Stubbed Haiku Series, Entry 003: Social Nixon

I enjoyed doing haiku with the semi-flex nib so much, I decided I wanted to do some with my 0.9mm Pendleton Point stub as well. For reasons why I think this is a good idea compared to a vanilla writing sample as far as geting a feel for what the nib can do, see the preface to any one of my Flexible Haiku entries. (see how I cleverly and subtly tried to trick you into reading more of my haiku, there? Subtle. Subtle and clever.)

 Not much to say about writing with a stub as far as technique (I think I’ve rambled about how best to angle the nib elsewhere), though I will say that I think you definitely get better line variation if you can write fast. Your handwriting will be a bit wonkier (okay, sloppier), but I imagine that will improve with practice. On the plus side, the speed means you’ll put down less ink and the line variation between the horizontal and vertical strokes will be more striking.

Social Nixon longhand sample

Apostrophes are excellent for bending the haiku rules. Stanzas numbered for your convenience.

Original Posting Date: November 15, 2010

Original Commentary:

Admittedly, this one is a bit more involved for the reader, I think …  It requires a bit of English Literature, political, and social history before it makes more any sense.  If you want an explanation, let me know in the comments.  I also continue to shamelessly abuse the apostrophe to comply with the syllable rules. ;)

New Commentary:

Okay. Well, bit of an embarrassing admission here. I cannot remember why I wrote this, or what inspired me to do it. I’m not very happy with my original commentary, either. It seems to indicate I didn’t really know why I was writing it when I did it, either–or at least I couldn’t come up with a good way of explaining it. Looks like I was stalling for time while I tried to figure out exactly what I was trying to say.

In hindsight, I think I was trying to comment on the supposed erosion of a unified version of collective morality–what popular media keeps trying to tell us we’ve lost somewhere along the way–and why it is in fact a good and necessary thing.

Let me go through this and see if I can figure out what I was up to. As I wrote the text below, the meaning came back to me. I still think I was being too subtle or indirect for most readers to have gotten everything I was trying to say, which is purely a failure on my part. It’s not cleverness if you fail to get your point across. At any rate, here’s what I was going for.

Stanza 1: Those afraid of social change often want to “rewind the world.”

Stanza 2: Gold doesn’t rust. Mores (the essential/characteristic customs and conventions of a community) that are gold and rustless would at first glance appear to be priceless and resistant to corrosion and change. President Nixon took the United States off the gold standard to, arguably, prevent the dollar’s collapse: the gold-based Bretton Woods system that had provided stability and growth in the aftermath of World War II had proven unsustainable and in fact harmful in the following decades as the rest of the world recovered its economic power and the United States began feeling the pressures of globalization. (See: “Nixon Shock” over at Wikipedia for details.) Beginning in the 1950s with the Civil Rights movement and continuing into 2010 with the LBGT rights movement and other causes, we have seen and continue to see our collective idea of what is moral and acceptable change and expand to recognize the equal rights of those groups that were formally persecuted and treated as immoral deviants. Consider as an example the fact that miscegenation (marriage between persons of different races) was once a crime in the United States until the Supreme Court case of Loving v. Virginia (1967). This and other advancements in civil rights came only because we as a society began acting through activists, legislatures, and the courts to take ourselves off outmoded, inflexible “gold standards” enshrining prejudice and bigotry that harmed us as we pursued equal and fair treatment for all.

Stanza 3: Here, it looks like I was giving examples of when adhering to supposed “gold standards” of morality did harm or condemned otherwise moral and upstanding persons. The Scarlet Letter is a classic tragedy of the suffocation of love in the face of a public whose rigid rules condemn and punish the protagonist for having the temerity to follow her heart and the bad luck of not having the political protections that shielded her lover from most of the fallout. Diana, Princess of Wales, was publicly and privately condemned by conservative elements in the United Kingdom following the disintegration of her marriage to Prince Charles for, among other things, a supposedly immoral violation of the relevant traditions and customs, and yet remained even after her death a globally beloved figure for her humanitarian work and legendary compassion.

So that’s it. Something at the time must have set me off enough to write out what I recognize as a very roundabout sort of rant, but without going back and looking at the news from November 2010 I couldn’t begin to guess what. Given that I imagine I was pretty steamed when I came up with it, I don’t think I’m going to go back and look at the archives. No reason to risk putting myself in a rotten mood again.

Rewind the world now?

Gold mores, rustless–Social Nixon!

Scarl’t A, Princess Di

Stubbed Haiku Series, Entry 002: Book a Ticket to Mars Colony

I enjoyed doing haiku with the semi-flex nib so much, I decided I wanted to do some with my 0.9mm Pendleton Point stub as well. For reasons why I think this is a good idea compared to a vanilla writing sample as far as geting a feel for what the nib can do, see the preface to any one of my Flexible Haiku entries. (see how I cleverly and subtly tried to trick you into reading more of my haiku, there? Subtle. Subtle and clever.)

Not much to say about writing with a stub as far as technique (I think I’ve rambled about how best to angle the nib elsewhere), though I will say that I think you definitely get better line variation if you can write fast. Your handwriting will be a bit wonkier (okay, sloppier), but I imagine that will improve with practice. On the plus side, the speed means you’ll put down less ink and the line variation between the horizontal and vertical strokes will be more striking.

Original Posting Date: November 22, 2010.

I wasn't quite as quick with my pen on this one, so it's a bit heavy handed, but the stub-italic nib still gives some great character to the lettering. I'm particularly enamored with how "burns" came out, for some reason.

I wasn’t quite as quick with my pen on this one, so it’s a bit heavy handed, but the stub-italic nib still gives some great character to the lettering.
I’m particularly enamored with how “burns” came out, for some reason. I can’t really explain it.

Original Commentary:

It’s Monday.  Surely you didn’t expect a cheery haiku.  Here’s hoping for alien contact before 2061.

New Commentary:

Not going to add much save to say I was and remain deeply affected by Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot. Thinking about the book’s central idea–that (and I paraphrase on a massive scale) the earth is so small and fragile (natural disasters, extinction level events like astroid strikes) and humanity so prone to acts of self-destruction writ large (hello, nuclear weapons) the best hope for our long term survival as a species is to have backup settlements on at least one other planet–inspired this haiku.

I firmly believe that if our species and civilization is to survive into the distant future we must expand beyond the borders of our planet. That’s why I support SpaceX and similar programs with space colonization as their goal. We need colonies. We need backups. We need to do our very best to ensure humanity never vanishes from the cosmos, even if Earth goes dark.

After all, we invented Twinkies. Our magnificent brilliance must never perish from the universe.

Pale blue dot simmers

Petty squabbles as world burns

Flickers in deep black

Stubbed Haiku Series, Entry 001: Grim Dendrology

I enjoyed doing haiku with the semi-flex nib so much, I decided I wanted to do some with my 0.9mm Pendleton Point stub as well. For reasons why I think this is a good idea compared to a vanilla writing sample as far as geting a feel for what the nib can do, see the preface to any one of my Flexible Haiku entries. (see how I cleverly and subtly tried to trick you into reading more of my haiku, there? Subtle. Subtle and clever.)

Not much to say about writing with a stub as far as technique (I think I’ve rambled about how best to angle the nib elsewhere), though I will say that I think you definitely get better line variation if you can write fast. Your handwriting will be a bit wonkier (okay, sloppier), but I imagine that will improve with practice. On the plus side, the speed means you’ll put down less ink and the line variation between the horizontal and vertical strokes will be more striking.

For a quick, barely-controlled bit of writing, I actually think this came out pretty well. That last D looks terrible, though.

For a quick, barely-controlled bit of writing, I actually think this came out pretty well.
That last D looks terrible, though.

Original posting date: November 12, 2010.

Original Commentary:

Suppose I’m still in the Halloween spirit.  Thanksgiving isn’t really marketted well, by comparison…

New Commentary:

Maybe it’s too many years of playing too many Zelda games too late at night, but there’s something about huge, old trees with trunks twice as big around as me (or more), full of humps and twists and knots, that puts me on edge. I can’t help thinking each one of those trees looks like it rose up in a panic, struggling to contain something … evil. Something ready to escape at the first opportunity.

Watch where you stick your axes, ladies and gentlemen.

Gnarled haunted tree

Lost soul trap’t in twisted roots

Swift swings the dull axe

Jinhao Dreadnaught 159 Pendleton Point Writing Sample

Jinhao Dreadnaught 159 Pendleton Point Writing Sample Hello. So, Posterous is going the way of 8 track tapes, and will be offline by the end of April. I’ll slowly but surely be moving my posts over to this blog, and re-categorizing and re-tagging  them while I’m at it. The organization on my last blog was horrid.

And making sure I have great organization is surely the most important thing for my blogging. It’s not like I need to post more than once every three months or anything. -_-

Anyhow, I got a Jinhao 159 Black Dreadnaught from HisNibs.com as a Christmas gift, and really loved the size and shape and color–everything about the way it looks is pure class. The grip is huge and comfortable and not slick at all, and in an emergency I think I could use the body as a club. That said, I was disappointed to have such a great looking pen give me serious hard-starting and skipping issues. I was storing it upside down to deal with the hard starting and still having problems, and never could figure out what was causing the skipping.

I met Pendleton Brown at the 2012 Dallas Pen Show back in September and had a great time talking with him as he worked on a couple of my pens. I was very impressed by the output of his custom-ground stub-italics, and I decided my misbehaving 159 would be a great pen to try one out on.

I got the pen back this week, and it has been amazing. It’s been quite a while (since I first bought my Pilot Custom 823, actually) that I’ve consciously been going out of my way to find an excuse to write with a pen, but it’s just so much fun to use. The misbehavior is gone, and the new line it puts down is wet and full of character. The shading I’m getting from it now is also excellent. Before regrinding, the line was so thick and wet (when it wrote) that there wasn’t very much shading at all, if any. I couldn’t be happier, or recommend Pendleton higher: his customer service is excellent and he’s always a joy to talk to.

HisNibs rates the 159 as a western Medium, trending towards bold (it was certainly the widest non-stub nib I had before it went in for surgery). After re-grinding, Pendleton said the line is about 0.9mm, which is about as wide as I would want a stub to be for everyday use. My handwriting tends to be smaller because of my severe tunnel vision (and in spite of my large hands and preference for big pens), and 0.9mm is about my maximum size for normal writing. (I have a 1.1mm stub Conklin Crescent and it sadly doesn’t get as much use as it should because the line width is so big.) I’d still switch to a Japanese F or a Euro F for margin notes or something similar, but the 159 at 0.9mm is great for normal writing.

The only thing that’s holding me back from giving the pen a full 5/5 is, well, me. I’m not entirely sure how to hold a stub-italic to get the best line variation, and I know sometimes I’m not holding it right at all (I can tell as there is no/little line variation in a test cross-hatch). I’m trying to train myself to write with the nib contact-point parallel to the paper, but it’s harder than I thought it would be. I’m left handed and have a tenancy to let my grip form a claw around the pen, so it’s taking some conscious effort.

If I had to come up with one other critique, I could only say that it’s too bad the regrind didn’t make my handwriting magically look like Pendleton’s, which is always incredible. Observe what he can do with this same pen.

I’m starting to realize writing faster may have a lot to do with getting the best performance out of this kind of nib.

Look at Pendleton's writing sample. Now back to mine. Now back to his. Now back to mine. Obviously, mine isn't his. I need to work on that.

Look at Pendleton’s writing sample. Now back to mine. Now back to his. Now back to mine. Obviously, mine isn’t his. I’ve got some practicing to do.

As to my writing sample, it’s my usual form. I didn’t do any smear tests or anything else related to the ink, and I can’t promise my scanner is giving an accurate color reproduction. In my writing samples, I’m more concerned with how the pen performs.

I couldn’t be happier with this nib. This pen is now one of my regulars, second only to my Pilot Custom 823 Fine, and much more likely to leave the house with me when I’m not wearing a shirt pocket. I’m much more comfortable carrying it in my pants. It’s also the nib I used to make the digitized copy of my signature I’m currently using to sign documents.

Now, I just have to learn to make it sing.