A License to Kill (or at least make uncomfortable)

Today our subject is Bond — James Bond.

Over the holiday weekend the Redhead and I went to see the latest James Bond installment “Skyfall.”  I gave it an “OK” while the Redhead ranked it “Very Good.”

It is being widely promoted as the “greatest James Bond movie ever.”

I don’t think so.

I believe the greatest Bond film was “Goldfinger” (1964).  I saw this one on television as a lad (I was two years old when it was in the theater), but for me it has always been the ultimate James Bond movie.  Young Sean Connery (best Bond actor) attempts to foil evil genius Goldfinger and his plot to contaminate the entire gold supply of the United States by detonating a nuclear bomb at Fort Knox.  Filled with intrigue and an array of beautiful women, this film set the standard against which all others Bond flicks would be measured.  It also contains one of the most memorable (and most quoted) scenes of the series:

Bond:   “Do you expect me to talk?”

Goldfinger:   “No Mr. Bond, I expect you to die.

My personal favorite of the Bond movies is “Diamonds are Forever” (1971).  Another Connery triumph, this one featured a complex cast of evil-doers as well as the most beautiful “Bond girl” of all:  Tiffany Case.

OK, I admit I’ve always had a problem with  the redheads.  I’ve been in rehab for thirty-one years.

My most memorable Bond movie?  That would have to be “The Man with the Golden Gun” (1974).  It was Roger Moore’s second attempt to play the role, and it wasn’t a very good movie.  It is only memorable because it was my first Bond movie at the theater — and my first movie with a “date.”

Well, not really a date.  But there was a girl, and she was sitting beside me, and we did “like” each other.  Keep in mind that this was from the middle school era, where romance often began with a note that read “Do you like me?  Y or N (please circle one).”

I had no idea how to act toward this girl.  I anguished over my options during the coming attractions.  As the famous Bond intro-music began, I made a critical decision — I put my arm around her.

This Bond-like sophistication worked well for a while.  Then my arm began to tire.  I didn’t know the procedure.  What was I supposed to do next?  If I removed my arm, would she be offended?  Would she think I didn’t like her?  What was the protocol?  I was in agony, but I didn’t dare risk some potential teenage humiliation.

So I left my arm around her until the final credits.  And as you know, Bond movies are LONG movies.  I don’t know how I did it.  It was a superhuman effort, especially for a kid.

I found out later she told one of her friends that I made her neck hurt.

So K. Mac, if you’re still out there and you’re reading this, I’m really sorry I hurt your neck.

James Bond always knew how to handle the girls.

But James Bond I ain’t.

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Wedding Shoes

There’s a lot I’ll never understand about women.

My son recently married.  As the big day approached, the Redhead became more and more agitated.  There was a lot of preparation for the wedding  (which I completely stayed out of – at least I understand some things about women), so I assumed she was just stressed by the details.  She spent a lot of time shopping, and I wasn’t seeing many purchases, so I knew something was wrong.

A day or so before the wedding the ugly truth came out:  “I can’t find any shoes for the wedding!”

Say what?

You can’t find any shoes?

Now I’ll admit that I’m not qualified to make judgments about fashion.  I’m a fairly simple man, especially when it comes to footwear.  At this stage of my life I live quite comfortably with four pair:  my “all purpose” boots (good for work, casual situations and general every day wear); my “nice” boots (for more formal occasions); my running shoes (exercise); and my sandals.  I could probably get by without the sandals if I felt the need to cut back.

So I’m completely in the dark about the female preoccupation with – or attraction to – shoes.

I can say in complete honesty that unless a woman is wearing 12- inch stiletto heels or leather knee boots, I have never noticed what she has on her feet.  In fact, until this wedding shoe thing brought the issue to my attention, I don’t think I really realized that women had feet.

I suspect that I am not alone among the brotherhood.  I’ve never heard a man of any age say “Wow, that was one drop-dead gorgeous woman, but did you notice those ugly shoes she was wearing?”

The Redhead finally found her wedding shoes.  She was lovely.

My new daughter-in-law was absolutely beautiful.

Pretty females from age 2 to 82 attended the wedding.

And I have no idea if any of them were wearing shoes.

Brother Against Brother

Today is Iron Bowl* day in Alabama.  It is the one day its citizens are as divided as the nation to which we belong.

If you are not an Alabamian, there is no way I can adequately describe the significance of the football rivalry between the University of Alabama and Auburn University.  Think Hatfield and McCoy, only not as nice.  Friendships will end today.  Families will be divided for at least a year.  There is no middle ground — you must choose a side if you live here.  It makes no difference whatsoever if you actually went to school at either place.

Even innocent trees have been poisoned** as a result of this game.

I think my cousin summed it quite well in a Facebook post:  “The most wonderful time of the year is Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Alabama beating Auburn.”  And she’s a grandmother.

In this state, the saying has always been, “You can throw the record book out the window” for this rivalry.  That’s a great cliché, but it’s just not true.  The game will not be a good one today for Auburn.  The question is not if Auburn will have a chance to win, it’s how badly they will be beaten.***

Auburn football has fallen on hard times.  Historic hard times.  Two years removed from a National Championship, the Auburn “family” is left to wonder how a team can get that bad that quickly.

I have an idea how it happened, but I better not say too much.  I might have to go into some kind of witness protection program.

I will say this:  Auburn football would have a much brighter future if a certain former coach would load up his Scotch and head back to Georgia.  Just saying.

*The “Iron Bowl” was the original name given to the game when it was played each year in Birmingham (a city once famous for iron and steel).  Half the tickets went to each school, which created an atmosphere like no other in college football.  Now it’s just a “home” game every other year.

**Alabama fan Harvey Updike is currently awaiting trial for poisoning the “Toomer’s Oaks,” a campus landmark at Auburn.  The trees are “rolled” with toilet paper after each Auburn win.  The photo above is from last Saturday, when someone (presumably not Updike), set the toilet paper on fire after an Auburn win over cupcake opponent Alabama A&M.

***I started this little post as the game kicked-off.  Alabama was up 42-0 at halftime.  As Verne Lundquist, the worst television football commentator of all time would say, “Oh my.”

Regretsgiving Day

Yesterday was Thanksgiving. We had our annual family gathering, complete with way too much food.

Afterwards, my very sweet and spiritually minded sister-in-law suggested that we go around the room and name one thing we were thankful for.

I hate stuff like that.

When my turn came around, I said “rainbows.” My mother-in-law said “puppies.” That was my second choice.

Today I heard a little news snippet on the radio that contended that Americans spend an average of two hours a day in regret. The results were even broken down by gender and type of regret — as in women tend to be regretful about “all the time they’ve wasted with the wrong man” and “not saving enough money,” while men tend to be regretful about living with a woman like the one I just described.

OK, I made that second part up, but it’s probably just as valid.

How does one go about conducting such a study anyway? I’m assuming they interviewed people, but since people are notorious liars, how good could any results possibly be?

The average amount of time Americans spend in regret is two hours a day?

An average implies that some people regret a lot more than two hours — some a lot less.

I suspect that many of you reading this fall into the “a lot less” category. Don’t fret, I’ve got your back on this one. You can count on me to pull up the average.

I am a man of many regrets.  I regret that I feel this way, but that’s just the way it is.  I regret that I have regrets.

I even regret that I just wasted my time and yours by writing this.

Hunker Down

It is the second day of deer-hunting season in Alabama, and I suspect the deer already have it figured out.  They are naturally wary.  Creatures that are built for survival.  Their one weakness, shared by most other animals, is that they tend to be creatures of habit.  They develop a routine, and this allows the predator an opportunity.

When the predator is man, this window of opportunity is brief.  Even creatures of habit quickly learn when something is not quite right.  Something has changed — the smells are different.  Was that shape there yesterday?  The sounds are slightly off.  Do you hear it?  Can you feel it?

Then something remarkable happens.  The older bucks, the ones that the hunter dreams of taking, disappear.

That beautiful animal with the broad, heavy antlers that you saw multiple times over the past year in the wide open spaces — in the fields, along the roads, in the orchard — is, quite simply, gone.  Vanished.

He is, as we say here, “hunkered down.”  He leaves his normal routine and finds a place of protected solitude.  An impenetrable thicket of briars and brambles in which no danger can approach unannounced.  It is survival on his own terms, but it has a cost.  When the danger has passed (weeks or months later), he will emerge physically and mentally weakened.  Vulnerable to threats that would have been easily dealt with previously.

Sometimes people feel the need to hunker down.

As I write, a message box pops up on my computer screen:  “You should change your battery or switch to outlet power immediately or risk losing your work.”

Indeed.

The best advice I’ve had in a long time.