Letterpress List No. 22: Math Is Hard

Next, at right Bunsen burner for yoooooo-uuuuur Cranston East Thunderbolts Chemistry Team: No. 51, Shop … BOY! (The crowd goes wild.) “Shop Boy, Shop Boy, rah-rah-ree! S-B is antimony!

Hey, don’t scoff. I could once diagram the chemical equation for why a guy has to pee so often after drinking beer. And why adding water — more liquid! — can slow the process. Of course, that was … ahem … a few beers ago.

Some of the science stuff from high school and college does comes back to me periodically. (Hee-hee! Periodic table, get it? Shop Boy = Sb, No. 51! Antimony! Key ingredient in lead type! Ha-ha-ha! Sorry, smart guy humor. You probably wouldn’t understand.)

Anyway, given that background, you’d think Shop Boy would be a whiz at brain teasers, oh, like mapping out how many business cards could be cut from a big sheet of paper.

Um, uh, not really so much.

I could blame the paper itself. Since it’s often cheaper — and sometimes only possible — to buy fancy paper in a large sheet, called a parent, that’s what we usually do at Typecast Press. These sheets are of course too large to be fed into our guillotine cutter whole. And if you just cut them in half without thinking about the geometry equation, you could really cost yourself some cash. Maybe if you cut a strip that’s one-third the width of the parent, then turn the big sheet and make a smaller trim, you can maximize the number of business cards — or whatevers — that you hope to print. This is essential if you’ve bought the minimum amount of paper to, you know, save some dough.

Then there’s this: You order six sheets at 25.5 inches by 38 inches. They unfailingly arrive as something like 25 7/8″ by 37 7/16″. What’s up with that? The paper company can’t do math, either. Sheesh. So if your business card is 1.5″ x 3.5″, and you’re going to print them two-up — meaning two impressions on one piece of paper, to be cut apart later — how many times and in which direction(s) should the paper be sliced? Oh, and the parent sheet has a deckle edge, like a fringe, which needs to be trimmed away or you’ll have some cards with a crazy edges and others without. And mind the grain!

Yeah, my eyes glaze over too, folks.

So, as usual, anything that requires half a brain falls to Mary, even if she happens to be sick as a dog, like last weekend. She had the flu, but we had a deadline. So she puzzled feverishly, measured, calculated, measured again, then adjusted the guillotine’s guides and a few chops later, that was that.

Shop Boy? Let’s just say Barbie would have been a bigger help on this one.


Letterpress List No. 22

The latest slice: Can we count you in for about an hour’s worth of musical numbers suitable for “measuring twice and cutting once,” a la Wayne Mashburn, Mary’s dad? OK, then. Most of these should be available in the usual places. Great and goofy videos are from YouTube.

Your Number Is OneHenry Rollins (For you there is but one direction.)
Add It Up Violent Femmes (Just about ready to cut it up.)
One — Three Dog Night (Flashback.)
The Black Parade — My Chemical Romance (Emo pets.)
LassooThe Duke Spirit (Nothing to do with the university. Just the Eleanor Lewis special of the day — thanks from Shop Boy, kiddo.)
10 X 10 Yeah Yeah Yeahs (Or is that 9 15/16 X 10 1/8?)
The Number of the BeastIron Maiden (Ooh, that Bruce Dickenson could howl.)
Bad Habit
Dresden Dolls (About cutting — yourself, not class.)
Gimme One ReasonTracy Chapman (Turn around, kid.)
VertigoU2 (“Uno, dos, tres … catorce.” Bono’s inside joke/shout-out.)
Murder By Numbersthe Police (Easy to learn as the ABCs.)
Wonderful WorldSam Cooke (“Don’t know much about a science book.”)
Be True to Your SchoolBeach Boys (The Chemistry Team didn’t have lettered sweaters or team jackets. In fact, Shop Boy kept his participation a secret for years. Blame me?)
99 Red BalloonsNena (Go ahead, sing in German. We’re not listening to the words.)
Killer QueenQueen (“Let them eat cake, she says, just like Marie Antoinette.” Cue the guillotine.)
Grip Like a ViceThe Go! Team (Rah-rah-rah.)
Get It Together Beastie Boys (Got the ill communication.)
She Blinded Me With Science — Thomas Dolby (Good heavens, Miss Sakamoto.)
Beer RunGarth Brooks/George Jones (Mary hates, hates, hates this song.)
If I Only Had a BrainThe Scarecrow/Judy Garland (So, one more time … where do I cut first?)

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One Response to “Letterpress List No. 22: Math Is Hard”

  1. Ned Says:

    Ohhhh the “how many prints can I get out of this piece of paper” game! I know that game! It’s essential for us college-kids and our limited budgets. Nothing is worse than when you realize you could have gotten five prints rather than four from you thirteen dollar sheet of paper hehe.

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