March 28, 2005


purse_t.jpgHarvey turned me on to clocks. Not just any clocks. He has a favorite street vendor in Soho from whom he buys unique clocks. For his personal trainer, someone as different from him as could be imagined, he bought a fur clock. And, if that were not enough, for a relative who is an animal rights advocate, he bought a fake fur clock. I spotted a clock that I want to give to Samantha--a purse clock. She collects purses and there is a restraining order out on new acquisitions so I figure that not only is this one small--it is a tiny purse on a key chain--but also, technically, it is not a purse but a clock!

Posted by BKG at 12:59 AM

March 27, 2005

Namiki Murex FM H772


Shelly visited yesterday with Sam and that was a treat. Have not seen Shelly in a very long time and now Sam is all of 17 and headed for engineering at Queens University in Kingston. Joe and Lucca joined us later in the day, which was lovely as I've not seen them in ages too. At one point, Shelly reached under his sweater and into his shirt pocket and displayed a very special fountain pen, a Namiki Murex short, fine tip, "pilot" pen of 1970s vintage. Exquisite. Shelly collected fountain pens for many years and now has about 100, but has stopped. I love fountain pens and am dedicated to my two Pelikan pens, not as a collection, but rather as an insurance policy. They stopped making the ones that I bought years ago, two-tone green and black, and when mine were either lost or damaged, I had no choice to but to replace them with the newer models--the company was sold I believe. Then, to my shock, amazement, and utter delight, Shelly made me a gift of this wonderful pen!

I explained to Sam that a gift is a barometer and the perfect gift a sign of how well you know someone and how much you care. This one hit the jackpot!

It is dated July 1972 and has a fine medium nib. "The design of the Pilot MYU was inspired by the original quill pens of a former age. The unbroken contour from the fingers to the tip of the nib on the MYUs -- and the subtle contour on the Murexes -- do make for a more natural, more intuitive experience in writing and drawing." Leave it to Shelly to give me the quintessential Murex:

"The first Murex appeared in 1971, and was called the "MYU 701" in Japanese and identified by the Greek letter for "m" in Pilot's advertisements. Its model number is M-350SS. This pen is displayed in the Pilot Pen Museum (now called "Pen Station") in Tokyo. This one of those ingenious Japanese short style pens with long cap and short barrel that made the pen short when capped, and full size when the cap was posted. It was an extremely streamlined design with no markings anywhere except for the small Pilot name engraved on the cap. There is also a tiny date stamp with month and year on the barrel.

This model is considered the quintessential MYU/Murex, and therefore the most popular model today. It has also been called the "ultimate travel pen" because of its small carrying size as well as its sturdiness and reliability. It retailed for 3,500 yen when it first came out over 30 years ago, but an original MYU with price sticker (identical to the one in the photo) was sold last year on an internet auction for over 500 dollars. The market value of all the MYU/Murex models has been increasing dramatically as more collectors show interest in them, and those that remain will continue to grow in value."

The fine nib is particularly valued in Japan, where one Kanji character can have up to 30 tiny strokes.

Here is the Namiki story:

"Ryosuke Namiki, founder of Pilot, realized during his tenure as a professor at the Tokyo Merchant Marine College that drawing pens needed improvement. After making a prototype fountain pen, he started manufacturing and selling fountain pens with a colleague in 1918. The company was known as The Namiki Manufacturing Company, was renamed The Pilot Pen Co. Ltd in 1938, and renamed again in 1989 as Pilot Corporation. Since Namiki was Pilot's former corporate name, it was a natural name to use for its high end line of beautiful writing instruments. Today Namiki's unique features and designs are their trademarks. The Vanishing Point-still the only click-retractable fountain pen in the business, was introduced in 1964 and has been pleasing pen enthusiasts for over 30 years. Namiki's use of the Japanese art of Maki-e, which incorporates lacquer and powdered gold onto writing instruments for beautiful effects, is among the best in the business. Namiki to be the ultimate writing tool for every creative endeavor."

Posted by BKG at 11:00 AM

March 7, 2005

Rabbi glasses

glass_small.jpg Jeffrey gave me a rabbi glass from Fishs Eddy. On my way to Enselow's today, I passed by Fishs Eddy and dropped in to see if they still had rabbi glasses so I could pick up a few more and actually use them for a small dinner party. Sure enough they had three of the four rabbi glasses left--Rabbi Spector has sold out, though why him and not the others I do not know. In small print it says, "Swap them with your friends. Collect the whole set." They are supposed to get more in. I will go back for Rabbi Spector. Fishs Eddy apparently invented these themselves.

Posted by BKG at 11:59 PM

Maasai Barefoot Technique

WBusiness-blk_small.jpg Yesterday went with Diana and Eric to see Laurie Anderson's new work, The End of the Moon at BAM. Quite wonderful. Intimate and cosmic and very Laurie Anderson. That strange viola. Her voice. The personal narratives. The vast spaces of timbre. I noticed, Diana's new shoes--they were peeking out from under the bottom of her trousers--but I did not know the half of it. We both have feet that need special attention. And, she found these strange new shoes, just ten months on the market, that come with a training video and a free tutoring session. Just my kind of thing. So today on the way to the opening of The Power of Conversation: Jewish Women and their Salons (it is, incidentally, a terrific exhibition) at The Jewish Museum, I dropped by Enselow's and got a pair. Melvin took care of me. What at trip. These are no ordinary shoes, let me tell you. I have them on now and I don't know whether to rock or to spring or what little muscle to exercise. The brand is MBT Masai Barefoot Technology--how politically incorrect is that!--to invoke the perfect posture and gait of the Maasai. The company is Swiss. And the claims or at least some of them are over the top, like cellulite reduction. Talk about marketing. These shoes are billed as "the worlds smallest gym." They are big and roomy, a little like moonshoes. Melvin says comfort is the new fashion. Nothing could be further from extreme pointy toes and stilettos! They are all the rage among the orthopedically inclined.

Posted by BKG at 11:21 PM

March 6, 2005

Bread knife


How is it possible that in my entire life, loving to cook as I do, I have never had a proper bread knife? Now that my sourdough loaves are so crusty, more like a suit of armor, and I joke that a chain saw is needed (and dental insurance), I so struggled to slice the latest loaf in half that one of my guests was prompted to murmur to another guest, "I have the ultimate bread knife. I got it at IKEA," as it turns out the Alias Knives Series Breadknife. Eureka! A light bulb went on. A good bread knife. What a thought!

An internet search produced a few leads: the top rated bread knife by America's Test Kitchen was the Forschner (Victorinox) Model 40040, a stamped, rather than forged, knife, which can be found online for about $30.00, not including postage. Impatient to get a bread knife right away, I walked over to Broadway Panhandler. The chance to compare bread knives convinced me to go with the Wusthof Classic bread knife (4150: 23 centimeters). It has deeply scalloped serration and nice heft. When I compared it with the Victorinox, which is a nice knife, I realized that what America's Test Kitchen had in mind by crusty (Italian bread, French bagettes) was nowhere near my big, heavy, dense, C R U S T Y loaves.

Brought it home and gave it the test. Perfect! Lovely even thin slices, cutting through the tough crust with ease and precision. Now I have to enforce strict discipline to protect this knife. No soaking it in the sink or having it rattle around with other cutlery.

All of a sudden, I also realized that I only had one good knife, a big chef's knife. All the rest were either interesting but not very functional knifes that I had picked up on my travels, or just plain junk. I've removed the offending blades from the cutlery tray and knife rack. And, my next purchase will be two paring knives. Somehow our last two, which were decent knives, disappeared. One was confiscated at airport security. I forgot it was in my backpack from a class fieldtrip--I brought apples for everyone and a knife to cut them up. The other may well have gotten wrapped up with the garbage, which we wrap in newspaper, and ended up in the trash.

Posted by BKG at 11:46 PM

February 28, 2005

Knife block


Eddy sent me this amazing image. Not for sale, but great to contemplate. It is a Raffaele Iannello Knife Block. He found it on gismodo and they found it in the Vice Versa catalog. Gismodo is also featuring a transparent toaster and many other amazing gadgets, gizmos, and wild things.

Posted by BKG at 10:51 PM