Ready for November 30? Humidor set? Liquor stocked?

November 29, 2012

November 30 is the birthday of Mark Twain (or Samuel Clemens), and of Winston Spencer Churchill.

A good study of American history could be achieved merely in studying the chronicle of the lives of these two men, even though Churchill was British.  A good study of American history, or world history, cannot be had without familiarity with both of them, and why they are important.

Prime Minister Winston Churchill gives the &qu...

Prime Minister Winston Churchill gives the “Victory” sign to crowds in London on Victory in Europe Day. Wikipedia image

Both were writers, of travelogues and geographical romps, of history, though Twain is chiefly known as a fiction writer.  Both were great humorists, often funny, often sharply witty with bon-mots that shone a highlight on some human foible or forgotten-but-shouldn’t-be point of history.

Both of them loved good whiskey, and a good cigar.

(I should have more to say about each of these men, especially having visited with Churchill in Wisconsin, Fulton, Missouri, and Washington, D.C., and with Twain in his hometown of Hannibal, Missouri, and Washington, D.C., in the past few months.  But I also will attend a funeral for a friend, and I will get a good night’s sleep; get a shot of whiskey, a good cigar if your cardiologist lets you have one on occasion, and toast them whether I write any more or not.)

So, how will you celebrate the anniversary of the births of Mark Twain and Winston Churchill, on November 30?

I wonder how they celebrate in Hannibal, and in Fulton?

Twain in Old Crow ad

Mark Twain was featured in an ad for Old Crow Whiskey, unknown year. Twain wrote, “Total abstinence is so excellent a thing that it cannot be carried to too great an extent. In my passion for it I even carry it so far as to totally abstain from total abstinence itself.” (Autograph inscription in album to Mrs. Rutherford B. Hayes, reported in The Washington Post, June 11, 1881)

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Typewriter of the moment: Helen Keller (again)

February 21, 2011

Helen Keller at her typewriter, 1946 - Perkins School for the Blind

Helen Keller at her typewriter, circa 1946 – Perkins School for the Blind

Helen Keller at her typewriter, circa 1946

Helen Keller at her typewriter, circa 1946. Perkins School for the Blind caption: In 1902, Helen Keller became the first person who was deafblind to write a book. Her autobiography, The Story of My Life, was the first of 14 books she wrote in her lifetime.

Earlier at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub:  “Typewriter of the Moment:  Helen Keller”


Typewriter of the moment: Harlan Ellison and his Olympia SG3

December 12, 2010

Harlan Ellison, his Olympia SG3, and other stuff - photo credit to MAX KATZ and KAREN FRIEDRICH

Harlan Ellison, his Olympia SG3, and other stuff - undated photo, found at The Classic Typewriter Page; photo credit: Mr. Ellison writes, "image was captured for my 1974 STORY collection, APPROACHING OBLIVION, by MAX KATZ and KAREN FRIEDRICH."

Harlan Ellison and his typewriter.  According to Richard Polt, the machine pictured is probably the Olympia SG3.

Writers and their tools, in their workspaces.  We could probably date this photo by the stuff in Ellison’s office — the Cheshire Cat cutout?  Wasn’t that from an Edward Gorey-illustrated version of the Alice in Wonderland story?  What year was that?  The telephone on the wall, the desk scissors design . . . none of those fall into any expertise I have.  Someone else will have to date it.  My TinEye search didn’t shed any useful light.

I found the photo at Richard Polt’s fun site at Xavier University, The Classic Typewriter Page.  Polt is clearly working toward a MacArthur Foundation genius grant with this material.  Well, he would be, were I a judge.  (Who should get credit for the photo?  I don’t know — can you help identify who gets credit? See comment from Mr. Ellison:  ” . . .  image was captured for my 1974 STORY collection, APPROACHING OBLIVION, by MAX KATZ and KAREN FRIEDRICH.”  Credit for the photo gleefully acknowledged here.)

Oh, by the way, stay tuned:  Ellison is trying to sell his first typewriter.  That is a topic worthy of its own post.

Tip of the old scrub brush to the unfortunately moribund The Wit of the Staircase.


Typewriter of the moment: Tina Fey

July 25, 2010

Tina Fey mocks her writing chops

Tina Fey mocks her writing chops (can someone find the origin of this photo? Bust Magazine? Really?)

Tina Fey at her typewriter — an inspiration to writers everywhere.

Tip of the old typewriter scrub brush to Mass Games.

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Update: Um, wow, yeah, it’s Bust Magazine.  And, focusing on typewriters and otherwise cloistered in secondary education, I had missed the controversy.  You might do well to check out Shapely Prose.  Also here.  And Jezebel has something to say, too.

Why does no one worry about the typewriter?


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