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Who is 007?

Bartlet: Can I tell you what’s messed up about James Bond?
Charlie: Nothing.
Bartlet: “Shaken, not stirred”will get you cold water with a dash of gin and dry vermouth. The reason you stir it with a special spoon is so not to chip the ice. James is ordering a weak martini and being snooty about it.

–The West Wing, “Stirred,” 2002.

bartlet charlie
In the end, Charlie is the victor here because he’s watching James order that weak martini on a digitally-enhanced picture with theatre-quality sound.

I’ve been thinking about James Bond lately.

Our eponymous hero has never held residence longer than a moment or two in my mind, so the experience is mostly foreign; I suspect that I might’ve seen Tomorrow Never Dies in theatres because that particular title looks familiar. I can’t recall anything specific, but I can safely assume there was an intricate murder scheme, an expensive car chase, and Pierce Brosnan nonchalantly walking away while buildings and / or helicopters exploded in his swarthy, smouldering wake.

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You know how we do.

This week, though, the latest episode in Bond’s seemingly perpetual saga was released, and I saw this fantastic and decades-overdue quote floating around Twitter, taken from an interview Red Bulletin conducted with Bond’s current iteration, Daniel Craig.

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Shortly thereafter, I wrote a list titled “Things I Know About Bond.” It was almost embarrassingly brief, but among the principal tenets was the fact that the secret agent been played by several different actors spanning a 50-year period.

Remind you of anyone?

Guys, I think he's talking about US.
Guys, I think he’s talking about US.

I submit to you, Dear Reader, that somewhere between losing Rose* and “The End of Time,” The Doctor regenerated into every version of Agent 007 and executed the plot of all twenty-four James Bond films, plus three future ones and the 2019 holiday special.**

*Don’t think about it.

**I realize that such an endeavor would result in The Doctor far exceeding his allotted twelve regenerations, but showrunner and infuriating scriptmonger Steven Moffat has (reluctantly) offered conflicting answers regarding how many faces of the Doctors there have been and how many remain. Peter Capaldi’s Doctor is now supposedly the first of a new cycle, which implies at least twelve more regenerations, and back in 2010, dialogue in one of the show’s former spin-offs suggested that the number could actually be infinite.

You will want evidence, of course.

Things I Know About Bond

He prefers proper adornment.

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Yes, it’s the coat that gets most of the attention, but Ten is a dandy in his own right. An overabundance of buttons, the matching vests, the perfectly-knotted ties. Risking the Earth in order to save it may be part of the job description, but that’s all the more reason why his dress shirts need to be fully pressed. Autons and Weeping Angels are one thing, but wrinkles are unacceptable in any universe. Naturally, his Bond regenerations would continue to abide by Ten’s example.

He is fastidious regarding food preparation.

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Bond likes his martinis “shaken, not stirred.” In “The Girl In the Fireplace,” Ten advises Rose to “always take a banana to a party.” Both display a commitment to upholding strict culinary standards.

Where he treads, bright lights inevitably follow.

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Granted, Ten usually doesn’t INTEND to affect chaos and destruction. AND YET.

Where does he get those wonderful toys?

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If memory serves, Bond has access to a seemingly endless supply of technologically-advanced gimzos and thingamadoodles. PERHAPS MI6 spent a gajillion dollars and developed weaponized deus ex machina in approximately 37 minutes, but isn’t it more likely that The Doctor simply constructed those fancy doodads from a leftover toaster or something?

He maintains a stylish ride

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Bond drives an Aston Martin. The Doctor sashays about in a phone box that can traverse time and space. No one can accuse either of lacking panache.

*****

“But The Doctor and Bond are two very different characters!”, you say.

Are they? Time Lords have a stressful occupation. Who’s to say The Doctor hasn’t earned a forty-seven-year vacation?

And as Moffat reminds us: the first rule is that The Doctor lies.

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We’re All In Your Debt Now

Jean Grey School For Higher Learning
1407 Graymalkin Lane
Salem Center, NY 10560

September 27, 2015

Ms. Aimee Mann and Mr. Ted Leo
The Both
c/o 2015 High Road Touring
751 Bridgeway
Sausalito, CA 94965

Dear Ms. Mann and Mr. Leo,

First, permit me to express how much I am enjoying your band’s eponymous debut. I have followed your respective solo careers for many years, and your collaborative efforts thus far are exemplary. The songs are intimate, but exude a mature intensity that I find most satisfying. Relaxation is a luxury in my line of work, and I maintain that one must celebrate leisure. A listening party with old friends, a bottle of Stolichnaya, perhaps a hand-picked selection of organic cronuts…there is a nary a greater feast of finery to be had, and listening to your album invariably kindles that sentiment in me. I am quite accustomed to multiverse travel–usually involuntarily–and it is my fervent hope that just once, I shall be flung into an alternate reality where my principal responsibility is to kibitz with David Grohl about The Colour and the Shape over eggs Benedict and mojitos. I remain optimistic.

Some years ago, I enjoyed considerable success as a commercial artist, and while my preferred medium differs from your own, I trust that we share an affection for depth and subtlety. Those attributes shine through most brightly in “The Inevitable Shove,” which is, for me, the pinnacle of your remarkable album. The first time I heard that chorus:

No, you can’t blame
the ones that you love
But you’re still gonna blame
the ones that you love
So now I’m steeling myself
for the inevitable shove

Oh, how my heart sung then, as it has every time thereafter! I do not wish to appear boastful, but steeling myself to avoid shoving is my area of expertise. It is a difficult and often unacknowledged practice, and the burdens I bear feel significantly lighter because after several decades of doubt and frustration, I know now that someone understands. I have attempted to discuss the matter with my co-workers after substantial field engagements, but they always seem distracted. One of them walked through me mid-sentence. Another simply shrugged and said “Sorry. It’s a tough world, bub.” I cannot avoid steeling–it is a job requirement–but I can alter my perspective on its application. When my skin hardens and the Earth is threatened with complete annihilation, I hum your lyrics to myself and they reassure me that the metallic barrier is only skin deep and not a reflection of my character.

And truth be told, I do frequently blame the ones I love;  coping with family members can be hellish. Especially sisters. But I remain a work in progress, as are we all, yes?

I appreciate your time and wait with anticipation for your follow-up album.

With gratitude,

Piotr Nikolaievitch Rasputin