It’s cool that William Shatner is flying into space. He’ll be the second of the Enterprise crew to do so, and, if all goes well, the first to return. He is hale, a lively 90, and as I can testify from having interviewed him a few years ago, still a . . . strong personality. I remember feeling bad half-way through the interview, feeling it go off the rails, and then feeling somewhat liberated: okay, you’re going to be that way, be that way. No Star Trek questions were asked. I brought up an early obscure Roger Corman performance (The Outsider) as a way of saying “you are, of course, much more than Kirk, and I am paying homage to your long and varied career,” but he wouldn’t have it. Of course he wanted to talk about his new travel show with the Fonz, and we did. I was trying to show respect, but perhaps he was irritated at the 293rd person to do that this week.

It ended with a question about his appearance at the end of the latest Star Trek movie, and he had no idea what I was talking about. The photograph. Of the original crew? That the new Kirk finds in a box?

He had no idea. At this point I felt a cruel satisfaction: I revealed a spoiler about a Star Trek movie to Captain Kirk.

Can’t blame him for it, don’t hold a grudge, was glad I could talk to him. Everyone knows he’s a cactus sometimes. Anyway. So he’s going into space, and he’s not going there because he was T. J. Hooker.

What if he doesn’t come back?

Oh perish the thought, you say, but it’s possible. First of all, there’s the dark comic angle: a warning light goes off, the ship bucks, and you know everyone will instinctively look at him for guidance. I would. Then there’s the inescapably fitting-end aspect: it would be like James Arness dying in a gunfight, or Jackie Gleason participating in some TV reunion show where he drives a bus, and he crashes it. They pull him out in his Kramden costume. But Shatner dying in space would be an utterly unique end to a career that no one could’ve predicted back in the late 60s.

No, actually, they could have. When the show went off the air we were still on track to keep exploring, right? A space station soon, a moon base by the late 80s. Why, of course it would have been plausible for Shatner to die in a moon-shuttle accident in 2021.

If I were Shatner, and I was toting up the odds, I’d think: what if? Could happen. Will there by time to say something? If so, what?

There are several things he could say on the last transmission.

By Grabthar’s Hammer, that’s no moon

Pluses: plays with the Trekkie’s heads. Minuses: something of a slap.

It was . . . fun

That’s his actual dying line in ST: Generations, and while it is, I suppose, fitting, it’s such a weightless word. Fun. He probably took pain pills for 30 years for getting kicked in the nards by a Gorn. Perhaps “worth it all”? Perhaps “I was . . . lucky,” which says a few things, and would cast a poignant light on the fact that it had all run out.

As a friend of mine said . . . live long and prosper.

That would connect the man and the character. But how about this:

Of all the souls I have known in my journeys, mine was the least (gutteral catch in voice, overwhelmed by emotijon) Canadian



It’s 1929.


  So, not 13 suicides.

As the song goes, praise the Lord, and pass the ammunition:

National guard troops and police details from four Colorado cities fired more than 7,000 rounds of ammunition into the convicts stronghold during the night. The battle was marked by two attempts to dynamite the cell house walls, one blast breaking all the windows, but failing to effect a breach in the masonry.

The hero of the dynamiting attempts was a Catholic priest. Father Patrick O’Neill, who carried the bombs to the foot of the cell house wall, under cover of machine gun fire from the prison walls.



  Borger . . . was wild in the 20s.

Here's the backstory. Don't worry about the names, there won't be a quiz. It's just to give you the flavor of the era.

John A. Holmes was tasked with investigating and prosecuting the many criminals who had infested Borger and the surrounding oil fields. Though Holmes was threatened by gangsters on a number of occasions, he relentlessly continued his probe of crime and corruption in Borger. Just as Holmes was making final preparations to appear before the Hutchinson County grand jury at Stinnett, he was shot down by an unknown assassin on September 13, 1929.

The Holmes slaying was the last straw for Governor Moody. Forty-eight hours after the murder, the Texas Rangers were back in Borger. Two weeks later, the Texas Rangers were joined by the 56th Cavalry of the Texas National Guard. At about 8:30 a.m. on Monday, September 30th, a train of baggage cars, three Pullmans, and freighters pulled into Borger, where ten Texas Rangers were already in place. On that day, martial law was declared for Hutchinson County and the Texas Rangers and the National Guard were tasked by ridding the lawless town and the surrounding area of its criminal elements once and for all.

Would make a great movie. And you suspect this did not happen rarely.

There’s a Pantages about six blocks from my office.


The story:

Newspaper coverage of the trial, particularly by William Randolph Hearst's Los Angeles Examiner, was strongly antagonistic towards the Greek-accented Pantages while portraying Pringle as an innocent victim. Both before and during the trial, stories in the Examiner portrayed Pantages as alone, aloof, cold, emotionless, effete, and "European", while the American-born Pringle was humanized through portraits with her family, emotional outbursts in court and interviews in the press.

Convicted, 50-year sentence, new trial, acquitted. Had to sell everything. Rumor had it that RKO and Joe Kennedy set him up to get his theaters at a bargain price.

If so, it worked.


The Red Robe had a five month run on Broadway.

It had these very-very Texas settings: “Café Zaton; Room in the Chateau de Cochforet; Park of the Chateau; Garden of the Chateau; Salon in the Palais de Richelieu."

We don’t think a lot about the lesser-known nobles of the day, but you know, the movies and books were full of middle-Europe / Slavic royal types.

Interesting lives:

Following the outbreak of World War II, Bulgaria initially remained neutral. In 1940, Bogdan Filov replaced Kyoseivanov as prime minister, becoming the last prime minister to serve under Boris. Later that year, with the support of Nazi Germany, Bulgaria received the region of Southern Dobrudja from Romania as part of the Treaty of Craiova. In January 1941, Boris approved the anti-Semitic Law for Protection of the Nation, which denied citizenship to Bulgarian Jews and placed numerous restrictions upon them.

In March, Bulgaria joined the Axis. In exchange, Bulgaria received large portions of Macedonia and Thrace, both of which were key targets of Bulgarian irredentism. Boris refused to participate in the German invasion of the Soviet Union and partially resisted German attempts to deport Bulgarian Jews as part of the Holocaust.

In 1942, Zveno, the Agrarian National Union, the Bulgarian Communist Party, and various other far-left groups united to form a resistance movement known as the Fatherland Front, which would later go on to overthrow the government in 1944. In August 1943, shortly after returning from a visit to Germany, Boris died at the age of 49. His six-year-old son, Simeon II, succeeded him as tsar.

As for her:

In the years prior to World War II, Tsaritsa Ioanna became heavily involved in charities, including the financing of a children's hospital. During the war she counterbalanced her husband consigning Bulgaria to the Axis by obtaining transit visas to enable a number of Jews to escape to Argentina.

She outlived her husband by 57 years, and died in 2000.


If you’re wondering:

Vanderbilt Club was one of the earliest bidding systems in the game of contract bridge. It was devised by Harold S. Vanderbilt, who had in 1925 devised the game itself. It was published by him in 1929. It was the first strong club system. An updated version was published in 1964. As of 2017, it has long been obsolete.



Just another syndicated column? No.

First of all, I love this. I’d read it every day. And people did.

By the early 1920s, O. O. (for Oscar Odd) McIntyre was perhaps the most famous New Yorker alive—at least to people who didn’t reside there. His daily column about the city, “New York Day by Day,” reportedly ran in more than 500 newspapers throughout the United States. He also wrote a popular monthly column for Cosmopolitan, then one of the country’s largest general-interest magazines. His annual output totaled some 300,000 words, the bulk of them about New York. In return for all that time at the typewriter, he was reputed to be the most widely read and highly paid writer in the world, earning an estimated $200,000 a year.

Just look at this guy.

Now get this.

What few of McIntyre’s out-of-town readers might have realized was that his New York often bore about as much resemblance to the real city as a Busby Berkeley musical. “Accuracy was his enemy and glamor was his god,” the New York Times observed in its obituary of him. “His map of New York came from his own imagination, with Hoboken next to Harlem if it suited his fancy, as it often did.”

Even fewer readers could have known that for much of his life, McIntyre suffered from a set of phobias that were remarkable in both number and variety. Those included a fear of being slapped on the back or having someone pick lint off his clothing. He was terrified that he might drop dead in the street. He disliked crowds and often preferred not to leave his Park Avenue apartment at all, except for nightly rides around the city, hunched in the back of his chauffeured blue Rolls-Royce. Further complicating his work as a reporter, he was deathly afraid of the telephone.

Full piece here: it’s worth it.

  That will  have to do. Head back to the 50s now, if you like.





blog comments powered by Disqus