Friday, 13 June 2014

Friday 13/6/14 - Happy Birthday Dino, Mini Jennifer Lawrence Film Festival, One Last Assignment (filled with treachery!), Lucky Escapes & This Week's Wristwatches

- Friday  6:50pm AEST -

Last Saturday
                    Mowed the lawn in the morning. Took much longer than I thought it would because I had to go over it twice. By the time I was done, I needed something thirst-quenching and we were out of soft drink. I grabbed a few lemons off the tree in the backyard, two spoons of sugar and a dash of boiling water and got to work. Five minutes later, I had sweetened lemon juice in a glass with some ice. I topped it up with San Pellegrino sparkling mineral water and flicked a few drops of Angostura Bitters into the mix.
That hit the spot nicely. I had the modded Seiko 7002 on while I gripped the lawnmower and then switched back to the Omega Planet Ocean when I gripped the glass.

The Lolly Night Movie this week was "The Hunger Games-Catching Fire" (Dir: Frances Lawrence, 2013).

You know, I've got a lot of time for Miss Jennifer Lawrence. I recall there was a lot of buzz about her when "Winter's Bone" (Dir: Debra Granik, 2010) was released a few years ago. Her portrayal of Ree Dolly, a young girl caring for her two younger siblings in the Ozark region of the US and trying to locate their wayward father or face eviction, generated a lot of positive reviews at the time of its release and many reviewers raved about Lawrence's performance. It was a bleak film, but Lawrence imbued Ree with a steely resolve and sense of hope in a beautifully nuanced performance from somebody so young. This is something that happens rarely in Hollywood film, so one tends to notice when a performer comes along, seemingly out of nowhere, and delivers such an assured and controlled performance.
She next appeared in "X-Men: First Class" (Dir: Matthew Vaughn, 2011) , but it was perhaps 2012 that proved to be a banner year for her with the release of both "The Hunger Games" (Dir: Gary Ross) and "The Silver Linings Playbook" (Dir: David O. Russell). These two very different films showed her range as an actress and made Jennifer Lawrence a talent to watch.
In "Silver Linings", which has swiftly made it into my Top Ten after only two viewings, Lawrence easily holds her own among a great cast that includes Robert De Niro and she fully deserved the Academy Award that she received last year for her role in this film. 
A standout performance in a movie filled with standout performances.

Anyway, we watched this second Hunger Games movie, since my daughter is a huge fan of the books and she loves Jennifer Lawrence. This is a more thoughtful action-adventure than Hollywood's usual output and Lawrence is perfect in the role of Katniss Everdeen, the young woman who must once again partake in a life-or-death battle to save herself and those close to her.
Directed by Francis Lawrence, who  also did "I Am Legend" in 2007 starring Will Smith, this is a nicely paced film which features one of Phillip Seymour Hoffman's final performances before his untimely death last year.

And earlier on  Saturday, I saw that it was Dean Martin's birthday! 

Much has always been made of Frank Sinatra, his voice, and his legacy and I agree with most of it, but for me, Dino seemed like the one that I would rather have a smoke and a drink with. Even though the hard partying image that he portrayed on stage was a myth. His glass was usually filled with apple juice, not Scotch.
I suppose I have a soft-spot for Martin because his parents were from the same region in Italy as my own and in his twilight years, he began to resemble some of my uncles and family friends, with his wavy hair still Brylcreemed to within an inch of its life and the swirl of blue-grey cigarette smoke encircling him like an aura.
He was perhaps the pioneer of what some late night AM radio station (showing my age there) deejays refer to as 'easy listening'.
Martin himself once said; "I don't even breathe hard."
I have some memories of watching the variety show that he hosted back in the early '70s.  I was just a kid, but I would always sit there watching him with a smile on my face. I could tell that he was enjoying himself and didn't take himself or showbiz too seriously.
His son, Dean Paul, a pilot with the California Air National Guard, who at one time dabbled in acting (he did a movie with Ali McGraw in the late '70s, something about tennis, from memory. "Players", I think it was called), was killed when his F-4 jet crashed during a snowstorm.
Dean Martin never recovered from the loss and slowly edged his way out of the spotlight. He was diagnosed with cancer in 1993 and died early on Christmas Day 1995 at the age of 78.*
I was at a friend's restaurant when I heard the news a few nights later and I felt a great sadness. It was a warm summer night and yet I felt a little cold.
Still, whenever I think of Dino, I get a picture in my head of a sharp tux, a tanned face with lots of laugh lines around the eyes, shiny black hair, an unfiltered Lucky Strike in one hand, a glass of booze in the other.
And before I know it, I start crooning; "Take one sweet and tender kiss..."

            My wife's birthday. Happy Birthday, baby! I find it funny how so many people that I know personally, and famous people that I admire, all seem to have been born in May, June and July.
Anyway, continuing on with our impromptu Jennifer Lawrence Film Festival, we went out to see the new Marvel adaptation (I remember when everybody used to say 'adaption').


Directed by Bryan Singer, who had a wonderful debut with the very clever "The Usual Suspects" in 1995, this latest X-Men movie moves at a great clip. It tells a big story, once again about Professor Charles Xavier and his school of mutants. This time around, they are under threat from a scientist hell-bent on destroying them by using Sentinels, an army of robots that are impervious to the mutant's array of powers. Believe me when I say that it's better than I just made it sound. I've had a long week, and it's only Wednesday as I write this.
This film is beautifully done. The cinematography is rich, the performances are sure-footed, and you begin to get a sense of dread as you see some of the mutants annihilated by these fearsome Sentinels.
And there is a very amusing scene with a character called Quicksilver, a young mutant who moves at the speed of light, as he plays havoc with some Secret Service officers in the Pentagon as Jim Croce's 1973 ballad "Time In A Bottle" plays gently over the soundtrack. It is an inspired scene.


Jennifer Lawrence plays Raven/Mystique, a shape-shifting mutant with an agenda of her own. Her role in this film is greatly expanded compared to the previous film, "X-Men: First Class" (Dir: Matthew Vaughn, 2011) . This is the value of her fame in recent years. In a very short time, she has come a long way and I hope she just keeps on going and going.
She is definitely one of the finest actresses of her generation, without a doubt.
After the movie, we all grabbed a burger.

             One last assignment to be done. This one, however, was to be a team effort. I worked on it with two ladies in my class. We decided to tackle the topic of  'mobile technologies' that are being implemented in more and more libraries, specifically the use of various apps designed to be used on portable devices such as smart-phones and iPads, etc.
I was tasked with writing the introduction. No problem. We then decided to find two apps each to write about, and also provide some slides for a PowerPoint presentation in class. So far, so good. I felt it was all within my abilities.
One of the ladies is fairly tech-savvy and she suggested we use GoogleDrive to upload the assignment onto so that we could write, view and edit it in real-time.
Okay, how hard could it be?
About six hours later, I knew the answer. The actual work itself wasn't difficult, but the research was painstaking and I could feel a headache coming on by the time I'd finished.
I wrote about an app called Zinio, which lets users download a range of magazines onto their iPads, etc, and then I spent an hour writing up about RFID technology in libraries. Shortly after I uploaded it, one of the ladies pointed out that this was not a mobile technology. She was right, of course. I think I had gone slightly brain-dead from staring at the computer screen for so long. So I scrapped what I'd written and started again. I found an app that help you learn a language, so I wrote about that.
By this stage, I finished up for the day, since I had done 90% of this assignment requirement.
Had the Omega Speedmaster sitting in front of me to give all of this an exam kind of vibe;

             A household admin-filled day. And, I noticed that the total pageviews for this blog had reached 1,387 for the day. I don't know who's looking at this blog, but that Dry Martini post has now clocked up over 25,000 views, and I'm still getting spam attached to Michael Kors handbags and other crap.
The day got slightly worse at around 10:34pm that night when I checked the assignment on GoogleDrive and found that my entire introduction had been removed and been replaced by an intro written by one of the others on my team.
You know what I hate? I hate going to bed with a problem on my mind, knowing that there's nothing I can do about it until the next morning. But then I tell myself that there's nothing I can do about it till the next morning. I still have a crappy night's sleep, but at least I don't lie awake all night.

                  Fired up the laptop and sent my team-member an e-mail asking why my intro had been removed. She got back to me ("My bad, Teeritz, my bad") explaining that, due to time constraints the previous day, she was unable to e-mail me and she felt my intro didn't address the topic.
I replied with a quick breakdown of the introduction, explaining how each of the five paragraphs specifically related to the topic at hand.
And then I thought to myself; "Gee, I didn't realise that I was working for you."
Also, I really hate it when somebody edits my writing. Unless they're an actual editor. Which hasn't happened to me yet.

I got to class in the afternoon. She apologised again, but I didn't see remorse in her eyes (Man, that Marlowe novel I'm reading this week is certainly rubbing off on me).
Anyway, we made our PowerPoint presentation and it went well. Our teacher was quite happy with it. That's part one of this exercise taken care of. Now, to finish the assignment.
The other lady in my team spoke to me afterwards, saying that she wanted to use my original introduction, since we each had to hand in a copy.
And that's pretty much another subject in this course taken care of. Five more to go and then I'm done. I will have completed it.

Later that evening, I poured myself a shot of Ballantine's and wrote out what I need to do over the next week or so. The Speedmaster was serving me well;

I then hit the sack and finished reading the Philip Marlowe novel by Benjamin Black, entitled "The Black Eyed Blonde".
It was pretty good, although he made references to one other Marlowe story that I haven't read. I've read all of Raymond Chandler's work except two novels. I'm giving myself something to look forward to.
Black did a fine job with this book. My one gripe? There were a few instances where Marlowe appeared lost for words. I've always thought of him as having a smart mouth. Which has often gotten him into and out of jams.

               Went out to pay some bills. Mobile phone bill. Check. Visa card. Check. Amex card. Check. Done. I'm now debt-free...except for the mortgage. But that's okay. I still have about fifteen more years to pay back twice the amount that I borrowed. Friggin' banks.
And they complain when they get robbed.
I got back onto the assignment and tidied it up here and there. Added my bibliography, and saved it all. It was now done.
To give myself a little more separation from it, I changed wristwatch. It was time to put on something old-school. The circa 1963 Tudor Oyster, seen here with a pair of sunglasses that my wife got me. They cost her an entire twenty bucks. The vintage Graham Greene paperback set me back $2.25. Cheap thrills;

Thursday night, approx 6:50pm

I was preparing dinner (chicken schnitzels, steamed carrots, roasted potatoes) when the phone rang. It was my wife;

"T, I've just had a car accident, I'm alright, but the car slipped."
"Are you alright?", I asked.
"Yeah, yeah, I'm fine. The ambulance guys are on their way.  I'm near the McDonalds-"
"Okay, I'll be there in five minutes. You sure you're alright?", I replied. 
"Yeah, yeah, I'm a little shakey, but otherwise okay."
I don't recall exactly what else we said to each other before we hung up. I put the hands-free phone back in its charger and turned to the kids;
"Shoes. Now." was all I said.
"What's happened?", my daughter asked.
"Mum's car broke down. We have to go get her", was all I said. I didn't need a hysterical child just yet.
And then the realisation hit me. She didn't say 'slipped'. She said 'flipped'!
I drove cautious, but quickly.
When we got to the scene, there were two fire trucks, police cars blocking one lane of traffic, and a bunch of dudes in fluorescent vests surrounding my wife's car...which looked like this;

She was okay, thank God. A paramedic was asking her questions as he took some equipment from his case. I gave my lady a hug and asked her again if she was okay. She's very stoic, but I don't think she'd BS me if she were truly injured.
She had a graze on her right elbow which had bled a little and ripped the sleeve of her cardigan and the paramedic told her to get checked by her GP in the next day or so.

How'd it happen? A guy in a station wagon was pulling out of the McDonald's carpark and turned out in front of her car. She hit the horn. He didn't stop. She turned the wheel slightly to move into the next lane (which was clear), but his car managed to clip the front passenger side of hers, causing it to flip. She was travelling about 50kph (31.06mph) at the most, since she would be making a left-hand turn about 60 or 70 metres away.
Driver of the other car claimed that he didn't even see her, hence the reason why he didn't slow down.
He admitted fault and the police drew the same conclusion.
Either way, thank heavens nobody was hurt.

The Good Samaritans
                                    One guy, who was in the car behind hers,  got to her first and kept her calm as she sat strapped in the driver's seat upside-down. My wife told me that, as she became aware that the car was flipping, she put both hands against the roof to brace herself and protect her head.
He got her seatbelt unclipped and helped her out of the wreckage. He asked her name as he led her away from the car and had one hand on her arm and the other on her pulse.
When I arrived on the scene, he introduced himself and handed me his business card.
"Ah, cool", I said after I read it. He was an Agent with the Australian Federal Police. When the police arrived, my wife heard him say to them; "I'm in the business. I saw it all. The guy came out of the driveway without stopping..."

My wife couldn't find her mobile phone and a young girl with strawberry blonde hair let her use her iPhone to call me at home. My wife didn't get her name.

I am truly beholden to these two people for their assistance. I'm sure they'll never read this blog entry, but I owe them a great debt.

The Assholes
                        One lady drove by in one of those stupid 'people movers' and slowed right down as she passed the wreck, probably hoping to see a mangled body in the driver's seat.
Another woman took a photo of us from a passing car. My daughter saw her do this and burst into tears.

I've always felt that people are basically decent. But there are some days...

Still, everyone who rendered assistance were phenomenal. The police officers cordoned off the area and directed traffic while I lay down on the road next to the car to get the house keys out of the ignition. Couldn't pull them out because the car's automatic transmission stick was still in drive, so I just managed to remove the house keys. We wouldn't be needing the car keys anymore. The roof of the car had a ripple in it. The cops, the tow-truck drivers, they both stated that the car was a write-off. That's the least of our concerns.
Special mention, too, to the Paramedic who checked my wife.
Napthine, you idiot, pay them what they're worth...and then add another 20%.

          Called the insurance company, whose staff are based in South Africa, and explained it all to them. I think we'll change back to our old insurance company when all this is over. Nothing against South Africa, of course, but it was all a little more straight-forward with the old agency.
I don't understand how it can be cheaper for a company to reroute phone calls around the world.
And I'd rather keep people employed in Australia.
Made a doctor's appointment, on the paramedic's recommendation. Doctor checked her out and said nothing was sprained or broken, just tender. There's some stiffness in her right shoulder, perhaps sustained during impact. He told her to keep an eye on it over the weekend and to come back if it hasn't faded. 

Earlier, I headed out to re-enroll in a few more subjects of my course.  Only five more subjects to go, but one of them isn't being offered for the rest of this year, so I may have to do it in first semester of 2015. Unless I decide to do it off-campus. I'll wait till the end of the year and see how I feel.

When I got home, I took stock of this week. There is much to be done over the following week ahead and I will be at the helm of Teeritz HQ. I want my Bond Girl to take things easy.
I made us both a coffee and then pulled out that stale packet of Kent, stepped out front and lit one up. Yeah, yeah, I know.
I also decided a different wristwatch was in order. I got out the Omega Railmaster, removed the leather strap and put the steel bracelet back on it.
This is a time for steel.

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend, all!

P.S.- And drive safely. 'Cos there's always somebody on the road who may be distracted, in a hurry, or just a bad driver.



  1. Wow - a harrowing week to say the least! I'm glad it all turned out okay. My first thought was "I'm alright" and "the ambulance guys" are mutually exclusive phrases, at least on the phone.
    You had the opposite experience with group work that i had. My partners wouldn't do anything, except for once i had a great experience, and that guy is still a friend and about to complete grad school.

  2. Sounds like a set of adventures for a rugged fellow to handle. (:
    Glad the wife is Ok, that would be very scary...

  3. Yikes! Close shave but good it was only the car that got broken. Stay safe all. By the way, I think you have my Zippo!

  4. Also, following a collision on my bike with a Land Rover which decided not to stop at the red light I was stopped at, my legal adviser suggested a trip to the doctor even though I felt fine. The magic word "whiplash" on his lips. So I duly went and the doctor advised that although I didn't show any immediate signs, neck pain could crop up at any time in the future as a result. This was 15 years ago. The necks fine, but it did add a fair sum to my insurance settlement. Worth thinking about.

  5. Oh man... That's grim. After an accident like this, it can often take a little while for all the injuries to manifest. I ended up in hospital with a massive plural effusion a few years ago after the car I was in slammed into a brick wall. That was almost 7 weeks after the accident.

    At the same accident, I was walking around and trying to sort things out. Our car was in pieces all over the road, but I crossed the road to check on another driver whose car had just copped a minor dent. Another car pulled up behind hers, and a guy got out and started to photograph the entire scene with his DSLR and a massive lens. He even made some obnioxious comments about how people 'drive these days', before he realised that I had been in the car. He then took off without much of a word.

    I hope all is okay with your wife, but keep a close eye. All the best.

    Catch you soon.

  6. Thanks, all, for your well-wishes. She's doing okay. We'll keep an eye on her.

  7. Oh, what a scary accident. Glad to hear your wife's doing fine.

    1. Thanks, Ton. I think dealing with the insurance company is going to be more painful than her aches.