ShatnerKhan II – Pastrami in the Time of Plague

Several weeks ago, and in a mysterious half-mythical locale like Middle Earth or Camelot, but with better Wi-Fi, I attended the second annual ShatnerKhan.  As was specified in my contract, there was New York pastrami and other deli selections to make bearable the task of viewing an intense selection of Shatneriana.  Up front I will state it was barely sufficient to cushion my system from the brutal shocks of what was to come.

After the rigors of ShatnerKhan I, I had assumed that the membership would have retreated from the danger zone of forbidden Shatner and played it safe with an agenda restricted to Star Trek and Twilight Zone standards.  That was not the case.  Like the fictional Gamesters of Triskelion these risk takers wouldn’t settle for trifles like quatloos or CBS science fiction episodes.  They were hunting for big game.  And they started it off by firing with both barrels.

In my youth I remember seeing a commercial that featured a young-looking William Shatner dressed up as Alexander the Great.  Even as a child I knew there was something wrong with that picture.  Luckily, I was spared finding out how wrong it was until ShatnerKhan II.

I don’t remember if this was a CBS or NBC made for tv movie.  Whatever it was I can tell you it was awful.  It was as if the producers were looking for the perfect formula to guarantee that this project would crash and burn like nothing before or since.  Think of it, they teamed up Bill Shatner and Adam “Batman” West and put them in dresses, really embarrassingly short dresses.  Then they had them riding around on horses and generally pretending to fight a war.  They threw in John Cassavetes and Joseph Cotten just to try to butch it up a little but after twenty minutes I begged for mercy.  It was just too horrendously bad.  I asked for some kind of change of pace just to help me shrug off the effects of that nightmare.  I was allowed to choose “The Doomsday Machine.”

Here my feet were back under me.  I had just reviewed the show recently and felt like I was back in the company of an old friend.  I could hum along to the danger theme of that episode.

Dahdunt, dahdunt, dehdunt, dehdunt

Dahdunt, dahdunt, dehdunt, dehdunt

Dahdunt, dahdunt, dehdunt, dehdunt

Dahdunt, dahdunt, dehdunt, dehdunt

Dehduntduntdunt, dehduntduntdunt

Duhdeduhdeduhduhdehhhhh!

 

There was the Bill Shatner I was comfortable making fun of.  There was Bill Shatner wearing pants.  Sure, he might take his shirt off once in a while or have it ripped off of him in a fight but he was consistently dressed like a man.  With everything back to normal I declared a break and we broke out the vanilla ice cream, Mounds Bars and salted cashews.  This provided just the right amount of sugar shock for us to actually discuss what we had watched without really caring what we were talking about.  It was a great success.

With the last of the cocoanut and chocolate washed down with crème soda I thought I was ready for whatever would be next.  After all, having survived Alexander the Great I didn’t think there was anything left in Shatner’s resume to worry about.  Boy, was I wrong.

Shatner is known for talk-sing covering songs by other singers.  But I had never heard him in a duet.  I wish I could still say that.  I was bombarded by something so pathetic that I can’t even describe it.  Words fail me.  You’ll have to judge for yourself.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J648lr8cjuw

It was like some kind of Lovecraftian horror that leaves you gibbering and disoriented.  I just sat there and let the rest of the group steer the choice of videos without me.  I think we watched Amok Time but I’m really not sure.  It was all hazy.  I was like some kind of disaster survivor sleep walking through the wreckage of my mind.

When I finally started to come around, I was sitting at a table with a cup of coffee and a slab of ice cream cake.  The world started to come back into focus.  When the discussion returned to Shatner, I noticed that there was no mention of what we had witnessed.  I could tell that none of us wanted to acknowledge that we had allowed ShatnerKhan II to overstep the bounds of sanity and even break the bonds of normal space-time.  We had let it get away from us and we all knew we had been lucky that we hadn’t summoned up some horrible presence from “out there.”  Sitting here in the safety of my living room I can contemplate something like that but what if it had happened?  What if a fat Korean guy in a bowl haircut and ancient Bill Shatner sweating and talking into his wireless microphone had broken through the space time continuum and suddenly appeared before us singing, “A Total Eclipse of the Heart.”  Very probably the whole multiverse would have exploded forming a big bang across all the universes there are.  I can’t be responsible for that.  I can’t let that happen, not on my watch!

I’m going to need a kill switch for ShatnerKhan III.  That’s the only way it’s going to happen.  And I’m going to need a lot of corned beef and mustard too.

Shatner Does it Again

Not since his triumph singing “Rocketman” has the listening world been electrified by such deeply moving talk-singing.  Be prepared to be shatnered.

I have held off posting the proceedings of the recently held ShatnerKhan II.  I hope my time off this week allows me to chronicle the vitally important results of this scholarly event.

 

The Unholy Inception of ShatnerKhan II

Today I was on a videoconference with the Board of Directors of the ShatnerKhan Corporation.  These august gentlemen and I began the initial planning of this great enterprise.  I must tell you, just knowing that ShatnerKhan II would happen despite the COVID-19 Plague was indeed exciting.  It would be like a shining beacon in the inky blackness of cultural hiatus that this quarantine has engendered.  It would bring hope and purpose to a weary nation.  It might even save countless lives by giving these poor souls the will to throw off the deadly clutches of this sinovirus.  “Ad astra per aspera.”

So, it was kind of fun talking about something so frivolous and light hearted.  No life and death diseases, no do or die elections just the foibles of that demigod of bad acting William Shatner.  We committed ourselves to a much more organized effort.  As you might remember ShatnerKhan I was an impromptu gathering with almost no planning, preparation or notice.  And most importantly not nearly enough time was spent on the menu for the event.  For as I’ve often stated ShatnerKhan is mostly an excuse to eat highly indigestible but exquisitely delicious and altogether splendiferous food.  So, I extracted this promise that the first thing to be fixed was the menu.  I am a reasonable man and will not prevent whatever personal favorites the Board requests.  All I ask is that dill pickles, corned beef, pastrami, pumpernickel bread, potato salad and good brown mustard are lavishly provided.  There was talk of all kinds of delicacies but we’ll see what they decide on.  I know that sausage and peppers, eggplant parmigiana and panko coated drumsticks were mentioned but I also know that Chinese food was listed at one point.  Well, at such an intellectually challenging event the sages need to keep up their strength somehow.

Moving onto the agenda we discussed how best to avoid burnout from the sheer volume of Shatneriana that was available for review.  It was decided that we would extract the quintessence of Shatner goodness from each historical record and in this way reduce the time needed to review it.  This will require great amounts of preparatory work.  And it will also require much greater technical skill than is currently at the disposal of the Board.  For I must confess that when it comes to digital expertise, we are blithering idiots.  But this aspect I’ve taken on myself to explore.  But the idea is to have a live stream that will capture us bloviating on the various scenes we are critiquing.  Of course, to maintain anonymity we will be masked.  I suggested Shatner masks.  I understand that the mask that the Michael Myers character wore in Halloween was actually based in some way on William Shatner’s face.  Whether this is true or not I have also been tasked to look into the masks and other props needed for the event.  It was suggested that I find a three-dimensional chess board and a Vulcan lyre like the ones that Spock employed during various episodes of the original series.  While I’m at it why don’t I look for Shatner’s missing hairline?  But I digress.

There was a discussion about inviting the great man himself to this great homage to his name.  But we were reminded that he’s eighty-nine and also fabulously wealthy.  But we may invite him anyway.  My guess is he won’t be too pleased by our take on his career and talents.  But who knows?  I thought maybe we should contact Kevin Pollack.  After all he’s fairly famously for imitating Shatner.  As you can see, bull was flung pretty freely at this meeting but it was quite stimulating talking about the event.  As far as timing the earliest it would be held is midsummer.  But based on the current crisis it might also be closer to September.  When asked by the Board if the readers of Orion’s Cold Fire could be a source for ideas for the gathering, I said I thought it very well might be.  I know of at least one reader who has shown enthusiasm for the idea and I think there is the potential for a collaborative effort where local groups could participate in the live streaming and eat equally indigestible, delicious and splendiferous food.  Of course, they’ll have to provide their own masks and food but the spirit of bright camaraderie will more than pay for the foodstuffs needed.

So, I’m throwing it out to the audience.  If you have any ideas practical or ridiculous that should be brought to the attention of the Board and if you have interest in remote link up during such an absurd venture leave a comment or send an e-mail and I’ll make sure you’re kept in the loop when any actual information is available.

22MAR2020 – OCF Update – Locked Down in New England and Annoyingly Upbeat

Don’t ask me why but for reasons unknown I am disgustingly cheerful today.  It can’t be the temperature because it was 20F this morning and that’s not spring in my book.  Maybe it’s the sunshine and the increased daylight hours.  But whatever the cause I haven’t got any angst to distribute this morning.  What’s a prophet of doom to do?  So, I’ll use my COVID-19 lockdown leisure time today to walk the prison yard, shank a few of my enemies with a shiv, or shiv them with a shank and start a new tunnel to freedom.

I was looking around at a number of science sites talking about quinine derivatives that might be a component of an effective COVID-19 treatment and a couple of interesting things emerged.

  • The first is that there is some pretty good evidence that chloroquine and azithromycin is effective in preventing COVID-19 infected people from developing life threatening pneumonia.
  • The second is that many people in the pharmaceutical industry hate Trump so much that they are angry that he may get credit for pushing a successful treatment forward in a timely manner.

I work with a lot of technical types and they are mostly anti-Trump.  There will be a fair amount of wailing and gnashing of teeth if the President gets credit for shortening the pandemic to something manageable.  These people really are almost gleeful in the face of a looming depression.  That’s how much they despise the President and, by extension, how much they despise us.

Maybe that’s part of the reason I’m optimistic and cheerful today.  I think the therapy being mentioned is going to be effective at lowering the death rate to a very minimal level and allow the rest of us to get back to work.  Boy, that would piss off a lot of people I know.  Good.

This week I expect some more movie reviews and possibly music reviews.  I also feel it is time for a political satire.  What exactly it will entail is hard to say sonce there are so many targets to choose from.  I think I’m overdue to put together a description of the current state of Sony mirrorless photography and identify the much smaller number of holes in the system that exist currently.  And going along with my recent defense of Western Civilization, I think I’ll have a post giving my take on outreach to the various groups that are assumed to be wholly owned subsidiaries of the Democrat party.  I mean, some of those people, women especially, probably haven’t heard a conservative argument about anything in their whole lives.  We may be able to do some recruiting.

And on the photo side I’m going to do a few more focus stacks.  I was at a standstill this week because suddenly my computer thought my camera was a storage device and not a camera and so I couldn’t use the software that allows remote control.  I found that the only thing that fixed the problem was reloading the drivers for the USB devices.  Of course, it is a little chilly for outdoor focus stack work but I am a martyr for my art.

Finally, a suggestion came up during the preliminary planning for ShatnerKhan II.  It was hinted that maybe the program could include non-Shatner-related themes.  It seemed like heresy to me but I said I would consider it.  I throw it out to the readership if this is anathema or is it the natural evolution.  I think the only way to even consider this is if deep theoretical research is done in advance to justify the validity of non-Shatner content.  I foresee the need for enormous quantities of deli meats and potato salad to even begin this kind of philosophical discussion.  What do you think?

So good morning my fellow prisoners of the COVID-19 gulag.  We have nothing to lose but our chains so have a fun day.

Shatner Moves On

William Shatner Refuses To Reprise His Role As Captain Kirk, ‘Star Trek’ Icon Says Character Is “Played Out”

Say it ain’t so!  Well, my real question is, “Was anybody actually asking?”  Actually, eventually they would.  The desperation in Hollywood will require even the deceased Star Trek actors to appear in later movies as digital zombies, kinda like poor Fred Astaire dancing with a broom in some vacuum cleaner advertisement.  But Shatner is right.  He’s outgrown Star Trek.  He’s ready for Hamlet.  Well, maybe Falstaff.  He’s old and fat enough for it.  But I kid, I kid.  Shatner is one of the legends of early television and deserves all the attention and mockery we give him.

 

Hat tip to one of the Shat’s biggest fans for passing this along.

 

 

 

 

 

 

ShatnerKhan 1 – Part 4 – Conclusion

After reviving ourselves again with refreshments we estimated that we had time for one last course before exhaustion would set in.  Almost at random we selected Mudd’s Women.  It was a mistake.  What we thought we were going to watch was the episode called I, Mudd.  This one is about Mudd selling women that he artificially beautifies with a drug.  It’s boring and meaningless. At the end the women are seen to be beautiful without the drug because they’re self-confident.  Yeah sure, and I’m Brad Pitt.

Anyway, this poor episode angered the delegates and disrupted the complacency that the massive junk food binge had produced.  We set to work repairing the situation with mass quantities of supplies.  Once we had re-established our equilibrium, we decided to quickly bring the ShatnerKhan to a rapid close.  But we did ramble on about what we had learned and vowed less poisonous food at ShatnerKhan 2.

So, what did we learn?

  • William Shatner is indeed a demigod of bad acting. Series television, made-for-tv movies, big studio major motion pictures, even minor awards ceremonies; none of them are proof against his patented lousy acting skills.  He is a ham for all seasons.
  • As lousy an actor as Shatner is, he is definitively the best part of the original Star Trek series. His character possesses almost the only heroic characteristics to be found on the show.  The rest of them are even bigger weirdos and losers than he is.
  • Shatner actually seems to be a decent comic actor. He is able to perform self-deprecating routines quite skillfully.  We decided not to hold this against him.
  • Much more study will be needed and a much higher grade of food supplies will be needed for future ShatnerKhan events. I personally advocated for deli, others spoke of Thai food and barbecue.  These questions will be sorted out in committee.

But all agreed that ShatnerKhan 1 was a roaring success both academically and gastronomically.

All hail William Shatner, long may you endure as a shining beacon of terrible acting.

 

ShatnerKhan 1 – Part 1

 

 

 

ShatnerKhan 1 – Part 3

ShatnerKhan 1 – Part 2

 

As stated at the end of the last post we settled on Star Trek episode “Space Seed” as our next course.  And there it all was!  Ricardo Montalban and William Shatner battling to settle the question of who could chew up the scenery faster.  Khan proves to be an even more persuasive lady’s man than Kirk.  He convinces a lady scientist to turn traitor to the Enterprise and assist Khan in taking over the ship.  Of course, the most absurd part of the story is that Kirk provides Khan with the ship’s technical manuals that allow him to figure out how to selectively flood most of the Enterprise with knock out gas.  Could there be any logical reason to provide a known megalomaniac with the details of these most sensitive technical secrets of the ship?  Of course not.  While he was at it, he might as well have given Khan his social security number and his bank account PIN.

There is a great scene near the end where Kirk and Khan are fighting mano a mano.  Khan starts out by snatching away Kirk’s phaser and twists it in half with his bare hands.  Kirk gets tossed around like a rag doll but at the critical juncture he grabs hold of a solid metal bar and clonks Khan over the head a few times with it and shows that even a super-strong super-genius should go for the quick kill instead of ending up having the tables turned on him like some kind of super villain in a James Bond movie.

Watching the final scene where Khan and his colony agree to be exiled on a world of their own is of course ironic.  We know that in the future the Wrath of Khan is awaiting Kirk and the rest of the crew.  This was discussed heatedly.  What should have been done.  Should Khan have been handed over to a re-education camp.  Should Kirk have checked to see if Ceti Alpha was a stable star that would permanently support a colony?  Should such dangerous genetically superior individuals have been liquidated, for the safety of all humanity?  What, precisely, was rich Corinthian leather?  The answers to all of these were debated endlessly and then abandoned because we got hungry again.

But certain things were agreed on.  Kirk and Khan are both hounds and neither Shatner nor Montalban believed in understated performances.  And these two things were linked with the fact that this is one of the most popular episodes of the series.  Shatner and Montalban are over the top ham actors.  The characters they are playing are out of a comic book.  But they are fun.  They are motivated by the things that men are interested in; women, adventure, honor.  This makes them about a trillion times more fun and interesting than Spock or Picard or any of the other “futuristic” characters.  Shatner taking shoulder rolls and bouncing around under pretend Khan pummeling is laughable and sophomoric but it’s still the best thing Star Trek had in this episode.

So this is the revelation.  Kirk is the best part of the show because he provides the only example of a normal man doing normal manly things.  He doesn’t do them well or convincingly but he’s all there is.  So we gave one cheer for James Tiberius Kirk and took some time out to eat some more food.

You may think that there was an inordinate amount of time taken away from the proceedings of ShatnerKhan to eat junk food.  You would be correct.  The plain truth is that all the delegates there were taking the opportunity to eat types and amounts of food that their wives would normally prevent.  In many ways it was almost as if ShatnerKhan was an excuse to pig out.  Once again, you would be correct.  But we justified this by pointing out that Shatner himself always looked like he could lose about thirty pounds and we perceived something heroic in men of a certain age throwing caution and wifely warnings to the wind and seizing the day and the Dorito (as it were).

In the final post we will look at the concluding viewing content and then our final thoughts on ShatnerKhan 1 and the prospects for later editions.

 

ShatnerKhan 1 – Part 4 – Conclusion

 

ShatnerKhan 1 – Part 2

ShatnerKhan 1 – Part 1

Shaking off the lingering effects of Rocket Man wasn’t easy.  But after enough refreshments were absorbed, we were ready to go forward.  Believing they had sustained the worst shocks possible they were steeled to delve deeper into the less familiar works of William Shatner.  They knew that I possessed one of the few copies of the 1984 made-for-tv movie, “Secrets of a Married Man” (SOAMM).  A unanimous vote decided that it would be next.

For those who don’t know about this little known “treasure,” Shatner plays an engineer, Chris Jordan, working on an important project that will make or break his career.  He has a wife and kids but the wife (played by former Momas and Papas singer Michelle Philips) has been so busy with her own career that she has sort of neglected her conjugal responsibilities toward Chris.  So, what with the stress of the project and his neglected libido, Chris starts availing himself of the services of various prostitutes.  This provides moments of Shatneresque hilarity.  One scene shows Shatner in the shower when suddenly he looks down and must see some kind of rash or other skin problem on his genitals and almost has a stroke in his own special Shatner style.  In the next scene he has gone to some doctor other than his family general practitioner and is relieved to learn it’s just an allergic reaction to soap or laundry detergent or “something else.”  One particularly funny scene involves Shatner driving down the main drag with his wife in the car and all the hookers are calling out to him “Hi Chris” and Shatner is trying to explain to her how the name Chris is just hooker code for a new customer.

This goes on way too long until finally he meets the dream girl.  Cybil Shepard is a high-priced hooker who drains Shatner of cash and even has him second mortgage his house to keep up with his weekly visits.  But when the hooker’s pimp needs five thousand dollars Shatner’s whole life falls apart as his wife finds out what’s happening and leaves him and the police step in.  We watched about forty percent of the show fast forwarding to the scenes where Shatner brought his unique acting abilities to bear on this stunning plot.  But even that was too much.  We finally shut it off.

When it was over the delegates were restless.  They felt we had strayed too far from the core of the Shatner canon.  While it was agreed that SOAMM contained some powerful and unique Shatner moments nevertheless the unheroic nature of the role separated it from the true spirit of Shatner.  Even the hideousness of Rocket Man maintained the heroic nature of the Shatner persona.  We had a to regroup.  So, after reviling SOAMM and making fun of Cybil Shepard’s career that allowed her to play in this kind of movie we moved on.  We decided to go back to the classics.  And we picked for our next selection Space Seed.  ShatnerKhan needed a little Khaaaaan!

But first we decided to take a break and restore ourselves with our choice of refreshments.

 

ShatnerKhan 1 – Part 3

 

ShatnerKhan 1 – Part 1

On the 27th of October 2019 word spread that an opportunity existed for ShatnerKhan 1 to occur on November First.  I scrambled to confirm that the resources were in place.  I searched for any conflicts that could interfere with the operational excellence needed for such a critical mission.  ShatnerKhan 1 was a go!

So much had to be done in such a short window.

  • Venue reservations
  • audio-visual equipment rentals
  • purchase of archival quality motion picture and television recordings
  • intellectual property rights agreements
  • hotel accommodations
  • security staff and clearances
  • media announcements
  • insurance waivers
  • local permitting

The time it took to N/A each of these items on the public domain occasion planning list that I downloaded from a random website was time taken away from the planning of exactly which Shatner masterpieces would be included and which would have to be sadly excluded due to time constraints from ShatnerKhan 1.

When I arrived home that fateful night ShatnerKhan 1 had already kicked into high gear.  The delegates, some of whom had travelled from locales almost as far a way as the Andorian, Tellarite and Coridan systems, were attempting to regale Camera Girl with droll anecdotes of their exploits on their far-flung travels.  She on the other hand, being a woman and therefore of a practical nature, was more interested in when they intended to leave.

I bounded into the gathering full of enthusiasm and the bright good spirit of camaraderie and feasted on a sumptuous repast of not only wonderful chicken chop suey, marvelous won ton soup and priceless egg rolls but also a mysterious dessert that attempted to predict my future!  O Brave New World!

And now sated of our ravenous hunger and perfectly receptive to the cinematic delights we were about to experience we discussed the program.  What would be included in this inaugural edition of ShatnerKhan?  What would have to be postponed for a subsequent occasion?  And what order would we arrange the included courses?  I proposed to start off the evening with “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet.”  This seemed a safe and non-controversial strategy.  But surprisingly, the delegates were opposed.  The attitude of the room was that this was too tame, too familiar.  They demanded a more challenging, a more esoteric choice.  I knew that some of the delegates had not delved as deeply as I into the less well-known strata of Shatneriana.  I resolved to stagger them with something they were surely unprepared for.  I played Rocket Man.

For those who had not seen it before, the effect was devastating.  By the time the third Shatner appeared there were howls of pain emanating from the audience and shouts to stop the show.  I refused.  They had sown the wind now they must reap the whirlwind.  When the last “long, long time” died out into merciful silence I could see that those who had revolted against the safe choice of “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” were now sadder and wiser.  They probably wished they could go back in time and undo that revolt.  But no one can unsee “Rocket Man.”  Their innocence was shattered.  Like the victims of a Lovecraftian eruption of eldritch horror, the image of the tuxedoed Shatners was seared permanently into their souls.  I contemplated describing here the experience of watching “Rocket Man.”  It can’t be done.  The experience is inexplicable.  You’ve either seen it or you haven’t.  It’s like trying to describe green to a blind man.  Suffice it say that it is Shatner at the height of his powers, confident, almost arrogant.  In complete control of the audience and his cigarette.

We stopped to revive ourselves with licorice and pretzel rods.

 

ShatnerKhan 1 – Part 2