Category: Midweek Feed

My grandmother’s pen

Pictured below is an assortment of pens I’ve had ever since I packed up the old Ford Escort and moved away from Drexel avenue way back in the winter of 86.

Pen Bucket

Over the years, this bunch of pens has contracted and expanded. Pens have come and pens have gone, but there’s been one writing instrument that I’ve seemed to have held on to all of these years. It’s an old pink Paper Mate pen that belonged to my paternal grandmother.

Pen 2

It’s a pretty basic pen – ink, not gel. It doesn’t have a stylus tip, and there is no squishy ergonomically correct cushioning to reduce the potential trauma of writing more than five words.

It caught my eye one morning not too long ago as I was grabbing a pen to toss in my pocket.

All was well until I was sitting in a meeting and had a cause to take notes. I attempted to write and realized this pen – I think first used when Carter was in office – was all dried out (Not to be confused with All Cried Out, that Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam 1985 hit). Always prepared (Truth be told, I’m one ink ruined shirt away from carrying a pocket protector – hey if fanny packs are coming back, why not?) I deployed my back up writing tool and commenced my note taking, in my never ending efforts to look professional (As I tried to avoid asphyxiation brought on by the cloud of pompous, hot air that sucked all breathable oxygen out of the room).

Normally if one of my old pens fails to perform I toss it out, but in this case I couldn’t bear to part with this relic from my younger days. I had to bring this old girl back to life.

As soon as I returned home, I gently dismantled the pen and removed the expended ink supply, and like CSI Gil Grissom at a crime scene, I tossed the empty ink vessel into a zip top plastic bag. Next stop, my neighborhood (Really, it is in my neighborhood, right down the road from Casa de McCullough) big box office supply store.

I found my way to the refill section on the writing instrument (Cause pen and pencil ain’t fancy enough) aisle. If there were any part numbers or similar descriptors on the old ink supply, I didn’t see them, so I had to rely on my sharp (Multi-focal contact lens enhanced) eyes to match the old ink to a new refill.


Suppressing the urge to yell “Eureka!” I found a refill that looked like it would fit. So I made the purchase and rushed back to my (Wannabe Tony Stark workshop) basement to perform the delicate reassembly.

The refill fit perfectly, and this venerable writing instrument was back in service.


Right about now I bet you’re wondering why I would take over 400 words to gush over replacing the ink in a 35+ year old pen.

Long time readers of these pages know I harbor a sentimental side. Bringing back to life a pen that wrote letters and completed crossword puzzles brought back memories of a time when people actually wrote letters and completed crossword puzzles.

I’m happy that this writing implement accompanies me to the 9 to 5 from time to time. It makes me feel like my grandmother – who didn’t get a lot of education and wore a domestic’s uniform gets to hang out with her grandson who got a lot of education (Some I even still use) and wears suits, ties and dress shirts.

And on that dress shirt is a pocket where I can carry a big piece of my youth close to my heart.



An unspoiled day at the movies

We caught the Avengers Age of Ultron a few days back, and I didn’t know what to expect.

Allow me to explain.

Image: Marvel Cinematic Universe Wiki

Image: Marvel Cinematic Universe Wiki

Way back when, I didn’t know Superman would spin the Earth like a top to save Lois, nor did I know Mickey would go code blue in Rocky III (There is a statute of limitations on spoilers isn’t there?). The reason I didn’t know these iconic plots twists is because the two aforementioned films weren’t dissected and previewed ad nauseam on fanboy blogs and 24-hour entertainment sites.

Of course I’m waxing poetic about those analog days before computers got personal. Those were the days when the only way to get spoilers was to talk to your buddy who may have caught the movie in question before you did.

I don’t spend every waking moment on social media but even the most cursory glance of the Internets is enough to expose one to previews and speculations on what fans can expect from the summer’s first blockbuster.

In the days leading up to catching the Avengers,I had to engage in a sort of media blackout so I wouldn’t inadvertently stumble across a critical plot twist.

I’m not going all Johnny Luddite and advocating a return to the pre-Internet dark ages (Even though it would be nice to go back to a time when my cable bill was under $20 a month). I simply want to enjoy my blockbusters spoiler free.

It’s just that if I’m applying for a home equity loan to take in a film with all the concession stand trimmings, I’d like to have the surprise and pleasure of knowing that Haley Joel really did see dead people!

Oh yeah, how was the Avengers?

I won’t say too much because there are more than enough terabytes of data peeling this story apart, but it’s a decent film. Great action scenes, but there were more than a couple of inconsistencies with previous films (Iron 3 and Cap 2) in the Marvel universe (Sorry to go all geek on you!). Robert Downey Stark Jr. had the best lines, that Olsen kid really stepped out of her sisters’ shadow and I gotta admit Chris Evans inspires me to do a few more push ups!

But the best part of the movie was toward the end when….oops, I don’t want to spoil it for you!

A sad day in the basement

I often enjoy rooting around in my basement. If you haven’t gathered by some of our past conversations, I’m a bit of a sentimentalist and from time to time I’ve been known to take a stroll down memory lane.

Brothers and Sisters

What a great book!

Such was the case a few days ago when I was going through some old books. Maybe this has happened to you, but when I pick up an old book, I not only think about its content, but I immediately think back to where I was in my life when I first read it, what was going on in my world and the world around me.

One such book is Brothers and Sisters by Bebe Moore Campbell.  Released in 1994 (Right in the thick of my striped tie and suspender wearing wanna be buppie days), Brothers and Sisters is set in Los Angeles during the aftermath of the Rodney King beating and the subsequent riots (Forgive the digression, but ain’t it funny how history has a way of repeating itself). The main character of the story is a woman of color who’s trying her best to ascend the corporate ladder and have some semblance of a personal life.

It’s a decent story that 20 plus years later still stands up as a good read.

It’s such a good read, that while rummaging around the basement I thought to myself, what is Ms. Campbell up to these days. It’s been awhile, and I’d love to read any of her new material. So I took out my trusty mobile communications device and asked Siri (Because I’m a geek like that) to give me all she had on Bebe Moore Campbell.

Sadly, the first item among the search results was an obituary. Bebe Moore Campbell lost a fight with cancer In 2006.

Upon learning of her death, I uncharacteristically made things all about me. I was annoyed that I wouldn’t get any new material from her. I can count on one hand the scant number of authors I enjoy, and now that number was cut by one.

Campbell left behind a family for whom her death means more than just not having a good book to read. This reality fortunately snapped me out of what was an embarrassing atypical display of selfishness.

A wonderful feature of books (Paper versus digital is a debate for another day) is that they last and the stories they tell — especially good ones like Brothers and Sisters — endure.

Sorry I’m late, but rest in peace Bebe.