Author: Pao Alfonso

Tactile Turn Gist

I bought this pen at Everything Calligraphy’s Writ3C event last month. I’ve been curious about this pen for a while now, especially since it looks so minimalist and it has that industrial look that I like. There’s also a whole range of materials to mix and match. I got the one with the bronze finial and section. I really wanted the damascus finial and section but it was out of stock at the time.

The pen came in a very simple cardboard box with nothing much inside except the pen and the protective foam around it. The packaging is very sparse, I appreciate that it’s no-frills and uses very little packing materials. There’s not even any literature aside from the label on the lid of the  box.

The first thing you’ll notice on the pen is the texture of the material. If it feels familiar somehow, it’s because the body is polycarbonate markrolon. The material feels really sturdy. Here’s a close up of the barrel:

It has a continuous groove around it which gives it that tactile feel. At first it felt like the cap was difficult to twist out of the section, but after two or three times of capping and uncapping it, it stopped feeling so grippy and began to have just the right amount of tightness to make it feel snug. Here is a closeup photo of the bronze section. The grooves are just deep enough to give the section a uniform texture with the body. It’s not uncomfortable to hold at all. It actually helps make the pen a lot easier to grip while writing.

The nib is a medium steel Bock nib. I kinda wish it’s at least gold-plated to match the color of the section, but it’s alright. The performance of the nib is actually pretty awesome.

It writes consistently wet, and the nib is sufficiently smooth with just a hint of feedback. I think it’s my second favorite steel nib (next to Faber Castell nibs). So far I’ve inked the pen with 4 different kinds of inks from different brands and the pen wrote well with all of them.

Here’s a video of the writing sample.

The pen uses a standard international converter and it takes about 8 turns to remove the barrel from the section (about 3 turns to uncap). I like that the pen is light but the bronze section makes it heavy near the nib. So you feel some weight while writing without making the pen top heavy. It’s comfortable to use for long writing sessions, it didn’t tire out my hand at all.

The only issue I encountered with it was that the clip wiggled a teeny-tiny bit. It was just the slightest wiggle but it drove me nuts. I admit I didn’t inspect the item too well before I bought it, I just glanced at it briefly and didn’t even take it out of the box. I have no doubt Everything Calligraphy would have replaced it but it’s the last stock they had of that specific pen and I didn’t want to have to ship it back to them and wait for a new pen to be shipped to me. So I disassembled the pen’s cap and tightened the clip. It was a pretty simple fix and took less than 5 minutes to finish.

Overall, I think this is a great option if you want a simple, no-frills pen that is scratch-resistant and can take a beating. It writes really well too, I’m pretty happy with it.

Beautiful Boy

Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey Through His Son's Addiction
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Published: September 4, 2018
A father writes about his son's addiction.

This is such a heart wrenching book to read. From start to end, even in those pages about the very bad moments when it seems all the love should be drained out and emptied because of the hurt and frustration, David's love for his son shines through on the pages. You read a lot about addiction but people forget that the families of addicts and alcoholics go through a lot too, and I appreciate being able to read such a well-written account of what their family went through together.

The tone of the whole book sounds like a parent thinking aloud. Memories go back and forth. You get the sense that the writer is showing his favorite memories of his son, not the big moments but the small moments that show who he was and is. He also falls into cycles of putting his guilt into words and then rationalizing his actions. I can only imagine the debilitating guilt that parents of addicts feel, and how it's hard to recognize where their shortcomings as parents end and their children's personal choice begins.

The author includes a lot of useful information in understanding the insidious nature of addiction in between recollections of Nic's childhood and his cycles of recovery and relapse.

Overall, there are a few things in the  book that I don't particularly like (such as the excessive rationalization of his parenting) but if I take the book as a whole, I really like  it. It reads like a gift because I can understand how difficult it must have been to write and to share with the world. I think it's beautifully written.

I read Nic Sheff's book Tweak after I finished reading this one, where he writes about his addiction, relapses and recoveries from his point of view. I'll write a separate review for that soon.

Corn.

My husband  bought me a set of compressed charcoal sticks last Sunday. I’ve always been curious about using charcoal and I’ve tried it a few times before but I never really sat down and got into it before. It’s quite challenging but fun. I enjoyed doing this corn a lot because I learned from it. I am looking forward to learning more.

 

First Art Jam

Last Saturday, my husband and I ventured out of the South to Shangrila Mall and attend an Art Jam. It’s a gathering of people (all of whom I met online) to sit and paint together. Being on the more extremely shy end of the introvert spectrum, I rarely venture out willingly to actually meet people. I’m really glad that I did, though. Somehow, even if I only met a few of them in person (during pen meets) a couple of times, and most of them I haven’t really met in person at all until last Sunday, it felt easy to be with them. We were painting, talking, laughing, pausing once in a while to gesticulate wildly when the talk about politics and life become somewhat heated, tinkering with each other’s art supplies. It was an awesome experience. I felt none of the painful awkwardness that I usually feel when meeting new people. I was also quite fascinated with their painting styles. I wish I took more photos, but I was only able to take one when I got home. These (except the one at the farthest left) were gifts from fellow ArtJammers.

Judith’s artworks are billowy and diaphanous, capturing the fleeting quality of a moment or a subject. Like she caught what it looks like between blinks. Her brush strokes are few but decisive, controlled. Rosa’s art for the day was made of fountain pen inks and brushes, though I couldn’t tell at first. It made me wonder “Is this all just one color? How did she do it?” She was just dab-dab-dabbing on paper and out popped a verdant forest. All while feeding and caring for her 5-year old boy who came along for the art session. I swear, moms must have extra arms and eyes hidden somewhere. Fidelle’s art is vibrant and emotive. There’s a lot going on below the surface, a lot she wants to express through her art. I love how she uses strong colors to express herself. My favorite was her painting of Ophelia in the water, surrounded by reeds and grass and wildflowers. All her pieces are practically vibrating with emotions. Lorraine’s art was, as always, happiness personified. Everything she does is bright and sunny and ready to burst out to song at any moment. Lexter’s art is very reflective of his personality; multifaceted and vibrant. A burst of colors and strokes and stories. My favorite among the pieces that he showed were his portraits. These are beautiful sketches, loosely done, filled with soul. I can’t help but notice how much he has improved since the last time that we met. He practices everyday, and it really does show on his work.

I often see these people’s works on Instagram and Facebook but really, photos take something away from the actual artwork. There’s nothing quite like seeing them in person.

Overall, I really enjoyed their company and how easy it felt to just be with them. I enjoyed our conversations about art, books, politics, family, and many other things. They had curious and open minds, which I found very refreshing. I don’t always come out to meet new people,  but I’m glad that when I do, I always manage to find such interesting ones to spend time with.