Sunday, October 30, 2011

Lazy Update Just to Update

I'd like to say I've not posted much because I've been so busy mapping out my NaNoWriMo story, but the truth is I've been obsessing about music instead.  Note to self: the week before NaNo is not the best time to rekindle a fanatical interest in one's primary instrument of the moment (mandolin, in this case).  But I still want to ride that wave as long as it lasts.  So we'll see how November goes...

I did get out and wander a bit yesterday, in town and out, and pictures (even poor cell phone photos, as is the case) make for easy, lazy update fodder.

First off, I went back to the downtown Olympia, WA antique place I'm always yammering on about: Finder's Keepers, on 4th Ave.  It's almost always a fun place to browse, whether or not I buy anything.

There were a number of typewriters this time around, some of more interest than others.  This Royal was in pretty rough cosmetic shape and didn't have a case.

This Smith Corona standard is absolutely gorgeous...but it's also $75.  Lovely thing, though.

This little guy tucked away on a bottom shelf looks kind of familiar, and likely a good candidate for a crazy paint job.  But for forty  Not even if I was in buying mode.

I was tempted by a number of vintage index card/recipe boxes.  They almost always have some pretty ones there.

Oh, and toys!  Look at this little doll house desk!  Isn't this adorable?  (Sorry about the glare--it was in a glass case, and I couldn't get a good angle).

I also saw this somewhat puzzling toy typewriter.  I guess you had to rotate the little wheel for each and every letter.  Good way to teach kids patience, I suppose...or drive little Johnny completely mad before his seventh birthday.

It was a beautiful sunny day, so I went off on a ramble down the trail as well--days like that are rare here this time of year!  Most of the fall has...fallen, and the trail is thickly carpeted with leaves, still colorful (though not the jewel-toned brightness of the sugar maples back home in Vermont...).  Along the way I saw a note posted on one of the mileposts offering a reward for the finding of a lost gold ring, and had to feel for the author: how is anyone to spot one tiny spot of gold in all that natural richness?

These little guys are out in force.  I lost track of how many I saw along the way--dozens, for certain.

And now I suppose I should buckle down and NaNo plan for one whole day.  Or an hour or so.  I have wisdom teeth coming out tomorrow (joy!), so I doubt I'll be doing much in the way of deep thinking.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Untitled (and likely to remain so)

Some of us have no trouble coming up with titles, sometimes even before we know what we're going to put in the story to go with the title. At the other end of the spectrum--the very, very, very distant other end--that's where I live.

Most of the poems I've written over the years are untitled. In my head and in my journals, I refer to stories by clumsy monikers like "the time travel story with the dog," and "the Philip and Maggie story," "the old space story," "the new space story," and "that amnesia thing." A very few have working titles, but even those tend to be awkward, hokey, or cutesy (examples: "Dangerous Memories," "Unlikely Angel"), and I pretty much uniformly dislike them all.

I've been trying to come up with some sort of working name for this year's NaNoWriMo, and once again feel like bashing my head against a wall. I have the basic story sort of laid out (in short, it's a rather goofy detective novel set in a future where there's magic, a frog turned into a woman who wants to figure out who did this to her and why, an impulsive and rather bossy fairy, and assorted other characters), but can I come up with a name? Of course not. I'd like something that sort of resembles the titles of old detective novels, being as how this is almost a parody...but the closest I've come up with are "The Color of Jealousy" and "When Worlds Collide," both of which sound disturbingly like bodice-rippers. Oh dear.

And so, little NaNo novel, you are likely to remain "the magic detective story." It's OK. I'll love you (and hate you) just as much as other folks do all their tidily named tales, I promise--bless your undefined heart.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

NaNoWriMo Pencil Reunion

That was then:
NaNoWriMo Arsenal

This is now:
NaNoWriMo Pencil Reunion
(Click the pics to view on Flickr if you'd like to see identifying notes).

They're all a bit battle-hardened (or shell-shocked) now.  They've seen things--terrible things: some of the worst prose ever penciled.  You young guns can't possibly understand until you've been there...

I did use some other pencils--Rhodia, a few different Staedtler pencils, a General's Layout...whatever happened to find its way into my pencil box on any given day. But those pencils took the brunt of the work. The relative length isn't necessarily an indication of how loved they were. I'm actually not sure how the Golden Bear came through so unscathed, for one thing! And I had trouble with the Oxford lead breaking, so that's part of how it ended up so dinky.

Another NaNoWriMo approaches now, and as I've mentioned, I'm starting off with pencil again this year, though I reserve the right to switch to fountain pen or typewriter or what-have-you (do *you* have a what-have-you?) if burn out or whim strikes.  This year's line-up looks something like this:
Somewhat in the same line as last year, with a few new faces.  Yes, that Blackwing 602 is already sadly shrunken and marked up.  What can I say?  It's getting used.  I really like it.  Once I use up the first Blackwing 602, I'll probably save the rest for journal writing and short story scribbling and other less crazed writing pursuits.  I can't resist using at least one in this mad venture, but it isn't as though I don't have plenty of other pencils to fill the void...

I'm still getting to know the Musgrave Test Scoring 100 pencil (which needs a shorter and less fussy name...maybe I'll call them all Bob).  In feel, it's a little like the Helix Oxford HB, though slightly less...waxy?  Seems to hold a point better than the Oxford, which makes me wonder if I was over hasty in classifying it as something like a 2B.  I'm not really sure *what* it is, grade-wise, but so far I like it, despite its rather poor reviews in the pencil blogosphere...which makes me wonder if my opinion is at all valid, or if I'm too ignorant to know good pencils from bad.  Or maybe I just need to spend more time with it before disliking it...heh.  I may yet do a highly subjective mini-review one of these days, after I've had more time to develop an accurate opinion.

I'm pleased to welcome some Ticonderogas back into the mix.  I had a few newish Mexican-made ones around last year, but was unhappy with them: the lead was scratchy and pale.  At some point in the past year, I picked up some Made in China Ticonderogas (the unsharpened kind that come in paper boxes), and these are entirely different.  Not sure if it's batch variance, a different formula for boxed vs. pre-sharpened in blister packs, or the country of origin...but I quite like the new ones.

I guess I don't have to run through the entire line-up.  They're all good, solid, dependable and (most importantly, perhaps) easily obtainable, so I don't have to feel afraid of using them...aside from maybe the Blackwing, which is so pleasant to use I just don't care.

Out of the running: I don't think I'll bother with any Mirado Black Warriors this time around.  I *so* wanted to like these, but at least in their current iteration, they are disappointingly poor quality.  I think the lead itself is actually pretty nice, but of those I've sharpened so far, one was warped to the point where the lead rattled and clicked inside the bent casing at certain points in its life, and others had lead so poorly centered that they were almost impossible to sharpen and they wobbled as you wrote.  Maybe there are some good pencils in the package, but I don't have the heart to mess with them quite yet. I haven't had the same issues with the yellow Mirado Classic.  Just lucky? I'm not sure.

You'll notice I have more in the line-up as a whole. Part of this is just because kept following me home. Part of it is because I learned last year that variety is the spice of NaNoWriMo, and because I found it was much easier to keep my flow going when I had a whole bunch of pencils sharpened and at the ready for each writing session rather than stopping to sharpen along the way. I'd sharpen before I went to bed, and work through pencils the next day, tossing one aside when it got dull and reaching for another.

Now if I just had some idea how to start writing this thing....

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Monsters and Musgraves

Sometimes my desk looks like I killed a large, blue-blooded monster and tried to mop up the evidence. (In reality, this was just an unfortunate incident with a sample of Private Reserve Electric DC Supershow Blue--luckily most of the ink made it into a pen!)

And sometimes, even though I can't draw, I doodle monsters. Like this guy. (Apologies to Hank Sr.!)

In other news, I already broke my pencil buying moratorium. You knew that was going to happen, right? It's my birthday Monday. I used that as an excuse. That and the free shipping on Amazon orders over $25.  Has anyone else tried the Musgrave Test Scoring 100 (especially Speculator)? If not, I may pass some out. I'd be curious to get your thoughts.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

A NaNoWriMo Related Self Pep Talk

Autumn writer's palette
As I was avoiding writing today, I started playing with the various writing implements on my desk. I like how these look together...autumn leaf colors!

It's frustrating. Two weeks ago, I was in writing frenzy mode. I wanted to spend all day every day scribbling everything that popped into my head. And my head was busy. My mind was bubbling over with ideas. I was so excited about the prospect of NaNoWriMo I could hardly see straight. This week? Not so much. There were days I didn't even manage a brief journal entry. Once I start one I usually manage a few words, but...ugh...I'm not feeling it. Doesn't bode well for November.

Or does it? Isn't that, in a nutshell, part of what this whole NaNoWriMo thing is about: to show us that even when we have the writing blahs, we can still do great things? As Jack London so colorfully put it, "You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club."

Watch out, Inspiration. I've got you in my sights.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

An Open Letter to the Search Bots of the World (Concerning Haters)

Open Letter

And I would like to add, as search bot bait, poem haters poetry hater h8ter. Mmmkay?

Tell me I'm not the only one to get some odd repeated search terms!

Of course, *after* I write this rant, it occurs to me that maybe these people are all dyslexic, and really are looking for poetry haters or some such thing. Whatever. I'm determined to have my rant, nonetheless!

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Happiness is a New Box of Pencils: Palomino Blackwing 602s!

Actually, true happiness is another subject entirely.  But pencils don't hurt...

Ever since I first heard California Cedar Products had come out with a new version of the famed Eberhard Faber Blackwing 602 pencil, I've wanted to try some, just to say I did.  And I finally broke down and bought a box.

Palomino Blackwing 602

At 19.99 a dozen, they are very pricey as pencils go, though less than comparable high-end Japanese brands: a dozen Tombow Mono 100s will set you back $28(!!).  I'm scared to even try those!  My Blackwings arrived at the end of last week, and I spent part of the weekend putting one through its paces and comparing to other pencils. ( I finished the rough draft of a short story--woot!)

Blackwing slogan
This cracks me up...hooray for old school, over the top slogans!

I have to say, they are awful nice.  Sooo smooth, and they manage to write a pretty dark line without needing a ton of sharpening, just as the reviews say, and without much pressure. There is something to be said for a pencil that requires almost as little pressure as a fountain pen.   And because they're so smooth, they take longer to get to that draggy stage you eventually hit with a less-than-sharp pencil.  Also, they're gorgeous: glossy, metallic charcoal grey, the distinctive gold ferrule and flat eraser, and with that famous (if a bit goofy) slogan down one side and the model name down the other in gold lettering.  From what I've read, there was a certain amount of brouhaha over the choice of using a black eraser (the original had a pink eraser), but since I never used the original, I don't really have strong feelings either way.  I think the pink eraser might be a cool-looking contrast, but the black eraser looks sharp and works well.

My problems with them are mostly just that--my problems.  If I had unlimited funds, maybe I'd use nothing but Blackwings forever.  But I don't.  And they're twenty bucks a dozen.  I can just about buy a gross of California Republic Golden Bears for the same price as a dozen Blackwings.  Do I really like the Blackwings enough to justify that much of a price difference?  I doubt it.

Also, I'm intimidated by them, partly because of their price, partly because of their beautiful glossy metallic finish.  I've gotten accustomed to the lonnnnng points my Classroom Friendly Pencil Sharpener produces, but it does leave marks on the pencils.  At first I just sharpened a Blackwing with the hand-held Kum wedge, but I missed the long point terribly, and finally broke down and used the big sharpener.  It left marks, of course, which hurts.  I spent a certain amount of time this weekend explaining to myself that pretty though they are, these pencils are tools, and I should feel OK with treating them as such, but...

Still, I'm glad I get to experience them!

And now I really, really need to not buy any more pencils.  Like...ever.  I came across an interesting acronym among yarn craft folks the other day: SABLE.  It stands for "Stash Accumulation Beyond Life Expectancy."  I have a fairly optimistic view of my own life expectancy, but...well...sometimes I veer dangerously close to SABLE status when it comes to paper and ink and pencils.