The name of the game is called… Fizzbin


I'm looking forward to finding out How William Shatner Changed the World on the History Channel, but in this post-lapsarian world where there's not a single version of Star Trek or Star Wars in production, I suspect the design of the cell phone is pretty much the beginning and the end of popular science fiction-themed technological developments. Teleportation, which was pioneered in the "Al" David Hedison version of The Fly before it came to Trek, has decayed into little more than the terrible truth about telecommuting. Dr. Who's time-traveling police callbox lingers on only in the form of the JC Decaux pay toilet. You might stretch and claim the Blackberry is the real-life Tricorder; you could buy yourself a Soma Mobile Star Trek Communicator. Ultimately, though, I think the History Channel is right in the suggestion of its title: It was Shatner's incredible skill as a performer, rather than anything organic in the Trek vision of the future, that sold this stuff.

It's the same skill that allows Shatner to wear a wig that is almost surreally unconvincing, to come out with an album as wonderful and ambtious as Has Been long after the acid tide of irony and self-awareness would have killed a lesser actor. It's the thespian version of The Right Stuff—a quality beyond conviction or talent or training: Whether the material is good or ridiculous, whether he knows it's ridiculous or he doesn't, whether he's in on the joke or blissfully un-self-aware, the only thing that matters is that Shatner always believes in it. That's why he can make the crappiest-looking Feinberg prop look just persuasive enough—because even if you don't believe for a minute that toilet-paper-roll and tinfoil contraption he's holding is really a phaser or bottle of Romulan brandy, you never doubt for an instant that Shatner believes it's real. I can't bring myself to watch the lawyer show he's on with James Spader and Candice Bergen: It looks too much like Carousel for past-prime actors. But I'm glad he's getting recognized for making our world a better place. I'd like to see Gil Gerard do that!'s page of real tricorders.

Actual rules of fizzbin.

Tri-dimensional chess variants.