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Posts Tagged ‘sci-fi’

The Wreck of the Bellerophon

Posted by Dirck on 24 April, 2020

Still at work, which means I’m not free to watch films. So, of course, I’m pining for films (rather than, let’s say for example, enough money to cover rent; I’m aware of the relative dimensions of this “problem”). I may indulge myself this weekend, though..

I’ve got a restored, full-length, seriously-widescreen Bluray of this movie, and it’s the very definition of eye-candy. It’s also, for those who like that sort of connection, clearly an influence on Star Trek.

Today’s pen: Majestic, model unknown (see below)
Today’s ink: Edelstein Topaz


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Red Planet Venus… wait, what?

Posted by Dirck on 8 November, 2019

I don’t know what I’m doing to be treated so well by the Youtube algorithm, but I hope it persists. I’ve read about this film, and been curious to see it, and all of a sudden, there it is in the suggestions panel– an East German/Polish co-production from 1960 (and thus very very much under communist influence), in which space travelers check out a mysterious message from Venus in the dazzlingly distant year of 1985!

It’s not exactly an edge-of-the-seat thrill-ride, but I think it has some real advantages over… Queen of Outer Space, let’s say. I have no interest in driving a Trabant or standing in a long line for a strictly limited ration of vodka, but I may very well try to chase down some more Soviet-bloc sci-fi.

Today’s DECADENT IMPERIALIST ink: Herbin Violet Pensée

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I Have An Ulterior Motive

Posted by Dirck on 24 May, 2019

It’s an audio presentation today, and in part I want to offer you entertainment (since I generate little of my own here of late), but I also want to signal boost a worthy enterprise:

This mellifluous person with an excellent taste in literature has been told by YouTube that they’ve never going to monetize his stuff. I hope that you’re as taken with his presentation as I am, because I’m hoping to get people to make YouTube feel foolish by clicking on many of his videos, and even more importantly, I’m hoping to make him feel funded by getting people to click on his Patreon page.

Today’s pen: Pilot Vanishing Point
Today’s ink: Herbin Vert Empire

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The Creeping Future!

Posted by Dirck on 19 May, 2017

A rather long Friday Film today– an interview with William Gibson, who I find fascinating.  And not just because he’s so darned tall.

Today’s pen with an amusingly apt name: Retro 51 Tornado
Today’s ink: Jentle blue-black

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Guess What’s For Lunch?

Posted by Dirck on 16 September, 2016

Here’s a fun little film which should get you smiling.

My response to this film might be coloured by the fact that I’m a fan of Tom Noonan; have been since 1986 (and I’ll let you churn the internet to figure out why, if you’re interested).  And because I’m also a fan of writers being recognized for what they do, I will provide a link to the original story.

Today’s non-meat pen: Lamy Studio
Today’s ink (contents unknown): Lamy Black

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Slippery Shoulder

Posted by Dirck on 28 January, 2013

Last week, while far from The Worst Week Ever (even if I limit the application of that to my own experience), was not a lot of fun.  There was the unexpected heap of misery which lay in ambush at The Regular Job, and its constant and numerous reinforcements.  There was the entirely expected craptacularity of the weather, in which one was pleased to find that the high for the day would be -20°.  There was the sore arm, stemming from item one on this list.  There was Mysterious Leg Pain, which I’m seeing my doctor about this coming  Friday, and which went from vague annoyance in the middle of one thigh to serious impediment when mounting stairs to the point of earning status as a proper noun.  All these external items gave my depressive aspect a nudge into greater activity, so my mood was lowered over the course of the week to something that was still well short of clinical, but was certainly deeply mopey.  “You know,” said the interior voice of gloom, “not only does the weather and the job suck, but you suck too for putting up with it.  And you’re going to get fat if that leg keeps you from walking.  Fountain pens are a fad.  Oh, also– how much of your writing have you submitted for publication?”

The last of there was something I could sort of do something positive about, in the shape of looking into the ways of people who can put down author in the OCCUPATION box of income tax forms.  There is a certain element of self-flagellation in that pastime, since the inner voice can in turns declare how much less capable I am than that person, while that one who’s rolling in royalties is manifestly less capable, and so forth.  Good fun.  It’s also a fairly inconclusive activity, for although one might glom onto one or two small tips or encouragements, the only appearances of CLICK HERE TO GET PUBLISHED RIGHT NOW!! have a uniform approach to remuneration which favours the author even less than the traditional paradigm in which the work is submitted, ignored, rejected, polished, resubmitted, rinse, repeat until publication.  However, there was one thing that caught my eye in passing that interested me greatly.

One of the writers whose bloggery I looked at mentioned in passing that she’d been taken with an urge to write an updating of a novel of the 19th century.  While she also said that she’d dropped the idea as the themes were too dated to bear dragging out of the 19th century, the very notion that such a thing was open to contemplation and admission gave me a little boost.  It wasn’t a completely unfamiliar concept, of course, although it’s one I’m more familiar with in films– Invaders From Mars is frequently set up against The Wizard of Oz for comparison, for example.  There’s also one of my favourite authors from my teen years, who got a lot of mileage out of framing historical events in a science fiction setting, and he was not shy about mentioning it in the very stories.  Still, seeing that it’s not a thoroughly discredited practice was a balm to my troubled spirit.

It is, however, a balm with a certain amount of icy/hot in it, to  be kept away from sensitive areas.  Some of the projects I’ve set aside in my efforts at writing have been shelved after reading, for the first time, something by a well-known author who unbeknownst to me has already hit upon many of the same conceits I was so proud of inventing.  This isn’t connected to the dreaded Campbellian limit to the number of possible plots, but more specific details of mechanic or even mcguffin.  I sometimes feel like a macaque who, very proud of inventing the art of potato-washing, finds that it’s been done for ages on the next island.  It stings to find out one is doing that sort of thing without knowing it; I have serious reservations about consciously pursuing it, even where the author one is chasing is long dead.

Something else that gives pause is a fear of gimping up one’s ability to imagine a world.  I have often been tempted to write a response or a quasi-sequel to something I’ve really enjoyed, but even though it’s not unknown, I worry about waking up one day and discovering that someone else’s world is the only one I can picture stories in.

The final worry is the real terror, though.  While standing on the shoulders of giants is a long-recognized way of improving one’s outlook, there is a certain concern that one will discover that one is not only a dwarf, but a dwarf who rather sucks at the activity at hand.  The view may be great, but it seems to me that there’s a risk of a terrible fall, too.

Very little of which has to do with the usual matter of these entries, so I’ll mention that while in the throes of this somewhat teenage-ish angst over writing that I’m not devoting enough time or energy to in any event, I did get a load of fresh pages mounted on my site.  A couple of them include dwarves which do not suck at all.

Today’s pen: Waterman Master (say, that’s a new page, too!)

Today’s ink: Pelikan Brilliant Brown

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Cognition Issues

Posted by Dirck on 29 November, 2011

For maintaining one’s peace of mind, I suggest avoiding this combination; read The Dead Zone, then have a day-long migraine.  This was a large part of my past weekend, so I speak from experience.

Of course, I don’t suspect for a moment that I’ve got incredible precognitive powers as a result of holding my hair in an effort to take its weight off my skull alternated with fruitless dry heaving.  That would, after all, be somewhat useful and interesting, and that’s the fantasy aspect of King’s writing coming into play.  However, I do somewhat harbour concerns about the state of my head-meat.

How I spent last Saturday night

Apart from an interesting contemplation of fate and inevitability, The Dead Zone also offers plenty of material for the hypochondriac.  If John Smith can get a big lethal tumour out of a couple of widely-dispersed bonks to the head, what must spending the better part of a day feeling like a visual effect from a ’50s science-fiction film be doing in there?

What brings this mere speculation to the forefront is the pile of stuff that I left the house without this morning.  I mentioned in conjunction with the celebration of the end of The Great Work that I might now attend to correspondence more closely.  Two letters and a travelling journal, all ready to go but for postage, were to have gone into the world today.  My powers of stumbling from the house without any given item are great, but they usually don’t extend to this sort of sequence:

  • Collect items for transport.
  • Carry to front door.
  • Put on door-side table while tying shoes.
  • Fail utterly to recollect items in either the mental or physical sense even as brushing them with an elbow on the way out the door.

The one ray of light in this grim scenario is another lapse.  That travelling journal is something that I’ve been neglecting since last Monday, which is bad, but as it was also well ahead of the intense migraine barrage, it is encouraging.  Perhaps I’ve been spared from an acute malignant growth, and what I’m experiencing is a mere effect of aging and parental stress.  On one of these points, I shall discourse somewhat tomorrow.

…assuming I remember.

Today’s hypochondriacal pen:  Muji Cylindrical Aluminum Pen
Today’s hysterical ink: Diamine Imperial Purple (which is not yet on the Inks page, so no link for the moment)

p.s. – I find I have previously visited the old meanings of hysteria and hypochondria; I can still remember the odd thing.

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The Mysterious Planet X

Posted by Dirck on 25 April, 2011

I don’t think any long-term reader of this web-based semi-thematic journal will be surprised to find that I am a fan of science fiction its more diffuse guise– I’ve mentioned yetis, Godzilla and flying cars with a fairly straight face in past installments.  One of the contrivances of mid-20th century sci-fi was Planet X, a place that was not inconveniently distant (relative to the means of travel the story offered) but extremely inconvenient to pin-point.  It might be perpetually eclipsed by Jupiter, or running around loose, but it was always there, offering managable doses of mystery.  Today, it hardly appears at all, apart from some sad efforts to make something out of the recycling point of the Mayan calandar.

So, imagine my surprise when last Thursday brought me a package from Planet X.  The first clue that it was from an interplanetary distance was the vast amount of postage on it:

…not to mention the amazing effects of cosmic rays upon the address label.*

Within, in the tradition of anything from Planet X having a similarly alphabetic name (although a certain well-known monster was assigned a digit rather than a letter), I found myself in posession of an X-Pen!  Not to be confused with the X-Men, the X-Pen is not a mutant with unexpectedly useful attributes, but rather one of the by-products of Waterman’s disintegration in the 1950s.  The company apparently saw Parker’s new capillary-filling “61” as the sort of appeal to convenience that could save them, and sprang this little number on the world:

One might be forgiven for mistaking it for a Parker, too, given that front end.  That front end is where the action is, and I think the ultimate reason that this pen did not save the company, at least in its American incarnation.  Want to write?  Apply the front end to some paper.  Want to fill?  Apply the front end to some ink.  This is a sealed unit, with a slot for the point and a little hole in the forward face of the section to admit ink to the fabric reservoir.  It is as simple a creature as a fountain pen can well be, but there is a definite problem produced by that simplicity– you can’t clean the damn thing.

The Parker 61 at least allows access to the back of the reservoir, and one can with a little bit of special equipment force a lot of water through it to eventually clear trapped ink.  While “sealed” is not quite right, as there’s a couple of little vent holes toward the tail (it was pointed out to me by a wiser pen-man that even capillary-fillers need air exchange if ink is to flow), there’s really no way to get fluid of any sort into the pen other than by the same hole it comes out of, rendering cleaning a very gentle and slightly useless process.  I suspect that these same vents will allow the pen to dry out if left out of use too long– not, as I’ve commented before, something that pen designers of the time were very worried about, but certainly replacing the inconvenience of the various other modes of refilling with that of slavishly regular feedings.

For me, though, this difficulty of cleaning means very nearly instant gratification, even moreso than last week’s Sheaffer offered.  I left this thing beak down in a small glass of water overnight, and it now writes with some kind of blue ink, meaning that while the inside remains rather dirty it is at least still willing.  I’m curious to find how many rounds of water filling it will take to make the blue indistinct.

Today’s pen:  Parker Challenger Slender (a 1939 model with triple narrow bands)
Today’s ink: Wancher Imari

*Whimsy aside, there is an 8-year old philatilist in my make-up who is absolutely dumb-struck with glee at this bounty of foreign stamps, and I thank the sender by keeping his or her address hidden from the strange people of the internet.

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I need help.

Posted by Dirck on 13 July, 2009

I was, prior to leaving for The Regular Job this morning, indulging in one of my other joys– questionable old sci-fi movies. This is an indulgence which has been all too infrequent in the past year, as there’s a tender little psyche in the house. The most horrible horror films of the ’50s may seem very tame by the standards of the current average film-goer, but for someone to who Thomas the Tank Engine is startling in its sudden narrative-underlining derailments, they’re apt to upset. Thus, I can only see these little gems in those few moments of a day when my son is asleep and I’m not.

The treat this morning was The Trollenberg Terror (which is more widely known, if one can use that phrase, as The Crawling Eye), and it was everything I’d hoped for– radioactive menaces from outer space, psychic ingenues, axe-wielding science zombies, effects that would only ever work in black’n’white– and if you’re the sort of person who isn’t jaded by Michael Bay’s nonsense, I highly recommend it.

There was a small fly in the ointment, though. Fairly early on, in the mountainside cosmic-ray observatory (this film’s got everything!), we are introduced to a kindly German/Swiss scientist in a lab coat. And suddenly I’m distracted from what he and Forrest Tucker are discussing– there’s a PEN in the pocket of that lab coat! What kind might it be? Will he write something with it?

And that was it for the pen, but I the distraction remained. Will the pen come back? Does he never record his observations? Do any of the other characters have pens? The well-made yarn about an other-worldly threat to human existence became a backdrop to the contemplation of cinematic writing instruments of 1958.

Which means, I think, there’s something wrong with my brain. It’s not… clinical, as I can still operate in society and am unlikely to neglect the baby in a bath while considering which ink to use, but it is the sort of thing that might lead to ostracism and wearing sweat pants in public. I might want to seek help.

But I certainly don’t have what it takes to quit cold turkey. The pens… they call to me!

Today’s Back-Riding Monkey: Parker Challenger
Today’s Mysterious Coloured Fluid of Science: Skrip Blue

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