Goldfinger is finished.
This’ll be the last Goldfinger update, as I have finished the book. I must warn you that we’re getting to the end of the book, and as such are wandering into spoiler territory, so if you have not seen the movie or read the book, and have any interest in doing so, stop reading now. Of course, you’ve had decades in which to do so already, so I have to wonder if it’s really that important to you.
So, when last we looked in on Mr. Bond, he and Tilly Masterton had just been hired on by Goldfinger to do criminal paperwork. Their first duty is to attend a meeting, wherein Goldfinger explains his criminal masterpiece to several crime bosses in hopes of bringing them in as partners. During the meeting, Masterton’s job is to take notes. Bond’s is to examine each of the crime bosses to see if he thinks they are trustworthy. Bare in mind that just the day before, Goldfinger was going to saw Bond in half lengthwise because Goldfinger didn’t trust him. The bosses are four two-dimensional crime boss type characters, and Pussy Galore.
If you’ve seen the movie, I am about to give you one of those bits of information that you get from time to time that irrevocably change your view of the world.
Pussy Galore is a lesbian.
I know, right? So much makes sense now! Especially the name. It’s not what she offers. It’s what she wants!
Anyhoo, Pussy Galore is the head of a gang that started as an all lesbian trapeze act. This, for some reason I don’t understand, was not successful, so all of the performers agreed to turn to cat-burglary.
Earlier Goldfinger made a passing comment about Miss Masterton’s “inclinations” which went right over Bonds head. Now bond understands, as Tilly is openly lusting after Pussy Galore on sight. It’s pretty awesome.
Goldfinger explains his plan to rob Fort Knox, which is pretty close to the plan from the movie, except that the sedative that knocks out every living thing at Fort Knox will be delivered through the water supply instead of by air, and that the gold will be hauled out of Fort Knox via train. Goldfinger goes on and on abut the trains.
After the meeting, the following thing happens. I find it to be the single most satisfying thing I’ve read in this entire book.:
“Bond found himself between Miss Pussy Galore and Tilly Masterton. He offered them champagne. Miss Galore looked at him coldly and said, 'Move over, Handsome. Us girls want to talk secrets. Don't we, yummy?' Miss Masterton blushed and then turned very pale. She whispered adoringly, 'Oh yes please, Miss Galore.'
Bond smiled sourly at Tilly Masterton and moved down the room. “
Later Bond and Goldfinger have a conversation about the plan. Goldfinger admits that the sedative they’re putting in the water supply is actually a poison that will instantly kill everyone in Fort Knox. He lied to the crime bosses because he thought they’d balk at murdering that many people all at once, which he thinks is silly, because more people are killed in highway accidents in that vicinity every year. (Statistics can make even mass-murder seem dull.)
All of the crime bosses, Goldfinger and Bond take a scouting flight of the Fort Knox area on a chartered plane. Bond does the most heroic thing he’s done in four chapters. He writes a note offering the finder a $5000 reward if they get the note to his old friend Felix Leiter at the Pinkertons Detective agency. He then hides the note under the toilet seat of the planes bathroom, and sits there for the rest of the flight panicking whenever someone uses the bathroom.
The day of the big heist comes. Bond, Odd Job, Tilly, Goldfinger, the crime bosses and Pussy are disguised as doctors and nurses rushing to help the people at Fort Knox who are mysteriously falling ill. (I nearly forgot! The main reason Pussy’s gang is involved is to wear nurses costumes to make the ruse of being a medical team more convincing.)
They travel by train (of course) to Fort Knox, and pass miles of people unconscious (or dead) along the side of the tracks. Bond has given up hope by time the reach the station where they intend to get off the train and head for the vault. Bond sees motion. He grabs Tilly’s hand and yanks her along with him as he leaps from the train and heads for cover. Soldiers and police pour from every opening in to station, but Tilly struggles against Bond’s grip. She yells that she doesn’t need his help.
“Pussy will protect me!”
She gets free, takes like three steps, and is hit in the neck by Odd Job’s hat.
Bond reaches cover. Goldfinger starts the train again and pulls away. Felix arrives, with a bazooka. Bond takes the bazooka and shoots Goldfinger’s train. It’s a direct hit, but it doesn’t even slow the train’s progress. Felix explains that modern trains have two engines. Glad he mentioned that after Bond aimed the bazooka.
The plan is thwarted. The gold is safe. Bond examines Tilly’s corpse and states that “she didn’t have much use for men.”
A week passes. Bond has received the full hero treatment from the U.S., and is on his way back home. Felix mentions, almost as if in passing, that Goldfinger, Pussy and all the other crime bosses got away.
Felix drops Bond off at the airport for his flight back to London. There’s a problem with his flight though. In order for Bond to get on the flight, he needs an inoculation. He argues lamely for a bit, then rolls up his sleeve and allows a stranger n an airline uniform to shoot him up with, well … whatever he wants.
Shockingly, Bond loses consciousness.
He wakes up on a plane, strapped to his seat, sitting next to Odd Job. Pussy Galore walks up dressed as a stewardess (It was the 50’s. Stewardess was the term back then) and gives him a drink. Then Goldfinger walks out in an ill-fitting pilots uniform, and they have a conversation about how Bond had foiled Goldfinger’s plans. Goldfinger explains that he works for the Russians (an organization similar to NATO called SMERSH, actually, but the Russians make up the biggest part of SMERSH. Bond has known this. I never mentioned it because … well, I didn’t find it funny.) and that he’s taking Bond to Russia to be interrogated. Pussy Galore passes Bond a note offering him help. Then everyone goes to their seats and tries to sleep.
Bond takes a knife he’s had hidden in his shoe, and stabs the window next to Odd Job’s seat, which results in Odd Job being sucked violently out of the plane. Then bond and Goldfinger fight. The fight ends with the two men wrapping their hands around the other’s throats in what amounts to a race to see who can strangle the other first.
Bond wins. He unfastens Pussy’s seatbelt and gives her CPR to make sure she’s breathing. He leaves her unconscious and goes to the cockpit, where he holds a gun on the pilot, copilot and navigator, and makes them ditch the plane near an oil rig.
Here comes the happy ending.
Bond and Pussy survive, but the three men in the cockpit are killed. Once they are safe on the oil rig Pussy throws herself at Bond. He is surprised that she’s interested in him. She explains that she was a lesbian because she had been sexually abused as a child, and that she hadn’t been interested in men before Bond because she hadn’t met a real man before she met Bond.
He kisses her “ruthlessly.” The end.
Well, I heard from some people who were enjoying the Goldfinger updates, so here we go. If you’re not intereted in the continued non-adventures of Mr. Bond, you might want to skip this post.
Let’s see, where’d I leave off.
Bond offers to pay for the attractive woman’s repair bill and hotel. She insists that he drive her to Geneva instead. Bond agrees. After they reach this agreement, he orders her to go get them lunch. She does so without argument.
He drives like a maniac all the way to Geneva. When they get there, she gives him her name and the name of the hotel where she’s staying. He checks in on her later and finds it was a fake name and the hotel never heard of her.
Bond finds Goldfinger’s lair. He attempts to sneak up on it under cover of darkness and nearly trips over the woman, who is hiding with a sniper rifle, clearly planning to kill Goldfinger. He attacks her, then quiets her by pointing out that he’s “A friend.” She explains that her sister was the female employee of Goldfinger’s that Bond shared the romantic off-camera weekend with earlier in the book. She says that part of her sister’s job had been allowing Odd Job to paint her gold so Goldfinger could have sex with her, and by proxy, gold itself (That’s more like it!) He killed her by not leaving a patch of skin bare so her skin could breath, like in the movie.
Bond swears vengeance. Then Odd Job shows up with a bow and arrow and Bond and the girl give up without a fight.
They are taken to see Goldfinger. Bond attacks him, and is swatted down like a fly by Odd Job.
Bond wakes up to find himself strapped to a table saw. Miss Masterton (the woman) is tied to a chair and drugged. They turn on the saw, which creeps toward Bond’s crotch inch by inch. Bond tries three things to get out of his predicament. He sucks up to Goldfinger, and when it becomes clear that that won’t work he offers to work for Goldfinger. When that fails too, he closes his eyes, holds his breath and prays for death.
Bond blacks out.
He wakes to find himself strapped down and being transported. Goldfinger tells a doctor that Bond and Miss Masterton are insane, and that his taking them to a clinic to be made sane again somehow. Bond comes to his senses and begs the doctor for help. He literally begs. Goldfinger twirls a finger around his ear, and the doctor promptly sedates Bond.
Bond wakes up naked in a room with all his clothes cleaned and folded. He gets dressed. He sees that Goldfinger has spared him, so he decides to use this extra chunk of life doing something he enjoys: abusing the Koreans who work for Goldfinger. (You think I’m kidding, but he actually refers putting them in their place, which is “lower than apes.”)
Goldfinger comes in to explain why Bond and Masterton are still alive. He was impressed with the qualities Bond showed while strapped to the saw, holding his breath. He decided that the two of them will work for Goldfinger. Goldfinger is engaged in a monumental criminal enterprise. Goldfinger then gives the original version of my favorite speech from the film.
“Man has climbed Everest and he has scraped the depths of the ocean. He has fired rockets into outer space and split the atom. He has invented, devised, created in every realm of human endeavour, and everywhere he has triumphed, broken records, achieved miracles. I said in every realm, but there is one that has been neglected, Mr. Bond. That one is the human activity loosely known as crime.”
(At this point, I’m getting worried that the book is going to stop being pathetic, and will turn into what I always think of as a James Bond adventure.)
The crime Goldfinger has planned will generate lots of paperwork. Bond will do this paperwork, and Miss Masterton will be his secretary.
(I breathe a sigh of relief.)
Those of you who have been clamoring for an archive page will be happy to know that I finally made one. Sorry for the delay.
In what was the first real test of my new hosting solution, Basic Instructions spent several hours on the front page of DIGG yesterday. I got over 130,000 unique visitors. It would appear from the comments that the site never went down, and when I checked on it the site came up like nothing was going on. If that’s not a ringing endorsement of Squarespace, I don’t know what would be.
I’m cutting out the detailed blow-by-blow of my reading of Goldfinger, as I have no reason to believe anyone was enjoying it but me. I will say that we finally got something resembling action, which Bond responded to by immediately getting captured, resigning himself to death and trying to hold his breath, so as to pass out and not experience the pain of his killing, and later begging a bystander for help. LITERALLY BEGGING! He actually said, “I’m begging you!”
So, tomorrow … tonigh, by the time most of you read this … except those who are reading my archives in the future … let me start over.
On the night of 1-14-10, my wife and I will be attending the Jonathan Coulton concert in Orlando, FL. I will be wearing the original Infini-Tee, but I will not have a goatee. Missy will look pretty much like she always has. The first person to walk up to us and say “The details are unimportant” will get mailed a signed copy of my book later.
Now on to the important business: The Goldfinger update!
I am reading the original Ian Fleming novel “Goldfinger.” I expected it to be as slick and action-packed as the film. That has not been the case. Before I continue, let me show you the importance the film has in my life. Below is the one drawing I’ve ever done that I liked enough to hang on my wall.
It’s called “Son of Henchman,” and I flatter myself to think that it’s amusing, if you’re both a Bond fan and an art historian.
Anyhoo, if you want to catch up to where I left off, here’s a link to my last post. Now that we’re all caught up, here’s what’s happened since then. I promise I am leaving out no “good parts.” You may find this more entertaining if you hum the James Bond Theme as you read, for irony’s sake.
Bond and Goldfinger get into a high-stakes game of golf, which is described stroke for stroke for what seems like all eighteen holes.
Goldfinger cheats shamelessly, which is presented as the height of classlessness.
Bond wins by cheating, which he feels no guilt about doing.
Goldfinger invites Bond over for dinner.
Bond arrives at Goldfinger’s home, and Goldfinger immediately leaves on business, promising to be back in thirty minutes.
Bond snoops around and finds … nothing. Well, nothing but the film camera Goldfinger used to film Bond snooping.
Bond destroys the film, then frames the housecat for the destruction.
Goldfinger returns. Goldfinger pets the cat. He and Bond eat. They discuss the poisonous compounds found in liquor.
For after-dinner entertainment, Goldfinger has Odd Job (FINALLY ODD JOB!! This should be something!) break the banister and the mantle in Goldfinger’s own house.
Goldfinger explains that Odd Job is one of only five men in the world to have achieved a black-belt in something called “Karate.”
For the finale, Odd Job throws his hat across the room. Now I quote: “For an instant the rim of the bowler hat stuck an inch deep in the panel Goldfinger had indicated, then it fell and clattered on the floor.” (That figures, I thought.)
Goldfinger points out that using the hat in this way damages the felt, but that Odd Job is able to fix it, as he is handy with a needle and thread.
Goldfinger rewards Odd Job for putting on such a good show by telling him he can eat the cat.
Goldfinger bids Bond farewell, and mentions he’s leaving the country the next day.
Bond goes to the airport and plants a homing device on Goldfinger’s car. It is explained that the receiver is in Bond’s Aston Martin. The device tells Bond roughly how close he is to Goldfinger’s car, and nothing else. The device has a range of one hundred miles.
Bond spends an interminable amount of time “following” Goldfinger by hanging back several miles and trying to guess what direction Goldfinger is traveling. If Bond guesses wrong at a fork in the road, he has to speed back and take the other fork. He does this more than once.
Bond sees a beautiful woman driving a Triumph. He fantasizes about a romantic interlude with her. How they meet, where they dine, how she demurely rejects his advances. It’s all quite prim. Then, when he gets to the part where she gives in to him, he coyly trails off. Then he realizes she’s tailing Goldfinger too.
He watches through binoculars while Goldfinger has a picnic. Goldfinger hides a gold brick under a bridge, presumably for the Russians. Bond steals it.
Bond notices the attractive woman is tailgating him. He stops that by slamming his car into reverse so she rear-ends him. She slaps him (the only bona fide act of violence in the narrative so far) and he condescends to her.
That’s where I am. I’m over halfway done with the book.
I'm afraid you'll be subjected to a fresh comic today. Sorry about that.
I'm currently reading Goldfinger. I've always loved the movie, so I figured I'd give the original novel a shot. I'm 25% of the way through it and it is breathtakingly slow. Here's a synopsis of the story so far.
Bond sits in Airport. His flight is canceled.
Bond meets someone he knows. They share a big crab dinner, about which Bond feels guilty.
Friend tells Bond he's being cheated at cards. He offers Bond money to find out how.
Bond meets Goldfinger, and watches him cheat his friend at cards.
Bond figures out how Goldfinger is cheating and foils him by intimidating a woman.
Bond spends lost weekend with the woman. We hear about it after the fact and get no details.
Bond goes back to London and is assigned a desk job he finds boring. He considers writing a book about beating people up.
M assigns bond to investigate Goldfinger. First stop, the bank of England for a chapter long speech about gold. Turns out it’s quite valuable!
Bond goes to Goldfinger's favorite golf course, which; coincidentally, Bond spent a whole summer playing at when he was a teen. There he has a long conversation with a caddy.
That's where I am right now. At first I found the book confusing, after all it's a James Bond adventure and the closest thing there's been to action is Bond remembering killing a Mexican while he sits in the airport. Now I see that my mistake was in approaching it as an adventure book. I have started seeing it as a comedy, where the joke is to plunge Bond into a series of situations, each more stupefying boring then the last. Approached this way, the book is a masterpiece.
I’ll let you know how it ends.