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Archive for March, 2009

New page: The Magic Pen

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009
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New page: The Magic Pen

Monday, March 30th, 2009
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New page: The American Dream

Friday, March 27th, 2009
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Rock Cookie Bottom

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

Just when you thought the internet couldn’t get any better, you stumble across Rock Cookie Bottom. This guy (Jonathan Mann) writes a song a day, and puts ‘em online (complete with music video) for us to enjoy. They’re smart, hilarious, and topical. My personal favourites (from the last week alone!) include:

and his second economics-related follow-up hit:

Go visit Rock Cookie Bottom now and improve your day considerably.

New page: Magic Pen

Thursday, March 26th, 2009
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How to make me happy UPDATE: find me some pens!

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

The truly wonderful Tombow Fudenosuke GCD-111
For the past few years, I’ve drawn almost everything with two particularly lovely Japanese marker pens, the Tombow ‘Fudenosuke’ GCD-111 and GCD-112. There’s one shop in New Zealand that sells the things, and I buy them in bulk. However, supplies are patchy, and for some time they’ve not had them at all. Hopefully, that’ll change, but it prompted me to put out a call to the all-knowing interweb, in case anyone can help.

Here is information about the pens on Tombow’s website (in English), and here is the GCD-111 on amazon.jp. Unfortunately, even amazon.jp won’t ship them outside Japan, which I assume is an indication that Tombow has all kinds of licensing arrangements for the rest of the world. Which would be fine, but neither their US or European online catalogues include these pens, and no online retailer that I’ve been able to find (outside of Japan) seems to stock them either. If I could read Japanese, I could probably order them from one of the many Japanese online retailers that google offered me – but I can’t.

So here’s the thing: if anyone out there knows an easier way to get them, please let me know. I’d be very grateful.

By the way, I was first alerted to these wonderful pens by Timothy Kidd, who also uses them, along with a number of other cartoonists and illustrators I’ve spoken to. They’re a truly wonderful pen: waterproof, dark, but most importantly they allow you to vary your line from a fine, sharp pen-like thing to an almost brush-like swish, while still enjoying all the convenience and ease of drawing with a marker-pen. They suit my own drawing hand perfectly. I’m quite sure they’d find an enthusiastic market outside Japan if only someone would try…

One last note of caution: Tombow make another (related) range of multi-coloured ‘brush pen’ markers (the ABT range), which are quite different, and – while probably perfect for some people’s purposes – are of no use to me. Just about every stationery store I try stocks these (or else the related WB-300TN Tombow Dual-tip brush pen, which is far cruder than the ones I use). If I sound bitter, it’s because many of my searches for the GCD-111 has ended with a store clerk triumphantly brandishing one of these dual-tip monstrosities as if it were the holy grail. It’s one of life’s great ironies that this crude dual-tip beast is available almost everywhere, while the far superior GCD pens – a true masterpiece of marker pen design – is rare as hen’s teeth.

Although, for all I know, maybe Tokyo has a Tombow GCD vending machine on every street corner…?

Floating Worlds

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

Floating WorldsOut this month from Victoria University Press:

Floating Worlds: Essays on Contemporary NZ Fiction
Anna Jackson & Jane Stafford (eds)

The ground-breaking New Zealand fiction of the last fifteen years has not attracted critical commentary beyond initial reviews, despite its success with readers both local and international, and despite its attracting major awards both local and international. Floating Worlds contains stimulating and insightful essays on eight of the best novels of recent years.

These are novels in which there is no longer one authoritative way to tell a story. In contrast to Allen Curnow’s stricture that New Zealand writers should conform to ‘the disciplines of an uncompromising fidelity to experience, of an unqualified responsibility to the truths of themselves, in this place and that time’, these novels invite us into what Paula Morris calls ‘a floating world’, where identities are negotiable and performative.

Floating Worlds illuminates the distinctive ways in which contemporary New Zealand writing approaches the relationship between the real and the imaginary, and the different kinds of challenging, edgy authenticities that operate in the space between them: the familiar and the foreign; the copy and the original; the fake and the genuine; the intention and the act, including the act of writing.

Nicholas Wright on The Miserables by Damien Wilkins
Kirstine Moffat on In a Fishbone Church by Catherine Chidgey
Jane Stafford on The Vintner’s Luck by Elizabeth Knox
Hamish Clayton & Mark Williams on Hicksville by Dylan Horrocks
Lydia Wevers on Slow Water by Annamarie Jagose
Anna Jackson on The Time of the Giants by Anne Kennedy
Erin Mercer on Hibiscus Coast by Paula Morris
Jennifer Lawn on Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones

More music I like: Bonnie Prince Billy DJs on NPR

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009


This is a lovely show: All Songs Considered host Bob Boilen sits and chats with Bonnie Prince Billy (aka Will Oldham), and they play some tracks from Oldham’s record collection and a few from his new album, Beware. The highlights (for me) are the first two tracks: ‘Seven Little Girls Sitting in the Back Seat’ (by Paul Evans) – which Oldham describes as an “erotic ballad” – and ‘The Girl in Me’ (by Bonnie Prince Billy & Cheyenne Mize). One of the (many) things I love about Oldham’s music is his ability to revel in sexuality while still being sweet and thoughtful, and sometimes very funny. Somehow those two songs, one after the other, seemed like a perfect example.

Music I like: Weird Weeds

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

Weird Weeds from Austin, Texas, make some pretty interesting sounds, and even sell a t-shirt drawn by the legendary Mark Beyer. What more could you want?

New page: The Magic Pen

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009
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