197. A Brief History of TMTF

I had to delve into the shadowed depths of my email archives, but I managed to pinpoint the exact day in history when the concept for this blog came to be.

On September 10, 2010 I sent a Kicking Cricket—one of my personal newsletters—that contained the following paragraphs.

My first step to kicking a Cricket is to experience an amusing/interesting/uncomfortable event. I then assemble my elite team of typewriter monkeys and explain exactly what happened.

“All right,” I say, “I want you all to take notes. Socrates, put down your typewriter. Thank you. Now, I was at the Acorn this morning—Hermes, stop poking Odysseus. If you two can’t sit next to each other without fighting I’m going to separate you. As I was saying, I was at the Acorn when a fellow came in with a girl riding on his shoulders. I’d never seen anything like it. For the last time, Socrates, put down the typewriter! So a chap came in carrying his girlfriend and ordered a meal. I want you to—Heracles! If I see you pinch Helen one more time, I’m going to be very angry.”

And so forth, until my TMTF (Typewriter Monkey Task Force) types out a draft of something that is readable and doesn’t bend the facts too much. I revise the draft, type it into my computer and send it forth to be read by my beloved family.

I didn’t intend my Typewriter Monkey Task Force to be anything more than a silly joke, but before long my monkeys were creeping into nearly every one of my newsletters.

These emails, which were titled Kicking Crickets and later renamed Closet Vikings after my favorite fake names for rock bands, consisted largely of the kinds of ramblings I post on this blog. From book reviews to spiritual reflections, my Crickets and Vikings shared my thoughts on, well, faith, writing, video games, literature, life, the universe and everything.

My typewriter monkeys quickly became a running gag. Their second appearance introduced their habit of striking frequently, and later emails showed the TMTF breaking typewriters, misusing fireworks and conducting scientific research to prove that “resemblance to Winston Churchill is a trait manifested by most healthy babies of European descent.”

Around the time I started the typewriter monkey gag in my newsletters, I discovered a hilariously funny blog called Stuff Christians Like that poked fun at the quirkiness of Christian culture. I’m a curmudgeon when it comes to a lot of religious stuff, so I loved it.

Many months later, I stumbled upon a letter to Jon Acuff, the blogger behind Stuff Christians Like. The writer of the letter had been disillusioned by the empty, dreary religious clutter surrounding God. Stuff Christians Like restored her faith by showing her how Christianity could be funny, happy and hopeful. By presenting serious insights in a comical way, Jon Acuff’s blog changed her life.

I finished reading the letter and came to a decision. Somewhere out there, I mused, is a person whose life can be changed by stupid typewriter monkey gags.

I was joking… well, sort of.

I decided to start a blog.

Right from the beginning, I knew what its theme and title would be: Typewriter Monkey Task Force, a blog about… well… anything.

After obtaining a fantastic header illustration from my old man, I spent a panicked week figuring out the WordPress blogging system and setting up my blog. On August 27, 2011, TMTF blundered hopefully onto the Internet landscape.

There have been many changes since. The blog’s original three-post-a-week schedule was reduced to two posts, and later supplemented by weekly installments of a novella I wrote as a serial. Following the novella’s conclusion, the schedule reverted to two posts until the recent introduction of Geeky Wednesdays. I also posted some random creative writing and a series of posts covering the basics of Christian living.

Types of posts have come and gone. Old features like the Turnspike Emails were cut, replaced by new ones such as Why [Insert Author Name] Is Awesome. Several writers and bloggers have shared guest posts, and I’ve been privileged to work with some incredibly generous, talented people.

Did I mention that my readers are awesome? Because they are.

You are.

For almost two years, TMTF has been a blessing to me. Certain posts have forced me to reconsider some of my views and beliefs. A few posts have permitted me, a reserved, introverted person, to share my struggles and vent my feelings openly. Many posts have been therapeutic, encouraging or simply fun to write.

Sure, keeping this blog’s deadlines has been stressful. No, TMTF hasn’t had the same phenomenal impact as greater blogs. Yes, my typewriter monkeys are often a nuisance.

All the same, I remain thankful for Typewriter Monkey Task Force.

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