When new technology holds a writer back

1894 photo of Mark Twain in the New York City laboratory of his good friend, Nikola Tesla.

1894 photo of Mark Twain in the New York City laboratory of his good friend, Nikola Tesla.

Happy Birthday today to perennial FAB favorite Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain).  For those techno-geeky folks out there, Sam was the first person ever to write a novel on a typewriter. The year was 1883, the book Life on the Mississippi.

Of course, he’d owned the thing since 1874, and found it more trouble than it was worth, writing to the maker (in longhand!) in 1875 saying,

Please do not even divulge the fact that I own a machine. I have entirely stopped using the typewriter for the reason that I could never write a letter with it to anybody without receiving a request by return mail that I would not only describe the machine but state what progress I had made in the use of it, etc, etc. I don’t like to write letters, and so I don’t want people to know I won this curiosity-breeding little joker.

He’d paid the whopping sum of $125 for the Remington No 1 and claimed to have traded it to a friend a few years later for a $12 saddle, thereby “cheating him outrageously.” But one suspects, since he wrote a Life on the Mississippi on a typewriter, he gave up his early model No 1 typewriter in favor of a new and improved Remington No 2 which appeared in 1880 and had the impressive futuristic feature of . . . a Cap Shift Key.


Image number: 10308297; Credit: Science Museum/Science & Society Picture Library; Date taken: 12 January 2004 22:33;Image rights: Science Museum

The Remington No 2 was the first commercially successful writing machine, selling over 100,000 units. And yes, that’s Remington as in rifles (So, one could say Remington covered its bets by producing both sword and pen!). Remington began making firearms (a metal and wood product) in the 1820s.

In 1873 Remington began the new venture, producing typewriters. Remington sold the typewriter business in 1886. The new owner, the Standard Typewriter Manufacturing Company, bought the rights to continue using the Remington name, and the firearms business became Remington Arms Company.

interestingly, because the type bars strike the paper from below, the writing on early model typewriters could not be seen until the carriage was lifted. The ability to see what one was writing as one typed had to wait until 1908 and truly wasn’t perfected till around 1920! Some writers continued with longhand not least because with longhand one could see what one was writing. (JK Rowling still writes her books in longhand, we’ve heard.)

Many well-known authors have used Remington machines. Dame Agatha Christie used a Remington Portable No 2 and a No 5. Raconteur Quentin Crisp preferred the No. 3. Nobel Prize winner in Literature Rudyard Kipling pecked away on a Remington Noiseless model in his later years. And a Remington Portable No.3 was one of the typewriters of choice of Gone with the Wind novelist Margaret Mitchell.

So how ever you choose to create your next great novel — traditional longhand or something cutting edge, remember, it’s the words that count, not how you get them on the page.

writers block
StiK – Cow Writer’s Block from a presentation on Writer’s Block Sometimes it’s the technology that’s holding you back!

Happy Birthday, Olivia! Or Joyeux anniversaire since you’re living in France you lucky gal and able to watch the Tour de France!

Happy 95th Birthday to Olivia de Havilland,

without whom Errol Flynn and adventure films would have been nothing much!

If you’re interested in her autobiography, it still hasn’t come out, but there is Sisters: The Story of Olivia De Havilland and Joan Fontaine. If you think you and your sister had issues . . . . Wow!

By Charles Higham.

If you’re interested in the Tour de France, so are we!  Let the thrills and spills and mountain chills begin. And ok, the pure wackiness.

 This year we’ll rooting for  . . . .

Cadel Evans to win!

Best Sprinter: Manx Missile Mark Cavendish!

World Road Champion Thor Hushvod to take the Time Trial. (7/3/11 Thank you Thor!)

some great riding from Geraint Thomas and Bradley Wiggins

and up on the mountains, we think we’ll see our intrepid, enduring American Musketters: Chris Horner, George Hincapie, & Levi Leipheimer

Want to enter the Versus fantasy cycling challenge and win a trip to next year’s Tour? We did.

You can go the Traveler’s Insurance, Fantasy Cycling Challenge and enter your team  to win, and also chek up on how we’re doing with our team: Century Club!

We wanted Mark Cavendish, but he was just too expensive for our $500 budget and while we love, love, love Mark and feel he will win a few stages, we don’t think he can take the Tour.  Also, while we expect a great challenge from the Brothers Schleck, particularly Frank, we think Andy is going home a bridesmaid this year (but will win in 2012).

FAB’s Fantasy Cycling Team —

The Century Club:

Thor Hushovd (NOR)

Sebastian Lang (GER)

Ryder Hesjedal (CANADA)

Jurgen Van De Walle (BEL)

Mark Renshaw (AUSSIE) Cadel Evans (AUSSIE)

Thomas Voeckler (FRA) Hubert Dupont (FRA)

Bradley Wiggins (UK) Geraint Thomas (UK) David Millar  (UK)

Levi Leipheimer (USA) Chris Horner (USA) Jeffry Louder (USA) George Hincapie (USA)

We’ve no idea why 10 of our 15 riders turned out to be from English-speaking countries.
We based our picks our age of riders, height/weight of riders, musicality of the name, experience, and drive.

We’re a bit embarrassed we picked Mark Renshaw after last year’s head butting incident, however we feel he’s a great lead out guy whose learned his lesson and coming off a 2010 season that was bogged down by Barr-Epstein, and a TDF disqualification, he’s probably way hungry for wins and likely to be crossing the finish lines close to the front every time.

The actor every man wishes he could be and every author wishes they could hire to play their action lead!

Today is Errol Flynn’s birthday .  He was born  June 20, 1909 in Hobart, Tasmania.  He’d have been 102, if he’d lived this long.  But of course, the way he lived, there was no way he was going to make 100. A smoker, with alcoholic tendencies, who dealt with ongoing malaria and bouts of STDs. Yeah . . . he lived a life.

He was really the last real action hero we had.  These days, films rely too heavily on CGI and pyrotechnics to make up for an inability of writers to imaginatively write real physical action, and a lack of actors who can do real physical action.

Most actors today are actors.  They haven’t really had a life, let alone a life of action.  Errol Flynn lived, read his bio: My Wicked, Wicked Ways.  He was familiar with action. He knew his way around a boat, a gun, a horse, and a lot of other things.  And all before he ever ended up in front of a camera.

The same was true for many directors of the early era in Hollywood. Maybe it was the era.  People born in that 1900-1915 window just seem to have had that little bit extra. Perhaps the world was newer or wider then. And perhaps the spirt of the times was less why? and more why not!

Happy Birthday to Her Majesty the Queen! And wishing her many, many more !

Although the actual birthday of the queen is April 21, by tradition, it’s celebrated the second Saturday of June. A great time to be in the UK and see the Trooping of the Colours ceremony.

If you’re out that way tomorrow, check it out! If not, treat yourself to a little birthday cake or better yet some chocolate biscuit cake, a tea time fav of the monarch!

If you’re not sure how to make this cake . . . check out the video by Petie Reve Cafe’s own Kate Dunbar! Don’t worry, it’s way simpler than it looks if you leave off the chocolate wingdings. Although, gold stand mandatory!


  1. 8 oz softened butter
  2. 8 oz sugar
  3. 2 whole eggs, pasturized if you can find them
  4. 16 oz of McVite’s rich tea biscuits
  5. 8 oz of melted high-quality dark chocolate
  • Break up all the biscuits into bite-sized pieces, and place them in a bowl.
  • In your mixing bowl, with the softened butter in it, add your 8 oz of sugar and mix for 3 minutes.
  • If you can’t find find pasturized eggs, you use get pasturized egg substitutes like Egg Beaters, slowly add in eggs one at a time.
  • Next, turn your mixer to the slowest setting possible to add your 8 oz of melted dark chocolate.
  • Once everything is incorporated, the consistency will be very thick. Scrape your paddle down and now add all of the biscuits, slowly keep folding, and moving them around.
  • You will need a spring form pan with a parchment paper placed in the bottom. Make sure you give it a good layer of butter all around the pan so the mixture doesn’t end up sticking.
  • Put your mixture into the pan and press it gently into the form until the whole form is filled. You will then have to bang the pan on the counter, repeatedly, to release as many air pockets as you can.
  • Once that’s done, you’ll take another piece of parchment paper (wax paper or saranwrap) and place that on the top, be sure to press it down firmly and smooth out the top.
  • Refrigerate the cake for 3 to 4 hours, to set.
  • Remove parchment top. Place a large knife in hot water. Release the spring form pan’s hinge. Pick up the cake and place it on a wire grill over a cookie sheet.  Take your melted chocolate and drip it all over the top of the cake using the knife to help spread the chocolate evenly over the sides.
  • Chill for 1 hour.  And you’re ready to eat!

Welsh cakes, fresh off the griddle in time for tea

Today we are making Welsh Griddle Cakes. You don’t need to own a Welsh griddle to make them, but it helps!

Happy National Nutrition Month by the way!

And Happy Read Across America Day!

And Happy Birthday Theodor Geisel, aka, Dr Seuss!

Published in: on March 2, 2011 at 8:00 AM  Leave a Comment  
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