Monday, April 30, 2012

Back in Brown


typecast 20120430

Some photos from during the cleaning and assessment process.


The overall condition of the machine is good: better than I remembered when I scouted it out in the store. It still has a lot of function left in it.

Thanks to the tab mechanism, the back panel of the HH is curved, which makes the machine wobble around when you balance it on its back. It's like a tortoise that's been cruelly inverted in its shell.


I wasn't paying close enough attention last time, as it turns out this is an elite type machine. Not my preferred size, but the face is clean and easy to read, especially now that the slugs have been cleaned out. None of the rustiness impedes the machine's functions.

Royal HH Typewriter, 1956

Friday, April 27, 2012

State of the Printed Page (a recap)

This turned out a little bleaker than I had intended. Lots on my mind these days, which is coming out in my writing. I'll be decompressed in about three weeks and back to my usual, flippant self by then.

typecast 20120427

If you'd like to join up at AW, you can find me under the exceptionally non-creative handle "mpclemens" Like any Internet forum, there are strong personalities, meandering conversations, the occasional flamewar breakout, and other digressions. There's also excellent sources of information like this FAQ on agents, representation, and getting published in the trades, which has been something of a cold, wet washcloth of reality applied to my pride. This is not a bad thing.

In all, I see Quest as a baby step: whether it will lead to other things, and how high I can potentially climb is up to me.

And Duffy, if it weren't for you, I wouldn't have gotten suckered into finding a typewriter for NaNoWriMo, which led me to Strikethru and Fresh Ribbon, and the Brigade, and so on. In short, it's all your fault.

Typed on a Remington Monarch
Remington Monarch, c1963

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Summer Project

A digital update, since the machine in question is too cruddy to handle a typecast right now...

My wife spotted it at Salvation Army, and I did a follow-up visit: a Royal HH (standard) with my preferred pica typeface, but in a neglected state of affairs. Everything works, but is under a light layer of grime, gunk, dust, dirt, and in some places, rust. Good bones are underneath, though, just waiting to be revealed again.

Imagine this, but on a whole-machine scale.

The margins lack magic right now, as their rail is too gummy for them to slide freely, but after a quick consult with Alan, Richard, and Ryan -- all known HH owners -- I confirmed that the margins are settable by hand, albeit with some yoga-like manipulations to apply both the margin release button and reach under the carriage.

Bring the magic
Not entirely magical yet.

I need another standard machine like I need a hole in the head, but my wife was pretty encouraging of this machine, sending me tempting snapshots from her phone and saying things like "I'm not crazy about you collecting, but now I know a good machine when I see one." And this despite the price and our current household budget-tightening. The manager knows me, though, at least by sight, and he offered to knock 50% off the price. Sold!

After an uneventful lug home, the HH is on the sideboard, waiting for the weather to warm up and dry out for real so it can become my summer cleaning project.

Will it look like Alan's when I'm done? That would be nice, certainly. Check back later and we'll see how the project is going.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Nor-Cal Mini Type-In 2: Non-Electric Boogaloo

The typecast in progress

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Cameron had the presence of mind to bring a real camera, whereas I was stuck with my cell phone and some notably low-res photos. Truly a celebration of low-tech on this fine day. Expect crisper photos from Cameron when he's able to get back to a computer and upload them.

Folding Corona in profile

Despite Cameron's apologies about minor paint scuffs and the nylon ribbon, I found the Corona really very nice to type with.  Playing "find the controls" was another highlight. The backspace key floats over near the right spool, and the margin release is actually a pair of levers on the carriage. Double line-spacing is activated by rotating a small metal shape on the left of the carriage near the ratchet -- that's the best way I can describe it. Neither of us could locate the control to disengage the feed rollers, if there is even such a thing on this machine.

Since I already have to look at my hands to type, playing "find the punctuation" was an added bonus to the typecast. As you can see from the type sample, the apostrophe hangs out about the "J" key, which explains my intermittent typos. The other gaffes are purely just my inability to type properly, as usual. I got a little faster by the end of the page, and didn't have to adjust myself mentally as much to remember which shift button to press. I appear to use my left hand almost exclusively for shifting, and unhelpfully, both left-hand keys are labeled "FIG."

Corona owners: are there nuts that fit atop the spools? They seem to want to pop off when the machine is being folded. The Erika that I owned had them, but these spool posts didn't look threaded to me. We don't know if these are the original spools or not, though Cameron has the booklet for this machine, so perhaps there's a helpful illustration in there. We didn't check.

Cameron at work on the Royal

We got a number of passers-by this time as before. The table where we were situated is located in the middle of a professional building complex, and is a shortcut for pedestrians looking for a little shade. We got the usual comments like "haven't heard that in a while" or "I haven't seen a Corona in years!" Just as we were packing up, a woman in her 70s(?) came up to me and actually thanked me: "So many memories -- thank you so much for doing this."

Yeah, that was a pretty amazing feeling.

Old Iron, getting some sun

Cameron decided to bring the Corona, since all his "problem child" machines are currently in a working state thanks to a fortunate combination of luck and judicious cleaning/random prodding. This type-in was purely about the bling, and that Royal is probably the nicest-looking machine I own. It also is the first one I bought once I found that fateful "Typewriter Brigade" post of Duffy's, way back when, and it's the machine that made the inaugural typecast on this blog just a touch over four years ago, almost to the day. And here I brought it along just because it was shiny. Coincidences abound today.

I couldn't remember at the time, but the Royal is a 1932 model, so these two machines are roughly ten years apart. The Corona is a sprightly 90, and the Royal is a handsome 80 years young.  More than once today did I make the tired joke about "I hope I look this good at 90!" That's ten years of technology advances in that photo, then, or put in modern terms, an iPhone 4S next to the original iPod.

Hey, Bay Area Typospherians! Maybe we can get together for a bigger 945xx zip code type-in. Say "hi" in the comments if you're interested.

Friday, April 13, 2012

WIP It Good

Bob and Mike and I were having a discussion1 on the Twitter yesterday, kibitzing about editing, and hating it, and avoiding it, and how each of us does manage to do it in those rare times when we're inclined2. We pledged to swap photos of our works-in-progress, so here goes...


All hail the mighty tome. This hunk of dead tree3 is my 2011 manuscript from NaNoWriMo, currently entitled The Balled of Congo Willy, a sort-of-lighthearted romp through middle age, ennui, death, and video games. Doesn't it look tidy? That's because I have children, and I learned the hard way that a large stack of loose paper sitting around is an invitation to unstack it by whatever means necessary.

I use the Rollabind system4 to keep all the sheets together, though I could just as easily use a 3-ring-binder system. This is a bit more compact, since you can fold the page back like a spiral-bound book. Cover material is salvage from old reports at work, and the first page is my page-and-word count checklist. Looks like I have around 240 pages to edit. Whoo boy. Better get started.

Page numbering
Start at the beginning, and when you get to the end: stop

Because I have all this paper sitting around over the course of November, I had to come up with A System, because I enjoy that sort of thing, and because I know I need to hit six to eight pages a day during NaNo. These are my page numbers: As you flick through the draft, you'll see 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, etc., and then 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, etc.. I know that normal people would just use normal page numbers, but I'm. Not. Normal.

A lot of ink spilled
Bring out the pens

Oh yeah, baby, that's what I'm talking about. Bring that nib over here.

Drawing right on the draft. Why else would you double-space? This year I might even use the triple-space option to give me more room. I tend to move a lot of stuff around, referencing earlier parts of the draft or leaving notes for the rewrite. Grammar gets cleared up here, but spelling waits until it goes digital.

Reworking, rewriting, removing
No one will be seated during the dramatic cow-pooping scene

Despite all my pre-planning and card-making and muse-baiting, there's always a scene or section that takes me by surprise. This year it involved a game of "Bessie Bingo" that goes horribly, horribly wrong. This scene is pretty crappy right now5, but even the "good" scenes look like this in the MS: ink everywhere, passages excised or moved, but nothing obliterated in case I want to go back and mine it later.

So, that's the WIP so far. I've actually broken my own system to read the last third of the draft without edits, as things resolved themselves differently than I expected, and the plot took a couple of turns that impact earlier stuff. I wanted to reacquaint myself with those changes and see how they stand, now that there's a couple of months of distance between me and this draft.

Mr. Speegle? Mr. Skrezyna? Whatchoo got?

1 A Twitter "discussion" being mostly poo jokes and lame "that's what she said" innuendo

2 That's what she said

3 Sugarcane, actually, which I wrote about pre-Nano

4 Available cheaply at Staples as their "ARC" system now

5 Hur hur hur poo joke hur hur

6 This is not a footnote

Thursday, April 12, 2012


Typewriter pin

typecast 20120412 pt 1

typecast 20120412 pt 2

From a 1963 Remington Monarch on an adding-machine tape TAROP*

Remington Monarch, c1963

* tiny-ass roll of paper