Thursday, 29 March 2018

Thursday March 29th, 2018 - A Clean Desk, BaselWorld Standouts (for me, anyway) + This Week's Wristwatches

Okay, it's now 7:23pm Sunday night. Let's see how far I get with this post. 

I spent most of this weekend clearing my desk. Hopefully once and for all. Business cards that I've accumulated over the last few months were put into a card index box, to be dealt with at a later time. Various notes and other jottings were either thrown away or transcribed into other notebooks for posterity or future reference. 
I got sidetracked numerous times by some obscure note that I wrote ages ago or some article torn from a magazine. The OUT tray was filled to the brim with info that I no longer found interesting or relevant. The paper recycling bin therefore filled up pretty quickly. 
When all was said and done, though...




























It hadn't looked this tidy in quite some time. I took the IN/OUT trays off the desk and positioned them on top of a small steel IKEA drawer unit that sits next to the desk. Over on the left is a letter caddy which holds notepads and index cards while the right rear edge of the desktop has a small wooden catch-all. This is where my wallet, phone, car-keys and glasses are parked when not in use. 

An old IWC watch catalogue works as a blotter in the middle of the desk. As each page gets covered in jottings and scribbles, the page is torn off and thrown out.  

To the left is my diary/planner. Under the desk on the left-hand side is a small box filled with various props for photo shoots. On top of that are a few manila folders, and my laptop sits on top of these when not being used. Against the wall under the desk is the Olympia SM2, for when I need to type something like a typecast, etc. Because the desk has been so cluttered for so long, though, I've tended to type in the kitchen using one of my other typewriters. So, this SM2 hasn't seen much action. 
I'll see if I can change that. 

Anyway, We'll see how long this desk remains tidy.  

The BaselWorld Watch & Jewellery Fair is currently in full swing. This yearly event is a must for watch nerds, as the Swiss watchmaking houses unveil their new models. 


While I have a soft-spot for Omega, this brand only released one (or rather, two) watches that got my heart beating a little faster - the 70th Anniversary Seamaster models (right).
The one on the left - with the sub-seconds dial- is based on the first Seamaster from 1948, while the central seconds model shares design elements with the later Seamasters of the early to mid 1950s. Measuring a sublime 38mm in diameter, these watches house the latest in-house Master Co-Axial movements from Omega.
These two will be released as limited editions of 1,948 pieces each. That's a shame. These could have been produced as regular production models. I think they'd sell quite well.

Two brands that really caught my eye this year were Oris and Tudor. Oris had a runaway success with the introduction of their Diver Sixty-Five range in 2015. The release of their commemorative Movember Special Edition late last year created quite a buzz, so it seemed inevitable that they would follow this sought-after piece with a range that borrowed some elements of that watch, but with a few twists.

At first glance, these two watches look exactly like the Movember Edition, but when you look closer, the differences begin to appear. Firstly, the inlay of SuperLuminova compound on the hands and dial markers is off-white, to give the impression of faded or aged lume. This use of what collectors refer to as faux patina has been all the rage in the watch world over the last few years and some brands can tend to go overboard with it. Here, though, it goes extremely well with the rose-gold plated hands and marker borders, giving the whole dial a lovely warm look, reminiscent of some dive watches of the 1950s and '60s, the most notable being Rolex and Tudor Submariners of that era. However, this design is based on an Oris model from the mid-1960s, hence the Diver Sixty-Five designation.

The most noticeable difference between these models and the Movember one is the bezel. For this new model, instead of steel, Oris have opted for a bronze bezel. It starts off with a polished rose gold hue, but as it continues coming into contact with air and other elements, it will develop a varying level of patina and verdigree that is common with metals such as bronze or brass. While it is easily cleaned with lemon juice, vinegar or bi-carb soda, many watch nuts with bronze wristwatches tend to leave the patina alone until it resembles some artifact recovered from The Titanic.

I don't mind a little bit of patina, but this would drive me nuts. I'd be tempted to clean it once a week, at the first signs of this forming. It usually begins as a slightly dull and pale brown before darkening and then turning a bluish green before it continues until it looks like the watch has rusted. This watch here would have taken quite some time to get to this level. Kudos to its owner for being able to put up with it.

However, a quick dunk and/or light rub with organic cleaning solutions, such as the aforementioned lemon juice or vinegar, and the watch can look good as new.
Me? I just don't think I'd have the time or, more likely, the inclination to clean my watch on a regular basis.

Back to the Oris- this new model will be available in both a 36mm and a 40mm case size. This should appeal to a wide range of customers; women who want a cool looking dive watch, collectors who prefer the vintage dive watch size - there was a slew of dive watches made in the 1960s in 36mm sizing - and guys who have smaller wrists that are better suited to this smaller case.
For those who would consider 36mm too small, the 40mm case size awaits. I think these will do very well.

Tudor was the other brand at BaselWorld this year that released a couple of pieces that nobody was expecting. First up, the Black Bay GMT model.

Sure, it may incorporate design elements of the classic Rolex GMT models of the past, but Tudor has done much over the last five or so years to really distance itself from the company that used to be its big brother.
Tudor watches of the past were designed using the same external parts as Rolex. The main difference was the movements. Whereas Rolex watches had in-house calibres under the bonnet, Tudor used ETA movements. This made them affordable for many.
The Black Bay series of watches has the classic Tudor 'snowflake' hour hand, which has become as famous and recognisable for the brand as the 'Mercedes' hour hand has been for Rolex.
This GMT model measures 41mm and features the 'snowflake' motif on both the seconds hand and GMT hand, aside from the hour hand. Again, I think this one will be a popular watch.

Another Tudor release this year was the Black Bay 58. This one made me sit up and take notice, for the sole reason that it is being offered in a 39mm case size. This puts it firmly into vintage Tudor dive watch territory because those watches were of a 39mm diameter in days gone by and this Black Bay model pays homage to the first Tudor dive watch, released in, yep, 1958.
This model has a nice gilt dial and hand-set which perfectly contrasts with the deep black dial and bezel insert.

The last three or four years have seen a resurgence in vintage-inspired pieces from many of the larger Swiss watch houses and it would seem that there's no chance of this trend abating just yet
What I'm happy with is the return to more conventional watch sizes. Sure, it appears to be happening slowly, but it's good to see it happening, just the same. Aside from the brands listed in this post, it would seem that many others are offering their latest line-ups in a variety of sizes to suit a wider range of people.
Now, I will be the first to admit that these watches are pricey. They require some serious saving. What they give you, however, is a wristwatch that will last generations and can be handed down. Provided that the watch is properly maintained, serviced when it ought to be, and not banged around with reckless abandon.

Okay, that went on longer than I had planned.

Here are the watches that I've worn recently;

From left to right, The Oris Movember Edition Diver Sixty-Five has seen a lot of time on my wrist. I took the leather strap off it after wearing it for a day and put it on a no-name, straight-ended stainless steel bracelet. This gave the watch even more of a vintage vibe.

The Longines Heritage Expeditions Polaires Francaises got the 'vintage explorer's watch' touch when I put this tan-coloured leather strap on it. This was a $30 eBay buy and it really suits the watch. I may have to snag another one at some point. Although, I've been thinking lately that it's probably not such a good idea to stock up on leather straps since the leather can tend to dry out over time and become weakened. Which is the last thing you want. I've seen a few straps that look brand new, but the stitching has given way where the buckle is attached. So, I think I'll keep my strap supplies low. Of course, it would also benefit me if I can leave a strap on a watch for longer than a few days. Give it some worn-in character.

The Omega Railmaster hasn't had much of an outing for a while. I realised last year that I tended to wear my bracelet watches more during the Summer months while my watches on straps got more of a showing throughout the cooler months of the year.
Last week, though, I just had a hankering to wear the Railmaster. I still think this watch is a better design than the current model that was unveiled last year.

Rounding out last week's wristwatches was the Oris Diver Sixty-Five with the blue/black dial.


And that was last week. It's now almost 8:30pm Thursday night on March 29th. This has been a very busy week at work as the BaselWorld releases landed at the office and I spent a couple of days away from repairs as I packed watches to send to various retail partners. I think some of these new pieces will do very well indeed.

Throughout this week, I stuck to one watch,  swapping from the Diver Sixty-Five to the Movember Edition, which I still had on the steel bracelet. 
I started this post last Sunday night and worked on it a little each night. It's now late Thursday night, a couple of minutes to 11:00pm and I think I'll hit the sack. 
We're going to catch a session of Ready Player One tomorrow. I haven't read the book, but my wife has. 
Should be interesting to see Spielberg's take on it. 
Anyway, I hope you all have a nice break over this Easter weekend. If you don't celebrate Easter, then enjoy the time off. 
Thanks for reading, all!

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Sunday March 11th, 2018 - Diners, Artwork Flashbacks, Speakeasies (or not) & This Week's Wristwatches

Saturday, March 10th, 1:35pm
                                       
I'm sitting in a groovy little cafe called Dak Daks. Car memorabilia adorns the place, while some '50s rockabilly tune plays in the background. 
I'm feeling a little queasy, so I forego the bargirl's suggestion of a bite to eat. 
Looking through the glass door of the drinks fridge, all the usual suspects are lined up in rows of coloured aluminium and glass. Nothing leaps out at me. Don't feel like Coke or Sprite, and a beer is definitely out of the question, with the way my gut's feeling. Not sure what may have caused this upset. Can't recall eating anything out of the ordinary. 
In the end, I order an iced coffee. Probably not the wisest move, but anyway.
"Take a seat, mate, and somebody'll bring it over", she says.
I park myself over at a little round red laminate-topped table that's bracketed by two black vinyl-padded chairs and take a look around the place. I'd been here before, but that was a few years ago.

This bit of decor should give you a snap-shot of what the place is like. A framed Elvis picture/wall clock, right next to a revisionist artwork of '50s pin-up model Bettie Page.
The walls were peppered with this and car-related signage, the kind of stuff that I used to see in antiques stores in the '80s, going for a song. These days, a tin sign advertising Shell Motor Oil or Peter's Drumsticks (an ice cream) tend to fetch a pretty penny when you see them in Antiques stores next to Chesterfield armchairs or numbered edition water-colours from the 1960s. 

This is the kind of place where the salt and pepper shakers are the actual shaker that you buy from the supermarket. Sugar sticks reside in coffee mugs that I saw in numerous houses of relatives and friends when I was a kid. Other tables have small screw-top jars filled with raw sugar, giving the place a pleasant, make-shift feel. 

I'm here because my son is (finally!) getting his hair cut next door at a barbershop called Kid Gamble. The establishment's logo shows a cartoon bulldog with boxing gloves on.  
The barber/owner is a young guy with a rocker hairstyle. He seemed like a nice guy when we walked in 15 minutes ago. 
"One of us needs a haircut", I said. Since I'm bald, it was easy to guess who was here for a trim. My son is on the verge of winning a Roger Voudouris look-alike competition. 

The iced coffee arrives while Buddy Holly sings about being happy to be livin' in the USA. Linda Ronstadt should sue. It's served in one of those standard '1950s diner' milkshake glasses. A scoop of vanilla floating on top, just a little smaller than the iceberg that sank the Titanic, with a light dusting of chocolate powder to cap it off. 
I take hold of the long-stemmed spoon sticking out of the glass and start stirring. Then I leave it alone for five minutes before mixing it again. The ice cream begins to melt sufficiently by then. I continue stirring it until it mixes with the milk completely, giving the drink a thick consistency. 

As I sit there, I write this post using a vintage Shaeffer fountain pen. The ink leaves a little too much feathering on the page for my linking, so I switch over to the spare pen that I brought along, a Jinhao 159 fountain pen that cost me a staggering one cent on eBay sometime last year. Plus three-fifty for postage, that is. 
This pen, although it's only got a steel nib on it, writes extremely well considering the price I paid for it. 

My son's appointment was over. He approached my table looking clean-cut and a little more mature. There was a neat side part on the left and not a hair out of place. 
"Very nice. Sharp. Now, can you keep it looking like that?", I asked. 
"Yeah, yeah."
"Do you want an iced coffee? Soft drink? Some lunch?"
"Nah, I'll just have some water."
He pours himself a glass and downs it in two gulps. 
We head over to the counter and I pay for my drink. I ask the gal behind the bar: "Is it okay if I take a  couple of snaps?"
"Yeah, go for it", she replies. 
All I have with me is my iPod Touch. It'll do. I've already taken the three shots above, but I just wanted to get a couple of the other wall near the bar. 

Cabinets filled with model cars, all manner of mid-Century furniture, mixed in with some pieces from the 1970s, Pop Culture references throughout, and some industrial fittings here and there. I do like the way it's all done. Although, if it were me, I'd tuck away the wiring a little more. Anyway, I didn't want to dilly-dally too much, since my stomach was still feeling weird. I just wanted to take some pictures. Primarily, I wanted a shot of the painting on the right, since my first glimpse of it when I walked into the place transported me back to circa 1978.
I must've seen this kind of painting in quite a few homes that I visited when I was a kid. These evocative paintings of some Sophia Loren type, wearing not very much, and located in some dusk-lit exotic jungle.
As a pre-teen (read pre-pubescent) in the mid-Seventies, the sexual/sensual nature of these paintings was lost on me. I just liked the idea that there was some well-scrubbed raven-haired beauty reclining on a tree trunk somewhere far, far away. Not exactly a native as seen in the pages of a National Geographic.
I saw variations of these in the houses of various relatives. Uncle Vic had a one up in the lounge room of his Art Deco house in Brunswick. Not sure what his wife Auntie Maria thought of it, but she was strong-willed enough that it would have come down off the wall if she hated it. 
This was the one that he had;

These paintings were done throughout the 1960s by a fellow named J H Lynch, a British artist. Reproductions were sold in the thousands, which would explain why I saw so many of them growing up.
They would have been considered quite racy/sleazy/sensuous (pick one) back then. Nowadays, they have a kitschy value that makes them collectible. Luckily, reproductions can be found all over eBay. I should get one some day, if I ever put a bar in my house. Hefner the place up a little.

I doubt my wife will mind. She got me a couple of framed Vargas reprints some years ago, but I never did get around to putting them up. Especially once the kids came along.
Now, of course, the kids are teenagers. Something like this wouldn't even register on their radars. Hell, this lady's considered over-dressed when compared to what you'll see on somebody's Instagram page nowadays. 

Many thanks to;

When I Googled the term "1960s painting of lady in the jungle", I landed on this cool website. 

There's a house on a main highway on the way to work that sold last weekend. This house had been in the same family for six generations, according to the real estate agency blurb.  I've been told that it may have been a speakeasy back in the 1930s. Not sure if this is true or not, but it makes for a nice story. 
I decided I'd go see if I could get a decent picture of the place from across the road. 

Nah, no luck. That fence was higher than it seems when you're driving past the place at eighty kilometres per hour. 
I can't tell you the number of times I've driven past this house on the way to and from work over the years. When I was told that it might have been a 'speak', I had visions of people approaching this front gate and having to give some kind of coded phrase or password to get in. Although, I'm not sure this fence would date back eighty years. 

The house sure does, though. Built in 1874, Roseneath is described as 'an Italianate villa', featuring four bedrooms, two bathrooms, a pantry with cellar and a hothouse, among other things. 
Here's a picture from the last seller's listing;

I daresay the house looks like it has seen better days (just like Norma Desmond's place), but can you imagine how it would look if it were 'sensitively' restored, with a few modern conveniences thrown in? 
Scale back some of the overgrown greenery, restore the roof, a lick of paint, and it would look quite fetching. 
Can't imagine what it would have sold for. Some valuations have listed it at anywhere between 3.8 to 5 million dollars. Information on it's true value is scarce. 

Okay, these are the watches that I wore this week.

The Oris Diver SixtyFive blue/black. Briefly;


I had the Submariner on on Friday night and half-way through Saturday. Spent too long setting up this shot. Chose the Key Line setting on the camera, to cartoonify it.





The 'cigarette' in the ashtray is actually a rolled-up receipt from a 7/Eleven fuel purchase. I cut it down to the appropriate length of an unfiltered smoke and then glued it along one edge.
I then crammed some scrunched-up paper into it and then began filling the end of it with tea leaves, packing them down every so often. This didn't seem to work very well, so I grabbed a stale cigarette from a pack that I used for photo ops and used the tobacco from it, thinking to myself; Man, you're goin' through a lot of hassle for a damn photograph.

The real trick was the three gold bands on the end of the cigarette. If you've read the Fleming novels, you may recall that Bond smoked a blend of Turkish and Balkan tobacco, specially made for him by Morland's Tobacconists of Grosvenor St. The three gold rings represent the three stripes of Bond's rank of Commander in the Royal Naval Reserve. 
I used to have a ballpoint pen which contained gold ink. That would have been swell. I ended up using a Lyra pencil with gold lead. I knew it would come in handy one day!
Not perfect, but good enough. 

Most of this week saw me wearing the Oris Movember Edition Diver SixtyFive. 
I switched out the leather strap for a black NATO. 
This morning's breakfast was a variation on a selection that Bond chooses in From Russia, With Love. 
I've written about this before...

...So I won't go into too much detail. Basically, it was yoghurt with sunflower seeds and almonds, three black figs and some black coffee, in this case an espresso stretched out with boiling water. 

Okay, it's now almost 7:45pm Sunday night. We have a Labour Day public holiday here tomorrow! 
Right now, I'm gonna watch The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou again. I only just watched it last weekend, but I feel like watching it again.
Man's home is his castle, and all that. 

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

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Sunday March 4th, 2018 - Red Knitted Beanies, Vintage Laminate Tables, Cat-tags & This Week's Wristwatches.






















I finally got around to taking our DVD/Bluray player to a guy who installs the chip which allows you to watch movies region-free. Now, I'm no DVD pirate, but I have a few movies (in both formats) that I got off eBay simply because they weren't available here in Australia for our Region 4 DVDs and Region B bluray discs. 
I doubt that I'm contravening any region policies here. The movies that I want to get are long gone from any cinema. And the fantastic Criterion Collection offers a range of films with extras that you just don't get with your standard releases that you might find at JB HiFi here in Oz or your local Walmart or HMV store.
I used to have a decent (actually, very decent) library of movies that I recorded on VHS cassettes off TV back in the '80s, but as you might know, the quality deteriorates over time. Besides, who has the room to store VHS these days. And the video player/recorder is long gone, anyway. I bought a converter about six years ago and transferred a few tapes onto DVD-Rom, most notably our wedding video and tapes of the kids when they were toddlers. A few of the classic films that I had on VHS, I have since replaced on DVD over the years.
One film, however, has been near the top of the list, but I've just been too lazy and/or have yet to find a decent DVD version of it. That film is Gilda, a 1946 noir directed by Charles Vidor* and starring Glenn Ford and Rita Hayworth in what is probably her most famous role. 

*It's interesting to note that the American poster for this film lists the director correctly as Charles Vidor, whereas the Italian poster - with the stunning artwork! - has the director listed as King Vidor, who was no relation to Charles, and was responsible for directing the 1946 Western classic Duel in the Sun.

Okay, back to Gilda. The story concerns Johnny Farrel (Ford) a  fella who scrapes a living as a gambler in Buenos Aires. After winning at craps against some shady characters at a seedy dock, he is accosted by one of the losing players and is rescued by millionaire industrialist Ballin Mundson (George Macready) who carries a walking stick with a knife blade hidden in it. The industrialist tells him there's a gambling ship moored at the dock, but warns him not to try the same (cheating) tactics there as he did with the guys at the craps game a few minutes earlier. 
Johnny visits the gambling ship and cheats at the blackjack table. He is busted by security and taken to the ship owner's office. The owner turns out to be Mundson. 
Johnny convinces Mundson to hire him as a security expert. Mundson soon goes off on a trip and returns some time later with a new bride, Gilda. 
The introduction of her character in this film has become classic. The scene elicits gasps from the prison inmates  in Frank Darabont's The Shawshank Redemption (1994), and with good reason. It's a highly-charged and very brief moment. Mundson and Johnny enter the master bedroom. Ballin calls out; 'Gilda. Are you decent?'
All we see is bedroom wall for a split second before Hayworth tosses back her mane of hair, appearing in the shot from the lower edge of the frame. 
'Me?Decent?', she answers, before catching a glimpse of Johnny, who takes a step forward, eyes widening in surprise. Her smile fades and her expression hardens. These two have a history.
"Sure...I'm decent', she adds, the comment more of an assertion than a mere reply.

And later in the movie...

INT: GAMING ROOM -- NIGHT

Gilda holds the guitar by the neck. 

                            GILDA
                  Would it interest you to know
                  know how much I hate you, Johnny?

                            JOHNNY
                  Very much.

                            GILDA
                  I hate you so much that I would
                  destroy myself to take you down 
                  with me.

 
The screenplay was written by Jo Eisinger and Marion Parsonnette and this is one film noir that has been constantly written about over the years and it fully deserves its classic status. 
I had to get this movie on disc. The Criterion Collection has it available. And I'm gonna get my mitts on a copy. Very soon. 

When I got the BluRay player home, I put on my Criterion Collection copy of The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou, Wes Anderson's wonderful film from 2004. This was a US region copy of the film and it played without a Hitch. 
It's a great film. Bill Murray is Steve Zissou, a Jacques Cousteau type ocean explorer, even down to the red knitted beanie. He is on a quest to find what he calls a jaguar shark, a large predator that devoured his long-time crew member and friend, Esteban. Meanwhile, along comes a young man named Ned Plympton (Owen Wilson), who may or may not be his illegitimate son. Wes Anderson always assembles a great cast for each of his films and he has a unique eye and sensibility which permeates throughout the entire look of his films. If you've never seen any of his films, this is a good place to start. Follow it with The Grand Budapest Hotel or The Darjeeling Limited to get an idea of his style. 

Wristwatch-wise, these are what I wore this week;

The blue-dialed Seiko was worn for handyman duties on Saturday afternoon (more about that below), while the Movember Edition Oris Diver SixtyFive got the most time on my wrist. I briefly wore the Submariner later in the week before switching to the blue/black dial Oris Diver SixtyFive sometime on Thursday. 
On Friday, I brought the Movember Oris and the 1969 Omega Seamaster to work with me. I just couldn't decide which watch to wear. That's never happened to me before. 
I began my workday with the Seamaster on my wrist. It was a busy day and I had a tonne of stuff to get through. I wanted to wear something that was a little more business-like. I was wearing a tie and waistcoat. 'Cos ya gotta look like you mean business. 
So, when I got to work, I switched on the computer, put my game-face on, and got to work. Plowed on through till 1:40pm and then had a quick spot of lunch (toasted ham, cheese, tomato sandwich) and got back to it. Got everything done, plus some other stuff that wasn't on the agenda for the day, and left the office with a clean conscience and a clean slate. 

Saturday, after watching The Life Aquatic, it was time to get a few things done...


















But the table seems to have turned out okay;

Part of me is tempted to remove the little metal studs along the framed edge and replace them with brass screws instead. I'm thinking, though, that this would take away from the mid-Century aesthetic.
Best leave well enough alone. 

Saturday night's Lolly Nite Movie was a French film called L'Odyssey (The Odyssey, Dir: Jerome Salle, 2016), based on the life and exploits of French inventor/explorer/oceanographer Jacques-Yves Cousteau. I was almost going to say no to this film, having just watched the Wes Anderson film earlier in the day, but what the hell. 
It was a nice movie, with gorgeous cinematography as it traces the life of Cousteau from 1949, shortly after he has invented the aqualung, right through the subsequent expeditions and documentaries that he made aboard his research vessel, The Calypso. Of course, this kind of storyline, while okay, is not enough to sustain the drama that is required in a movie, so we get the underlying sub-plot of Cousteau's relationship with his younger son, Philippe, who doesn't seem to share the world's fascination with his father. 
Lambert Wilson gives us a great performance as Cousteau. I haven't seen him in much, although I do recall him as the Merovingian in The Matrix Reloaded (Dirs: The Wachowski Brothers, 2003). The wonderful Audrey Tatou stars as his wife Simone, who shares his passion and vision, but endures his many infidelities throughout their marriage.

I did laugh a few times as I saw parallels between this film and The Life Aquatic

Our younger cat Bowie managed to lose his collar and council registration tag a few weeks ago. I called the council to organise a replacement tag. It arrived a few days ago. I grabbed a small screwdriver and etched his name onto it before fitting it to his new collar.
Let's see how long it takes for him to lose this one. 



Like he cares.








Okay, all, that's about it for another week. I've switched over to the WatchCo build Omega Seamaster 300. This watch appeared on the wrists of Cousteau's crew in the movie last night. The film-makers did their homework, for it appears that Cousteau and his crew did in fact wear Seamaster 300s throughout the late 1960s. 
Cool. 

Okay, this finger of mine needs a new bandage. That disinfectant swab is gonna smart.


Yep. Sure did.

Thanks for reading, and have a good week ahead, folks!

Saturday, 24 February 2018

Sunday 25th February, 2018 - Will They Ever Be Love Cats?, Straight Down The Line, Walter & This Week's Wristwatches






































Well, it's now a week later and I never quite got around to cleaning that camera lens this morning. Got a few other things done, though. 


Our younger cat Bowie managed to scratch himself across his right whisker earlier this week. We thought that perhaps he'd gotten too close (again) to our older cat Dussy and she'd given him what for.
(It turns out that he probably scratched himself by getting too close to some wire mesh that we had draped over the top of a fish pond that we recently set up. Some ends of the mesh are roughly cut. I'll need to attend to that soon. He's been showing a lot of interest in those two goldfish, if you know what I mean.)
My wife took him to the vet. Looking at the placement of the scratch, the vet didn't think it was done by our other cat. While there, my wife spoke to the vet about the tension between the two cats. The vet gave her some options regarding possible outcomes over the long term. 
Best-case scenario, the older cat learns to tolerate the younger one. Worst-case scenario, the younger cat would need to be re-homed somewhere else. 
As the vet put it, neither cat is truly happy at the moment. And that just isn't fair to either one of them.
Needless to say, we were all a little down by the time they got back from the vet and my wife outlined all of this for us. 

So, we'll be implementing a strategy whereby the older one will get a course of sedatives for a few months, in an effort to get her feeling a little calmer in the house. Meanwhile, we'll set up a couple of Feliway diffusers which emit cat pheromones. This is designed to help the both of them calm down. Then, the older cat is slowly weaned off the sedatives as she (hopefully) calms down to the point where she will tolerate (hated word) the younger cat. 

When we first got Bowie back in June last year, I think we were all so concerned with settling him into the household that we dropped the ball with regard to Dussy. Sure, she was still getting attention from us all, but I think we probably should have kept a closer eye on her during this period. Being an older cat, she's a lot more independent and she comes and goes as she pleases. What I didn't notice was that she was spending longer hours outdoors than she used to. 

It dawned on me after the vet visit just how similar this situation is to having small children. Spend too much time and attention with one, and the other one gets upset. 
Dussy still snarls and hisses when she walks into some rooms of the house and she then makes a beeline for the front door. We've told the kids that we'll all have to devote a little more time and attention to her for a while and make a little more of a fuss of her. 
This should all take around six to eight months or so. Meanwhile, the house operates a little like a game of Tetris, where we have to make certain that rooms are closed off at various times to ensure that the two cats are a little more separated than they have been up to this point. 

We'll be taking Dussy to the vet soon so that their cat expert can have a look at her. Meanwhile, there's a questionnaire to fill out. 
There's a long road ahead, but I'm hoping it leads to calmer waters where these two felines are concerned.

Okay, enough of that. Onto other matters. My son has been interested in watching a few film noir. 

So far, we had watched Crossfire (Dir: Edward Dmytryk, RKO Pictures, 1947) and This Gun For Hire (Dir: Frank Tuttle, Paramount, 1942). This is one of the best movie posters ever made, by the way, and it was this film that marked Alan Ladd's arrival in the Hollywood big leagues, after a string of B Grade movies and bit parts. He continued making films throughout the '40s and '50s, most notable of which was the classic western, Shane (Dir: George Stevens, Paramount, 1953) before appearing in a string of forgettable films for the remainder of that decade. 
Alcoholism and career lows took their toll on Ladd and he was found dead at the age of 50 in January 1964, from an apparent overdose of alcohol and sedatives. 

So, we had already watched these two classic noir dramas. There's no shortage of noir films out there. Hollywood turned out a bunch of them from around 1941 (The Maltese Falcon, directed by John Huston) until probably 1959 when Orson Welles directed and co-starred in Touch of Evil. There was much to choose from, and I had a healthy stable of DVDs at my disposal for us to work through. 
Then I had an idea.  Seemed like it was time to crank up...


I figured the kid was now ready to tackle the big guns. It was time for him to see that film directed by that little Austrian fella, co-written by that Chandler guy, starring the guy from My Three Sons and that old dame from The Thorn Birds, but when she was a lot younger and a real dish, with Little Caesar co-starring as well, see?

It was time for him to see Double Indemnity. 


Based on the novel by James M. Cain, the story concerns an insurance salesman named Walter Neff (played by Fred MacMurray), who becomes involved with a married woman named Phyllis Dietrichson (Barbara Stanwyck).
The two of them soon hatch a plot to kill her husband and make it look like an accident. That way, she will collect a $100,000 payout on the life insurance policy which has a double indemnity clause, whereby the policy will pay double the normal $50,000 amount if the death is deemed to have occurred by accident.

Edward G. Robinson plays the insurance company's claims adjuster, Barton Keyes, a pug-faced, cigar-chomping fella who doesn't think the accidental nature of the husband's death adds up.
This 1944 film has many tropes of the film noir genre, from the lead character who thinks he's smarter than he really is, to the treacherous woman with her own hidden agenda, to the dogged investigator who's slowly putting the pieces of the story together.

Classic noir cinematography and lighting is made good use of throughout the film (man, I miss having Venetian blinds!);

 (picture taken from telegraph.co.uk | Film Reviews | Double Indemnity

Highballs filled with scotch, plumes of cigarette smoke, flashbacks, and Neff's world-weary voice-over permeate throughout the film. The screenplay was co-written by author Raymond Chandler and director Billy Wilder and the two of them didn't get along throughout the writing process. A shame, because I've sometimes wondered what other movies these two could have written together. Between Chandler's romanticism and Wilder's cynicism, they would have come up with some wonderful scripts, I'm sure. Ahh well...

Wristwatch-wise, I've been wearing something new. Oris had a runaway success with their Diver Sixty-Five model, which was released in 2015. I won't say too much about this range of watches because I'm currently writing a review of my own Diver Sixty-Five and I do enough doubling-up of information on this blog as it is.

Late last year, the brand unveiled their Diver Sixty-Five Movember Edition, in conjunction with the Movember Foundation. 
The Movember Foundation was set up in 2003 by two guys from my home town of Melbourne, in an effort to raise awareness of health issues affecting men.

The Movember Foundation - Australia

Basically, it began as a yearly event (in November) where men were encouraged to simply grow a mustache throughout the month. They would do this and ask for sponsorship or donations from their work colleagues and set up a collection tin for donations for the month, so as to raise funds for men's health issues such as prostate and testicular cancer, as well as suicide prevention among males. 

From these humble beginnings, Movember has become a global cause over the years, with many companies coming on board to sponsor events. Now, it takes me ages to grow anything resembling a mustache, so I actually began to grown one back in the second or third week of October. By the end of November, it didn't look half bad. I toyed with the idea of making it a Clark Gable/Ronald Colman style pencil-thin type, but that would have involved a steady hand and more time than I was willing to devote to it. Maybe next time. Besides, I wasn't being sponsored by my workplace or anything. I just thought I'd try growing a mo'.

Anyway, Oris produced a limited production model of the Diver Sixty-Five and it sold out in no time. When I first saw pictures of it, I thought it a very slick wristwatch, but demand was very high for this one, so I missed out on one.

I got lucky a few months later when I saw one available. I didn't waste any time. I snapped it up and then began putting stuff on eBay to pay off my credit card. 

This watch bears the same crown, bezel insert and 40mm case size as my blue/black Diver Sixty-Five, but that's pretty much where the similarities end. 
Whereas the bezel ring of my other watch is coated in black PVD, the Movember model has been left in steel. The dial markers and hands are rose gold plated and the luminova compound is white, as opposed to the cream coloured lume of my other D-65. 
This Movember edition is on a thick brown leather strap, with the Movember logo branded on each end where the strap joins the case lugs, and it also comes with a striped NATO strap as an optional extra, along with a tool for removing the straps. 

I have worn it solid for the last two weeks;

I've always liked the mix of rose gold and black on a watch dial. Not many brands use this colour combination, but the contrast is always appealing in my eyes;


I'm out of these little bottles of San Pellegrino SanBitter. Basically, it's a soft drink, designed to be had with ice and a slice of lemon or lime. At 100ml per bottle, you really only get a couple of mouthfuls, but they do quench a thirst.
Looks like a trip to the local market is due.

Okay, it's somehow gotten to 3:15 pm Sunday afternoon and I haven't had lunch yet.
I hate it when the day slips through my fingers.


So, I'll bid you farewell for another week (or two or three).

Thanks for reading and have a great week ahead, all!

And wish us luck with the cats!

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Sunday Feb 11th, 2018 - Happy Birthday Bowie (our cat), Typewriter Conundrums, Bond is Back! (soon), Gotta Read More & This Week's Wristwatches.

Where are my manners? Looking back at last week's post and comments, I saw that I didn't reply to comments made by Bill & Ted (yes, that's their real names. Highly respected members of the Typosphere, let me tell ya's).

So anyway, here goes;

Heh, I think all of these Tower CIII's have that ding on the left side of the ribbon cover. yours matches mine :D

Feh on you at 52 still wearing 30's. be glad you're not vacillating between 38-42 like me :P
Reply
The Tower's a beauty to use, Reverend. It would be one of the last ones I'd get rid of. Those ribbon cover scratches are a badge of honour, from the previous owner, I'm sure.
As for my thickening waistline, I'm sure I have no right to complain. It just came as a shock to me on that fateful Saturday afternoon a few months ago when I tucked in a t-shirt ('cos I was putting a short-sleeved shirt on over it) and saw the soft curvature of my stomach.

I need to follow your lead and unload some of my typewriters. One will probably be my Splendid also. I just do not like its touch. My one recent find though was a Chieftian Attache. Skywriter in a briefcase.
Reply
Yeah, Bill, I seem to have more typewriters than I can use. Therefore, any of them that don't measure up AND aren't nice to look at will just have to go. My Olivetti Studio 42 is nothing earth-shattering as far as its typing goes, but it's a beautiful machine to look at. So that's staying. 
I've seen pics of Chieftain Attaches. Super-cool. Nice score.

There was a comment from an anonymous reader who commented on the Rolex Sub photo that I posted last week;
 https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-2D661GXGhzQ/WnanKPeWiTI/AAAAAAAAJoQ/zuNpVuL-vlgcGyN8qmUHSLyo_X1jy3W3wCLcBGAs/s1600/P1301011.JPG 
He (could have been a she, for all I know, but for the sake of laziness, I'm gonna be old-school politically incorrect and just use 'he') asked if the crown was screwed all the way in because he could see some of the threading of the crown tube. 
I recently had this watch overhauled by an ex-Rolex technician who's highly regarded. He did some great work on this watch. 
He mentioned to me that the crown tube was on its last legs and would probably require replacing at its next service - in about three to five years - and he had put a new rubber seal inside the crown. 
Crowns? Crown tubes? What are you talking about, Teeritz? 

Okay, so most dive watches that are rated 200m water-resistant or more will tend to have a winding crown with internal threading and a tube jutting out from the side of the case with threading also. This is so that the crown can be screwed down to ensure water-resistance to the depth stated on the dial. 
Let's look at this diagram, borrowed from www.stsupplyonline.com. 
Figure A shows a standard dive watch crown design. For the purposes of this explanation, disregard Figures B and C.
Figure D and E show a crown tube in which E is the part that is screwed into the watch case and then welded into place on the inside. Figure D is the exposed part of the tube that Figure A would be screwed into. Seated inside the crown is a very tiny rubber 'O' ring (seal or gasket is a term that's also used) that is compressed down when the crown is screwed in all the way, further adding to the water resistance of the watch. 
My watchmaker put a new 'O' ring in the crown and said that it may need some time to 'bed-in'.

When I went to pick up the completed repair, I was a little disheartened to see the crown looking like this. For those of you not up to speed with my Submariner 5513 saga, I had wanted one of these since I was a kid back in the mid-1970s (thank-you for the expensive obsession, Mister Bond!), and I wanted it to be as perfect as I could get it. 
As I drove home with the watch on my wrist, I decided to hunt around for a new crown tube on the web.  That way, I'd have it ready when the time came. I asked the watchmaker as to whether or not he had access to Rolex parts, but he would have to hunt for them the same as I would.  He undoubtedly can get ahold of some parts, but not all of them, pretty much like a lot of independent watchmakers that I've encountered over the years. 
Something was niggling at the back of my mind whenever I looked at the watch, though. When I got home, I fished out the old 1981Rolex catalogue that I had gotten back in yep, 1981 and flicked over to page 20 to find this;


And here's a cropped close-up;

This put my mind a little more at ease, but I thought I'd ask over on a Rolex forum to get the opinions of some experts. One guy replied, saying that the exposed crown tube is not uncommon and the seal needing to bed-in was plausible.
Further searching on the web showed that, while most 5513 models had a crown that screwed in closer to the case, there were a few that showed the crown positioned like mine. 
So that was enough to allay any of my concerns. 
The crown may bed-in slightly, thus closing up the gap a little or it might not. In which case, I went ahead and implemented Plan B.

Rolex are notorious for not distributing parts outside of their Service Network (a very wise policy) and so, it leaves me, and every other person who needs parts, to fend for ourselves on the web. 
As a result, you end up paying more for Rolex parts - especially for the sports models such as this one - when you find them. Some sellers, however, are just downright delusional, or more likely, greedy, and to an obscene degree. 
Thankfully, sort of, I managed to track down a NOS (new old stock - i.e, no longer produced, but never used) crown and tube and I've stashed them away until required. And doubly thankfully, I didn't pay too much for them, considering that some sellers were charging a ridiculous $1,000USD for similar parts. 
Either way, the watch is purring along nicely, and I'll drink to that.


Here's the Lemair-Helvetia;




Today is Sunday where I am and our younger cat Bowie is one year old. When we first got him as a four month-old kitten back in June last year, he spent the first two weeks hiding under our daughter's bed, occasionally snarling at us if we got too close. My daughter soon noticed some pairs of socks had gone missing. It wasn't long before we noticed that he had arranged them under her bed in a half-circle formation, like sand-bags. 
Whenever we'd get close enough to pat him, he would scurry back under the bed to the safety of his sock fort. A few days later, I'd see him run past me with a rolled-up pair of my socks that he'd swiped from the freshly laundered pile that had been brought in off the clothes line. 
As regular readers may be aware, our other cat is nine years old and we had hopes that she would eventually accept this little guy and get along with him. From everything I'd read on the web, it would be a slow process to get an older cat to accept a newcomer, with no guarantee of success. We tried feeding them apart from each other, on either side of a door, so that the older cat could get used to the idea of another cat on her territory. 
That didn't seem to work. Madame was wise to our tricks. She would emit a low growl whenever he was near, hissing sharply if he got too close. It's a little heart-breaking to watch, because we all get the impression that he just wants to be friends with her.
Admittedly, she hisses at him less and less these days, but she still won't let him near her, and she'll still growl if she enters a room where he's just been. I can only imagine that his scent must be all over this house by now. We tried using a diffuser that emits cat pheromones. This is designed to act as a calmant for cats when they are stressed. It didn't work, but I think it was because it was placed in an area that gets a bit of a draught of air and this diminishes the effect of the diffuser.
Next up, scent swapping. This is something that I tried when we first got Bowie the kitten. Problem was that it had to be a constant and regular procedure and the kids ("We should get another cat, we should get another cat.") didn't help with this as much as they should have.
Anyway, it basically involves each cat's scent passed over to the other. Apparently, scent is a major communicator for cats and I've read that their sense of smell is around 14 times sharper than ours.
They have scent glands on the sides of their mouths and also across their temples. The idea is to rub these areas lightly and then stroke the other cat with them, to spread the scent along their fur.
Later, when they're grooming themselves, they are supposed to get a whiff of the other cat's scent intermingled with their own. Bit by bit, this is meant to get them used to each other's scent.

Yesterday, we thought we were witnessing a ground-breaking moment between these two cats. They were in the kitchen, about six feet away from each other. Madam Dussy glanced over at Bowie, who was staring at her intently, and she got up and slowly approached him. He hesitantly edged towards her. They got so close to each other that their noses almost touched. They sniffed each other, paused for a second...and then Madame hissed at the little guy and walked off.
What, does she need glasses? Couldn't she tell it was him? 
So, my aim is to try the scent-swapping process properly over a prolonged period, to see if it will work. Best-case is that they'll become friends. That's what he wants. She's being territorial and/or stubborn. Take your pick.
My wife remarked that "It's like having a friend all your life and then you see them treat somebody really poorly and you realise that they're a bitch."
Yep. 
Cats are creatures of habit. They like routine. Apparently, moving the furniture around can throw them off. So, I can fully understand that Dussy's entire day-to-day lifestyle has been upended to some degree. She doesn't go into the lounge room as much as she used to, she doesn't go out via the cat-flap in the back door, she doesn't use the indoor litter tray anymore. 
As I said, best-case scenario is that they'll become chummy, grooming each other and sleeping huddled together to stay warm. 
Worst-case is that it'll be some uneasy truce between the two of them. 
Wait and see.

In the meantime, Happy 1st Birthday to you, Bowie! You're a mad rascal and we have the scars to prove it.
We'll set you up with a can of tuna with a candle in it later this evening. 
When you wake up.



I've fallen out of the reading habit in recent months. Can't remember the last book I read. I got up to page 226 of an espionage novel called Brandenburg by Henry Porter, which I should point out was a great book, but so far, it has more to do with a defector named Dr. Rudolf Rosenharte than it does about the main character Robert Harland, an MI6 operative who appeared in another of Porter's earlier books. So, I've put that book on the back-burner for the moment.


During our European trip in 2016, we went to Shakespeare & Co, a famous bookstore in Paris. It was there that my son bought a copy of Storm of Steel, a biographical account of World War I as seen through the eyes of a young German soldier, written by Ernst Junger.
Teeritz jr had recently read All Quiet on the Western Front and I think he had a hankering to read more about the war to end all wars. 
He had been badgering me to read the book myself and I kept putting it off. I had started it twice and got fifteen or twenty pages in before stopping. It appears that I'm spending the final part of the evenings winding down by getting on the internet via my iPod Touch rather than curling up with a good book. This is not a good habit to get into. 
I already spend 90% of my day staring at a computer screen at work, so I should probably spend less time reading off glass and more time reading off paper.
So, I started reading this book again about two weeks ago, and again I got fifteen or twenty pages in before stopping. Yesterday, I picked up from where I left off, with a determination to get back in the reading saddle, especially considering that I used to read a lot when I was younger. 
Not only that, but Junger has a beautiful writing style, with some nice turns of phrase. Good writing is something that we can tend to forget about, but there are sharp reminders everywhere these days of bad writing, courtesy of the world wide web. 
I was listening to the news on the radio one day last year and the newsreader was reporting on a murder-suicide that had occurred in the city's outskirts. She uttered the phrase; "Police on the scene are still trying to unpack what went on here."
I was mildly aghast at the use of a slang phrase like that in a news bulletin. Coupled with numerous spelling and grammatical errors that are now found in our daily newspapers, I begin to crave a nicely written sentence. Maybe I'm asking too much.  
There's no shortage of books in my house and I have a bulk of titles that I've bought in recent years, but haven't read. 
My wife always says I'm a slow reader and this is true. Although, compared to her, everybody's a slow reader. 
So, aside from the list of tasks that I'd written for myself to tackle this weekend, I also included "Read for 30 mins", and managed to do so on Saturday afternoon. 
 
Another reason for getting back into reading is that I'd like to re-read the Anthony Horowitz Bond novel Trigger Mortis.
English author John Gardner was commissioned by Glidrose Publications to write an updated Bond novel in 1981. Bond was basically brought into the '80s, literally frozen in time and still in his late 40s, the age that he was in Fleming's last Bond story, The Man With The Golden Gun in 1965. As a teenage Bond fan, I thought Gardner wrote some great stories. Sure, his later ones were a little stale (he wrote sixteen of them) and some of his characterisations and dialogue were a little hammy or corny, but I vastly prefer his output when compared to what followed in the years after his last OO7 story. American author Raymond Benson was tasked with the job sometime in the late 1990s and I can't say his works thrilled me. I have all six of the books that he wrote and have read three of them. Not very memorable. 
After Benson's tenure, not much happened with literary Bond until 2008 when Sebastian Faulks gave us Devil May Care, set in the late 1960s. I thought it was a lacklustre effort in a lot of ways. No tension, no risks for Bond. No thanks. 
I've said this before- there's always a danger in getting a literary author to write crime or thrillers if they haven't done so in the past. I've always gotten the impression that they consider crime writing to be beneath them. Of course, the end result shows just how difficult it is to write a convincing Bond story.
Two-thousand and eleven brought us Jeffrey Deaver's modern re-boot Carte Blanche, which gave us a 21st Century Bond, in his early thirties, being  recruited by some new branch of British Intelligence which operates outside the boundaries. I didn't like this one either. 
Two years later, William Boyd wrote Solo, with Bond back in the late 1960s. Like Faulks' effort, we had a Bond story where nothing seemed at stake.
Finally, in 2015, Anthony Horowitz gave us Trigger Mortis, set in 1959, a few weeks after Bond's Goldfinger mission. Some of Ian Fleming's unfinished work was used in the first chapter and Horowitz wrote the rest. And it is seamless. Horowitz was known for writing numerous episodes of Agatha Christie's Poirot and was the creator and principal writer of Foyle's War for television. Aside from this, he also wrote a popular series of young adult fiction about Alex Rider, a teenager who gets caught up in espionage adventures. 
Horowitz knows how to write a Bond story and he wonderfully captured the feel and flavour of a Fleming Bond. 
There was word early last year that Ian Fleming Publications had commissioned him to write another Bond and that it would be released sometime in 2018.



Okay, so the title, while sounding Bondish enough, may border on pastiche, but if this book is anything like Horowitz's previous one, it'll be the last thing to worry about. Again, this book may contain some of Fleming's unused material, but what I'm looking forward to is the basic premise of this story, since it's set before the events of Fleming's first OO7 book Casino Royale and initially centres on how literary Bond got his licence to kill.
Here's the brief excerpt that's been doing the rounds this week;

M laid down his pipe and stared at it tetchily. “We have no choice. We’re just going to bring forward this other chap you’ve been preparing. But you didn’t tell me his name.”
“It’s Bond, sir,” the Chief of Staff replied.
“James Bond.”


I'm looking forward to this one. But I suppose you already knew that. 

Okay, time to wrap this up. It's gotten longer than I thought it would, and I still want to vacuum and mop the floors.  
What an action-packed life you lead, Teeritz!

Anyway, I wore the Oris Diver Sixty-Five all week;


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