Wednesday, December 8, 2010

2010: A Year in the Sphere

Another year is winding down, so I thought I'd round it out with the lazy blogger's equivalent of the clip show: the year in review (from a slanted perspective.) Though there was nothing to equal the auction of Cormac McCarthy's battered beloved Lettera -- and you have to admit that the idea got us all looking a little more closely at our collections -- there were still some notable high points in the past year, arranged in no particular order:
  • The loss of the typewriter repair man. You'd think that this isn't exactly news, and yet it seems like a story that keeps popping up this year, usually alternating places with stories about how "the younger generation" is embracing the tactile world of the typewriter. Like all of you, I'm rooting for the latter and fearing the former. There have been some rumblings that Progress is happening despite hipsters pecking out streetcorner poetry, and that our supplies of spools and ribbons won't last forever. There is no better time to experiment with ribbon re-inking and laying in carbon paper supplies. The type-pocalypse is coming! The crazy old guy on the corner with the sandwich board said so.
  • Gadget compatibility. It may not be coming all that soon, though, thanks to the creation of the USB Typewriter and the subsequent online coverage, which goes to show that the best way to preserve a dying technology is to give it the full Irony treatment. I don't know about the wisdom of using a typewriter and all its swinging metal hammers as a prop for your $500 web browser, but it's a damn sight more useful than keychopping. I'm still waiting for the clever egg to make an electric typewriter/USB hybrid that also acts as a charging base. Now that I would buy. (Not really.)
  • The growth of the typosphere. Some notable names joined the blogging ranks this year: Richard Polt and the Davis brothers got their blog on this year, as did the Cambridge Typewriter Company. All three sites leave me feeling smarter, and not a little bit envious at the same time. So many shinies. And around the Big Names, there's been plenty of ordinary folk embracing the power of the typer. I'd do a poor job of trying to name you all, so I'll defer as always to the big blogroll on Strikethru for your link-building pleasure.
  • Silent Type II: Electric Boogaloo. What more can be said? It's awesome. You should download a copy now. Heck, download two. And that poem on page 11? Genius.
  • Fame, with a dash of civil unrest. Typer-lovers did make some news this year, beyond the bomb-squad-found-a-typewriter-case-and-didn't-recognize it variety. The ouster of artist/writer Skye Ferrante raised enough ire in our circles to send sternly-worded typewritten letters to The Writers [sic] Room, and wag our ink-stained fingers in Stern Disapproval at their sudden dissolution of their typewriter-friendly policies. And just maybe that was the motivation for the upcoming Type-In in Philadelphia? Local friends of the 'sphere: represent! We need photos from this, and audio recordings, too. (And please note the links at the bottom of that page for some familiar blogs.)
  • Meets and greets. Seems like everyone was off at a regional typewriter meeting this summer, including one literally just up the road from my old hometown (sniff.) Thanks to those who documented them, and posted videos on the Tube of You for us far-flung relations to ooh and aah over.
  • Another month with the lunatics. The NaNoWriMo Typewriter Brigade was loud and proud again this year, with even more members, more winners, and more pointless posts that forced us into a second topic even earlier than in 2009. Big kudos all around! I especially like how the Brigade is self-perpetuating, as winners drift in to the topic near the end of the month and post variations on ZOMG! I totally love typewriters! I'm doing this next year! On the follow-through front, I see that Duffy (founder of the Brigade, for you whippersnappers) is trying to drum up some support for the idea of a virtual writing group. I personally think this is fine idea, since I'm all for having people read my stuff as long as I don't have to, you know, see them do it. Please comment, and congratulate Mr. Moon for taking on this noble task (see how I did that, Duffy? That's called management.) Seriously, though: consider.
  • Lucky finds. Those of us collector/users who acquire machines outside of the major online auction site that-rhymes-with-Flea-Day know that finding a typer locally is mostly hit and miss, with emphasis on the "miss." But every now and then you get lucky: a tell-tale case, stuck on a shelf or in a corner, with a criminally low price stuck on it. And then the days or weeks or months of fruitless looking melt away and this is your New Favorite Place. Unless you're Richard Polt, and live in a place where typewriters appear like mushrooms after rain. I had a couple of "hits" this year, but by far my best find was Morticia, the curbside SM3 from this summer. Even though it's a "double" (I have another SM3), and even though it was hopelessly gunked and frozen up, time and cleaning and vigorous swearing loosened up the works where it now types like a dream. It's surely my best find of the year.
Your turn: post your own recollections and reminisces of the year past. Any high or low points for you this year? What was your lucky find?


Richard P said...

Thanks for the rundown. I'm glad I decided to become part of the 'sphere -- it gives me a whole new relationship to my typewriters. (Oh, and other humans, too.)

deek said...

Looks like you gave me some content for my next typecast.

Oh, and I love the rundown. This is my first full year in the typosphere and each thing you mentioned clear as day.

I wonder home many letters the Writing Room ended up getting? I was somewhat curious if I'd get a reply back...

Duffy Moon said...

Well done, clemens.
I'll have to do one of these myself (said Duffy, tossing the idea way up on top of the Stack of Things He Plans To Do).

J.A. said...

The high point of 2010 for me? A year ago I only wanted a single portable typewriter for letter writing. Now I gots 12!! Love the insane joy these wee machines bring me in terms of their use and how they've connected me up with a group of daffy and interesting folks!

MTCoalhopper said...

As a matter of fact, I've using 1/2-inch, black and black-red ribbons from a major office supply chain. As long as there are adding machines and calculators with an ink-based printout function, most of us will have typewriter ribbons. So, the actual type-pocalypse is not quite upon us, just yet.

And, egad! Has it really been a year in the 'sphere? I, too, got into this community about twelve months ago, with the purchase of one machine. As of yesterday, the count is up to four.

wordrebel said...

I concur about the fantastic rundown! I just wanted to give a big thanks to everyone in the 'sphere for being so welcoming to a newcomer! I've added a few new machines over the year and have had quite an interesting time getting to know them.

I knew there were more people like me out there and thanks to the NaNoWriMo forums and you folks, I know I'll be in good company for a very long time! to type up my end of the year rundown...