Thursday 28 May 2015

Happy Birthday, Mr Fleming...

Today, May 28th, is Ian Fleming's birthday. Up above is page one* of his first Bond novel, Casino Royale. I have read that Fleming spent considerable time on that first line, writing a few different drafts and versions of it before settling on one that he was happy with. It's always daunting writing the first line. It can sometimes set the tone for the entire story.

Left; Fleming once wrote of Bond looking very similar to the American singer/composer/pianist Hoagy Carmichael.

Right; It was this description of Bond that wound up as the basis for OO7 in a comic mini-series (Permission To Die) written and illustrated by Mike Grell (for Eclipse Comics) back in the early Nineties.

For those not familiar with the plot of Casino Royale, it concerns British Intelligence operative James Bond, who happens to be a seasoned card player in his spare time, being assigned by M to play Chemin de fer against the mysterious Le Chiffre, a French Trade Union Treasurer with communist sympathies, who is funnelling his gambling winnings to a branch of SMERSH, the Soviet counter-intelligence section of the Russian Secret Service.The idea is for Bond to bankrupt Le Chiffre, thus crippling this supply of funds.
Not long after the first game, Bond's HQ sends along Vesper Lynd, a low-level agent, to assist Bond where necessary.
Things escalate after that. As a spy story, it works well enough, but as a thriller, it works very well, moving along at a good pace with some tense moments and introducing us to a character that would still be a part of popular culture sixty years later. No mean feat.

Today also sees the unveiling of the title and premise of a new Bond novel by British author Anthony Horowitz.
The book is called Trigger Mortis.**
This title doesn't grab me, but I'm wondering if it will be a phrase uttered by a character in the book, in which case, I can accept it.
The story, which incorporates some unused material written by Ian Fleming, takes place a few weeks after the Goldfinger affair and it concerns the US and Soviet Space Race. Big news for fans is that this story will see the return of Pussy Galore, the Bond Girl from Goldfinger.

I have high hopes for this one, folks. Yes, yes, I said the same thing about Sebastian Faulks' effort, Devil May Care (2008), Jeffrey Deaver's Carte Blanche (2011), and Solo (2013), written by William Boyd.
These three books were fine efforts, but for me, they lacked a certain tension that I had come to expect from a James Bond story.
Faulks and Boyd did much to capture the essence of a Bond thriller, but I never got a sense that Bond was placed in impossible situations and had to rely on his wits and determination to get himself out of them. Deaver's book, Carte Blanche was an entire re-boot of the OO7 character and thus, we saw him painted as a man in his early 30s, being recruited by a shadowy corner of British Intelligence and I was none too thrilled with reading this new version of James Bond.

Anthony Horowitz plied his trade as a screenwriter on British TV shows, such as the atmospheric Foyle's War and Agatha Christie's Poirot, before embarking on a literary career with his series of Young Adult fiction about Alex Rider, a teenager who gets caught up in spy tales, as well as numerous other novels. He's certainly been in the writing game long enough and I have a good feeling that he'll be able to marry a cohesive plot with some tense action, while staying true to the character of James Bond.
Believe me, it's harder than it looks.

So anyway, I'll pour myself a bourbon*** later this evening and drink a toast to the man who introduced me to Mr. Bond, as I count down the days to the release of the new OO7 adventure in September.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Fleming.

                                                  Picture courtesy of


* Well, it's a transcript of page one.

** Special thanks to The Book Bond- The New Bond Novel is: "Trigger Mortis"

*** Bond's choice of alcohol when travelling abroad. Dammit, I just checked the liquor cabinet. All I have is Slate! Looks like I'll have some Glenmorangie instead.
It'll go down smoother, and it's more in keeping with Bond's Scottish ancestry, too.

Friday 22 May 2015

Friday 22/5/2015 - Life Is Busy, Yet Quiet & This Week's Wristwatches.

             We've been watching Season One of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D on DVD. It's a very well done show, I have to say. The writing is sharp, with snappy dialogue, and the plots are clever. I was wearing my Omega Speedmaster Professional for most of the week (right);

The show's main protagonist is Agent Phil Coulson, played by Clark Gregg. This character appeared in a couple of the IronMan and Thor films, as well as The Avengers. 
In order to capitalise on the success of the above-mentioned franchises, Marvel Studios decided to put together this TV series about this multi-layered government agency, and it enlisted the help of wunderkind Joss Whedon, who achieved phenomenal television success with Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Firefly in the 1990s and early Noughties.  
Whedon has recently come under fire from feminist groups who have stated that his latest Marvel Studios movie, Avengers: Age of Ultron, was misogynistic in its portrayal of ex-Russian spy/assassin Black Widow, played by Scarlett Johansson.
Without me wading into this debacle, I will state that Whedon was lauded in the past for writing strong female characters and this is again evident in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. While Joss Whedon doesn't write the screenplays for the show, he is the Executive Producer, so I would imagine that he'd have some degree of control over how it's characters are written and portrayed.
So basically, I don't agree with this feminist take on Mr. Whedon. And I'm married to a feminist.

Anyway, I wrote all of the above to point out that Agent Phil Coulson wears an Omega Speedmaster Professional in the show. 'Cos he's badass!;

picture courtesy of

               Switched over to the Omega Seamaster AquaTerra Co-Axial;

I tried my hand at making a key-holder out of leather, courtesy of an old baseball glove. Not 100% crazy about how it turned out, but it was a good exercise in seeing how it worked and how practical (or not) it is on a day-to-day basis. It can be a little fiddly to use.

            Switched over to the Camy Club-Star;

Yep, things are still quite busy with school and work-hunting, and yet no major happenings 'round these parts.
So I think a breather is in order, so that I can concentrate on more pressing matters. I may slowly add to some posts that are still in draft stages, but I'll see how I go.

Anyway, thanks for reading, take care, and bye for now, all.





Thursday 14 May 2015

The Typewriter Collection No. 17 - Smith-Corona Skyriter, circa 1954

I like the sleek and low-profile case that it arrived in. The handle looks a little fragile, though. I may replace it with leather. I'm also considering giving this case a paint-job, but I'll have to give some serious thought to how I remove the existing colour.
Having read a few recent posts by Baesun on his blog...
Of Type and Ink - Updates and Painting Skyriters
...I'm reluctant to go messing with lead paint and all of the associated risks. I may try a solution called Ripper Stripper to remove the old colour. 

Not sure how I feel about this carriage-return lever. It's shorter than I'm used to, and I have to say it can feel a little 'aggressive' against the finger. Almost feels a tad sharp, to be honest, though this is nothing that some light filing or sanding down wouldn't fix.

I love how this machine types. Very responsive. I removed the two screws which, remarkably, make it possible to remove the entire inner workings from the outer shell, and began to once again think about changing the colour of this typewriter from its industrial grey shade to something a little more eye-catching. Maybe a pale cream colour to contrast against the dark green keytops and Smith-Corona logo on the ribbon cover.
However, I'm not sure about this. I don't really have the time to devote to such frivolities right now, but it is something to ponder.
But, man, that carriage-return lever has me slightly bugged. I had one other thought; I'm thinking of keeping an eye out for the Sears version of this machine, the Tower Chieftain III. Looks pretty much exactly like a Skyriter, but it has a longer return lever and a nice, cool 1960s logo. From what I gather, the Chieftain III was made in the early to mid Sixties. I hope they have a similar typing action to this Skyriter. Anybody who has both of these machines, feel free to chime in with an opinion.
I know I could go for a later model Skyriter from the early '60s, but I'm thinking that a rebadged Smith-Corona, i.e; the Tower,  would break up the collection a little. I already have three S-Cs, after all. 

The rubber feet have seen better days, but they're still intact. I will still replace them with some new rubber at some point to provide some better grip.  Other than that, this typewriter is in great working condition. Looks like the kind of thing an engineer from McDonnell-Douglas would have carried around in the mid-Fifties while Chuck Yeager broke through to Mach 2.44.
They bred 'em tough back then.

Thanks for reading!

Friday 8 May 2015

Friday 8/5/15 - Assignment No. 2 (of 9) Done, Typewriters Come & Go, Happy Birthday Miss Hepburn! & This Week's Wristwatches.

Last Weekend
                        I was going to go and have a look at a house auction on Saturday morning, but since my wife and I had ruled it out as a potential purchase, there was really no point going. The real estate agent (a nice lady) informed us that she was expecting it to fetch around $700,000 to $730,000. I read in the paper the following day that it was Passed In at $830,000 and the Reserve Price (the minimum that the seller would expect) was $850,000. We're going to see more of these over the next few months. Estate agents will always claim that they don't have a crystal ball ("No! Really??) and therefore can't give a more accurate indication of price. I suspect this is true to an extent, since emotion can kick in on the day and people can wind up bidding higher than they'd planned to. However, these agents must have a better idea of what a house will sell for, once they factor in condition, size, location, etc. However, since they're gonna make 2% of the selling price as commission, it is in their interest to see the house sell for as much as possible.
Anyway, the game (and it is a game) continues. 
I wore the Submariner for most of the day;

...and switched over to a watch that I haven't worn very much at all in recent years, the Oris Modern Classic;

Thirty-seven millimetres in diameter, with a rose-gold bezel, this is a nice dress piece. My daughter likes this one, which probably explains why I haven't worn it so much. I'll give it to her in a few years.

I sat down to tackle another assignment. This one involved logging on to a facsimile of a library management system and issuing/returning some books from and to the database. I had put this one off for the past week because I thought it would be quite an undertaking. However, once I got started, it moved along at a pleasant pace and I was done within an hour or so. I see my handwriting's gone to hell.

                                                                         picture below courtesy of klimbims (on
And Monday (4th) was also the late Audrey Hepburn's birthday. She was born in Belgium in 1929 and died (way, way too soon) in Switzerland in 1993. When you stop to think about it, you soon realise that there was nobody else quite like her. Although appearing in about half a dozen films before her breakthrough role in Roman Holiday (Dir: William Wyler, 1953), she came along at a time when Hollywood began paying more attention to Marilyn Monroe, who appeared in Niagara (Dir: Henry Hathaway) that same year. Funny how no two actresses could be more dissimilar. Monroe would have been great to have a couple of drinks with, but Hepburn would have been an extraordinary dinner companion. Waif-like, pixie-haired, and with that great voice, she went on to have a wonderful film career which took second-place in later years to her work as an ambassador for UNICEF.

Remember if you ever need a helping hand - Audrey Hepburn
 picture courtesy of

                    Okay, it's now 9:37am and today's a busy one;

-Submit Assignment.
-Check e-mails. (Got a knock-back for a library job. Ahh well, their loss. Onto the next.)
-Black skirt for ****** (my daughter's in a school musical this week and she needs to look 'corporate'.)
-Washing on the line. Bring in if dry.
-Breakfast dishes to be done.
- ***** doing Community Service, 1:30pm-3:30pm.
- Pick ****** up at 3:10pm-3:20pm
-Pick ***** up at 3:30pm
-Early dinner for ******.
 -*****'s tennis lesson at 6:00pm till 6:45pm.
-****** at rehearsal at 6:00pm till 10:30pm(!). This one's tricky. My wife finishes work at five and she may get home in time to drop our son off at his tennis lesson. I'll already be on the road taking our daughter to rehearsal.
-Pick ****** up from rehearsal at 10:30pm-11:00pm. 

UPDATE- 11.52pm: All done. Daughter is in the bathroom removing make-up. She really needs to get to bed.

Still on the topic of typewriters, I was a little disheartened to find scans of a couple of my typewriter owner's manuals on the web without any attribution to me being mentioned. Ahh, well, there are more important things I could worry about.

Anyway, here's a close-up of the Skyriter's scratched body;

One other layer of colour underneath the crinkle-paint, then what? Steel? Plastic? Papier-Mache!?

Anyway, that's another week done. The lady who purchased my Olympia is swinging past my house tomorrow on her way to her parent's house. How handy that they live ten minutes away from me. Quick recap: Ribbon vibrator works, lifts up when it's supposed to, but there's no imprint on the page. Strange. Hopefully, it will be an easy fix.

We're off to see my daughter perform in her school musical tonight. So many late nights for everyone this week. I think I'll keep the Speedmaster on my wrist;

Have a great weekend, all!

Friday 1 May 2015

1/5/15 - Sneaky Real Estate Agents, Protein, Protein, Protein, Goodbye To Two Typewriters & This Week's Wristwatches.

Back when I worked in the watch industry and was getting sick of it, some customers suggested that I go into selling cars. One fellow I knew used to work in the after-care department at one of the major European dealerships and he told me just how precarious a car salesman's life could be; "You work with these guys for months and if they don't make their sales targets, they're gone. I went in on a Monday and asked 'Hey, where's Joe? I saw him on Friday', and they'd tell me 'We finished him up on Friday afternoon. He didn't hit his targets for the last week.' "
And that's why I never went into car sales. A few customers suggested I go into real estate, but...

And that's why I'll never go into real estate. I think I'd have to make too big a compromise of my moral code, and after a while, I'd look in the mirror and begin to despise the person looking back at me. No matter how much money he was making.
Looking at the plans of this house, we decided anyway that it would need some serious configuration of rooms, since the third bedroom was pretty small. Lady Teeritz and I have sat down and written up a checklist of what we'd like in our next house. And what we don't want. No flat roof, no corner block, no shoe-box sized bedrooms. The hunt goes on. 

Been on a bit of a protein kick this week. The average adult male requires 56 grams of protein per day. So, I began taking a closer look at foods that offered a healthy dose of the stuff. I went slightly overboard on the first day;

- 1 egg (hard-boiled)     13 gms
- Almonds (handful)       3 gms
- Sustagen Sport            14.7 gms (it's a chocolate powdered milk additive for use after exercise)
+ Skim Milk (250ml)      8 gms
+ 1 egg thrown in          13 gms

Total Protein = 51 gms

And it wasn't even midday yet! For lunch, I had a tuna salad. That's another 22 grams of protein. Afternoon snack was another handful of almonds, so there's another 3 grams right there. And, for dinner, Chorizo sausages with some vegetables, mainly potatoes. That was 22 more grams for the day. Total intake came to 98 grams! Okay, slow it down a little. Next day's intake? Thirty-seven grams.  Now, if I can just get it all somewhere between these two totals, I should be fine.

Found a copy of Captain America: The Winter Soldier on BluRay for $25 bucks! When I got home, my wife looked at me and raised an eyebrow; "I don't know how you could have forgotten that I bought a copy of this on eBay a few days ago. You were sitting right next to me when I hit 'Buy It Now', and I even asked you if I should get it." 
I need to improve my memory. After I return this movie to Target.

I was going to switch to the Submariner 5513, but decided to keep the Omega on instead. Looking forward to getting the Skyriter. Seller claimed that it had been recently serviced and is working properly. I certainly hope so. It's one typewriter that's been on my mind for a couple of years.

Anyway, gang, it's now Friday afternoon. It's been a sunny day here. Although, the nights do get quite cold. Another thing we'd like in our next house- central heating. We've spent too many a cold Winter's night in a chilly house. 
Hopefully, we'll find something sooner rather than later, but I think we'll have to listen to a little more BS before we get the keys to our next house. Yeah, I'm feeling a little more cynical than usual. 'Cos I don't like getting jerked around by real estate agents who keep changing their story.
However, there's a great deal more good things in my life than bad. And the bad things are just inconveniences, after all.

I switched over to the Submariner, too. Call me weak.

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend, all!

- typecasts were done on a 1956 Smith-Corona Silent Super and a 1946 Royal Quiet De Luxe.