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Posts Tagged ‘Stipula’

It’s Just Some Old Pen

Posted by Dirck on 13 June, 2014

Today’s Filched Friday Film is a nice little story about continuity of things across generations.

It even makes me feel a little bad about harsh comments I’ve passed about Montblanc.

Today’s pen: Stipula Passaporto
Today’s ink: Calamo Deep Blue


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Posted by Dirck on 5 June, 2014

WHAT: First draft of short story “Story Time” (working title).

HOW MUCH: 2 pages of manuscript.

HOW LONG: About 35 min., including a little fact-checking for the purposes of the story.  No diversionary internettery was allowed, and I should also point out that I was toying with the idea of not writing at all today after the combative struggle with the closing moments of the last one.  Ain’t I dedicated?

Today’s pen: Stipula Passaporto
Today’s ink: Calamo Deep Blue

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Posted by Dirck on 29 May, 2014

WHAT: First draft of short story  “Yard Light”.

HOW MUCH: 3 pages of manuscript (well… if you leave out the things crossed out while shouting “Arrrrg!  That’s dumb!”).

HOW LONG: About 55 min.  Productive!

Today’s pen: Stipula Passaporto
Today’s ink: Calamo Deep Blue

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Posted by Dirck on 20 May, 2014

WHAT: First draft of short story  “Yard Light”.

HOW MUCH: 3 pages of manuscript.

HOW LONG: About 20 min.  I got distracted by an article a Facebook acquaintance posted, and then had to resort some degree of inner calm.

Today’s pen: Stipula Passaporto
Today’s ink: Calamo Deep Blue

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Posted by Dirck on 24 March, 2014

WHAT: Second draft and editing of short story “E.Z. Notes”

HOW MUCH: 674 words, plus an enforced listen to some of both Miles Davis and John Coltrane (neither of whom is quite down my musical alley)

HOW LONG: About 35 min.

Today’s pen: Pilot Vanishing Point
Today’s ink: Calamo Deep Blue

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Posted by Dirck on 18 March, 2014

WHAT: Second draft and editing of short story “Old 237”, and then the same on “E.Z. Notes”

HOW MUCH: 694 words on the latter; “Old 237” (which got a little work over the weekend) wrapped up at 3,744.

HOW LONG: About 35 min.

Today’s pen: Pilot Vanishing Point
Today’s ink: Calamo Deep Blue

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The Miyazaki Principle

Posted by Dirck on 10 March, 2014

This is a long way off topic, in so much as I still have topic here, but it’s something that I need to vent about publicly.  Those who don’t care for the grinding of axes in the region of children’s entertainment might want to go and get a refreshing beverage.

My family got around to watching Turbo over the weekend, and while I generally recommend it, I have a particular problem with an element of it.  To vent properly, I’m going to be both giving away spoilers (so much as that can be done with a kids’ movie) and talking about events in the film as if the reader has already seen the thing.  Those for whom these items present a problem will probably be happier by the drink machine.

Turbo, then.  A snail who is fascinated by Indy-car racing and who, having been bitten by a radioactive street-rod gains the powers to realize his long-held dream.  We’ll overlook the point that realizing your dreams relies on acquiring super-powers; the sooner the kids have a hint that that’s how life works, the better they’ll get along in life (yes, the cynicism index is rather high today).  What bites at me is the interaction between the title character and his own idol, the multiple winner of the Indy Cup, Guy Gagné.  It bites me because the way it plays out in the film is both needlessly grim and rather clichéd.

Initially, Gagné supports the entry of Turbo into the race.  He makes much of having risen to his current fame and sponsorship-supported comfort from the place of an outsider, a little guy.  This is good.  I like this.  But the moment it happened, I knew how the thing was going to play out.  Gagné would, I saw, turn brutal on the track, and only a minor miracle would see Turbo to his dramatically-necessary triumph in the face to Gagné’s efforts to sabotage and even flatten him.

Well… the sabotage at least stayed in the box.  Otherwise, it’s a story we’ve all seen before, with slightly different relationships of worshipped and worshipper.  This is the minor objection, since we all know that there’s a limited number of stories in the world, and that number drops when the audience is under 12.

The major objection is the grimness.  That cynical noise I made above notwithstanding, I’m a big advocate of letting kids have a childhood; a time of lightness and joy, untrampled by the ugly realities life will eventually heap on the plate.  This is utopian, I know, and the prospects for a lot of kids are indeed very grim, but where the possibility of the ideal exists, why work to undo it?  I compared Turbo to the works of Hayao Miyazaki, and I saw how the same movie could easily have been made without a villain but also without losing the excitement of the competion.  A narrative thrives of contest, I agree, but it need no be a contest to the death.

So, in the film where Turbo sneaks into Gagné’s trailer and is this engaged in a rather one-sided conversation (a nod to realism or the sense kids have of not being listened to– people can’t hear the snails talk) is the first point at which change for the better could appear.  As it plays out, this scene gives us the first sense that Gagné will really play the villain, in as much as he makes some only-lightly veiled threats regarding the next day’s race and his willingness to do whatever is needed to win, a willingness he attributes to all the other racers.  In the Ghibli version of the scene I envision, the thrust is the same, but the threats are absent.  Gagné can once again dwell on the parallels between himself and the snail at similar points in their respective racing careers, and can even go on about how everyone on the track has winning as the foremost consideration.  But instead of leering and suggesting that this will certainly lead to Turbo’s demise, carrying on in a tone of peer-to-peer respect and explaining that the snail can’t expect special treatment on the track, because by going onto the track he accepts that he is accepted as an equal would lay the groundwork for a hard-fought contest but one without rancor.  They’re not trying to hurt Turbo, you see, but they expect him to see to his own safety just as they’re seeing to theirs.  He’s not a villain, he’s a Dutch uncle.

Coming from that scene, the race then plays out essentially as it does.  Turbo’s size, a disadvantage from a squishing perspective, has a balancing advantage in being able to do unlikely maneuvers.  Good lesson for the kids.  No way is made for him, but, until a certain point, no specific effort is made to do away with him.  And then we have the end of the race, in which Gagné makes specific efforts as least three times.  And that, to me, sucks.

Don’t get me wrong, I think the hero vs. villain narrative is a good one, and I like to see the hero have to struggle to overcome the villain (which is why I rather liked the season 2 and 3 finalés of Sherlock and why I cannot allow a Steven Seagal film in my house).  However, I think that inserting a villain where one isn’t needed is a silly thing to do.  You’ve proposing to have a snail compete in the Indianapolis 500; why do you need a mean man who wants to stop him?

Recasting the climax of the race, then.  Leave off the effort to mash Turbo between tire and track wall.  A contest of skill leads to the amazing, catastrophic crash just shy of the finish.  The same exhortation to Turbo by his brother still fits.  The same effort to finish by both the snail and the man are made; Turbo stripped of his powers by the accident and creeping at full standard gastropod speed, Gagné somehow managing to tow his disintegrating car through the strength of his own limbs (and tell me that doesn’t rate as a heroic effort).  The finish line inches nearer, the contest remains in the air until… let us say Gagné stumbles, falling, and the passing of his shadow startles Turbo into the race-winning tuck and roll, crossing the line just before the toppling human and the nose of his car.

And then we can have Gagné make a face, the brief anger of not winning passing through him, before he says something like, “I told you you’d have to try as hard as the rest of us.  See you next year?”  Not necessarily friends, but equals on good terms; as someone who occasionally participates in a contact sport without referees, I have a real-world basis for this sort of attitude.  The same amount of plot tension without the defeat of the chap in second place having to be a humiliation.  After all, none of the other thirty-one contestants managed to lift a car.  That shouldn’t be something he gets beaten up by a tiny hairdresser about.

Utopian.  Monday-morning quarterbacking.  Yes.  And yet, I can wish that such things might come to pass.

Thanks for letting me get that off my chest.

Today’s pen: Pilot Vanishing Point
Today’s ink: Calamo Deep Blue

Posted in Armchair Quarterslack, General Blather | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Boxed In

Posted by Dirck on 8 August, 2013

I occasionally see debates on the merit of keeping the boxes pens come in appear on the fora, and I don’t get involved because I can see the merits on both sides.  I’m going to externalize my notions on the topic today, as a means of filling some space and celebrating last night’s nearly-decent sleep and the consequent ability to not ramble about flaky crap as I did yesterday.  A side effect of the healing process in my mostly-recovered arms has been broken sleep, since when one is lying quietly in bed there’s fewer sensations to distract one from a slowly-unwinding bruise lodged between radius and ulna, so my judgement might have been a little off on yesterday’s screed.  I’ve had a better time with insomnia than some, so even in this I’m not really complaining.

Let’s start with the foolishness of keeping boxes.  I refer of course to the boxes they leave the factory in rather than the diverse box-like objects that on-line auctions see pens stuffed into; those that are reusable obviously get kept for outbound voyagers.  The manufacturer’s boxes generally fall into two categories, the first of which is useless little pieces of tat.  Mere folds of heavy paper only just able to support the name of card-stock–

Falling to bits even as you look at it!

These things were never meant to be kept, and exist primarily to keep dust off the pens while they await stocking on shelves.  Their one virtue is that they don’t take up too much space, which is exactly the problem with the other category of pen boxes.  Behemoths.  Leviathans.  Devourers of domestic real estate.  Meant as window dressing to assist the sale of the pen that lurks somewhere near their core, they are certainly durable enough to be hung onto, and indeed are apt to be commented upon by archaeologists fifty generations hence, but unless one has an Indiana Jones-style warehouse (complete with bent, patient porter) in which to lodge them, keeping them is an act of madness that fits within the general mental abberation of hoarding.

If you look carefully, you’ll see a pen in there.

To be fair, there is a slender little eyedropper under the pad. That needs plenty of elbow-room.

These are practical, logical considerations, but as many have observed before me, mankind is an impractical and illogical creature.  I incline towards the keeping of these boxes, and while I can give a reason, I’m not sure that the reason can overcome the counter-reason of “you’ll die when the stack of them topples on you.”  True, although for the moment the stack is non-threatening and mostly confined to a bed-side table’s drawers.  The reason has to do with preserving the context of the pen.

You see, while the pen itself has some indications about the aesthetic of its originating time and place, the box has a lot more of that attached to it.  That Hero box at the top, while a little bit of an anachronism, is redolent with the ideas of marketing in China at the time of the pen’s production.  As much as I’m very informal about my collecting of pens, I am likewise a well-meaning but inefficient historian of them.  I keep the boxes, when I get them, because they help to identify, because they expand the sense of the pen’s age, and because they offer a better insight into the similarities and differences of mindset between people as they exist now and as they were over the previous century and a bit.

All of that can be elided into “Well… they’re pretty cool.”  Some of my pen boxes on the tat side of the equation are items of wonderment merely because they have survived for so long; someone else not only gave a damn, but thought others might one day as well:

Tat, but it’s pedalling mighty hard with its little flocked bed.

Well… they may not have given much of a damn, but it’s still a cardboard box with a metal hinge-pin, and it’s been around since the late 1950s

On the more durable side of the equation, I’m sure one day this thing…

…which is the size of a VHS cassette…

…will one day evoke the same sort of tremors of fond nostalgia as these:

Man, that's some fancy digs.

Man, that’s some fancy digs.

Even a little squalid, it’s still pretty

Oh, the splendid mystery!

I’d have taken a picture of the box my Pelikan M600 came in, but I find I can’t stand back far enough from it to get the whole thing in frame.  One day, I’ll rent a helicopter for the job.

Today’s space-age pen: Pelikan M20
Today’s ink: Diamine Prussian Blue

Posted in General Blather | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »


Posted by Dirck on 5 March, 2013

A sign of how distracted I was yesterday: I completely forgot that I’d already come up with a topic for the entry, and that it was one that was very easily addressed.  While my son’s bout involved a great deal of unfortunately literal debriefing, I owe a retrospective glance at the just-concluded International Correspondence Writing Month.

Well, I did manage to get to the bottom of it, and it was, despite the big stumble in the middle, not too terribly difficult.  The interesting thing is that not more than a half-dozen of the recipients were regular correspondents, and of those only one was done out of the natural sequence of exchange, as I didn’t want to get all clingy not to throw out the correct pacing of to and fro.  Happily, a number of my regular correspondents sent something either just before or during the month, so I could plump up the numbers without being very desperate.  Also helpful was the InCoWriMo site, with its list of willing victims recipients of unheralded mail, and which I’ll touch on again presently.

What truly surprised me about the writing side of the enterprise was the relative ease and speed of dashing off a brief note.  My regular correspondents will be surprised to learn that I suffer through drafting letters almost to the same degree as Gilbert Norrell, for fear of getting well down one of my common over-inflated and slightly baroque sentence only to find that by the time I’ve landed at the terminal punctuation that I’ve got a mismatch in the quantity of subjects and objects, or a change of tense, or perhaps a misgendered pronoun (guess how long this sentence took to work up…).  I couldn’t really do that with all the InCoWriMo items, and since many of them were a single page I took the plunge and just wrote out of my head– not unlike what I do here, but without the option of a backspace key.  Very little scratching out of foolishness, mainly correct spelling, and a letter down and folded in under an hour!  Astonishing.

Less surprising was the fact that I got so little inbound mail during the event.  I did not, as an exchange in the comments a couple of entries ago points out, join the brave band of folks who offered their addresses up on the aforementioned list.  Being the age I am, I have a long established habit of not admitting who I actually am to the internet, and despite it being about as safe as getting mail at all, I balked like a big coward.  Those who wonder at this bit of information, by the way, in conjunction with the address of my web site; my brother made a point of registering all the family as domain names during one of those phases when there was a lot of domain camping, and I’m not one to look a fait accompli in the mouth.  I was, in fact, rather surprised to get a couple of letters from non-regular correspondents in the course of the thing, who had scraped up my address from entirely legitimate sources; that “non-” is going rapidly by the board.

At the risk of becoming overwhelmed with regular correspondents, I think I shall participate again next year.  Not only does it support the international postal system in a trying time, its not that big a hassle and if my own reaction to the unexpected apparitions is anything to go by it brings delight to those on the low end of the slide that starts at the yawning trap of the big red post box.  Also, you get a non-cropped one of these if you ask nicely:


Splendid, is it not?  Well worth the price of admission.

The following chart is going to take a little looking back at my records; don’t take it as definitive until at least the 8th:

InCoWriMo I: Things I think are worth counting
  •  Pens Used:
    • Fuliwen 2024
    • Italix Parson’s Essential
    • Kaweco Sport
    • Lamy 2000
    • Parker 45
    • Parker “51”
    • Parker Duofold
    • Pelikan M600
    • Sheaffer Balance
    • Stipula Passaporto
    • TWSBI Vac 700
    • Waterman 52
  • Inks Used:
    • Diamine Steel Blue
    • de Atramentis Elderberry
    • Herbin Lis de Thé
    • Herbin Orange Indien
    • Kaweco blue-black
    • Mont Blanc Royal Blue
    • Noodler’s La Couleur Royale
    • Organics Studio Cobalt
    • Pelikan black
    • Pelikan blue-black
    • Private Reserve DC Supershow Blue
    • Sailor Jentle blue-black
    • Skrip blue-black
  • Letters Sent:
    • 2 Journals
    • 3 Multi-page
    • 24 Single Page
  • Letters Got:
    • 5 Multi-page
  • Countries Contacted:
    • Argentina
    • Australia
    • Canada (it’s big– I can count it, even if I’m in it)
    • Great Britain
    • Norway
    • The Netherlands
    • United States

Today’s pen: Parker “51” Fantasy Demo (yes, I did put it on the page)
Today’s ink: Pelikan black (for fear of staining)

Posted in General Blather | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Seasonal Affectionate Disorder

Posted by Dirck on 14 February, 2013

If I ignore you for a short time, does it mean I love you any less?

I’m not speaking rhetorically, as I so frequently do.  Nor am I addressing pens which like a notable dweller of R’lyeh may eternal lie.  I’m about to abandon you folks, not because I have lost regard for you, but because in any competition for my interest, the inverted precedence must be:

  • People living at a great distance who are interested in pens,
  • Pens,
  • Extended family,
  • Nuclear family.

So, I’m taking these few minutes to write a mash-note to my wife, something I’ve not done in a while.  Those with a significant other at hand, I suggest a similar application; not because of the day, particularly, but because it’s good for maintaining mutual significance.  Those without, I will offer this sop on the soppiest day of the year; not only is it unclear how many Saints Valentine there were, at least two stories of his/their life end with him being clubbed nearly to death before his beheading.  Romantic!

Today’s pen: Parker Duofold
Today’s ink: Noodler’s Couleur Royale

…but also the Stipula Passaporto because a mash-note written with an Italian pen must be more effective, and De Atramentis Elderberry ink because it’s a good colour for this sort of stuff.

Posted in General Blather | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »