Saturday, 21 December 2013

Tis the end of the year, my friends.

Greetings Typospherians, readers and lovers of the printed and/or electronic word. And I wish you the sincerest of holiday greetings, and the best for the new year.

It has been a trying year for me in Brisbane but I have always enjoyed writing this blog, and writing with my typewriter. These elegant and beautiful writing machines and what I have written with them have helped me keep my sanity over the last 12 months.

Now, we are rushing head-long into another new year. A year that already has some very big changes in the works, that I am sure are going to bring some good - and bad, surprises. So much is happening now that I almost feel lost in it all. I could fill a blog entry with just a list of what has happened in the last two or three weeks.

I'm currently sitting in a hotel, and it is 40 degrees C outside (104 on the old scale). As such I'm loathe to leave the air conditioning of the hotel room.

And thus we have the Australian Christmas.

While shops dress their stores in faux snow to represent the northern hemisphere christmas that we are bombarded with via television and film, it always is with a sense of irony that we celebrate a frosted christmas as the temperatures usually rise harshly. In reality, Australians at christmas are likely to be having a lunch at a family member's house that has a swimming pool, so that we can all have a bit of a dip after we have filled our tummies to exploding point with salad, cold meat and a fair amount of beer.

I always feel sympathy for the poor bastard that has to dress in the Santa costumes at children's parties, shopping centers and church events. That gear is made for the North Pole, not stinking hot summer days on the driest continent on earth. As I said... irony.

Santa suit? Screw that... Hot enough here as it is.

As most of the typosphere lives in the northern hemisphere I'm sure this is very much a foreign ideal.  And to be honest, Christmas time is an oddly strange period here in Australia where it largely has little religious significance, but is rather focused on family, retail and food along with some very silly behavior.

I stepped outside the front door this afternoon to go to my car, and I burned my feet on the concrete driveway that had been baking in the sun. It really is damn hot here.

I don't have a typewriter with me, but I think I will be seeing Rob Messenger sometime in the next 7 days - so I won't be going totally typewriter talk free by the end of the year! I'm looking forward to chatting to Rob again.

The past year on this blog:
Meeting with John and several other typewriter lovers in Brisbane (Steve, Rino, Kate to name a few) has been great. Also, other writers around the country (Teeritz, Rob) have been great, too.However, I feel there's a few things that remain a bit unfinished at the end of this year.

I speak of 'The apocalypse of the typosphere' - my little piece of blog fiction that seems to have gone dormant. It hasn't, and I have a handful of episodes ready to post. However I held off because I had borrowed some ideas from discussions with miss Jane, that were related to her line of work (infection control) that made up a major plot point that I was just about to explore in the story. The problem was that a real world event that was similar to the scenario that I was envisaged actually looked like it was about to happen, and was likely to be a major stress to Jane's work life. It just wasn't the time. 

So, I just put it aside to revisit later.

Meanwhile, miss Jane and a few other people have been pushing for me to re-start another piece of blog fiction that I had neglected for a few years. I don't think I will, but I think it is time to take the material in that blog, and make something of it. I'll put the link up a bit later, if anyone is interested. It was a 'blog' of an Australian that was forced to flee the country as a refugee, after witnessing the horrors of war in a land that previously had never seen such things.

The Future:
Firstly, I'm looking forward to the second Brisbane type in - which will be on March 9, at a location that has yet to be advised. So start contacting me if you are interested in coming. Especially you, my mysterious Burpengary reader, who often visits my blog. You're only a suburb away from me, so you should really message me sometime!

Meanwhile, there's still the possibility of moving overseas. I've been thinking about this, and I intend to keep up a typosphere blog. However, I think it may be a good time to start a new blog with a new title, that is hosted somewhere other than blogger.

I'm quite nervous about the future this week, and I wish I had a typewriter with me right now, so that I could do some writing. Nothing soothes the soul like a tap on the keys of a beautiful machine.

*   *   *

So that's it for the the year. I'm going to be busy with family events and other things for the next couple of weeks, and I will be too busy to keep up with events on my blog - or even the typosphere.

So, thank you all very much for reading, commenting, and writing. I have loved reading all that the other members of the typosphere have written over the past year, and I look forward to seeing what you write in the next.

Thank you all, and have a great time!

P.S. Did I really just hit 60,000 blog reads? I missed even hitting 50k. I wonder how many of those have been shonky sites.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Coppola's typewriter

Most of us have seen this image of Coppola typing on an Olivetti DL, while he was working on his classic film; the Godfather.

Well, it turns out that Coppola now has another typewriter out there that has become famous. Back when he was working on Apocalypse Now, another of his cinema masterpieces, close to the end of production he fled Tokyo in an rush. Unfortunately he left his typewriter in the hotel room that he was staying in at the time, never to be seen again - or so he thought.

The typewriter turned up in October this year, when the owner of the hotel came forward at a press conference with Coppola, and presented him with the typewriter. Coppola signed it, and graciously gifted it back to the man.

Sadly, there's no photos of the event, but the story can be read HERE

So, I did what every good writer and typewriter lover should do. I went out and tried to find what typewriter it was.

Sadly, I have only turned up an image taken from a documentary from the film 'Hearts of Darkeness: The making of Apocalypse Now'. When I get a chance, I'll see if I can find a copy of the documentary, and see if I can get a better image myself.

I have seen the documentary many years ago, but I can barely remember it. Might be worth another look. 

Anyone got any ideas on what this machine is? 

Sunday, 15 December 2013

The 'Not a Valentine' - Sottsass's Olivetti leather and steel bad girl.

Sottsass referred to his Valentine typewriter as a 'too obvious tart'. And looking at the design, it is easy to see why. Inserting the typewriter into its case is described as a 'woman sliding into her stockings', while the design of the machine itself clearly displays a set of exposed - to paraphrase Richard Polt, 'Areolae'. Which is exactly what they were meant to be.

They certainly weren't meant to be eggs.

A photo of my Valentine, which I used in my blog earlier this year. 

The design is intensely sexual with it's bold cues and hot red tone. It is unquestionably passionate in an era when much of the world was coming to grips with the rapidly changing state of sexual politics and attitudes. 

But I doubt someone would describe the design as 'sensual'. It was boxy, smooth and sleek - but the design is bold, flirtatious and attention seeking while lacking any real intimacy. These aren't shy machines, secluded wall-flowers that look for a quiet life. 

Sottsass's approach was consistently lacking in subtlety, and his designs called out at you with lurid intensity more than any other consumer product of the era that wasn't sold in stores that had blacked out windows. He just didn't do sensual.

However the Valentine wasn't the only design that exploded with such sexual boldness. While the Valentine has more unique design points (some may suggest novelty design points) than other typewriters, Sottsass had a hand in another design that harked back to the era of the pin-up queen Bettie Page, and the mail-order photographs of her that were filled with leather, rope and steel. 

I speak of - the Olivetti Lettera DL. Also known as the Lettera 33.

Boldly dressed in leather, the DL is skirted by faux metal caging that locks around the shape. It flirts with a little red Tab button, but the design of this typewriter is razor sharp, and unforgiving. This is a typewriter that is fast, bold and not the kind of machine you take home to your mother. 

The case itself continues the metal look. It is the same shape and the design as the Lettera 32 typewriter's case, but is toned to a dull steel that is bound in black leather that holds the whole look together. 

The design across the front holds a leather brow across the top of the keyboard as though it is Bettie Page's famous bangs framing the keys, which are locked into a trance with the writer. 

But it is a playful machine. It is a dress-up of the more respectable day-job dressed Olivetti Lettera 32. While the L32 is the machine that dons the sensible shoes and tries to fit in with its environment, the DL/33 is an animal that is looking for a night of action and adventure, that didn't want to just sit at home watching television. 

This is undoubtably the bad-girl that is the counterpoint to Sotsass's 'Too obvious tart'. 

From a writer's point of view, this machine is better balanced than the Valentine and is much more comfortable to write on for lengthy periods. The plastic pleather coated shell is quieter than the tinny L32, and resonates sound from the type bars quite differently. Acoustically, it compares favourably against the Valentine too. 

In my opinion this is a superior machine to the Valentine, and to be honest much better suited to me as a writer. I feel a lot more at home with this machine than I do with the Valentine, and I certainly like it a lot more than the L32 that it is based on. I guess with all that leather and faux-steel I feel the love for it as a motorcyclist. 

It took me a while to get hold of this machine. I eventually stumbled across one on the Gold Coast earlier this year. After a bit of a cleanup, it was right to go, and I have used it several times since. 

While it doesn't have the attention seeking novelty features of the Valentine, I find this design of Sottsass to be far more appealing. And I want to play. Oh do I want to play with this machine. 

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

What Holden and the Australian government could have learned from typewriters.

Going so soon? See ya Holden... 

The model car our umbrella was being designed for.

Got keys? 

So I should buy this Cruze instead of (insert X car) just because it is a Holden -
 the 'legendary Australian brand Holden'?
No thanks.. I prefer my Nissan Exxy.

This little guy won't go far, right? 

Bah-ha-ha.. Who would buy a civic! No self respecting man would, right! Right? 

Our prime minister favours a hands-off approach to the future.

The same government is decreasing the large-scale development of
broadband networks in Australia, which would have supported future
technological development in our economy.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Well Ton, Rob and Nick, guess what.....

In the past few days both Nick and Ton  have picked up Olivetti Valentine machines of their own. 

Here's Nick's blog on his purchase, which had followed Ton's which can be found here

*EDIT* Rob Messenger just pointed out that he also picked up a Valentine last week. They're multiplying! You can read about Robert's HERE

I was looking through Gumtree when I noticed a blurry photo of an Olivetti Valentine, at a price that was quite below $100. That's right BELOW $100. Maybe not the $15 typewriter that Nick got, but it was cheaper than most machines I had seen by more than half. However the photo wasn't all that great, and it was difficult to figure out what the condition of the machine was in, so I just forgot about it for a second. 

A split second. Then I sent the guy a message. 

Now, most of you may remember that I have had a very strained relationship with an Olivetti Valentine that is already in my collection. A machine that I eventually managed to return to operational condition, before it almost sent my fragile mental state into decline. 

So I drove over to Scarborough and had a look. I gave the typewriter a run on the seller's kitchen bench, and I was surprised by how nicely the machine ran. It had clearly been maintained - even though it was now full of dust, dirt and... a few scraps of paper. 

The storage case was in excellent condition, despite there being 'shed debris' smeared onto the crinkles of the plastic. But it wasn't scratched or cracked, and the rubber catches were still in perfect order. 

So, I threw down a handful of dollars and the typewriter was soon in my possession. 

I got it home and quickly scrubbed the fmuck out of the case and the back shell of the typewriter, and just put it on the kitchen table to get a few happy snaps of it. The red is such an endearing colour, and Ms Jane noticed it as I carried it past her. "Oh, that's a pretty red"! 

I'll probably do some better photos in the future for my blog and database, but these will do for now. 

I decided that when I bought it, that I could probably service it an re-sell it for a good deal more than I bought it for. But I'm not sure I want to sell this one now. A friend of mine was wanting my other Valentine some time back, and I may pass that one onto him. Or just sell it. It has a bit of a crack in its storage case which I can probably fuse back secure, although it probably doesn't need it. The condition that it is in, it would sell anyway as I have spent a fair bit of time nursing it back to full health. 

But two Valentines? 

I feel like I have started a Harem. Two Valentines. If I just started talking about 'my two valentines' with the nurses at work, they'd probably think that I have suddenly become a man of ill reputation. 

The guy that I bought the Valentine off had owned it since new. However he didn't have the manual for the machine, and for that I was a little sad. 

He bought it in 1971, and had shared it with his now ex wife for years. However, when they bought themselves a computer eventually, and as such the typewriter ended up being shoved into storage for quite some time. 

And now, I'm its second owner. 

As I was leaving, I asked him what prompted him to buy this typewriter originally. It turns out that he was working in the printing industry at the time, and wanted something specifically that had very stylish and different design. He was a very chatty chap, so I'd dare say that he worked in sales. 

So there we have it. I'm feeling the Valentine love tonight. 

And you know what? Despite the lack of a decent ribbon in this machine, It types actually quite nicely. I guess that's what you get when you find a machine that isn't a total basket-case from the go. I'd prefer it over my Lettera 32 to be honest. 

It reminds me of when I first started talking to the typosphere and Cameron over at Living in the woods, and he told me about his two machines. 'Two Valentines" I questioned. "Why"! But as it turned out, I have ended up in the same situation. 

Anyway, just because I know someone is bound to ask: 

Valentine (purchased by me in 2012) - 6863850  
Valentine (purchased by me in 2013) - 5526842

Anyway, may as well let my original Valentine finish off this blog post. 

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Just playing a small part with small parts.

Time to crack out the Remington 5 for a bit. And as it is such a nice day, the front deck will be perfect.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

An open letter to the Blogger/Google staff.

From my Olivetti Lettera DL. A Typewriter that has survived longer than all of Google's services, and saw their competitors become giants and fall.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

A special thank you to a Typospherian.

I try to avoid blogging twice in 24 hours, but I was so touched by the generosity of a member of the typosphere, that I felt I immediately needed to say thank you. 

I have never seen a parcel packed so extensively! 

Has a typewriter? Must be a hipster...

Now... We've all seen this:

Typewriter in a park? Just add the word hipster, and you apparently have instant comedy. 

LOL! Right?! 


Anyway, that 'meme' has been cycling about on the knuckle-dragger interwebs for a while now, and let's face it - it is pretty insulting to the guy photographed. I mean, like.... seriously... who takes a typewriter to a park anyway, right? It is 50 shades of weird to anyone that hasn't done anything interesting in their life, other than fly to Bangkok at huge expense in order to spend the entire trip getting drunk in a bar or pub just like one at home. 

For some reason I have an urge to put a label on anyone that labels someone as a hipster for using a typewriter - or something similar. 'Dipster' perhaps? 

Well it turns out that there's actually quite a compelling and interest story behind this typist. As I read it I felt sympathetic for him, not just as another typist, but as a person. He'd gone out and actually done something interesting. He went and did something different to the expectations of his family and friends, and actually created something. The fact that he created something that was positive and interesting, yet was belittled by keyboard commandos world wide that had dull and uninteresting lives lived in a perpetual cycle of doing the same dull lifeless routine that saw them lashing out at the rest of the world that wasn't trapped in the same hole, made me feel inspired.

Click here for the article.

It just reminds me about something Teeritz was talking about the other day - the utter dross of reality TV that people glue their social lives to here in Audtralia at the moment. It pretends to be art, but there's no art to it. There's no spontaneity. It is a performance, but it is a predictable performance.

Congratulations to this guy for getting himself out of his lounge room and doing something.

I think I can speak on behalf of the typosphere here,  when I say - we salute you.