Review: William Shatner, Auckland, Oct. 13

William Shatner is 87 years old. 

I kept telling myself this over and over because watching him live in Auckland for his Shatner’s World one-man show, this seemed a man 20-30 years younger than that. He laughed, he danced, he even sang in his patented Shat-scat fashion a bit. Shatner still has a volcanic energy that is a force of nature. 

What a life Shatner has lived – over nearly two hours he took the audience on a meandering journey from his Canadian stage beginnings to his early TV days on through his ‘Star Trek’ success and later works like ‘Boston Legal.’ He could be hilarious one moment, but then touchingly human and self-aware the next, musing on his parents, family, beloved horses, and death, the final frontier itself. It was refreshingly intimate for a show by an actor known for his bombastic swagger, but a man who’s also engagingly self-aware. 

For a while, it was fashionable for snobbier Trek fans to bash Shatner – he was seen as too egotistical, dominating the room and overshadowing great talents like Nimoy, DeForest Kelley and the rest of the crew. But Shatner is the spice that made classic Trek soar. 

Would Star Trek truly have endured these past 50 years if you’d subtracted Shatner’s distinctive hammy charm as Kirk from the equation? Watch the original ‘The Cage’ pilot with the amiable but bland Jeffrey Hunter as Captain Pike to see what a Kirk-less Trek would be like. 

Is he larger than life? Sure. I wouldn’t have him any other way. I took Mr 14 – a huge Star Trek fan who was born years after all the original TV series ended – and he had a blast. 

Shatner is a showman – one of the great showmen of our time – and as he tours Australia and New Zealand and the rest of the world at an age when a lot of blokes would be happy to give it a rest, he’s kind of inspirational. Live long and prosper, indeed. 

So where were we?

My name is Nik, and I’m ready to blog again. 

I’ve been a journalist in one form or another for 25 years now, and wrote a blog* for about 8 years from 2004-2012, spewing thousands of words about this, that and the other thing. 

Starting a blog again may seem so 2007, but I’m tired of the other options. Social media’s been good and terrible for the written word in equal measure. Hey, I tweet, I facebook, I instagram (but no selfies, please), but I’m looking to something more than endless scrolling for that dopamine hit. I’m coming back to blogging because it trains me to write more than a few pithy sentences.

Since I got tired of regular blogging in 2012, I’ve gradually come to realise how important it was to me to write more. It’s a safety valve for the brain. I want to stop feeling distracted and anxious all the time and these days, that problem feels worse than ever. 

I won’t blog about current politics, because if I did it’d just be one inchoate scream echoing over and over into the infinite, and I’ll avoid weighing in with the hot take on the outrage of the day like every other person with a keyboard. I’ll get personal from time to time but I won’t talk about what I had for lunch. 

Instead, I’ll focus on what keeps me going in this tattered world. Usually that’s art in any of its forms – an old movie I’m digging, a classic Elvis Costello single, a Jack Kirby comic book that blew my mind, a book that’s subtly skewed my brain in interesting ways. I’ll write sometimes about my travels and what it’s been like living as an American in New Zealand for more than a decade now.

I’ll try to get my scattered words on here once a week or so. Follow along if you like, bookmark or swipe right or whatever the cool kids do now to keep in touch, and thanks for reading. 

* I named my original blog “Spatula Forum” because it was the name of a newspaper column I did for years and years and I have no idea why I thought those two words were cool together, but I was stuck with it. Blog Mark II takes its tip from a terrific 1994 song by Guided By Voices of the same name. And that’s pretty much what I have to offer here … my impression now, of whatever shiny object has caught my eye.