Monthly Archives: October 2015

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2015 F1 Grand Prix of Mexico — Qualifying results

Rosberg takes Pole in Mexico with Champion Hamilton second fastest again; Vettel P3 in Quali for Ferrari

If Nico Rosberg could only race as well as he qualifies he might have been the one donning the Championship crown last week in Austin. Instead, to the German’s immense hat-throwing frustration, it was his Mercedes teammate, Lewis Hamilton, who won his second consecutive driver’s title by being the fiercer competitor come race time and shoving past Rosberg for the victory. Rosberg did manage to put a week’s worth of anger and self-pity behind him in Saturday qualifying on the slippery new asphalt surface of the Autodrómo Hermanos Rodríguez by decisively earning  pole at the ultra-fast high altitude circuit, his fourth top spot in a row. Hamilton was once again only good enough for second fastest in quali but the champ will surely be trying to better Rosberg again come race day, as there is nothing that seems to delight the pugnacious British ace more than torturing his teammate and archival.

Sebastian Vettel managed 3rd spot on the grid for Ferrari after his teammate Kimi Raikonnen was forced to retire in Q2 with rear brake issues. Vettel bested the very well-planted Red Bulls of Daniil Kvyat (P4) and Daniel Ricciardo (P5). The two Williams of Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa finished 6th and 7th fastest respectively with their decidedly quick chassis really coming into its own as the track rubbered in. After a rare double retirement last weekend in Texas, team Williams really need to get back on form and score good points in tomorrow’s race. Toro Rosso teen sensation Max Verstappen qualified in 8th and the two Force Indias rounded out the Top 10, with native son Sergio Perez pipping his German teammate Nico Hulkenberg for 9th on the grid at his home Grand Prix to the delight of his countrymen in the stands.

Top 10 qualifiers:

POS. NO. DRIVER TEAM Q1 Q2 Q3 LAPS
1 6 NICO ROSBERG  MERCEDES 1:20.436 1:20.053 1:19.480 23
2 44 LEWIS HAMILTON  MERCEDES 1:20.808 1:19.829 1:19.668 22
3 5 SEBASTIAN VETTEL  FERRARI 1:20.503 1:20.045 1:19.850 18
4 26 DANIIL KVYAT  RED BULL RACING 1:20.826 1:20.490 1:20.398 21
5 3 DANIEL RICCIARDO  RED BULL RACING 1:21.166 1:20.783 1:20.399 23
6 77 VALTTERI  BOTTAS  WILLIAMS 1:20.817 1:20.458 1:20.448 26
7 19 FELIPE MASSA  WILLIAMS 1:21.379 1:20.642 1:20.567 26
8 33 MAX VERSTAPPEN  TORO ROSSO 1:20.995 1:20.894 1:20.710 28
9 11 SERGIO PEREZ  FORCE INDIA 1:20.966 1:20.669 1:20.716 21
10 27 NICO HULKENBERG  FORCE INDIA 1:21.315 1:20.935 1:20.788 20

Complete qualifying results available via Formula1.com.

Tomorrow’s race, which marks the return of Mexico to the F1 schedule for the first time in 23 years, airs live on NBC proper here in the States beginning at 2:00 PM Eastern time.  With the thin atmosphere playing havoc with the cars’ downforce levels and boosting top speeds on the straights to over 220mph, not to mention possible rain in the forecast, it’s surely a race that promises a lot of action, excitement and unpredictability. Hope to see you then!

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2015 F1 Grand Prix of The United States — Results & aftermath

Hamilton repeats as World Champion in thrilling USGP; Rosberg blows lead, holds off Vettel to help teammate clinch

An emotional Lewis Hamilton clinched his second consecutive Formula 1 Drivers’ World Championship and third overall in thrilling fashion, culminating an epic Grand Prix weekend at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, as well as the English driver’s season-long quest to defend his title. That also completed the double for the Mercedes factory team, as the Silver Arrows had already won the Constructors’ Championship some weeks ago, also the team’s second in a row. Hamilton’s three total World Championship now puts him in an elite group of drivers with 3 titles that includes the late Jack Brabham, Jackie Stewart, Niki Lauda, Nelson Piquet and Hamilton’s personal hero, Ayrton Senna. As the newly crowned champ circulated on his victory lap, he could be heard over the radio in a voice thick with emotion proclaiming this the best day of his life. And who could argue with him?

After the eastern edge of Hurricane Patricia battered the track all weekend long, forcing the postponement of Qualifying to Sunday morning, the precipitation lightened leading up to the 2:30pm Central race start time. The F1 drivers acquitted themselves extremely well in the rare and very wet race day-morning qualifying session and all the cars started on the Intermediate wet weather tires, with Hamilton in P2 and his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg on the pole. But going up the big hill that leads to turn one of COTA, Hamilton’s P2 actually gave him the preferred inside line and he muscled Rosberg off the edge of the track limits and into the large runoff area, snatching the lead of the race in decisive fashion just as he has so often done the past two years. In the early going it looked like not only would Rosberg be nipping at Hamilton’s heels all race long but also the two Red Bulls, which looked very well planted on the saturated circuit. In fact, Russian Daniil Kvyat snuck by Rosberg when he was pushed wide and ran very close to the Hamilton on the opening laps, with teammate Daniel Ricciardo pursuing the agitated Rosberg for P3.

But Rosberg was able to hold Ricciardo off while maintaining the gap to Kvyat and after a virtual safety car period for debris ended on Lap 7, Rosberg surged by the young Russian on the restart to reclaim his second place and try to take the fight to his nemesis and teammate. By now, between the excellent drainage of this new circuit and the sudden lack of rain, it seemed only a matter of time before enough of a dry line would form and some brave soul would make the switch to slicks. Sure enough, Lotus’ Romain Grosjean became the first to take the gamble for dry weather tires on Lap 11. But it was slightly too soon and the Frenchman could find no grip or pace. However, the circuit was now definitely drying enough to do damage to the grooved intermediate tires and it seemed especially to be wearing out Hamilton’s rubber. Ricciardo’s Red Bull was still performing well on his original set of intermediates, however, bagging both Kvyat and Rosberg and was soon breathing down Hamilton’s neck, as well. On Lap 15, Ricciardo passed him for the lead.

That was the cue for the Mercedes team to get their drivers onto slicks and the struggling Hamilton came into the pits first on Lap 19. The Englishman would emerge back in 4th position with Rosberg assuming the overall lead temporarily. But on Lap 27 Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson came to an abrupt stop on track when he lost power, prompting a safety car. This saw Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel make arguably the move of the race, as he dove into the pits and his team put him on the harder Medium compound tires, meaning that he should be able to go to the end of the race without stopping again, unlike the other contenders. Vettel, who was forced to start from 13th on the grid after an engine change penalty, had been charging through the field from the start of the race and now appeared to be sitting in the pound seats. Indeed, after the Safety Car pulled in, Vettel quickly passed Kvyat and Ricciardo to jump himself up to third overall, a remarkably good performance by the German 4-time consecutive World Champion.

After another Safety Car period caused by Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg bashing into Riccardo on Lap 36, ending what had been an excellent drive for the German Le Mans winner, Rosberg pitted for his last set of tires while Hamilton stayed out. It was now Hamilton leading, Vettel P2, and Rosberg P3. But Rosberg’s fresh rubber enabled him to pass Vettel and a lap later Kvyat crashed heavily after  losing it when his rear tire got onto the still very wet and slippery astroturf just beyond the track limits on the second to last corner. This brought out yet another Safety Car and it looked for all the world like Rosberg would be able to ride away for the win with Hamilton doomed to pit again, forestalling the Englishman’s Championship for at least one more week. Hamilton did pit under the Safety Car, as did Vettel. They returned to the track with Hamilton in P2 and Vettel P4 behind Toro Rosso’s teenaged wunderkind Max Verstappen. But Verstappen’s older rubber was no match for Vettel’s freshly shod Ferrari and he quickly conceded 3rd place to the German. With the laps dwindling, it still looked like Rosberg’s race to lose, though, and that meant that Vettel’s slim title hopes were still mathematically alive.

Until, that is, Rosberg inexplicably lost control and ran wide on Lap 49, enabling Hamilton to capitalize and recapture the lead. If Rosberg did not despise Hamilton so much one might almost think team orders were at play with the intention of Rosberg ceding the lead to Hamilton to eliminate Vettel. That was the end result in any case even though Rosberg would likely rather eat glass than give Hamilton any gifts. Nevertheless, Hamilton took the present and ran, never looking back and once again making his Championship dream come true. Rosberg finished in second place in the race and third in the Championship, his unforced error in the US Grand Prix a fairly perfect symbol of his two years of frustration in trying to out-duel his teammate, who quite simply is a better driver and much better under pressure. Vettel could not get by Rosberg and had to settle for the last spot on the podium but still had a brilliant run in making up 10 total positions. Even if the German Ferrari man was downcast after the race with his faint Championship hopes finally extinguished he will hno doubt look back at his first year with the legendary Scuderia and be well pleased with both his and the team’s genuine return to excellence after an awful 2014 for both of them.

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For Lewis Hamilton, yesterday was only confirmation of something every savvy race aficionado has known for some time: he is quite simply one of the all-time Formula 1 greats. Despite his sometimes prickly personality, he is a peerless competitor with a cutthroat style against any potential rival, whether on his team or nin a different livery. If you had to pick one of the current drivers you needed to pull off a successful overtaking move under pressure, Ham’s your man. Rosberg can whinge about getting manhandled all he wants but winning talks and bullshit walks. Hamilton will push the limit as far as it will go for the win, sometimes even to the point of overstepping it. And that’s what separates a winner like Hamilton from a talented also-ran like Rosberg in the dog-eat-dog world of F1, where winning justifies just about everything. Hamilton embodies that spirit for good or for ill and is a worthy Champion once again who stands toe-to-toe with the legends of the sport, past and present. You know once he dries his tears of joy and despite already wrapping up the Championship, he’ll finish out this exemplary season with maximum effort and that same hunger for total victory. And he’s probably already thinking about gunning for Vettel’s 4-title mark next season.

Top 10 finishers in the US Grand Prix:

POS. DRIVER COUNTRY TEAM TIME POINTS
1 LEWIS HAMILTON GBR MERCEDES 1:50:52.703 25
2 NICO ROSBERG GER MERCEDES +2.850s 18
3 SEBASTIAN VETTEL GER FERRARI +3.381s 15
4 MAX VERSTAPPEN NED TORO ROSSO +22.359s 12
5 SERGIO PEREZ MEX FORCE INDIA +24.413s 10
6 JENSON BUTTON GBR MCLAREN +28.058s 8
7 CARLOS SAINZ ESP TORO ROSSO +30.619s 6
8 PASTOR MALDONADO VEN LOTUS +32.273s 4
9 FELIPE NASR BRA SAUBER +40.257s 2
10 DANIEL RICCIARDO AUS RED BULL RACING +53.371s 1

Complete race results available via Formula1.com.

The next race is next weekend and marks the return of the Mexican Grand Prix to the schedule. Turnout should be amazing and after this absolutely thrilling weekend in Austin it should be must see tv to find out what thrills await us South of the Border. Hope to see you then!

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2015 F1 Grand Prix of The United States — Qualifying results

Rosberg ends up on top in Austin after delayed & truncated qualifying, Hamilton P2; Ricciardo snags 3rd in the wet

With the eastern edge of Hurricane Patricia dumping rain on the Circuit of the Americas at a record clip, Formula 1 found itself in the unusual position of postponing the traditional Saturday Qualifying until race day morning on Sunday. And while the rains never stopped they did let up enough to get in two sessions of the scheduled three knockout rounds of qualifying to determine the grid for the United States Grand Prix, which is to be run at 2:30 Central/3:30 Eastern today. Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg managed the best lap in treacherous conditions at the wonderful new track in Austin, Texas, just pipping his Championship-leading teammate Lewis Hamilton for the pole by a tenth of a second. With Hamilton all but fitted for this year’s title crown, however, and the weather supposed to be gradually improving as we count down to the race, it’s not at all certain that Rosberg’s accomplishment will really mean anything significant in the big picture.

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo was also excellent under the persistent threat of aquaplaning and managed the 3rd fastest time while his teammate Daniil Kvyat took P4. Force India’s Sergio Perez was an impressive P5 and teammate Nico Hulkenberg solid at P6. Felipe Massa pulled himself up to P7 late in the going, with teammate Valtteri Bottas a distant P10, and rookie Max Verstappen was P8 for Toro Rosso while Fernando Alonso drove superbly in his woeful McLaren to grab P9. The Ferraris of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen are facing 10 grid-spot penalties for engine changes and will start P14 and P18 respectively, greatly improving Hamilton’s chances of clinching his second consecutive title this weekend. Vettel is his nearest if still distant pursuer and starting so far back really hurts the German’s chances of scoring enough points to keep his hopes alive for the next race in Mexico.

If anyone doubts that Formula 1 drivers are the best in the world they have only to look at the remarkable footage of them manhandling their machines in the deluge at COTA to make them a convert. It was truly one of the more amazing performances by a group of drivers that I’ve ever witnessed. Here’s wishing them less treacherous conditions for the race!

Top 10 Qualifiers at COTA:

POS. NO. DRIVER TEAM Q1 Q2 Q3 LAPS
1 6 NICO ROSBERG  MERCEDES 1:56.671 1:56.824 16
2 44 LEWIS HAMILTON  MERCEDES 1:56.871 1:56.929 14
3 3 DANIEL RICCIARDO  RED BULL RACING 1:56.495 1:57.969 16
4 26 DANIIL KVYAT  RED BULL RACING 1:57.640 1:58.434 16
5 11 SERGIO PEREZ  FORCE INDIA 1:59.284 1:59.210 16
6 27 NICO HULKENBERG  FORCE INDIA 1:58.325 1:59.333 16
7 19 FELIPE MASSA  WILLIAMS 2:00.902 1:59.999 17
8 33 MAX VERSTAPPEN  TORO ROSSO 1:58.689 2:00.199 17
9 14 FERNANDO ALONSO  MCLAREN 1:59.704 2:00.265 16
10 77 VALTTERI  BOTTAS  WILLIAMS 1:59.569 2:00.334 16

Complete Qualifying results available via Formula1.com.

The teams and drivers will really have to turn it around quickly as the race begins in just about an hour. It can be seen live on NBC here in the states.

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Classic Movie Watch — The Dirty Dozen (1967)

In a case of supremely ironic timing, Robert Aldrich’s The Dirty Dozen was released in 1967 at the height of the “Summer of Love.” As one of the toughest, nastiest and most fatalistic classic war movies, there is not a lot of love in the Dirty Dozen. But there is a killer plot, action galore and a very cool, badass ensemble cast of male stars who make the whole thing tick over like clockwork. Sharing the hard bitten cynicism and mordant humor that came to dominate the best 1960s WWII films like The Bridge At Remagen, Kelly’s Heroes and Where Eagles Dare, Dirty Dozen reflects both the experiences of the actual combat veterans who contributed to the making of the film, as well as the creeping disillusionment with the nation’s quickly souring military involvement in Vietnam. After the recent Spielbergian gloss given to World War II in the violent but heroic Saving Private Ryan and the excellent and idealistic Band of Brothers, where the action is doubtless brutal but the characters themselves are invariably heroic, one wonders whether today’s moviegoing public would be ready to accept a deranged group of criminal misfits like “The Dozen” as their heroes. But the audiences of the late 1960s made the film a colossal hit, so maybe that says something about the differing need for hero worship between that generation versus ours.

Loosely based on actual events, the plot of The Dirty Dozen unfolds in classic three-act action-adventure epic style: Picking the Men, Training the Men and the Mission. Only in this case the “elite force” being assembled is drawn from a group of convicts in military lockup facing either death sentences or decades-long prison time. And the mission is a suicidal attack on a German staff officer “rest & relaxation” chateau behind enemy lines in pre-D-Day Normandy. Drawing the unenviable task of assembling these misfits into a cohesive commando unit is maverick Major John Reisman, played by the inimitable Lee Marvin. If The Big Heat is Marvin’s apotheosis as the ultra-heavy villain, The Dirty Dozen reflects the archetype of Marvin’s remarkable second act as a lead actor in big films: still the hard man capable of extreme violence but in the end possessed of an individual code of honor that turns him from bad guy into ambiguous hero. As it would again later in Sam Fuller’s excellent The Big Red One, Marvin’s real life combat service as a Marine in the Pacific Theater, were he saw fierce action and was badly wounded, informs his performance as the sardonic and relentless Major Reisman as he badgers, threatens and cajoles his convict team into a cohesive fighting unit. Like many great coaches and military leaders, Reisman’s genius is to realize that if he can get the group of men to hate him they will in turn bond with each other.

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And what a group! Featuring some of the most macho and physically imposing 1960’s actors, as well as some bona fide rising stars, the convicts include Charles Bronson as an honorable German-speaking Polish American convicted of shooting his unit’s cowardly medic; football great Jim Brown as another decent guy wrongly convicted of murder in a case of self defense against a racist attack (this is actually the film that prompted Brown’s premature retirement from the NFL); the towering Clint Walker as a gentle giant with a fierce temper; Telly Savalas as a despicable and crazy Bible-spouting southern racist and woman hater; a young Donald Sutherland as a dim but mischievous private; and a sterling John Cassavetes as a Chicago gangster with a serious problem with authority. Cassavetes really shines among this esteemed company, seeming to channel the ghost of Humphrey Bogart as he proves the biggest obstacle to Reisman’s grand plan, resisting him at every turn through sarcasm and tooth-baring indolence. Continue reading

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2015 F1 Grand Prix of Russia — Results & aftermath

Hamilton surges to victory at Sochi while Rosberg DNFs — Mercedes secure Championship; Vettel P2 for Ferrari; Perez grabs miracle podium after Raikonnen takes out Bottas on final lap

Pictures via GrandPrix247.com

Pictures via GrandPrix247.com

In an action-packed Russian Grand Prix where unpredictability seemed the only sure thing, the one near-certainty of 2015 managed to come through yet again: a Lewis Hamilton win for the Mercedes factory team. After being out-qualified for the pole by his teammate and archival Nico Rosberg, everything broke the Englishman’s way on race day just as it has in 9 out of the 15 contests so far. Rosberg’s promising start proved illusory when it was doomed by terminal throttle problems that forced him to drop out on Lap 8. With only four more races remaining in the season, Rosberg, who had performed flawlessly all weekend, actually saw himself dropped to third in the Drivers’ points by Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel by day’s end. Hamilton, who proved effortlessly untouchable in the race and won by nearly 6 seconds, now leads Vettel by a commanding 66 points and Rosberg by 73. And after this dominant performance in Russia, a race he has now won for the first two years of its existence, Hamilton also seems assured of winning his second consecutive championship, further burnishing his status as one the all-time greats of the sport.

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Vettel started from fourth on the grid but inherited third when Rosberg dropped out. He was then able to jump the Williams of Valtteri Bottas for P2 after a sterling Ferrari pit stop on Lap 30. The wily German never looked back and while he didn’t have anything for Hamilton, the former 4-time World Champ secured another solid 2nd place finish in his impressive debut year with the Scuderia. Things did not go as well for Vettel’s Ferrari teammate, Kimi Raikonnen. Continue reading

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2015 F1 Grand Prix of Russia — Qualifying results

Rosberg pips Hamilton for Pole at Sochi as Mercedes record another front row lockout; Bottas a speedy P3 in the Williams machine

With the season down to its last five races and Nico Rosberg’s Championship hopes slipping away, the German Mercedes driver put the bit between his teeth and out-qualified his teammate Lewis Hamilton for pole position in Russia. After poor weather and on track incidents interrupted all three practices leading up to Saturday Qualifying, Rosberg showed no ill effects from his limited track time on the still-new Sochi circuit and essentially ran perfect laps in all three sessions, coming out ahead of Hamilton by just .3 seconds. The current Championship points leader had to settle for P2 on the grid and will be hoping for a repeat of the same starting woes that foiled Rosberg two weeks ago at Suzuka in Japan or at least to jump him when the lights go out. One thing is for certain: even though Rosberg needs the win far more than Hamilton, the hyper-competitive Englishman can practically taste his second consecutive world title and will do everything possible in Sunday’s race to deny his teammate and only true challenger the victory. The opening lap should be epic.

Williams had a decidedly mixed day, with Valtteri Bottas providing the glass-half-full of it by saving his best lap for the tail end of Q3, besting the times of both Ferraris and taking P3 on the grid. The young Finnish phenom looked truly hooked up on the tricky Russian track and if anyone can spoil the Mercedes party tomorrow it could be him, particularly if the two Silver Arrows manage to take each other out. On the downside for Williams, veteran Felipe Massa could not get a clean lap away from traffic in Q2 and failed to make into the last round. The Brazillian will have to start from way back in 12th on the grid, making it more likely he could have another incident that leads to a poor finish for the third GP in a row. Massa DNF’ed after contact with Nico Hulkenberg in Singapore and struggled to a 17th place finish in Japan after early contact with Daniel Ricciardo.

Sebastian Vettel out-qualified Kimi Raikkonen in their two Ferraris, P4 to P5, and both will surely press hard to overtake Bottas, particularly if the rainy conditions that prevailed on Friday return on race day. Force India had a very promising effort, with Hulkenberg coming home 6th fastest and Sergio Perez P7. Romain Grosjean took P8 and the Frenchman is now confirmed to be leaving the uncertainty of beleaguered Lotus to become lead driver for the debut of new American team Haas F1 next year. Toro Rosso rookie Max Verstappen, who only just got his road car license the other week when he turned 18, made it up to P9 and veteran Daniel Ricciardo was P10 for the senior Red Bull team.

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Verstappen’s nearly-as-young teammate Carlos Sainz was involved in a very nasty shunt during Free Practice 3 on Saturday morning when a brake issue on his Toro Rosso caused him to lose control. He then bashed into the wall at Turn 13, breaking his front left suspension, and was a passenger as he went hurtling off into the barriers at a high rate of speed. The 21-year-old Spaniard was buried deep in the Tecpro blocks but gave the thumbs up sign while being stretchered away. Initial reports from the hospital indicated no serious injuries to Sainz, although he will remain there overnight for observation. It is unclear whether he or the car will be able to make the start tomorrow.

Top 10 Qualifiers for the Russian GP:

POS. NO. DRIVER TEAM TIME LAPS
1 6 NICO ROSBERG  MERCEDES 1:37.113 20
2 44 LEWIS HAMILTON  MERCEDES 1:37.433 18
3 77 VALTTERI  BOTTAS  WILLIAMS 1:37.912 26
4 5 SEBASTIAN VETTEL  FERRARI 1:37.965 15
5 7 KIMI RÄIKKÖNEN  FERRARI 1:38.348 18
6 27 NICO HULKENBERG  FORCE INDIA 1:38.659 21
7 11 SERGIO PEREZ  FORCE INDIA 1:38.691 19
8 8 ROMAIN GROSJEAN  LOTUS 1:38.787 19
9 33 MAX VERSTAPPEN  TORO ROSSO 1:38.924 23
10 3 DANIEL RICCIARDO  RED BULL RACING 1:39.728 18

Complete Qualifying results available at Formula1.com.

Tomorrow’s race airs live on NBCSN at 7AM Eastern here in the States. Look for some early fireworks as Hamilton tries to reassert his dominance over Rosberg in a hurry. If there’s one quality the great English champion lacks, it’s patience. Hope to see you then!

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Earworm of the day — Arms Around Your Love by Chris Cornell

This beauty by the great Chris Cornell popped up on my workout mix the other day at the gym and it’s been bouncing around my brain since then like it was brand new again.

Of course it’s not new… but it is still true. “Arms Around Your Love” comes off of the former Soundgarden front man’s 2007 solo effort, Carry On, which also featured his bruising Bond theme for Casino Royale, “You Know My Name”. It falls into that relatively rare subgenere of power ballad: the romantic advice song. It’s bloody good, though, and the hard-earned wisdom shines through every soaring note of Cornell’s preternaturally powerful voice. Play it once and you’re guaranteed to play it again. And also best to heed the man’s advice and tell your lady how much you think of her while you’re the one lucky enough to be holding her. You would’t want some other guy getting that honor, now would you?

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Gorgeous Lady of the Week — Alicia Vikander

Rising star Alicia Vikander has the look. It’s not so much the look of a perfectly polished Hollywood ingenue. It’s more intangible, more a throwback to the intriguing attractiveness possessed by those international actresses who graced the films of Truffaut and Godard in the 1960s like Anna Kerina and Jeanne Moreau. Beautiful in a soulful way and possessed of deep waters rushing beneath a placid surface, the 27-year-old Swedish actress has poise and grace rarely seen in younger performers these days, perhaps as a result of her training as a dancer. With a raft of strong performances already under her belt, Ms. Vikander is still not quite a household name yet. But she’s about to be.

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Born in Gothenburg and the daughter of an actress, Alicia spent her formative years training to be a ballerina at the Royal Swedish Ballet School. But injuries and a burning desire to act sent her on a different path in her late teens and she found success on the Swedish soap opera, Andra Avenyn, at the age of 20. Jumping off from there she made her critically praised film debut in the Swedish film Pure, garnering several prestigious European awards for that 2010 feature.

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Ms. Vikander broke through in the English speaking world with her role as Kitty in 2012’s adaptation of the classic weepy, Anna Kerenina, which starred Keira Knightly and Jude Law. And after making such a big impact in that relatively small role she was off to the races. After more work in Europe, she featured in The Fifth Estate (2013), the Aussie Son of a Gun (2014) and the British independent film, Testament of Youth (2015). But the movie that really put her on the radar of the general theater-going audience was 2015’s Ex Machina, Alex Garland’s spine-tinglingly dystopian directorial debut. Her role as a highly evolved artificial intelligence in beguiling semi-human form was one of the more interesting female characters to come along in years. While the exceptionally strong writing obviously did a lot of the work for the cast, which includes the outstanding Oscar Isaac and Domhnall Gleason, Vikander’s sympathetic and unsettling work as a beautiful android pitted against humans in a life or death examination for her worthiness to exist is quite simply a tour de force. Visionary as it is, Ex Machina would not have been as great without the actress’s stunning portrayal.

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Her breakthrough as Ava the Android officially cemented Alicia Vikander’s status as one of the hottest Swedish imports since Lena Olin. She starred in this summer’s big budget Man From U.N.C.L.E. and will appear in a slew of upcoming mainstream movies, such as Burnt with Bradley Cooper, Tulip Fever with Christoph Waltz, The Light Between the Oceans with Michael Fassbender, her now ex-boyfrirend, as well as an upcoming Bourne Identity sequel. Now that is a busy lady!

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Projecting a tender vulnerability wrapped around a steel core and with hypnotic brown eyes that always seem to hold you in their gaze, Ms. Vikander is also blessed with the acting chops to go far. She could well be this generation’s Juliette Binoche and should be aided by having an even better command of English than the great French actress. Only time will tell, of course. But one thing’s for certain: Alicia Vikander is a compelling actress well worth watching, especially if she continues to do smaller, independent films and doesn’t get swallowed up by the Hollywood Borg. We’re looking forward to watching what should be a stellar career for years to come.

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Watch Collector’s Notebook — The “Nina Rindt” Compax and how markets are made for vintage watches today

The following article is an opinion piece and solely the personal opinion of the author. It should be read strictly as opinion and not as a blanket statement of fact.

This is a story about Nina Rindt, or more precisely the vintage watch that was named after her: a smallish, panda-dialed Universal Geneve 3-register “Compax” chronograph from the 1960s. And it’s about what this collectible chrono’s meteoric ascent tells us about how markets for vintage watches are made these days. The Valjoux 72-powered “Nina” was so dubbed by collectors because of pictures showing the wife of legendary Formula 1 driver Jochen Rindt wearing her UG chronograph at various racing events in the 1960s through the fateful year of 1970, when Jochen was killed at Monza and went on to become the first and only posthumous Formula 1 champion. Jochen Rindt also has a watch named in his honor because of his personal association with it, the Heuer Autavia 2446 with screw back. As with so many great vintage pieces, “branding” vintage watches with a celebrity’s name is nothing new. It certainly worked magic with the Paul Newman Daytona and its market value. So ever since, savvy dealers have been looking for links to the famous when selling their watches, often with mixed results (see the “Steve McQueen” Rolex 1655 Explorer II, a watch McQueen never actually wore).

Header photo via Yorktime.com; Nina Rindt photo unknown

Header photo via Yorktime.com; Nina Rindt photo unknown

The earliest reference I can find to the “Nina Rindt” nickname for the panda UG Compax is from back in 2012 in a Chronotrader ad. But it’s probably safe to say the term had been kicking around at least since shortly after this 2006 post on the main On The Dash Heuer Forum. OK, so we have a catchy nickname and established celebrity provenance. And we also have a genuinely uncommon watch, one that you are simply not going to see in most second hand watch stores or even find on eBay too often. Now what? Well, after a few years of steady increase, the “Nina” gradually rose to around an $8000 dollar watch as of the end of 2013. Which is not too shabby and probably a quadrupling of value in about 4 years give or take. I think this is well within the level of standard appreciation in the timeline of a desirable model getting more well known, talked about, shown on the internet and eventually having “Grail” status bestowed upon it by collectors of that specific brand or type of watch.

And then things got really nutty. In early 2014, watch enthusiast site extraordinaire Hodinkee published one of their ubiquitous “Found” articles on a very nice “Nina” with a lot of backstory on the watch and the entertaining account of the owner’s acquisition of it. Now blessed with Hodinkee’s unparalleled reach as the arbiter of what is hot and sexy in the vintage watch world, the “Nina” really took off. The other enthusiast/industry fluffing sites caught on and so, of course, did the collector forums, who are no dopes either. By the time Hodinkee made another mention of a nice “Nina” for sale in October of that year on their dealer booster feature, “Bring a Loupe”, the “Nina” had blown up to around $15k during the course of that red hot summer and early fall. But we still hadn’t seen anything yet.

Here’s how things went from October 2014 on from the horse’s mouth, a then-Hodinkee contributor:

“…recent transactions that we have record of for the Nina Rindts:

Last October [2014], one reportedly sold for $23,000 in a silent auction by analog/shift that I wrote about on HODINKEE. 
https://www.hodinkee.com/blog/whats-selling-where-five-absolutely-killer-watches-begging

Then Yorktime in Canada reportedly sold one for $19,000 within the weekend after I wrote about it on HODINKEE [January 2015]:
https://www.hodinkee.com/blog/whats…net-jackson-to-her-lover-and-a-watch-to-avoid

Then Matt Bain reportedly sold one for $22,000 within a couple days after I featured it on HODINKEE [March 2015]:
https://www.hodinkee.com/blog/from-a-lecoultre-deep-sea-alarm-on-ebay-to-a-crazy-vintage-b

The Hodinkee - Analog/Shift "Nina" that lit the fuse (Photo via Analog/Shift)

The Hodinkee – Analog/Shift “Nina” that lit the fuse (Photo via Analog/Shift)

Let’s unpack this a little bit, shall we? So we have the Analog/Shift “Nina” — presumably the same example highlighted in that earlier “Found” installment — being sold at silent auction for a reported $23k. Continue reading