Wednesday, September 8, 2010

#8: Rock climbing

I'm afraid of heights. Mostly I'm unsettled by the freakishly tall escalators we get in Washington, DC, but I'm also a little prone to vertigo on ladders, ultralight airplanes, and just generally being higher off the ground than God intended. However, I can't let that stop me if I want to be like James Bond (he scales a cliff face in "For Your Eyes Only"), so Nick and I decided to hit up the local (using that term loosely) climbing center in Alexandra. It was a great time! It was a little worrying--how much can you really trust a rope--but once I forgot the height it was fantastic! While Nick scuttled about like Spiderman I feel I did a decent job getting to the top of a few climbs. There will be more climbing in the future for sure!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

#7: Cover

I haven't posted for about a month, because of my secret agent cover. I'm a graduate student, working on my MA degree in English literature--which means that free time is virtually a non-existent feature of my life for the next year.

James Bond's cover was a "businessman" working for "Universal Export." No offense, James, but bor-ing. Many Bond girls have far better covers--so I'm working on one that's fail safe: an expert in Renaissance and Jacobean literature. Most people would expect me to be about 52 years old, wear beige crepe-soled shoes and have reading glasses on a chain. They would be very wrong.

Actually, I'm in grad school because it's AWESOME and READING ROCKS but you never know when there may be an international Shakespeare crisis, and the CIA/MI6 will need someone to read Elizabethan typescript. And I would be prepared.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

#6: Manual

The picture at below right may be confusing. What's James Bond-like about driving a car? This, my friend, is a manual transmission automobile.

It's basic, really. Lots of people drive stick shifts, so it doesn't really seem like an exciting skill. However, I believe it's a necessary one--and one many Americans don't possess. Most small, sexy sports cars are manual--including the Aston Martins of which Mr. Bond is so fond. If one is going to hit on attractive Georgians in red Ferraris on the Autobahn (as in "Goldeneye"), one really needs to be able to shift quickly--and look good doing it.

I've yet to learn to drive dangerously (yet safely--there must be class for that). However, learning stick was the first step.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

#5: Dance

I dance because it's really, really fun, but one of the reasons I'm working on learning multiple styles is because a) you never know where you'll need to blend in with a crowd to elude some hired thugs (at a Mambo festival, a belly dancing troupe in Marrakesh, butterflies-on-fishing-poles-Cirque du Soleil-style weirdness, etc.) and b) just in case you need to use a sexy Tango to seduce the bad guy's girlfriend (e.g. Bond in "Never Say Never Again"--also NBC's Chuck). Hence, dancing is on the James Bond List.

I took a Flamenco class my senior year of college (picture at right), which was not only a great time, but also a wonderful cultural experience. I also dance Salsa and Cha Cha whenever I can, as well as Lindy Hop, East Coast and West Coast Swing. I've also studied Ballet, Jazz, Polka and other folk dances and Hustle in the past (thank you liberal arts college), and recently learned Zydeco Waltz. So much fun. Now, I dance Salsa occasionally on weekends, but I also have European Waltz, Argentinian Tango, ballroom Tango and Quickstep on my to learn list. There is an infinite amount of dance knowledge, and James Bond really should know how to do it all!

Monday, September 22, 2008

#4: Alcohol

"Shaken, not stirred."
It's an iconic line, and after working in the wine industry for almost five years, I know what it means!

James Bond is fussy about his alcohol, but not too fussy. His preferred Champagne changes every few years (it's currently Bollinger), as well as his Vodka (Brosnan's Bond drank Smirnoff), but his Martini style is always the same--with the exception of some of Ian Fleming's original books, which feature a Bond who asks for a stirred Martini. (NB: Some Vodka enthusiasts prefer to stir, as they insist shaking bruises the spirit.)

When I was looking for a job the summer after my sophomore year of college, I somehow happened upon the Washington Wine Commission website. Out of the blue, I emailed the communications director, and asked if she needed an intern. She said that she had just decided to find an intern, and that I should come in for an interview. I was offered an unpaid internship--which I really couldn't afford. However, I realized that wine was something I needed to know about as one of my James Bond skills. I accepted the position. To make a long story short, the unpaid internship turned into two paid positions, which turned in to a job as event assistant for the Auction of Washington Wines, which in turn became a full time post-college position of communications manager, which led to a job as communications manager at WineAmerica (a national wine trade organization in DC). I was introduced to many fine wines (100 point Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon, for one), and was able to take regular tasting classes with a master sommelier. The photo above is from the 2007 Auction of Washington Wines--always a fine event, and a great opportunity to test my alcohol tolerance while hobnobbing with Seattle's elite.

Not only did I get to drink a lot of great wine, the Washington Wine Commission staff also made some! The photo at right is of me immediately before I added the malolactic bacteria to our Syrah to start the secondary fermentation process. Good times. I can almost speak intelligently about the winemaking process!

Of course, a girl needs more than wine. When I was at Oxford, I needed a part time job. I was lucky enough to get a job as a bartender at the St. Hilda's College bar. The photo below is of me pulling a pint. I also learned how to make Long Island Iced Tea (beware), Sex on the Beach, and many other mixed drinks, as well as simple classics like G&T and rum and Coke.

Although I'll never be able to drink Bond under the table, at least now I'd be able to identify the wine in the glass.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

#3: Oxford

In "You Only Live Twice" Bond mentions that he got a first in Oriental Languages at Cambridge (Pembroke College). However, Bond studies Danish at New College in "Tomorrow Never Dies." He gets around.

When I was deciding where to study abroad my junior year of college, I mistakenly thought that Bond went to Oxford for his undergraduate degree, so I added it to my list of potential locations. And also, Oxford is the best place to study English. But mostly the Bond thing. Anyway, I ended up applying, was accepted as a JYA student, and spent the most exciting year of my life at St. Hilda's College in Oxford, where I learned how to study, research and think critically, write a seven page paper in one night, drink Scotch and beer, understand the many flavo(u)rs of English (mostly), use public transport and text message. I also met some of my closest friends and developed a love for sundry items such as pubs, beans on toast, Jaffa Cakes and balls and other social occasions as only the Brits can do them.

Amazingly, Oxford also introduced me to my wonderful boyfriend. Nick and I met fencing for the Oxford University Fencing Club, and started dating about three years later. Our relationship continues to be a fantastic adventure!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

#2: Surfing

James Bond and his cohorts surf onto a North Korean beach in "Die Another Day." Clearly, this is a skill I need to cultivate.
When my college roommate Lindsey and I went to Hawai'i for our post-college graduation unwinding week (and boy, did we need it!) the one thing I was dead set on doing was taking a surfing lesson. We found an instructor, and he taught us the rudiments, including what positions to take to stand up, how to pick a wave, how to stay lined up with the shore, etc.
I would have been content with this. Surfing is a tremendous amount of fun! However, when Lindsey and I were taking turns with the instructor, I noticed a guy bobbing on the waves next to us. I did a double take (and almost pulled some neck muscles). He REALLY looked like Pierce Brosnan. Of course, I assumed I was crazy, but kept peering at him when he was busy with other things. Finally, on my next turn, I turned to the surf instructor and asked, "are you a James Bond fan?" He looked at me quizzically and replied, "yes, I suppose so. Why?" I said, "I think I'm hallucinating, but I'm seeing Pierce Brosnan surfing next to us." The instructor returned, "Actually, that's him. Pierce is a buddy of mine; I taught his kids to surf. They have a beach house up the way."
I was very hard pressed not to go up and introduce myself--just so I could say I met him. However, Lindsey and I have a healthy respect for celebrities on holiday--if I were a movie star, I would want to be left we didn't disturb him that day.
I will always maintain: I wanted to learn to surf to be like James Bond, but that day, I got to surf WITH James Bond.