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Book Notes

February 14, 2013

Book looks at 50 years of James Bond movies

When I was in elementary school, James Bond was all the rage. For some reason I didn’t see any of the early films with Sean Connery playing the infamous 007 British spy, but my siblings and several friends certainly did. There was something for everybody in Bond movies. They had chase scenes, clever gadgetry, spectacular scenery, sadistic geniuses, and, of course, gorgeous women. 

There has to be something uniquely appealing about a character that has lasted more than 50 years with six different actors.

Connery set the standard for the ultimate Bond. This was a man who was incredibly sophisticated, never lost his cool, wore perfectly tailored suits, and attracted women like ants to a picnic. He traveled the globe for the British secret service and tried to rescue the world from the most evil of madmen. Along the way he survived death-defying stunts and always got the girl. It’s no wonder he never lost his appeal.

I actually didn’t start watching James Bond until Roger Moore took over the role from Connery, but I was immediately hooked. Moore seemed ideal for the part since he played a similar character, Simon Templar, in the television series “The Saint.” Connery had made six Bond films with a relatively unknown actor named George Lazenby taking up the role once in-between Connery’s fifth and sixth appearances. For you sports buffs, Lazenby may be better known as the ex-husband of former tennis star and current ESPN analyst Pam Shriver.

Moore made seven Bond pictures between 1973 and 1985. By the mid-’70s Bond movies were a staple of Sunday night movies on ABC. I saw enough of those to realize how entertaining they were and have missed few since on the wide-screen. “Moonraker” was the first for me and it would be hard to match that one for excitement, comedy, adventure and just pure fun. But somehow they all manage to come close or exceed it.

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Book Notes
  • 'Moneyball' author tackles Wall Street with 'Flash Boys' Have you ever read a book that feels like it's in a foreign language? It covers a subject you know is important and figure at some point it will all make sense. What do you do when that doesn't happen? Obviously, the easiest solution is to toss the book aside. But what if the underlying message is something you "get" and don't want to give up on? I faced that dilemma recently.

    July 17, 2014

  • MacNeil reading highlights novels Several weeks ago I had the good fortune to attend a talk by Robert MacNeil at the Guilderland Public Library. MacNeil is best known as the former co-host of the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour on PBS. He retired in 1995 but has continued to write both fiction and non-fiction. His talk at Guilderland focused on two of his novels, "Burden of Desire" written in 1992, and its sequel, "Portrait of Julia," which was published last year.

    July 10, 2014

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    July 3, 2014

  • Authors not afraid to think like freaks Conventional wisdom is something we automatically take for granted. It can be something as simple as assuming there is no cure for the common cold or political polls being a good indicator of who will win an election. Common assumptions of course can be wrong but we usually just accept them as fact. However, in many cases it would be much better to think "outside the box" and consider an alternative way of looking at the world.

    June 26, 2014

  • Book goes further into Armstrong's lies There hasn't been a shortage of elite athletes that have fallen from grace in recent years. Most of them have been baseball players who have been caught using performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) and then lying about it. Golfer Tiger Woods fell from his pedestal because of extra-marital affairs. He has yet to regain his previous aura and perhaps never will. But the loudest crash of all came from cyclist Lance Armstrong who was not only a liar and a cheat but ruined other people's lives in the process.

    June 19, 2014

  • Documentary proves Butch, Sundance still enchant "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" is one of the most popular films of all-time. The 1969 Western is based on the real life exploits of two infamous outlaws whose specialty was robbing trains. They became folk heroes because they supposedly never shot anyone.

    June 12, 2014

  • Pohl's call-up reminds me of Feinstein book We recently learned that Cooperstown native and professional baseball player Phillip Pohl was promoted to the AAA farm team of the Oakland Athletics where he played for nearly a month. For those that don't know, AAA is the highest minor league before reaching the major leagues.

    June 5, 2014

  • Movie gives clues into real Disney Everyone has heard of Walt Disney. How can you not when Disneyland and Disney World are the most popular family vacation spots around. Add in his historic cartoons and animated features and you have a Hollywood legend. But how many people know what the man himself was like?

    May 29, 2014

  • Wooden bio by Davis feels definitive Any long-time observer of college basketball knows that one school and one coach stand out above all others. In the 1960s and 1970s the John Wooden-led UCLA Bruins won ten championships in twelve seasons. Their level of achievement is so remarkable that it will probably never be equaled. Forty years after his last championship the ghost of John Wooden still reverberates at the university.

    May 22, 2014

  • Finding gems in e-book selection For those of us hooked on e-books it's not easy to get a best seller through the Download Zone. Those titles are hot commodities. But just because we have to wait doesn't mean that good books aren't available. I've had plenty of luck finding a "diamond in the rough" when I'm going on vacation and don't want to lug a heavy book around.

    May 15, 2014