Letterpress List No. 29: Enter the Jiggler

The first time we tangled, Shop Boy barely lived to tell about it. Apparently, I’d underestimated my smaller opponent. From my knees, bowed if unbroken, I made a silent vow that it would not happen again.

(And somewhere in the distance, a gong sounds.)

Yes, Shop Boy made a blood oath to never, ever again mess with the paper jogger, a crazy old electric contraption that hums and vibrates to, it is said, get many sheets of paper perfectly aligned so you cut them evenly. (I can’t even look at it without thinking of a 1940s image of housewives standing with big belts around their waists that were supposed to jiggle away the fat.

Shop Boy started calling it the Jiggler … and eventually Mary stopped sharply correcting me.)

You’d probably underestimate this thing, too. It’s maybe 16 inches long and 12 inches wide, less than a foot high. It sits on steel springs and has a wooden top. Oh, and it has a million pounds or so of cast iron in its body.

Was cast iron, like, free or something back then? Geez.

You should have heard the excitement in Mary’s voice when she called one day to say she’d found the jogger in an old Baltimore printshop. Shop Boy thought she’d lost her marbles. (Of course, that’s the default setting by now.)

Shop Boy: “It does what, now?”

Mary: “Trust me, we neeeeed this.”

So we got it. Then it almost got me.

A simple act, Shop Boy thought. Pick up the jogger from the floor and set it upon a workbench by the guillotine paper cutter. Without too much thought (hush!), Shop Boy bent, grabbed and stood.

Now, if you’ve watched the Olympic weightlifting competitions, you know what these strongmen do when they realize they’ve bitten off way more than they can chew. They drop the bar and jump back, getting their limbs out of the crumple zone. Doing so here would very likely have destroyed the machine, breaking Mary’s heart. So that option was out for Shop Boy — no Olympic weightlifter but a guy with a Herculean fear of failure and/or humiliation that has driven him to a few spectacular, if occasionally dumb, displays of strength. (Look, I never said I was the brains of the operation.)

Instead, Shop Boy leaned forward, put his forehead against the wall as a brace of sorts and slowly, slowly, slowly sank to his knees — as his hairline receded — extending his arms until the springs mercifully touched the floor. Then Shop Boy stood up, made sure there were no witnesses, kicked himself and went to get a hand truck.

And when, with great effort, the jogger had finally been set in its place, Shop Boy was done with it.

It was where it would be. Eternally. Period. End of backache.

Well, you know how if you move one piece of furniture in your living room, suddenly everything has to be shuffled? Mary gets a new, bigger, better guillotine installed in the other half of the Typecast Press studio space and decides that it only makes sense that this is where the jogger should now reside.

Must … Remember … Oath.

Sigh. Shop Boy shuffled glumly off to get the hand truck and get it over with. Then it hit him: the “turtle.”

Now this object you’d never take lightly, believe me. It’s a steel, perfectly flat-topped table set on cast-iron (of course) legs and hard rubber wheels. It’s designed to help move heavy type forms from where they’re set up over to the press for the actual printing. Rolling thunder. I mean loud. But what was one more flurry of decibels in the racket of an old printshop?

We’d picked up the turtle a while back as a throw-in on the Miehle press. As in, it hadn’t been used in 30 years, weighed a ton and was in the way of progress. The negotiations went something like this: “That hunk of junk? It is all yours. Get it out of here.”

And thus the Jiggler was about to meet its match. By lowering a corner at a time, Shop Boy eased the jogger onto the turtle and we were off — loudly — down the hall. In a matter of minutes, if not without a little more effort, the jogger was where it would be.

Eternally. Period. End of …

Oh, forget it.


Letterpress List No. 29

How about an hour’s worth of music appropriate for when you’re applying ice to strained areas? Light favorites? Forget it. This is the Land of Letterpress, where we like it heavy and only the strong survive. Or something …

Most of the tunes should be available in the usual places. Goofy or great videos are from YouTube.

StrongmanLuscious Jackson (Standing by a strong woman.)
Hurt — Nine Inch Nails (This still kills Shop Boy.)
I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That) Meat Loaf (Go ahead, call Shop Boy a wimp. Besides, check this out and tell me if this isn’t what Glenn Danzig would look like if he stopped working out and hit Satan’s all-you-can-eat buffet.)
Comfortably NumbPink Floyd (Can you show me where it hurts?)
Nothing Else MattersMetallica (OK, but it’s a power ballad.)
MistachuckChuck D (Even his voice got muscles in it.)
Don’t Be Stupid Shania Twain (Absurd and ridiculous, maybe …)
How Bad Do You Want It?Don Henley (Badly enough, apparently.)
Move It On Over George Thorogood (Bad to the bones.)
Good Vibrations
the Beach Boys (Mary insists.)
Shake It Upthe Cars (Where has the time gone?)
Sabotagethe Beastie Boys (The only explanation.)
The Impression That I Getthe Mighty Mighty Bosstones (Knock on wood.)
Money for NothingDire Straits (Oh, that’s how you do it.)
I Like to Move It, Move ItReel 2 Real — and from “Madagascar” (Just this once … maybe twice.)
Happy Together the Turtles (Strength in numbers.)
Gonna Make You Sweat
C+C Music Factory (The fat lady sings … just not in the video.)

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