Saturday, November 26, 2016


Like many, many other people, I've been writing in Moleskine notebooks for years. Currently I'm writing in a Shinola notebook. Like the Moleskines I use, the Shinola is pocket-sized with a soft cover, designed for comfort as I take it with me everywhere I go.

I got the Shinola notebook when I went into the Shinola store in downtown Ann Arbor to look at the Shinola watches. All very good-looking watches, and all way out of my price range. And if I did have that kind of money, I'd be looking for a mechanical watch, and all the watches Shinola makes are still battery-powered, unfortunately.

But I saw the notebooks while I was there, and I bought one.

Compared to a Moleskine, it's good. The cover has a completely different texture. Not sure which one I like better. The Shinola feels tougher, more solidly-made, but I don't know that I can actually quantify the relative toughnesses of Moleskine and Shinola. The elastic band on the Shinola broke, which never happened to any of the approximately 2 dozen Moleskines I've filled up with my scribbles. However, I don't know whether that means that the strap on the Shinola is not as tough. Since I got the Shinola, my writing habits have changed significantly: a lot which previously might have gone first into a notebook and then into this blog has been into the blog without being written in a notebook first. But I still keep my rule about writing something in a notebook every single day. This means that it's taking me many more days to fill up the Shinola than it ever took me to fill up a Moleskine. So the strap on the Shinola may have been as strong as those on Moleskines, and may have broken simply because I opened up closed the Shinola so many times.

By the way: although the Moleskines had gotten me thoroughly used to having an elastic strap to hold the notebook shut, and although it was rather traumatic for me when the strap on the Shinola broke -- I haven't really missed it much. Not having the strap anymore really hasn't made much difference to me, hasn't led to any inconvenience or spilling or what have you.

Anyway: using the Shinola notebook, and not finding it to be grossly inferior to a Moleskine, may have been what it was which started me thinking about still other brands of notebooks. Something I would really like would be a notebook which is pocket-sized or smaller, with plain, unruled paper, and a lot of pages. Twice as many as your usual notebook, or even more. Moleskine has items which fill all of these requirements except for the plain paper: some of their yearly planners have as many as "400" pages or more. I put "400" in quotation marks, because Moleskine -- and some or most or all other manufacturers of such items -- count each piece of paper twice, once for the front and once for the back. So, a Moleskine with "400" pages has 200 sheets of paper in it.

So I did a Google search for better than moleskine, found some other brands which some other people like better than Moleskine (Leuchtturm appears to be especially well-liked), and looked at what was available in those brands on Amazon -- and I still haven't found that elusive notebook, pocket-sized or smaller, with "400" or "500" or so plain pages in it.

And then I reminded myself that I don't have all that much money, and that I do have 4 Moleskines which I had bought before I got the Shinola, and that it's taking me longer these days to fill up a notebook, so that it will be quite a long time before I actually run out of the notebooks I have.

If I were to win a Nobel Prize, or something like that, it might be less extravagant for me to hunt down exactly the kind of notebook I want -- or even to have them custom-made for me. But of course, if I won the Nobel Prize, the chances would increase tremendously that I would be showered with any and every kind of swanky notebook absolutely free of charge, because, as the Tom Petty It's-Ab-So-Lute-Ly-Back-Wards Law of Microeconomics teaches us -- it's ab-so-lute-ly backwards. (It occurs to me that Tom Petty said that around 1985, when he and his band had been rich and famous for a relatively short period of time, and the memory of poverty was still relatively fresh. I wonder whether today, after 3 more decades of being more and more rich and famous, and therefore receiving ever greater big piles of stuff for ab-so-lute-ly free, he has changed his mind completely, and now finds that this arrangement makes perfect sense and is thoroughly just and fair and right, and therefore doesn't want some nobody blogger reminding people of what he said once in 1985 about certain things being backwards and whatnot. I doubt it, but who knows.)

Did you notice all the fancy-looking pocket-sized notebooks with elastic straps used by the reporters in the press conferences in "Boardwalk Empire"? Did you wonder whether they were all Moleskines or all some other brand, all given to the production company for free, because very often companies give big piles of groovy stuff to people making movies and TV shows, absolutely free, and that's sometimes why those companies' names are in the big lists of "Thanks To:" in the end credits, and did you squint and try to find Moleskine in those lists which whizzed by so quickly at the end of each episode of "Boardwalk Empire," and did you wonder what the actors playing those reporters actually wrote in those notebooks, imagining that the method actors tried to actually write what a reporter in Atlantic City or New York City in the 1920's might write, while the non-method actors wrote entirely different things, or perhaps drew satiric doodles of the method actors? Not to mention all of the above, but with the pens they were writing with, whether they were all given to the production company by Cross or what have you? And whether some of those actors might have turned down the free stuff because they already had their own stuff which they liked better? And how much of the free stuff the actors are allowed to keep after the show raps, and how much stuff they keep that they're not supposed to keep, and whether maybe some actors are having career difficulties and they don't know why, and the reason why is because the word has gotten around that they steal way too much of the stuff they're supposed to give back? (There were also some very cool-looking notebooks in the first Guy Ritchie-Robert Downey Jr Sherlock Holmes movie.)

If you don't notice and wonder and squint looking for and speculate about those kinds of things, my friend, then you are very different than I.

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