Everything some people know they learned in kindegarten. Everything Jim Shin knows he learned from Illya Kuryakin.
T o paraphrase Paul Simon, Where have you gone, Illya Kuryakin? A nation turns its lonely eyes to you. I can hear some of you asking, Who is Illya Kuryakin? That is, I could hear you if you were in the same room with me and screaming loudly enough to be detected over the music blasting from my stereo. I'm trying to get this stupid song out of my head. (Woo, woo, woo. Woo, woo, woo.) As it is, I can only imagine hearing you ask. (We'd like to know a little bit about you for our files. PLEASE, MAKE IT STOP!) It's a shame, of course, that (laugh about it, shout about it, when you've got to choose. Yanna, yanna, yanna … it you lose)…

Excuse me for a second.

BACK IN BLACK. I'm BACK IN BLAAAACK. Dunt. Dunt dunt. Dunt dunt. Da-da-da-da-de-da-da.

There, that's better.

Illya Kuryakin, for those who don't know, is one of the greatest heroes in American history. I guess I should mention that he is not, technically speaking, a real person. He was a television character. A spy in the mid-'60s TV hit The Man From U.N.C.L.E., he was the quiet one, compared to his more showy partner Napoleon Solo. But since when do we hold back from making heroes out of our TV characters? Homer Simpson, anyone?

We'll take all the heroes we can get, in light of the latest spy scandal. Unless you count defection, which, in his case, I don't, because he defected to the U.S., not from it. Illya Kuryakin, I'm reasonably certain, would never betray his country. And not just because the writers of the show wouldn't let him do so for fear of an outcry that would cost the show advertising revenue. He wouldn't do it because he knew it would be wrong … yes, of course, but also because he wouldn't like having "handlers." Han-dlers are those nefarious persons who pulled the strings of Robert Hanssen, the most recently accused American-spy-turned-Russian-agent. In true American fashion, Kuryakin was too independent to ever allow himself to be handled. Hell, he could barely stand Napoleon Solo, and the two of them were partners.