Some Thoughts on James Bond

“You only live twice:
Once when you are born
And once when you look death in the face”
― Ian Fleming, You Only Live Twice

Audubon Park, New Orleans

This weekend I found myself, wonder of wonders, with a little bit of time on my hands and deciding I wanted some free (or at least already paid for), mindless entertainment – I watched the newest installment in the James Bond franchise, No Time to Die, currently streaming on Netflix.

It was… OK, I guess. I still haven’t fully recovered from the experience of Everything, Everywhere, All at Once – so any other cinema will be a pale imitation of art… but it kept me mostly entertained for a while. I did like seeing Felix Leiter, Bond’s faithful longtime CIA sidekick, get some cred, even if it ends badly for him.

But I began thinking about No Time to Die being the 25th James Bond film. You see the franchise, with Dr. No coming out in 1962, when I was five, roughly parallels my life – or at least as much of it as I can remember. James Bond was always there – rebooted, changed, evolved… but always a cultural touchstone of some kind – always reflecting the times, distorted, like a funhouse mirror.

I remember seeing my first Bond Film, From Russia With Love – probably in 1964. My parents were huge bond fans and a little of that rubbed off on me – I was excited to go. At that age I didn’t really remember everything – but some scenes stick with me. There’s an assassination with a guy climbing out through a billboard, of course Rosa Klebb and her poisoned shoe. Most of all is the fight with the giant Red Grand on the train.

As an adult I was shocked when I realized that actor is Robert Shaw, who decades later played the grizzled old captain Quint in Jaws.

Then I saw Thunderball (for some reason I missed Goldfinger when it came out) – which was special to a kid that age – underwater fighting!

On and on over the years. Did you ever see the original Casino Royale? The comedy spoof with David Niven and Peter Sellers? Check it out. Some good looking women (including a very young Jacqueline Bisset) and a Tijuana Brass theme song.

Over my whole life a Bond film would pop up every few years… some good, some not-so – most just mindless entertainment. The worst were the gimmicky silly ones, especially with Roger Moore – I never liked his Bond – which was a shame I liked him on TV as Simon Templar in The Saint.

I’ve read a handful of the Ian Fleming novels. Not exactly my cup of tea but Bond on the page is a very interesting character. Daniel Craig is the closest… Literary Bond is not a very nice person.

So now we’re here. What’s next? I’m sure there will be something – that’s too much money to be left on the table – I’m pretty sure the franchise will outlive me. That’s pretty weird, now that I think about it.

What I learned this week, September 21, 2012

Why James Bond Fans Are Better Than Sci-Fi Geeks

Bond fans are different. They (we) make an effort. When I was younger, I found that watching the Bond films and reading the books made me a more active and motivated person. I began to take an interest not just in playing video games but in learning new things. Online Bond forums are, by and large, not a bunch of nerds arguing over fantasy scenarios but guys talking about actual skills: effective martial arts to learn for self-defense, good clothing decisions, how to fix cars, elegant alcoholic drinks, card-playing tips, travel locations, etc. These are real skills that you can go out and learn and use. You can’t learn how to fly an X-wing, do flips with a lightsaber, or use the Vulcan neck thing to take out a mutant invader.



There has been a lot of talk about Lincoln’s voice in the new Speilberg film – how Daniel Day Lewis interpreted him as having a higher voice than the usual booming baritone. This seems to be historically accurate.

It didn’t seem to be such a big deal, until I listened to this trailer:

Photographer and videographer Peter Sutherland followed six cyclists from different disciplines of cycling and personal backgrounds to produce short but moving documentaries on each one.

“When we spend our lives waiting until we’re perfect or bulletproof before we walk into the arena, we ultimately sacrifice relationships and opportunities that may not be recoverable, we squander our precious time, and we turn our backs on …our gifts, those unique contributions that only we can make. Perfect and bulletproof are seductive, but they don’t exist in the human experience.”

— From TEDxHouston speaker Brené Brown’s new book, Daring Greatly, released this month.

I keep reading everybody writing and saying that, “Rush is an idiot!”

I don’t know… this might not be everybody’s cup of tea, but it’s pretty good anyway:

What I learned this week, August 3, 2012

I have been looking for this for a long time… and now, here it is, on Youtube. Alfred Hitchcock’s version of the Roald Dahl short story Man From the South with Steve McQueen and Peter Lorre.

It’s almost a half-hour long… but find a time when you can sit down and watch the thing.

I think this story is the best example of how to manipulate tension, excitement, and dread in a tight little story I have ever seen. This version is a bit droll for my taste – the original text is more horrific. It’s been done and riffed on many times (check out Quentin Tarantino’s version as the fourth and last story in the otherwise-horrible film, Four Rooms).

I try and study it.

This is what I want to write.

“The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it ­honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.”

— Neil Gaiman

The 12 Best Spies in Film

An interesting list.

Of course….

Shaken, not stirred.

There is no controversy about who is number 1.

From Casino Royale (1953) Chapter 7

“A dry martini,” he said. “One. In a deep champagne goblet.”

“Oui, monsieur.”

“Just a moment. Three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon-peel. Got it?”

The Vesper

Why flavorful Southern hot sauces don’t pack much heat

I’m sorry, but this is about the coolest thing I’ve ever seen. As a child, I lived in a few locations that had… well, let’s say they had a lot of flies – a lot. Swatting flies became a cheap amusement for when there was precious else to do. I would have given anything for this thing.

Now, I can’t believe I didn’t think of it myself.

Salt blasting shotgun eradicates insects with extreme prejudice

The Bug-A-Salt

I had to watch this… I didn’t think it could be done. Apparently, it can. It has to be real… it’s from the Internet.

MATCHBOOK. bikinis meet their match

Clever matches between bathing suits and books. Each match discovered by hand. We should have been doing this all along, am I right?