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Archive for December, 2014

The Loooooong Holiday Weekend

Posted by Dirck on 24 December, 2014

But first, to please the Watching Conscience:

Day What How Much Duration Pen Ink
  • 22 December
  • 23 December
  • Christmas shopping
  • First draft of “The Yellow Oracle.”
  • Sufficient
  • Seven manuscript pages
  • 55 min.
  • 50 min.

…and that’s the last of that you’ll see until the new year.  I’m taking some time off from The Regular Job, and while I entertain notions of getting as much writing done at home as I do here, they’re only slightly less unrealistic than the notions I have of establishing a resort on the Moon.  There is, after all, a six-year-old who is extremely demonstrative of affection, very anxious to share cool stuff, and by noon Thursday in a frenzy of Christmas-induced glee.  There is already much whispering to parents and pointing suggestively at a drawer we don’t know he’s hidden a gift to his Mom in.

Plus I’m the behindest I’ve ever managed on correspondence.

In any event, since doing anything with this is pretty much a work-day event, and the next work-day is 5 January, it’s apt to be very quiet here until then.  I hope you’re all keeping on the right side of too much fat, calories, alcohol and other seasonal indulgences (“right side” being highly subjective, of course).  As the clock ticks down to the recurrent rehabilitation of Alistair Sim, I thought the thing to throw up on the Lifted Video Service would be the thing I’ve been using to drown out the Country and/or Western station that’s being allowed to make noise elsewhere in the office.  It’s made the day go much more easily for me.

For those who find Baroque warbling a rather more egg than their nog can support, there is also a reading of Dickens’s famous seasonal work by a chap whose name you may recognize (although it may be having a little bandwidth trouble).  Merry, Jolly, Happy, Cheerful or Reflective Roughly-Solstice Event to all, and we’ll see you all in the painfully science-fictioney year of 2015.

Today’s pen: Italix Parson’s Essential (Parsons figuring in a seasonal lyric)
Today’s ink: Noodler’s Walnut (being as close to roasted chestnuts as I could manage, given my allergies)


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Have Yourself a Merry Little Middoth

Posted by Dirck on 19 December, 2014

I somehow manage to be surprised every time this bit of intelligence presents itself to me– M.R. James’s work was, in the main, writing down of stories he told at Christmas.  Because telling skin-looseningly creepy stories is (or was, a century ago) apparently a regular feature of the English yuletide fun.

That’s fine with me, of course.  As the burbling I utter through October reveals, I like my creepy just fine.  I don’t think I’ll try to start this as a tradition at home just yet (a six-year-old really isn’t equipped to process Oh, Whistle and I’ll Come to You, My Lad, and I’m unwilling to deal with the night-time fallout of proving that), but for what I take to be an adult readership a recent BBC production of one of the the more moral-laden of James’s stories is an excellent installment for the Friday Film Festival.

Today’s pen: Sheaffer “TM” Triumph
Today’s ink: Diamine Syrah

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Posted by Dirck on 18 December, 2014

Day What How Much Duration Pen Ink
  • 16 December
  • 17 December
  • 18 December
  • Plotting of a novel I really don’t think I’m starting any time soon, but it won’t leave me alone.
  • Third draft efforts on “Funeral Notice” and “The Healing Power of Crystals”.
  • A free lunch which I try to not resent as a distraction
  • Lots of plotty stuff
  • The latter may be concluded, but the former wants more burnishing
  • No writing whatever
  • 55 min.
  • 50 min.
  • 75 min.

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M’nar-ry Christmas? Nope, That’s Not Right….

Posted by Dirck on 15 December, 2014

I’m writing today because I don’t have time to write; a paradoxical statement, but I’m sure the writers in the audience follow the logic of it.

The weekend saw me abusing the dickens out of my magnificent stand-mixer, making double batches of seasonal cookies without irritating all the joints in both arms.  Three pounds of shortbread (of the cornstarch sort; I’m still considering the more traditional Scots version), and about five of speculaas.

Speculaas is not, for those to whom it is a new word, something I’ve just made up.  Its a traditional Dutch cookie I found a brilliant recipe for last year, and it went over so well last year I don’t forsee any problem getting that much finished cookie into appreciative gullets.  The thing about speculaas is that it’s meant to be molded, and I didn’t trouble with gathering up the family molds this year– because they were a little tedious last year, and the last thing I wanted to introduce into a batch of 150 cookies was extra work.  I just rolled it out, used a pizza wheel to bang it into appropriate oblongs, and only four man-hours later I was done.

…except of a little dough left over when the last tray was full.  Madness and the creative impulse got into me then, and while that now-penultimate batch was cooking, I made some art.  If one uses a very broad definition along the lines of that presented in the seventh chapter of Scott McCloud’s treatise on sequential art.



“It represented a monster of vaguely anthropoid outline, but with an octopus-like head whose face was a mass of feelers, a scaly, rubbery-looking body, prodigious claws on hind and fore feet, and long, narrow wings behind. This thing, which seemed instinct with a fearsome and unnatural malignancy, was of a somewhat bloated corpulence, and squatted evilly on a rectangular block…,” as initially described. I might have done better if I’d had the sketch at hand instead of working from memory.

I’m among those who wonder if it will ever get eaten.

Today’s pen: Sheaffer Valiant TD
Today’s ink: Pelikan Brilliant Brown

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Films Elsewhere

Posted by Dirck on 12 December, 2014

As I’ve been unusually devoted to the writing this week, I don’t have a film spooled up for this week.  However, thanks to the active and better-focused Ed Jelly, I can direct you to a group of films sponsored by Montblanc (the capacity which suggests they’re making as much money as we suspect them to be) which are all inspired by phrases of Nelson Mandela.

Rather than embed the videos, as is my usual practice, I’m just going to give the link to Tribeca Film Institute’s place of display.

Today’s pen: TWSBI Vac 700
Today’s ink: Pelikan Brilliant Black

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Posted by Dirck on 11 December, 2014

Good heavens, a week of nothing at all but writing?  How inward I have turned!  I’ll add one small item of possible use/interest, without climbing entirely out of this artistic hole I’ve dug for myself: my brother has recently showed me Trello, a sort of cloud-based electronic wall for post-it notes.  I’ve been toying with it over the past week, and I think it might be useful to certain sets of mind for working up longer writing projects… but I’m enough of a dinosaur to not trust clouds, believing in my simplicity that having something stowed on a disc in my own basement is less likely to vanish.

I also tapped my son daily with a horseshoe until he was four, keeping an eye out for changelings.

Day What How Much Duration Pen Ink
  • 8 December
  • 9 December
  • 10 December
  • 11 December
  • Second draft of “The Dutch Walk”
  • The same
  • Still “The Dutch Walk”
  • Second draft concludes
  • 661 words
  • 1247 words (!)
  • 564 words
  • …at 3,994 words
  • 35 min.
  • 50 min.
  • 30 min.
  • 45 min.

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The Process

Posted by Dirck on 5 December, 2014

This week’s film from fomeone else (this works with 17th century typesetting) is about the production the Conid’s highly-regarded Bulk Filler.  Two interesting things I find when watching it:

– The strangely tentative movements of the robot at some stages;

– The amount of human labour involved, even leaving out the engraver.

Merry Saint Nicholas to all, by the way.  For those not on the run from Zwart Piet, remember that it’s still important to be good little boys and girls:

Yet another reason kids have trouble sleeping around this time of year

Yet another reason kids have trouble sleeping around this time of year

Today’s Pen: Waterman Master
Today’s Ink: Diamine Amazing Amethyst

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Posted by Dirck on 4 December, 2014

Day What How Much Duration Pen Ink
  • 1 December
  • 2 December
  • 3 December
  • 4 December
  • Fourth draft of “The Blue Room”
  • Finished that, on to the third of “The Healing Power of Crystals”
  • Third draft of “The Healing Power of Crystals”
  • Second draft of “The Dutch Walk”
  • Some.  A few.  You know.
  • The finished item is now 5,050 words.
  • Many drops of blood appeared on the forehead
  • 536 words
  • 35 min.
  • 55 min.
  • 55 min.
  • 30 min.

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“Instructions.” Not “Suggestions.”

Posted by Dirck on 1 December, 2014

Those who follow the pen fora will see a regular pattern.

A fairly new enthusiast says, “Hey, I just got my first Snorkel.  I’m gonna flush it out good and see if it works!”

…which prompts: “For the love of noodles– don’t pull up the tube if the front end is in ink/water!  That can pull wet into places where it oughtn’t!”

Allow me to give a visual reference for that latter position:

Rusty, his brother Crusty, and his other brother Crusty.  All feeling much better now.

Rusty, his brother Crusty, and his other brother Crusty. All feeling much better now.

The amount of ink which should touch the bright metal and the springs in these mechanisms is none at all.  The most likely way this state of affairs developed was pulling up on the filler while the point was in the ink.  I feel free to display this grim example, as the client whose pens these are got them after they were put in this state.

You might also consider this consequence as a metaphor the next time you see a “Do Not Feed The Bears” sign, too.

Today’s pen: Sailor 102
Today’s ink: Montblanc Royal Blue

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