Ken Jennings’ blog topic for today is iconoclasm, which put me in mind of an essay I had on my old website about James Bond, now resurrected for your reading pleasure.

I’m a James Bond fan who hates nearly all the James Bond movies.No, I don’t mean to say that I’m a fan of Ian Fleming’s written adventures instead; I’ve only ever read one (Goldfinger, and it was just OK). I mean that the promise of the first two movies — Dr. No and especially From Russia With Love — was squandered in every movie thereafter.In the beginning, the James Bond series was for grownups; now it’s for kids. Sure, there always were exciting action sequences and nifty gadgets, but they were by no means the focus of the movies. The focus was James Bond’s worldly bachelor, gentleman-adventurer lifestyle. A story, possibly apocryphal, is told of casting the role of James Bond for Dr. No. Sean Connery auditioned for the producers, Harry Saltzman and Albert Broccoli, giving an adequate but unremarkable reading. A few minutes later, one of the producers glanced out the window to see Sean Connery walking away down the street “striding like a panther,” and that’s when they knew they had their man. This story underscores that the original emphasis in the movie series was simply on Bond’s manliness, aspired to by millions of the burgeoning Playboy generation.

In From Russia With Love (which had a plausible and somewhat sophisticated story that actually centered on authentic-seeming espionage, the only one of its kind in the whole series), the familiar James Bond musical theme swells as Bond simply arrives at the airport in Istanbul looking for his contact, then again as he checks into his hotel. That’s because those are the minutiae of the lifestyle, which is what audiences came to see. In modern James Bond movies, that music is reserved for the dozens of credibility-defying stunts that the screenwriter has contrived, performed with vanilla action-hero aplomb by a generic Bond who isn’t really a character at all, and certainly has nothing that can be called a lifestyle.

By the time of Goldfinger, the third movie, the series had begun to descend into self-parody. The easily identifiable components of the first two movies — girls, martinis, guns, explosions, gadgets, saying “Bond, James Bond” — became ingredients in a formula that lacked the one truly essential element: savoir faire.

A darnedest thing

When picking up Archer (age 2 1/4) from daycare yesterday, Andrea asked him, “Do you want to walk or do you want me to carry you?” Archer answered, “Carry me. I had a long day.”

My new blog

I am finally motivated to start my own blog, though what I’ll put here I really don’t know. For now I’ve got to get something written down to surmount the first-post obstacle.

I’ll probably write about fatherhood from time to time. I may give updates on my various self-improvement projects, such as learning to play music and improving my fitness. (“Self-improvement is masturbation.” –Tyler Durden. To which I say, “OK.”) Perhaps I’ll post some greatest-hits articles from my old website (now offline) and from e-mail, etc. And I’ll almost certainly relive past glory from my pre-fatherhood days of book-writing, plane-flying, company-starting, etc., though you should not get the idea that fatherhood put an end to my adventures; on the contrary, it’s my biggest one yet, and I’ve still only just begun.

Among the things that made me finally start this blog is Ken Jennings’ blog. Ken is the Jeopardy! über-champion from a couple of years ago. He’s also a terrific blogger; his blog is among the handful I read daily. Coincidentally, the day I started reading it, he blogged about the unavailability of the Kevin Kline Pirates of Penzance movie on DVD, while a DVD of the Central Park version of the same production arrived at my home from Netflix. So I sent him mail about that coincidence and we began a correspondence in which I posed some of my clever movie-connections puzzles to him, and eventually to the readers of his message forum. Oh yeah, those puzzles are something else I can put here.