Thursday, 27 August 2015

Friday 28/8/2015 - Studies Are Done!, Happy Birthday Mr Connery!, Waiting for Beds & This Week's Wristwatches.

Right, it's 2:55pm, Friday afternoon where I am. Might as well get started.

Last weekend
                        Went and saw The Man From U.N.C.L.E with my son on Saturday morning. I quite enjoyed it, but will say nothing more until I do another 'Year of Thespianage' post. The one I did on Mission:Impossible- Rogue Nation took me longer than anticipated, and I'm still letting this UNCLE movie filter through my head.

We watched Black Sea (Dir: Kevin Macdonald, 2014) on Saturday night. The story concerns a submarine captain named Robinson, played by Jude Law, who is sacked from his job at a nautical salvage company. He and a few other newly unemployed sub crewmen are offered the job of locating a sunken U-Boat rumoured to contain 40 million dollars in gold. Robinson assembles a crew of a dozen English and Russian men and together they take a decommissioned WWII-era submarine into the Black Sea to find this sunken treasure. All the while, there are tensions brewing between the mixed crew as the sub slithers its way into Russian waters without official consent. On-board is an executive from the salvage company to ensure that all goes according to plan (reminiscent of Paul Reiser's character in Aliens), and a slightly unstable crew member with a growing sense of paranoia. It was a fairly gripping film, with some tense moments. Jude Law turned in a great performance and I've long thought that he is a somewhat underrated actor. This is most noticeable when you see him in something like the recent Sherlock Holmes films with Robert Downey jr, where he plays the straight-laced Dr. Watson. 
Then, he portrays a crass safe-cracker freshly out of prison and seeking revenge (in Dom Hemingway -Dir: Richard Shepard, 2013), and you realise that he has far more range than you first thought. England produces some very fine actors. Always has.

Sunday
            I'd been wearing the Sinn 103 chronograph for a few days and decided to switch to one of my beaters because I had some serious lawn mowing to do. So, I grabbed the Seiko SKX031 automatic on a black ZULU strap. And some sunnies. S'cuse the iPad photo.

For those of you unfamiliar with the wristwatch collector's usage of the term 'beater', it basically refers to a watch relegated for tasks where you may scratch or damage a more expensive watch. Back in my watch-selling days, I dealt with two customers who were happy to spend three to four thousand dollars on watches that they planned to wear without regard for potential damage. 
As for me, knowing how long it would take me to save three or four thousand dollars, I prefer to wear a considerably less expensive timepiece if I know there's potential for damage. What's that you say? How about you just don't wear a watch at all if you're doing anything rough, Teeritz?
Now that's preposterous. 
Mowed the front lawn and the two nature strips as well. Trimmed the edges with a pair of garden shears. It all took me a few hours. Swept it all up and placed it in the garden waste bin. My back was aching by the time I was done. But it all looked nice and neat. We're out of this house in about five weeks and I want to make sure it looks spic and span.

Monday
              Sat down to tackle my final assignment. I'd been dreading it because I wasn't sure how long it would take to complete and I didn't want to spend too long on it. I needn't have worried. I parked my ass in front of the computer and got to work. About ninety minutes later, it was done.
Next up, Quiz Number 6. That took about ten or fifteen minutes. I then submitted these two tasks online. The assignment would need to be assessed by my tutor, but I got the quiz results back in an instant;


Oh yeah, I was wearing the Rolex Submariner;


And that, thrillseekers, is that! Studies are over! Unless I get an e-mail from my tutor telling me that I've forgotten something, but I'm very certain that I've crossed my t's and dotted my i's. It's all done. Now, to ramp up the job hunt.

Tuesday
              Sean Connery's 85th Birthday (Aug 25th), and I still had on the Rolex Sub. You may have noticed that it's on a leather strap. I was going for this look (right).

Okay, so any Bond/wristwatch fan worth his salt would know that Connery wore a Rolex Submariner model 6538 in Dr No back in 1962. This watch was worn on a croco/alligator strap instead of its iconic steel Oyster bracelet. Perhaps due to being able to fit on Connery's wrist easily without having to remove/add links to a steel bracelet prior to filming. Much easier to just strap the watch on the wrist before Director Terence Young yelled "Action!".

For me, the Submariner on bracelet is so ingrained in my head as the perfect way to wear this watch. However, I have to say that this watch tends to work very well on just about any strap you could put on it. Putting a NATO strap on it changes the look entirely, for example, and gives the watch a nice, vintage 1960s-gas-pipeline-engineer vibe. Same with a leather strap. It gives the classic design of this watch an old-school look.
So, in order to turn my Sub into something closer to the Dr No version, I fished around in my straps box and found something suitable. A few minutes later...


 Later that evening, I got out the bottle of J&B Rare and drank a toast to Mr Connery. Your work has brought me much pleasure, Sir. Thanks for everything.

Yeah, yeah, Connery will never read this blog, but what the hell.

Wednesday
                  Not much to report. Made a few phone calls to arrange things as we wind down our time at this address and prepare to move to the new house over the next couple of weeks. I've been reading The Doomsters, by Ross Macdonald. I'm liking it so far. The protagonist, private detective Lew Archer, has often been considered the later equivalent of Chandler's Philip Marlowe. And whilst reading this book, I picture Paul Newman as Archer, since he played the character in two films, in which the character's name was changed to 'Harper'. Aiming for an atmospheric photo here, complete with an empty cigarette pack and a never-fuelled lighter;


Thursday
               I had an eleven am appointment with a recruitment agency. This had been arranged for me by Centrelink, the government department responsible for dealing with the unemployed here in Australia. When I signed up with them a couple of months ago, I told them that I didn't want unemployment benefits (welfare payments), I just wanted some assistance with finding work. I figured I may as well have as many irons in the fire as possible.
So, I went along to this recruitment agency thinking that they would give me some strategies for finding work, or have a list of jobs or other avenues for me to pursue. I got there and was told to "just set yourself up on one of the computers and get started, and Betty* will be along shortly."
I logged on to the computer and started looking through www.SEEK.com.au, a job-searching website.
Betty came up to me half an hour later. She said that she had arranged another appointment for me sometime in September and gave me the details. And that was it. I stayed another half hour, looking through the jobs website, thinking that this entire 'appointment' had been a waste of time. I could be doing this on my own computer at home. My car was parked in a one-hour spot and, the last time I came to this recruitment agency, I scored myself a $75 parking fine. So, I decided to be a little more cautious today and, since this appointment was, in my opinion, a bust, I figured an hour was enough. I will say, however, that this recruitment agency was helpful in assisting me to update my resume. The original layout was looking a little dated.

Friday
           Ten twenty-two am. I'm sitting here writing this in the kitchen of the new house while I await delivery of two new beds for the kids. They'll be dropped off sometime between 10:30am and 1:30pm. There are two large wall units in the lounge room. The previous owners offered them to us and we accepted. They are not perfect pieces of furniture, but they'll do for the time being. I'm going to see just how heavy they are. The lounge room is due to be carpeted next Tuesday, so these units will have to be shifted. Now, as long as I don't break my back, I should be fine.
Damn, it's only been 30 minutes since I got here. The delivery guy could show up in the next fifteen minutes or the next three hours. Not much to do in a house with no 'lectricity.

Thirty minutes later...
                                   These wall units are cumbersome, but they shouldn't be too hard to move. I've had a closer look at some areas of this house. It's going to require some niggling little jobs here and there. The window sills look a little dry. A light sanding and a couple of coats of varnish should sort those out. Place is gonna need a few more power sockets.
Delivery guy not here yet.

Thirty minutes later...
                                  Since I have eight of my typewriters here, I figure it's as good a time as any to sit down and have a dance across the keybanks of a few of them.
The circa 1953 Olivetti Studio is nice to use. The font would be better if it had been 12pt instead of 10, but aside from that, it's a great machine.
The circa 1946 Smith-Corona Sterling is da bomb. Absolutely rock-solid. This one's going nowhere.
The circa 1954 Olympia SM3 is a great testament to German engineering. Smooth carriage return, loud bell, slick typing action. Not crazy about the heaviness of the carriage-shift, but that's a minor quibble. This one's staying.
The circa 1951 Olympia SM2 is just slightly smoother than the SM3.  Carriage-shift feels a fraction lighter to the touch. It's a noticeable difference. I had considered selling this one, since its design pretty much mirrors the SM3's, but I think this one is another keeper. Who'd have thought?
Delivery guy not here yet.

Twenty minutes later...
                                    My wife just sent me a text message. Delivery guy is about thirty minutes away. Where is he? Brazil!!??
Can you tell I'm getting jack of this? Mind you, I've only been here about ninety minutes or so. I'm usually much more patient than this, but jeez, it's cold in here!
Perhaps some more typing might keep the circulation going in my fingers.
The circa 1928 Royal Portable. This one is rough and loud, although the typing action on it is quite snappy! I had considered selling it, but now I'm not so sure. Something to think about.
The 1958 Groma Kolibri is another slightly loud typewriter, but it is nice to use once you get into the swing of it. And it's easily the sleekest typewriter I hav-
-Okay, the delivery guy just turned up!

Fifteen minutes later...
                                 All sorted. I have the parts for two beds, plus one mattress, stacked up in the kitchen. The guy explained how some sections of the bed frames are meant to slot together, but I won't be able to tackle this job until at least a week from now. Hopefully, I'll remember what he said.
How hard can it be?
Okay, my work here is done. I'm heading home to the other house. It's going to be a nice feeling when we get out of there once and for all.

1:18pm- Back home. Starving. Time to rustle me up some grub. Oh yeah, I've been wearing the Sinn 103 chrono since yesterday.


Thanks for reading and have a great weekend, all!

*******


*Betty is not her real name.

Friday, 21 August 2015

Friday 21/8/2015 - New House, One Last Assignment, & This Week's Wristwatches.

Last Saturday was sunny! Spring is on its way and I can't wait. I was still wearing the Seamaster 300;

 
Monday
              Much to do. Serious household admin tasks to be dealt with. I had to get the kids to school by eight-thirty-five am, then I had to get back home, shave, shower and breakfast before heading to the bank. I wore a pair of dark blue Gap cotton jeans, a Uniqlo SlimFit white cotton shirt, a blue silk cross-patterned tie by Industrie, and a black Pure New Wool V-neck jumper by John Smedley. It looked like it might rain, so I busted out the H&M beige twill cotton trench coat. Just in case.
On my right wrist was the vintage sterling silver curb-link bracelet. On my left wrist went the circa 1969 Omega Seamaster Chronometer with black leather strap. I was all set.
I looked sharp enough for what I was about to do.
I was going to pay for a house;


I had to make out a total of fifteen different cheques! These included the vendor's final payments for various utilities and other sundry expenses of theirs. I felt like I was their personal secretary. Although, they are a lovely couple and, as long as I checked the amounts carefully (twice!), there wouldn't be any issues with it all. The cheques all added up to the total amount that I had to pay for the property, so all's well that ends well.

Once the cheques were printed out at the bank, I had to head across town to see my solicitor. He had the appointment with the vendor's conveyancer scheduled for later that day.  My cheques would be handed over, papers would be signed, and my solicitor would be given the Deed to the ranch and Number XXX XXXXX Street would be mine.
I got a call from the real estate agency around  two-thirty. The keys to the house were waiting for me.

Now that this transaction was over with, I decided to switch watches in order to bring closure to this whole endeavour. It all happened so fast. Looked at the house on a Thursday, made an offer the next day, and got confirmation that our offer had been accepted the following day.

Wednesday & Thursday
                                     We went looking for carpet. The new house is in very good condition for its age, but the flooring has endured a lot of footsteps over the years, and Mrs Teeritz thought it would be good to put our own stamp on the place and make it look and feel a little fresher. We'd agreed that we wouldn't go to too many carpet stores because it would start to get confusing, so we visited four places over these two days. First place was good, but they didn't have much in the way of colour. We wanted something in a mossy green, in keeping with the 1970s vintage of the house. All they had was fifty shades of grey, brown and bluey-greys that all tended to give off an 'Eighties regional accounting office' vibe. Nope. We wanted a little more dash. 
The next place had some nice shades of green in a nylon twist. The nylons weren't as plush or thick as the wool carpets, but they would wear well over time and would be easier to clean in the event of spills. We arranged to have somebody come over to measure and quote.
The third place...well, my wife didn't like the salesman's overtly sexist tone. He basically addressed me only for the entire time we were there. His price was about eight hundred dollars more than the previous store, but that's not why he just lost our business.
The fourth store was okay. The salesman was friendly and helpful, but again, nothing in the range of greens, and his stock was a tad pricier than we were willing to go. 

I had switched over to the Sinn 103 St Sa chronograph, because I wanted something with the date on it. Getting back to the Bond books, I figure I may as well put in a few more photos before they get boxed up for their trip to the new house. 
See here is a 1976 copy of You Only Live Twice (1964) and a 1974 copy of On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1963). Again, the composition of items in these cover photos shows that somebody went to a bit of trouble. Brilliant. 

I have one final assignment left to do for my studies. It will involve using a library database (designed for training purposes only) and ordering a fictitious book. I'll have to take some screen-captures as I enter information in each field. I'm thinking it will wind up being about three or four pages long by the time I'm done. After that, a ten or fifteen question multiple choice quiz and that will be that. This course of study will be over.

Today
           My wife had the day off. We planned to get all of our stuff out of our storage locker and bring it to the house. The carpet guy would be there sometime between eleven am and midday, so we had a little time up our sleeves. To prevent any potential damage to the Sinn, I switched over to the Seiko SKX031 on black ZULU strap. We began at around 9:45am and it took us three trips, using the storage company's van. By the time we were done, at around 4:30pm, my back felt a little shredded. We were both careful with the lifting, but I suppose I'll find out tomorrow if I overdid things today.
Anyway, the carpet guy called back with a quote. A little less than we thought it would be. Good.
The Sinn is back on the wrist, too. Another week done. Now, if I can just get this last assignment out of the way.


Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

2015 - The Year of Thespianage. No 2: Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation

This year of spy movies continues. I've already covered Kingsman- The Secret Service and I now find myself at the latest entry in the Tom Cruise-revamped Mission: Impossible series of films.

After the excellent Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol (Dir: Brad Bird, 2011), I was looking forward to the next installment of the adventures of Ethan Hunt and his team of IMF operatives. 

BUT FIRST, A QUICK, SPOILER-FILLED RE-CAP OF THE PREVIOUS FILMS IN THE SERIES

Mission: Impossible (Dir: Brian De Palma, 1996)

When I first heard about this film , I had high hopes for it.  Brian De Palma is a very interesting director with a wonderful visual style. While his career has been uneven, he is responsible for such modern classics as Carrie (1976), Scarface (1983), The Untouchables (-a personal favourite from 1987) and Dressed To Kill, (1980) to name a few. His work is often cited in film study classes due to his Hitcockian style and the psychological themes underlying his films.
De Palma loves using Steadicam in his films. For those of you unfamiliar with this, it's a camera system that is strapped to the cinematographer's chest. Using counterweights and a separate screen for the operator, in the right (and very steady) hands, it can be used to beautifully extraordinary effect, allowing for long takes of scenes (with changes of locations) with no cuts. Martin Scorsese used it in a wonderful restaurant scene in Goodfellas (1990), but De Palma is, in my view, the master of Steadicam and he knows how to use this system to its fullest advantage.                                                                          
I will freely admit that even watching one of his lesser films like Snake Eyes (1998) is worth it. Beautifully shot, with Nicholas Cage at his manic best. Here's the first thirteen minutes of the film in one gloriously orchestrated Steadicam take;
                                                                       https://vimeo.com - Snake Eyes - Opening Scenes

Mission Impossible introduced IMF operative Ethan Hunt, a protege of Jim Phelps, the character from the MI tv series which ran from 1966 to 1973. Commercially, this film did very well, grossing over $457,000,000 worldwide.  Reviews were mixed, but generally positive, although much was said about the convoluted plot.
However, the biggest controversy with this film was the fact that it turned Jim Phelps, the leader of the Impossible Missions Force, into a traitor. Fans of the tv show were in uproar. Peter Graves, who played Phelps in the tv series, was offered the role in this film, but he turned it down due to this turncoat aspect of his famous character. The part went to Jon Voigt instead.
Personally, I didn't mind this film. It contains a famous and nail-bitingly tense sequence where Hunt hacks into a computer at CIA Headquarters. Although, I've always felt that the ending seemed a little rushed.
Still, looking back, I think I preferred this first installment to the one that followed it a few years later...

Mission: Impossible 2 (Dir: John Woo, 2000) 

Mission Impossible II.jpgHong Kong action film director John Woo was a Hollywood darling by the time he got the gig to direct this film. Aside from his high-octane and ultra-violent (for their time) films that he'd made back in his homeland, he was now coming off the back of two successful Hollywood actioners, Broken Arrow (1996) and Face/Off (1997). 
It would have seemed a no-brainer to  Hollywood executives to give him this film to direct, but I've always felt that this one (now that we're up to five M:I films) seems out of place with the rest of the series. Gone is the clean-cut Ethan Hunt that we first saw in De Palma's film, replaced with a more rock & roll protagonist, complete with John Woo's trademark motifs (doves) and tropes (hero and villain pointing guns at each other's heads in hard-core Mexican stand-offs). This entry borrowed plot lines from other films, most notably Alfred Hitchcock's 1946 classic Notorious. Out of all five of these films to date, this is the one that I find hardest to watch. The character of Ethan Hunt in this film is some kind of super-Bond and I'm glad that he was toned down in the successive films. I must say that I have been critical of the next entry in the past...

Mission: Impossible 3 (Dir: J.J. Abrams, 2006)

I said in another post a few years ago...

Smiling In The Dark- A Typecast About Some Movies I've Seen Lately

          ...that J. J. Abrams can't do scale. What I meant by that was that he couldn't give a big action scene the grandeur and scope that it deserved. I hereby retract and apologise for that statement. I think I based it on the first time that I saw the attack-on-the-bridge scene in M:I:3. Watching it again a couple of years ago, I realised how wrong I was. It plays larger the more you watch it. I think I was writing with a mindset relating to his previous work in television, with shows such as Alias (a favourite of mine) and Lost, where budget constraints require smaller scale. While watching this bridge scene again, I realised I was wrong. Abrams delivered a great movie here, and I must say that he is often shows respect to the source material. There are instances in this film where he tips his hat to the series that it's based on. Abrams also got a lot of respect for the way he handled the Star Trek reboot in 2009, so it's no wonder that his new Star Wars film, The Force Awakens, is the most hotly-anticipated film of 2015. While I'm not a huge fan of the Star Wars franchise, especially now that Disney has it in its Mickey Mouse gloves, I am very curious to see how Mr. Abrams treats it. I think it's in good hands.
Mission: Impossible III was pretty good, made effective in the casting of Phillip Seymour Hoffman as Owen Davian, an International Arms Dealer and the film's main villain. The screenplay, written by Abrams and his Alias co-writers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, provides a story which moves along at a good clip and provides some tense moments.Thankfully, too, the secret-agent-as-rock-star, as Ethan Hunt was portrayed in John Woo's film, is gone. I'll admit that I haven't seen this film for some time and I'm probably due for a re-watch, but it's a very good entry in the series. This film also marked the introduction of Benji Dunn, the Q-type techie, played for laughs by English actor Simon Pegg, who would have a more expanded role in...

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol (Dir: Brad Bird, 2011)

A number of years had passed since the last installment of the adventures of Ethan Hunt and the Impossible Missions Force. By now, we had come to realise that these films would generally have  a rotating cast, with Tom Cruise's Hunt at the helm.Simon Pegg was back to provide some more comedy relief and we also saw the great Jeremy Renner in this film, as Brandt, an analyst who is not what he seems. 
Director Brad Bird had already made the fantastic Disney/Pixar animation, The Incredibles in 2004, and that film showed that he knew his way around spy movie tropes and conventions. With this latest M:I film, he didn't disappoint. This one was my favourite of the bunch so far, featuring some clever stunts. Most notable is Hunt scaling the outside of the 123 storey Burj Khalifa building in Dubai. 
I used to have a love/hate opinion of Tom Cruise. I always felt that he took himself too seriously and that the whole Scientology side of him tended to sometimes overshadow his work. Then my wife said one night, while his film Minority Report was on tv; "Regardless of his private life, you have to admit he does work hard." I thought about that and came to the realisation that yes, he does give his roles his fullest and, in recent years, he appears to be having a little more fun with them, too. When I saw his very funny cameo performance in Tropic Thunder (Dir: Ben Stiller, 2008), I wondered why he hasn't done more comedy. 
With this film, too, we see a pattern emerging where the IMF team is cut off from any assistance from other US government agencies. I never saw much of the original tv show, but, aside from the now-familiar 'Your mission, should you choose to accept it' and 'This message will self-destruct in five seconds' motifs, the IMF team were so super-secret that they were always under threat of being 'disavowed' by the US government if their mission failed or they were caught by the enemy. Similar to the first film in this series, Ghost Protocol once again puts Ethan Hunt on the outer, where he has to recruit a specialist team of agents to help him clear his name after he is blamed for an explosion in The Kremlin. The entire IMF agency has been shut down and the one person whom Hunt can trust has been killed. As he and his team are on the run, with no resources or avenues of assistance, they also must prevent the perpetrator of the Kremlin attack from unleashing a nuclear catastrophe which could set off war between the superpowers.
This one is a very slick entry in the series, and it did so well at the box office that Paramount Studios soon announced that another M:I film would soon begin pre-production.

AND THAT'S IT FOR THE RE-CAP, WHICH WAS LONGER THAN WHAT I'LL WRITE ABOUT THE NEW FILM

Which brings me to...

Mission: Impossible- Rogue Nation (Dir: Christopher McQuarrie, 2015)

Christopher McQuarrie came seemingly out of nowhere in 1996 with the screenplay to The Usual Suspects, a very clever crime film directed by his friend Bryan Singer. He would seem to be a good choice for something like a M:I movie.
McQuarrie wrote the screenplay for this one, and it gets off to a great start with Ethan Hunt trying to board a military cargo plane (from the outside) as it begins its take-off. This film is a decent entry in the series, and I daresay I'd probably have to see it again to really make up my mind. However, on one viewing, I will say that the cast seems a little under-utilised in this film. Jeremy Renner appears relegated to cameo status as Brandt, while Simon Pegg's character of Benji gets more screen time, adding further comedy to the proceedings as the still-green field agent. Very impressive, however, is Swedish actress Rebecca Ferguson as Ilsa, an MI5 operative who infiltrates The Syndicate, the evil organisation that was the main threat in the '60s tv series. Fans of the show would have been glad to finally see the IMF team go up against its arch nemesis. There are some tense moments in this film, most notably an underwater sequence where Hunt must shut down a water-cooled mainframe within three minutes, without the use of air-tanks. This is the kind of stuff I like to see in spy action/adventure films. Shoot-outs are something that I've seen a million times and there aren't really any new spins you can put on those. Whereas, a scene like this can be ramped up to a nerve-wracking level.

There are two recurring tropes that I began to notice in these Mission Impossible movies by now; Tom Cruise will end up without his shirt on at some point, showing us all how fit he looks for a guy over fifty, and, Mr Cruise will end up riding a motorcycle at extreme speeds while not wearing a helmet. In the age of CGI trickery, it is good to see actual stunts still being performed by living, breathing (and downright crazy!) human beings. Cruise apparently did the skyscraper climb for real inGhost Protocol, although there was a safety-wire attached to him, and he also hung onto the outside of the military transport plane in the pre-credits sequence of this film. Again, that safety-wire came in handy.

Regardless, many an actor would have said 'Where's my stunt-double?' for a scene like this. So, I do have to hand it to Mr. Cruise for doing this stuff himself.
Despite the fact that Ethan Hunt does come across as some kind of superman in these films, his character has been toned down a little from the way it was portrayed in the John Woo entry in the series.
At the time of writing, this fifth installment has racked up over $375,000,000USD at the box-office worldwide.* Not bad for a film that was released two weeks ago. Hopefully, this figure will continue to climb, ensuring another entry in this series in a few years.
Personally, this film is pretty good, but right now, I prefer the previous one, Ghost Protocol. Again, this may change after another viewing of this new film, but GP was a smart and slick production, with a nice dynamic among the characters, who all seemed to get equal time on screen. Still, this is a minor gripe.
So, this covers the latest big spy movie release of the year. Next up- Guy Ritchie's take on another classic, 1960s tv spy series, The Man From UNCLE. 

Thanks for reading!
---------------------------------------------------------------


Note; Thanks yet again to IMDB.com and Wikipedia.com for filling in the blanks when my memory of production dates was sketchy.
Thanks also to vimeo for the video footage from Snake Eyes.
* Box-office figure gleaned from the wonderful www.boxofficemojo.com.

Poster credits;
-Mission:Impossible (http://fontmeme.com/mission-impossible-font/)
-Mission:Impossible-2 (https://tenyearsago.wordpress.com/tag/mission-impossible-2/)
-Mission:Impossible-3 (http://www.eigalinks.net/eiga-Mission_Impossible_3
-Mission:Impossible- Ghost Protocol (http://www.atthecinema.net)
-Mission:Impossible- Rogue Nation  (www.comingsoon.net)
Stills from M:I-Rogue Nation  http://www.pressdemocrat.com ,
http://www.latino-review.com
and http://www.vrworld.com 

Friday, 14 August 2015

Friday 14/8/2015 - Another Assignment Done, Interesting Watches & This Week's Wristwatch

Still had this strapped to my wrist last weekend;

 

Then on Monday, I thought I'd switch over to something else;


I took a few photos of one of my watches in the lead-up to selling it. The Tudor Prince OysterDate. This watch will need a little work from whomever buys it, but it will be a nice watch once it's fixed. I've poured too much time and a little too much money into it in recent years. Perhaps somebody else will have better luck with it. At any rate, I'll list all of its flaws and see how it goes. 


Worked through this major assignment during the week. I'm happy to report that I finished it just prior to writing this post;


So now, all that's left is a short one or two page assignment and a ten or fifteen question online quiz and then I'm done. Bit of luck, I should have it all done by Monday or Tuesday. Cannot wait. 


Tuesday night
                   Sat down to watch Taken (Dir: Pierre Morel, 2008). You know what? It is basically what would happen if James Bond were a modern 'helicopter parent'. 
Here's the pitch;
- Liam Neeson is Bryan Mills, ex-CIA/Special Forces type dude. 
- He dotes on Kim, his seventeen year-old daughter, whom he didn't see much of during her life because his job often took him to far-flung corners of the globe.
- His ex-wife is cold towards him, and has re-married some successful business dude who hasn't always done business on the up-and-up, but that's really neither here nor there, for the purposes of this movie. 
-  His daughter arranges to meet him for lunch one day, to let him know that she's going on a trip to Europe with a nineteen year-old girlfriend of hers. 
-  Bryan doesn't like this idea, because he knows what a dangerous place the world can be.
-  His ex-wife tells him that he has to give their daughter some freedom, in order for her to mature, and that she'll be travelling with friends and everthing will be fine.
-  Bryan relents and permits her to take the trip.
-  He goes out and buys a mobile phone for her to take with her. 
-  He has programmed his own number into this phone, which he gives to his daughter after he has driven her to the airport.
-  He tells her that he expects her to call him every evening, to let him know that she's safe. 
-  On the first night of her trip, she doesn't call him, so he calls her. There's no answer, so he tries again, and she picks up the phone only to be lightly reprimanded by him for not following his simple instruction.

It is during this phone call that his daughter Kim sees some men come into the apartment and grab her friend. Bryan instructs her to hide under the bed and place the phone on the floor. He tells her quite calmly that she is about to be taken by these men and he wants her to yell out as much information about their descriptions when this happens. It's a clever scene. One of the men (unseen, as we witness the effect of this girl's kidnapping on the face of her father five thousand miles away in California) picks up her discarded phone and we get a classic 'I'm coming to get you' speech from the film's hero, beautifully delivered by Neeson;


MILLS
I don't know who you are. I don't know what you want. If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don't have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my daughter go now, that'll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don't, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you.

Basically, if James Bond were some overprotective parent, this is how it would play out. I wasn't too impressed with this film when I first saw it, but I must say it plays considerably better the second time around. This is largely due to the great Mr. Neeson's portrayal of a man who will stop at nothing to save his daughter. The second sequel (sometimes known as Tak3n) was released earlier this year. I haven't seen it yet. I'm hoping it is better than the first sequel, though. 

Wednesday
                 Continued working on the assignment. Spent more time fiddling with the bibliography, using Harvard Referencing rules, than doing the actual assignment. So, I then switched to pen and paper to continue with the draft. Still had the Seamaster 300 on my wrist, seen here with a 1962 Pan edition of Goldfinger (1959).
Anyway, got enough of it done before calling it a day. It's meant to be a report of 1200 words, but I've already gotten up to 1,395 words and it's not quite near finished. Ahh, well, and here I was a week ago wondering how I was going to get past six hundred and fifty words. 

Thursday
                I've been trying to get in touch with a Human Resources Manager at a particular company and have had no luck all week. I think she screens her calls, since any attempt to contact her results in getting her message bank.  Tried again today and left yet another message. I think I'll call her again next week. I daresay I don't think she'll have anything to offer me, but I'd really like to hear her tell me this herself. She may as well earn her wage, after all.


Caught up with my watch guy Mike later that evening. He had a couple of interesting pieces to show me. This 1960s Tudor 'Snowflake' Submariner once belonged to an abalone diver who clearly used it on the job. The dial has aged nicely over the years, helped along by some water entry at some point. The hands look they've been replaced at some point, but it would seem that this was some time ago because they have begun to age as well. Exposure to salt water and sunlight have also faded the bezel from its original black shade. This watch has certainly led a life.

Next up was this rare Longines Nonius Chronograph from the mid-to-late Sixties. I've never come across one of these. 
This one was in pretty good condition and measures a respectable 42mm in diameter, which gives it a very modern feel. As good as it looks on the outside, Mike just couldn't resist popping the hood on this thing to show me the movement inside. It's a hand-wound 30CH (L538) chronograph calibre in beautiful condition. Apparently, never been serviced, either. They don't really make them like this anymore.


This is from back in the day when Longines made their own in-house calibres and were a real force to be reckoned with. 

Anyway, that's another week done and dusted. Bit of luck, I'll be done with the schoolwork by next Wednesday. Busy times ahead, that's for sure. 

Think I'll leave you with two more pics of this week's watch;

<---------- Monday morning










Wednesday night ------------> 










Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!

Friday, 7 August 2015

Friday 7/8/2015 - This Week's WristWatch, Complete With More Bond Covers.

I've never been one for multi-tasking. I don't believe in its effectiveness. At least, not for me. I've always tended to give my fullest attention to one task at a time and, while the end result wasn't always 100%, it was most often done to the best of my abilities.
Which is why I've found it quite a juggling act to deal with study, job searching and house hunting seemingly all at the same time.
Thankfully, the search for a house is over. All that's be left to do will be to pack up everything in our current digs, clean the place for the new owners, clean our new place, and then move our stuff into it. Oh, some pretty serious culling of things will occur during this time as well. The new place is about 130 square metres larger than our current house, but we have no intention of filling up every little corner of the place with 'stuff'.
So, that's one major life-changer out of the way. This week has also seen me complete two more assignments for school. So basically, all I'm left with now is two more assignments, one short online quiz, and a 1200 word report, which will probably blow out to around fifteen hundred words by the time I'm done. And then, that'll be it for this course. It will be done and dusted. Bit of luck, I should be finished with all of this in about a week or two. In the meantime, the job hunting continues.
At any rate, I'm not in much of a mood for a long post, so this one will basically be pictures.
Wristwatch-wise, I've stuck with the one watch for the entire week- The 36.2mm Omega Railmaster Co-Axial.
Okay, let's see if I got the order of days right.

Last weekend

                      I wore this watch on its metal bracelet. Then I got to thinking. I have a bunch of leather straps that I have rarely used. Why not put one on this watch for the rest of Winter to really put it through its paces? Give it some true wear and tear. 
I began to think about my watch-wearing habits. I wear certain watches depending on mood. Which is fine, but then I thought about metal bracelets versus leather straps and I decided I could extend the life of a strap by wearing it over the Winter months when it would be less likely to get wet (intentionally) and wouldn't be exposed to perspiration to the same extent as it would in Summer. So, I sifted through the straps and fished out a ZRC (Zuccolo Rochet Company) brown leather one with contrasting stitch. This particular strap is calf or buffalo (not sure which) and it has an alligator or crocodile (not sure which) pattern embossed on it. 


Watch straps can be quite expensive, for what they are. A decent alligator strap can cost you around $350-$450 AUD, depending on the brand. Forget that! For twice that amount, I can get a pair of alligator shoes! Which would utilise a whole lot more alligator skin than a watch strap. 

Anyway, on went this faux alligator strap, and it gave the watch a nice vintage tool-watch vibe. A tool watch, by the way, is where the watch performs another function besides simple time-telling. Dive watches (with rotating bezels), GMT watches (able to display a second time-zone), and chronographs (stopwatch function) are all tool watches as I see it. 

Here it is, with a short bit that I wrote for an eBay listing to show the typewriter's font. Not crazy about this writing, but it was a first draft, written over a few minutes. 
I love the contrasting stitching on the strap. It follows on from the dial's hour markers and the Luminova inlays of the hands. Over time, of course, this stitching will darken as it picks up dirt and dust, but this strap is now nicely worn-in, as you can see by the curvature of it. Any new watch strap will normally require a week or two to settle in to the curve of one's wrist. 

Monday
              Seen here with two of the recent Penguin Classics editions of Fleming's works. This 2010 edition of From Russia With Love (1957) was my 'car-copy'. I would read a few pages each day while I waited for the kids to finish school. Took me about six months to read it that way. I thought of doing the same with the 2009 edition of Casino Royale (1953), but I only re-read this book a few years ago and it's still pretty fresh in my memory.

Tuesday
              Don't remember what I did. Never mind. The 1965 editions of For Your Eyes Only (1960) and On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1963) featured brilliant cover designs by Raymond Hawkey. More about him later.
The  2002 edition of Octopussy & The Living Daylights (1962-1966) had some pretty lacklustre cover artwork in my opinion. Although, these editions did have their type re-set.
When I worked at Borders Bookstore back in 1998, I was the Genre Fiction Supervisor and was responsible for the crime section (my favourite). I saw that the Fleming books back then had some average artwork on the covers (far right), but the real tragedy had to do with the typesetting of the text. These editions were published by Coronet and the type looked like somebody had taken an old paperback copy from a second-hand bookstore and photocopied each page. The hollow sections (eye and counter?) of letters such as the lower-case 'a', 'e' and 'p' were black on some pages. Granted, literary James Bond was probably not very widely-read back then, despite the resurgent popularity of the cinematic Bond of the Brosnan films, but Mr. Fleming's work deserved better treatment than this.
Thankfully, Penguin Books came to the rescue a few years later with these new reprints. While the artwork didn't thrill me, I liked the font used. The covers were glossy, but they'd cleverly placed the 'OO7' logo on the back in a matte finish. Not very noticeable when viewed front-on, but as soon as you angle it, Bond's Double-O number appears in a circle.
However, flip the book open and you see a nice, clean off-white page with a beautiful new font used in the typesetting. Turn to the verso page to find this information;


Mr. Fleming was finally getting some respect again.

Wednesday
                  Decided to go to the library, but EVERY SINGLE branch of my council library service was either closed on Wednesdays or didn't open until 1:00pm. So, I headed out to my wife's library service instead. I should have checked the calendar on the wall. I drove out to her library and, once inside, I looked around for her. After about half an hour, I began to suspect that she was perhaps working at another branch. Sure enough, she was, as I found out later on when I sent her a text message. Still had the Railmaster strapped to my wrist. Octopussy (1966, this edition published 1967), From Russia With Love (this edition published 1965) and The Man With The Golden Gun (1965, this edition published 1967) all feature more of Raymond Hawkey's work. By now, Bondmania had well and truly taken hold. Testament to this is the fact that the character's name appears in large, bold lettering on the cover, dwarfing the author's name. The nice thing about Hawkey's designs is that they perfectly capture an important element or motif of the story in one simple image. The cover of From Russia With Love shows The Coronation Egg, which was once part of the Russian Crown Jewels, designed by the legendary Carl Faberge.

Thursday
                Another Hawkey-designed cover, this 1965 copy (22nd printing!) of Casino Royale is in very good condition, considering that it's a fifty year-old paperback. I placed the book and watch on a street map showing my old stomping ground where I grew up. The suburb has changed quite a lot since I lived there. My Mother's house, which sold a couple of years ago, is situated near a row of light industrial buildings which are in the process of becoming a block of apartments. Parking in our street was always tricky, but I think it's going to become some kind of bloodsport once these apartments are up and running. A lot more hipsters in that suburb, too. I think I got out just in time.

Today
          Still wearing the Railmaster. This must be some kind of record for me. An entire week with the one watch. I've been giving my collection some serious thought over the past month or so. I have certain watches that just never get worn. This being the case, there's no real point in holding on to them. So, much like the typewriters, I'll have to give the watches some further consideration to determine which ones should go.
Although, I think I have enough to think about at this point in time.

Finished one of the assignments, checked it, then submitted it online. I wonder if I can get the rest of them done over the next two weeks?

Thanks for reading and have a good weekend!

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Friday 31/7/2015 - Teeth, Pills & This Week's Wristwatches




The 36.2mm Omega Seamaster AquaTerra Co-Axial with a 1970 edition of The Spy Who Loved Me (1962). It would appear that I only have one copy of this particular title. May have to rectify that one day.




A 1957 edition of Live And Let Die (1954), seen here with the Submariner 5513. I figured I'd put this title together with this watch, since it's the model Roger Moore wore in the movie.




After the doctor's appointment, I had to head over to the Pathology Department to give them another blood sample. The nurse filled a syringe that was the size of a packet of Life Savers.
'Did you leave me any?', I asked after she withdrew the needle. 

Got home and made a dental appointment for Tuesday. Looks like I'll be losing a little more blood before this week is over. 

Tuesday
             Initial Consultation at the oral surgeon. He looked at the x-ray and said he would have no problem removing this tooth. I had a crown fitted some years ago and the upper portion of it dislodged at some point, leaving only the base. My regular dentist recommended removal of the remaining portion. The only problem was that one of the roots had snapped and he, therefore, didn't want to attempt it, so he made out a referral for me to see this guy.
'We could probably remove it now', he said matter-of-factly.

Life is only going to get a little busier over the next couple of months. I spent most of last night worrying about my blood test results. The internet is a terrible thing. However, to deal with as many issues as life throws out, I figured I may as well have this procedure done here and now.
'Well, if you don't foresee it being difficult, then I suppose we might as well', I replied.
Took him about ten minutes, if that. He wrote out a prescription for some pills to deal with any potential 'dry socket' and away I went.
My face is still numb as I write this. I'm still wearing the Submariner 5513;



Seen here with a 1963 printing of For Your Eyes Only, a short story collection first published in 1960.
That's tea in the glass. I ain't wasting scotch for a photo.








Wednesday
                Spent an hour at the local library, or rather, seated in the foyer of the local library. I got there at 11:00am. On Wednesdays, this library doesn't open till 1:00pm. Anyway, I could still access the Wi-Fi from the foyer, so that's what I did.



I was wearing the Omega Speedmaster Professional, pictured with a 1963 edition of Fleming's third Bond novel, Moonraker (1955);



Thursday
               The morning was quiet. The rest of the day would be busier. I picked my daughter up from school at midday. She had an orthodontist appointment to have braces fitted. The doctor would be taking plaster impressions of her bite today. After that, we went home and waited for my wife to get home from work. We then went to see the house we had purchased. We had a few questions for the vendors regarding some minor details like modem location, solar panels, heating, etc. Then we had to take our son to the orthodontist so that he could get his braces tightened.It's been a good week for dentists, that's for sure. Speaking of which, I'd better pop a couple of aspirin. My tooth is a'hurtin'.


I switched from the Speedmaster to the Omega Railmaster. Today's book is a 1966 copy of Thunderball (1961). I do like these covers. Many elements from the book are featured in the photograph.





 Today
          Spent a couple of hours at the library, using their internet. Our new 'net plan starts tomorrow. That'll be nice. Tooth still aches a little, but the sun's out. I'm thinking that Spring may start a little early this year. From all reports, though, we could be in for a very hot Summer. Suits me. I've been taking Vitamin D supplements all week. Might be nice to just sit outside and let Mother Nature supply it to me free of charge.



Still had the Omega Railmaster on. Here it is, next to a 1964 (Eighth Impression) hardback copy of On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1963). The cover artwork was done by the legendary Richard Chopping. The camera's Art Filter was set to 'Key Line', which produces a nice animation cell effect.






Here's a similar shot in the standard Auto setting. As I said, the sun was out.







This particular copy of the book is an ex-library edition that I snapped up second-hand. Don't remember where. Inside, it still had the 'Due Date' slip and the typewritten library card holder.

Well, kids, that's another week done. Things are only going to get busier for a while. Yes, I keep saying that, and I keep turning up the following week, but I think I just may be too busy to do a weekly update for a while. Four assignments left to do and then this course is over with. Three of the assignments are fairly straight-forward. The fourth one will require some proper research before it's finished. And then, that's it. Let's just see how much of them I can get done over the coming week or two.

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!