Author Archives: MsThorns

MATINAE PENS – TUL Retractable Gel Pen

I discovered the TUL .7 mm medium point retractable gel pens while looking for TUL Disc Planner refill pages at Office Depot (TUL is an Office Depot brand).  I have purchased several sets of these pens for the ink color assortment and because some of the limited-edition sets are visually lovely.  The question is, do they do their job as writing instruments?

The “basic” color set is all plastic except for the metal pocket clip and the pen tip i.e. the end of the cartridge from which the ink flows.  What keeps the whole cartridge from flying out of the barrel is the nose cone, which for the TUL is plastic as well.

The grip is a perforated rubber (preferred) for no slippage and is of moderate size so there should be little hand fatigue when there is considerable writing to accomplish.

The clicker/thrust mechanism easily depresses and retracts when operated and features a clear flat-topped outer case, revealing the pen/ink color in the assorted color sets.  The special edition black ink sets do not have the clear outer casing likely for aesthetic reasons.

When writing, the ink flow is smooth, and the tip does not skip nor leave ink blobs.  Any skips observed would likely be from having a tad bit too much coffee when writing.  The ink colors are rich especially in the solid barrel limited edition assorted set. 

Though the colors are great and the tip rolls smoothly there are two issues with the TUL, ink longevity and overall construction.  I have pitched at least one full set in the last year because the ink dried out.  Critics may say that the pens are not being used enough and that is a possibility, however, there are sets from other brands that I have had multiple years that did not dry out as quickly as the TUL.  In terms of construction, though the grip is quite suitable, the pen feels and sounds flimsy as one can hear the cartridge rattling around inside the barrel when writing.

The TUL is a basic pen, with great colors, think “great gowns, beautiful gowns”.  If this is a writer’s pen of choice, I recommend keeping plenty on hand because they will run out quickly and if heavy handed, you may break a few. ✍🏾✍🏾.75

Photos: MsThorns

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MATINAE PENS – The Pilot G-2 at Home

There is no escaping the Pilot G-2 gel retractable. I have written with them for years in various jobs because it is the standard work pen. Yet for personal writing, I steered clear since I had choices when using my own hard-earned cash. I may have been missing out in my rebellion.

The Pilot G-2 easily meets the physical specs of my favored pens as it has a ridged rubber grip and a clicker that does not stick.

The G-2 also comes in a variety of colors, point sizes, and finishes so one is not limited to the black, red and blue fine point of the office. Although the metallic variety is likely only practical for making art.

For writers of letters, notes, and journals, the bold variety G-2 1.0 with its rich color performs well, providing a smooth clean line despite its point size.

Not just for the office, the G-2 is highly recommended. These pens are long-lasting, reliable and a make a great edition to your writing instrument collection ✍🏽✍🏽✍🏽✍🏽.

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MATINAE Pens – Pentel EnerGel Pearl Deluxe RTX

Full disclosure, I purchased these pens because I thought they were cute. As a writing instrument, the Pentel EnerGel Pearl Deluxe RTX Gel pen outperforms said cuteness.

Writing is a smooth experience with a super clean line emanating from a .7 mm stable needle tip.

In general, a narrow tipped pen is not desired because I write hard and loopy and think the tip will break. Breakage is not an issue with the EnerGel Pearl. The non-slip rubber grip absorbs some of that pressure as well.

One thing I noticed and it may not be as clear in the photo, is that the manufactured date on the ink chamber says 2019. The pen was purchased in 2021 and is still writing in 2022👍🏾.

The clicker does the job and the clip bends out and snaps back into place when clipped to a notebook or shirt pocket.

The ink color stays true regardless of the paper color. The paper on the left is a grayish blue while that on the right is white.

If there is one thing that precludes the Pentel EnerGel Pearl Deluxe RTX from receiving that perfect rating, it is that thing it does similar to white clothing. The grip yellows over time. Otherwise this pen is a go to and highly recommended for your writing needs ✍🏾✍🏾✍🏾✍🏾1/2.

Photos: MsThorns

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MATINAE Pens – Boldilocks, the Uni-ball Vision Elite BLX

These pens were purchased over two years ago and are still writing so that would be a +1 for the Uni-ball Vision Elite BLX .8 mm “bold” rollerball pen.

The Vision Elite BLX is obviously a stick pen, with a tight cap that snaps firmly into place.

The grip is fairly small and made of a hard etched plastic to prevent slippage.

The rollerball does its job providing a smooth no-skip ride against the paper. The ink on the tip is an indication of usage, not ink blobs.

The barrel and tip colors give some indication of the ink color, which is bold but not bright.

The lines are bold and the colors are deep and blackish.

Overall the Uni-ball Vision Elite BLX is serviceable and I will write with them until they dry up, but they are not preferred by this writer. The line is a tad heavy, I did not like the small plastic grip, and pens with caps are just another thing to keep up with. ✍🏾✍🏾✍🏾

Photos: MsThorns

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MATINAE Pens – BIC Gel-ocity

A fave early on in the pandemic, I ran them so hard, the few I had were spent quickly. I had to re-up on the BIC Gel-ocity.

The BIC Gel-ocity is a .7 mm (fine-ish) medium point gel pen, which translates into lines that are clean and crisp. The colors are brilliant and are easily the richest of any pen reviewed here thus far.

The barrel is almost pliable, a thick rubber, that renders a really nice non-slip grip anywhere on the pen.

The thrust mechanism, i.e. “the clicker” clicks. When the pen is in its detracted position there is no sliding up and down of the casing over the clicker.

The Bic Gel-ocity, checks all the boxes and is great for any kind of writing, whether it is note taking for meetings, or journaling. This one is a fave, highly recommended! ✍🏾✍🏾✍🏾✍🏾✍🏾

Photos: MsThorns

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MATINAE Music Live: MOONCHILD

April 9, 2022, Buckhead Theater, Atlanta GA

The opening act Austin Antoine, appropriately describes himself as a performance artist. Antoine sang, rapped including a freestyle, and performed the famous Kid n Play House Party dance sequence with his cousin who came out for a few numbers, all while providing his own musical accompaniment (by laptop). The performance was fun, Antoine was engaging, and the audience, self-included, seem to have enjoyed the performance. Antoine’s music is available on all streaming platforms.

I missed the second act due to an unfortunate hot flash incident🔥. From what I could gather, a presentation and video from/about a local charity supported by the headliners was shown. Having properly cooled off I resumed my seat and soon raucous applause and cheers began for the headliners, Moonchild.

I first heard the group on Twitch some time in 2020, so the group is new to me. Nevertheless what I heard and subsequently added to my collection was enough to make me want to see them live. Moonchild is comprised of Amber Navran, Andris Mattson and Max Bryk. They were also joined by Efa Etoroma, Jr. on drums for the Atlanta date.

The band is tight. The three principles are all multi-instrumentalists which I would say lean toward soul and jazz. The set list included:

  • Too Much to Ask
  • The Other Side
  • Cure
  • The List
  • Run Away
  • Tell Him
  • Love I Need

and more. Love I Need was a funky banger. The album version features Rapsody, the live performance briefly transitioned into Anita Baker’s Caught up in the Rapture which was a joyful sing-a-long before returning to the funk.

The audience sang along throughout the band’s performance and whenever Navran stretched out of her normal vocal style just the tiniest bit, the audience went bananas and started shouting SANG AMBER! Navran’s vocals have been written about plenty, all I could add is that I would love to see her stretch a bit beyond her signature sound beyond the teasers she displayed in the live performance.

Seeing Moonchild was an enjoyable experience. Anyone who likes a soulful, jazzy type sound is encouraged to attend this show when it comes to your city, if it is not already sold out.

For more information on the charitable organizations that Moonchild partners with, please see their website.

Photos: MsThorns

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MATINAE Music Live: Tank and the Bangas

The show was on 3/27/2022. I have been sitting on this for two weeks because a conclusion just could not be reached until now.

First I want to thank the parking gods and the cleaning staff of Buckhead Theater in Atlanta. The parking was easy and the theater Pristine. I had a seat in the balcony because my days of standing through a show appear to be over.

The opening act was Cory Henry and his band The Funk Apostles. If funk is in it, I’m here for it and Henry did not disappoint. He is a high energy keyboard master, vocalist, performer, minister of music. At times I heard Sly, Herbie and our beloved Prince. They seem to be his influences but his sound is his own, maybe a funk-jazz-gospel-rock??? I heard it all in his playing. The Funk Apostles band, instrumental and vocals were tight. Highlights were:

▻ Days – a bouncy, danceable groove, a bop
▻ Trade it All – this GOES, Henry’s solo was outstanding on this
▻ GawtDamn – he killed this, soulful, shout-worthy LAWD
▻ Alone – Henry described as the introverts anthem, was a jam with clearly inspired by early Prince.

I really enjoyed the performance and Henry and his band seemed to enjoy it as much as the audience. His music is streaming on all platforms, you need to see him live though, for real.

and now…

Tank is the technicolor dreamcoat. She is multi-faceted, vocalist, spoken word artist, playful all of the things, the Group plays all genres and do it well. However, I did not stay until the end because…

I am old.

As an old, Tank and the Bangas were a lot to take in, the colors , the baby-voiced, squealing thing Tank does was too much for me. The youngins LOVED it! Screaming, dancing, singing along, giving all the audience participation. My thoughts of the show, were the same as those when listening to the recorded music. This chile is TALENTED but wooooo it was too much for me.

To be clear, I was out of place, not the band, not the crowd. I liken the experience to the way my parents talked about hip-hop in the beginning. They thought it was loud, noisy, too-much going on. Later, they came around, my dad in fact is now a Snoop Fan.

Would I recommend this show? Absolutely, I enjoyed the reaction of the crowd, I enjoyed the vocals and the spoken word and the band, the baby-voiced squealing was a bit much for me. Oh, and the chicken wings the young ladies were eating next to me smelled and gave me a headache.

Would I go to see them again? Absolutely. A funny thing happened for me to arrive at this conclusion, the NCAA National Championship. I heard her before I saw her, singing the national anthem in all her glory and in New Orleans tradition. It was dope.

Photos: MsThorns

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MATINAE Music – Colman Brothers (self-titled)

I was introduced to Bandcamp fortunately for my ears and unfortunately for my pocket by a fellow music lover I met through DJ Spinna’s Twitch stream. Upon landing at Bandcamp I selected genres of interest and received in my recommendations The Colman Brothers self-titled debut album released in 2011.

Hailing from the UK, brothers Mat on trombone and Andrew trumpet/flugelhorn create a rhythmic, horn-infused danceable latin-jazz release. The album opens with Mr. D. G., a swinging tune that gives visions of the dance floor and is followed by Another Brother which begins at a furious pace that does not let up. Towards the middle of the album the Brothers slow things down with a surprising remix of a song called She Who Dares, sounding very hip-hop, which reminded me of KRS One’s MCs Act Like They Don’t Know. Also featured on the album is Mat and Andrew’s sister, Sara Colman as the vocalist on on Some Other Wonder. Her performance is smooth and smoky and gives the visual of Ms. Colman blessing the mic of a jazz club.

The Colman Brothers came out blazing on their debut release. Aside from a remix album of their own and appearances on compilations from their label, I was unable to locate any additional recorded work from the Brothers, which is a shame. This album was too good for our ears not be graced with additional music. Hopefully soon, we will hear more from them. 💿💿💿💿💿

Photos: MsThorns

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MATINAE Music Live –  Abstractions: Zo!, Tall Black Guy & Deborah Bond

I think what I heard Wednesday night was joy. That joy leapt off the stage and into all of us in attendance at the Abstractions tour stop at City Winery Atlanta, February 9, 2022.

I had a seat in front of the stage and saw up close the interplay between these talented musicians, Zo!, Deborah Bond and Tall Black Guy, accompanied by some really tight musicians from Atlanta on bass and drums.

Zo! was musical director,  pianist and emcee and played each role with ease and a virtuosity. Tall Black Guy put in work! I don’t know what all those things were called that he was playing but, he brought in music, effects, sly commentary and kept the music moving. Last but not least was Ms. Deborah Bond. She is a petite fleur with a big voice who can sang sang! She sang songs that Phonte, Carmen, Joi, Darien etc. etc., were featured on in Zo!’s discography as well as selections from TBG’s Remixes and Tings Vol. 1. and others, beautifully. She is a fire dancer as well!

All selections were outstanding and I particularly enjoyed Hold My Hand, Connected, I Know You, I Live You For Sure, and a Go-Go style Prototype by Outkast. This show is the best I’ve seen in the pandemic era, and one of the most enjoyable, fun shows I have been to in years. The key word again is joy. These musicians bring a joyful noise and clearly enjoy playing together.

If Abstractions comes to your city, DO NOT MISS IT!

Photos: MsThorns

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MATINAE PENS – Fine Writing with the Pilot Precise V5 RT

The juicy .7 mm medium in assorted colors is my go-to pen for journal writing, work and general note scribbling. In an effort to stretch out (again) I went for not only a rollerball, but a fine rollerball at that, the Pilot Precise V5 RT.

The grip is rubber and has a nice firm feel in the hand.

The clicker is the clickiest so there is no question as to whether the pen is depressed or not. The casing over the top of the clicker does slide, but that is not a deal-breaker.

The tip is really a thing of beauty, so much so that as a heavy-handed writer I was scared that I might bend it. No need to fret, the tip is solid and did not falter under pressure.

This fine tip makes a fine, clean line with no ink blobs and rich color. There was one skip noted in the sample below, however skips were never an issue when the pen was used as a daily writing instrument.

Overall the Pilot Precise V5 is highly recommended, is excellent for daily writing, and is well-suited for those who prefer a finer, cleaner line ✍🏾 ✍🏾 ✍🏾 ✍🏾.

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