William Shatner: Has Been

After his rendition of “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” on the infamous Golden Throats album (though it first appeared on the Transformed Man LP), one could argue that the world needed a new William Shatner album about as much as it needed a big-screen remake of TJ Hooker. But Shatner’s back all the same with an intriguing, introspective collection of mostly spoken-word tracks that are all the more compelling when it becomes clear that Has Been is, in fact, no joke.

Amazon.com

It’s as if Shatner’s been waiting a lifetime to get these thoughts out there, and hearing him relish every word, a man now transformed, is the primary draw of this album. Has Been is a brilliant spoken-word album, performed by a man now 73 years old. And somehow, it just might be the pop album of the year.

PopMatters

Seriously – if your skeptical eye hasn’t already skimmed past this in disgust at me posting about purportedly nonsensical garbage – let me assure you, this album is excellent. Not crusing- down- the- highway- with- the- top- down- excellent (although I’ll think no less of you for it (actually, more)), but that’s not what it’s going for. And don’t worry, Shatner writes and performs the lyrics, poignant and insightful – not the music – for that he turns to talents like Ben Folds, Lemon Jelly, and Aimee Mann, among others. My favorites are “Common People”, “It Hasn’t Happened Yet”, “You’ll Have Time”, “That’s Me Trying”, “Together”, and “I Can’t Get Behind That”, which is over half the album if that’s saying anything.

Here’s a couple tracks from the album and a clip of Ben Folds talking about how him and Shatner first met. The Has Been website plays high quality samples of all the songs, mixed with some interesting commentary by Shatner reflecting on the album and how it came to be; and his site over at Shout! Factory, the record label, has low quality copies of all the songs in their entirety. Now that’s how to promote a record!

William Shatner: Has Been

After his rendition of “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” on the infamous Golden Throats album (though it first appeared on the Transformed Man LP), one could argue that the world needed a new William Shatner album about as much as it needed a big-screen remake of TJ Hooker. But Shatner’s back all the same with an intriguing, introspective collection of mostly spoken-word tracks that are all the more compelling when it becomes clear that Has Been is, in fact, no joke.

Amazon.com

It’s as if Shatner’s been waiting a lifetime to get these thoughts out there, and hearing him relish every word, a man now transformed, is the primary draw of this album. Has Been is a brilliant spoken-word album, performed by a man now 73 years old. And somehow, it just might be the pop album of the year.

PopMatters

Seriously — if your skeptical eye hasn’t already skimmed past this in disgust at me posting about purportedly nonsensical garbage — let me assure you, this album is excellent. Not crusing- down- the- highway- with- the- top- down- excellent (although I’ll think no less of you for it (actually, more)), but that’s not what it’s going for. And don’t worry, Shatner writes and performs the lyrics, poignant and insightful — not the music — for that he turns to talents like Ben Folds, Lemon Jelly, and Aimee Mann, among others. My favorites are “Common People”, “It Hasn’t Happened Yet”, “You’ll Have Time”, “That’s Me Trying”, “Together”, and “I Can’t Get Behind That”, which is over half the album if that’s saying anything.

Here’s a couple tracks from the album and a clip of Ben Folds talking about how him and Shatner first met. The Has Been website plays high quality samples of all the songs, mixed with some interesting commentary by Shatner reflecting on the album and how it came to be; and his site over at Shout! Factory, the record label, has low quality copies of all the songs in their entirety. Now that’s how to promote a record!

Monkey See …

Just in time for King Kong:

Natasha, the 5-year-old macaque pictured on the left, was in critical condition two summers ago at the Safari Park zoo in Israel for severe stomach flu.

I was sure that she was going to die. She could hardly breathe and her heart was not functioning properly.

Igal Horowitz, veterinarian

She recovered, however, and upon leaving the clinic began walking upright exclusively. Macaques and other primates are known to do this on occasion, but it would seem Natasha swore off quadrupedal movement altogether. Perhaps simplifying her life in retrospect after a near-death experience?

Oliver the “humanzee”, on the right, is a chimpanzee, famous in the 1970s, who also favored walking upright. He used and flushed a toilet, mixed drinks, and enjoyed watching television, drinking coffee, beer, and his favorite cocktail, Seven-Up and whiskey. He was acquired as a baby from the Congo and sold to animal trainers Frank and Janet Burger where he worked in the circus.

According to media accounts, Oliver had never been accepted by Burger’s other chimps and could not be trained to perform with them in their stage act. Instead, he preferred to walk on his hind legs, sit crosslegged on a chair, and help Burger’s wife, Janet, with the chores around the house. Oliver also made it clear that he fancied her. Not surprisingly, Janet issued her husband with an adamant proclamation concerning her pesky paramour: “I’m not putting up with this. He’s going or I’m going.” So Oliver went […]

Fortean Times

He passed from owner to owner, being exhibited in various capacities, and was eventually sold to Buckshire Corporation, a labratory that used animals for scientific and cosmetic testing. Although he was never used in experiements, he was kept in a 5×7’ cage for seven years, to the point where his muscles atrophied and trembled from lack of activity. Eventually Oliver was given to Primarily Primates, a sanctuary where he now lives in a spacious, open-air cage. In 1996 his DNA was tested to reveal 48 chromosomes like all other chimpanzees, despite previous claims that he only had 47. Humans have 46.

Monkey See …

Just in time for King Kong:

Natasha, the 5-year-old macaque pictured on the left, was in critical condition two summers ago at the Safari Park zoo in Israel for severe stomach flu.

I was sure that she was going to die. She could hardly breathe and her heart was not functioning properly.

Igal Horowitz, veterinarian

She recovered, however, and upon leaving the clinic began walking upright exclusively. Macaques and other primates are known to do this on occasion, but it would seem Natasha swore off quadrupedal movement altogether. Perhaps simplifying her life in retrospect after a near-death experience?

Oliver the “humanzee”, on the right, is a chimpanzee, famous in the 1970s, who also favored walking upright. He used and flushed a toilet, mixed drinks, and enjoyed watching television, drinking coffee, beer, and his favorite cocktail, Seven-Up and whiskey. He was acquired as a baby from the Congo and sold to animal trainers Frank and Janet Burger where he worked in the circus.

According to media accounts, Oliver had never been accepted by Burger’s other chimps and could not be trained to perform with them in their stage act. Instead, he preferred to walk on his hind legs, sit crosslegged on a chair, and help Burger’s wife, Janet, with the chores around the house. Oliver also made it clear that he fancied her. Not surprisingly, Janet issued her husband with an adamant proclamation concerning her pesky paramour: “I’m not putting up with this. He’s going or I’m going.” So Oliver went […]

Fortean Times

He passed from owner to owner, being exhibited in various capacities, and was eventually sold to Buckshire Corporation, a labratory that used animals for scientific and cosmetic testing. Although he was never used in experiements, he was kept in a 5×7′ cage for seven years, to the point where his muscles atrophied and trembled from lack of activity. Eventually Oliver was given to Primarily Primates, a sanctuary where he now lives in a spacious, open-air cage. In 1996 his DNA was tested to reveal 48 chromosomes like all other chimpanzees, despite previous claims that he only had 47. Humans have 46.

What The Bleep Do We Know!?

A documentary/story hybrid that follows a female photographer (played by Marlee Matlin) as mysteries of quantum physics and neuroscience unravel before her, forcing her to re-evaluate the fundamental premises of her life. Already available on DVD, it opens in theaters this February with new information, footage, special effecs, and over an hour and a half of new interviews.

One of the main brains behind this project is Dr. Fred Alan Wolf, a theoretical physicist and author of nine books, including Taking the Quantum Leap and the Dr. Quantum series.

What The Bleep Do We Know!?

A documentary/story hybrid that follows a female photographer (played by Marlee Matlin) as mysteries of quantum physics and neuroscience unravel before her, forcing her to re-evaluate the fundamental premises of her life. Already available on DVD, it opens in theaters this February with new information, footage, special effecs, and over an hour and a half of new interviews.

One of the main brains behind this project is Dr. Fred Alan Wolf, a theoretical physicist and author of nine books, including Taking the Quantum Leap and the Dr. Quantum series.

God Complex

Spore is a new type of game from the creator of The Sims, Will Wright.

Beginning with a single celled organism which you design and control, you guide its evolution into more advanced creatures, then into a society, and so on, until reaching galactic scale. You control the characters through each order of life, facing unique challenges that range from avoiding being eaten before the next generation is born, to controlling a multi-planet space-faring race. Says Wright:

One of my goals for this whole thing has been to give somebody an awe-inspiring global view of reality, almost like a drug-induced epiphany with a computer. The kind of, “Oh, man, what if we were a molecule inside of a galaxy?” type thing. Can we transfer that experience – that, I don’t want to say drug-induced, but I guess it is, or almost theological meaning-of-life-type experience – into an interactive computer game?

Can a computer game bring you to theological discussions, or philosophy, but at the same time remain eminently whimsical and playful and approachable? That’s an interesting balance to strike. I like the idea of an extremely whimsical toy that has deep philosophical implications.

Introduced during this year’s E3, Spore represents a new way of making games, using what Wright calls procedural animation, saving production costs in an industry of ever-increasing expenses, and enabling a game of this magnitude to exist in the first place. Much of the animation is decided by the code: instead of a large team animating each type of organism, the code analyzes the shape of the characters, what resources they have available, and decides how they should move and behave. Thus, using the game’s logic, the player designs their own experience completely, leaving traditional character development out of the loop.

Spore should be released in the Fall of 2006.

Here’s a video with Wright discussing the new game, along with shots of gameplay. Find/Scroll to “Spore”. You’ll need to register, but it’s free, and only takes a second.

Update:

God Complex

Spore is a new type of game from the creator of The Sims, Will Wright.

Beginning with a single celled organism which you design and control, you guide its evolution into more advanced creatures, then into a society, and so on, until reaching galactic scale. You control the characters through each order of life, facing unique challenges that range from avoiding being eaten before the next generation is born, to controlling a multi-planet space-faring race. Says Wright:

One of my goals for this whole thing has been to give somebody an awe-inspiring global view of reality, almost like a drug-induced epiphany with a computer. The kind of, “Oh, man, what if we were a molecule inside of a galaxy?” type thing. Can we transfer that experience — that, I don’t want to say drug-induced, but I guess it is, or almost theological meaning-of-life-type experience — into an interactive computer game?

Can a computer game bring you to theological discussions, or philosophy, but at the same time remain eminently whimsical and playful and approachable? That’s an interesting balance to strike. I like the idea of an extremely whimsical toy that has deep philosophical implications.

Introduced during this year’s E3, Spore represents a new way of making games, using what Wright calls procedural animation, saving production costs in an industry of ever-increasing expenses, and enabling a game of this magnitude to exist in the first place. Much of the animation is decided by the code: instead of a large team animating each type of organism, the code analyzes the shape of the characters, what resources they have available, and decides how they should move and behave. Thus, using the game’s logic, the player designs their own experience completely, leaving traditional character development out of the loop.

Spore should be released in the Fall of 2006.

Here’s a video with Wright discussing the new game, along with shots of gameplay. Find/Scroll to “Spore”. You’ll need to register, but it’s free, and only takes a second.

Update: