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Posts Tagged ‘Poe’

Does Something Smell Funny?

Posted by Dirck on 15 June, 2010

I think, although I can’t find track down the reference in this volume, I have mentioned the smell of ink. Longtime pen users will occasionally wax nostalgic about the smell of ink in the good ol’ days, and some realists will point out that this wiff of the past is mainly the deadly poison phenol, which like leaded gasoline and ammonia-based refrigerators was just fine in ages past when living a long life meant pushing through to 65. Modern inks have some smell to them, of course, but they are generally much more subtle. There’s something very slightly sweetish to Quink, an ineffably organic quality to Herbin’s stuff, a barely-perceptible metallic tang to Pelikan.

There is, as ever, an exception to this general subtlety. Noodler’s inks are redolent. They bloom with an amazing and distinctive… reek, for want of a better word. Like so many smells, it defies description save by comparison. What to compare it to, though? It’s a smell you might find in a very exotic garden, or a chemist’s secret laboratory, or maybe in a well-cleaned but frequently-used locker room. It’s not a bad smell, but it’s not one you would choose to be known by, and if it were only a little stronger it would likely assume a facet of offense.

So, why am I going into this? I have Noodler’s on my mind at the moment, as I’m apparently getting a couple of free bottles with a pen that counts as a Father’s Day gift (there was a misreading of the calendar, and the source of the pen and ink is here for the curious). I’ve got a pen loaded with the stuff right now… and it is reminding me of the last time I had a similarly-loaded pen a couple of weeks ago. This time and last, despite all the seals being in place correctly, I have been constantly aware of a hint of Noodler’s smell.

As I say, it’s not a bad smell, and I don’t expect any of my co-workers (particularly the smokers) to suddenly rise up crying, “Oh, what is that stench?” It does, however, provoke in me a frequent patting of pockets in anticipation of finding moisture (no) and examining pens to make sure the caps aren’t loose (also no). It’s simply an oddity.

Had I my brother’s sense of humour, I would probably reference Poe’s works, replacing a protagonist’s self-declared sensitive hearing with my own acute nose, standing in fear of being discovered in corpse concealment, and finally tearing up floorboards while shouting, “Here! It is the stinking of his hideous….”

…but that’s not the way my sense of humour runs. Something which rhymes with “heart,” for those in suspense. That’s as close as I’m getting to it.

Today’s pen with slight pong: Wality 52 (The Schrieber refit)
Today’s ink that should keep its arms by its sides: Noodler’s Tulipe Noir.

Posted in General Blather | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

The longest day of the year

Posted by Dirck on 31 December, 2009

Time is a relative substance, isn’t it? It is possible to measure it objectively, and the German subcomponents of my own make up revel in the working of a nice, accurate watch, but our experience of it is highly variable depending on context and mood.

Two minutes can seem an eternity or an instant, depending on whether getting on the roller coaster was your idea or not. The same can be said of five seconds (a lover’s bed or a torturer’s rack), three hours (how do you feel about hobbits?), or a year (sent to jail/doctor’s prognosis).

A day, of course, is subject to this effect as well. “Day” in itself is a very floppy concept. The duration of sunlight where you’re standing? That changes constantly. A twenty-four hour period? Even allowing for the not-quite constant speed of the planet’s rotation, there’s still the question of when do you say it starts? Midnight is the current vogue. I understand noon was the beginning of the naval day in the reign of George III. A work-day is frequently eight hours, sometimes twelve, and I hear for medical students it can be as much as a hundred forty.

Let’s get extremely subjective. Let’s say a day starts and ends with waking and sleeping. Different for each of us, and the length of that period, in keeping with my opening remarks, may seem fleeting or protracted depending on the length and quality of the preceding sleep.

This is not a non-sequitur: Tonight my whole nuclear family is going to a friend’s house for a New Year’s party. A costume party, one is to dress as a literary character. My son reprises his Poe costume from Hallowe’en, my wife goes as one of the women from Poe’s works, and I go as the given name-free father of Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice.

Sounds like fun, yes?

Well… my son decided that today should start at 3:20am. His parents are not entirely in a party mood, and the party isn’t for another seven hours, as of this 1:00pm posting.

Today’s sleepy pen: Parker 45 Flighter
Today’s bleary ink: Lamy blue-black

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Boo! Blah! Ssss! Geek!

Posted by Dirck on 28 October, 2009

I am a couple of days early, or course, but it being the most wonderful time of the year, my thoughts are running irresistably towards Hallowe’en. Thanks to the now-cognitive presence of my son, my wife and I won’t be able to go as mad for the grand holiday as we could wish, making the house into a palace of terror (two years ago, clusters of children would stop at the end of the driveway, confer, and in half the cases not approach– many candies were the reward of the brave!), and watching horror films.

Note the last two words there. I nearly said “scary movies”, but I didn’t want to wander into territory defined by Scream and claimed by Saw and Rob Zombie. To my mind there is a difference between a movie which insinuates through mounting evidence that the world is other than one had believed it to be, and one which shouts, “BOOGABOOGA! This is what guts look like!” A horror film is the former, while the latter differentiates between Scream– or Saw-inspired by whether it’s making smirkingly smug references to previous films or not. Post-modern ironicism nor torture porn make for a horror film.

I will not discount the place of viscera in a horror film, mind you. The difference is that the whole point of the film is not to cause the viewer to cry, “Oh, ick!”, but to use the ick to underline the situation. A modern horror film, faced with the numbing effect of modern news, can hardly avoid some of it. The Ruins is an excellent example of the sort of thing I mean– the gore isn’t wanting, but it’s in service to the story rather than the goal.

They is another film that pleases me greatly, for the same reason that it offends a lot of on-line commentors; the monster is never clearly shown. Some details are displayed, but the whole of it remains murky and obscure, letting the imagination not only fill in its details, but fit it into the dark corners of your very own home.

My regular Hallowe’en viewing includes, almost invariably, Hallowe’en, the original outing from 1978. Dated as some components of it are, it was the first of that sort of thing, and possibly the purest– think not in terms of improving technology, but rather the rapidly diminishing payback of squeezing juice from a fruit. I also rather like The Thing which was made by the same director a few years after Hallowe’en, and which stands as one of the few examples of a remake serving any kind of a good purpose (although I’ll defend The Thing from Another World against all insults).

Were I in the mood for a nice little British tale of witchcraft, I’d certainly trot out Night (or Curse in the US edit) of the Demon— the monster is shown in this one, and quite early on, but it’s such a corker and the story between appearances is so good I can forgive it.

We have decided to dress my son as Edgar Allen Poe, as his hair works for the costume, and this brings me around to the fine… er, fun movies made by Roger Corman using Poe’s titles, and occasionally some story elements. The only two I can really recommend without comedy raising its mood-crushing head are Pit and the Pendulum and Masque of the Red Death, and the only thing to really recommend them is also what recommends The Raven— lovely old Vincent Price. He also raises Bert Gordon’s The Tingler to art, with his interaction with Patricia Cutts being a display of how two people can be terrible to one another without the movie stinking (a trick modern writers should try to figure out, since so many current scaries are populated entirely by jerks).

Price is also the only thing to recommend The Haunted Castle, which claims to be Poe but which lifts a Lovecraft story. If you want to find decent interpretations of the Old Man of Providence, The Resurrected is one of the best things going despite some ’80s cheese-effects towards the end. The only link I’m putting in is a plug for a very low budget Call of Cthulhu, which I urge the buying of– it’s a labour of love, and it’s very true to the material.

Finally, although my list goes much, much farther– as a Godzilla fan, I can’t let the giant monsters go without mention. Had I the time, it would be the original Burr-free Gojira, the very recent All Out Monster Attack (don’t be fooled by the title), or the remarkably good non-Godzilla Cloverfield.

Next year, he’ll be old enough to go to the Grandparents for the night.

Today’s pen: Waterman Crusader
Today’s ink: Mont Blanc Racing Green

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