Father’s Day


It’s Father’s Day here, and I’m lucky enough that I can still celebrate with my father. I’ve been thinking it must be hard to be a father, because you have so much responsibility and you’re expected to be the strong, invulnerable one. At least, that’s how my father has always been. So this Father’s Day, I wanted to say some things about him.

1. We have very few mutual interests and our tastes are generally opposite. If he likes it, it usually pains me, and if I like it, it definitely irritates him. He enjoys classical music concerts and plays like Strindberg’s Dance of Death. I like “horrible music,” sports and movies with Matt Damon or George Clooney.

2.  Except we both like the Chicago Bears. But I got that from him.

3.  He’s practically a genius, and definitely a polymath. That’s another thing we don’t have in common. When I was struggling through Latin in middle school, he still remembered it from his own school days, 40 years earlier. He has designed and built home additions, and he can learnedly discuss the sources of Rachmaninoff’s All-Night Vigil or the victory chances of a particular political candidate. And he’s a talented artist.

4. He  has always loved to drive, but he fancies himself “a race car driver.” (His actual words.) I remember practically praying for survival on “vacations” as our car whipped and slipped around winding mountain roads with no guardrails. One station wagon did end up on its side in a ditch in Wisconsin, but luckily the glaciers had been there first, so there were no mountains to crash down.

5. But apart from the hellacious driving, my father has always done the right thing, not the easy thing. He’s always up for new experiences. He’s always treated strangers as friends. He’s always thought everyone is equal. He’s always had a fierce social conscience. He’s always taken care of the extended family, from the oldest to the youngest. He’s never called attention to anything about himself, or wanted a fuss made. He’s just a really good person.

Liking Jane: More About De Atramentis Jane Austen

DeAtramentis Jane Austen ink writing sample

At the end of a dreadful week in the news, I want to take refuge by delving into something utterly insignificant, but at least diverting. That would be ink. I’d like to talk about Jane Austen ink by De Atramentis.

I’ve always maintained that the least interesting aspect of any ink I review is how the color strikes me personally. Instead, I try to be more neutral. Everyone’s taste is individual, but there are certain objective qualities to note about an ink. Is it dry or wet? Does it shade? What does it look like on different papers?

But I’m going to step away from that model here. Because I knew the minute I inked up De Atramentis Jane Austen that I liked it, but didn’t love it. Further, what I like most about De Atramentis Jane Austen is that it’s named after one of my favorite authors. That presents something of a mild conundrum for me.

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Pen of the Day: Aurora Optima Burgundy Auroloide with KWZ Raspberry Ink

KWZ Raspberry ink with Aurora Optima Burgundy fountain pen

Aurora Optima Burgundy with medium nib. It took a good two weeks to kill it, but Blue Week is finally dead. All hail KWZ Raspberry.

KWZ Raspberry ink writing sample

This looks like a nice pink. Not bright or flashy, and neither sweet nor girlish. It’s the perfect antidote to an overdose of blue.

Aurora Optima Burgundy fountain pen nib with KWZ Raspberry ink

I use this lovely pen a lot. It’s part of my Red/Pink Triumvirate, together with a Pelikan Pink and Pelikan Ruby Red. The Aurora is the most dignified. And I like Aurora’s narrow sort of medium nib.

Ink Review: Montblanc BMW Ink

Montblanc BMW ink bottle and swabs

Montblanc BMW Ink. This limited edition ink tied to a BMW cross-promotion is a lovely and cheerful shade of blue, with good shading and some sheen, but unfortunately it’s hard to buy in the United States. Maybe you will be luckier with that.

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Ink Snippet: De Atramentis Jane Austen

DeAtramentis Jane Austen ink writing sample

It’s been Blue Week here at Fountain Pen Follies for more than two weeks. Which surely has created a gap in the space-time continuum, because it seems that even the world’s biggest blue ink fan has grown weary of blue ink.

So I cleaned out three pens filled with blue ink, and searched for an ink that was appealing and not-blue. It took a while, but eventually I found a tiny amount of De Atramentis Jane Austen, left over from the Chicago Pen Show. And Jane Austen is one of my favorite writers.

I was very happy to put De Atramentis Jane Austen into a Pelikan 400 with OBB nib. It turns out to be a lighter forest green, with shading. Not perhaps my favorite color, though the shading is nice. And not the color that I would have chosen for Austen, who was acutely attuned to the comical and the absurd, whereas this ink seems very serious.

But maybe it has a Regency flavor. And it’s a nice color.

It’s an ink that seems to be on the dry side. That vintage Pelikan is a firehose, and the ink doesn’t look very dark, does it? So that could be nice for wetter pens.

Here’s a look at the ink from a different angle, because I think you can sometimes get a better feel for the color when you don’t think about what’s written. Also, shallow depth of field always makes a person feel artsy.  Even if the reason for it was just dusk.

De Atramentis Jane Austen ink writing sample

Jane Austen, incredibly, was born in 1775. Here’s what Anthony Trollope, another English novelist, said of her in 1870:

Miss Austen was surely a great novelist. What she did, she did perfectly…. She wrote of the times in which she lived, of the class of people with which she associated, and in the language which was usual to her as an educated lady. Of romance—what we generally mean when we speak of romance—she had no tinge: heroes and heroines with wonderful adventures there are none in her novels. Of great criminals and hidden crimes she tells us nothing.

But she places us in a circle of gentlemen and ladies, and charms us while she tells us with an unconscious accuracy how men should act to women, and women act to men. It is not that her people are all good; and, certainly, they are not all wise. The faults of some are the anvils on which the virtues of others are hammered till they are bright as steel. In the comedy of folly, I know no novelist who has beaten her. The letters of Mr. Collins, a clergyman in Pride and Prejudice, would move laughter in a low-church archbishop.

Pen of the Day: Kaweco Classic Sport with Pilot Iroshizuku Ama-iro

Kaweco Classic Sport clear with Pilot Iroshizuku Ama-iro ink

Kaweco Classic Sport with double broad nib. Here’s an ink I had never used, but I found a leftover sample vial with just a little bit remaining. That’s a perfect situation for the Kaweco Classic Sport. I don’t need to go through contortions to fill a Sport from a small sample — I can syringe whatever ink is left into the pen body or a converter.

Here is Ama-iro with the Kaweco double broad nib.

Pilot Iroshizuku Ama-iro ink writing sample

The Kaweco Sport also lets one easily swap nibs. So here’s Ama-iro from an extra-fine nib, for Fountain Pen Geeks forum.

Pilot Iroshizuku Ama-iro ink writing sample

But I’m in it for the bling, frankly. So for me the eyedropper is key. Especially when the ink is a beautiful sky blue like Ama-iro.

Kaweco Classic Sport clear eyedropper with Pilot Iroshizuku Ama-iro ink

The Mark Twain Cure

Montblanc BMW writing sample

I have been in something of a reading funk for the last four months, but I recently found a book I sped through with a smile: a collection of Mark Twain quotes.

Like the foregoing, which is certainly my motto: “Do not put off until tomorrow what can be put until day-after-tomorrow.”

And this one, which encapsulates my pen and ink problem, but makes me feel better about it:  “A human being has a natural desire to have more of a good thing than he needs.”

Caran d'Ache Divine Pink writing sample

And then there’s this comment that Twain had Satan make to a newcomer to Hell.

Parker Penman Sapphire writing sample

I guess even in the late 1800s and early 1900s, we Chicagoans must have been enthusiastic civic boosters, and a little hard to take.

Ah well, we love our city. At least we’re number one.

Rock, Scissors, Paper

writing samples on Eaton's Eminence Onion Skin paper

I was helping my father look for some things when I came across an old box of typing paper. Marked 49 cents, it’s a 100-sheet box of typewriter paper. The box says onion skin, 9 pounds, and 25 percent cotton fiber content.

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Pen of the Day: Kaweco Classic Sport Blue

Parker Penman Sapphire ink Kaweco Classic Sport blue

Kaweco Classic Sport with calligraphy nib. Again we have what’s really an Ink of the Day, but, shhh, don’t tell anyone. This is the sample of Parker Penman Sapphire a friend very kindly sent me.

Is it the world’s most beautiful blue ink?

Parker Penman Sapphire ink writing sample

The pen is my son’s Kaweco Classic Sport in blue, which is a very good pen at an excellent price. I swapped in Kaweco’s 1.1 mm calligraphy nib, which is a smooth writer with excellent line variation, and another real bargain.

Parker Penman Sapphire ink Kaweco Classic Sport blue

Looking at the Five KWZ Azure Inks

KWZ Azure #1, #2, #3, #4 and #5 ink swabs

I have used and reviewed all five of the KWZ dye-based Azure inks, and I like the whole family, but I think we could use a sort of cheat sheet.

Here are links to the full reviews:

Together the five Azure comprise a nice range of blue inks that are low-maintenance and nicely saturated. Azure #1 kicks things off as KWZ’s traditional or standard blue, and it is the lightest and least saturated of the five. Azure #2 is a darker blue but still in the standard range. With the next three Azures, we get more fun, offbeat and vibrant shades of blue.

My quick summary goes something like this:

Most standard: Azure #1.

Most serious: Azure #2.

Most lively: Azure #3 wins by a whisker. But Azure #4 and Azure #5 also have a great kick.

Most uncommon shade of blue: Azure #4.

Most like Parker Penman Sapphire: Azure #3. Not a clone, though. Azure #5 has something of the PPS feel, too.

Best on poor paper:  Azure #2 and Azure #5.

Most dry: Azure #2 and Azure #3.

Most wet: Azure #4 and Azure #5.

Best shading: Azure #4.

Best sheen: Azure #4.

Easiest to clean: They all clean out wonderfully easily.

Most water resistant:  Azure #2. With a big “but.” On normal paper they’ll all soak in sufficiently. On fountain-pen friendly paper, none is actually water-resistant, but Azure #2 seems to survive the best of the five.

Best for a Lamy Safari: Azure #4. This is a category of interest to exactly one person in the entire world. But that would be me.

Most swoon-worthy: Azure #3 (more dry) and Azure #5 (more wet).

I think they are all excellent. I received samples of Azure #2 and Azure #3 from KWZ to do those reviews.