Archive for October 23, 2010

Awesome NY Times crossword answer, Sat 10/23

October 23, 2010 1 comment

23 Across: “Like overdramatic spoken-word versions of pop songs.”  Since I was introduced to the album The Transformed Man by my 11th-grade English teacher, and since, as a Trek fan, I’ve been aware of the constant in-jokes ever since, I immediately knew it had to be: SHATNERESQUE.  What an awesome word to find in a crossword puzzle!

Although I think The Transformed Man gets a bum rap.  The spoken-word song lyrics that get all the attention constitute only 4 of the album’s 11 selections, just over 1/3 of its content.  The rest consists of soliloquies from Shakespeare and Cyrano de Bergerac and of original poems.  At the time the album was made, in 1968, William Shatner’s reputation was that of a respected, up-and-coming, Shakespeare-trained actor of the stage and screen.  His starring role in Star Trek was seen as a boost in visibility for an already impressive career, although a step down in respectability in many people’s eyes.  So the idea of a spoken-word album of dramatic readings to showcase his talent was not such a strange one — and indeed his renderings of Shakespeare soliloquies like “Once more unto the breach” and “To be or not to be” are excellent.  However, according to Wikipedia, “The concept of the album was to juxtapose famous pieces of poetry with their modern counterparts, pop lyrics.”  (Perhaps explaining the “Transformed” in the title — the transformation of poetry over time.)  Which means that Shatner recited the lyrics of several pop songs as if they were poems.   Which was an interesting idea, but it misfired because people misunderstood the intent, thinking that Shatner’s dramatic readings represented a laughably bad attempt at singing.  And unfortunately that overshadowed the rest of the album and led to decades of unfair caricatures.

At least the NYT crossword clue is somewhat more accurate in its description.  And unfair or not, it shows what a cultural icon Shatner has become.  Getting your name in a Times crossword — even better, getting an adjectival form of your name in a Times crossword — talk about immortality!

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