James Bond

August 9, 2012

Paloma has developed a little thing for Daniel Craig.

Though she had devoured the books, I suspect Craig’s starring role goosed her interest in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

And she’s been raving about his performance as James Bond as she’s become a belated convert to the cinematic spy series.

(at least I don’t ever recall her expressing an interest in the long-running franchise)

At the risk of being labeled a communist, socialist, or some other ist that I isn’t, I must confess that, as Paloma has now seen both of Craig’s turns as 007, she has seen at least one more James Bond movie than I have.

Yes, I have only seen one James Bond movie in its entirety.

The first James Bond movie that I remember from its original run in theaters would have been The Spy Who Loved Me from 1977 when I would have been nine. It might have played in our town’s old theater, but, if it did, I didn’t see it.

I have no doubt that The Spy Who Loved Me would have popped up a year or so later as a hyped, world television premiere on the ABC Saturday Night Movie. Other films from the series would appear in prime time on a regular basis and I somehow missed them all.

It’s surprising when I think of it.

I was more into science-fiction and horror movies as a kid, but there was a mere half-dozen television channels from which to choose. It seems that at least once – with so few viewing options – I would have come across a James Bond movie, paused, and gotten drawn in.

But it didn’t happen.

I was well aware of James Bond. The character is so iconic and global that if you told me that there were Buddhist monks in some far-flung monastery who only broke their meditative ways to hang out and watch James Bond flicks I wouldn’t be surprised or necessarily question it.

And if such a thing would prove to be true, it means that they too have seen more of 007’s exploits than I.

Here are four of the many hit theme songs from James Bond movies over the years…

Paul McCartney & Wings – Live And Let Die
from All the Best! (1987)

Sir Paul and his other band provided the theme song for 1973’s Live And Let Die, the first time that Roger Moore took on the role of James Bond. As I was a small kid in the ’70s, it is Moore, starring in the then-current films in the series, who I associated as James Bond.

I wasn’t all that enamored with Live And Let Die when I became truly acquainted with the song later in the decade. But, for some reason, I dig it – the glam-rock parts, the reggae hitch, the dramatic builds – more and more as the years pass.

Carly Simon – Nobody Does It Better
from Clouds in My Coffee (1995)

I once asked a friend’s girlfriend if people ever noted her resemblence to Carly Simon.

She was unfamiliar with the singer, but a couple of days later, the buddy called and informed me that the girlfriend had looked up Carly on the internet; she was none too pleased with my comparison.

But, wasn’t Carly simply one of the sexiest women of the ’70s? I mean, I was nine when Nobody Does It Better, the theme song from The Spy Who Loved Me, was a hit and I’d figured that out.

Sheena Easton – For Your Eyes Only
from The Best Of Sheena Easton (1989)

Sheena Easton was inescapable in 1981.

I knew the Scottish lass from the radio and her numerous appearances on Solid Gold. As a thirteen year-old just becoming interested in music, I did find her fetching, but her upbeat songs were mind-numbingly perky and her ballads were rather maudlin.

I did dig For Your Eyes Only, which was a big hit in the autumn of that year. It was a bit moody and a bit evocative (and, though I love Blondie, far superior to their song – also entitled For Your Eyes Only – that was apparently written in consideration of being the theme).

Duran Duran – A View To A Kill
from Decade (1989)

The lone James Bond movie that I have seen – in its entirety – was 1985’s A View To A Kill.

I was already tired of Duran Duran’s theme by the time the movie played in my hometown. Those early ’80s hits of Duran Duran were hit and miss for me and A View To A Kill was among the latter. It just went nowhere for me.

As for the movie, I thought Grace Jones was cool as May Day. I knew the singer for her menacing version of The Police’s Demolition Man, which 97X played a lot.

The movie left me far less impressed.

(according to Rotten Tomatoes, it is the worst-reviewed entry in the series)

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An Oasis Called Pizza Hut

July 7, 2009

There was no such thing as air conditioning when I was a kid. It existed, but we didn’t have it – not in our house, not in our school, not in the family car.

The last situation made for tense times on six-hour drives to Western Pennsylvania for vacation each summer.

Perched on the couch the other night, the drone of the central air was comforting, lulling me into a drowsy state. I was still coherent enough to have a personal revelation during a television commercial.

As a kid, Pizza Hut was nirvana.

Sure, it’s mediocre pizza, but how many times have you run across pizza that was truly inedible – especially as a kid?

(I could probably count mine on one had)

My hometown had Pizza Haus as the one establishment singularly devoted to purveying pie. It wasn’t bad but hardly the place you rave to friends about years later in one of those mindless discussions that occur shortly after one in the morning at some bar.

It was pizza. It was greasy. It was ours.

(and a place where we enjoyed heckling the town drunks)

The nearest Pizza Hut was twenty minutes away in a thriving megalopolis of ten thousand best known for the tree which grew from the roof of the courthouse.

Times were catatonic.

But there was a Pizza Hut. It was air-conditioned and dimly lit. There was pizza. And, once I was in high school and my friends and I could procure transportation (usually without prior consent of our biological guardians) and escape there, the juke box was of great importance, too.

Those treks rarely ended without souvenirs. One friend had a dozen of those red, plastic glasses at home (I believe he told his mom that they were free with a purchase). We once even made off with a pan pizza pan which another friend’s father was surprised to find in his trunk.

As much as those antics were important in keeping my friends and I occupied, it was those family vacations during which the familiar architecture of Pizza Hut was salvation – a brief respite from hunger, heat, and the drudgery of the road.

The (usually) annual pilgrimage that occurred in 1981 was memorable to me as radio was a new interest and, thus, a new way to pass the time with an eye scanning the horizon for that familiar red roof.

Some of the songs I recall hearing on that trip…

Kim Carnes – Bette Davis Eyes
from Mistaken Identity

I wasn’t exactly taken at the time with Kim Carnes’ mysterious, new-wave tinged take on this Jackie DeShannon song. That was unfortunate because it was simply inescapable that summer.

Over the years, it’s grown on me considerably and I dig the raspy vocals of Carnes.. And, in a brush with semi-greatness, I once bumped into her at Kroger’s. She was hidden behind a large pair of sunglasses, but it was definitely her buying a carton of eggs.

Jim Steinman – Rock & Roll Dreams Come Through
from Bad For Good

I like Meat Loaf. He seems like an affable, eager-to-please fellow whom you could depend on in a jam. I think I’d like to be his neighbor

The reason I mention Meat Loaf is because it was singing the songs of Jim Steinman that brought him to global fame. Rock & Roll Dreams Come Through was on Steinman’s lone solo album, released during the long wait for Meat Loaf to follow-up Bat Out Of Hell.

It’s gloriously bombastic. If you’re going to go big, you might as well go Spectorian.

Journey – Who’s Crying Now
from Escape

I distinctly remember hearing Who’s Crying Now for the first time on that vacation and, by the time it finished, I was already surfing the radio dial in hopes of hearing it again.

I wouldn’t even hazard to guess how many times I heard it during that two-week stretch. I am certain that it must have been enough times that had my family bludgeoned me to death with the lid from the cooler and left me for dead on the side of the interstate somewhere in West Virginia, they would have been acquitted.

Foreigner – Urgent
from Foreigner 4

You’ve got Junior Walker adding sax and Thomas Dolby playing synthesizer – on a Foreigner record. It’s lots of fun.

Personally, Foreigner 4 is a fantastic, straight-ahead rock record and I never really understood the critical angst over their records up through this one. Of course, I grew up in the Midwest and, during the late ’70s and early ’80s, Foreigner on the radio was omnipresent.

Sheena Easton – For Your Eyes Only
from For Your Eyes Only soundtrack

I confess that the only James Bond movie that I have ever seen is A View To A Kill (it’s a rather shameful admission, I suppose). I like James Bond, but, if he was a neighbor of me and Meat Loaf, I can’t imagine he’d let us use his pool or go bowling with us.

Anyhow, Sheena Easton was a bit too unremittingly perky for me, but I did/do like For Your Eyes Only. Blondie actually was supposed to do the theme to the James Bond flick of the same name, and I like their song, too (even though it is an entirely different song).