Wednesday, 26 March 2014

To hell in a Baxter box.

Meet the humble Baxter box. In all of the moves that I have made over the years, these boxes would have to be the ultimate for shifting a variety of things. 

These boxes are used to hold and protect intravenous fluid bags (those clear bags of mostly water you see up on poles which have a tube leading to a patient) during transport. Inside each box is between 12 to 14 kilos of bags that are like jellyfish to hold. 

As such the cardboard is thick and highly protective with an uncanny ability to take some seriously hard knocks. Not only that, but they aren't 'too big'. I made a huge mistake last time I moved by packing books and magazines into larger boxes, only to find my back being brought dangerously close to snapping when I picked them up. If you have lots of such publications, these are the boxes you want because you won't overload them till they are too heavy.

Ask anyone that works in medical, and you'll find that these boxes are well regarded by many for their near magical abilities. Yes. They are that good.

Okay. It's just a box. But as much as these boxes are great, I am so sick of seeing them. I've been grabbing as many as I could from the hospital to... well.. pack my life up. And these (along with several other sizes of boxes) are giving me starting the s**ts because they seem to be filling my house.

It isn't the fault of the boxes. It is just moving. Jane and I are 'Stuff' people. Judgemental f**kwits might imply that we are hoarders, but we just have a couple of collections that we are passionate about - and we aren't into minimalism. I'd dare say most of the typosphere probably can relate.

That said, I've been culling. Culling like you couldn't believe. And while the e-waste is almost the size of a Ford Ka, I also have pieces of furniture that have become rather superfluous. Anyone want a Balinese sideboard? A Bookshelf, bedside tables, and a set of Art Deco shelves, an Art Deco desk, a 30's era radio that has been converted into shelves?

But I've hit a huge snag. And it comes with 4 rows of keys (and some with just 3). I'm trying to pack my collection of typewriters so they are protected and packaged for any potential possibility.

You see, we still don't have an answer about that overseas position that was on the cards some time back. In fact, the wait has gone on for so long now, that Jane has headed off and sought out another job for herself as she needed a new opportunity after fighting with some nasty politics at the hospital for the past few years.

I don't blame her really. She's been doing 50 - 60 hour weeks, and it was starting to really get to her.

As such, she applied for, interviewed, got offered a job that she then rejected, then was offered a higher paid position that was above the job she originally applied for - which she then accepted. All before we heard even a whimper from the overseas position.

As such I find myself in a very weird situation. Jane's new job is actually in my home city of Melbourne. She's moved down there and is living with her sister while getting settled into a city that she's only visited briefly before. Meanwhile, while we're still waiting for the other job I'm in Brisbane floating between contracts at the hospital to keep afloat. There's no point dragging everything a couple of thousand k's down south only to find ourselves bundling it into storage and heading overseas a month later.

So here is my quandary. How do you pack your typewriters expecting that you are potentially moving  them interstate (needing protection) or or maybe just putting them into storage (requiring minimum consumption of space)? There's also the real possibility that however I pack them, I won't be here to supervise them getting carried and loaded onto the truck so I need the packing to be robust enough to handle all kinds of potential f**kwittery. If I knew for sure which way I was going it would be simpler. But I need to somehow pack to take either option and their differing needs into consideration.

Anyway I've been occasionally selling some of the less loved items from my collection. I hope to make it a bit easier to pack by thinning the numbers of my harem.

Meanwhile I'm doing the world's slowest house packing. It has been going since January, and I have only emptied most of the cupboards. The bookshelves are yet to even get a look-in. Oh man... all these books! I'd better get plenty of Baxter boxes.

Anyway. here's a gratuitous shot of me typing some thank-you letters to the staff of a department I just left. Also featured in this photo is a bigger packing challenge than my typewriters - a ceramic Art Deco lamp that near 4 feet tall and quite fragile. 'The Lady' is going to be hard to sort out.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

And not forgetting THIS little type-in

Guzman y Gomez is a Mexican restaurant that is incredibly casual and relaxed, while the food is utterly amazing. The first shop opened up in Fortitude Valley a few years ago, and at the time it was placed nicely along the path I used to take from my old apartment in New Farm, to the hospital that Jane and I worked at.

Often Jane would work much later than myself, so I would often jump on my motorbike, spin by GYG and grab a bag with some burritos and stuff, and just rock up to Jane's office with a magnificent little portable dinner. I think it helped both of us keep our sanity during some pretty tough times.

I soon came to call it 'Mexican Crack' as it was almost addictive in its quality.

Those days are gone now. I miss living in New Farm, but then again GYG is now a fully-fledged chain restaurant and there's one about 10 minutes from where I currently live.

But Fortitude Valley, a district of Brisbane which is well known as the entertainment strip of the city - as well as for its very seedy past, always has a bit of romance to it that you won't find in some suburban shopping centre. And I felt it would be an interesting little spot to bust out with an impromptu type-in.

The benches at GYG are very conducive to having a few typewriters (along with food and alcohol) on them, and I just thought.... why not?

So Natalie an I popped into Ruby the Exxy and headed into the Valley to meet Steve Snow with a couple of my traveller machines that had excellent 'office in a case' covers.

We sat down, ate and talked. And eventually we busted out the typewriters and gave them a bit of a work-out. Oddly, it wasn't long till we attracted the attention of some kids at a table near by and we were soon enjoying the company of a very curious 8 year old girl, and an 11 year old boy.

It was lovely. I spend so much of my time at work just looking after sick children, that I found myself sitting back just enjoying the curiosity and enthusiasm of a couple of well ones for a change. There's something about curiosity that no matter how old you are, you always feel young when you indulge your own curiosity. 

It wasn't long before the two kids got their hands onto my typewriters - and then it was on for young and old as the kids found games that they could place with the two machines that they could both get into. While the boy was a proficient speller, the younger girl wasn't quite so good at forming sentences. But the young chap was happy for her to lead the play on the two typewriters, and it seemed incredibly civil. 

Every so often Natalie or Steve or even myself would wrestle control of one of the typewriters back, and we'd attempt to do some typing - maybe even writing a typecast. But before we could finish there would inevitably be some kind of demand made by our new audience, and we were soon back to playing games again. And it was fun! 

Natalie made a good stab at writing a children's story. A little while later the young girl asked me to write a story that involved 'A Shark and a Whale'. 

My very improvised 'Shark and a whale' story. (thanks Nat)

Natalie's Story. 

Yeah, my story seems like jumbled rubbish, but then again... That's what all the best kids stories do, right? 

Anyway. Another girl, a teenager from the same group soon came over, and she popped onto my Triumph Tippa and started writing something to a friend of hers. Photos of the letter still in the typewriter were taken, and facebooked - and soon she left with her copy of her secret tale in hand. And once again another piece of type-written love is out there in the community. 

We eventually packed the typewriters up and left the Valley. It was a lovely night, so Steve and I thought we'd show Natalie the view from Mt Coot-tha that looks across the city. 

An older photo of mine taken of the view at the top of the mountain. 

After that we ended up back at Steve Snow's place where we inspected some of the machines that he had stored up under his bed. Steve had a typewriter that belonged to a friend of his that had been filled with flood waters, and he had told them he'd have a look at getting it going. Steve was slightly optimistic about his prospects, but just wasn't sure what he'd be able to achieve. Of course, I get my claws onto it and without the assistance of anything other than a screw-driver I soon had the machine coming back to life. With a bit of a clean and a few tweaks I'd be confident that Steve would soon have another working Remington. 

I have never met a Remington so far that I haven't been able to fix. Maybe my Grandfather's somehow powering that through some kind of weird channeling across the universe, time and space. 


I think Natalie was in love with Steve's Noiseless! 

So what can I say. A great night was had amongst friends and typewriter lovers and curious kids. It was lovely, and made for a great weekend. 

Ah. So my writerly love. 

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Brisbane 2014 type in (that was really an out)

I got a phone call from Steve K (writelephant) about 10:30 telling me that he'd managed to acquire one of the covered park benches at the park. This was fortunate as the section directly under the bridge that I wanted to use was sadly off-limits. They had done some grass replacement there.

So when Natalie (NatsLapTaps) and I got to the park, we grabbed the two tables that I brought with me, and quickly tried to set up under the cover before anyone else tried to push us off the table. The park was filling fast with picnic attendees, and covered space was becoming quite sought after.

The people.

From left to right - Louise Cause, Me (Scott Kernaghan) John Lavery, Steve Kuterescz, Natalie Tan, Rino BreeBart, Rob Messenger and Steve Snow. Oh, and an Olympia SM3.

Everyone seemed to arrive in very quick succession after 11 o'clock, and once again I was enjoying the company of a group of really great people. John (McTaggart's workshop) was technical as usual, and Rob (OzTypewriter) was passionate about the history. Natalie was exploring and just enjoying the company, while Louise was being her usual witty self. Rino (Long, slow blog)and Steve K got their hands on as many writing machines as they could to see how they typed, and Steve Snow (Impatient Typewriter Mechanic) was right there with them.

John, trying to diagnose Natalie's machine's over-eager bell. 

Natalie was enjoying writing on one the invading Lettera 22's. 

Now here's a crew I could hang with. 

Natalie's Favorit 2 got plenty of love. 

Rino was documenting me, documenting him. And also documenting typewriters. 

Steve K got down to some serious writing. And just looked.. cool.. doing it. 

It's always great listening to one of John's stories. 

Lou and John rather loved Steve Snow's QDL. 

Rob had plenty of history. And found a fellow smoking buddy with Lou. 

The Weather

For the most part we had a very lovely day, and the sun was enough to give me a sunburn. Looking at Rob Messenger's photos I could see my face progressively grow pinker as the day went on. 

However every so often we had some heavy cloud come over and threaten to dump a little rain. We even ended up copping a bit of a shower at one stage, but it soon passed and we were once again in the Queensland sun. 

The Typewriters

Last year we had two beautiful Lettera 22's side by side. This year, Louise brought back Pinky Beecroft and Steve Snow brought his mushroom L22. But this year they were joined by Steve K's beautiful machine, that is in incredibly good condition. I have a feeling that I'm going to have to bring my pistachio green machine next year so we keep the L22 love growing. 

There were two 70's plastic H3K machines. I brought my cursive, while John brought another machine with a very fine larger techno typeface. John also brought several other Hermes machines - an amazing, yet dauntingly large Hermes Ambassador, and a very interesting Hermes 9 that was set up for telegram operators. 

John seemed to have the Hermes machines down pat, as he brought his glossy and charming Hungarian keyboard Hermes 2000. But I rounded out the collection with a Hermes Baby named 'Kermit', which Louise ended up taking back home with her after the meeting. 

Mind you, John's Cyrillic Klein-Adler was nothing to be scoffed at. And would certainly hold its own in a 'most interesting machine' competition. Although Steve Snow's Royal QDL, and immaculate Underwood Noiseless 77 were also attention-stealers. 

Rino brought in a Remington 5T that was very nice to type on. It felt just that little bit smoother than my own 5T machine and I could quite happily spend an afternoon typing on it. Next to his machine I sat my Smith-Corona Sterling, which was sadly playing up. Some screwdriver love will be coming its way soon. 

Rob didn't disappoint. He had his brilliant Underwood 4 bank with USB attachment hooked up to his laptop, and was giving demonstrations on how to use the machine. But Rob's real beauty came out later.... 

It was a stunning Fox, and really stole the show. The machine is now heading to a new home in John Lavery's collection, where I'm sure it will be just as loved. But what a machine!  Everyone wanted a go on it. It was a real cracker. 

Rob also brought out a very interesting Monarch that was heading to John's as well. Such a beauty!

Natalie brought with her an amazing looking green Adler Favorit 2, which joined John's Klein-Adler in bringing some push-rod classiness to the event. And can I say, it is nicer than my own Favorit 2. Much nicer.

The other machines I myself brought were an Olympia SM3 in maroon (yet to be featured on my blog) and my Remington 16, AKA "The Filthy Platen" - which stayed in the car, as I couldn't be arsed lugging it's 15 kilo bulk it across the park after carting the tables and chairs. 

Oh yeah, and I also brought my Triumph Tippa, which is one of my finest traveller machines. It seemed to surprise a lot of people with it's sharp and punchy feel. Which is something it often surprises me with whenever I get on it. 

All in all, I think everyone had an enjoyable day. I certainly did, and I'm pretty eager to get to another one next year. I'm sure it will happen, even though circumstances are changing for many of us in the next 12 months.

Everyone that came today had something in common, and it wasn't the typewriters. They are all story tellers. These are people that enjoy a tale and love writing and reading. I think really the typewriters are incidental, and are an extension of their story-telling. Steve K, Steve S, Rino, Lou, John, Rob, Natalie and I guess myself - all have tales of our lives we want to tell - and in some cases tales of lives that never existed. And in a way I feel that's really what this was all about. 

Well, at least as much as checking out the pieces of industrial art-work that each other owned. 

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

What to wear?

Brisbane type-in/out 
Captain Burke Park
11m 9th of March. 
Bring typewriter - and a camp chair. 

With the type-out/in Only a few days away I've got a couple of things on my mind. Firstly, the weather. Like last year there's a cyclone brewing off the coast, but at least this time there's no expectation that it may come anywhere near Brisbane.

Secondly, what to bring? I keep looking at my collection of typewriters that are currently filling the lounge room floor and thinking about which ones will come with me this time.

I'll probably do a run to grab something for lunch from somewhere on the day. But if you feel inclined to bring some food and liquids, be my guest. Oh! I better get the esky out of the garage.

Natalie from Darwin is a confirmed show, as is Steve K from Perth, and Steve S from Brisbane. There's Rob from Canberra, and John from Beaudesert. I even believe that Rino is still likely to swing by. Add to that a handful of others that have suggested they're coming, and I think it could very well be a fun day's typing. Certainly we'll have almost all of the Australian Typosphere here in one spot. I just wish Teeritz and Jasper could have been able come along, then we'd pretty much have the whole set. Maybe for next year's event?

John has hinted that he may bring a bag of tools with him to the type-in. So if anyone has a machine with a niggling issue, well... here's one of the most experienced techs I know offering to give some assistance.

I'm also thinking of grabbing some Mexican to eat at my favourite joint in 'The Valley' on Saturday night, in case anyone is looking to have a bit of a pre event catch up. Might even stuff a couple of traveller typewriters into the car and see who wants to bash out some prose with me over a burrito.

So with that all set, I've got something great to look forward to this weekend. I just need to survive the work week first!

See you all soon. And as always, email me at if you have any questions, or want my phone number.


Monday, 3 March 2014

Identified: Nick Cave's typewriter.

My previous post was about Nick Cave and typewriters but I should have been more accurate at the time, because it was really more about Nick Cave and his typewriters on film and a couple of anecdotes about the man. Had I have done my homework, I would have had a lot more to say on the subject. 

And Rob Messenger did: 

" Hi Richard
Further to your comment on Scott’s blog post about Nick Cave.
Cave allowed his actual typewriter to be part of an exhibition here at the National Library in Canberra few years ago. The theme was writers and their working environments. I think I may have posted on it at the time, because I went along to check that the curators had Patrick White’s typewriter as an Optima, not an Olivetti.
Anyway, Cave’s typewriter is a grey Olivetti Lettera 25.
I hope this helps ...
RM   "
Rob was correct. After I wrote my blog I spent few minutes with Google and had uncovered a photo on another blog about Nick Cave's actual Lettera 25. 

Cave's typewriter has occasionally turned up in songs and video clips for music with The Bad Seeds. Here's an excerpt from a song called "Hallelujah"

I'd given my nurse the weekend off
My meals were ill prepared
My typewriter had turned mute as a tomb 
And my piano crouched in the corner of my room 
With all its teeth bared 
All its teeth bared All its teeth bared 
All its teeth bared.

And for those that missed it, the Lettera 25 actually made an appearance in the clip that I put up on my previous post. Have a look at what sits to the right hand side of this screen grab of Nick's desk.

Click to enlarge if you're having problems seeing it. 

I can't help but feel that Nick's Lettera 25 is intentionally forsaken in a dark corner for a reason. A machine that has probably seen Nick at his keyboard for maybe thousands of hours as he belted out prose with a restrained passion. 

Has he moved onto new things, while keeping old parts?  

One of the best quotes that I found from Nick about using typewriters actually came up in a discussion about Nick having an iMac that he used to write his lyrics and works. It gives a great discussion about what is lost in the creative process in a digital workflow. 

 "Well, I got a computer in the late 90's and practically all of my note-making stopped. For some years I wrote my songs straight onto the computer, editing on the screen. This served me fine for a while, as I was attempting a more refined, simple, less chaotic form of song writing. But the down-side is that the whole journey to the final creation is lost and in many ways it is this stuff that is the heart and soul of the song. When I started working on the Grinderman record, I decided that I would forgo the computer altogether and write my stuff either in notebooks or on the typewriter. The great thing about a manual typewriter is that it is so time-consuming to change a line or a verse, as you have to type the whole thing over again and can't simply 'delete', that one develops a renewed respect for the written word. The other thing is that you never really lose anything. One problem with the computer is that you can sit down in front of something you have written in a particularly self-loathing mood and start hitting delete left, right and centre and stuff is consigned undeservedly to oblivion just because you're having a bad hair day. So, I'm back with the notebooks now. Nick Cave and the Bad SeedsDig, Lazarus, Dig!!! was written by hand, on paper and this album is absolute haemorrhaging of words a consequence -no delete button- and um, all is well in the garden."

As you probably noticed, Rob Messenger's response was directed at Richard Polt, who had wondered what typewriter Nick was using and was interested in adding it to his writers and their typewriters web page.

So this brings me to the point where I'm asking 'What of that mystery blue typewriter'? Is it Nick's new writing machine? Or is it something that was brought into the film to give some kind of cinematic punch. Or did the light grey L25 reflect too much light and make it hard to control the look of the shot, so they got hold of another - more portable machine.

In answer to this question, I don't really know. Personally in my head I see Cave writing on a blood red German creation, or inky black and fierce early Remington or Underwood standard. It feels more like what I'd expect to see on Cave's desk. Or at least to me. 

Instead, the typewriter in question is something a little more mundane. A Seiko Silver Reed Silverette II in blue. 

I'm inclined to believe that this is Nick's own typewriter. It is a small but a solid performer while not being highly valuable and irreplaceable. This sounds like the prefect machine for travelling musician and writer. Hell, with that blue colour I'd be inclined to just take it with me travelling simply for the sex appeal.

Looking into Cave's typewriter usage has revealed some interesting observations about creative process, and the value of the by-products produced by this process which is sadly lacking in most digital workflows these days.

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Nick Cave & Typewriters.

*Many of the components of this blog entry will not be visible on an iPad or tablet*

So, the Nick Cave film '20,000 days on earth' is coming out soon, and the promotional dance has begun. The trailer has a significant amount of typewriter and writing love. I spotted two typewriters in the trailer, but there may be more.

For those not familiar with Nick Cave, he's a singer and songwriter that is also a novelist and screenwriter. Like his music, his writing is filled with dark and gothic themes. He was once the darling of the Melbourne indie music scene, where he performed with some brilliant goth-rock groups such as 'The Birthday Party', and 'The bad seeds'. 

But when he became internationally famous and began to collaborate with artists such as Kylie Minogue, he lost part of that following and was labelled a 'sell out' - probably the greatest insult you can give the the indie music scene. He now doesn't even live in Australia anymore. 

I'm rather a fan of his work to be honest. The dark tones and the exploration of complex themes of sex, religion along the greyness of morality is something I always like to read or listen to. It follows a tradition in Australian art that explores what happens in the shadows that we don't talk about, as opposed to the bright and sunny leisurely lifestyle that often Australians prefer to identify with. 

I feel that Cave has been an influence on the way that I write. I prefer honest narratives and an eschewing of the need to write with bright and positive stories simply to appeal to an audience that prefers to feel good and warm at the end of a tale. But that there's a real positive that comes from being honest about looking at the full gamut of the human experience - the bright is only bright beside the dark. 

Anyway. I've always heard that Cave wrote on a typewriter. It is great to see that he's kept that up. The last time I saw Cave in person was at the Esplanade hotel where he was practically chased out of the now non-existent "Public Bar" by another artist - Fred Negro, who was the lead singer of a band called 'The F**k F**ks'. With taunts of 'Sell-out', Cave was followed out the door by what seemed to be the eternally drunk Negro into the cold, bitter St Kilda night. This struck me as a piece of poetry in its own right.