Monday, May 25, 2009

Red Esterbrook - J Series

My curiosity about whether Steve Leveen may have used the Esterbrook J Series as his model for the Levenger True Writers, led me to purchase this red Esterbrook J with a 2668 nib. Placing the Esterbrook J next to a True Writer demonstrates how similar they are in appearance - especially, the silver bands, clip and end caps. They both have a screw out nib so that you can easily change nib sizes. The True Writer is larger and offers cartridge or converter fill. The Esterbrook is lever-bladder fill.

This model of the J series, with "Esterbrook" imprinted on the clip and the black end caps were produced in great numbers during the 1950s.

The ink sac on this one had deteriorated to fragments. So, this was my first pen restoration. The pen had to be taken apart, cleaned and a new sac installed. It reminded me of building models when I was a kid - restoring this pen was a joy. If you haven't attempted it yet, it is not as intimidating as it sounds. Between the instructions on Richard Bender's site and the availibility of parts from Pendemonium, it is really quite simple. This pen is currently filled with "Rattler Red" from Noodlers - to match the color of the pen - and writes extremely will for a steel nib. The 2668 nib is very firm and provides some feed back but not too much if you keep a light hand. The 2668 produces a medium-fine line and never fails to provide ink.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Chimera Crusade - Prologue

Here is a draft of the first page of the novel that I am working on:


"Zingot, one of the sleepers is wondering about us . . . thinking beyond a dream. He is curious as a cat and I suppose that he may visit us tonight. Let us prepare to greet him, shall we?"

The voice that spoke was deep and threatening, which betrayed the hospitable verbiage. However, all of the proper grammar was lost on Zingot, who did as little thinking as possible. But Zingot did get the gist of the message and rolled away ringing his hand bell and dripping ice cream in the corridor as he went. As he did so, rats in crisp red tunics came out of tiny doors in the baseboard and cleaned the ice cream off of the floor and then just as swiftly disappeared again - leaving no trace.

The Head took no notice of the ice cream, the bell ringing, or the rats. He was pensive. With eyes closed, his massive and distorted head and tiny body shuffled slowly back to his chambers.

The Head was just that, an immense head with little legs and arms that extended beneath him. His body was completely hidden by his chin and jaw. The Head always wore a suit - either black or pinstripe gray - with black patent leather shoes. His shirts were always plain white but all you could see were the cuffs. Presumably, he wore a black tie but that was hidden deep beneath the fleshy recesses of his neck. His skin was normally a pallid gray-green. However, he had a chameleon-like ability to change his flesh color. The Head was bald, with the exception of an odd stub of hair now and then, as though a mostly bald man had been caught in a fire and had his few remaining hairs seared off. His eyebrows were a little fuller but still mangy.

At the top of his head was a prominent and disconcerting fissure, which ran across the center from front to back. The fissure appeared old and weathered, as did the whole head, with many lines, cracks and scars - like an ancient whale that had won numerous battles with whaling ships. The shape of the skull under the skin was easily recognizable and were it not for the fleshy eyelids, lips and bulbous nose, his head might easily be mistaken for a skull. Particularly since The Head had only holes where his ears should have been. Oddly, his hearing was quite acute.

* * *

Zingot rolled around a corner into another older corridor, the ice cream cone was gone but the evidence still could be seen on his hands and face. Zingot did not mind the stickiness or the pink, for it had been strawberry - his favorite - and it just made him appear sillier than normal, if that were possible.

Zingot's head was cone shaped with the pointed end up. He had two tufts of bright orange hair sticking up above each ear. His ears were large and pointy. His eyes were black and beady, and were always crossed, so that you could never be sure where he was looking or whether or not he was focused on anything at all. He never stopped grinning but he did not exactly look happy. He wore a one-piece purple suit with a puffy yellow collar that went around his neck like a donut. Down the front of his suit were three large yellow buttons. Where his feet should have been, there were smooth red rubber tires with bright yellow hubs. In his left hand, he frequently carried a brass hand bell, which he rang incessantly as he rolled madly through the corridors of The Head's Governor Mansion.

With sticky pink face and hands, Zingot reached the scriptorium in the deepest level beneath the mansion, crashing and ringing through its chamber doors.

Seething with anger from the dark shadows, the hooded scribe gnashed his teeth, "Quiet, you noisy fool!"

Zingot took no notice of the vicious tones but rather was distracted from his bell ringing by the flickering candles, incense and general air of mystery in those austere and dank rooms. Even the red-tuniced rats did not enter there.

"Why are you here, you idiot?" Kreen, a Skolex scribe, spit the words at Zingot as he spoke.

Barely remembering The Head's orders, Zingot began babbling in his squeaky voice about preparations, papers and solemn contracts. At least that was what Kreen unscrambled from Zingot's ramblings.

“Yes. This is what we have been waiting for.” Skolex hissed. “We will be ready.”

Zingot nodded his head vigorously. Though without the least understanding – he was simply caught up in the drama of something new.

More to come . . .

Monday, May 4, 2009

Sheaffer Balance Fountain Pen

Sheaffer Balance with a Lifetime fine point nib: This pen is my best writer - it is currently filled with Noodler's Marine Green - but I rarely use it because I'm afraid I might break it. However, I'm not writing another review of this pen, I just wanted to post this picture because I like it.

Teddy Roosevelt

Recently I was looking through some very old sketch books and most of what I saw made me cringe - why was I storing so much of this junk? But I found a few drawings that I had forgotten about and was pleased to see again. This is one of them. It is a small pencil drawing made more dramatic by an inked background. The actual sketch is surrounded by several pen & ink doodles, which I edited out after I scanned it.

I remember at the time I was reading an outstanding biography of Roosevelt by Edmund Morris.