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Archive for the ‘General Blather’ Category

Action!

Posted by Dirck on 14 June, 2019

Horror films are tricky. Get it wrong and if you’re lucky you get something amusing. Comedies are even harder, because while a failed horror can be an entertaining comedy, a failed comedy is just plain horrid. Action films, it seems to me, are more forgiving, because even if some of the elements don’t gel, as long at you make a good faith attempt at providing action, you can claim to have succeeded.

Good comedy, when it happens, is a delight. Even more so when it involves writing instruments.

Today’s pen (hardly visible as it whirls toward the next opponent): Platinum PKB-2000
Today’s ink (blinding attackers, leaving them vulnerable to the riposte): Edelstein Topaz

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Hub! Hub! Hurrah!

Posted by Dirck on 13 June, 2019

I appear to have had a stunning lapse in my brain function, as I have not clambered onto the rooftop of this enterprise to shout about the opening of registration for this year’s Pelikan Hub… and now there’s barely more than two weeks before the deadline!

Yes, I am making free with a fragment from this year’s Pelikan Fine Writing catalogue.

So, drop whatever you’re doing and go to the sign-up page! If that link doesn’t work, try getting there through this page, but by all means, get yourself registered. There’s goodies given away, and you can spend an evening hanging around with people who really like pens. It was hoot last year.

I am, of course, talking most specifically to people in the area of Regina, because I’m anxious that last year’s hoot not be a one-time event. But certainly, wherever you dwell, dear reader, get thee registered.

THE HYPNONIB COMMANDS YOU

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Reports Are Just Now Arriving

Posted by Dirck on 7 June, 2019

I made the briefest possible acknowledgement of D-Day yesterday, and I’m not very pleased with myself. It was, after all, the 75th anniversary of the landing, and I have made more of it in the past.

Today’s film takes a look at the event from an unusual perspective, and I think posting it a day after the fact is actually appropriate to the content. Lines of communication were unreliable, after all…

Notice that this is the work of a German fellow. I am tooting my horn as a supporter of EU unity in this, distant well-wisher though I may be. A fragmentary Europe has been, historically, a source of unhappiness for those within and those around.

Today’s entirely unthematic pen: Sheaffer Taranis
Today’s ink (mildly historical): Skrip blue-black (’70s disco edition)

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Finding Your Voice

Posted by Dirck on 31 May, 2019

I’m going to mislead some people Googling for writing advice with that title. To them, I say– bang out story after story until what you’re doing reads like the whispers inside your own skull.

Now, with the first of TWO duties to assist my fellow humans out of the way, on to this week’s feature. I like doing a variety of voices when I’m reading to my son, although I have a limited repertoire (the historical portion of Red Rackham’s Treasure and its sea-farer-intensive cast is a real struggle). I thus really admire people who can shift their vocalizations around a lot:

Isn’t he a wonder? I have a second duty to a fellow human, just as self-imposed as the other. This guy, who is also adopting the voice of another, is having something of a pledge drive, and I’d like to see him prosper, so I’m boosting his signal (a very little– I’m away of my powers in this):

Today’s Pen: Montblanc 32
Today’s Ink: Diamine Oxford Blue

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In the Swim

Posted by Dirck on 17 May, 2019

A friend sent me a link to today’s film, saying it was very much in the vein of childhood’s beloved NFB shorts.  This is very true.

I will also mention that there’s a new story up at the writing site; I know in the past “when can we see this stuff?” has appeared in comments, and I appreciate that all tease and no production will lead to disenchantment. There is word of it in the left-hand sidebar, too, but I know I’m not attentive enough to necessarily spot that sort of thing, and I won’t insist that others should be.

Today’s pen: Platinum PKB-2000
Today’s ink: Edelstein Topaz

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Includes Small Healthcare Excursion

Posted by Dirck on 16 May, 2019

 

Day What How Much Pen Ink
  • 13 May
  • 14 May
  • 15 May
  • 16 May
  • First draft of “Fourteen Nights of Day” (a working title).
  • 13 manuscript pages.

That’s not much for the week, especially considering I imported some work from Sunday into this week’s total. So, what’s up?

Gall stones!

Not my own, for which I am grateful, but my wife. I’m hoping this is a purely matrilineal thing (her mother and sister have had similar problems) and that our son remains untouched by it, because she was not having fun when I came home from work on Monday. So little, in fact, that Tuesday morning saw me installing her at the ER, and I was 100% of the household childcare staff for Tuesday and Wednesday. She’s home now, having been shaken free of the blockage of the moment by the modern miracle of ultrasonics, although we’re told the offending organ will have to be removed… probably in the next couple of weeks.

Anyway, without preparation (and the whole time was very much a lack of information exercise; the ER is a bit of a black box) I was unable to get any writing done. Thus, little accomplished. The draft is complete, which is good, since the anthology I aim to submit it to closes in July… unless they fill all their slots before then.

As a data point to my American readers, let me tell you what this week’s entertainment costs were. The entertainment consisted of:

  • Admission to the ER;
  • 36 hours of IV fluids, because surgery might have happened at any time;
  • as much morphine as someone without previous tolerance to stand (apparently gall stones really hurt);
  • ultrasound imagining to get a firm idea of what the problem really was;
  • the ultrasonic treatment;
  • three consultations with doctors;
  • loads of interactions with nurses;
  • the use of hospital linens.

The total cost of this was One Canadian Dollar, paid to park in the lot not devoted to ER patients when I was picking her up. I could, conceivably, not have paid that, but I didn’t want to plug up a parking space close to the door which someone with a box full of severed fingers might need. I’m considerate that way. You might also say “Oh, but you pay so much tax there,” to which I reply– I got a refund on my income tax because our household doesn’t bring in a lot. And were we entirely without income and thus paying no tax, we’d still have got that very same level of treatment. I’d just have trouble coming up with the dollar. This is why the resistance of the US to socialized medicine is such a point of amazement to so many outside that country.

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A Thematic Distraction

Posted by Dirck on 10 May, 2019

You know what’s happening right now, this very minute as I am typing these words? StokerCon!

This is not connected to my son’s still-glowing fascination with steam engines (and outside a ship they tend to be called “firemen”). No, this is a grand assembly of horror writers, and like a variety of pen shows I’ve mentioned in the past I’m not there. Since I’m not, and since I can’t revel in the fellowship of other people who strive to make the flesh of others creep and enjoy programming which caters to that kind of crowd, I’m drawing some solace from this:

For those who scrolled past with a sigh of, “Oh, not him again,” I’ll mention that I thought this wouldn’t be fodder for the Friday Films until I gave it a listen. The racism is not (entirely) ignored or glossed over.

Today’s Pen of Miserable Isolation: Montblanc 32
Today’s Ink of Overblown Self-Pity: Diamine Oxford Blue

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Trans-dimensional

Posted by Dirck on 3 May, 2019

I’m sure we’ve all heard of the concept of multiple universes, whether we accept them or not. Occasionally, one stumbles across an item which gives the idea a little shove into the foreground. “This thing,” one says, “cannot have sprung up in the history I know. This thing is from a similar place, but not the same.”

I was shown one of these this week, and I’m going to share it with you. It’s probably just a prime example of novel-length source material being horribly handled on its way down to a audio-visual version one can easily sit through, but it may also have slithered through a pore in the skin of the universe.

Aside to the possible violence it might do to your notions of causality, it’s also a little hard to take for purely artistic reasons. The fact that stuff like this was considered cutting-edge entertainment in my childhood is part of the reason why I don’t get too nostalgic for that time. Other reasons include… well, when you’ve got a few minutes to spend weeping with despair, google “1970s fashion” and consider the poor kid who had to look at that stuff every time he left the house… or regarded himself in a mirror.

Today’s pen: Pelikan M600
Today’s ink: Lamy black

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Art Time!

Posted by Dirck on 26 April, 2019

The holiday last week sort of crept up on me, so let’s have a couple of films today. First, some visual art by a person working in a medium I’m somewhat familiar with:

And then, because that’s short, here’s a rather good rendition of my favourite piece of music ever in exactly the right venue:

I’m convinced that if I actually attended that, I would have ended up like Louis del Grande in Scanners, except smiling right through the whole process.

Today’s pen: Muji Cylindrical Aluminum Pen
Today’s ink: Waterman Florida Blue

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We Cannot Have Nice Things

Posted by Dirck on 15 April, 2019

All things end. We know this. Any notion of permanence which we attach to anything at all is an illusion induced by our brief window of perception. The stars themselves cannot last.

We should not be surprised, then, when something built by humans meets a terminal fate.

About an hour before I started writing this, news of a plume of smoke drifting across Paris from the roof of Notre Dame cathedral penetrated my part of the world. And despite all having these little cushioning ideas to hand, I’m at the very edge of tears. One who is not a follower of that faith, one who has never seen the edifice in person, choking on emotion.

Because it was the work of generations. Because it is possible, just barely, to imagine the communal effort over centuries that went into the construction, the combination of individual hopes and aspirations that shifted and shaped so much wood and stone. I mentioned in a previous entry here how a letter is like holding hands at one remove with the writer, however long ago the writing happened; these great old buildings have the same power to connect a modern visitor to people long gone. Not only the builders, either. Thresholds and staircases are reshaped by generations of passers-by, so that going there now allows one to quite literally stand in their footsteps, and microscopically leave new marks, so that those who will come after are brought into the chain of inclusion.

All of that, gone in hours.

Choking upon emotion, because it is a piece of art, a huge multimedia presentation of carved stone and stained glass, with an occasional auditory element when the bells are rung. Perhaps it isn’t to all tastes, but what art can be? When some item of art is lost, the balance between Beauty and Ugly is dragged into a worse place. When that item is a large, durable one, can the loss be felt as other than a blow?

Drifting pale smoke, grey ash, heat-shattered fragments of rock. Whither beauty then, except perhaps when an accident of light from a setting sun produces a brief gilding?

To avoid ending on that grim note, let me offer some possible solace. To start with, let’s look the problem in the face.

Image result for notre dame

This is pretty damn serious, and this is well before it got worse.

All things come to an end. We accept that this structure will never be the same. But… this is not the first cathedral to suffer a massive fire. A little over a century ago, Reims cathedral also had a huge conflagration, and (despite later propaganda) just as accidental:

Image result for reims cathedral

We may expect Notre Dame to look just like this, in a couple of weeks.

And yet, if one visits that city today, one finds…

Facade, looking northeast

Oh. There it stands.

That’s looking pretty good, although despite re-opening in 1938 (only 24 years after the fire, and 19 years after the start of rebuilding) the work has never actually been declared finished. That’s fine, though. That’s just fine. Cathedrals are not quick. They should be generational. Köln cathedral was started in 1248 and wasn’t considered built until 1880, after all, and they’re still putting it right after some knocks it took in the Second World War.

Let’s have some hope, then. Perhaps in a mere generation, when many of us are still here to see it, Notre Dame will be largely restored. Not the same as it was, of course, but with enough of the old fabric to maintain the connection across hundreds of years, and a whole new layer of craftsmen’s marks upon it to give far distant humanity a strong sense of connection to our time.

We cannot have nice things. Not forever. But we can keep striving for them, and revel in them while they last.

Today’s pen (may be in use a hundred years from now, unless I sit on it): Pelikan M600
Today’s ink (not so pretty, but depleting all the same): Lamy black

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