Saturday, December 24, 2011

Moleskine Destruction!

I am working on an amazing Moleskine project that I can't post about until after tomorrow and it is killing me.  So good.

Have a great Holiday.

Seth

Monday, December 5, 2011

Kaweco Sport Fountain Pen

Kaweco might be one of those companies that even some real pen people don't know that much about.  I have been a huge fan of their stuff for years and I really like what they do.

In 1883 Kaweco started making pens.  1883!  What's interesting is that they are still in business and that's the same year that Louis Waterman began doing experiments to create the fountain pen.   I love when companies appreciate their history and do a decent job in presenting it. Kaweco does that here with a nice little wrap up.  If you do not feel like clicking, the short story is around 1908 they starting making the Sport Pen (or Ladies Pens, or Pocket Pens) after a run of nice dip pens. They really haven't changed that much since they kicked it off.

The Sport is a style of pen that I really like: a nice, small form when capped and then suddenly large enough for my hand when the cap is posted.  It's tricky... "it's tricky, tricky, tricky"...and yes... somehow I managed to go through 104 years of History.  The start of a wonderful pen company straight in 1883 to RUN DMC's 1987 hit. Sing it together:  "to rock a rhyme, to rock a rhyme that's right on time....it's tricky."
If you haven't met before...here is the Kaweco Sport.  A wonderful little cartridge filled fountain pen that has landed a special spot in my rotation.  At first blush you might question the gold end piece and the silver clip.  That's completely my doing.  It doesn't come with a clip,  you have to order them separately and I picked the silver over the gold. Yes, the nib is gold also. It's just my preference.  More on that later.
The cap is beveled to keep it from rolling around your desk if you opt out of the clip and here is how it stretches out. Nice lines.
I cheated a little here for impact.  The Sheaffer Lifetime is a slightly larger fountain but here you see them side by side. Notice how the caps are really similar in length.  It has to be for the Kaweco to give it a little extra room in your hand.     
As always, click for better images. Here's how the world comes together in odd little bursts...I swear that I simply Googled "small quotes" and this was one of the ones that  I liked...When I hit Mr. Hill's Wiki Page to find out who he was- the first thing I noticed was his birth year.  You got it. 1883.  I just blew my mind a little.  I know not everyone loves blue ink...I just need to burn through this cartridge and then I can trade it out.  This EF is a little thicker than I am used to for EF's but it doesn't bother me. Even from the first time it hit paper this one was smooth and crisp.  I can't wait to throw some nice ink in here.  Someday I will write a full review in the pen I am reviewing and not have any typing...some day. 
                      Here's the breakdown.  Nothing unusual here. Just good, solid German manufacturing. 
Nice touch on the end cap here.  If you are an iPad user I really recommend a little app called Flipboard.  Once you are in there search the feeds for Good Pens.  It looks pretty decent on the page. (Thanks JR.) 

I bought this one at JetPens,  I went with the EF nib and the Silver Clip.  There's a ton of options depending on your needs and style.  There is also a demonstrator if you feel lucky.  Bottom line...even if you do have large hands, don't be afraid to give these pens a try.  

Good Pens.


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Updates!

If you have noticed some changes...I thought that I should put up some new drapes and add some features.  You might have noticed the Tabs being added up top and I added an official  Facebook page  for quick little updates when I can't do a full post.  Bear with me as I clean things up and thanks again for reading.


Monday, November 28, 2011

Holiday Gift Guide Penstravaganza!

It's always around this time of year when I start to get a few emails and comments from people asking about gifts and they usually go something like this:

Hey Good Pens Guy Dude:  I LOVE your blog...but I need some potential gift ideas for my (fill in the blank) girlfriend, sister, room mate, father, Siamese twin etc. and oh..they really like pens.
Usually I try my best to gather some info and put a response together but this year,  I thought that I would put a little buying guide together for you and pass along some knowledge hopefully saving you some time and energy.  Don't get me wrong,  I am still happy to answer your emails.

First of all, some words of warning and getting rid of all the legal mumbo-jumbo.  In terms of warnings....there are two types of people that you could be potentially be buying for. 1. Pen people. 2. Non-Pen People. Know the difference.  They are similar in looks and stature but should be treated slightly differently (more to follow on this.) The Legal stuff:  I have zero affiliation with any links or sites or anything else I am about to post.  I just had a glass of Beaujolais Nouveau and The Walking Dead is on so who knows what that this could bring.

Here's the deal, it's still November and there is no need to panic. Go down through your list, who do you want to buy pen stuff for? Cool, Crazy Uncle Benny would be perfect.  Let's make a list.

First piece of advice...don't just go out and buy a fountain pen unless you are pretty sure the person might use it. Don't get me wrong, an unused pen that can get passed down is a cool thing,  but a pen that will get used and appreciated is a better gift. Also,  like I said, you have time:  Sneak into the persons house late at night that you are buying for and take a look at what kind of pens they use (don't do this.)  That way you know what sort of pen to buy. (Don't do this.)

1. Pens,  Non-Fountain, low cost version.  Everyone knows I am crazy for the Zebra Sarasa's.  They have a sweet spot in my heart.  Perfect colors, perfect points and at around $2 each they are dreamy. (Did I really just call a pen dreamy?  Yes,  yes I did.)  I buy them from the Japanese Pen stores when I am in NYC or San Fransisco or Jetpens carries them.  Buy a set, rave about how hard they are to find and thank me later. Stay away from CVS and Staples,  nothing good can come from this. Uncle Benny will haunt you for the rest of your life if you do this.  Uniball's  are nice.  The secret is to buy a few colors and sizes and let them pick a favorite.

1.a  Pens, Non-Fountain Medium and High Cost Versions- You know... I kinda like my Lamy's.  Rarely have they disappointed me. I never really had to do much to they to keep them flowing and it's a name that most will recognize.  Here's one I like that can get picked up for about $60 or so the Lamy Studio Roller ball. The Cross Affinity is popular also or any Parker Sonnet at this level would be nice. Oh and buy a couple refills for roller balls.  It really makes it easier on the person getting the gift.  It's much less likely to get thrown in a drawer once it runs dry. Think about his for the business guy/ graduate/ sister in law for the match here.

What?  you have more to spend?  Hold off there sparky, It is not worth it to spend more than that on one pen at this level. Let's move on and since you asked: stay away from brush pens or pen and pencil sets.  Too quirky and too predictable. (In that order.) If you want to spend more,  go with a combo gift (details below.)

2. Fountain Pens. Low Cost Version.  Yee-Haw.  My possible favorite category. For the Non-Pen Person, you could be introducing them to a whole new world without killing your pocketbook.  For the Pen lovers...any fountain pen will be appreciated. Honestly it's rare that a pen guy will frown upon a new pen. Low cost is probably around $25. Anything less than $8 is likely disposable,  anything more than $50 will creep into the next category. The Lamy Nexx is nice. Pelikens are fun and durable.  I love the Lamy Vista Demonstrators (more on these later.) in fact, tons of Lamy's in this category will work. The Sheaffer Prelude is a Classic. Even Rotring has something in this category.

Ok,  shhhhh,  here's a secret:  It will be another one in the list as well but buy some ink along with the fountain pen.  If it's a cartridge pen, try to find a converter for it instead of cartridges. (Just ask, they will know) Wrap it up,  put a bow on it and wait for the return gifts. Wait,  I am being told that is not what the Holidays are about.  Moving on.

2.a  Fountain Pens. Medium Cost Version.  This one is fun also. Here's the trick,  finding your comfort zone (in terms of dollars) and matching that with a potential pen.  Having a secret that only you and AMEX know is fun,  but don't let it drive you crazy.  Here's another secret,  a lot of fountain people like demonstrators. Back in the day, they were used to show people the inner working of pens.  Now... they are just plain cool. This Pilot Prera from JetPens rocks.  Google them,  tons of choices.   The Sheaffer 300 is nice at around $100 and I also like Waterman Phileas line.   Here's the only kicker: fountain pens come in different size nibs so be aware of this.  I like EF (Extra Fine)  Fine (F)  is usually a safe, but some people like Mediums.  I know I am not helping here.  Just giving you a heads up. Your stalking skills will come in handy here.

2. Fountain Pens. High Cost Version.  Skip this section. Again,  unless it's on their list as a HAVE to HAVE Christmas item and you know exactly what the person wants...don't don't do it.  Just being expensive does not mean that the person will love/use it. And...unless you know what you are doing,  avoid used fountain pens on eBay,  yes there are some great deals out there but its not that unusual to buy a fountain pen on eBay needs some work. Not a cool gift.  It's easy to spend $1000 on a fountain pen,  it's not easy to sneak in how much you paid for it to the person that has no idea what you just bought them. I will admit the Vanishing Point by Pilot is still pretty sweet. It's not for the novice,  but a really fine gift for those who know their way around a pen.

3. Mechanical Pencils  Are you kidding me?  Mechanicals make a nice gift. A lot of people have really cheap Mechanical Pencils.  Not a lot of people have really nice Mechanical Pencils.  I have given one or two of these away as gifts and I hope they are well used.   Coolness tip:  Drafting or Architect pencils are a sweet gift for dudes.  Again,  be aware that there are different size leads available from the super fat the the ultra thin.  .5 is usually a safe bet.  Here are some of my favorites...The Kuru Toga will automatically rotate your lead for you and at $16.50 it is bad ass.  LAMY makes another one for around $25 that is nice.
Side tip: buy some different hardness lead along with the pencil so the person has a choice.  A nice eraser also makes a good side gift.

4. Ink.  Ahh,  assuming your Siamese twin likes to use fountain pens...they will need ink and ink is sexy.(yep, I said it)  There are so many choices and the good news is, you can afford this.  Noodlers has some awesome colors.  Levengers is good.  They are less expensive, but I like the Pelikan inks also.  Buying tip:  buy 3 or 4 in similar shades and give it that way. Blue-Blacks, Greens or even reds.  Awesome gift. I have never heard a pen junky say "I have too many inks."  That's just silly. Tons of choices here folks.

5.  Others:  Journals can be special gifts, but tricky unless you know what the receiver likes..A nice Bundle of Moleskines or Rhodia's or Field Notes would be sweet with a Sarasa or two on top.   I could go on and on  forever about pen cases, antique ink bottles, pen holders etc. they all are awesome in their own way and can make a great gift.

Bottom line,  get creative,  be comfortable and doing your research (i.e.stalking)  can go a long way to making sure you get that pen lover (or not) a good gift.

 Oh,  and I ran a marathon last weekend. It was fun and that's why I didn't get a post out.

Happy Holidays,

The Pen Blog Guy Dude

and I did just get a fresh shipment of pens in...so some fun reviews are on the way.




Sunday, November 13, 2011

Parker Vacumatic Blue Diamond Major...a favorite.

A few weeks ago,  I was out with some friends that knew about this blog and as usual, the first question that came up was "What's your favorite pen?"  My gut instinct was to run for a Sarasa .4 in Blue-Black.  Jetpens sells them for $2.20 and do not tell them this,  but I would pay double that price any day of the week for those.

Then,  the more I thought about it...and after watching everyone's eyes roll around horribly after 20 minutes of discussing the finer points of ink flow, pen weight and other stuff, I realized there's a lot more to it. There are my favorite pens and then there are my favorite pens.   My Sarasa is my favorite daily pen just because I know it's rock solid but when the zombie apocalypse happens there are other pens that I would make sure I have in my bug out bag or if I am grabbing a pen to throw in my pocket for a night out I wouldn't grab the Sarasa. See?  Favorite vs. Favorite.

One of my definite favorite pens needed some love. I can do all the work I need on 95% of my fountain pens..pull them apart, replace what's needed and shine them up properly but the Parker Vacumatics are a different monster.  This one needed professional help. (why does the scene from Ferris Bueller always come to mind here?  "Relax, You have nothing to worry about I'm a professional."   
I needed to send this one off for some love and to do the work I chose Pentiques.  I sent a late night email that had a response in about 5 minutes and the second I returned from Copenhagen I mailed it off to them.  Oh and it was terrifying to drop this thing in the mailbox.
Look at the clear celluloid bands...crazy clean.
After about a week or two (your mileage may vary) a payment and a few other friendly emails, my mailman dropped off a pleasant surprise. Imagine Christmas morning except in the form of a small very well wrapped and packaged US Mail Priority Box.
Sea glass really isn't that manly.

Blown Away. Time actually stopped.  Here's a 65 year old pen that is now as close as it was to when it rolled off the assembly line as it ever will be. Un-inked, shiny, sparkling. Amazeballs.
Here's how it's broken down.  That plunger on the far right is for filling this thing. It's happily inked now  (equally scary just dirtying this thing up) and will get used. A lot.
This pen makes me want to write long letters that I don't even really care if they ever get read by anyone. Just write and hide them away for some stranger to find one day.   It's that good.  It's a joy to write with. I said it before.  Mr. Parker, thank you. you created almost perfection.
Again,  it's personal.  For me..this is a classic pen in my perfect color and nib size.
The Blue Diamond doesn't hurt either.  So thank you Pentiques for your work restoring this beauty. I am hoping I can give this another 65 years of use.

Good Pen.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Black n' Red A4 Journal

When it comes to pens and stationary stuff I am rarely surprised.  It’s sort of simple:  if you have seen a few pens in your day ("in your day?"  What am I- 80 years old?)  you/I can judge a book by its cover in a minute.
I can spot a cheap pen from a mile away and it kills me when I see people who spend a lot of time writing suffering with a trade show giveaway or a pen found in a box in the basement.  Bad pens are easy to spot, journals are a little more difficult.   An unlined journal that runs away yipping when faced with fountain pen ink might be perfect for someone out there… and on the other hand…a lined, heavy-weight, bleed-proof journal would not be appreciated by someone who uses those CVS pens.
So when I was sent a journal from the awesome fellas over at  www.officehero.co.uk  I was skeptical.  I felt like I had been there before.  I thought..here’s a big lined journal that wouldn't hold up to anything.  I was wrong. Introducing the Black n Red A4 sized Smart Ruled Journal. 
So I started off with a Pilot G2 in .38 to do make a few lists. No surprises there.  I have a work journal (that I really need to review and love but it’s my to do , thoughts and  reminder book) one thing I was missing was a notebook for meetings and phone-call notes with.
Then one amazing thing happened.  I grabbed a Waterman with some Sailor Black ink and BAM! This paper held up to my heavy handed inky doodles. Like…really held up.  No idea this paper would be this good. It does not bleed. At all.  I can’t believe the versatility.
You have seen my doodles in the past and occasionally they get a little sloppy and something that might someday resemble some sort of homemade Copperplate Script.  I am not aiming for perfection in penmanship,  just something that looks cool to me.  Suddenly this notebook started filling up with my inky rants. It was a pleasure to use this paper.  
Size does matter and when it comes to A4 paper I can appreciate breaking out of the 8.5 by 11 “ rut and expanding a bit. As always,  click for better views.  I like having the vertical lines as options.  Checkboxes, dates, whatever.  There's also a ton of info on the first and last couple pages,  personal info, a calendar, rail schedules, etc. Good options.
And the more I think about it.  This is the first hardbound journal that i have used in a while.  It's easy to be able to throw it into the computer bag and not worry about creasing the covers.   Here's the details from the experts: Black n Red casebound hard back book with Smart ruling system for organised note-taking. features left-hand column for bullets or numbering and two right-hand columns for actions and deadlines. High quality 90gsm smooth paper for minimal show-through.-
So,  I like it.  I really like it.  If you are looking for a big sturdy notebook that can hold up to ink...you have another choice, check out Office Hero and the Black N Red. Now I am going to go work on my Copperplate and watch Shawshank.

Seth



Sunday, November 6, 2011

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

How appropriate to do a giveaway on post #250 for me!!!  We should have cake.  Instead we have what I think might be the first video reveal ever in the world of pen blogging.  You might want to watch your volume.  I was having a Kanye moment.
video
Uh, oh.  I told you it was heavy.  It looks like you low # people are in trouble.  This was a box of pens from Grammy. (Everyone remembers Grammy right?) I probably went through this box at one point and pulled out all the good ones and the box was still  full of ballpoints.  More on those later.
Here's what I found.  They are all ballpoints and no,  I do not write with them and that's the reason they are tucked away in a box in the basement.  Maybe someday they will get some use or I can donate them to a good cause,  but for now they remain happily curled up in a box. Well except for the fact that I had to count them...and count them I did.
Those are piles of 10 except for the pile of three in the center. Breaking out the abacus,  I come up with 24 piles and 3 to spare. Go ahead count them just to be sure...also,  I am really curious how many of you went out and filled up a shoe box with pens just to see what kind of numbers we were looking at here.  I did find a few decent pens,  some mini's, a few Cross's and some other fairly newer ones that aren't going back in the box.  Oh...that's 243 by the way.

Here's the deal,  don't hate the pen blog, hate the rules.  I stated that the contest ended at Midnight Eastern on Friday (last Friday.) Sorry,  a few of you missed the deadline.  I am just trying to keep it fair.

So, Aaron from HMMMMMMM is the winner at 250!   Only 7 off and remember I said you could go over.  Shoot me your details and I will get the prizepack out too you.

What was in the prizepack you ask? (Or actually,  now that you haven't won you probably already closed the browser and moved on but - anyway but if you are curious:)
Ta da!  Yes, that's a Pilot Explorer in there. Now you wish you had thrown all your pens into a box to see what you would have come up with. And that Blue one is a Fountain Pen. I might have a few more things to throw in there, this is just what I grabbed to shoot.  Aaron... enjoy it.

And Dad to Liberty Lover of Pens wins the backup prize just for being scientific about this.  An Explorer is on the way to you also if you shoot me your details.

So...post number 250.  Wow. Thank you guys for supporting me and reading my blog.  I really appreciate the comments, feedback emails and clicks on the AdWords.  I do have some plans for this thing and hope you stick around for the ride.

Enjoy what's left of your weekend.
Seth






Thursday, November 3, 2011

The times they are a Changing...

Quick update:  Here's my post from Vegas a few short months ago.  Sadly, all I had with me were 4 pens and two pencils for 5 days in the desert.  It was clear that I had lost some faith in my ability to love pens and the need for writing material.

Bob Dylan (I know, I know) wrote that "The Times they are a Changing" and they definitely were.  Here we are now for a quick 2 night business trip to Chicago and there's a huge difference.  19 Pens (not all shown) and 2 pencils are in my bag..  That includes two fountain pens and not even close to my favorite Dylan song.  I think I have spared you of that until now. Girl of the North Country might top my list. 3rd and 4th verse. Hits hard.
That is a full and happy bag and worth every ounce of dragging it around the city. It's nice to have a choice in the arsenal and good to know that there are writing options as the needs comes up.   I haven't given up my electronic friends though...also in my bag are two laser pointers,  a stylus, laptop, iPad 2, wireless mouse, Garmin GPS and about 20 GB's of storage. If the Stationary Apocalypse ever comes, I will be prepared.

And as for the contest...I could be waaaay off,  but I think your guesses might be low. If I can drag 19 pens around  in my bag  imagine how many I can shove into a shoe box?  Still open through Friday so keep them coming. Possibly even a video reveal.  Kinda like Oprah  revealing her secret sister...only not as awkward.
     
So the lesson learned is: break out of that funk.  Break the rules,  go nuts. Change it up and fix things.

Good Pens.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

New Good Pens Contest!


Have you ever watched A&E's TV show "Hoarders"? It's scary and freakish. I tend to go in the opposite direction and stay as minimalist as possible with my stuff. However, when it comes to pens...all rules are off. If A& E ever came to my house to start de-cluttering my pens they (and I) would have a serious issue. I would sort of just ball up and shake back and forth until they pried the last ballpoint from my cold dead hands (too far?) So, as I was going through an old desk in my basement this week...I found this box. Here's the deal...I haven't opened it. I did have one note on the box (above) letting me know the contents.

This contest is easy. Leave a comment on this post with the number of pens that you think are in the box. Closest to the correct amount wins. I don't care if you go over or not, just whoever is closest. Winner gets a Prizepack, I have some Uniballs, some fountain pen ink, I might even throw in a fountain pen that I just reviewed and a small journal might find its way in there also. It will be a good one trust me.

Side contest... I know you are not trained monkeys but the post that makes me laugh the most gets a runner up prize.

One clue that might help... the box was kinda heavy. There's not just 2 pens rattling around in there. The contest ends Friday at Midnight Eastern and even my International friends and welcome to enter (even if you are in Assam.)

Enjoy the rest of your weekend. Oh and I must have dropped some friend links off of the blog roll, if you want to share links let me know and I will get you back in there. Thanks.

Seth

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Parker Jotter Mechanical Pencil

Every now and then, for no particular reason, when I buy pens (or pencils)  I will put a 2 in that order box or grab a second before I head to the checkout. Sometimes it's a mistake and sometimes it pays off.  One of my favorite "2" purchases ever was a few weeks ago when I stumbled upon this Parker (and its mate.) It's so good that I am glad that I have a backup of this one. I have been known to lose pens and having an extra tucked away in good hands is comforting.
This is the the Parker Jotter Mechanical Pencil and it is kinda perfect for me- and this is coming from someone who generally prefers pens to pencils most of the time.  The size of the pencil is just right and even though I prefer a .4 pencil,  this .5 with good lead does the job. The click mechanics are smooth and it fits well in my hand.
Of course there's an eraser although I keep a few stand alone erasers on my desk to keep from wearing this down. (yep, Anal Andy.)  As of right now,  this is the only pencil in my computer bag and it's really all I need. The Parker name to me means quality and knowing that this pencil has the potential to last for 50 or 100 years is pretty incredible if it's anything like the Parker Fountains that I have.
Here's the deal.  I have some really nice mechanicals...and I mean fancy expensive mechanical pencils that do not travel with me and are sort of unused. It's a shame but I don't really have a specific need for them unless I am doing art or doodling at home. I should use pencils more,  but you know.. it's not called Good Pencils. Keeping one in my travel bag is common though and this one is it.
For those of you that are curious...it's a Pomelo, an Asian Grapefruit. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pomelo I don't really like them that much.  They are sort of a lot of work and the payoff for flavor isn't that great.  I think it's funny that Wiki even says in Assam they use it as a soccer ball.  (That tells you all you need to know about the flavor.) And to be honest I have no idea where Assam is but I feel connected with them. I would get more use out of this as a soccer ball also.
Click for better views.  It is sort of silly to do a writing test with a pencil,  but here you are. I doubt that Gilbert Parker has any relations to the Parker Pen Family but it works for the quote. If I need a pencil,  this is the one that I am reaching for and I couldn't be happier with it.

Having a backup of your favorite pens is a good thing and one that can payoff in the end.  Enjoy the weekend.  Also...the Pen Addict just put up his Ink Links here if you haven't seen it yet.

 Come back tomorrow for a fun contest- I just need to come up with the prize and I can post it.

Seth



Monday, October 24, 2011

Uni Pin 0.05.. like write on rice

Every now and then, I like a thin line. Not literally...I mean the way a pen writes. Imagine the thinnest pen you like... then cut that in half...then do it two or three more times. That's how I like to write sometimes.  This is another find from Copenhagen that I bought multiples of.  I didn't even need to write a test to know this was a good one.  Welcome to the Uni Pin Fine Line Water and Fade Proof 0.05
Yes,  that is a piece of rice. (like "write" on rice... hello...I am doing this word magic for you.) I love the fact that if I would hand this pen to most people they would:  A.  Smudge the point into a clump right away.   B.  Play pin the tail on the donkey with the paper. C. Stab me in the eye with it because I am freaking that they would do A. or B or all of the above. 

0.05...those are some magical numbers.  that little 0 in front of the 5 and after the . makes a world of difference. and Pigmented ink!  What's that you ask?  Well I stole this info from the internets:

Pigmented ink particles tend to settle into the tiny fibers that make up the paper. As the ink drys, the pigment particles get stuck in the fibers. Thus, the pigmented inks are more water resistant than the dye-based inks. Only about 5 to 10 percent of the ink will re-flow if the paper is hit by water.  
Yeah,  I don't know what that means either.  But I do know that I don't think there's "too thin" when it comes to pens.  I have picked up some inking pens before and thought "whoa, little thin there"  but in the end,  I am sure I would take a chance on it.  I would much rather take my time with a .05 than with a .7 globbing it's way through the paper. 
This pen is exactly what you expect,  nice and light, perfect ink and even a  little window to see what color ink you are rocking. I could see this for my sketchbook rather than for my journal. I think it was only a couple bucks and I will never pass that up for this type of pen. 
As always, click for a larger and better views and sorry, I didn't feel like breaking out the tripod to shoot these. Not my best photography tonight.  I love this proverb.  It was tough finding a thin quote without offending anyone. It's true though...there's no use quietly breaking the rules. 
I have received tons of mail about the Pilot Explorers.  Thanks everyone.  Glad to know I wasn't a man on an island with this one.  Just to clarify though... I am not the Johnny Appleseed of the Explorers and I am not giving them away to people.  I gave one away to the correct guess on what I found and I probably will fire one off to Brad at Pen Addict just because,  but other than that...make me a deal and we can make a trade.   I didn't find a creative place to get these through customs for nothing. (that's another joke people... or is it?)

Enjoy your day.

Seth





Sunday, October 23, 2011

Pilot Explorers... Found!



Ok, so here's the backstory.  After a night of staying out too late with a group of Russians drinking in Copenhagen. (Did I mention that I was in Copenhagen?) I woke up and stumbled into a coffee shop that was a few blocks from my hotel, it had been my regular spot all week because the espresso was REALLY (Joe and the Juice) good and they were the only place in Copenhagen not playing Adele non-stop (not that there's anything wrong with that.) After hitting my targeted heart rate, I had a few hours to kill so I took a walk.  A little while later I found a stationary store, within 30 seconds I was in there.

In the store...there was one nice fat wall of pens...ok, this could be good. So here's my entire thought process as I go through the display.

Hmmmm...I love pens...
Cool...Pilot G2's...crap only .7's anyway...no biggie
Fat rollerballs...&
Fat rollerballs...
.005...nice. (review coming soon on this one)
Those Russians made my head hurt...
Fat rollerball...
Ooh, a different label on the Sign pens..
Fat rollerball...
Did I remember to put pants on this morning?
Oh, there are a couple of boxes of Pilot Explorers...
Yawn..fat rollerball...
Blah, blah, (loud screeching noise) Pilot Explorers...WHAT THE BLOODY HELL?



It's true.  No, it wasn't a cigar box full of fountain pens at an auction but it was something I havent seen in a very long time. I looked over my shoulder all nervous-like,  grabbed one and did a few test circles on the scratch paper and without even looking at the price tag (it was in Danish Kroners anyway, like I was going to be able to do any math this morning.) I fillled my sweaty little fists and headed for the checkout.


I tried to ask the owner of the store if they actually still made these and he looked at me like I had a third eye (I actually might have one that morning and if I did, it would have also been very bloodshot.)  That was a bad question...so I asked a better one. 

"Can I call you (fine sir) to order more of these from the U.S.?

His response was "yes, but it vill be very expenshive." (that's my Danish accent)  and I did confirm that he ordered these straight from Pilot and not some guy in a third world country reading my blog that decided to craft these out of old tires and a Bic rollerball In his basement based on my demands (I am so vain.)

But to be sure let's get all scientific and see if these are legit.  (I am not really going to get scientific, those brain cells were left in a tiny glass of some unknown black liquor earlier this week.)  They match up exactly to the older Explorers that I had stashed.
 I am pretty crafty but I have no idea how to open this beast up without breaking it so we cant see the guts. 

So...if these are legit and they are being manufactured. I will be putting in a call to Pilot US this week to see what we can do.  In fact,  I will start now with an open letter to Pilot,

To whom it may concern...

You make these awesome pens...people want them in the US of A.   Fact: As far as I know you don't ship them to the US.  Can we fix that?

Kindest regards, sincerely and nothing but love,

Seth

Or... Maybe Brad from the Pen Addict and Jetpens can use his high powered position to see if we can get these back in the US.  (Brad?)



Here's the truth... It's not really for me, its for you.  Back in the day I might have worn these pens out,  but now-honestly..even the EF's write a tad too fat for me.   I will use some of these but not really for my daily arsenal.

So, let's go sign a petition or you can go all radical and feel free to occupy my comment section until this gets resolved or shoot me an email and we can discuss the ones in my hot little hand.

(Tak) Danish for thanks.

Seth

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Holy Grail

No one will be able to guess what I found earlier today in Copenhagen.  Hint:

1. Pen related (directly)
2. Everyone thought they were gone
3. They are a hot topic on the blog

Still confirming authenticity...but I will post about them over the weekend.

Any guesses?  First person to answer correctly wins one.

Seth

Oh and if you are doing the math... it's 1:19 a.m. and I haven's even thought about sleeping yet.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

William Henry Studio Pinot Noir Pen

Coming up on a big posting milestone (teaser) and this is the first article about a pen that I don't own or haven't written with (unfortunately) but I felt the need to spend the time on this one.

I received a press release last week about the new RB8-Eyrie pen and it caught my eye.  So here's the gist...someone had the brilliant idea to make the fancy pen parts out of American Pinot Noir grapevine wood.   Grapes are to wine as pens are to paper... so really, it's a natural move.  I had had a few memorable bottles of wine in my life and this seems perfect.

You had me at wine...and pens.  I set a meeting up and spoke with Dave Boeckel, The CEO of William Henry Studio and he offered some insight into the background on this beast. Please click on the link to the press release  for all the juicy details.

First of all, here's the pen:
Nice, Right?



And Here's the interview..


Who's idea was it to create this pen?
My friend Jason Lett of Eyrie Vineyards showed up a couple of years ago with a pickup full of what looked like small tree limbs and asked if I wanted it.  When I found out it was some of the original Pinot vines I said yes immediately.   We then spent 2 years drying it before we tried to even make something (in reality I got a little impatient and had the studio make a proto pen for myself last summer to see what it would look like and if it would hold up.  I have carried it ever since).  So you can really say the idea came from both of us.
What was the number one factor in deciding on the details of the pen?  Function, style, uniqueness? etc?
Matt Conable (our owner and designer) has an amazing fantastic eye for material combinations.  He chose all of the details in order to make the pen beautiful and really celebrate the pinot vine.  No matter what materials we choose we always insist that function is never compromised.  He is also the designer of everything we make and is responsible for the Wave-lock closure system that we all like so much.
Side note-we spent months working with Swarovski who supplies all of our gems finding the perfect Pinot colored topaz. 
Has anyone ever built a pen like this before?
Not to the very best of our knowledge.

Do you think this pen is meant to be used or put on display?
We truly hope that everything we make is used by this generation and passed on to the next to also be used.  We understand that some items are owned and admired simply for their beauty, but we strive to create items that become even more treasured when used for their intended purpose. 
Mightier than the sword?
Tough one.  I own lots of pens and lots of knives and there are times when one or the other is a better choice for the task at hand.
Follow up:  what's the determining factor?
Strictly what I am doing at that moment, but I must admit that I have opened a number of packages in airports with my pen (since I can no longer carry my pocket knife when flying) and I have never written a note with my knife. 
Any thoughts on making this type of pen into a fountain pen?
Absolutely
Are you a pen junky? 
I owned lots of pens before we ever started to make them (Montegrappa, Delta, Mont Blanc, Marlin, Faber Castell, Pelikan). That whole form and function thing really appeals to me.
Own any fountain pens?
A couple, but I mainly carry and write with roller balls out of convenience.
Ok, pop quiz.. your desk is on fire,  you can grab one pen before you leave the office what is it? (other than the pen we are talking about)
I have another Proto that I am testing.  My crew would not be happy after all the work they put in on it if I let it go up in flames.

Do we even discuss Merlot? Yes or no?
These are amazing pens, but the new closer system on the rb8 and f8 cabernets are much cooler.  Simple answer-No

End of Interview... back to my rambling.
I see the real challenge with creating this type of pen.  Aesthetically, it needs to be near perfect, but it also needs to appeal to the pen aficionado who might feel the need to fire this up and write things down.

The bad news... I don't think that I will be the owner of the 100 of these that are being produced..  The good news.. there are still artists and craftsmen that appreciate the need for a high end heirloom type of pens and create them out of love.  


Here's the link to view the pen on their website.http://www.williamhenrystudio.com/product-detail.cfm?knife_id=1970#

Big huge plans in the works for Good Pens. A contest, did I mention a milestone? and more pen reviews.

Enjoy your day.

Seth


Sunday, October 9, 2011

Technology vs. the Pen and Paper


iPad vs. Journal?

Everyone remembers the Vegas post  from not too long ago right?  Here's the summary in case you dont feel like clicking the link...sad times in Nevada...no the Bunny Ranch wasn't closed...I realized that I had become an iPad user, by that I mean heavy user, by that- I mean... pens were being thrown in drawers and forgotten about.
Technology had overwhelmed me and I had left my true love behind.  However... I flipped the switch and built back my stable of pens and posts and here we are.

So.. you didn't think that I had thrown that iPad2 in the trash in Vegas did you?  No way dude.  It's really all about wants and needs. I want to use a pen and paper.  I need to use Keynote and play Angry Birds. (Gack, I said it.)

Frankly,  no one even questions when I waltz into a meeting carrying an iPad and a Journal. (iSad.)  I don't think too many people actually correlate between ONLY having an iPad or using paper. Both still seem ok. Interesting.
Sidebar:  Thank you for all the Journal suggestions in the prior posts..but the perfect journal fell into my lap and I couldn't be happier.  Is there anything better than a lined journal that's leather bound and can hold up to fountain pen ink?  Don't answer that without really thinking about it... I am saying no.  Crane and Co. got it right...Deliriously in love with this journal. I don't deserve it. But thank you.

Ok,  back to the post...now...it's the best of both worlds.  On one hand- I have an INSANE journal, on the other hand I have a world of games, emails and .ppts and on the other hand- I can still use all my favorite pens.  (yes, I realize that is three hands-did you?)

So here's the real question...Where do these worlds collide in my day to day activities?  For me- it's simple...my Journal is a list of all my scrapbooking projects and the names of all my imaginary kittens.

 Kidding...I use it for Getting Things Done. Work stuff,  to do's and things I am waiting on...I can't go home at night until my inbox is Zeroed out and the iPad  and the journal help in between meetings to crunch that out. When I see inbox's with 727 unread messages I get twitchy.

So, it's all about balance.  Find your happy place.  Don't give in to one thing or another: embrace your inner geek,  but don't forget about the history of people putting pen to paper and making magic.  Oh, and file some of those emails... geez.

So a simple question and feel free to comment.  Has technology kept you from writing as much as you like and how do you respond to that?  When do you put down the keyboard and pick up the pen?
The next post is a great interview I had with a company doing some cool pen stuff.  Stay tuned.

Seth

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Surprise...Morning Glory Mach 3

Everyone loves surprises right?  Good surprises are better than bad surprises also.. right?  I guess it depends on the outcome. Certain things are good- like... a call from an old friend, finding a few minutes in your day you weren't expecting, a dry diaper (sorry...potty training in the Good Pens household...it's where my head is right now.)  But there's also bad surprises... The Red Sox Tanking, Braves Missing out, wisdom teeth needed yanked etc.It's like luck and here's one of my favorite stories about this:

There is a Chinese story of an old farmer who had a horse for tilling his fields. One day the horse escaped into the hills and, when all the farmer's neighbors sympathised with the old man over his bad luck, the farmer replied, 'Bad luck? Good luck? Who knows?'
A week later the horse returned with a herd of wild horses from the hills and this time the neighbours congratulated the farmer on his good luck. His reply was, 'Good luck? Bad luck? Who knows?'
Then, when the farmer's son was attempted to tame one of the wild horses, he fell off its back and broke his leg. Everyone thought this very bad luck. Not the farmer, whose only reaction was, 'Bad luck? Good luck? Who knows?'
Some weeks later the army marched into the village and conscripted every able-bodied youth they found there. When they saw the farmer's son with his broken leg they let him off. Now was that good luck? Bad luck? Who knows?

There are variations of the story, but you get the idea.  Any-who...let's talk about pens. 
The other day I met a friend for dinner at an awesome little place called the H-Mart.  Think Asian Grocery Store slash Asian Wal-Mart. You get the idea...usually, I am there for the food, but I popped over to a little store that had just about every sort of Hello Kitty product ever made in it.  There is  a tiny sliver of a pen aisle and I couldn't resist. 

















I looked down...and here where these little munchkins in between the Pinky erasers and Hello Kitty scissors. Quick mental rundown of the situation: 3 pack, .38, multiple colors and only $5.99...Check Please!
Two minutes later I am telling a story and MUST pull one of these out to draw a graphic and I stop in my tracks...It really is a .38.  -it's not bleeding on the receipt like a stuck pig and I do like the blue color. What.The.Hell?  Surprise!  I have seen the pens that say "Extra Fine" or "Super Fine" and generally they crank out more ink than a tattoo parlor. 
These are made in Korea and Morning Glory is the manufacturer.You can buy them here:  Who Knew?  And Googling shows me The Office Supply Geek reviewed a similar pen here.  Surprise! 
A couple days later and I am still pretty amazed by these things. they have stayed on my desk and my old pens are staring at these guys like they are cutting into their territory. (Sarasa's can be so sassy.)  The ink stays crispy on most paper and I while I doubt that I will ever really use the red one- the blue is growing on me.  
Clicking makes the picture bigger and clearer.  This is recycled paper and I had very little faith the pen would hold up here.  I am very happy with this set...good price, nice lines, unexpected quality...and that is a good surprise.. or is it?

Update Jetpens also sells some pens from this manufacturer.  Surprise!