I'm not ashamed to admit that Captain Kirk is a personal hero of mine. When I was but a wee lad, I discovered Star Trek in re-runs on late night TV. I vividly remember my dad and mom used to let me stay up past the 10 o'clock news so I could watch the gallivanting inter-racial-species crew outwit Romulans, beat the tar out of smooth-headed Klingons and settle black/white differences between the Riddler and some other dude. Little did I know I was about to become a part (albeit a small part) of a cultural phenomenon that would last decades and further.

Today William Shatner turns 81 and I think the guy's in his prime.  He's been panned by critics for his over-blown acting, and when you look back at some of those scenes that seemed to have defined the cartoon stereo-type of Capt. Kirk, a smile will cross your face. I say he's paying tribute to his classical training as a Shakespearean actor. But looking at the whole body of work from Bill, you see a guy who isn't afraid to make fun of himself, who isn't afraid to take a chance and an actor who certainly has improved on his craft while never taking himself too seriously.

From serious actor in his youth, to Starship Captain to LA cop to reality show host to dram-com supporting character to website pitch-man to interviewer, William Shatner has taken us through the full gamut of emotions. I dare say he's done it all, stage, screen, TV and music.

At 81, you should be kind of slowing down shouldn' t you? It's obvious The Shat doesn't have that on his agenda.

So Bill, you probably hate it when someone says this to you, but I sure as hell hope you live long and prosper.

By the way, it's also Talk Like William Shatner Day- here's the perfect video to practice with-