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Archive for May, 2016

Bonus Birthday Edition

Posted by Dirck on 27 May, 2016

Just a little vignette from some lunch-proximate errand-running, which I find I have a moment to relate.

While standing behind the person being served at a store, I find the clerk addressing me thus after taking in my houndstooth sport coat, snap-brim fedora (not a Trilby, although I favour a c-dent), and horn-rims:  “Hey, man, you look like a villain!

I have no problem with this.  Apart from the fact that he’s smiling and happy as he says this, I’m well aware that villains have a loads of agency in the story in which they appear, that apart from the very last moments of that story’s climax they tend to have a lot more fun, and that the villain is usually a good deal more interesting than the villain.  You don’t see a lot of films entitled Johnny Harker and His Polite Victorian Chums, right?  I therefore smile myself and, in dramatic fashion, say, “Uh-oh!  I’m found out!”

“Yeah, you know, like those guys in the old Hollywood movies…”

…at which I feel myself inflate slightly…

“…like from the ’80s and ’90s!”

I believe my smile may have become a little rigid at that point.  I will not tar all Millennials because one of their number views as much as 36 years ago as “old”, but I will shake my head over the folly of the individual.

It is not my birthday.  It is the birthday of villains.  You know.  From the old Hollywood movies.


The back row’s birthdays are 27 May 1922 and 1911, with the odd man out being 26 May 1913.  A damn good season for villains, and head-shaking aside, an auspicious day to be labeled as one.  Thanks anyway, kid.


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“When the battle’s lost and won…”

Posted by Dirck on 27 May, 2016

“…when the hurdy-gurdy’s done!”  Yep, love that Shakespeare.


Just a moment….

[sound of someone flipping though The Compleat Works of W. Shakespeare until arriving at MacBeth I.i ]

Oh.  Well, here’s a hurdy-gurdy anyway.

Today’s pen: Pelikan P1
Today’s ink: Herbin Vert Empire

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Posted by Dirck on 26 May, 2016

Day What How Much Duration Pen Ink
  • 23 May
  • 24 May
  • 25 May
  • 26 May
  • Second draft of the Choose Your Own DOOM project.
  • Second draft of “Late Retirement.”
  • First draft of “Inside Voice”.
  • Mundane errands (insert threatening grumble here).
  • Um… about 1,000 words.*
  • 1,120 typed words, for a total of 2,267.
  • 993 typed words (flash fiction doesn’t get the handwritten treatment).
  • Less than should have been accomplished in the time.
  • 55 min.
  • 55 min.
  • 55 min.
  • 60 min.

This week brought another rejection which encourages– it’s amazing how some kind, non-pro forma words cushion such blows.

* I’m slowly working this into shape thanks to discovery a couple of months ago of Twine as a means of formatting that sort of a story (as with most discoveries, it was there long before I found it).  It’s still a back-burner exercise, the thing I do on weekends (or Victoria Days, as in the instant case) when I have a little free time and I don’t have the current front-burner story at hand.  I also don’t keep careful track of how much gets done at a sitting  At the current pace, and with the estimated 60,000 words the whole thing runs to, I should be done it by 2019.

** 23 May was also my anniversary, so I was treating myself.  I treated my wife to a pleasant sushi restaurant excursion, where we enjoyed raw fish like the freaks we are, and we were both given a subsidiary gift of our son’s willingness to cram salmon nigiri into his head without hesitation.  He’s not not picky, but he’s kind of specific in his pickiness, and we’re quite proud to be the European-descended parents of a kid born only 500km from the geographical centre of North America who took willingly to various sorts of Asian cuisine (and peas!).

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Who Needs a Hug?

Posted by Dirck on 20 May, 2016

After yesterday’s banking terror, I know I could do with some affection.  Who better to give a cuddle than someone with a platoon of arms?

What a cutie!

I should mention that the aforesaid terror fled in the night, so I am once again solvent (rather than feeling like I’ve been dipped in solvent).

Today’s pen: Sheaffer Sovereign II
Today’s ink: Waterman vintage blue

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Posted by Dirck on 19 May, 2016

Day What How Much Duration Pen Ink
  • 16 May
  • 17 May
  • 18 May
  • 19 May
  • First draft of “Suspension of Disbelief.”
  • Third draft work on “Mistake of Timing” and “Poor Old Micheal Finnegan.”
  • Second draft of “Late Retirement.”
  • Ditto
  • 690 typed words, and done.
  • Stuff.  Adjustments.
  • 863 typed words.
  • 684 words, owing to distraction.*
  • 55 min.
  • 55 min.
  • 40 min.
  • 40 min.

* Bad news, of the deeply inconvenient sort: a bank which lies between that of Regular Job and me, whose job it is to move my pay from one to the other, has had some sort of system error.  Since “paycheque to paycheque” is the marching orders for my household, as it is for so many others, this is a nervous-making development on the leading edge of a long weekend.

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I Need Cheering Up

Posted by Dirck on 13 May, 2016

Yet another rejection for a story yesterday, alas.  The fact that I’ve gotten more rejections this year than I have previously made submissions is, in a way Superman’s imperfect duplicate would understand, positive… yet I do find I’m a little blue.  Therefore, today’s imported film is a comedy.

There, that’s buoyed me up a bit, and reminded me that it took one of my favourite authors a while to find a market.  All set for tomorrow’s free tuning clinic.

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

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Posted by Dirck on 12 May, 2016

Day What How Much Duration Pen Ink
  • 9 May
  • 10 May
  • 11 May
  • 12 May
  • First draft of “Late Retirement.”
  • And a fun first draft it’s becoming!
  • Fun, and persistent.
  • Done… but for a satisfactory last sentence or three.  GRRRR!
  • Eight manuscript pages.
  • Seven pages.
  • Eight pages.
  • Five pages.
  • 55 min.
  • 45 min.
  • 50 min.
  • 55 min.

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Contemplation of Colonialism

Posted by Dirck on 11 May, 2016

I recently added a few pages on my site… wait!  Don’t rush over there!

As it happens, I’m making this entry because I know that people who habitually look in there are not necessarily people who habitually look in here, and because on one of the added pages in question, I only make a little bit of scandalized screeching and don’t feel I’ve quite had my screech out, yet.

Usually, my scandalized screeching as is induced by Italian pen makers is the result of an interaction of the cost of a pen and the need for remediation to actually function; I have this strange notion that a pen which costs $1000 should actually write well and when requested, a notion it seems high-end Italian pen makers are not entirely committed to.  This is not the case this time, at least not entirely– that element is present as well, but only as a trace by comparison to the main issue.

The pens in question are Delta’s “Indigenous Peoples” series, limited edition pens that have appeared not quite every year since 2003.  The thrust of this series is, if I can distill several different years’ advertising puffery, to celebrate “enduring,” “unchanging,” and “most authentic” cultures of the world, which is laudable if a little hard to satisfactorily define.  What gets me screeching is the specifics of how Delta has gone about this purported celebration.

Let me touch first on cultural appropriation.  These pens being meant to call to mind specific cultures, they have applied to them motifs drawn from those cultures.  This becomes problematic if, as I believe is the case, this is done without consultation with the culture in question.  It veers into objectionable if we see a big pile of money being made off those motifs without any of that money moving in the direction of the owning culture, especially when many of the cultures Delta has seen fit to celebrate thus have had rather rough handling.  This sort of thing lies in the direction of intellectual property theft, which I am not in favour of (speaking from a place of self-interest as a nearly-professional writer, but not only from that place).  There is not even the traditional unequal trade of the beads and knickknacks in exchange for left side of continent style which so many of these cultures have been treated to in the past.  Perhaps, as some individual artists have been told, they should be pleased to be getting exposure.

Now, the thing that really got me going is not this sufficiently-inflammatory realization of a pen-maker wringing money out of people in a more than commonly one-sided way.  No, what really set my teeth on edge was the numbers of the limited editions.  As you know, I’m no fan of artificially-rare pens, an opinion I expanded on some time ago, but it’s a common enough practice to stamp “X of XXXX” on the side of a pen to render it collectible and excuse a giant price-tag.  Delta had done that with these pens, and that’s all well and good, but in getting my research in hand I noticed that the size of each version’s run varied.  The number of each pen had meaning for each culture it “celebrated,” and that meaning was frequently deeply troubling.  Here’s a spread-sheet I made up for the page, of which you may for current purposes ignore the third, fourth and fifth columns:

If I were to stop here, I think most of you would see the point… but I’m still full of rant.  Some of those are innocuous enough, and the Maya one is actually a functional, reasonable way of celebrating an achievement of that culture.  There are at least three that are essentially direct affronts to the cultures involved.  But with that one exception for the Maya, the whole thing acts as an instant example of colonial thinking; your culture is defined in terms of what mainstream European culture thinks of as a significant interaction with mainstream European culture (and I will include the mainstream North American culture as, in essence, European).  There is no you in absence of us.  You are no more than a quantum wavicle, we are the observer who by the act of observation defines your state.  It’s frankly amazing that the number for the Maya isn’t 1521 or 1697, because then they would be reduced to a sideline of European history, too, which is apparently the done thing.

Have I shocked you?  I hope so.  It’s no more than a transmission of my own shock at realizing what Delta has done, a shock enhanced by the thought that it probably didn’t occur to anyone there that there was anything wrong with the way they were approaching this business.  It should be shocking.

As is ever the case, I have comments open on this entry, so you may join me in screeching or offer explanations that might moderate the shock.  If something turns uncivil, I will moderate it with great force; discussions of racism and colonialism can descend into poo-flinging all too easily, and I won’t have that in my parlor.

Today’s pen: Parker Duofold AF
Today’s ink: Jentle blue-black

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Freude, Without Schaude

Posted by Dirck on 6 May, 2016

For today’s Found Film, a rather interesting visualization of one of my favourite pieces of music.  Because Friday should have tympani.

For some extra joy– a friend of mine has run out a book of his short stories, and it’s cheap on Amazon (unless it’s free!).  Why not give it a try?

Today’s Pen: Waterman Master
Today’s ink: Waterman Florida Blue

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Posted by Dirck on 4 May, 2016

Day What How Much Duration Pen Ink
  • 2 May
  • 3 May
  • 4 May
  • 5 May
  • Fourth draft of “Yard Light”
  • As with yesterday.
  • And still, this fourth draft.
  • Finished at last
  • Serious contemplation of flaws and some notes
  • About half the amendments needed.
  • The last 10% of changes is very steep and calls for oxygen equipment.
  • Some people say writing is hard (pant pant).
  • 35 min.
  • 40 min.
  • 45 min.
  • 40 min.

*Mondays being what they are, I left the house without the day’s selected pen, so Designated Fiction Pen had to stand in.  To balance out, I managed to leave my wallet at The Regular Job at day’s end.  I don’t usually Monday with that much force.

**More commentary on the forums has convinced me that Friday’s conundrum is mostly a Duofold with a replacement barrel stolen from a contemporary Mk. IV Victory; the barrels were the same size, and this explanation leaves the fewest gouges from Occam’s razor.  No new page for the site, alas, but a new picture to apply to the Duofold page (the one without the imprint showing).

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