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Archive for May, 2014

There’s Something About Genji

Posted by Dirck on 30 May, 2014

Genji Monogatari as a story is… a little inaccessible.  Like The Iliad, a western tale one might compare it to, its original language is one very few people today read, so most of us rely upon translations.

Similarly, Genji Monogatari as a pen is so expensive as to be inaccessible to most of us, and we’ll have to content ourselves with ogling it in the following Filched Friday Film.

If you watched the whole thing, I wager you felt your jaw creeping into a dropped position at how much highly skilled labour is involved; of course it’s expensive! If you’re one of these rare people with the resources to command a direct experience, why not give the poster of the video a jingle?

Today’s pen: Lamy Studio
Today’s ink: Diamine Syrah


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Posted by Dirck on 29 May, 2014

WHAT: First draft of short story  “Yard Light”.

HOW MUCH: 3 pages of manuscript (well… if you leave out the things crossed out while shouting “Arrrrg!  That’s dumb!”).

HOW LONG: About 55 min.  Productive!

Today’s pen: Stipula Passaporto
Today’s ink: Calamo Deep Blue

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Posted by Dirck on 28 May, 2014

WHAT: First draft of short story  “Yard Light”.

HOW MUCH: 6 pages of manuscript.

HOW LONG: About 55 min.– it’s been one of those beads of blood on the forehead sessions.  The end is in sight, though.

Today’s pen: Pelikan P1
Today’s ink: Pelikan blue-black (I don’t want to startle it on its first day out of the hospital)

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Thirty Eight Point One

Posted by Dirck on 27 May, 2014

Unless referring to the pounds per square inch of atmospheric pressure one is experiencing, or the size of the hole in centimeters one had just discovered is newly made in one’s body, 38.1 is not a big number.  And yet, just before Sunday night became Monday morning, I found it was a number with profound ramifications.

It was, it turned out, my internal temperature.  In Celcius degrees, because that’s how we rôle here in Canada.

The majority of the world, used to metric, will be shaking their heads at this point, but I’ll do the conversion for those still labouring in the Fahrenheit mines– that’s not quite 101°.  Not great, from a health standpoint, but certainly not life threatening.  And yet, I crept out of bed, quivering and with the sense that the skin on my head had been replaced with over-roasted gila monsters.  I wished I were drenched in sweat.

The next six hours were spent sitting up in an armchair, wishing for sleep, an effective febrifuge, and someone else to bring me more juice, all the while having my intelligence subtly insulted by Hollywood and its herald, Netflix.  Shortly after dawn, I put on a brave face so as to not alarm my son, drank more juice while he was made ready for school, and then collapsed into a heap that eventually became a sleeping human.  At some point, I remembered how to sweat.

I’m fine today.  A little hoarse, but otherwise asymptomatic, and absolutely without notion of where the infection came from.  If it was the same thing that made my son sneeze a few times last week, then either my immune system is in extremely poor shape or he was meant for delivery in Sparta (I suspect the latter, given some of his recent Feats of Strength, like “push the shopping cart at a fast walking pace while Daddy clings to the front acting as a brake”).

And the reason I share all this is to explain my absence yesterday.  I was, in most senses of the phrase, out of it.  It wasn’t until I was leaving for work this morning that I even noticed yesterday’s mail had included an expected client’s pen.  Good thing, too– if I had seen it yesterday, I might given into the urge to handle a pre-celluloid pen while in an incompetent state.  What a chilling thought!

Today’s pen: Cross Century II
Today’s ink: Diamine Sherwood Green

(ed. note: [sic] to “rôle” because I’m still giddy enough to think that’s either clever or funny)

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History is Made by…

Posted by Dirck on 23 May, 2014

The song title ends “…Stupid People.”  Well, for this week’s Filched Friday Film, I’ve found a documentary about a bunch of undeniably and remarkably brilliant people not making history, by the narrowest of margins.  Are you ready for the fun and adventure of spacecraft powered by nuclear weapons and coke machines?

I have a vague memory of reading an article suggesting that it might be worth reviving the project, so this may yet be news rather than historical curiosity.

Today’s pen: Sheaffer 800
Today’s ink: Pelikan violet

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Posted by Dirck on 22 May, 2014

Have I mentioned, at some point in the hundred-dozen entries here (holy prolixity!) that until relatively recently, I was a huge fan of fine pens?  I know I mention it in passing when discussing point selection for the tyro fountain pen user.  It came up in a recently-posted letter, too, and I couldn’t remember holding forth on the topic here.

Let me now remedy that.

It’s true, I was for most of my life very committed to fine pens.  In that letter, I relate how I don’t need any mechanical assistance to render the difference between ce, and i indistinct, and being also not given to great big handwriting (those lines in the notebooks are there for a reason), fine points and me seem a natural symbiosis.  I remember the absolute delirium of the day in the mid- to late-1970s when I discovered that fineliner markers could be got in 0.3 mm.  That’s sooooo thin!

This state of affairs began to amend when I dove into the agglomerating of vintage pens from dubious sources.  I’ve likened eBay to fishing in a river; stuff drifts past, and if it’s vaguely interesting, you dip your net and see if you can snag it.  This removes a lot of choice in specifics– if I’m angling at a Waterfield 44, I’m mainly looking at whether its mother of pearl inlay is intact, and don’t really trouble myself with the point apart from making sure it’s present.  Fine, fat, firm, flex– whatever it has it what I get.  I choose to view this as a good thing, a broadening (ho ho) of horizons.  I have benefited from it, at least in a spiritual sense, in as much as I can now enjoy the pleasures of  ink shading which can only really be had with a good thick line.

As it happens, I’m starting to come around to the notion of still liking fine points, but of a different sort.  The Stipula of Tuesday was, in a way, a fine point.  A fine stub.  I’m slowly coming around to wanting to have writing that is unequivocally that of a fountain pen– apart from the colour, elegance and legibility, that is.  Line variation is that unequivocal statement, and the two ways of getting line variation are flexibility and tip shape.  Since I have this tendency to slur my writing, too wide a tip is problematic, but a stub or cursive point of somewhere between 0.6 and 0.9mm is absolutely elegant.


One of these needs more frequent meals.

All life is a balancing act, of course.  Apart from having some trouble in getting people to tell the difference between nice and nee when I write things, there is the question of ink consumption.  Some pens are profligate, some are parsimonious, but in general, a big broad point will get through a lot more ink than a little thin one.

This is not a huge problem.  Unlike gasoline, there’s not a lot of moral baggage attached to using loads of ink.  It only becomes a problem in specific ways.  My current approach to rotation is to use until dry, and the problem is… if I’m really enjoying using a given pen, I have to swap it out sooner than I might like.

I didn’t say it was a serious problem.  Today’s pen is probably going to be dry by the end of the day, and it’s so much fun (in pen terms) that I’m a little sad.  The other side of the coin– yesterday’s pen has an EF point.  I may be using it until autumn.

Today’s pen: Pelikan MK10
Today’s ink: Herbin Vert Empire

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Posted by Dirck on 21 May, 2014

WHAT: First draft of short story  “Yard Light”.

HOW MUCH: 6 pages of manuscript.

HOW LONG: About 35 min. (long line at the post office).

Today’s pen: Lamy Studio
Today’s ink: Diamine Syrah

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Posted by Dirck on 20 May, 2014

WHAT: First draft of short story  “Yard Light”.

HOW MUCH: 3 pages of manuscript.

HOW LONG: About 20 min.  I got distracted by an article a Facebook acquaintance posted, and then had to resort some degree of inner calm.

Today’s pen: Stipula Passaporto
Today’s ink: Calamo Deep Blue

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Long Weekend Blues

Posted by Dirck on 16 May, 2014

As we descend once again into the Victoria Day Weekend here in the northwest of the empire, we all make expansive plans for the free time.  I’m assuming the guy down the block that spends about twenty hours each weekend revving a gigantic engine of some sort has some reason for doing so comprehensible to others, but as it’s what he’s been at since last spring, I begin to think that it’s nothing to do with getting a vehicle in shape to hit the road.  And thus, today’s film.

I’m glad I’m not right next door to him, in any case.

Today’s pen: Waterman Ligne 60
Today’s ink: Jentle blue-black

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Posted by Dirck on 15 May, 2014

WHAT: First draft of short story  “Yard Light”.

HOW MUCH: 9 pages of manuscript.  It’s a long ‘un, too; I don’t think I’m much past half-done.

HOW LONG: About 50 min.

Today’s pen: Esterbrook J fitted with an Osmiroid sketch point.
Today’s ink: Herbin Lis de Thé

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