Monthly Archives: February 2014

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Gorgeous Lady of the Week — Malin Akerman

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What is it about Swedish beauties that stirs the, um, soul? Take the lovely Malin Ackerman. She made an indelible impression in Zach Snyder’s remarkably faithful (with one major exception to the deus ex machina) 2009 film adaptation of Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons’ paranoid 1980s graphic novel masterpiece, Watchmen. Dressed up in a kinky bumblebee-colored latex costume and sporting a brunette wig, Malin’s Silk Spectre was the kind of sexy superheroine dreams are made of (though not it you’re a bad guy — then you just get your ass kicked).

While she’ll never be confused with greats like Ingrid Bergman or Liv Ullman in the acting department, Ms. Akerman does tend to light up the screen whenever she’s on it with her classic Scandinavian good looks and playful charm.

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Swedish by birth, Malin grew up primarily in Canada. After acting and modeling success there, she made the transition to Hollywood with a good supporting role in Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle followed by starring parts in the Farrelly Brothers’ remake of The Heartbreak Kid alongside Ben Stiller, the formula rom-com 27 Dresses and her breakthrough in the eye-popping anti-superhero movie Watchmen.

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She’s also a rock chick, yet another turn-on, and was lead singer for the Petalstones where she met her now ex-husband, the drummer (of course — but, hey, I said “Ex” at least), with whom the 35-year-old stunner has a son. And while she left the group to focus on acting, that experience undoubtedly helped her accomplished and sexy duet with Tom Cruise singing Foreigner’s “I Wanna Know What Love Is” in 2012’s big budget classic rock musical, Rock of Ageswhere both stars do the singing for real.

Malin can currently be seen showing off her comedic chops in ABC’s Trophy Wife alongside Macia Gay Harden and Bradley Whitford. While we’re certainly happy for her success on that funny sitcom, we can’t help but wish it were on a more risque channel like HBO or Cinemax. Because the more we see of Malin, the more we like.

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The Original Explorer II — Rolex’s Funky Disco-era Classic

Early 1972 1655 Explorer II (non-luminous "baton" sweep seconds)

Early-version 1972 1655 Explorer II with characteristic dial, non-luminous “baton” sweep seconds and Mk II bezel

One of the most iconic vintage Rolexes out there doesn’t even look like a conventional Rolex. Sure, it’s got the classic 3-piece Oyster case — screw-down crown and back, pressure fit bezel — but the 1970s reference 1655 Explorer II shares very little else with its forebears. Most distinctly, the dial and hands are completely atypical for Rolex designs of that or any other era. Often fondly referred to as the “Disco Ball” by certain wags in England, the dial has an abundance of luminous “check” markers as opposed to the standard dots and bars on most Rolex Sports models such as Submariner and GMT, or the classic semi-Arabics layout of its predecessor, the Explorer.

Explorer ref. 1016, ca. 1985

Classic Explorer ref. 1016 — a distant family resemblance at best

So aside from the somewhat standard if oversize triangle at “12” the dial is an absolutely unique departure for Rolex. Upon closer inspection it is clear that the inner sequence of luminous checks corresponds to 12-hour time while the outer sequence is calibrated to the non-numbered odd-hour hashes of the fixed engraved 24-hour bezel.

It turns out that the original conception for the Explorer II was as a watch for spelunkers (!), with the highly luminous Big Orange 24-hour hand alerting the intrepid cavers as to whether it was day or night outside. Continue reading

What we’re listening to today — In a Sentimental Mood

Apologies for the radio silence — we’ve been moving the MFL world headquarters to new digs and as anyone who has moved recently (or ever) knows: it’s a time consuming PITA. But we’ll be back and running up to full strength very soon, have no fear. In the meantime here are a couple of sterling versions of Duke Ellington‘s gorgeous Jazz standard, “In a Sentimental Mood”, to tide you over while we get back up to speed.

The first is by the great John Coltrane accompanied by Ellington himself from their wonderful eponymous album:

And the second is by Coltrane’s nearest rival on the tenor sax, Sonny Rollins along with the Modern Jazz Quartet:

Enjoy that and we’ll be back with our regularly scheduled blogging soon!

One of the hairiest crashes you will ever see…

…occurred relatively early in last month’s Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona, the inaugural race of the new Tudor United Sports Car Championship. And both drivers, Memo Gidley in the Gainsco Corvette Prototype and Matteo Malucelli in the Risi Competizione Ferrari, survived.

Truly, we are living in a golden age of race car safety. Yes, things can always be improved. But just 15 years ago one of these drivers probably would have perished. The fact that neither did is testament to the efforts of motorsports as a whole and to safety pioneers like Sid Watkins and Jackie Stewart. Every driver should say a word of thanks to those persistent crusaders for the ever-improving safety of their road going cars but especially if they are weekend racers, semi-pro or professional.

The Gender Style Gap: Don’t be that guy

At a certain point in a man’s life, most likely as the big 3-0 begins to loom on the horizon, he should probably come to the realization that he can no longer get away with always dressing as if he were back in college on a couch watching football at the frat. This is especially true when escorting his lady for a night on the town or even to the movies. If you are looking like this…

Nice look, K-Fed.

And your lady is looking like this…

Ooh la la, Malin!

You are courting an irreparable style gap and you better reconsider your threads. Y’see when a woman goes to all that effort to make herself lovely, she is going to expect a little effort in return. Particularly as she gets a little older (and you do, too) she is going to start looking around and seeing all sorts of well-dressed and successful gents and wonder why it is you look like a refugee from ‘N Sync circa 2000.

You’ve come a long way, Mr. Timberlake.

It’s a matter of basic respect. When I see a couple out on a date and the woman is dressed nicely and the guy has got on sweats and a backward ball cap I think Wow, dude, make a little effort, as well as That is never going to last. Think about the conceit it takes to believe that you have to put zero effort into your appearance and your lady is still going to find you attractive over the long haul. Put simply, that sort of laziness may fly in your 20s but it rapidly loses its charms as you get older.

But fear not. It’s really not very hard to get yourself looking good without going the “full dandy”. Continue reading

Remembering Philip Seymour Hoffman with laughter

It’s easy to forget between the sadness of his untimely passing and the accolades for his “heavier” work that Philip Seymour Hoffman was damn funny in comedic roles. In particular, his scenes in 1998’s The Big Lebowski stand out as masterful comic miniatures. He doesn’t have a lot of screen time in the movie but he wrings maximum hilarity out of his uptight sycophant character, Brandt. And his interactions with Jeff Bridges are pretty much priceless.

Notice how many quirky, funny tics and mannerisms he packs into that 2-minute scene. We’ll put another scene where he introduces The Dude to Bunny Lebowski poolside below the fold because it is definitely NSFW. Continue reading

What we’re listening to today — Harry Nilsson

Just saw a really good documentary last night via Netflix streaming on singer/songwriter and soft rock superstar Harry Nilsson called Who Is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin’ About Him)?. As implied by the title, Nilsson is somewhat forgotten today but was fairly omnipresent in the late 1960s throughout the 70s, with several big hits recorded by him or written by him and recorded by other artists. You’ll probably recognize his tunes if not his name, which fall into what I lovingly call the “Crap Rock” genre (America, Player, Ambrosia, Bread, Bob Welch, etc). His own breakthrough was the theme song from 1969’s Oscar-winning downbeat classic Midnight Cowboy, “Everybody’s Talkin'”:

Although “Everybody’s Talkin'” was ironically not actually written by Nilsson, it was clear a major vocalist had arrived on the scene after many years of cult status earlier in the 60s. Of his own material, “One” is arguably his best known and also most successful single.

Even so, it wasn’t a huge blockbuster for Nilsson but rather for AOR staple Three Dog Night (as well as a ton of artists subsequently). Their signature blues-rock version reached #5 on the Billboard charts.

Having established himself in a short period as a hot commodity, Nilsson went on to have a huge commercial and critical success of his own with 1971’s Nilsson Schmilsson. Continue reading

RIP Philip Seymour Hoffman, 1967 – 2014

We’ve lost one of our finest American actors. The brilliant and gifted Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead on February 2nd in his West Village apartment of an apparent intravenous drug overdose, most likely heroin. In addition to his many highly praised film roles, Hoffman was an accomplished stage actor and director, winning special acclaim for his lead work in excellent revivals of True West, Long Day’s Journey Into Night and Death of a Salesman. He was also a co-artistic director of the LAByrinth Theater Company in New York City. Part of Paul Thomas Anderson’s informal repertory company, Hoffman appeared in 5 of his 6 films to date, including the title character in last year’s The Master. He also won the Best Actor Oscar for his uncanny portrayal of Truman Capote during the In Cold Blood years in the 2005 film Capote. He was always a standout from his first big breakthrough as the no good prep school kid alongside Chris O’Donnell and Pacino in Scent of a Woman; to his irreverent priest matching wits with Meryl Streep in Doubt; to his wonderfully touching work in Tamara Jenkins’ underrated The Savages alongside Laura Linney. In fact, his standout parts are too numerous to do them justice here so I hope you’ll explore his filmography to see what a wonderful actor he was (see below for links) even if it hurts to think that we’ll see no more from him. You’ll probably also be surprised at how prolific he was.

He leaves behind his wife Mimi O’Donnell and their son and two daughters. Just an ineffably sad day for those who admired his work and his creative spirit. We are all truly poorer for his premature passing because you never really knew what delightful thing he was going to do next.

Philip Seymour Hoffman’s full Wikipedia bio is here.

His IMDB page is here.