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Category: Reviews

ARTUS Four Elements Fire

Posted in Fountain Pens, and Reviews

Ah, another ARTUS pen. As I said in my 200th Pen post, I wanted my next pen purchase to be something special, and this certainly qualifies. Like its “brother pen,” it’s a magnificent work of art. The layers of paint give the flames a three-dimensional quality that tricks my eyes. Every time I look at it I find something new to look at. Note: You can view the images a little larger — much larger if you’re on mobile — by clicking on them.

ARTUS Four Elements Fire

Enjoy all of the delicious pen porn contained within this post. I take no responsibility for purchases resulting from them.

Cocoa Paper: Quality Custom Cover

Posted in Fountain Pens, and Reviews

I enjoy color. I know, it can be hard to tell. 😉 Unfortunately for me, my favorite notebooks don’t come with colorful covers. So, in June last year, I made a custom fabric cover. It turned out… alright. It was a bit too big, and the construction wasn’t the best, but it wasn’t too bad for a first try. I used some gorgeous fabrics, and that’s really the only reason I’ve kept it as long as I have.

Switching to a different notebook brand with my current notebook seemed like a good time to abandon that old cover. Unfortunately, while the Rhodia is more colorful than the Firma-Flex, it stains badly.

Back of Rhodia Goalbook showing staining
Look at all that ugly staining. The front and spine are just as bad.

So, I went looking for a new cover. I didn’t think it would be so difficult.

Dark Radiance

Posted in Fountain Pens, and Reviews

Before I get started, let me say I take no responsibility from pen envy or impulse purchases resulting from this post. Pen porn abounds. You have been warned. Now, enjoy!

I fell in love with my Tamenuri Studio pen when Michal posted his close up images (see image 2).

I sent him a message ASAP, and, luckily it was still available. Michal was kind enough to send me some photos of the whole pen. It lost nothing in the further distanced photos. He posted them a little later, so you can see them, too.

FOREO, A Solution to My Mascne

Posted in Reviews

When we first had to wear masks, I used an N95 cup mask we had left over. I didn’t have a problem with mascne with that mask, since it barely touched my face. It wasn’t very comfortable, though. When I had to replace it — the elastic broke — I eventually settled on a KF94 mask for its comfort.

LG airwasher black particle mask kf94
I highly suggest this mask. It’s comfortable and keeps the mask off your nose and mouth.

A Fun New Pen Case

Posted in Fountain Pens, and Reviews

Recently, I purchased a Raymay Detecool Pen Case after watching a JetPens video (Detecool segment starts at 0:16). I wasn’t sure how it would work out for my pens, but I was very pleasantly surprised.

The Detecool case zipped up.

After using it a few times, I can happily say it’s my favorite traveling pen case. Here’s some of what’s so great about it.

Link to JetPens photos:

Unseating the Firma Flex Notebook?

Posted in Fountain Pens, and Reviews

Three years ago, I wrote about my favorite notebook at the time, the Franklin-Christoph Firma Flex. It remained my favorite notebook for years, until, sadly, it was out-of-stock for an extended period of time late last year and early this year.

In that time, I went looking for a replacement notebook. This was partially because I wasn’t sure if the Firma Flex would ever be available again and partially because I’ve been looking for a notebook with paper that will better show ink shading.

Chocolate Mini Reviews

Posted in Reviews

Well, this is the last 2021 DC Pen Show post. I’ve milked it for all it’s worth. But, it’s been fun taking a more in-depth look at my haul. I haven’t really done that before.

Brandon Lee of Modern Chocolatier is a bit of a fixture at the DC Pen Show, typically seen next to Ryan Krusac‘s table. This year, however, he was up near the entrance, which made it easier to make multiple visits.

Brandon had 20 flavors with him, and I ended up getting all but 2 — Curry Lime and Habanero.

My DC Pen Show chocolate haul
I always forget to take photos of chocolates. I’m too eager to eat them. There are actually six not pictured, we’d already finished the fifth box of 4.

While it will be a year (assuming COVID stop the world again) before I can have more, I’d like to share my thoughts on the various flavors. And it will serve as a good reminder for me to get my favorites next year.

Pen Mini Reviews

Posted in Fountain Pens, and Reviews

While I certainly think it’s worth reviewing some of these pens I picked up at the 2021 DC Pen Show, this post is really just an excuse for pen porn and penabling. You’re welcome. 🙂 I’m doing these in the order I bought them at the show.

As usual, click on any image to view it larger.

Five of my six 2021 DC Pen Show acquisitions

Only interested in certain pens? No worries, jump to specific reviews.

Ranking Large Pen Brands

Posted in Fountain Pens, and Reviews

DISCLAIMER UPDATE (6/24/22): TWSBI and Narwhal have released a joint statement which I cover in my most recent TWSBIgate post. While not completely satisfied with TWSBI’s response to the situation, I no longer feel the need to dissuade people from purchasing their products.

DISCLAIMER (5/1/22): Since writing this post, TWSBI has been involved in some unsavory actions, and I am currently boycotting them. For more information, refer to the #twsbigate tag page.

I’ve seen this ranking system on YouTube a lot lately, and it seemed like a fun idea. I don’t know how well it will work in a blog post, but I’m giving it a try. Since I always want to jump to the end to see what the rankings are, I’ve started with that. You can continue reading after the ranking list if you want to find out why I placed a brand in any given ranking.

OK, so what am I ranking? Large/Mainstream pen brands. I’m not including Indie Brands because a) I don’t think that’s fair to them, given I have no idea how experienced any person is with pen making at this time and b) I think all Indie Brands that don’t have shady business practices should be shown more love, not shade. You can see the Indie Brand qualifications in my Indie Pen Makers Update post. For me, large/mainstream brands are those readily available in pen stores.

Let me know if I’ve missed any brands, I can write an update to include them. That said, I’m also not including defunct brands — sorry OMAS lovers. I’m also only considering modern experiences with vintage brands (e.g. Esterbrook, Sheaffer, etc.) not their vintage pens.

Let me know if you agree or disagree with my rankings. And if this looks fun, you can use my template to make your own ranking list.

2021 Triangle Pen Show

Posted in Fountain Pens, and Reviews

Jim brought up going to the Triangle Pen Show (TPS) a couple weeks ago but we dithered for a while, only deciding to go on the Thursday before. The drive wasn’t too bad, we were lucky to not hit traffic on the way down — we hit all the traffic on the way back up, though.

We made it to the show around 11:30 am. Finding out masks weren’t required surprised me. Being fully vaccinated, we decided to try going maskless and see how we felt. I’m not going to lie, it felt a bit naughty. I felt almost naked. But it was nice to breath freely. And since the room wasn’t packed, I was OK without a mask and enjoyed the taste of pre-COVID life.

The best part for me was just being at a pen show again. Getting to see Carey from Kenro, Damien of All in the Nib, Bert of Bertram’s Inkwell — although we see him often — and some pen friends was great. I’ve missed the pen camaraderie. It’s such a social battery recharge to see people, talk pens, and be able to see/handle things in person before buying them.

A Surprising Joy

Posted in Fountain Pens, and Reviews

It’s not often I write a pen review — let’s be honest, it’s almost never — mostly because there are so many reviewers out there. However, in this particular case, I feel impelled to share my thoughts.

About a month ago, I realized that I no longer had an orange pen in my “Under $250” category. I can’t have a pen rainbow without orange. To try to fix that issue, I solicited some suggestions from my lovely local peeps in the DC Metro Pen Crew.

I received a lot of suggestions, and the Pilot Custom 74 is the one I ultimately decided on. By sheer coincidence, I had a birthday coupon for Pen Chalet, so that’s who I ordered from.

Día de Muertos, Pen Realized

Posted in Fountain Pens, and Reviews

I’m back with post three, so you know what that means. My pen arrived! If you have read my previous posts (1, 2), I suggest you do so to know how this pen came to be. Be forewarned, there is A LOT of pen porn in this post. And you can click/tap any image to view it larger. I take no responsibility for pen envy, pen lust, or pen purchases resulting from the content in this post.

An Epic Odyssey

Posted in Reviews

After playing through Assassin’s Creed Syndicate (2015), I gave myself a little breather, then gleefully dove into Odyssey (2018). I decided to start a new game plus (see below), one of the many awesome features introduced in Odyssey. For the record, at the time of writing, I’ve logged just over 51 hours of playtime — for this play through — at the easiest setting on my PlayStation 4. Everything that follows is based on that experience.

NOTE: This post is LONG, even for me. A real Odyssey, just like the game. I’ve done my best to give it descriptive subheads so you can scroll through it and read the bits that interest you, if you want. And I’ve added lots of photos to break up the text some. I wanted to do, and I feel I have done, this game, and my recent Assassin’s Creed review series, justice. I have one more post planned, then likely won’t write about Assassin’s Creed again until the next game is announced.

Replaying an Old Favorite

Posted in Reviews

In the past, whenever I try to go back and play previous Assassin’s Creed games, I find myself disappointed. Usually, the improvements in newer games, both in mechanics and technology, make older games feel dated and clunky.

However, after my poor response to Valhalla, I decided to seize a small silver lining and replay the older titles that I’d enjoyed. My original thought was to replay Odyssey (2018). However, with how much I’d enjoyed Syndicate (2015), I decided to try going back to it. Be aware, there are likely spoilers in this post, but if you haven’t played it in 5 years, I don’t think you’ll mind spoilers.

Another “Step Up” Pen

Posted in Fountain Pens, and Reviews

As I stated in my TWSBI post, the Kaweco Sport series is another contender for best “step up” pen. I know several people who absolutely adore the Sport series, and I’ve come across photos of truly impressive collections.

I really like the non-satin finish metal-bodied Sports for their weight and durability. The nibs for the entire series are decent and come in a wide range of sizes, but the TWSBI nibs are definitely better.

My Thoughts on Soul

Posted in Reviews

I finally got around to watching Soul a couple of weeks ago. I’d heard and read so many good things about it. Such universal praise made me eager to finally experience it for myself.

First of all, this isn’t a typical review. OK, now that that’s out of the way, let’s jump in.

I certainly agree with some of what I’d read. It’s definitely a more mature story; Soul doesn’t feel at all like a children’s movie. The story itself, it’s arc, and bare bones is well-written. The animation and character design are impeccable. The color palettes both for the characters and for the different “realms” were well nuanced.