I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.
Edgar Allen Poe
The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
- H. L. Mencken
Many people would sooner die than think; In fact, they do so
What I have been telling you, from alpha to omega, what is the one great thing the sigil taught me — that everything in life is miraculous. For the sigil taught me that it rests within the power of each of us to awaken at will from a dragging nightmare of life made up of unimportant tasks and tedious useless little habits, to see life as it really is, and to rejoice in its exquisite wonderfulness. If the sigil were proved to be the top of a tomato-can, it would not alter that big fact, nor my fixed faith. No Harrowby, the common names we call things by do not matter — except to show how very dull we are ...
-James Branch Cabell
May 25, 2017 - 11:52 a.m.
I did not show foresight yesterday. I got a notice that I had mail in my PO Box; the plan was to get the mail then go to Trader Joe's. I do that often but it's something of an awkward route. When I was traveling into the City I made plans to see Cole, Nakoa, and Treacher at Rockwood Music Hall tonight. Trader Joe's is pretty much on the way there so even though it was a beautiful day and I wasn't in a rush I picked up my mail, all junk, and headed home. If you live in New York, look out your window. It's raining. It's going to be raining all day. I don't want to carry around groceries in the rain. I will but I don't want to. Unless I change my mind. It's not essential I go to Trader Joe's.
I've been looking forward to this week because the CW shows, Supergirl, the Flash, and Arrow have their finales and the story arcs are resolved. Supergirl is the show I like the least but I loved the resolution. Flash might be my favorite but I did not like the resolution. I'll watch Arrow before I leave today. We'll see how it goes.
Yesterday on Facebook I ranked the actors that played James Bond in the official series without explaining my choices. It drew many comments. I responded. I don't like discussions via comments. Long comments don't look right. It's not a good vehicle for analysis. Blogging is so now I'm going to give my reasons for the ranking here.
What is the biggest factor in my list? Grit. James Bond is a killer. The 00 designation means he has a license to kill. Bond is tough and Bond is dangerous. That's how he is portrayed in the books. He might wear a white dinner jacket when he kills; he might make quips, but he is serious, deadly serious. Connery and Craig conveyed that sense of danger. Bond womanizes, drinks, and gambles because he knows very well that every day might be his last. Everything including the quips is a coping mechanism.
I discovered the series with Goldfinger in 1964. I was seven. My parents saw it and my father loved it so much he had to tell me about it. Then I had to see it. He took me and it was love at first sight. To that seven-year-old, this is what a movie was supposed to be. Everything was perfect including the theme song. I loved the gadgets especially the car. I loved Oddjob. I loved Oddjob's hat. I was fascinated with the entire idea of killing someone by covering them with gold paint. I felt so bad for the Jill Masterson, what a terrible way to die. I did not get the joke of Pussy Galore's name until college when I started telling a friend who had never seen it about the film. I said the name and it hit me. My father took me to the auto show that year and the highlight was Bond's Aston Martin. I was hooked.
The film was such a hit that they re-released the first two films Dr. No and From Russian with Love as a double feature. My father took me to see that. Dr. No became my favorite Bond film. I was probably still seven.
I saw the other Bond films as they came out. When Lazenby took over the role I didn't know what to make of it. I was now 12. I loved Connery and couldn't think of anyone else in the role but it had Diana Rigg in it! Mrs. Peel! I went to see it. I loved it. I was as good, I still can't accept better, than the post-Goldfinger Connery's. Lazenby played the role as it should be played. It is the story that meant the most to Bond himself as he meets his one true love, marries, and then loses her. I am still haunted by seeing Diana Rigg's character, Tracy, with a bullet between her eyes and the pain in Lazenby's.
Connery came back for one more official film, Diamonds are Forever. It was to that point by far the worst Bond film. It didn't make any sense to me and had too much silliness. That was a harbinger of what was to come.
The Moore Bond films came too close to self-parody. Live and Let Die might have the second-best theme song, nothing can ever beat Goldfinger, but it's the worst film in the series. When Moore running across the alligators is quite close to literally jumping the shark. The early Moore films were spoofs that were less funny and clever than James Coburn's Flint films. Lazenby appears in one of those as Bond. Moore finally found his stride with The Spy Who Loved Me. I had to reluctantly admit that it was better than Diamonds are Forever. It had the best opening sequence of any Bond film and the best Henchman since Oddjob. Moonraker was good but not special. After that I enjoyed the films. I still would not miss one. They toned down the buffoonery of the early Moore films.
In the midst of the Moore era Connery made his own Bond film that was not part of the official series. He owned the rights to Thunderball and remade it as Never Say Never Again. The title is an inside joke as when he left the series he said he'd never play Bond again. I hated that it was a remake but it was better than the original. Connery showed that he understood what Bond was about.
When Moore was replaced I looked forward to it and thought Timothy Dalton did a great job. He didn't have Connery's star quality but like Lazenby he played Bond as a tough man living in a tough world. He just dressed very well.
I thought that Pierce Brosnan would be perfect for the role. I loved him in Remington Steele and perhaps more importantly in The Deceivers where he showed he could play a tough role and be more than a pretty boy. I did like him but he veered a little too much into the Moore lack of gravitas. Still he was a find Bond.
Then came Craig and the series reboot. They went back to basics. The films were not about special effects and action sequences. They were stories about characters putting their lives on the line. Craig was perfect, perhaps the closest to the character in the books. Craig was a tough guy that could play a playboy, not a playboy that could be tough. There is talk that Spectre will be his last film in the series. That's sad. I hope they cast the part as well as they did with him. The current vision of the series is the best it's been since the Connery days.
The only one whose place in the order I'm not sure of is Lazenby. He made only one film, albeit a great one. How much did he contribute to it's being great? It's hard to judge. I should watch it again. If you wanted to put him behind Dalton or even Brosnan I would not strongly object. The rest are set in stone. You are entitled to your opinion on the Bond rankings; just remember they are just opinions. This list is official. You read it on the internet so it has to be true.
Does everyone get when I say things like that I'm not being arrogant? that I'm joking? It's hyperbole; I say something so over the top that I expect people to know it's a joke. I have learned by experience that it's not always true. It won't stop me from doing it. I think it's funny and while I love My Gentle Readers amusing myself is my first priority.
I almost wrote something very serious about current events but this is better. You all get plenty of the real world without me. It's much more fun to argue over James Bond than politics. Especially for me as this one I will win.
Brother Brothers in Arms - October 01, 2017
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