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Archive for August, 2015

Fun and Desperation

Posted by Dirck on 31 August, 2015

The great pen clinic when off very much as I could have hoped.  Plenty of people with plenty of pens, most of whom went away happy.  This time, I remembered to take pictures– heck, I was even annoying everyone on Facebook with live coverage of what was happening.  For those who look in here, let me re-create the effect without the long gasping pauses between entries.


Say… where’s my flushing bulbs?

There’s the tools all laid out and ready.  We were suffering somewhat from the smoke of the vast fires in Washington and Oregon, and I managed to forget a few things I have meant to bring.  Chief among these were the bulbs I use for flushing feeds in cartridge pens, but between most of those showing up with their converters in tow and the ultrasonic bath, the absence wasn’t disastrous.


A tiger?! Here?

Not quite the first appearance of the day was this Noodler’s Konrad with an after-marker stub point.  It was a little scratchy, of the sort that needed abrasives applied.  The deformity was so subtle it could only be felt in writing; even through my 45X (!) loupe, there was nothing to see.  Ahead of this patient were a Parker Sonnet (oddly clogged, sent home with a warning to check for moldy ink), a Pelikan M205 (also clogged, and with a strange late-onset tipping deformity) and the first Lamy Safari of the day (compressed slit).  These three came through before it occurred to me that the photo-journalism was even possible.


Cryptic notes, eh?

The Pelikan’s owner came back later with this Waterman Hemisphere which he described as writing too narrow– a fine point that was living up to its billing.  The problem was a result of having started out liking fine points, then trying something wider.  I gave it a quick dash over the abrasives to widen the contact point, which worked about as well as I thought it would (a very very little improvement), and suggested that a stubbing might be more to his taste.  The quartered acorn is a top-down view of the pen’s tipping, with a suggestion of what the proposed procedure would remove (the pointy part to the right).  I took this pen home from the clinic, and it’s now just about finished as a… 0.4 or 0.5 mm stub.  I’ll have to check that.  Not huge, but it gives extra weight to the writing in general.  The charge for the grind included a big fat discount because he brought it along to an even at which I was doing stuff for free; I expect he’ll be happy with the result, and he was certainly smiling when he left his pen with me.

Time presses, so one more story:


Faber-Castell Ambition. The ambition was to be a functional pen, alas.

This pen was bought a few minutes earlier, part of a first anniversary expedition by a pleasant young couple.  Since I was on hand, the Paper Umbrella’s proprietor  suggested they let me make some magical passes over it, and I’m very glad I did.  That little Pacman drawing is what I saw through the loupe, with the open side of the mouth being the one pointing at the paper.  That would have made for very scratchy writing, and hesitant in the bargain as the ink would have trouble reaching the paper.  It wasn’t a big deal to put right, just a couple of squeezes of the point’s shoulders, but it could have been a dreadful anniversary disappointment.  Happy I was indeed to help avert that outcome!

Time has fled, and I haven’t touched on the desperation aspect of the title.  I was commenting recently about troubles in the household economy, and an impending putting forth of pens.  Well, I’ve done so, in what is the most optimistic manner possible; a single lot with a big dumb starting price and an even bigger “buy-it-now” option.  I will freely admit to hoping for a couple of well-heeled and competitive bidders to take an interest.  If you know a well-heeled competitive person with a newly-kindled interest in fountain pens, suggest they have a look down the link.

Today’s pen: OMAS Arte Italiana (until I get a page finished, staring in amazement at it will have to suffice)
Today’s ink: Jentle blue-black


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What The Weekend Holds

Posted by Dirck on 28 August, 2015

I thought for this week’s film from fomeone elfe, I’d get as close as I could to what I’ll be up to for much of tomorrow’s regular business hours.

It won’t take quite as long on a case-by-case basis because I won’t be pausing to explain what I’m at, and there’s some variation of technique, and I’m not going to be so casually dressed (because such things are no longer in my wardrobe’s power), but this is pretty much it.  If you’re interested, you can carry on watching part 2 and part 3, although I won’t be getting up to a lot of the third part on Saturday.  Be sure to listen to the caveat at the beginning of each, which I also agree with.  Especially the bit about pliers.

I do somewhat wonder whether those who watch will say, “Oh, is THAT all there is to it? Anyone can do that!” or “Good heavens, that’s a lot of painfully fine adjustments!  I’m glad there are other people who will put themselves through that hassle.”

Today’s well-regulated pen: Pelikan Signum
Today’s mostly-domesticated ink: Montblanc Royal Blue

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Posted by Dirck on 27 August, 2015

Day What How Much Duration Pen Ink
  • 24 August
  • 25 August
  • 27 August
  • First draft of “Old Home Week”.
  • The same.
  • Perhaps two more days needed…
  • Five manuscript pages.
  • Seven pages.
  • Eight pages.
  • 30 min.
  • 35 min.
  • 45 min.

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Unexpected Glory

Posted by Dirck on 26 August, 2015

I will occasionally make low moaning noises here about the state of my personal economy.  The fact that I haven’t lately is down to me not wanting to interfere with:

  1. the purported creative process which I’m now giving so much of what was once blogging time to pursue;
  2. the enjoyment of their own lives which my readers may be feeling.

The fact is, though, that I’m on the edge of selling about half my current collection, needing only to get a few pictures sorted before throwing onto eBay what I hope will be a very attractive job-lot of pens to appeal to a well-heeled person who hasn’t yet established the foundation for a collection.

Now, last week, when comparing bank and credit card statements to formulate this plan of action (and even pondering the notion of gofundme), something happened which makes the upcoming separation sting far less than it might.  A large and unanticipated box was delivered in the mail.

Part of the sting-reduction lies in a forced perspective, and not the sort that Bert I. Gordon made so much mileage out of.  The return address revealed the identity of the donor, and that alone was enough to take some of the wind from the sails of moping.  Donor is a correspondent, or rather a lapsed correspondent, with whom I now keep up with only via Facebook.  This person (who is by any metric an uncommonly decent person) had a rather bad turn of health a couple of years ago, and the perspective forced on me is this: however unburdened with cash I may be, I am still quite sound wind and limb.  In fact, for someone of my age whose exercise is down to going up a flight of stairs twice a day, I’m in startlingly good health.  Rest assured, I take those stairs two at a time in an effort to remain healthy.

In the box was a great deal of packing material, the items protected by that material, and a note.  The note explained that the items were, in the donor’s new accommodations at a long-term care facility, no longed supportable, and would I give then a good home?  I was momentarily concerned that I might be about to find a singing frog, but no such doom awaited.  One of the items was green, though…

Technically a black-tipped jade Lucky Curve; do you see “Duofold” anywhere on that?

This is a pen I had worked on previously; the donor had, during the time of our correspondence, sent a lot of pens for me to have various issues seen to (this line of work gave my mild prejudice against Italian pens a lot of fertilizer, too; pretty, but not necessarily functional).  It has a rather dreamy factory stub point, and is from early enough in the run that it doesn’t say DUOFOLD under the breather hole, but LUCKY CURVE.  Good fun!

The other item is a real jaw-dropper, and left me staggering around the room, clutching at furniture for support lest I faint:

OMAS Arte Italiana Milord in Arco Brown (say that five times, fast).

Arco Brown OMAS Arte Italiana Milord– say that five times, fast… it you aren’t stuck at “zowie” or “ohhhhhh, my.”

This is now officially the most expensive pen I own, and is in the top… we’ll say twenty… for most expensive single item I own.  If things I will fit into are dismissed (house, car, washer if I’m properly folded), then it’s top five.  And because it’s a gift, it’s objective value is multiplied by about ten thousand in terms of how much money someone would have to thrust at me to part with it.  Donor also reports it as just about the best-writing pen ever to grace that once-vast collection, in which it was not the most expensive thing, which means I also get a kick in the shins of that previously-mentioned prejudice– any undermining of prejudice is a positive good.

Thus, the upcoming departure of a bunch of pens doesn’t trouble me too deeply.  Aside from the arrival of a couple of really splendid replacements, I am once again reminded of the vast luck in my life which has brought me acquainted with some really marvelous human beings.  There’s a lingering sense of not quite deserving such things, but that informs the effort to become worthy.  Do unto others and all that, arranged as a feedback loop.

Today’s pen: Lamy Studio
Today’s ink: Herbin Éclat de Saphir

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There’s Still a Little Cake

Posted by Dirck on 21 August, 2015

After yesterday’s festivities, the theme of the Friday Film was foredoomed.  I think this one does a great job of getting the flavour right, without the striving for a visual presentation that usually scuttles attempts at “Lovecraftian film”.

I think I know what I’m going to start calling the most troublesome moggie in our house….

Today’s pen: Pelikan Signum

Today’s ink: Montblanc Royal Blue

This is what imagination suggests will happen. Imagination is not good at scale.

This is what imagination suggests will happen. Imagination is not good at scale.

But I should also mention that a week tomorrow, there’s another of my pen-tuning clinics happening at Paper Umbrella (or, as they’re known on Facebook, Paper Umbrella).  That’s Saturday, 29 August, for those who want to mark their calendar.  If you show up, I promise not to bore you with jibber-jabber about the trials of authors or the joys of horror fiction.  Nope, all jibber-jabber will be focused upon fountain pens and related accessories (with which Paper Umbrella is stuffed to bulging– ink! Paper! Other kinds of pen!).  Show up with a pen that’s not running quite to spec, and I’ll see about putting it on its feet.  Buy a pen, and I’ll make sure it’s had the right treatment from the factory.  I know I’ll have fun, and I hope you will too.

I made cookies last time.

{edit– if you are going, why not make a note of it on the Facebook Event page?  Knowing people are going to be there would help me mentally prepare myself for actually being seen}

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Thinking of You on Your Birthday

Posted by Dirck on 20 August, 2015

Day What How Much Duration Pen Ink
  • 17 August
  • 18 August
  • 19 August
  • First draft of “Old Home Week”.
  • “Old Home Week” continues, and I should tell you the story behind it when I’ve a moment.
  • Yet more “Old Home Week”.
  • Seven manuscript pages
  • Six pages.
  • Six pages
  • 55 min.
  • 45 min.
  • 40 min.
  • 30 min.

Since it’s the 125th birthday of a gentle professional author and amateur racist from Providence, I might as well do a little open thinking about writing, both his and my own.

I’ll let ego take the fore; what’s that story I hint at in the Progress Report?  Well, it promises to be almost entirely uninteresting, but here it comes:  A few months ago, I had an idea for a story and wrote it down.  During my extended vacation, there came to me a mental image of how a story that fits that idea would start, and I nurtured that image until I had leisure to get it written down (for those without one, a school-age child when there’s no school is a magnificent preventative against sitting quietly and writing, so my vacation had almost no writing in it).  “Decorations” followed thereafter.  When I got the story finished, or as finished as it’s going to be until I pass it through the improving mills of third-party, semi-anonymous readers, I found that there was some dissatisfaction in me.  I still quite liked the mental image that had come on me, and wondering if putting the whole thing into a format that would serve a visual medium would quiet my restless heart, I went through the screenplay effort mentioned on past Reports.

Success of a sort.  I certainly think the exercise was worthwhile.  At the workshop I attended at the end of May, our guide mentioned that it is useful to try handling the same story with different points of view.  Usually, this is meant to be more internal to the story, moving from “I walked along the street, carefree, until a squelching sensation underfoot and a rank smell brought me up short” to “Halfway along the block, old Mr. Crun is pausing in his morning constitutional to briskly scrape one shoe on the edge of the curb, while shouting imprecations at the whole genus Canis.”  What I did was a little more meta- than that, moving the point of view from reader to viewer, but the effect on writer I think was much the same.  I saw the story from a new place, and I realized what my problem was.  Success!

…of a sort, because the problem was this: I didn’t actually write the story that the idea described.  That was the source of the dissatisfaction.  Thank goodness it wasn’t a novel, eh?  If you look at the few paltry things I’ve got in the Art Department here, you’ll get a good sense of the sort of thing I habitually do.  I like the shiver of effect more than I do committing a satisfying arc.  This is probably a result of my frequent indulgence in Lovecraft’s writing, and while I don’t think it’s wrong, it’s not always right.  In the case of what I meant to write, I realized I shouldn’t be trying to hang out in Arkham or points along the Aylesbury Pike, but should rather be thinking more in terms of October Country.  I get to begin again, with dials in my head adjusted properly– “Shocking Revelation” is turned down, “Sweet Melancholy” turned up a little past half-way.  As much as I honour the Old Man, sometimes art lies in directions he tended to avoid.

All of which is a very long way of reiterating the importance of reading if one means to be a writer.

I cannot discover the true source of the image; if you click on it, you'll end up whence I lifted it.

I cannot discover the true source of the image; if you click on it, you’ll end up whence I lifted it.

Today’s pen: Waterman 52
Today’s ink: Reeves blue-black

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Ancient History

Posted by Dirck on 14 August, 2015

Uh-oh.  It’s one of those Friday afternoon films that’s actually educational.

…and it’s not, strictly speaking, ancient history.  Sorry.

Today’s pen:Platinum PKB-2000
Today’s ink:Pelikan Violet

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Posted by Dirck on 13 August, 2015

Day What How Much Duration Pen Ink
  • 10 August
  • 11 August
  • 12 August
  • 13 August
  • Third draft of “Decorations” revisited.
  • Pursuing the screen-play lark to the end.
  • …and having now gotten to the end, the formatting.  Oh, the formatting!
  • Formatting done, and if I try this sort of thing again I’m going to look into dedicated screenplay softward.
  • …because the change in perspective of the script exercise gave me a better view of a pacing problem.
  • Four pages.
  • A total of 15 pages (which I’m told means about 15 minutes on screen)
  • {makes frowny face, looks at blood on ends of fingers}
  • 45 min.
  • 35 min.
  • 40 min.
  • 30 min.

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Dig It.

Posted by Dirck on 7 August, 2015

My son is growing up, as is the usual and hoped-for development.  No longer is his entire world absorbed by the adventures of an ever-growing crowd of locomotives on a fictional neighbour of the Isle of Man.  No, that has faded to a mere 86.3% of his willing attention.  He now devotes a little of his mind to other pastimes, one of the more absorbing of which is Minecraft.

Yes, it’s not a great idea to let a 7-year-old apply many waking hours to a videogame.  This one at least has a creative element to it.  Heck, he’s built the entire cast of Peep and the Big Wide World out of non-existent blocks (which are rather easier to clean up than the Lego Dinosaur Train my wife was press-ganged into building last week), and that’s a step in the direction of graphic arts, a fine hobby and sometimes a rewarding career.

Minecraft also provides whimsy which the boys parents appreciate, such as this:

And if a song is going to get stuck in you head through the efforts of a child, I’m just as happy that it’s this one which spun off of the Minecraft fascination:

Oh, don’t look at me like that.  I used the phrase “stuck in your head.”  If you clicked on it after that much warning, then you’ve had a valuable lesson at less cost than might have been.

Today’s pen:Pilot Vanishing Point
Today’s ink: Pilot black

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Posted by Dirck on 6 August, 2015

Day What How Much Duration Pen Ink
  • 4 August
  • 6 August
  • Third draft of “Decorations”.
  • I give into an urge to try “Decorations” as a screenplay
  • Essentially done.  Easier than what needs doing on “The Golden Oracle” in the wake of a somewhat trying long weekend.
  • 5 pages (single space!), and an extra character pulled from the aether.
  • 45 min.
  • 35 min.

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