Tuesday, September 29

My Korean Journal

I kept a journal while stationed in South Korea, in the Army. I'm not a great journal-writer: I had a large, ragged paper-cover three-ring notebook in high school that I used during my senior year. I recorded various confrontations with a certain bully one or two years younger than myself (that's how pathetic I was: little kids felt safe in picking on me) and my depressive personal thoughts. I tried to get a girl to read it, this beautiful woman home from college and performing with me over the summer in a community theater troupe. She described my journal as something Holden Caulfield might have penned. I was flattered, but I got nowhere with the girl.

So I graduated from high school, went straight into the Army, spent 19 months in Fort Ord, CA, and finally transferred to Camp Carroll, South Korea. I felt pretty lucky: I'd requested getting stationed in Germany and got California, which I'd been given to understand was a highly desirable assignment. I put in for Germany again and got S. Korea, which I learned was one of those "best-kept secrets" places. I wasn't up on the border, no, not on the DMZ. I was a couple hours south of that. I saw no action and only trained in the field for two weeks out of my entire year there.

Out of curiosity, I just looked up my barracks on BEQ Hill, outside of Camp Carroll. Strong nostalgic sense, going back to how I used to skateboard down from the barracks, running along Happy Mountain, down to base and past it into the ville. All the bars, the tailors, souvenir vendors, all the women working to earn their freedom...

I befriended those women. Where other soldiers were looking to get drunk and get laid, I was still at the stage of looking for friends. Shy and socially awkward, I was best suited to practice social skills on a woman working at the bar, someone working to get money out of me. Her job required her to be patient with me, so I could be myself and she couldn't run away. Eventually I made very good friends with her and all of her "sisters" in the bar. They all liked me because I was gentle and sweet and respectful, and mamasan who ran the bar came to value me for that as well. Once they hid me after bar close so I could hang out with them at a soju tent and get drunk all night. Mamasan gave me a farewell gift when I outprocessed: a little ceramic vase with a blossom painted on the side. Unlike most treasures from the first half of my life, I still have this.

It must've happened that I brought my journal to the bar one night, purely with the intent to write a few thoughts down, and the girls wanted to know what this was. They immediately took it over, writing poetry in Korean, drawing romantic anime-style women and nature scenes. Everyone took a turn, from the naughty, flirty girl to the usually reserved and sedate "big sister." They wrote on several pages, little doodles or entire songs they liked. I was honored with the gesture and still take this journal out to look at once in a while.

It wasn't designed to be a formal journal, but rather a business planner. It has a black plastic tri-fold cover and reads "PROCESS TODAY," embossed on the front in gold ink. Inside are skinny folders for business cards and notes and a thick notepad of paper. The paper is warmed and blotched in places, so it must've sustained some water damage, probably when it was stored with a box of random crap in my mom's garage. And it's not a complete journal: I bought it after I was well into socializing with the locals, some of whom brought me out for a day on the town in Taegu. It has recorded the latter portion of my stay, the adventures toward the end of my assignment overseas. It also has notes from the start of my college career at Anoka-Ramsey Community College, friends I was making, women I was struggling with dating. Socialization was so much harder with people who had the option to walk away and pursue other interests.  Harder for me, anyway.

I also kept a sketchpad around, this obtained in California. For an exercise I used to bus out to Monterey and Cannery Row, hang out in cafes and sketch the interior. I wasn't a diligent artist but at one point I had a bug up my ass to practice scenic sketches.  I resumed it in South Korea, hanging out in the countryside around my barracks (the area was much, much less developed in 1991 than it appears now in Google Maps). This picture was a half-hearted doodle to study a vilager's house out in the country.  I was practicing my technique as much as I was trying to preserve my impression of the area. I wish I'd done more sketches like this, actually, since my photos were pretty much of my AD&D gaming group and a few women I had short-lived crushes on. I really didn't do much scenic photography, recording the downtown infrastructure or preserving the landscape as I passed through it.

I've had a long, long relationship with paper. I maintained a number of pen pals while I was in S. Korea, and I used to sketch little moments from my days for their benefit, too. One friend even reports she has saved all my letters and asked if I'd like to rifle through them. I think I would be hideously embarrassed by who I was back then and what I found suitable to talk about, but it might be worthwhile to scan in some of the illustrations.

Friday, September 25

Playing With Kozo

These envelopes were made with a super-handy envelope template I picked up at a local store. It's a kit with a selection of templates to make envelopes of various sizes and for various functions. My favorite was an accordion-sided envelope with a large back flap, best when made with stout parchment. I thought it was great simply for what it was, but it was especially handy when mailing an especially voluminous letter or a package of fun little extras.

The pictured envelopes are of the standard variety, but I'm coating them in a sheath of kozo paper. This is a Japanese paper made by laying out a large sheet of paper fibers in a room with a ceiling designed to leak profusely. The droplets create the pools and holes in the paper, which is allowed to dry with this random, natural formation.

Obviously it's terrible for making an envelope and worse for writing on, but it is a marvelous decorative feature. I dressed up these plain, lusterless envelopes with a judicious application of kozo and was quite happy with the results. The trick is in finding a way to glue the kozo to the envelope. My technique was to glue-stick the entire outside of the envelope and press the kozo flat. This was a poor idea because it left an envelope with dozens and dozens of sticky little holes all over its surface. A better solution might have been to use a spray adhesive on one side of the kozo.

Wednesday, September 23

Exploring Semiotics

Don't you hate it when you have a GIF and it's a tedious and stupid trial to convert it to a JPG? I did not save this item as a GIF, it's terrible GIF material, but that's how it landed in my hard drive. I hate that.

Also... no one really knows why there's writing on this skull. There are dozens of skulls like this in the same gallery--we might call it an ossuary--and many of them also have writing across their foreheads, and many of the words can be translated (but not all), and to this day we're not precisely sure of the function of this. Were they curses? Were they identification? Were they simply reminders?

It looks creepy, but it also looks really cool. Of course it looks cool! It's a skull with awesome handwriting: two incredibly cool things! Would I decorate a room in such skulls? I would, until I got creeped out.

But what does this skull say to you? When you glance at it, what is the message that flashes through your own head? What do you suppose the function of that handwriting could possibly be? Does this image make you feel a connection with the past, like some isolated group of people were doing their best to reach forward into the future and connect with some unknown reader? Or does it make you feel threatened, like there's much more to the world than you were previously aware, and there's much you don't understand?

How else could you achieve this effect? What else could you use to strike your impressions of the skull into the imagination of another viewer? What other effect could you achieve that would evoke the same emotions as that dignified handwriting?

And if you ever found yourself in a position where your only reasonable course of action was to inscribe a message upon the skull of a deceased person, what do you think your motives would be? What could have driven you to such straits, beyond a simple lack of paper?

Tuesday, September 22

Actually, You Know What's Hot?

I know this is old news, but it's still one of my favorite pictures: Paris Hilton strutting around in her DIY T-shirt.

I know some people are like, "Aw, man, come on, lay off of her. At least she's trying, you know? At least she's doing stuff. How many shirts have you made lately?" (The answer to that is two, plus one creeper.)

Others are confused: "What's wrong? What's the joke?"

And to them I say, once again, everyone needs an editor. Mme. Hilton only hammered another nail in her credibility's coffin with that T-shirt, of which she was so proud. She doesn't think she needs an editor, but she's unable to pick up on her errors. It would be like someone saying they don't need a car engine because when they sit in the driver's seat, they actually lapse into a convincing hallucination in which the landscape around them is flying past. They are unable to detect what's wrong at all.

That's a pretty terrible analogy, I know, but I can step back and look at it and know it needs to be recast. People who need editors can't. They make these laughable or compromising errors and they have absolutely no faculty with which to self-monitor their work. I think that's even worse than someone who looks at the gaffe, shrugs, and insists it's "close enough."

There should be no editor out of work (unless they're very poor at their craft), and there should be at least one in every business in the world. What a dream it would be for me to work for a company in China and get my hands on every document before it leaves the office and gets disseminated around the world! People who collect hex errors, though, would become bored and furious at me for it.

"Is it a perfect plan? ...No, but I think that's what I like about it." - Captain Amazing, Mystery Men

Monday, September 21

Harper's New Monthly Magazine, 1873

Not the greatest quality scan, but I have the source material and I can do it better in the future.

For that matter, I have a broad selection of old images to choose from: a couple weeks ago I attended an antique sale during Defeat of Jesse James Days in Northfield, MN, and came away with two hardcover books. One was a collection of Dorothy Parker short stories and the other was a collection of Harper's New Monthly Magazine vol. 48, comprising all issues from Dec. 1873 to May 1874.

Gods know I could've snatched up all those volumes, of which there were four or five, I think, off that table, but there's no need to be greedy. One volume of six issues is enough for me, with a wonderful selection of old illustrations and woodcuts, not to mention the original writing of the period, both journalistic and fictional work! There's even a gossip page in which a writer, Maunsell B. Field, relates anecdotes about his encounters with Charles Dickens, Pope Gregory XVI, and his service under President Lincoln. It's great reading, and I look forward to finding cause to employ so many dozens of these wonderful, forgotten illustrations in new applications.

Friday, September 18

Sugoi Kawaii

Oh, that darling Japanese stationery! One of the easiest ways to embed yourself in the imagination of another person is to simply find an outlet that sells a pad of super-cute Japanese stationery, write out a letter of a few pages, and send it along to a friend. The onus of being interesting has fallen squarely upon the shoulders of another nation, and Japan is more than apt to rise to the challenge.

These are little pads of paper with designs on them. The designs are in groups of ten or 20 sheets, with several variations in one pad, so you can select one of each design and write a small five-page note, for example. Sometimes they come with little envelopes, too, but these are formatted for Japanese addresses so you kinda have to superimpose our Western addressing system upon that.

I like them because they're cute in a way that isn't insulting. For some reason, with gimmicky Western icons of cuteness, I feel like the item in question carries the expectation that I have to meet it halfway in the suspension of my belief. On an abstract level I see a pitchman in a business suit wearing a shit-eating grin and proffering some tedious little doll at me, insisting, "Here's your brand-new beloved nostalgic icon! We're sure this doll is one for the ages, and you'll love her ever more with each year!" But they say this every year with some new piece of crap, and they're not even listening to themselves.

But with the Japanese items--well, maybe this is my naivete, my perception of everything Japanese as exotic and therefore favorably biased--it seems like they come with their own stories and backgrounds. Rather than "here's Strawberry Shortcake and all her dessert-themed friends," or "here's Rainbow Bright and all her color-themed friends," it's like "here's Ikumono: she loves green tea and lemon cookies, but her handwriting is not very good." There's something in those details that appeals to my humanity. I like the cute little character with weird little quirks. I want to meet her friends and see her town. I really feel like there's a context to them, a background, a substantial world that some thought went into.

The US keeps trying to refine a marketable Utopia, but Japan has mastered wabi-sabi, the beauty of slight imperfections. I know which world I'd rather live in.

Thursday, September 17

New Online Technique

Sorry I skipped the entry yesterday: recent personal events have made things confusing.

Lately I've been trying to extinct my Yahoo! usage and get rid of that account altogether, but that would mean deleting my (paid) Flickr account as well. I have thousands of photos stored there, though people rarely stop in and look around. I'm exploring free alternatives: Photobucket is an excellent containment facility for lots of photos but I think they have to develop their layout and navigability to something less clunky, more intuitive. Adobe Photoshop allows you to upload, modify, and store photos online. For that matter, Facebook and MySpace both have reasonable photo gallery functions.

But in terms of multi-platform compatibility, I'm going to spend more energy exploring how Google (Sites, Maps, Profile, &c.), Picasa, and Blogger work with each other. I've only started to explore their features and capabilities, I know they're capable of much more than I'm aware. I don't expect anyone else to follow me down this path, but I will make it easy for anyone to see what I'm doing.

For instance, here is a link to my collection of Holga photography. This is just about everything I've done with the Holga (and there might be some Diana shots in there as well). I even have it set up so that when I store anything in my Holga folder on my computer, it will automatically upload to my online Holga folder as well. I'm very excited about the potential for this, for getting all my operations running in one sleek little ring rather than asking a bunch of unrelated programs and sites to pull together for me.


Tuesday, September 15

The Dickeyville Grotto

Here's a souvenir postcard gotten from the Holy Ghost Church in Dickeyville, Wisconsin. Sounds innocuous, right?

My wife and I were driving back from our road trip from Iowa when I noticed a series of large plaster/mosaic structures on my left. Thinking it was a Mexican Dia de los Muertos exhibit, or something related, I pulled over immediately and we went to check it out.
"The Dickeyville Grotto and Shrines erected in the Village of Dickeyville, Wisconsin on Holy Ghost Parish grounds are the works of Father Matthias Wernerus, a Catholic Priest, Pastor of the Parish from 1918 to 1931. His handiwork in stone, built from 1925-1930, is dedicated to the unity of two great American ideals-love of God and love of Country."
Wow. It's insane to walk through, and the back story is almost as colorful. I'd never heard of it before and found it entirely by accident. Rebecca had a dim view of this particularly fanatical display of religio-nationalism, whereas I found it an interesting psychological study.

In the gift shop I found this postcard (pictured) and what's interesting is that they don't seem to be recreations. They may be, the paper is fresh and not yellowed on the edges, but if they are recreations it's interesting the printer chose to retain the "place one cent stamp here" instructions. But what a find that would be, to discover a cache of original, yet-unsold souvenir postcards from four decades ago! I grabbed ten of them: even if they're reprints, they're still very attractive cards of the bygone era. Look at those cars!

Monday, September 14

New Word: Restaurateur

In today's entry, I'm pleased to relate that I've learned a new word: restaurateur.

I went to Corner Table this weekend and lapsed into "amateur critic" mode, looking at everything, questioning everything, keeping my senses open. I found a plaque commemorating the owner as "2007 Restaurateur of the Year," and giggled to myself over the apparent spelling error, for I knew it was missing an N. You know, restauranteur, someone who owns a restaurant?

Yet it was I who was in error: Oxford English Dictionary describes restauranteur (with the N) as an "erroneous form" and cites the mistake originating as early as 1949. The word restaurateur comes from restaurant, of course, which the OED indicates is the French substantive present participle of restaurer, "to restore" (e.g., health, vitality). So a restaurant is a place which restores, and a restaurateur is a restorer rather than, by strictest definition, the office of restoring-place-owner. You can see where one would get confused, but studying the etymology clears everything up.

However, they did screw up "Wisconsin," even though it appears correctly on the previous line. That' s just a small oversight any copyeditor would catch, but now it appears on all the drink menus for small people to feel superior over. Maybe that's another service this establishment supplies: bolstering your self-esteem.

Friday, September 11

Language Shift

This is an old poem from an old children's book I've successfully managed to hold onto nearly my entire life. I think it's the oldest souvenir from the earliest reach of my lifespan that I currently possess. That sounds unwieldy but I trust you know what I'm trying to say.

I won the book as part of a contest in elementary school, when I attended St. Joseph's in Chehalis, WA. I think it was in second grade: at the end of the year, Mrs. Ludvickson (I can recall the names of my 2nd and 3rd grade teachers, but not 1st grade) had a series of contests and was giving, as prizes, little tokens we'd spent the year with: room decorations, books, props, etc. This particular children's book is from the early 1900's and our teacher read from it or had us read from it frequently.

I was starved to know all of the stories and poems inside it, and I was deeply, deeply attracted to the '20s art deco style it affected. I have no idea whether anyone else in my class gave a rat's ass about this book, but I absolutely had to have it. How fortunate for me, then, that I bested the contest for this book (now I disremember what it was) and brought it home, this treasured prize. That means I've had it for 31 years, and the book itself was much older than that when I won it.

As for this poem, I discovered my wife cannot read it without breaking into giggles.

Thursday, September 10

Nostalgia in 4" x 6"

There comes a time, in correspondence as with everything else, when you have to give up something that means a lot to you. In the realm of stationery, maybe you've held onto an item for too long without having used it sufficiently; maybe it's taking up space and you can't justify retaining it any longer; maybe you know someone who would like it better.

This is one postcard among many in my collection, and I just decided I had to give it up. It's an image from a collector of retro memorabilia, a photograph of these little cards called "Winky Dinks," I believe. It's that simple Cracker Jack prize concept: the front is a corrugation of little triangular rows that emphasize one gatework of printed image or another--you wiggle it back and forth to see the different scenes and in this manner the illusion of movement is suggested. These cards in particular demonstrated old dance moves from the '60s, and you turned the cards back and forth to see how the simple steps were achieved. (Hullabaloo was a popular dance/music show of the era, kind of like American Bandstand.)

It's nothing big, nothing to scream about. The postcard itself did not achieve this effect. Why does this card mean so much to me? Personal reasons: where I got it, where I was in life when I picked it up, things like that which it represents to me. But now I have to think about conservancy of physical space, and since virtual space is so vast and cheap right now, I scanned the card in and kept it that way. This postcard went to China, received by a young woman who appreciated it.

So it goes.

Wednesday, September 9

Linocut: Tayto

This is the first linocut I've done in a long time. A bit of explanation is in order.

TAYTO is the mascot for an Irish potato chip company. Not so big in the States, but apparently everyone knows Tayto on the other side of the pond. My wife and I picked up some snacks while we were in Dublin and she was immediately taken with the cute little mascot. She saved a bag to later implement the image somehow, but I'm not sure what for.

Anyway, it turned out that we lost the bag, and as my wife was in a bad spot I thought I'd do something to cheer her up. I found a likely image of Tayto online, cleared out all the color, enlarged and reversed it, printed it out, and glued it to a block of linoleum. I traced the image out with a slim knife and began carving, and in two and a half hours I was finished. This is a very rough print, the ink was wet and globby and I didn't smooth out fullest contact with the paper, but the general idea is here. (I do need to find a smoother ink formula so the ink doesn't just build up on the edges like that.)

Originally Tayto said, "Be kind to Ireland," a plea for snackers to throw their chip bags in the trash rather than the streets or sidewalks of their fine nation. I drew in a large speech balloon so Tayto can say an incredible variety of things from now on.

Tuesday, September 8

Project Pendemonium: Success!

It was awesome! Pendemonium is at the southeastern-most corner of Iowa, so we woke up early Saturday morning... dawdled... and then took off. My navigator slept through our turn at Mason City so I didn't realize how off-course we were until Des Moines, but my own superior navigation skills charted a new course to Fort Madison and we showed up at the store at half an hour before close!

I had a great talk with the owner, chatting about pens and paper supplies. He illuminated me as to the Rhodia/Moleskine debate. The fact remains that I love Moleskine but I understand not every pen will take to it well, as its batches of paper are inconsistent. Rhodia has released a "web book" that emulates Moleskine's hardcover and elastic binder function, but I don't think it looks as nice. I have a deep emotional investment with Moleskine and I can't casually switch over to Rhodia even in light of this new information.

I picked up a Shakespeare-nib quill, a Pelikan refillable calligraphy pen, a Turkish woven bookmark (such as may be had up here, but now I can look at it and say I got it at Pendemonium), some homemade stationery-themed cards, and an antique inkwell. Fort Madison is such a flat, small, and empty town--most of its businesses were closed for the weekend, and those that weren't were still closing at 4:00 PM--and I wonder how a specialty store like Pendemonium can stay open. They do seem to enjoy substantial online business, which is great, but I wonder if they could appeal to the kids by providing pen pal URLs (not the least of which would be Postcrossing) and give some pleasant diversion to teenagers otherwise whiling away their time in an empty town.

That's what I would explore, if I were stuck there (and not old enough to hang out in Lost Duck Brewery).

Sunday, September 6

Math is Really Our Strong Suit

You can't tell me the world doesn't need copyeditors.

This was a street-mounted marquee set up at the beginning of the school year, on the sidewalk by Hennepin Avenue. It was set up to direct students to their new campus, to one particularly important location for students. But I want to ask the school: if the room is that important, nay, if you want to inspire faith in the new students paying good money to your institution for a solid education, is this how you want to represent yourself?

Then again, if everyone's on the same erroneous sheet of music, most people aren't going to notice the error. They will look at the sign, understand what it's trying to express, and there is no practical breakdown in communication. That's the Living Language argument: "it's only wrong for now."

Saturday, September 5

Giant Robot Postage in Space

This is pretty awesome: a complete sheet of GUNDAM stamps.

It doesn't matter who you are or what you're into. Maybe you like big giant robots in space, maybe you don't. Maybe you've heard of anime, maybe you haven't. Maybe you like Japan, maybe you don't. But you have to admit that a complete sheet of postage stamps featuring one of the most important anime titles to transform and define an entire genre is pretty awesome.

Do we agree? Can you give me that much?

Come on! Look at this! How important does an anime have to be to garner the office of postage stamps? That's significant! Yes, many other nations have plants and weeds and small animals on their stamps, but at least they're indigenous to their region. All you have to do is reframe your concept of "region" and you can move within any number of contexts! In the region of Japanese television, in the region of hand-drawn, career-seiyuu animation, in the region of epic storytelling, you have got to respect this. You have got to give GUNDAM its due.

If you can't, I will be forced to assume you are merely jealous.

Friday, September 4

One Day, We Will Be Free

Here's a little artifact I was excited to find online: the lyrics to "Born in Xixax," ostensibly in Nina Hagen's own handwriting.

Looks like something a hyperactive kid would crank out in Study Hall, right? Well, why not? Pink Floyd plundered their childhood poetry for songs, lots of people have taken the inspiration of their youth and transformed it into something memorable.

I especially like her fonts, the manic switches and degrees in which everything has been represented. It goes all over the place, as the words and meanings do, communicating much more than the words themselves. Completely acceptable.

I realize I sound crushy on Nina Hagen, and that's accurate. I wish she hadn't been strung out on drugs but hers was a soul in torment, that's clear, and some people have to figure out these things for themselves. "Born in Xixax" was a transformative song for me, one of those portals that opens up to a new universe, a key that shows me how much more is possible than has been represented or hinted at previously.

Thursday, September 3

If I'm Permitted to Dream

Three years ago I visited an Independence Day celebration, "Fort Snelling, 1827." Fort Snelling is situated by the international airport in Bloomington, and each July they open the fort with recreationists and actors who enact various scenes, from mundane routines to special speeches and proclamations.

I believe this photo was taken in an officer's quarters, which is why it is so clean of straw and mud and uncluttered with bags and cases. It's a quiet room with a solid wooden desk, a comfortable wooden chair with padded leather, a solid brick floor set right into the ground (no echoing floorboards, no creaking, no carpet to fight), and a single inkwell waiting at one corner of the desktop. Missing would be a desk set, like a desk pad, paper holder, rack for quills, etc.

And me. I could write endlessly in this room. I would throw the windows open by day and write by candles or oil lamps by night. One wall would have a small and essential library: one shelf dedicated to copyediting, technique and usage; one for my most favorite novels and excellent examples of writing; one for my college textbooks on writing and craft, collections of The Paris Interviews and maybe a subscription to Granta or Utne Reader, just to keep abreast of different styles; one shelf would be a random assortment of books on loan, constantly updating, getting replaced. To the side would be my stationery chest, with a more serious collection of paper, inks, nibs, and accoutrement. Here I'd lock up anything that wasn't in use on my desk.

Against the other wall would be a dresser or armoire with as many clothes as I'd need for two weeks. With one collapsible cot and a sleeping bag, I should be quite comfortable in this room alone. And from this room I would reach the world--slowly, unreliably, but I would transmit and receive from this station.

And if I had the Internet... good night.

Wednesday, September 2

More Paper Moon Graphics

More printing by Paper Moon Graphics: a collaboration by Matt Groening (Life in Hell, The Simpsons) and Steve Vance, printed in 1988. These tied in with a set of postcards they also designed, doctored photography with retro costumes and design, punctuated with ironic and anti-establishment slogans. Lots of fun!

Again, this was convenient stationery for cranking out a note to a friend. I suppose it was intended to be office stationery, you know, before we had Post-Its and good stuff like that. Being that I went straight from high school into the military, I never worked in an office, not for several years. Therefore, I had to seize this product by the horns and force it into my own life, make it work for me.

This stationery brings to my mind a brighter, livelier time when I was less politically active or savvy and more in love with an explosive, vibrant zeitgeist. The '80s were a fantastic time to be alive, especially if you couldn't probe too deeply behind popular news sources and information and were drawn to bright colors and loud noises, like me. Just owning this paper made me feel cooler, and distributing it to my friends (who probably got sick of the joke around the third letter) made me feel like we were in on something, like the corporate thumb would never push us down... or something vaguely rebellious like that. It was the snarky humor that sustained us, as well, that drew us together and bonded us. Finding artifacts like this, Ken Brown's retro/absurdist postcards, and Tom Tomorrow's comics (before he turned political) in the college paper were real prizes, little glowing gems that gave us to believe we were right and we were not alone.

Tuesday, September 1

Paper Moon Graphics

Two decades ago, when I was entering the Army and writing letters to new pen pals, I started to seek out interesting stationery. Being the end of the '80s, even Barnes & Noble could carry something attractive and fun.

These are sheets from two pads I bought nearly 20 years ago, then lost, then found again in the last few years. They were put out by a company called Paper Moon (not Paper Moon in Ohio or Paper Moon in Rhode Island), or more accurately Paper Moon Graphics (not PMG in OK, nor PMG in NC; it was probably, indicated by this site, PMG in Culver City, CA, though my pad says Los Angeles). Now, however, I can't find any trace of the original company, just a dozen independent firms all calling themselves by the same name. How discouraging.

And I see by the cardboard backs of these pads (which I retained) that one of these pads of paper was designed for Paper Moon Graphics by Robert Fitch, and it was printed in 1993. That would probably be the darker pad with the large sun in the corner. These pads were handy because they were nice enough to look at, intriguing designs and vignetting, yet there wasn't too much room to write a lot in. You could jot a quick note or a couple pages to someone and be done with it. Or maybe I assume too much and the people I wrote to felt a little ripped off by tiny notes written on busy paper. Huh.