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Showing posts from 2014

Christmas with Royal

With Christmas fast approaching I thought it would be fun to see how Royal advertisements throughout the years reflected this time of family tradition.
We start with some stately pre-war grace. This kind of image makes me think of Natalie Wood in Miracle on 34th Street.

Now on to something that really puts the cheer in the holiday...
...as if you were hoping to make your children juvenile delinquents for Christmas.
Here little Jane and Billy are admiring the fine Christmas gift that will last for years. And they are not even remotely juvenile delinquents. their parents heeded the warning from Life magazine last Christmas.

As we move out of the 1940s into the 1950s the obligatory weird cute/ugly elf makes an appearance. This time, he is shilling a tombstone keyed Royal portable. I can't entirely tell, but is this a new version of Royal's portable?

Now, an advert from September:

I know Santa is magical. That has been made very clear. If Santa is so magical, why is he carrying a …

Ghost Blog Writer

I can hardly believe that it has been nearly two months since my last post. I bet you thought I was a ghost or as my title indicates--a ghost blog writer. My metamorphosis has been greatly exaggerated. I thought I would drop a little Halloween hello to the Typosphere. Here's hoping you have a spooky and safe Halloween.

Very Odd Visual Aids

When you integrate typewriters into a class lesson it makes for some very anachronistic PowerPoint slides.



The Fingers Fly

A new school year has started. Actually, it's already three weeks old. The honeymoon has worn off and the kids are deep in the study of Beowulf, Hrothgar, and the terrible events at Herot.

This last Tuesday I started the kids on the typewriters. Here are a few pictures.







In order to get the typewriters ready for classroom use I had to dust them all off and do something about the ribbons. I didn't have time to place an order from Baco so I used Ted's WD-40 ribbon rejuvenation method. I used several light coats and didn't bother with dabbing the ribbon. They weren't wet enough to warrant it. In the end the ribbons were noticeably darker and made it easier for the kids to type.

The best part, however, was giving the lecture on how to use them. I had a whole presentation and it was very odd telling a whole generation of phone freaks how to turn a knob to feed a sheet paper into a platen. Very odd.

Type-In Thank You

No doubt you have seen some of the posts about the type in. I think it was a fantastic success and I'll share more tomorrow, but I want to take some time and thank all the people who made this the type-in possible.

First, I would like to thank Cindy, Mira, and everyone who works at the Phoenix Changing Hands. They were encouraging and exceptionally accommodating. We basically took over a large section of their common room and they were ready with a smile, a step ladder, and enthusiastic support. I would also like to offer a special thanks to Amanda and the First Draft crew. They were really digging the typewriter vibe.

Ted Munk, a type-in original, was there with paper and forms in triplicate. He has done so much to help spread the word in the East Valley and do some creative heavy-lifting. Thanks Ted. Eric Jaros, the retro tech titan, brought out cameras, typewriters, and a great spirit. It was wonderful to meet him and he did more than his fair share to make this type-in happen…

Type-In Update

Don't forget that this weekend the Arizona typewriter community will be holding the 5th Phoenix Type-In at First Draft. This is a great change to meet fellow typewriter enthusiasts. Come on by, grab a drink, see a few typewriters, have a chat. It's great fun for a Saturday afternoon.

The 5th Phoenix Type-In

It's been a while since we planned a type-in, but the next one will be on the 26th of July from 1 to 4pm at First Draft Book Bar at Changing Hands. That's 300 W. Camelback Rd. in Phoenix. Look forward to some new faces and there is a rumor of a Fay-Sholes. It should be an exciting afternoon.
Also, I would like to thank Changing Hands and First Draft for letting us have the next type-in at their fantastic new store. Changing Hands is an institution and having their support is wonderful.
So, if you can make it we would love to see you for the next type-in. Bring a machine or two! Keep your eyes peeled for more information.
If you have any questions, please email me at: ryan@magicmargin.net
If you have time check out First Draft's website: http://www.changinghands.com/firstdraftbar

Typewriter Day 2014

My Typewriter Day contribution is this Polaroid print with an assist from me. Typed on a Royal HH. The typewriter pictured is my Olympia SG-1.

Stanislaw Lem

I cannot tell if that is a Remington or an Underwood. Any ideas? Maybe an Olivetti ICO?

Typing to the Stars

In addition to the Brother XL-800 that was dropped on my doorstep several weeks ago, I also received a plastic wedge.


We all have been given these by people who want to unload some junk. They are good machines for a purpose, but hardly collectible. There are a few that are interesting.


They might have lines that suggest a harsh modern future where everything was a little Bang and Olufsen.


Or they might have an LCD display.



Such was the situation with this typewriter.


It's none other than a Canon Typestar 5. An ultra-thin battery operated wedge that hosts two different typefaces, automatic centering, a correction system, and a novel thermal transfer printhead that works on standard office paper. Pretty swanky technology for the period. Alas, this one was missing both knobs and I was forced to make new ones out of Instamorph. My knobs look a little like albino jujubes, but they do the job. Originally there were flatter and matched the body color more closely.
This machine comes fro…

I Just Flew In

This faux-feathered intrepid traveller arrived in my mailbox carrying a letter. Kid Magic Margin named him Eugene Onegin (after the character in Pushkin's poem). Why Eugene? Why not? He does look like a plastic pigeon dandy; a fancy fowl.

Rogues Gallery

Here are some pictures of typewriters that have gained notoriety in my classroom. This comes, mostly, from their erratic behavior and unique dispositions.


Paper-Eater McGill Known to really curl and rip your paper. Only attacks on even-number days.

Terence "One-Knob" Oaks Even with the set-screws nice and snug, the knob falls off. Usually on a carriage return.

Kaiser Drag Once a fortnight you must tighten the carriage return arm.

The $10 Man $10 for a tub of Instamorph made loading paper much easier.

Canadian Outpost

It looks like a fellow-traveller Derek Beaulieu has set up a cell in the Great North. Welcome my cold, Canadian friend.

Derek, a poet by trade, started using typewriters in his creative writing course. Apart from the physical similarities to Derek (baldness, facial hair, awesome glasses) he works with older students in a college environment and my students are the victims of the severe social-economic disparity that is endemic to the inner-city. Other than that, the goal is the same; challenge students to write. It's a beautiful thing to see this kind of inspiring work spreading. So, if you hear of kids and typewriters, send me a link or two. I would love to see them.
On a final note, we do look a little alike…




With an SG-1

William S. Burroughs with an SG-1 by Robert Mapplethorpe

Three Red Keys

Before I get into the meat, let's start with the bread. I didn't make it to the Ink and Bean. We had planned to take the little diversion, but circumstances always make for new plans. As we returned from our last evening at Disneyland, Mrs. Magic Margin stepped off the shuttle and wrenched her ankle. She was in pain and I hadn't the heart to make her go to a coffee house, grab a cup of joe, talk typewriters, and relax while her ankle was throbbing. As it was, we had to alter our plan to go to the beach ultimately deciding to head back to the valley. She is getting better by degrees.
The disappointment at missing a chance to go to such a happening hot-spot was tempered by a gift from a colleague. Early Tuesday our bookstore manager came by with this typewriter in tow.

If you are a fan of Will Davis' blog, this will seem very familiar. It is, in fact the same model Webster that was featured in a nuts-and-bolts analysis of all its peccadilloes. As soon as it showed up yo…

Ink & Bean, Maybe

So, Mrs. Magic Margin, Little Kid Magic Margin, and I are in Anaheim to avail ourselves of the warm weather and the Disneyland. We are having a magical time. It was while we were on line for Pirates of the Caribbean that I realized that Disneyland and the typewriter-friendly Ink and Bean share the same city. If schedules work out well, I might try to stop by and see what's up.

Dip and Dunk

When a typewriter is so dirty or filled with dried pineapple juice, you sometimes have to take drastic measures. Soapy, drastic measures.


It's the 'old dip-and-dunk.


Vigorous dunking loosens all the dirt. A rinse with hot, hot water comes next. Then, it's off to the oven for a bit of drying. I think 130° F until all the water has evaporated. Oil (ribbon spool posts, carriage rails, shift linkage, other similar parts) while warm and enjoy a very clean typewriter ready for another 60 years.

Without Reservation: Typewriter Recommendations

This post come by way of an email exchange between Richard and myself. The question was what typewriter do I think is best for a classroom environment. I was flattered to be asked, but then I thought about it. My students have typed over 12 million words on the classroom typewriters. These typewriters have been my co-teachers for many years. In that time I have had a chance to stress-test several brands ant there is one that stands out above all the rest due to its low cost, ease of repair, and durability.
At some point we all come to the conclusion that some brands of typewriters fit our needs better than others. That is when we develop personal preferences. I, as you can sense, have an affinity for Royal desktops because here are no finer typewriters to be had. Others bow down at the alter of Olympia. Still others are true-blue Olivetti fans.
Of course, so much depends on the state of the machines when they come to you. I have had some fantastic top-shelf typewriters that have been…

November Lecture Notes

I promised Dr. Polt that the next post would be about my November Lecture. I am the type of lecturer where I create an outline and go from there. It's a by-product of the extemporaneous nature of teaching.
I divided the lecture into two three parts. The first part was a overviews of the Typewriter Renaissance and how it came to be. I spent some time talking about the origins and influences of the movement. The second part was devoted to the CTP and what I have done with typewriters in education. I shared the results of the original experiment and the inventories that came later. I drew some interesting conclusions about student metacognition. This was the largest part of the lecture. The final part was a small survey of the typewriters on display. I picked out some of the more interesting choices and shared their history and importance in the great chain of typewriter being.
Here's a link to a PDF or my notes.
I probably should have recorded the thing, but it was nice to be in…

2013 Review: A Long, Slow Slide