Letterpress List No. 5: iDrool

“Hi, this is Steve Jobs. I can’t come to the phone right now. I’m off developing some really cool gadget that you never knew you’d need but now can’t live without. At the bell, please commence salivating and clearing space on your credit card.”

Steve. Hey, it’s Shop Boy. Just wanted to say thanks for whatever hand you had in disabling Mary’s new Razr cell phone. Apparently, she got a lemon. What are the odds? Looks like she’ll eventually — please, please — need to take mine and I’ll be, ahem, in the market, if you know what I’m saying. I know that you do. Or else you wouldn’t have dropped the iPhone’s price tag tantalizingly close to my range. Man, when I think of browsing my musical library with the touch of a finger. Watching NFL highlights on the morning train. Blogging on the go. It’s all so … beautiful.

Oh, and on that note, and when you get a chance, please send a tech over to remove these mind-reading sensors from my temples. Appreciate it, bud.

Mary’s got her machine crushes, I’ve got mine. Hers tend to run toward the greasy, cast-iron, 1,200-pounds-minimum variety. Shop Boy’s thing is accumulating teeny little devices that play music. And as has probably become apparent, we’re both enablers: Mary’s got about 5 tons of equipment; I’ve got about 2 pounds’ worth of iPods.

I guess in our own ways, we’re just always on the lookout for the next big thing. And our eyes are wandering again.

Mary’s crush might already be in-house. I know, I know. You should never look for romance at work. Try telling her that as she gazes longingly at the Miehle Vertical, about 3 tons of love. The press would be the high-speed letterpress churner that we’ve lacked. Typecast Press has had to turn down some jobs because the volume requested simply can’t be achieved through hand-feeding. The Miehle’s been sitting in our secondary shop space for more than a year. We had a cleaning party several months ago to clear 30 years of gunk off the beast, and now we’re going to wire it up.

It’s got some special needs. The drive belt had snapped long ago. Pieces of the machine had been strewn about its previous home. At least we think they might be press bits. We stuck them in a box. The Miehle is also a bed-wetter — oil leaks, that is. This means it must always be set upon a large drip tray. Several “pigs,” sacks of who knows what once placed under old machines to absorb oil, remain lodged beneath ours. Let me state for the record here that I am as afraid of this machine as I’ve ever been of anything and I am not going in after them. (Also, for the record, I once told Mary that only an idiot pays $60 for a pair of pants. Fifteen minutes later, I was an idiot. So stay tuned.)

Oh, and the Miehle needs special electric current. Three-phase, whatever that it. We called the building’s electrician for a bid. He looked around, eyed the Miehle. His bid: $5,000! He wanted as much to do with the machine as Shop Boy does.

No deal. Once again, we’ve called in a ringer. Tom Beal, Mary’s brother-in-law, who’s been so amazingly helpful already, somehow has in his possession a thingamajig that can adapt the Miehle to run on 220 power, the kind that a washing machine requires. We’ll fly him down in about a week. Tom will get it done in short order, I’m sure, and also install the new drive belt and figure out which pieces of the machine need to be pulled from the box. He’s that kind of guy.

So Mary will soon have the 6,000-pound mangler of her dreams.

All Shop Boy’s asking for is an 5-ounce iPhone. Geez.

In the spirit of all that is iPod (bow down, mortals), here’s this week’s list of about an hour’s worth of songs. With the recent release by singer — and onetime Shop Boy Heart-throb — Ann Wilson of (alas) mostly lukewarm covers on Hope & Glory, I thought it might be fun to gather some more successful attempts. Most should be at iTunes.

Smooth CriminalAlien Ant Farm (Oddly rocking. Better than the original?)
Real Wild Child Josie and the Pussycats (Go ahead. Say it to my face.)
Sad Songs & WaltzesCake (Props to Willie Nelson.)
I Just Don’t Know What to Do With Myself White Stripes (Weirdly wonderful.)
Welcome to the JungleRichard Cheese (Sorry. Just had to.)
Eye in the SkyJonatha Brooke (Shop Boy tear-jerker.)
Tired of Waiting for YouGreen Day (Versatile punks slow it down. Nice.)
Highway to HellPatty (I’ve mentioned it before. This acoustic rendition is spine-tingling.)
MaybellineTed Nugent (“Atrocious Theodocious” behind the wheel.)
The Thrill Is GoneBig Time Sarah and the BTS Express (The evil gal at her best.)
Are You Gonna Go My WayTom Jones (Who’da thunk? Wow.)
Microphone FiendRage Against the Machine (Kick hole in speaker. Pull plug. Jet.)
Smells Like Teen SpiritTori Amos (I swear: Nobody else could have done this.)
Wichita LinemanFreedy Johnston (Mary’s favorite. Freedy nails it.)
EasyFaith No More (Like Sunday morning … religiously rendered.)
*Honorable mention: PrinceBest of You (NFL Halftime magic, all evidence of which has apparently been locked away by Universal Music.)

(Uh-oh, the phone is ringing. Better let the machine pick it up.)

“Hi, this is Shop Boy. I can’t come to the phone right now. I’m off developing a crush on some really cool gadget that Steve Jobs just waved under my nose. Please leave a message at the beep.”

Hey, Shop Boy. It’s Steve Jobs. Glad to help on the iPhone. Gimme a few months, and I’ll ring your bell again. And sorry, the iTemple sensors are permanent. Enjoy!

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