Thursday, May 29, 2008

The saddest thing ever written

I defy anyone with a school-age child to read the last chapter of The House at Pooh Corner aloud to this child and not be reduced to a blubbering wreck by the time you're done. I think it's impossible. As soon as my son was old enough to sit through the chapters without squirming, they became part of our nighttime reading ritual. Now, years later, his sister is at that same point in her attention-span, so I've been regaling her with the same classic tales of Poohsticks and Blustery Days and so forth, and every damn time I hit that last chapter, I'm a wreck.

Try it. Snuggle in with your preschooler or young-schooler at bedtime, start reading, and tell me that you didn't need tissues at hand. If you made it through with nary a tear, you truly have a cold, icy heart.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Celebrating Typewriter Day: a modest proposal

Spring is here, and the thoughts of young typists have turned once again to... random acts of clacktivism. Monda found it and Strikethru picked it up and of course being a complete Control Freak, I will now attempt to drive it into the ground. NaNoWriMo is over five months away as I write this, but Typewriter Day is approaching fast -- only 32 shopping days left! -- and I think the fingers of Duffy's Typewriter Brigade grow restless. What to do?

In the spirit of various Internet traveling [item] projects (journals, cameras, etc.) I'd like to propose traveling type-writing, rules as follows:

  • You must have in your possession a typewriter, or be able to lay hands upon one by June 23 a.k.a. Typewriter Day a.ka. the 140th anniversary of the first U.S. typewriter patent to Sholes.
  • You must be able to use said typewriter.
  • You must be able to send and receive mail, and be willing to pass your address to one other typist via email or other channel, and pass your general location to me at traveling.type at gmail . com for route planning.
  • You must be able to "sign up" someplace appropriate online. I like the NaNo topic linked above, though members don't need to be NaNo-ers.
  • You must be able to afford postage.
  1. One June 23rd, take your typewriter and two blank pieces of paper to a public place. (Note for the shy: "public" can be interpreted as you like. Surrounded by your cats in your living room is fine.)
  2. Insert one piece of paper into your typewriter and Type Something Incomplete. Ideas: start of epic poem, short story, ode to someone walking past, ode to your typewriter, crazy luddite ranting, a treatise on the political inclinations of your cats.
  3. Remove paper from typewriter. Gasp in horror at typos and grammar flaws and stilted language and oh-my-God-did-I-really-write-that moments. Take deep breath and put down paper. Have a glass of wine or other Fortifying Beverage as needed.
  4. Insert other sheet of paper into typewriter, placing a LOG heading on it. Leave a little author's biography or whatever meta-information you like: where/when you typed it, reactions of the public, ideas or apologies for the next author.
  5. The tough part. Gather up your sheets of paper and place in envelope. Mail to next typist on the list which will have been worked out in advance. Wait patiently for different letter to arrive from previous typist in chain. Repeat steps 2-4, appending your own genius to those that have gone before you: add to the main page, add to the log. If you complete a page, please number the page before starting a new one. Repeat until your own first pages come back to you. Gasp in wonder at finished product.
  • Please aim for a prompt turnaround. One week, perhaps?
  • Don't bundle up different works and send them en masse to the next author. Handle them as they come in, send them out one at a time. This involves a lot of mailing and postage fees (one stamp per bundle at least.)
  • Don't write pages and pages and pages when it's your turn, try to keep the contributions (and postage) reasonable.
  • Follow the "yes, and" improv rule. That is, when you receive a packet from previous typists, be sure to contribute in the spirit of the thing. Take what's gone before and add to it. Don't kill off characters or hopelessly mangle the hard work of those gone before. Always think "yes, and" then something else...
Enough rule-forging for now... discuss!

UPDATE: I have set up a new email account for this project since it's generated some interest. If you want to play, please send a note from your preferred contact email with your general location (e.g., state or province and country) to traveling . type at gmail . com This handles the "sign up online" requirement, so I've struck it out.

ANOTHER UPDATE: I appear to be an idiot, as I selected a name just one letter off from the Travelling Type (two els) blog and email address. Heartfelt apologies to the original TT and for any confusion.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Lazy blogging: a nest of links

An older article of interest to the typewriter- and writing-minded at Cabinet magazine, and another from the Philly Inquirer, and a little article on a shop in the Minneapolis area that sounds like the Northern cousin to the much-praised Acme repair.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Film anticipation

Took a long weekend to help out at my kids' school festival, and to go on a field trip with my daughter's class to the Marin headlands, right at the northern base of the Golden Gate Bridge. I've already killed one digital camera in the past year due to some uncontained dampness and didn't fancy ruining another by plunking it in the bay, so I hauled along my grandfather's old Rollei 35, a fascinatingly tiny little 35mm camera. My daughter kept insisting on seeing the photos I had taken immediately after, and was having trouble coping with the solid black panel on the back.

"Where's the picture, dad?"

"It's inside, honey. It's on film. I can't open it up, or the pictures won't come out."

[disgruntled face]

I'm sure that she thinks that The Old Man is Crazy. After all, her own camera from Fisher-Price has an LCD right on the back, so she can easily check out her latest shots ("A series of feet.") Unlike her older brother, she's never been confined with me in a bathroom-turned-darkroom to watch the magic of the image materializing on paper. Available bathrooms are in short supply these days, so she's just going to have to wait, but I am thinking about cleaning out the old processing tanks and at least letting her "appreciate" the anticipation of seeing a wet roll of negatives slowly reveal themselves as they are unspooled and hung overnight in the shower to dry.

If the ability to handle delayed gratification is a sign of intelligence, then photographers must be very intelligent indeed.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Does it count if it's free?

20080512 typecast

Update: The guilty/greedy pangs waned overnight. The Remington is likely being passed on to a friend, and my long-suffering wife is making eyes at the Olympia, which is a confirmed 11-pitch script machine. The Underwood 18 is now in the hands of my son, leaving my TPM drastically low once again. Ahhh!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Guess the secretarial postion didn't pan out

I was distressed to find Monda's typing student had moved on to bigger and better things. By 1961, she was part of the Red Menace, scaring the bejesus out of nice Catholic schoolchildren via comic books with her new "severe" haircut and accusatory fingers.

Type for America, people!

20080506 commiecast