Have you ever asked yourself, "If I were William Shatner, what kind of iPhone app would I be?"William Shatner discusses the development of his iPhone app, Shatoetry.
I certainly haven't, but if I had, I would now have the answer: Shatoetry. Think refrigerator-magnet poetry, read by Shatner in all his dramatic glory, and you pretty much have the idea.
Launching today, Shatoetry is Shatner's contribution to the app world, and it's a pretty good one. Now, it won't bring about world peace or anything like that, but it will keep you amused and connected with your friends if you choose to use it that way.
The basic principle is that you choose words from a scrolling tray at the bottom of the screen. There are hundreds and more will be added, but the basic connectors such as articles and conjunctions are mainly there. Drag the word from the tray onto the main window and drop it. Words can be moved around, and a tap will enlarge the word, giving it a stronger inflection when the completed passage is read.
There also is a menu that contains every word in the app, which sometimes makes it easier to find what you're looking for.
Also available for use is a space bubble. Tap the Pause button at the bottom and a bubble appears in your poetic creation. It creates a pause in the read-back -- for dramatic effect, of course. Like the words themselves, the bubble can be tapped to make it larger, and the pauses longer and more dramatic.
One of the more amusing aspects of this app is the sound effects, which give it a retro feel. Different actions are accompanied by a finger snap, or a tongue click or some other nonsense vocalization that for some reason brought me back to the '70s -- and yes, I was there the first time.
After creating a phrase, tap the "Shat that!" button at the bottom. Like the theme from some '70s TV show, a chorus sings, "Shat that!" and Shatner reads your creation.Shatoetry, a new app from William Shatner for iPhone
Now, there are hundreds of thousands of words in the English language, and Shatner's a busy man -- he hasn't had time to record three versions of each one quite yet -- so don't expect to compose a very prosaic passage, but that's not the point anyway.
Shatner gained a love for words through his acting career, the actor said at an event announcing the launch of Shatoetry.
"Any word in the English language can communicate all kinds of meanings. I love the musicality of words. I wish I could sing -- I can't," Shatner noted.
He sure can recite, however.
Originally, the app designers wanted to take the word choices down the obvious path, incorporating Star Trek themes. However, Shatner steered them away from that.
"This is so good, it doesn't need a lot of herbs in the recipe. He quality of what we're doing will shine through," he said.
The app is set up to be used in one of three modes: solo mode, in which one person creates Shatisms and can then share them via email, Facebook Twitter or YouTube; pass-around, with timed intervals for creating Shatisms; or online with friends, which is a collaborative creation with friends anywhere.
I can definitely see the social potential for an app like this. If groups of friends -- writers or musicians, especially -- get together and try to out-write one another, it could make for some creative sessions. I'm sure as well that someone somewhere will come up with a drinking game around Shatoetry before too much time passes.
It's fun, it's social, it's harmless and it elevates the English language. I can't see anything wrong with that.