Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Art of Typistry

Typewriter Mystery on Shordzi's blog
The ETCetera Archives (Note: the article on decorative borders was in Issue No. 48.)

(Oh, and yes, I know how to spell layered and essence. It's an authentic typecast, what can I say?)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Of Powell's, Poetry, and Paper

An odd assortment of titles, perhaps--mystery, sci-fi, poetry--but it's my kind of odd!

Paper bounty: Clairefontaine staple-bound notebook, Rhodia staple-bound notebook, Leuchtturm 1917

Leuchtturm as compared with a Moleskine--the Leuchtturm (top) is slightly wider.
Blurb from the back of the Leuchtturm 1917

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Cats, Curiosity, and Peurile Paranoia

1. Curiosity
Last night I went to bed way too late, after rigging up a temporary new drawband for the Lettera 33 out of beading wire stuff.  It sort of works, but the carriage still feels wobbly, the margins still aren't catching most of the time, and the carriage occasionally stops short and has to be pushed by hand.  It also isn't always locking into can push it back and forth without releasing some of the time.  So there's obviously something pretty wrong.

This morning, after tossing and turning all night worrying about the thing, I got up early and started in on cleaning the stinky, stinky case.  I set the typewriter off to one side for the time being.  I'd set the damp case in a warm place to dry and was getting ready for work when I heard a weird sort of sound coming from the living room.  I went in to discover Halvah, who has never shown the slightest interest in my typewriters, mashing her head against the keys of the Lettera and purring.  She'd gotten some of the keys jammed.

Halvah with 33
Blurry cell phone photo of Halvah at work...

And then she *fixed the jammed keys*.  She was still poking at the thing when I left for work.  Considering I haven't cleaned it up yet, I suppose she can't do much harm.  It's already broken.  I'm a little perplexed by her fascination, though.

2. Paranoia
Given all the people who could have commented on my misadventures but didn't, the paranoid portion of my psyche is picturing the denizens of the typosphere around a virtual water cooler, gossiping about me behind my back and looking down their noses at my stupidity (as if y'all don't have better things to do...)

"What an idiot she is, huh?"
" what she deserved."
"I'd offer advice, but I'm speechless.  What a knucklehead."
"I'm glad *I* know better than to buy typewriters off eBay, even once every two or three years.  Unlike *her*."
"*I'd* never spend more than $7 for a typewriter.  They're everywhere, after all, no matter what she claims.  I mean, I picked up six last week for thirty bucks!"
"Taking typewriters to a repairman is a sign of weakness."

In my defense against these imaginary critics, in the entire last year, I bought three typewriters, and I sold one of the three.  I've taken a grand total of one typewriter in for repair, back in 2009.  As for why I risked eBay, in all my years of looking, I've found about four manual typewriters at local thrift stores, three of which were late-model SCMs (my Galaxie is the one of the three I kept--the others were scrubbed clean and received new ribbons, but ultimately went to new homes) and the fourth was the Olympia SM-9 I sent off recently.  I've never ever ever ever found an Olivetti Lettera of any kind locally, the closest to it being the Olivetti Studio I traded for at the type-in.  It isn't a Lettera, and it wasn't truly local.

And as for repairs, as I confirmed last night, I don't have the patience, the skill, and (perhaps most importantly) the tools.  There's only so much I can do with a five dollar mini-toolkit, a cheap hammer, and a pair of tweezers.  It'd probably cost me as much to put together a decent work bench as it would to pay to have someone with good eyesight and, you know, actual skill.

Also, I don't have the luxury of having x number of a particular model so I can compare the broken with the functional.

I did at least *try* to fix it.  Can I get partial credit for that, you faceless imaginary Internet naysayers??

Monday, March 14, 2011

Devastation (with updates)

To begin with, the Lettera 33 smells like Stinky.  But that, I expected.  Also, it was packed with *nothing* around it...a few folded pieces of brown paper that did nothing except maybe keep the shipping box protected from the dirty case.  And, though it may or may not have happened in shipping, it has several issues...and none of them things I feel hopeful I can fix on my own.  The biggest one is that the carriage feels sort of wobbly, and the draw band is off, and although the whatchamacallit the draw band winds around still feels like the spring inside is working, it doesn't feel...right.


I should know better than to go near eBay.

On the bright bright side?  It came with a little Lettera 33 manual.  Yay.

I guess there's always Blue Moon.  Maybe this will have a happy ending after all.  In the meantime, I guess I can concentrate on cleaning the case.  I don't have the heart to work on the busted typewriter.

UPDATE (and this is precisely why I shouldn't work on my own typewriters): I fixed the draw band...sort of...for awhile...before everything went terribly south.  The first time, the tension wasn't high enough, I don't think, because it would go about halfway across and then sort of lose steam.  So I went to try again, and it was closer, but still too loose.  So I tried another time.  And *this* time, the screw I was using as a weight in order to lower the cord through the typewriter and attach it at the bottom of the carriage on the other side got stuck in the mechanism.  And I can't get it out.  At all.  No amount of jiggling and tapping and yelling at it makes any difference.  Neither did cutting the cord to it so the screw is in there all alone.  The carriage is jammed to one side with that screw in there, and so far as I can see the carriage will need to come off to remove it, and there's no easy way to remove the carriage when you can't *move* the carriage.  So not only do I still have to take it down to Blue Moon, but now I can't even take it in the case, and I have to admit what an idiot I am.   I spent the better part of the evening trying to get the darned thing out, so I'm tired and cranky and I smell like mildew and I want to cry and maybe punch something.

So there's that.

UPDATE TO THE UPDATE: I got the carriage centered again.  And I sort of rigged up a temporary draw band to let me play with it.  The draw band doesn't work quite as it should...I probably still have the tension wrong, or it's too short.  And the margins aren't working...maybe they weren't working to begin with, or maybe I busted 'em.  In any case, I'm not attempting any further fixes on my own.  On the bright side, from what little typing I can do...this is one comfortable, snappy little typer.  Maybe all will come out right in the end...?


Today is the day the Olivetti Lettera 33 finally gets here!

The good news is that Fed-Ex Ground delivers to my work building first thing in the morning, so I won't have to wait nervously for hours before the package arrives.

The bad news is that Fed-Ex Ground delivers to my work building first thing in the morning, and there isn't a convenient time to stop and unpack and clean a typewriter in the midst of the work day, so I'll have to wait nervously for hours before opening the package.

It builds character, I suppose.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Rehashing, Revisiting and Re-reviewing

For various reasons, I've found myself returning to some old posts, reviews, and thoughts, and I thought it might be fun to do a little recap post.

1. Remember this leather composition book cover I was so excited about?  I'm still thrilled with it.  For the last little bit I've mostly used it as a cover for my journal, since I keep coming back to using cheap composition books as journals--fancy notebooks intimidate me, I guess.  The cord has held up well, the leather still feels and smells great and if anything has become more beautiful with time.  I look forward to using it for years to come.  Have any drawbacks arisen?  One minor one, I suppose: it left what look like slightly oily spots on the inside cover of a few of the first notebooks that passed through it, maybe from the adhesive used where the edges fold under?  A small price to pay for the use of that lovely leather, I'd say, but possibly a concern.

2. The Classroom Friendly Pencil Sharpener: a few months in, I'm still pretty psyched about this thing.  I love the point it produces and the way it stops when a point is reached.  No additional downsides have arisen since my initial review, but just to reiterate the two that I encountered: first and foremost, the gripping mechanism leaves little bite marks on the pencil, which may or may not bother you.  Some days it bothers me more than others.  Secondly, though this isn't really a fault of the sharpener and can happen with other sharpeners as well, if the pencil lead is off-center, the sharpener won't automatically stop sharpening after a point is reached...because the point will be lopsided and still sort of catch the mechanism.  Just something to be aware of--if you run into a pencil that has this issue, just turn the crank a few times when sharpening and then stop.

3. Index cards: I admit, for story ideas, quick notes, poems, etc., I've mostly returned to using the small notebook I carry everywhere.  Why?  Because even though it's cluttered and jumbled and can't be reorganized, it's all in one place, bound together so it can't be lost unless I lose the whole thing (an idea so scary I refuse to let it fully take shape in my mind).  I like being able to flip through it when I'm looking for inspiration, and not having to search for a card I used last week.  I still use index cards a lot for to-dos, lists, addresses, etc., so they are always with me...but not as I had envisioned.  I tried to use them for story outlining a few more times, and again found that no matter how much or how little detail I tried to include, once I started writing the story, the story veered away from any  outline.  Maybe this dooms me as a writer, I don't know.  I have stacks of scene cards and character sketches that meant nothing four or five pages into the actual writing.  Will this prevent me from trying again to plan ahead?  Of course not.  There's a fine line between an eternal optimist and a fool, and I walk that line.

4. My use of Circa things has also undergone some revision.  I use Circa for my work notebooks quite a bit, since I like being able to move pages around and like that I can reuse scrap paper by just Circa punching it.  I still use it some for binding typewritten pages, too: one of these days I'm going to put all my old typecasts into a Circa notebook, I think, since I can easily mix all the different sizes of pages I use for typecasts--not something I could do with a three-ring binder.  But for everyday scribbling-in-a-notebook use, I keep coming back to the composition books.  No, I can't reorganize the pages, which means I have page number references and arrows everywhere as I try to make sense of the jumble.  But I like the size, the sturdiness, and they soothe my paranoia about pages going missing.  And they're just so doggone cheap and friendly.

5. Yesterday I stumbled across a post I wrote about a lumberjack throw I made for my first little nephew, who's  Actually had to check the date of the post to remember.  Time flies when you're having fun!  I had every intention of making several more of these in different color combinations for other family members, since they look pretty cool, work up pretty fast, and aren't too terribly difficult to do (I'm not exactly a master of crochet).  I bought at least some of the yarn...but never started.  Story of my life.  Last night I decided to take the first step toward remedying this situation, and finished the first few rows of a second throw, which will use a slightly darker red.  Crocheting is soothing--the rhythm of stitching, the feel of the yarn as it moves through your fingers, the way the piece slowly grows in your hands.  Nice to come back to that.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Oh dear...

Why, why, why do I do these things??

I appear to have acquired what is in all likelihood a candidate for the position of Stinky Jr.  *sigh*

This is a prime example of why I should not be permitted to wander the halls of eBay unchaperoned.  And unlike Stinky, I had clear photographs of the dirty stinkiness, so I have no excuse for my behavior.  The second after I placed the opening bid, I started praying someone would outbid me, but they stopped short by about a dollar.

In my own defense, in several years of Lettera 22/32/33 stalking on eBay, I've rarely seen them go for under $50 not counting shipping, even when they're in poor cosmetic shape and described as non-functional.  And it's the type pitch I was hoping for.  And horribly, horribly filthy though the case is, the zipper looks intact.  If it *only* needs a serious cleaning and maybe some general maintenance, it might not be such a bad deal.  I can do cleaning (I have experience, for better or worse...) and I can postpone the trip to Blue Moon until it arrives just in case it has issues with ribbon reversal or other such common things.

Tentatively excited...'cause you know I've always wanted to be like Duffy and Ryan...  It could be a total heartbreak...but maybe it won't be.

Wondering what that "CAMO" thing is all about.  I reckon I need to come up with a good story or a means to cover it, 'cause it's likely to be questioned.  A last name, maybe?

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

To March, in sympathy

Sent from Leo, a 1948 Royal Arrow, who arrived with the month.  More on him later.  My Royal slot is filled!  (And aren't those commas beautiful?)