A Type Down Memory Lane

Recently, I hit the local flea market with my girlfriend looking for fun trinkets with a crisp $20 in my pocket. And we were lucky that day, since we both came away with something we had been looking for. In my girlfriend’s case, it was a snazzy new pair of jeans. And in my case, even though I was looking primarily for old video games, I ended up coming home with this:

Asin’t she a beaut?

A 1975 Sears Manual 1 portable typewriter. In all its mass-produced glory. For a piddly three bucks. It has an ancient ribbon, and it’s missing a key, but it does still work, and is technically a “portable” model (I say “portable” in quotations because it’s probably close to 15lb, and buying it early in the day caused both of my shoulders to hurt by the time we reached the car). All I need is a flannel shirt and enough fair for a man-bun to be “that guy” at Starbucks writing that earth-shattering screenplay.

To be honest, I know very little about my typewriter model. Looking it up hasn’t so far come to many conclusions or interesting information, other than that it was actually made by the company Brother and not Sears as the label states. This isn’t even surprising, knowing the video game history I do; the Atari VCS/2600 was sold at Sears as the Sears Video Arcade with games as “Sears Telegames, so why wouldn’t they do the same with other electronics and productivity devices?

But why would I buy such a model, released into the world the same year the Vietnam War came to an end and “Squeaky” Fromme tried to shoot President Ford, in 2018? Why would I bring this heavy and intricately-assembled metal beast into my home-bedroom?

Nostalgia. Pure and simple.

But not just ANY nostalgia. See, I’m in my mid-30s now, and there have been some noteworthy changes between the things I grew up learning and experiencing that kids of that age won’t be seeing today. And in this case, that would include typing classes. Because I didn’t learn to type on a computer – even though there were computers in my home going as far back as I can remember – but instead on a manual, just-like-my-$3-purchase typewriter.

Back 20 some-odd years ago, computer labs weren’t common in my hometown’s schools. There was a new one in the high school, but in lower grades, you’d be lucky to find a collecting-dust Apple II in the corner with a busted floppy drive. (Fun Fact: That actually happened, and it didn’t work until my mom took it home, cracked it open, removed the debris from the drive and sent it back to the school for use. Oregon Trail by any means necessary, yo.)

Because of that, my middle school had a room filled with around 30 typewriters. Just row after row of bored 14-year-olds thwacking the keys and complaining that they pressed too many keys too quickly and jammed the thing up. That was a real problem… to this day I know that, in theory, people could type over 60 words per minute on a manual typewriter, but I have no actual concept in my brain as to how. I might’ve reached 20 or 30 then, but that was through sheer determination.

The only other thing I remember about that class was a teacher telling me they could program their own website. Remember, this was 1998, so HTML was still some hot stuff, yo. (I could program my own site too, and it probably looked just as solid as any Geocities abomination he’d made, the egotistical jackass.) I didn’t learn how to touch type until I started through college in the early 2000s thanks to hunt-and-peck techniques and manual typewriter classes.

Now, I look over that class and my “new” machine as a timeline connection point. Even in that class, bored as I was – I was 14, every 14-year-old is bored, it’s in the rulebook – I still loved seeing those typewriters. Even back then I loved telling stories, which helped me to eventually become the aspiring story writer and poet I become in my early high school years, and the thwack of a manual typewriter just pumps me up to getting my thoughts onto paper. It’s probably not going to be one page at a time while worrying about replacing ribbons or jamming the hammers all up, I do love modern word processors something fierce, but I could see myself testing out some poetry on my mechanical wonder should the spark threaten a fire. And either way, even if it’s never used again, for three measly dollars it’s a token of a time long since passed. Even if it wasn’t “my” machine, it still takes me back to “my” era, and connects me in some small way to the writers that came before me like my fountain pens have done.

Which reminds me… I think I’ll start practicing my cursive a little too. That takes me back even further.

Stand Tall and Type Well, friends. May your stories be lovely and your ribbons be plentiful.

Renewal

Yoda and Star Wars are copyright Disney. Don’t know who exactly to give the credit to for this gem, but it ain’t mine.


Two things happened to me today that spurred me to finally write a new post. I’d been meaning to for months, but these two things finally coalesced and brought me to the writing prompt:

  • My playlist played one of my favorite pump-up songs, “Prayer of the Refugee” by Rise Against;
  • There’s a Lamy store on Market Street.

Sometimes what you find you need is right in front of you, and when something else can merge into the moment with it, that’s what I would call “inspiration”.

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Thoughts On: North Korea’s Most Recent Missile Test

I can’t call myself any sort of expert on the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or “North Korea”), but I’ve been keeping an eye on the news regarding them, their missile program, their economy, and other news that comes out of that country… whether it’s a documentary trip with a couple Harlem Globetrotters or Donald Trump saying he would meet with current dictator Kim Jong-Un. Everyone knows it’s a volatile situation, and needs some careful understanding of what information is already available and what’s already worked.

So I thought I might offer a few thoughts from an admitted amateur aficionado of the most recent news: another missile launched, and one that should make more news than the previous. That being, the DPRK just tested a missile without a defective flaw the level of a Chevy Pinto.

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Laid Off

It’s been too long since I wrote something in here last, but I’ve had a bit of a trying few months – both good, in that tomorrow is my one-year anniversary with a lovely young woman I adore, some more personal issues, actively working hard to have stories worth publishing or requesting representation for, and good old-fashioned procrastination. But never fear, today I’m posting something I wrote in the aftermath of a fateful Monday morning, when I received bad news in public.

That’s always a good time, ain’t it?

You’ve probably guessed what it is from the title of this post, but I wanted to put some thoughts together after it occurred – crystalize what’s going on in my head, how I’m feeling about it, what I’ll be working to do going forward. This one isn’t a “good” post, but it is a reflective post, and one the likes of which I’ve (sadly) written of before.

Should you choose to, thanks for reading, friends.

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NISA Press Event 2017

©NIS America

I haven’t missed the NIS America annual press event since I started going in 2010 or so, and yesterday I spent my evening mulling over video games, musing over cocktails (well, ginger beer in my case) and pizza, and listening to professional nerds tell me about their upcoming products. It’s my favorite event of the year simply because they produce the types of games I’m personally interested in most: dungeon-crawler RPGs and Disgaea.

Disgaea is love. Disgaea is life.

Last night, they were showing an obscene number of titles for the modestly-sized company they are – 19 in total, up from the 8 they showed in 2016 – ranging from visual novels like PSYCHO-PASS: Mandatory Happiness, to their powerhouse murder-mystery series Danganropa, to the afore-mentioned Disgaea 5 Complete for the upcoming Nintendo Switch. The biggest news was that all of the titles they named would be released at some point in the 2017 calendar year, but that only matters if the games are any good, so it’s worth taking a look over the full list.

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#28DaysOfBlackCosplay

Cosplay is more than simply dressing up as a preferred character; it’s a form of self-expression, identifying with a (usually fictional) character on a level beyond simple admiration or appreciation. It takes time and effort to dress up like a favorite superhero or video game fighter or animated antagonist, and that time is hard to invest when the character means either nothing or next-to-nothing to the cosplayer. And the results are usually incredible – I’ve seen wonderful depictions of Chun-Li from Street Fighter, Green Arrow, Patty Mayonnaise, various colors and generations of Power Rangers, there’s not enough time to break down how solid they are and how they’re portrayed.

That said, it should also be noted that many of the most popular characters in many mediums popular in the United States – video games, film, comics, other mediums, and including the characters I listed above – are predominantly white. Especially the biggest names, like Batman or Wolverine or Wonder Woman or Ms. Marvel, have historically been caucasian. And many superheroes are more than only white, they’re men. They may be diverse in their power set, or their personality profiles, or their backstories, the biggest and generally most popular (and profitable) have been white men.

Because of this, most noteworthy cosplayers are dressing up like them. But during Black History Month, there’s the hashtag #28DaysOfBlackCosplay, displaying some of the great displays of my melanin-rich friends taking over the cape and/or cowl of their favorite characters, making them their own. And more than the few characters of color like Storm or Black Panther, cosplayers are taking on traditionally white characters like Captain America and Superman.

And this is AWESOME.

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Sentencing Dylann Roof

It’s about time we had a talk about the death penalty in the United States (again). If you don’t want to read more about this topic, I don’t blame you. I don’t really want to think about it either. But once I read the headline and read the article, I had a few thoughts run through my head, and this post will be one where I try to work through them.

Feel free to skip this one if you’d like. But it’s here if/when you decide to come back.

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2016 Reading List

After the year that was 2016, with a ton of celebrity deaths (of celebrities people actually liked, like David Bowie and Carrie Fisher) and the election of a xenophobic candy corn here in the US, I could always find some kind of solace in a good book. And I got through 23 of them this year, which is a happy number, since my goal is at least 20 every year.

2016 has been an interesting year, and not one I would like to forget any time soon from its upsides (instead of as a cautionary political tale). I started dating a sweetheart of a human being, two of my best friends got married, I attended some awesome press events even if I subsequently took a break from being a professional video game critic late in the year. I interviewed a sitting world champion of pro wrestling (AJ Styles, the best wrestler on the planet with or without the belt) and attended my sixth E3. I moved into a new room. Got my first two tattoos.

It’s been a productive year, when I really sit down and think about it. And 2017 is going to be better, because I’m going to MAKE it better.

Like I did with the 2015 list, here is the list of what I read, along with a two-sentence review and a final score. Hope this might help tune you into some good books for your 2017!

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Cheaper Isn’t Always Better: A Five-Dollar Headphone Review

Back in August of 2016, I did my first review of hardware of any kind: my now-standard headphones, the Kingston HyperX CloudX Pro Gaming Headset. In June the pair were dropped in front of me, and I played with them over two months to see if they were really worth the effort. And damned if they were, I now take the clamshell with me every time I leave the house with my work bag. (And wherever else I may be when I need a pair of headphones, for that matter.)

As I said in the review, I’ve owned my fair share of crappy headphones that just can’t do the trick the way a high-quality $100 pair can. But sometimes, an inexpensive pair can get a person through some rough times when carrying a bulky pair just isn’t in the cards. And tonight, I bought the cheapest pair I’ve ever owned of physical headphones, from my favorite cheap-o store.

Being as how I haven’t written a proper review of anything in a little while, I thought I might break that cycle and lay down the law on that new pair. Simply because they’re not only better than I thought, but that their price led me to believe.

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