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MARCH RAIN beats down on the roof – a glorious ratatatoo, since we’re not going anywhere. Though New York City was blessed (?) with a mild winter this year, we seem to have used more heating oil than in more snowy winters. We condemned the new oilburner until our oilman noted that neighbors complained similarly. Joys of progress: modern equipment using more fuel than old-fashioned things. Like this part-natural gas Long Island had converted to: heats hotter, but we use more and the lower gas rate brings a higher gas bill. Must we give up baking? Perhaps we should just chop down the rotting apple tree in the back yard and turn to cooking over a wood fire in the fireplace.

Our front porch light still operates with one of those 20-year old clear-glass pointed tip light bulbs. The metal fixture holding the protective globe has corroded and been replaced, but this old pioneer bulb still serves – in contrast to the monthly replacement my Kansas landlady had to make in her day-and-night hall light.

My hobby printshop originally was a sunporch. With large 42”x64” windows along two sides it might have been a breakfast spot as the builder intended – had he not appended it with french doors to the dining room, requiring a trip thru that room and the pantry to get to the kitchen. No mother with three boys (and no maid) had time for an extra dozen steps per trip.

Why the jerk built this room with casement windows opening in I’ll never know. Maybe he expected flower boxes outside the windows. Even after insulating walls, caulking windows and the door, we had difficulty keeping the room comfortable on windy days. After over thirty years comes discovery of open window framing and an inch gap between the concrete floor slab and the sand fill in the foundation.

This year to our hobby shop we’ve added 24 and 36 pt. Times Roman, fonts of 8 pt. Times Bold and 12 pt. Times Semi Bold, and some ½ pt. copper 20 pica leads.

Tho some printers boast of imported type (German, English, Dutch, French, or Swiss) we’ve never heard of any with type from Japan. Which makes The Scarlet Cockerel Press unique: some of its type has travelled all the way to Yokohama and back; to wit, the Weaker Griddle 48 Onyx heading which Wesson packed off with him, and recently returned a la “petit paquet (mail, that is) thru Yokohama Custom House. The sticker says, “Peut etre ouvert d’office)” – along with a flock of Japanese or Chinese hentracks which might as well be Hindustani ‘s far as we’re concerned. Welcome home, voyageurs.

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FOR HER learned introduction to “The Schwa” we are indebted to Marjorie Courtney. We, too, admit to admiring that word, schwa (ə)– something like “schmo” (the plural of which crowd NYC).

Upside down ə’s aren’t as disturbing to proofreaders as the upside down d’s and s’s discovered during distribution of printed type. There ought to be a similar term (like umlaut, cedilla, or doghouse e: ê) for them – this handiwork of diths or gremlins. Something more refined than mere army vulgarity, that is.

Thanks to Mrs. Courtney we can now speed tedious poetry and dull speeches by hunting for phrases run together with a bunch of unstressed schwa’s, or perhaps just listening for r-colored schwa’s.

Overlooked in Victor Moitoret’s modicum of research into use of comma before “and” in a series, are two more authorities, University of Chicago’s “Manual of Style.” and Appleton-Century-Crofts “Words into Type.” Both call for the comma. This burning question is neatly summarized by the latter:

Practically all dictionaries, handbooks of composition, and book publishers’ style sheets present the rule as above. [Use a comma before the conjunction.] Newspaper and magazine writers and publishers do not generally observe the rule in all cases but use the comma only when clarity demands it.

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Weaker Moments does not pretend to Epic Literature; it is merely a typographic catharsis, spasmodic outlet of a frustrated fine printer floundering daily in a mire of gothic business forms. Initiating a new font of 11pt. Centaur, this issue leaves the press at the sign of The Scarlet Cockerel and leaden slivers 3 April ‘53.

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