And Stay Off the Lawn!
So, how is everyone? Good. Myself, aside from a few health issues, I've been okay. They say if you have your health, you have everything. Well, not exactly. The truth is, when you have your health, you as a general rule take it for granted, until it fails you. So, what you actually have when you have your health is hubris and bluster and perhaps a bit of arrogance. Feeling your oats. But enough about me.
I'm writing this on my AlphaSmart Neo - not that it matters, but it actually does matter, when you've nothing important to say and all you can talk about is your writing and your miserable little life that's much better than you think, if you'd only get over yourself and see things from outside your own head.
So, it's been well over a year since I last used this Neo in anger, and the battery indicator is just now showing a bit low. A good warning to get some new dry cells installed ASAP. But thus far, the memory has held, as there are still previous documents residing in memory intact.
Okay, I have an iPad, a laptop and numerous notebooks and pens. And typewriters. So why the Neo, other than for the novelty. Well, for one, I'm seated outside on a partly sunny winter's day, enjoying the air, and the LCD screen of this Neo isn't washed out by the sun; exactly the opposite: the more light, the better. Can't say the same for either the iPad or laptop. Don't even think of using either one outdoors. Forget about it.
Yes, there are typewriters in my possession; ten at current count. But the one currently in use is a larger-sized machine that doesn't work as well on one's lap. And it's heavy. Perhaps I should employ the little Corona 4 for these kinds of uses. Or pull out one of the portables from the closet. Just sounds like too much bother. But the Neo really is a modern, paperless typewriter, in the best sense of the term. An ultra-portable, too. That's all it does, is write - to memory, and onto an LCD screen. You get a paper copy only after cabling it over to a computer. But that can be done after-the-fact.
I do wish it had the feature of indenting paragraphs, so I wouldn't have to do a double return to make a paragraph break. Oh well, you can wish in one hand and ... oh, never mind.
So I have a photography project this week, that the weather is not cooperating with. I need an extended period of bright sun, in which to shoot test shots and video footage for part 2 of a You Tube video about the mechanical box camera shutter. But today has been partly cloudy, not enough sun to successfully use the shutter, since it has a speed of about 1/8 second, and the lens only opens up to f/8-ish at its widest, blurriest setting, which is still too little exposure for cloudy daylight using Harman Direct Positive Paper. The mechanical shutter is for use exclusively in sunny conditions - which we have plenty of, most other times of the year. Otherwise, I can use a hand-timed guillotine shutter with multi-seconds long exposures for still subjects.
A long-term project still in the preliminary stage is that of publishing a micro-zine. This is based on the little wallet-sized notebooks that I make, from a standard sheet of printer paper, and involves a semi-periodical publication to be distributed, guerrilla-style, around town. The only problem is - what the heck am I to write about?
This is equivalent to having been handed the facilities of a small newspaper and having nothing to say. Think about this problem: it's all I can do to manage two blogs, barely getting any product of quality out the door each week, having to write these kinds of "articles" for lack of anything better to say, Seinfeld-wise (just a little blog about nothing...); imagine my dilemma of having to get a 16-page zine done every month or so.
But I've been making notes, on and off, about potential titles and subject matter. One thing that struck me is, whatever I write about, it has to be something I have passion about. You can't do something creative like this, just for the love of it, without loving also what it is you write about. For example, I'm not a political wonk; I could care less what the local city counsel meeting is about; they probably wouldn't want me there anyway; or I'd get hot under the collar and end up being thrown out and arrested. Now THAT would be worth writing about. But from my little corner of suburbia, there's not much to say, really.
So, what does interest me, other than photography and typewriters? Can't put out a zine about that, can you? No, not to the general public, not around here; unless it was more broadly based on obsolete technology. Now there is something I am interested in, if not peripherally, since I used to be a T.V. repairman. But zines require illustrations and photos. I'm not certain I could come up with interesting artwork each issue, especially given the limitation of a b/w laser printer that doesn't really print continuous-tone images very well; half-tone printing, newspaper style, it could manage, however. I just don't know how to do that in Photoshop, yet.
And really, does the world need another zine? I know there's an entire subculture built around zines, with their own publications (zines of zines?) and conventions. I'm not in that circle, and don't really know anyone who is. I get the sense that these kinds of subcultures are purposefully ad hoc and built around personal associations, that due to my age and place in life I'm not privy to. If I were a 20-something living in the university district, then maybe yea.
So, I'd be doing this zine venture in a vacuum, so-to-speak. Outside the historical and cultural context of zine-making. Having to recreate things that have already been well known for generations. Or maybe not creating them at all. It could very well suck.
One idea I had is to aggregate Internet news stories, cut-and-paste images with my own commentary on these stories. I came up with the name "Carpet Sweeper," referring to all the miscellaneous bits of debris a carpet sweeper picks up from the floor of the local all-you-can-eat buffet, for instance. In this case, it would be a sweeper of the culture. Culture Sweeper. Hmm. At least I could get in my own commentary and take on these things. The middle-aged, grumpy old guy's take.
Then there's the idea that I AM an older guy, and zines generally cater to a younger crowd. So I'd be like the grumpy old guy, telling everyone to stay the hell off the lawn. That could be the makings of a title: "...And Stay the Hell Off the Lawn!" My advice to young kids; as if I had any to dispense. Which I do. The older I get, the grumpier. I'm quick to tell everyone how there's a better way to do things, why you should or shouldn't do this or that. But do you thing they'd listen? Hell no! They never listen! It's a service I'm offering to them: learning through my experience. This kind of wisdom is priceless. I could charge money for being a grumpy old guy. (Hey, wait a minute ... perhaps a good business model ... hmm.)
See, that in itself sounds like the start of a good zine article.
Okay, I'll have to see if I can manage to get 16 pages of "content" together. Then we'll see what happens with it.
Meanwhile, it's still cloudy out, and I don't see this video project getting shot today. Plus, it's starting to sleet right now. Go figure.
And stay the hell off the lawn!
Post-Script: Actually, I don't have a lawn in the front. Just xeriscaping. Meaning taking what we have most of in New Mexico - dirt and rocks - and using it as decorative landscaping. Crushed gravel, some larger rocks. Shrubs, a few trees. Like a zen garden. Without the zen.