Letterpress List No. 21: Seeing Red

“It was quite … Soviet.”

With those words, Professor David Snodgrass sent Shop Boy’s chances at a broadcast journalism career crashing down harder than the Berlin Wall.

There Shop Boy had been, prepping for a mock newscast, explaining for shy University of Rhode Island classmates in his best fake French accent that you had to “make love to the camera, and the camera will love you back.”

Then the red light went on.

And there was no love.

Only some stiff talking head droning on about what was clearly the most dire news, like the university had just gotten millions for beer research and needed male volunteers (ha-ha!). Or we’d all been awarded straight A’s and were told to take the rest of the semester off (hee-hee!). Oooooh. Just mortifying. Thus, the Snodgrass Assessment of my on-air presence. The camera and Shop Boy have engaged in a cold war ever since.

Imagine, then, how Shop Boy took the news that a film crew was interested in capturing the goings-on at Typecast Press, part of a series on locals doing interesting — or, OK, weird — things.

They say any exposure is good exposure for your business and Shop Boy tends to agree: Any camera time for Mary is great news for us. Shop Boy on air? Not so much.

So I warned the crew not to expect much from my end. Certainly none of us could have expected what came next.

A light went on.

Now, we’re told that the video won’t be finished for about a month. (Shop Boy’ll let you know.) But if what Mary says is true, Shop Boy might be up for Ham of the Year. Actually, if what she says is true, Shop Boy might have to change his name or leave town.

After about four hours of filming, it’s hard to remember everything we discussed. We talked about us, about the shop, the machines and what’s special about the letterpress process. Shop Boy even spoke — all right, I blabbed semi-coherently — about this blog. It just went on and on and on.

Well, I guess we could say, in a grand understatement, that Shop Boy has done his part to foster detente with the camera. Now it’s the cold-eyed monster’s turn.

Potential highlight: Mary giving the audience a charm-school version of the spit-and-tissue-paper make-ready trick. Fantastic. She’s so cool.

Potential blooper (among many): Shop Boy explains the intricate workings of a Vandercook proof press.

Shop Boy: “You roll the cylinder back, put the paper against the guide to keep it straight. Then these thingies pop up to grab the paper.”

Mary: “Those are called grippers, Shop Boy.”

Gulp. Stayed tuned, folks.

Shop Boy did not sing on camera, at least not that I recall. (Oh, god!) But here’s about an hour’s worth of tunes that might have been appropriate had Shop Boy felt a song coming on. (Pray with me, people.) Most of these should be available in the usual places. Goofy or great videos are from YouTube. By the way, this is Shop Boy’s 50th posting. Missed any? Didn’t think so. Thanks for reading.

Skateaway Dire Straits (Making movies on location. Don’t know what it means.)
A Little Less Conversation — Elvis Presley (Ahem.)
Bark at the MoonOzzy Osbourne (John Michael Osbourne, you come in this house right now!)
Every Day I Write the Book – Elvis Costello (Shop Boy does the, heh-heh, dramatic reading.)
Red Light SpecialTLC (Loved by the camera.)
Girls on Film Duran Duran (For the sane half of Typecast Press.)
Cake (Naughtily paraphrasing Archie Bunker’s “Stifle yourself.”)
3 Small WordsJosie and the Pussycats (Three more small words from Archie Bunker: “Shut Up, You!”)
More Than WordsExtreme (Talking pretty.)
CelebrityBarenaked Ladies (A hero … like Phil Esposito or the Kennedys.)
All the Young DudesMott the Hoople (“Television man is crazy.” Says Shop Boy’s “a natural.”)
Lost in Hollywood System of a Down (Fame’s sharper edge. System of a Down’s softer side.)
Desperate But Not SeriousAdam Ant (The media: friend or foe?)
Talk of the Town the Pretenders (Maybe tomorrow. Maybe … in about a month.)
Voices Carry
Til Tuesday (Oops, my microphone isn’t still on, is it?)
Back in the USSRthe Beatles (This one’s for you, Dave Snodgrass, wherever your snarkiness has taken you.)

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