For his birthday, I gave Rob a Blickensderfer No. 9 which is a really ingenious machine. Although it was built in 1893, it might remind you of the typeball on an IBM selectric. Pretty cool, huh? It’s at the repair shop now getting a cleaning, so you’ll have to wait to see video of it in action. Don’t expect me to actually type on it, because the keys are not laid out in the standard QWERTY format.Â Still, it’s pretty keen, huh?
Rob was about as excited as I’ve seen him over a gift.Â He kept pushing the keys reaaaaally slowly to watch the type element spin.Â It was cute.
The Rag (show) is a weekly puppet video blog with very short (like 45 seconds), funny pieces using “wayang xerox”* to hit some topical subjects. This week? An iceberg discusses global warming.
*I promise that makes sense and is funny to a puppeteer. Wayang kulit is a style of traditional Indonesian rod puppets, they are typically flat and have rods. Xerox, well, that part makes sense, right? So these puppets are loosely based on wayang but instead of being hand-carved out of buffalo hide, they are made from xeroxes. See. Funny, right? Okay, well at least it makes sense now.
Finally, there’s a candidate I can support. Jed Hartman, of Strange Horizons, announced his write-in campaign today. I think, if you read his platform, you’ll agree that this is a candidate worth endorsing.
Edited to add: For reasons that are unclear, YouTube seems to have taken the video down. It was up for about two hours. Conspiracy? Thank heavens there’s this other company Google–wait.
One of my favorite things is to get Dad to bring the saw out when company comes. I love the way jaws drop; people alternate between awe and laughter. I mean, it sounds like a soprano, but it’s a saw. And yes, he cuts with it.
Once, the North Carolina Symphony asked him to play with them, but they wanted a gimmick so people would believe that he was playing an actual handsaw. Dad walked out on stage, sat down on the bench that they’d given him and it wobbled. Badly. He frowned, then stood up, turned the bench on it’s side and sawed off one of the legs to shorten it.
Then he sat down and played with full symphonic accompaniment.
(Of course, they’d pre-trimmed the other legs and marked the one that he needed to trim.) Dad usually makes a couple of “tuning” sorts of sounds on the saw before he starts playing, not because it needs tuning, but so that people can get the giggles out of the way.
If you can, today, seek out a puppet show whether that’s a live show or something on video or film. Puppets are one of the oldest forms of theater and have had so many different incarnations, it can’t be hard to find one. You just have to look for them.
Don’t know where to start? Here are some happy links.
Meanwhile, here’s a message from UNIMA, the international puppetry group, which also happens the oldest international arts organization.
21st MARCH, 2007
WORLD PUPPETRY DAY
The nostalgic and the new
Born in Iida city in 1930. Worked extensively in marionette theatre on television, in films and on the stage. Ex-member of executive committee of UNIMA , Honorary President of UNIMA JAPAN, Director of the Takeda Memorial International Marionette Museum.
I like to think that Iida City, which has passed on long traditions to subsequent generations and brought them into the modern age, has already become renowned throughout the world. New performing arts, particularly from Europe and America, engulfed Japan, and the unique culture that this island nation had nurtured over the years became like a little boat drifting through a vast storm, and eventually disappearing. Around that time, a large household with exceptional puppeteering skills flourished and developed on Awaji Island, and travelled around the country giving performances. Local landowners gave the puppeteers somewhere to live, and they in turn taught the local people about their craft, leading to the founding of a puppet theatre which still survives today.
In recent years, many of the towns and villages around Iida have been incorporated into that castle city. Theatres for the Kuroda and Imada puppet companies, where they can put on performances whatever the weather, were completed using Japanese architectural techniques, with the help of the city. In the style of the Edo Era, the new Kuroda theatre has a covered stage for the puppet performances, and maintains the tradition of the audience watching from an outdoor amphitheatre. The outstanding feature of the Kuroda puppets is their hair, which is apparently re-tied before every single performance. Personally I think that the hair of the Kuroda puppets is the most beautiful amongst all the varieties of three-puppeteer puppet heads, including bunraku and awaji, and I am filled with admiration every time I see it. I sincerely hope that, whatever else may happen, this hair is protected for ever.
Fifteen years ago I was invited to Iida City, which built the Sennosuke Takeda International Marionette and Puppet Museum in Zakoji, surrounded by the Southern and Central Alps, in a place of natural beauty now rare in Japan.
Today Rob and I went to pick our typewriters up from Ace Typewriter* where they had been lovingly cleaned. Oh my goodness, I cannot begin to describe how much better they type than before we took them in. The sound of each machine is different, and the action of the keyboards is great. Our Royal is so shiny that you can see a reflection of the keys in the chassis of the machine. Here. I’ll show you.
Now I’ve got an urge to write a short story entirely on the typewriter. One on each, in fact. Plus we have three others that aren’t here. We just dropped off a Woodstock to be repaired, our Groma Kolibra is still in a box coming from Iceland, and then we’ve got a Corona in Chattanooga. Pretty, pretty things.
*Ace Typewriter – 7433 N. Lombard, Portland, OR 97203. (503)286-2521. “This father-and-son operated shop specializes in manual typewriters, has a number of beautiful classic machines for sale, and would love to have your business. Definitely worth the short drive to St. Johns.”
All right, I loved The Adventures of Buckeroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, but I never imagined him in the place described here. In fact, I never imagined this at all before, and think I need to go lie down now.
Thanks, Sunil. That’s right, ladies and gents, your submissions to Shimmer are passing through the hands of someone who thinks that imagining the 10th dimension is good clean fun.
I completely forgot that I’d taken this video when I was building the polar bear. When I went back in December, one of the things I wanted to do was give him a more substantial tail. The existing one hung down and was not very attractive–I didn’t make that one–so I wanted something that fit the bear more as a whole.
I spotted this on BoingBoing. I’ve got a weakness for automaton and wind-up toys. I had read about this writing automaton so it’s fairly amazing to see it in action.
In the eighteenth century, 200 years before little ASIMO started to walk or to climb stairs, the great Jaquet-Droz built an automaton which could scrawl any sentence on a piece of paper and had a chilling repertory of human-like movements. Read the story an then check it out at the videos:
(Tor Books — August 21, 2018) Continuing the grand sweep of alternate history laid out in The Calculating Stars, The Fated Sky looks forward to 1961, when mankind is well-established on the moon and looking forward to its next step: journeying to, and eventually colonizing, Mars. Of course, the noted Lady Astronaut Elma York would like to go, […]