What's up at Ravens March.

Vintage pens-Handmade books-Silly statements

Archive for October, 2013

It’s a Monkees’ Song

Posted by Dirck on 31 October, 2013

Before I get stuck right into the meat/ectoplasm of today’s entry, I’ll point out that in addition to this week having the bestest of semi-pagan festival days, the next day is Fountain Pen Day.  It’s time to start thinking about what pen or pens you’re going to use for the big day!

Here we are, then, the very day of Hallowe’en, when according to some the barriers between this mundane world and the spectral are at their thinnest.  Might a ghost come knocking at your door tonight?  Chances are good that if one does, a pair of entirely reassuring sneakers will be peeping out from under the winding shroud.  On the other hand, who knows what is inside that hobo costume that just stands at the foot of the driveway…?  A while ago over at the Fountain Pen Network, in the area reserved for discussions about things not necessarily pen related, someone posed this question: Do you believe in ghosts?  The discussion it prompted was interesting, in that it showed that there are (among fountain pen enthusiasts) four main lines of though on the topic:

  1. Yes, although I have had no direct contact with with anything of that sort;
  2. Yes, because of personal experience;
  3. No, because I’ve had no direct contact with anything of that sort;
  4. No, same as #3 plus all the forces of Science and Reason demand I say “no.”
Well, it's a pic

Active fakery, actual somethingidity,artifact of the recording tech, or the human predilection to see humans?  Hard to say. (click to go to source)

I am, as very covertly implied by the title of this entry, in the second category.  I have, back in the earlier days of this effort, told a story or two of the several I could offer.  I might, and indeed did in the FPN discussion, hedge a little about what I mean by “ghost” for the purpose of this discussion.  While we typically think “person, absent the material portion”, I am quite happy to stick all sorts of qualifiers into that description.  Since the whole notion of ghosts orbits a rather broader realm of mysterious things and stuff, I’m not going to assume that any ghostly events are the result of a residual human intellect, soul or what have you.  Could be, but I don’t know it and such evidence as there is tends to be somewhat filtered through whatever medium (which may or my not be a woman with too much jewelry on) generates it.  But I accept the existence of ghostly events through having enjoyed some pretty low-key versions of them and so I’ll say as a short of shorthand that yes, I believe in ghosts, because saying “I believe in some sort of possibly sentient force which acts by unknown means upon the physical world and upon the awareness of people, and which is difficult to record consistently with modern technological devices” takes a long damn time.

I insist on my position because I don’t wish to deny my own direct experience, and also because some of the stuff other people bring forth as evidence indicates either active fakery or actual… somethingness.  Hilarious as the Ghost Adventures Crew frequently are, some of their images get the little hairs to stir.  As someone in group 2, I appreciate the open-minded support of group 1, with some reservations I’ll go into below, but I also understand the stance of group 3 and 4.  I can, despite where I land, also support the 3s, since it is the sort of thing that is a little hard to take seriously, but I have to admit that despite my long-standing respect for Science and Reason, the folks of 4 get my back up.

This is mainly because I like to think that I’ve examined my own ghostly adventures carefully for alternative explanations, and I also like to think that I’m relatively bright.  Group 4 was pretty strident in its collective approach, and that stridency might be taken as a statement something like this: “You’re just too DUMB to see the REAL cause of whatever happened, so you made up a boogerman to explain it.”  I’m not above responding to insults with anger, although I’m trying not to make it the whole of my response to those in that group.

I don’t recall if the old saw about extraordinary theories calling for extraordinary proof got played upon under its own name in that discussion, but the sense of it was certainly in the air.  We in group 2 were, as I mention above, missing something.  One of the others offered a very long list of plausible alternative explanations for an event, many of them quite popular debunkings, and none of which quite supported the event itself– none of these, nor anything else he could think of, therefore eerie, but please suggest what I might have missed.  The response was somewhat dismissive– it’s not our place to provide you with the real explanation, you have to think of everything that might be the other explanation and explain why it isn’t.  I would not like to find myself in a criminal proceeding with this sort of burden of negative proof.

Of course, just because it seems at first blush to be mere noise doesn't mean there isn't something there.

Just because it seems at first blush to be mere noise doesn’t mean there isn’t something there.

I think this stance bugs me because for all it swaddles itself in the cloak of scientific rigour is that it doesn’t admit the possibility of its theory being incorrect.  I quote without attribution: “I… cannot conceive of any event that would cause me to believe that ghosts, spirits or demons were responsible.”

That’s problematic.  It’s the sort of uncritical stance on how the world works that gives me some pause about the fine folks in group 1, although they and group 3 are really just slightly manifestations of the same thing, a Maybe that leaned slightly to one side.  I may believe in ghosts, in my shorthand way, but if someone presents a workable explanation of a phenomenon I like to think I might amend my stance.  For example, I am willing to dismiss vast swathes of electronic voice phenomena, creepy and interesting as they may be, because most of them are so unclear one makes words out of them in much the same way as one makes makes a face out of the grain in wood panelling.  Some, though, give the honest critic something to seriously ponder.

To say, though, that one rules something out entirely regardless of what might be flung in one’s face, seems overly dogmatic.  I could just as easily refuse to believe in Ascension Island; even if transported there, I could cling to that position with cries of “this is just some other island!”  I would, however, be a silly and obdurate person.

The other thing that struck me about the fourth group’s responses was the edge of anger that lay down them.  It wasn’t merely the smugness of not being gullible like we poor dummies on the Yes side of the equation, which I could understand even though I wouldn’t appreciate the sentiment behind it.  I initially took it to be the sort of wrath felt by those who saw clearly feel towards the misled, a related sentiment to that examined in a blog I was looking at earlier today, one which I frequently feel in when I hear people banging on about the connection between autism and vaccinations or the conspiracy to fake moon landings.  It is easy to get angry at people who cling to insupportable positions in the face of evidence to the contrary.

The problem, of course, is that in the case of group 2 we’re clinging in the face of evidence to the anti-contrary, some of us have seriously considered alternative, and the contrary stance offers no evidence other than shouting “That’s silly, and it can’t happen because it can’t be explained.”

I was discussing this whole affair with my wife, who has rather better ghost sightings in her background than I, and is also a Group 2 member.  She posited that the anger probably lies in two regions. The first is that the idea of ghosts, in the more usual sense of some residue of humans lingering after their demise, if offensive to the beliefs of the angry folks– either that residue should have been transported tidily to the appropriate afterlife destination (religious belief), or the cannot be residue because life is a mere biochemical process and human awareness a simple side effect thereof (also religious belief, because atheism is a shared system of belief).  The second is one that got me into a state of high humour– they’re angry at the prospect that these unseen entities are hanging around watching them do stuff they’d rather not have non-participants watching.  Anger predicated on, amongst other things, pooping shame.

After my initial reflected anger with the 4 folk, I find I can’t sustain the emotion.  I’ve got my own smugness founded on knowing I’m right, and I sort of agree with them regarding the desperate flakiness of some of the notions that attach to belief in ghosts.  It’s only important if one is beset with poltergeists.  I do worry about them slightly, in the direction of the dogmaticism problem, but if they want a world of restricted possibilities, that’s their lookout.

…and now, to get out from under this cloud of serious earnestness, let’s have a little bit of whimsical nonsense from Vincent Price.

Today’s pen: Lamy 2000
Today’s ink: Pelikan Brilliant Black 

*The closest a ghost has ever brought me to serious worry, to date, was when I found myself stuck in a large, comfortable, well-lit room.  The doorknob, which was of a sort that didn’t have a locking mechanism, absolutely would not budge– no play at all.  This state of affairs lasted about ten minutes, which was the length of time I’d declared I was willing to wait for someone outside the room to notice the problem before I’d take my Swiss army knife to the hinge pins.  One last try of the knob, with knife in hand and appropriate fitting deployed, and the knob turned as smoothly as ever a doorknob might.  I welcome a science-based explanation for that one which doesn’t take a lot of logical gymnastics and unlikely quantum events.


Posted in General Blather | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Thing from the Crypt!

Posted by Dirck on 30 October, 2013

Since the only thing that’s really seasonally thematic about today’s entry is the title, let me give you the extra puffery from the non-existent poster for the film of the same name– It came from the East!  Dormant for years, it rose at last!

It… oh, sorry, It! is the latest book to house my journalling efforts, which promise if I keep up the current daily outpourings to demand an annex of their own.   The last couple have been the delightful Rhodia Webbie A5, but I didn’t have one on standby when the most recent filled up.  This sounds like poor planning, but I let the situation develop because I knew I had a few other blank books at hand to fill in, and I might as well start using things I had lying around rather than buying new (even if those new buys are done at local businesses).  The only hesitation was which of the candidates to use, and the choice ended up being based on seniority.

The new book is not, to be honest, as nice as the Webbie, as the paper is thinner, rougher, and somewhat more given to feathering.  However, given how long I’ve had it about the place, I shouldn’t let these considerations prevent me from getting on with it, lest it never be used at all.  For all that there’s a bit of feathering, there’s no more bleedthrough than the Webbie ever showed, and with 224 relatively thin pages, it will allow me to rest a good long time before the next selection.  Given the length of this thing’s lay about, a long rest is appropriate.

How long is that, then?  Well, I can’t really say for sure, because I don’t remember just when I bought it.  Here’s a hint, though, from inside the back cover:


Sometime after the introduction of bar-codes, at least.

Since Czechoslovakia underwent fission on the last day of 1992, it’s entirely likely that I’ve had this unwritten-in book longer than I’ve known my wife.  I’ve had a look at this new-fangled internet thing, and find Pragotrade is still an import house in Ontario.  I don’t know if they have any connection with the most commonly found items bearing that name, industrial kitchen machinery (meat grinders and the like) and I really doubt they’ve anything to do with an asphalt recycler in the Czech Republic.

Those wise in the ways of retailing might say that the last date of manufacture doesn’t have much to do with the last date of possible retailing, and that’s entirely true.  However, I have another image, this time of the front cover, which I want you all to brace yourselves for.  It’s a little shocking.  Try not to cry out when you see it.

Oh, the inflation!

Horror!  We used to be able to afford things!

The shock, of course, is that price for a relatively fountain pen-friendly notebook, but the point of evidence is the logo on that price-tag.  I got this book at Woolco, one of the wonderful pre-Big-Box discount department stores.  Wonderful, in that the cheapness of the products was right there on the surface, but might not seriously affect the substance; rather the opposite effect seems to hold with the modern Big Box fillings.  Woolco, which lasted longer in Canada than in the US, was absorbed by the gluttonous monarch of the Big Boxes which I dare not name in 1994, so there’s no way I got this book later than then.  It has been waiting not less than nineteen years for me to get around to doing something with it; curses, vampires, mummies and this book have intense patience in common.

Now, to end on a proper Lovecraftian italicization, I will refer once more to the price tag.  It’s colour-coded, to indicate a sale item, and so you might think the regular price might be more in line with what we currently expect to pay for a capacious sewn notebook with moderately good paper.  On the inside of the front cover, though, is another tag, plain white, with the normal price indicated there.  This book, in its regular daily round of sales, cost only $1.59!

Today’s pen: Pelikan M600
Today’s ink: Mont Blanc Racing Green

(The alternate title, by the way, for the edited-for-TV release, is The Student Requisite of Prague.)

Posted in General Blather | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

The Season of Re-Branded Paganism

Posted by Dirck on 29 October, 2013

Hallowe’en being upon us, I believe I’ll treat myself to a response to a review of a… horror, sort of, after a fashion, movie.  Suspense might be nearer the mark .  The review in question is from a different source than the previous ones, a self-declared (and justifiably so) gonzo-theorist film critic, and the review that I’m taking issue with him over is his recent offering regarding Eye of the Devil.  As with my previous excursions into this line of though, I’m going to drop spoilers galore, so if you’re a fan of creepy 1960s black-and-white film, David Niven, or both, you’re endangering the surprises by reading either this or, in fact, the review down the link.

Also as with previous excursions, I’m going to start by agreeing with my target.  The first half of Eye of the Devil is all about keeping the viewer as mystified as Deborah Kerr, the wife of French nobleman David Niven, and apart from the profoundly obscure menace provided by a couple of creepy blond twins (Sharon Tate and David Hemmings) it is, as he says, dull.  I’ve seen this film only once, which was the result of three attempts.  Actually, if you act a fan of the above-mentioned items, keep reading.  Read the review I link too.  Read plenty of reviews.  It helps immensely to know that they thing is actually going somewhere. and it’s not (just) one of these tedious artistic films in which nothing every strings together and the point is to leave the viewer as baffled as they began, because for the first half it’s hard to not assume that’s what you’re facing.

Once you’ve fought your way through that powerfully obtuse first portion, when some of the hints of what’s going on start to actually hang together into suggestive shapes, the going gets easier, and indeed well before the end you get a pretty good idea of what the problem is for Kerr and Niven, and can start trying to decide which of them has the right response to it.  Here’s the big spoiler; the domain Niven’s family holds is the seat of a cult, and part of the cult’s activities involve sacrifices to ensure bountiful harvests– the longer since a bumper crop comes in, the more serious the sacrifice, and we all know what the biggest sacrifice is, right?

I really only have one serious beef with the review, and it’s something that the title leads him into.  He keeps speaking of the cultists as Satanists.  That’s not right, and it bugs me slightly.  I use the word “cult” guardedly; cult practices are out of line with mainstream religions, but don’t pursue evil necessarily.  In Eye of the Devil, the cultists are in most of their expressions of religion Christian.  The local priest is in on the deal.  The troubling sacrifice aspects of their beliefs are not presented as a tip of the hat to The Adversary, but rather a replaying of the sacrifice which Christianity’s namesake made– he went up on the cross to improve things for everyone else, and the cult’s sacrificial object does the same, willingly, for the benefit of his entire community, and what I take from it at least is that the cult is a survival of pre-Christian practices that has infused itself into the (relatively) new religion.  This is not unlike Hallowe’en, or rather Hallowmas, in which a hard to eradicate pre-Christian notion was adopted by the church as an alternative to the difficulty of suppressing it– if people are going to get flippy about ancestral spirits creeping about once a year, let’s make sure they’re also thinking about saints!  In Eye of the Devil, it’s just a more local and rather hairier-chested version of the effect.  Another critic I enjoy suggests parallels between this film and The Wicker Man, and he’s not wrong, even though the paganism in that one is extremely neo- rather than a survival of past ages; there’s a fully-formed and plausible theology at work in both, and in both it’s not a confrontation of opposites as much as a selection of parallel paths.

Unlike a lot of actual devil-worship films (let’s try The Devil’s Rain and Rosemary’s Baby to cover a spectrum of possible examples), there’s no supernatural powers at work, at least not in any overt way.  The response to the religious efforts of the cultists is much like that one might expect from the more conventionally Christian prayer– things get better, perhaps even dramatically, but one could attribute it to a mere swing of nature’s pendulum as much as the hand of an interested deity.  The stopping of resistance to the plan is pretty much all through human agency, rather than unseen powers (edit; just remembered– there is a little unlikely hypnotism, but it happens during the befuddling front end and thus hardly counts).  What I find actually interesting about Eye of the Devil is that if you take David Niven rather than Deborah Kerr as your identification character, it’s about having the moral fibre to do something painful because you know that it’s morally required.  If we end up rooting for the cultists, it’s not because of the appeal which the villain of any piece inevitably has, but because David Niven is clearly on the path to doing something terrible in pursuit of being good and for no personal gain whatever.

Which is almost worth the struggle the first part of the film represents.

Today’s pen: Waterman Carène
Today’s ink: Herbin Poussière de Lune

Posted in Armchair Quarterslack | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Losing Track

Posted by Dirck on 28 October, 2013

Here’s a distressing little item of news from the world at large: people forgetting how to write because they’re using electronics too much!

Alarming prospect, eh?  I will take comfort in the fact that the news item comes from China.  I say this not because it suggests the Chinese colossus that’s currently turning coal into cheap consumer goods and unbreathable air (a trick learned, indirectly, from England) is about to stumble in its headlong career towards owning everything (again, England, and much good did it do them).  I rather suspect there’s not a lot of connection between literacy on the part of the broader population and world domination.

Rather, I take comfort in the idea that even if this is a widespread phenomenon in China, something which the single datum revealed in that article doesn’t really indicate, the writing being interfered with is Chinese writing, and it’s all too possible to see losing track of the diverse shapes and processes it contains.  Remember that English and its vast, swollen vocabulary manages to stumble along with only the twenty-six letters of the Latin alphabet, with occasional additional characters & numbers for a small % of words we’re 2 lazy to write out.

Chinese writing, on the other hand, being ideogrammatic, has rather a lot of characters to keep track of.  Even more daunting, and I suspect underlying the story, there is some concern over the order of the stroke that go into the production of those characters– as many as seventeen of them.  Korean writing looks as it does because one Korean king got very tired of waiting not only for his scribes to work out how to write down his edicts, but for them to get trained up the to point that they could write them down.  And for doing so, he got semi-deified, because Koreans had a good sense of how very flippin’ hard it is to really get Chinese characters under one’s hat.

This guy.

This guy.  I stood a little to the right of this camera position when I took my picture of him in 1995, and it was raining, so I’ll use this picture.

So while I feel badly for the person who reports losing writing to the electronic media, it seems an understandable loss of a skill– something so fraught with inherent difficulty surely needs to be practiced regularly lest it slip from one’s grasp.  I’m not in great fear of it becoming a widespread phenomenon.  I’m only in small, manageable fear of it.  Time for another session of Pen Wrangling With Daddy for my son.

Today’s pen: Sheaffer Legacy
Today’s ink: Pelikan Brilliant Brown

Posted in General Blather | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

It’s The Pits

Posted by Dirck on 25 October, 2013

That most wonderful time of the year is upon us again, so for today’s film let’s whet the appetite with a nice shiny film trailer:

THAT’S archaeology!  Can’t dig a hole in England without something interesting lying at the bottom!

Today’s pen: Pilot Vanishing Point
Today’s ink: Skrip Turquoise

Posted in General Blather | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Stamping Out Greed

Posted by Dirck on 24 October, 2013

Greed, humanity’s longtime companion and one of the prime motivators of human misery.  It seems to be the ground from which most of the other capital sins spring (you have to stretch a little to get Sloth in– “Greed to naps” is not persuasive).  The thing I was off yesterday making redundant noise about has greed in its fabric.  Everyone feels it, now and again, whether it comes in the form of “Why shouldn’t I have this other doughnut?” or “Why should I pay taxes on my nine figure income?”  If I were in an other setting, I’d probably get into corporations and environmental degradation, but I’ll leave off at mere mentions.

When getting a couple of letters ready for mailing yesterday, I felt an eminently silly manifestation of covetousness rising up in me.  I had trouble getting the stamps onto the envelopes, because they were mine and I wanted them forever.

This wasn’t based on the cost of the stamps, even though it was a pair of overseas letters– just shy of four whole dollars in postage!  Rather, it was the stamps as objects, regardless of the monetary value, that had me in a brief daze of avarice.  Canada Post does a bang-up job of offering diverse stamps— it may be part of whats behind all this noise about their financial worries, having to set up loads of presses every couple of months– because the runs of their interesting stamps tend to be fairly short, a regular… well, a willing correspondent such as myself finds the supply of any given stamp dwindles quite briskly.  Greed, in its most senseless form, cries out to hang onto them, as no more can be got!

Canada Post’s habits make more sense than the Canadian Mint’ regular production of rather interesting and hang-onto-able coins, if I can digress a little from my point.  Stamps aren’t quite the representative of national capital that coins are, and I find myself wondering at the effect vis à vis inflation of being encouraged to hang onto piles of quarters and dollar coins not because they’ll ever be worth more than their face value but just because they’re decorative– doesn’t it devalue a currency to constantly issue more of it?

Actually, when I say in digressing from my point, I’m wrongly suggesting that I have a point.  As is common here, it’s a mere observation of a moment of weakness.  A more than usually silly one, too.  I’m long out of the habit of philately, but I understand that there’s only a point to collecting stamps if they’ve been circulated.  A pile of stamps lying in a drawer is no more than a squared-off, sticky-backed equivalent of some abandoned pocket change.

Not necessarily small change, of course.

Not necessarily small change, of course.

I overcame my grasping aspect in the end. I remind myself that the point of getting festive stamps is to send them away.  Apart from the mere proof of postage being paid, they’re meant to brighten the day of the recipient.  I have certainly found my day brightened by the receipt of stamps from the US, England, Slovenia, Austria, Indonesia and even Australia (pictures of wildlife are much less venomous than the real thing).  Unlike certain prime ministers I could mention, the stamps I send go forth to enhance the world’s opinion of my nation and increase the global level of Happy, something they can’t do sitting in a heap in my desk.  It’s not going to save the world, but it’s still worth doing.  And that’s why I totally wrecked this souvenir strip:


Yes, we do claim some interest in Superman, via Joe Shuster. I understand he’s a citizen of the world these days, anyway.

Today’s pen: Lamy 2000
Today’s ink: Pelikan Brilliant Black 

Posted in General Blather | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

To The Barricades!

Posted by Dirck on 23 October, 2013

No last act of Les Mis happening (yet), but there is a huge thing happening in the body politic of Canada that I want to get some links to on my long-neglected (through misery and hopelessness) political blog.  The time I have to do this is now, so I neglect this wing of my enterprises.

I’ll be back tomorrow, assuming martial law and internet lockdown haven’t been declared.

Today’s pen: Sheaffer Legacy
Today’s ink: Pelikan Brilliant Brown

Posted in General Blather | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Starting Out Properly

Posted by Dirck on 22 October, 2013

Some long time ago, I made a little noise here about an amendment I’d made in the formation of my capital G, and I’ve been getting Google hits about “Cursive G” ever since (some of which, I assume, are not misguided efforts to discover details of Sacha Baron Cohen’s early career).  I thought I might consider another re-taught capital today, and to do so, I’m going right to the beginning of the alphabet.


Shall I make a “taking myself too literally” pun here?

Well… maybe not right to the beginning, but to the front of it at any rate.  One of the things that bothered me about the cursive hand I learned under the harsh discipline of Mrs. Sipes back in good ol’ Assiniboine School (long since made into a housing development for people whose children have a very long walk to get to school) was that the only difference between the lower- and upper-case was a matter of scale.

A less disasterous Little Boy and Fat Man

A less disastrous Little Boy and Fat Man

I felt, frankly, rather silly with that, and even more so when my writing included things like “Aaron” or “Aachen”.  Not regular inclusions, I’ll grant, but enough to put me off my stride.  There was a patch, after I was out of University and any writing I did had no time limit, when I dabbled with print rather than cursive.  That wasn’t entirely motivated by this A problem, since my father in a magnificent round of “pot calls kettle black” had made me very self-conscious about my writing, but there was an element of relief in making a nice angular A.

The problem with print, at least for me, is that it’s blinkin’ slow.  That’s the whole reason there is cursive.  By degrees, I gave up on print for a second time (the first courtesy Mrs. Sipes and her razor-tongued tuition), and in a mostly unconnected move, got married.  Mostly, as the overt romance began with a letter.

One day, an unconscionable length of time after the marriage, I was reading something my wife had written, and my attention drifted from the content of the message to the medium itself.  “I say,” I said aloud, “that’s a damn handsome way of making an A you’ve got there.”  She had apparently been taught as much by her mother as by her school in this area, and the traditional A of her family looks like this:

The great thing about our house; no one ever complains about a request to use a pen.

The great thing about our house; no one ever complains about a request to use a pen.  This image courtesy my wife and her heap of No Nonsenses.

The big central loop, which brings the pen back for the next letter, may hint at the evolution of the version I object to, but the angle I wanted was right there.  Delightful!  I set to work, in much the same way as with the G, to the task of burning the previous habit out of myself and instilling this new thing in its place.  My wife is rather more careful with her writing than I, which I think might actually be a point of difference generally attributable between the genders, so what I’ve currently got is a little less complete in its presentation.


On to the next letter! No time to tarry!

The failure to close that loop is mainly down to my overall habit of light hands, so the pen starts lifting at what might be thought a premature point.  Impatience is only a tiny element in it.  I’m pretty happy with this, since it gets ever further from the hated Giant Lower Case object that haunted me for so long.  Recently, though, I got something back from a Regular Job client which made me think I may not be quite done with habit reformation…

"I don't got no delta in my name!  Danggummit!"

“I don’t got no delta in my name! Danggummit!”

I don’t honestly recall what the actual word objected to was– this is what we might call an artist’s conception of the response.  Apparently, someone really didn’t like my current A.  Over the weeks since this passed under my nose, it hasn’t exactly been chafing at my imagination, but it occasionally surfaces.  I finally, during a free moment when I could actually consider the matter, hit upon something.  My wife’s family A may be a very long-lived heirloom indeed, because when you think about it, the artistic cursive (and I here reveal my ignorance because I don’t really know if this is technically Copperplate or not) is formed very much the same way.

And the semi-flex pen I had in batter needs more space to show its paces than the rest.

And the semi-flex pen I had in battery needs more space to show its paces than the rest.

A terrible example, but it serves to show the affiliation.  With that in mind, I took the pen of that day, an completely flex-free item, and tried the sinuous shape of this formalized version.  The result was interesting.

It might also be called "attenuated".

It might also be called “attenuated”.

The change in shape of the down-stroke amends the upward loop, which not only makes it easier to close but also compresses it.  I don’t know if my triggering curmudgeon would have any more brief with this than he did the one he corrected, but it lies a little closer to the print A while remaining a single line.  I’m not, I’ll admit, entirely convinced of the need for further amendment nor am I entirely pleased with this somewhat spidery development of the letter, though.  I may stick where I am, and keep this in reserve for special occasions.

Like when I’ve got a flex pen.

Yesterday’s model and today’s pen: Pelikan M600
Today’s ink: Mont Blanc Racing Green

Posted in General Blather | Tagged: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »


Posted by Dirck on 21 October, 2013

Well, it’s probably not an ulcer, or anything more dire, and the medication I’ve been given to address the more troubling symptoms is doing all I could hope.  As there’s plenty of “personal health trouble” blogs, I’ll furl this topic until it demands attention once more (let it be a good long time, too) and return to abstruse muttering about fountain pens.

An item I was reading on one of the fora began with a fellow saying that he’d noticed his boss’s pen.  He admired it aloud, and the boss said something to the effect of, “Oh, this old thing?  Just a Pelikan, no big deal,” and denied it was worth any substantial money.  Struck by the attractiveness of the pen in question, our informant set about ordering one of his own, and when he had it in hand was somewhat surprised to find a size differential something like this:


And the point on his didn’t have two-tone masking, either.  The conclusion was that from the information he’d been given, his assumption of a moderate M215 was reasonable, but boss clearly had an M1000, which is not only loads bigger but costs a lot more.

Without any solid reason, indeed founded entirely on my assumptions from the tale related to me, I like this guy’s boss.  Did he lie?  Well, yes.  But he also refrained from the sort of bragging that gets me all riled up when I think about pens that cost more than $500.  Above that price, and one can generally assume that the purchase is predicated upon showing off (a rant I’ve previously had, but cannot find), but in this case we seem to find someone who bought a quite expensive pen for qualities other than the power of showing away it conveys.\

Some might argue, and did, that to say of such a pen that it didn’t cost a great deal shows a deformation of the sense of relative costs; for most of us, “not expensive” usually lies below the twenty dollar mark, while for the infamous one-percenters the decimal skids several places to the right.  The sense I got from the reporter didn’t convey that, though.  It may have been the obfuscation of one who suddenly decided he’d paid far too much for the item in question, but it could equally be someone who didn’t want the big deal made of the item, if big deal was to be made, to be about the cost when it could be about the fine looks and excellent writing properties.

I prefer the latter.  It suggests someone with their priorities in some semblance of sensible order, and we need more of those.

Today’s pen (the cost of which I’m apt to mumble if asked directly): Waterman Carène
Today’s ink: Herbin Poussière de Lune

Posted in General Blather | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »


Posted by Dirck on 18 October, 2013

This is very similar to the noises emerging from the space between my ribs and pelvis the last few days.

Today’s pen: Lamy 2000
Today’s ink: Pelikan Brilliant Black 
Yesterday’s pen: Pelikan M600 (the current theme is “(relatively) pricey moderns”; a theme is unusual, so don’t look back trying to figure out what I was up to previously)
Yesterday’s ink: Mont Blanc Racing Green

Posted in General Blather | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »