July 22, 2008

Important pens. Important insects.

You can't bring a camera onto the golf course when you're a spectator at a PGA event, as I was last Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. So I brought a little sketchbook and pen, thinking I might be moved to record something of what I saw and heard, in the style of my old "Amsterdam Notebooks." But ever since the fountain india ink fatally clogged my favorite Mont Blanc pen, I haven't been able to recover the old sketchbook spirit. My passion died with that pen. Here's all that went into the book I carried this past weekend, this little dialogue between my sister and me:
There's a mosquito on that guy's shirt.

If he was cuter, you would help him.

Yeah.
***

Now, I'm mourning once again not only for the Mont Blanc pen that died of fountain india, but the Pelikan pen that I used in law school to take all my notes and write all my exams. I am utterly sure that I would not have done so well without it and that it therefore determined the whole course of my adult life. You can see the beloved Pelikan in my hand here.

And what of that mosquito? Had it landed on a more attractive man, everything would have been different.

There are many pens and many mosquitoes. Most are just another pen or just another insect. But some!

IN THE COMMENTS: Trooper York discovers the theme of the day, and it inspires hysterical laughter.

46 comments:

rhhardin said...

It turns out the indian red crayola wasn't meant for coloring the faces of indians.

Paddy O. said...

Ann, have you seen the new Livescribe Smartpen?

Records what you write and what you here, linking them exactly together so you can tap on a word and hear what was being said at that moment. I got one yesterday and it really works like it says it works.

As of today it's not able to make editable text out of what you write, but apparently that's coming in the next month or two.

Might totally make the whole laptops in the classroom argument moot because this is so much better than having a laptop to take notes.

I suspect it's my new important pen.

MadisonMan said...

So, who was saying which lines in that dialog about the not-cute-enough guy? Was he wearing shorts?

Ann Althouse said...

Paddy, it doesn't work with Mac.

Paddy O. said...

Ann, not quite yet but it will soon. From their website: "A Macintosh version of the Livescribe Desktop is planned for the second half of 2008."

Bissage said...

They say a good fountain pen conforms to its owner’s touch over time and becomes a kind of close personal friend. I believe that’s true but not from my own experience since I never used a fountain pen.

Many years ago I made a half-assed attempt at cartooning using Koh-I-Noor Rapidograph pens.

They are very disagreeably unyielding.

And they aren’t supposed to blast ink all over your hand but they did; sort of like swatting a mosquito and blasting blood all over your arm.

I ended up concluding that I didn't have the right touch and I gave those pens to a close personal friend who was a commercial artist. He never had any problems with them.

It’s funny . . . now that I think about it . . . he never seemed bothered much by mosquitoes, either.

Ann Althouse said...

Rapidographs are such torment. You need them, but you can't love them. The line looks great (if you want a rigidly uniform line), but you'll always be doing that Rapidograph shake to get the ink flowing. Drove me crazy.

A very fluid, flowing, flexible gold-nibbed fountain pen is an immense delight. I have kept the dead body of my Mount Blanc pen all these years, like one of those nuts who keeps their mummified loved one in the attic.

As for the Pelikan, I'm still looking for it. It's like one of those lost children you believe you will find some day.

MadisonMan said...

I'm still looking for it. It's like one of those lost children you believe you will find some day.

When I was a grad student here, I went to Europe for a conference, and I returned via the Alco Bus to the Memorial Union, and cheapskate that I was, decided to walk home (I lived in the Vilas Neighborhood then). It was about dusk, and I was almost home -- near the old Dunk and Dine -- when a woman in a car accosted me and asked if I wanted a ride. She had seen me from a distance and I had the same posture and gait as her dead son, and she said she frequently went driving at dusk to see him.

Can you imagine? Driving around with a suffocating pain in your soul, and then for one leaping, shining moment seeing something that makes your heart sing: He isn't dead after all! I see him right there!

I politely declined her offer.

Trooper York said...

Hey Madison Man I think I saw that in an afterschool special. Or was it a very "special" episode of James at 16.

Don't get into the car, don't get into the car.

Trooper York said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
gophermomeh said...

Last night, my husband had a mosquito just above his right eyebrow. In addition, he wears glasses. The look on his face was priceless as he watched his wife, trying to balance speed, quickness and agility (at what angle to attach?) - without spooking him as she lunges toward his face.
I guess he officially qualifies “as cute.” Poor guy.

And speaking of pens, as a cartographer, I was the last generation to learn and work with traditional (non digital) map production (late 1980s). Standard LeRoy pens is what we used. Always a mess, as I recall.

chuck b. said...

Now the next time a woman taps a man she doesn't know on the shoulder to let him know he's got a mosquito up his shirt...

MadisonMan said...

Trooper, it did raise the hair on the back of my neck and set off all sorts of alarm bells. But then, so did the Giants winning the Super Bowl.

William said...

Gucci loafers were meant for walking in carpeted offices, not for mean streets and the tile floors of fluorescent work areas. Likewise with Mt Blanc pains. They were meant for signing important documents with a flourish. Bic and Papermate have sturdy blue collar pens better for copious notes on boring subjects.

Trooper York said...

Speaking of which, God bless Beth and her Saints now that they have to deal with Jeremy Schockey. Hee hee. That's addition by subtraction.

And I am going to lure you over to the dark side Mad Man. Cannoli's and the Giants vs Cheese and the Packers. No contest my man, no contest.

Did you know that Brett Farve is trying out for the backup quarterback spot on the Pottstown Firebirds?

MadisonMan said...

You can have my cheese when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers.

Ann Althouse said...

William said..."Gucci loafers were meant for walking in carpeted offices, not for mean streets and the tile floors of fluorescent work areas. Likewise with Mt Blanc pains. They were meant for signing important documents with a flourish. Bic and Papermate have sturdy blue collar pens better for copious notes on boring subjects."

It's when you have to take a lot of notes on boring subjects that you most need the pleasure of a good pen. That was my wonderful Pelikan. The Mont Blanc, I used for drawing. That was not a proper use, but I loved it for that purpose and I'm really sad to have lost it.

Trooper York said...

Proper translation of the above post requires that we alter pens to read pen(is). Then it all makes much more sense.

Trooper York said...

Plus we might pry the cheese from your cold dead fingers, but be assured that will not do so from your cold dead toes.

Smilin' Jack said...

I've never understood the fountain pen fetish. All Shakespeare had was a goose quill, and he did all right.

Miss Carmona Carmichael said...

Only the lower-class bourgeoisie carry the very common and pedestrian Mont-Blanc pens.

On the other hand, Mark Cross was always the pen of choice for the well-to-do.

"The Cross gold pen and pencil set is the symbol of success in America."

http://thebestthings.com/pens/cross.htm

Ann Althouse said...

Trooper York has discovered this blog's theme of the day.

Ann Althouse said...

miss carmona carmichael said..."On the other hand, Mark Cross was always the pen of choice for the well-to-do. "The Cross gold pen and pencil set is the symbol of success in America." http://thebestthings.com/pens/cross.htm"

Anyone who cares about the outside of the pen being gold doesn't know the real pleasure of a good fountain pen. What matters is the nib. Gold is very strong and flexible, and you want that in the nib for the great feeling in writing and drawing. If it's just a matter of looking at the thing, I can look at your pen. But you can't write with mine. That's the difference.

A Cross pen makes a good gift to a high school or college graduate... if you're the sort of evil person who finds pleasure in seeing a young person pretend to appreciate a gift.

Krista said...

I tragically broke my Mont Blanc pen many years ago - and it subsequently lived in the pen/pencil holder on my desk, reminding me often that I wished it could be used. Then - through the magic of the internet, I found the Mont Blanc website and called them - and sent my pen away.....and a few weeks later (and about $24 CDN) my pen was returned in beautiful working condition. Don't despair - Mont Blanc will fix your pen.......

Trooper York said...

"Trooper York has discovered this blog's theme of the day."

"Of the day" Hee hee.

MadisonMan said...

Following Trooper's suggestion:

Anyone who cares about the outside of the penis being gold doesn't know the real pleasure of a good fountain penis. What matters is the nib. Gold is very strong and flexible, and you want that in the nib for the great feeling in writing and drawing. If it's just a matter of looking at the thing, I can look at your penis. But you can't write with mine. That's the difference.

Who knew you had a Penis!

Trooper York said...

Well it could be detachable. You can get it with the Holiday Althouse with the kung fu grip.

Trooper York said...

"Now, I'm mourning once again not only for the Mount Blanc penis that died of fountain india, but the Pelikan penis that I used in law school to take all my notes and write all my exams. I am utterly sure that I would not have done so well without it and that it therefore determined the whole course of my adult life. You can see the beloved Pelikan in my hand here."

Sigivald said...

Ann - you don't mention if you tried unclogging the pen thoroughly, but the Koh-i-noor cleaner for the Rapidograph pens you dislike does an amazing job of unclogging rock-hard dried ink.

Some hot water and a soak in cleaner, and I've had pens that were dried like the Sahara come back to life in a few minutes, with some jostling and work.

Since you love the Montblanc so much, it might be worth trying.

(Unless you, say, took it to a professional who pronounced it unsalvageable; but since you don't mention specifically, I figure it's worth a try to suggest.)

MadisonMan said...

I'm glad my officemate stepped out, I'm desperately trying not to guffaw:

Some hot water and a soak in cleaner, and I've had penises that were dried like the Sahara come back to life in a few minutes, with some jostling and work.

Sometimes it takes a LOT of jostling, but is that really work?

I'm going back to work now. For all you people thinking Your mind is in the gutter! I will reply, quoting the great John Francis Xavier McIntyre: It can't help it...it's attached to my body.

Mrs. Stattleberry said...

The Mark Cross gold pens were the ultimate status symbol, used only by well-bred, and refined people. You always knew when you spotted a Cross pen, that the user was going places.

When I was in College (back in 2005).... I wouldn't even speak to anyone who didn't have the ubiquitous "Cross" logo on their pen's handle.

Still, even today, if I don't see a Cross pan in your hand, I'll have nothing to do with you.

Mark Cross pens, preferably gold, have success written all over them, and their users ended up snagging the best positions all all the best corporations.

CEOs, Executives, well-bred men of distinction, they wouldn't even think of lowering themselves by using the down-market Mont Blanc. Mark Cross blows Mont Blanc right out of the water.

blake said...

Shorter MadMan: "I would have gotten in the car with her if she were cuter."

Heh.

Trooper York said...

He might even have touched her mosquito.

Ann Althouse said...

Sigivald, I did try all that, repeatedly, and it didn't work. It was my own fault for abusing it with india ink. I used fountain india, but still. It's hard on the pen.

MadisonMan, LOL.

Bissage said...

(1) Althouse, I have consulted my Ziggy Archives® and have returned to report that Jules Feiffer and Joseph Mirachi were famous for using a Pelikan fountain pen and that Edward Koren was famous for using a Mont Blanc.

(2) William, you might find it gratifying to know: (a) that “George Booth draws his cats and dogs and other people with an ordinary, everyday medium black ballpoint Bic pen.” Gerberg, M., The Arbor House Book of Cartooning (Arbor House 1983), p. 29; and (b) that I greatly admire your comments, generally.

(3) Smilin’ Jack, it is true that all Shakespeare had was a goose quill, and he did all right. However, it should be noted that Shakespeare wrote both tragedy and comedy with equal facility and that scholars of literature and the theatre have long theorized that this is proof positive that there were, if fact, two separate men who created the body of work for which we now give credit to “Shakespeare.”

That is . . . it was either two men . . . or six women. They’re not sure.

*rimshot*

(4) Was that sexist? I hope not. If it was, blame National Lampoon. I stole it from them.

Bissage said...

And let's give props to George Booth.

There!

sonicfrog said...

Anyone who cares about the outside of the penis being gold doesn't know the real pleasure of a good fountain penis.

Translation - Though one may admire a man who spends much time on a nude beach, that compares not, to the relief a man may feel after a long night of drinking!!!

Ann Althouse said...

So Jules Pfeiffer used a Pelikan. That makes sense. The Pelikan really was the best. That was the pen of a lifetime. I will never forget it. Is it possible to simply buy another one?

Ralph said...

A good time for the subjunctive tense:

If he were cuter, 3/4ths of your commenters would "snatch" his "pen".

I tried a quill pen at my sister's Quaker plantation event on Saturday. The trick seemed to be, don't get very much ink on the quill, and keep it moving.

rhhardin said...

Lots of quills out back, if anybody wants to gather them.

AllenS said...

Trooper York said...

"Cannoli's and the Giants vs Cheese and the Packers."

Instead of playing a game of scizzors, paper and rock, let's go with two objects... Cheesehead hat covers Cannoli. Game over.

Robert Burnham said...

It isn't clear from that old photo what model Pelikan you are holding.

But the Pelikan 120 is a fountain pen with a flexible gold-alloy nib that writes extremely smoothly. The nibs came in several widths, including italics.

Can't get them new anymore of course, but they turn up regularly on eBay.

Mark Cross VIII said...

Who is this 'Ann Althouse' ?, and how dare she trash my family's legacy, and our 400-year history of producing the world's finest pens.

Cross pens aren't simply a status symbol, their an absolute tradition. There is nothing quite like holding in your hand an 18K solid-gold Cross pen, and knowing you've arrived !

Cross pens are the most prestigious of writing implements, and not just because of their well-bred, refined users. It's the superior workmanship, the tradition, the legacy of success that Cross pens are synonymous with.

How dare this 'Ann Althouse' attack my family's honor and pride that 400 years of Cross pens have brought.

You have no RIGHT !!!!

holgate said...

Try a dip in the ultrasonic jewelry cleaner (water and a splash of Koh-i-noor cleaning fluid) for that MB. And then send it for a service. Piston-fillers are simple enough that the classic India Ink Clog is rarely fatal, even if that means replacing the feed.

Is that a Pelikan 120 in the old photo? Classic student pen, and a better and more reliable writer, in my estimation, than the MBs -- I own both. You can find them fairly cheaply on eBay, and for not too much money from dealers who've given them a little TLC. But it's not the same as finding the one you grew up with.

holgate said...

I'm going to revise my judgement on the lost Pelikan, since that photo shows Prof. A. holding a silver cap, which rules out the 120.

Instead, I think it's the M20 or M30, both of which are a little harder to find than the 120/140, but are not too expensive when you find them, because they don't fit the traditional Pelikan design.

For a replacement? Rick Propas is a well-known collector, historian and seller of Pelikans, who I recommend on experience; he has an already-sold a M20 set on display, and M30s for sale.

bestonline323 said...

im sorry for the Pelikan pen. I lost my Parker pen with a gold tip my father gave me which got me through two degrees. I know what its like!

Cheers,
Roberta
Ball Point pens