Retro Talk: NYC Tornado

img_0669

New York, New York. I’ve only visited a few times (and I’ll be going back later this year), but I know that it’s an amazing city – one that I love. So when Goldspot Pens announced this NYC Skyline Retro 51 Tornado late last year, I immediately jumped on the pre-order train.

The NYC Skyline Edition is a standard Retro 51 Tornado in almost every way, except the barrel is wrapped with the iconic structures of New York City. The art includes the obvious and mandatory Statue of Liberty, Chrysler Building, Flatiron Building, and Empire State Building. But the barrel also shows off The Brooklyn Bridge, One World Trade Center (along with the 200 Vesey Street and 225 Liberty Street buildings nestled below), the Bank of America Tower, and the CitiGrooup Center. There’s even one building I can’t ID, but it looks like it could just be generic Manhattan offices.

Tornado-NYC Cap

Another neat feature is the disc at the top of the pen, which features a logo reminiscent of the old NYC Transit tokens. Additionally, like a few other Tornadoes of late, the wrap glows in the dark. With this Skyline edition, however, the gimmick makes sense because it represents the city at night, which, frankly, looks cool.

This is an amazing edition for anyone that loves New York City, but it was unfortunately limited to an odd 333 pieces. So, as you might have guessed, it’s already sold out. If you’re looking for something similar, the Statue of Liberty Tornado is still widely available, or Anderson Pens sells a Chicago Skyline Tornado. It also seems likely that Retro 51 will continue with this line. I can think of plenty that might come next… San Francisco? London? Paris? It will be interesting to see whatever it is.

img_0672

Off Topic: The Odd Hobby of Running

Though I often find it difficult to explain this blog (and the hobby of collecting pens in general) to people, running as a hobby can be much harder to explain. With pens, I usually say that I’m drawn to the art and design element, or I’ll just gift a nice gel pen to anyone who expresses curiosity – that works most of the time. But trying to explain my hobby of running to non-runners, well, a lot of the time they just don’t “get it.”

Running at least has the advantage of being a very common activity. Nobody really looks down on it or thinks that it’s crazy or weird, but a lot of people see it as something grueling at best or, at worst, grueling and boring. Most wonder, if you’re not just trying to burn a few extra calories, why would you choose to run all the time?

I’ve found that the easiest answer is to just shrug and say, “I think it’s fun.” But if I’m making an effort, I’ll say something like, “running is the opposite of eating an entire tray of brownies.” The point is, gorging yourself on a big dessert is really pleasurable in the moment, but it’ll leave you feeling sluggish, bloated, and probably ashamed of your gluttony. Conversely, running can sometimes be miserable in the moment, but you’ll feel energized and happier later on.

Though, honestly, that’s still just a partial explanation.

There are times when I’m just happy to be outside in the fresh air, especially on a sunny day but even sometimes on a rainy or cold day. There’s also the famous “runner’s high,” though I think it’s greatly exaggerated. More than that, I love the feeling of setting goals, running longer and faster, and being surprised at how much progress is possible.

Over the past year, I’ve really gotten into the sport. I’ve been running lots of 5Ks and Half-Marathons, slowly getting faster, gaining endurance, and chipping away at my personal records. I’m not quick enough to be competitive, but I’m still excited to see what I can do. And I’ll find out this fall when I’ll be running my first marathon – the New York City Marathon. It might sound odd to a lot of people, but I’m very much looking forward to running those 26.2 miles.

If you’re at all interested in picking up running as a hobby, I’d strongly encourage signing up for a 5K race/fun run this summer. There are many to choose from, and it shouldn’t be difficult to find a local event. There are also lots of great “Couch to 5K” training plans for free on the web if you aren’t sure how to start.

Yes, it’ll probably be grueling and boring at first. But if you stick with it, you too may get to that point where you’re looking forward to your next run and maybe even discover that running isn’t such an odd hobby after all.

Notes on 2015 Nixon Field Notes

img_8549

Many Field Notes fans are familiar with the special edition Nixon notebooks from 2016. It was a good collaboration, and those summery notebooks remain popular. However, all but forgotten are these notebooks that Nixon released a year earlier, in 2015. Although 2015 was a peak year for Field Notes collectors, the 2015 Nixon notebooks just never seemed to be highly sought after.

Each pack contains three notebooks. The first is a turquoise/gray book, which is far and away the most eye-catching one in the pack, though it contains plain inner-paper. The second is a dark brown book with ruled paper. And the third book looks very similar to the standard grid-ruled, Kraft Field Notes notebook, though it has dark-brown printing on the inner cover. These notebooks use 100# cover stock, 50# paper, and light-brown ink for the ruling.

img_8551

The 2015 Nixon Field Notes books have long been sold out, but I don’t personally consider it too much of a loss. I find the books a little to plain, to be honest. But if anyone ever decides to release 3-pack of those turquoise books, it’d be an easy impulse purchase for me (just as long as it’s made with graph paper).

img_9534

Additional Notes

  • The 2015 and 2016 Nixon Field Notes share the same “practical applications” list. A little boring, I know.
  • Back in 2011, there was a different special edition of Field Notes that used turquoise covers (with a company called Tattly). But besides being long sold-out, I’m pretty sure they had blank inner paper too.
  • Did I mention that the 2016 Field Notes are still in stock?

Retro Talk: The Ice-O-Metric Tornado

img_9135

There may be no summertime dessert more iconic than the Bomb Pop  – or, depending on your ice-cream truck guy, maybe it’s the Firecracker Popsicle. Either way, if you live in the United States, this dessert will probably conjure up memories of picnics, parks, and purple tongues. So maybe its no accident that this new Retro 51 Tornado, the Ice-O-Metric, was released in the dead of winter, when I find myself most nostalgic for memories of warm weather.

The Ice-O-Metric design – an 8-bit depiction of the above-mentioned dessert – was created by Michael Jacobs, who wrote a fascinating blog post that details its inception and evolution (a worthwhile read for any aspiring graphic designers). Originally, the design was sold on a t-shirt, but it eventually made it to the Tornado via Brad Dowdy, who sells it on the Pen Addict website.

img_9137

Aside from the red, white, and blue ice pops wrapped diagonally along the barrel, there is a matching disc atop the twist mechanism, and, as a bonus gimmick, the pen also glows in the dark.  It’s a great design, and an excellent sophomore Tornado release from The Pen Addict – the first being a more basic orange model.

I’d say, get your hands on it if you can. It’s a limited edition of 600 pieces, and there’s apparently a risk that they’ll be run over by delivery trucks.

img_9139

Looking Ahead to 2018

There’s no doubt about it, 2017 has been a weird year in ways big and small. There were tons of divisive political stories, of course, and a solar eclipse that briefly brought everyone back together. Apple also released a cool new iPhone that is way too expensive, and the new Star Wars movie turned out to be quite polarizing. As I said, a weird year, but at least things here at the Pens and Junk blog have been good & steady.

happy2bnew2byear2b20182bfree2bdownload2bwallpapers2bpsd

This last year, I managed to publish thirty-three new posts, and the site subsequently saw a modest 11.4% uptick in traffic. Not too bad.

My pick for 2017 Pen of the Year is a tough one, however. Retro 51’s Bioworkz Tornado and Hex-o-Matic both get honorable mentions, but, ultimately, the emerald-green Squire Experiment by Baron Fig takes my top slot. It’s a bright and beautiful pen, and it’s no surprise that it sold out immediately.

Baron Fig Experiment Squire

In 2018, the blog will march on. I’ve never liked making New Year’s resolutions, so I thought I’d try a list of goals instead. So, here’s some of what I’ll hopefully accomplish on Pens and Junk this year:

  1. I need to fix all the times I misspelled stationery as “stationary.” That one should be simple.
  2. Finish my Nib Novice Series. I’m so close to being done.
  3. Do a minor site redesign. It’s time.
  4. Do something for charity. I have a couple ideas, though suggestions are always welcome.
  5. Write more book reviews, two or three off-topic posts, and create some index pages to help with organization. That seems straight-forward enough.

img_9036

And as always, I don’t want to forget about all the non-pen stuff to look forward to in 2018:

I’m pretty excited about that Han Solo movie (though I will tempter my expectations), as well as a new Avengers movie.  And of course there will be more – too much! – good TV to watch, the new seasons of Jessica Jones and Westworld in particular. I also still have to figure out who I’m rooting for in the 2018 World Cup and which Winter Olympics events to follow (maybe curling?).

And will this be the year George R.R. Martin finally releases the next book in the Game of Thrones (i.e. A Song of Ice and Fire) series? Probably not. But let’s not let that put a damper on our year.

I hope everyone has a wonderful 2018!