Tuesday, May 28, 2013

When I met "The Shat"

Celebrity really does not impress me.

I've met several people over the years who could qualify for the term.  In most cases, my afterward response has been, "Oh that was (fill in the blank) from that (TV show, band, etc.)  That was kinda cool, eh?"  Case in point, running into Pat Morita (Karate Kid's "Mr. Miyagi") in a washroom in Maui (no, I didn't shake his hand.  In fact, I backed off completely as it didn't sound like he was feeling too great.)

That said, I am not immune to my "Oh my GOD!" Beatlemania moments.  Chief among those being the times I've met literary idols such as William Gibson and Neil Gaiman, and of course the miracle night I met Duran Duran.  Last Saturday night was one of those heady times.

I went to a movie theater in the Chicago suburbs.  It's one of those joints that serves you booze and overpriced food with your film.  On the whole, it's not an experience I can recommend, that is if you take your movies seriously and don't want someone sticking their face into yours to ask, "do you want fries, cole slaw, or nacho chips?" with your meal as the movie rolls.

Every once in a while it's worth it.  Typically it's because the theater brings in actors involved with a classic production.  That was certainly the case last weekend.

The movie was Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
The guest was William Shatner.

That's right.  "The Shat."  Captain Kirk himself.
Being a geek, my liking Star Trek is almost a given.  The show was one of the things that got me through many a lonely night as an isolato in high school.  Well, that and continuously checking the cord on the phone, convinced that there simply must be something wrong with the device and that was why girls weren't calling me.  But I digress...

The character of James T. Kirk is certainly an indelible part of the Star Trek mythos, a folk hero of sorts.  While the show had an uber idealistic outlook on the future in that it envisioned a time where your race, gender, or even your species didn't matter, it needed an ass-kicker to help keep it that way.  Said ass-kicker was Jim Kirk.  His cocky "I don't like to lose so I'll find a way to win" attitude was infectious and even inspirational.  And it was William Shatner who brought that character to life.  Sure, you can argue he overacted the part, but any critics he has left can just take a look at the all man's Emmy and Golden Globe awards for Boston Legal and just shut the hell up. The man's bigger than life.

Which brings me to last Saturday night.  Before the viewing of the film, I stood in line, thumbing my ticket to have my picture taken with Mr. Shatner.  What would I say to him?  What could I ask him that no one has before?  I certainly didn't want a repeat of meeting Duran Duran where I stuttered out "you're my hero" to Nick Rhodes, prompting him to instantly disappear.  What could I say?

Turns out I didn't have time.  An announcer over the loudspeaker said, "Ladies and gentlemen, for the final time this evening, William Shatner."  To great applause, the Shat emerged from the back of the theater lobby with his entourage, sporting a black leather jacket and looking like his usual badass self.  I kept looking at the bar, wishing I'd slammed a Sam Adams or six before getting the ticket.  No matter.  It was game time.  Again, what would I say?

The management decided that for me.  All of us in line were routed through the system in what amounted to a "Shatner drive-by" for photographs.  It was just enough time for me to say, "Hi.  My name's Jon.  I'm a huge fan."  Do you know what he said?  Huh?  Get this...

"Nice to meet you, Jon."

Capt. Kirk said it was nice to meet me.


Then, as soon as Bill Shatner was ushered into the place, he was off.  Only our digital photos would attest to our meeting him at all.

Yes, that pasty-white, grinning fool on the right is me.  God help me, I'm a dork.

That meant he wouldn't be speaking and taking questions before the movie.  A disappointment, but no matter.  Better to have five seconds with an icon than none at all.  We all filed into the theater and sat down for the movie.  Seeing it again on the big screen was a real treat and it reminded me that Wrath of Khan is not only the best of the Star Trek films, it's one of the best science fiction films of the 1980s.  Plus, as my friend Armando accurately pointed out as we walked to the car, those guys at ILM are pretty badass themselves.  The special effects still hold up well to this day.

I know it's not cool to be a part of anyone's "crowd" in science fiction.  To be a true connoisseur, one must read "hard" science fiction or at least the postmodern, nonlinear kind.  That means nothing mainstream such as Star Trek, Star Wars, or really anything with "Star" in its title.

I don't care.  I read plenty, thank you very much.  Without the stories from franchises such as Star Trek...and William Shatner...I probably wouldn't have been turned on to science fiction at all.  And you might say my life might have turned out happier and more "normal" for it.

Yeah.  It probably would have been boring, too.

Lest I forget, Bill Shatner also sings.  Here are a few of his classic covers, one of them from Duran Duran!

Follow me on Twitter: @Jntweets


  1. On Facebook, JH said: "Jon, I thoroughly enjoy reading your stuff. You are smart and gifted. I like it. Thanks for sharing your insights. And, if it makes you feel any better, I won't even admit what I said to Hillary Clinton when I had the once-in-a-lifetime chance to meet her!"

  2. On Facebook, @ChicagoVince said: "I thought this was an old photo with how thin you look (Or is Shat that fat?). Whatever you're doing, keep it up."

  3. You guys are so kind. Thank you!

  4. On Facebook, Bernard Sell said: "Figured there would be squee. So wished I could have gone, but had to take someone to a baby shower, won't name names, but it begins with an R. you went to Maui to meet Pat Morita? Jealous."

  5. On Facebook, New Wave Priest said: "Shatner exists on a plane apart from the rest of us. Truly he is the Transformed Man."


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