Thursday 27 March 2014

Friday 28/3/14 - Assignment Results, Black Ties Again, Mysterious (and sudden) Infections & This Week's Wristwatches.

Friday 4:52pm  AEST

Last weekend
Saturday Night's "Lolly Nite" Movie was "Rush" (Ron Howard, 2013), the story about the rivalry between 1970s Formula 1 drivers Niki Lauda, from Austria, and the Englishman, James Hunt. I have to say that it was a great film. Almost Arthurian in the way that the story unfolds. I used to lightly follow Formula 1 racing back in my younger, finish-work-at-one-am,stay-up-till-four-am-watching-a-live-telecast days (or rather, nights) when I worked in hospitality and would come home from work too wired to go straight to bed, no matter how much my legs ached. Both Lauda and Hunt had retired from racing by then, but I knew enough about their place in Formula 1 history to enjoy this film.
 picture courtesy of

Niki Lauda is portrayed as methodical, precise and disciplined while James Hunt is shown to be the playboy party animal that he was, bless him. Hunt went on to become a race commentator and it was great to stay up till the wee small hours watching lap after lap of some race and listen to the commentary supplied by the hyper-sounding Jackie Stewart (himself a former driver) and James Hunt's more laid-back approach. The beauty of listening to these two men talk of Formula 1stems from the fact that they both raced in these championships, but in different eras, so it was always interesting to hear them talk of the changes to the sport over the years.
To say any more about the film's plot would give away too much, so I'll leave it there.
Although, I will say that Chris Hemsworth turns in a charming performance and it's good to see him in a more actorly role rather than just wielding Thor's hammer. Hollywood's typecasting mentality is as strong as it ever was, so it's important for actors known for action roles to stretch their talent in more character-driven films. Daniel Bruhl, who plays Lauda, does a superb job in the role of an on-the-surface unlikeable and humourless person and he stays perfectly in-character throughout the film. Ron Howard's directing shows that he's come a long, long way from Opie Taylor and Ritchie Cunningham, turning in another solid, well-made film.

I checked my e-mails on Sunday evening to find a link to my results for all those Social Media assignments I've done lately. Basically, I've passed the subject, achieving two Distinctions (90%-100%), two PCs (or Credits, which equate to 80%-89%) and two Competents, which merely mean that you either know the assignments or you don't.
So I'm happy with all of that. Especially since I thought that I hadn't done enough for one of them. So, one subject done and out of the way, two more to go. 
I was still wearing the Omega Planet Ocean, but I'd switched last week's NATO strap for its original bracelet. Here's an old photo;


You may recall that I attended the funeral of my brother's father-in-law last month. Well, my brother sent me a text to say that his mother-in-law passed away on Friday. I have sometimes read that this is a common occurrence where one spouse in a long-term marriage dies and the other follows soon after. Not sure what my stance is on Heaven these days, but if it exists, then at least they are together again.

Had classes. No major highs or lows. One guy was asleep with his head down on the desk for the first hour. I still had on the Omega Planet Ocean;

And, late March is also when the BaselWorld Watch Fair begins, so there's been much conjecture as to what the major Swiss brands would be releasing this year. Omega began a teaser campaign on Twitter a couple of weeks ago in a bid to whip watch nerds into a frenzy. Finally, all was revealed late Wednesday night (Australian Time);

This is just one of Omega's new releases. A modern re-edition of their classic Seamaster 300 (model CK2913) from 1957, which looks like this;

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Personally, I quite like this new version, even though there are a couple of deal-breakers for me in its design. I wish there was a little bit of SuperLuminova on the hour hand stem and I'm not too fond of the polished links in the middle of the bracelet. Aside from that, it's a nice watch. However, since I already own these two...

...I don't see myself developing a real urge to consider this new model. Still, I think it's a nice, faithful reproduction of one of Omega's classic watches.
One brand that did catch my eye this year was Tudor. Yes, yes, some purists consider Tudor to be some kind of idiot cousin to Rolex, but I have to say that Tudor knows how to make a nice watch. This new blue version of their very successful Black Bay dive watch is but one example of the kind of product that Tudor does very well. Here's the new Midnight Blue version next to the Red model that was released about two or three years ago;

 picture courtesy of

Not bad at all. Again, this watch is a modern interpretation of a classic Tudor model from the Sixties. You may have seen that this has been a common trend over the last four years or so, where many brands have been mining their archives for designs from their past. Some brands have produced some beautiful re-editions.

Later on Wednesday night, a toe on my left foot was itching. Back in December last year, I thought I'd gotten a spider bite or some kind of sting on this toe because it had a small blackened area on it and the skin was a little flaky. I applied some cream, later thinking that it might in fact have been Athlete's Foot, and it cleared up after a few weeks. 
Well, Wednesday night found me reapplying the cream again because it was itchy as all hell, with a slight burning sensation as well. Not much more I could do about it after that, so I went to bed.

Off to the funeral service for my Brother's Mum-In-Law. I figured I'd switch watch. On came the Tudor Oyster hand-wound. And, like the funeral a month ago, I was dressed accordingly, whereas 95% of the other fellows there seemed dressed for a day at the park. There's just no effort made anymore. Ahh, well, I don't mind being the keeper of the flame. That tie is black, but came out looking blue in the photo.

Later that afternoon, I felt a little pain around my groin area. Yeah, yeah, too much information, but this is MY blog. Upon inspection, I found a small area on my upper thigh that had swollen up to about the size of an egg yolk.
"Oh, no way, man, not a hernia!", was my first thought. I put some ice on it to reduce the swelling and made a note to make a doctor's appointment first thing Friday morning. Meanwhile, my left foot had swollen up to begin resembling a pig's trotter. Charming! And the itching and burning sensations were amplified.

To take my mind off it, I decided to fix the front side doors of my car. I picked the kids up from school in the afternoon and heard a sharp 'snap' as I rolled my window down. When I tried to roll it back up, nothing happened. It was jammed. Over on the front passenger-side, my son has this habit of pulling up on the door handle before I have a chance to pull up on the lock inside the car. Not only that, but there have been a few instances where he has rolled the window down half-way and the door itself has popped open while I'm driving. Something tells me that's dangerous.
For those of you who may not understand what the hell I'm talking about, it's an early '90s Toyota Corolla WITHOUT central locking and power windows. While I can see the logic of central locking (barely), I've just never understood power windows. Are we all really that lazy?

Anyway, I undid a bunch of screws and removed the panels from the inside of the doors. Of course, I needed to switch watches first, so off came the Planet Ocean and on went the Seiko SKX031 on NATO strap. I didn't bother adjusting the date on it;

Yes, it became a messier job than I had planned, but I figured I'd add some grease and a dab of oil to some moving parts. Sure enough, there were a few bolts that had loosened over time, causing the entire window clamp and bracket to shift out of alignment. Nothing that a socket set couldn't take care of. Done. All doors and windows operate smoothly now.

Got up this morning and every step hurt. Foot was still swollen up and felt quite warm to the touch. And I still had to drive stick-shift to get to the doctor's surgery. The appointment was for 11:40am. As I made my way there, my foot felt like it would explode every time I hit the clutch pedal. Doc checked out my foot and my upper thigh. The thigh swelling had gone down, but was still visible.
"I'd reckon it's some kind of infection that's travelled up and that's what's causing the swelling. If it was a hernia, it would be higher up, closer to the waist", was his diagnosis.
Oh, thank God!
Given where I am at this point in life, the last thing I need is to be laid up recuperating from any medical procedures. And, at some point, I'm gonna have to get the bunions on both feet taken care of, so I already have six weeks on crutches to look forward to.
That's what comes from 35 years of standing up on the job.
The doctor prescribed some antibiotics, which I'm not a huge fan of, since they tend to kill good bacteria as well as bad, but that's a small price to pay to get rid of this foot pain.

And so, that was a one hundred-dollar morning. Still, things could always be worse. My son and I have been slowly working our way through Season 1 of "24" and we have two episodes left. Bit of luck, we'll watch them tonight, after we've all had home-made pizza for dinner.
So, life is good.

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend, all!

Monday 24 March 2014

Anybody Else Experiencing Niggling Little Issues With Blogger At The Moment?

I noticed about a week ago that the titles to my categories of other blogs have gone missing. You know, the "24 Frames per Second", "Spies, Private Eyes, and Other Tough Guys, etc", and all the other titles that specify the subjects of the other blogs listed to the right of your screens. 
And yesterday, after writing up and posting the Timothy Dalton post, I found that it's the only post that appears on the main page, despite the fact that my settings show that I can list up to seven posts on the main page. 
Could just be a glitch that happens on Blogger from time to time. And it'll probably get sorted out in time.
Just a little annoying. 
Other than that, Blogger works great!

Thanks for reading.

Sunday 23 March 2014

Happy Birthday, Mr Dalton! - A Thousand Pardons, 007.

I missed this. Fool that I am, I missed this. I was busy last week with assignments and what-not. Ursual Andress celebrated her 78th birthday on March 19th, and I mentioned it in my wristwatch post a couple of days ago, but how I managed to miss Timothy Dalton's birthday two days later, I'll never know. 
"And you call yourself a Bond fan, teeritz? Shame on you."

It was welcome news when I first heard that Roger Moore had finished up his tenure as James Bond. His last gig as OO7 was "A View To A Kill" in 1985 and he was indeed well past his prime in the role. Moore was 47 years old when he was first cast in the role back in 1973 for "Live And Let Die" and he looked great for his age. 
As a kid, I thought Moore was great as Bond and "Live And Let Die" was my entree into OO7's world of far-flung and exotic locations, mad villains, sexual innuendos, fast cars and licences to kill. It also sparked an interest in wristwatches and specifically a Rolex Submariner, but that's another story that has been covered here already and wil probably be covered again when I get my mitts on a vintage model one day.
I took the Bond films seriously, despite Moore's light-hearted take on the character. I hadn't yet discovered the Fleming books or the earlier Connery films. This was the mid-Seventies and I was still a kid. 

Then, around 1979, I read the movie tie-in copy of "Live And Let Die" and was staggered at how different the Ian Fleming's book was to the film. By then, there was also a resurgence in popularity of the Bond movies and it was an event whenever Channel O screened a Bond film on Sunday nights at eight-thirty as their Movie-Of-The -Week.
It was on one of these Sunday nights that I first saw "Dr No", Sean Connery's first foray as Bond. Coupled to my reading of more of Fleming's Bond books, and I began to feel cheated by Moore's portrayal of James Bond. Sure, I realise now that it had more to do with the mores of the 1970s rather than Moore himself (man, did I use 'more' often enough in that sentence?), but his Bond films just got too hammy as the years rolled by. My wife summed it up best when we sat down to watch the entire back-catalogue with the kids; "The Roger Moore ones made Bond look more and more foolish, what with the gondola that converts into a car and the fake crocodile that he uses to infiltrate whatever it was in the one set in India ("Octopussy", 1983)."
And that was it. The Moore ones had strayed too far from the source material. Some moments verged on what you'd expect to see in a "Carry On" movie. I almost expected to see M played by Kenneth Williams and Sid James as Q!
And so, it was announced in 1986 that the hunt was on for a new Bond. Pierce Brosnan was approached, but his "Remington Steele" TV series contract was iron-clad and he couldn't get out of it. I had heard talk of Mel Gibson being approached, which might have been interesting. Other names were bandied about, I can't remember them. Even Sam Neill screen-tested for the role.

In the end, the part was given to a fellow named Timothy Dalton, a Royal Academy of Dramatic Art graduate who later went on to tour with the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Dalton had previously been offered the part back in 1969, after all attempts to lure Connery back to the role had failed. Dalton was then 25 years old and he declined the offer, stating that he felt he was too young for the role, which ultimately went to Australian George Lazenby for "On Her Majesty's Secret Service".
Fast-forward to the mid-Eighties and Dalton felt he was ready to strap on the Walther PPK. 
And there was much rejoicing in the land of teeritz. Especially when I saw photos of the man. His looks fit the template of Fleming's description of Bond. Black hair, cold, blue eyes, cruel mouth. The only thing missing was the three-inch scar on Bond's right cheek. But I suppose no actor, even a Method one, would want to go that far for a role.
Yes, Timothy Dalton looked the way Bond ought to look. And he was a better actor than Moore. A few months later, I headed over to the offices of United International Pictures to snag one of these;

The Living Daylights US Advance poster
picture courtesy of

The teaser-poster for the upcoming Bond film, "The Living Daylights", partly based on a Fleming short story, outlined below.

"The Living Daylights" is a short story concerning Bond as he stakes out the entrance to a theatre in East Berlin from the upper floor window of a building across the street. There's a fellow British agent in the audience of a concert recital who needs help escaping over to the Western side. Word has gotten out that the Russians have assigned their best sniper, code-named 'Trigger' to take the agent out when he makes his run. Bond spends three nights peering through a sniper scope and he sees the orchestra musicians arrived at the theatre each night and notices a pretty blonde cellist as she arrives for each night's performance. To while away the hours, Bond daydreams about her.
On the third night, the fellow agent is due to make his run for it. As he does so, Bond sees an upstairs window of the theatre building open up as a figure takes up position with a Kalashnikov sub-machine gun. The Russians aren't planning on a single bullet. They're going for 'a saturation job' to ensure that the agent is killed. Bond looks through his sniper scope and sees the assassin with the Kalashnikov. It's the blonde cellist. Bond's orders are to kill the sniper once spotted, but he instead shoots at the stock of her gun, making her miss the opportunity to fire. The British agent gets across safely. Bond is reprimanded by the Station Head of East Berlin, who tells him that he'll report Bond's change of tactic in his report to M. Bond replies that he doesn't care, stating that what he did probably "scared the living daylights out of her. Probably shot her nerve for this sort of work", and he adds that he doesn't care if M fires him over it.


The events of Fleming's story take up about ten minutes of the film AFTER the memorable introduction of Dalton as Bond in the pre-credits sequence;
picture courtesy of

Bond and a few other Double-O agents are on a training mission, scaling the Rock of Gibraltar, when one of them has his line cut and falls past Bond to his death. The camera pans up as Dalton turns to see his fellow agent fall and we get our first glimpse of a new, harder-edged Bond before we are treated to a nifty fight scene on top of a runaway Land Rover loaded with dynamite. It's a great scene, made better by Dalton doing some of his own stunts in the film.

Dalton does a great job in the role. He only did two Bond films, and his second one, "Licence To Kill" (1989), wasn't as big a hit at the box-office as was hoped. The Bond films had been getting some serious competition from the Die Hard and Lethal Weapon franchises, as well as Arnold Schwarzenegger's, Sylvester Stallone's, Chuck Norris' and Steven Seagal's output of films, and they were perhaps beginning to look a little tired. 
My real problem with the two Dalton Bond films had more to do with the scripts than anything else. There was still some residue in the screenplays that belonged in a Roger Moore Bond movie. Dalton had done his homework. He read all of the Fleming books prior to commencing rehearsals and he stated in interviews that he wanted to bring Bond back down to Earth a little and make him more three-dimensional as a character and have some of the darkness of Fleming's novels. I don't think that audiences were quite ready for that. Personally, I put him in the Top Three, after Connery and before Daniel Craig. Don't get me wrong. I love Daniel Craig as Bond. However, I just find Dalton a closer physical match to Fleming's description, and his portrayal is closer to Daniel Craig's than it is to Pierce Brosnan's.


And then there's his voice. Welsh-born, Timothy Dalton's Shakespearean drama training gives his Bond a rich timbre to his vocal delivery. Reminds me a little of Patrick Stewart. And Dalton's face has a lot more going on besides a raised eyebrow here and there. Yes, he was superb in the role, as far as I'm concerned. 

picture courtesy of

I think that the above-shown poster was maybe the last time we had a Bond poster done with artwork rather than photos. I managed to get hold of a copy of "Interview" magazine from the '80s which had the photographic version of the poster in it. I've had it laminated and I'll put it up on the wall one day.

picture courtesy of

And so, Dalton wound up doing two Bond films before the legal wranglings of EON Productions/United Artists forced a six-year hiatus between OO7's adventures on-screen. By the time the dust had settled, it was 1994 and Dalton had decided too much time had passed and he was ready to do new things. And so the hunt was on for a new actor to play Bond and Brosnan got his shot. 

Anyway, a (belated) Happy 70th Birthday to you, Mr Dalton! Without your efforts, Bond may have died a quiet death after Moore's tenure. So I thank you for keeping the PPK locked and loaded.

Thanks for reading!