I Need a Black Arm Band

Fresh Ribbon

I’m heartsick. This gorgeous cursive Royal belongs to someone else and I just watched her go. Damn Ebay, and damn my earlier resolve not to buy another typewriter until September.
Why do the best typewriters show up when I’m trying to be good? It would be easy to wish terrible things on the person who bought it, but instead I’m going to sling out what little gypsy abracadabra I have left and hope the new owner finds it too feminine, clunky, unrepairable. I’m scattering a Boredom Curse out, like birdshot.
I’m wafting them with Oh-Dear-I-Guess-I-Should-Just-Resell-This-On-Ebay-After-September-1st vibes.
My vibes used to be unparalleled, but I’m a little rusty now. Wish me luck.
Good Lord.

The Thing About a Typewriter…

No Telling

…is you can write on almost anything. I’ve been digging through some so-so poems and surgically removing keeper lines here and there. In the middle of this, I got a package in the mail filled with all manner of clipped bits from old magazines. Add to this my house full of typewriters and there you go. Now the keepers have someplace to go and all is right in the world.

It takes so little to make me happy. I mean that.

They’re impossible to read as-is, so click on each one to make it bigger.

The other thing about a typewriter is that you can’t correct anything, so all typos are “beauty marks.”

Typewriter Glamour or How I’m Staying Off of Ebay This Morning

Fresh Ribbon

Oh, I’ve been rummaging around a bit and find all sorts of glamorous oddities. Some gorgeous, some just plain entertaining. The first of the goodies is this Medieval Helpdesk video, and although it’s subtitled, it’s a scream.

The glamour comes from Elizabeth O’Neil Photography and her old typewriter photos. She’s asking readers to choose a favorite. Couldn’t do it. I just wanted the typewriter.

Typewriter: Relic of Wisdom is a little must-read. It just steels our resolve to, well, spend entirely too much money on old manual typewriters. Sometimes we have to give the whole collecting thing an elegant spin to make it all worthwhile. Tactile nirvana.

Finally, a little thing I almost missed. It’s a vintage childhood typecast and I wish I could get my hands on all the crazy business I typed as a little girl. I doubt ANYTHING I could find would be as plot driven as this little rabbit’s daily schedule.

There. It’s Saturday and I’m in Complete Goof-off Mode. No telling what I’ll find next.

I Don’t Know What to Think


You know, there are key-choppers and there are key-choppers.

The first kind is the Opportunist who chops the keys from antique typewriters and sells them willy-nilly on Ebay for jewelry making. The jewelry is a fad, and when the fad is tossed for some new project there may be, oh, five or six usable antique or vintage machines left in the world. These kind of key-choppers make me alternately sad and angry because there are some stunning, usable typewriters out there that don’t deserve a rude beheading. Besides, there are typewriter collectors and obsessors out here who feel gut-punched every time we see “Will cut off and send only the keys. Only $5 to ship.”

The second flavor of key-chopper is the one I can’t quite hate. These are the Artist Choppers. While they hack and hew and chop along with the best of the Opportunist Fad Choppers, the end product has depth and respect for the old machines. I still ache when considering the surgical procedures necessary to produce the art, but I do find it somehow a little less sadistic. A proper burial for a wrongful death.

There are those who ride the line by creating gorgeous, wearable art. But all typewriter key jewelry is not art. Sometimes an earring is just an earring.

Is it the difference between murder and euthanasia? Have I become an arts vs. crafts snob? Am I blinded by Beautiful Things? Would my typewriter morality be intact if machines were already functionally useless? I don’t know. I’m just not as angry with the Artist Choppers, even though the end result is the same – one less typewriter.

Jeremy E Mayer

Michael Demeng

Disclaimer: No typewriters were harmed or mutilated for this post.

NaFloScribMo and Technological Time Travel

No Telling

I’ve been NaFloScribMo-ing this evening on my refurbed 1934/35 Underwood Noiseless. I’ve named her Zelda, because as stalwart and chunky as she is, Zelda still types a little crazy. Like Zelda Fitzgerald I believe she’s a frustrated ballerina. Aren’t we all?

At any rate, I’m giving my fingers a break at the moment to show her off a bit and to figure out my next sentence. For before and after pictures (just like Jenny Craig!) of Zelda’s transformation, visit here.

Just so you know, the writing is more purposeful on these old machines. On a laptop I can type at the speed of light and write just about anything while simultaneously editing it. The whole laptop experience borders on psychosis, over- and under-lapping the words like that. With Zelda – or any of the other typewriters littering my house – the sentences are slower, but they follow a forward-moving path. That recursive business is exhausting.

And when I’m finished, there’s all this ink on paper and a handful of completed pages to walk around with. Heaven.

John Carroll’s A Place to Stand project, tweaked for National Typewriter Day


I heard back from John Carroll, our Kelly Writers Junior Fellow of A Place to Stand. His literary project is over, but John says he still mails out an occasional typewritten literary piece, postage willing. As a matter of fact, he’s mailing one off to me and I can’t wait.

Sadly, John had to use a Smith Corona Wordsmith (an electric!) to type his daily mailings during the project. I think he was worried about using an old machine and the inherent problems that sometimes surround the old beasts when typewriter repairmen are few and far between. Never mind. The project is done and a success – I think, John, it’s time you jumped into the fray with the rest of us and find an old typer to rediscover yourself with. You’ll be hooked.

After rolling John’s project around for a bit, the antique typewriter/writing angle was tweaked a bit and now it looks like there’s something definite in the works to celebrate National Typewriter Day. Visit the clickthing blog for exacting rules and regulations and for God’s sake sign up. This is no time to be a fraidy cat. The brave will inherit the earth and they’ll each have a portable typewriter under one arm. Mark my words.

For those of you out there following along, I received a call on Saturday from Acme – my Underwood Noiseless behemoth is ready! Ed tells me this, of course, on a Saturday when he’s closed and on a holiday weekend with an extra closed Monday, to boot. I swear to you I’m five years old and waiting for Christmas morning – agony. I’ll pick up Zelda on Tuesday and slam out a typecast first thing. There will be “after” pictures as well, just like a Jenny Craig commercial.