Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Dvoracek's The Pinhole of Nature

Dvoracek’s The Pinhole of Nature
The Pinhole of Nature

In my many years of practicing pinhole with paper negatives, I felt partially out of touch with Nick's practice of color negative rollfilm. But as I've matured, I can see the advantage, as he has continually documented his home and community through his blog, in a way that is simultaneously a record of the time and place he lives in, and also an art form. It's the consistency of his work that continues to impress me.

More recently, Nick has indicated he's gearing up to explore the 4x5 sheet film format, which I look forward to seeing.

Here's the link to Nick's The Pinhole of Nature.

There's also a wealth of information at the now-defunct F295 Pinhole Discussion Forum.

You can peruse an online PDF of Fox Talbot's seminal work, The Pencil of Nature, here.

Here's my video review of Nick's The Pinhole of Nature:


Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Nipping at the Type Bar

Olympus Reporter
“Nipping at the Type Bar”

This is about as real-world and gritty as it gets: Jitters, my former electric type-bar 6-series Smith-Corona, now in its new home:

SCM Coronet Automatic 12

My brother is about as far-removed from a writer as you could imagine. Yet here he is, enthused about his new typewriter and immensely enjoying tapping out stories from his colorful life. I've tried to give him some encouragement, while also letting him have the freedom to write just the way he wants to write, to conform to no man's idea of what writing should be like. It's the joy of creating words to paper that he's discovering, while it's also sometimes painful for him to recall in detail some of the trauma he's experienced. It's typewriter therapy; some of us need it more desparately than others -- another good reason to give away a machine to someone who needs it.

I'm humbled by the opportunity to bring this gift into his life, that promises to help blossom some as yet unseen potential hidden within him.

Here's Jitters next to the blue manual Galaxie Twelve of the same era. Definitely a family resemblence:


Speaking of family typewriters, this is a good opportunity to show off the family Hermes 10, which I need to get back and do a video review of.


It's interesting to see similarities with the Hermes 3000, especially in the carriage area and the six function buttons above the keyboard. This really is like the electric version of the 3000. And also represents the Venn Diagram overlap between the Cults of Hermes and Type Bar Electrics. Because I'm ecumenical that way!

My video review of the Olympia Reporter:

I hinted above of something I've been toying with for a while now: using the right platen knob to do a carriage return. I first tried this with the little Hermes Rocket, only because its carriage return "lever" is such a diminutive afterthought, as reaching back with my left hand to the rear of the machine seems so awkward, whereas simply pulling the right platen knob fully to the right, then giving it a spin one or two clicks, seems easier and quicker. This sounds like sacrilige, not using the machine's controls properly. But in the case of my Olympia Reporter, the drive belt is slipping and the machine won't complete the return cycle on its own, while lacking a manual return lever.

Smith-Corona 5TE

Type bar electrics represent the red-headed step-children of the typewriter collecting world. Other than the blue Smith-Corona 5-series Electric with its snazzy raised red logo on front, or the pre-war IBM machines, few others of this ilk garner much praise or desire amongst the Typosphere -- at least, that's my impression. Yet they remain the evolutionary end-state of type bar machines; what came after were daisywheel and thermal electronic machines, then the computer revolution hit hard. Yet type bar electrics are entirely practical machines, offering the economy of cloth ribbons while needing virtually no finger pressure to operate, able to perform at blindingly fast speeds -- certainly faster than I can type with any degree of accuracy.

How about you: do you share a secret history, or fascination with, these electrified hybrid marvels? I'd like to hear your story. Leave a comment down below. Thanks.


Sunday, November 15, 2020

If This is a Marxist Typewriter Why Do I Like it So Much?

Groma Kolibri
If This is a Marxist Typewriter Why Do I Like it So Much?

A signed plaque of the Connie at The Airplane Restaurant in Colorado Springs:
USS Constellation, CV-64

One of the few snapshots I still have from my years on the Connie. Note the double "Battle E" award insignia painted on the worn and greasy nonskid flight deck, earned by our performance in training up for this deployment. "Haze gray and under weigh" was one of our favorite sayings; here it's literally visible:

An excerpt from "The Sea, A Grave," written in January 1979, just a few weeks after the Shah of Iran was deposed and the USS Constellation sped across the South China Sea and Indian Ocean (outrunning our oiler and escort ships, averaging about 27 kts) to keep station off the Arabian Sea, because gunboat diplomacy:
The Sea, A Grave

Note that this was typed on the Senior Chief's red IBM Selectric II, after-hours, but with his permission. He wore some nasty scars on his face and arm, along with a command button -- unique for an enlisted man, but he commanded a riverene patrol boat during the Vietnam conflict, where he also earned the scars.

I have three volumes of this rubbish, containing perhaps a few gems. Maybe someday I'll share more.

When I exited Uncle Sam's Canoe Club I still had lots more poetry to type, and couldn't afford a Selectric, so instead bought a Smith-Corona SE100 daisywheel machine at the local Service Merchandise store. Such are the early years of my typewriter history.

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Sunday, November 01, 2020

Deeper into the Cult

1961 Hermes 3000
“Deeper Into the Cult”

Regarding the right-rear corner of the chassis being bent, I don't see a corresponding dent in the outer body shell itself. Which makes me wonder if perhaps it were dropped, or suffered a heavy blow, at sometime while being "serviced," while outside of the body shell. There were also several external screws that seemed to be in the wrong location, such as the two panhead screws that attach the rear panel to the carriage side panels, one screw was longer than the other. I've serviced consumer electronics long enough to take notice of these tell-tale signs of sloppy craftsmanship, suggesting that perhaps this machine had sat around as a broken, dropped typer, and someone finally decided to get it together in good enough shape to sell.

It's not really that important to me that I know its precise history, only that I was able to get it back into good runnning order -- minus the visible flying margin indicator ribbons, of course; I'm not going to attempt to piece those back together. But this machine does serve to remind me once again that each machine, like a person, has its own, unique history; which, in the case of inanimate objects, are unable to directly tell their tale. We can only deduce clues indirectly. This is one reason why I prefer, after having serviced a machine back to good working order, to leave it in as original condition as possible, so that whatever subtle reminders exist can serve as evidence of its history. I personally do not prefer the affectation of tarting up an old machine to look as if it were new, erasing all evidence of its history in the process.

I referred once again to the Cult of Hermes, a turn of phrase coined by my friend Kevin Kittle. Aside from the obvious humor of the phrase, there is some degree of truth in it. I've now owned four such machines. First up is our family electric typewriter, a Hermes 10, bought by my Dad in the early 1970s for us kids to use in school.


Then came the 1970s H3K that I purchased from Brown & Smith, that I still have.


Some years later I found a nearly identical machine, different color and typeface, from a local thrift store. Here's both machines side-by-side:


It was at the time when I was servicing this second Hermes 3000 that I noticed how much smaller in size the internal chassis was. This gave me immediate inspiration to turn it into the Nekkid-Riter ("nekkid" being the same as "naked," except you're up to no-good!)


A discussion of Hermes wouldn't be complete without mentioning my Hermes Rocket, seen here at the cigar lounge at Stag Tobacconist:

Hermes Rocket at Stag Tobacconist

This machine belonged to an Air Force officer who was involved in the development of the SR-71 reconnaissance plane, so it has a rather unique provenance. I had it serviced by Bill Wahl of Mesa Typewriter Exchange, and is perhaps my best ultra-portable machine.

Getting back to this newest-to-my-collection 1961 H3K, subsequent to typing this piece I added several plastic split-washers under the carriage return arm (from my assortment of legacy VCR parts), and this has made the carriage return arm more secure. There is evidence that the arm had been loose for a long time, as the ribbon cover is scratched from use. I suspect the machine was once improperly serviced and subsequently used extensively.

I never lusted after this era of Hermes 3000, yet here it is. It makes me wonder what else might drop into my lap from the Cult of Hermes. We shall see.

I owe my friend Bill Tefft a debt of gratitude for helping me acquire this machine.