Another attempt to make some kind of sense of what's going on east of the Dniester. Ukraine, Russia and Kazakhstan come in for special attention.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Another post about Montreal - time to change the name of the blog? :-)

Sure, I was a Star Trek fan when I was a kid. However, I think I've grown to love Bill Shatner more since then. His famous "Get a life" bit on Saturday Night Live many years ago and the "I am Canadian" parody at Just for Laughs (mentioned in the article below,) point out a man more than happy to take the mickey out of himself. And that's a trait that I find very endearing.

Added to that, of course, is the fact that he's not only a Montreal boy, but is even from my neighbourhood. Awesome.

From the Montreal Gazette:

The man, the myth, THE SHAT


BILL BROWNSTEIN on William Shatner


In this very galaxy not that long ago, William Shatner had to spend many a day and night trying to dodge overzealous Trekkies (Trekkers, if you will) sporting Spock ears and Vulcan masks (then again, maybe they weren’t masks).

Not that N.D.G.’s gift to the worlds of acting, sci-fi and the surreal didn’t appreciate the ardour of these fans, but there is far more to the man than his Captain Kirk alter ego from the iconic Star Trek series. On the other hand, if he had a buck for every Spock-eared goof who requested that Shatner “beam me up,” he probably could have retired several light years ago.

But he didn’t. Rather, Shatner, 76, reinvented himself and as a result, goes boldly where few actors, even those half his age, still go. To work. He sings, he dances, he shills, he acts.

Some 55 years in the biz, and there’s still no stopping him. It may often be self-parody, but he is most certainly a bigger star today than he was when navigating through the stars and cruising the cosmos decades back on Star Trek. He has the silverware to prove it: two Emmy Awards, among others, for his work as the batty barrister on the hit series Boston Legal.

Plus, you know you’ve made a cratersized impact when you are the subject of the doc How William Shatner Changed the World and when you are singled out for a little love and a lot of basting in The Uncensored Roast of William Shatner

“Honestly, I attribute all my longevity and success to Canadian meat and vegetables – organic vegetables, that is. Oh, and can’t forget those fabulous Canadian blueberries, so rich in anti-oxidants, from Ste. Agathe,” says Shatner, perhaps tongue-quite-a-bit-in-cheek, in a phone interview. He’s in his trailer, waiting to return to the Boston Legal set in Hollywood, and he’s in a particularly buoyant frame.

Shatner returns to his hometown Saturday to host two Just for Laughs galas at Theatre St. Denis. Seven years ago, the first and last time he served as master of ceremonies for a gala, Shatner cracked up the house with his “I am Canadian” routine – a wacky take on the Molson Canadian beer ad of yore. “I can’t take all the credit. They wrote some kind of inspired material for me,” he says. “It’s all about the material and I’m hoping for more of same this time.”

Some of the material written for the 2000 gala referred to the then-renaming of McGill’s Student Union as the William Shatner Building. “I just hope the building is earthquake-proof and has sprinkler heads,” he cracks. “I spent four great years at McGill, diligently trying to play football and act at the same time while pursuing women and studies – about in that order, too.”

But the Festival City that is Montreal today is not the one that Shatner recalls from his formative years. “Not at all. The city I remember was for me mostly in the west end. The city today seems like such a welcome place.”

“It’s not just the quality of the music and comedy at the festivals, but it’s the way the city has laid itself out as such an endearing spot to spend time.”
Despite the fact Late Late Show host and Just for Laughs alumnus Craig Ferguson selected him as his favourite Canadian humorist, Shatner doesn’t think of himself as a comedian per se. But he does have interesting views on Canadian comedy. “What’s funny is that Canadians aren’t perceived as being funny, yet many of the best comics in America are Canadians. It’s a bit of a dichotomy. It’s interesting that many think that Canada is so dour, but it’s Canadians like Mike Myers, David Steinberg and Jim Carrey who’ve helped foster comedy everywhere.”

Perhaps Ferguson picked Shatner as his fave Canadian comic based on his Boston Legal work. “There’s no question that what we do on Boston Legal is really amusing, but it’s also quite meaningful, too,” Shatner says. “James Spader (the show’s costar) and I looked at each other at the end of a scene the other day and he made the remark that, what other TV show writes scenes like this? We couldn’t come up with another name.”

Shatner is hoping to catch a break from his Boston Legal shooting schedule in order to stay in Montreal for more than a weekend. “Except for two sisters and a few relatives, I really don’t know too many people in the city,” he notes. “But the garlic spare-ribs are calling out for me and I have to heed the call.”

As seasoned Montrealers are likely aware, he is referring to the garlic spare-ribs of the longdefunct Ruby Foo’s which have been nearly replicated at Le Chrysantheme downtown. “They must have the Ruby Foo’s spare-ribs under spectrum analysis to determine just how much garlic goes into them.”

Also calling out to Shatner are, natch, Montreal bagels, barbecued chicken and smoked meat. “I’ll tell you just how good the smoked meat is. Over the last few years, I have sent out for loads of smoked meat, and of all the things I have done in four years on Boston Legal, the biggest contribution I have made to the show – more than my dialogue or comedy scenes or meaningful moments – is the smoked meat. All the other stuff pales before that pink mass of Schwartz’s smoked meat.

“Of course, I might need a whole load of bran after eating all that smoked meat in town.”

Fortunately, Shatner knows where to find it. He just happens to be the pitch-man for Kellogg’s Bran Flakes. Ah, when it rains, it pours for the man.

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