Archive of ‘whatever’ category

bulow x450 kurve

The Bulow X450 Kurve is an affordable dressy pen that gives the bang of bling for baby bucks.

China-made, it’s become popular for its looks and accessibility. If you get a good one, you’re lucky.

The nib is a two-tone (gold and silver) 18-k gold-plated broad, and is a smooth writer.

The cap and body are green marble resin outfitted with gold hardware, that, however, has tarnished a bit over the couple of years I’ve owned it. The Kurve generally comes in plain colors (vanilla, midnight blue, claret red), while the marble finishes like this are less commonly available.

It is not a good idea to post this pen.

bulow x450 fountain pen green with gold trim

The ink used for this writing sample is Waterman Havana (yes, from an old batch before they changed the names of their inks). 

I’ve always been partial to XF and F pens because I use Moleskine notebooks with their thin, non-fountain-pen-friendly paper, but once in a while it’s satisfying to break out the broads, fill them with inks of interesting colors, and revel in swirls and curves and flourishes.

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green lamy safari 2012 limited edition

The Lamy Safari is a favorite collectible of fountain pen users, especially because the company comes out with limited edition colors from time to time.

For months I resisted buying this year’s special color because I am not particularly fond of it. But after thinking about it, I decided the chance to build a Lamy Safari rainbow doesn’t come often. So I succumbed to the lure of color.

I bought this pen at Scribe Writing Essentials, Eastwood Mall, Quezon City. The pen came inside this massive hinged charcoal gray plastic box placed inside a silver-gray cardboard sleeve.

Inside was the 2012 limited edition Lamy Safari in apple green, a converter, and a cartridge.

This is the old or alternate style of box made of gray cardboard that I used to get Lamys in when I ordered online (from pengallery.com).

Here’s a Lamy Al-Star in Coffee that I got online. The cardboard packaging is simple and eco-friendly. Lamy should phase out that plastic box and the extra cardboard sleeve. This one is much better for the environment.

A comparison shot of the Al-Star (top) and the Safari (green). The specs are the same, the only difference is the material – the Al-Stars are aluminum and the Safaris are of sturdy ABS plastic.

I did not provide a writing sample as I have already done so in previous Lamy Safari and Al-Star reviews, and because Lamys are reliable right off the bat and lay down a consistent neat line.

The ink window gives you an idea how much ink you have left, so you won’t run out in the middle of a sentence. The stainless steel nibs come in fine, medium, broad, and italic (extra charge).

You can’t go wrong with a Lamy – you should have one as part of your daily arsenal. The question is, how many will you get? If you can afford it, think of them as Pokemon –  ”collect them all!”

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sailor lecoule

This is a step-by-step unboxing and inking of a Sailor Lecoule.

Since an image is worth a thousand words, I’ll let the pictures do most of the talking.

The packaging: first comes a cardboard outer sleeve…

…and an acrylic inner box. Inside it are the pen and two short cartridges. The converter is an option. 

The parts of a Lecoule: cap with chrome trim, barrel with pearlescent white body, converter, and stainless steel MF nib in a transparent section.

I decided to use Pilot Iroshizuku ink in Tsutsuji (azalea), a vibrant hot pink.

Slowly lowering the section and converter into the ink…

…drawing the ink halfway up the converter…

…until the converter is full.

The nib, stained with Tsutsuji, rests on the ink bottle cap.

After inking, the pieces are fitted back together.

A writing sample. The Sailor Lecoule nib only comes in MF -medium-fine – and is a nail with a very slight hint of spring. For those used to nibs that yield a bit, this one will take some getting used to. It would be a good entry pen for those coming from ballpoints. 

The design is all about simplicity and tradition, with an added touch of fun. I love how the transparent material makes it almost a demonstrator!

Pilot Iroshizuku Tsutsuji ink and Sailor Lecoule – an interesting combination. 

I bought this red Sailor Lecoule at Scribe Writing Essentials store in Eastwood City Mall, C-5 Road, Quezon City. (No affiliation, only that it’s the only in-mall fountain pen specialty store in the country.)

All photos taken with an iPhone 4S, edited for sharpness and color with iPhoto.

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revlon just bitten kissable balm stain

It’s not often that I write about cosmetics, but when I do, it’s because I’ve found a product that’s worth attention.

Check out Revlon’s new lipcolor line – Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain. It’s a gel formula in a chubby crayon shape that goes on creamy and light, but stays on for hours, through drinking, eating, and talking. For those of us who don’t want to have to reapply every so often, this is a great convenience.

It comes in 12 shades: Charm, Precious, Honey, Darling, Cherish, Sweetheart, Lovesick, Rendezvous, Romantic, Smitten, Crush, and Adore.

Here are six of the twelve shades: Honey (pinkish tan), Sweetheart (bright pink), Crush (dark raspberry), Smitten (dark fuschia), Darling (lavender pink), and Romantic (tomato red).

The crayon shape is great – it’s comfortable to hold and easy to apply. It makes drawing the liplines easy. However, it’s been done before, by Clinique with its Chubby Stick. But while it purports to be a “lip color balm,” the Chubby Stick’s color is too sheer for adequate coverage. But it does deliver on the moisturizer.

The difference between Revlon and Clinique’s products, on the outside, is that the Chubby Stick’s cap is silver while the Balm Stain’s is colored the same as the barrel. 

The shape of the product inside is the same.

Size comparison: the Revlon product is slightly longer and a wee bit fatter. 

Shade numbers and names are printed on circular stickers on the bottom of each Balm Stain. 

This is Smitten. It’s a dark fuschia that would be best suited for complexions with blue undertones.

 

 

Crush is a dark raspberry that goes well with golden undertones.

 

 

Honey, a pinkish tan, is a great nude hue and is the bestseller in the Philippines.

Balm Stain goes on smooth like any other lip balm, but dries to a matte finish and tends to emphasize lip cracks. On the plus side, it’s long-lasting and cost-effective: just a few swipes deliver intense color, going on light, but developing into a deeper hue after a minute or so. Experiment to find the degree of coverage you like.

In Manila, Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain is available wherever there is a Revlon counter – in department stores, drug stores, and beauty supply stores. They’re often sold out, though, because this product is fantastic. No affiliation, I just love it. It’s my new lipcolor staple.

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inoxcrom nature

I’ve been asked, what’s the best beginner fountain pen?

As with anything, it’s a matter of preference. And like fashion, pens are where you find them. There are excellent pens at all price points.

Take, for instance, Spanish brand Inoxcrom, founded in 1955.

During its heyday it was largest and leading brand in Spain and its products were marketed in 80 countries. Its pens and other stationery were the default choices of Spanish students for decades. However, the Barcelona-based company fell upon hard financial times after the death of its founder, Manuel Vaque Ferrandis, in 2003. As of September 11 this year, the company is said to be in liquidation.

Despite its corporate woes, Inoxcrom produced a good-quality line of pens that were sturdy and reliable. The student pens are made of plastic barrels, caps, etc. with stainless-steel nibs.

This is the “Panda” fountain pen from the “Nature” collection. There are ten animals in the set: cow, cat, mouse, ram, donkey, penguin, chick, dolphin, toucan, panda. As far as I can find out, the collection was released in 2007.

Inexpensive pens such as Inoxcrom are great for experimenting with. In this pen, I’m running my own blend of ink – “Old Rose” – made of 9 parts Diamine Cerise and one part Parker Quink Black, more or less. I’m not sure I can duplicate this exact shade, which I can’t find among bottled brands. Anyway, ink blending is part of the fun of being an FP user.

The notebook is Moleskine. The nib is cooperative, no matter what kind of ink I fill the cartridge with. The text is something I made up after the manner of Sei Shonagon. 

Inoxcrom pens from 2007 and older were made in Europe; from 2008 onward, they were made in China.

If you ask me, I’d tell you to buy all the Inoxcrom you can get your hands on, seeing as the company is insolvent and this could be the end of their marvelous colorful reliable products. There still might be some stock at Fully Booked and National Bookstore in Manila.

Photo taken with an iPhone 4S.

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platinum preppy pink

It’s been raining quite a lot lately, and the skies are often gray and gloomy.

When that happens, I reach for something colorful to brighten my spirits.

Today, it’s this Platinum Preppy fountain pen in perfect peekaboo pink.

 Full shot of the pink Platinum Preppy. Instagram filter: Valencia

As with most things of Japanese design, it is cute. Coming from the prestigious and respected Platinum Pen Company (est. 1919), it is reliable from the moment you snap the cartridge in.

The Preppy is an entry-level for children, students, and anyone who wants an inexpensive but well-made fountain pen. (They’re only US$ 3.30 at Jetpens!)  It comes in several different colors – black, blue, green, purple, red, yellow, and pink among them – with matching colored nibs and ink cartridges.  The nibs come in 03 Fine and 05 Medium. This one’s an 05 Medium.

 Parts of a Platinum Preppy: nib and section, cartridge, barrel, cap and clip. Instagram filter: Hefe.

There being none sold in the Philippines, I got mine at Quill and Nib in West Des Moines, Iowa, during a trip there.

Here’s a writing sample in Platinum’s cheery almost-sakura pink ink. The words and drawing are from an Internet meme.

Writing sample and closeup of a Platinum Preppy nib. 

Someday it will stop raining. Someday it will stop being gray and gloomy. Till then, here’s my pink Platinum Preppy.

All photos taken with an iPhone 4S.

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picture this

“A picture is worth a thousand words,” they say.

As a writer, I know this to be true. There are things and experiences that make you gasp like a punch to the gut or a slap in the face or a hug of exceeding warmth and lovingkindness and in that moment of speechlessness words are inadequate to convey with full nuance or intensity of meaning what they made you think or feel.

So I take pictures.

“Pages”, uploaded to Instagram on 10 Aug. 2012.

“Wind-Tossed”, tree and sky in Bohol. 13 Aug. 2012

“Patchwork Tile”,  floor of Aristocrat Restaurant,  Manila. 28 Aug. 2012

“Pearl Sun”, at the Cultural Center complex, Pasay City. 31 Aug. 2012

“Blue Pen”, closeup of a Lamy Safari’s 1.1 italic nib. 11 Sep. 2o12.

Gasp.

Oooh.

Wow.

All photos taken with an iPhone 4S and edited with Snapseed.

Find me on Instagram: @jensdecember

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blue lamy safari italic

Going through my collection of fountain pens, I was pleasantly surprised to rediscover this bold blue Lamy Safari from a couple of years back.

The Lamy cap and barrel is made of high-quality ABS plastic with a chrome clip. It has a cartridge/converter fill system. The barrel has a cutout – that’s to see how much ink is left, which serves the same purpose of the Ink-Vue windows of 1930s Waterman pens, but in a simpler fashion.

I prefer converters to cartridges. They’re eco-friendly because they’re reusable, although carts can be refilled with a syringe. Here, I’ve dipped the Lamy’s nib into a bottle of Private Reserve.

A converter is also great for priming a clean pen because it draws ink up through the nib. Here the converter is half-full. (You can see I’m an optimist.)

Here’s a writing sample with this pen’s lovely 1.1 italic nib. The ink color is actually Tropical Blue, not Turquoise. Sorry for the typo error. The Lamy does not have spell-check.

A closer look at the nib will show the end of the nib that lays the ink down in a wider line than usual, perfect for rendering italics, calligraphy, and interesting drawings. It’s going to get a lot more use from now on.

All photos taken with an iPhone 4S, edited with Snapseed.

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pop goes the world: one class, three palanca essays

POP GOES THE WORLD  By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today,  23 August 2012, Thursday

One Class, Three Palanca Essays

There is a wealth of stories in the places we call home.

“I am always drawn to places where I have lived, the houses and their neighborhoods,” wrote Truman Capote in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and this seems to be a universal yearning. For what are autobiography and memoir in a certain sense but a return to one’s home, an exploration of memory that time has washed over with a sheen of sentiment, an Instagram photo rather than a jarringly colorful image.

The concept of home is so powerful that works that deal with it seldom fail to capture interest. This is true for three Carlos Palanca Memorial Award-winning essays from last year and this.

Last year’s winner for first was myself for “The Turn for Home: Memories of Santa Ana Park”, which explores my early adulthood as a wife and young mother lived beside the now-defunct Makati racetrack.

The second place winner was Jeena Rani Marquez-Manaois’s “River of Gold”, memories of her youth in Cagayan de Oro. Here’s an excerpt from her draft from 2010:

“This golden fish was not some prince under an evil spell. It had been a golden fish all its life in the Cagayan River, which was why, according to the grown-ups who explained it to me, “de Oro” became a part of the city’s name.

“Some of the older people of the city swore they had seen it. The colossal fish had emerged from the Cagayan River sometime in the 1950s. It was so huge that all of Cagayan de Oro City shook violently in a mighty quake when it came out of the depths of the Cagayan River.

“Those who had seen it in their childhood claim it was not a fish; it couldn’t have been because of its towering height and the power of its majestic movement. It was a sleeping red dragon which lives in an invisible river beneath the San Agustin Cathedral on one side of Carmen Bridge.”

This year’s first prize winner is Hammed Q. Bolotaolo, a well-traveled man with an interesting past spent in Malate and a present spent roaming around the world. His winning esssay combines elements from his “Malate” (2010) and “Of Legends” (2011) pieces.

From his “Malate” draft:

“I also remember one bar along Adriatico having a logo of a small, partially damaged plane in blue neon lights, with fractured windows and wings and busted rudder and propeller. It was no longer working except for its flashing beacon. Whenever I found myself staring at it as a young boy, I wondered whether the plane had really crashed on that spot.  It looked real from what I could tell. And I never asked my mother. But such is Malate: a fusion of illusion and reality, a dreamy place of incandescent lights, of virile laughter and vigor.”

All different places, different homes. But these three pieces have one thing in common: they have their origins in a couple of creative non-fiction writing graduate classes taught at the University of the Philippines College of Arts and Letters by professor emerita Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo.

Dr. Hidalgo, often called “Ma’am Jing” by her students, is one of the foremost teachers and writers of CNF. In those classes held during the first and second semesters of 2010-2011, she not only guided us in the technique of our craft, she also encouraged us to tap deep within ourselves for the creative impetus that would allow us to write not only with lyricism and beauty, but with truth and honesty.

For the first class, her instructions were “write about a place;” during the second, “write about a personal memory.”  We wrote, critiqued each other’s work, and in the process shared food, laughter, and our lives.

Those classes were home in the way no other classes were, and we were family to each other.

It is perhaps the first and only time that a class under one professor has produced three Palanca Award-winning essays. I hope this is mentioned during Palanca Awards Night on September 1. How rare and beautiful is that?

It would be a fitting tribute to a well-beloved teacher, who nurtured her students and helped them fulfill the potential of their talents and make their own contributions to Philippine arts and letters.

Thank you, Ma’am Jing, and happy birthday (August 21). We couldn’t have done it without you.   *** 

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corner tree cafe

For those who have adopted a vegetarian diet, or are looking to try something new, Corner Tree Cafe offers vegetarian fine dining with a taste of Morocco and the Mediterranean.

The interiors are comfortably dim, with tealights at every table. Perfect for quiet tete-a-tetes.

A young author writes her novel by candlelight.

The Spanakopita is creamy inside and crunchy outside.

corner street cafe camote fries

Camote fries – not your usual.

corner street cafe vegetarian meat loaf

 Vegetarian meat loaf entree.

It’s interesting enough to try out. Corner Tree Cafe is at Miladay Building, 150 Jupiter Street, Makati.

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