Monday, August 31, 2009

why, yes, I am that ridiculous

I have a typewriter. It's an Olivetti rescued from the neglected depths of one of my grandma's closets. It came with a red and black ribbon that (astonishingly) still worked, despite having lived in the machine, unmolested, since whenever it was last used (30 years ago? 40?). It's a charming shade of blue and has hearty keys that make industrious banging noises, with the added excitement of flashing, tilting, springing movable parts that you can see by just taking off the lid.

I've been writing first sentences on it, the kind of ridiculous, diving board sentences that tear small holes in my imagination so light can get inside. I've been trying for 50. I don't write them very often. It takes me long enough to finish a single piece of paper, even in well-spaced and chunky typewriter letters, that it achieves a permanent curl.

There are many brilliant first sentences in the world. One of my favourites is:

"I write this sitting in the kitchen sink."

Which is from I Capture the Castle.

My typewriter ran out of ribbon the other day. It stopped moving, and it took me a little while to figure out why. I had to get new ribbon from the typewriter store (yes, there are still such things), and lift off the lid, and unscrew the tops from the little spools. I had to pull out the old ribbon and thread on the new, squeezing it into the narrow metal loops that hold it taut, and then I had to put it all back together with black ink on my fingers.

Fun. No, really, it was. So much more exciting than popping a new ink cartridge into my printer.


Marc Jacobs said...

Since I type poorly, I cannot live without a delete/backspace key.

The images are very nice. I love the texture on the body of the typewriter.

If you would like to go back in time even more, try this:

Megan Kurashige said...

What is that strange contraption?

I usually write with a fountain pen, which is both archaic and good, because typing things into the computer becomes an occasion for editing. The typewriter is more of a novelty. It makes my fingers tired!

Marc Jacobs said...

That strange contraption is a Morse code key. You press the button on the right to make the tone, and let go to make the space. Fast keyers can do 20+ words per minute.

Amateur radio people still use Morse code, although less and less. The website this came from also has vacuum tube radios. (Ugh.)

Fountain pens are similar age tech.