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Sound On

Gerard Van der Leun // 1692 Mangrove Ave Apt: 379
Chico, CA 95926

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  • BillH August 26, 2022, 7:57 AM

    Well, things looked better back then. Even better way back when.

  • azlibertarian August 26, 2022, 8:19 AM

    Where’s the clickty-click-clickty-click-clickty-click-ding of that old Smith-Corona typewriter (which was as heavy as a concrete block) that I went to college with?

    • Mike Austin August 26, 2022, 8:35 AM

      It was on such a device that I typed all of my History term and seminar papers, some of which were 30 pages long. As I had never learned to type—I still do not know how to type—it took me one hour per page. I wish today that I could count the number of cigarettes and cups of coffee I consumed while typing those papers.

      Those were the days.

      • azlibertarian August 26, 2022, 9:02 AM

        It was somewhere in the middle of my junior year that my old typewriter developed an intermittent habit of not delivering the “t” (!) to the paper after I had struck the key. In that previous sentence, I touched the “t” key 17 times and on that old typewriter, I could find that half of them might have been missing. Those few papers I had to write (fortunately as a physics major I didn’t have to write many) were nightmares to produce.

    • PA Cat August 26, 2022, 10:27 AM

      azlibertarian– Just for you, Leroy Anderson’s “The Typewriter,” performed by the Brandenburger Symphoniker (the “percussionist’s” request for help from another orchestra member to “tune” his machine is funny, too)– but I wonder how long this piece will make any sense to future generations of concertgoers:

      As for Smith-Coronas in particular, my parents gave me a portable Smith-Corona electric model as my college graduation gift. I used it in grad school up through the 1980s. I still have it– you’re right about the weight of these things. It would be a deadly weapon if dropped out the window on the head of any of the usual suspects.

    • Joel August 26, 2022, 10:39 AM

      Kind of a digression, but…

      Heh – back in the sixties I took two different typing classes in public school because I wanted to be Ernest Hemingway when I grew up. Both times I was the only guy in the class, which got me called certain things that weren’t considered compliments back then – never seems to have occurred to the guys doing the talking that … I was the only guy in the class. Which, I confess, didn’t really get me anywhere but I could lie.

      Never became Hemingway, since it seems you need more than 100 words/minute for success in fiction writing. BUT: Years later I got out of the shop and into technical writing with a big boost from the fact that I was a very good typist, very rare among auto mechanics. Nowadays nearly everybody can type but I had an unexpectedly valuable head start in my introduction to word processors.

      • ghostsniper August 26, 2022, 1:03 PM

        One day Joe stopped by the office to pick up some preliminary design drawings for a new home I was designing on Useppa Island. All of the homes on that island are named something. “Windrift”, “See Life”, “Dreamers Edge”, etc. and we got to talking about one named “Hemingway House” that I had done some renovation design work the previous year. Joe told me to hold on for a minute and he ran out to his truck. He came back in and handed me about a 6′ long rusty pipe that was bent and had some dents in it. I asked what it was and he told me it was a $900 shower rod for the new interior design on the Hemingway House. I was aghast and stymied. This required further research. I called Robb and Stucky the interior design company that was providing the design service and materials for the renovation I had done to the house. R&S had created several versions of materials and supplies in the Hemingway line that were based on the various decades that Ernest Hemingway lived in his house in Key West, FL. The various designs were based on the various decades, 1920’s, 1930’s, etc. Seems every time Hemingway’s income increased a new renovation was performed on his house. The interior design scheme which was used on the Hemingway House on Useppa was after the Key West house had fallen into disrepair. I don’t know the whole story of the Key West house but I surveyed the new Useppa Hemingway House version and it was both a sight for sore eyes and a revelation. Every square inch of the interior of this house, which cost over $5mil by the way, had received extreme alteration to make it look old and neglected and abused. For example, in the bathroom that received that bent pipe for a shower curtain rod, a faux painter had painstakingly applied his art to the corners of the walls where they touched the ceiling in such a way that they looked heavily mildewed, which is common in older FL homes that are not air conditioned. They were fake holes punched in the plaster exposing the lath boards behind. Sledge hammers were taken to a $20k fireplace and fake fires were lit in that fireplace to produce a thick bed of ashes. Seems the current owner of the Useppa Hemingway House wanted an earlier version (1920’s) of the new renovation instead of the version that was already there (1930’s) when they purchased the property. That home seems to sell about every 5 years or so and I have done numerous renovations to it over the past 30 years. It keeps getting bigger and better.

  • Mike Austin August 26, 2022, 9:10 AM

    Fascinating. I then propose that another sub-discipline of History be imagined, that of “Sonic History”. Think of taking a class in, for example, Ancient History and the sounds of that era are reconstructed as best as possible. The sounds of debate in the Roman Senate—in Latin of course. The sounds of the legions in battle. The sounds of an ancient Egyptian household. The sounds of a Babylonian marketplace.

    Some of this is already here. Peter Pringle is a musician who specializes in bringing the sounds of ancient music to our modern ears. He sings the songs in their original languages and plays them upon instruments copied from the same instruments used at the time. Here he is singing in ancient Sumerian. The song is more than 5000 years old.


    What you hear is what Sargon the Great (2234 – 2279 BC) heard in his palace thousands of years ago.

    • ThisIsNotNutella August 26, 2022, 6:35 PM

      Peter Pringle plays a mean Theremin too. I first encountered him playing Over the Rainbow on one and then clicked around and saw him performing a fragment from Gilgamesh.

      A fellow cyclist in my neck of the Hong Kong woods is also a Pringle from Montreal and looks very much the spitting image of a younger Peter Pringle but is unaware of any close or even tenuous familial relation and says he gets asked the same question by someone every few years.

  • Steve (retired/recovering lawyer) August 26, 2022, 9:49 AM

    I was waiting to hear the satisfying, “snick” of a bolt being closed on a round in the chamber. My disappointment was profound. Guess I’ll just go down to the gunsafe and play a couple tunes on my Model 70 Winchester.

  • Snakepit Kansas August 26, 2022, 4:33 PM

    Steve, the closing of a bolt on a Model 70 will never change, and hopefully that sound and feel will never go away. I have a number of Model 70s and my favorite is one chambered in .250-3000 Savage and was made in 1946. Still shoots bug holes with hand loads.

  • Snakepit Kansas August 26, 2022, 4:38 PM

    I wonder what Sargon would have thought of Metallica.

    • Mike Austin August 26, 2022, 4:43 PM

      The same way that Metallica would think of Sargon. Though somehow I doubt that anyone in Metallica has an abiding interest in Sumerian and Akkadian History.

      • ThisIsNotNutella August 26, 2022, 6:27 PM

        I wouldn’t put it past Irving Finkel (British Museum curator of all things Cuneiform and hilarious YouTube personality) to have an abiding interest in Metallica — or at least to affect to have same for effect.

        Finkel on the Royal Game of Ur:

        He’d score a space on the Ark if I were doing the ticketing.

        • Mike Austin August 27, 2022, 1:36 AM

          After viewing the video—and by he way, my hair is longer than his—I realized that what I have done in my life is to make my apartment a small museum: one of History, of Theology, of Music, of Bicycles, of The Outdoor Life. In my will I have left almost all of this to a friend who has three children, the oldest being 7. One day they will be reading my books, riding my bikes and listening to my music. Ok then.

          The beat goes on.

  • ThisIsNotNutella August 26, 2022, 6:21 PM

    If any of you geriatrics can still hear CRT tube coil whine when you power up your heirloom TV, you’re doing *really* well. I can simulate it quite nicely with tinnitus, thank you very much.

  • Dirk August 27, 2022, 7:45 AM

    Just in the past five years we have purchased both an electric type writer, and a mechanical typewriter. We are hedging our bets, we’ll need um sooner rather then later.

    All kinds of older practical devices, meat grinders, etc etc.

    We see a time when these devices will be needed again.

  • Kerry August 27, 2022, 11:47 AM

    Turns out that typing class junior year in HS ended up being the one thing I took away from those 4 years that I have used practically every day of my working life. At the time, it was just another class to take that fit into my schedule. IBM Selectric. The keyboard had a smooth, solid feel.