Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Gargantuan Greatness and Crayon Craziness

As some of you already spotted over on Flickr, I picked up yet another desktop this weekend. As I've mentioned, the little Hermes 3000 is probably my most comfortable typewriter for just plain typing, especially for long stretches, and when I found out about a Hermes Ambassador in the area, I had to at least take a look, right? In spite of the fact that it was an hour away. Right? Right. And we all know how these things end.

1966 Hermes Ambassador

I'll spare you the long narrative and just say that it was apparently in a desk the seller had acquired. He had a TON of old office furniture and electronics and general junk in a mobile home out back...dunno his whole story. Salvage, maybe. Most of it was ugly, broken old stuff, but then...there was this Ambassador, looking very grand in the midst of it all. The ribbon was dry, it was elite type when I'd prefer pica, I couldn't figure out what all the buttons were in order to test them all, but...I couldn't just leave it there, now could I?

Biggest. Backspace. Evar.

It is magnificent. Really. It's a 3000 on steroids. I mean...just look at those big honkin' buttons! Gotta love that. And, like the 3000, it doesn't need much to drive it. You either love or hate the Hermes feel, I think. They have rather short key travel, almost like an electric typewriter, and no slack to the keys. Very, very precise feeling, very light--which can feel mushy to some, especially coming from, say, an Olympia SM-9. I like 'em both, but for marathon typing sessions, I'll take a Hermes. The Ambassador does have a heftier feel than the 3000. Kinda in between the 3000 and most other brands. As in...magnificent. Did I already say that?

It still had its carbon ribbon thing (it has an extra set of spools inside and a second vibrator for that), but I set that aside. And I had to cannibalize a ribbon from the 3000 for now--have some new ones arriving tomorrow from Scan Tracker, so I'll have to report back on the quality of those ribbons. This is my first order with them. They were slightly pricier than some other sellers...but I ordered on Sunday and they shipped Monday. That raises them up a great deal in my mind!

Been working away at both editing previous short stories and writing a new one, so it's getting a work out.

On another note, MPClemens' post about Color Casting made a lot of us nostalgic for crayons and other childhood art supplies. Being me, I couldn't wait to try this out, so I stopped for crayons on my way home, and attempted to colorcast a new poem. I'm not sure it's entirely legible, but it was an interesting project! I'll likely try again. I used a hair dryer on the wax for the first half, and typed that half with the regular ribbon setting. The second half, I didn't bother with the hair dryer, and used the stencil setting. It came out darker, but I also ended up with extra wax rubbed off on other parts of the page, so it's pretty messy looking. I think the best result would be to heat the page to fuse the wax good, then use the stencil setting. When I could see the letters, I was trying to push too hard and otherwise kept messing up and hitting the space and causing skips. For the most part, the stencil setting worked better. Fun stuff, in any case!


Addition: just for clarity, here's the poem again:
I stand on the shore in my solitary state
and across the water watch them:
distant figures on the far shore,
figures of mirth and peace.
The distance obscures,
but in my mind's eye I see them as clear
as if I was in their happy company.
An old man,
silver hair glinting
stands, rough elbows bent,
feet in the sand,
in the dark sand at water's edge
where a blonde child in red
builds towers to the sky:
beautiful misshapen castles
lumpy, bumpy, dripped mud and shell,
bringing beauty to ugliness
as only a child can.
She raises innocent eyes to smile at him;
two generations removed,
she is his own,
his future, his love made new.

I watch
and am blessed in watching
though I hurt:
for what have I been spared
that I am left lonely,
left outside the lives of others
touching corners only,
a circling satellite
adrift in the night sky?
Times there are when I wonder if,
should I be taken, now or time far off,
will there be any to mourn?
What mark have I left, and who
would mark my passing?
My going would be
like the drop of a pebble in these waters,
ripples observed, but scarce noted
before the calm waters smooth over again.
There are no castles on the shore for me,
no child of tomorrow.
Though perhaps it matters not in the vast world that is to come,
in this world, for this I grieve.


mpclemens said...

Oh, I like the color effect very much indeed. And I do think fusing with heat helps -- it's probably smoothing out all those little rough wax deposits on the page. And multicolor! Most awesome.

I found a stash of restaurant crayons today, so I'm going to try a four-color blend.

Strikethru said...

Apt description of Hermes mechanics.

I am extremely impressed with this whole thing of colorcasting. Brilliant. Mike Clemens is one clever son of a gun. You've done lovely work with it here (and I covet your new 96-crayon box).

Thank you for this poem. I often think about how the waters smooth out over most all of us not too long after we die whether we have descendants or not. I wrote a post awhile back about these old unmarked photographs I inherited of supposed relatives who I don't even recognize-- they may as well be pictures of strangers.

Monda said...

That's one hefty typewriter - and beautiful!

I love what you did with the multicolored crayons - can't wait to start my own.

Word verification: pression. As in, "I'm crazy about that colorcasting 'pression poem."

mpclemens said...

My own multi-color attempt didn't go as well -- the impressions very very faint, though the machine I used (SCM Classic 12) is capable of laying down a dark letter. I may have to dig out the SM3 again, because it can do some serious damage with my heavy touch.

I'm becoming convinced that infusing the paper with the wax is not only nice to do, but essential. Otherwise, you get nasty flakage and the letters aren't as clean. I'm post some more impressions (ha!) shortly.

Word verify: jokepic, like "Oh, I hate Susan, she's always emailing me those stupid jokepics."

Mike Speegle said...

Word Verification: LittleFlowerPetal (v.)- To root around in the subconscious of your fellow bloggers and come up with hauntingly apt poetry.

Elizabeth H. said...'re sweet. Thanks.

One little tidbit I forgot to mention in the main post: my little car has a CD changer. I loaded it up with four CDs when I headed out on the long drive to look at the Ambassador, and out of all the songs on all the discs, it was playing "Tomorrow On the Runway"--the song Strikethru used as the background track for her lovely Ace Typewriters footage--when I pulled into the driveway.

I took it as a good sign.

Regarding color casting, I'm curious whether you could get enough wax on a page to get a good impression on black paper. That could be a really cool effect, though it might not scan well.

Do I have to work today? I wanna go home and play with my crayons some more.

mpclemens said...

White or metallic crayons should impress nicely on black paper -- that was a long-time draw of jelly pens, after all: writing on black paper.

James Watterson said...

I want a hermes! I love desktop typewriters! You have quite the growing collection of desktops now. Im jealous

Olivander said...

Good lord, that's huge.

Not that I would be able to resist bringing home one of those myself, given the opportunity.

But...good lord.

Elizabeth H. said...

I did this color cast with a pack of really, really cheap crayons...I bought a big box of Crayolas, too, but didn't quite bring myself to use 'em for just coating a large surface area.

The HUGE crayon pack I got includes some "Gel FX" crayons that I gather are supposed to work particularly well on dark paper, and also metallic versions of most primary colors. Hm. Think I'll play with those this weekend. I still feel like I have to ration 'em, but I guess, considering I'm all growed up now and can blow another five bucks on crayons without a qualm if I use these up, I shouldn't be so stingy....

Elizabeth H. said...

I have too many desktops at the moment--three. No one needs a desktop typewriter in almost every room of their house. It's just preposterous. ;-) So I'll be letting one go, I think.

I continue to be extremely pleased with the Ambassador. OK, so it's only been a week...but that's long enough (considering the heavy use its getting) for any flaws to reveal themselves. It has a few--namely, the tab has a few positions that don't work, and the button is very stiff, and some of the time the ribbon vibrator doesn't go back down on its own. But on the whole, it is (I repeat myself) magnificent.

As James said over at Flickr, it will make for a marvelous NaNo machine.

mpclemens said...

Ribbor vibrator stickage on my machines has almost always been due to accumulated crud and eraser bits. A paintbrush followed by a cotton swab of Goo Gone has done wonders for many of my machines (or at least for those parts easily reached by brush-and-swab.)

Verify: lampati, n. a sheep-burger

Duffy Moon said...

Well done, E! I agree on the supremacy of the multi-color color-cast.

(word verif = "grayo": is Harry Belafonte STILL singing that song? He's getting a little long in the tooth, ain't he?)

Anne said...

I know nothing about typewriters except that it is the way I learned to type way back when, but your poem! It is so, so gorgeous and wonderful! You touched my heart! Thank you for sharing your heart, and your words are most precious! I do love the effect of the color as well.

Elizabeth H. said...

Anne, you made my day. Thank you!

I took a peek at your blog and can see I'll need to check back when I have a little more time to wander through. You sound like a beautiful soul.

arsenicofago said...

so cool!