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Thursday, 30 October 2014

The Comeback Kid

My father and I had this debate: Would anyone be interested in a period film version of Batman and the Justice League? I stood (and stand still) firmly on the side that says. 

My reasons for why are: the rise in fascination (and the price in resale) of typewriters, rotary phones, vintage glasses and vintage anything; Kickstarters like the qwerkywriter; the popularity of Mad Men, Gangster Squad, Public Enemies, Boardwalk Empire, and Gotham--all of which borrow an analog aesthetic; hipsters; and now the Hemingwrite.
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from hemingwrite.com
According to its press kit, the Hemingwrite will be everything that I had ever wanted in a word processor. As a prototype, the Hemingwrite sports a Macish aluminium body, cloud connectivity, mechanical keyboard switches, and a 1 million page memory. Also, it kind looks like a typewriter, which is perfectly fitting for it. It's named after one of the most famous typewriter promoters of all time. All it needs is a place to put in the paper and laser print the text as I type, and it will truly be a machine out of my dreams.

And it's about time.

It's been too long since the dedicated word processor was sold to potential writers and not to public schools. For Christmas last year, my fiance bought an Alphasmart NEO for me from an elementary school. For those that don't know, the Alphasmarts were marketed for students with special needs to aid in their education. They are as simple as they come: instant "on," automatic save, no internet, and universal computer connectivity.

Neo Direct, the maker of Alphsmart, stopped making the Neo and Neo2 (the last incarnations of the Alphasmart) in 2013, as their sales were in decline as laptops became cheaper and more powerful. Yet there remains a fierce loyalty to the dedicated word processor. A new version of the Neo is in the works from writerlearning.com called the Forte/Fusion. There are journalists and novelists that adore the Alphasmart models still out there - even if they are ugly as sin.

Will there be some kind of renaissance for the word processor, launching it back into the lime light with a hip, new design that strikes the right chord with the nostalgic millennial generation? Who knows. But I hope it does. There was once a time when everyone thought that the tablet was a bad idea. Costs as much as a computer but no keyboard. Now the world practically runs on the silly things. Perhaps one day, seeing a college student on what looks like a steam punk keyboard will be as natural as swiping on the iPhone.
from hemingwrite.com

That's all from Elliott at the Kitchen Table, getting ready for NanoWriMo.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Did you ever know that you're my hero?

Everyone likes to talk about the writers that influence them. That being said, no one likes to be told that they write like one of their influences. The key is in burning down the ladder that took you to the top, and, once there, pretend as though you had been there the entire time. Kind of like Clark Kent in every episode of Superman...ever.

Me? I like to think that my ladder is still very much in tact, that my life's work will always be a work in progress. After all, masterpieces are for latter years. Youth is for experimentation.

And without further adieu: My ladder...


JOHN IRVING

This is the man that made me want to write. I wrote a bit about him on medium.com a few months ago. You can find that article here.

Though his work is mostly in a serious vein, it is John that taught me how to laugh with literature. I spent most of my nights in college laughing as I read and reread The Cider House Rules--one of the best titles of all time. That book was also the first since Harry Potter to make me cry at the ending.


WOODY ALLEN

Everybody who's anybody wants to be a somebody, and that isn't necessarily the somebody that they are in the present. They want to be an icon. That's Woody.

I came late to the Woody Allen game. He was already well into his winter years, and I was still yet to see Annie Hall or Manhattan or even The Scoop, which came out when I was a teenager...and idolizing Hugh Jackman, so how could I miss that, right?

But what came from my exposure to Allen was the work ethic that it takes to be an icon. It doesn't just happen overnight. Image is cultivated to practice and hard work. In many ways becoming an icon is like writing yourself as a novel. Your body is the text, main and supporting characters. And it is exhausting.


TRUMAN CAPOTE

There are good writers. There are great writers. There is Truman Capote.

If only you glance at his short stories, you will feel that you are in the presence of a writing genius. Capote's prose are the cleanest, most precise, and most labored of all the 20th Century writers. And that's saying a lot considering all the greats in the 20th Century. But when asked why I think Capote is so good, I need only give you three words: Breakfast. At. Tiffany's.

or: In. Cold. Blood.

or four words: Other. Rooms. Other. Voices.


ERNEST HEMINGWAY

I love short fiction. I especially love Hemingway's. (I also love beards and fancy hats, of which Hemingway has in spades.) I also love his work with the Toronto Star. If ever you wish to see how a news article should be written, you need only look to Papa for an example. He serves as the standard of what 100% useful words represents. Even when his prose run on the flat side, Hemingway's work is still a wonder to behold.


THE HONORABLE MENTIONS

Neil Gaiman--enchanting prose, enchanting fantasy
J.K. Rowling--moved me in ways I never could have imagined
Patrick Rothfuss--only time and his next two books will prove if he is truly a thing of legend
J.D. Salinger--great writer, though I still haven't gotten through "Catcher in the Rye"

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Freelance Part IV

I continue my relationship with the South Lyon Herald in this weeks online edition. My article on the local hop gardener, Nick Mascero, can be found here.

South Lyon is a wondrous, historic community with surprises and treasures at every turn. The South Lyon Herald is equally amazing. Please read and pass this on.

This is also the link: http://www.hometownlife.com/story/life/home-garden/2014/10/16/growing-hops-home/17233255/

That's all from Elliott at the Kitchen Table, feeling like a big shot.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Postmaster, Letter Writer

Looking back at myself over the past two years, and I wonder where I became so infatuated with the method in which words met a page. In days gone by, it did not much matter. If you typed it, or your secretary--the words were there and that was all. And here I am, pouring over my computer, wishing it was my Olivetti or one of my fountain pens.

Then it hits me: email.

The great, unintended footprint of our great writers--your beatnicks, lost generation, gonzo reporters--are their letters. It may not have been important to them back in the day, because EVERYONE had stacks of the damn things floating around the office waiting for the filing cabinet or the paper shredder. We don't get that joy today. There isn't the same kind of footprint.

I delight in letter writing. I write my sister away at school. I write my fiance, even though we speak on the phone every day. Sometimes I write Barack and Michelle Obama. My congressman has gotten a letter or two from me. And I have written many perspective editors, bosses, and a few writers, hoping to elicit a response. But the fact is that letter writing is a mostly dead art. Like making hats, learning Latin, or playing the sitar, no one writes letters anymore because it is easier to talk on the phone, text, or send an email. They are fast. They are instant. They are instantly disposable.

So I lament in that there will be no collection of letters when I die. (Lest you forget, every writer imagines that he or she will be one of the greats.) No one will want to wade through the mindless emails that I have sent. They do not yield much; they are for utility only. Letters in the mail are art.

That's all from Elliott at the Kitchen Table, telling you to watch hometownlife.com this week for my latest article from South Lyon.