Friday, 19 February 2016

RIP Alice Denham, Training Days, & This Week's Wristwatches

I caught Ida reading my archived files again. She has a habit of threading the pages into her typewriter. Says she can't read them otherwise. Another of her quirks. She's got quite a few of them.

"You know, Marlowe, someday, somebody's gonna write about some of your old cases and nobody'll believe 'em. They're gonna think a guy who talks like this is just a little  too...uh...'poetic' to be a gumshoe. A little too educated, what with your fancy descriptions and stuff. Know what I mean?", she said, as a jet of smoke hissed out through her teeth like steam through a broken pipe.

"You could edit them if you like. Tone 'em down a little, remove some of the 'poetry' ", I answered, reaching for the pack of Fatimas on her desk.

"You kidding? Like I don't have enough to do around here. Maybe you should hire me an assistant. I could use a little support."

'No. You've got all the support you need, sister', I thought to myself.


While seeing this famous photo earlier this week over on the Typewriter Talk Forums, somebody mentioned how noir and Chandleresque this photo was. They said she looked like Philip Marlowe's secretary. Marlowe never had a secretary- although, my memory is a little sketchy, and I have yet to read The Long Goodbye. 
Anyway, I quickly tapped out that piece above. Any creative writing I do can only be a good thing, right? Keeps me off the streets.

Then I remembered how often the lady in this picture was mistakenly thought to be the famous opera singer, La Divina herself, Maria Callas. 
The lady in this photo was in fact Alice Denham, Playboy Magazine's Miss July for 1956. 

She was also once Adjunct Professor of English at City University of New York. She went on to write a few novels during her lifetime, as well as a memoir about her years among the New York literati in the Fifties and Sixties. Thanks again, wikipedia!

Here's a pic from the same photo-shoot. Definitely not Maria Callas, but just as divina.
Miss Denham died of ovarian cancer on January 27th at the age of 89. 
I tip my hat to her. It would seem that there were considerable smarts to match her considerable beauty. And anybody who can make looking at a typewritten page look sexy as all get-out deserves special mention. 
That cigarette in her hand ain't the only thing smoldering in that picture, bub.

Of course, if you trawl through the internet looking for pictures of  20th Century celebrities looking and acting cool, sooner or later you're going to come across a few more glaringly obvious errors of perception. 
For example, there's an entire segment of folks on Pinterest who think this lady (below right)... Marilyn Monroe. Well it ain't, see? This lady is Eva Six, a Hungarian actress who starred in a few B-movies in the early 1960s. Still, one could be forgiven for thinking that it is MM. The resemblance is pretty uncanny, but not quite 100%.
And, if you know Monroe's face well enough, you'd know that the beauty spot on her cheek is too high.

Here on the left is a pic of the real Miss Monroe (man, if you need me to tell you that, where the hell have you been for sixty years?). You can see the mole on her cheek is about an inch away from her upper lip. Where it belongs. 

Much has been made of Monroe, both during her short life and in the decades since her death. Me, I thought she was the bee's knees. Sure, she made some silly choices in her personal life (who hasn't?), but I think she was heavily exploited by the industry she worked in and some of the people around her. She didn't have a long film career. Fifteen years at best, but the first six were filled with minor roles. Nineteen fifty-three was her breakout year, with Niagara, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and How To Marry A Millionaire and the silver screen lit up when she was on it. And I think she had great comic timing. One can only wonder how she would have gone throughout the remainder of the Sixties and into the Seventies, had she lived. 

Another celebrity constantly misrepresented (by one photo!) is Sophia Loren. I chose the picture on the right because it shows Miss Loren the way she looked sometime in the mid to late Sixties, I think.

Back in 2008, the GUESS clothing company ran an ad campaign (and they've had some great ones) for its Spring/Summer Collection featuring a great photo, taken by Canadian rocker and photographer Bryan Adams, of a gorgeous model named Line Gost;

Wearing a low-cut top (and a bra struggling to keep things contained), neck scarf and a pair of skinny-leg jeans, and sporting a very '60s era Loren hairdo, one could almost be forgiven for thinking this was a picture of Sophia Loren. I said almost. Miss Gost has an extraordinary look, but I can easily tell it isn't La Loren. 
Mind you, if I was in some hotel in Rome and somebody said; "Sofia Loren's coming down to have a drink with you in the bar", and then in walked Miss Gost, I probably wouldn't argue. 
So, for the record, this lady on the left is not Sophia Loren. But this one just below is. Got it, internet?

(Blogger won't let me lift this typecast page up into this area. Or more likely, I don't know how to do it)

Started the week with the watch on NATO strap;

Switched it to the mesh bracelet;

Seen here on a 2000/2001 Jaeger-LeCoultre catalogue showing the Master Grande Taille model.
This is a nice watch from a brand that I've liked since I first saw it's classic Reverso range of watches back in the mid-Nineties.

When a watch brand sends its movements to the Chronometer Testing Institute in Switzerland, the movements are tested for a total of fifteen days, to gauge their accuracy and to determine whether the movement will receive a Chronometer Certificate from this institute. This fifteen day test equates to 360 hours. Jaeger-LeCoultre doesn't send any of its watch movements to this institute. Instead, it does its own in-house testing. However, whereas the institute conducts a 360 hour (fifteen day) test, Jaeger-LeCoultre tests its movements for a total of 1000 hours, which works out to just over forty-one and a half days.

Jaeger-LeCoultre doesn't mess around. The company is well-known for having created the world's smallest mechanical watch movement back in 1929, the Calibre 101, see here on the left. 
Absolutely amazing!

I've met many watch collectors over the years who have waxed lyrical about venerable Swiss watch brands such as Patek-Philippe, Audemars Piguet, Vacheron Constantin, to name a few. For my money, though, I would place Jaeger-LeCoultre easily within this respected group of Manufacture Swisse. 

The Master Grande Taille model in the picture above is such a simple and beautiful wristwatch. Just the time and date, clearly presented. And the in-house Calibre 889/2 inside the watch is a pleasure to listen to.
Whereas the rotor in most automatic watches that use an ETA movement can tend to sound slightly coarse or hollow at times, a quick flick of the Grande Taille elicits a whirring sound similar to that made when casting out a line from a finely made fly-fishing rod. 
It's a wonderful wristwatch and still part of J-LeC's collection. Although, the model from 2001 measures an exquisite 37mm in diameter. The current model is 40mm. For me, that's a deal-breaker for this style of wristwatch. 

Still nice, though.

Been wearing the Omega Railmaster today. It's sitting on the last of the bookshelves that I've built. An hour after this picture was taken, I was out in the carport giving this shelf its first coat of varnish. Took less time than the other two because this is a shorter shelf. 
It'll get another coat sometime over the weekend and then I'll go get the backboard. Once that's cut, varnished and hammered into place, I'm done. Oh, no I'm not. I'll be putting a decorative panel on the front of this shelf. Just to jazz things up a little. Hope it works. 

After the varnishing, I sat down and tapped out the typecast above. I'm still sorting through magazines and books, culling here and there. I have too many Lee Child/Jack Reacher thrillers. Gonna thin them down a little. 
And this copy of Vanity Fair is from November 2006! But it has a picture of Eva Green in it. Makes it tough to throw out. 

Anyway, a reasonably quiet weekend and then I'm back at the new gig on Monday to learn a little more before I start in eleven days. 

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend, all!


  1. Man, I've gotta hand it to you. I haven't seen a watch on this blog that I really didn't like. You certainly have taste, sir.
    Great to see you're getting settled into your new role. March 1 hey? Well, should be great! Let's face it.... a guy with such a passion for the subject was always going to steer back towards the fold.

    1. Just took the rest of the world a while to let me back in. It's funny because my wife was telling somebody about it all and their response was:"So, he's back where he started?" And my wife had to elaborate on the difference between retail and after-sales.
      Should be good, though.

      As for the watches, my tastes run towards the traditional. I've always tended to go for tried and true classic designs that don't date. Far safer that way.
      Good to hear from you, SK. I hope you and yours are well.

  2. Those fake sex symbols look better than the real thing. Just as well I don't collect watches!

  3. Surely you jest! The only fakes I can accept or justify are fur coats.

  4. I've never heard of Alice Denham, but I'm feeling the need to find out more.

  5. The Long Goodbye is one of the better fictional explorations of alcoholism I've ever read. Funny, I've had that one inching up the queue lately for a From Novel to Film entry. I read it years ago but wanted to circle back to it.

    I'm intrigued by this Jaeger-LeCoultre watch. And the fact that they conduct their own chrono-tests like that. Is this unique in the industry?

    The new gig sounds really solid.

    1. B Mc, I saw your post on "The Long Goodbye", but didn't read it because this book is probably the only Chandler I haven't read yet. I blame that damn Altman movie. It put me off. Not only that, but the Marlowe continuation novel from a couple of years ago, "The Black-Eyed Blonde" featured a major spoiler in it regarding Chandler's story. So basically, even though I have at least two copies of "The Long Goodbye", I'm holding off for a while.
      By the way, speaking of fictional alcoholism, have you ever read Lawrence Block's Scudder novels?

      Regarding the J-LeC, it's a company that goes above and beyond the norm. Other companies do their own in-house testing, but in doubt they are as through as Jaeger-LeCoultre. The Master Grande Taille model shown in that catalogue page of mine was discontinued about twelve years ago. The current model looks very similar, but it's a larger case. Either way, these aren't cheap. However, properly maintained, it's the last watch you'll ever buy.

      New gig is good so far. I officially start next week, but have gone in for a couple of days to learn the ropes.

    2. The good news is - I haven't written the post yet (though it's possible I hit 'publish' by accident and then had to revert to draft and you saw it appear on your blogger dashboard or something as a result; I've done that before) on 'The Long Goodbye.' But the bad news is: it'll be a 50/50 review of the book and the Altman movie! haha - oh well, I hope you enjoy at least the book-half when I eventually get around to it.

      Thanks as always for the info, here on the J-Lec. I always walk away from these posts learning something.

      And this one has Alice Denham, Eva Green, Marilyn et al. to boot, so: extra points.

      I haven't read Lawrence Block, no. Do you recommend?

    3. That friggin' Altman movie! I think I had seen the 1974 Robert Mitchum version of "Farewell, My Lovely" and that pretty much cemented in my mind how Marlowe should look. By the time I saw Elliott Gould (great actor, by the way, but wrong for Marlowe) in Altman's film, it just didn't work for me. By then, of course, I had read a couple of Chandler's books and for me, Marlowe didn't belong in 1972. Don't get me wrong. Gould could do Marlowe the Smart-Ass perfectly, but I didn't think his Marlowe could handle himself in a scuffle.

      As for Lawrence Block, read his Matt Scudder novels, for sure. His first book was "The Sins of The Fathers", but even Block himself states that you don't have to read the first four or five in order (he told me that himself. Yeah, I used to get around). In saying that, his 6th book, "When The Sacred Ginmill Closes" is a masterpiece. Maybe start with that one, then go to the first book and read them in order.
      In a nutshell, Matthew Scudder left the NYPD when he accidentally shot and killed a six year old girl (Estrella Rivera?. He then began hitting the bottle pretty hard. He ekes out a meagre living doing "favours" for people who hire him for his detective skills. He's unlicenced and he takes these jobs. Some books, he's on the wagon, others, he's back on the booze.
      I think we may be up to book number 17 or 18 by now. Definitely a well-drawn character is Matt Scudder. Forget the two movies that were made ("Eight Million Ways To Die" -although Jeff Bridges circa 1982 is how I picture Scudder in the books- and "A Walk Among The Tombstones"- starring a too-old-for-the-part Liam Neeson, even though he was quite good) and just enjoy the books as they are. Block does a wonderful job of giving Scudder a unique voice.

      As for Jaeger-LeCoultre, an absolutely killer watch brand. Definitely in the top five Swiss manufacturers, as far as I'm concerned. Actually, maybe even in the top three. And that's saying something.