Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Inadvertent Nod To James Bond Twiggy Style

A photo posted to Reddit led one Spyfi & Superspies loyal reader  - thanks Nick! - to reach out to me when he noticed a Bond reference: 

Fashion icon Twiggy, wearing the “paper dress,” advertises pop icon 007 (Google Images Search)

Located on Twiggy’s right thigh is the partially obscured headline “….dressed for 007” that looks as though it might have been coverage of a James Bond film premiere. Immediately, I wondered if the 007 headline on Twiggy’s dress could be referring to Thunderball or You Only Live Twice, with UK releases occurring December 29, 1965 and June 12, 1967 respectively.

I am leaning towards You Only Live Twice as the referenced film for a few reasons. First, the time of year of the photo would have been more logically placed in the summertime. Going beyond the short sleeves and the clear looking skies, who would honestly wear paper (or cellulose fabric, paper-mache, or some other manufactured weave) that would likely been ruined by increment weather conditions? According to a quick wiki search on “paper dresses” the US began mass-producing this disposable fashion in 1966, which means London likely experienced a similar trend around the same time.  Online, a V&A fashion exhibition had four paper dresses spotlighted, all dating from 1967. In any case, that’s my guess.

I would be very interested to hear from anyone who knows anything more about the photo and the referenced 007 article. Just add a comment at the end of this post or drop me a line. 

For additional paper dress examples, peruse this Voices of East Anglia article that includes several advertisements for this short-lived (thank goodness!) fashion phenomena! 

Saturday, December 27, 2014

A Retrospective of the Year and What's Ahead in 2015

Looking back over 2014…

As another year draws to a close, it is time to pause, reflect on the year’s activities and assess how one measured against the goals set for the year. Looking back at my retrospective post the last day of 2013, I did not provide a list of goals, however, there were two items on my mind when I wrote that post. First, I wanted to finish editing and submit my completed manuscript of my book and second, to post timely and consistent posts throughout the year. On the former, I did complete the editing process and submitted a manuscript I could be proud of, to the publisher at the beginning of May (read the Behind-the-Scenes post). By November, my book, James Bond and Popular Culture: Essays on the Influence of the Fictionalized Superspy, was out and available to order from the publisher and a number of online booksellers. That said, the first printing batch sold out at the publisher (McFarland & Company) earlier this month, so that was a very exciting moment. And, in time for Christmas, the book is now back in stock. I haven’t seen my book in a bookstore yet, but I figure that will happen eventually.

My second goal of delivering regular posts fell short. In 2013, I averaged just under 2.5 posts per month, but this year that figure slipped to just over 1 post per month.  Part of my shortfall was due to the amount of time required for the editing process of my book, but I was also writing more for the online popular culture site, Bleeding Cool throughout this year (see my list of articles here). And like many, writing and research is a secondary job to a primary position that finances the other. Heading into autumn, I experienced a lot of changes at my day job, which cut into my available free hours. While I could always management my time more efficiently, I still wish I had more time in the day.

Now, I’m going to turn to the fun part of the post: revealing my top five posts of the year. I selected the top five posts based on number of views received for each over the year. So, without further adieu…

Interview with Moriarty's Corey was #5
Number 5

I had met Daniel at the Long Beach Comic Con and Horror Show in late 2013 and he had kindly provided me with a copy of Moriarty: The Dark Chamber to read because his story included mention of MI5 in its infancy and had spy elements. I enjoyed the story and nods to the spy world, flourishing in the years leading up to World War I. Corey masterfully weaved an intelligent story that many of us are now familiar with, thanks to BBC’s Sherlock. Corey has been hard at work the rest of the year: his new series, Red City, in which Corey creates an interplanetary noir story, was just released in trade paperback from Image. 

Number 4

Cue the music! Oh yeah with Kenny Loggins’ The Danger Zone playing in the background, it was time to open the trading card set for Archer this past March. The set spotlighted lots of nudity and sexual innuendoes and provided many moments in which I groaned and rolled my eyes, yet it was all with a sense of fun. I seriously need to sit down and watch all the seasons now…..Lona? Lona?! LONA!!!

Number 3

I led out with a strong post at the start of 2014 when I reviewed and discussed the first issue of Taran Killam and Marc Andreyko’s The Illegitimates. While I did finish reading the series, I failed to post a follow up article to discuss further how Killam and Andreyko played with established tropes. If you get the chance, pick up the series and check it out.

Number 2

I was surprised that readers were as interested in my report regarding the annual conference I attend in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the Southwest Popular/American Culture Association. In spite of the fact that I was suffering from a severe cold, the conference provided me the opportunity to reconnect with old friends and make some new ones too.

And, at the top of the list for 2014…..

Person of Interest was most interesting to my readers in 2014
Number 1

This was a quick post one evening after watching an episode of Person of Interest starring Jim Caviezel as rogue CIA agent John Reese and off-the-grid billionaire Harold Finch, played by Michael Emerson. The episode had quite a bit of back-and-forth banter between Reese and Finch, each kind of trying to one-up the other, resulting in many in humorous moments. It made it so fun to write my own post and honestly, I’m glad that so many of my readers enjoyed this one too.

Before leaving this topic, I do want to mention of one of my posts that particularly impacted me this year:

Honorable Mention

What a treat for me this year at Comikaze when not one but two panels focused on James Bond! Not only did I get to listen to experts and fans of Bond, but I got to meet and chat after each panel. The Battle of Bonds, which included the non-Eon Productions Bonds, was a fun hour to compare which Bond was the best…I don’t think there was any clear winner and I’m fine with that. And, a headier panel discussing the qualities that have seen filmic Bond endure for over half a century! Both panels were hosted by Jessica Tseang and again a huge thank you to her for putting the panels together!

Honorable Mention: Near and dear to my heart, Comikaze panel Battle of the Bonds

Looking forward to 2015….

Okay, so what’s on the horizon for Spyfi & Superspies in 2015? Well, I’m going to keep it simple: MORE posts! One of the ways I’ll be doing that is through daily posts acknowledging and celebrating the world of James Bond that is inclusive of his literary roots and filmic franchise. Basically, think of it as a desk calendar with the theme “Bond 365 Days.” I have been working on this project for the past couple of months and I’m not done. Hence, I will state now that this project is organic and evolving, so it may seem that I’ve missed something along the way. It may be, or more likely, I just haven’t touched upon that information yet. It is my hope that readers will come forward where I do have gaps – be it dates and/or photos. I would like this to interactive and eventually a helpful archive.

Along with the daily Bond post, I’m planning to post a weekly blog that explores in depth on the wider spy genre topic from the various popular culture outlets – film, television, literature, comics, video games, etc. I know there are spy films scheduled for release next year such as The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and Spectre (of course!), television shows aplenty and it will be interesting to see what comic book stories Dynamite writers come up with to entertain and sate our appetites for James Bond now that they an agreement with Ian Fleming Publications Ltd. There are older books and films out there I would like to visit and of course, a whole world of espionage and Eurospy out there too! In addition, I hope to finally read and write about my thoughts regarding the Ian Fleming books and from revisiting the Bond films. And, I’m sure there will be other items, yet unknown to report and talk about in the next year.

I hope you will come along with me in the coming year. Please bookmark my site and consider following me and see your photo over in the right margin with the other good folk already congregated there. In advance, I thank you and I want you to know that I sincerely appreciate your support!

Wishing all my Spyfi & Superspies readers a fond and joyous New Year! See you January 1! 

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Season's Greetings

Merry Christmas and greetings from sunny Southern California! I hope that each of you are having a wonderful holiday season. May it be a peaceful one, filled with the joy of family and friends! 

I hope you will stop back by next week when I'll post a review of this year. In addition, I'll also be making a special announcement about 2015 that you will not want to miss! 

Until then, all the very best!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Bond Buzz Word: Spectre

To celebrate the announcement of Bond 24 or Spectre, Bond aficionado Brad Hansen (Commander Bond) of Visual Space Productions did a wonderful job editing together scenes from Dr. No, From Russia with Love, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice, and Diamonds are Forever that feature the evil secret organization, SPECTRE. SPECTRE, or Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion, has been around for a long time and was led by the kitty-petting maniacal villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Before Bond fans ask what happened to George Lazenby and On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Hansen's trailer focuses specifically on the 1960s/70s Connery's interactions with Blofeld and SPECTRE. It was nicely done and I hope you'll give it a watch and share with your Bond friends...

Spectre popped up this week with the announcement of the Belvedere Vodka partnership as the official vodka of the upcoming James Bond film. The company created two limited edition bottles, which were showcased at London's Film Museum on December 15th. 

Belvedere and James Bond Partnership Announced

The first is the MI6 which gives nods the 007's headquarters by switching inks (green ink is used by MI6 officials to sign documents) and etching the bottle with the MI6 building, replacing the Belvedere Palace. Sadly, this limited edition will not be available to buy in your local shop; Belvedere is gifting them to Bond aficionados and charity auctions only. 

Belvedere Vodka Presents MI6

The second vodka is the 007 Silver Saber, which will be available next year and will have a limited distribution. These bottles will have a built in LED so that the bottle lights up, which I really want to see! Since filming has only recently begun, it isn't known what "role" the Belvedere vodka will play. However, the association with the Bond franchise should see a boost in sales for Belvedere. 

Silver Saber will light up Bond aficionados

Other Bond items in the news this week included the brief, and quickly sold out issue 28 of mi6 confidential magazine featuring Daniel Craig in his 007 uniform on the cover. I ordered my copy in a bundled offer with issue 27, sporting a cover of The Man with the Golden Gun Roger Moore, Maud Adams and Britt Ekland. At the moment, MI6 Confidential is offering a set of 007's "banned" trading cards from Somportex that were originally released in 1964, but pulled a year later due to their controversial images of bikini-clad ladies. There were some signed back issues of the magazines as well, but those have already sold out. 

Did you get issue 28 ordered? 

The last bit of news this week happened over at the official 007 Bond shop. They advertised they had 100 of the Hot Wheels collectible of James Bond's Aston Martin DB5 that graced Goldfinger. Now a little backstory about this collectible. It was offered at San Diego International Comic Con this past July where at some point during the four-day event, I happened to be at a booth across from where they were selling Hot Wheels collectibles. Unfortunately I didn't know about this limited edition collectible until that moment, and I was bummed because it was the only toy that was sold out - figures! I was hoping to scoop it up with this announcement, but darn if I wasn't too slow and missed out again! 

I'll end with a parting shot of the collectible from Youtube poster Diescastic...I'm green with envy!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Bond 24 Announced!

The official Bond 24 announcement was made today around the world, and we can now begin referring to the 24th Bond film by its official title Spectre. For those who are new to the Bond franchise, the word Spectre or SPECTRE (Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion) refers to a global terrorist organization led by arch-villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld. The organization debuted in Ian Fleming's novel Thunderball (1959) and was featured prominently, referred to in passing or implied in Dr. No, From Russia with Love, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Diamonds Are Forever, For Your Eyes Only, and Never Say Never Again. Ownership of SPECTRE and its agents were part of an ongoing litigation battle that began in 1961, however by late last year, Eon Productions' parent company (Danjaq, LLC) had finally settled the issue and full copyright rights were returned to the franchise, setting up the opportunity to pit SPECTRE and Blofeld against a 21st century James Bond. As a Bond aficionado, I am excited for what this may mean for Bond in the next installment due out October 23, 2015 for UK audiences and November 6, 2015 for American audiences.

Sam Mendes will return to direct the film written by John Logan, with collaboration from Neal Purvis and Robert Wade. Thomas Newman returns as the composer (he is phenomenal!), and Hoyte van Hoytema (Let The Right One In, The Fighter, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Interstellar) will assume cinematography duties. 

Major cast appointments have been confirmed with today's announcement as follows: 

Daniel Craig as Bond. James Bond.  
As the sixth actor (Eon Productions only) to portray the British agent, this will be Craig's fourth film. The first three were Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace and Skyfall

Ralph Fiennes as M
Fiennes returns after being introduced in the closing minutes of Skyfall as the new M, replacing Dame Judi Dench, who had filled the role in GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies, The World Is Not Enough, Die Another Day, Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, and Skyfall

Rory Kinnear as Bill Tanner
I am very happy to see Kinnear is returning as Bill Tanner, M's Chief of Staff. Tanner has been portrayed by four actors, including Kinnear, and has appeared in six films - The Man with the Golden Gun, For Your Eyes Only, GoldenEye, The World Is Not Enough, Quantum of Solace, and Skyfall - and Spectre will make the seventh.  

Naomie Harris as Miss Moneypenny
Harris returns after being introduced in Skyfall as the new Miss Moneypenny, and is the fourth woman to play the personal assistant to M. I do hope that unlike her predecessors, Harris will have more screen time. 

Ben Whishaw as Q
Whishaw returns after being introduced in Skyfall. The character Q (Quartermaster) has featured in 20 of the 23 Eon produced Bond films, most of those appearances were by esteemed Desmond Llewelyn before his passing in 1999. Whishaw had a huge hole to fill and honestly, he did a brilliant job of it! 

Andrew Scott as Denbigh
Scott is a new character to the franchise and was presented as part of the MI6 team in the announcement. You may recognize Scott from another very popular British literary based franchise: he was Moriarty in BBC's Sherlock. He's such a fantastic bad guy -- how will he do as a Bond ally? 

Lea Seydoux as Madeleine Swann
Seydoux is beautiful and has a fresh look about her which reminds me of British agent Strawberry Fields from Quantum of Solace as portrayed by Gemma Arterton. Some of Seydoux's recent films include The Grand Budapest Hotel, Blue is the Warmest Color and Midnight in Paris

Monica Bellucci as Lucia Sciarra
Another gorgeous woman, Italian actress Monica Bellucci may be remembered from her roles in The Whistleblower, The Brothers Grimm, Matrix trilogy, and Brotherhood of the Wolf. I do wonder if she will be a formidable henchwoman in Spectre....

Christoph Waltz as Franz Oberhauser
Although many of us became acquainted with Waltz in his amazingly cool and calculated portrayal of Standartenfuhrer Hans Landa in the 2009's Inglourious Basterds, he has actually been making films since 1979. If his performance as Landa is any indication, he is going to give Javier Bardem's Silva a run for his money in Spectre

Dave Bautista as Mr. Hinx
Coming off Guardians of the Galaxy as Drax the Destroyer earlier this year, I think that Bautista will likely become one of those memorable henchmen, joining the ranks of Oddjob in Goldfinger, Red Grant in From Russia with Love and Jaws in The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker.

Jesper Christensen as Mr. White
Christensen will return as the villainous, Mr. White from Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. This man seriously needs more screen time! 

And last, but certainly not least, the Aston Martin DB10 was unveiled at the beginning of the announcement, commemorating a 50-year collaboration. The DB10 a beauty, but I'm still partial the DB5 featured in Goldfinger. 

Please note: All images found on Wikipedia or through Google Images.