Monday 28 September 2020

Monday, September 28th, 2020 - Goodbye Mrs Bond, Oh My Dear Dussy, DVD Culling, Happy Birthday Princess! + Recent Wristwatches

This month saw the passing of Dame Diana Rigg, at the age of 82. She starred in the 1960s British TV series The Avengers and in the later seasons of Game of Thrones in the past decade, as well as appearing on stage and screen throughout her career. 

picture taken from Wow, I've never seen this photo before. Cool!

But any Bond fan worth his PPK will know that she played the one woman that Bond has ever married (so far) and therefore she occupies a rare spot in OO7 lore. Rigg starred as Contessa Teresa 'Tracy' Di Vicenzo, the troublesome and wayward daughter of Corsican crime boss Marc-Ange Draco and she delivered a performance that was equal parts strong and brittle.

In their attempts to lure Sean Connery back after he quit the role following the release of 1967's You Only Live Twice, EON Productions offered to cast Brigitte Bardot as Tracy which, in my view, would have been sensational. I mean, sure, Bond would quit the Secret Service to marry somebody who looked like Bardot, but I think Rigg's acting chops were definitely sharper and while Bardot would have been cool - assuming she said 'yes' to the role - I think the part required somebody that we the audience could fall in love with too. You had to believe that Bond would drop everything to marry a girl like her. And Diana Rigg made you believe it.

I'm 54 years old and am now at the age where all the formative characters from the early films that helped make me a James Bond fan are getting older and leaving this life. Roger Moore died in 2017 and some of the major Bond Girls also left us in the past couple of years, most notably Honor Blackman and Tania Mallet, who both appeared in the classic Goldfinger, and Claudine Auger, who starred in Thunderball, as well as Nadja Regin (From Russia With Love and Goldfinger) and Molly Peters (Thunderball). 

Speaking of Bond,  the new trailer for No Time To Die was released in the first week of September.

As you may know, this is Daniel Craig's swansong in the role. No news on who'll be the next OO7, but that hasn't stopped the river of speculation. 

Henry Cavill has once again been mentioned, as has Tom Hardy, fuelling further speculation that Batman/Inception/Tenet director Christopher Nolan could be attached to helm the next movie. Watch the first ten minutes of The Dark Knight Rises or the last 20 minutes of Inception to get an idea of how Nolan would handle a Bond movie. Let him write the screenplay too, I'm begging you. 

I think Henry Cavill would be good, but Tom Hardy just strikes me as too close to Daniel Craig in terms of build and screen presence. I would love to see Sam Claflin (below) as Bond, as he has a look that would be closer to Ian Fleming's original template in the novels. 

In Fleming's book's, Bond is fit, but he's not got the kind of build that Daniel Craig has. He has a leaner physique, more like a swimmer than a body-builder. Claflin has a nice look about him and at age 34, he could probably handle three or four Bond movies over a 12 or fifteen year period.

Anyway, casting for the next Bond is so far away at the moment that it's not really worth considering. As is sometimes the case, some new actor may appear on the horizon in 2022, an actor who hasn't yet made a name for himself. I'm sure there's a youngish English actor out there who's just completed a tv series that's yet to air. Let's say this tv series then becomes big, like a Downton Abbey or Sherlock Holmes. Next thing you know, this actor is the talk of the town. He appears in a film or two and he's soon being touted as a potential Bond. It's happened often enough. 

Anyway, Bond fan must wear Bond watch, so I had the Rolex Submariner 5513 on my wrist in recent weeks;

I was standing outside a shopping centre, wearing a mask on a sunny Spring day, when I glanced down at my watch and thought it might make for a decent photo. While I waited for my wife to finish some grocery shopping, I took a few snaps. As an aside, I have to say that we've been doing more incidental trips to the supermarket to stock up on supplies during this Covid-19 lock-down. Certainly spent more on groceries than usual. The upside is that I filled my car's fuel tank on August 5th (approx.) and it's still only half-empty as of today, September 21st.                                                                 Swings and roundabouts, I suppose. 
At the time of writing (Sept 20th), Covid-19 cases here in Victoria have shown significant decreases.
Sept 1st - 73
Sept 5th - 71
Sept 10th - 48
Sept 15th - 46
Sept 20th - 13
It has varied a little up and down throughout this month, but the signs are there that numbers are falling, hopefully to the extent that the current lock-down, due to be softened on September 28th, may be lifted further, to allow more people to return to work. 
Anyway, wait and see.

We took the cats to the vet for their routine shots. I mentioned that Dussy, our older cat, was drinking a little more water than normal in recent months. They told me they'd take a blood and urine sample to check for renal dysfunction and diabetes, since this cat of ours is now around thirteen years old (we think?) and they can be susceptible to these types of issues at that age. 

We got a call from the vet a couple of days later. Our feline has the early stages of renal failure. Her kidneys aren't operating as smoothly as they should in removing waste and purifying the blood. Her condition will deteriorate over time, but we can change her diet in the meantime and this should give her anywhere between six to twelve months or as long as two to three years. 

My wife had her mobile phone on speaker as the vet was explaining all of this. I sat there in stunned silence and then I turned around and saw Madame sitting at my feet, looking up at me and my eyes welled up. I had some questions that I wanted to ask the vet, but I knew my voice would break if I spoke.

I spent a few mopey days dealing with other stuff, such as work emails, chores around the house and such, and then wrote down a few questions for the vet. I called her later in the week and had a brief discussion about where to go from here. She stated that Dussy (also known as 'Wispy'...and a thousand other names that she doesn't answer to) would require a prescription diet consisting of protein-rich canned food which would slow down the degeneration of her kidneys thereby extending her life-span. I still felt bad after hanging up the phone. 

Later in the day, I went to a nearby pet store to buy some of this prescribed food. They had a vet there and she ran me through the feeding portions for this new diet. She also told me not to worry so much about this. A change in diet can add more years to the cat's life than my current vet had stated. Madame may last another five years or more. One fellow over on a wristwatch forum that I visit told me that his cat lived another ten years after a diagnosis of renal failure.  He said his cat outlived the vet! 

My family also reassured me that Madam Dussy is still as spry as she ever was. She's definitely more active than our other cat, Bowie. So, we've been introducing this new food to her over the past few days and she's having no problems with it. She currently weighs 3.15 kilos, which is a slight drop since her last visit to the vet. The idea is to get her up to 4kg and then maintain it. 

We'll see how she goes over the next few months. 

I think she suspects something. They're trying to fatten me up! Trying to ruin my svelte, youthful figure.

I wore the Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean at some point;

The Olympia SF was sold (see previous post). I like the look of it, and the fact that Fleming used one at his house in Jamaica, but I've always found Olympia super-slim typewriters a little loud and rough to type on. My Tower Chieftain III (a Smith-Corona Skyriter by any other name) is a smoother machine, and I still have my Olivetti Lettera 32 - my high school weapon of choice, that I bought brand new in 1981 - and the circa 1958 Groma Kolibri. 

Then, I looked at some other typewriters that I thought of moving along. I laid out the circa 1952 Olivetti Studio;

I really like the design of this typewriter. It's screams 'wartime Italy' , since its design stems back to the Studio 42 model from, yep, 1942. I bet Vittorio De Sica hammered out a few screenplays on one of these throughout this career. The ribbon cover lifts up like the bonnet (hood) of a 1960 Alfa Romeo Sprint (hinged at the front of the lid, rather than the back). This is a solidly-built typewriter and, despite the racket, I love how the keys feel when I type on it. But, man, is this typewriter loud! I could get the platen re-covered by J.J. Short in the US, but I have other priorities. And I suspect that if I ever send a platen to get re-rubberised, the smart thing to do would be to send a few of them in one hit.

 And the other typer that I hauled out was the circa 1951 Olympia SM2;

I loaded a sheet of paper into both of them and started typing. I love how the Olivetti looks, but it has a hard touch to the keys and the typeslugs are loud as they hit the platen. The Olympia SM2 is wonderful to type with. I also have a SM3 model from 1954 which types just as nicely. 

So far, it feels like a case of brains vs beauty. I think in the end, the Olivetti will go, but I don't think I'm ready to let it go just yet. This is as much an exercise in de-cluttering as it is anything else. As I've said before, if it ain't being used, it's just taking up space. I have fourteen typewriters, and I'm trying to get it down to a respectable dozen.     

Possibly a Baker's Dozen, the way I'm going. I think I'll have to lay them all out and have a bash at the keys on all of them. I already know that my 1936 Smith-Corona Standard types a little rough, but it's charisma is through the roof!

Have to say I'm really enjoying Any Human Heart, by William Boyd. The protagonist, Logan Mountstuart, has gotten out of Oxford and has tried his hand at writing a few books and selling artwork as World War II looms. Told in the first person, the character of Mountstuart comes off the page, with all of his observations, quirks and flaws.

Okay, I have a lot of DVDs. I haven't counted them but there are quite a few that I've accumulated over the last fifteen or twenty years. Movies, TV show box-sets, Japanese animes, foreign films, etc. As I continue to (slowly) de-clutter here and there, I thought it was time to do something about them. I purchased a DVD ripping software app and began loading films onto a 1Tb portable hard drive. These are films that have no Director's commentaries or worthy (in my view) extras. A lot of them are movies from the '80s, such as The Money Pit, The Fabulous Baker Boys, Bull Durham, Midnight Run. This collection of discs filled up a 6.5 foot tall DVD shelf, two drawers of the tv cabinet, and a wooden chest that was in a corner of the lounge room. Something had to be done. 

Aside from the portable hard drive, I bought some plastic sleeves off eBay. These can hold up to three discs, as well as the cover insert from the DVD's jewel case. 

I also bought some small paper envelopes for CDs. These would be used for the extra discs of any double or triple-disc set. I was then going to hunt around for plastic tubs or boxes that could hold a stack of these DVD sleeves. To my surprise, I found that a standard cardboard wine box would hold anywhere from 70 to 85 films, depending on how many extras discs they came with. Perfect. 

We have another tall DVD shelf in the spare room and that's loaded with music CDs. My wife was getting rid of her entire CD collection and I suggested that I could burn her favourite albums into iTunes and then load them onto the 160 Gb iPod that I bought for her about five years ago that she's never used. One-Sixty Gig should hold every CD in the house. I plan on slipping my CDs into plastic sleeves as well, since a lot of my music is made up of hard-to-find movie scores and soundtracks, a lot of Rolling Stones, Bowie, Springsteen and The Beatles. This is all a big job, but when it's all done, the leftover DVD and CD collections should all fit onto the 6.5 foot tall DVD shelf in the spare room, hopefully with room to spare.

The fiddly part of this task is the TV series boxed-set collections. All seven (or is it eight?) seasons of the Kiefer Sutherland series 24 comprise of 55 discs! Add other shows, such as Mad Men, Alias and The Sopranos and you can see that I'll have my work cut out for me. Thank God I never started buying The Simpsons! I've already started loading Magnum PI onto the hard drive. Once that's done, I may try putting all eight seasons on eBay. Got a soft-spot for this show. More than likely, I'll probably end up watching every episode over the next few years and then delete them from the hard drive. 

So, at the moment, I have a lot of empty DVD jewel cases lying around and a bag full of movies to get rid of, with more on the way as I continue to burn onto the hard drive and/or store into sleeves. Then, the plan is to take them to a nearby nursing home and offer it to them free if they have a TV room for their residents. Failing that, they'll all go to a thrift store. 

Now, the only wild card with this whole process is the portable hard drive. From what I've read, these can degrade over time, rendering their contents useless. Well, I guess I'll just take my chances. Maybe transfer the contents onto a new drive in three to five years or so,  

I wore the Omega Seamaster 300 WatchCo edition while working on this momentous act of folly;

And also the Movember Edition Oris Divers SixtyFive, on a black NATO strap;

My daughter turned 18 this month.  The years have flown by. We made her favourite meal for her birthday (lasagna) and I gave her her presents. She's had an eye on my Pelikan M400 fountain pen for some time, but as you may know, fountain pens require a little more care and feeding than a basic ballpoint pen, so I got her the ballpoint equivalent of my 'milk & honey' pen. And I got a leather NATO strap for her to put on her other Oris watch.



And then, after dinner, I mixed her up a Grasshopper cocktail;

30ml of Green Crème de Menthe          

30ml of Crème de Cacao                

30ml of cream                                   

Put all three ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake for 20 to 30 seconds and then pour into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a sprinkle of grated chocolate. Serve. 

It basically tastes like a mint-flavoured chocolate bar, but it IS a classic cocktail. Probably goes very nicely with an ice cream dessert. So, she had it along with a tartufo.  

Not a bad way to spend your 18th Birthday in lock-down.

I picked up a $40 bracelet off eBay, to try it out on the Tudor Oyster hand-wound watch that I recently had serviced. I opted to try out a 'straight-edged' bracelet because I already have a couple which feature a curved edge and they just don't fit against the watch's case properly.  Straight-edge bracelets were used on watches during the 1950s. Yes, they leave a gap between case and bracelet, just like a leather strap would, but I have no quibbles with this, as the watch dates back to somewhere between 1958 and say, 1963. This bracelet suits the watch perfectly. It does feel a little cheap, as any $40 buck steel bracelet might, so I may purchase something similar, in a higher price bracket if I find that this one gets more wear. 

I currently still have two watches that have been repaired and are awaiting collection from the watchmaker. He had to close due to the lock-down, so with a bit of luck, I should be able to go pick them up in the next few weeks. And then, time to put a few watches on eBay. 

Friday, September 25th

                                      This statewide lock-down is due to be lifted in the next few days, subject to Covid cases staying low. The last seven days have shown;

18th - 48    19th - 24     20th - 13    21st - 14     22nd -30     23rd -31     24th -10    25th -17              


          5                7                  5                 2                   3                    5                    2                    8

Difficult to tell if the numbers will subside to single digits for a consistent period of time, signalling that our state has this virus under some sort of control.  Either way, my employer has applied for worker permits so that we can return to work in a limited capacity. I'll be heading in to the office next Thursday and Friday, along with the watchmaker, to tackle the work that has mounted up since August 4th. The other staff will do two-day shifts on other days. This two-day roster may well continue through the rest of October and possibly into November as well. 

The office will be given a deep clean twice daily. I plan to wipe down surfaces before and after touching them, but I also plan on staying at my desk as much as possible, to minimise the amount of surfaces that I touch. No couriers are permitted to visit our office. All deliveries will be sent to our post office box address. We'll still conduct Zoom meetings every morning at 10:30, to keep us all in the loop. Till we get back to some kind of normal, or the 'new' normal, that's how things will be. 

Can't say that I've moved mountains during this lock-down period. Glad to have gotten the DVD task underway and I started exercising also, though not on as regular basis as I'd like. I'll have to work out a proper routine for it. 

Still, the family have been together throughout this time and nobody has picked up an axe and wiped everybody else out. We've all gotten along fine, with only minor fraying of tempers here and there. Not only that, but I filled the tank of my car on August 5th and I still have half a tank left over. The only driving I've done over the past two months has been to the nearby supermarket, staying within the 5 kilometre radius of my house. 

Yessiree, Bob, I'll be glad when this whole mess is over. 

And a couple more watch photos. I also wore the Citizen Eco-Drive Nighthawk this month;

And the Sinn 103 St Sa Chronograph;

I hope you've all been well, and thanks for reading!

Stay safe!