Last weekend I took this workshop, where I learned how to use a hand-operated printing press. It's called a Vandercook cylinder press - technically it's electric (the juice keeps the ink rollers in action), but the printing itself is hand-propelled (you and your muscles are the ones cranking the paper along to print on it).
During the workshop, we tugged out big drawers of metal type and leading strips and hand-set our words on type sticks. Dexterity definitely needed, plus decent eyesight to make sure that the bitty little 10 point Cheltenham letter "e" is italic and not roman. Man, my respect for old-school newspaper typesetters increased tenfold this weekend.
To keep the type in place while you're printing, you surround it with spacer blocks called "furniture". It's like a big jigsaw puzzle - how can you place the type exactly where you need it for printing and fill up all the space around it evenly to keep it from moving around? This is done by using furniture in different sizes, which can be a pain when someone else has used all of the ones you need and you have to start playing math and spatial games to get the type squared away.
Of course, that's the time when I'm looking down at all of the awkward empty spaces around my type and thinking, Man, if I were Green Lantern, I could use the power ring to just make the right size furniture on the spot, dammit.
Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) (Mondays, BBC America, 8pm)- In this limey mystery show, Jeff Randall is a private detective whose partner, Marty Hopkirk, is killed in the first episode. However, unlike most dead people who retire, Hopkirk returns to help his ex-partner solve mysteries! DO YOU SEE WHAT I'M SAYING? Not a single dead person has EVER volunteered to write my column! Or mop my kitchen floor! And who has more time on their hands than the dead? So listen up, corpses! Quit ignoring me and get back to work-because if you have time to LEAN, you have time to CLEAN!
It's definitely a fun watch - a nice counterpart to the usual grim-and-gritty mysteries that BBC America has been airing recently. Very silly, especially the bits with (no, really, get this) Tom Baker as bizarre psychic mentor Wyvern. And Marty's flashtastic white pimp coat. I can only hope for such stylin' if/when I die.