Monthly Archives: April 2014

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Gorgeous Lady of the Week — MyAnna Buring

Yet another Swedish beauty, although this time by way of England, you may not know MyAnna Buring‘s name yet but you’ve probably seen her elven visage on several of BBC-TV’s & BBC America’s most popular shows. The 34-year-old MyAnna was born in Sweden but was raised primarily in the Middle East before immigrating to Great Britain at the age of 16. After graduating from the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, she had her first big role on a 2-part episode of Doctor Who in 2006.

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Thereafter, she alternated theater work with English television roles on shows such as Midsommer Murders and Inspector George Gently. Her international breakthrough came in the omnipresent tween blockbuster series, Twilight, where she appeared amongst the vamipres and wearwolves as the reformed succubus, Tanya, in Breaking Dawn, Parts 1 & 2.

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After that popular success, MyAnna had a banner year in 2012. She landed a featured part on the runaway hit, Downton Abbey, as the striving, social climbing maid Edna Braithwaite who uses her sexual wiles on widower Tom Branson in an attempt to climb above her station. And she also won the principal role of the alluring but tough-as-nails brothel madame, Long Susan, on the excellent 19th-century crime drama, Ripper Street. In this latter role, the pixie-sized Ms. Buring uses her beauty and fierce unsentimental intelligence to dominate both men and women to further her ambitions. Are we sensing a pattern here?

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She is slated to be one of the leads in BBC’s new period series, Banished, currently in pre-production for a 2015 debut and intruiguingly set in Australia during the 1700s as England established its penal colony on that continent. We can only hope that despite her indisputable success on British TV that she will continue to grace us with her beauty on more projects here across the pond. It seems decidedly unfair of the BBC to keep such luminous natural beauty all to itself. In short, may we have some more MyAnna, please?

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Documentary view — The Last Gladiators

Since it’s that ultra-exciting time of year known as the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs, it seems fitting that we take a look at Academy Award-winning director Alex Gibney‘s 2011 documentary, The Last Gladiators. This compelling and viscerally satisfying examination of hockey’s most feared enforcers is also a paradox, serving as both cautionary tale and celebration of professional hockey’s unique culture of acceptable violence and the men who best practice it.

With unprecedented access to the toughest men to play the game, Gladiators’ main focus eventually settles on Chris “Knuckles” Nilan, a hard-nosed kid from Boston whose NHL dream came true as a beloved character on the 1986 Stanley Cup-winning Montreal Canadiens, the NHL equivalent of the New York Yankees. With relentless bravado and aggression, Nilan stepped into the fray to defend his more skilled teammates from other teams’ taking liberties, the key function of the enforcer, and went toe-to-toe with the toughest guys of his era. Craving validation as more than just a goon, Nilan even scored 21 goals in his best season under legendary coach Jacques Lemaire. But as it does with many athletes, Nilan’s career slowly declined due to injuries and, after a decent stint with the New York Rangers, petered out unhappily with his hometown Boston Bruins, where the the former Canadien was viewed with deep ambivalence.

The fascinatingly complex star of the film’s many present day interviews and great historical clips, the older Nilan comes across as extremely intelligent, self-aware and still quite cocky. Continue reading

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tomvox1’s Watches for Sale — April Selection, Pt. II

OK, so I found something else to offer this month after all. And boy, is it a beauty — a classic 1967 Breitling Navitimer with gold plated case/steel back and beautiful original “Twin Jet” dial. Very hard to find this iconic pilot’s chronograph in such nice all-original condition, as these dials are prone to moisture damage from dodgy water resistance.

FS: Vintage 1960s Breitling ref. 806 Navitimer w/Beautiful “Twin Jet” Dial — Click here for complete description and many more images. SOLD

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What we’re listening to today — No Expectations by The Rolling Stones and Johnny Cash

It’s amazing how a great song can be interpreted by two major artists and be turned into two diametrically opposed versions that are still fantastic in their own way. Take “No Expectations”, originally recorded by the Rolling Stones in 1968 for their Beggars Banquet album. This Jagger-Richards gem is conceived as a slow, mournful Robert Johnson-like ballad — Jagger called Brian Jones’ weeping slide guitar his last meaningful contribution to the band. So the bluesy melancholy of “Expecations” takes on even more layers knowing that Jones would soon depart the Stones and, shortly thereafter, this earth.

Now fast forward 10 years to 1978 and the Johnny Cash cover of the same tune. One of the standouts on the grab bag of an album Gone Girl, where the liner notes admit that Cash was anxiously trying to come up with enough tracks to fill it, “No Expectations” is reborn as a hopped up Rockabilly travelin’ song.

With a vibrant live feel, chugging bongo beat and the glorious June Carter Cash backing up her man, the song is virtually unrecognizable save the lyrics. But within those profound lyrics of loss and resignation, the two versions point the way to differing ways of dealing with heartache. For the Stones it’s wallowing in the misery and ever so slowly coming to grips. For Cash it’s admitting defeat and getting the hell out of town ASAP. One great tune with two great versions to fit whichever way you feel like leaving those mean ol’ blues behind.

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Watch Collector’s Notebook — Vintage Breitling 1809 “Jumbo” Cosmonaute

“Jumbo” is a relative term in the vintage watch world. For example, you can have “Jumbo” IWC dress watches at 36mm and “Jumbo” Omega Constellations and JLC Memovoxes at 37mm.  But in the (big) case of the first generation Chronomatic tool watches that Breitling produced in the late 1960s and early 70s, that adjective is well-earned, no air quotes required.

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Take one of the more attractive Breitling Chronomatic designs, the reference 1809 Cosmonaute. At 47mm x 47mm the 1809 and its standard Navitimer brother, the 1806, were the original inspirations for Breitling’s modern-era oversize watches. A true 24-hour watch, the 1809’s hands circle the dial once every 24-hours as opposed to the common once-every-12-hours standard. So when the watch is showing what we normally think of as 6 o’clock it is really indicating Noon. Designed with military time in mind, it takes some getting used to and this way of telling time is certainly not for everyone, as one has to relearn how to read a watch essentially. This limited appeal accounts for the somewhat small production of Cosmonautes over the years, as you can generally find about 10 Navitimers for every one vintage Cosmo. And when you come to own one, trust me, early on you will have to give several extra glances at your wrist trying to figure out the correct time. Continue reading

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tomvox1’s Watches for Sale — April Selection

Not a big selection actually as I am mostly keeping what I’ve got at present. But I do have this really handsome dress Tudor from the 1960s for sale. Very cool all-steel, Mad Men look on the wrist with its rare circular dial. Check out the ad on Vintage Rolex Forum’s Market and maybe you’ll choose to put this very stylish and classic vintage watch on your wrist.

ON SALE: 1960s Tudor ref. 7965 Small Rose Oyster-Prince w/ Rare Circular Dial — SOLD

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Classic Movie Watch — To Catch a Thief (1955)

One of Alfred Hitchcock‘s more effervescent cinematic cocktails, 1955’s To Catch a Thief is a must-watch for any cinephile or aspiring bon vivant. A gentleman can learn many lessons from the impossibly stylish Cary Grant as reformed (or is he?) jewelry thief and hero of the French Resistance, John Robie, aka “The Cat”. Grant’s Robie comes under renewed suspsicion when a series of high profile, high value robberies plague the glitterati of the French Riviera. His old war buddies, with whom he escaped from a bombed out prison, soon turn on him for fear of having their paroles revoked, leading Robie to endeavor to find out who the new “Cat” is before the police pin it on him or his old mates do him in to save themselves. Added to the heady mix is the lucious Grace Kelly in her prime as prim but sexy nouveau riche debutante Frances Stevens, determined to share in the excitement of “The Cat’s” criminal exploits and capture the uniquely intriguing Robie for her own pleasure.

Filmed largely on location in Nice, Cannes and Monaco, To Catch a Thief looks as stunning today as it must have when it was released if not more so because the coast and the Principality had not yet been so frantically overdeveloped. The helicopter shots of high speed drives through Mediterranean hills and villages are breathtaking. And the teasing rapport between the ultra-tan, ultra-suave Grant and the golden, precocious Kelly is pure cinema magic. It’s no wonder that Grant, along with James Stewart, was one of Hitchcock’s favorite male leads. They did four remarkably good films together — Suspicion, Notorious, Thief and North by Northwest — and Hitch was always able to coax the dark shadows of Grant’s sometimes glib personality to the fore. For the Master of Suspense, he was willing to reveal his weakness and even his unattractive side and if you know only the smiling playboy caricature of Grant you’ll be in for a treat watching any of those classic collaborations. One of the unquestionable cinema greats, Grant’s body of work for Hitchcock alone would put him near the top of any list of all-time best movie actors.

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And as is well documented, Hitchcock was enraptured by Kelly as his ultimate cool blond with hot blood. After making three terrific films for Hitch in quick succession — Dial M for Murder, Rear Window and Thief — Kelly married Prince Ranier in 1956 and retired from movies to be the Princess Consort of Monaco. While the great director quipped that he was “very happy that Grace has found herself such a good part” he was in fact bereft and struggled in vain to find a new version of her in subsequent films. Hence he has Kim Novak with Stewart in Vertigo, Eva Marie Saint with Grant in North by Northwest, Janet Leigh in Psycho and Tippi Hedren in The Birds and Marnie. While all those actresses did admirable work in their own way, especially the very touching and tragic Kim Novak in Vertigo, it’s no doubt that Hitchcock would have preferred Grace Kelly in all of those roles. After watching her take Grant on a white knuckle ride through the hills of Monaco before stopping to picnic and slyly offering him the choice of a leg or a breast, it’s easy to see why. The fact that Princess Grace was killed in a car accident in 1982 at the age of 52 in those very same cliffs just adds a layer of poignancy to the near-perfection of To Catch a Thief.

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Cars we want — Porsche 911 Carrera S

Conservatism in automobile design is a rare concept. A new Mercedes, Audi or Ferrari looks nothing like a model from 20 years ago. But look at a 2014 Porsche 911 Carrerra S and you can easily make out the iconic profile and styling that debuted way back in 1964. Of course, that is also a common knock on the 911 — as Jeremy Clarkson so famously cavils, a new 911 will always look pretty much the same as last year’s 911 and one has to be a Porsche-phile to notice any subtle changes. But whether one interprets this consistency as boring repetition or virtuous traditionalism, there is one thing about a Porsche that is certain: it will never be dull to drive.

The design that started it all -- the legendary 1964 911

The design that started it all — the legendary 1964 911

That truism is more than apparent in the 2014 Carrera S. With its beefed up but classic 3.8 liter flat six aluminum block engine it achieves 400 horsepower and 350 foot-pounds of torque for a seriously fast top speed of 188 mph. Those stats don’t change whether you opt for the 7-speed manual transmission or the dual-clutch automatic Doppelkupplung (DPK). The DPK will launch you slightly faster: 0-60 in 3.9 seconds with the optional Sport Plus package vs. 4.3 for the stick. And while the 2014 edition is slightly heavier than its predecessor at about 3100 pounds it is also sleeker looking and handles better. That infamous Porsche tail snap is long gone: even with the non-intrusive traction control turned off, you really have to work to get this 911 out of shape. The rear-engined icon is now so well balanced and the rear wheels and suspension so grippy that one no longer has to be strictly a “Porsche man” to enjoy the experience. And carbon-ceramic breaks allow for crisp and quick stops when necessary.

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Fuel economy is surprisingly decent for such a high performance ride — about 19mpg in the city and 27mpg on the highway. The Carrera S is also available in a highly attractive Cabriolet for a bit more money and a sublime open top experience. Which brings us to price. As always, the 911 is not cheap. The Carrera S has an MSRP of just under $100k and the Cabriolet version starts at around $111k. It goes without saying that those prices do not include any of the delicious options one can add, which can easily balloon the car into the $120k+ range. So obviously, it’s not speed on the cheap. That being said, for our money the Carrera S is the best bang for the buck in the 911 line. It has cleaner lines than the wide-hipped Carrera 4 and while it lacks the all wheel drive of that variation that can also be regarded as a virtue to the rear wheel drive purist. Of course the elite Turbo models jump into a whole different cost bracket at $150-200k. And frankly, if you’re not a track enthusiast or accomplished high speed driver, the Turbos’ 500+ horsepower is probably more than most are going to be comfortable trying to tame on an Interstate. Besides, for most mortals, the Carrera S has plenty of giidyup — just check out this Drive Network test drive:

The Carrera S finds the sweet spot between performance and price, classic 911 design and seductive modernity. Yes, it looks similar to its illustrious predecessors that have emerged from the Stuttgart factory over the past 5 decades. But for the true believer that is also a large part of its considerable charm. And when you put your foot down you’ll know what all the fuss is about.

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