Fountain Pens in S’pore FAQ

Have been thinking about compiling all the scattered bits of info about fountain pens in Singapore, and finally set up a page on WordPress. You can also see it as a tab on top of this page. Feel free to take a look, comment and so on πŸ™‚

It’s still very much a work-in-progress. Will put in the links gradually. There’s an RSS feed for the page so you can be updated easily just by subscribing.

Sheaffer NoNonsense

Black NoNonsense
Black NoNonsense

This Sheaffer NoNonsense pen isn’t exceptional in any way, other than that it has an old-style nib section (screw cap, no rubberised grip). I wouldn’t have gotten it if not for the bargain price.

With its Italic Fine nib, this pen was probably part of a calligraphy set. Considering that it came with a dried out Skrip Emerald Green cartridge, my guess is that the pen was used till the ink ran out, then forgotten (with the rest of the set misplaced or lost) and eventually sold to a karang guni man.

After soaking the nib section and getting almost all the dried green ink out, I realised that rust had begun developing on the nib along the slit and around the base of the nib. The “nipple”, where the converter or cartridge is inserted, has a bit of rust too. Expected, I suppose, due to the neglect and the cheap materials used.

Filled a Sheaffer converter I had at home from an earlier Sheaffer purchase (an Award that came with an odd clip but that’s for another post) with some Sailor Jentle Black, and pushed that into the nib section.

Luckily, the nib works as expected, and the pen lays a pleasant, wet line πŸ™‚

I’m leery of putting the nib with its rust into my ink bottle though, so if I keep this pen I’m thinking of turning it into an eyedropper.

The pen is still in production, but is sold these days exclusively in calligraphy sets. The new style sections aren’t as romantic though, and detract from the design homage to Sheaffer’s classic flat-top pens.

In the nearly 4 decades its been in production, the NoNonsense has seen several variations — countless if you consider all the ones used as corporate gifts. The Stainless, Vintage and Old Timer product lines are especially attractive.

There’s an extremely comprehensive article about these budget pens at PenHero.com.

Parker 45, olive green

My first Parker 45 was an impulse buy. I appreciated its history, design elements and durability. But it was too light and felt like I was using a pencil. Besides I wasn’t really a fan of the colour: midnight blue.

But this vintage parker 45 caught my attention some time ago, with its striking combination of olive green (a more uncommon colour it seems), and stainless steel with gold highlights.

Olive Parker 45
Olive Parker 45

The plastic nib section had shrunk a little, producing a slight depression around the section where the feed is. The cap wouldn’t fit all the way but the price was right πŸ™‚

It came with a faulty parker slide converter, which went in the trash. I plugged in an old Parker metal hoop filler from an earlier flea market find, and the pen felt much better in my hand with the added weight. I don’t even mind the Fine nib as much – it was relatively smooth. But it’s still bugging me – anyone got a Medium nib they’d like to part with?

Read more about the Parker 45’s history on Richard Binder’s site.

The Literary vs the Martial

Using examples from recent movies, this post in The China Beat makes an interesting observation about the kungfu genre, and why Kung Fu Panda really relies more on American cultural tropes than Chinese ones:

The assumption is that writing encodes greater cosmic-martial truth than image. Those who can read attain higher occult power than those who can only view. While this may sound hopelessly snooty in the age of YouTube, the basic idea still resonates in Chinese cultural spheres.

Variations of this idea can be found in most Chinese-language kungfu movies. The literary and martial arts are taken to be two sides of the same cosmic coin, or the Way. Both are said to be inspired by the tracks and movements of birds and beasts. Hence the same metaphors and protocols inform both the civil and martial domains, invariably urging the harmony of heaven, earth, and man.

But I wonder if the author’s mixed up his genres. The observations about the cosmological importance of the written word apply more to wuxia movies rather than gongfu. (For a quick description of wuxia, Wikipedia suffices although I don’t totally agree with the list of movies in the entry.)

Kung Fu Panda has more in common with the gongfu works of Jackie Chan, Gordon Liu etc. Those latter movies can be interpreted as perpetuating a middle-class self-improvement morality tale as the blog entry implies, but it’s difficult to deny that they’re any less Chinese than wuxia.

Hellboy II

I wonder if I’m the only one who was underwhelmed by Hellboy II. My view of the Hellboy movies is likely tainted by my liking the comic and Mike Mignola’s art very much, and I have to keep telling myself that the movies are more like an alternate reality of the Hellboy world rather than an adaptation of the comic.

Even so, I don’t think this movie stands out among Guillermo del Toro’s works so far. Overall weak characterisation (with Abe Sapien self-pityingly becoming Data from Star Trek: TNG and Johann Krauss depicted as a bully), awkward gags (Most of the audience laughed during the scene with Barry Manilow’s Can’t Smile Without You. I was half-horrified though — had to keep telling myself it’s an alternate universe…) with plotholes (Uh, if Nuada knows what Nuala know then why does she go look for the map?) and an inexplicably dubbed young Hellboy in the prologue. (No pancakes? =p)

The homages are a nice touch: Prince Nuada is a really a version of Chang Kong in Zhang Yimou’s Hero (played by Donnie Yen there), with brilliant martial arts skills. del Toro even includes a scene where Nuada slaps a water drop with his spear, recalling a similar scene in Hero. Maybe I’m stretching it, but the plant elemental sequence seems to reference the Alan Moore run of Swamp Thing, especially his death.

It’s not that del Toro’s bad, but that his unique visual and directoral style are so overwhelming that Hellboy and the rest of the B.P.R.D. seem out of place as characters, as if they’d somehow wandered onto the set of Middle Earth and instructed to fit in. Already, Hellboy II is a incongruent mix of Mignola and del Toro’s worlds, and the film suffers from it overall.