I Learn a Valuable Lesson About Fountain Pens and Inks, Set to Music.

Apologies for my internet absence. Since we brought the 2019 Chicago Pen Show to a successful and happy conclusion, pens have been scarce for me. And, actually, even before the Pen Show. Almost no pen time. Hence, nothing to write about pens.

Eh, it happens.¬†Life is fine. It’s just been busy. Life is bigger. Much bigger than pens. But it’s made the blog seem like a Colorado ghost town, with the dust blowing between abandoned mining shacks.

Only now, it’s almost fall. Time to clean things out, get cracking. We’re back to school.

So here’s what I was doing with pens during my summer vacation. Like the song at (almost) the very end, this will be long and boring. But there’s music in it.

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The 2019 Lamy Safari is Announced, and I Just Cannot Even

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My Lamy Safari-hating friend just sent me this, which, courtesy of the nice folks at Goulet Pens, is apparently what Lamy has cooked up for the 2019 Safari special edition.

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It’s taken me a few hours to figure out a nice way of conveying my reaction more subtly than just using “Munch’s The Scream” emoji, above.

If you know the television show¬†The Good Place, you will understand my first reaction to this photo, which was a quote from the show: “Holy mother forking shirtballs.”

It’s fair to say that the Pastels are not my bag. I don’t really like the look, with that pen, because the color scheme doesn’t fit with the design, in my view. But that’s fine. Maybe they are better in person, and at least they are different, and not black. But my disappointment is more general. I’ve been a Lamy Safari fan since the first year of the Safari. And it’s as a fan that I say this, sadly: the annual editions have been more lackluster than not, for a while now.

This is just the capper.¬†It seems like two out of three years I’ve been wondering the same thing: Is this where I stop, and give up collecting Safaris?

There was the tossed-off Neon Trio. Then the “Dark Materials” Trio of Dark Lilac, Petrol and All-Black, an obvious attempt to extend the market with Safaris for those who hate Safaris. Now comes the Pastel trio. I don’t know precisely which group the Pastel is meant to appeal to, but I’d bet that the genesis of those colors is a market study.

And then, not even one Pastel, but three at once. Why limit your bottom-line by putting out only one annual edition, when you can potentially triple revenues by putting out three? Which of course is reversed for consumers, as Slightly Unnerved, in the comment below, politely brings up.

That issue is much worse for those of us in the US, where a Safari, without converter, retails at just under $30 each.

I don’t know if there’s been new ownership or management at Lamy, and that’s what’s behind this — but I suspect so. But it does seem rather obvious that the annual Safari, and probably the Safari as a whole, is now seen as a cash cow. I think that’s understandable from a business perspective. I would never tell a business not to maximize profit.¬†It’s just not the same, from the fan perspective.

The Safari used to be a quirky pen that a few of us loved. And you had to actually love it, to withstand the slings and arrows, because the fountain pen world was full of people who loved to put the Safari down. The Safari appealed to a very small subset of adults — those who liked contemporary design and fountain pens. And I think the Safari reflected what the Lamy company was — a home for risky products, designed products, that didn’t appeal to everyone, but were well-built and well-priced. Modern design plus affordability plus quality.

The new Lamy is obviously different. And the new Lamy is certainly reflected in the last five to seven years of annual Safaris. That’s fine — and I don’t own the company. But, as a fan, I think they’ve essentially lost what made me a fan. Or not so much “lost” as “abandoned.” I think now whoever runs Lamy has pivoted to squeezing out as much profit as possible. Which on an intellectual level I understand. The Golden Goose, and all. I do I wish Lamy well, and hope they don’t end up killing that Golden Goose. But I think, however, that I’m not really a fan any more.

Ms. Fountain Pen Manners: How to Respond to Someone’s Vile New Pen You Absolutely Hate, And More

It being Black Friday weekend, and the kickoff of the holiday buying season, there are a lot of new pens floating around social media. Pen makers and dealers are posting them, your friends are posting them, and every Instagram account or fountain pen forum has people posting them.

As this time is upon us, I shall now put on my “Ms. Fountain Pen Manners” hat. This is how a person with good manners responds to someone’s vile new pen they absolutely hate, or someone’s attractive new pen that comes in a box they don’t like, or whatever tricky situation arises.

1. A new pen arrives in dealers’ hands and hits Instagram. The color repels you; the material is garish. It’s awful. But your friends go gaga for it.

You want to say, “What’s wrong with you?! Are you high? That is molten aqua/orange/violet nightmare-fuel.”

Readers, that’s probably a tad harsh. Instead, try to dial it back, with the non-committal “Wow.” Or, the honest “Colorful!” Or, the trying-to-be-positive “I love the rhodium trim.” Or, if you think you can get away with it, “Bless its heart.” The latter is a favorite of Ms. Fountain Pen Manners, because Ms Fountain Pen Manners delights in throwing shade.

2. A company issues a pink pen, in a tacky box, targeted at women. You, being a person who hates pink, is of obviously superior intelligence and thus has appointed herself the Queen of What Every Other Person Should Like, object to the pink pen’s existence.

You feel you have to say, “This pen demeans and insults women. Why do companies think women like pink? It’s an outrage.”

Readers, this situation is one step more difficult. Because, first, you have to get your head out of your ass. Only then can you trot out the¬†“Wow.” Or, “Colorful!” Or even, “Bless its heart.” Or, if you absolutely must register your objection to a pen that is pink, try something honest but respectful, like, “I’m not a fan of pink, myself, but it’s nice to see something different.”

See how easy that is.

3. Someone you know, perhaps Ms. Fountain Pen Manners herself, has bought two gorgeous pens, but both are white.

You want to say, “What’s wrong with you? You know they make pens in colors now, right? Why two white pens? Do you have two favorite white inks?”

Readers, this appears challenging, but it’s actually pretty easy. No, you can’t go with “wow” or “colorful” here. But try, “How refreshing.” Or, “You don’t see that every day.” Or, “So useful: that would work with any ink color.” Turn a negative into a positive; that’s the essence of good fountain pen manners.

4. Everyone you know hates the Lamy Safari, and loves saying so, over and over. Online, in blog comments, in personal emails, in texts, and right to your face in personal conversations.

You just want to say, “Oh shove it up your patootey.”

Well, readers, I’ve considered that fully, over the course of many long years. And I have finally reached a ruling. It is okay, in this one situation. Alternatively, you could go with, “You are wrong, and your taste is bad.” Either would be perfectly appropriate.

Lamy Safari Your Holiday: Halloween

Lamy Safari Halloween Holiday

I have breaking fountain pen and hockey news: The Chicago Blackhawks beat the defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins last night by the score of 10-1, (For those who don’t follow hockey, a team doesn’t often score that many goals, especially against a top opponent. It would be like Barcelona beating Read Madrid 10-1.)

Now, I’m not saying that yesterday’s¬†Chicago Blackhawks Lamy Safari is what spurred on the Best Team Ever last night. All I’m saying is, clearly, it didn’t hurt.

So with Karma on our side, let’s keep going. As much fun as it is to Lamy Safari our favorite sports teams, some people don’t actually like sports. And that’s okay: Lamy Safaris are for everyone.¬†So let’s start a round of Lamy Safari Your Holiday, with Halloween.

First up is the Halloween Candy Lamy Safari. It bears the colors of a piece of candy corn, the ubiquitous symbol of Halloween. But despite the popularity of candy corn, it is a fact universally acknowledged that the best Halloween treat a child can pound the pavements for, and bring home to mom, is a box of Milk Duds. So to inspire the children, I’ve filled the Halloween Candy Lamy Safari with a chocolate brown ink, Waterman Absolute Brown.

Lamy Safari Halloween Holiday Candy Corn

Next is my Wicked Witch Lamy Safari. A black cap and pen body represents the witch’s hat and clothes, while the lime green section calls to mind the face of the Wicked Witch as played by Margaret Hamilton in The Wizard of Oz.

Lamy Safari Halloween Holiday Wicked Witch

The Ink is Graf von Faber-Castell Midnight Blue, for added spookiness.

So there you go. I hope you’ve enjoyed this episode of Lamy Safari Your Holiday.

Lamy Safari Your Team: A Totally Made-Up Thing That I Do, As an Adult

Sports Lamy Safaris Cubs Blackhawks Oilers colors

After an almost interminable wait, the NHL started the 2017-2018 regular season last night, though it’s only tonight that the Best Team Ever (the Chicago Blackhawks) will drop the puck. Go Hawks.

Then, tomorrow, the defending World Series Champions of 2016, “Ladies and Gentlemen, your Chicago Cubs,” will kick off their National League Division Series against the Washington Generals. Or is that the Nationals? (Hahaha, sick burn.)

Faithful readers may remember that last year, as the Cubs began the World Series after a record-breaking 108 year drought, we here in the Fountain Pen Follies World Headquarters and Television Control Tower made a Cubs Lamy Safari for good luck. It was constructed from the body and section of a blue Safari and the cap of a white Safari with red clip, and was filled with J. Herbin Lierre Sauvage for the green ivy of Wrigley Field.

Now, I am not saying it’s the Chicago Cubs Safari that was responsible for the Cubs improbable seventh game, rain-delayed, extra-innings, curse-breaking victory after 108 years. But it might have been, right? A baseball fan in general, and a Cubs fan in particular, is superstitious. So I’m putting the Cubs Safari back in action today.

Sports Lamy Safaris Chicago Cubs colors

This time, of course, it’s filled with Papier Plume Ivy 108, the Cubs green ink. Go Cubs, Go. And thanks for a great year.

But then, I felt a little bad, because I was leaving out the Best Team Ever (the Chicago Blackhawks). So I pulled out a few more Safaris, in red, black and white, and fashioned a Chicago Blackhawks Safari. It’s filled with Caran d’Ache Infra Red ink.

Sports Lamy Safaris Chicago Blackhawks colors

And then, well, I actually like almost every hockey team, because I’m a mom that way. So why not make one for my second favorite hockey team, the Edmonton Oilers? Parts of a blue, orange and white Safari did the trick. This is filled with KWZ Northern Twilight, in tribute to Canada.

Sports Lamy Safaris Edmonton Oilers colors

All sports teams have home and away sweaters, so I snuck in white on the sections of the Blackhawks and Oilers pens to represent the road jersey.

Sports Lamy Safaris Blackhawks Oilers colors

That photo is a metaphorical representation of both teams rocketing to the top of the standings, where I see them playing in the Western Conference championship. Where the Oilers unfortunately must fall to the Blackhawks, so the mighty Hawks can win the Stanley Cup again. So that’s a shame, but it’s great just to get that far, and maybe next year, Oilers.

And you know what? Anyone can play this! Are you a fan of the Pittsburgh Penguins, defending champions? Here you go.

Sports Lamy Safaris Penguins Bruins colors

That same yellow and black color works for the Boston Bruins, too.

And what about the enemy of the Penguins, the Philadelphia Flyers? I’ve got you covered.

Sports Lamy Safaris Flyers colors

(Obviously, the Flyers ink would be Skrip Red, because of their Broad Street Bullies history.)

The combinations are endless.¬†So I say onto all, try it. It’s fun. Lamy Safari Your Team!

(That Oilers one could double for the Chicago Bears football team, for instance, except, hahaha the Bears don’t deserve a Lamy Safari. Maybe a Bic. That someone stepped on in the hallway.)

I also will just drop here the teensy weensy reminder that, although October is the home of both the baseball playoffs and the start of the hockey season, we’ve heard nary a hint of¬† #Trophtober. Nor #Hocktober. Because sports have dignity.

Dignity, the watchword of Fountain Pen Follies. Now please excuse me, I need to go play with my Lamy Safaris, yell at the tv screen and pound some nachos.

My Favorite, and Least Favorite, Starter Fountain Pens

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Starter fountain pens: let’s get into it. Everyone loves a “what starter fountain pen should I buy” question. I am no exception: I have a few suggestions. The problem is, I also have a few I really don’t suggest, even though they are commonly recommended for beginners.

My choices are based on my own preferences, my own experience and my own tastes. Feel free to disagree. Different opinions and experiences are part of the fun.

For a starter fountain pen, I want a pen with a fairly low price. That encourages people to take the chance. And if you don’t get the hang of writing with the fountain pen, or don’t like it, or you lose your pen, it’s not the end of the world. I¬†only consider new pens, not vintage pens, for ease of purchase and ease of use.

But another requirement for me is that the pen be capable of providing lasting satisfaction. My ideal starter fountain pen can be used regularly even when you’ve moved past the starter stage. Because fountain pens don’t have to be expensive or precious, in my opinion.

So let’s jump in the pool.

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Pen of the Day: Lamy Safari Aquamarine with Robert Oster Bondi Blue

Robert Oster Bondi Blue writing sample

Lamy Safari Aquamarine with medium nib.¬†I am perfectly aware that this colorful and fun plastic fountain pen made for middle schoolers is the pen that fountain pen collectors can’t abide, and can’t resist dissing. Because most of my pen friends are that way. To my face.

But I magnanimously¬†forgive them, because they know not what they do. (Or, I secretly think, “pen snobs.” Guess which.)

Nonetheless¬†the humble Safari is¬†one of my favorite pen designs ever, and I think¬†it’s one of the best pen designs ever. I use my many Safaris (and Al-Stars and Vistas) all the time, and while they aren’t perfect, they are pretty awesome to me.

Now, sadly, the Aquamarine limited edition came out in 2011, and is long sold out. This color has been so popular on the secondary market that it has been counterfeited and sells for crazy prices. So I suggest you not hunt for an Aquamarine. (Except for my Safari Hater friends, whom I urge to drop everything, spend whatever it takes, just get an Aquamarine because it will change your life. You deserve it. Xoxoxo.)

The rest of us should consider¬†this year’s Al-Star in Pacific Blue instead. (It’s bright and attractive and also turquoise.) Or buy a¬†regular Safari in any color. Because¬†I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: paying premium prices for special Safaris makes no sense. Unless they have a ducky on top. Duh.

With the money you save, buy some awesome inks. Here’s one suggestion: Robert Oster Bondi Blue, a sample of which I’m now enjoying thanks to my¬†awesome blog reader and fountain pen pal David.

Robert Oster Bondi Blue writing sample

I really like Bondi Blue. It’s¬†a bright, fun color, with gorgeous¬†shading, and obvious sheen potential. And best of all, for me, it totally rocks in a Safari. I’ve got Bondi Blue¬†in two pens, because I’m going to review it, and it seems like a great¬†Safari ink. It flows well in the Safari, which is not the case for every ink, and it looks its best in a Safari, also not the case for every ink.

Love my Safaris, love my Bondi Blue.

Robert Oster Bondi Blue writing sample

 

Seventies Flashback: An Accidental Lamy Safari Tribute to Howard Johnson’s

Howard Johnson's Tribute Lamy Safaris and Al-Star

If you lived in America in the 1970s, and your family took road trips, you’ll see it, too. HoJo. The ubiquitous roadside motor lodge and restaurant chain,¬†with the appalling but memorable color scheme of orange and aqua.

It was an innocent mistake. Like the start of¬†a horror movie, when a bunch of¬†teens are lost and tired, and the cranky one¬†says, “Oh, let’s just stay in this abandoned house¬†— who’s going to care?”

Uh huh. Exactly what happened here. I had three new inks to try, so I grabbed two Lamy Safaris and an Al-Star. They are favorites and good ink testing pens. And you can color-coordinate pen and ink.

I didn’t think twice.¬†I¬†filled KWZ Grapefruit in an Orange Safari, Robert Oster Bondi Blue in an Aquamarine Safari and KWZ Honey in a Pearl Al-Star. Three excellent inks!

Until¬†I looked at the pens, standing there upright. “It’s coming from inside the house….”

Fountain Pen Favorites for January 2017

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January is over? How did that happen? Well, swiftly, I guess. In terms of pens and inks, January wasn’t particularly notable for me. But if I dredge, I can dig up some highlights.

1. Ink Dips. I liked the first two, Sailor Something Something and Pelikan Edelstein Onyx. Oh, yes, Sailor Oku-Yama. Details … poof. The mind is the first thing to go. Or maybe¬†vision. Possibly¬†hearing. What was I saying?

2. Yellow Journalism. I wrote in¬†my¬†new journal pretty consistently. Not every day, but almost. So it’s becoming a habit, which is nice. Unfortunately, I have written 96 pages since Christmas, which is going to be financially ruinous; these things are costly. I’m going back to a Rhodia Webnotebook when I fill my Nanami Writer, to see if the type¬†of journal makes a difference or not.

3. ¬†Hmm, a Rant. Yeah, um, well, hard to think of a third highlight, to be honest. I liked the inks I used this month. Pens were pretty calm for me — there is not much happening here in pens. Actually, I dislike something. I am not in favor of the newly announced 2017 Lamy Safari color, which is “Petrol,” which is the German word for¬†“Teal.”¬†I can’t even pretend to care about this Safari. Especially when the 2017 Al-Star is already an aquamarine called Pacific.

It seems¬†I’ve gone off Lamy. After so many years of the neons and the greens and the greenish yellows, now in 2107 we’re getting not one, but two, blue greens. That’s not what I’d call progress.

I’ve lost faith in Lamy, or interest, or both. I don’t know if the string of similar¬†colors¬†is due to lack of imagination, cost-consciousness or trying to profit off¬†an influx of newbie buyers¬†with no apparent discernment (given the prices they’ll pay for counterfeits). But whatever the cause, I don’t care. I’m bored with¬†the result.¬†It seems cheap and cynical, and worst of all dull, by Lamy.

Yes, I am now completely unexcited about Lamy Safaris. And I used to be their biggest fan.

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Photo by Dafne Cholet, Flickr, used under Creative Commons license.