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March 29, 2005

let go

One morning a few years ago, Anne walked out into our garage to put some towels or something into the dryer. I heard the door close, and a minute of so later, she called out to me, "Wil? Can you come in here? Quickly?"

There was a tiny bit of urgency in her voice, so I jumped up from the couch, ran through the kitchen, across the breezeway, and into the garage. She stood next to the dryer, a pile of wet clothes in her hands.

"Is everything okay?" I said.

"Shh!" She said, and pointed to the middle of the garage. "Listen!"

I did, and after a few moments, I heard a very soft meowing. Both of my cats were indoor cats, so I called out, "Biko? Sketch?"

I turned to Anne. "How did they get out of the house?"

She shrugged. "I don't know, but —"

A sleek black cat came walking out from beneath one of several piles of crap we have out there (putting a car into our garage is about as likely as one of us building a rocket in the backyard and colonizing the moon). He had bright yellow/green eyes, a white star on his chest, and little white "socks" on his front paws. He had no tail.

"Hey, Kitty!" Anne said, "what are you doing in my garage?"

She shoved the clothes into the dryer, and crouched down on the floor. The cat began purring loudly as he walked over to her. She extended her hand and he rubbed his little face up against it.

"You are such a little Bear!" She said, as she scratched his ears.

I've seen this from her before: she was in love. She looked up at me, like a child. "Can we keep him?"

"We already have two cats, Anne," I said, "and what if someone misses him?"

"We'll wait a week, and look for signs around the neighborhood. If we don't find signs, and he's still here, we'll take him to the vet and make sure he's healthy."

I've also seen this from her before: her mind was made up.

For the next week, he stayed on our patio, and we looked for signs in our neighborhood. We called local shelters. pet stores, and vets and asked if anyone had reported a missing kitty. Nobody had. As far as we could tell, this kitty had just shown up out of thin air; if anyone missed him, they weren't being very vocal about it.

The first few days of that week, I tried not to get too attached to him, but whenever I walked out onto the patio, he'd talk to me a bunch. If I got close to him, he'd start to purr and rub up against my legs. He was so affectionate, it took about three days for my him to win me over. I started counting down to the seventh day, when we would take him to the vet and know for sure if he could officially become a member of our family.

At the end of the week, we took him to the vet and had him checked for diseases and stuff.

"What's his name?" The receptionist asked us.

Anne and I looked at each other. Over the week, we had both loved this little guy a lot, but we'd never thought to name him.

"Oscar?" I said.

She smiled and shook her head. "No." She turned to the receptionist and said, "His name is Felix."

"Yeah!" I said, "Felix the cat!"

While we were there, we saw a picture on the wall of a cat that looked just like him, and we found out that he was a special breed called a Japanese Bobtail. Over the next few years, this would lead to us calling him "Stumpy," and referring to his activity as "just stumpin' around in the yard." His blood work came back the following day: he was free from all diseases, but his kidney levels were a little high — probably the result of him being just a little dehydrated. We know now that it was much worse, but at the time we were blissfully ignorant, and the Wheaton household grew by one.

We brought him home, and introduced him to our cats. Biko was indifferent, but Sketch cranked at him right away. Ever since he was a kitten, Sketch has been a daddy's — then (and now) a momma's — boy. He didn't like that there was a new kitty in our house who would be siphoning away some of the attention and affection. For the next week or so, there was a lot of peeing on the furniture, but eventually, Biko and Sketch accepted that this new kitty wasn't going to leave, and his arrival didn't diminish our love for them.

Felix loved us, but always on his terms. There's a saying, "Dogs have masters. Cats have staff" and so it was with Felix. He was always affectionate, but he made it clear that he wasn't our cat: we were his people. We didn't mind at all.

A few years passed, and Felix brought all kinds of joy into our lives. He had his "rotation," where he'd sleep on Ryan's bed for a week or so, then Nolan's, then with me and Anne. Even though he was just a cat, when he chose to put you on his rotation, you couldn't help but feel special. Chosen.

We learned quickly that Felix didn't take any shit from anyone, especially other cats. In the first year that we were his people, he went to the vet several times for shots and stitches after fights with other neighborhood cats. When he went outside, Anne and I started telling him, "Watch for cars, and don't get into any fights!" He rarely listened, but he was an incredibly tough little guy who earned his nickname "The Bear," and as far as we know, he never lost a single fight.

About two years ago, we noticed that he spent a couple of days acting a little strange. He didn't want to be cuddled, he wouldn't eat very much, and he just looked like he didn't feel well. We figured it was the result of his latest fight, so Anne took him to the vet for more antibiotics. When she came home, her eyes were red and her cheeks were shiny with tears.

"What's wrong?" I said.

"The vet said that Felix doesn't feel well because he's having kidney failure. He could die within a month." She collapsed onto our bed and sobbed. I did my best to comfort her, while I processed the shock of the news.

"Is there anything we can do?" I said.

"We may be able to give him special food and fluids, but —"

"Then that's what we'll do," I said. And we did. We gave him some fluids every morning, put him onto special food, and gave him a little extra love. Within a couple of days, The Bear was stumpin' around the yard, chasing birds across the grass, and curling up in our laps whenever we sat on the couch. His sleeping rotation put him into our room, and I fell asleep for many nights listening to his soft purring.

The rest of that year, he had ups and downs. One terrifying weekend Felix was rushed to the emergency vet because the gardener sprayed weed killer in our front yard — which I'd specifically told him not to do — and Felix had walked through it. During that stay at the vet's, I visited him often. WWdN readers were really supportive of Anne and me, and I blogged a "note" from The Bear:

"Hi. ThiS iS FELix. My Mom AND Dad ToLD mE HoW MUCh WWDN ReADerS SupPoRteD ThEM whiLe I wAs SiCK, aND i WaNT to sAY ThANK you. ThEy LovE ME A loT AnD I KnOW THIS Was hard FoR thEM."
During that stay, we found out that his kidney disease had progressed more rapidly than we expected. He was up to about 85% failure, and he was starting to become anemic. He had lost a bunch of weight, and was down to about 11 pounds. Again, we made mental preparations for the worst, and again Felix surprised us all by bouncing right back to life.

A few weeks ago, Felix started to look and act like he felt icky, so we took him to the vet yet again. This came on the heels of my cat Sketch's near-death experience, so my nerves were pretty frayed. "I wish I could get frequent flier miles here," I joked to the receptionist for the hundredth time. She politely pretended that I wasn't the most annoying pet owner in the world.

We ran some tests on him, and the results confirmed our worst fears: his kidneys were almost completely destroyed, and he had developed such a severe case of anemia his body wasn't able to get any nutrition out of his food. He was, quite literally, wasting away.

It was clear that if we didn't do anything, he was going to die within a few days. We talked it over with our vet, and she told us that our options were to put Felix to sleep, or give him Epogen injections three times a week, sub-q fluids twice a day, liquid vitamins and an aluminum hydroxyde suspension each morning. It seemed like an awful lot of stuff to do, but Anne and I talked about it, and tried to figure out what was best for Felix, we would not prolong his life simply because we didn't want to say goodbye . . . but if we could help him feel better, and have good quality of life, then we would do whatever we could afford to do. We talked it over with his vet, and decided that we'd try this out for two weeks.

"What are the odds of him bouncing back?" I asked his vet.

"If it was any other cat, I'd say very slim," she said, "but Felix is one of the toughest kitties I've ever seen. Honestly, his kidney values are so high, any other kitty would have died by now."

"Is there anything we should watch for?"

She told us what I've heard from hundreds of WWdN readers: "Your cat will let you know if he's ready to go, or if he wants to stick around and try to feel better."

That was two weeks ago. For the first week, Felix perked up, but he didn't bounce back the way he always had before. He stopped being reclusive, but he wasn't as affectionate as he'd always been. I hoped against hope that he'd miraculously recover, like he always did, but it just wasn't happening. I realized that I was watching him die.

A few nights ago, I sat in my dining room and read my book. I felt something brush up against my leg. I looked down and saw The Bear. He was so skinny (just over six pounds) his spine stood up on his back like Mr. Burns.

"How are you feeling, The Bear?" I said.

He let out a slow and quiet meow, and walked into the living room. He wavered when he walked, like he was unsteady, or uncomfortable, or both. When he was about fifteen feet away from me, he stopped, crouched down on the floor, and flicked his little stump.

"Your cat will let you know if he's ready to go . . ."

I got up from the table and walked over to him. I felt a lump rising in my throat as I got down next to him on the floor.

"Are you done?" I said.

He flicked his stump, and looked up at me. His eyes looked a little cloudy; his third eyelid was closed about a third of the way.

"Okay, Felix. Okay." I scratched his little bony head. He purred weakly and tightly shut his eyes.

I knew this moment would come, and I hoped that I'd be prepared to face it, but I wasn't. Huge sobs shook my body. Giant tears fell off my face and ran down my nose.

Ferris cautiously walked over to me from the kitchen. She stopped about three feet from me, sat down, and cocked her head to one side.

"Felix is dying, Ferris," I said. "I'm okay. I'm just sad."

She sighed, and laid down on the floor with her head between her paws. She watched me while I sat there and cried.

Later that night, Anne and I had The Talk. We decided that we've done all that we can to help him, but it's just not enough. He's not really living now . . . he's just staying alive. We promised each other, and we promised Felix, that we wouldn't keep him alive just because we didn't want to say goodbye. Yesterday morning, I called the vet and had The Talk with her. We made an appointment to bring Felix in tomorrow morning.

I know I'm doing the right thing, but that doesn't make it any easier. As I've written this today (and it's taken most of the day to write — I've had to stop writing this several times just to get a grip on myself.) I have realized that Felix hasn't been The Bear for a long time.

I will miss seeing him stand up and stretch himself out on the trunk of Anne's car, before he jumps down onto the driveway and greets me when I open my car door. I will miss him jumping up into my car, and talking to me while he walks around and explores the passenger compartment. I will miss watching him sit in the grass and torment the squirrel in the tree next door. I will miss watching him stump around in the backyard. But most of all, I will miss being on his rotation. Even when he decided that four in the morning was when he needed to go outside, and the best way to accomplish that was to run across our heads until one of us woke up and let him out.

breathe in the darkest country road

I was approved for AdSense, so I've spent most of my morning messing around with the account options. I'm going to use the text-only ads, and I've made it so they'll blend in nicely with the color scheme here. I'm not going to use those horrible animated ads, or the gigantic graphic ones, because I think they suck.

Right now, I don't quite know the best place to put the code. Should it just go at the top of the main page? Should it go into the sidebar and replace the TextAds box (which has to go away, per the TOS, anyway I think) or should it go somewhere else? I think it makes sense to put something different into the archive pages, because those will probably be the most relevant results, right?

I don't want to get all link-obsessed, and let the AdSense stuff impact the content of my blog in any way, but I figure if I'm going to have AdSense here, I should at least do it the best way possible. I'm pretty sure that there are at least a few WWdN readers who have experience with AdSense. If any of you guys are willing to help this noob out, I'd appreciate hearing any advice you'd care to share. Thanks :)

Afterthought: My friend David Lawrence just pointed me to

10 Quick Steps to Making Perfect Google AdSense
. Holy crap, what a valuable bit of writing it is! In about ten minutes I've graduated from noob to lamer. Next stop: genius. Or . . . something. Heh.

So it gave me this idea . . . because I am pretty sure that there will eventually be a bunch of good and useful advice in these comments, when it reaches critical mass, I'll put it all together into a file for all WWdN readers to read and use.

I've been thinking about doing a WWdN Wiki. This could be a cool place to start.

March 25, 2005

arcane times

Ah, it's funny because it's true.

Updated 2005-03-28: I asked Cheyenne (the artist) if he'd make the strip available on a mug (I think it's a nice companion to my Klingon Convention Trauma store at CafePress), and he was kind enough to do do it. Thanks, Cheyenne!

the future has a valley and a shortcut

Couple of news things that don't really fit anywhere else:

  1. I've taken the Amazon links out of the RSS feed. They were never relevant, and I don't think anyone was clicking them, anyway. I'm sure feedburner will figure out an algorithm which will make the links more relevant, and when they do I'll put them back in.

  2. I've been thinking about adding some Google Ads or something to the site. The vet bills for Felix and Sketch have climbed up well over $5,000, and we're starting to feel the pinch.

  3. I'm working on updating the rest of the site, especially the FAQ, which hasn't been touched in years. I plan to use MT to control those pages, so they're easier to update. Using Quanta is fun and all, but hand-coding everytyhing is getting old.

  4. If I have set it up correctly, the WWdN RSS feed will now include images from my buzznet photoblog.

  5. I've added a link to the hilarious webcomic Diesel Sweeties over there on the left. If you like WWdN, I'm pretty sure you'll like Diesel Sweeties. Be sure to check out their T-shirts.

  6. In my back yard right now, it's breezy and 64.6 degrees with 52% humidity under partly cloudy skies. The barometer is steady at 29.56.

pure bug beauty

Overheard in New York is one of my absolute favorite sites on The Internets, especially when they share things like this:

"Yeah, I like to eat out every once in a while."

Coffee guy: Good morning, sir.

Sir: Medium coffee.

Coffee guy: Milk and sugar, sir?

Sir: Yes, please.

Coffee guy: ...you go down, sir?

Sir: Excuse me?

Coffee guy: You go down? Down the town?

--Roach coach, Franklin & Church

Overheard by: Bailey Wier

New Yorkers: As Seen on TV

Woman #1: Excuse me, does the N train stop at Central Park?

Woman #2: Lady, go ask a fucking cystal ball, or learn how to read a damn subway map.

--Union Square station

Overheard by: Craig D

A truck driver is parked on the side of the road, honking at what appears to be nothing at all. A female pedestrian shoots him a dirty look.

Truck driver: Nobody's honking at you, you dumb bitch!

--Bay Ridge

New York is more than a city, it's a character in our National Mythology. These individual voices that emerge from the cacophony of the city tell an incredible story, and you don't have to be a New Yorker to appreciate them.


If you're reading WWdN via RSS, you may want to actually click into the entry from time to time, and check out the comments, because if you don't, you'll miss cool things like Letterboxing. Letterboxing, as far as I can tell, combines the treasure hunt of Geocaching, with the mystery of Codebreaking. It appears to be primarily an English thing, but according to the FAQ, it's spreading across the USA.

It looks like fun. Has anyone done this in the Los Angeles area?

March 24, 2005

dimeatap and spinal tap

There are a lot of things I enjoy about acting, and there are a lot of things that I absolutely hate about the entertainment industry . . . but the joy of creating and the frustrations of just trying to get there are nothing compared to that feeling of "I'm part of this thing that's bigger than all of us. I'm helping make something really cool happen." Long after the brain cells that contain specific details of the day-to-day working are sent off to Guinnessland, that feeling of "belonging" will remain.

I've been in a lot of ensemble casts in my life: Stand By Me, Toy Soldiers, and Star Trek are probably the most well known of them all . . . they were all fun and rewarding, but in various ways I always felt like I was on the outside looking in. When I worked on Stand By Me, Rob Reiner always made me feel like I Belonged, like I deserved to be there, even though I was just a kid. But the other guys in the cast picked on me a lot, probably because I was sensitive and insecure. Corey Feldman was a pretty cruel fourteen year-old, so I spent a lot of that summer trying my best not to cry.

When I worked on Toy Soldiers, I was eighteen, and boy was I a know-it-all! I guess you could be kind, and say that I was passionate about my work, and that I cared deeply about the film, and you'd be correct . . . but jesus, someone should have knocked a little sense into me. However, when I look back across almost fifteen years, I can clearly recall how much fun I had hanging out with Sean Astin and Keith Coogan, and how Dan Petrie made me feel like I was a valuable part of his cast . . . but I was in sort of a dating nightmare at the time, so I wasted a lot of time dealing with that drama, and I wasn't able to completely relax and appreciate the experience.

As I've written extensively in my books and on this blog, when I worked on TNG, I was a kid and they were adults. 'Nuff said.

It wasn't until my first ACME show, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Sunday Show, that I felt like I was fully part of an ensemble cast, complete with the goofing off before the show and the drinking beers afterward, and the good-natured teasing backstage, and the whole bit. It was awesome.

When we started ACME Love Machine back in December, I knew from our first rehearsal that this was going to be the best ensemble cast ever, and the last few months of shows have been incredible. I am so proud of the show, and I love the cast so much, I start counting down to our Saturday night performance shortly after I get home from the theatre early Sunday morning.

This Saturday is our final performance, and I am extremely sad. There's an esprit de corps in this cast that is even more pronounced than we had in Crouching Tiger, and I'm really grateful for that. I've been told by several people who have seen the show that, as a cast, we have an obvious affection for each other backstage that translates into something intangible — but clearly there — when we're on stage. I'm really going to miss that.

For the last few weeks, I've been rehearsing the next ACME show, ACME: A Day In The Life. Chris, Matt, and I are the only actors who are continuing on from Love Machine, and even though I know and like all the people who will be in the new cast, I've wondered: are we going to come together as well as my current cast? Am I going to have as much fun as I did in Love Machine? Will this show be as well-attended and critically praised as Love Machine?

We had an amazing rehearsal this Tuesday for Day in the Life, and for the first time since we started pitching material several months ago, I felt it. I felt the first twinges of that esprit de corps that I love so much about Love Machine. This is going to be a great show, and it's going to be a LOT of fun to perform. This cast is so talented, and so funny, and composed of such amazing actors (who are insanely great writers), I can't believe that I ever had any doubts.

On the way home, I thought about all the different ensembles I've been in over the years, and how my experience being in them has been more about where I was in my life, and who I was at the time, than about the actual ensemble itself. The fact that I am having so much fun in this current ensemble, and I'm looking forward so much to the next one makes me very happy indeed. Maybe I'm finally at a place in my life where I am comfortable enough with myself to fully enjoy being part of something bigger than me, because I know exactly where I fit in.

When I got home well past midnight, I dropped my bag (NOT A MAN-PURSE!) on the dining room table, and walked into the back of the house. Ferris and Riley snuggled together on Nolan's bed, Felix was in Ryan's room, and Biko and Sketch slept together atop my bed right next to Anne.

"This," I thought, "is why I can relax and enjoy being part of the ACME ensemble. This is the best ensemble of them all."

a-city maps and hand claps

My latest The Games of our Lives is up. This week's game is Midnight Magic on the Atari 2600:

Your dominance at the arcade is unequaled. When you walk through the doors, Sinistar's hunger is mysteriously sated, the robots in Berzerk fall silent, and even the feared Wizard Of Wor dares not laugh at you. Your initials, "XTC," sit atop virtually every high-score list in the building. The other kids bring you waffle cones while you play Galaga, just to stand near you. You are a god, with one small but significant exception: pinball. And there's another problem: That guy who hangs around the high school even though he graduated five years ago is a pinball master. Though there are only three pinball machines in the entire arcade, you can't touch him, and he knows it.

He may have a conversion van and a sweet mustache, but he doesn't have Atari, and he doesn't have Midnight Magic. Lock your bedroom door, crank up some Journey, and start practicing to kick his ass.

In this week's issue, there's also a really cool spin on the always-hilarious Commentary Tracks of the Dammmed: Commentary Tracks of the Blessed. Checkitoutcheckitoutcheckitout.

March 23, 2005

take a hike

I was attracted to Geocaching because, even though I may not probably won't find the cache, I'll still get to enjoy an awesome Journey. Part of my fundamental philosophy of life is that it's about the Journey, not the Destination, so hiking is a wonderful metaphor for me.

Over at blogging.la, I found out that the Los Angeles Times has created a bunch of really spiffy printable maps to some of the greatest hikes in Los Angeles County. As Robert says at b.la, hurry and grab them before the Times puts them behind their Cone of Registration.

March 22, 2005

the sun caught fire

When I was in my very early twenties, and oh-so-very-very-with-it, I went through this phase where I just couldn't get enough of the Beat Generation. I had always been a fan of Burroughs, (especially anything involving Doctor Benway) but that was just about the extent of it. In fact, I didn't even associate him with the Beats until my research for Coppola's version of On The Road spiraled completely out of control and became an obsession. I listened to Ken Nordine and Steve Allen, and I read everything from Kerouac to Neal Cassidy to Allen Ginsberg that I could get my hands on. I even spent several days with Howl, pretending I knew why it was so important. Anyway, the point is, for a couple of years, if I could have grown a goatee, I totally would have done it, man. *snap* *snap*

There are only two things that have survived from that period of my life. The first is a love of Jazz music (if you haven't stayed up all night listening to Miles Davis, you haven't . . . well, stayed up all night listening to Miles Davis. Sorry, bad example. But it really is cool. Oh, and when the weather warms up, there's nothing quite like Charlie Parker, and when you love someone so much your heart aches, Chet Baker is your guy.)

The second is my desire to take images from my mind and turn them into stories. One night, I was "free-forming, man, *snap* *snap*" in my notebook (that was covered with pen drawings of stars, a piano, a mugwump, and — incongruously — a martini glass) and I came up with this short story about a guy who is so worked up about the problems of the world, he smokes cigarette after cigarette after cigarette, and composes letters to people in an effort to enlighten them. Eventually, he starts drinking, and ends up in an alcoholic coma. When the Sun comes up, it finds him the floor, surrounded by his final thoughts, beneath "an ashtray overflowing with the weight of the world."

Over the weekend, I bought Wilco's Summerteeth. The second third song has a lyric that goes, "The ashtray says / you were up all night."

Woah. Did I wander into Jeff Tweedy's cosmic creative wake one night, and not know about it until Sunday? Or did he wonder into mine, since that album was released in 1998, and I wrote that story around 1995? Maybe I hit a creative wormhole or something.

Whatever. I don't care. This is pretty much just an excuse to blog about how fucking amazing Wilco is, and how much they've eaten my brains.

March 19, 2005

the air-conditioned rooms at the top of the stairs

I was really disappointed by the story MSNBC tried to tell yesterday. I was hoping we'd discuss the empowering nature of blogs, and how anyone, even celebrities, can use blogging software to communicate with people. I hoped to point out that blogging is very egalitarian, and it doesn't matter how famous a person is offline, if their blog just isn't relevant or interesting, nobody will pay attention once the novelty wears off, and they'll be stuck with little more than a promotional tool that is largely ignored. When we started out, I tried to explain that I was a "blogger with a high-profile job", rather than a "celebrity blogger," but they just weren't interested in hearing that. Instead, they did everything they possibly could to turn the conversation to She Whose Name Will Not Be Spoken, Britney Spears, and other vapid media whores darlings who would probably vanish in a puff of smoke the instant the media stopped fawning over them.

I thought that MSNBC would really "get" blogs, since several of their on-air hosts have them, including Keith Olbermann, whose bloggermann is absolutely fantastic. Seriously, that guy should be on TV.

I tried my best, and I'm sad that I lost an opportunity to help introduce to a large TV audience a powerful (new-ish) way to communicate. Unfrotunately, I left feeling like it was further evidence of the Mainstream Media's inability (refusal?) to understand what blogs truly are, and why blogs matter.

While I was on the air, I mentioned a few blogs that I think are fantastic, and a few people have asked me to link to them. So here are the ones I can remember:

  • Nickerblog is written by my friend Shane Nickerson. Shane and I are part of the "I keep my blog because I want to write the way you do" club. He's an amazing writer.

  • + busblog is written by Tony Pierce. Tony just won a bloggy, which he fully deserves. When I won my bloggies, I don't think I had earned them, yet. Tony completely earned his.

  • Neil Gaiman's Journal. Neil Gaiman gave the world an incredible gift when he created Sandman. Then, presumably because he likes us all so much, he gave us American Gods. He also gave me the greatest honor in the world when he wrote the foreword to my book Just A Geek. Like most bloggers, he writes about whatever is on his mind, but because he's one of the finest authors in a generation, it's always interesting.

  • James Wolcott is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair. He clearly doesn't need a blog, since he's a contributing editor to a respected magazine, but he does it anyway. More evidence of why blogs matter, if you ask me.

I think I mentioned a few others, but by that point in the interview, I just wanted to get off the air and back home so I could finish my latest Games of our Lives, which is about one of my favorite games of all-time. If someone remembers and wants to link it, put it in the comments or send an e-mail, and I'll update accordingly.

As Balance to the MSNBC piece: Salon's featured story today is called Attack of the Celebrity Blogs. I was hopeful that Salon would get the story right, but when I saw my name in the first paragraph, I cringed and expected the worst.

I have never been so happy to be wrong in all my life.

There are as many different types of celebrity blogs as there are celebrities: We have blogs from celebrities who have fallen out of the spotlight and who want back in, at least in some marginal way (Rosie O'Donnell); blogs from celebrities who are too big to need blogs but who still maintain them, at least in some cursory faction, to maintain the illusion of intimacy with their fans ( Gwen Stefani ); blogs from celebrities who actually seem to enjoy recording their thoughts about mundane day-to-day activities and manage to do it in a conversational, entertaining way ( Moby ); blogs from celebrities who feel strangely compelled to lecture us on the meaning of the universe ( Fred Durst ); blogs from celebrities who feel strongly about politics ( Barbra Streisand ); and, most fascinating -- and most readable -- of all, a blog from an actor whom few of us have thought much about in recent years but who has become a kind of touchstone for many people in the readersphere who are simply attempting to do what they want to do with their lives and finding it more difficult than they ever imagined ( Wil Wheaton, who appeared in "Stand by Me" as a child actor and in "Star Trek: The Next Generation" as a teenager, and then seemingly dropped off the Earth's surface).

The story goes on to make many of the points I had hoped to make on TV yesterday, and ends with some unbelievably kind words about me and WWdN:
The overarching point of that entry [about CSI] may be that celebrities aren't like you and me, except when they are. WIL WHEATON dot NET is appealing because it's written by a regular person with intelligence and a sense of humor. When he's lucky enough to do the work he obviously loves, he also has a pretty interesting job. But while his readers leave lots of comments congratulating him on his "CSI" performance, there are plenty more who are eager to offer advice about the sick cats. In the end, that's what writing -- and reading -- blogs comes down to. The Inner Self isn't the stuff of everyday life: The cats with the kidney problems are.

Wow! How cool is that? Like I said, I have never thought of myself as a celebrity blogger. I've always thought of myself as a blogger who once had a high-profile job. While MSNBC completely missed that point, and chose to focus instead on viewing blogging through the traditional "celebrity" filters, Salon completely grokked it, and I'm really psyched that they chose to use my blog as a favorable example. That's really, really cool.

. . . this has been sitting here since I got up this morning, and I've been reluctant to publish it because it feels like a big old "Yeah! go me! I rule!" pile of shit . . . I want to say how happy and flattered I am that Salon chose *me* as an example of Some Guy with a blog that doesn't suck . . . but I just can't figure out a way to quote it without feeling like I'm jerking off. I hope it doesn't come off that way.

March 17, 2005

you need your rest i can't say what's best

I taped a bunch of segments for an awesome VH-1 show today. I won't name it, because I don't know if they've announced it yet and I'm trying to avoid The Goon Squad, but it's going to be really funny. I had so much fun, and I may even get to go back and tape some more stuff next week.


Anne and I took Sketch over to his vet today for his Moment of Truth check-up. Long story made very short: his lungs are clear, his heart is on the large side, but not looking too scary right now, and everything else about him is very, very positive. The only thing left is his blood work, which comes back from the lab tomorrow. If his kidney levels are okay, then I can officially relax just a little bit.

Felix seems happier and more relaxed today than he has in over a week. I hope the combination of love and medicine is helping him feel better. Thank you to everyone who left comments in and sent e-mails my previous post . . . I almost didn't publish it, because I felt so — well, you know if you read it. But now I'm really glad I did.

Star Trek dot Com mentioned my appearance at this weekend's Grand Slam convention:

Wil Wheaton may be the best-kept Star Trek secret at conventions. Often eliciting intense conflicting opinions about his role as Wesley Crusher on The Next Generation, Wheaton is now a successful writer who's made peace with his sometimes difficult past. What's more, he's a funny, engaging speaker who should probably appear at speaking engagements on college and high school campuses.

Wheaton said that, as a child, he hated attending conventions that felt repetitive. Therefore, he tries to offer something new each time that he appears in public. This time around, he read several selections from his Internet blog to be compiled into a new book that will be published by the end of this year (2005). These selections refer to his happy-but-sometimes-challenging family life with a wife and two step-sons. Wheaton's fresh, witty delivery generated several hearty laughs.

The convention was kind of a drag for me this year. It was almost 2/3 smaller than it's ever been (I think Creation and most of the fans are saving themselves for the Vegas show in August, which has grown into something truly incredible and supermegacool), and the energy just felt "off" to me for some reason. But my reading on Sunday afternoon was great. I read to a mostly-empty theatre, but the audience that came out was just amazing! I took a BIG chance: rather than read a set of material from Geek and Barefoot which I know very well, I read some newer stories that I've never put up in front of an audience before. The audience was very cool, and I felt like they were "with me" from the very beginning right up until my time ran out. I hardly sold any books, though, so if you're looking for an autographed Just A Geek or Dancing Barefoot, watch this space next week. I've got some extras here, and I'll be offering signed books for a couple of days, just as soon as I can get the ordering all set up.

Several WWdN readers e-mailed that Television Without Pity said some very kind things about me on last week's CSI:

And now, a word about Walter. If I didn't know that was Wil Wheaton, I wouldn't have guessed. He's convincing enough as a homeless guy to fit in with any of the regulars that used to hang out in Multimedia Gulch. I had avoided reading his weblog entries about shooting this show, because I didn't want them to influence how I received his performance, but now that I've seen him, I am all about sending you here and here. He provides a pretty lively look at how the CSI sausage is made.

As if that wasn't cool enough, I also there's also this:

Know what else sucks? If you're Wil Wheaton and you're acting the hell out of your crazy-homeless-guy role, and you're on screen for all of five minutes, maybe. We love Wil Wheaton! We want at least ten minutes. And why is Wil Wheaton acting like a crazy guy? Because he, too, is a red herring suspect in the fatal beating of a young boy. The actual killer is the boy's adolescent brother, proving yet again that if the children are our future, the Earth will be one giant, smoking crater by 2015. But in the here and now, this is the case that makes Nicky a man, as he grows a pair and tells Cavaliere to shove his tool-like behavior.

I seriously love Television Without Pity, but I expected a full-on cockpunch from them (because that's their job, you know, and they do it very well. Not cockpunching me, I mean, but cockpunching in general. The TWoP staff are serious black belt masters of the cockpunch.) It was supercool that they seemed to like my craziness.

MSNBC is going to have me on tomorrow (Friday the 18th) at Noon EST to talk about blogging. I hope the story is more "blogging is an incredibly empowering medium" and not "hey! look! celebrities!" Tune in if you can, and let me know what you think. I'll be wearing The Shirt. Update: Boy, could they have tried just a little harder to completely miss the point of blogging? Lame.

This Saturday is our second to last ACME Love Machine show, so if you've been waiting until the end to see us cough up some funny, this is your golden moment. Carpe ACME, and such.

red-eyed and blue on the dark side of the moon

Anne and I took Felix to his vet on Monday for a blood panel. We hoped the results would let us know what our next step was.

Of course, the blood work came back yesterday that his red cell count is extremely low (17 or 19 or something like that) and his kidney values are very high. But his vet said that he's not suffering unless he's vomiting or some other stuff that I'll spare you all. She told us that our options were to put Felix to sleep, or give him Epogen injections three times a week, sub-q fluids twice a day, liquid vitamins and an aluminum hydroxyde suspension each morning, and hope that all that helps him feel better.

It sounds like an awful lot, doesn't it? Anne and I talked about it, and tried to figure out what was best. We are absolutely dedicated to doing what is best for Felix, and we're not going to prolong his life simply because we don't want to say goodbye . . . but if we can help him feel better, and have good quality of life then we want to do whatever we can afford to do. We asked his vet how she thought he'd respond to all this stuff, and she told us that she didn't know. Apparently, it varies an awful lot from kitty to kitty. She told us what I've heard from hundreds of WWdN readers: "Your cat will let you know if he's ready to go, or if he wants to stick around and try to feel better."

The thing is, I've really felt like Felix has been telling us that he doesn't feel well, and he's really over it. He doesn't want to be cuddled or scratched, or loved, and when I come near him he complains at me and slowly walks away.

Our choice should be pretty clear, right?

I wish it was.

We spent most of yesterday agonizing about it, and we eventually decided to let Felix tell us what we should do. The only question was . . . how?

About two weeks ago, Sketch had a couple of days where he seemed to really go downhill. His breathing was up to almost 50, and he had that freaked out look in his eyes that he had the weekend that we found out he had CHF. I made several frantic phone calls to his vet and his kitty cardiologist, and they advised me to give him extra medication to clear his lungs. After several hours, he was down to the low 40s, but was clearly still struggling. I worried that the medicine just wasn't enough, and I hated seeing him in so much discomfort, so I sat down next to him on the floor in my bedroom and said, "I know that you're feeling pretty lousy right now, and if you're tired of medications and trips to the vet and feeling this way, I understand. I love you, and you've brought a lot to my life, but if you're really suffering, I don't want to force you to stay alive. But if you want to fight, we can help you feel better, and your doctors have told me what to do." I scratched his little head and told him that he could let me know what he wanted me to do.

Okay, I realize how insane this sounds. Normally, I'm a pretty cold and rational person, and I would scoff at the idea of talking to my cat like he's a person. I know, I know. It's lame, right? But I don't think it's much different than praying, or asking the universe for help, or keeping someone in your thoughts, or anything like that. It's just . . . it's just putting a little bit of hope (or faith, or whatever) into Something Else. I'd never let it take the place of things like medication, trips to the doctor, or good solid science . . . but we humans have all these constructs in our minds, and sometimes we do some pretty silly things to stay comfortable. At times like this, I don't care if I'm anthropomorphizing my pets. If I can assign some human qualities to their body language or behavior and feel a little closer to them, so be it.

I finished talking to Sketch, kissed the top of his head, and left him alone. I hoped the medicines would work, and I hoped that he'd "tell" me that he was feeling better. I walked out to the kitchen, called his vet, and had The Talk with her. She told me what my options were, and when I hung up the phone I just sat in there and stared at a blank AbiWord document for what seemed like hours.

It was actually closer to thirty minutes or so when I walked out into my living room, and saw Sketch. He was sitting up, eyes bright, in the middle of the floor.

"How you feeling, fatty?" I said.

He meowed at me. It was bright and clear. No gurgling. I crouched down, and he walked over to me, purring loudly. He rubbed his face against my hands, and walked little circles around me for a minute or so. Finally, he lay down on his side next to me and closed his eyes. He continued to purr.

I pet him for a bit, and he fell asleep. I counted his breaths: he was in the low 30s and he seemed to be doing fine. Clearly, the medication was working. Why it chose that particular moment to work rather than hours earlier when the vet said it should have is beyond me, and I'm sure it's just a coincidence that I'd just had "The Talk" with my cat . . . and now I'm starting to realize how stupid I sound so I'll just stop this right now. The bottom line is: whether it's a coincidence or not, I asked Sketch to let me know what he wanted me to do, and I felt like he was telling me that he had some fight left in him. He continues to improve, and he's been sleeping on my chest or on his back between me and Anne every night since then.

In fact, when I got home from What's My Line tonight, Sketch hopped off my bed, walked with me into my office, and is currently on his back at my feet. I can hear him purring over the soft hum of my CPU's fan.

Again, I'm really struggling with the . . . uh . . . metaphysical(?) aspect of this whole thing, but to get back to my point:

I walked out onto my patio this afternoon, and found Felix sleeping in this blanket I got from Think Geek that we call "The Geek Blanket." It's all fleecy and soft and snuggly, and all my animals love to sleep in it. (We put it on the patio near the spot Felix's been spending most of his time, and stuck one of his catnip mice in it, because we thought it would help him feel more comfortable.) I was on the phone with my manager, telling him how Felix was doing.

"So we're going to see what Felix wants us to do," I said. "I know it sounds stupid, but I'm going to talk with him, and take the advice of our vet: Felix will tell us what he wants us to do."

While I was talking about him, Felix looked up at me, walked over to where I was on the patio, and did the same thing Sketch did: the walk, the meowing, the nuzzling, the whole thing. I hung up the phone, and had "The Talk" with him. Yes, I know how stupid this sounds, and believe me it sounds insane to me to write it down . . . but it's what I did. While I talked to him, he was more affectionate and vocal than he'd been in days.

I hung up the phone and called the vet. I told her that we'd try the vitamins and shots. When I hung up with her, Anne called.

"I thought about it, and I want to at least try to help Felix for a week. If he's not feeling better, and if he's got no quality of life, we'll say goodbye to him and put him to sleep . . . but I couldn't live with myself if we just gave up on him."

I told her about him walking around me, just like Sketch. I told her how stupid it feels to talk about this like I had some kind of mystical conversation with my cats, but the bottom line is that we both really know what's going on, and we know the odds are against us. But Felix's vet says that he's not in pain, and there's a chance that he may respond positively to this treatment. It's not too expensive, and we'll see what happens in the next three to five days.

I'm exhausted, and I don't know if this makes much sense. I started writing it before I left for ACME tonight, and I just don't have the energy to edit or rewrite it. But people are e-mailing about Felix and Sketch, and I figure that if I'm going to share my concerns, at least I should share their progress.

Thanks for your comments and e-mails, and for keeping us in your thoughts.

March 14, 2005

a quiet domino

Our cat Felix, who's been slowly losing his kidney function for the last couple of years, has gotten really sick. He's lost a lot of weight, and he tested at about 15% kidney function when we took him to the vet two weeks ago.

Man, first Sketch (who is doing very well, by the way, despite a scary episode last week) and now The Bear. This sucks.

For the last few days, Felix has spent most of his time on our patio in a little crouch. He looks so sad and uncomfortable, and even though we're giving him fluids and as much love as we can, he's just not getting better. I had the "I think I may have to put my kitty to sleep" talk with my vet last week about Sketch, and it looks like I'm going to have to have the same conversation with her about Felix this week.

It's so sad, because other than his kidney problems, he's really tough and healthy. Anne is just devastated about him. He is totally her little bear.

I feel completely helpless. As a husband, and as a pet owner, I'm doing everything I can . . . but it just feels like it's not enough. It really, really sucks. :(

I've got convention stuff to write up, and some more CSI stuff, but that's currently on hold while I take care of this.

If you can spare a thought for Felix, and especially for Anne, please do.

March 12, 2005

only three performances of Love Machine left

So this post is complete, utter, total and shameless pimping of myself and the brilliant cast who crank up the ACME Love Machine to eleven.

If you're local to Los Angeles, and you haven't been out to see ACME Love Machine, tonight would be the best night of all for you to come and collect your share of the funny.

I'm in this show that will eventually air on VH-1, and as part of their profile on me, they're coming to the theatre tonight to tape our show. It would be awesome to give them a full house.

Please come see us tonight if you haven't, or even if you have already. Thanks!!

WHAT: ACME Love Machine

WHERE: Acme Comedy Theatre

135 N. La Brea

Hollywood, CA 90036

(323) 525-0202

WHEN: Tonight, 8 pm.

Backstage West's review is reprinted after the jump, for you fence-sitters. :)

March 11, 2005

tall buildings shake voices escape

Around 8:57 last night, I had a brief flash of panic: What if they cut my part down? I'm going to feel like the biggest jackass in history!

It was like that moment when you're on a roller coaster, just before the chain catches and starts to pull you up the first hill: Is this going to be fun, or is it going to make me sick? But then the show started, and all I could do was watch.

I will admit that I felt my face flush when I saw my name on the screen. Anne and the kids cheered, and my stomach filled with butterflies. That was cool.

The show really reflected what I read in the script, almost word-for-word and beat-for-beat. I had forgotten that that is pretty common in television: so many people have to sign off on the story and dialogue that there is little change between what we shoot on the set and what the audience finally sees. It's totally different in movies (theatrical or television) where the director and producers usually have much more time to cut something together, and there's always a little bit of mystery about what is (and isn't) going to finally make it into the final cut. Anyway, I mention it because I'd totally forgotten that's how it is in television.

I knew that Walter was in the "B" story, and I knew that I only had a few scenes, so I relaxed. The only way they'd seriously cut my scenes down is if I just sucked out loud on the set, and I was fairly sure I didn't.

When they found the shoe imprint under the kid's window, Ryan turned to me and he said, "Oh! I totally know you did it, because that's a Converse imprint!"

Before I could answer, Nolan said, "They had you wear your own shoes?"

"No," I said. "I wore Converse from the wardrobe department that were exactly like mine but covered with dirt and oil and junk. It was funny to me that I'd take off my shoes each morning, and put on the exact same shoes, only dirty."

"SHH!" Anne said. Apparently she was watching the show.

The show rolled on, and we all laughed out loud during the "only geeks say 'da bomb'" scene. I guess I'm not a real geek, because I don't think I've ever said "da bomb." And if I do, I hope someone hits me in the back of the head so it never happens again.

I knew it would be a long time before I was on screen, but it still felt like an eternity . . . until someone mentioned "that creepy homeless guy" and my family cheered again.

"Oh! I know that guy!" I said, and laughed with them as my nerves started to get worked up again.

Then, suddenly, George and Gary drove into the park, and there was crazy Walter in his little tent.

I thought I looked a little chubby in my face (thank you, Stone Brewing company) but the real volatility that I was hoping for was definitely there. After they walked me off to the police car, Nolan said, "Man, that was scary!"

"It was cool, though," Ryan said.

"Thanks, you guys."

Couple of things about that scene:

  • That was the first scene I filmed in the show, and I turned the excited "I can't fucking believe I get to do this!" energy into "My! Name! Is! Walter!" and "It's Mine!" Heh.

  • We had to race to get it filmed, because the skies were really threatening to tear themselves open and rain all over us.

  • They cut the scene before I got thrown into the police car, but on one of the takes, Joe Kelly threw me into the car so violently I flew across the seat and slammed my head into the door on the other side. In addition to the ringing in my ears, I got to enjoy the stabbing of a thousand wig pins. It really hurt, but because we were all worried about the rain, I didn't say anything about it to anyone. I just quietly asked my costumer if she could hook me up with some Advil, which she did. So Walter's totally hopped up on Advil in that scene.

  • I had bruises for several days on my arms and in my ribs from struggling against the cops when they pulled me out of my cool little tent.

  • Though it was on screen for about 22 seconds, it took close to two hours to shoot that sequence.

  • We shot it in a park in The Valley, about a quarter of a mile from the location where the murdered kid's house was.

Oh shit, it's 11am. I haven't showered yet, and I have to be at the Grand Slam Star Trek convention in 30 minutes.

It feels anti-climactic to stop this entry here, but I'll write about the rest of the show later today or over the weekend.

March 10, 2005

triangle man, triangle man

So, uh . . . there's a story about me in today's New York Times.

Oh my god. The New York Times. And it's incredible.

In 1000 words John Schwartz captures and communicates who I am, what I am, where I am, and (most importantly) why I am. I always hope that reporters will understand me, but John grokked me.

I spoke with John for about 90 minutes last week, and the story he wrote is in today's edition of the Times: A Computer Is Also a Screen, Wil Wheaton Discovers.

I was going to buy the reprint rights so I could put it up here, but the Times wants $1,000 from me for a year, and as much as I'd like to spare you all the annoying-but-free registration, I think that money would be better spent on some bills. The bugmenot plugin for Firefox calls . . . :) Update: or you can use this NYT-approved blog-friendly link. Thanks to countless e-mailers and commenters who pointed it out, and to Aaron Swartz who wrote the oh-so-useful code.

The absolute best part, the part that made me scream out in joy and run laps around my living room is:

Mr. Wheaton said that on the "CSI" set, he had to manage a potential conflict between his new writerly self and the professional actor. "It was unbelievably difficult for me the first two days I was working on the show to be very present," he said. "They'd say 'Cut!' and I'd say, 'I can't wait to write about this!'"

If he was distracted, it didn't show, said Duane Clark, the director of the episode. Mr. Wheaton had originally tried out for a smaller role, a hotel clerk. But after seeing his audition tape, Carol Mendelsohn, one of the executive producers, suggested giving him the meatier role of Walter, even though the writers had drawn him as an older alcoholic. A younger drug addict, she said, might prove more menacing, more interesting.

At first, Mr. Clark said, the writers said, "Wil Wheaton, a crack addict - are you nuts?" But Mr. Clark said that Mr. Wheaton brought "a lot of scary volatility" to the role.

"He really dug his teeth into it," Mr. Clark said, "and on his own came up with a backstory of who Walter was."

"He really filled out what could have been a caricature. " he said.




When I read that the producer and director believed in me, and the writers took a chance on me . . . well, I'm speechless.

And if all this wasn't enough, John helps me put some nails into that "former child actor" coffin:

To Mr. Wheaton, the experience on "CSI" is proof, if any is needed, that he's still in the game. "When you say a 'former child star,' you may as well say 'failed child star,' " he said. "The fact is, Jodie Foster is a former child star. Ron Howard is a former child star. I am a former child star. It doesn't have to mean anything."

I can't wait to watch CSI tonight, and see how I did. I haven't been this excited to see something I did since the first screening of Stand By Me.

hotel arizona

Just A Geek has gotten a couple of nice reviews recently, and I wanted to share them with WWdN readers, because the book wouldn't even exist without your support and encouragement.

Richard says:

It's inspiring stuff. Wil's tackling the challenges that life has thrown at him full on. In doing so, he's rediscovered a skill for writing that is engrossing, engaging and even endearing. You feel for the guy as he tells of his struggles, as a working-class actor, to land roles in movies and shows; as he struggles to make ends meet. But you also cheer with him when he scores victories, and things come together, either getting back on the Trek circuit, or making the leap to embracing his current situation. He's a long way away from the loaded actor I suppose I thought he was having had such roles earlier in his career. He really is Just a geek.

And The Impuslive Buy writes:

Despite not having chapters devoted to such things as the snacks you should have for a successful Dungeons & Dragons gathering, Just A Geek was a great read. Wil gives you a look into his personal life and his difficult journey to find himself.

This book was so entertaining that it was the first book in a long time I did not want to put down.

From reading Just A Geek, you find out that despite being a great actor and a wonderful writer, Wil is just a normal guy with basically the same problems we have all faced at one time or another, except we probably donít have the shame of being on the cover of Teen Beat magazine.

Just A Geek isn't getting much support from the publisher any more, so it makes me awfully happy to hear that new people are discovering it anyway, and seem to be enjoying it.

I'm working on two new books, a Dancing Barefoot style collection of family stories, and a fiction novella. I hope to have them both out by the end of the year.

google news gets cooler

When I got home from What's My Line? Live On Stage last night, I tossed my bag onto the couch (it's a bag, okay? From ApacheCon, and I keep my books and appointment calendar and some gum and kleenex and stuff in it . . . but it's not a purse. Let's be clear about that. Not. A. Purse.) Uh, I tossed my not-a-purse onto the couch and went into my office to check my e-mail and scan the news headlines.

I was a little surprised when I sat down and saw that Google News, which is my homepage, was displaying a 502 error. I hit F5, and the page came back up . . . and revealed that the HiveMind at Google has bestowed upon us the ability to customize Google News.

Holy crap, man! It's very cool. I now have a "Wil Wheaton" section, a "Fark" section, and a "Monkey Attack" section, to go along with all the other default sections. I also got rid of the "Business" section, which I never read anyway. Control freaks of the world rejoice!

Whenever something comes along that makes the Internets more useful, I sing a little song and jump around a little bit.

Good jorb, Googleoids.

March 9, 2005

Calling "YHF" // 4560 kHz YL/EE - Msg Gr 55 = QHZIZ FGTSY JMAXS =

Maybe it's because I grew up in a concept-album-o-centric house. Maybe it's because I can't remember a time when I didn't know all the words to Abbey Road and Dark Side of the Moon. Maybe it's because I've always hated pop music with the white-hot intensity of a billion supernovas. Maybe it's the beer talking, Marge, but you've got a butt that won't quit. Maybe it's because my Id beat the everliving shit out of my Superego years ago . . . but music has never been light, disposable, background noise to me. Music has been as much a part of my life as oxygen and water, and I'm über passionate about what I like and don't like.

I know that I'm late to the party on this by about eight years, but about two weeks ago I discovered a band I really like: Wilco.

Oh my god. Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.

The last album to work its way deep into the nanofibers of my being like YHF was OK Computer. I've heard the name "Wilco" all over the place, especially because I'm such a nerd for The Conet Project, but I can't believe I hadn't actually heard this record until now.

I've been so totally blown away by YHF that yesterday, I picked up two more Wilco discs: being there, and a ghost is born.

Oh my god. Being There.

Oh my god. A Ghost is Born.

If my Wilco Smart Playlist was an audio tape, I would have burned it out in the last 24 hours. If it was a pair of shoes, the heels would be worn right through. If it was a million dollars, I would have used it to buy you a fur coat (but not a real fur coat, because that's cruel.)

If you like some of the other books and movies and crap that I like, and you haven't heard it yet, get Yankee Hotel Foxtrot right now. It's not filled with jaunty little hooks that you can sing to yourself while you wait for the train — it's much better, and much more rewarding, than that.

check local listings

My CSI airs tomorrow night, and E! Online's Guilty Pleasures said some nice things about it today. There's no perma-link option that I can find, so here's the blurb:

CSI: The Next Generation

It's not like we sit around reading blogs while we're supposed to working--we totally don't--but sometimes our work leads us to read blogs. (Just trust us, okay?) Anyway, fans of CSI, blogs and Star Trek: The Next Generation will find no greater confluence of goodness than on this week's episode of the forensic crime-stopper series CSI (Thursday, 10 p.m.), starring Wil Wheaton, onetime Ensign Wesley Crusher and current blogger, as a homeless man who, at least according to Wheaton's blog, has bad hair and rage issues. Certainly, more drama will ensue, and we can't wait to watch and then read about it on Wheaton's site. After work, you know.

After my episode airs, I'll be able to write in a lot more detail about the specifics of filming it, and comment on how the final cut reflects and differs from what we shot.

Man, it's only one day away! I can't believe it's already here.

this room is my castle

I really like the way my backyard looks right now. I don't want to be prideful about my gardening efforts, but damn! Anne and I have worked hard recently to landscape the damn thing, and it just looks great.

I've been writing pretty much non-stop since I got out of bed today. When I get stuck, or just need a break, I look out the window and stare into the yard, so my conscious mind can take a walk and let my creative mind do its thing. My lawn, which through a combination of mowing, feeding, and 38 inches of rain in the last several weeks is lush, thick, and a beautiful greenish blue. Ferris and Riley can usually be found chasing each other across it, though right now they're both sleeping under my desk. Ferris has her head on my foot and whenever I try to move it, she grunts at me and wags her tail. Riley is blisfully unaware of anything, sprawled out asleep on her back like a cat. My orange tree, which I agressively pruned a back in January, is covered with blossoms, and a light breeze keeps pushing their scent through my open window. Two hummingbirds just buzzed past. Cool.

I have several bird feeders that hang all over the place. Most of them have a basic seed mixture (yeah! 3 bucks at the pet store for 20 pounds!) but one of them is this sock filled with some spiffy stuff called Nyjer seed that is like crack for finches. That sock is so covered with birds I can't even see it! All of my other feeders are also heavily populated with sparrows as well, and it seriously sounds like I'm renting office space in an aviary.

There's some tree-trimming going on in my neighborhood, so the not-entirely-unpleasant drone of distant chainsaws underscores the bird's singing. For some reason, the sound of yard work always makes me feel secure, and brings to mind happy childhood sense memories that I can't see, but feel nevertheless.

Anyway, I'm putting this all down right now because someday I'll read through my archives, see this, and remember exactly what this moment felt like.

March 7, 2005

double kick drum by the river in the summer

Behold, the power of the WWdN Posse! (WARNING: Link contains blatant and crass commercialism) As of this writing, Wesley Crusher is currently not the most annoying character on Star Trek! \m/

Thanks for voting, and thanks to everyone who commented here and sent trackbacks.

I get asked a lot if I read comments and trackback. Yes, I always read them both, and I love it that Trackbacks often lead me to discover interesting and useful stuff on The Internets that I may have missed on my own.

For example, following a trackback to I Like Jason, I learned that Battlestar Galactica's executive producer (and former DS9 head writer) Ron Moore is providing commentaries on current episodes, in almost real-time! Oh my god, this is, without a doubt, the absolute best use of podcasting to date. As Jason says, "[I]t's like the commentary feature on a DVD, except you [don't have] to wait a couple of years for the actual DVD to come out; you load the commentary file to your iPod, hit play when the phrase "The Cylons Were Created By Man" appears on-screen, then pause it whenever a commercial break comes on. And even better, the whole thing's hooked up to an RSS feed, so that commentaries can be automatically delivered to an MP3 player a few hours before the episode airs."

If that's not a brilliant use of tehcnology, and embracing your fans, I don't know what is. And if that's not enough, his blog (which I *so* wish was titled "Battlestar GalactiBlog") does full feeds. SUBSCRIB'D!

I didn't know Ron very well when I worked on TNG, but he wrote some of the best episodes we ever did, including All Good Things . . ., Yesterday's Enterprise, and an episode that's sort of close to my heart called Journey's End. I haven't had a chance to watch Battlestar Galactica, yet (though it comes highly reccommended from several friends) but I can tell you this much: Star Trek: The Next Generation was a better show because Ron Moore wrote for us, and I can't wait to hear him talk about Battlestar Galactica.

I'm inspired, and as soon as I have some time (read: in 2023) I'll do some commentaries on some of my acting work.

An interesting fact about this entry: It contains the greatest ratio of <i> tags to actual words in WWdN history.

vote early, vote often

Oh dear.

It appears that TV Guide is holding an online poll about Star Trek, and our dear, sweet young Ensign Crusher is currently leading in the "Most Annoying Character" category.

I know, it's hard to believe it, especially when we consider that Wesley was given lines such as, "We're from Starfleet! We don't lie!" and "I feel strange, but also good!" and the ever-popular "Course laid in, sir." But it's true. And so very, very sad.

Not that I care about this sort of thing . . . but actually, I do. I'm really tired of wearing that "Annoying Character" albatross around my neck, and if Wesley is voted most annoying in TV Guide's big old Farewell to Star Trek issue, I don't think I'll ever hear the end of it.

I'm not suggesting that thousands of WWdN readers go take the poll and stuff the ballot box. I mean, that would just be wrong, right?

Normally, I'd stuff this ballot box entirely on my own, but if some of you WWdN readers want to legitimately and honestly vote for another character, like The Computer Voice for instance — I mean, come on! How many times did the stupid Ship's Computer actually save the crew? Yeah! That's what I thought. She's got nothing on Wesley Crusher — I would be ever so grateful.

Provided, of course, that you truly believe there is a different, more annoying character than Wesley — I'd never suggest taking actions which could call into question the legitimacy of an online Star Trek poll. Oh no, not me.


Perish the thought.

I'm serious! Start perishing (right after you vote, that is.)

Thank you.

March 3, 2005

i'm not worthy!

arrogantbastard.com This is an entry entirely about beer.

Though I've always been a stout drinking kind of guy, over the last year or so I've gradually moved toward hoppy pale ales and IPAs for my beer drinking enjoyment.

I've discovered that Stone Brewing Company, out of North San Diego County, makes my favorite hoppy beers: The Stone Pale Ale, The Arrogant Bastard Ale, and the Stone IPA.

I like their beer so much, I decided yesterday that I'd call their marketing department and see if it was cool for me to link to them. I got the phone number from their website, and while I was there, I decided to sign up for their newsletter, so I could find out if they were coming to any microbrew fests near Pasadena, and stuff like that. (That's important, and it pays off in a second, so stay with me here.)

I called them up, and talked to a guy in marketing. I basically said, "I've got this website that a few people read. I really like your beer, and if it's cool with you, I'd like to link to your website, and give you some free advertising, as my way of saying 'thank you' for killing off so many of my slower brain cells."

He told me that Stone doesn't really do advertising, but if I wanted to link to them, that would be cool. I told him that I'd e-mail him the address of my site, so he could see what my blog is all about, and that was that.

This afternoon, I got an e-mail back from him. Guess what? When I signed up for the newsletter, I was subscriber number ten thousand! I don't think I win anything, but I thought it was random, and funny, and cool.

I'm totally putting "Number 10,000" on my resume. Take that, 1950s society!

that transmission . . . it doesn't look like an sos

Each week, when I sit down to write my The Games of our Lives column for The Onion AV Club, I have several "I can't believe I get to do this!" moments when I giggle, spin around in my chair, and hope that nobody saw me.

Anyway, I'm particularly proud of this week's effort, which is about a fantastic Atari 2600 game called Alien. Check out my column, and then try to get your hands on a copy of the game. It's really fun.

March 2, 2005

all the company calls

Tomorrow night (Thursday) I'll be performing with the Liquid Radio Players down at the ACME.

Liquid Radio is an improvised 1940s-style radio show, complete with live foley sound effects and a wonderful cast in swell vintage costumes.

Most of the comedy shows I do are decidedly not appropriate for children, but because Liquid Radio is set in the 1940s, the show is totally acceptable for teenagers, and middle-schoolers who can sit quietly through an entire show.

Details about the show and the cast are here. You can also buy tickets online.

up the junction

I just got home from ACME rehearsal. It takes me at least an hour to unwind, and my favorite way to do that is to grab a Stone Pale Ale, let Sketch hop up into my lap, and check out my friend's blogs.

I just discovered that my friend Shane has a positively brilliant entry at his equally brilliant blog. It's about an audition he just had.

Shane says:

"I had an audition today.

Normally, that statement wouldn't mean very much because normally, I am an actor.

Today, however, I had my first audition since August.

On the business side, we who act all know that we're going to miss more than we hit. If we were baseball players, most of us would be batting .095, and we'd be thrilled. I've had about six auditions in the last twelve months, and I think four of them have come in the last eight weeks. It's not a big deal, because I'm currently able to support my family by writing, and I get to act once a week at ACME. Like Shane, I've found other priorities in my life . . . but there's this thing in my brain that demands I get on a stage and perform for people. If you're a creative person, I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. If you've ever gotten paid for it, you know how good that feels, too.

Shane's been working as a Supervising Producer on a show for several months, so he hasn't put on his Actor's Shoes in a long time. I could really relate to his story, because I've been wearing my Writer's Shoes for at least a year. Even when I did CSI, I had a hard time focusing on the acting . . . there were a ton of great stories going on all around me, and I wanted to tell them all.

One more excerpt from Shane, and then you'll have to go hit his blog to read the rest:

I showed up at CBS Radford about a half an hour early and read through it a few more times in my car. The audition was at 3:30. At 3:15, I walked over to Bungalow 15. Walking through the lot felt strange. I felt like an interloper, certain that everyone who saw me could tell that I didn't belong there...at least, not in THAT capacity. I had to remind myself that I've been an actor for 15 years and a producer for only 8 months. This should feel natural. I entered the Bungalow and looked for the sign-in sheet.

"I don't have one," the assistant behind the desk said with a smile.

"Was I that obvious?" I asked her.

"You had that look in your eye," she said with another smile. She brought over some water, as if pre-emptively answering the typical actor's next question and I smiled.

"Are you trying to stay one question in front of us?" I asked her.

She laughed: "Uh-huh. Also, the bathroom is down the hall and to the right."

It felt good to be back in this world. Actors are often looked down upon here as a necessary evil, but I had forgotten how much I enjoy filling those shoes.

As an actor, I can so relate to Shane's story. I've been in that room at least a thousand times. I bet that it's got drab grey carpet, particle-board furniture, and the ever-present copy machine whirr Ka-chunk!-ing its way through hundreds of script pages. As a writer, I totally admire his ability to put into words some of the things we actors go through when we do that thing we do.

Please visit Shane's site and read Old Shoes Fill Easy.

March 1, 2005

a few site updates

Over the next few weeks, I hope to make some changes and updates to WWdN. (After I finish my Slashdot interview. Put down your pitchforks.)

Most of the changes will be at the code-level, so I can make my site more compliant and hopefully faster, but I'm also going to update some of the static pages that haven't been touched in years. For example, the about and FAQ pages are so many years out of date, they don't even mention any of my writing gigs. Oops. I also hope to add some sort of backend that will let me update my READ LISTEN WATCH links and my appearances page more frequently and more easily. Looks like I have to actually learn more php and MySQL. I believe the emoticon for that is =:o

Yesterday, I switched my RSS feed over to Feedburner, and added a few easy subscription buttons over on the left side of the page. I did this because I have noticed that actual site visits have dropped off significantly since I went to full feeds, and Feedburner gives me subscriber stats that are useful to me when I talk to the press, or try to impress my friends. (For some reason, "About 7500 people subscribe to my feed" just sounds cooler than "I think a bunch of people read my feed.") I'm also using Feedburner to jam some Amazon DVD links into every 3rd entry in the feed. Click 'em if you want, ignore 'em if you don't.

I used .htaccess to automatically update existing subscribers, but new subscribers can easily add my site's feed to My Yahoo!, My MSN, and Newsgator. Hooray!

I've also switched my audioblog feed to Feedburner, and it should now support Podcasting. Hooray hooray!

oz kar

A bunch of people have asked me, via e-mail, to comment on the Oscars.

Someday - and that day may never come - I'll call upon you to do a service for me. But until that day, accept this justice as gift on my daughter's wedding day.

Because we ran the race Sunday morning, Anne and I dedided not to go to any parties we weren't invited to, and just watch at home in HD. (Here's a fun fact about me: I am a complete sucker for HD. I have found myself watching the most dreadful tripe just because it's in HD. But when something I actually enjoy is in HD, I'm in Heaven. [And let me add that I hope the real Heaven, if it exists, is nicer than my living room with a more comfortable couch and 100% fewer cat pee stains in the corner. Thank you.])

I have yet to see most of the movies that were nominated,(I just can't stand the way audiences behave in movie theaters, so I usually wait for films to come out on DVD) so I can't comment on who got screwed and who deserved it (other than The Incredibles for Best Animated Movie. That was the best movie I saw last year. Hooray for them! :) Instead, I'll comment on the show itself:

Usually, I can't stand the Oscars. They feel like marketing to me, and the show is usually boring and predictable. I always turn the TV off after the second or thrid commercial, if I bother to watch it at all.

But this year, I actually enjoyed it quite a bit. I thought Chris Rock was very funny, (with the notable exception of the painfully bad Adam Sandler bit), and I hope he'll be back next year. I loved his opening monologue, and I loved the way he nailed just about everyone who took themselves too seriously. I especially loved how he called out Sean Penn. I thought the bit down at the Magic Johnson theater was pretty offensive. I felt like they were saying, "Hey! Look White America! We be Black and Stupid! You White People like smart movies like Million Dollar Baby, but we like stupid movies like White Chicks! Ha ha ha! Yeah, we sure are stupid!" I thought they pulled it out a little bit at the end with Albert Brooks, but that's more because I absolutely adore Albert Brooks, and if he ever loses all his money at my casino, I'll gladly give it back to him. Maybe it's because I just hate stereotypes, and maybe I'm too sensitive and need to sit down with Chris Rock's accountants, but I thought they could have done something funnier, with more Albert Brooks.

I also hated that they had some people accept from the audience, and I didn't like the way they brought some of the nominees all onstage at the same time. It felt like a line up to me. I hope they lose both of those things next year.

I loved that Sideshow Bob sang for Counting Crows, and I also loved that Yo Yo Ma played. It's so easy for the cello to be maudlin, but he just makes it beautiful. And I'd forgotten Tony Randall died. Mr. Short-term Memory is going to be devastated many, many times.

I didn't pay much attention to the acceptance speeches, but I thought some of the pretty pretty ladies were oh so very very pretty. But what the hell happened to Scarlett Johansson's hair? That made baby jesus cry.

Even though there were some elements I didn't like, I'll be definitely tune in next year. I'm glad they took some chances and made some bold choices. I think they played it way too safe the last few years, and the telecast consequently became boring and preddictable.

Even though I haven't been interested very much in going to the movies lately, I was inspired to see some movies because of the show. I'm actually going to get out of the house this weekend and see Motorcycle Diaries or Hotel Rwanda, and if you havent seen Super Size Me, you must. The power of Chris compels you!