Ghost of the Machine

While we’re discussing the March of Technology, it seems another era has passed:

Skye Ferrante has spent six years at the Writers Room in Greenwich Village, blissfully banging away on his grandmother’s 1929 Royal typewriter.

The 37-year-old writer represented a bygone era, the last typewriter-user in a special room devoted to typists.

“In the event that there are no desks available, laptop users must make room for typists,” read a sign posted in the “Typing Room” for years.

When Ferrante returned to the Writers Room in April after an eight-month break, the sign was gone and his noisy typewriter was no longer welcome…

Executive Director Donna Brodie said staffers didn’t realize Ferrante was a typist when he rejoined. All the others had died or converted to laptops.

We saw this coming years ago when the late David Levine started drawing all his NYRB author caricatures with computers. And as much as we enjoyed the tactile pleasures of our mother’s old Royal, we can’t say we miss it.

But still: clackity-clackity-clackity-clackity-clack. That’s the sound of industry, goddammit. We bet those fussy new writers don’t even know how to drink.

Last typist refuses to switch to laptop, gets boot from Writers Room in Greenwich Village [NY Daily News, via LuxMentis]

@SanFranLefty: I was going to work in a Randish line about the Writers Room being free to discriminate against typewriters, but it was too awkward to attempt this fucking early in the morning.

Really: How do you people do this?

Note to self: Rand Pauly Shore.

@SanFranLefty: Also from the interview:

“When does my honeymoon period start? I had big victory.”

Until Wednesday night, Rand Paul was known, if at all, as Ron’s son. But in the past thirty-six hours, he’s certainly made a name for himself.


“When does my honeymoon period start?”

you just had it pal. now the hate fucking starts.

@SanFranLefty: Right! A real American would throw themselves face first over the bumper of the nearest car and beg to be assraped by a foreign corporation that had doomed the Gulf for three or four generations and destroyed trillions of dollars in trade in marine products. That’s what America is all about.

Someone should ask this asshole if the people of New Orleans should have made fucking gumbo for the queen’s men when they last attacked the coast of New Orleans in 1814.

@Capt Howdy: It’s called “Galaxy Quest”, and they’re eleven years too late.

Apple needs to develop a laptop with the keyboard response and feel of a stand-up Royal. It’d sell a trillion of them. The closest thing I could fine was an old (circa 1991) IBM Model M terminal keyboard with all the weird bank terminal shifted-commands etched in red and green on the front of the keys.


no no
Galaxy Quest was awsum. and really funny. this would be Lucy in Space and would be neither.

@Capt Howdy: Which reminds me of my other favorite newsgroup name:

Frakes was supposed to be the Dashing Adventurer, but everyone flocked to the skinhead fogey instead. I didn’t realize it was a Cultural Moment until that alt group showed up in my newsreader.


I loved TNG IN SPITE of Riker. he was always my least favorite character in all of ST history. I never got the casting.

and honestly this is exactly what I would expect from him.

@Capt Howdy: I should parochially mention here that everyone’s favorite episode — “Yesterday’s Enterprise”, where Denise Crosby shows up out of the blue — was a spec script by a Eugene boy.


it was one of my favorites. yep

@nojo and Capt Howdy: More like Rand got his period on his honeymoon.

Whiney little prick. “Ooooh, Daddy, Daddy, the socialist media is soooo mean to me! They take my words out of context when I say what I really think. Make them stop! Oh, and increase my Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements while you’re at it.”

@nojo: I’ve worked with Frakes. Nice but soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo boring.

Typewriters. Feh. Ptooey. I went from longhand to DOS. Dos to Apple. I hate the way a typewriter feels. @FlyingChainSaw: The Apple wireless keyboard that came with my iMac is the most fantabulous feeling keyboard I ever used. The Air is pretty good too. I’m not surprised they banned that asshole. Hey asshole! It’s 2010. Get a fucking computer. Don’t bother me with your racket. And no I don’t want to hear what’s on your fucking playlist either!

I just got back from a fab hike through God’s country. See how calm and non-judgmental it’s made me?


you stupid little shit I told you to keep yer mouth shut about the crazy stuff.

there you are…at first comparison (my entire family is mac–so they don’t have to talk to me) is the lit up keyboard. such a simple brilliant thing…why, i’m think i’m going “i”

@Capt Howdy:

@Capt Howdy: I think they wanted to retain some Kirkish aspects to the executive officer corps of the ship – like pestorking aliens. Since Cap’t Pitard was such a fucking mincing glom, they had to vest those characteristics in another character. Riker comes across as simply impetuous and whiny with none of Kirk’s mock-epic self-righteousness and lecherous hunger for alien poon-tang, though.

@Benedick: I went from longhand to longhand to longhand to iPad. The last time I was comfy composing on a screen was as a reporter, and inverted pyramid is a thoughtless task anyway.

This, by the way, is a major shock for me. I fully expected to continue transcribing notes, and I expected to shell out for an iPad keyboard, or at least some bluetooth thingy. But no, it’s been tap-tap-tap-tap for the past six weeks. It’s certainly not as fast as keyboard typing, but I never wrote morning posts that fast anyway. (Sentence-sentence-smoke, sentence-sentence-smoke…)

That said, the iPad is definitely a your-mileage-may-vary gadget, especially for the price. I know I’m getting my money’s worth from it, but I’m, like, weird.

@Capt Howdy:
if gene was still alive, i’d kick him to death. he could have done what george lucas did, and own their image and characters.

that said, galaxy quest was hilarious. that would make a good sitcom, no?

@SanFranLefty: read between the lines on Randtard Paultard’s BP remarks, what he is really talking about is tort reform. Like all doctors, he hates lawyers, and hates the very concept of negligence, and liability for negligence, he is using the codewords of the lawyer-haters, the “blame-game society.” Someone needs to ask him directly what he thinks of the tort law system, he’ll put his foot in it again.

He’s completely batshit, but really, as someone wrote in an essay on Salon today, its not that he’s stupid, its that libertarianism, libertarian thought, is fucking stupid. He may not be any dumber than Sarah Palin, but he believes in some dumbass shit.

@FlyingChainSaw: My understanding is that Army Air Corps pilot Roddenberry took seriously complaints that a real captain wouldn’t be putting himself in harm’s way all the time, and so, yes, offloaded those traits to Riker.

@FlyingChainSaw: Who among us doesn’t have a lecherous hunger for alien poontang? Its the allure of the strange.

Have you ever seen the gregory peck Horatio Hornblower movie? Thats Star Trek, in every detail, the ship, on its long voyage of exploration, comes to an island where lives a strange culture, the Captain and the surgeon and the first officer and the engineer go ashore, every fucking detail.

@nojo: See above, Star Trek is so clearly patterned after Hornblower, that I don’t think Roddenberry would give a shit about that kind of criticism.


possibly, it had real actors.
but even that would get tired pretty quick. I think it was a one off actually.


alien poontang

a friend of mine used to call the pagan babies. a term I believe he got from catholic school.

@nojo: Both shows would have large contingents of the executive officer corps doing planetfall runs all the time. Riker was embarrassing to watch, the couple of times I got through the show. The greek chick was almost as bad but she had the virtue of being luscious. She would have been much more believable as the ship’s resident horn-ball, using her empathic powers to enslave alien men into her ship-board harem.

@Prommie: Libertarians like Rand are actually somewhat intellectually coherent, even if they end up selling out their principles when convenient — just like the rest of us! They’re just not engaged with anything close to reality.

Palin, on the other hand, is just an adept spouter of refrigerator magnets and bumper stickers. She’s a Magic 8-Ball with tits.

@Prommie: Oh, the only hope of progress for mankind is the irresistible hunger for alien poontang, which is exactly the metaphor that Kirk animated in his character.

@Prommie: I won’t bother to look it up, but I think you’re right about Hornblower and the original series. But I’m pretty sure (without looking it up either) that Roddenberry insisted on more formality with the sequel. That was probably the start of the gilded cage that Ron Moore struggled to escape.

ha! prommie, the rat found me today with piles of gulf stream printouts and said, good morning horatio!

That part of the Trek universe made me laugh. Why officers?

In real life, sailors and NCOs always got the shit jobs so why would it be any different? Going planet fall and deal with “uppity” aliens. I figure that StarFleet officers only show up when the alien poontang is found to be clean and willing.

@nojo: Palin may be dumb as a box of hammers on actual facts and policy, but she is genuinely talented, you could call is “smart,” about creating and projecting an image that appeals to its intended audience.

Randtard Paultard, he is hopeless. Yes, he has a much more coherent and logical philosophy, hell, he almost certainly actually reads and has an intellectual life, though, as you say, its all adolescent self-pity and revenge fantasies, this libertarianism, but he is obviously clueless and incompetent at this vital skill in politics, creating and projecting an image that appeals. He has an amazing ability to shock and horrify anyone who really takes a look at him.

@FlyingChainSaw: Have you seen the new movie? They made a point of reviving Green Poontang for the pleasure of the geek monks.

@baked: Watch out for the gyres, they’re unpredictable, and can be huge. The slithy toves, they’re always gyring, and gimballing, in the wabe, you know.

@Prommie: I was watching Rand’s victory speech Tuesday night, and all I thought was wax paper. And that was before shit hit the fan.

@Prommie: I understand what you’re getting at with Palin, but I really hesitate calling it “smart”. I will, however, settle for “cunning”.

Rand, however, is simply clueless. It’s almost adorable.

I honestly think its more a case of being stupid at the right time, that is when stupid is in vogue, than any intended image projection.

Isn’t a post-election honeymoon period like a free handout from the media?

@ManchuCandidate: Exactly. I figured it would not have changed the show much to make it more realistic. NCOs lead a crew down to the suface, find it habitable, discover alien race of nymphomanic women with immense breasts and prehensile tongues. NCOs lie about it and say the natives are all gay guys shaped like fire hydrants spraying smegma and undigested food. Captain discovers the lie and orders the expedition executed and kidnaps a dozen native lovelies to add to his slave harem, etc.

@nojo: Yes, cunning is a good word for that animal-like, sub-rational skill that some dumbasses have, skill at doing evil in furtherance of their selfishness.

And yes, I have been thinking to myself, in re Paul, “they’re so cute when they’re dumb.”

@nojo: @Prommie:

so noge, are you saying i should rent it? my vid store has it, or will reading jabberwocky over and over be more entertaining.
you know i’m a purist. howdy has given it thumbs up…what say you?

all i have to say about rand is he’s not as good as daddy, and that turned out so well.

@FlyingChainSaw: Everyone’s bringing their A-game today.

OMFG, Mayor Daley makes me laugh telling a reporter he’ll stick a rifle up his ass while holding the rifle.

My former boss had a typewriter he used from time to time to type checks and whatnot. I loved the clickety-clack sound. It made me feel like I was working in a real office, if that makes any sense. Oftentimes, it was dead quiet in there with just me the flavor of the month junior associate and the joke of a secretary. The silence. The isolation. I do not miss it.

@Benedick: Frakes was the Guy Williams of his generation.
@nojo: My friend Heidi was in that one.
@nojo: And Guy in Red Shirt on Away Team Must Die.
@SanFranLefty: He’ll have to do it outside of Chicago city limits.
@TJ/ Jamie Sommers /TJ: Our receptionist does envelopes on an IBM Selectric. Mrs RML has a old typewriter collection that we’re displaying on top of the old upright piano (San Francisco made, about 100 years old) that she scored from her cousin.



someone into Ayn?

someone should have told tiger woods about the red shirt thing.

ACCIDENT, n. An inevitable occurrence due to the action of immutable natural laws.

Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary

@Capt Howdy: “Randall”, as (I think) SFL reliably informed us yesterday.

Yeah, takes all the fun out of it.

@SanFranLefty: Typical verbal diarrhea from Daley. The bigger question for him is WTF was he doing as Cook County state’s attorney while allegations were surfacing that a Chicago police commander and his buddies were busy actually sticking things up suspects’ asses for a few decades, in addition to beating, burning, shocking, and other fun torture methods. In typical Chicago style, they can’t bring allegations on the actual torture because of statues of limitation, but they’re at least going for perjury charges in lying about all the torture, which I guess is slightly better than tax evasion.

@nojo: Actually, it’s Randal, with one l, which somehow makes it worse.

Christonacracker, what’s with all the Riker bashing?

I remember him and ST:TNG with great fondness, possibly because as a baby ghey, he and Quantum Leap’s Scott Bakula made me realize I liked the mens since they made me feel all happy and tingly down there.

The video was really silly and fun. “It was our wedding and old baldy just would not stop yakking” (Snort!) I’d consider myself fortunate to have co-workers that I could stand to be around for 20 minutes, let alone be friends with for 20 years.

/wrt Randtard/

Criticizing the Bri-tish is the most UNAMURIKKKAN activity EVER of all time!

Clearly, he’s a student of history.

@Original Andrew: I piss on the British. Scum of the earth. Except for Clive Owen.

tj/ Bono hospitalized in Munich for emergency back surgery, summer tour start postponed.

The RMLs were headed for Denver for the June 12 show. People travel across the world for these shows (our spare ticket for Vegas last year went to a beautiful young London banker of African descent), so I’m sure there’s thousands of people looking at rebooking flights, hotels, vacations, etc. We were going to drive up that day, so it wasn’t a big deal for us. We’ll just cancel the hotel and either get a refund or see if they reschedule.

Logistics for this tour are an extraordinary challenge – three massive stages that take about three days to build and and another three to strike are leapfrogging to 14 football and baseball stadiums across the country in June and July, then on to Europe for an August to October leg. Four hundred crew were headed to SLC when they were told to stand down. The tour costs so much to keep on the road that they were not expected to turn a profit until this fall in Europe, so they still might end up in the hole with this delay unless the dates get rescheduled.

@redmanlaw: Is this the same tour that opened in Sandy Eggo awhile back? Like one of those years-long Cher tours?

@redmanlaw: They’ll have insurance to cover cancellation fees.

@nojo: The current “360” tour of outdoor stadiums started in Barcelona last June, ran through the Rose Bowl in November and was to kick off again in SLC for a North America to Europe leg though October.

Metallica have been on the road since October 2008 for the “World Magnetic” tour of stadiums, festivals and arenas. They wrap it up in Australia in November of this year after four shows in Europe with Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax as the “Big Four” of thrash/speed metal. They play Tel Aviv on Saturday.

@Benedick: They’ll lose out on the gate, plus merch, but I wonder how much of the revenue stream comes from T-shirts these days given their deals with the big promoters, etc. They also have a live DVD set coming out in two weeks.

@Benedick: However, the people who have non-refundable flights to see them are screwed.


Oh, I don’t know Benedick…

I rather like to get out my circa 1955 vintage Smith-Corona Sterling and pound out something occasionally.

There’s something gratifying about actually making inky deposits directly on paper as opposed to sending electrons swirling through circuits for a change. Couple that with the smell of old machine oil and the tactile sensation of keys that travel a rather long distance and terminate with a satisfying “thwhack!” when they hit the platen and you get an experience that screams:


(Well, maybe not actual literature, but you get the point.)

They almost give them away at the local garage sales. Pick up an old orphan and give it a good home. Maybe you’ll become a closet Luddite, too.

@pinkoscum: I miss the compromise of the Selectric. Good times.

If there’s one thing I miss, it’s holding a page to the light and seeing the holes where I got angry with periods.

If there’s one thing I don’t miss, it’s Wite-Out. Except for the smell.


What’s really sickening is that many of the old machines are being cannibalized by cretinous eBay people who seem to think that the best use of such a classic, precision mechanism is to rip the key tops off to sell to “jewelry” makers and then toss the remainder in the trash.

It just horrifies the frugal Junque-o-phile in me…


This is a far, far better use for these obsolete mechanical wonders.

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