Knocking It Out Of the Park: Retro 51’s Homerun Tornado Rollerball

FIRST OF ALL (yes, I’m shouting), thank you for all of the love, support, prayers, good wishes, emails, and letters I received following last week’s post. They have buoyed me up and I’m in a much better place mentally. You’ve fired up my fighter attitude and I’m feeling much more like myself— maybe even a new and improved version, in spite of this medical challenge. I’m sure there will be ups and downs, but it’s great to feel “up” after a long(ish) spell of “down.” I have an appointment with a specialist on June 9th (navigating the medical world has been a lesson unto itself), and my symptoms seem to be diminishing a bit (shhhhh…don’t jinx it). I’m very, very grateful for all of the above.

Retro 51 Homerun Rollerball

This week I really WILL take a look at the Homerun Tornado by Retro 51 that I pictured at the beginning of last week’s post. As with all Retro 51 designs, it’s a cool pen, with fun details, and a reliably good rollerball writing experience. It’s almost summer. Let’s have fun, no matter what life throws at us.

Retro 51 Homerun Tornado Rollerball

Maybe my favorite feature is the baseball design at the end of the pen’s twist-mechanism. I’m no baseball fanatic, but I love this level of detail and whimsy. As always, the knurled mechanism twists smoothly to extend the rollerball refill’s writing tip. This is a solid beefy pen with a sense of fun.

Simulated stitching

The simulated stitching on the pen is raised ever so slightly, so that the pen barrel feels just a little bit like an actual baseball. Great choice to not just have the baseball-like graphic, but also the feel.

The Homerun Rollerball is limited to a run of 750 numbered pens. I happened to receive pen #009, by some stroke of luck. Cool number for a baseball pen!

Baseball folio

As I said, I’m really not a huge baseball fan but because we live less than an hour from Cooperstown, NY— which also happens to be my father’s hometown— we visit there often and are members of the Baseball Hall of Fame. On a recent visit to their gift shop, my eyes fell on a baseball-themed folio that pairs perfectly with my Homerun pen. With our member’s discount, it came to about $9.00. Quite the deal.

Baseball-themed paper

The paper inside is well-intentioned in its baseballness, but, frankly, bothers me. The lines are perfectly spaced, but are too dark. The stitching graphic looks neat, but gets in my way. No worries, though. My all-time favorite Levenger Vivacious freeleaf Cross dots note pad fits like a glove (baseball glove?!) so a swap will definitely be made.

Vivacious Cross dot pad

Ahhhh…all better.

The included refill writes on the broad side, but I’m okay with that—especially on the Vivacious paper—so I may resist the urge to make my usual swap to the finer Schmidt P8126 refill. Sometimes I like a super smooth thick black line.

Pen #009

Retro 51 knocked this design out of the park, and you have done the same for me.

Let me simply say, “Thank you.”

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Curveball

Retro 51 Homerun

It’s been a weird week/month/year. Since the beginning of April, I’ve been experiencing strange and spreading numbness in my right leg and odd sensations (like walking on electrified sandpaper) in both feet. At first the sensations were faint and I blamed them on the fact that I’d lifted a number of 5-gallon cans of solvent at work. Heck, so did the doctor for awhile. But then the odd feelings intensified and really took root, and I pretty much knew something bigger was up.

I won’t go into all of the details, but let’s just say that the last five weeks have been filled with battles for appointments that weren’t two months away, fear and tears, more MRIs than seems safe, good news that turned out to be wrong (“It’s a pinched nerve in your back.”), and ultimately, a fairly sure diagnosis. Last Thursday I learned that it’s quite certain that I have MS.

I have to say that I sort of saw it coming as the days passed and symptoms stayed. But still, it’s a lot to take in.

I’m in the process of getting a referral to an out-of-town MS Clinic and I really can’t wait to get there so that I can finally feel like I’m taking action while, hopefully, beating back my symptoms a bit.

As I process this “new normal” (a hackneyed expression, but one that totally fits), I find myself thinking thoughts that are totally cliché and belong on bad bumper stickers. Stuff like:

  • The only moment we really have is RIGHT NOW. Don’t fret about the future. (God, I suck at this.)
  • Family and friends (and pets) are what’s most important. This becomes crystal clear very quickly.
  • All of that stuff you’re worrying about probably isn’t worth it. (I’m sure I’ll continue to do it, anyway.)
  • You have to take care of you.
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff…or even the big stuff. Enjoy the sun, a walk, a movie, a letter, a book, lunch with a friend.

Like I said, trite stuff that I knew but didn’t really KNOW until now.

My biggest fear is that I’ll lose the ability to write. My pens and pen friends and letters and journaling (sporadic as it is) have become such a big part of my life—a place that I draw calmness and strength from—that I worry (see? I can’t stop) that MS will affect that.

BUT, my sister (who’s always been a positive-thinker), sent the following words to me, “Sometimes in life we are thrown a curve ball. Not realizing how strong we are, that “ball” can, and will, be knocked out of the f–ing park!”

Maybe it’s fitting that my Retro 51 “Homerun” Tornado arrived during all of this. Maybe it’s a sign.

Quirky: Levenger’s Chroma Twister Stylus Ballpoint Pen

Levenger's Chroma Twister Stylus BP

This is, to be sure, a quirky pen. I suspect that it’s one of those pens that divides folks into love it/hate it camps. When it popped up as a recent offering on Massdrop, I had to give it a go, despite the fact that it’s a little homely, a little odd. I was intrigued by this pen with the long name—the Levenger Chroma Twister Stylus. The name, like the pen, lacks elegance, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you should dismiss it.

Levenger’s description specifies that the barrel is made from a copper alloy. I can attest to the fact that the weight (1 ounce/28 g) is just right, and the well-balanced heft immediately conveys a feeling of quality.

Levenger's Chroma Twister Stylus

The pen features a simple twist pattern on the barrel for a bit of visual interest, which mirrors the simple twist action needed to extend the writing tip. I’ve found this action to be reliable, smooth, and efficient. The front of the pen is bluntly rounded and doesn’t have the usual “nosecone,” so the look is unconventional—kind of strange—especially when the writing tip is extended. It’s a look that takes a little getting used to.

Tip extended

While the look is not what we’re used to, this odd design choice doesn’t affect the pen’s performance in the least. There are sure to be haters, but I really don’t mind it. I don’t exactly love it, but I don’t hate it, either. The pen takes a Parker-Style refill and ships with a Levenger-branded EasyFlow ballpoint refill. I happen to enjoy this ballpoint refill, but if you don’t, there are a slew of Parker-style alternatives available.

Clip placement

Much like the Pilot Vanishing Point fountain pen, the clip on the Chroma Twister Stylus is positioned at the writing end of the pen so you need to experiment a bit to figure out a grip that works for you. Unlike the Pilot VP, you can rotate the pen so that the clip is positioned on the underside of the pen and out of the way of your fingers, though I usually use it with the clip positioned between my thumb and forefinger without issue.

Fabric stylus

At the opposite end of the pen is a fabric stylus— and this is where the pen really shines. It’s so good that I use the pen more for the stylus than for writing. I use it constantly on my iPhone—when playing word games, flicking through my Twitter stream, and also when composing emails. It’s wonderfully responsive with a very low “failure” rate, and feels much more accurate than my fingers. This is, without a doubt, my favorite stylus.

Size comparison

This isn’t a pen that will blow you away with its stunning good looks, and some of the design decisions might leave you scratching your head, but the Levenger Chroma Twister Stylus is a pen that’s worth a look. It’s not a pen that I use for long writing sessions but with both a quality writing experience and a truly excellent stylus, it’s a pen that’s wormed its way into my pen-loving heart. It might be a little homely—a little goofy looking—but don’t you often find that that quirkiest looking things (and people!) are the most interesting?

Let’s face it—normal is boring.