Monthly Archives: March 2014

A little Monday comedy — Bowfinger (1999)

It’s hard to believe that the sly and uproarious Hollywood satire Bowfinger is 15 years old. The Frank Oz directed film from a Steve Martin-penned script tells the tale of a band of show biz hangers-on struggling to make a grade Z sci-fi flick via a highly dubious workaround to the whole lead actors-knowing-they’re-shooting-a-movie thing. It still slays with its dead-on take of what makes LA the company town it is: unkillable dreams of fame, beautiful starlets with “felxible” morals and weirdo movie stars in need of cult control. Best of all, the unlikely comedy dream team of Martin as the titular never-was “producer/director” Bobby Bowfinger and Eddie Murphy, in priceless dual roles as paranoid exhibitionist action star Kit Ramsey and his mega-dorky brother Jiff Jiffrenson (a Steve Martin character name if ever there was one), create gold when they share the screen together.

And for laugh-out-loud, funny-as-hell scenes there really aren’t that many as good this one short of primo Mel Brooks:

Oh, for that complex Starbucks order! Definitely worth renting again or even buying the DVD if you haven’t seen it in a while. It’s that good and after all these years, it holds up hysterically well. Welcome to Mindhead and Keep It Together!

Rolex collector’s site of the day —

Vintage Rolex collecting, perhaps more so than any other brand of vintage watch and especially with regards to the Sports models, is very much about the minute variations in the details of a given model line over time. Very often these changes in fonts, for example, occurred in rapid succession as Rolex ramped up production of, say, their Submariner line in response to increased demand for their iconic watches. Therefore, one sees not only relatively big changes in dial printing, such as the switch from red SUBMARINER to white in the 1680 date model or the move away from gilt/gloss dials to matte/white writing in the later 1960s, but also extremely subtle shifts in the basic fonts and printing of otherwise very similar dials that are much harder to keep track of and difficult for the unitiated to see. In the end, a lot of the main factors of a Vintage Rolex Sports watch’s appeal and value come down to hard-to-spot minutiae.

And that’s where a new site like becomes so valuable. Taking a magnifier to the Matte dial non-date Submariners that were produced from the late 1960s until the early 80s, the site’s author, longtime collector Beaumont Miller II, has catalogued the key evolutionary differences in that ultimate Rolex tool watch, the reference 5513 Submariner, during its long years of matte dial production. Now in one place we have a handy collector’s resource that makes clear the key characteristics of Maxi dials, Pre-Comex, and the early Meters-First variations, among others. And as a result of these comprehensive efforts you will see more variety in this “common” model than you previously thought possible.

If collecting Vintage Rolex is all about the details (and it is!), then is an exceptionally handy resource to consult when hunting a white-writing 5513 and determining where its dial falls in the production sequence and if in fact the printing is actually legitimate. Written in an entertaining and self-depricating style, the site is as thorough and specific as they come and shows that by looking closely and analyzing seemingly random minutiae at length, a much greater mosaic comes into view when all the puzzle pieces are finally laid into place. It’s a job well done all around and I strongly recommend it to anyone interesting in collecting these iconic Submariners.

What we’re listening to today — Monkey Gone to Heaven by The Pixies

Just a quick and dirty blast of punk rock today as life intrudes but it is often posited that without the Pixies, there would be no Nirvana. Discuss.

And remember, kids: If man is 5, then the Devil is 6 and if the Devil is 6 then GOD IS 7!!! Bless Black Francis for that bit of theology and I promise we’ll get into the Pixie ouvre in greater length — or at least crank out some more of their tunes — at a later date. In the meantime, enjoy it again live and watch out for that NY/NJ sludge!

Watch Collector’s Notebook — Benrus Sky Chief

On the theory that you can never have enough cool vintage chronographs, here is another little gem that I have known and loved, the Benrus “Sky Chief”. Produced in the post WWII-era by the New York-based Benrus Watch Company and marketed with its evocative name to the aviation-mad public of the late 40s and 1950s, as well as the increased purchasing power of the Western world’s newly beefed up air forces and transatlantic airlines, the Sky Chief is a classic pilot’s chronograph by design.

SkyChief-1 copy

In its most common iteration, it has 3-registers for constant seconds, minute recorder and 12-hour recorder, the latter complication being a somewhat new development for a mass-produced wristwatch that came to be the standard for most fine chronographs going forward. The usual engine found under the hood was a Venus 178 well before it was adopted by Breitling for their Navitimers in the mid-50s. And a bit later, perhaps because Breitling sucked up almost all Venus production, Benrus used the ubiquitous Valjoux 71/ & 72 column wheel chrono ebauches that would go on to serve the watch industry for so many years. Different alphanumeric codes were engraved on the bridges to indicate which caliber was being used and none of these movements had shock protection at this early date.

Sky Chief with Venus movement

Sky Chief with Venus movement

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Gorgeous Lady of the Week — Abbie Cornish

abbie-cornish-5Hailing from a country that produces more than its fair share of good looking people, draw droppingly beautiful Australian Abbie Cornish combines natural sex appeal with plenty of talent. After success at home as a model and budding star actress, Abbie made the seamless transition to Hollywood ingenue. The usually blond, hazel-eyed 31-year-old vegetarian broke through in 2007, looking ravishing in historical finery in the big budget sequel Elizabeth: The Golden Age, where she held her own alongside such heavyweights as Kate Blanchett as the Queen and Clive Owen as her lover, Sir Walter Raleigh.


She also had key roles in the 2008 Iraq War drama Stop-Loss with Ryan Philippe (with whom she had a relationship), the 2009 Keats biopic Bright Star and alongside Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro in 2011’s Limitless. That year she also appeared in the preposterous Zach Snyder flop Sucker Punch — she was her usual sexy self weilding swords and guns amidst the mayhem but looked even hotter without the S&M accoutrement.


Ms. Cornish has had better material to work with recently in the 2012 black comedy Seven Psychopaths and this year’s action blockbuster reboot, Robocop, as the hero’s steadfast wife. She was also co-lead in the Discovery Channel’s first scripted programming, the historical gold rush miniseries Klondike.


With her best years ahead of her and a face that only seems to get more lovely with time, we’re sure that Abbie Cornish is destined for much more success. Some actresses will always be in demand and a looker like Abbie is definitely on our much-watch list.

Brooklyn Wine & Dine — South Williamsburg’s OTB

Time was when South Williamsburg, that part closest to the Williamsburg Bridge, was a bit of a sleepy outpost. Sure, there was Dressler, Diner and Marlowe & Sons. And of course, there was always Peter Luger’s. But by the watering hole/restaurant “density standard” of the Northside, that seemed a relative paucity of choices, no matter that the quality of those stalwarts were all well above average. But like so much in Brooklyn’s hottest nabe, a lot is also changing on its Southside and changing fast. In the last 3-4 years, there have been at least 5 or 6 big new apartment buildings erected. And that means a lot of hungry and thirsty new folk in Los Sures.

Thankfully, one of the better new additions to the scene is the excellent bar/cafe, OTB. Occupying a former hardware store right on Broadway between Bedford and Driggs, just next to Motorino Pizzeria’s new location and only a few doors away from the now-shuttered Dressler, OTB is a super comfortable space — dare I day “homey”? — that offers reasonably priced and always tasty food and drink. With a subtle nod to the now-defunct Off Track Betting parlors of New York’s past, there are sly allusions to that peculiar institution, such as an old-fashioned rotary wall phone, heavily padded swivel bar chairs and super comfortable club booths. There are also attractive light fixtures, cool paisley-textured vinyl wallpaper and beautiful oversized photographic prints adorning the walls that feature retro-cool vintage scenes of servicemen at a burlesque show or well-turned out gentry attending a horse race. The food menu is nicely focused with an emphasis on French bistro standards like escargots, frogs’ legs and a killer steak frites, as well as a very juicy grass-fed burger. There is also a good raw bar with ceviche and oysters (the latter on special for a buck each late nights and Mondays) and meaty chicken wings done in a choice of three finger-lickin’ styles. If you’re lucky, you may also run into an occasional special of the tastiest chicken tenders around — much too good for kids and my only caveat is that they should always be on the menu.

As for libation, there is a tight little selection of craft & imported beers on tap such as Captain Lawrence IPA and Radeberger; and a very fine cocktail list with essentials like a traditional rye Old Fashioned and in-house creations like the aptly named and all-too-quaffable Pimm’s Knockout (a particular favorite of the Missus). Best of all, the gracious and friendly staff makes you feel at home the minute you sit down or belly up to the bar. And Wiliamsburg or not, that kind of vibe is hard to come by these days. It all adds up to make OTB an excellent and unpretentiously hip hangout to while away an evening, as well as a welcome addition to a rapidly changing neighborhood. So check it out on your next visit to the Southside and if you haven’t been over that way in a while, you’ll be dumbstruck at how much else has changed.

What We’re Listening To – The Best of Roxy Music

(Album cover for Roxy Music’s “Country Life” featuring Constanze Karoli & Eveline Grunwald)

Roxy Music need no introduction, but here’s one anyway… Founded in 1971 and led by the inimitable Bryan Ferry, the band have been hugely influential on multiple genres of music spanning several generations. I mean really, how many groups or individual performers can you think of that were simultaneously influencing punk bands like the Sex Pistols and pop acts like Duran Duran? Their musical range and originality still influence artists 40 year later.

They put out several great records between 1972 and 1982, all but one of which featured album art made up of super-hot supermodels in various costumes, becoming a trademark feature of the band’s image. Individually they’re all pretty solid albums, but for my tastes the best overall Roxy Music album is actually “The Best of Roxy Music”, released in 2001. A lot of “best of” records seem to fall short, suffering from bad decision making or publishing copyright issues that seem to always leave one or two great songs off of the list. However, “The Best of Roxy Music”  shines from start to finish. It is a great introduction to the band as well as a great go-to record for devoted fans. Check out the weird but genius, “Mother of Pearl” or the hard driving pop masterpiece, “Virginia Plain”. Or tune out the world and listen to the sugary sweet ballad, “Oh Yeah.” It’s all good stuff so you can’t go wrong. Get the album on iTunes, or on Amazon right here. Unfortunately this record isn’t available on vinyl, but write your Congressman and cross your fingers…you never know. And of course, if you really can’t bring yourself to buy a compilation record there’s also a great box set, including every studio album the band made. Happy listening!