The text of this week's issue was set in 10-point Rigatoni Condensed, a classic font that has recently been experiencing a well-deserved resurgence in popularity. Often confused with the Verbina typeface that was used on the Acknowledge-ments section of the Magna Carta, the font is actually a wholly original construct with a distinctive look and a rich pedigree all its own.

Rigatoni's origins are a study in perseverance. It came of age in the cutthroat publishing world of early 20th-century Manhattan, where pity was scarce and a font had to rely on its quick wits in order to survive. Born to a drug-addicted mother in a densely populated, only marginally literate dockside community, the font never knew its father. An early bout with the croup left it frail and subject to the cruel bullying of other fonts. Summer afternoons were spent not on the baseball diamond or inching across the pages of a cheaply published penny dreadful, but in bed recuperating from a brutalizing round of emergency enemas. Eagle-eyed printing experts now say that these early heartbreaks defined the font's visual personality for years to come, roughening its edges and teaching it that it could get along just fine without serifs, thankyouverymuch.

Due to a combination of New Deal education initiatives and careless typographical mistakes, Rigatoni eventually found its way into a student newspaper printed on the campus of an Ivy League university. Here, the font was exposed to a hitherto unimagined diversity of cosmopolitan viewpoints. It also learned that proper presentation could sell the weakest, most inflammatory arguments, a lesson that would serve the font well when it added controversial punctuation to campaign materials prepared by local supporters of presidential candidate Alf Landon. Later on, a personal crisis was narrowly avoided when angry townies charged that Rigatoni had been complicit in spreading Communist propaganda. But it dodged censure by turning state's evidence against other fonts with a lesser instinct for self-preservation. A pattern was beginning to emerge.

The postwar years were good times for Rigatoni. The baby boom was all the impetus it needed to get big into cereal boxes, an arrangement that would prove lucrative as an entire generation graduated from Frosted Flakes to Grape-Nuts without ever putting aside its need for breakfast-table reading. Though a lack of Russian characters lost the font its bid to be the first typeface in space, it was able to sweet-talk its way into the opening and closing credits of several TV ministries. When the shepherds of those ministries fell victim to their own greed, Rigatoni lent its cachet to printed stories of their downfall. This font is a survivor.

In more recent years, Rigatoni has amassed a list of accomplishments only its bitterest rivals could fail to admire. It has enabled the winning of Pulitzers and clarified FDA requirements. It has remade TV Guide and been spotted on the menus of some of the finest four-star restaurants. It has invaded the web and done blow with Kate Moss. Rigatoni has its own upscale fragrance, a chain of nightclubs and a line of gentlemen's fashions all keyed to radical reimaginings of the letter "R." It is investing heavily in NASCAR. To this font, every day is an opportunity, every emerging Asian nation a new market waiting to be tapped.

Rigatoni is never far from today's headlines. Yet don't think for a minute that this font is a stranger to sacrifice. For 35 years, it tirelessly served its people as their democratically elected president and divine messenger on this Earth. Anything it did in that time that may have looked unseemly, it only did to protect its followers, and to shield the women's magazines of a proud nation from the foreign dogs who would have filled them with pornography. And now you say, "Eject that font from the courtroom?" Rigatoni does not recognize the authority of this tribunal! Your honor, we demand a new tr

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Sorry. Fonts get carried away sometimes. But stress is an occupational hazard when you're a font at the top. Most of the time, this font just lets it slide. Rigatoni thinks the petty and the jealous should have their say, unreadable though it may be.

Nothing people say is going to stick to the font anyway. Rigatoni is a legitimate businessman. It gives heavily to children's charities. Been to that new Down Syndrome wing at Mercy Hospital? Remember the first thing you saw when you looked at the directory? Yep. Rigatoni. Hardly sounds like the work of a typeface with skeletons in its closet, we're sure you'll agree. Then again, it's no coincidence that, for all the smart-aleck ampersands and pissant little semicolons this font has allegedly wronged over the years, not one of their cases has made it onto a police blotter. What are they, using invisible ink over there? Geddaddahere. If you're keeping your nose clean, you've got nothing to worry about from this font, pally. Nothing at all.

The font is ready to see you now.


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