But also, my love affair for James Bond began in the month of June, the summer between eighth grade and High School. Here's the story:
I was first introduced to James Bond in fifth grade, when Andrew Avitan had a birthday outing to see The World is Not Enough, followed by playing GoldenEye on the N64. GoldenEye was awesome, of course, and I still believe it is the greatest video game ever.
This guy is winning; he is obviously not me.
The World is Not Enough, however, I was not thrilled by. It was a different time, of course. I was a prude and a nerd, and the idea of SEX just bothered and scandalized me. I couldn't follow the plot very well, either, though I eventually learned that the why and the wherefore in a Bond film is the last thing on anyone's mind. Also, this is the one where Denise Richards famously played a nuclear physicist.
Flash forward to eighth grade.
I was the eighth grade champion in the spelling bee, beating Casey Scharf, a classmate with whom I had a fierce rivalry. He didn't know it, and I don't exactly know why I chose him to compete with, but suffice to say that it was one of my greater achievements that year. (The GREATEST was hitting on the hot librarian on the morning announcements and getting away with it). Anyway, I won, and so we were supposed to have a final competition between me and the champions from the sixth and seventh grade. The winner of that would represent our school in the district competition. High-fives were exchanged with my parents.
Except that it never happened. At the last minute, they were unable to hold a final competition, and a name was drawn out of a hat on the morning announcements. The decision left to horrible chance (horrible, awful chance), I watched as my dreams of being the Grand Master of Spelling Things were dashed, and some girl in seventh grade went instead.
Well, my father was not having any of that. Siding with me on the whole "drawing a name out of a hat is stupid" thing, he called me in sick the day of the District Spelling Bee. Instead, we had an OUTING. Yes, a wonderful, air-conditioned outing to the local mall, where I could pick out one item to own forever and ever. So we went to the music store, right? And I looked through the movie soundtracks, and there it was -- The Best of Bond, featuring twenty-two tracks of music to spy to.
And this is what it looked like.
Now, keep in mind, I had yet to see any Bond film but The World is Not Enough, and I still had memories of the burning hatred I felt for it. Fortunately for me, my English teacher at the time was Mr. Kimmel, a die-hard Bond fan. He happened to have a copy of The Best of Bond himself, and he would play it every so often during writing exercises. I really didn't remember any songs per se, but I remembered not hating it, and I kind of looked up to him at the time, so what was good enough for him was good enough for me. I bought the CD.
And my life changed forever.
I like to think everyone remembers the first time they heard "boom boom, wha-WHAAAAA-wha". We all know what that is. The first time I really heard those notes was in my bedroom that afternoon, laying on my stomach by the CD player, flipping through the cover booklet. It was here that I first learned of the James Bond books. "Well," I resoned to myself, "mayhaps the books have something the movies failed to give me."
I got a copy of Doctor No from the library. It seemed to make the most sense to start with that one. I was still a novice, you see, and I figured that since it was the first Bond film, it must have been the first Bond book as well. I went to my grandparents' house in Boca Raton, sat out on the beach, and started reading.
I finished reading it that evening. Without question, it was one of the most exhilirating novels I had ever read. Dr. Julius No was an amazing villain, and this James Bond was so manly, the epitome of what I always wanted to become but never felt I could measure up to. Here, at least, I could imagine Bond any way I wanted to -- he could even be me! Suave, sexy, with a "hump 'em and dump 'em" attitude, Bond was also a dark, melancholic figure that intrigued and haunted me. I was eager to return to his world of sex and danger.
And that's the edition I read. It's like you're there!
And that's the edition I read. It's like you're there!
So it is that I consider June to be the start of the true love, for it was not until the Summer months that I read Casino Royale, The Spy Who Loved Me, and Moonraker, back to back to back. Each girl -- Honeychile Rider, Vesper Lynd, Vivienne Michel, Gala Brand -- became a different girl of my acquaintance (even at a young age, I liked to cast willy-nilly). At the same time, I felt myself becoming more enraptured with the villains. Hugo Drax was an especial favorite of mine, though I would eventually come to pledge allegiance to Blofeld as well.
To make a long story short...
It took me only a year to finish the Ian Flemings, and I soon moved on to the other authors. I watched all the movies (except Octopussy and A View to a Kill), bought a number of the individual soundtracks, bid on action figures on eBay, had marathons with friends, the works. I am an official Bond obsessive now, and saw the last two at midnight showings. And yes, I am firmly on Team Craig.
A blonde Bond? It's like looking into a mirror!
This is all a long way of saying that in June, a number of Bond-related things will occur.
ITEM THE FIRST: My roommates and I will plan and host a James Bond party, in which guests will come in costume (at least, they better) and Bond movies will be on all TVs.
ITEM THE SECOND: Five weeks of Bond Casting Coups. Yeah, you heard me. I'll be recasting five James Bond books from the Ian Fleming years (hopefully, provided I have the time). It's a challenge, but someone's got to do it.
ITEM THE THIRD: Obviously, Top Ten Lists of Bond Girls and Bond Villains.
By the by, take a look at my first Bond Casting Coup from this past summer.
That's the long and short of it. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to attend to a lady friend. She's just dead.