Monday, December 29, 2008

Surviving the holidays

Somehow, we've made it through the Big Day, the day that gets small children up at 3:00 to stand next to mom and dad's bed and stage-whisper "How many hours until Christmas? Only one more week before school and work resume out here. The jolly old elf did not, in fact, slip a typer under the tree which is probably a good thing, considering. The kids did come through with a new demonstrator fountain pen and bottled ink combo from Levenger in a jazzy "Bahama blue." It's a pleasure to use on thank-you notes as we wile away the last days of 2008. The computer has been off most of the time, which is nice, quite frankly. There's time enough to stare at the little screen later. I've also been actively ignoring the novel synopsis in favor of playing with the kids (and the new Wii) but I'm going to need to get off my rump, and get typing again. I'm reading to start laying down some electric blue ink on that typewritten stack o' pages.

Hope everyone in more Northern climes is staying warm and safe these days. See you folks in the New Year.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Happy (Retro) Holidays

Christmas 1970Hope the big guy brings you everything you want this year. Take some time to dress the pets or kids up silly and snap a little film. There's still time to get a typewritten letter out to Santa, the big guy might appreciate a little old-school wishlist for a change. (Have you ever tried texting with mittens on? Not pleasant.) Or go really retro: turn off the computer, put on the old Andy Williams LP, make some popcorn, and just watch the lights twinkling.

Have a great holiday everyone. Back to the regular blog-schedule in 2009

Friday, December 12, 2008

Gold, Frankenpen and Murray

Murray the pen Meet Murray

In lieu of any other identifying marks, I've decided to name this no-name pen Murray. Like too many things in my life this year, Murray came by way of I'd been looking at desk calendars for some time, as a little extra retro-junk to litter up my workspace. I'd lost out on a ticky-tacky World's Fair model, but the fates provided, and Murray in all his brassed glory is now enjoying his retirement in California.

Why "Murray?" A little quick research on the nib (marked "Velvet Point 6") shows this pen to be what's charitably classed "third-tier" by those in the know, a kinder way of saying "a step above junk." Still, I'd been also meaning to get a desk set at some point, and this fit the bill. Murray's nib was broken ages ago -- it's only got one tine -- but after careful application of force and swearing, I was able to remove the old nib and feed, and shove in replacements from a cheap gold-nibbed calligraphy set I had picked up last year, thus converting this into a Frankenpen. "Murray" seems like a pretty average name for an otherwise average pen, even if he has had some work done.

I figure this pen sat on the desk of some middle-aged, Midwestern*, middle-of-the-road manager, maybe a thank-you gift for years of uneventful service. The finish on the date knob is brassed away from patient years of counting off the days. It's not a flashy set and yet... I like it. We have a lot in common, Murray and I: generic heritage, utilitarian without being flashy, just trying to be ready and useful without leaking everywhere.

* Don't take offense, Midwesterners. The pen came from Illinois. This wasn't meant as a pejorative.

Friday, December 5, 2008

What's black and white and foggy all over?

Jacob's LadderIt's the winter slump time with foggy cool mornings making it hard to get up out of bed, and harder to face the day. I can't even see out the window this morning, but this was the view yesterday.

Passed along the Classic 12 to another one of my son's friends after my wife and I discussed the curse of Perfectionism that seems to settle in over boys of this age, dense and impenetrable like our morning fog. I suppose it's just another taste of the upcoming teenage years: suddenly we're dealing with peer pressure, and fretting about hair and clothes and shoes and the "right" way to carry backpacks to school (dragging them nonchalantly behind on the way to class, apparently.) Like my own son, the Classic's new owner struggles with writing assignments, grappling with the idea that he's allowed to write what he wants, and not to try to write what he thinks his teacher wants. It's a hard lesson, when the world is very black-and-white and wrapped in fog. I hope the Classic helps him out. Manual typewriters are perfectly non-judgemental, they don't beep or blip or underline when you've made a gaffe, they're just happy to serve you and wait on you, as long as you keep them well-fed with paper and ribbons. The perfect companion! The new owner was well-pleased with the Classic's paper "ears", its Power Spacer key, and the magic of the typebar unjammer. I don't know if it will help him out of the fog, but I hope it'll be a good companion as he works his way through it.