Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Glass, first name: Mr.

The Sixth Sense (1999, M. Night Shyamalan) is one of those movies that conveniently serve as a director's first film, even though it's not (I think Sarris came up with this idea, describing Preminger's Laura (1944)). Okay, I'm too lazy to bother researching what Shyamalan did before it and just don't care to ever watch them. But The Sixth Sense was immensely satisfying when I discovered it, with the benefit of not having its twist spoiled before I viewed it. The Sixth Sense belongs in a very small group of films I categorize as puzzle gimmicks. A cursory list of my puzzle gimmicks:
  • The Usual Suspects (1995, Bryan Singer)
  • The Spanish Prisoner (1998, David Mamet)
  • Memento (2000, Christopher Nolan)
The distinction here is that while typically my criteria for evaluating a movie is based on: plot, character, genre, dialogue, and setting, the puzzle gimmick on the other hand feels about as intellectually stimulating as a pulp brain teaser sold in supermarket checkout aisles. These movies also compel you to wait for a twist ending to get a key that unlocks the mystery, which is why I call them gimmicks. Going back as far as I can remember when I've been at a friends place and been in a position to pick a movie to watch, a puzzle gimmick is a safe bet.

But after The Sixth Sense, came Unbreakable (2000) and I thought it was one of the most boring premises I'd ever heard and avoided it. As I imagined it: a guy can't break. So, let me guess? He gets hit by stuff but doesn't get hurt? Pass. Then Signs (2002) and The Village (2004) made me so bored I was angry. Henceforth I would refer to Shyamalan as a hack with one good movie who had subsequently stretched out narratives The Twilight Zone could have executed in 20 minutes into 2 hour atrocities.

Then 10 years later I decided to give Split (2016) a shot. Split was intimate, haunting, bolstered by the disturbing backstory of Anya Taylor-Joy's character as motivation to fight back, MPD villain, and an out of nowhere Shyamalan twist. It was better than I expected. I don't like to put down an entire body of work by a reputable director without actually having seen it, so after Split I had a week where I tracked down Unbreakable, engrossing character-driven dark modern take on superhero genre, Lady in the Water (2006), cheesy Twilight Zone reject, The Happening (2008), weird misfire gratuitously violent life affirming grown-up romance with a hippie twist and his only R rated movie, The Last Airbender (2010), After Earth (2013), boring kids movies and The Visit (2015), a throwaway Goosebumps.

Regrettably, I allowed myself to be hooked by Split's twist into...

Glass (2019, Shyamalan) is conceived as a sequel to Unbreakable and Split. However, while Unbreakable deftly does something new with the superhero genre and Split establishes its own formidable foothold alongside it with the psychological horror genre, Glass is nothing more than an amalgam of its predecessors that comes off as a disappointing forgery.

The advertising campaign depicts another gripe I have, which is having these three superheroes in the same mental institution and treated. And almost the entire movie takes place at this hospital. It sounds like a bad sitcom pitch and not where this universe should be evolving to. Unbreakable had his own movie; Split had his own movie; now baited with the tease of Sam Jackson's badass quote, "the name's Glass, first name: Mr.," and more importantly the title, I expected this to be Glass's movie. Alas I was duped. What's Mr. Glass's superpower? Superhuman intelligence. And he's a villain, right? So what do I get to see in Glass? He like hacks a computer.

Also Willis isn't compelling in his role because we already saw Unbreakable. We don't need a whole act that feels like exposition in case you haven't seen that movie. Same with McAvoy. The novelty of James McAvoy switching between a 9 year old boy, sophisticated matron, and a bunch of others that are forgettable in comparison was great in Split but why watch the exact same material again?

And the Shyamalan twist is so poorly conceived in Glass that Split loses the esteem I once paid it in retrospect. The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable are cool. And McAvoy's talent at portraying multiple characters is impressive, but not as enjoyable for me as Sellers in the Kubrick comedies.

I just realized Stanley Kubrick made comedies. I knew about Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964, Kubrick) since I was a kid. But I only just recently read Nabokov's Lolita again and watched Kubrick's Lolita (1962) then realized he adapted it into a comedy. The book is disturbing, dark, taboo, insightful, empathetic, romantic, and horrific, but not funny. The movie is nonstop awkward hilarious, and significantly due to Peter Sellers playing multiple roles.

Which brings me to my closing to simply put it that although I am negatively criticizing James McAvoy's portrayal of multiple characters as a novelty, I must admit my affinity for Sellers in Lolita and Dr. Strangelove where I find his performances virtuoso, worthy of repeated viewings, and sublimely comedic while also dramatically transcendent.

Vim (for non-programmers) Chapter O (NOT 0), recipes which are quick and dirty, example six: Let's Make a Time-Stamped Log of Stuff We Read Online and Want to Have a List Of; Hey, Guess What? I Got a Lot of This from Chris Toomey (heart-eyes emoji)

(Or, more generally: having Vim do some stuff automagically and plus yet still even lots more fun with functions both built-in and homebrewed, goals probably often shared by many.)

So's anyways, I was thinking I might could benefit from a list of stuff I read online, and since sometimes I read online on a computer, I thought I could try to make the computer help me out with making that list. It only took about a billion hours to work out how. And, of course, what's a list of stuff you did, unless it's also a list of when you did it? Also that's a thing I would like the computer help me out with. And what good is a list if it's not, you know, nicely formatted and fun to read? Not much fucking good at all if you ask me, bud.

Full Disclosure: a big part of this project was that I had a potent itch to just ... learn some stuff, and do something new. The problem is that I am pretty terrible at learning in a vacuum*, so I needed to figure out a need that learning something could address. This was pushing up at the end of the year, so I was, amangst other things, going thru my lists, so I figured, "Hey, let's make MORE lists, that sounds fun". This collided with my occasional dicking around on over to YouTube, which led me to another Chris Toomey video that was as good as the one I saw that drove me to madness helped me make some easier ways to do stuff in Markup, which led me to a now-ancient blog post, which contained a magnificent little skeleton for making, testing, and building up / out a Vim function. So that's where I started.

*Can't breathe, for one.

Chris Toomey's function skeleton looks like so: you put it in a file someplace, and save the file:
function! DoSomething()
    echo 'Hi, Fat.'

nnoremap <leader>tf :source %<cr>:call DoSomething()

So. The first line says "define a function named DoSomething()", which is maybe a little embarrassingly basic, but, hey, it's my little prototyping section inside my own private Vim configuration file, so YOU CAN'T JUDGE ME. The second line defines the, uh, functionality of the, uh, function: it prints 'Hi, Fat.' (without the quotes) to the screen, and that's it. What's nice about this is that it's fast and low-impact. Third line, and this will shock you, says "this is the end of the function." The nnoremap we've seen before, it just means "in normal mode**, make the leader key, followed by tf, do two things: first, reload this file (that's the :source % bit), which will update the function we're playing with, and then, second, make the function named DoSomething() happen". The mnemonic is "test function".

**We all of course remember that "normal mode" means "not typing into the file, but navigating around the file". I.e., we can type stuff, and it won't (necessarily) add / subtract any text from the file, it'll just move around and whatnot.

So, obvs, the trick is to start adding lines. Bonus points for adding lines that do something you might want your computer to do.

So...what do we want it to do? The goal: automatic timestamps in a log of links I read and found interesting, which log looks halfway decent, preferably in Markdown formatting. (That's a plain text format that's pretty friendly on the eye and lends itself well to conversion to other formats, like HTML or whatever. We've seen this before.)

Vim, oddly, has a built-in function called strftime(), which asks the computer what time it is, and spits it out in the format of a "string" (whatever the he*l that is). If I understand it correctly, it is pretty much just a standard Unix function. Anyway, it has one million flags and a syntax I don't really understand, but the version I use is: strftime('%c'), which, if, say, called by :put =strftime('%c'), dumps something along the following lines into your file: "Sat 19 Jan 2019 12:52:29 AM PST" (without quotes). Now, that has a lot of extraneous bullshit in it, but the flags are difficult to understand (and platform-dependent), so fuck it, I'll stick with '%c'.

Now that we know Vim can tell us what the current time / date are, and even put it into a file, we can ... ask it to do so.

function! IncrementLog()
    let a:timestamp = strftime('%c')
    call(append(line('$'), [' ', join(['- ', 'a:timestamp']), join(['    * ', @+])]))

(Hello append() my old friend; I've come to exploit you again...)

So, yeah. First line, say we have a function, with a name. Second line, define a variable, named timestamp and make the content of the variable the "get the time / date" bit we saw before. (The a: bit we can ignore for now: it's a (Ed. Note: the) way to limit the scope of the variable, which seems like a good idea with a variable name as generic and likely to occur widesly as timestamp.) Then: append(line('$') starts us off by saying "add this stuff AFTER the LAST line". This is good for a log, because it enforces a nice chronological order, like you want, in a log.

The next bit is a little bit of a lot. Stuff in [' ', ' '] brackets with commas separating stuff enclosed in quotes is, to Vim, a List. The join() function takes a List as an argument, and spits out a "string". You'll note that there's two of these join() functions, and that each is preceded by some stuff, and each is enclosed in those neat [' ', ' '] brackets with commas separating stuff enclosed in quotes. What append() is calling are two Lists. What this does is put each List on its own line. That's handy af.

The first List that append() takes as an argument is a blank line, then, as the second item, a formatting character, -, followed by a space, followed by our timestamp variable. The second List has as its first element a shit-ton of spaces, for indenting, followed by a formatting character, *, followed by @+, which is, of course, Vim-speak for "whatever is in the computer's shared clipboard". All together, that should result in, schematically:
- [timestamp]
    * [contents_of_clipboard]

Or, more specifically:
- Sat 19 Jan 2019 01:21:38 AM PST
       *  https://prospect.org/article/return-strike

So that works, but it works in the file we're working in. That seems wrong. Seems like a log file should just be one file that lives somewhere stable. Also, this should be as automatic as possible. What I need is an easy way to call the IncrementLog() function, and a way to specify where to do so. That specified way should be easy to get to from wherever.

I fiddled for a long time with options that would automatically add to the log whenever I opened the log file, but then I realized that a file that adds to itself every time I open it ... is kind of a catastrophically dumb idea. I then fiddled for a short time with an option that would allow me to, from the command line, call a program and feed it an argument, which would be the clipboard. That seemed hard***, so instead I just fell back to the fact that I basically always have Vim open somewhere, and if I don't, it's as close as opening Terminal window and typing vim in there.

***And also more like a Python tutorial than a Vim way of doing things.

That meant I needed a way to find / open / write the log file, and, somewhere in there, at a semi-logical place, make the previous function happen. After quite a huge amount of fiddling, I discovered the following old VimScript adage: Just Put It in a Function, Sparklehorse, Then Call It (the Function).

function! s:UpdateReadingLog()
    :split ~/path/to/file.txt
    :call s:DoSomething()
    :execute ":wq"

command! UpdateReadingLog :call s:UpdateReadingLog()

:nnoremap log :UpdateReadingLog<cr>

Fun! So: anywhere in Vim, mash the ol' leader key, followed by log, and the UpdateReadingLog() function opens a new window inside whatever window I'm working in, opens the file I want, runs the function we made earlier (which name I have changed to LogIt() for no good reason), then writes (saves) the file and quits it.

I'm on the fence about whether this really needs two separate functions. I may redo this at some point. But for now, it does almost exactly what I want, and seems to work on my work Mac and my home Zareason Linux laptop****, which is pretty neat. And what have we learned along the way?

  • Quick and easy prototyping of functions!
  • A relatively easy way to spit out the contents of a Vim register into a file—this is relevant because, earlier, we found a way to concatenate a whole bunch of files (or parts of those files) into one register
  • IDK, fun with variables??
  • Another possible use of this: imagine you want to research a new-to-you topic online and have a way to set up some breadcrumbs for yourself; you could bang in a new location for your log file and change your leader situation to like leadernote and Bob's your uncle
  • Anyway, I had a desire to learn something, and a desire to be able to log stuff I was reading, and I (a) learned how to (b) log stuff I was reading
  • So that's cool

****Interestingly, the auto-reload :source % command doesn't seem to work in MacVim. Deeply annoying, and cost me some time. Some possibility, of course, of user error.

Previous entries in Vim (for non-programmers):

Friday, January 18, 2019

Fat's 2018 in Movies

Rough year. I found 135 movies (or movie-like objects, including coherent seasons of TV (Fargo, say)) on my list, but every time I have looked at that list, I have had to close it in despair. And now I'm trying again. Order is mainly chronological by when I saw it.

By far the best times I had in the movie theater were: The Rider, Stop Making Sense, and Free Solo. (Sorry to Bother You would have made this list, but I accidentally saw it in Berkeley, instead of my beloved Oakland.) Best home watches: The Florida Project, Marie Antoinette, Damsels in Distress, Hereditary, and The Endless, the latter two of which actually, literally, cost me sleep. Everything else I saw, I think, would have to be counted as a major step down from those experiences. (Creep and Murder Party definitely get recommendations, if you're into that sort of thing.)

Tier 1: 2018 Good Stuff

  • The Florida Project
  • The Rider
  • Autopsy of Jane Doe
  • Sorry to Bother You
  • Leave No Trace
  • Free Solo
  • Hereditary
  • The Endless

Tier 1a: Good Stuff I Didn't See Until 2018

  • Wild Things
  • Walker
  • Good Time
  • Cruel Intentions
  • Stop Making Sense
  • Marie Antoinette
  • Children of Men
  • The Cutting Edge
  • Damsels in Distress

Tier 2: Okay / Above-Average / Decent / Memorable Stuff I Saw (or Maybe Rewatched) in 2018

  • Okja
  • The Dressmaker
  • The One I Love
  • The Intervention
  • Phantom Thread
  • Free Fire
  • Black Panther
  • Mom and Dad
  • The Square
  • The Killing of a Sacred Deer
  • Marjorie Prime
  • Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
  • The Gift
  • A Cure for Wellness
  • American Made
  • Devil in the Blue Dress (good rewatch)
  • Halloween (new one)
  • Into the Forest
  • The Overnight
  • Creep
  • Murder Party
  • rewatched Boogie Nights: yeah, holds up Party
  • Piranha (whatever, I liked it)

Yes, I Saw That

  • mother!
  • 47 Meters Down
  • The Shape of Water
  • Last Jedi
  • Annihilation
  • Red Sparrow
  • Avengers
  • The Commuter
  • Nocturnal Animals
  • Ravenous
  • The Meg
  • Byzantium
  • Ant-Man & the Wasp
  • Hold the Dark
  • The Apostle
  • First Reformed
  • Unsane
  • Blockers
  • Call Me By Your Name
  • Crazy Rich Asians
  • The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
  • Only God Forgives
  • The Spy Who Dumped Me
  • Skyscraper

Worse Than That, I'm Not Even Gonna Mention

Stuff I Saw but Somehow Forgot to Put on the List

  • Days of Heaven (obviously Tier 1a)
  • The Reef (obviously Tier 2)
  • Adrift (hmm...)

Friday, January 11, 2019

PEN 15 Club: rubbing one (competitor) out

It's come to our attention that other people are writing about pens. This is, clearly, completely unacceptable.

That said, the errors and failures of others can help us understand our theoretical contradictions and then revolutionize them in practice by eliminating the contradictions. So in that spirit, let us examine The Strategist's piece on ... the 100 Best Pens. JFC. That is a LOT of pens. To have opinions about, that's a lot of pens. Therefore, let us examine two things: their theoretical underpinnings / methodological preliminaries; the pens they talk about that we have already talked about.

What matters to The Strategist.

  • Smoothness
  • Smudging
  • Bleed-through
  • Feel (they mean hand feel)
  • Looks

The first three of these make fairly little sense without considering the writing surface, of course, and their strategy for dealing with this is to wave their hands standardize what they're writing on to one single notebook (and not an inexpensive one at that). That this makes their testing a pernicious parody of what it's like to take one's pen(s) out into the world is an unintended, indeed, unacknowledged consequence of an obvious, and complete, failure of theory.

They discuss "Smudging" at a number of junctures, but never is waterproofness mentioned, an omission for which an appropriate epithet has yet to be discovered. I mean, writing a check? That's an important activity to me, yet nowhere in their 100 reviews is this prosaic activity present. And this is relevant, because if you follow the recommendations here, you're gonna need to write some serious checkage: there are at least three pens in the three-figure range here, which seems an odd juxtaposition against $13-for-50 Big Cristals. To say nothing of their catastrophic lack of notes on which pens can versus can not be spun, debate-kid-style, across one's thumb. Even to consider their rankings, founded on such an incoherent and incorrect mishmash of criterions, must be accorded no more, yet no less, than an act of charity.

Let's get down to it, boppers.

Our most compendious previous write-up included the following pens. I shall list them below, helpfully ordered from top to bottom, each pen annotated with our ranking, followed by The Strategist's placement in their list of a hundo, and finally, a brief disquisition on the relative amount of insanity displayed by the strategery reviewed.

  1. Bic Cristal
    Reviewiera Ranking: 9/10
    The Strategist Ranking: 63/100
    Insanity Ranking: These clowns. These ridiculous, perverse clowns. I'm not saying everybody has to rank "Availability, reliability, incredibly cheap price" as highly as I do; nor am I claiming everybody ought to enjoy ballpoint pennery: but to rank by my count some twenty-two ballpoints as better than this one? is an act of actual depravity. And every character of the following passage makes me angrier than the last: "The angular, hard plastic body quickly becomes uncomfortable in the hand. It’s a reliable, affordable pen for jotting down quick notes, but not something you would want to write with for an extended period of time".
  2. Pilot V5
    Reviewiera Ranking: 8.8/10
    The Strategist Ranking: 16/100
    Insanity Ranking: I'm now thinking I might have overrated this pen slightly: it's a good, even excellent, pen, but it writes a tiny bit too fast, contributing to my handwriting losing what little legibility it has to this point retained. But top-20-percent of all pens deffo sounds right. Into it.
  3. Le Pen
    Reviewiera Ranking: 8/10
    The Strategist Ranking: 18/100
    Insanity Ranking: Everybody loves these! Everybody's right.
  4. Micron ~art pen~
    Reviewiera Ranking: 7/10
    The Strategist Ranking: 34/100
    Insanity Ranking: Basic agreement here, but bonus points for the most insane thing I have read this week: "but because it’s shiny plastic I think it might make my hand sweat a little.". (Note that this is the third consecutive pen on my list that can correctly be described as "shiny plastic"; my hand sweating on my pen is ... not an issue at this time.)
  5. Pilot G2
    Reviewiera Ranking: 6/10
    The Strategist Ranking: 31/100
    Insanity Ranking: Predictably, Strategist types, like the entire rest of the world, overrate this pen enormously. Typical.
  6. Uniball Vision
    Reviewiera Ranking: 5.5/100
    The Strategist Ranking: 61/100
    Insanity Ranking: We seem to agree on this one.
  7. Paper Mate
    Reviewiera Ranking: N/R
    The Strategist Ranking: 53/100
    Insanity Ranking: I didn't rank this one for complicated reasons having to do with the only one I have on hand dating back to my father's funeral, but, honestly, middle-of-the-road/pack seems about right for this extremely reliable but hardly fancy option. Plus, I think I just like ballpoints more than the next guy, which I have learned via this exercise.

But nobody, and I mean nobody, could like ballpoints enough to justify this ... monstrosity.

(Calling ... this an acceptable writing experience, let alone calling it the dozenth-best writing experience available is legitimately revolting. Feel: 4!? LOOKS five?? This ... is madness.)

Anyway, my current load-out is just: Bic Cristal; Sharpie®|Pen.; Pentel 205 .5 MM mechanical pencil. Total cost: somewhere under twenty Reviewieran yua (often known as (American) "wing-wangs"); total effectiveness: off the charts.

Anyway, The Strategist, welcome to the PEN 15 Club.

Monday, January 07, 2019

Vim (for non-programmers) Chapter O (NOT 0), recipes which are quick and dirty, example two: Dumping Out the Recommendations from IDEOTVPod into One File

(Or, more generally: pulling specified chunks of text from one million semi-well-structured text files, a goal probably often shared by many.)

I had been asked to help a listener pull all the recommendations from my podcast, I Don't Even Own a Television, along with what episode they came from. Since I write the show notes that go on the website, I figured I might have a quicker way to do this than manually going through every post on the site to do the ol' copy-paste. Below is what I came up with. Note: I use Ubuntu at home. The described process works because my laptop is where all the files are, and because, as we'll see, all the relevant files are set up and named the same way.

  1. Navigate to the correct directory
  2. Load all specified files into Vim's argument list—this is a pretentious way of saying "open all the files in Vim at the same time":
    From the command line, run: vim ep_*
    (This works for me because I am a martinet about file naming conventions)
  3. Type :argdo :execute "normal @m"

But what does that even mean? As usual, we have to look at this from right to left (or from inside to out).

To begin with, @m is a macro. Typing @m just means "do a sequence of key-presses that has been specified and then saved to the register m". Or at least that's what typing @m means when you're in Normal mode, which is why we specify :execute ":normal" before the macro. So there's a lot going on with :execute ":normal", but most of it I don't actually understand, so let's skip it for now, because it's complicated, and go to the macro.

The macro is a recording of key-presses. This recording can be of pretty much anything. If you have a repetitive task, a macro can make it much less repetitive. If you have a repetitive task that involves a lot of tricky typing, that's an even more enticing opportunity to use a macro. (In general, macros don't seem to get a lot of use in the Skilled Vim User community, but I think they're often a good way to do a task you have to do a whole bunch of times one day, and maybe not ever again on any other day.) What we have here is:

  • @m = /\d<cr>"By<cr>/Reco<cr>V/\/ul<cr>"By
  • / = search*
  • \d = for the first digit**
  • <cr> execute the search and put the cursor at the result of the search
  • "By = append to the b register the entire line that first digit was on—the functioning of this is a little obscure to me, because it copies the entire line when I don't think it should, but it works, so whatever.
    y means "yank (Vim slang for 'copy')", " means "look for a named register", and B means "use the b register, but I'm capitalized, so append what you're yanking to the end of whatever's in this register, instead of overwriting what's in it"
  • /Reco<cr> = search for the string "Reco" without the quotes and go there
  • V = visually select the entire line
  • /ul<cr> = search for the closing tag of the unordered list that appears in the html file under the heading "Recommendations"—doing this after entering Visual mode will extend the selecting over that whole span: the prefixed \ before the /ul is needed otherwise you can't search for the /, and hitting return, as usual, fixes the selection, and sets us up for the culminating
  • "By, which is another "append this selection to the register we've been working with"

* (for whatever is typed after the slash (in normal mode, which, remember, we specified we'd be in already; otherwise one could preface this with <esc>, which I would normally do just out of muscle memory, honestly))
** \d is of course a regular expression for "digit"

NOTE: for the sake of hygiene, this should almost certainly start off with gg to go to the top of the file, as Vim can be asked to save the last location of the cursor for a given file. So let's pretend I did that.

Finally, the :argdo bit we started with just means "do the following for every argument Vim has right now". In our case, since we opened Vim with all the files we wanted, in Step Two above, this is all the files.

Basically, then, we have one trick, done twice. That trick is "make the computer do the same tedious thing over and over again". We ask the computer to do this first, in one file, as a macro: basically, this automates the process of looking at an open file, searching for and copying the episode name / number into a new place, then searching for and copying the Recommendations section underneath it. (The macro is a dense but plausible reconstruction of the searches/copying one might reasonably do here. The only weird part is dumping everything into a named register instead of an external file.) Second, we then ask the computer to run that macro once per file for a whole pile of files: that's the :argo :execute "normal @m" bit, once the files are loaded into Vim. As for loading them into Vim, that's an operating system task. The cool part is having two separate ways to repeat: the macro and the :argdo command.

Once everything was done, I just pasted the contents of the b register into a text file and emailed it off into the world. If I needed to do this again, I would probably (look up how to) redirect the text I was selecting into a log file somewhere, and skip the register step.

It's debatable whether this was actually quicker than going through a couple year's worth of files. But at least I learned some stuff, and the work I was doing in doing so was much more interesting and engaging than just manually cutting and pasting a whole bunch of stuff a whole bunch of times. Learning :argdo alone will probably make my life a lot easier in future...

Previous entries in Vim (for non-programmers):

Sunday, January 06, 2019

PEN 15 Club 2: more on the Sharpie(r)|Pen., questions posed and answered

Well, I knew this would happen. When you say something as controversial as I did yesterday—"the Sharpie®|Pen. implement is pretty okay for writing things with" was merely the felt tip of my offensive offensive—you're going to have to expect pushback. And pushback I have from Pen Internet and elsewhere received.

Occasional contributor and life partner Pierre Idiot Trudeau, perhaps predictably, mounted the fiercest assault on my position.

I'm confused as to how these Sharpie Pens are different from the Sharpie fine and Ultra Fine markers. Is there a ball or different ink release system? I know that you've used those others I've mentioned, so I'm curious as to what makes it different/more pleasing.

Later, a pervert calling him-or-herself "Unknown"* continued the savage pile-on.

*Likely fucking story, friendo.

I have a bunch of conflicting emotions about pens. My trusty Micron is great for small missives, but if I truly want to make a statement I have a Sharpie in a holster. I tried the double tip dueling fine point/regular Sharpie, but hardly used the fine point. Turns out, I only use the Sharpie for making signs or responding to analog social media. There are a number of other instruments in my pen-theon which I will leave until another entry on which to elaborate.

"Pen-theon" is pretty good, though, so kudos for that. To address these wild accusations: I did not explicitly compare the Sharpie®|Pen. to the more common Sharpie "permanent" marker, for two reasons. First, I am a MarksALot man**, and brand loyalties are important***. Second, I mostly write on paper, and people who use Sharpie markers to write on paper make me uncomfortable (nervous, irritable). I have tried this, under the occasional influence of one disreputable brute or another, from time to time, and the overwhelming experience is one of bleed-through, of paper more ruined by ink than (ad-)dressed by it. The hand feel of a Sharpie marker is also completely vile: chub-stubby and slick—no, thank you!!

**No, I'm not.
***No, they aren't.

Recently I uncovered a smallish cache of the small-tip Sharpie markers, and attempted to deploy them to label presents. Stolen from work a job ago, they had all gone dry, nestled patiently in my art silo. The metaphor is, of course, clear.

The tip question posed by Pierre Idiot Trudeau is easy enough to answer. The Sharpie®|Pen. boasts a standard protrusive cylinder felt-tip, no ball to be found, basically the same format as the Micron art pen. The Sharpie marker, of the small-tipped variety, does, I believe, incorporate a ball encased by a plastic cone (among its other failings)****, whereas the more common "fine point" marker is a thick, slab-like cone of felt.

(Note here the tip propaganda of the manufacturer, included so that we may better understand not what to think, but what we are wanted to think, by those who are not our friends.)

****I can't verify this, because I took all the ones I had and threw them in the fucking garbage, where I assume they remain, sucking shit. I took a long look at Sharpie dot com, and could not find the sort of pen I am remembering. After additional research, I have come to believe that I may have been remembering not a Sharpie, but an Expo Vis-à-Vis dry erase marker of some sort, or a Sharpie equivalent. I fail to see how this minor error in identifying the tool I was using could in any way invalidate anything I have said about the experience of using the tool. :(

(I don't even like looking at these hateful objects.)

Perhaps more important than the tip is what comes out of it. Standard Sharpie marker ink is, as I have hinted, not my favorite thing to apply to paper (except for wrapping paper, a task that comes up not very frequently, as I am an ingenerous clod), but the Sharpie®|Pen. issues forth something that, as the container indicates, "won't bleed through paper", which is cool. Using science, I have determined that the Sharpie marker and Sharpie®|Pen. do in fact have different inks: as the image below indicates, Sharpie markers can write on glass, whereas the Sharpie®|Pen. cannot, to its credit.


So. To recap, always a good thing to do with your pen:

  • Tip differences: Sharpie®|Pen., a pleasing cylinder of felt jutting from a metal tube, like a tiny Chrysler building; Sharpie marker, a galumphing, turgid pile
  • Ink differences: Sharpie®|Pen., a kind, gentle fluid optimized for gracing, indeed grazing, paper, whence good adults write; Sharpie marker, a harsh substance perfect for those who wish to "make their mark" on arbitrary surfaces (childishly)

Of course, Pierre Idiot nor his campaign were finished.

I have specific pen/marker/highlighter needs/opinions based mostly around the paper that's getting written on. I petitioned my boss - unsuccessfully - to allow us to buy the one step up paper that we used to buy because it "feels better to write on". This was met mostly with eyerolls, but a bit of sympathy from the very same people.

Indeed! Sadly under-recognized, except by the attractive geniuses who read this post, is the vast truth that: The Paper ... Makes the Pen. The barrel matters regardless of surface, but the pen's contents and tip are wildly at the mercy of whatever you're planning to rub them on! This is one reason an ultimate pen, much like an ultimate morality, can likely never be discovered. As for your boss, I recommend collective action and concerted activity. Be unwavering in your demands, unstinting in your efforts, and unquenched in your desire for total victory (read: slightly better office supplies). You might try framing it as a workplace safety issue, if you can. "Paper cuts are causing paper cuts" is a slogan I can hardly imagine meeting with anything but immediate boss capitulation.

Now, if you want to talk highlighters, this here is the gold standard. Smear Guard ®

I didn't, but thanks for the input.

That bit about "childishly" was a joke.

Saturday, January 05, 2019

2018 movies

1.  Halloween (2018, David Gordon Green)
2.  Suspiria (2018, Luca Guadagnino)
3.  The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018, Joel & Ethan Coen)
4.  The Other Side of the Wind (2018, Orson Welles)
5.  Venom (2018, Ruben Fleischer)
6.  Isle of Dogs (2018, Wes Anderson)
7.  Widows (2018, Steve McQueen)
8.  Lords of Chaos (2018, Jonas Åkerlund)
9.  BlacKKKlansman (2018, Spike Lee)
10. The House That Jack Built (2018, Lars von Trier)


Took a quick look at the last time I talked about pens, my mind aglow with whirling, transient nodes of thought careening through a cosmic vapor of invention, and had a discomfiting, disconnected moment. I could scarcely recognize the child I was, tho' the child ever is father to the man, nor credit the opinions he expressed.

Particularly alien I found the conclusion, in which 2017 Fat plumped for reaching in the main for the Pilot (Precise) V5. This bears essentially no relation to current practice, preference, or predilection. The (r)evolution has I think more to do with what I'm writing on than what I'm writing with.

(I found this pen in the bag of scissors / tape / pens / etc. I maintain for Xmas-present-wrapping operations. Man, I sure chewed on this one a lot.)

I've been working, with a kind of dogged, halting persistence, to refine my notebook approach, spurred by conditions both material (I have roughly a dozen Field Notes notebooks on hand) and ideological (I love those Field Notes notebooks, and the uniformity of writing things in identical containers drives a certain urge towards tweaking my approach to their filling, until I feel optimized, plus I have watched more than one video about bullet journaling). Details on all that to come. But with a striving towards consistency and perfection must come a desire for sameness—in this case, yoked to an/the ever-present lust for novelty, viz., I saw a new-to-me kind of pen when I was in a stressful situation and (therefore) in need of easeful consumption—and thus came into my life the stirring adequacy of the spartanly named Sharpie®|Pen., whose chubby, softish barrel is bleh at best, but inoffensive, and whose tip and ink please nigh-invariably.

(You may be able to see that the tip is slightly bent, because I dropped it point-down onto a hard floor, almost immediately after starting to use it. This is vaguely reminiscent of using a pencil, and I kind of like it.)

Not as stable a platform as the light carbine of the Le Pen nor the fully functional Batmobile of the Micron ~Art Pen~, it hits much the same marks, but with waterproof ink and a less intimidating mien. I tried to use it exclusively in my most recent notebook, and except for the day I forgot it at work and had to press back into service one of my absolute favorite (green) Le Pens, I succeeded. Pleasing consistency!

That notebook (was) finished last night; the next follows. After a painstaking review of my Pen Situation and my Evolving Habits, I have decided to retire the Sharpie®|Pen. for the duration of that notebook (48 pages, usually around as many days), for reasons I will describe just as soon as they are clear to me.

(These are fine-tipped, 0.8 mm. I wonder what the Ultra Fine experience is like??)