Tokyo and Jerusalem, Strike 2

This time in pen and markers. The actresses from the wonderful play “The Mystery of the Lost City Guardian (of Doom)” strike again. I still don’t know what to do with Jerusalem’s background, but I’ll figure something out.

Tokyo and Jerusalem, Strike 2

Waterman Phileas Review, or Why, Waterman, Why?

The Waterman Phileas was my first fountain pen, one that I bought after careful research on eBay, shortly after they were discontinued. It cost me £15 at the time, a small fortune for me, and the most I had ever spent on a pen. My RSI was at its worst, and I had to take a lot of notes (I was still in the university), so I splurged mostly out of desperation. Internet research brought up fountain pens as something that could possibly help with my RSI, and so I decided to give it a try. I found the Fountain Pen Network and combed the boards for information about fountain pens for newbies like me. Two pens kept coming up as good first fountain pens to buy: the Lamy Safari, and the Waterman Phileas. It was relatively newly discontinued by Waterman, and so I could find it easily and buy it NOS from a reputable seller. It’s been over 11 years since I bought it, and it’s still one of my favourite pens, and one of my most frequently used ones.

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Look how pretty this pen is! 

The Waterman Phileas is named after Phileas Fogg, Jules Verne’s “Around the World in 80 Days” protagonist. It comes in blue, green, red and black, and is cartridge converter pen with a large two-tone steel nib. The nib and pen have an art deco look to them, and the pen is also designed to look somewhat like a cigar. It’s a classic “fountain pen” look that makes it appear more expensive than it is, and it’s part of the reason why you’ll see it popping up in various commercials, even to this day. It’s a very beautiful and elegant pen that just looks classy.

Unlike it’s cheaper sibling, the Waterman Kultur, the Phileas has a brass insert in the body, which means that it has got some heft to it, weighing (filled, with a converter) 24g, as opposed to the Lamy AL-Star’s 22g (filled, with a converter). The weight is perfectly balanced for writing, especially for beginners, since it encourages you to lay off putting pressure on the pen. The pen let you feel that it’s putting the pressure on for you.

The look of the Phileas is phenomenal, especially for the price, but it’s the nib that made me fall in love with it specifically and with fountain pens in general. I chose the extra fine nib, and it is nothing short of magical. Take a look for yourself:

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From hairline to European fine – the Phileas line variation at work.

Yes, that’s line variation. No, it doesn’t come from applying pressure to the nib. It works like a less extreme Sailor Zoom nib: vary your writing angle just a bit and it will go from 0.4 mm lines to 0.7 mm ones. The nib is also smooth, but gives a little feedback, which reminds me a little of the feedback you get from using a really good pencil. Couple that with the fact that the Phileas is a cartridge converter (with a sizeable converter), and so very easy to clean, and you’ll understand why this is still my favourite sketching fountain pen.

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Drawn with a Phileas, except for the witch’s cloak and hat.

The Phileas accepts long international cartridges, and Waterman is one of the few makers that make those cartridges. They excellent (especially the blue-black) and very convenient when travelling with your fountain pen.

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Look at that nib! It’s hard to photograph, but it’s such a great design.

Which brings me back to the beginning of my story. It’s 2019 and I have a substantial collection of fountain pens, most of them costing well over 10 times what the Waterman Phileas cost me. None of them are 10 times the Phileas as a pen. I could have stopped here, but the Phileas has proven to be a gateway into fountain pen madness for many people over the years. It’s a pen to fall in love with, in a way that I haven’t ever fallen in love with my Lamy’s, good-though-they-are. Its design is classic and timeless, and its quality is unparalleled for the price (yes, even today).

SO WHY HAS WATERMAN DISCONTINUED IT? WHY? WHY?

This should have been their Lamy Safari, TWSBI Eco or Pilot Metropolitan  – a more classic version of the beginner’s fountain pen, as opposed to the other’s more modern design. It boggles my mind that they not only discontinued the Phileas, but also it’s cheaper cousin, the Kultur. What on earth are they doing over there? Do they not want new people to fall in love with their pens? It’s the same weird move with their ink line (their refusal to jump on the limited edition/shimmer/sheen ink bandwagon), but even more baffling. YOU WOULD SELL THESE WATERMAN!

So frustrating.

Anyway – if you can get your hands on a Waterman Phileas for a reasonable price, I highly recommend it. It’s a charming pen that will never go out of style.

Waterman Phileas Review, or Why, Waterman, Why?

Moleskine Star Wars Pocket Weekly 2020 Planner Review

Every year Moleskine comes up with new designs for its planners, and 2020 was no different. On the one hand, it’s great that every year there’s something fresh, on the other  hand, if you happened to really love one of their previous designs you are going to be disappointed.

I was planning on being disappointed.

For the past three years I’ve been using the Moleskine pocket weekly notebook to get an idea of how my week looks like (I also use Fantastical as my digital calendar/reminders app), and every year I’ve bought the latest limited edition. Last year’s denim edition was so beautiful and popular I had some hope that it would return in some version or other this year.

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Battered but beautiful.

So when Moleskine came out with Star Wars themed limited edition planners, I was slightly disappointed, I admit. That disappointment faded away when the new planner arrived.

The design of the cover of this planner is phenomenal. The colour choice, the overlay, the way that it looks like someone stamped or screen printed the design – very ’70s retro, and really well done.

Moleskine’s choice of elastic band colour and the quote on the cover are also great. A red band would have been too much, I think, and the quote is inspirational and makes me smile.

The branding on the back is subtle. It’s a Star Wars planner before it’s a Moleskine planner.

Continuing the retro vibe, the front and back endpapers are excellent (although the stickers do stick out, somewhat ruining the effect.

Sticker page sticks out of the back pocket, because it’s too large.

The sticker page itself is cool, but not really planner themed.

The planner itself is in the usual pocket weekly format, with a ton of pages for your information, monthly and yearly planning calendars, and general information (maps, international holidays, etc). Then the actual planner, which is a week on one page, with a notes page opposite it. The paper is thin, which makes the planner thin and light, but there’s going to be show through with everything, and it’s not fountain pen or rollerball friendly. Gel ink, ballpoint and pencil are what works best with it.

Look at that pretty ribbon bookmark!

There’s not a lot of writing space for each day, but after trying several other formats over the years, this is the one that works for me. It’s just enough to give me a feel for what the week is like, without tempting me to dump everything from my calendar and to-do list on the thing. Only what must go in the planner (appointments, running meets, races, trips, meetings with friends and other events that don’t generally move) gets written down, and so I have a way of seeing exactly how much time I have for various projects during the week. It’s a way for me to make fluid time more concrete and managed.

As usual, there’s a cool B-side to the paper slip around the cover, and this one shows how to make an origami X-Wing.

From previous years’ experience these little notebooks can take a beating, and even though the cover on this planner is white, I expect nothing less from it. If you’re looking for a weekly planner that is lightweight, durable, and well designed, the Moleskine Star Wars 2020 Weekly Planner is worth checking out.

Moleskine Star Wars Pocket Weekly 2020 Planner Review

Inktober 31: Happy Halloween!

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The outline and cat were drawn with a Waterman Phileas (EF nib) and Noodler’s Heart of Darkness (which I haven’t used in years, no idea why), and the hat and clothes were filled in with a Tombow Fudenosuke dual sided brush pen.

It was a fun challenge, and I really pushed myself this year to try new and different things. Can’t wait for next year’s Inktober!

Inktober 31: Happy Halloween!