Some recent ballpoint doodles

I searched and searched for tips on turning my longtime ballpoint habit (mostly fueled by sitting at a desk at work and school, and ease of carrying on a bus) legit with an archival ink. Turns out there are some common brands that use inks that conform to certain industry standards, and there are lots of mailing list and blog posts about these issues. But, actually finding the right implements cheap in my locality took a lot of hours (as always.) But, for now I’ve got my answers, even if it did require ordering stuff from China and Japan and Germany, and the most expensive pen has already had the pocket clip break so thanks, Tombow. But, the Tombow refills are more for writing, as they are a smooth flowing liquid ink.
If you want to get that pencil like feel and value range you need an old school funky ballpoint, none of this gel and liquid and glide what-not. Well, Schneider’s got it, and the Schneider Pulse (not the Pulse Pro, which has some kinda smooth glide ink) ended up being the compromise weapon of choice. I got one at a reasonable price, and then a handful more shipped from way out for a very reasonable price. And some extra refills. Now, actually getting my broken hand and mind to usethem up is a whole other issue. Most of these drawings were done after being up all night and then finally having a craving to do what I should have been doing all along after the sun starts coming up and I’ve turned the lights out.

doodles 7_4_16 smaller

doodle for dawn small
which pen was this?
hands 7_21_16 state 2 small
I was about to go to bed, I swear
hands detail 2small
detail of the above
hands detail
another detail

just some recent fountain pen doodles

I keep remembering, hours after I should have gone to bed, that reviving my lapsed focus on drawing, starting in reverse order of problems with getting the broken hand back in action,  was supposed to be some sort of priority. I mean like, when the sun is coming up.

sketch about sketching scrn smallBut, why should it be a priority, anyway? The world is overrun with people wandering around with sketchbooks now, and blogging about their practice and their techniques. Back when I was really in it no one else could be seen doing it in these parts (unless you were in the vicinity of the art school), and no one cared that I was.sketch sketch detail(Isn’t she cute, though? Less than an inch square in real life.)

I have been using the old Pentalic Mark X, which when new seemed like a sad replacement for my favorite reasonably priced sketching fountain, the Pelikan 120. Although I have purchased a couple more 120’s off of ebay, at not so reasonable prices these days, I still do not have one working the way it used to. The Mark X just keeps flowing along, with no maintenance in the 35-40 years since it was new.

practicecan't bepractice

Patriotic Ferver (fervor meets fever. Or, A New Wave of Patriotism Blowing Through Our Pants)

(belatedly allowing the escape of this post from the last 4th of July series.)

So, the startled masses on FaceBook are wondering, “what’s all this talk about the Founding Fathers and the Post Office, Barry? We thought you were some sort of Anarchist or something?” Well, it may be proving to be true that one becomes more Conservative with age. I sometimes feel myself leaning from Anarchy toward Socialism.

To some degree it is the passing of my parents and a lot of thinking back to things they had to say during my childhood that prods me. They were great believers in the system which I came to see as hopelessly trashed by the time my intellect got the best of me. (around age 16, that is.) Little could I imagine just how much more trashed it could become, and how purposefully this was being implemented by so-called patriots, by the time I was ready to enter my dotage.

My parents believed someone was fixing things and looking out for the general good. Occasionally they would make some reference to the weird and scary stuff that went on when they were kids. They believed because they had been brought forth from the Depression with the help of public works and bank regulation. They had been saved from tainted meat and bad patent medicines by federal inspectors.  Yes, my parents believed the country had been delivered forth from debtors’ prison, slavery, bank failures. (they also came of age in a culture being enriched by folk-singers and previously unheard from ethnic groups. Too bad the artists were mostly quashed as a bunch of commies and lowlifes…)

The G.I. Bill was going to help all their fellow veterans get out of their tenements when they got home from their part in the effort that stopped Fascism in WWII. Well, set it back a bit, anyway. I came to feel that the spirit of the enemy flew into our system at the end of the war; you become what you fight and all. A few more bits of history filled in the truth that fascism was here all along. Its entrenched forces in this country just kept on their friendly American masks waiting for a couple generations down the line to have forgotten certain things about ‘the good old days’. Waiting for our parents to die and us to forget and our children who never knew. Waiting along with the greedy bankers, farmers and snake oil salesmen those who would take your money by hook or by crook.

Well…  they’re baaaaack.

By now, it is clear that Congress and the Statehouse are fully in the pockets of the Crooks, and this new batch of alleged outsider/maverick/reformer/tea-baggers is right in there with them. They are functionally a wholly-owned subsidiary of GlobalEvilMegaCorp, either wittingly or unwittingly. And, from what I’ve seen, I’m not taking any bets on any great presence of wit amongst this lot.

I still have a fair amount of sympathy for anti-government sentiment. (For those who don’t know, what I dearly wanted was to find a way out of here entirely to some new, small,  self-sufficient sane and sustainable culture. May you get there eventually.) But, when it comes down to cases, the only part of the government these people who want to destroy from within are really against are the parts that help the people. Well, thems is the parts we needs. Being stuck here by default (yes, de fault of my own weakness) amongst all these other people who are likewise pretty pitiful and helpless, I have to admit we’re in a pickle without support for teachers, arts, fire departments, mail delivery, roads and bridges, relief from extreme poverty and hunger and homelessness, support for development of new forms of energy, clean water… hell, any water… air… … well, I’m too choked up to continue.

PABL009 – Yola My Blues Away – Skip James (1931)

How many copies of the same records does a person need? When it comes to those mysterious and timelessly great Paramount blues records of the late ’20’s, as many as it takes. Back when we started listening to them, there would be only one source available and it would be barely audible. But, there’s no doubt that the very challenge of hearing through all those pops, crackles and hisses made us hear all the more for the effort. And the enshrouding noise enhanced the romance and air of mystery. But despite all that, there remained the nagging questions about just what notes were being played on those distant guitars; and the enduring fantasy: what if I could be there and really hear Charley Patton play and sing?

The earliest re-releases of the 78’s generally involved turning the treble down to reduce the scratchiness. Sometimes way too far down. They pre-digital Yazoo releases sometimes did different eq’s on each side of the stereo groove, sometimes to good effect. That label had the best releases, and to my ear still does a lot of the time. They get access to the best originals, and use good turntables and stylii (current transfer masters have many custom stylii of different diameters to touch different parts of the groove wall so they can find the sweet spot on different records), getting the best out of the mechanical processes before going digital.

Some of the biggest disappointments have been releases from the Columbia Roots & Blues series, which was so exciting because they actually have the original metal master parts in their vaults. But, in spite of working from these pristine sources, they seemed to feel the need to over-process, with the decisions left too much to the software, until every last trace of noise is gone but with much of the feel of the music along with it. The sound is thin and, to me, often annoying.

Well, here’s yet another guy jumping into the digital remastering pool, and with yet another approach and to different effect. Andrew Rose at Pristine Audio is working over a number of the greats.

http://www.pristineaudio.co.uk/

He is doing what he calls ‘digital heavy lifting’, working over individual phrases and moments in detail. Patching broken waveforms, working detailed multiple eq’s to try to make the guitar sound like what he thinks the guitar would have sounded like in person. In other words, remaking the record rather than trying to present it as is in best condition. These opposed approaches have advocates who will argue the issue in great detail at endless length. I’ll listen to both and wonder.

These records feature selections, rather than the ‘complete in chronological order’ programs that some labels attempt. He doesn’t have access to those ‘best copies available’ original discs, and has to content himself to working from other peoples’ transcriptions from varying sources. That, unfortunately, means that all that hard work is on top of a flawed foundation. Like all other versions before it, this can not be thought of as the ultimate. I’ll just have to keep buying every new remastering that comes along, I guess.

These records offer a listening experience that is decidedly worth pursuing, though. There are some nuances of the performance that are far easier to grasp than ever before. And, a great sense of presence to be sure. To my ear, there is just a bit of constriction to the sound; the Yazoo versions exist in a more natural ‘space’, and are ultimately slightly more satisfying emotionally. But, there are definitely revelations to be had from Mr. Rose’s Pristine work. And, if you’re trying to work out a Charley Patton guitar part, this might get you a little closer view of the genius.