Cultural Gutter: Beneath the Mysterian Dome

Over on The Cultural Gutter, I’m celebrating Eiji Tsuburaya, Ishiro Honda, and aliens who want to steal our women! Beneath the Mysterian Dome is a look at The Mysterians and Battle in Outer Space, two of the biggest special effects blow-outs the the Honda-Tsuburaya team created. Prepare yourself for tiny space battle son an epic…

Gimlets with Fleming and Marlowe

The gimlet is one of the great, unsung heroes of the cocktail world. Simple, refreshing, easy to make — and favored by everyone from British sailors to private eye Philip Marlowe, It was during the great mid-century cocktail revival that young Ian Fleming came into his own as the gadabout and Bond vivant we know him…

Meet Me at the Savoy

The Savoy Hotel was the home away from headquarters for British Intelligence during the Second World War. It was a hospital during the Blitz. And it was one of the first places to introduce to Europe the cocktail and the concept of the “American bar”. London’s famous Savoy Hotel is first mentioned in the James…

Trout Fishing in Sicily

The utterly bizarre tale of how the creator of James Bond and the creator of the American mafia helped plan the Allied invasion of Sicily during World War II. Beyond Risico, James Bond’s forays into Italy are often little more than passthroughs. Bond spends more time in Italy in the movies — most notably Moonraker,…

Cultural Gutter: Understanding the Aliens

Last month on The Cultural Gutter, I wrote about Nalo Hopikinson’s Brown Girl in the Ring the importance of diverse voices and experiences in science fiction. Following that thread, this month I’m looking at one of the grand ladies of science fiction, Octavia Butler, and the first book in her “Xenogenesis” series, Dawn. Understanding the…

The Chairman, The Poet, and The Dancer

West 52nd Street between Broadway and 8th Ave. is today one of those anonymous New York City blocks that seems, at first glance, to offer very little other than the entrances to the Neil Simon and August Wilson theaters that dominate the street.

Shaking Martinis with Nick and Nora

Few things set cocktail aficionados and James Bond enthusiasts against one another with more ferocity than 007’s shaken vodka martinis. But Bond wasn’t the first cinematic drinking icon to prefer his martinis shaken. In an episode of the television show The West Wing, President Josiah “Martin Sheen” Bartlet said “Shaken, not stirred, will get you…

Alexander the Great

The first drink James Bond has in Risico, while meeting with his contact Kristatos, is a Negroni. Risico prominently features one more cocktail, if in a somewhat dismissive fashion. Kristatos identifies himself to Bond at the Hotel Excelsior’s bar with a signal: an Alexander, which amuses 007. “Bond had been told to look for a…

The Least Offensive of the Musical Comedy Drinks

The Americano seems a fairly nondescript drink with which to kick off such a legendary drinking career as that of James Bond, though it’s doubtful that at the time he was writing Casino Royale Ian Fleming was thinking that the Americano would be examined as the drink that started an international phenomenon. Born May 28,…

Popov…Dusan Popov

When journalist and former British Naval Intelligence commander Ian Fleming retired to his modest villa, Goldeneye (“Goldeneye, nose and throat” quipped his neighbor, the entertainer Noel Coward, who was as unimpressed with Fleming’s abode as he was with the fare served to him when he visited) in Jamaica to write his first novel, he didn’t…

James Bond vs. the ’80s

When last we saw James Bond, in 1984’s Role of Honour, we did not part on good terms. It was an awful book in my opinion, with clumsy romance and a tremendously dull plot full of James Bond flipping through manuals about the COBOL programming language before finally ending in an idiotic blimp finale, the…

Cultural Gutter: A Relative Dystopia

Over on The Cultural Gutter, I’m writing about Nalo Hopkinson’s dystopian science fiction novel Brown Girl in the Ring. A Relative Dystopia is a look at how our culture, upbringing, and personal experiences can shape what we define as a dystopian future, and how people of a different race can look at the exact same…