Friday, January 07, 2005

The Shatnerization of Miss Jean Brodie

The rain brought the cold, and did it ever. On the fourth of January I was walking around Nashville in sandals and short sleeves (because I will bust out the sandals at the slightest provocation, and if the Pentecostals are right the ice-followed-by-t-shrt-weather equals the immanence of the Rapture, so I do it while I can.) Then it rained. Now back to your normally scheduled winter.

It's weird to live here and bitch about winter. My friends up North and in the Midwest are prying open their car doors with crowbars. My job paid for taxis every day there was ice. But that almost makes it pissier, the "mildness" of the winter. I'm from here; anything below freezing is cold enough for me and to spare, I don't know what -4Âș not counting wind chill feels like, and yet I still hate cold with a passion. I have no referent for what it's like to live in New York where car ownership is not de rigeur and people just...walk in the bitter ass cold. I can't walk to anything worth walking to in my neighborhood, except the twin Mapcos down the street, and that's utterly implausible during freezing weather -- I'd need pitons to get back up the hill to my apartment complex, and that's assuming I didn't do my icy-weather usual and fall flat on my ass going down in the first place, shooting out over all four lanes in the process if my general luck is any indicator.

And no, I cannot take the bus. Well, I can, and do, and used to a lot more, but because of the cross-street I live on, the walk to the bus stop is about 2 miles of long-ass downhill grade and I have to go downtown to get to a bus that actually takes me anywhere I want to go, which means roughly two hours added on to the journey at a bare minimum. Also, I cannot bus to work because the buses stop running before I leave at night. Thank you, Nashville MTA, for looking out for the little people, getting upper respiratory infections waiting on the bus because we're Southerners and our lungs treat cold like cancer cells.

As a result, I am always in my car. It seems natural to me; school was never less than a forty-five minute drive away from kindergarten on up. It took us thirty minutes to get to church on Sunday (and woe to my mother trying to explain the convoluted reasons why we couldn't attend the other churches with the same brand name, as it were, which basically all came down to "we don't play with them". This was not the first or last instance of such woe.) Except for now it isn't a car, it's a van.

The van has too much space. I don't place much value on the more esoteric aspects of astrology, but I must admit to being, if not the classic Leo, at least very much a cat-type, and everyone knows we expand to fill the space available. The last time I pissed off my boss, instead of firing me, he made me clean out my van. Right before that cleanup the Artist kept trying to convince me that there was at least the potential possibility of a Skeksis hiding somewhere amid all the crap I'd loaded in the last frantic push to get moved, and then left relatively undisturbed for two months because I never felt up to the mammoth task of getting it all downstairs and into the apartment. Now the van is empty, and somehow I get more bored with all that space open behind me, all those seats that will never be entirely full of bodies if past evidence is to be believed. I got pissed off earlier because since the Great Excavation there aren't enough books in the car when I'm gone from the house for a while, as is usually the case.

We had a long commute yesterday even for me; we took the I-840 extension to Highway 109 and into my hometown (to see the aforesaid boss), then went back around the city the other way to get the last of the Artist's stuff from the shithole apartment he used to share with an ex-hooker who went straight and...married a skinhead. Ah, the Old South, so redolent. Then, of course, we had to get the Artist back to his new place south of town, and me back to mine in the middle. Somewhere along the way, being geeks, we picked up the thread of an earlier argument about The Lord of the Rings. Since the books had been packed in the back of the car, source material to solve the Galadriel/Arwen geneaological connection had just become available and it was time to have the question settled (she's her Grossmutter). Somehow, that turned into talk about Star Trek. I know. Don't ask me, I was trying to drive.

The Artist's late father was a card-carrying Friend of the Federation, and it doesn't make me proud to remember cutting lines of coke with that card. (Well, maybe in some weird geek/street fusion cred sort of way that makes no sense, and if that is the Next Big Thing someone owes me.) Somewhere along the way, the "William Shatner-spoken-word" impression became the sponsor of the 100-mile car ride. Either you know the style or you don't get the reason I spent most of my time in the car yesterday laughing my ass off.

We did hymns for a while (we were both raised that way, and we know a lot of them.) We started listening to the radio and decided we were far superior entertainment. We did Yeah. We did Gin & Juice. We did some song by Staind that was getting its ClearChannel mandated spin (and sounded like every other song by Staind until we got done with it). We remembered that Shatner always turns contractions into their component parts and incorporated it into the routine. We waved cigarettes about. We paused for long enough to discuss how Picard rules. I got all my cool points taken away for admitting that Trek was never a really huge deal to me, but then I got most of them given back by means I won't divulge, although part of it involved coming out on the right side of the Kirk/Picard deathmatch argument. Then we got bored with that and went back to Shatnerizing hymns, after a brief interlude of torture-masquerading-as-altruism when the Artist decided he could banish the new Beyoncé single, which has taken up permanent residence in my brain, by Shatnerizing it, succeeding (as was his aim, I'm convinced) only in getting some terrible remix-from-hell composed of his version and the radio edit stuck just as firmly on the broken and shitty jukebox in my head.

Thus far, the only non-Shatnerizable material we've found is Arlo Guthrie, and that's because it's already spoken-word and has its own peculiar cadence. The difference is that Arlo is funny for what he says, and Shatner's funny for chewing the scenery while speaking like a cyborg with a short in its inflection and volume centers. Which is not to say we're not the kind of geeks who can quote both the original and the thirtieth-anniversary Alice's Restaurant in its entirety, because we are, and that's someething else to do in the car when you're bored.

We decided that the term "Shatnerize" would never join "grok" in the annals of the OED, and I gave some highfalutin reason at the time -- can't be described without self-reference -- when really it'll never get there because it's something we (and other bored and geeky people, possibly) made up to do to pass the time while crossing six counties, and not a cultural phenomenon a la 6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon or Death Is Not An Option.

But it should be. says "Shatnerize" means "to produce something so bad it's good." I do not concur, mostly because ours is funnier, and also "so bad it's good" has a long and proud history that predates Shatner. That spurious definition laid aside, take the first song that comes to mind, pretend you're in the commercial -- this must be done aloud for full effect -- and see if it's not enough to make you least, if you're a geek. It's OK if you laughed. You've seen Revenge of the Nerds a million times on Comedy Central, you know we're going to run the Greek Council in the end anyway....


At 9:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

how about TANSTAAFL??? is IT in the OED???? it OUGHT to be, at least from my perspective, and i just KNOW that you agree with me.

did you know that Space Family Stone was originally entitled The Rolling Stones, and the publishers balked??? and made him change the title? and that in the original manuscript, podkayne actually DIED????

i just love telling you things like this. because i know just how much you will love knowing them.

(shaternize the above, it's hilarious. :) i'm a geek, fol de rol, i'm a geek, fol de rol.........)



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