Monday, November 28, 2011

Shatner Rules: an acoustical analysis.

As many of you will know, the William Shatner School of Toupological Studies houses some of the most advanced technology in the world, all designed provide humanity with the best possible insight into and analysis of William Shatner's toupee-wearing. Our most recent effort involves using state-of-the-art acoustic instrumentation on the audiobook version of Bill Shatner's latest tome Shatner Rules.

A toupular quantum resonance model.

Not long ago, we were delighted to report a rather direct hair reference by the author in said book.

That example, plus several others, form the core of the following report:

In one experiment, we amplified the sound of Bill Shatner saying the word "hair" to 194 decibels.

During the introduction of Shatner Rules, the author offers a perhaps crucial clue, "Bill is a slightly different guy from Shatner ... sometimes Shatner relaxes into Bill. Even Shatner can't keep up the Shatner all the time." Is this a subtle acknowledgement of the duality of wearing a toupee? Does the bald Bill Shatner become William Shatner by putting on his toupee in a Clark Kent/Superman sort of way?

Bill versus William? (Superman III)

A little while later, the actor jokingly describes actor Jason Alexander as a "bald, fat, has-been". Considering that Has Been was the name of Bill Shatner's 2004 album, is this code?

In Chapter 1, Bill Shatner illustrates his "always say yes" (is "yes" a coded response to the above or/as well as an answer to the final sentence of his previous autobiography?) rule by explaining how in 2006 he overcame reservations and agreed to partake in the Comedy Central Roast of William Shatner.

"If I spent more of my life saying 'no,' this autobiographical volume would be a slim one, indeed. But enough of the touchy feely stuff, let’s talk about . . . my scrotum. And my weight. And my hair. And my acting. And my weight. And my hair. Did I mention my acting?"

Here's the audio clip:

The roast continues and Bill Shatner, noting the hair jokes that flew his way during the show, notes:

"After a while all I could hear was 'Hair.' 'Acting.' 'Weight.' 'Singing.' 'Scrotum.' "

The audio:

A little while later, we get to "William Shatner Roast Insults & Rebuttals" and:

-"'What is that on your head?'

-My hair is actually writing its own autobiography, Captain’s Locks. I will reveal no spoilers in advance of publication."

The audio:

As if Bill Shatner has not said the word "hair" enough times in a single chapter (five so far and counting), we also get a couple more encores a little while later:

"After three hours—three long, agonizing hours—it was my turn at the microphone. I would get the final say after a long evening of me (and my horse) being drilled unmercifully about my acting, my hair, my weight, my acting, my hair, and my weight. And my scrotum."

The author then recounts his chance at an on-stage rebuttal:

"I would need a big opening, a huge joke, and one that announced that William Shatner is here, and he’s not going to take it anymore. So I opened with . . . 'How's the hair?'"

The audio:

And then :

"The Comedy Central Roast of William Shatner was one of that network’s highest rated programs, and it was eventually nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Variety, Music, or Comedy Special. (We lost to a Tony Bennett concert special. I wonder how many jokes were made about his hair?) Most important, the show introduced me to many new young fans."

The audio:

And one more for good measure, this time a little more insightful:

"What I learned most of all from The Comedy Central Roast of William Shatner is that people have some very definite ideas and feelings about this William Shatner character. He’s larger than life, he’s omnipresent, he’s a narcissist, his acting and hair and singing talents are questionable at best, he’s a shill, he’s a comedy, he’s a tragedy, his scrotum sags with age, he speaks . . .very . . . strange . . . ly."

And one last piece of audio:

So that's nine mentions of the word "hair" in a single chapter (there's a couple more throughout the rest of the book too, including Hair the musical!). From utter silence on the subject to such willful abandon is surely an important step for Bill Shatner. He can finally say a word in public that has previously caused him a great deal of discomfort.

"The hills are alive with the sound of toupees!"

And as if seeking to make up for all those years of self-inflicted silence, he repeats that magic word over again and again and again! A stress analysis of the above audio reveals a far calmer and more assertive Bill Shatner than the one who a few years earlier nervously asked "do I wear a toupee?" While he still breezes over the word "hair" occasionally, no doubt seeking to prevent leaks of emotion, the word is nonetheless said loudly, directly and with a new-found sense of confidence.

It's been a delicate process, and one external nudge too many could again cause Bill Shatner to retreat.

But while we see some very important steps in the above, alas, we can't celebrate too much. As some of you noted in our previous post on Shatner Rules, while Bill Shatner uses the word "hair" liberally, even going so far as to note that it is writing its own biography and that "his acting acting and hair and singing talents are questionable at best," he avoids entirely the question of why.

"How's the hair?" Bill Shatner at the 2006 Comedy Central roast.

Thus, a reader or listener unfamiliar with toupological matters might be tempted merely to think that the actor has worn bad hairstyles or that his real hair looks like it's not real. But Bill Shatner never says that. He never says "my hair - which some claim is a toupee" or anything of the sort. It's very clever teasing in that it provides more than a nod to the initiated, but doesn't overtly signal too much to those not in the know!

Notice that Bill Shatner's head rests on the location of the Amazon rainforest. A subtle environmental message calling for protection and re-growth?

We can't wait till the next autobiography and where this extraordinary toupological journey will continue to lead us! The audiobook of Shatner Rules is available to buy. A fun, breezy book well worth reading (or listening to).

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Poll result and the "Denny Katz" gets a medal of distinction.

Our latest poll sought your views on the question of how Bill Shatner relates to the toupees he wears. Imagine that the time has come to retire one toupee and unwrap a fresh one. Is there a ceremony? Does Bill Shatner thank the old and welcome the new? "You did a great job!" and then "You and I are about to go on an incredible adventure!"... Or is it far less personal than that?

3% of you thought that the actor views his toups as little more than inanimate objects; 4% thought that he views them as members of the family; 7% saw a deep affection, like a close family member or pet; 14% suggested it was a love/hate relationship; 18% said it was a profound intimate connection, like with a lover. The most votes, 29%, went to "As protection, like children relate to security blankets".

Linus van Pelt from Peanuts.

Thanks for voting!

Now for the other thing. A recent appearance by Bill Shatner on Toronto's The Morning Show started off normally enough. But after some talk in which the actor notes that "we all hold a mask up" the conversation takes a rather interesting turn.

Suddenly, host Dave Gerry pulls out a head massager, asking "What's the significance of this object in your life?"

The actor seems not to know, calling it a "probe".

But, very much in a tone you'd expect from a combative political interview, Gerry intones "Mr Shatner..."

Is this an ambush?

The host then adds that according to his sources, Bill Shatner may have had box-loads of these things shipped from Canada to an "undisclosed location" in Europe where the actor was apparently attending a soiree back in 2010. Follicular regenerative therapy of some kind?

The actor cracks up.

And then, the unthinkable happens.

One of the female hosts (Kris Reyes) gets up...

...and begins massaging the head (and toupee) of Bill Shatner.

Is the toupee hair and membrane blocking out some of the strangely erotic "vibes" of this device? The actor seems to be getting it, though perhaps not with the full abandon that might be the case with his non-toup-wearing brethren.

Either way, what's really crucial here is: thank God this didn't happen years earlier when the actor wore a "TJ Curly" or "Lost Years" or even "Jim Kirk lace" as we may have been privy to a tangled, historic mess of epic proportions!

The "Denny Katz" performed with great distinction on this day and we extend our heartfelt congratulations! The full video can be watched in the second section here.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The dawning of the Age of Touperius.

It's April 1968 and the musical Hair has just opened on Broadway, underscoring a crucial component of the ever-growing hippie counter-culture movement of the time. Being with it wasn't just about politics, Vietnam, "Turn on, tune in and drop out", great music, expanding your consciousness etc. etc. - but many involved also viewed growing their hair long as a quintessential component of this anti-establishment movement - and that's what this musical sought to reflect.

Might a toupee have sufficed if the real thing was not in abundant supply? Who knows... But that's all besides the point. In 1968, Bill Shatner was evidently in no mood to Let the Sunshine In, feeling introspective rather than exuberant; morose rather than jovial. Star Trek was a flop, hanging on for dear life, and the idea that this series would one day be remembered as an unmistakable part of the Sixties, on the same lists along with the Beatles, the moon landing, Woodstock, RFK, MLK and all the rest of it would have seemed like so much pie in the sky had anyone suggested such a thing at the time.

Bill Shatner in character as Captain Kirk at a parade in South Carolina. More here.

And not only was Broadway housing such counter-cultural hair-related fodder, not only was Bill Shatner's starring show falling apart, not only was the archetypal leading man concept atrophying under such increasingly sterile and morally dubious titles as A Guide for the Married Man (New Hollywood would soon wash all of this away), but the actor's marriage to wife Gloria Rand was also all but over. Which brings us to a contemporary profile of Bill Shatner in a 1968 issue of TV Guide, via the good folks at "More Shat, Less Shame".

The piece (in the journalistic sense of the word) is characteristically upbeat about the star it is examining. There's the "Golden Boy" in the title as well as a flattering look at the actor's career.

But for Bill Shatner, "the dream [meaning the joy of stardom] was hollow". His father's death, the breakup of his marriage (played out in many a magazine of the time), and ongoing career struggles lead the actor to note "Out of a great deal of personal sadness, I feel I'm able to see behind people's masks." Perhaps the toupee is being subtly inferred here: a man with his own mask wishing to learn about others. (Did that desire culminate years later in Shatner's Raw Nerve?).

The tell-tale hairpiece...

But if only that was the only toupological inference - subtle, nuanced... No, TV Guide underscores just how much times are a-changin'. Only two paragraphs into their profile we get something rather stunning: "At 37, and with only a tell-tale hairpiece marring his intergalactic Golden Boy image, Shatner doesn't look very different from the way he did in the early 1950's when he was labelled a theatrical Wunderkind."

So one of the most popular publications in America announces to the world that Bill Shatner wears a "tell-tale hairpiece". Yikes! What happened to the days when profiles were a little more respectful of concealing stars' foibles? What was happening to the world?

And what of the hair pictured in the similarly morose-looking photograph that accompanies the article? Is it one of the the little-seen personal "ratty-looking" toups? The lack of the characteristic "real" hairline suggests that it's not a "Jim Kirk lace". Could it be the toup from Perilous Voyage? Or is it really one of the actor's own? At this point, we just don't know...

But what the image perhaps suggests is that the new times were offering Bill Shatner more than just unwanted toupological TV Guide revelations after all - his real hair a little longer, and of course there's those rather bushy sideburns - he was about to get with it; the ashes of past defeat cast aside, he was about to become The Transformed Man and popular culture would never be the same again:

"Shouldn't that be hairpiece?"

Now the 60's could really take off! Humanity was about to enter the Age of Touperius!