If you have been following my tweets then you know that I have been wanting a Fountain Pen for sometime now. After a few weeks of online searching, peaking in and out of different office supply shops I came across this one here at office depot.
It was the only one they had, and the woman said that they would not be carrying fountain pens anymore. This had been reduced to more than half its original price, so it was a very good deal. I enthusiastically took to my journal and scraps of paper and was quite pleased.
A few days had passed and the quality of the ink had become an issue. The ink that came with it, Parker’s quink black, tends to spread after drying and bleeds through lowgrade paper (i.e copy paper, scraps, and notebook paper) but does not bleed through in my journal. The other issue I had with this ink was that it was not a true black. After drying, it has a tendency to try a dark grey that gets lighter as the ink runs out.
So my next purchase was this,
it is Higgins Eternal black ink. This ink said that it was good for use in calligraphy pens, fountain pens, art pens, and air brushing guns.
DO NOT USE THIS IN YOUR FOUNTAIN PEN. This ink was horrible, it spread more than the Quink ink that the pen came with. It wrote and dried grayer than the quink black and bled through the lower grade paper and my journal pages and It also smeared.
This ink is terrible for fountain pens.
The next ink I went to was Higgins Calligraphy black. The box said that this ink was also good for use in calligraphy pens, fountain pens, art pens, and air brushing guns. This ink was blacker than the Eternal but still grey compared to the quink. It also spread less than the Eternal but more than the quink. The completely irritating quality of this ink was that it did not have a good flow at all. My script handwriting has lots of loops and quick dashes, with this ink, they all disappeared. It seems to prefer lines that are vertical lines only. Again this ink was not good for me. If you write in print, this in is ok but script/cursive it’s a very bad ink
There was a week of research that followed and there were two inks that I found to stand out on the pen websites and seemed to suit my needs. The first was the ink that everyone raved over called aurora black ink. This by far all the reviewers and other pen people said that aurora black ink is the gold standard that all other fountain pen ink is measured against. It was said to not have any bleed through, possess a rich and deep black color, no spreading, and the quality of paper did not matter. The only other ink that was said to posses all these qualities was Noodler's Bulletproof BLACK EEL Fountain Pen Ink. This was the ink that I purchased at castle in the air (http://www.castleintheair.biz/) in Berkeley California. Where John whom was EXREAMLY knowledgeable helped me with excellent customer service that was not phony or pushy but truly genuine and wanted to make sure I got the right product. So thank you John
This ink is FANTASTIC, not only does it posses all of the qualities it says it has (no bleed through, possess a rich and deep black color, no spreading, and the quality of paper does not matter) It also claims to be water proof. I have not tested that one out yet. It wrote smoothly as a ink should, with loving care for my loops and horizontal lines and quick dashes. It did not dry grey or have any hints of grey and it is thick, like one expects to see from ink, but it does not clog. This ink was about 15 dollars so its not cheap but the quality of ink seems as if it will last me a while. Ill hang my hat on this ink and give the aurora a try when this bottle is through.
As I read this book of few pages there were many different themes that ran through it: Tradition, Afrocentricity, and African village life pre and post colonialism. The one that is most personal and prevalent to me was the one that reigned from beginning to end, Manhood. Things fall apart written by Chinua Achebe opens with introducing us to Okonkwo. His ideas of manhood are born out of resentment of his father. I would go as far as to say that Okonkwo’s contempt of his father is the foundational bedrock upon which he shaped his entire worldview. The ideal of a man, manhood, and how a man conducts himself at home and in society all, in my opinion, was fashioned by doing and being the opposite man he believed his father to be.
Okonkwo’s father was a carefree musician that lived for fun and the feast. He was also a debtor, so much so that he owed most everyone in the village. His barn was small, he had only one wife, and no title or place of honor in the village. If the lacking of any status symbols were not enough for Okonkwo to view his father with shameful eyes, he died in such a way that he could not be permitted a respected death at home. He had to be taken to the outskirts of the village and left to die because his sickness was one that village tradition dictated was foul and an abomination against the earth goddess. He could not die in the village or the village would be cursed and he could not be buried in the earth because that would also be a curse.
A very young Okonkwo was the man of the house now. The only son of a man with no title, and after his father’s debts were paid, no barn and no yam seeds, had to find a way to care for his grieving mother and his father’s family. He swore that day, to never be what his father was and in doing so, he proved himself. At his very early age, even by the village standards, he provided. He proved himself to be a brave and fearless warrior by taking the heads of a few men in war. He also proved himself greatly in sport by defeating someone that the entire clan considered unbeatable. With age, he gained titles and places of honor. He took three wives and had a larger than average of compound and barn. He even held one of the highest honors as an Egwugwu. An Egwugwu is essentially a person that is possessed by an ancestral spirit that dons a mask and delivers justice or punishment.
This was all counter balanced by Okonkwo being just as stern on himself as he was with everyone, and was even considered too harsh sometimes by the other men of the village. Okonkwo did not show any emotions except anger because it was the only manly emotion. He did not speak often and was a man of very few words, because only women and children constantly talked and made noise, men took action. He never borrowed except the one time because a real man supported himself and his family on his own. As we also see, a man never openly shows affection to his wife or children, and if he does, it is done in a very manly way. A real man was a divine instrument of correction, punishment and however misguided, direction.
Just as it seems that Okonkwo’s manhood plan is working for him he is brought to poetic shame by an accident considered female in the tradition of the village. The proud and respected Okonkwo was now an outcast, by village law he and his family were forced to live in his mother’s village for seven years while all the men of the village burned his compound to the ground. He was stripped of his title and standing and in his eyes alone, was the equivalent to the boy he was so long ago.
Seven years pass and Okonkwo rebuilds. He planned to come back to the village and make himself into a greater man than what he was before his tragic womanly accident. His plan was set but the times had changed, missionaries, white men, had come bringing a new religion, and new laws to the land. At first, it only claimed the outcasts and the undesirables of the village and clans that no one wanted or liked anyway. His standing on the missionaries and white men were, at worse nothing more than a joke. At worse Okonkwo saw them as a young pest that needed to be squashed before it grew too large. After eventually calming a portion of land considered unholy, a few villagers considered normal, a few men of high title, and his oldest son, Okonkwo begins to break down.
The conflict further escalates when an unruly outcast turned Christian spitefully unmasks an egwugwu. This would essentially be the same as someone killing an archbishop. In Okonkwo’s eyes, this meant out right war, but the men of the village seemed too had lost their thirst for blood as in days of old. They all talked, compromised, and resorted to burning down the mission. This action causes Okonkwo and all the men of high title and status to essentially be held for ransom and beaten, falsely imprisoned, and unfairly tried under the queen’s law. Like a freshly chastised child, Okonkwo goes home angered beyond the point rage or anger could properly express and swears revenge, even if he is the only MAN left willing to do so. At home Okonkwo recalls the days of his youth with when talking to an enemy like some of the men now did would not have been given serious consideration. The womanly reasoning, as he saw it, would have been left to the women while the men took heads and drove out the missionaries.
The book closes in a grand meeting, which Okonkwo despises, talking about what to do, and if these actions meant war was the proper action. Okonkwo forces the hand and seeing, realizing, in his mind, that he is the only REAL MAN left amongst them he does what I believe he believed to be a final slight at all the cowards that called themselves men and an example to the village of what he believed the proper action that they all are eternally doing now.
Over all, this book was very boring; by the time it started to get interesting, it was over. I really had to force myself to finish. This I never thought I would come across a book that I found utterly dry, to be as interesting as it was. Okonkwo and his arrested development kept me wanting to see what happen next. If you are a quick reader I say, go ahead and read. The more you think about and contemplate the dynamics, themes, and character analysis of the book, that becomes tremendously more interesting that the actual meat of the book itself. If you have a short attention span or need something with action or a twist and turn to keep you going, do not ready this book.
I think I'm going to have to give up on this book. I really dislike saying such things but I am very underwhelmed by The Call of Cthulhu and other weird stories by H.P. Lovecraft. It could be due to desensitization or the amount of hype and praise that various friends gave H.P. Lovecraft. I am a proud child of the 70’s and 80’s so some of the first media I was ever exposed to was the slasher horror flick. Jason, Michael Myers (Halloween 3 sucked so much I begged my mother to let me watch it and was so mad because it was nothing like 1 or 2, and was really poorly written and made no sense) Freddy Kurger, Chucky, Damien, and Regan Burstyn were all the odd protagonist of my day. Some of my favorite television in my childhood was the twilight zone, the outer limits, tales from the darkside, tales from the crypt, monsters, and one of the ones that really love was Friday the 13th the series.
When I allotted time to be properly horrified by the man countless critics called, the father and master of American horror I was very disappointed. His writing style is beautiful he is one of the few writers that transform the written word into experience. There is a point that you do not notice where you stop reading and you are merely following the events of the unfolding epic. The unfortunate part is the epic that unfolds is the archetype of anticlimactic. I wanted to like these stories, and they were good, but from what I had heard, I expected a great deal more.
Dagon: seemed to be nothing more than a spooky dream that had not reached full nightmare status at worse, an initial outline for The Call of Cthulhu at best
The Statement of Randolph Carter: Was an attempt at suspense but the constant reminder of the horrors that we can not see, and would drive a weaker man insane only made the second hand recount of the terrors more interesting and I was hoping at one point he would jump down the well and just help his friend. To me as the reader I thought that was the logical next step but it wasn’t and the ending, Ill be honest, was campy.
Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family: This was just silly and a tad bit racists. He protagonist sets himself on fire because he finds out that he is probably the last descendent of a race of white gorillas that happen to breed with people.
Celphais: Is really a story about a guy that had a good acid dream and spends the rest of his life trying to get back to it and dies when he does.
Nyarlathotep: I believe this was probably what inspired the first two mummy movies. If you have seen them then you have the jist of this short here.
And the great
The Call of Cthulhu: This was such a disappointment. Cthulhu is an ageless squid, octopus dragon god with wings that has been dormant but conscience for ages beyond count or measure. It gives artists and poets nightmares and causes its worshipers to go frantic with frenzy. Anyone that speaks of Cthulhu to anyone that does not know of Cthulhu, dies. One day a sailor stumbles upon Dagon’s island… I mean Cthulhu’s island and sees Dagon’s monolith… I mean Cthulhu’s monolith and the rest of ancient city that housed the old one. “and what an age-old cult had failed to do by design, a band of innocent sailors had done by accident. After vigintillions of years great Cthulhu was loose again, and ravening for delight." I mean that line alone just one of the things that angers me. I mean if you have been around trillions of years before the first organisms on earth began to form and shaped the very thoughts of early man in ape form, you could not get one of your worshipers to come jail break you? And how weak are you that a boat can ram you and cause your head to explode. COME ON
I read a few other stories but I wont review them because I don’t like to continue in negative. If you like Horror and are a great fan of Poe, stay away from H.P. Lovecraft, save for style and technique alone. The contents of these stories, however beautifully written, are for me a classic case of the dangers of hype.
So I did a HUGE update to my website
New home page
28 new poems
6 new color photos
2 new black and white
New Blog section
So far its just my latest book reviews and blogs
check it out
Every so often, I come across a book that not only causes me to examine my most steadfast beliefs but also resonates with them, as if the book was a tuning fork struck against my soul. Walden by Henry David Thoreau is one such book. Calling it a mere book I feel, is doing it an injustice. What these letters, these syllables, and words form in their entirety is, to me, one of the great literary works of art. Walden by Henry David Thoreau is a work of the greatest, deepest philosophical proportions that any lover of wisdom would be doing him or herself a disservice by passing the opportunity to take the trip to the pond by. Walden by Henry David Thoreau, unlike other works of this magnitude, is also not written so as that it confounds understanding to those whom would read this as template to their own love ode of nature.
On the dust jacket or back of the book you might find something equivalent to saying that Walden is the two year, two month, two day, (and knowing Thoreau two hour) chronicles of a man that built a home and lived by a pond that gives title to the book. It might also express his declaration of discontent of what was then modern man; his society that he felt lacked its right to claim civility, and his technology. This is all very much true but like Thoreau, there was more, much more than those opening words and simplified thoughts laying on the surface can explain.
What resides in these pages are, what was then, a new philosophical view that respected nature. It explained that nature was more than something to be tamed and or bent to the will of man and called for recognition of its sovereignty. In Walden Thoreau also asserted that to call one’s self a man, a civilized man, one must not behave as the beasts of nature.
“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation. From the desperate city, you go into the desperate country, and have to console yourself with the bravery of minks and muskrats. A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind. There is no play in them, for this comes after work. But it is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things.”
Henry David Thoreau
The first chapter, Economy, the longest single piece of work in the book, outlines why he embarked on this mission. From early on, it reads as if a semi-edited stream of consciousness that expresses a yearning to simplify one’s life and rid oneself of the rigors that social life and a proper standing in high society of New England demanded.
“Most of the luxuries, and many of the so-called comforts of life, are not only indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind.”
Henry David Thoreau
He expresses his contempt for the high esteeming attitude, which still prevails today, people had and have for fashion, homes, and miss appropriated civic pride and calls all that read to come to an epiphany of what is true and what actually is necessary in life. He also does not shy away from telling and expressing his faith. He also does not hold a close mind in that believing he can only learn from faith solely but expresses how all of nature is part of creation and there by his learning is only heighten, not hindered by experiencing and being a part of nature. This being a part of nature he also felt and expressed that civilized man was again retreating from too rabidly.
“Why should we live with such hurry and waste of life? We are determined to be starved before we are hungry.”
Henry David Thoreau
I pause here to say that the chapter entitled Reading will forever hold a special place in my heart because of this quote here,
“A written word is the choicest of relics. It is something as once more intimate with us and more universal that any other work of art. It is the work of art nearest to life itself. It may be actually breathed from all human lips; not be represented on canvas or in marble only, but be carved out of the breath of life itself.”
Henry David Thoreau
If you read Walden for nothing else, I say read enough to get to this point. Read until you have arrived to this statement so you can fully appreciate the profoundness and beauty of what had been written, what your eyes just had the privilege to have read. Anyone that writes, anyone that sings, anyone that appreciates literature, poetry, and song for the art that it is understands the wonder that was expressed by such an uncomplicated and deeply insightful statement. One other statement that truly reveals how this man born in 1817 and this work written in 1854 was far ahead of its time, reaching into our own some one hundred and fifty four years later, but also shows how far we have not gone in the those one hundred and fifty four years.
“Society is commonly too cheap. We meet at very short intervals, not having had time to acquire any new value for each other. We meet at meals three times a day, and give each other a new taste of that old musty cheese that we are. We have had to agree on a certain set of rules, called etiquette and politeness, to make this frequent meeting tolerable and that we need not come to open war. We meet at the post office, and at the sociable, and about the fireside every night; we live thick and are in each other’s way, and stumble over one another, and I think that we thus lose some respect for one another. Certainly less frequency would suffice for all important and hearty communications.”
Henry David Thoreau
Clearly Thoreau touched on points that we still speak about today, if not it is probably worse today. We do not sit down with friends or family today for even one meal yet we hold strict contempt for strangers that disobey the rules of etiquette and politeness. I once saw a woman curse another woman out because she did not hold the door open for her as they were walking in the store, but the woman that walked in the store in front of the other woman did not even see or know another person was behind her so why would she hold the door open. If we change the post office to starbucks or some fast-food place for lunch and the fire side to tv or computer and we have relevant commentary about today.
This is where my love affair with Walden ends. If you are reading this work for its philosophical merit alone then I will say upon approaching the chapter The bean field skip to the conclusion. The remainder of the book is just details and true odes to birds, fishing, the pond, and other natural aspects that have worth but reading all of them becomes very monotonous. Read this book for its philosophical worth. Read this book for its historical value and being one of the early roots of environmentalism and naturalism in America. Read this book and ponder.
“Shall we always study to obtain more of these of these things, and not sometimes to be content with less?
Henry David Thoreau