A New Pen is Announced: My Six Stages of Perfectly Normal Behavior Indicating Excellent Mental Health


Pelikan has announced it’s bringing back the Classic M205 Demonstrator in Transparent Blue as a special edition starting in April.  Pelikan is a weakness of mine.  As are demonstrators.  Also, blue.

I can admit that I don’t happen to love the modern M200. It’s an excellent pen, but it’s a little lightweight for me, and it has the steel nib and I just have never bonded with it. Still, of course all I needed to do was to see the photo, above, to start salivating. It never fails.  Aurora, Pelikan and certain Montblancs affect me like a butcher’s bone does a dog.

Here are my stages, which are essentially invariable.

1. Infatuation. Oooh, shiny.

2. Reasoning It Out. Boy that looks so nice.  And I don’t have the exact same pen already. I mean not exactly the same.  Or, if exactly, I only have one (maybe two, tops) of the exact same pen already.  What if one breaks? And I could always use a different nib size in this pen.  Or a different color.  Or heck the box is probably different if everything else is the same.

And it says “special edition.”  That means: not around forever. Remember that I never got that yellow special edition that, okay I’d never use, but the point is that now I have no yellow pen.  Okay, no yellow pen other than my three yellow Safaris. No, okay, four yellow Safaris. Five? But let’s not confuse the issue.  This isn’t yellow anyway.  It’s so much more useful than yellow.

And for heaven’s sake, I haven’t bought anything pen-related for a week.  Yeah, okay, maybe it’s just four days, really, now that I think of it.  Then there were those cute pants, too.  But sometimes four days can feel like a week — or even a month.  You know that’s true.  And let’s be honest: these last four days have felt like a month.  A pen every month or so is really frugal.

3. Annoyance. What? It’s not out for six whole weeks?  We’re supposed to wait that long? That’s almost cruel.

4. Uh oh. (The price.) Wait, how much is it? Is that dollars or euros? Without shipping? Oh boy, yeah, well that is sort of … yeah.  That’s slightly more than a Safari to be sure.  But it’s not like I waste money on Starbucks lattés every day or anything.  So think of all the money I save there. This is the equivalent of….  Oh.  It’s the equivalent of [33/81/175] Starbucks lattés.  That is a lot of lattés, isn’t it?   Yikes.

And, okay, strictly speaking I already have [four/eight/nineteen/I can’t count that high] other pens of the same brand.  Some of which I bought last year with what I honestly considered “this year’s money.”

And, okay, the stock market laughs cruelly at me, as our “retirement accounts” shrink to the level where they wouldn’t fund a weekend at a Holiday Express.  The credit card bill is on the counter.  My children, annoyingly, “like to eat.”

5.  Acceptance. Sigh. A person is rich in proportion to the number of things which he or she can afford to let alone. Life is not a having and a getting, but a being and a becoming.  Something something makes us stronger.

6. A Few Weeks Later.  Oooh, I just read online that there’s someone offering it on Amazon dot Freedonia at 10 percent off.  Let me just crunch those numbers again.


The image of the forthcoming Pelikan Classic M205 Demonstrator in Transparent Blue can be found here, along with more information about the pen.  Drool with me.

Music Break!

I just like this song.  Stevie Nicks famously wrote Landslide in the 1970s, after a fight with her boyfriend and bandmate Lindsey Buckingham.  Fleetwood Mac recorded it in 1975, on the brink of stardom, but this particular song didn’t actually become a hit till years later.

I still have the record, but I like the version in this video, filmed at a concert in the 2000s.  There’s a different resonance thirty years later. Nicks survived hard times with drugs and difficult relationships, and I can’t imagine not rooting for her.  I like seeing Nicks and Buckingham playing together now, each seemingly in a happier and more peaceful place.  If we’re lucky, we all get through uncertain or hard times.

That said, the most moving version I’ve ever heard of this song was when my older daughter’s high school chorus performed it when they were seniors. It was an incredibly moving song from young adults, on the brink of so much that’s exciting, but also challenging and uncertain.  “I’ve been afraid of changing / ‘Cause I’ve built my life around you / But time makes you bolder / Even children get older / And I’m getting older too.”

Stevie Nicks dedicates this version to her father.  That’s part of getting older, too.  “Can I sail through the changing ocean tides / Can I handle the seasons of my life?”

I like seeing this video, because its answer is “yes.”

So, It Really Could Be the End of the World Now?


I read the other day that the Chicago Cubs are the heavy preseason favorites to win Major League’s Baseball’s World Series in 2016.  This is serious.

I’ve mentioned that I grew up a Cubs fan. That is not a prudent thing to be. The Cubs have the longest record of championship futility in American professional sports.  I grew up watching Cubs teams lose. Every single year. Some bad teams, yes, but also some good teams that still managed to claw defeat from the jaws of victory. Every. Single. Year.  I’ve been there, done that and I do actually have the tee shirt.

The idea that people would bet real money on the Cubs winning the World Series this year, at only 4-1 odds, is perhaps not technically crazy. One team will win, and there are only 30 teams. But are the Cubs at 4-1 a good bet?

I’m not saying, I’m just saying.

Well, if these are the end of days, at least I have enough ink.

Grab Your Life Jackets

We have not had the greatest ten days or so in our extended family. But the very same day we hit that iceberg, I got something in the mail that I turned out to be a life raft of sorts.  My new album Art Angels from Grimes arrived.

Now, Grimes is, to me, an awe-inspiring genius, but she’s no Adele in terms of appeal.  So I fully expect most people to be saying, who?” Or, if you know her stuff, maybe even, “hmm.” And you know what?  You are fine with that.  I am not pushing her. She’s definitely not for everyone.  Bless her, she doesn’t want to be.  I love that about her — she is singular and she is true to herself.

To give you an idea of Grimes, what’s probably the best song on her new album is called Kill v. Maim, and she said she wrote it from the perspective of Al Pacino in The Godfather Part 2 except he’s a vampire who travels through space. So.

You like to think she’s just playing with people there.  However, the video lends some support to that concept, since it’s so bloody that I wouldn’t link innocent people to it.  Tarantino fans, though, could Google it. And I think it’s great — especially before the rivers of blood begin to run down people’s faces and necks.

But, while it’s perhaps not as fantastic as Kill v. Maim, my favorite song on the album might be another song, called California. Grimes has explained this one as an f-you song, aimed at a music reviewing site.  However, what I love about California is its irresistibly happy pop beat.  It’s an upbeat f-you song.

My favorite part is  when she sings, “And when the ocean rises up above the ground / baby, I’ll drown / in Ca – al- al – al – al- California.”

Okay, maybe that sounds … not upbeat.  But when you hear it, it’s a happy, even triumphant, drowning.  (I mean, she is in California.)

I took a meditation class last year with an awesome teacher who said when things get difficult, remember to ride the waves. Don’t try to fight what’s happening — you can’t change it any more than you can change ocean waves. Just ride the waves. I’m going to say that it’s nice to do that with a smile on your face.


A Pen Case Just for Kaweco Sports


What is that interesting bit of red and black up there? It’s the coolest leather pen case/pen cup. Michael at MY63 Leather made it just to fit four Kaweco Sports.

Kaweco Sports are mini-pens, smaller than normal when capped, and then normal size when you post them to write with.  But because they are shorter capped, when you put them in a regular pen case or pen cup, they tend to get a little lost in there.

So Michael decided to make a cup or case that fits Kaweco Sports exactly.

(click Page 2 below to continue)

Happy Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day. The other day, I had one of those radio moments, when I was driving with the radio on, and all of a sudden they played Marshall Crenshaw’s “Someday, Someway.” That was on his first record, Marshall Crenshaw, which came out in 1982.

That song took me back to my freshman year in college, and to the greatest friends anyone could ever had. There were — and still are — six of us in our core group, two girls and four guys.

We all loved Marshall Crenshaw, whose early career coincided with those magical years where we were forging our identities away from home, and taking the first steps into adulthood.  Marshall — we called him that — played a concert at our college in support of Field Day, his wonderful second album. Of course we were in the front row.

It wasn’t just Marshall, though. Music was part of the fabric of our friendship. There were also R.E.M, Elvis Costello, the Replacements, Bruce Springsteen, New Order and too many others to mention.  We played music constantly, we talked about it and we went to concerts in New York and then later California. I can’t remember what I cooked for dinner two days ago, but I can tell you what a young Michael Stipe wore on a tiny stage in Binghamton, New York in the early 1980s.

What better day to appreciate family and friends than Valentine’s Day?  So I’d like to wish a Happy Valentine’s Day to all, old friends and new, near and far, online and offline.  And especially to those five wonderful friends from freshman year to today — one of whom has a birthday today. Thank you for the days and years.

Happy Super Bowl Day!


I don’t know about you, but I consider the Super Bowl an unofficial American holiday. We even have traditions: parties, betting squares, nachos and the commercials.

At the party we always go to, people pay more attention to the commercials (and the food) than the game.  Except at the end of each quarter, when we figure out who won money. Last year, the Fountain Pen Follies family won huge.  So we’ll lose it all this year, I’m sure.  But that’s okay, there are friends to catch up with.  And the food!

I’m not sure people overseas watch American football much, but the NFL wants to conquer the world, so if you don’t now, you may in the future.  And if that happens, you only need to know two words: Chicago Bears!

(Yeah, the Bears are bad now. But thirty years ago, they won a Super Bowl. And hope springs eternal.)

Fountain Pen Favorites for January 2016


January is the worst month in Chicago. February is almost as bad, but at least it’s shorter. But in terms of fountain pens and ink, this January was pretty darn good.  Here are some highlights.

1. KWZ Inks. I’ve really been enjoying these. Such beautiful inks, with such nice behavior.

2. Mysterious New Pen. I bought a new pen.  But as Plume says, it’s for the blog.  I’m selfless like that.

3. Learning Slowly but Surely. By the end of the month, I had started writing “2016” as the date, nearly automatically.  Oh yeah. Those gears are still turning.


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

Out Sick


Ugh, I’m home sick, with prescription drugs and everything, so the blog will be terribly neglected for a few days. I’m not even strong enough to walk the dog, much less concentrate on anything substantive. But I can always share a poem.

Before I got sick I was reading an excellent biography of Jonathan Swift by Leo Damrosch.  I’ll have to wait to get back to that, but yesterday I was flipping through some lighter reading and I was surprised and delighted to see a poem from William Butler Yeats called Swift’s Epitaph.

Yeats wrote this poem based on Swift’s actual epitaph, which Swift wrote in Latin, and which is mounted on a plaque in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin. The Yeats version is just beautiful.

Swift’s Epitaph

Swift has sailed into his rest;
Savage indignation there
Cannot lacerate his Breast.
Imitate him if you dare,
World-Besotted Traveler; he
Served human liberty.


The above painting of Jonathan Swift is in the public domain in its country of origin and other countries and areas where the copyright term is the author’s life plus 70 years or less.