Thursday 23 April 2015

24/4/2015 - Job-Hunting Continues, Revisiting Bond, & This Week's Wristwatches.

Still busy 'round these here parts. Sometimes, all you need is a cup of tea. Just to slow things down for a few minutes. I had the WatchCo Omega Seamaster 300 on a Bond NATO strap wrapped around my wrist last weekend. 
You know, I've gotten into long discussions on wristwatch forums where somebody will call these nylon NATO straps 'cheap' and they will assert that this type of strap doesn't belong on a watch that costs thousands of dollars. I beg to differ. I always mention that even a four hundred thousand dollar Ferrari will be equipped with seat-belts made from 'cheap nylon', designed to keep the driver firmly in their seat in the event of an accident. Also, because a NATO strap is made to pass underneath the case-back of  a watch (since this strap is essentially one long piece), it is perhaps the most secure strap available, and this is why it remains the choice of those who still wear a watch for scuba diving purposes. 


The main reason that I wanted to watch this film again was because I'd read the latest installment on;

A great blog by a guy named Bryant Burnette. He's basically gone through every Bond film and given them a rating, broken down by various criteria such as casting, direction, music, etc. Certainly a lot of work has gone into his reviews. And his screen-caps are divine;

Thinking about this film now, I like it as a collection of scenes, but I don't like how these scenes stack up together as a whole. The editing, while it does give you the idea and implication of what is going on, via a series of less-than-a-second images, soon begins to give you a headache. Well, that's what it began doing to me.
The cinematography is beautiful, though. And even if it didn't live up to the level set by Casino Royale a couple of years earlier, it is still a better Bond film than most of the efforts from the 1970s and early '80s.

               Got a mark back for that first assignment that I submitted earlier in the week. Forty-nine out of fifty. Good. Here I was, worrying that I hadn't addressed the criteria properly. Onto the next one, but I think I'll sit down and start it on Monday.
Felt like a drink later that evening. Switched over to the Omega Railmaster. However, I have quite a few leather straps, so I decided to put one on this watch with the view of leaving it on till Summer in an effort to wear it out and see how long it lasts. I tend to wear my watches on bracelets in Summer, since they're prone to more exposure to water, whereas Winter is all about trying to stay dry. We'll see how long this strap lasts.

Later that evening, I felt like a drink, so I raided the liquor cabinet (man, everything is half-full or less!) and poured myself something a little different from the usual;

           My wife had the day off, so we got on our bikes and headed to a nearby park which has an array of workout machines set up. If you go through these machines and do three set of ten repetitions, you don't tend to feel any strain, because you are essentially just using your own body weight. Actually, didn't feel any strain because I'm a skinny little dude. So, I went beyond doing ten reps of some of the exercises and that's when I began to feel a slight burn in my muscles (such as they are).

Well, that's another week done and dusted. I'm feeling a little more hopeful regarding work, despite what the newspapers are saying. This country is apparently headed towards 7% unemployment by next year. But I stopped believing everything I read in the papers years ago. Our mining industry has taken a nosedive in recent months thanks to China's ultra-competitive iron ore prices. That's what happens when you put all your eggs in one basket and rely on just one industry to support an entire country. However, politics is not my forte and I have very little interest in the subject, so I'll stop right there.
We're picking the kids up from school in a few hours. They think we're then heading off to view some houses that are up for sale. We're actually taking them to an afternoon screening of The Avengers: Age of Ultron, which was released yesterday.
Don't tell 'em.

Meanwhile, somebody will be at home, taking care of business;

Two meals a day, with a little afternoon snack thrown in, some lower-back and shoulder stretches throughout the day, and a helluva lot of cat-naps. What a friggin' life!

Tomorrow (25th) is ANZAC Day here in Australia and New Zealand. It's where our nations commemorate the sacrifices and efforts of those who served in the Armed Forces in wartime. This year is of particular significance as it marks the 100th Anniversary of  the landing at Gallipoli in Turkey by ANZAC Forces and their allies (I think).

Further reading can be found on wikipedia via this link; - Gallipoli Campaign


Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!

Friday 17 April 2015

17/4/15 - Very Busy, But Here's a Proof-of-Life Photo of a Watch On My Wrist...Plus a Few Others.

Much to be done. Prioritising. So, this blog takes a back-seat for a while as I tend to more pressing matters.

            I wore the Rolex Submariner 5513. Can't remember what I did that day, but I know it involved pen and paper. And since the sun was out, I had a pair of sunglasses within reach. We're well and truly into Autumn here, but we seem to still be getting little bursts of sunshine here and there.

            I continued with Assignment No. 1 of my second-last subject. Nine more assignments to go, all of them due by November. I had planned to knock these all out  within two or three months, but other stuff got in the way. So, I figure I might as well pace these out a little. I was wearing the Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean.

While I was working on this assignment, my son was at school playing handball during lunchtime. For whatever reason, he lunged for the ball and decided to kick it. One of his classmates had the same idea. They both missed the ball, but his friend's foot connected with my son's upper calf, just behind the knee. 
When I went to pick him up after school, he limped to the car. We did the whole RICE thing (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation), but his knee area looked pretty swollen by the next evening.

          His knee wasn't looking all that much better, despite the RICE method, coupled with a dose of anti-inflammatory tablets. So, he took the day off school while I made a doctor's appointment for him. The doctor checked him out and then booked him in for x-rays right away.
Afterwards, we got home, I prepared him some lunch (if you call putting a sausage roll onto a plate preparation) while he elevated his leg on a stool and sat down to watch The Avengers on BluRay. The doctor called me back an hour later to tell me that the x-ray report showed no fractures or breakage. Which was a relief. Needless to say, she suggested he take things easy for the next two weeks. My boy didn't argue with that recommendation. So, luckily, it all wasn't as bad as it could have been. I wore the WatchCo Seamaster 300 on a BondNATO strap.

Okay, this post turned out longer than I thought it would, gang. Time for a cup of Earl Grey tea. Black with one sugar. 

Thanks for reading and have a good weekend, all!

Tuesday 7 April 2015

I Had Forgotten What A Simple Pleasure A Bookshelf Can Be.

Since we are entering Autumn/Winter here, I felt it would be a good idea to bring some books in from the garage. I want to minimise any possible damage or deterioration that may occur if temperatures drop. Most of our books are stored in plastic tubs with lids, which are stacked up in the garage. My concern is that if it gets too cold in there, dew could form inside these tubs and cause mold to form on the books. Once that happens, the book's a goner. 

This would be bad enough if it happens to any of our books, but it would be catastrophic if it happens to the books we have that are out of print or of some value to us. 
So, I headed out to IKEA and bought a KALLAX (formerly known as EXPEDIT) bookshelf and spent an hour or so putting it together in the lounge room. 

Held together with about a million dowels and eight screws, I wasn't sure how sturdy this thing would be, despite being quite heavy once it was put together. Still, as far as I was concerned, it just had to last a year or so. Made from compressed particle-board, it probably won't stand up to being moved around too much or being over-loaded with heavy hardbacks and coffee table books, but for our purposes right now, it would be adequate enough. Who knows, we may use it as a room divider in the next house. IKEA also makes numerous inserts that can turn these empty shelves into cabinets with doors or slide-out boxes, but for now, all we need is a bookshelf.

We have a CD cabinet in the lounge room that had some books in it, but this was getting a little messy.

I spent the rest of the day going through the tubs and selecting some titles. My main priorities? All of my Bond books and some of my hard-to-replace crime titles. The Bonds were purchased throughout the '80s and '90s from various second-hand bookstores and these would be a headache to replace nowadays without spending a small fortune. Books that I paid a buck or two for are now selling on eBay for anywhere between seven to fifteen dollars. And some of mine are in very good condition. 
As for the crime novels, quite a few of them are currently out of print. Works by noir authors such as Jim Thompson and David Goodis(a damn genius, in my view)are impossible to find, as are the works of English espionage author Eric Ambler. Sure, I could probably get these books on eBay, but again, the costs would be prohibitive. Better to look after the ones I have. 
So, I brought in most of these, but I didn't spend as much time arranging them as I would have liked. Hence, I have classic hard-boiled crime titles mixed in with the works of Hemingway and Somerset Maugham. My wife sifted through her books and selected a bunch of children's titles. Again, many of these are either not in print currently, or expensive to replace. 

The Chandler and Hammett paperbacks are in. And I recalled that I had written my initials and the year of reading on the recto page of some of these books. In pencil, of course.

"The terms recto and verso refer to the text written on the "front" and "back" sides of a leaf of paper in a bound item such as a codex, book, broadsheet, or pamphlet."
-definition courtesy of 

And not forgetting other crime authors of the era, such as James M. Cain, William P. McGivern and Charles Williams.

As for the Bonds, I had forgotten just how many copies I had. I knew I had at least two of every one of Ian Fleming's fourteen OO7 adventures, but man, these books took up two of the sixteen shelves. AND I double-stacked the shelves.

Then some literature. Mixed in with more crime, an Ambler classic, and a reproduction of The Savoy Cocktail Book.;

My wife shelved mainly her children's books and novels. Many of the paperbacks were books that she bought before I met her. 

Anyway, that's our little Easter Weekend diversion. Here's how it all looks at the moment;

While it would be nice to leave the typewriter (1956 Smith-Corona Silent Super), car (1938 Citroen 15cv TA, made by Burago)and camera (late 1950s Voitlander Vitomatic I)out on display, they would accumulate dust and we don't really need yet another thing to clean right now. I merely arranged them as such for the purposes of these photos.
The clock belonged to my parents. It's currently not in working order, but that's something else that I'll attend to when the time comes.
The glass ashtray belongs to my wife. She has a small assortment of European hand-blown glass. Notice also the long glass beaker on the floor next to the shelf.
And the Royal Doulton ceramic Union Jack bulldog is mine. It's gone back into its box for now. I'll nestle it in among the Bond books in the next house. Here it is with my oldest Fleming paperback, a copy of Live And Let Die from 1957.

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

Wednesday 1 April 2015

Adventures In Eyewear : Part Two- "Because When You're Cool, The Sun Shine On You 24 Hours A Day"

Yes, yes, I know I said I'd lay low for a while, but here's a post that I started at the beginning of Summer and, now that I'm a few weeks into Autumn, I figured I might as well put it up. 
It'll be Summer somewhere else soon.

                                        Screen-cap taken from "North By Northwest" (Dir: Alfred Hitchcock, 1959)

Right, so I have written about my prescription spectacles in a previous post;

Adventures In Eyewear : Part One- "Nice Glasses, Four Eyes!"

Now, Summer has ended here in Australia. Sure, there are a few warm and sunny days here and there, but I think the days of sun, surf  and sand have given way to Autumn, so I figured it was time to cover the sunglasses that I have gotten over the years.
The title of this post is a line out of My Science Project (Dir: Jonathan R. Butuel, 1985). This film came along hot on the heels of similar movies such as Back To The Future and Weird Science, but it didn't set the box-office on fire. But I'm not here to discuss '80s Brat Pack-laden teen sci-fi.   
There's a character in this film named Vince Latello, played by Fisher Stevens, who gets arrested and as he steps up to get his mug-shot taken, he's wearing a pair of black lensed plastic shades. The cop asks him; "Hey kid, why do you wear sunglasses at night?"
Latello replies with the line above.
It seemed a catchy enough phrase for the purposes of this post. And I've always remembered that line from the movie. It was oft-used back in my twenties when my friends and I rented a house at a seaside town for a couple of weeks one Summer. Add enough booze to a nightly card game and pretty soon, winning a hand of Poker becomes the last thing on your mind as the Jack Daniel and Canadian Club begins to run low and the ashtray fills up with the butts of Marlboro Reds and (my choice that year) unfiltered Lucky Strikes.
Before long, somebody puts on their sunglasses while playing cards and utters that line from that movie.

Anyway, the first decent pair of sunglasses that I bought was a pair of tortoise-shell RayBan Wayfarers back in 1986.

RayBan had been enjoying a resurgence in popularity thanks to their patron saint, Tom Cruise, who wore a pair of black Wayfarer frames in Risky Business (Dir: Paul Brickman, 1983) a few years earlier. A few years prior to that, in 1980, we had Dan Aykroyd and the late John Belushi wearing black acetate sunglass frames. I don't know the make of Aykroyd's sunnies, but Belushi was sporting the unmistakable Wayfarer frames.

RayBan was bought out some time ago by the Italian spectacles juggernaut Luxottica. This was good news in that it continued the production of these classic frames, among other well-known RayBan designs, but it meant that the brand was no longer Made In USA or utilised lenses made by Bausch & Lomb.

Luckily, I have a few pairs of these frames. You might recall that I had one set converted into specs, which made me look like Brains from The Thunderbirds. I recently had these converted into prescription sunglasses for driving and they currently reside in the glove-box of my car.

It wasn't long before I snagged another pair of RayBans endorsed by Mr. Cruise. This time, it was a pair of Outdoorsman frames similar to what he wore in Top Gun (Dir: Tony Scott, 1986). I say similar because I wasn't influenced by the movie. I was influenced by the cover artwork on my paperback copy of Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Identity. While Cruise wore this pair in Top Gun;

I opted for the frames which had a plastic 'sweat bar' above the bridge;

I'm not sure if the sweat bar actually does anything besides looking badass, but they were a nice looking frame. I say 'were' because, when my son was about two years old, I had these frames in my shirt pocket as I put him into his baby seat in the car. I must have leaned down a little too low because, about two minutes later, I drove out of the shopping centre car-park and reached for my sunnies in my pocket. They weren't there. I headed back up to where I had parked the car to find two dark circles on the ground where I had been. As I slowed the car down, I saw that the frames were bent at obscene angles and the 'two dark circles' were the shattered remains of the lenses. Nothing was salvageable. They were gone.
I was miserable for a week. Still, could've been worse. I could have been wearing them when they got run over.

Anyway, years passed and I wore the Wayfarers until I saw Season 2 or 3 of 24 and spotted Keifer Sutherland's Jack Bauer wearing a cool pair of what I'd always called 'VietNam-era CIA operative's sunglasses'.

 I found out a few years later that Bauer's glasses were RayBan Caravans. These frames were based on a classic 1930s design that were originally supplied to Air Force pilots. The Caravans have standard curved temples with tips that sit behind the ear, whereas the original design had straight temples so that they could be put on or taken off while wearing a helmet.
This type of aviator sunglasses became popular in Hollywood films, such as Apocalypse Now (Dir: Francis Ford Coppola, 1979), where we see Robert Duvall as Col. Kilgore all dressed for battle;
                                                                                                        Screencap taken from;
Diary of a Screenwriter

There are numerous brands on the market that make these aviator specs. Two of the more reputable companies, in my opinion, are Randolph Engineering and American Optical. You can get these frames in brushed or polished steel, gold-plate, or black PVD-coated.
When I decided to replace my crushed RayBan Outdoorsman frames, I opted for the Randolph Engineering frames in gold-plate. I felt that this was the most classic look for these frames.

Notice the straight temples. One thing, though. You need to make sure these are a secure fit. Otherwise, they'll slip off your face when you look down. Of course, you can always put a slight bend in the temples of these frames for a tighter fit.

While working in the CBD, I got to know one of the staff at a nearby optometrist. I noticed a nice pair of Persol frames one day, and the guy let me know that they would be going on sale soon. These were a nice black frame. Persol is one of the oldest optical manufacturers and their sunglasses are well-regarded. A friend of mine had a pair back in the late 1980s and I always thought they were a nicely put-together frame.
The good thing about the pair that I was interested in was that they were a different design to my RayBan Wayfarers. No point having a few pairs of sunnies that all look the same. So, I wound up getting these frames on sale;

These also have Polarised lenses to reduce glare. I first noticed this while driving one day in Summer. I glanced at my fingernails and noticed that they looked dull and matte. I removed the sunglasses and then saw my nails look shiny as the sun reflected off them. Polarised lenses are good if you do a lot of driving, or if you spend a lot of time on the slopes of Aspen during ski season.
Me, I was doing a lot of driving. 

These frames have the classic Persol signature 'spearhead' motif at the hinges. There's a nice weight to them, too. I wore them quite a lot when I first got them.
Persol make some great frames. Steve McQueen famously wore a pair of "Havana" frames in
The Thomas Crown Affair (Dir: Norman Jewison, 1968) and subsequent photos of him in private life show him wearing other Persol frames, thus ensuring this brand a coolness factor that's through the roof. Do a Google search for "Steve McQueen Persol" and a bunch of pictures will show up.

So now, I had a few different frames to choose from. When it gets sunny in Australia, it gets very sunny indeed. Given that I wear prescription glasses already, I'm careful to look after my ocular health, so I wear sunglasses whenever I'm out in the sun.
A few years went by and all was well. By now, my wife had been bitten by the sunglasses bug and she scooped up a couple of pairs of sunnies off eBay. 'I blame you!', she's often said to me. I reply with a comment about needing to protect one's eyes when out in the sun. 'You'll thank me one day, baby', I add.

During out trip to Thailand last year, I visited a store in Bangkok and saw a pair of frames by a brand called Moscot. This is a family-owned company that set up in New York in 1915. I had already seen these frames on the internet some time ago, and there was a store in Melbourne that sold them also. However, Australian Dollar prices were obscene, so I steered clear of them. In Bangkok, however, the prices were far more reasonable, so I tried on a pair of 'Lemtosh' frames in tortoise-shell. They looked great.
I had been thinking of getting a pair of frames like the ones Cary Grant wore in North By Northwest, as seen in the first picture of this post. After searching the web for info, I learned that his frames were made by a brand called Tart Optical. His particular frames, the 'Arnel', weren't available in Australia. I found Tart Optical's website and sent an inquiry. The price of these frames were somewhere around $550. Too rich for my blood.
I had decided a long time ago that there were some prices that I just wasn't willing to pay for certain items. My absolute cut-off price for spectacles, be they prescription or sunglasses, was $300.
Anyway, back to the Moscot sunnies. I tried them on in Bangkok. They fit nicely. Then I spent a couple of days thinking about it. They looked good, the lenses were fantastic, the price was right. That's my three main boxes ticked. Sold!

These frames exude a beautiful mid-century aesthetic. Comfortable to wear and very well-made, with a more reasonable price than the Tart frames. I sure the Tart sunglasses are of a high standard, but I just can't justify that kind of price.

The Moscot Lemtosh frames are a rich tortoise-shell, with brown polarised lenses. And I liked the idea of the company still being a family-run business. If I ever get to New York, I'll be sure to pop in to their store.

Of course, whilst in Bangkok, I just had to walk into another optometry store, didn't I? And that's where I saw a pair of black RayBan Clubmasters. It would seem that most of your classic spectacle frames were designed throughout the 1930s, through to the 1950s because there's been a resurgence in popularity in frames from these eras. The Clubmaster frames were introduced sometime in the Fifties and I've seen many of them used in period films over the last twenty-five years or so. These frames can be seen on Denzel Washington in Malcolm X, Kevin Costner in JFK, and Willem Dafoe in Mississippi Burning. They are a classic frame, albeit they feel a little flimsy, since they're made up of a few parts that are screwed together. Still, they're a good back-up frame. As long as one is a little careful with them.
Like the Moscot slogan says- Keep 'em in the case when they're not on your face.

These'll look great when I produce Tony Curtis' next picture in 1960.

However, man does not live by RayBans alone. My wife surprised me one day with a pair of sunglasses that she snagged off eBay for the princely sum of $20.00. These were a tortoise-shell pair of Tom Ford 'Snowdon' frames.

Normally, I tend to shy away from fashion brands or companies that aren't known for producing certain products. Tom Ford (an absolute legend in my view) was a designer for the Gucci fashion house before he branched out on his own. I normally wouldn't look twice at fashion-brand wristwatches or sunglasses, but these frames are beautifully made and very solid. The lenses are polarised, which is an added bonus, and the fit and finish are above par. Sure, their design does owe a debt to RayBan and other brands of the 1950s, but I think this is precisely the point, and, while they do look a little like a pair of Wayfarers, closer inspection begins to reveal numerous differences in aesthetics. Before long, you realise that they are quite different to a pair of Wayfarers.

Featuring the signature 'T' logo which begins at the edge of the frame and runs along the temple, these very dark tortoise-shell frames are very, very similar to what Daniel Craig has been pictured wearing in some scenes of SPECTRE, the new Bond film;

DC's sunglasses are a new frame, to be released later this year, when the film opens. No doubt, as happens with the release of a new Bond movie in The Digital Age, various style websites will be awash with information on these frames, and everything else that Bond wears in the film. There's already a slew of info about Bond's accoutrements in  SPECTRE on the fantastic James Bond Lifestyle. Com. 

That's a great website for Bond fans.

But back to the sunglasses. These frames are extremely similar in design to the Snowdon frames I have. Not that I'll be rushing out to get a pair. In one of those rare instances, I'm ahead of Mr. Bond. It happened in '08 as well, when I already had a 42mm Omega Planet Ocean and then saw Craig sporting the same model in Quantum of Solace.

Anyway, that's my collection of sunglasses. I could maybe go for a pair of Persol 649s or 714s, but there's no hurry. Summer's over here in Melbourne, although it's a nice sunny day here today as I write this.
You may think that sunglasses can be expensive, and I would agree. However, I would always advocate that one should have a pair or two of decent, quality-lensed sunnies. You can get a cheap pair of sunglasses for five bucks, but they will be flimsy frames fitted with crappy coloured glass that offers your eyes no proper UV protection. May as well wrap green cellophane around your head or wear those 3D glasses you get from a cinema.
There are numerous well-made sunnies on the market. The Randolph Engineering and American Optical aviators sell for around a hundred bucks. Same with a pair of RayBan New Wayfarers (Model No. RB2132), if you prefer plastics.
There are also a few websites that have popped up in recent years that offer some very nice frames in both prescription lenses and sunglasses. Here in Australia there are two that I know of;


BaileyNelson (thanks for the heads-up on this one, Scott K!)

And, in the US, there's WarbyParker

These three offer some very nice frames for reasonable prices. If I wasn't already sufficiently loaded up, I'd be scouring these sites.
Anyway, I've put most of my sunglasses into hibernation for the Autumn/Winter months. I have the Moscots, Tom Fords, and American Opticals within reach if I need them, but I think I won't be needing them much over the next six months or so.
If you yourself have a decent pair of sunglasses, then great. If you don't, perhaps you may want to invest a few bucks in a well-made pair.
You know me, gang. I'm always gonna say that you need a decent pen, wristwatch and pair of sunglasses.

Thanks for reading, all!