Wednesday, September 20, 2006

A Tradition of Heritage

Milestones in Total Quality

Moonsash turned one year old a few weeks ago – I celebrated by drinking Hoffbrau out of an empty, clean shampoo bottle, and also by forgetting about the anniversary entirely.

Movie Review Roundup

The Black Doodah
Fine actors, slavishly allusive cinematography, and exhaustive period detail can’t save this shallow, dull movie from itself. Apparently Brian de Palma is an auteur non pareil, and his movies are viewed as the crème de la crème, but I’m afraid that watching this one was more of an auto-da-fé than an experience of joie de vivre. De Palma is continually fascinated (so the New York Times says) by voyeurism and especially femmes fatales; why then are his femme fatale characters so thin and amateurish, and his scenes of voyeurism so clichéd?

The Illusionist
Fine actors, slavishly allusive cinematography, blah blah blah. Eerily similar to The Necromancer (considered to be the first gothic novel), this dull vampire LARP of a movie convinced me that Paul Giamatti is actually a fine actor, and that Rufus Sewell should be in more movies, but nothing else. Pretty boring, shot on a very few (nice) sets, uninteresting performances by Jessica Biel and Ed Norton.

Important Fountain Pen News

Many (none) of you may have followed my recent attempts to get Cambridge top-folding staple bound notebooks, in legal yellow, with a reinforced cover (available at the Princeton U-Store in years past, now apparently retired from Mead’s offerings). These notebooks, with their creamy deluxe paper and built-in cover, are perfect for taking field notes in fountain pen. They’re sturdy and they don’t immediately reveal your confidential notes (“nice lobby”, “another impressive lobby”, “good lobby restroom”) to everyone. But you can’t buy them anymore, and regular office stores astoundingly don’t offer anything comparable.

So I eventually settled on the Moleskine, an ultradeluxe notebook for people in Ivy club who want to burlesque note-taking during their vacation to Brazil (also Kean had one before they were cool at Princeton at least). I was extremely loath to take this step since Moleskine has a sizeable following, and I did not particularly want to make a statement of membership in an obsessive, twee group with my notebook (putting this much thought into notebook purchases, and then blogging about it, is of course neither obsessive nor twee). Also, Moleskines cost on average $15 a piece, so I might as well be writing on finely cured and pressed cocaine.

It also turns out that people from the internet have an ongoing argument of about the intensity level of the Council of Nicea about whether Moleskines work with fountain pens. I am here to tell you that in certain cases they do; I use one with a Visconti Van Gogh steel nib F fountain pen, with black Visconti ink, and the experience is perfect. The pen glides over the page like a finger dipped in butter and dragged along a sheet of glass, although the experience is (arguably) less psychosexually dynamic than engaging in a form of frottage with baking equipment. The ink doesn’t bleed or feather, and it doesn’t mark through the page. My particular Visconti has always written rather dry, so even the same pen and nib may not work for everyone. I have also tried writing in the Moleskine with an F, steel nib Faber-Castell fountain pen that I bought in Switzerland (Of course I jaunt off to Switzerland to buy office supplies! Hah hah! Tirrah!). This did not become a lovely memory. I was using a cartridge, and the ink flowed like the Tiber in March, feathering and beading everywhere and humiliating me in front of the luxury boat operators on Lake Geneva. It was, without a doubt, the most tragic thing that has ever happened to anyone I know.

Links for the obsessive and the bored
- the particular notebook I favor, for sale.
- Moleskine's unbelievably pretentious and poorly translated site.
- Possibly misguided list of pens that work with Moleskine (a lot of these Moleskine+Fountain Pen coma wedding sites suggest using Parker Quink, which I consider a grave perversion; I will probably never buy "Noodler's" fountain pen ink because it makes me picture a fat, balding man with a huge grey moustache, wearing a green Sears sweater, annoying a diner waitress by insisting on using his own pen to sign a credit card recipt for $6.48. For Christ's sake, why not call it Fayetteville Fine Inks or something? Jesus Christ.).
- The blog post that started this whole sick show.