ve managed to get myself in a position in life where I’m spending a lot of time doing things that I’m not that good at.
And I don’t always put these things forward because I’d rather be judged on my strengths and successes than on failures and weaknesses. And I make my jokes because they are a success; I am good at finding some combination of things about a given situation that meet in a surprising way. And it feels good not just to amuse other folks (although that is certainly a measure of success) but to simply put it together; it has some of the same satisfaction as solving a math puzzle does for me.
And I am proud of things that I have done, including things that you don’t know about. And while I might not have that many successes to look forward to, there are other forms of pleasure that still await. I have my up side as well.
So if you had any concern regarding me, I appreciate your caring, and can always use support… but I’m not suicidal, merely human, and we all to some degree clothe our wrinkled natural selves.

Published in: on August 12, 2014 at 6:13 pm  Leave a Comment  


It will be interesting to see where we are at the end of the year.

Published in: on May 10, 2014 at 3:52 pm  Leave a Comment  


Indeed, Michigan.

At this point, 54% of Americans live in a jurisdiction where same-sex marriage is either available or are awaiting the end of a stay of court ruling to be legal.


Published in: on March 22, 2014 at 6:35 pm  Leave a Comment  


Back before Dr. Mrs. Nat’s TV was a Dr. or a Mrs., back when we had just gotten engaged, well, I felt a bit of trepidation about that… not just because of the usual marriage jitters, but because marriage was being used as a legal tool to keep my gay friends (and even gay folks I didn’t like so much) in a second-class situation. So I got engaged, but the future-Dr. Mrs. and I agreed that if any state legalized same-sex marriage before it was time to book our honeymoon, we would honeymoon in that state.

Which was easy to say, since the state that was actively moving in that direction at the time was Hawaii. When they punted, and it looked like we might have to marry in Vermont. To our vast dismay (and a small amount of relief), Vermont punted as well. Since no state was going to have same-sex marriage before our wedding, we were free to honeymoon where we wished. And yes, we wished Hawaii.

Starting today, plenty of same-sex couples are getting married in Hawaii. May they have wonderful lives together, and wonderful honeymoons. May I suggest Vermont?

Published in: on December 2, 2013 at 7:50 pm  Leave a Comment  
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