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!

Thursday 13 November 2014

Friday 14/11/14 - New Wristwatch Forums, Back to the Caffettiera, Car Break-Ins & This Week's Wristwatches.

- Friday 12:11pm  ADST - 

Last weekend
                     Sat down to watch Dial M for Murder (Dir: Alfred Hitchcock, 1954). Maybe I was a little too tired from the various things that I did earlier in the day, maybe it was the casting of Ray Milland and Robert Cummings in this film (they were both adequate actors, but I felt that a Hitchcock film deserved better leading men), or maybe it was something else. Either way, I  didn't find this film to be as enjoyable as the rest of Hitchcock's output of the 1950s. Sure, there were some tense moments in it, but overall, I found this film a little bland. I'm fairly certain it has more to do with how fatigued I felt rather than anything else, so I think I'll have to watch this film again one day to see if I end up with a higher opinion of it.

And for most of the weekend and early on in the week, I was wearing the Sinn 103 St Sa chronograph;

I still get a buzz out of this watch. Maybe it's because it was on my mind for about five or six years before I bought it. I think the current retail price is somewhere around $3,200.ooAUD and it puts vastly more expensive chronographs to shame. For example, here's a quick comparison. I bought my Sinn in 2009. At the time, you could have gone for the more basic model, the 103 St Ty, which looked like this;

This watch has a current retail price of about $3,885.ooAUD on a steel bracelet.
Here are the specifications:

Sinn 358 Sa (Sa = Sapphire)

* Case diameter- 42mm
* Water-resistance- 100m
* Movement- Valjoux 7750 automatic, with day and date display.
* Crystal-Sapphire, with anti-reflective coating on both sides.
* Case-back- Sapphire, with anti-reflective coating on the inside.


Now, take a very, similar watch, the IWC Pilot's Chrono , released around 2007, with a current retail price of $7,000.ooAUD on steel bracelet.
Here are the specs on this watch;

IWC Pilot's Watch Chrono Automatic
(model number 3717-01)

* Case diameter- 42mm
* Water-resistance- 60m
* Movement- Valjoux 7750 (Chronometer-rated) 
automatic with day and date display. Soft 
iron core encasing the movement to protect against magnetic field interference. 
* Crystal- Sapphire, with anti-reflective coating on both sides.
* Case-back- Steel

Okay, so this IWC watch has a little extra. The movement is more accurate and has been tested as such, and it's protected against magnetic interference. However, in real life, I find water resistance to be far more important than resistance to magnetic fields. And yes, the IWC is chronometer-rated, but the Sinn is no slouch when it comes to timekeeping accuracy, so I really can't accept the IWC's pricing. Those extras don't really justify a seven grand price-tag. IWC make some beautiful watches, but I feel that you're paying for the name with this particular model, when compared to the equivalent watch by Sinn.
Although, this IWC does have one thing going for it. Brad Pitt wore the previous model in one of my absolute favourite films, Mr & Mrs Smith (Dir: Doug Liman, 2005);

Okay, rant over. 

              The coffee machine was due for another service, so off it went to the repairers. Time to bust out the caffettiera, the Bialetti Moka Express. It produces a thinner tasting cup of coffee which always takes me a little getting used to after the fuller flavour that you get from an espresso machine. Yes, it's a first-world problem. I do love these caffettieras. There were about six of these, in various sizes, in my house growing up. This one above is the six-cup model. I think I have two others, but they're packed away.
I switched to the Omega Railmaster. Sometimes, simpler coffee requires a simpler wristwatch;

              Found a new wristwatch forum. I was actually told about it by another watch collector and I decided I'd join up.
It's called the International Watch League and it looks like it'll be a nice place to visit. And here's the link;

International Watch League

This morning
                      Somebody knocked on our door this morning at around 5:20am. That's never good news. I opened the door, bleary-eyed, to find a policeman shining a torch at me. He apologised for waking us and then informed us that our cars had been broken into. There was nothing of value in our cars, but this little bastard took my Swiss Army knife. 
The police officer told us somebody in the next street heard his car getting messed with and he got into a scuffle with the perp who ended up getting away...on a bicycle. The general consensus is that it's some kid in the neighbourhood. 
Man, the weasel took my Army Knife. This time, it's personal. 

I got a call around 8:00am from an officer who told me that she would be coming around with a forensics kit to see if they could lift some prints off my car. If the thief has a record, then his fingerprints will be on their database. Tell ya what, the fingerprint powder that they use is a dog to wash off. 
Her colleague went and spoke to a couple of neighbours while she worked on my car. Because it's paintwork is so old, she wasn't sure if she'd be able to get any useable prints.

I like cops. Got a lot of respect for them. It's not an easy job, the paperwork is never-ending, and the hours are murder.

                                Have you seen this man? A couple of decent prints. Probably mine, ha, ha!

Anyway, that's me done for the week. Some homework due by 5:00pm today and another two assignments due next Friday. Can't wait to finish this course. Bit of luck, I should be done by March/April next year. 
.......................................................................Far out, I just stepped outside to hand my wife a pair of sunglasses and the front door slammed shut behind me, effectively locking us both out of the house. Thankfully, the bathroom window was open. But first, I had to grab a ladder.
I have to say today hasn't exactly set my world on fire. 
And it's only midday.

Anyway, have yourselves a great weekend and thanks for reading!

One last pic, jazzed up a little, courtesy of the iPhoto app.

EDIT: I posted the wrong IWC chronograph photo earlier today. Corrected it seven hours later. All fixed.

Thursday 6 November 2014

Friday 7/11/14 - Feeling Uninspired, Get Well Soon, Sir Mick & This Week's Wristwatches.

- Friday 6:34pm  AEST - 

Can't say I'm in the mood for this week's entry. I've been thinking lately about these weekly watch posts. Not sure if I want to continue them to such a degree, since they do tend to take up a bit of time to write. Anyway, I'll see how I go. 

Had a couple of bike rides last weekend with my son. Decided to wear the Seiko 7002;

Man, I don't know why these pics never rotate properly on my computer before I upload 'em. 

Later in the afternoon, I checked this blog and found a new comment posted on a post I wrote almost a year ago;

"What are you, my mother?" was my first thought. Would've been nice if they had left a name. Anyway, I can't worry about what somebody thinks. I have more important crap to occupy my mind. As it happens, I had another idea for a rom-com/screwball comedy screenplay yesterday while driving home from classes. Four main characters, two main objectives. As soon as I can figure out the motivation for two of those characters, there may just be enough in it for a decent story. 
However, you know the old saying- dying is easy, comedy is hard. 

             Took off the Seiko and switched back to the Omega Railmaster from last week while I continued working on an Occupational Health & Safety Newsletter due in on Friday;

               It was Melbourne Cup Day here. I put a few bucks on a few different horses. Red Cadeaux placed second. For the third year in a row, so I re-couped a little bit. This year's race was marred by a couple of tragedies. One of the favourites, Admire Rakti, collapsed in his stall and died shortly after the race. Another horse, Araldo, was being led back to the mounting yard after the race when somebody in the crowd waved a large, bright flag as he passed. This spooked the horse who lashed out and got tangled in a fence, breaking one of his legs in the process. The injury was assessed and Araldo was later put down. 
There is big, big money in this race. Horses and trainers come to Melbourne from around the world to participate. However, I have to admit that I've always found it a little harsh on the horses themselves, what with the use of the whips and how these animals are pushed to their limits over the 3200m race, not to mention the rigorous training in the lead-up. 
I would like to think that some major changes will come out of these two deaths, the sort of changes which take the welfare of these beautiful creatures into greater account.
And I'm not sure if I want to bet on these races anymore.

         Headed into town briefly. Took the Olympus OM2n with me, just in case I felt like taking some pics. I was wearing the Sinn 103 St Sa chronograph;

On the way to the train station, I heard on the radio that The Rolling Stones concert that was due to take place tomorrow at Hanging Rock has been cancelled. Singer Mick Jagger has come down with a throat infection. I'm sure you'll never read this, Sir Mick, but I hope you get well soonish. And thanks for all your efforts thus far;

I got home a few hours ago and switched the leather strap on the watch back to its steel bracelet;

That guitar plectrum was given to me by a neighbour who was a madder Stones fan than I am. He hung around after one of their concerts back around 12 years ago and got to talking to one of the roadies who gave him this guitar pick. 
"Did somebody use this one?", he asked the roadie. 
Keith", was the roadie's reply.

I'm gonna get a box frame made up for this thing one day. 

Thanks for reading and have a good weekend, all!