Monday, March 12, 2012
Monday, March 05, 2012
I'm already beginning to miss Albi and Mirella. A half dozen rounds of Monopoly Deal were not enough. It was a lovely February day down at Kawayan Cove, even if I did get stung by pesky jellyfish. The sun shone brightly with all its might...
Except when it rained. :))
Best part of playing hooky: watching a thunderstorm turn a calm sea into mist and froth while sipping a calamansi shake and reading Mieville's Perdido Street Station underneath a nipa hut. Haha, run-on sentences.
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Yes, I give a fuck about an Oxford comma. Voyages in English 6 told me to. It drives me nuts when teachers circle that final comma with those red pens. I'm correct, damn it!
But I do love Vampire Weekend.
Monday, January 16, 2012
Sunday, January 15, 2012
Sunday, December 18, 2011
Spent the afternoon revising my guide to leather satchels to include a table summarizing similarities and differences between brands. Then I discovered that Blogger post titles don't render fonts properly. For some reason, if Calligraffitti works on Firefox, it doesn't work on Safari. What is up with that?!
Anyway, the leather satchel review is up on the sidebar of A Plus B in the Sea. For lazy ones like me, I've reproduced it below:
Anyway, the leather satchel review is up on the sidebar of A Plus B in the Sea. For lazy ones like me, I've reproduced it below:
A Buyer's Guide to Leather Satchels
Covering the essential considerations of design, quality, and price
With the no-nonsense non-trust fund buyer a.k.a the Struggling Student or the Thrifty Twenty-Something in mind, based on the popular post published in November 2011
From the bustling ports of Hong Kong to the loamy valleys of England, the old school leather satchel is on every in-the-know person's Christmukkah/birthday/Chinese New Year wish lists. But the sheer number of companies that sell that selfsame style staple is mind-boggling. Well, A Plus B in the Sea presents a neatly packaged solution.
Need to know whether a purveyor uses true leather or polyurethane or if a craftsman is flesh and blood or steel and electricity? Clueless at calculating shipping fees or choosing between embossing in gold or silver? Wonder no more with our beginner's guide to the British leather satchel.
Oxblood backpack satchel (15-inches) from School of Satchel (SoS)
Loch Blue satchel (12.5-inches) from the Leather Satchel Company
'It's not a purse, it's called a satchel. Indiana Jones wears one,' says Alan the pudgy and lovable weirdo from the Hangover. No need to be so defensive, boys, the leather satchel had been worn by Roman legionnaires1 and Elizabethan boy-scholars2 before it was appropriated by 20th century school children and, subsequently, authors of children's novels like The Chronicles of Narnia and The Famous Five. The leather satchel remains as stylish and practical as it was a hundred, a thousand years ago.
It's no wonder that, at first glance, leather satchels sold by the diverse houses look exactly the same—a sturdy rectangular body, two buckles over a front pocket, and an ID holder. A closer look will show that stitching across the bag's top flap, length of straps, and leather finish differs from house to house. In general though, the design is so simple and traditional that any attempt to patent the design in favor of one company3 is bound to fail (and IMHO should!).
A catalogue of design differences
For the professional or graduate student, we suggest School of Satchel (SoS) which, despite a name reminiscent of playgrounds and AC/DC, sells bags in muted, elegant colours like oxblood and mustard tan with very vintage-looking brass buckles. They even have very grown-up epi and distressed leather bag styles. The front pockets are also larger and do not have the ID holder that makes satchels look like school bags. School of Satchel also has stiffer leather that obviates the need for plastic cases or folders. Just slip in your bull-clipped A4 papers and your set for a business meeting or a academic conference!
If you want to stand out in a crowd, Cambridge Satchel Company (CSC) has neon bags known as 'fluoros' while Zatchels offers every pattern and print imaginable—stars, polkadots, union jacks, flowers, and plaid... you name it, they have it. The latter's pastel collection is particularly lovely. CSC and Zatchels also offers other bag designs like steamer trunks and music bags (CSC) and barrel and saddle bags (Zatchels).
But if you are looking for the most traditional of British bags, look no further than the Leather Satchel Company (LSC). Their master craftsmen have been making satchels since 1966, far longer than the other houses, and they are able to process bespoke orders. Require a 20-inch two-tone briefcase with detachable straps and shoulder pads? Just send Mr Barry Hanshaw and email at firstname.lastname@example.org and you can get a custom made satchel tailored to fit your exact needs.
A unique offering from the Leather Satchel Company is their Tallboy bag, which is a taller satchel with a longer top flap. It is absolutely perfect for large laptops since nothing sticks out, and one of my friends likens the Tallboy to Mary Poppins' bottomless carpetbag: 'it fits all you'll ever need.'
People often ask what size is best. For struggling students and worker bees, satchels upwards of 14-inches is your only choice. As beautiful as the bags are, they don't hold much. An inch or two of paperwork, wallet, mobile phone, two lip balms, a single school book, and an e-reader or iPad is about all my satchel can hold. Anything else and the leather begins to stretch and, boy, is it going to be a pain in the neck (literally).
However, if you are using the satchel for running errands or wandering around museum and parks, the size sweet-spot is 12.5-inches as offered by the Leather Satchel Company. It's big enough to fit a sketchpad, a travel guidebook, and a water bottle, but not too large to be unwieldy and heavy to carry when walking in a crowd.
In our opinion, don't bother getting an 11-inch satchel unless you'll use it as a clutch, in which case, you should definitely get one in a traffic-stopping print; otherwise, you'll look like an overgrown kindergartener and won't be able to fit anything but your wallet and phone!
School of Satchel uses locally-treated Filipino leather, which is thicker and stiffer than any other brand's. It purposefully leaves the leather with a 'roughly' textured, matte finish that looks fantastic in the sunlight. The Leather Satchel Company's leather finish is very smooth and shiny, though it is not uber-glossy like patent leather, it is far from the matte of the other brands. LSC also has the softest leather of the lot, its lightness increasing with the size of each bag, which we suppose has its reasons in the principles of physics. ;P
On the other hand, CSC and Zatchels has a smooth, matte finish on its basic bags; the latter also has metallic and patent leather styles available. An explanation for the 'sameness' between CSC and Zatchels is that the latter used to manufacturer bags for former before their owners fell out and Cambridge Satchel Company launched a legal battle in 2011.3
School of Satchel offers the best prices with its bags starting at £50 or PhP 3,500 a pop. Buying from SoS will also fulfill the charitable impulse in you because SoS will donate one bag to public school children in the Philippines with each purchase.
For Filipino buyers, please note that customs duties and taxes levied by our government border on extortionate. The UK-based houses use FedEx or DHL, which act as red flags to customs officials to open the packages and tax like there is no tomorrow. In our experience, the customs fees amount to at least 75% of product cost and shipping fees as announced by the man
With the design of a satchel practically identical across manufacturing houses, all things being held the same, the decision of which company to buy from boils down to two things: craftsmanship and customer service. In both areas, the Leather Satchel Company (LSC) wins hands down. First.—Leather Satchel Company offers bespoke (any combination of leather material or extras you want, just ask!) satchel orders by artisan craftsmen who have been creating satchels by hand for more than 40 years. After leading the British satchel industry for so long, they surely know what they are doing! LSC is so confident in the skill of its master craftsmen that they are the only house that guarantees the quality of their satchels for FIVE years, no matter where you are. Stitching unravelling or buckles tarnishing? Have no fear, send in your satchel through the post and the Leather Satchel Company will fix it up tout suite.
We bought or borrowed satchels from all houses and tested them out. At the end of three-months, only the Loch Blue satchel from LSC did not have loose stitches and leather straps cracking and flaking. The Zatchels bag was unevenly made; it cannot stand upright and falls over with the slightest breath of wind. As Arianne mentioned in her post, Mad for Old School Satchels, we love the soft and smooth leather of an LSC satchel because it is so much quicker to unbuckle the straps. We also prefer the top flap which has no stitching or embossed lines, leaving a less busy design. School of Satchel also has this characteristic (plus!).
Second.—Leather Satchel Company has spectacular customer service (School of Satchel is the only other house that can compare: they do personal delivery!). It is so easy to order from them, whether through Facebook, Amazon, or email. The email response is quick (an average of 1.25 days in our experience) and personal, i.e., you will always be conversing on first-name basis with a team member. No nameless call center drones or Sincerely-Your-Customer-Service-Representative for the LSC! There is nothing that LSC can't address, whether an order mix-up, a request for priority delivery, or even complementary leather samples.
And receiving your Leather Satchel Company satchel through post—HAPPINESS (new leather bag smell love). We got ours in less than two weeks4, all the way from Cheshire, England, and it was wrapped up in a brown paper package tied up in string ('and these are a few of our favourite things...') with a handwritten note addressed to us. The earlier letters had the words 'Read me, Arianne!' while the more recent notes had an Alice in Wonderland quote and accompanying Tenniel illustration but always ending with a signed flourish. This level of personalisation is a great reason in itself for ordering from LSC. In a world where human interaction is limited by faceless technology, it is a joy to feel as if something was made specially for you.
A purchase from the Leather Satchel Company is a joy from start to finish and reminiscent of the oft-lamented service rendered by bespoke tailors and milliners during the time of our grandparents. It's definitely an investment (bag) that pays off!
Loch Blue satchel (12.5-inch) from the Leather Satchel Company
Note: A Plus B in the Sea has not received remuneration for writing this guide to old school leather satchels. The opinions contained in this piece were based on actual use of the satchels over a three-month period. If you are a bag manufacturer and would like to be included in this review, please contact Arianne at email@example.com.
1. The History of the Leather Satchel
2. William Shakespeare's As You Like It, the All The World's a Stage Monologue
3. In September 2011, Cambridge Satchel Company took legal action against a former manufacturer, claiming that the latter, now trading under the name Zatchels, stole their industrial designs for neon satchels and intentionally created backlogs to the detriment of their customers.
4. Our Zatchels and CSC bags were bought from a physical store, so we do not have first hand information about their online customer service. However, we have heard from close friends and read from social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter that Cambridge Satchel Company has slow and unresponsive customer service WRT answering emails and delivering satchels. One friend reported that she waited for a red school satchel for more than 3 months without hearing from CSC and she ended up cancelling her order. One explanation may be production/operating management issues (see footnote 3) but CSC has since changed their manufacturer and the problems continue.
If you have any stories to share about customer service or craftsmanship of any of the houses tackled in this review, we would love to hear them! Contact Arianne at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monday, December 12, 2011
'Come further up, come further in!'
1st.— A Humbershoe Jumper, soft and slouchy for chilly December nights.
4th.— A Night Circus, magic constructed entirely in black and white.
5th.— A Flask of and for Cognac, future container of classic pep-me-ups.
Wednesday, December 07, 2011
After re-reading Jennifer Crusie's Faking It I just had to watch a screwball comedy. I started with Bringing Up Baby, involving a bespectacled paleontologist plagued by the manic pixie dream girl prototype and her pet leopard, and continued with eight other films—Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, James Stewart, and Irene Dunne playing love team musical chairs. I have to say though that the heroines are so much more charming than their male leads. Katharine Hepburn in Holiday made me both cry and laugh till my sides ached, all within a span of fifteen minutes. Class.
Hollywood sure doesn't make 'em like that anymore, and it's such a pity.
Sunday, December 04, 2011
It was eight-thirty and the clock struck eleven, typical Manila. Not so typical was the fine athleticism—need I say of Galaxial proportions?—on display at the Rizal Memorial Stadium last Saturday. My brother and I had braved the inexplicable and torturous traffic to reach the bleachers where we watched the visiting American team trounce the Azkals without even kicking into second gear.
As Naesa enjoyed David Beckham tossing his shirt into the crowd while the subs were performing calisthenics on the sidelines, I finally got to see Landon Donovan (quiet and seemingly suffocated by the heat) and Robbie Keane (blonder than on TV though just as burly and brusque, the Spurs captain) and one of Beckham's much-lauded free kicks. Found it hilarious that no one knew who Keane was!
The Azkals might play dirty (diving scum) but, boy, were they fit. Naesa and I were particularly enamored with #15 who must remain nameless for now due to the inexplicable lack of a last name emblazoned across the back of his shirt. What is with that? I've never seen team kit without individual identifiers, nor have I ever seen a game where more than 3 substitutes were allowed or where someone previously subbed returned. As my little brother would say, 'Waddawaddaheck?'