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Saturday 30 April 2016

Faking it with Papa in Cuba: The Corona 3 Portable Typewriter Hemingway Never Used

The New York Times film reviewer Helen T. Verongos opens her critique of the new movie, Papa: Hemingway in Cuba, by saying, "At first, it strains credulity." For a typewriter tragic, credulity is in fact blown right out of the Finca Vigía window, upon viewing this image from the film of actor Adrian Sparks, playing Ernest Hemingway, at what is claimed to be Hemingway's very own Corona 3 portable typewriter.
The Corona 3 displayed at Finca Vigía in Cuba (above) and purported to have been Hemingway's is no such thing. Hemingway's Corona 3 was smashed to pieces by an angry cab driver at the Gare de Lyons in Paris in early July 1922. There had been a dispute about the fare and the inflamed driver threw Hemingway's luggage, including his typewriter, on to the pavement outside the station. The last time Hemingway mentioned his Corona 3 was in a letter to his father written in Paris on May 2, 1922, in which he complains about how uncomfortable it is to type in bed. He subsequently bought himself an Erika folding portable, which he gave to Sylvia Beach when he left Paris in late March 1928, and which is now owned by American writer Jeffrey Robinson. The Corona 3 had been given to Hemingway on July 12, 1921, as a 22nd birthday present from his first wife (still to-be at that point) Elizabeth Hadley Richardson.
All of which undermines the claim that Bob Yari’s movie "has received a great deal of press for its authenticity". In fairness, it is the first Hollywood film shot in Cuba since the 1959 revolution, and it does use Hemingway’s home Finca Vigía (now a museum) as a set.
The late Denne Bart Petitclerc wrote the autobiographical script, in which a fictional alter ego, Ed Meyers (played by Giovanni Ribisi) is a young reporter from the Miami Herald who gets to travel to a Cuba on the brink of revolution and meet Hemingway, have a drink or three with him, learn from him to land a tuna, and lounge on a Cuban beach with the great Papa and his fourth wife, Mary Welsh, the woman who made a cuckold of a truly brave man, Australian war correspondent Noel Monks.
Petitclerc, by the way, played such a minor role in Hemingway's later life that he doesn't rate a single, solitary mention in Carlos Baker's doorstopper biography, Ernest Hemingway: A Life Story, nor in Kenneth S. Lynn's equally bulbous Hemingway. But in the movie Ribisi, as Meyers, gets to use a Royal portable typewriter - which Hemingway DID actually use in Cuba.
Verongos says the movie is "more artifact than art". " ... it bristles with authentic detail, down to the very typewriter Hemingway used" [Wrong!]. "Ultimately, however, [it]  goes soft at its centre. Sparks, white-bearded and bearish in the title role, lacks the dynamism and bombast we expect."
Another reviewer,
Steven Rea in the Inquirer, calls the movie "A clumsy, cursory affair." "Maybe the best reason to see Papa: Hemingway in Cuba is to catch a glimpse of the real Finca Vigía". "The typewriter that ... Sparks ... uses in the movie, director Bob Yari has said, is the very same machine that the great American novelist pounded on." [Wrong again!]
The Variety review by Joe Leydon says the film is "A sincere but formulaic biopic". It "is disappointingly plodding and ham-fistedly obvious in its attempts to offer an up-close and personal portrait of a mood-swinging, self-loathing 59-year-old Ernest Hemingway." "Yari undercuts [Sparks'] performance by repeatedly underscoring the obvious with extended views of Hemingway taunted by the blank pages in his typewriter, and portentously fingering a loaded pistol."

Wednesday 27 April 2016

Why Typewriter Tragic Tom Hanks Stands to Win Half a Million Quid on the Foxes

Not having done their homework, the British Media is stunned to the point of disbelief that typewriter tragic Tom Hanks claims to have backed the Leicester City Foxes to win the English Premier League soccer competition. The Foxes were at odds of 5000-1 to win the league at the start of the season, when Hanks said he put "100 quid" (100 pounds sterling = £100) on them. If it's true, on Sunday Hanks stands to win £500,000.
Why did Hanks back Leicester?
Leicester City is a TYPEWRITER CITY!
And who held Tottenham Hotspur to a draw yesterday, virtually assuring the Foxes of the title?
None other than West Bromwich Albion, a club established from a typewriter (Salter) factory cricket team! (West Brom is where Empire Babys and Aristocrats and Smith-Corona portables were also made).
How to win big money on English soccer? Follow Hanks' lead and back typewriter city teams, that's how!
Meanwhile, in Scotland, Glasgow Celtic, based in another British typewriter city, are in sight of their fifth successive Scottish Premiership title. Olivettis and Remingtons were made in Glasgow. A Leicester City-Glasgow Celtic double will make it an all-typewriter city season.
That only leaves Nottingham Forest and Notts County to start coming good ... Ah well, British typewriter cities can't have it all their own way, I suppose.

Monday 25 April 2016

Australian War Correspondent Wee Wongy Nelson, his Blickensderfer Featherweight typewriter, and the 'Bloody Imbecility' the Anzacs Fought

The 4ft 8in tall Scottish-born Australian journalist
Wallace Alexander 'Wongy' Nelson
The Blickensderfer Featherweight portable typewriter
'Wongy' Nelson  carried with him wherever he went on his travels
in Britain, Europe and the United States in 1914-16

What Wongy Nelson thought about the war that gave birth to the Anzac legend.
On Anzac Day 2016, it is timely to salute a previously unheralded Australian journalist who informed readers back home of the horrors of World War I, more than a century ago. Scottish-born Wallace Alexander 'Wongy' Nelson, all 4ft 8in (1.42m) of him, was travelling through Europe with his Blickensderfer Featherweight portable typewriter at the time of the ill-fated April 25, 1915, Gallipoli landings, the bloody and unjustified disaster that gave birth to the Anzac legend.
In early 1915, Nelson, at heart a true frugal Scot,  fought a vigorous campaign of his own, against North British Rail for charging him 2 shillings and 6 pence (half a crown) to carry his Blickensderfer Featherweight on board trains with him.
Nelson turned 59 four days after the Gallipoli campaign began. He was born on April 29, 1856, in Aberdeen, Scotland, the son of a comb-factory manager (his little aluminium Blick might have served as a constant reminder of his father's work; Wongy's first job was as a journeyman comb-maker himself).
Nelson ran away from home and reached London at the age of 15. He contributed republican verse to Reynold's Weekly Newspaper. Revelling in the writings of Darwin, Huxley, Spencer and Bain, he delivered his first lecture, on utilitarianism, while still a teenager. In 1880 he went to Sheffield, where he was an energetic freethought lecturer from 1883. A member of the Radical Party, he associated with socialist luminaries.
Fearing himself to be 'a dying man', Nelson arrived in Brisbane, Australia, in early 1888. He was an instant success on Australasian freethought platforms, lecturing regularly at Brisbane's Gaiety Theatre and debating with all-comers. Restored to health, he became editor of the Stockwhip in 1890. After bungled attempts at parliamentary candidature, Nelson succeeded James Charles Stewart in 1896 as editor of the Rockhampton crusading weekly, the People's Newspaper, in 1896. Having opposed Australian Federation, Nelson became its ardent advocate, contesting the Federal seat of Capricornia for Labor in 1901. Zeal and wit brought this pro-Boer 'fearless Freedom fighter', campaigning against Kanaka labour, to within 160 votes of return. 
In July 1901 he arrived at Kalgoorlie on the West Australian Goldfields to succeed Thomas Henry Bath as editor of the Westralian Worker. This was at the time when future United States president Herbert Hoover was working as an engineer in Kalgoorlie.
Nelson, right, on Coney Island in 1915.
Nelson later edited the Kalgoorlie Sun and the unsuccessful Labor-backed Figaro. From June 1904 to October 1905 he represented the new goldfields constituency of Hannans while the first Western Australian Labor government was in office. His gifts were appreciated in parliament. In association with Bath he edited the short-lived Perth Democrat, then was leader-writer for the Perth Daily News
Calling Australia 'the freest democracy in the world', Nelson was appointed official immigration lecturer by the Western Australian Government.
Nelson represented Australian newspapers while based in England in 1914-16 (he also travelled on to the Continent and to the United States in that time). He returned to Sydney an anti-conscriptionist and was founding editor of the Australasian Manufacturer, a role in which he remained until 1943. The paper, subtitled 'A Weekly Newspaper devoted to Industrial Science and Efficiency', urged organisation and modernisation. He elaborated on the themes of protection and harmony between capital and labour.
By the 1920s Nelson felt Labor had lost its way, and his late-Victorian evolutionary optimism focused on ability. Supporting economic nationalism as vigorously as he had once supported political nationalism, Nelson co-founded the Australia-Made Preference League (1924) and was official lecturer on the 'Great White Train' which toured New South Wales between November 1925 and May 1926. He contributed frequent articles to The Sydney Morning Herald after 1926.
Nelson died on May 5, 1943, at Wollstonecraft, Sydney. 'Known and admired throughout the whole of Australia', Nelson was saluted by the Rationalist as the last of a band of stalwarts who 'never wavered in opposition to superstition'. 

Tuesday 19 April 2016

Typewriters For Sale: Sun No 2 and Royal Flatbed Standard 1

What offers? Contact
Comes with tin cover
In good working order

We ARE a Weird Mob! Explaining Monkeys on Typewriters for Dummies

Outgoing Tasmanian Federal Senator Jacqui Lambie (she of the peacock feathered-hat, above) has never once been accused, in her 31 months in Canberra, of having one of the sharpest minds in Australian politics. But yesterday, in what was thankfully one of her last cringe-inducing speeches in the Senate, Lambie reached a new low for even her thought-processes (or perhaps those of her advisor Rob Messenger, below, who is, thankfully, no relation of mine. Nor is he me.)
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had recalled the House of Representatives and the Senate just so the Senate could defeat Government Bills and give him the "trigger" for a Double Dissolution and federal elections for both houses on July 2. In the meantime, Turnbull had changed the way voting will take place, almost guaranteeing Lambie and her fellow micro-party senators (such as from the Motoring Enthusiast Party, I kid you not) won't get re-elected. And good riddance, I say.
Arguing against the Bills - and thus signing her own pink slip (a P45 in Britain and Ireland) - Lambie "joked that the legislation 'had been drafted by a room full of monkeys on a typewriter'."  Writing on The Huffington Post Australia blog, a none-too-bright-himself reporter called Josh Butler said her remark made him think of "that classic scene from The Simpsons." What it made me think of was the classic cartoon above, rather than the Mr Burns scene below.
Now, before I go any further, let me insert a "disclaimer" here. No names, no back drill, but I have to confess I know the woman who frames legislation for Federal Parliament. I know her very well indeed, and have done so for eight years now. And I happen to know that she has a typewriter in her house - an Olivetti Lettera 32 portable. It once belonged to her late mother and before that to a great Australian poet. She, like me, is fond of Procol Harum's 1967 A Whiter Shade of Pale, with its Bach G-string air and its sexy Chauceresque lyrics. All of which means, of course, that my friend is a woman of class, style and distinction. She is also hugely qualified and does a brilliant job of framing legislation (though not, admittedly, on the Olivetti).
But I digress. The point here is that Lambie (and Butler) have completely missed the whole idea behind the "infinite monkey theorem". The point of it is that monkeys, given enough of them, and time, will produce classic literature (and maybe even "classic" legislation). So while Lambie was presumably attempting to suggest the Bills were a mess, all she did was succeed in giving the impression that they had the potential to be masterfully written, comparable in structure to the works of Shakespeare. And knowing my legislature-framing friend as well as I do, that's entirely possible, if not, perhaps, likely.
Sadly, and staying on the subject of monkeys, the Lambie comment wasn't the only bit of nonsense being uttered in our Senate yesterday. Victorian Senator Stephen "Bozo" Conroy (below) got stuck into the Governor-General for seeming to be a party to Turnbull's manoeuvres. Conroy tried to draw comparisons between the Government's legislation and the 1975 Constitutional Crisis. I'm no defender of having a Queen's representative in Australia, of course. But like Lambie, Conroy missed a very vital point in all this. As a direct result of The Dismissal, the G-G of this country must now do precisely what the PM tells him or her to do. In theory, he or she can still dismiss a PM, but in practise, he or she wouldn't even dare to think about it, let alone try. Otherwise he or she would suffer the same fate as Malcolm Fraser's "Cur".
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten's response to Conroy's outburst was, let's face it, the next best thing to an abject apology on behalf of the Labor Party. Thus, it became one of three newsworthy apologies issued in Australia yesterday. One of the others was issued by former Olympic Games champion swimmer Grant Hackett, who, after a failed comeback attempt in Adelaide, got as drunk as a newt, boarded a flight and seriously groped the poor fellow sitting in front of him. Hackett has yet again promised to focus on good behaviour in future.
The third apology, of course, was a joint effort from American actor Johnny Depp and his wife Amber Heard and was heard from TV sets across Australia with much bemused amusement. The couple had to say "sorry" in order to stay out of jail after illegally bringing two little Yorkshire Terrier dogs, Pistol and Boo (below), into the country, thus allegedly threatening our "biosecurity".
The contrived apology video, recorded by Depp and Heard and played in court on the Gold Coast, came across as sounding about as sincere as Adolf Hitler's promise to Neville Chamberlain over the Sudetenland in 1938.
Naturally, someone got hold of the video and quickly turned it into this, which is actually pretty funny:

Steve Colbert also has a funny skit at 
But hey, guess which one of the three apologies led the evening news on TV last night? Yep, that's right, the Depps. After all, we ARE a weird mob! And up on the Gold Coast of Queensland, people are, with a certain amount of justification, known as Bananalanders (as in, they're bananas):

Thursday 14 April 2016

Oh, Happy Days!

It's already more than a week since I turned 68 and my feet don't seem to have touched the ground yet. One of the more pleasant surprises was the arrival of a birthday card from Piotr Trumpiel in London. I suppose shouldn't I really have been surprised, as Piotr seems to have a knack of remembering such milestones.
I've spent much of the time since with my grand-daughter Ely Messenger, who is coming up for eight months, already mobile and full of "Barbarian" chat. What's more, she's into typewriters (although she hand-printed the card):
The rugby season is well under way, Ely's dad Danny has recovered from his broken jaw (suffered in rugby training in early March) and Ely has been casting an eye over her first match:
All of which has given Charlie the Typewriter Guard Cat some time to relax: