Monday, July 30, 2012

London Olympics 2012 …Race for Gold and Glory

No one actually knows how the Olympics originated. The genesis of τὰ Ὀλύμπια (ta Olympia), as it was known in Ancient Greece, is shrouded in mystery, myth and legend, but it is believed that they began around 776 BC in Olympia, Greece. The Games were held every four years (an Olympiad) and were a way for the various Greek City-States to impose their power, influence and culture over their neighbors all along the Mediterranean.
As a whole, Ancient Games were a lot less complex than their contemporary counterparts. For starters, only men could compete in the games. In fact, only men could even watch the games, which is understandable considering that all athletes competed au naturel. The events were simple strength and skill events, mostly consisting of the discus, wrestling, chariot-racing, track, and the javelin. There was no canoe sprint, handball, trampoline, modern pentathlon or whatever other crazy skill that now constitutes an Olympic sport. (I don’t dislike the modern pentathlon; I know for a fact I could not hold a candle to that kind of athleticism. It’s just, that’s not even a sport; it is five totally unrelated sports all rolled into one event.) The Games were also so important that wars were put on hold so that athletes could travel and compete in safety. (The simple courtesy of putting a war on pause for a sporting event is a concept that is beyond the comprehension of the modern world, as the 6th, 12th and 13th Olympics were all canceled because of World Wars.) The Ancient Games continued without interruption until 394 AD when they were suppressed by Theodosius I of the Roman Empire. The next Olympic Games would not be held until 1896, and would not have been possible had it not been for the French Baron Pierre de Coubertin. Coubertin founded the International Olympic Committee (IOC) which is the official organizer for the modern Olympic, Youth Olympic Games and Winter Olympics. (This competition has its own set of peculiar competitions, in my opinion, like the Biathlon and Curling.)
So, all the work a host country has to go through to plan the Games, we really can’t begrudge them a little bragging rights, now can we? The Olympic Opening Ceremony (which is the biggest platform for peaceful bragging I think a country could ever hope for) is the official “Beginning” of the Olympics. Though most follow a basic, traditional outline, just about everything else is at the discretion of the Host Country. For the rest of the ceremony, the Host Country will put on a series of musical events, plays, stories, dances, and whatever else their Olympic Committees can think of that perfectly emulates the spirit, pride and traditions of their country. Ever since 1980, the Opening Ceremony has grown in scale and complexity, with the Opening Ceremony at the Beijing Games costing over $100 million dollars.
There are not enough things that could be said about the Beijing Opening Ceremony, and everyone from the President of the IOC to Steven Spielberg have given it almost reverential reviews, but I believe former British Prime Minister Tony Blair summed it up best when he called it “the spectacular to end all spectaculars and probably can never be bettered.” It would take an entire book to compile everything that happened during the Beijing Opening Ceremony, but I can say with full confidence that it is something everyone on earth should see at least once, because it was without a doubt a modern wonder of the world. So with China receiving such glowing responses and a performance that will be talked about for the rest of living memory and beyond, it was well within reason to be a little bit concerned for 2012’s champion: England.
The one question on everyone’s mind was, Are you ready, England? We weren’t entirely sure until July 27th, but according to the Olympic posters that cover almost every square inch of London’s airports, subways, train stations, bus stops and taxis; we can tell how the Brits felt about this question. All of these posters proudly, simply, and quite epically have only two words next to an Olympic Gold Medal: We’re Ready. Well, it’s safe to say that ready they were – though in was not nearly as dramatic, or flashy, or a light-show of epic proportions, London’s Opening Ceremony was distinctly British. It was about the people of the British Isles, their culture, their music, their literature, their contribution to the world, and it must be said that the event was just as beautiful as Beijing’s in its own right. (Though in my opinion, that epic combination of The Queen and Daniel Craig doing James Bond acrobatics and a legion of Mary Poppins doing battle with a 100-foot tall replica of Voldemort was enough to trump China’s Opening Ceremony in one fell swoop.)
Despite all the anticipation for the Opening Ceremony, most Americans are focused on supporting and seeing their athletes compete on a global scale. All of Team USA’s talented athletes could not have made it to London alone, however, and from the first whistle till the last flag is raised, they will need the love and support of all their countrymen. So get some patriotism going for the last few days of July and the month of August and take a look at a selection of new arrivals. First up is Lamy’s Studio Royal Red Fountain Pen(Preorders Taken now), reminiscent of the Stars and Stripes, it is a special edition of the already successful Lamy Studio Series. With a metallic body colored in an attractive matt red style, it boasts a 14k anodized bi-color gold nib available in extra fine, fine, medium and broad. Next is the Retro51 Tornado Vintage collection, whose finished pieces are aged to perfection. Every member is named after an American president and has a classically, enchanting style. From acid-etchings covered with an antique finish to diamond cuts coated with classic lacquer for a textured feel, these pieces are the pinnacle of design perfection. Last but certainly not least is the Lamy 2000 Brushed Stainless Steel(Preorders taken). It is the newest in a series that has been manufactured, using a combination of polycarbonate and stainless steel, for over 40 years. The Lamy 2000 has all the finesse, velvetiness and executive appeal that are common in all Olympians. Prepare yourself, because the London 2012 Games, and this divine selection, are treasures that simply cannot be missed.

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Monday, July 16, 2012

Earth Moon Stars and Pens..Take a giant step towards writing

At the beginning of the 1900s, the fascination of science fiction began to take root in the hearts and minds of the Western world. The works of visionaries like H.G. Wells’ War of The Worlds and Jules Verne’s From the Earth To The Moon, fueled the idea of space travel, making it a constant fixture in the human imagination. Despite its enchantment, the idea of spaceflight did not become an engineering possibility until 1919 with Robert H. Goddard’s publication of A Method of Reaching Extreme Altitudes, a paper that outlined the capabilities of interplanetary travel and became extremely influential for future spaceflight innovators. Indeed, it would not be until the “space race” between the former Soviet Union (USSR) and the United States in 1957 that the very idea of humans in space seemed to be a distinct possibility.

Even though Americans can proudly boast the amazing feat of placing the first man on the moon, the Soviet Union (and subsequently Russia) has the honor of putting the first man into space. On 12, 1961 Yuri Gagarin made one orbit around the Earth in the Vostok 1 spacecraft, effectively establishing his place in history. Two years later, after being selected out of more than four hundred applicants and then out of five finalists, the Soviets chose Valentina Tereshkova to become the first woman in space as the pilot the Vostok 6 .

Though Tereshkova was the first in a long line of female astronauts, she most certainly is not the last. From Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, to Svetlana Savitskaya, the first woman to walk on the moon; Mae Jemison, the first African-American in space; Ellen Ochoa, the first Hispanic woman in space and Eileen Collins, the first female shuttle pilot and commander, women have been a major part of space programs around the world. 56 of the 525 total space travelers in history have been women, and the latest to join these prestigious ranks is Liu Yang from China. She is a major in the People’s Liberation Army Air Force, a veteran pilot with over 1,600 hours of flying experience and on June 16, 2012 she became the first Chinese woman in space. During her two years of astronaut training, Miss Liu excelled at all her tests before being chosen over another woman candidate for the honor of flying. As if this was not enough to immortalize her in the history of not only her nation, but the world, the same space flight she participated in was the first manned mission to the Chinese space station Tangong 1.

The pen world proudly salutes these space pioneers with several commemorative pen sets. For China’s historic mission, the perfect piece to bring a little bit of mother earth with them on the long journey to the great unknown could have been the Fisher Space Pen Astronaut ballpoint pen. It is an exact replica of the original Fisher Space Pen that was used on the Apollo 7 space mission and all subsequent flights since then. Its companion piece is the Jac Zagoory One Giant Step Astronaut Pen Holder. The instrument is made of pure zinc and molded into the shape of an astronaut, a stunning testament to those first brave souls who walked upon the moon. Though the latter is a device better left for home, both, along with Miss Liu, embody various types of firsts. Though they are the first of their kinds, it is written in the stars that they will most certainly not be the lasts.

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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Happy Independence Day from Pen Boutique

Though it is still relatively young, there is absolutely nothing insecure about this bold, bright and beautiful country of ours. It’s very birth, an event carved out with blood and fire, began with its triumph against what was indisputably the strongest country in the world, and ever since then the United States of America has been pressing ever forward into the future. This year will mark its 236th birthday, and Pen Boutique wants to bring along some friends to commemorate what will undoubtedly be the party of the year.
First is the Proudly She Waves Fountain Pen by the internationally acclaimed artist Jac Zagoory. This modern marvel boasts a beautifully engraved silver-colored nib available in fine, medium or broad enclosed by a navy blue cap sporting the white stars of the American flag. The body, however, is by far the piece’s most intriguing aspect. The opening lines of The Star-Spangled Banner are written in large text upon a blue background that alternate between white and red.
With such a beautiful commemoration to our great as the aforementioned piece, it is only natural that it be given a holding place worthy of its distinction. The Proudly She Waves Pen & Card holder is a sister product that lives up to its name. This elegantly subtle pewter piece holds pens and cards of all shapes and sizes. Beside it stands a regal, intricately designed American Flag waving upon flagpole. The flag not only includes all the stars and stripes, but its very own dark pewter tassel. A beautiful beacon of liberty, this piece is a must have.
Most of our country was built upon manufacturing, and despite what many people will tell you there’s just something inexplicably heartwarming about America’s home grown companies. Cross is a testament to this belief, and despite its own youth this pen powerhouse cuts no corners with elegant appeal. The Cross Townsend Ballpoint Pen possesses an 18K gold barrel and cap with 23K gold-plated appointments in a design that manages to be overly stunning without drifting into gaudy. The ultimate expression of pen making art, this piece is a gem unto itself.
Noodler, another American-made company, brings patriotism to life with their Konrad Flex Nib Fountain Pen. To start, each and every material, from the natural ebonite to the biodegradable plastics is cultivated from some of the USA’s oldest states: New York, Maryland and Massachusetts. The entire pen can be completely disassembled and reassembled, making cleaning a breeze. The celluloid body is predominantly available in red and blue, while the ebonite feed can be heat adjusted to fit modern and vintage nibs – whichever the user prefers.
Last, but most certainly not least, is a product that pays homage to a pivotal moment in not only our nation’s history, but in the history of the world. The body of Visconti’s Declaration of Independence 18k Rose Gold Fountain Pen uses a sophisticated scrimshaw technique to replicate the full text of the Declaration of Independence. Though the writing is small, it is large enough to be legible to the naked eye while still being small enough for an inscribing of the images of the Founding Fathers who drafted the epic document. The 23K Palladium two-toned nib is beautifully complemented by aged 18K rose gold trims.
All in all, each of these delightful pieces embodies and exemplifies the world’s greatest democracy: The United States of America.

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