Sunday 28 December 2014

Monday, December 29th, 12:27pm - Year's Almost Done.

Aims for 2015, 'cos you don't really do resolutions, do ya?;

- a little more creative writing. Get into a routine of some kind.
- a little healthier. Overall toning up as you race towards fifty. Back could do with some strengthening. Your core strength is near zero. 
- sell a few wristwatches that don't get worn very often. 
- sell a camera or two, since you find some better to use than others.
- sell a couple of typewriters for the same reason as the cameras.
- less time spent on the 'net. There's a lot of distracting crap out there. 
 - read more. Actual books, made of paper.

Current distractions;

- wristwatches
- pens (ink & ballpoint)
- cameras
- typewriters
- internet (that's the Big One)

Maybe what you need, buddy, is a schedule that you can stick to;

Monday - Write (1 hr, unless you're on a roll, in which case, do 2 hours or more)

Tuesday - TV (maybe a DVD, given all the CSI, Big Bang Theory and reality stuff that's on. You don't really dig Big Brother, MasterChef, My Kitchen Rules, The Block or the dreaded Pawn Stars and BlokesWorld)

Wednesday - Write/ Research (via Web) if required. Need I remind you not to get distracted?
Thursday - Write. 

Friday - TV 

Saturday - Lolly Nite Movie with the family.

Sunday - Write

That's the plan. The reality may something else entirely. 
Worth a shot, though. Remember when you began that script years ago? Took you about a week to write the first three pages. Then you wrote two more the next day. By then, you were in the groove and you churned out another 25 pages over the next two weeks. 
You gotta get back into that kind of mind-set.

Friday 19 December 2014

School's Out For My Little Princess (Finally!), Clearing My Desk, & This Week's Wristwatches.

- Friday 11:45pm ADST - 

The weekend was a blur. I wore the re-dialled Seiko 7002 for most of it;

I was happy to read this week that the Palace Cinema chain might be interested in keeping The Astor Theatre running as a cinema after the current operator's lease expires next May. You might have read in previous posts recently that the future of this cinema is under threat. It's all still up in the air at the moment, but it'll be great if the Palace option goes ahead. Wait and see.

We've been busy packing up various items into boxes in an attempt to de-clutter and get this place ready to put on the market early next year. I can't wait for the day when it all gets unpacked again and I can lay it all out on the floor so that I can get rid of half of it. My wife has told me that I have too much stuff and I've responded that I'll be happy to clear a lot of it out once I can see it all to remind myself of what I actually have. 

I began clearing my desk, now that my school year has ended. I bought one of those small Helmer drawer units from IKEA and spent a couple of hours on Saturday putting it together with my son. 

The desk will wind up in the garage and everything that was in the drawer has been placed in this little unit. I'll use the dining table for any and all future homework throughout early 2015. And if I need a pencil, fountain pen ink or screwdriver, it'll be in this thing. 
That's one more item ticked off the list. And speaking of office/stationery-related matters, I am sick to death of staring at this tape dispenser;

I was surprised a couple of years ago when the base of this thing split open and a whole heap of grey dust spilled out of it. Looking through the crack, I saw a solid block of concrete inside this thing. Well, that explains the weight, I thought to myself. I grabbed a cardboard bag and made a cover for the base to prevent any further spillage. This thing is an eyesore, so when I saw an old-school metal tape dispenser, made from actual STEEL, I jumped at it;

A classic Bear brand dispenser. There's a little rust here and there, but I'm gonna give it a light rub with steel wool. Then I'll give it a layer of KillRust before applying and undercoat. And then, I'm thinking maybe a pleasant shade of yellow.
And, if my hand is steady enough, I may colour the bear-head logo in red. Maybe even the tape-holder roller as well. Just for contrast. 
And I snagged this little piece of nostalgia as well;

It's funny how we used to dread looking at these things back when we were at school because they seemed to tick a whole lot slower than real time. However, I've seen this style of industrial clock selling for ridiculous prices now that they're considered funky-retro-Hipster-chic. This one was sixty bucks and the minute hand is iffy, but my local clock repairer works pretty cheap, so I should be able to get this thing running properly without spending more than what it would cost to fill the tank of my car. I hope. There's a little dust in it, but I've already dismantled it and had a look around. Nothing that a sweep with a clean paint-brush won't fix.

My daughter had her last day in primary school today. Thank heavens. She has a few close friends that she's made over the years, but this was, of course, counterbalanced by a snarky group of girls in her class who are training to be bitches of the future. And that's my little rant about the cliques that exist in the schoolyard.

Anyway, t'is the last Friday before Christmas, and it's been an awful week with what occurred in Sydney and Peshawar Province in recent days, so I'll just say have a safe and happy holiday season, regardless of your faith, religion or belief.
I hope you all have some nice time with those close to you.
Oh yeah, I've had this on all week;

Thanks for reading and again, have a safe and happy festive season!

Thursday 11 December 2014

Friday 12/12/2014 - Re-Watched, Re-Enrolled, De-Cluttered, Re-Dialled & This Week's Wristwatches.

- Friday  12:58pm  ADST - 

Man, things have been busy 'round here.

Last Saturday
                      The family was sitting down to watch The Book Thief (Dir: Brian Percival, 2013) for their Lolly Night Movie. Not me, chum. I had a date with Norma Desmond and Joe Gillis at The Astor Theatre. I wrote about it earlier this week (see previous blog post). Basically, The Astor Theatre is due to close down next May because the landlords have other plans for this historic building. Certainly the building is heritage-listed, and therefore protected from being demolished, but I think the owners of the building have other plans that involve removing the screen, seats and projection room and filling the place with apartments. There's a petition going on at the moment to save this classic 1936 cinema;

I signed this petition some time ago. Then, on Monday, I Tweeted about it to my followers who live in Melbourne. This petition needed another 1,268 signatures. I just checked it now and it still needs 1,197 signatures. Not bad, I guess. Seventy signatures in just under a week. Maybe we might save the place after all. If you live overseas, head over to this petition and sign it, even if you never come to Melbourne and visit the place. I'm sure many of you have been to a small, suburban cinema in your time. If you have fond memories of that experience, then you'll understand why I consider this such an important venue.
Anyway, I sat down at this cinema to watch the Great Billy Wilder's 1950 classic, Sunset Boulevard. I watched it on DVD about four or five months ago, but it was great to see this film on the big screen. This is one of my favourite films and I'll do a proper write-up on it one day.
I wore my Omega Speedmaster Professional. Same pic as last week. I been busy; 

I took this Seiko 7002 to a watchmaker last week;

This is one of two Seiko watches that I wear when there's a risk of damage to the watch I'm wearing. It's reserved for handyman duties, bike rides, workouts at the gym, etc. But I was a little tired of the black dial on it. I have a few black-dialed dive watches, so I thought I have the dial switched over on this watch. I have two spare after-market dials for this watch and it was time for a cosmetic change. The watchmaker told me it would be ready by Thursday.

             Switched over to this preppy looking Camy Club Star for the beginning of the week;
I've been putting stuff on eBay in an effort to de-clutter a little. There were a few typewriters that I just do not use, so these were the first to go. One was a plastic Remington Envoy III and the other was an Olivetti Lettera 32 that I picked up a few months ago. Also on the chopping block was a Nikon EM 35mm SLR camera and a Nikon zoom lens. Well, the lens didn't sell, but the other items did. And there's a little more space in the house, as we continue to get it ready for sale in a couple of months. 

                   I went to re-enrol for the final two subjects of my course. Speaking to one of my lecturers, she told me that these last two wouldn't commence until 2nd and 3rd Semester of next year. I was kind of hoping to start them in February and getting them done by May. We discussed my options and determined that doing them off-campus would be the best way to go. If, by chance, I make a complete hash of them, then I'd have the option to attend the classes when they commence in 2nd and 3rd Semester. But I'd have to pay the fees again. 
The off-campus option means that I can get started in early February and possibly knock them out within a month or two. Or maybe three.
So that's the plan. The slight down-side is that I won't see some of the classmates that I got to know this year, but I may be able to swing past the college some time next year and see if I can catch up with them that way.
I wore the Omega Seamaster AquaTerra because I wanted something a little more serious than the red, white and blue NATO strap. Again, this is an older photo;

               Went to the watchmaker to pick up the re-dialed Seiko;

Turned out nice. The day was non-stop. When I got home, I made myself a drink, while somebody sharpened her claws on the Crepe Myrtle tree;


Sunday 7 December 2014

Miracle (Needed) On Chapel St - We Gotta Save The Astor Theatre!

I've been going to The Astor Theatre for decades now. Admittedly, I haven't been there often, but whenever I did go, it was more than just a movie session. It was a step back in time, to an age when going to a movie palace was a big deal. I saw my fourth screening of Skyfall there about a year ago. I had, of course, already seen this Bond film at the multiplex cinemas near my house, but seeing it at The Astor was different. It was a more collective and shared experience. The audience laughed more at the humourous moments, they let out a collective "aahh", and a few of them applauded, when Bond's Aston Martin DB5 appeared on screen. And when the movie ended and the credits began to roll, the audience applauded. 
This doesn't tend to happen at the suburban multiplex cinemas. In them, the movie ends, the credits roll and the audience makes a mad beeline for the exits, leaving the auditorium looking like a popcorn factory exploded. I'm always amazed at the litter to be seen after a movie. I actually think some folks buy two tubs of popcorn- one to eat during the movie, and one to spill onto the floor.
This doesn't tend to happen at The Astor. The audience seems a little more respectful. 

Sadly, this cinema is due to close down in May 2015, when the current lease expires. The last movie will be a screening of Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey (called it! I said to my wife yesterday; "I bet their last film will be a Kubrick.").
The landlords have other plans for this historic building. I'm betting that it will be turned into a block of apartments. 'Cos, you know, this town needs another block of apartments. I can see that I'm shifting into Sarcastic Teeritz as I write this. Bound to happen. The movie that I went to see yesterday was the late, great Billy Wilder's 1950 classic Sunset Boulevard.

I had planned to go see next week's movie, Casablanca, which is only the greatest movie ever made, but alas, my daughter is performing in a dance concert on the same night. That's just how things go, sometimes, bub. Doesn't really matter, I suppose. Wilder's movie is perhaps more relevant. The story of a faded star from a bygone era looking for another chance at stardom and the jaded screenwriter who sees an opportunity for an easy gig and one last chance at saving his heavily tarnished soul if he can get past his own selfishness and self-loathing. 
Yes, seeing this film made more sense. I was about to sit down in this grand old dame to watch a movie about a grand old dame. I have it on DVD and watched it about four months ago, but I wasn't going to miss the chance to see it on the big screen in this gorgeous Art Deco cinema that was built back in 1936. 

Anyway, to get into a noir mood...

I parked my jalopy in a side street and made my way towards the cinema. It was a mild spring evening, the sun was still out and there was a little traffic on the road as people headed out on this Saturday night to engage in mischief or merriment or misery. 
Or maybe all three. Some people are ambitious, after all. 

I stepped into the foyer of the cinema. There was a short queue leading to the box-office. They guy standing in front of me wore an overcoat and newsboy cap. I began thinking I should have worn my fedora. May as well pretend it was 1936. Maybe next time. If there is a next time. 

I reached the box-office, fifteen clams in my hand. The gal behind the glass wore a waistcoat and a pill-box hat, tilted at a slight angle, like a bell-hop from the Waldorf-Astoria. She smiled as I asked if it would be okay to take some pictures of the place. 
She said it would be okay as long as I didn't snap any people. I wasn't planning to. 
I headed up the stairs slowly, taking it all in. Things don't look good for this place. This could be one of the last times I do this, so I took my time. 

The place is nicely carved in the Art Deco style. Fine by me. I was half expecting Sylvia Sidney to walk in, park herself in an armchair, and light up a Fatima. Would'a been swell.
I gave my ticket to the usher. He gave me back half, and said; "Enjoy the film." 
It'll be hard not to, I thought to myself as I made my way inside and parked my dogs three spots into an aisle near the back of the balcony. I took a look around. There was some paint missing on one section of wall, but the place was holding up nicely enough. Anyway, let's see how you run when you're 78 years old.

The lights soon went dim. They showed a trailer for next week's screening of "Casablanca", just to rub it in. 

Pretty soon, the Paramount logo came up. So many stars. Franz Waxman's orchestration blared out of the speakers as this image filled the screen;

I settled a little deeper into my seat. I think a smile formed on my mug. I'm a sucker for noir with a voice-over. Gillis was about to be put through the ringer. Felt a strong urge for a cigarette, too. I quit the nails some time ago.
Just as well I wasn't watching "Casablanca". 
Rick Blaine is a terrible enabler.

As the end credits rolled, the audience applauded, and I felt a lump in my throat. Might have been due to Gloria Swanson's brilliant performance as Norma Desmond or maybe it was the fact that we had all just shared this experience together. And we might never do so again.

There would be very few of us who have never seen a movie in a small, single-screen cinema such as The Astor. Which is why it's so important to try and save this place.
My cousin lived near The Progress Cinema in Coburg and we went to see a few movies there as kids back in the '70s. It closed down in 1998 and is now a dance studio.
There was a cinema in Sydney Road, Brunswick, where I saw a Bond double-bill back in '75. I became a Bond fan with a mad yearning for a Rolex Submariner shortly afterwards. Seen every Bond film a dozen times, read every Bond book two or three times. Still don't have the Rolex, though. That cinema closed down a long time ago.
The Carlton Moviehouse was in Faraday Street, just around the corner from a bistro where I worked. Last film I saw there was Rodriguez' Desperado, starring Anotnio Banderas. That cinema is now a student travel agency.
The Valhalla Cinema was a seven minute walk from my parent's house. I think I only ever went there twice when I lived at home. Funny how you never take advantage of a situation when it's presented right under your nose. They used to screen The Blues Brothers every Friday night, but you didn't go there to watch the movie. You went there to see the audience dressed in black suits and wearing RayBan sunglasses as they sang and danced along to the songs in the movie. The cinema even had its own police black & white like the ones featured in the extraordinary car chase from the film. It shut down for a while and re-opened as one of the Palace Cinema chains. It now shows current films.
Jake and Elwood Blues are but a nicotine-stained memory.
The Astor Theatre is perhaps the last of its kind in this fair city. Which is why it's so important to keep it alive.

There's a petition going over at;

Save The Astor Theatre

It needs another 1,300 signatures. I'm not sure if it'll even help, but it's worth a try. I've already signed it. If you're reading this and you live a thousand miles away, you should still sign it. This cinema represents a piece of history. It represents a part of our lives that is being swallowed up by the allocated-seating, over-buttered popcorn, lousy-service-from-uncaring-teenagers, shopping-centre multiplexes that have sprung up in the last twenty years. I got no problem with modern cinemas. That's where you go to see The Avengers or the latest screen adaptation of a Jane Austen book. But there's only one place where you can go see Dr. Strangelove on a Monday, Gone Girl on a Wednesday, Blade Runner (The Final Cut) on a Friday, and Rear Window on a Saturday.
That's the Astor.
And this city needs the Astor more than it needs another apartment block.

I headed down the stairs towards the exit. That's when I remembered that Marzipan, the cinema's resident cat, had shuffled off her furry coil some time ago. I felt a twinge of regret. Still, she'd made it to the ripe old age of 21, and it was always amusing to see her curled up in one of the armchairs and people would sit elsewhere so's not to disturb her. She had clout.

I stepped out into the night. It was raining lightly as I made my way to where I'd parked my car. I turned to take one last look at the place. It looked grand. The neon sign did its little dance as I flicked on my camera and took a few more snaps. Those modern Japanese cars, with their moulded plastic fenders and remote-central locking, looked out of place on this particular corner. The streetcar coming down Chapel Street was from the wrong era, too.

Thanks for reading, all.

Thursday 4 December 2014

Friday 5/12/2014 - Time To Move, One Last Assignment, "We Are SPECTRE, Mr Bond" & This Week's Wristwatches.

- Friday  12:11pm ADST -

Oh, but there's much to be done around here over the next few months. Our house goes on the market early in the new year and we need to get it ship-shape, so I've been pottering along making minor repairs here and there. But enough about that, otherwise, I'd run out of internet before I finish listing all the little tasks that need to be taken care of. 

               Got an e-mail from one of my lecturers asking if I had sent her my final assignment for her subject. I must say that this subject was a little confusing in that all six assignments didn't have due dates listed on them. You may recall that I hammered out four of those assignments back in September. I did that as a safe-guard, since I didn't know when they were due. I figured if I got the majority of them done, then I'd be a step or two ahead of the game, so to speak. This last assignment (which was actually Assignment No.1) involved monitoring the effects of sunlight and humidity on different types of paper (FYI, newspaper comes off the worst). This exercise requires time, more than anything else. All you do is pin the papers up where they'll receive the greatest amount of UV light. And then you wait.
Here's what two months of steam from a kettle will do to a handwritten letter;

Anyway, I hadn't started this assignment yet. I thought the entire class had been given an extension until early January. However, it was my wife who suggested I get it done sooner so that "that way, it's done and you don't have to think about it anymore."
So I sat at the computer and got to work on it. I had six paper samples, ranging from archival-quality, to a sheet of loose-leaf, to a page out of a cheap paperback.
Monitoring the effects of sunlight on these, the paperback page turned a pale and dirty yellow. The newspaper sample lost all of its colour and it also faded to a darkish shade of white. All of this led me to the conclusion that, if you have any writing that you feel is of some importance, it would be best to print it on archival quality paper. This paper is pretty cool. It has been certified to have a life-span of five hundred years when stored correctly. That's cool. Now, if only any of my writing was worth saving for five hundred years.

                  Bills, bills, bills. As this year draws to a close, I'm aiming to clear the slate. So I sat down and worked it all out before heading out the door. When I got home, I checked them off. Always a good feeling. I'd been wearing the Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean;

Later that day, I switched over to the Tissot Visodate. I was losing track of what day it was;

                Decided to go get the dial swapped over on my Seiko 7002. You may recall that it's a watch that I wear for handyman duties around the house, and it currently has it's original black dial, but with an after-market orange chapter ring;

However, ever since I got the steel bracelet for it, I wanted to have the dial switched over. To this colour combo;

Should be ready next week. And, because I hadn't worn this one in quite a while, I put on the Omega Seamaster AquaTerra. Because sometimes, you need something that's a little more under-the-radar;

And later in the evening, it was time for the live stream from where Director Sam Mendes announced the title and cast for Bond 24, which commences shooting in a few days. And the title is...

Cool! As you may know, EON Productions finally secured the rights to Thunderball and, more importantly, the characters and organisations associated with it. This means that they can finally bring back Bond's arch-nemesis, Ernst Stavro Blofeld, the head of S.P.E.C.T.R.E, the SPecial Executive for Counter-Intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge & Extortion. Certainly, it all sounds comic-booky in this modern age, but given the cast, the writing talent behind it, and Sam Mendes' sure-footed directing, I think they'll be able to pull it off convincingly enough. 

I've had my own theories in recent months regarding the storyline and cast. There had been rumours kicking around for a while that Blofeld would return. I began day-dreaming about a pre-credits sequence where we see the criminal organisation Quantum (remember that they were behind the events of Casino Royale and, obviously, Quantum of Solace) pulling off some major robbery/terrorist act only to be completely wiped out by a rival (and bigger) organisation, namely SPECTRE.
This would mimic the space-craft and submarine hijacking sequences that we saw in You Only Live Twice (1967) and The Spy Who Loved Me (1977).

When I read that Dave Bautista had been cast, I had visions of him being Blofeld. If you're gonna give Daniel Craig's Bond an arch-nemesis, then it would make sense for the actor to be the kind of size and build that would pose a serious threat to 007. The only problem with that is that he would come across a little too much like Tom Hardy's Bane from Christopher Nolan's final Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises. And, of course, my day-dream opening sequence mentioned above would bear a too-striking similarity to the opening scenes of Nolan's film. 

Then we got the news a month ago that the brilliant Christoph Waltz had been cast, and I began to view him as a modern Blofeld who wears designer suits and jets around the world as some criminal mastermind.

With the unveiling of the cast during the live stream, we saw Andrew Scott. Now, he did an awesome job as Jim Moriarty in the British series, Sherlock, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, but I began to hope that he wouldn't end up being Blofeld in this new Bond film. While it might make sense to have a young criminal genius go up against 007, Andrew Scott has already done so, to devastating effect, against Sherlock Holmes. 

And Monica Bellucci has been cast in this film as well. I don't remember much after that. 

Story-wise, it's a tricky one. Screenwriter John Logan has stated that writing a Bond film is hard. I believe it, because it's all too easy to fall into pastiche territory if one is not careful. Long-time Bond scriptwriters Neal Purvis and Robert Wade were brought in for this script. Now, I have been critical of these two writers in the past, but I will gladly eat some humble pie and say that they have done some stellar work over the years. Yes, I wasn't crazy about each successive Brosnan Bond film and I found little of value in the final one he did, Die Another Day, but I've come to suspect in recent years that they were writing the kind of Bond films that everybody involved thought that audiences wanted, rather than the kind of Bond films that audiences needed. So, sorry, gents. I was a little too harsh in the past. It's no easy task writing a 007 adventure. I hope you guys had fun with this new one. 

          And now that the title and cast have been revealed, there's really not much else to do except get on with life and listen out for tidbits of info and photos as they come to light during filming over the next seven months. Of course, the watch nerd in me tried to get a decent glimpse of what Daniel Craig had on his wrist. I suspected that it was his vintage Omega Seamaster 300 that he's worn in the past. I needn't have worried. Pictures began to surface on the web by the time I got up this morning;

And a close-up shot confirming my initial guess;

Cool!, I thought. I can play this game too.

Anyway, that's another week done and dusted. Just got a call from my mechanic. Car's been serviced and it's ready to be collected. Then he said; "Did you know there was no oil in the engine?"

Man, I've been slacker than I thought!

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend, all!

Thursday 27 November 2014

Friday 28/11/14 - Class Dismissed!, Mini Paul Newman Film Festival Continues & This Week's Wristwatches (The Black & White Edition)

- Friday  10:52am  ADST - 

Last weekend

I'd been wearing the Omega Railmaster for over a week and figured it was time for a change. I also started reading Frederick Forsyth's latest book, The Kill List. I like Forsyth. I have quite a few of his books in paperback and I must say that he's always been good at painting a succinct portrait of the political landscape of the times in which his stories are set. He worked as a journalist before penning the classic The Day of The Jackal, a fictional account of a plot to assassinate French President Charles de Gaulle, set in the early 1960s. This book was published in 1971 and became a worldwide bestseller, spawning a great movie in 1973.
Forsyth's books have always been very well researched. It was in Jackal that I learned how to create a false passport, not that I ever put the method into practice, mind you, but this procedure was able to be done back in the years prior to the Digital Age.

                                                                                    And, Mr Forsyth still uses a typewriter;

Picture (right) courtesy of

Here's an article from 2008 that may be of interest. I'm including it here because I don't have time to read it right now and can't be bothered saving it to my hard drive; Why Typewriters Beat Computers.

I recall reading that Forsyth was planning to retire from writing after he'd written The Phantom of Manhattan in 1999, his sequel to the Gaston Leroux classic, The Phantom of the Opera. This book was a wild departure from the kind of thrillers Forsyth was known for, and he has since written five more thrillers. I just read that the film rights for The Kill List have been optioned. This makes sense when you consider Hollywood's renewed interest in the espionage genre. Aside from Bond 24 this time next year, we'll be getting another Mission Impossible, Bourne and Man from U.N.C.L.E film sometime in 2015, as well as a couple more adaptations of Le Carre books. It all sounds absolutely wonderful.                                        
Continuing on with my Paul Newman mini film-fest, I caught up with The Verdict (Dir: Sidney Lumet, 1982). I saw this film at the cinemas when it was released and I think I saw it again on video sometime in the late '80s.

I have to say that it holds up very well. This has much to do with Newman's performance as Frank Galvin, a Boston lawyer who's on the skids and decides to take on an unwinnable case in a last-ditch effort to save himself and gain some redemption along the way.
The supporting cast includes the wonderful character actor Jack Warden, as Galvin's pal who assists him with the case, Charlotte Rampling as the love interest (I haven't seen much of her work, but Miss Rampling can do no wrong in my book. She takes a great photo too), and James Mason as the attorney from one of Boston's biggest law firms who is defending one of the city's largest hospitals in this malpratice trial.
Like I said last week, Newman won a Best Actor  Academy Award for his performance in Scorsese's The Color of Money a few years later, but his role in The Verdict is the one that he should have won for. Although, based on his films that I have seen, he should have gotten it for Cool Hand Luke in 1967. Still, after being nominated a staggering ten times throughout his career, I'm glad that he was finally rewarded for his efforts.

             I removed the bracelet from the Speedmaster and put a grey NATO strap on it. Very Mission Control. 

My DVD copy of Harper arrived! This is one of those films that I've read about over the years whenever I've read articles on either Paul Newman or screenwriter William Goldman.
I think I'll need to watch it a couple more times, but after one viewing, I have to say that it's a big shame that Newman never made another three or four of these films throughout the '60s and '70s. Made in 1966, it's a perfect little time-capsule of the era as we see private detective Lew Harper take on a routine abduction/ransom investigation which soon finds him getting shot at and beaten up on a regular basis. The poster shown here on the right --> is the Italian version, complete with a change of title. The letter 'h' is pretty much silent in the Italian language and it's actually easier for them to pronounce 'Detective's Story' than it would be to pronounce 'Ar-pair', as they would have said it.
I must say I like the artwork on this Italian version of the poster. I chose to include this one because, while the US version is representative of the mid-Sixties, this painted artwork looks very atmospheric and manages to capture a little of Newman's world-weary portrayal of Lew Harper.
Google 'Harper poster' to see this artwork in colour.

Looking at this blog of mine last week, I was bugged by the fact that the post I wrote about the Dry Martini (April 2013) had clocked up over 80,000 views in six or eight months, but I couldn't find the traffic source for it. Hmmm. I somehow doubt that there were that many people interested in my Martini recipe. So, I reverted it to 'draft' in the hope of 'breaking the chain', so to speak. I re-posted it up a couple of days ago. Seems to have worked.

             Went into the city to meet my brother at the offices of my watch buddy Mike. My bro has been wanting to get himself a decent watch for some time. He called me earlier that morning and told me that he'd gotten himself one of these a few weeks ago;

An Omega Seamaster Co-Axial Planet Ocean GMT. Nice. At 44mm in diameter, it's larger than I would wear on my wrist, but it suits him just fine. Of course, now, he may have been bitten by the watch bug. I told him he should perhaps consider something a little more dressy or corporate. Then he should just stay away from any more watches after that because that road leads to madness.
Before heading into town, I decided to pack light;

                  Finished my Conservation classes. Great. One more class (with a test) tomorrow morning and then that's it for this year! Then, two more subjects to do (hopefully early) next year and this course will then be complete. I cannot wait.

          Got the result for the test I did a couple of day's ago- 83%. Good enough. That's that subject done and out of the way. One last assignment for the Conservation subject, dealing with the effects of sunlight and moisture on various types of paper, and then I'm done for the year. Nothing else to do except re-enroll next month for the final two subjects of this course.

Very, very busy today. And it looks like there'll be much to get done around the house over the next couple of months. We're hoping to put it on the market early next year. Fun times ahead. Our daughter starts secondary school next year, so there are uniforms, books and other odds and ends to get organised in the meantime. 
Yep, much to be done around here. Not exactly NASA proportions, but it's gonna feel that way to me. Especially with this on my wrist. Back on steel;

 Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!

*thanks again to for the finer details about Frederick Forsyth's literary output. You should consider donating a few bucks to wikipedia to keep it running. I did so when I realised how often I've referred to it in the past.

Thursday 20 November 2014

Friday 21/11/14 - Looking for 'Archer', Paul Newman's Still So Damn Cool, & This Week's Wristwatches.

- Friday 6:29pm  ADST - 

I've been on a bit of a Paul Newman kick lately. 

I've always liked him as an actor. He had a great and likeable presence on-screen, although I'm ashamed to admit that, despite his long and prolific career, I've probably seen only about ten or fifteen of his films;

Cool Hand Luke 
The Secret War of Harry Frigg
Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid
Never Give An Inch (aka Sometimes a Great Notion)
The Life And Times of Judge Roy Bean
The Sting
The Towering Inferno
The Drowning Pool (a couple of nights ago)
The Verdict
The Color of Money
Road to Perdition
The Hudsucker Proxy

Okay, make that thirteen. That's cool. Means I've got a lot of his films to still look forward to. As great as he was an actor, he was perhaps greater as a humanitarian. He and his buddy A.E. Hotchner founded the Newman's Own salad dressing venture back in 1982. All proceeds, after taxes, were to go to charity. To date, this company has raised over 380 million dollars. 

I managed to track down a copy of his 1975 film, The Drowning Pool, where he reprised his role as SoCal private detective Lew Harper from the 1966 movie entitled Harper. This character, often regarded as the successor to Chandler's Philip Marlowe, appeared in a large number of books by Ross McDonald, although he's named Lew Archer in the novels.
I recall the TV ads for The Drowning Pool from back in the Seventies. From memory, the film didn't do too well when it was released, but I have to say it was actually a pretty good film. The supporting cast was great, except for Melanie Griffith, in one of her earliest screen roles here, the music was jaunty in places, and the screenplay was good. I haven't seen Harper, but I seem to recall certain scenes from it. Might have something to do with my having read Adventures in the Screen Trade, by William Goldman, the screenwriter who adapted Ross McDonald's first Archer book, The Moving Target, into the screenplay for Harper. At any rate, I'm awaiting a copy of Harper and it'll be interesting to see.

My wife is a big fan of Newman's 1973 classic, The Sting (Dir: George Roy Hill), which reunited him with his co-star from Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid (Dir: Hill again), Robert Redford. Whenever we watch The Sting, and Newman appears on-screen, my wife will remark; 'Gee, he was a beautiful man.'
I'm, of course, in no position to argue. 
Newman aged well throughout the Sixties, Seventies and Eighties. Rumour has it that the trick he employs at the beginning of The Sting, whereby he fills a basin with two trays of ice and cold water before dunking his face in it for thirty seconds or so, was something that he did in real life and this is what kept him looking younger than his years. I don't know about that, but he certainly held up well in his time. 

Aside from waiting for the Harper DVD, I've also been on the lookout for Ross McDonald's Archer novels. I have to say these are proving virtually impossible to find in second-hand bookstores. Back in the '90s, I used to see them everywhere, both new and used, nestled on store shelves between the John D. McDonalds (he wrote the Travis McGee crime books) and Ngaio Marsh's mystery novels. 
I can get a lot of the Archer stories off eBay, but I don't relish paying twenty-five bucks for them right now. Might have to check out Amazon.

 I remember going to the cinema in 1982 to see The Verdict (Dir: Sidney Lumet) in which Newman plays a very-close-to-washed-up ambulance-chasing Boston lawyer named Frank Galvin, who has one last shot at redemption when he takes on a medical malpractice case and goes up against James Mason's character, who's a partner in the largest law firm in the city. It's a brilliant performance that Newman gives, and it definitely should have snagged him the Best Actor Oscar that year. Ben Kingsley got it for his title role in Gandhi, a performance that had many older Indians believing that their spiritual leader had come back to life. 
Newman finally received the golden statuette for his return as 'Fast' Eddie Felson (his character from The Hustler- Dir: Robert Rossen, 1961) in Scosese's The Color of Money in 1986, opposite Tom Cruise. It was another great performance, but The Verdict was more of an actor's role.
There were a great many actors of Newman's generation who are all well-regarded. Redford, Steve McQueen, Dustin Hoffman, James Caan, Gene Hackman, Robert DeNiro and Clint Eastwood were all quite prolific throughout the Seventies and Eighties, but I have to hand it to Newman for all that he did outside of his acting gigs.
Newman was married to actress Joanne Woodward for fifty years, a rare feat in Hollywood marriages, and they had five daughters and one son, who died of a drug overdose in 1978. 
He died in 2008 of lung cancer at the age of 83, leaving behind Woodward and the girls, a great body of  work on film, and a wide range of philanthropic endeavours that made life easier for a great deal of people.

It's been a busy week. I have two or three more assignments to complete and I plan to get them done over the next week. One test to do in-class next Thursday and then that's it for the year. Two more subjects to complete, hopefully in the first quarter of next year, and then this course is finished!

Monday's watch, the Omega Railmaster. Been getting a lot of wear out of this one lately;

When I worked briefly at a local jewellery store a couple of years ago, I began taking notice of silver bracelets, thinking that perhaps I'd like to get myself one. I recall mentioning this to my wife.
Her response? "And who will you be married to? You'll look like a Chock."  (a Guido)
I told her that Chocks wear gold bracelets. Big chunky ones. I wanted something a little more understated. Looking at all these pics of Paul Newman lately and I decided to get on eBay and see what they had. Sure enough, fifty-eight bucks later and here it is. A sterling silver Cuban curb-link bracelet.

This morning. You know, I forgot I had this t-shirt;

This afternoon, changed over to the Seiko 7002 to do some housework;

Right, it's late Friday afternoon, the sun is shining, I got a few major household things out of the way and I could use a drink. 'Scuse me for a second.

Okay, that's better. Gin & tonic with a few slices of cucumber. Makes a difference, I can tell you. Railmaster back on the wrist. Cheers;

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!

Special thanks once again to wikipedia for the info on Paul Newman. I knew a bit of it, but this great website is fantastic for filling in the blanks and details. It even has an entry about 'Guido'! Nothing on the term 'Chock', which I'm sure was coined by myself and a few friends back in the Eighties to signify the type of young Italian guy that we didn't want to be. - Ciao!