Illustration | design

Tiny Tea Dispatch #035


Growth spurt

photo of a small jalapeño plant in a black flower pot sitting on a wooden chair, taken in bird's eye view. We see part of the wooden back of the chair and can see a red brick wall through its spokes

The porch is being reconfigured into a more cozy place overlooking the garden, with a couch and some plants – new and old – peppered in _(pun intended)_. The jalapeños in the back are about to start flowering so it looks like I repotted them just in time.

# Watching #

The Orville

view of the cast of the series The Orville

I’m a bit late to the party, as the Orville started in 2017 (and it got recommended to me 3 years ago at this point -> thanks Laszlo!), but I began catching up last year. It’s only now getting into season 3, so that’s easy enough. I you want the elevator pitch: it’s like ‘Star Trek: the Next Generation’ but better and with contemporary effects. I’m far from the only one who had their doubts that Seth ‘Family Guy’ MacFarlane was capable of putting up sympathetic characters and nuance but there you have it. He’s mainly the producer and lead actor of the show but does occasionally lend his writing skills to the team. But back to the ‘Star Trek’ comparison: for all its supposed lofty goals of trying to portray an advanced and unified Earth, the portrayal of diverse communities and acceptance of LGBTQIA+ has been very subdued in most of the series. I love those series dearly but it’s only ‘Deep Space Nine’ that had the balls to unapologetically portray some gay characters, put on a diverse set of people and write complex characters. That series was also in many ways a departure from the classic Star Trek view of a united Federation. It was dark. It featured the Maquis: sometimes a group of fundamentalist terrorists and other times resistance fighters. They wrote about war and occupation in a way that is still relevant when you look at places like Israel or Russia today. That’s great and it probably did a lot for representation and nuanced writing in popular TV but it doesn’t feel very Star Trek in a lot of places. By contrast, ‘The Orville’ manages to retain that utopian Star Trek feel, while also, right out of the gate, portraying gay characters like it’s the most normal thing in the world and simultaneously addressing backwards ideals and toxic views on gender. Putting on ‘About a Girl’ as the 3rd episode of your series, takes guts. It talks about gender and transitioning in a way that is far from perfect (it gets very reductive and even outdated in places) but pair it with a few other episodes featuring the Moclans, and the conclusion of that gender-storyline in ‘A Tale of Two Topas’ (season 3). I get that the TV landscape has changed, with streaming services and such, but I’m not used to seeing a polished sci-fi series take such an overt and undeniable standpoint on something like trans rights. I like it a lot. ////

Flying Train, Germany, 1920’s

view from a monorail, we see a horse and carriage up ahead and buildings on the left

A trip on the Seine, Paris, 1920’s

a street in Paris in the twenties, with old cars, a man on a horse, trees ligning the street

There is a particular subset of pre-color film we probably don’t think about very often, which just documents life at that time. For a while now, I’ve seen links popping up to remastered bits of those movies. They’re usually coloured in, with some (new) audio overlaid and its frame rate normalized. Part of the work is done using machine learning algorithms and modern software, but still, it must be a fair amount of work making these. The artificialness shows in some places (the frames can be a bit ‘wonky’) but overall, it’s an amazing peek into the past and I’m glad people are releasing these. ////

The Prisoner, playlist

view of an island

Besides this, I have been watching the iconic British series ‘The Prisoner’, after hearing Alan Moore talk about it. The story is that of an ex-intelligence agent having been imprisoned in a place called ‘The Village’, looking for a way out. There’s some interesting factoids about it, like the fact the iconic Village was filmed in Portmeirion a mostly artificial tourist town in Wales designed as an Italian village. It’s a carnival fever dream version of Disneyland. Also, Patrick McGoohan seems to have been a complete bastard, hearing co-workers talk about making that series with him.

# Playing #

I’ve taken up some Minecraft again this past week. Peter Draws has been posting videos about it and those are very relaxing to watch. Lord knows we could use that right now, in this household anyway. To say that the neighbours have been ‘noisy’, is an understatement. They’re remodelling but at this point I’m not sure they have any walls left to do anything with as they’ve been drilling and breaking things for months on end. It was all well and dandy when it was 2 days in the week, now it’s every day. And that’s besides the standard amount of decibels that comes from that side of the wall. Last week it sounded like someone got murdered. Turns out it was the vacuum cleaner getting thrown down the stairs.

# Retro corner #

It may not come as a surprise that the number of typewriters in the house has increased exponentially. I modified a couple cubicles in our living room book case to hold 6 compact typewriters and those have been filled up rather fast. I won’t show all of them, but these are 3 that stand out (to me at least): The **Groma Kolibri**, a brand and model from the former DDR, made in 1958. You can see this one used in the movie ‘Das Leben des Anderen’.

photo of Groma Kolibri typewriter in green

The **Smith-Corona Skyriter**, made in 1949 or 1950, this one was owned by Belgian customs (there’s a tag hanging off the back).

photo of a Smith-Corona Skyriter typewriter

The **Brother Deluxe 220** may not be that special, design-wise but it adds a dash of color to the collection and it has a typeface that’s pretty cool and different: Elite “Bruxelles” Cubic (sometimes called Techno).

photo of a red Brother typewriter with some paper loaded

# Photography #

We do manage to escape the house and go to places like this:




Lots of ducks around the local park





# Closing thoughts #

I’ve been trying a new approach for my ‘life logging’, or whatever you call it, to keep track of what I’ve been doing month to month. There’s always been my paper (and digital) calendars for tracking to do’s and such, but more recently I started been keeping a (sort of) daily log, with simple bullet points. With the acquisition of typewriters, those notes migrated to A5-size journal-type pages. My sense of days passing by, is not great, so it’s been interesting using notes to look back and see what’s been going on over the course of a month. At about this time last year, I was in an emergency room with an aggravated back problem and we had to cancel our vacation plans. I probably spent half of that year in some amount of pain. What a time that was. Well, hopefully this summer goes a bit better. We’re finally taking a couple of days to go elsewhere, after 2 years of hurdles. If you find some time to step away from the usual day-to-day, cheers to you. Hope you have a good time as well. See you next time!