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Posts Tagged ‘Sheaffer Legacy’

Losing Track

Posted by Dirck on 28 October, 2013

Here’s a distressing little item of news from the world at large: people forgetting how to write because they’re using electronics too much!

Alarming prospect, eh?  I will take comfort in the fact that the news item comes from China.  I say this not because it suggests the Chinese colossus that’s currently turning coal into cheap consumer goods and unbreathable air (a trick learned, indirectly, from England) is about to stumble in its headlong career towards owning everything (again, England, and much good did it do them).  I rather suspect there’s not a lot of connection between literacy on the part of the broader population and world domination.

Rather, I take comfort in the idea that even if this is a widespread phenomenon in China, something which the single datum revealed in that article doesn’t really indicate, the writing being interfered with is Chinese writing, and it’s all too possible to see losing track of the diverse shapes and processes it contains.  Remember that English and its vast, swollen vocabulary manages to stumble along with only the twenty-six letters of the Latin alphabet, with occasional additional characters & numbers for a small % of words we’re 2 lazy to write out.

Chinese writing, on the other hand, being ideogrammatic, has rather a lot of characters to keep track of.  Even more daunting, and I suspect underlying the story, there is some concern over the order of the stroke that go into the production of those characters– as many as seventeen of them.  Korean writing looks as it does because one Korean king got very tired of waiting not only for his scribes to work out how to write down his edicts, but for them to get trained up the to point that they could write them down.  And for doing so, he got semi-deified, because Koreans had a good sense of how very flippin’ hard it is to really get Chinese characters under one’s hat.

This guy.

This guy.  I stood a little to the right of this camera position when I took my picture of him in 1995, and it was raining, so I’ll use this picture.

So while I feel badly for the person who reports losing writing to the electronic media, it seems an understandable loss of a skill– something so fraught with inherent difficulty surely needs to be practiced regularly lest it slip from one’s grasp.  I’m not in great fear of it becoming a widespread phenomenon.  I’m only in small, manageable fear of it.  Time for another session of Pen Wrangling With Daddy for my son.

Today’s pen: Sheaffer Legacy
Today’s ink: Pelikan Brilliant Brown

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To The Barricades!

Posted by Dirck on 23 October, 2013

No last act of Les Mis happening (yet), but there is a huge thing happening in the body politic of Canada that I want to get some links to on my long-neglected (through misery and hopelessness) political blog.  The time I have to do this is now, so I neglect this wing of my enterprises.

I’ll be back tomorrow, assuming martial law and internet lockdown haven’t been declared.

Today’s pen: Sheaffer Legacy
Today’s ink: Pelikan Brilliant Brown

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The Third Person (cue zither)

Posted by Dirck on 15 October, 2013

I mention some great while ago that I had taken out membership in Pen Collectors of America (there being no similar body for Canada, and the Writing Equipment Society’s resources being rather remote for me).  One of the perks of membership is The Pennant, the PCA’s magazine, the articles in which are frequently very informative (some are more entertaining, and only to loonies like me), and which often contains reprints of old ads which have been repurposed to suggest the buying of PCA memberships as gifts.  The most recent dates from 1965, and I found myself staring at it trying to figure out what exactly was so odd about it.  Let me show it to you, minus the PCA’s footer and the big picture of a pen at the top:

1965 75

It isn’t any more wordy than many modern ads, particularly those for expensive cameras, but something about it made me scratch my head.  There’s something amiss, relative to the modern inducement, and with my usual heavy-handedness, I’ve already told you what it is, so I’ll not pretend suspense.  Like most ads, this is speaking to a buyer of the product, but it’s not speaking to the end-user.  It’s cast in the third person.  That’s something that doesn’t happen much with current inducements, in which the buyer and user appear to be mainly considered a single entity.

Just looking at the October 2013 Discover, which I happen to have handy to me, of the big full- or half-page ads, there’s one speaking in first person (“We make neat junk!”), four without any real person involved (“OOOH!  Neat junk!”), and eleven in the second person, speaking directly to the buyer (this time an actual quote, with emphasis added: “Every TV show you watch has a world of sound within, but you may not be hearing it.”) with the assumption that they’re the one who will be indulging in the greatness of the product.

Because I love to extrapolate gloom from minor observations, I take this to be an indication of the centrality of greed in the modern world.  I’ll only nod in the direction of the struggles of organized labour over the past couple of decades, and the sort of I’m-all-right-Jacking that seems to characterize most of modern North American politics.  Greed appears to be transcendent, and while altruism has its boosters it’s not got anything like the advertising budget.  Car ads mainly show the car being flogged as a roller-coaster one can take anywhere, bar a few where the safety of your family gets some lip service.  You’re a fool to buy a house with fewer bath-rooms than bed-rooms, and a bigger one if there’s but one sink per vanity (particularly baffling when a single is the one doing the buying).  Food ads, especially breakfast foods for some reason, suggest there’s a famine underway, with hoarding and outright theft the only possible course to achieve a momentarily satisfied belly– the leprechaun isn’t the only one that has to pick up his cereal box and flee.

About the only exception I can think of is jewelry ads, which my example might be considered one of.  There is definitely an element of “Guys, buy this for her!” to diamond ads, which I guess shows that when the expense/utility ratio drops below a certain point even ad-men can’t think of a way to make it a direct appeal to greed and need to bring in unstated expectations of a loved one.  The big difference between a lump of cubic-crystallized carbon and a fountain pen is that the latter costs a good deal less (unless covered in the former) and actually has some use (unless covered in the former).

Because time escapes me, I’m just going to offer a couple of other examples.  The first is from the next year, and even then you can see a slight modification in the tone:

1966 75

The entry of the second person!  He (alas, the sexist expectation) will get all these advantages, but you have the power of deciding which he it is that enjoys them.  We thus remind the buyer of the vicarious enjoyment which giving a gift entails.

Now, to undercut my own argument– this one is from rather earlier in the century, and interestingly the second person also shows up in what one might expect to be a setting of extreme selflessness:


The emphasis is on buying for someone else, but the point is to make sure they sent plenty of letters home to the giver.  The vicarious joy of giving and the rather self-interested satisfaction of hearing from Johnny Cannonfodder or Jimmy Swabson-Corvette on a regular basis.  No suggestion whatever that writing to them might be a good idea, too, which suggests that maybe this greedy covetousness thing isn’t a new invention.

For those interested in this sort of thing (and I suggest an interest, if only as a defensive measure), you might look into the radio series which Terry O’Reilly has contributed to.  That’s series in the plural.

Today’s pen: Sheaffer Legacy
Today’s ink: Pelikan Brilliant Brown

p.s.– I nearly forgot to say that I hope everyone in Canada who looks in here had an properly self-indulgent Thanksgiving over the weekend, and I’ll point out to the US audience that we must have our harvest festivals rather earlier than you for them to have any meaning (although the farmers of Montana and the Dakotas must be on much the same schedule as ours, Thanksgiving placement notwithstanding).

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Hope for the Future

Posted by Dirck on 28 December, 2012

Today’s video is a rather young chap who is just showing off his three modes of writing (and not one of them the 5th, I’m pleased to see).  I’m yoinking this off Youtube because I think it’s an excellent example of someone who is growing up in the current renaissance of fountain pens to whom it is merely a option amongst equals.  Laudable, if somewhat lacking in discernment; he’s young, his joints will let him know where superiority lies one day… although I note with real joy that he’s got a very light hand on that Parker of his.

Bravo, John whom I’ve never met!  May you never find yourself wanting for ink.

Today’s pen: Sheaffer Legacy
Today’s ink: Herbin’s Lie de Thé

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Bundled Up Snug in Your Bed

Posted by Dirck on 24 December, 2012

We tend not, in our modern and shiny world, to consider Christmas as a night of spooks, haunts and spectres.  Sure, there’s the reform-minded spirits that drive old Ebenezer Scrooge into a frenzy of wealth redistribution (and may their efforts thrive) but they’re not alone.  One of the fruits of listening to the M.R. James Podcast is the discovery that a lot of his stuff, with its hair-monsters as one might expect in a Japanese movie and its vengeance-driven spiders and its whistle-powered hug-demons, is meant to be read at Christmas.

Since I’m too lazy to research even a little, I wonder if  this is a hold-over from some long-ago pagan propitiation of the solstice or if it’s just a clever way to get the kids from underfoot while the mysterious gifts from Santa, or St. Nicholas, or Father Christmas (in order of increasing gauntness and terror of aspect) are installed.  Did some druid one day say, “Y’know… this is kind of icky.  What say next year we just take it in turns telling scary stories and call it good, even if no one actually dies of fright,”  or was there some bright Victorian parent that realized that it’s a lot easier for a few candies to magically manifest in stockings if the kids are in a quivering heap, dead centre of the bed, with the comforter clasped about their heads?  I know that I’d certainly not put a foot off the edge of the bed if, at age eight, someone had read Canon Alberic’s Scrapbook at me.

And then there’s this guy:

Have a very stabby Christmas!

An honest-to-goodness vintage image, which even if you’re not in the “clown = scary” camp is a pretty distressing one.  Look at the gleeful way that homunculus is working away with his knife.  Who, that isn’t bent on a rampage of destruction, uses two hands on a knife, even when trying to work free a fragment of fruit-cake?  And when I say “fruit-cake”, I say so with a tone of doubtful hope in my voice, because I suspect what wee Pagliacci there hungers for is something more in the line of… human brains!

You know how it is; laughing on the outside, plotting grim deeds on the inside.

The first mistake is to make eye contact.

Knife and repast aside, that’s a flat affect if ever I saw one.  He’s smiling with his mouth… sort of, and if we make allowance for what appears to be an utterly inhuman tongue… but there’s only calculation in those eyes.  Utterly chilling.

Looking at the matter positively, though– as much as I like the idea of the world being merry and gay (use the word however you wish) in the face of the bleakest season, I should hate for a reduction in the amount of M.R. James’s tales that might stem of an entirely un-dark Christmas.  Also, we might be without The Nightmare Before Christmas, either in its animated form, or in the earlier poetic incarnation:

By the way, if you’re as much a Christopher Lee fan as I am, you’ll absolutely want to lay hands on his heavy metal “Little Drummer Boy” (“Silent Night” is a little less fun, but not without merit).

Now, because I don’t want to be totally contrary to the received spirit of the season, I offer a couple of non-skeletal, terror-free items.  First is a link to a somewhat late gift-idea, which may not even bear more than a sense of having properly applied one’s powers in the direction of charity– Shawn Newton is running another raffle to drum up some scholarship money for a deserving urchin.  Since we are, indeed, out of work-houses, how can you decline to give?  The prospect of possibly getting a nice pen out of it is a mere sweetening of the deal.

And from nice pens, let’s move to pens being used nicely:

And that is it from me until after Boxing Day. Don’t do you livers too much injury in the next couple of days through either booze or fatty treats, forgive your family in their lesser failings, and try not to worry about that damn clown.

He knows when you are sleeping!  HE KNOWS!

Today’s pen: Sheaffer Legacy
Today’s ink: Herbin’s Lie de Thé

Post Scriptus– I find that I’m not the only one considering the terrors of the season; there’s a BBC article on the very same subject.  Strangely, while touching on Zwarte Piet, they miss entirely that most Jamesian of Christmas critters, the Krampus:

This is just about the least distressing image on the Wikipedia page regarding Herr Krampus.

This is just about the least distressing image on the Wikipedia page regarding Herr Krampus.

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House of Memories

Posted by Dirck on 4 May, 2012

Since I’m providing my usual Friday disappointment (and moreso than usual, as the Regular Job’s computer has decided to go bluescreeny if I try to find a diversion on YouTube), here’s an item of news you may wish to pursue: the Sheaffer Museum in Fort Madison has its very own website now.  Not only are there some pictures of rather good pens, there’s a calendar of enticing upcoming events.  Those with $20,000 they can’t find a use for might want to look at becoming lifetime sponors….

Today’s (thematically named) pen: Sheaffer Legacy
Today’s ink: Diamine Amazing Amythest

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Joining the Crowd and Standing Out

Posted by Dirck on 2 May, 2012

Once again, I find myself caught between two apparently contrary vectors.  Lounge in the safety of the herd?  Revel in the freedom of solitude?  Both are available, and I decline to choose.

Actually, I could choose to avoid the former if I wanted to, and it’s not a crowd I’m anxious to run with.  There is a known flaw in TWSBI Diamond sections made prior to a certain date, which sees them cracking.  To distract myself from the absence of the Vac 700, I was examining my various Diamond components last night, and I found that three out of four sections had cracks in them.

The crowd I am about to join is the subset of humanity that has asked TWSBI for replacement parts.  I am not going to add complaint to my qualifications, though.  You see, in most pens, the section is a very important structural and functional element, but the Diamonds have an interesting double-hull design on the section.  The outer portion, the one given to cracking, is a mere step above purely decorative; it’s what you hang onto, and the feed unit is contained by it, but it’s the feed unit that seals the reservoir and conveys the ink.  A crack in this section, a little, barely visible crack, hardly signifies.  If not for the potential of future complete failure, I’d ignore it.

In the other direction, I’m not actually the one doing the standing out, and it’s not actually happening today.  Yesterday’s pen was a surprise to me.  While I had to dismantle it to reshape its sadly bent point, I hadn’t really comprehended its nature.  The early Parker “17” apparently was capable of employing the freedom of an open point to be extremely flexible, and yesterday’s prolonged use opened my eyes to its unexpected capabilities.  In my mind, as in most to whom it has any meaning at all, the name Parker “17” is synonymous with firm points, and to find out this was not necessarily true is much like finding a cat that enjoys scuba diving.  Whimiscal.  Fun.  Probably good for the spirit.  I’m really looking forward to its return engagement tomorrow.

Today’s pen (possibly concealing unexpected powers of its own): Sheaffer Legacy
Today’s ink: Diamine Amazing Amythest

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The Week Impending

Posted by Dirck on 30 April, 2012

I’ve got a biggish entry bubbling in my head, so I’m going to mention a couple of things that the next week offers and then go and get started on that.

The primary thing this week promises is anticipation.  The previously mentioned pen-repair tools, from their diverse sources, are on their way.  This means they need merely make their way from diverse places around North America and Europe, and through the hands of the rapidly thinning crowds of customs officers charged with making sure all duties are paid and no contraband accompanies.  I suspect fewer of them (we are cutting, it seems, to enhance national security; go figure) will lead to greater rather than lesser delays.  The same situation applies to my inbound TWSBI Vac 700.  Patience is a virtue.

Letter writing must also be attended to this week.  I have gotten abominably behind (again), and must see to my lingering correspondence and languishing correspondants.  I hope patience is a virtue they still value.

That gala I attended last week has put a notion in my head, or rather the poetical key-note speaker has.  Between wanting to check up on some of the things he said and the letters, I may well beg off here later in the week.  I presume, therefore, upon the patience of the reader.

And finally, the world is no doubt wondering what pen went to the event with me.  It was the Parker 75, on the grounds of that clip looking rather better in the pocket than the others’.  Today’s pen was the nearly-successful runner up; I got so far as inking it before asking my wife’s opinion (she asked mine on the topic of ear-rings).  It was patient enough, lying yesterday in thwarted readiness, so it gets the reward of virtue.

Today’s pen on consolation run: Sheaffer Legacy
Today’s ink: Diamine Amazing Amythest

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Normal Service Restored

Posted by Dirck on 25 November, 2011

One thing that never really changed during the re-write, and will persist– Friday entries are mere stubs, as I’m mostly away from the desk.  I will spread an item of good news for we central prairie Canadians; there’s a store selling hats in Saskatoon, now.  Hooray!

Today’s pen: Sheaffer Legacy 1
Today’s ink: Diamine Syrah (all new cast next week)

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Cup of Poison

Posted by Dirck on 23 November, 2011

As I sit here, I’m going slowly mad.

Um… madder?  Mad in a different key?  I’m sure you follow my meaning.  There is a new receptionist at the Regular Job, and she’s put a thing on her desk I find deeply offensive, but which I cannot state the objection because it is not only so ideosyncratic that it would be butterfly nets and amusing chse scenes the rest of the afternoon, but it is also an objection which I find idiotic myself.

It’s a pen cup.

I’m sure the constant reader will have a sense of the foundation of my objection; a bunch of pens rolling around promiscuously in a mug, battering their finish to a fine matte.  How terrible must someone like me find that prospect?

However, there’s no real pens in there, by my estimate.  A load of very cheap ballpoints with a leavening of low-grade mechanical pencils.  It’s certainly not the case that my sympathy is extending to that kind of writing instrument, and so my concern with the apparition is surprising.  I find myself suppressing the urge to deliver a lecture on pen-care to the receptionist, all the same.

I guess the effort of the recent weeks has taken some toll on my equilibrium.  The answer is clearly to never make any effort again– I’ll get my doctor to write out a prescription for indolence.

Today’s pen: Sheaffer Legacy 1
Today’s ink: Diamine Syrah (yes, still)

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