In December 2020 I won an eBay auction for a 1968 Royal 200. With shipping, the typewriter came to a grand total of $63.87. It was an ultraportable made in Japan by Silver-Seiko and sold under the venerable Royal brand; the 200 appears identical to the better-known Mercury. Our example turned out to be surprisingly good, not just for what it was—a cheap, small typewriter—but full stop: it types better and faster than many ostensibly superior machines, and despite some yellowed plastic1 it remains in terrific shape. But while its platen and sound insulation could stand replacing, I wondered whether it was worth spending money upgrading such a cheap typewriter: the expense would not necessarily be recouped if we decided to sell the thing on. Meanwhile, the typewriter blogger Joe Van Cleave went and did to his Royal Mercury what I was simply musing about: he replaced the platen and installed a sound insulation kit, with good results. He clearly intends to keep using his, and at this point I think I’m likely to do the same with mine. Resale value should be a moot point in this context. In a way it’s too bad that it’s no longer quite as silly to get J. J. Short to recover its platen, now that Joe’s broken this ground. I liked the idea of doing something silly.
Author: Jonathan Crowe Page 1 of 21
Yesterday we were beset by strong winds that knocked out power for some and knocked down trees for others. In our case it brought down a secondary trunk of one of our beech trees. On its way down the trunk sheared off the top of one of the small maples and crushed the old, disused compost bin that predated our arrival here, narrowly missing the (also disused) shed.
All things considered, it could have been a lot worse.
The remainder of the tree isn’t looking so hot—the pileated woodpeckers have been at it—and will probably have to come down sooner rather than later. And today we spotted a pileated woodpecker checking out the fallen trunk, so I can’t help but think they were behind all this somehow.
My first professionally published story, “Mermaid Care,” a flash piece with a creepy take on anthropomorphism and the exotic animal trade, can be found in the December 2021 issue of Mermaids Monthly—which is now officially available to the general public, both online and in the usual ebook formats.
It’s only 950 words long, so there’s really no reason why you shouldn’t go read it right now. Since I’m going to talk about the story’s origins and inspirations in this post, everything will make more sense if you’ve read the story first.