Thursday, 26 November 2015

Friday 27/11/2015 - The Volunteering Begins, SPECTRE Viewings, Tendonitis Strikes & This Week's Wristwatches.

EDIT: I'm gonna pull a leaf out of Joe Van Cleave's book here and add some extra to this post. Makes a lot of sense if you typecast something on one day and feel the need to add something more. I wrote the page above on Wednesday. Thought I'd just add a few more pictures. 

Another shot of the Planet Ocean, using the Grainy Film setting;

I switched over the the Omega Seamaster 300 on Wednesday evening;

Hit the gym next day and noticed I had inadvertently matched my watch strap to my socks;

And here's the finished bookshelf, that ended up going into my son's room. Two coats of varnish and it was good to go. Currently working on another one for my daughter. Then I can get started on the shelves for the study. 
I have to say the router took a little learning to get the hang of, but I didn't make too much of a mess of it. The shelves slotted in smoothly enough once I'd assembled the outer frame and reinforced the corners. 
Once I'd put it into place in his room, I found that it didn't rock from side to side. Seems sturdy enough once he'd loaded some of his books into it. I added the vertical panels for the sake of added strength and to make it a little more visually interesting. 
Worst-case scenario, if it begins to tilt to one side, I'll add a backing board to reinforce it a little further. However, so far, so good. 
Hopefully, it'll last a while. 

And that's another week done. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Friday 6/11/2015 - Lost In Translation, One Bookshelf Done & This Week's Wristwatches.

POSTSCRIPT; the correct grammar is "an historic", not "a historic". I meant to correct that with a pen before I scanned it.

And here's the bookshelf. Once I get a backboard on it, plus a couple of coats of varnish, it should look half decent. I just hope it holds up for the next decade or two;

Have a good weekend!

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Friday 30/10/2015 - Typecast; Rolex Woes, Photo Stealin' Joes, Volunteer Goes & This Week's Wristwatches.

- Friday Afternoon -

Sitting here waiting for the plumber to arrive. Might as well get this week's post underway. 

Back to the Seamaster 300 on NATO strap, which I might wear when I go see SPECTRE in a couple of weeks. Can't wait. I'm avoiding spoilers like crazy;

And here it is, sitting on the SM3 with a little copyright tag next to it;

So anyway, thrillseekers, that's another week done and dusted. Oh, that's right, one more thing, as mentioned in the title of this post.

I saw a sign at a local Op Shop asking for volunteers. My wife had said to me on a few occasions that it would probably do me good to get out of the house and do something while I look for work. I'll be honest, I'm not too crazy about working for no pay, but I think it would do me good in other ways to do some volunteer work. It would get me back into a work routine, for one thing. And it would look good on my resume too. Also, I'd be doing something worthwhile that benefits those less fortunate, and I feel that I could actually be of help to this store too, given my retail background.
So, I spoke to the manager of the place and got an application form. We'll see what happens.

Nothing else to report. I trust you'll all have a good weekend. And for you Halloweeners, don't eat all the candy. 
It's for the kids, you know.  

3:10pm. The plumber's running late.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Friday 23/10/2015 - This is a Short One, Folks. Quick Typecast with This Week's Wristwatches.

Ah, what the hell. While I'm here.  Wore the Submariner early in the week;

Switched over briefly to the Sinn 103 St Sa;

And put on the Omega SM300 earlier today;

Have a good one!

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Friday 9/10/2015 - Bathroom Shelves, Wedding Anniversaries, Welcome Back, Mr. Bond & This Week's Wristwatches

Plenty to be done around here. There are fewer boxes scattered around the house this week as we continue to sort through them. I can see that I'll be writing quite a few eBay listings soon. 

Last weekend
                       When we moved into this house three weeks ago, there was a bare tree in the side yard that I had decided would have to go. It looked barren and creepy. My wife told me to leave it be. It's a cherry blossom tree, she said. Well, it started to blossom about a  week ago. I was wearing the Omega Speedmaster. And the blossoms are a wonderful shade of pink.

             Anyway, I had a shelf to build. Our en-suite needed some storage space. I grabbed the timber and a bunch of tools and got to work. It took me a few hours, I had to re-cut a few pieces of wood, but I got there in the end. Barely. 
Actually, I shouldn't call it 'wood'. A builder once told me; "Wood is what you burn. Timber is what you build with."

I positioned the shelf against the wall in the en- suite to find that both ends of it didn't sit flush, dammit. This was solved when I cut a piece of aluminium and fashioned it into a bracket which I fastened to the wall and the top of the shelf. A couple of strips of rubber tucked in behind the shelf and it was now sitting flush against the wall. 
I realised later that the blade on the jigsaw that I used had a slight bow in it. This caused a slight unevenness in every cut.  I'll have to buy a new blade.
Okay, that's one done. The shelves are narrow enough to hold the various bathroom products and the top shelf is wide enough to hold two folded towels. This shelf will have to come out one more time so that I can give it a couple of coats of paint. I'm thinking a gloss white, to contrast against the green wall. A glossy paint should react better against steam too, I'm thinking. This was the easy one. As I continue to unpack boxes, I'm unearthing our books, which will need to end up on shelves. That we don't have. Yet. 

             However, I couldn't worry about bookshelves. Not today. Today was our nineteenth Wedding Anniversary. My wife had told me not to get her anything. "You bought me a house", she added.
"That was last month", I replied. 
"You built me a shelf."
"I built us a shelf."
Anyway, she went off to work and I headed out to the nearby shopping centre and bought her a few exotic soaps. I wore the Hamilton Khaki Mechanical. All 44mm of it. 

Later, I had to go hand in the keys to our old house. That chapter of our lives is over. I switched back to the Speedmaster. The Rentals Agent at the real estate office asked me if I'd gotten the carpets steam cleaned. Nope. I had not. The carpets were laid about two years ago and we have kept them spotless ever since.
I began to get the feeling that this could get slightly ugly. She told me that she would make a final inspection of the property the next day. If that was satisfactory, we could then fill in the paperwork to get our Bond deposit back. My wife and I are really hoping that we don't get a call saying that we have to pay for the carpets to get cleaned. That will really tick me off, and I will be forced to hand the agent the receipt for the oven element that I paid for three days after we became tenants of the property. So, if she wants to charge me a hundred bucks for carpet cleaning, I will ask her for $250 for the oven repair. Considering just how much this real estate agency has screwed out of us already, I aim to get back every dollar that's owing to me.  
Yessiree, tings could get ugly indeed, ahh yeah.

                  I was wearing the Rolex Submariner as I finished the new Bond novel Trigger Mortis. Anthony Horowitz has written an outstanding OO7 book. One that shows a reverence and understanding of Bond and his world. This is what happens when you get an author who knows how to write AND who gets what Bond is all about. Nothing against Sebastian Faulks, Jeffrey Deaver and William Boyd. These three authors were responsible for the last three Bond continuation books and they are acclaimed and well-respected writers in the genres they normally write in.
However, I can't help but think that they thought writing a Bond book would be a walk in the park. It's not. It's often all too easy to fall into pastiche and produce something whereby you have a villain with some weird physical deformity and an improbably named Bond girl. Granted, Horowitz gives Bond a love interest named Jepoardy Lane, but he has fashioned a story which is solid and puts Bond through the ringer whilst presenting it with the air of a Fleming book. That is the hardest part. Given that James Bond has existed in popular culture now since 1953, and that the films have been around for over fifty years, it can be all too easy to write a Bond book that reads like the script to a Roger Moore or Pierce Brosnan Bond film, filled with improbable stunts, over-the-top villains and sleazy double entendres. 
Anthony Horowitz managed to do something quite difficult with his book. Thank God. Bit of luck, Ian Fleming Publications will ask him to write another one in a couple of years.

               Switched over to the Tissot Visodate briefly. Haven't worn this watch much in the last couple of years. Lately, I've been thinking that it's a tad too large, but this opinion faded once I put the watch on my wrist. Tissot batted one out of the park when they made this watch. The review that I wrote on this watch back on October 10th, 2010 has garnered almost 440,000 pageviews. If I only had a dollar for every time somebody...

Later that morning, I put on the modded the Seiko 7002 before heading to the gym for a quick workout. This watch has gotten a lot of wear in recent weeks, since it's my go-to watch for handyman duties around the house. Performs like a trouper.

And later that night, I decided to grab the Omega Speedmaster. As we head towards the warmer months, I can see myself wearing this watch less and less. It has a water-resistance rating of 50 metres. Some diehards will swear that this is good enough for swimming with, but I have seen too many 50m w/r watches experience water-entry issues, so I'll always play it a little safe where this particular watch is concerned.

I unpacked a few more boxes of books. Still a few more boxes to go. No hurry. I ain't got shelves for them anyway, just yet.

It's now Friday afternoon. I'm still wearing the Speedmaster, but I think I'll be putting on the Seiko soon. I've just had lunch (a peanut butter sandwich, if you must know) and I think I'll make my wife and I a quick coffee before getting stuck into some more repair work around here. There's a small 1960s coffee table that needs some sanding. My wife has a much-deserved four days off work and I keep telling her to take things easy, but her work ethic has other ideas.

Thanks for reading, all, and have a great weekend!

Friday, 2 October 2015

Friday 2/10/2015 - Curtains Call, Catching Up With Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane and The Thin White Duke & This Week's Wristwatches.

- Friday 8:20pm AEST -

This week has been another blurry one. Much has been done as we slowly settle in to our new house. There are still plastic tubs of stuff scattered throughout every room as we unpack them and decide whether to keep or get rid of stuff that we've accumulated over the last ten or fifteen years. 
Anyway, there were (and still are) about a million tiny handyman-related jobs to do around here. 

Last weekend
                       So I got started on a few of them. I wore the modified Seiko 7002 and by the time I was done, Mr. Budweiser was waiting for me;

I have to say I like this watch. I only wear it when there's a risk of damaging a more expensive wristwatch in my collection, but I reckon I'll be devastated if I ever damage this piece badly. 

              More odd jobs to be done around the house. The sun was out so I continued. We bought some new curtains for the bedrooms and I spent the better part of the day putting them up. By the time I was done, it was Gin & Tonic o'clock. I checked the drinks cupboard and Oh-My-God, no gin! 

Luckily, I had a small sample bottle of Gordon's Gin that I bought back in the late NINETEEN EIGHTIES(!), which has sat on various bookshelves of mine over the years. Well, it was gonna come in very handy right about now. I'd already used up the Jack Daniel (that's right, it was for that post about Mad Men or something, from a couple of years ago. I haven't the heart to throw away the empty bottle since it's made of glass and I think they only sell these now in plastic), but the Johnnie Walker is still there on standby. I think I'm pretty well stocked up with scotch at the moment, though. 

A few minutes later, I switched over to the Rolex Submariner 5513 and parked myself outside. That straw hat that you see in the photo belonged to my brother. When he was about thirteen. I had a similar one, but it fell apart decades ago. We used to wear them back in the early 1970s when our Dad would take us to the nearby (as in a one-hour walk) public pool. There used to be a bowling alley next door, but I think it's long gone now. 

              The Omega Railmaster adorned my wrist today. I rigged up an improvised studio shot using a stool resting on the kitchen sink. The newly-installed curtain provided a nice pearlescent background. And because it had been a while since I had some, a shot of Glenmorangie Single Highland Malt. Gotta work on my photographic skills.

               My wife got home from a short shift at work and then we all headed into town to see the David Bowie Is Exhibition at ACMI, the Australian Centre for the Moving Image. 

The first rock concert I went to was part of Bowie's Serious Moonlight Tour back in 1983. When I heard that he was touring, I felt that his was the first concert I should go to. I had purchased his newest album Let's Dance and I liked it, and I was aware of some of his earlier songs like Heroes, Young Americans and Jean Genie, but not much else. 
Needless to say, I became a fan of his after this concert and when he toured again in 1987 with The Glass Spider Tour, I was there. Three times.
This exhibition was extraordinary. Aside from the various costumes and outfits that he's worn throughout his 45+ year career, there was a plethora of other items that showed just how extensive his output has been and how influential he was in the world of music. 
Upon entry, we were given a set of headphones. As we progressed through the exhibition, we would hear excerpts from interviews, comments about Bowie by other artists, as well as songs from his vast catalogue. 
I stopped at one glass cabinet to read his handwritten lyrics to Starman. The song began to play on my headphones and I got a little bit teary. I felt like I was close to the man's greatness and that here I was looking at an artifact that David Bowie had created with his own hands. It felt a lot more immediate and intimate than handling one of his CDs or reading an interview with him in Rolling Stone. 
I'll admit that I haven't kept up with his musical output since the early 1990s, but I consider him to be one of the most important cultural icons of our time. He and his music were always ahead of their time and whether you like his music or not, there has never been an artist quite like him. 

          Continued with the odd jobs. I switched back to the Seiko.There are two or three tubs filled with DVDs, but I don't have the shelf space to put them on display just yet. I snagged a paperback copy of Trigger Mortis, even though I have already read 165 pages of it on my Kindle app. I still prefer the feel and look of a paper book. Call me old fashioned. 
Put up the final curtain. That's that. Onto the next job, a set of shelves for the en suite. I'll have to get a little more timber, methinks. 

My daughter got a bottle of mojito flavoured iced tea from the supermarket. That gave me an idea. After I took a quick shower, I filled a tumbler with some of this tea and grabbed a lemon and the Bacardi Rum. And some Angostura Bitters for colour. Oh, and I switched back to the Submariner in order to bring a little closure to the handyman stuff for the day.

The rum didn't kick in until I was almost finished, but it wasn't half bad. Anyway, back to the tools tomorrow. It's the Grand Final here in Melbourne. It's our SuperBowl. I don't follow the game, but I'm sure this town will get pretty festive and slightly out of control tonight and tomorrow. 
'Carn the Hawks!

Thanks for reading, have a great weekend!

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

2015 - The Year of Thespianage No.3 - The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

This year's other reboot of a TV spy show from the '60s is Guy Ritchie's The Man From U.N.C.L.E. By 1965, Bondmania had secured its place in Pop Culture, thanks to the phenomenal success of Goldfinger in 1964 and the even bigger box-office hit Thunderball the following year, and we began to see a slew of espionage films and tv shows. Some of them were serious and solemn, like the bleak adaptation of John Le Carre's novel The Spy Who Came In From The Cold and Len Deighton's The Ipcress File, starring Michael Caine. 

However, most of this new wave of spy thrillers were more frivolous and tongue-in-cheek. There was the brief series of Matt Helm films starring Dean Martin, much to the horror of fans of Donald Hamilton's series of books which were written in a more serious vein. Gotta read a few one day. The Matt Helm movies played up on Martin's perpetually tipsy playboy image and were a far cry from the character of the books. 
The other notable Bond parodies were the two Derek Flint films (Our Man Flint-1966, and In Like Flint-1967) which presented us with a virtual super-spy who spoke 45 languages, was proficient in numerous martial arts, and would 'sleep' by lying across two chairs and then taking a poison pill which would stop his heart. Next morning, his wristwatch would swivel out a tiny T-shaped mechanism which would massage the pulse on his wrist (he wears his watch on the inside of his wrist) and bring him back to life. These Flint films were clearly an attempt to out-do Bond, but they presented us with a character who was just too preposterous, despite the fact that he was played by James Coburn.

Television was quick to get on board the spy wagon. There was the Robert Culp/Bill Cosby series I Spy, as well as a childhood favourite of mine, Get Smart. Although, these two shows were fairly light-hearted, especially the adventures of the bumbling CONTROL agent Maxwell Smart. 
Aiming for something a little more Bond-like, aside from the series Mission:Impossible, there was also another spy show airing at the time that dealt with two operatives from rival agencies who teamed up to work for an agency called U.N.C.L.E. (United Network Command for Law and Enforcement). Admittedly, I haven't seen many episodes of the original series. I think it used to screen in the afternoons in the 1970s at 3:00pm. I can recall getting home from school and catching the last ten or fifteen minutes of a few. 

Anyway, I went along to see this new film version, not really knowing what to expect. I wasn't sure if they were aiming for something like a Bond film or whether it was going to be like an Austin Powers movie. Thankfully, it was nothing like an Austin Powers movie. 
It's been over a month since I saw this film and much has been going on in my life since. I'm sure the details will be sketchy here. Also, I would need a second and/or third viewing to really make up my mind. However, I did like this film. 
Set in 1963, it concerns an American CIA agent named Napoleon Solo who helps a scientist's daughter escape from East Berlin. A Russian KGB agent named Illya Kuryakin is unsuccessful in stopping Solo from completing this mission. Solo is briefed by his superiors about the scientist, who has been kidnapped and is being forced to work on a nuclear device for a wealthy shipping magnate. Solo is then informed that he will be working in a CIA/KGB joint operation with Kuryakin. 
So, the first half of this film sees these two butting heads with each other in a beautifully rendered world of 1960s jetsetting, Italian pop songs, sharp suits and (now) classic cars. 

I loved the overall mood of this film and Director Ritchie has always been adept at making films about the relationship between men, whether it's an ensemble piece like Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels (1998), Snatch (2000) and RocknRolla (2008), or something like the two Sherlock Holmes films starring Robert Downey jr. and Jude Law. In U.N.C.L.E., he gives his two leads enough scenes where they can spar against each other. Henry Cavill is great as Napoleon Solo. I had read another review...

...where it was stated that Cavill's performance contained echoes of Robert Vaughn's original performance from the tv series and full credit to Cavill for adding this little touch to his take on the character. 
Armie Hammer does great as Soviet agent Kuryakin, even though he does a standard Russian 'eggsent'. Hammer plays the part with a straight-faced determination, creating a character who shows little emotion, but manages to convey feelings from time to time when his veneer shows a few cracks. 

The cinematography by John Mathieson is sleek, creating a heightened world full of colour, light and shadow. 
One thing I did notice was the lack of any huge action set-pieces. Whereas the recent Tom Cruise   Mission:Impossible installment contained some big action scenes, this film opts for smaller scenes containing some tense moments, and it is in some ways more about the relationship between these two operatives.
The film had a purported production budget of 75 million and, to date, it has grossed only 100 million in world-wide box-office earnings. Sadly, this would mean that a sequel is unlikely, which is a shame since I think this film deserved a wider audience and it would be interesting to see where the characters would go in a follow-up film. 
Overall, I liked this film. It isn't a Bond movie, it isn't a Mission:Impossible, but it does show that there is room for something slightly different in a modern spy movie. Lord knows, I'd rather see another U.N.C.L.E. movie rather than a fourth Taken. 
At any rate, who knows? Maybe Guy Ritchie will have enough clout to get a sequel in the works. Although, I think he'll be working on the next Sherlock Holmes film before he does anything else. 
If you missed The Man From U.N.C.L.E at the cinemas, then try to catch it on DVD (do people still rent DVDs?) or whatever format is current for watching films. 
It is definitely a sharp film in many ways. 

Thanks for reading!

And thanks once again to wikipedia for helping me fill in the blanks regarding story elements, production dates, etc.