Ah, mnemonics. Useful tools, and also great for baffling the uninitiated.

I worked as a software engineer in a past life and mnemonics were a way of life. They were useful for the work we did, but they served another purpose. When talking about work with non-engineers, the hodgepodge of letters provided a shortcut to getting the listener’s eyes to glaze over. What more could an introverted geek want?

Of course, mnemonics are not just for engineers. In fact, I still remember my old friend, Roy G. Biv, who reminds me of the order of colors in a rainbow (or the colors of the chakras.) Other mnemonics are newer to me and have nothing to do with technical stuff.

I’ve mentioned CROW, a useful tool in improv reminding us to think of Character, Relationship, Objective and Where. Come to think of it, that same mnemonic could apply to writing stories.

Speaking of writing, I just learned about FATP from the Hipster over at Hippie Cahier. Focus, Audience, Topic and Purpose are things I rarely think to consider when they would be most useful, like when I’m writing stuff for this blog (as I’m sure you’ve noticed.)

Which leads me to CRAP. Though I’m not a designer, I still find this mnemonic valuable. It points to the design elements Contrast, Alignment, Repetition and Proximity. Whether you’re designing logos, creating documents, or putting together your own website, keeping CRAP in mind can really help things look a little better. (To be honest, I learned the mnemonic as CARP*, but c’mon, isn’t it an obvious next step to swap those two middle letters?)

Hmm, come to think of it, I’m going to take a SWAG** and say that CRAP could possibly apply to improv as well, but don’t quote me on that. It might be better to just KISS*** and use it as intended, lest things get FUBAR****.


* For more depth, if you’re interested, I recommend The Non-Designer’s Design Book by Robin Williams.

**SWAG: Stupid Wild-Ass Guess

*** KISS: Keep It Simple, Sweetie

**** FUBAR: Fucked Up Beyond All Repair

CROW, FATP and other CRAP
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2 thoughts on “CROW, FATP and other CRAP

  • 09-23-2012 at 10:10 am

    OMG, is challenging to think of CRAP applying to IMPROV (Imaginative Mindful Play Reveling On Verity)

    (Yeah, it’s a push, but give it a try on one cup of coffee. The first try involved Revolving Over Venusians.)

    When I was a teen I had friends in LRY (Liberal Religious Youth). The meaning changed every other week or so; Luscious Raspberry Yogurt, Lesbian Refugees from Yugoslavia are the two I remember. But wait, these are acronyms….

    Okay, I confess, just looked up “mnemonic”. This was the example they used –

    Knuckle mnemonic for the number of days in each month of the Gregorian Calendar. Each projecting knuckle represents a 31-day month.

    I always liked this, just didn’t know it was a mnemonic! Am now in love with this idea. Just worried I’m not saying it right…. Though will not throw over my devotion to “acronym”, a word I love to say. Actually, I guess they’re buddies 🙂

    • 09-23-2012 at 12:34 pm

      Revolving Over Venusians. Way to push!

      I had actually (briefly) wondered if Contrast, Repetition, Alignment and Proximity could apply to improv somehow. I could probably make it work, but I don’t know how useful it would be.

      You brilliantly pointed out a potential gaffe in my post. After I hit “Publish” I thought, “Wait, aren’t most of those acronyms, not mnemonics?” But then I thought of “mnemonic” as a memory device, in which case CROW, CRAP and FATP all count (IMHO).

      KISS and FUBAR, though, are more acronym-ish, it seems to me.

      Whatever, I still feel bad about not taking advantage of an obvious opportunity to use the word “acronym” in the post. It IS a fun word to say, and it looks cool too.

      Hmm, the word “mnemonic” looks cool too, but isn’t as much fun to say. How the heck do you pronounce “mn”?


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