I Apologize to Captain Kirk

Here’s yet more proof that a famous person’s media  image may bear little resemblance to the reality. Following what I took to be the conventional wisdom, and doing no independent investigation on my own,  I always assumed that actor William Shatner of  “Star Trek” fame (and now on “Boston Legal”) was the typical shallow Hollywoodian, just another pretty-enough face reading the lines someone wrote for him.

Now, late in the game,  I come across a Shatner interview from Details magazine that shows another deeper, darker side to the man. He’s got a lot of ideas you won’t hear too often on “The View” or Oprah’s show. Here’s some of  the interview with thanks to Details:


Q: Is it true that after  Star Trek went off the air you lived out of a car?

A: A pickup truck, actually. It was the early 1970s and I was recently divorced. I had three kids and was totally broke. I managed to find work back east on the straw-hat circuit—summer stock—but couldn’t afford hotels, so I lived out of the back of my truck, under a hard shell. It had a little stove, a toilet, and I’d drive from theater to theater. The only comfort came from my dog, who sat in the passenger seat and gave me perspective on everything. Otherwise, it would have just been me counting my losses.

Q: Speaking of loss, there’s a spoken-word track on your 2004 album, Has Been, about discovering the body of your third wife, Nerine, after she’d drowned while mixing Valium with booze. Did you find recording it cathartic?

A: I don’t understand closure, if that’s what you mean. That word never resonated with me. The epiphany I had, making that, was that we grieve forever. It’s as much a part of our life as eating, sleeping, and love. We live in grief for having left the womb, for having left the teat, then school, then home. In my case, it was leaving marriages, and the death of my wife. Making that recording was simply my way to express very deep feelings. . . . Death is an absolute marvel. I once had a great horse rear up and fall back on me, and in that moment I thought I might gain some clarity about the mystery—you know, the meaning of the universe suddenly illuminated, like in an orgasm—but it never came.

Q: If that horse had killed you, what would you have regretted never achieving?

A: Everything. I’ve done nothing. What have I done? I’ve blundered my way through life. So I have my picture on the wall. The minute I die, that picture will start to yellow and fade and eventually be gone. Blown in the wind and become part of the molecular structure of something else. These things we see as “success,” they’re non-accomplishments.

Q: So is that how you think of your Emmy for Boston Legal? And the millions of lives you touched as Captain James Tiberius Kirk?

A: Careers are here and they’re gone. I enjoy performing, and I feel lately like I’ve reached the apex of what I can do as a performer. Even my memory for dialogue has never been sharper. But no matter how great we think we are, we’re nothing but the temples of Ozymandias*—we’re ruins in the making.

Q: And yet, at 76, you’re still acting and writing and trying new things. What is it that motivates you?

A: Life motivates me. Ideas motivate me. I want to do a talk show. I have ideas for three animated films. I’m nearly finished with my autobiography. I continue to write Star Trek—themed novels. My daughter and I have extremely successful websites and a video blog, even though my computer’s still in the box it arrived in. As long as my body holds up, my mind is as willing as it’s ever been.

Q: You’ve shown more depth in these ten minutes than I’ve ever seen you express on television.

A: People don’t care about depth on television. The lighter you can keep things the better. People don’t care about real issues unless those issues are entertaining.

Q: So did you want to take another crack at Star Trek in the new JJ Abrams film version?

A: He talked to me a few times this past year, but they shot in November and Leonard [Nimoy] is in it and I’m not. I’m disappointed. I’m not outraged, but I think it’s a stupid business decision, a stupid box-office decision. Here I am, still alive, still popular, on a hit show. It makes sense to put me in the thing. If they don’t, that’s fine. I just think it’s a silly oversight.

Q: Is there an art to spoofing yourself?

A: There’s a fine comedic line you need to walk. It’s about indicating that you’re aware of the exaggerated persona but you don’t subscribe to it. If you show that you’re too self-aware, you come off as callow. If you make it seem like you’re oblivious, the audience is mystified. They start to wonder if you’re the only one not in on the joke. I like to believe I hit that line just about right.

Q: Finally, once and for all, what is the trouble with Tribbles?

A: They multiply. But then, that’s the trouble with humanity.


*Ozymandias by Percy Shelley

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
`My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.


Bombshell Alert! Bush “Not Inquisitive,” Author Says

HOT OFF THE PRESS! Former  Bush press chief and newbie author Scott McClellan has dropped  a book full of  bombshells on a hitherto clueless public. If you’re standing up while reading this, perhaps holding your laptop on the subway,  you may want to sit down.

Didja know, for example, that:

* the administration  “ignored evidence that contradicted its position on Iraq.” !!!

*Vice President Dick Cheney “was given a lot of deference by the president,” and “in a number of ways, he has not served the president well.” !!!!!

“Things went terribly off course” in Iraq. !!!!!!!

 *President Bush often showed a “lack of inquisitiveness” in discussing Iraq and other matters. !!!!!!!

 *The decision to invade Iraq was a strategic blunder.”  !!!!!!!!!!!!

Geez. It really makes me envy these insider types, you know. They just . . .  know stuff, y’know. Nobody’s had the guts and insight to breathe a critical word about Iraq, the press simply adores Cheney, and I’d even heard somewhere that the inquisitive Mr. Bush would be heading up the Middle Eastern Studies Department at Swarthmore after departing the White House. Thank God for that bulldog McClellan setting the record straight!

Welcome to Procrasti-Nation

I meant to post this a couple weeks ago, but. . .

Anyway, if you have fallen behind a bit on your to-do lists, Next Action lists, and even the Someday/Maybe lists advocated by productivity sherpa David Allen, take heart in knowing that certain authors have made procrastination their life’s work.

 Slate magazine, in a recent issue celebrating  the Putting-Off Life, brings together a number of perspectives on the Big P. One writer tried support groups like Procrastinators Anonymous (not a joke) and numerous self-help books here.  You may take a curious pleasure, as I did, in finding that certain writers were not just plagued by procrastination, but even made it their subject. Check it out  here sometime later, or maybe tomorrow after you get back from the cleaners.

Going to Extremes with Book Titles

Well, if Obama does win the White House and ushers us into an era of unity and a sense that we are in fact one people, maybe we’ll have fewer best-selling books like this one:



 And this one:


The depressing thing is, huge numbers of people who are absolutely livid with rage at the first title probably see nothing wrong with the second, and vice-versa. In my view such titles are  beyond the pale because 1) their whole point is to start fights, garner publicity and goose sales, not to probe or illuminate; 2) such books preach only to the choir–nobody was ever insulted and demonized into changing their mind; and 3) they degrade and divide us in their quest for profits, truth be damned.  I don’t believe liberals are fascists, and I don’t believe that a “lunatic fringe” has any appreciable measure of power in America.  

Imagine if this pugnacious,  publicity-seeking mindset had prevailed in the past. Instead of a title like Huckleberry Finn, we’d have something like “Who You Callin’ ‘Nigger’ Jim, Raft Boy?“.

 Instead of The Scarlet Letter, we’d be reading Whore’s Mark: How Bible-Thumping Bigots and Hypocritical Lechers Set up a Fascist Dictatorship in Old New England

“In Vain”? Memorial Day Thoughts



 It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.

Abraham Lincoln, The Gettysburg Address


The consequences of war are dire, the sacrifices immeasurable. We may have occasion in our lifetime to once again rise up in defense of our freedom, and pay the wages of war. But we ought not — we will not — travel down that hellish path blindly. Nor should we allow those who would march off and pay the ultimate sacrifice, who would prove the full measure of devotion with their blood, to make such an awful sacrifice in vain.

Barack Obama, 2002 speech opposing going to war in Iraq 


“I have vowed in the past, and I will vow so long as I’m president, to make sure that those lives were not lost in vain – that, in fact, there is an outcome that will merit the sacrifice.”

President Bush, in remarks after the U. S. death toll in Iraq reached 4,000


“We won’t talk about losing. There is enough talk about losing. What has been done this summer cannot have been done in vain.”

I did not say anything. I was always embarrassed by the words sacred, glorious, and sacrifice and the expression in vain. We had heard them, sometimes standing in the rain almost out of earshot, so that only the shouted words came through, and had read them, on proclamations that were slapped up by billposters over other proclamations, now for a long time, and I had seen nothing sacred, and the things that were glorious had no glory and the sacrifices were like the stockyards at Chicago if nothing was done with the meat except to bury it.

Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms


Today is the day we remember them all, stolen from their families and their lives, irrecoverable this side of heaven. Today is the day we are asked to try, at least, to comprehend what they have done for us. To read true stories of combat–from Antietam to Iwo Jima, from Dien Ben Phu to Fallujah–is to have humility thrust upon one, and gratitude, not only for the excruciating devotion of the dead but for the fortunate fact that fate hasn’t required of one the same sacrifice. Not yet, anyway.

Dallas Morning News editorial, May 31, 2004




Obama “Gaffe Window Extension” Backfires on Hillary

“I like her as pols go, but it’s hard to fathom a more brainless and insensitive piece of babble outside the rantings of the pulpit. Since she’s very bright, this has the whiff of nervous exhaustion and desperation. Get out, for chrissake.”


That’s from fellow blogger and karaoke belter TheFabSage, who sees “the end of Hillary” in her tone-deaf comment about Bobby Kennedy’s assassination, with its ghoulish implication that, well, gee, something bad just might happen to Obama, so she better hang around.                 

 The give-him-enough-rope strategy was not irrational considering the gaffe-gifts that have fallen into her lap–Rev. Wright’s Spewings, Michelle Be Not Proud, the remarks about those bitter, Bible-clinging shlubs in flyover country. She must think that any day now, YouTube will reveal yet another Wrightism or some offhand comment Obama made to the Chicago GayLesbianTransgenderBondageand DisciplineSociety back in ’99.
But this remark may seal her fate. Now prepare for numerous “Been to the mountaintop, but no Promised Land for Hillary” post-mortems.











1001 Books To Read Before I Die??? Yikes!

I’ve long had a book called 501 Must-Read Books, and that’s intimidating enough, but now comes a book containing a Monstah List of  ONE THOUSAND AND ONE BOOKS we must read before shuffling off this mortal coil.  Luckily, the reviewer of this book-about-a-lotta-books assures us that many of the books are not that vital: 

 Not only is it not necessary to read “Interview With the Vampire” by Anne Rice before you die, it is also probably not necessary to read it even if, like Lestat, you are never going to die.  

Check the overwhelming list here, see how many you’ve read, (or heard of), and note the many suggestions and critiques from readers. If this won’t fill up your summer reading list, nothing will.