Friday, 27 May 2016

Friday 27/5/2016 - Au Revoir, Yvonne, So Long, Darwyn & This Week's Wristwatches.


That's the watch that I wore for almost all of last week.

I didn't post last Friday because I was at a work function. It was actually a nicer experience than I thought it would be. I think I was expecting it to be a drag because it took place right at the end of the working week, when my brain begins to shut down all things related to the job and begins making plans for what I'll do on the weekend. 

Anyway, I met a few watch collectors and saw some very nice watches on their wrists. Highlight for me was a Heuer Bundeswehr chronograph, produced in the 1960s.

I had seriously thought about one of these some time ago, but they were creeping up in price by the time I showed interest in them. Not that anything has changed, mind you. These things have gotten very sought-after in recent years and their current pricing reflects this. 
Heuer was perhaps the most well-known brand that produced these watches, but both Sinn and Breitling were known for producing this style of chronograph for German military issue. 
I was very interested in these watches, but I had had a long crush on the Sinn 103 St Sa chronograph and I didn't want to deviate from my original plan of acquiring one.

I was dangerously low on scotch and made a quick detour on the weekend. The store- the largest liquor store chain in town- didn't carry J&B Rare. Those bastards. I didn't relish forking out $40+ bucks for a bottle of Ballantine's, and Johnnie Walker Red Label has never really floated my boat. So, I grabbed a bottle of Teacher's Blended. I've always thought this was a lower-tier scotch. Don't know why, since I don't think I've ever had any.
It's not a bad drop, I must say. I'm no connoisseur, but this stuff ain't bad at all.
At any rate, it's good enough for what I need it for.

Twenty-sixteen continues to kick Pop Culture in the teeth, to put it mildly. The world of graphic novels lost a talented genius on May 14th with the death of artist Darwyn Cooke. He had worked on a comic adaptation of Richard Stark's Parker books, as well as drawing a Catwoman series for DC Comics;



pic taken from;  4thletter.net

And his work on the Parker adaptations is exquisite A little bit of white, a lot of black, and a pleasant shade of what I began calling 'American banknote green';


 pic taken from; books-n-comics.com/Richard Stark's Parker in The Hunter, by Darwyn Cooke
 
I really liked his Mid-Century aesthetic. I only have one of his Parker titles, but I'll be snapping up a few more of them some day.


Madeleine Lebeau, the last surviving cast member of the best film ever made, Casablanca, died in Spain on May 1st, at the age of 92. Sure, that's a good age to get to, but as I've said a few times already this year (after the deaths of Ken Adam, Guy Hamilton and George Martin), it still sucks when they kick the bucket.
Lebeau had a supporting role in the Bergman/Bogart classic, as a jilted lover of Moroccan cafe owner Rick Blaine, played by Humphrey Bogart. I've already written about this film...

"Casablanca" and the Other Four Best Movies Ever Made...In My Humble Opinion.

...so I won't go into any great detail here. Suffice it to say that she appears in a short, short scene that perfectly explained to me what it means when somebody says 'just live in the moment' ;


I switched over to the Camy Club-Star, because I wanted to wear something that had an expanding Speidel bracelet.



I wore it for a day or two before switching to the Omega Speedmaster Professional, seen here on a Di-Modell Rallye strap ---->
Gives the watch a very Jacky Ickx vibe. Magnifique!
It was a cold and bitter Wednesday evening here in Melbourne. I was on dinner duty and I needed some wine. Now, I'm no connoisseur (Thank God!), so I generally tend to go for a decently drinkable Cabernet Sauvignon in the fifteen to twenty dollar price range. I've encountered enough snobbery in the wristwatch industry over the years, and the last thing I need is to pal around with wine snobs. Life is too short for that kind of misery.
Dammit, all this talk of wine has me hankering for a glass. 'Scuse me...
Okay, a half-filled Duralex glass and where was I?
Oh, yes, dinner. We would be having spaghetti carbonara. The recipe calls for pancetta, which is a salt-cured Italian bacon. This gives the sauce a little bit of bite. I didn't think we had any in the fridge, so I nipped out to get some bacon rinds instead.
The actual carbonara sauce consists of 4 eggs (I used five), a spoonful of ground black pepper, and half a cup of parmesan cheese.
Now, I've yet to perfect this recipe to my liking, so I added two tablespoons of thickened cream. So far, this sauce has tended to be a little too thin and runny. It should have a thicker consistency so that it actually clings to the pasta.
Basically, you heat up some olive oil in a frypan. Toss in some cloves of garlic, then the bacon. Cook the bacon till it's browned, toss out the garlic.
While this is going on, the pasta should be cooking away in a pot of water. And while that's happening, you should have whisked together the eggs and other ingredients.
Once the pasta is cooked, drain it. Then, working quickly, toss the pasta back into the pot and pour in the cooked bacon, then the egg/pepper/parmesan/thickened cream mix. Now, mix it all through thoroughly. The heat of the pasta should scramble or thicken the egg mixture slightly.
This is where my recipe falters, which is why I've added cream. It made a noticeable difference, but the use of bacon didn't provide the same kick that pancetta would have.
Ah well, next time...

                                                                                    pic courtesy of  runningbattles.tumblr.com
I read earlier this week that Daniel Craig knocked back an offer of £68 million to do two more Bond films. I think he means it too. 
Tom Hiddleston has been rumoured to be in the running for the role. That would be cool.  

However, until we get official word that Craig has indeed hung up the PPK for good, I don't want to speculate just yet over who will take over the role of OO7, but I do want to say that DC gave the franchise a very necessary shot in the arm and brought Bond smoothly into the 21st Century. 
Although, SPECTRE was touch & go, but I've already reviewed that film and don't really wish to talk about it right now. 
So, Craigers, thanks for keeping the British end   up. Have a nice rest, sir, and good luck with whatever you choose to do next. 




Yesterday, I managed to sharpen this Columbia Copy Pencil down to a barely holdable nub. I'm fifty, by the way!
Still had the Speedy on my wrist. 

And that's it for another week. Something tells me I've forgotten something that I wanted to include here, but I'm too tired right now to spend too much time thinking about it. 




I snagged a 'not-as-described' Olympia SF off eBay recently and I'll be taking it to my typewriter guy Tom early tomorrow morning. Hopefully, he'll be able to get it working as it should. 

That's it, gang. Have yourselves a great weekend, and thanks for reading!

Friday, 13 May 2016

Friday 13/5/2016 - Very Short Post & This Week's Wristwatches.


Geez, can ya tell I'm tired?

Okay, so anyway, I wore the Submariner briefly last Sunday;


Before switching over to the Longines Polaires Expeditions Paul-Emile Victor Heritage model for the beginning of the working week. Not a great photo. I'm tired, remember?;



I thought I took a picture of this next watch, but it turns out that I didn't. So, a quick trip to the archives was required to find an old pic of the Sinn 103 St Sa chronograph. Absolutely rock-solid, this thing. As it got busier and busier at work, I was relying more and more on this watch. It didn't have to do anything in particular. It just had to sit on my wrist and look the way it does. To remind me of attention to detail. And clarity of function and purpose.

It got to the end of the week and I figured it was time to slip into something with a slightly more old-school aesthetic. It was time for the Omega Railmaster Co-Axial. And, because I couldn't decide on which picture to use for this post, here's a bunch of 'em, using some of the camera's Art Filter settings;


SOFT FOCUS ('Cos I'm a romantic)

GRAINY FILM (For that touch of surveillance-photo, ideal for Cold War thrillers)

DIORAMA (Love this one!)

SEPIA TONE (An oldie, but a goody)

KEY LINE (Love this one too. Makes everything look a little cartoony)



Yep, it's now 8:56pm. Thanks for reading and have a great weekend, all!

Friday, 6 May 2016

This Blog is Five Years Old & This Week's Wristwatches.

Wow, five years. Five years of this blog. It began innocently enough...


...and it all went up or down hill from there, depending on your point of view.

It was my wife who suggested I begin a blog. I had been doing some Bond fan fiction writing and she noticed that I was back in a creative writing mood AND also she probably thought that if I began writing about my other interests, it would perhaps give her ears a break. She's no fool. 





I'd been collecting watches long enough and I had about a dozen fountain pens as well. Oh, and three 35mm film cameras. Plus two typewriters. A 1982 Olivetti Lettera 32 that I bought back then, and a circa 1938 Remington that I picked up at an antiques store back in the '80s.

So, part of me perhaps felt that I had enough material to write about. Although, I was still hesitant, worried that I might run out of ideas and end up abandoning this blog, relegating it to the digital graveyard. 
I didn't want that, so I thought about it some more. And then I figured, I could throw my wristwatch reviews on the blog. I could write some more Bond fictions, since there appeared to be something of an actual story there. I could write about my pens, I could write about favourite movies. 
I began to see that there just might be enough going on in my world to sustain a blog. Maybe. 
So, I waited a little longer. 

My work life was really getting me down, and again, it was my wife who thought I should set up this blog even if only to take my mind off my job. 
So, I got it started. Put up the Tissot Visodate review, then a short write-up on the latest typewriter to arrive at my house (a circa 1955 Remington Quiet-Riter), a couple more Bond fanfics, and it seemed that this blog was up and running. 

The first couple of months were very heavy with wristwatch and typewriter-related posts. Which was fine. I was learning a little about typewriters as I went along. I liked the differences in design and feel of each machine that I got. I liked the feeling that I got whenever I'd write on one, thinking that this way of writing was how most (if not all) of my favourite writers had produced their greatest works. I kept buying typewriters, and wound up with seventeen or eighteen of them before deciding to scale back a little. I bought and sold a few. Some machines were beautiful to look at, but not so great to type on. I bought some because they were classics. I bought others because they looked nice, evoking the periods in which they were made.
Then, slowly, I began to have a better idea of what I wanted from my typewriters, and I gott a little ruthless. Because I had collections of other stuff, I felt that maybe I didn't need to have a huge collection of typewriters as well. These things take up quite a bit of space, after all. So I bought one or two more, and sold three or four. I did this for a while until I had decided that I really wanted my machines to be a pleasure to use.
So, as these last few years went by, I sold fourteen typewriters. Some were simple catch & release affairs. Others I agonised over, slightly. But, I had come to the decision that I would only keep the machines that I enjoyed using. Therefore, out went the Corona Four, the Remette, the afore-mentioned Quiet-Riter, the Olympias SF and Splendid 99, and the Smith-Corona Galaxie II, to name a few. 
I'm now down to thirteen typewriters and I'm still considering moving on one or two more of them. Ideally, I'd like to have one slim machine in the collection that types nicely. I have a Smith-Corona Skyriter, which is a small machine, but I don't like its rattly typing action. I may have to hunt around for a late 1950s model or perhaps the Sears equivalent, the Tower Chieftain. 
I have a Groma Kolibri, possibly the slimmest typewriter ever made, but its typing action feels a little leaden to the touch. maybe a platen recovering might fix that. One day. 
The circa 1928 Royal P is another one that I may shift. Beautiful to look at, but types like an old tractor. 
The keepers? Easy. The Olympia SM2, SM3 and SM9. The Royal Quiet De Luxe, the Smith-Corona Standard, Sterling and Silent-Super, the Olivetti Studio, Lettera 32, and the Groma Kolibri.  
And for some reason, that makes ten, and I can't figure what else besides the Royal P and the Skyriter I'd get rid of.

So anyway, that's the typewriter collection taken care of. I don't see myself amassing many more of them. If anything, I think I'd get rid of one or two before buying another one. I'm trying to get the collection down to a dozen. 

As for wristwatches, not much was added to the collection, with the exception of my Grail Watch, the 1982 Rolex Submariner. This was the Big One. The one that started off my fascination with wristwatches when I was a kid... back in the Summer of 1974.
Yeah, that's right. Nineteen Seventy-Four.


Similar to the typewriters, though, I'm coming to the realisation that some watches just don't get worn often enough to warrant holding on to them.
So there's a cull going to happen sometime soon. Nothing drastic. Just a thinning down. 
Anyway, this blog of mine is still chugging along, and I think I still have a few ideas for posts kicking around in the back of my mind. So I may still be here in another five years. 
To those of you who have been visiting this blog since it began, thanks very much! 
Greatly appreciated.

                                                                       *******

Wore the Omega Seamaster AquaTerra last weekend. I have to get a slightly more padded strap for it. Here it is, resting on a page of a book about the legendary pin-up artist Alberto Vargas.





Although these pics were all taken on the same day, I wore this watch early in the week. 
Got to Wednesday and I thought I'd switch to the Sinn 103 chronograph;


I'm enjoying Brandenburg by Henry Porter, but I have to say that I've been going to bed preoccupied with thoughts about work and have found it a little difficult to concentrate on this spy thriller set during the last days of The Berlin Wall. 
As for work, it's going well. I think I've got the job down pat about 70 or 80%. Just have to fine tune the rest. Maybe that's what's occupying my mind when I try to read?
I'll get there.
 
Okay, I'm now officially pretty tired. Think I'll call it a night. 

Thanks again for reading over the last five years, and have yourselves a great weekend!

Friday, 29 April 2016

Friday 29/4/2016 - The De-Clutter Commences (sort of), In The Deep End, Happy Birthday Domino, & This Week's Wristwatches

I was still wearing the Omega Speedmaster on Monday;



As I said, my colleague is away this week and this has left me to handle any and all Repair and Spare Parts-related inquiries. So far, so good, although I'm not quite up on the pricing of watch straps and bracelets. Still, I've been able to handle most of the workload, even if I'm moving at a slower pace. 

Man, I just got another reminder to switch over to Windows 10! Part of me thinks I should, but I've got enough learning going on at the moment. Pretty soon, though, I reckon Microsoft will stop asking me. And then I'll be sorry. 
For now, I'm still running Windows 7.

Another Bond Girl celebrated a birthday this week. French actress Claudine Auger, who starred as Dominique 'Domino' Derval in the 1965 OO7 film, Thunderball, turned 75 on Tuesday. 
I don't mind Thunderball, but I always thought that this was the film where the gadgets began to get a little too prominent. 
While this film had some great moments in it, I do think that it lacks a little tension in places and the ending doesn't pack any punches.
But some of the dialogue was witty, and this film does contain a scene where bad girl Fiona Volpe (Luciana Paluzzi) informs Bond that the 'ideological repositioning' trope will fail to work on her. It has been said that it was pretty early in cinematic Bond's adventures to have this idea inverted. 
Basically, the ideological repositioning occurs whenever Bond meets a woman who works for the villain. Bond charms her into bed and she miraculously switches over from the bad guy's side to being Bond's ally. 

The most notable use of this Bond convention was perhaps Pussy Galore in Goldfinger the previous year. Not only was Ms Galore working for Goldfinger, but she was also a lesbian before she met Bond. In the book, that is. This notion was all but eradicated for the movie. Actually, it was pared right down to just one line where she resists Bond's advances and innuendos: "Your charms are wasted on me, Mr Bond. I'm immune."

In the film, Bond basically forces himself upon her in a haystack (those crazy '60s) and we find out later in the film that she has subsequently sabotaged Goldfinger's robbery of Fort Knox before willingly (this time) ending up in Bond's arms by movie's end. 

In other happenings, I ended up getting some reading glasses. Actually, I'll be using them for up-close watch-related tasks at work. There have been a few instances since I started this job where a watch required a strap or bracelet swap and, since I can do them in my sleep, I happily obliged by performing these quick little swaps so that the watchmaker could concentrate on actual watchmaking and repairs. 

My eyesight is fine for reading, but as soon as  I hold something closer than twenty centimetres from my eyes, things get blurry. Since working with bracelet pins/screws or spring bars can be fiddly work, I figured it was perhaps time to invest in some specs that I could wear for these tasks. 

I decided to steer clear of plastic frames this time around. I would need a frame that had those expanding hinges. A frame that could be whisked off my face quickly, something that could be tossed casually onto a table-top without having to worry about them breaking. 

So, I opted for these matte metallic brown frames made by Kenneth Cole. Or rather, whomever Kenneth Cole has farmed out the manufacture to- sure enough, one temple of these frames states 'Designed in USA', and another part of these specs has 'Frame China' printed on it. 'Nuff said. 

I wouldn't normally go for frames made by fashion brands, for that very reason, but these ones seemed to suit my requirements without costing a fortune. Especially considering that I wouldn't be wearing them very often. Not yet, anyway. 
So, in short, I now carry three pairs of glasses every day. My distance glasses for driving, watching TV or at the movies, sunglasses for sunny days (obviously), and these reading glasses for up-close work. 
Just as well I bring a bag to work.


I think it was on Monday afternoon that I switched over to the Sinn 103 St Sa chronograph. Monday was Anzac Day here in Australia, where we remember the sacrifices made by those who served. 
So, I knew that the next day, Tuesday, was gonna feel like Monday to me. Which is why I wanted to wear a watch with both day and date on it.

Started reading another spy novel on Wednesday night. I've been reading a lot of short stories lately on my very short train trips to work each day. Since it's only a fifteen or twenty minute trip, I find I don't get entire chapters of novels read by the time I arrive at my station. Add to this the fact that there are more people on public transport these days having long conversations on their mobile phones (for all the world to hear), and I find it hard to concentrate on plot developments of long-form books. Whereas, I don't seem to have trouble with short stories, possibly because the entire story takes place over far less pages, thereby the reader tends to get more information laid out for him/her over a shorter length. Or maybe not.


Anyway, I'm only about five pages into this book, set in 1989 just prior to the fall of The Berlin Wall. I've read two other of Henry Porter's books and I quite liked Robert Harland, the protagonist who works for MI6. 
They can't all be Bond books, trendsetters. Sure, I could read some of my Le Carre's, but they can be quite dense and multi-layered. Started reading Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy back in my twenties and got about fifty pages in before giving up. Might be time to take another crack at it. 

Okay, it's 9:14pm on Thursday night and I'm feeling quite tired. Think I'll stop for now. Finish this tomorrow evening. Right now, there's a cup of Earl Grey (with a dash of milk and one sugar) with my name on it. Well, there will be once I make it. 
Scratch.



I decided to try a strap on my Omega AquaTerra, just to switch things up a little. I have a very thin Zuccolo Rochet & Cie calf-skin strap with a lizard print embossed on it, so I thought I'd try in on this watch.


I love the look. The only problem is the slightly snug fit of this strap on the watch. The space between the lugs is 19mm. The strap's width is 20mm. No drama. It still fits, but it does look a little bunched up when viewed closely.
Those two Italian stamps are courtesy of a letter that my mother received from a cousin in Italy sometime back in the late '80s or early '90s. I steamed 'em off the envelope before it ended up in the trash because I was in my full film noir fascination period back then.

Ossessione is a 1943 neo-realist film by Luchino Visconti and it's basically an Italian version of James M. Cain's novel The Postman Always Rings Twice, which didn't get the Hollywood treatment until 1946.
I had the Visconti film on VHS and watched about half of it one night. I can't recall why I got side-tracked. Maybe it was late. The full version had a running time of 140 minutes, and I have a vague memory of thinking that I wouldn't stay up to watch the entire two hours and twenty minutes that night.
Of course, now that VHS has gone the way of the dodo, I have still yet to finish watching this film. It's up on YouTube, but those are links to some possibly shady websites and, believe it or not, I'm not at all savvy with watching/downloading/streaming films off the web.

Anyway, all, that's it for this week. Might hit an antiques store tomorrow, and the kids wanna go see Captain America: Civil War, so that may form part of Sunday's activities.

Then it's back to work on Monday.

Thanks for reading and have a good weekend!


EDIT: 1/5/16- Corrected the spelling of 'ideological'.

Friday, 22 April 2016

Friday 22/4/16 - This Year Sucks Again, New Glasses & This Week's Wristwatches.

(pic taken from www.passionweiss.com)
 
While I will admit I was never a huge, huge fan of Prince, I loved the guy. I only have two of his albums, but I loved the guy. I loved his cat-like dance moves and his pimping and preening, I loved his buccaneer outfits and his friggin' sexy swagger, I loved that he knew how to play that axe of his (as well as a bunch of other instruments), I admired his contribution to music, and that he didn't seem to take himself or the industry too seriously.
I loved the very idea of him.
And now, like Bowie back in January, Prince Rogers Nelson is gone way, way, way too soon, and another large part of my '80s has been torn from my life. There was not a party that I went to back in those years where 1999 was not played- 

I was dreamin' when I wrote this, forgive me if it goes astray. 

The soundtrack to Purple Rain was getting very heavy airplay and the title track became some kind of anthem, with a guitar solo that was the musical accompaniment to a breaking heart. 
I have a friend who was a massive fan of his. I hope you're well, Carla. 
These days, I still can't listen through his song Paisley Park without getting teary.
At five feet, two inches tall, Prince was a giant. 
RIP, sir. 

This week also saw the death of another member of the Bond Old Guard. Guy Hamilton directed what many consider to be the quintessential Bond movie, Goldfinger. This is the film that you show
somebody if you want to explain what a Bond film is all about.
He went on to direct three other Bond films, as well as countless others. 
Sure, he was 93, and nobody lives forever, but it still bites when I hear of the passing of some of these people.






Work continues along reasonably well, but I'll be very glad when I've fully gotten the hang of the ERP system. I'm about 70-80% savvy with it, but man, is it a finicky system.
For those of you who don't know what an ERP system is, here's how wikipedia defines it;

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) is a category of business-management software—typically a suite of integrated applications—that an organization can use to collect, store, manage and interpret data from many business activities, including: product planning, purchase. manufacturing or service delivery.

Like I said, it's a finicky system. Forget to input one tiny speck of information and you're screwed. Gotta go back a few steps and start again. Still, I'll get there. 

I wore the Omega Railmaster last weekend;


And then switched over to the circa 1969 Omega Seamaster Chronometer, seen here with a pair of Bailey Nelson frames that I snagged off eBay for $40.
I was thinking of going to the Bailey Nelson boutique and getting a frame called 'Fleming' (sad, ain't I?), but when I saw these, I thought they were a nicer shade of tortoiseshell.


With a cooler name;


Switched to the Omega Speedmaster Professional, but I took it off its steel bracelet...


...and put a Di-Modell Rallye strap on it. Gives it more of a '60s feel and look. I'm going to see if I can leave this strap on the watch for the rest of the year. I have a few too many straps and I think I should try wearing out a few of them.
Here's a better look at the strap, with the watch resting on my 12", 45rpm vinyl copy of 1999. My God, did I really buy it in 1982??!!
This record's been to more parties than I have.


Another week down, folks. Not a good one for music and movies.
However, one lady is still going strong.


 Happy Birthday, Your Majesty. 

Have a good weekend and thanks for reading, all.



Friday, 15 April 2016

Friday 15/4/2016 - A Pencast & This Week's Wristwatch



 
  

 



But hey, what's a post without pictures? Here's this week's wristwatch;



I'm planning another woodworking project. Gonna need some thought over this one.






So much red on this shelf. Maybe I should put up the blue Volkswagen Beetle.

I hope my handwriting wasn't too tricky to navigate, gang. 
Thanks for reading and have a good one!