11/27/2009 12:28:50 PM
Having recently acquired my own typewriter (a Smith Corona Electra 110), I really appreciated this charming piece by Matthew Solan in Poets & Writers. Solan describes his hobby of collecting old models of typewriters that the literary greats used. From photos, he’s tracked down replicas of Flannery O’Connor’s Royal Standard, William Faulkner’s Underwood Universal, and Ernest Hemingway’s Royal Arrow, to name a few. Solan’s not shy about using the machines either; in fact, he describes his typing experiences in great detail:
“The Arrow is one of my favorites, and I use it almost every day. I love its deep, muffled sound and the way the glass keys feel under my fingertips. I type addresses on envelopes, school excuses for my daughter, and other correspondence. I also reserve the Arrow for the first drafts of my short stories. The mechanics are far from perfect, though. The Shift key sticks sometimes, so it’s hard to type capital letters and symbols. The lowercase L stands in for the number one. And this model has no tabulator key, so I have to space, space, space, space, space to indent a paragraph. But the extra work makes me a more conscientious writer.… It’s like firing a gun with every stroke. You can’t retract the bullet. If you misspell, the typewriter won’t correct it for you. You have to plow on. With a typewriter you can track your progress like a worn path. This is where I’ve been. This is what I’ve learned.”
Source: Poets & Writers
Image by rahego, licensed under Creative Commons.
11/24/2009 4:54:18 PM
If we want Americans to care about poetry, perhaps we should start by putting some stock in our poet laureate—who, one would think, should be a very visible, active advocate for this chronically underappreciated genre. Reason columnist Tim Cavanaugh rolls out the litany of disappointments faced by a U.S. poet laureate, including an abbreviated term (just one year to Britain’s 10), a dearth of interesting duties, and a stipend only a journalist could love—$35,000 for the year, plus $5,000 in travel expenses—which is covered not by taxpayers, but by a trust fund established in 1936. (Adding insult to injury, Cavanaugh writes, “the laureate’s salary hasn’t even kept pace with inflation. The first consultant, Joseph Auslander, made $3,000. That should come to $45,000 in 2009 bucks.”)
Cavanaugh doesn’t say what the going rate is in the UK, but he does note other disparities. “The British laureate gets a ‘butt of sack’ (about 600 bottles of sherry) and is called upon to compose verse for national occasions. (Former laureate Andrew Motion whipped up poems for Queen Elizabeth’s 80th birthday and the late Queen Mum’s 100th.) The U.S. poet laureate’s job, as described by the Library of Congress, is to serve as a ‘lightning rod for the poetic impulse of Americans,’ which sounds dangerously close to having to read unsolicited manuscripts. The laureate’s only duty is to give one lecture, during which the Huntington Fund pays for what a Library of Congress spokeswoman calls a ‘small, cheese-and-crackers reception.’ ”
He does touch upon the energetic terms of former U.S. poets laureate like Robert Pinsky and Billy Collins, and advises future laureates to get involved in popular arenas like poetry slams, “where the poetic impulse of Americans is most clearly on display.”
11/20/2009 4:25:30 PM
Calling all word nerds! If you’ve never checked out Wordnik, then you’re in for a real treat. The start-up website aims to be an all-in-one dictionary resource, outfitting each word with a roundup of definitions from different online sources, related Flickr photos, recent Twitter tweets using the word, usage stats, etymologies, comments, pronunciations, and more. Plus, you can also create a profile to tag and save favorite words, put them into lists, and record your own pronunciations.
In the fall issue of Venus Zine, Jane Solomon profiles Heather Rivers, who is a computational lexicographer for Wordnik. Solomon shares this charming tidbit about the office culture:
“Because the Wordnikers started out by working remotely, they’ve grown accustomed to communicating over IM—even when they’re all together in their now-shared office space. People outside the team have found this modus operandi ‘possibly the saddest thing ever,’ especially when someone unleashes a lexicographical knee-slapper that causes everyone to erupt in laughter and then return diligently to work, all without eye contact.”
Source: Venus Zine
Image by j / f / photos, licensed under Creative Commons.
11/12/2009 5:29:31 PM
Ah, cookbook season. Publishers tend to release a lot of cookbooks right-before-the-holidays, and wouldn’t you know: We’ve been seeing a lot of fine food volumes pass through the Utne Reader library lately. Here are a few highlights:
Multi-cookbook authors Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero continue their dessert domination with Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, which Da Capo will publish on November 15. Their previous effort, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World is a standby in my kitchen; the straightforward recipes deliver delights that shame dairy-laden alternatives. Vegan Cookies contains a lot of promising recipes—including one for graham crackers, yum. Moskowitz also published Vegan Brunch this past June.
Also in the category of sequel cookbooks: Jennifer McCann’s Vegan Lunch Box Around the World, a charming cookbook that Da Capo published in September. McCann’s previous, Vegan Lunch Box, is a collection of simple-to-make, fun-to-eat foods inspired by packing school lunches for her son.
Anyone interested in eating seasonally might want to check out Clean Food by Terry Walters. Walters is a certified holistic health counselor, and Clean Food, published by Sterling this September, is based on the concept that people are “better off eating closer to the source and relying on Mother Nature for seasonal produce to keep us in balance.”
Also seasonally organized: Louisa Shafia’s Lucid Food, easily the prettiest cookbook in the bunch. Shafia, a chef and educator, runs an ecofriendly food consultancy and catering company that shares her cookbook’s name. Lucid Food, published by Ten Speed later this month and packed with gorgeous photographs, continues in the publisher’s tradition of coffee-table worthy cookbooks (a la Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Cooking on the Celestial Arts imprint).
Finally, from chef Daniel Orr and Indiana University Press, FARMfood is an ambitious volume of inventive recipes, like tuna steak au poivres and cabbage putanesca. Orr left behind the globe-trotting phase of his career to open FARMbloomington in Indiana, his home state, and FARMfood is a cheerful blend of haute- and down-to-earth cuisine.
Sources: Da Capo, Sterling, Ten Speed, Indiana University Press
11/10/2009 4:56:20 PM
When playing with Legos, it’s important to keep the “four-er flat hinge-y bits” separate from the “clippy bits.” Every Lego enthusiast, or family of Lego enthusiasts, seems to develop their own language to tell a “T-shaped joiney thing” apart from a “car mirror piece.” Writing for The Morning News, Giles Turnbull conducted a highly scientific survey of two American children and two British kids about what they call the different Lego pieces. That way, if someone asks for a “golden snapper” readers will know they really need a “flat clippy piece.”
Source: The Morning News
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