watch this space
watch this space
I slept through the night like a baby. No dreams, no restlessness, not a single disturbance. When I woke this morning, the clock said 5:58. I beat the alarm by 3 minutes! I victoriously turned it off before it could beep, and hopped out of bed feeling relieved and rested.
I drank a cup of coffee, ate some cereal, and met my friend Burns at 6:45. We spent the next six hours at Dodger Stadium, standing in line for opening day tickets.
"The race for third place has already begun! Be part of the excitement at Dodger Stadium!"
Woke up early yesterday, anxious to get out on the trail . . . and immediately went back to sleep. Heavy fog and ominous rain clouds forced us to change our plans. Though I love hiking in the mist, we didn't want to take a chance on being caught in the rain, and we didn't want the kids to miss out on the amazing view.
So we went to the Los Angeles Museum of Natural History instead.
It was a great way to spend a few hours, and it was the first time I'd been there since I was in elementary school. Did you know that Cacao trees produce fruit all year round, and can't be harvested by machine? I didn't know that until yesterday.
Ah, sweet, sweet knowledge, how I love to dine at your all-you-can-eat buffet.
I finished Vice City last night. Haven't 100%-ed it, yet, but I beat the mob. I won't let the kids watch me play it, or play it themselves, but I did allow them to hang with me while we did the asset missions for the car dealership, and some unique jumps. Funtimes.
Anne is taking a little two-day getaway with her best friend, and she asked me if I could help her burn a bunch of 80s music for the drive. While I was digging through my CDs, finding all my compilations and stuff, I also dug out some things I haven't listened to in ages, but still love.
Here are some CDs that I pulled out of the closet last night. Each one of them has been, at one time or another, "The Greatest @#$%^&ing Record EVER!":
Music isn't something that I just put on in the backgroud. It is always the soundtrack to my life.
I spoke WAY too soon about KDE 3.1 I broke Kmail, and maybe even some Qt libraries. Luckily, the insanely cool guys at my local LUG have offered lots of help on their mailing list . . . but I think I'm going to go back to 3.0 for the time being. I've been using Gnome, which isn't my favorite desktop . . . and playing with Windowmaker, which I haven't used since RH 5.2. I'd forgotten just how great Windowmaker is. Since I pretty much only use the computer for writing, browsing, and e-mail, I can easily use Windowmaker, or even IceWM. OH! I managed to teach myself enough to get around in vim! I issue a personal challenge to myself: write some sort of cool php script in vim before the end of May.
I really want a dev box!
Sorry, geeked out there a bit.
I read at Slashdot a great question: "What advice would you give your 12 year-old self?"
Dear 12 year-old self,
Your life is about to be forever changed. You don't know it now, but in three years, you're going to be in millions of households world-wide.
Everywhere you go, people are going to scream at you that they hate you. Listen to this advice, 12 year-old self, because I know that nobody else is going to give it to you: whatever you do, don't listen to them, and let don't let them define your sense of self-worth. It's going to hurt, a lot, and it will go on for years. You won't understand it, and you'll try really hard to convince them otherwise, but they will not listen . . . because they're just as insecure and confused as you are right now. You're going to want to quit the show, but if you do, you'll be 30 before you stop regretting it. Trust me on this one.
Stay on that show until it's over, and when you're older, you'll realize that for every person who screamed "I hate you," there is another who was quietly inspired by something you did. It all balances out, kid.
You are never going to be cool, no matter how hard you try, so save yourself the agony of trying to fit in. You end up marrying a real hottie who loves your inner geek.
Off the top of my head, without any editing, a stream a consciousness:
Man, I really want to write, but I am just out of ideas. It's not that I'm "blocked," or anything, I just can't think of anything to write about.
So I'll just make myself write, and maybe something interesting will come out.
Maybe it's because there's not too much going on in my life right now: no auditions, nothing really exciting at home . . . I've just been working on rewrites of Just A Geek, and collecting some other weblog entries that I really like, (but couldn't put in JAG) for their own smaller book.
Just A Geek came in at over 350 pages today, and "Dancing Barefoot" comes in at about 90. I'm applying for ISBNs tomorrow.
I did some heavy rewriting of SpongeBob Vega$ Pants, to clean it up and make it flow better, and while I did that, I relived those five days. Jesus, what a great time that was. What a great con.
Jesus, I really hate Puddle of Mudd, and POD, and all those shitty bands that sound like them.
I've been trading calls with Adam from Creation about the Grand Slam show, and it sounds like he's excited to have me there. I've been thinking about conventions a lot lately, because I talk about them a great deal in JAG, and realized something: I have ALWAYS had more in common with the fans than the franchise, and attending conventions, as a speaker or a paying fan, is something I'll always love to do. Now that I have stories to read, a website to talk about, and comedy shows to do, I don't feel any angst about doing the shows. I can't tell you enough how great that feels.
As I get closer to finishing JAG, and it's younger brother (which requires far less work) I've been looking for printers . . . and actually got some quotes today for the first printing. It's very exciting, and also terrifying.
If anyone reading this has experience with a printer, and you'd like to share comments about that printer (good or bad) I'd really like to hear them.
I mowed my lawn tonight, and my shoes are grass stained and smelling like a summer morning.
When I mow the lawn, I like to listen to Jimmy Eat World on my car radio. "A Praise Chorus" is one of the greatest songs I've ever heard. This afternoon, I didn't listen to the radio, but I did sing "Dogs" from Pink Floyd to myself as I mowed in a circle, rather than the diagonal lines I usually make.
My cool neighbor moved away on Friday. He's like 80, and Anne and I both felt like he's moving away to die. He'd lived in his house since 1951. That made me really sad. Now his house is empty, and will remain that way for a long time, according to neighborhood gossip.
Ferris wants to go outside.
Nolan is watching WWE. I remember when I was a kid, and I'd get up each Saturday morning to watch WWF when it was on KCOP here in Los Angeles. I loved it, once I figured out it was fake.
Anyone remember M.U.S.C.L.E. figures? The Dark Tower game from Milton Bradley? I bought a new GURPS 3E last week, to replace my old and falling apart copy. Boy do I love RPGs.
This was more fun than I thought it would be, but I can guarantee you that I'll read this in a few days and want to take it down. Well, I feel pretty satisfied now. Maybe I am blocked.
Does everybody really love Raymond? Because I really don't.
Anne just walked in, and Ferris doesn't want to go outside any more. Now she just wants to run around with Anne.
I really love Anne a lot. She is TRULY my "other half."
I have Red Hat 8.0, and I want to install KDE 3.1. Has anyone else done this? Is it going to bork my machine like it did when I tried to upgrade on Mandrake 8.2? Why can't I get CUPS to work?
I have to go make dinner: Falafel, tabouleh, and hummus. How Greek^H^H^H^H^H Lebanese of us.
It's fun to watch someone go through a major crisis, even if it's self-inflicted. Puts things into perspective.
Some thoughts I had last night while listening to the rain bounce off my roof:
Ii have spent each day the past few weeks just inches from tears.
it's a lot of things: fear and uncertainty about the quality of my book being the biggest, having the sit there and take it while some Rich Fucking Asshole treated me like I was a little kid, stupid computer problems, anne's ex-husband bullshit, and finally the blog trolls (who I really should have just called assholes, because that's what they are) and emailers.
Alone, I can deal with any of those things, but together . . . well, it's just too much to deal with.
But the uncertainty about this book is killing me. I thought I had something really good, and shared it with a few people. Most of them told me it was really good, and gave some constructive feedback. A few of them absolutely ripped it to shreds, and gave me some constructive feedback. The result? I found myself unsure about everything. Unable to trust my instincts. I rewrote major parts to please others, instead of myself, and it left me paralyzed. I've since decided to just let it go. I'll finish some grammatical and spelling corrections, complete a few tiny changes where I want to add more information, and publish the damn thing.
I'm scared. I'm scared that it's not as good as I thought. I'm scared that it's better than I thought.
My mom told me that I was in the middle of "vast uncharted territory" and that it was okay to be afraid. I'm not so sure.
I shouldn't have posted my "I'm leaving, here's why, okay now I'm back but I'm really leaving and I hate you" post. What I should have said is, "I'm overwhelmed with several things in my life, and writing for WWDN isn't bringing me any joy right now. As a matter of fact, it's sort of a chore, so I'm taking some time off." What I posted gives way too much power and importance to a very small group of people who I should really just feel sorry for.
Note to self: don't post when emotional.
And you know what else? I am profoundly upset about war, dreams of war, and the Bush Junta. Patriot II? How the fuck did this happen? How did we, as a culture, sit back and put these people in charge?
And these "Terror alerts?" Does anyone believe them? Did you guys read about the "suspected terrorist" in SF Bay? Some tug boat captain suggests that he saw someone in an unlit Zodiac raft at 3AM, wearing a wetsuit. That's it.
The CG looked everywhere for this boat and its alleged terrorist, and found NOTHING.
But it's all over the news, because WE ARE ON ALERT!!1!!11!
What happened to critical thinking? Are the American people so soporific that they can't see this bullshit for what it is?
And now we're supposed to believe that Osama Bin Laden is JOINING FORCES WITH SADDAM?
The timing on this is all too pat for me, and I wonder where the fuck the critical voices are who should be questioning this stuff. Where are the other voices in this vast wilderness? Isn't anyone willing to speak up?
We are marching directly into a war, though there is massive public resistance to it.
We are marching directly into a war, and the media, the supposed 4th estate, isn't doing ANYTHING to keep people informed -- they're just propagandizing for the Bush Junta.
We are marching directly into a war, though the rest of the world wishes we'd just mind our ouw stinking business.
And nobody seems to care. And I'm "anti-American" because I feel this way.
I was picking up some tools at OSH about an hour ago, and helped an older woman take some plastic boxes down from a tall shelf. When I put them in her cart for her, she moved a bunch of duct tape and plastic sheeting out of the way. She told me how scared she was, and urged me to be prepared and safe.
That's perfect. This woman, who could be doing several other things today, is preparing for a terrorist attack, right here in Pasadena. Because she's afraid. Just like the Bush Junta wants us all to be.
Ugh. Note to self: don't post when emotional.
I've had it with blog trolls, hateful e-mails, and the general idiocy that seems to overwhelm otherwise normal people when they connect to the Internet.
I just don't understand it. Where is your humanity? Do you treat people you see in real life the way you treat me? Do you go out of your way to insult and belittle people? Is your life so miserable, so empty and meaningless, your self-esteem so low that you need to attack me? Honestly, what have I ever done to you? Really. What have I ever done?
Dealing with this shit has become a huge and unecessary distraction, so WWDN will not be updated for the near future while I finish "Just A Geek" and take care of some other RL stuff.
I just . . . I just need a break. In the meantime, check out the archives. There's some stuff in there that I'm really proud of.
. . . I'll be enjoying Channel 2's TEAM COVERAGE of STORMWATCH.
I just found out that the director for I, Robot "didn't respond to any" of the tapes he saw, including mine.
In the mysterious Hollywood lexicon, this can mean a number of things, but it usually comes down to one of the following:
These are both very valid, and totally understandable reasons . . . but it doesn't make me feel any less sad. It's frustrating to hear "the director didn't respond to you," because it's so nebulous. It's like being told, "You're not getting this job. Why? Because. Next!" It also has a sort of negative feeling to it, doesn't it? It doesn't help that I have heard "the director didn't respond" without any real elaboration countless times in my career .
I was very happy with my audition. I wouldn't change a single thing about it. I know that I could have done a great job with this character, and I would have been really good in this movie.
Whle I didn't sit in my living room for days, not eating and agonizing over getting this part, I was genuinely excited about the opportunities it presented. Working with Will Smith and Alex Proyas, and getting to play a robot would have been awesome.
Thanks for all the support, everyone.
The journey continues . . .
Spent the weekend playing front yard touch football and whiffle ball with the kids. Tried very hard to care about the Superbowl, but I just couldn't do it.
Played so much Vice City my thumbs hurt, and I dreamed that I was Tommy Vercetti last night. Very lucid, very strange.
Did lots of work in the garden -- it's been in the 80s here for over a week, so we decided to take advantage of the warm while we had the chance.
Wasted almost 18 hours trying to do several computer things. None of them work. Stupid computers.
Haven't heard anything about the auditions.
Here's a quick update on I, Robot:
They put about 100 actors on tape last week. 20 of those tapes were sent to the director, including mine. He will pick a few he likes, and have meetings with them this week or next.
Wish I had more info, but that's it. Strangely, I'm not sitting here, stomach in knots, agonizing over whether I'll get it or not. While I would love to work with Alex Proyas (I am a HUGE Dark City weenie) and play a robot, I don't have the life-or-death feeling that used to accompany auditions.
And as far as I know, they didn't see anyone from Jimmy Kimmel's family.
This project has been around for almost ten years. The first time around, sometime in 1992 or so, I auditioned to play Neil Cassidy. I read a scene straight out of Dharma Bums.
I was already familiar with most of the Beat Generation, and was a huge fan of Burroughs, but I'd never read Kerouac.
I furiously read "On the Road," and skimmed through "Dharma Bums." I wanted to have a good sense of his style, so I could bring his character to life faithfully.
I was already a jazz geek, but I took the opportunity to fill several gaps in my collection, so I could listen to Charlie Parker and Chet Baker while I learned my scenes.
I worked with a coach to develop body language, and dialect. I bought clothes from a thrift shop and went through lots of different hairstyles until I got the correct look.
A little over a week later the audition came. I drove myself to this old church on Highland where they have auditions from time to time, listening to Bird the whole way. I walked into a large empty courtyard, filled with fountains, birds, and a beautiful garden. Only the sign-in sheet betrayed the presence of Hollywood. I sat down, focused and ready to go get this job.
While I was waiting, Emilio Estevez arrived.
Wow, I thought, I'm at the same audition as Emilio Estevez, and I'm about to meet the man who is responsible for The Godfather and Apocalypse Now!
I totally forgot why I was there, and became a drooling fan boy.
Emilio Estevez said hi to me, one professional to another, and I said, "Hey."
There was a pause, and I heard myself say, "I want to tell you how much I like your work. Repo Man is one of my favorite movies of all time, and Breakfast Club is a classic."
He went one better:"Wil, Stand By Me is a classic, and I love your work too. It's really nice to meet you."
I hadn't told him my name, yet.
The casting assistant came out, and looked at the two of us. Emilio was on the "A" list. I was on my way to the "C" list, having been off TNG for a few years. She said, "Emilio, would you like to come in now?"
He looked at her, and said, "Wil was here before me. It's his turn."
She told him that it wasn't a problem. They were ready for him.
"Well, if you're ready for me, you're ready for Wil, and he was here first." He crossed his legs, and looked at his script.
I was stunned. He didn't need to stand up for me, and it really didn't matter to me who went first, but I thanked him and went in.
The room was large and very dark. Like the rest of the church, it was mission-style, with high, open-beamed ceilings and terra cotta tiles on the floor. Coppola was sitting behind his massive beard, a flimsy card table between us.
I approached him, and extended my hand. He didn't take it, so I sat down.
"You don't mind if I film you, do you?" he asked rhetorically, showing a palm-sized video camera he was holding.
"No, of course not."
He asked me to slate my name, and begin the scene.
I did, and proceeded to give the worst audition of my life.
I'd forgotten why I was there, and was a drooling fan boy. I didn't want to read this scene, I just wanted to talk about Apocalypse Now, and Rumblefish. I wanted to ask him about Marlon Brando, Dennis Hopper, and James Caan.
All these thoughts flooded my head while I stumbled through the scene. My Inner Voice, that internal critic/director/coach that all actor's have, was screaming at me that I was doing horribly. I didn't listen, instead hearing Robert Duvall shout, "Charlie don't surf!" It screamed louder, telling me to stop and start over, but I was too busy watching John Cazale get on that boat, knowing that he was going to get whacked.
Then I was done, and Coppola was thanking me for coming in. We both knew that I'd blown it. We both knew that I'd wasted everyone's time. I walked out, head hung low.
I passed Emilio Estevez, who asked me how it went. I shrugged, and told him to break a leg.
I drove home in silence, Chet Baker wondering how deep is the ocean?
I called my manager this afternoon, to see if there was any news from my auditions.
"Hi, it's Wil Wheaton for Chris," I told the receptionist.
Chris immediately picked up the phone. "This is so weird. I just told Hank to put you on my list to call."
Hearing this didn't surprise me. Things like this happen all the time. If I could translate this amazing psychic ability that I have for phone calls into slot machines or dice, I could have myself a Rainman Suite.
I asked him if he'd heard anything about I, Robot
"Yes!" He told me, his normally calm and reassuring voice filled with excitement. "The casting director called me twice today, because he was so excited to give me feedback about you!"
My heart began to pound, and I felt my face flush.
"What did he say?"
"He said, 'Wil was really, really, really, fucking incredible!' He was very happy with what you did, and told me that he was very impressed."
I let out a girlish squeal. "Really?!"
"Yes. He said that you were phenomenal, and he sent your tape this morning."
Chris told me that we haven't heard anything about the other audition, but I didn't care. Getting feedback this quickly, and this positive, hardly ever happens. The director will look at the tapes of all the actors who read yesterday, and he will read notes that the casting director has prepared to go with each performance. If this casting director was so excited to tell my manager how happy he was, that he called twice, I am confident that he presented me to the director with similar confidence and praise.
A year ago, I wouldn't have even had this audition, let alone a real chance at making it into the movie.
I just walked in from my I, Robot audition. I think I did well, and I really had a good time. The scene I read felt very familiar to me. I think the writer took it from one of Asimov's robot books, but I couldn't tell you which one. The scene had a robot being questioned by a detective, who accused the robot of placing his owner in danger, then allowing his owner to die. Sound familiar to anyone?
I prepared the audition perfectly: I knew my lines, so I didn't need to refer to the sides (that's what they call the part of the script they give us to read) at all, and I was able to make some bold character choices. I didn't feel nervous, anxious, or uncertain at all when I went in. I felt excited! I couldn't wait to play this robot.
After one reading, the casting director, who also knew his lines and had clear character choices -- an extreme rarity in Hollywood -- gave me some direction, and we did it again. The difference I felt between the two performances was striking, and gave me a jolt of excited euphoria when I left. I had that feeling I talked about back when I was working on Boise, that thing I call "Mine." Whether I get the job or not, I got to have that feeling, so it was a successful call in my book.
It's funny, the way the entertainment industry works. I haven't had an audition in forever, and I've had two in two days. I, Robot today, and a call for a pilot called "All About The Andersons" yesterday. The best part of yesterday's audition was this sign I saw on my way out. I passed by the production office for some new show called "Real Celebrity Look-Alikes Caught On Tape!"
WTF? I laughed out loud when I passed it.
Hollywood is out of ideas, indeed.
Though both of these jobs would bring in good pay checks and help raise my profile a little bit (well, a lot if I book the movie), I didn't feel the tense, pinched, "oh my god I must get this job or I am a total failure" feeling that so overwhelmed me last year. I think this is because I stoppd defining myself by my acting success or failure, and turned my creative focus onto writing, and my emotional focus onto my wife and stepkids. Seems really obvious, I know, but I had to spend a lot of time trying to climb the mountain before I learned to sit at its base and just enjoy looking at it.
Updates have been sparse recently and haven't said much. When I finish the rewrites on my book, I should have more good stories to tell. Thanks for sticking around.
I'll update when I hear feedback on the auditions.
Thought for today:
"One sees great things from the valley, only small things from the peak."
--G. K. Chesterson
Hey! Check it out! The wife is actually using the computer! I'm pretty proud of myself. I even did a little on-line Christmas shopping. Guess who has on her big girl pants now!
I wanted to say a little something regarding our shitty (can I say that on here?) New Year's Eve. See, I hadn't heard any horror stories about the dog. Just that he was nervous around people. And that the dog didn't like Darin (which is so odd, since Darin is the nicest, most non-threatening guy I know). Me being the animal lover, I just didn't see that this dog was vicious. Just scared. I took my time hanging around the dog, and he eventually was rolling and rubbing his face on me. He seemed very happy. All the commotion in the house just scared him and I was the first thing he saw.
The first two days, I felt a little nervous when Ferris would lay on her back and roll over toward me, showing her big happy face and a mouth full of teeth. But this doesn't change how I feel about animals. I even took my son to a shelter on Saturday and we hung out with the pooches. Stitches and all. And yes, all my other stitches (50 total in the face now....8 from jumping off my brother's bed and hitting the mattress frame between my eyebrows) were from the dog we had when I was little.So the scared feeling I had when I was a kid definitely came back. I can't imagine how Wil must have felt when I looked over at him with a mouthful of blood. He kept himself together though.
After my swelling went down a bit (I must say, I was kind of enjoying my Kim Basinger-like full pouting lips) I read the comments that were posted after Wil wrote about this. I am so touched by all of the 'mojo' and kind words everyone has sent. I was amazed to read all of the stories of dog bite incidences, as well as several stories of shitty (did we find out if I can say that yet?) New Year's had by others. At least it was the end of a year, so we can all have a fresh new start!
The bite was a nice straight slice so I think it will heal fine with little scarring. My stitches are a lovely shade of blue which I've kind of gotten used to now. I won't miss them when they're gone though. And hopefully this will be the last time a dog uses my face for a chomping pad.Wil was right, it could have been so much worse.
Thank you so much for your concern. You are all awesome! No wonder Wil likes doing this website.
Take care and have a healthy, happy, injury-free year!
Anne (the wife)
From an e-mail:
Hi! I was browsing your site, and saw that you mentioned a Kent Purser. Now, keep in mind that I am a nerd, and the fact I had a chemistry teacher who may or may not have known a cast member of Star Trek: TNG excited me. So I planned on asking him about it, the only problem is I had graduated from high school already and wasn't in the area. None of my lazy friends who were still in high school would ask him if he was indeed the Kent Purser who knew Wil Wheaton, so I had to wait until I went back to visit last week. He was indeed the Kent mentioned in your Star Wars toy story (Do you still get those? I got the coolest Jabba's Palace one a while ago.) So yeah, Kent is now a chemistry high school teacher. He watched some Star Trek: TNG (Bet you wanted to know that), and claims he used to beat you up in school. I'm not sure if I believe him on the beating up part though. If you want, I'll send you a picture of him (He looks somewhat goatish. A goatee will do that.) Adieu
Ha! Kent never beat me up. As a matter of fact, the only bully who ever beat me up was Joey Carnes, and that was just two hits: his fist hitting my nose, and my body hitting the ground.
Kent was one of The Cool Kids who I so desperately wanted to be friends with. Since he was a Cool Kid and I was a Total Geek that just wasn't going to happen. He picked on me a lot, but that really doesn't put him in any great club -- everyone picked on me in grade school, because I was a Total Geek.
However, he did humiliate me pretty hardcore one time. In 5th grade, I was sitting off to the side of the playground, looking over a Monster Manual, or Player's Handbook or something, when Kent and some of the other Cool Kids -- Jimmy Galvin, Scott Anderson, Brandon Springs -- walked by, heatedly discussing Schoolhouse Rock. Kent shouted over his shoulder to me, "Hey Wil, do you watch Schoolhouse Rock?"
I loved Schoolhouse Rock, and got up early on Saturdays to watch it at 6:00 a.m. before Superfriends. I knew the entire preamble to the Constitution, understood the complexities of Manifest Destiny, and was a math whiz, because of my devotion to SHR. I would often sing "Verb! That's what's happenin'!" in my head while waiting for my parents to pick me up from school. But we were in 5th grade, and I hadn't heard enough of their conversation to know if I was supposed to answer in the affirmative, or not. So I flipped a mental coin, and sneered. "No way," I laughed, summoning all the contempt and scorn I could muster. I did my best to sound like our principal, Mr Schultz, during one of his long lectures about the dangers of rock music. "Schoolhouse Rock is stupid. It's totally for babies."
I sat back, anxiously awaiting their agreement and approval. Maybe they'd welcome me into their circle for a few days, and they wouldn't throw at my head when we played dodgeball in PE.
Kent made a braying sound, and topped my carefully measured derision. "For babies?! Schoolhouse Rock is cool, Wil. I watch it every chance I get."
Kent and The Cool Kids all laughed, and walked away. My face began to sting, anticipating PE.
As we approached the automatic doors, I drew a tense breath. I feared what they would reveal when they opened. I've spent many nights in Emergency Rooms, and it's never a pleasant experience.
I held my arm around Anne's shoulders, and we walked into an empty room. A television hung from one wall, and Dick Clark counted down the remaining hours of 2002 for several empty chairs and a threadbare couch -- the only occupants of the very small waiting room.
Anne pressed a towel to her mouth, hoping to slow the flow of blood. The shock was wearing off, and she was beginning to feel the pain.
I walked to the check-in window and thought, this is a fucked up way to spend New Year's Eve.
Since the kids were with their dad, this New Year's had presented Anne and me with several options. We could have attended numerous parties, eaten dinner in several restaurants, stayed home alone, or even walked to Colorado Blvd. and staked out a spot to watch the Rose Parade.
Two of our friends had recently bought a new house, and they were having a quiet gathering there. Most of our friends would be in attendance, so that's where we went. Quiet and low-key would be the perfect way to end the year.
The evening had been pretty fun. A trip to the ER was the farthest thing from my mind as I played Munchkin with some of my friends, and Anne sat on the floor, trying to convince our friend's new dog that he and Anne should be friends.
The dog, however, is the anti-Ferris: he's really aggressive, and not good with people at all. He was recently rescued, and is still getting socialized around strangers. During the evening, he'd snapped at pretty much everyone there, and kept growling and barking at my friend Darin. Anne has the animal empathy of an 18th-level Druid Ranger, though, and she was determined to bring out the love in this animal.
She was doing a great job, too. She sat on the floor with him for close to two hours, calmly talking to him while his master held his leash, and the dog eventually relaxed. Everyone at the party was amazed, except for me. My wife is the very definition of boundless love, especially for animals. As soon as we were warned about the dog, I knew that Anne would have it eating out of her hand by the end of the evening.
While Anne continued to pet the dog, my friends and I prepared to follow up Munchkin with a rousing game of Naval War. We were laughing and fooling around, and then, like a bad made-for-cable movie, everything went horribly wrong.
I was holding the instructions in my hand, looking for the number of cards to be dealt, as my friend Cal shuffled them. KROQ was counting down the top 106.7 songs of 2002, and our friends Pat and Shane had just arrived. I heard the dog begin to growl at Darin, and thought nothing of it -- he'd been growling at Darin all night long.
Then the dog barked, and I heard Anne's voice cry out, shrill above the din of the party, "Wil!"
I turned, and saw something no husband would ever want to see (unless he was OJ Simpson): my wife was holding her mouth, as blood poured over her hand.
Anne went into shock, more from the emotional trauma than the wound, I thought. Before last night, Anne had taken 44 stitches in her face, and eight of them were not from a dog. When that dog bit her lip, Anne was five years old again, helpless and terrified.
We packed ice into a towel, pressed it against her mouth, and drove her to the hospital. Since it was empty, we got through triage and into a bed very quickly. While Anne was being prepared for closure, I walked out to the waiting room, to tell our friend Joe what her status was. He owns the dog, and he and his wife felt terrible about what had happened. We told him that he should go home to be with his wife at midnight, but he insisted that he stay with us until Anne was cared for.
As I walked to the waiting room, I passed an old man who was on a ventilator. A woman, possibly his daughter, sat at his feet, and leaned over the bed, clutching his legs. Sobs rocked her body. My heart went out to them, as I thought, "it's just a dog bite. It could be so much worse."I told Joe that we'd be leaving soon, and walked back to be with my wife. The doctor put six stitches into her lip, and we were out of the ER by 11:45 PM. We walked back into Joe's house with 2 minutes remaining on the year. Anne drank a champagne toast, and we hugged our friends goodbye.
Joe and his wife walked us to the car, apologizing the entire way. We weren't upset with them, and still aren't. It wasn't their fault. It was just a terrible accident. I thought back to that man on the ventilator, and told them that it could have been much, much worse.
We drove carefully back to our house. Each car on the freeway was a potential drunk driver, especially the one who was weaving across three lanes on the 210. I pointed to the car, a white Toyota, and told Anne that things like that made me wish I'd outfitted my car at Uncle Albert's. She didn't get it.
We were in bed by 12:30. Anne watched "Sex And The City" and I read "Watchmen." We were asleep by 1. Yeah, this was not the way I planned on spending New Year's Eve.
Anne woke me up in the middle of the night, crying. Her Advil had worn off, and she told me that the pain in her face reminded her of when she was a little kid. I wished that I could take her pain away from her, but I did the best that I could: I held her in my arms, and let her tears fall against my cheek and roll onto my pillow.
We fell back asleep, and slept until two Stealth Fighters flew over our house at 8 a.m. to start the Rose Parade.
On December 7th, my wife and I, with the help of some friends, put down about 3000 square feet of sod in our front yard. It was tough work, but worth every strained muscle and aching back: the yard looks beautiful.
In addition to representing lots of hard work, the lawn also represents a significant financial investment, so I am sort of manic about keeping it looking its best.
Because of this mania, I am ready to fucking kill the goddamn skunks who keep tearing up the edges of the grass each night.
However, I am a peace loving man, and I've chosen to refrain from planting AP mines at the corners of the yard. Instead, I bought a big old jug of red pepper flakes at Smart and Final (for 5 dollars, thank you very much), and spread them all over the perimeter of the lawn last night.
Here's the thing about red pepper flakes: even when you wash and dry your hands really well after you're done? The oil that makes them spicy is still on your hands. So when you absentmindedly scratch your chin, or rub your eye, or go to the bathroom, every single thing you touch will immediately burst into flames.
Every. Single. Thing.
Oh, how it burns.
So when I got into bed last night, I felt like I'd spent a week in Bangkok.
But when I got up this morning, the burning had subsided, and my front yard was unmolested by the little stinky bastards.
The scent of balsam fir and spiced cider permeates every corner of our house.
Wrapping paper and ribbons, tags and tape litter the living room floor. Our cats chase bits of ribbon and bows, tearing around the floor like they are kittens again.
Ferris snores heavily by the fire.
We turn out all the lights, and stand together in front of the fireplace.
Candle and firelight play across our faces. The only other light in the house comes from the village atop the piano and the lights on our tree. We share a Christmas kiss, before settling our brains for a long Winter's nap.
Merry Christmas, everyone. May peace prevail on Earth.
An 8x10 sale update!
The photo lab finished printing my order this morning, so all the 8x10s have been mailed out, except for about 6, for people who haven't told me what to sign on their pictures.
So if you've ordered, but you haven't sent me your request, get on it, man! :)
Anything going out after today clearly won't arrive in time for Christmas, but if you've been waiting to order, and it's not a gift, go ahead and do it. I have about 50 of each photo left after filling orders, and if those sell out, I'll order more in the new year.
I've gotten sick, it would seem, despite my best efforts to hold off the cold which is ravaging my family right now.
Since I'm feeling like crap, I'm putting off the last-minute shopping until REALLY the last minute, and I'm spending my time the last couple of days heavily editing my book.
I gotta tell you, I'm really excited, and getting nervous. Excited, because my editor, Andrew, has given me notes that fall into two categories: "Duh. I am so lame for missing that." and "Holy crap! This is such a great idea! I can't believe I didn't think of that on my own!" His notes have made the book much more readable, and clearer than it would have ever been if I'd done it all on my own.
Nervous, because as it gets closer and closer to being released to Real Life Readers, I worry that it just isn't good enough. This is normal, though, for me. It happens with everything creative that I do. I guess it's just my nature.
Back to work!
This massive Pacific Winter storm is bearing down on Southern California, threatening to turn our burn areas into giant rivers of mud and rocks. The wind is currently gusting outside my bedroom, pelting my window with rain.
All of this means that we here in Los Angeles are on STORM WATCH!
That's right, baby! STORM WATCH! Wall to wall coverage of brave citizens filling and stacking sandbags in their backyards, rugged individuals stubbornly refusing to leave their trailers under the threat of up to three inches of deadly rain!
As I write this, Anne is watching the CBS news, and Laura Diaz is urging everyone to stay warm, and for the love of god, if you travel over the Grapevine, take blankets and extra food and water!
Now, for my STORM WATCH! coverage, I much prefer the undisputed master of local news hyperbole, the inimitable Paul Moyer, who can turn the very threat of rain, still a week away, into the greatest drama since OJ's slow speed chase. But Anne will not be moved. The Channel 2 News Team, with the watchful eye of Chopper 2, will be taking us along on STORM WATCH! tonight.
This is the first night in weeks that I've been sitting in bed watching TV at 11. Until tonight, I've been sitting in front of the fireplace every night reading this amazing book, "The Best American Non-Required Reading of 2002." I give this book the strongest WWDN endorsement possible: the coveted and never-before-awarded GOLDEN MONKEY! The writers in this book are so amazing, and their stories so compelling, with the turning of each page I learned how far I have to go before I can call myself a writer.
Whenever I finish a book, I feel a sense of achievement, and I begin to look forward to the next one in my ever-growing stack. However, I also feel a certain sadness as I bid characters or an author farewell.
Thank god I have STORM WATCH! to ease the pain.
And Anne just rolled over and turned off her light. As soon as she dons the eye mask and ear plugs, I can grab the clicker and switch to NBC.
. . . *click*
D'OH! Paul Moyer is running down the Golden Globe nominations.
I'll keep watching, though, because when we're on STORM WATCH! the news can break at any time.
The plane lurches from side to side, then pitches violently forward. Strangely, nobody in the cabin screams. Anne grips my hand tightly, and I reassure her (and myself) that this turbulence will pass just as soon as we get over the storm.
Fifteen minutes later, after climbing through the first major winter storm we've had here in Southern California, an experience which can be compared to riding in a wagon over a deeply rutted and poorly maintained dirt road, or sitting on a raft in heavy seas, we break through the clouds and level off.
We're on our way to San Francisco, where I'll be co-hosting The Screen Savers.
From above, the clouds look soft and inviting, betraying no hint of the violence we've just passed through. We cruise in relatively smooth air for another 40 minutes, and finally land in Oakland. I'm not crazy about flying, and I'm always happy to be on the ground.
After a quick walk through the terminal, we meet up with Steve from Tech TV, who will drive us into the city. We step out into the gloomy December morning, into the Bay Area that I have always loved: cold, windy, cloud-covered. The heavy black clouds we've just flown through decide to get in one last assault, and dump a hard, cold downpour on us as we walk through the parking lot to the car.
The drive into the city is quick and uneventful, and as we cross the Bay Bridge, I recall the months I spent shooting Flubber on Treasure Island. Those were good times, and it's nice to revisit them in my mind for a few moments.
Steve drops us at our hotel, and tells us he'll be back at 6 to take us to dinner.
Anne and I walk through The City, finally ending up at Union Square. We head to the top of Macy's, so I can look out over the square and pretend that I'm in "The Conversation."
Back when Gene Roddenberry was alive, he talked about The Enterprise being a character in the show, and even being the "real" star of the show. I always wondered how something like a spaceship could have a personality, but standing here, on top of Macy's in the cold and rain, looking out at all these old and new buildings standing side by side, watching the throngs of holiday shoppers swarm across the square, past the giant Christmas tree, I get it. San Francisco is truly a wonderful city.
We meet Steve and his fiancee for dinner, which is quite lovely, and head back to our hotel, where we both have the worst night's sleep in years. The rain beats down on the window-mounted air conditioner, its steady plink-plink-plinking competing with the sputtering and hissing of the radiator. After two hours, I have come to truly hate this radiator, though it is the only source of warmth in the room. Anne is fighting a cold, so she tosses and turns the entire night on the too-small bed, and end up spending much of the night staring at the ceiling, cursing the radiator.
When morning comes, we have just enough time to grab a coffee and a muffin before I have to be at TechTV for a production meeting. I kiss Anne goodbye, remind her that if she goes shopping that we only have one small carry-on bag (a reminder she ignores), and hop into a cab.
I spend the rest of the morning and early afternoon preparing for the show, and having meetings with the execs at TechTV. I really like them, they really like me, maybe we'll work together someday.
Suddenly, the day is behind me, and it's time to tape the show. I run over my teleprompter bits, read over notes for the interview I'll be doing, and familiarize myself with the numbers for the different cameras, and the names for different parts of the set.
Everyone keeps asking me if I'm nervous. I am not, but this constant questioning makes me think that I should be nervous, so now I'm nervous because I wasn't nervous.
I don't want to let myself get all worked up, so I talk to the cast. Megan is funny and sweet, and calls me "dreamy." Patrick knows so much more about computers and technology than I ever will, and though I am totally intimidated by his knowledge, he puts me at ease the whole time I'm there. Morgen Webb is just too !@#$^&ing hot for words. And smart, and friendly. I blush a bit when I talk to her.
I get to finally meet Chris Pirillo, who I've talked to countless times in e-mail, but never actually seen in person. I instantly like him, and know that we could have fun hanging out together.
At 4PM, we start the show, and everything is going well, except for one small thing: the way the camera points, I can't read the left side of the teleprompter for the whole first segment. I manage to stumble through it, but I really feel like I'm sucking. But it's live, so I push through it, and hit a groove. The show is really, really fun. All the people are super nice (cast, crew, producers -- everyone is just awesome. Very different from other jobs I've recently had) and I'm just having fun. Though the show lasts 90 minutes, it seems much faster, and before I know it, we're done.
The audience is dismissed, and we gather with the producer to do a post-mortem on the show. This is my favorite part of any live show, whether it is radio or TV or theater. This is when we sit down together, talk about what we did well, and what we can do better. It's what sets the live experience completely apart from film or tape, this ability to constantly learn from day to day and move closer and closer to perfection.
The notes are given, but I won't recount them here. They belong to the people who made the show.
Anne and I say goodbye to everyone, and meet Loren and Kelly for coffee before we have to get to the airport.
Here's the thing: I really, really, really like Loren and Kelly, and I just hate it that they live so far away. There is a severe shortage of Good People in this world, and I wish that I could spend more time with these two. I take some comfort in the knowledge that Southwest can put us at each other's doors in under two hours for under 100 bucks.
Anne and I make it to the airport, check ourselves in, and grab a sandwich. It's been just over 24 hours, but now it feels much longer, and we're ready to go home and sleep in our own beds.
Our flight is called, and we travel home beneath a full moon, above a blanket of moonlit clouds. It is quick and turbulence-free, and by midnight, we're back in our own house.
While Anne gets ready for bed, I check my email, and there are nearly 50 messages waiting about Screen Savers, and every last one of them praises my performance on the show. I am really moved by the compliments, and feel very proud of a job well done.
I fall into bed, and sleep soundly, straight through the night.
Before I get to the good news, I just wanted to thank everyone who sent me kindness yesterday. While not getting invited really felt like a slap in the face, it is certainly not the end of the world, by any means.
Now I'll be seeing the movie for the first time with my friends, in a regular theatre, with a "real" audience, which will be cool.
I said yes, and I've managed to be useful already, which is cool. Their first game is a MMORPG called Rekonstruction.
Anyhow, the press release went out today, and I thought I'd pimp it.
One of my old spacesuits is being auctioned off on eBay. I'm not sure why, but it makes me feel a little sad.
I'm sitting here, about to write a little entry about it, when my phone rings. It's a friend of mine, asking me if I'm going to the Star Trek X screening.
"Yeah, on Wednesday," I tell him.
"No, it's tonight," he tells me.
"Tonight? At Paramount?"
"No, it's in Westwood, tonight," he tells me, "I just talked with Marina about it."
That feeling I have gotten so many times before, when I was the only cast member not asked up on stage at the 25th anniversary party, when I was the only cast member not recognized at the screening of "All Good Things..." begins to well up. I feel a little sick.
He wouldn't do this to me, right? Not now, not after the conversations we had when I was working on the movie, not since the phone call informing me of the cut. This must be a mistake. Past is the past, right? We're cool now. There is no way he'd exclude me from this.
But he did.
He did it to me again.
I want to cry.
I tell my friend that I have to go, and hang up the phone.
I sit there alone and cold in the kitchen. I can hear Ryan watching Sabrina The Teenage Witch in the living room.
I can't believe this is happening to me. When Rick told me that my scenes were cut, he assured me that I'd still be invited to the premiere, and that he'd see me there. I was excited to see all my friends again, and share in those moments with them. Be a part of what will really be the final mission.
It turns out that the screening I was invited to will be at Paramount on Wednesday, and pretty much anyone who works at Paramount can attend. It's not the premiere, and none of the cast are going. There's really nothing special about it.
I seriously, desperately hope that this was just an oversight. I desperately hope that this is totally out of Rick's hands, and that he'll tell me that he's sorry if it ever comes up. I desperately hope this isn't personal. I want so badly to believe that it isn't. It sucks to be overlooked, but it sucks less than if I'd been intentionally not invited.
It sure fits a pattern though, huh?
I just -- I don't know what to do. I don't even know how to feel anymore.
But I'll go with hurt for now.
Really, really fucking hurt.
Oh man, I am so $!@%^&ing sore from doing the yard this weekend. I gave myself tendonitis in my right arm (yeah, the poison oak one...I swear, this arm is going to try and secede from the rest of my body) so it is swollen up to almost twice the size it normally is...I look like a freak, but in a good way.
In the continuing saga of writer-slash-actor: My manuscript is still with my editor. He's given me some very useful notes already, and I'm hoping to have the whole thing back by the end of this week. Sadly, it will not be ready in time for Xmas. :(
Yeah, I'm thinking the same thing you are, "Tom Hanks and Robert Zemeckis? Why the hell are they asking to see me?!"
I have no idea, but it should be an interesting experience...I haven't auditioned for a major motion picture like this in quite some time.
Oh, and I have punk rock blue hair right now, because I figured there wouldn't be any auditions until after the first of the year...uhh...oops.
The second shipmeent of 8x10s goes to the post office in about 30 minutes. If you ordered last week, you should get yours in a few days. I'll get to work on the third shipment (orders received since Thursday) when I get back from my audition this afternoon, and they should all go out tomorrow or Wednesday.
UPDATE 3:53 PM PST: Well, I totally punted the audition. The pain in my body from the weekend is so severe (my arm is so messed up I can't even grip my steering wheel in my car, and my back has been spasming all day long) that I just couldn't focus, at all, and I sucked.
I saw the tests for the movie while I was there, and I'm pretty sure that I'm not allowed to talk about specifics, so I'll just say: this will be an amazing and beautiful movie. What I saw was a perfect 3-D rendering of the art in the book.
When I left, I walked down the hallway with my head hung. I'm really sad, not because I'm missing out on a job, but because this movie is just going to be so beautiful, and so amazing, I really wanted to be part of it.
Back in spring, a pipe in our front yard's sprinkler system burst. We tried to water the lawn by hand all summer, but we failed miserably and it died.
Long story short, we decided to put in new sprinklers and grass, and the whole process took the rest of summer, and all of autumn.
Yesterday, thanks to the the shockingly popular 8x10 sale, we finally laid down the sod, and turned our horribly ugly dirt lot into a beautiful front lawn.
Anne and I could never have done this on our own, and I want to publicly thank my friends and family who came over and spent their Saturday putting down almost 3,000 square feet of grass:
As I stood in my driveway last night, looking across my beautiful new lawn, I felt a pride in my house that I haven't felt in over a year. It just looks beautiful, and we never could have done this without the help that you guys gave us...and that's the best part of all of this, IMHO: you guys all gave up your Saturday to help us out, and you all worked harder than I ever expected. You guys are awesome.
We are in Santa Barbara. It is November, and Anne and I are here for our anniversary, walking back to our hotel after the first romantic dinner we've enjoyed in months.
Though it is Saturday night, this normally crowded street is nearly deserted, because it is pouring rain. A cold, relentless rain that soaks into my shoes and clings to my body. The cold cuts straight through me, numbing my hands and feet.
The few people who have chosen to brave the storm are huddled in doorways and under awnings. Anne and I share a too-small umbrella in a futile attempt to stay dry.
It has been a wonderful evening, ending a wonderful day. We haven't gotten to spend much time just enjoying each other's company, just being together for several weeks, and I am cherishing every rain-soaked moment.
The storm intensifies as we hurry back to our hotel, turning downspouts to waterfalls, and the street into a small stream. Normally, the urge to stomp in puddles is irresistible to me, but the numbness is creeping up my legs now, and I need little encouragement to leave the puddles alone.
After a few blocks, the cold and rain is too much for me, and I suggest that we stop, and hail a cab.
Anne stops, and looks at me, her blue eyes gleaming. She says they're green, but they're blue...I see them whenever my mind wanders, so I know.
She steps out of the small shelter our umbrella is providing, and stands unprotected in the rain.
"I want to walk in the rain!" She declares.
"But it's 40 degrees!" I remind her, shivering. A few passersby look at us as if we're having a fight, and I chuckle to myself. They couldn't be more wrong.
"I don't care," she tells me, her hair falling down and clinging to the sides of her face, her jacket darkening as it absorbs the storm. "Someday, I'm going to want to walk in the cold rain, and feel it on my face, and I'm not going to be able to. So I'm going to do it now."
She reaches out and touches my cheek, and pulls my face to her. She leans towards me, kisses my nose, and walks away, her face cast upwards, her palms turned up to receive the rain.
She stomps into a puddle, and turns around.
"C'mon, you weenie! Walk with me!"
She is so beautiful, so joyous. The storm threatens to draw a curtain of rain around her, obscuring her from my view. Though she is twenty feet from me, I can see her beaming and feel her joy. She positively loves this.
I watch her, happily standing in the rain. In this moment I know why I married her. I know why she is the other half of my heartbeat.
But it's 40 degrees. There's no way I'm giving up this umbrella.
I lean against the rain, and close the distance between us. When I draw near her, she reaches out and knocks the umbrella out of my hand.
As it falls to the ground, she takes me in her arms. She pulls me to her, and kisses me.
"I love you," she says, rain dripping off her nose onto my face.
She does love me. It's one thing to say it, and one thing to hear it, but it's another thing to feel it.
"I love you too," I reply.
We stand there in the rain for a moment, looking at each other. We are soaking wet, freezing cold, and desperately in love.
So the poison oak I got while geocaching two weeks ago is finally on the way out, leaving behind some spectacular scarring on my arm.
The best thing? I was using this Caladryl lotion the last few days to really dry it up and stop the itching, which it did...unfortunately irritating the hell out of the rest of my skin, and causing a rash which itches just as badly as the poison oak ever did.
Adding insult to injury, my geocaching log notifier sent me a notice yesterday that someone logged the cache I was trying to find. I wonder if they got the bonus poison oak? =]
So I went to the doctor this morning, and he put me on prednisone for a week, and gave me an ointment to calm the rash.
Put up the Christmas lights last night, and have a great story to go with it. Working on it now.
I think it's going to be a really wonderful holiday season this year.
Very astute readers will notice that I've moved the sale info up to the top of the page, so I can keep writing and keep people informed about those exciting holiday gift opportunities. =]
I sent the first 30 8x10s this morning, to places like Austin, the UK, Germany, Puerto Rico, and the far off hamlet of Burbank!
I'm running out of Iron Maiden shots, but there are still Stand By Me and Red space Suit pictures left.
Oh, and if you haven't seen the entire Special Edition of Fellowship of the Ring, you simply must get offline NOW and go watch it.
I really like Thanksgiving.
I love gathering with my family, spending the day with people I don't get to see very often, and sitting down for a massive dinner that I didn't have to cook.
Is there a better time for a List Of Seven?
Today, I am thankful for:
Our extended Thought For Today comes from Bob in Iowa, Katie's father:
What I Am Thankful For
I am thankful that my daughter's surgery went smoothly and successfully. Her kidneys will not develop horrible problems later in life, and a small scar is indeed an easy price to pay for her health.
I am thankful for the skill of the pediatric urology surgeon and the team that worked on my daughter. Their skill has proved in her case, as in many others I'm sure, that disciplined modern medicine is something that we should all be glad for. I am thankful for whoever the person or team was that invented the careful system of moving around and passing instruments in the modern surgery room. I am thankful for whoever the person or team was that sterilizes those instruments at the University of Iowa Hospital, and indeed in all hospitals.
I am thankful that my daughter's recovery has been as impressive as the surgery itself. She is home now, running around like a precocious 16-month-old should, and she will be able to enjoy a Thanksgiving Dinner with her family.
I am thankful that my daughter is running around like a precocious 16-month-old, and I will try to remember that the next time she gets into something that she knows she shouldn't or knocks something over. I am thankful that she will continue to grow up healthy. I am thankful that I have a daughter.
I am thankful to Wil Wheaton, who responded to an email I wrote at a time when I was at my worst, my most desperate. That simple request, which was fulfilled despite Wil's having absolutely no obligation to, lead to an outpouring of love that not only affected me very deeply and helped my daughter in a very real way, it seems to have affected everyone involved in some way.
I am thankful to the complete strangers who, upon reading the entry in Wil Wheaton's blog, made a simple choice to take a moment from their day and send some love my daughter's way. I swear to God that I felt it, and I believe in my heart that it helped both with the surgery and with the swift recovery. I just wish there was another word to describe a person whom I have never met besides "stranger", because that name is so ill-fitting to the people who took the time to help my daughter.
But most of all, I am thankful that despite the horrible things that we see every day on television and read about every day in newspapers, there is enough love in the world to selflessly help a little girl in need of love, and that we really are a loving and caring race. More often than not, we seem to forget what we really are. I am thankful that this opportunity arose to remind us all.
Thank you all for your compassion and kindness. Katie is recovering wonderfully, and I don't doubt for a second that all of your goodwill and love is a MAJOR reason for that. I really cannot thank any of you enough, other than to say, "Thank you." May you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving surrounded by family and friends.
- Bob Roth, WWDN fan
It's so windy here in Pasadena today, it's snowing leaves. There is this large area of a hillside in Burbank where there was a massive fire a few months ago, and a huge cloud of dust hovers over it, like a sandstorm.
The Santa Ana Winds are in full effect, and my dry skin, nose and throat are a small price to pay for clear blue skies and warm temperatures in November.
So here's something unexpected: I did a voice today on this new show for the Kids WB! The call came on Friday, and here's the cool thing: the director, a wonderful woman named Andrea Romano, who has won seven emmy's called my agent and requested me, based on my work with her last year on "The Zeta Project."
I can't say what voice I did, but I was told when I left today that they were so happy, I would probably be asked back to do the role again in the next thirteen episodes.
The episode I did was written by this really nice guy named Marv Wolfman, who co-created and wrote "Teen Titans" for sixteen years, created "Blade," and was just an all-around cool guy. We spent some time geeking out about comic books today...it just killed me that he was referring to Alan Moore as "Alan."
Animation is really fun, because it's really quick work (usually less than 4 hours for an episode), and the people who do it are all really cool...but it's also very hard to break into the animation world, because the community is extremely small, and very protective. Being asked by a very respected director to come back, based on her previous experience with me, is just HUGE, and it makes me feel really good, and it may signal my entry into the world of animation.
A few months ago, I made this major decision in my life: I would stop applying a singular focus to getting work as an actor. I would continue to accept auditions as they came along, but I wasn't going to break my back, or sacrifice time with my friends and family to play Hollywood's game.
Since I made that choice, stopped caring so much about acting, and started focusing on writing, and being a husband and father, I've gotten two jobs almost immediately.
So I guess I'm going to have to start calling myself "Writer-Slash-Actor."
You'll note that I did not say "Actor-Slash-Writer." This is a very important distinction.
Ferris is playing this game:
1. She picks up the soggy remains of her rawhide bone, and drops it on the ground.
2. She backs up, tail wagging, and stares at it.
3. She growls at it, then lunges forward, picking it up as she runs around the living room.
4. She brings it to me, and drops it in my lap.
5. I say, "that's really interesting, Ferris," and drop it on the floor, where she picks it up, and takes it back to the middle of the room.
Then she goes and does the whole thing again.
See, Anne went up to Oregon this weekend, and the kids are with their dad, so it's just me and Ferris hanging out. This is how we entertain ourselves in the absence of any real responsible people around.
It's actually a good weekend for me to take a break, because I've been writing and re-writing pretty much non-stop since last Friday --dramatic pause-- and I finished my first draft of my book on Thursday. It went off to my editor yesterday morning, and I'm anticipating doing some rewrites next week.
I'm really excited about it, and I hope to have a limited first printing ready in time for Xmas. I'll post details when I get it all worked out.
The weekend so far:
I went with some friends to see Die Another Day last night at the Arclight. I'm not an action movie guy at all, but I love James Bond, and this is easily the best Bond picture I've seen in maybe five years, aside from some inexcusably terrible miniature and FX work, the script is fun, paying tribute to some of the my favorite Bond pictures.
This morning, I went on a hike with my brother and my friend Mykal. We were hoping to find the Dawn Mine Geocache, but we couldn't even get on the right trail to the damn mine before we ran out of time and had to get back to the car. We went up to a beautiful waterfall, though.
Oh, and last week, when I took the kids to find the Geocache at Rubio? Yeah. I walked RIGHT. FUCKING. THROUGH. Poison oak. It is all over my right forearm, my left bicep, my forehead, on my left knee, my neck, and my right ankle. I think I qualify for some sort of "complete dumbass" award for not seeing it.
The really cool thing, though, is that I sort of look like one of those guys in "Scanners" right before they blow up. And kind of like pictures of the moon. And also sort of like an alligator...but a scary X-files mutant alligator from hell who shoots death beams out of his eyes and creeps out of your bathtub at night to suck your skin off, and sing Copacabana in your living room.
I read somewhere that massive itching can make one go a little batty...but I don't believe it.
"It's 4:00 PM?! Holy shit! How did it get to be FOUR FREAKING IN THE AFTERNOON?!"
It's 4:00 PM, and I only have thirty minutes before I have to leave. Anne will come home while I'm out, and I've been spending the last few hours cleaning the house, so she won't walk into chaos when she arrives. It's taken me longer than I intended, leaving me little time to iron my pants and my shirt.
I'm a ball of stress, because when I try to handle an iron, I may as well be using my feet. I'm a ball of stress because Ferris refuses to eat, and really wants to play with me while I'm adding wrinkles to my shirt. I'm a ball of stress because I've been invited to the formal dinner at Ruddock House, at Cal Tech, and I can't pull myself together.
See, I desperately wish that I was a smarter, nerdier, more educated person than I am, and I'm about to go sit in a room full of people who know more about math, physics, engineering, and how to creatively blow things up than I ever will. So I am very nervous. I want to make a good impression, and I want to participate in the discussions intelligently. I also know that most of the room will be people who are at least familiar with Star Trek, if not full-on Trekkies, and it's going to be really embarrassing when they realize that the smart kid from TV totally doesn't rate.
So I've asked my friend Shane to come with me. He is a Cal Tech alum from 1992, and he lived in Ruddock House. I figure that if I clam up, he'll help me feel comfortable, and draw attention away from what a lamer I am.
it's 4:15, and my clothes are actually more wrinkled than they were when I started. For a brief moment, I wish polyester was back in fashion. This wish passes quickly as I remember what it felt like to actually wear polyester when I was a kid. I decide to kick Ferris out of the room, and focus, dammit.
I get the wrinkles out of my shirt, and hang it up, expecting it to fall onto the floor. Thankfully, it does not. Ferris has parked herself outside my bedroom door, and is sniffing at the space between it and the floor.
It's 4:25, and my pants are looking good, but the area near the pockets is giving me trouble, so I add water to the iron, hoping for steam.
What I get is a puddle on my pants.
The door begins to breathe.
I shake off the pants, and press the iron into the puddle, turning it mostly to steam. I hope it will dry before I get to Tech.
The doorbell rings. It's 4:30. I let Shane in, and while he entertains Ferris, I choose a tie. I wonder if I should go for my Star Wars tie, or my Where's Waldo tie. I hold them both up, and decide that I'll go for a much more conservative tie, which I call my "1950's Science Teacher Tie."
Shane changes into a shirt and Looney Tunes tie, and we're ready to go. I sure hope my pants dry.
We make the short drive to Tech, listening to Boingo Alive, catching up. I don't get to see Shane at all these days, as a consequence of our schedules and stuff, so it's nice to get a few minutes to talk about what we're doing, and how our lives are. I don't tell him how nervous I am, and if he notices, he doesn't ask.
We arrive at Tech, and make our way into Ruddock. We find Abe, who has invited us to dinner.
Abe and his roommates are dressed casually, sitting in their room. Shane and I realize that we're an hour early.
Oh jeeze. At least my pants are dry.
I don't' want to make this guy entertain me for a whole hour, so I tell Shane to take me around the campus. I haven't seen it in over 10 years, so it will be fun. We tell Abe that we'll catch up with him in the dining room at 6, and head out.
Shane gives me a very nice 25 cent tour, and I wistfully long to be in college, when the primary cares in the world are getting good grades and hooking up with a DG on the weekend. I think about how much there is for me to learn, how much there is for me to understand. I think about how much knowledge I don't have to pass on to my step-kids. I envy the people on the other side of the walls, as we walk past the various residence halls.
Thirty minutes later, we've circumnavigated the entire campus, and we're back in the dining hall. Fifteen minutes later, and the residents begin filing in.
I talk with many of them, answering questions about Star Trek and my website. I find out that Abe is one of the editors of a humor publication for Ruddock House called The BFD, so we talk about satire and comedy. Shane sees people he graduated with, and he slips through the crowd to go talk to them, leaving me. I look inward, expecting to find panic...they're going to realize that I'm not cool, I think...but the panic isn't there. Though I'm not nearly as smart as these people, I'm amongst friends. I am amongst people of a similar mind, and I feel welcome and at home.
We joke about nerdy things, though I quickly become aware of the difference in our ages. I'm much older than these guys, so some of my nerdy references sail over their heads -- not because they're dense, but because I'm talking about something that happened before they were born.
Dinner is served, and we take our seats. I really enjoy the company of the people I'm sitting near, and the meal is excellent. The time flies by too quickly, and dinner is finished.
The president of Ruddock stands up and says that there are several guests tonight, and now is the time for them to be introduced.
A student at the end of our table stands, and introduces his guests, and the student sitting across from him does the same. I begin to get nervous, knowing that I'm going to be standing up in front of all these people in less than a minute. I close my mouth and run my tongue across my teeth, hoping that my Standard Issue British Teeth haven't snagged any food for later. Finding none, I turn my attention back to the students who are now standing across from us. It's the Ruddock librarian, a very nice, mirthful young man who was introduced to me earlier in the evening as "The Biggest Star Trek Fan Of All Time." He stands, and announces to the dining room, "Hi. My name is Wil Wheaton..."
There is much laughter, and I shout out, "I hated you on Star Trek!!"
There is even more laughter. I allow myself to smile...that was pretty funny.
It is Abe's turn to introduce me, and I stand up.
"This is Wil Wheaton," he says. There is applause and some whistling. I feel really embarrassed and self conscious. It's really strange to me to feel this way, but it happens every time I'm the focus of people's attention and I'm not on stage. I manage to wave at them all, and say "Thank you," before settling back into my seat.
The rest of the introductions are made, as well as some announcements, and the dinner is done.
I could hang out all night with these people, talking about Lord of the Rings and The Simpsons, but Shane has to teach a class early in the morning, so we must leave.
As we're on our way out, a guy asks me if I'll participate in the good-natured teasing of their RA, a very pretty girl who, he tells me, had a big crush on my when she was young. I ask him what he has in mind. He tells me that I should go up to her, and kiss her hand. I decline, because it seems a bit presumptuous, and I suggest he think of something else while I sign the Ruddock guest book.
When I return, he has a devilish idea: I should walk over to her, and tell her that I'm a big fan of hers. I agree.
I walk across the room, and she looks up. I guess the group of guys is following me, because she blushes, and proceeds to describe to them the various ways she's going to dismember them.
"Can I shake your hand?" I ask her, taking her hand in mine. "When I was a kid, I subscribed to Hot RA Magazine just so I could have your pictures on my wall!"
She laughs, I laugh, and the guys laugh. She describes further acts of torture they'll be enduring, as I produce my camera from my pocket. I ask her if she'll pose for a picture with me, and she agrees. We snap the photo, and then it's my turn to pose with some people for a few others.
We thank Abe for the invite, and he tells us that we can come back for a non-formal dinner any time.
I can't wait to go back and enjoy their company again. The genuine kinship these people seem to have is warm and wonderful. I hope they realize how lucky they are, and don't take this time for granted.
I certainly didn't.
I'm beginning to think that I am the world's worst Geocacher, man. I've gotten to enjoy many nice hikes, which is really cool, but I rarely find the cache, and today was no exception.
After breakfast this morning (made by yours truly for the family while the wife slept in, thankyouverymuch) we took the kids to find the Rubio Haunted Area, but after 40 minutes of searching an area of about 40 square feet, we gave up. We did get to see a deer climbing up the mountain, though, which was really cool.
Been listening to the Oingo Boingo Farewell Concert while I've been home today. Boingo is one of those bands which for whatever reason is only associated with positive memories:
Actually, I do have one sad memory associated with Boingo: The Boi~ngo CD was one of my favorites back in the day, and it's nowhere to be found in my collection. Sadly, it's out of print, so I'm reduced to digging through the bargain bin at the Car Wash in hopes of finding one amongst all the Bob Goldthwait comedy albums. Oh, and their official website seems to be down.
So that's two things.
But I saw a deer today. (ECHO $LAME_STAND_BY_ME_JOKE)
UPDATE: 10PM PST: Thank you to all the people who emailed me about picking up Boi~ngo on eBay, or half.com! I spoke with my best friend Darin, and he has a copy of thhe CD that we used to listen to at his house! I'm picking up a copy from him tomorrow. (That's ethical, right? I bought the CD once, and it got lost, and it's out of print anyhow...so getting a copy...that's cool, right? Maybe I'll "bid" on it from him.) =]
Took the day off today, and went on a long walk with Anne.
She pointed out that November is her favorite month, and it was easy to see why, with the sun warming our shoulders, as we walked beneath the bluest blue sky I've seen over Pasadena in years.
As we walked down Colorado Boulevard, in and out of the cool shadows cast by stores and the occasional tree, we hit upon a wonderful, awful, Grinchy idea: We'd walk quickly to a movie theatre, buy tickets for the next showing of Harry Potter, and we'd race ourselves home, manufacture a reason to snatch the boys from school, and take them to the movies.
It was brilliant. We hit the theatre at 11, bought tickets for the 12:30 show, and had time to grab a bagel before we made it back home. We took the kids out of school for "personal reasons" and settled into our seats with time to spare.
Now, I don't go to the movies too often. It just strikes me as stupid to pay money to listen to other people talk on their phones and smack gaping mouthfuls of popcorn while slurping the last drops of Coke out of their super-sized drink cups.
I don't know why people can't stay quiet, and respectful of their fellow audience members for a few short hours. I suppose they feel that their ticket entitles them to behave however they'd like, so I usually stay home, and spare myself the aggravation.
Well, if you were in the 12:30 show today, I'd just like to say, as a member of the audience: WOULD. YOU. PLEASE. SHUT. THE. FUCK. UP! Talk in your home, talk in your car. Talk anywhere, really, but shut the fuck up when you're in the theatre.
Sorry. A teeny bit of pent-up aggression there. =]
The movie was entertaining, though I didn't enjoy it as much as the first one, which I watched in silence in my own house. I haven't read the books, but Ryan has, and he told us that the film was a more-or-less faithful adaptation. I think it could have been about 30 minutes shorter, but I also think the theater could have been about 30 times quieter.
It was worth it, though, because the kids had an amazing time. We ensured that they wouldn't be missing anything vital in school, and I think we helped create a fond memory today.
Thought for today:
"Not all those who wander are lost."
I am writing this while I lay on my back in my living room, my iBook sitting atop my chest...because this morning, Anne and I were doing some planting, and I threw out my back.
How did I do that? Oh, I was doing something very manly and difficult...I was lifting a half-empty watering can and moving it. I was bent at the waist, and when I turned to put it down, I felt my back sieze, and I fell to the ground...it was very "I've fallen and I can't get up!"
So we spent the day trying to get my hips to relax, and take the pressure off my back. Thankfully, my parents live nearby and I was able to sit in their spa for an hour...I'm feeling better, but I'm nowhere near 100%, and I am really freaked about working tomorrow...I checked the schedule and I'm sitting for most of the day, but damn, man, sitting really hurts.
And can I just say that typing while laying on your back isn't the easiest thing, either? It's yet another nail in the coffin of my camwhore dreams.
So the gallery opening last night was really fun, and CROWDED! My friend Sean said that there was a bigger turnout than he had ever expected...oh, and the show was amazing. It'll be open until the 30th, so if you're in town, you should check it out. I met a few WWDNers there, so that was spiffy. I hope you guys enjoyed the show. It was the first opening I've taken the kids to, and they really dug it. I think it helped that there were pictures of skateboarders and punk rockers all over the place. I don't know if they'd appreciate a Mark Ryden or a Clayton brothers show...but we'll find out soon enough.
I hope everyone had a great weekend. I work all day with Chef tomorrow...so I'll have some lame fanboy stuff to share with you all.
Anne and I are back from the AVON 3 Day.
Our feet are as sore as you'd think, Anne hyper-extended her knee, and I really messed up the arch ofmy right foot...but it was the most amazing experience I have ever had in my life. It was absolutely life-changing, and I can't wait to write all about it.
It will be several days before I can, though, because when I got home, I found out that I had been cast in a movie.
Just when I decide that I'm not going to be an actor any more, I go and get cast in a movie.
As the lead.
I am number one on the call sheet, and everything!
I had my first day today, and I will work every day on the production, right up until my anniversary in November...so I fear that entries in the old WWDN Weblog will be shorter, more diary-like, some updates on the movie and stuff.
Right now, I am exhausted, and I have to go to sleep. More updated information about the film and the walk when I have some time.
Oh, I am going to be on Screen Savers on Wednesday. It should be a really funny segment, so check it out.
Unless you're not into funny tech stuff, and babes. In that case, you'd probably be better off watching Maisy.
Know what's weird? I had Chinese take out with the kids a few weeks ago, and my fortune said:
"All your hard work is about to pay off."
It's been almost a year since Aunt Val died.
I'm driving with my dad across the San Fernando Valley, on our way to Aunt Val's house. Though we were all promised that the house would remain in the family, it has been sold, and there are many things to be picked up and moved out. Thankfully, there has been precious little pettiness and bickering within the family about her things so far.
My dad has asked me to help him pick up a china cabinet which belonged to my grandmother, and is intended for my mother.
I wonder why he didn't ask my younger, stronger brother to help out, but I don't ask. I'm always happy when my dad asks me to do things with him, so I decide not to push my luck.
We ride mostly in silence, but not uncomfortably. I'm lost in thought, though it won't occur to me until later that this is the last time I'll make this drive. This drive that I've made since I was in a car seat. I'm thinking about what I could talk to my dad about: baseball? the kids? my family? work? We end up talking about them all, and the drive passes very quickly.
As we drive down Aunt Val's street, it hits me: this is it. I've been asked to help my dad move furniture, but I'm really here to say goodbye to this house that's been part of my life since I was a child.
A tremendous sadness washes over me as we back into the driveway.
I exchange polite hellos with Aunt Val's daughter, who is responsible for the selling of the house, and walk inside.
It's the first time I've been there since her death, and the house feels cold and empty. It's more than just the furniture being gone. It's her warmth and love that are missing.
Most of the furniture has been moved out, but certain things remain untouched: her bookcase, filled to overflowing with pictures of the family and children's artwork...some of it mine...still dominates tne side of the living room, the recliners where my great grandparents spent most of the last years of their lives opposite. I remember sitting in my Papa's chair, while Aunt Val sat next to me, watching Love Boat and Fantasy Island, thrilled that I was staying up past my bedtime, watching shows intended for grownups, putting one over on my parents who would often drop my siblings and me off for the weekend.
I loved those weekends. When we spent time with Aunt Val we were loved. We were the center of the
Universe, and though she was well into her 70s, she would play with us, walk with us to get snacks,
let us stay up late. It was wonderful.
In the living room, the table where Aunt Val would put the artificial tree at Christmas is gone, though it's footprints still mark the carpet. In my mind, I put it back, fill the space beneath it with gifts, warm the air with the laughter and love of the entire family gathered around it, singing songs and sipping cider.
I blink and the room is empty again. The warm light of memory is replaced with the harsh sunlight of
the fading afternoon. Aunt Val's dog Missy is nosing at my hand, asking to go outside.
I lead her toward the patio doors. Aunt Val's dining room table, where the adults would sit at reunions and holiday meals, is still there, covered in paperwork and trash. It's a little obscene.
When I was little, Aunt Val would always sit at the card table --the kid's table-- with us, and when I was fourteen or so I was moved to the "adult's table." The next year I begged to be granted a spot
with her at the kid's table again.
Missy is impatient. She urges me through the kitchen. I look at the cabinet where my great grandparents kept their Sugar Corn Pops cereal. Regardless of the time of day my brother and sister
and I would arrive at her house, we were always hungry for cereal, and Aunt Val was always happy to
oblige. This cabinet, which I couldn't even reach, this cabinet which held so many wonders is now empty, and at my eye level. I am sad that my own children will never get to look up at it's closed door, and proclaim themselves starving with a hunger that can only be cured by a trip to the Honeycomb hideout.
The kitchen counters are littered with dishes and glasses. Notes written in Aunt Val's handwriting still cling to the refrigerator, surrounded by my cousin Josh's schoolwork.
They say that when a house is passed over by a tornado, it can do strange things to the things inside. They say that sometimes a whole room can be destroyed, and the table will still be set, candlesticks standing, untouched by the violence of the storm. As I look at the refrigerator, unchanged in nearly a year, I wonder why some things have been left alone while others have been
completely dismantled. It's like a half-hearted attempt has been made to honor her memory.
I walk onto the patio. Missy runs after a bird, and disappears around the corner of the house, leaving me alone.
I stand on the patio, knowing that it will be for the last time. I see the backyard through the eyes of a child, a teenager, an adult, a parent. I look at Aunt Val's pool, and remember when I was so small, riding around it on a big wheel seemed to take all day. I remember playing with my cool Trash Compactor Monster in the shallow end, before I was big enough to brave the deep end and it's mysteries, known only to the Big Cousins. I remember being unable to ever successfully complete a
flip off the diving board, and reflexively rub my lower back.
I look at the slide, and the sobs which have been threatening since I walked into the house begin.
In summer of last year, I'd taken Ryan and Nolan to spend the day with Aunt Val. The three of us sat
with her on the patio, eating hot dogs she'd grilled for us, drinking punch she'd made. The kids talked eagerly with her about their plans for the rest of the summer and the upcoming school year. I watched her listen to them, the same way she'd listened to me say the same things twenty years earlier, happy that they were getting to share in her unconditional love the way I had.
We went swimming. Nolan and Ryan both doing cannonballs and flips, Aunt Val always giving them an approving, "Good for you, kiddo!" after each trick.
God, I can hear her voice as I write this.
When they grew tired of tricks, they took to the slide. They took turns for a few minutes, going head-first, on their backs, on their knees.
Ryan was sitting at the top of the slide, waiting for Nolan to get out of the landing area, when he screamed and raced into the water. I immediately knew something was wrong, and rushed to the water's edge to meet him.
I got him out, and saw that he'd been stung by a wasp.
We patched him up with baking soda and some Tylenol, and prepared to spend the rest of the afternoon inside, watching TV.
Aunt Val wouldn't hear any of that. She picked up a broom, and some Raid, and marched out to the angry nest of wasps, which we now knew was just beneath the upper edge of the slide. The wasps were pretty pissed, and beginning to swarm, and I couldn't stop my 84 year old great aunt from wiping them out, so the kids could continue to play.
I'm looking at the slide, remembering that day, remembering how scared I was that she'd get stung and would go into shock, remembering how much fun the kids had with her.
I remembered that day, and recalled a thought I had back then, watching her battle with those wasps: Aunt Val isn't going to be with us forever. Some day I'm going to stand here, and she'll be gone, and I'll cry.
So I cry. I miss her. I miss her. I miss her. I miss her. It's not fair that she died. It's not fair at all. I miss her. She was in perfect health one day, and the next she was gone. It's not fair, and I miss her, and I have to say goodbye to this house, and that's not fair either.
The finality of her loss takes hold, and refuses to let go. I cry until my sides hurt and my throat is dry. My cheeks are soaked, my nose is running. It's fitting that as I bid farewell to the house and person who played such an important part in my childhood, I sob like a child.
After awhile, I pull myself together, take a hard look at the backyard, run my hand along the slide, and say goodbye out loud.
I walk back into the house, and I help my dad load the china cabinet into the car. It is heavy and cuts into my hands as I lift it. I'm nervous about dropping it.
Aunt Val's daughter comes out of the house. I want to scream at her for selling off this enormous part of my childhood, but I don't. I continue tying down the cabinet, tell her goodbye, and get into the car.
We pull out of the driveway, and drive down the street for the last time.
I speak effusively with my dad on the drive home. I talk about the kids. I talk about work. I talk about the Dodgers and I ask lots of questions about when I was a kid. I want to cherish this time with him, make the most of it. I don't want to waste any of the time we have together.
When we get home with the china cabinet, my mom asks me how it was being at Aunt Val's house.
"Tough," I tell her.
We unload the china cabinet. My dad hugs me tightly and thanks me for helping with him. I tell them
that I love them, and I drive home, alone and silent.
It's been a year since Aunt Val died.
Truth is, it could be a day, or a decade. She is gone, and I will always miss her.
I am standing in the kitchen making dinner, listening through the open window to Ryan and Nolan as they play whiffle ball in our front yard.. They're actually playing nicely together, not being overly competitive.
Nolan stands over a patch of dirt, in front of a bush, which represents home plate, while Ryan hurls the ball towards him.
Ryan always tries to throw the ball too hard, and usually has trouble finding the strike zone, so Nolan just sits there, letting the ball bounce off of the house behind him.
Nolan comes in for a drink of water, and without even thinking I tell him, "It sounds like you guys are having a great time out there. Tell you what: you keep up this good attitude, and I'll come out and play with you."
Nolan does a little hop, and says, "COOL!" before he runs back outside. I hear him tell Ryan, "Wil says he'll come play with us!"
They're both excited to play with me...that's cool. I've been really busy these past few weeks, finishing up my book, so I haven't been able to play with the kids very much. They're getting to that age where they want to hang out one minute, and the next minute I'm so incredibly uncool they can't even stand to be in the same room as me. Hearing the genuine excitement in their voices makes my heart swell.
Dinner is really easy tonight: It's a curried tofu with rice dish. I put the rice into the rice cooker, cut the tofu into cubes and put them in the pan. I dump a bunch of curry over them, and I race out to play.
I'm thirty years old and a parent, and I'm racing through my "chores" to go play outside.
When I get there, one of Ryan's friends (who is also called Ryan) has come over to play, so we immediately separate into teams: Nolan and me against the Ryans.
Nolan steps back up to the plate, and Ryan proceeds to walk him. He then walks me, then Nolan again, and we quickly load the bases with ghost runners. The sun is rapidly sinking into the mountains to the west, and the ball is getting hard to see, so I suggest that we call the game so the Ryans can have a few at-bats. Nolan agrees, and we send our ghost runners back down to Triple-A as we head
into the field and take our positions on the grass, and in the street.
Nolan pitches a few balls to Ryan, but it's really too dark to play any longer. Like every other time we've had to call a game on account of darkness, I resolve to install lights over our front lawn so we can play at night, local building codes and my wife's desire for a normal suburban house be damned.
We've been having fun, though, and like the only child who finally has someone to play with, I don't want to go back inside; back to being a grown up...so I suggest that we play hide and seek.
They all excitedly agree, and I'm It.
We quickly define the boundaries, and "Safe." I close my eyes and count to one hundred by fives.
As I shut my eyes and begging to count, the world slows, and I hear my own voice, twenty-one years distant, calling out the same numbers. I'm nine years-old, head buried in my arms as I stand at the light pole on our street which was "Safe," Boston plays on my parent's Techniques turntable, while my dad cooks fish on the Webber Kettle in the back yard. I can smell the smoke as it drifts over the house and hangs in our yard, in the still summer evening.
I'm ten years-old, and I run like crazy, trying to evade Joey Carnes. It is summer, hot and smoggy. My lungs burn with each breath.
I'm eleven years-old, and I can hear the stomp, stomp, stomp of my feet hitting the ground as I look for a hiding place. It's springtime, and the grass is cool and damp beneath me.
I'm twelve years-old, hiding behind the side gate, crouched down, my arm just barely touching the arm of the girl I have a crush on as we hide together. While we listen to the kid counting, I try and fail to screw up the courage to hold her hand. In middle school, she'll break my heart over and over again.
95...100! Ready or not, here I come!
I open my eyes, and I'm back on my street. The kids are well-hidden. Lost in my memories, I didn't think to listen for their footfalls, and I have no idea where they may be.
I walk slowly around a hedge, and see Ryan begin to run across the street, towards "Safe." I run at him, hoping to cut him off, but he's too fast for me. During my pursuit of him, his friend has made it to "Safe," leaving only Nolan undiscovered.
I walk down our street, towards our neighbor's house, and see Nolan racing across the front yard next door. I give chase, and we both run straight through the heavy spray of several Rain Bird sprinkles. Nolan runs very, very fast, but ends up going Out Of Bounds. We return to "Safe," laughing, wiping the water from our faces.
Nolan is It, and begins to count. I run across the street, hiding behind a tree. When I was a kid, I never hid behind trees, preferring cars and fences, with their clever ways to spot an approaching "It"...but I know that if I stand still in the October darkness, he'll never see me. I'm wearing a black
"Ataris" T-shirt and long olive shorts...I'm practically invisible.
Nolan finishes his count, and the chase is on. It is several tries before he catches someone, but his attitude never sours. We are all having a great time playing together, being kids.
Finally, I am just too wiped out to play any more, and I head back inside. Anne asks me to drive Ryan's friend home, and on the way to the car, Ryan's friend tells him, "Your house is so much fun! You're really lucky that your Step-dad plays with you."
Ryan agrees, but warns him that we don't always play like that...Ryan tells him that I've been writing a lot, so I spend a lot of time at my desk. It's the first time in months that I've played with them like that, he says.
He's right. Most of the time these days, I have to be a grown up, and I can't play very much.
But last night, I got to be a kid again, if only for an hour or so, and while I appreciated the sentiment from Ryan's friend, he didn't quite have it right.
Yeah, there was a lucky guy out there playing...but it wasn't Ryan.
And now, for something completely different:
I'm the guy who looks like a complete dork.
Looking at that picture, I can clearly see how happy I am --to the point of goofiness-- to be there with all of them. It was a great time.
Here is Star Trek Dot Com's write up of the rest of the TNG con, including a brief mention of the Saturday night program, where I read some stuff from WWDN, to a very wonderful, warm, appreciative crowd.
When I saw Brent backstage Sunday at the con, he asked me how I felt about being cut. I told him what I wrote here, and he was surprised and happy that Rick called me himself. He told me how upset they all were that I was cut, and he asked me if I'd be at the screening. I told him that I would, and he says to me, "You know, Wil, you should still be involved in all the press events." He gets this impish glint in his eye...the same glint that I lived for when I was sitting next to him on the bridge, the same impish glint that I knew was going to end up getting me in trouble when he made me crack up, and he continues, "I think you should sit there, answer as many questions as you can, even if you don't know the answers. I'll see you in Europe. It'll be fun."
Before I could play the "yes, and..." improv game with him, he was whisked away to go on stage, but not before he says, "Hey, you've got my number, right?" I tell him that I do. "Use it when you need it, man. It's great to see you."
It's great to see me?!
The 15th Anniversary Celebration of TNG was just wonderful today.
I had my talk this afternoon, and though I started out slowly, I warmed up, and eventually left feeling very satisfied. I asked many people in the house how they thought I'd done, and they were all very complimentary.
Then I watched Patrick, who I have never seen onstage...holy shit. If you get a chance to see Patrick, RUN THERE.
I hung out for the bulk of the day, signing stuff for people and visiting with some really cool WWDN readers, one of whom gave me the gift of "The Wesley Dialogues" printed and bound into a little book...it was so freaking cool, I can't even tell you.
Speaking of books, the week has been very light on entries because I'm nearly finished with mine.
Remember how so many readers have been telling me to write a book? Well, I listened. Watch this space for details on how you can get it in about a week or so, maybe two. Know what's in it? The end of SpongBob Vega$ Pants, baby!
Tonight, I took the manuscript with me, and I read selections from it for a large crowd, who really seemed to be "with me" for most of it. Having an audience "with me" rather than pissing them off of boring them is always a good thing, and I left tonight feeling really happy. My mom was in the house and she came up to me after the show, crying, telling me how good I was, and what a great writer I have become. Yeah, she's my mom so she isn't the most objective person in the world, but making my mom proud is also always a good thing.
I read some entries from the old WWDN, like The Trade, Hooters, Fireworks, and The Wesley Dialogues, along with a new story called "Hooters Revisited," which will end the book.
I am really excited, guys. For the first time in ages I look forward to each day, and I feel like I'm doing something which really makes me happy.
There was one thing which bothered me, though...this guy was talking to me about how much he admired my guts for putting my life out there, and while I was talking with him, my friend Keith came over, and I got distracted, and when I turned back around, this cool guy was walking away. I bet he felt like I totally blew him off, which is making me feel really bad. If you're reading this, I'm sorry, man.
I'll be back at the con for a few hours in the morning tomorrow...I'm hoping that hot porn star shows up again.
(well, maybe not)
I had an audition for "John Doe" this morning.
I watched it over the weekend, and thought it was pretty good. There were some things that I thought were very "pilot heavy," but other than that, I think the show has great potential...sort of a Bourne Identity meets Millennium, meets Girls Gone Wild.
A brief explaination of "pilot heavy" is in order: When a series creator wants to sell his or her idea to a network, after all the scripts are approved, and the casting is done, the creator shoots what is called a "pilot." In the pilot, the creator has to show the network more or less what they're going to do over the years of the series, and introduce them to the main cast, as well as to the viewing audience. Because of these necessities, pilots can be a little heavy on the talking and exposition, and the explosions and stuff.
So I thought it was a little "pilot heavy," but not bad at all. I don't think anyone should ever judge a series by it's pilot.
So I'm a little excited about this audition, because I like the show, and I haven't had an audition in several weeks.
Funny aside: at an audition I had a few weeks ago, I walked in, and the receptionist comes over to me and says, "You're Wil Wheaton, right?" I told her that I was, and she replied to me, excitedly, "I LOVE YOUR WEBSITE!"
Okay, I thought that was really cool. =]
Anyway, there's this massive brushfire burning near my house, and the resulting cloud of smoke is thousands of milles thick, and hovering over my house, so when I walked out to my car, it was covered in ash, and the sun was casting this spooky blood red haze down on everything. My lawn is completely dead, so it was sort of orange...wish I'd taken a picture of it, but I didn't.
So I head over to the audition, which is to play a character called "Elvis", who is described thusly:
"a wild-eyed genius with an IQ that's over 160...a former "Doogie Howser" with a brilliant mind and questionable social skills. The youthful chief of neurosurgery at a Seattle hospital..."
Sound familiar? He's sort of halfway between Wesley and the guy I played on Invisible Man, so it's not a lot of work to prepare the audition...I even get some technobabble...albeit medical terminology, which is a little bit easier to remember.
I get to the audition early, and as I'm walking up the stairs, I am passed by this AMAZINGLY BEAUTIFUL GIRL, who is clearly reading for the part of the AMAZINGLY BEAUTIFUL GIRL...I shit you not, she is even wearing a red dress.
As she passes me, I am engulfed in the intoxicating sent of her perfume, and I am hit full in the face with a hypernostalgic memory from when I was about 15...
I'm with my best friend Darin. We've just seen a movie in Burbank, and we're driving back to his house. We could take the freeway, and be there in about 15 minutes, but we choose to take a more circuitous surface street route, knowing that it will allow us to stay out longer.
We're listening to "The Queen is Dead" as we pull through the curves of this particular street, talking about girls, comics, Nintendo, and debating the me. We stop at a light, and a two girls pull up next to us. I look over, notice that they're insanely hot, and begin to get nervous. At 15, I'm convinced that any girl I see is a potential trip to at second base...though I've never even been to first base, or really had a real at bat, yet.
Darin looks over, and says, "Hey! That's Misty!"
"That's Misty! I know her from school."
Darin waves to her, and we all get out of our cars, leaving them idling in the middle of the street, in the middle of the night. Over the next few months, and even now, that simple act of standing in the middle of the steet would bring me incredible satisfaction.
Darin introduces me to her, and she is very, very nice to me. I am immediately drawn to her. She is about my height, with lots of thick blonde hair and bright green eyes that stand out from her face in the La Crescenta night. She is funny, and engaging, and our conversation is easy and effortless. She is also wearing this amazing perfume, that gives me goosebumps...I realize with some embarassment that I have been inhaling deeply through my nose, while she talks, drinking her in.
We talk for a long time, Darin and I carefully avoiding topics like the ones we've been discussing in the car. Though we are nerds, we know that Cthulhu is just not discussed in the presence of potential foolin' around.
A few cars pull up behind us, and we wave them around, as we stand there in the middle of the street, in the middle of the night, enjoying the freedom of being away from our parent's ever-watchful eyes, talking to a beautiful girl while Morrissey entreats an anonymous driver to "take me out, tonight...take me anywhere I don't care I don't care..."
Eventually, that time comes when we have to get home, and she has to leave as well. We begin the awkward process of saying goodbye, and I try to screw up the courage to ask Misty for her phone number. We stand there a little too long, me fumbling with my words, and she asks, "Would you like to go out sometime?"
I unsuccesfully try to act nonchalant and my voice breaks as I reply, "Sure!"
She writes her number down on a 3x5 card...which I provide to her from within my Car Wars Deluxe Edition box set. She writes her name and number on the card, and before she delivers it into my sweaty hand, she takes a bottle of perfume from within her purse, and sprays the card.
"So you won't forget me," she said.
Yeah, like there is any chance of that happening.
I put the card back into my Car Wars Box, and we all get back into our cars, still idling in the middle of the street, in the middle of the night.
Darin and I drive back to his house in an electrified, excited, stunned silence.
I have gotten a phone number from a beautiful blonde, without even asking.
Though I kept that card in that box for years... I never got the courage to call her. I don't know why, really...I know I was super geeky and afraid that she'd want to make out, or something, and I wouldn't know what to do (I should be so lucky)...maybe I was content to sit in the safety of my garage, listening to Oingo Boingo, happily considering what could be...maybe I was just a lameass who didn't know what to do when the golden prize landed in his lap.
Yeah, I'm pretty sure it's the last one.
After my audition today, as I was driving home into this great ominous cloud of thick grey smoke, I thought about that night, and the months that surrounded it. I thought about the way her perfume still permeates my Car Wars Deluxe Edition Box Set, and the times I'd play Car Wars in my dressing room with my friend Caius, when I was working on TNG.
I remembered how cool I thought it was to be on Trek back then, and how much fun it was to be part of something that I knew was great. It was wonderful to be part of something that made me feel proud. I feel that same way about WWDN. I feel proud of this stupid website, and the chance it's given me to find my Voice...I feel proud that even though the source is clunky and I really need to redo everything now that I know what I'm doing, this lame website is mine, for better or for worse.
As I drove home, I looked to my right, at the bright blue September sky over Downtown, and off to my left at the growing cloud of smoke swrling around the mountains, and wondered whatever happened to Misty, who signed her name with a heart over the i. I wondered if she remembers standing in the middle of that road, in the middle of the night, fifteen years ago. I wondered what that amazingly beautiful girl in the red dress would say if she knew that the smell of her perfume had put me in a time machine.
The fire burned hotter, out of control.
You know how you make all these plans, and then that pesky Real Life gets all busy, and you have to put those plans on hold?
It's like that.
For the first time in my life, I can relate to this story.
So it made me laugh.
Laughing is a good thing, especially after spending so much of yesterday on the verge of tears.
A man in a hot air balloon realized he was lost. He reduced altitude and spotted a woman below. He descended a bit more and shouted, "Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don't know where I am."
The woman below replied, "You're in a hot air balloon hovering approximately 30 feet above the ground. You're between 40 and 41 degrees north latitude and between 59 and 60 degrees west longitude."
"You must be an engineer," said the balloonist.
"I am," replied the woman, "How did you know?"
"Well," answered the balloonist, "everything you told me is, technically correct, but I've no idea what to make of your information, and the fact is I'm still lost. Frankly, you've not been much help at all. If anything, you've delayed my trip."
The woman below responded, "You must be in Management."
"I am," replied the balloonist, "but how did you know?"
"Well," said the woman, "you don't know where you are or where you're going. You have risen to where you are due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise, which you've no idea how to keep, and you expect people beneath you to solve your problems. The fact is you are in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but now, somehow, it's my fault."
TechTV is coming tomorrow to shoot some really spiffy "call for help" stuff and a segment for "show us your tech." I'm hoping to show off how cool Mandrake is, and how easy it is to use and install...I have this XP box that has never started up, but sure has a ton of badass hardware in it, and I think we're going to put Mandrake on it, and attach it to the network here in old casa Wheaton. It should be fun, and dispell a little FUD.
Coming in the next couple of weeks:
I think I'm going to take the weekend off from updating WWDN, starting now. Have a good one, everybody.
Thanks to everyone who emailed about today's User Friendly...that's pretty cool. A pretty spiffy way to start out September.
I can't believe it's already September.
Kids start school in 2 days, and it feels like they just got out last week.
In 8 days, we get to experience the first anniversary.
Is that messing with anyone else? It's really messing with me. When we remove the politicalization and the jingoism and the fear, and think about the real people whose lives are forever changed (which I guess is all of us, but clearly some more than others)...it just seems like, maybe since it's been a year, there should be answers and resolutions...but each day seems to bring more questions and more uncertainty and grief.
"Individually we can get angry. Together we can, and will, make a diference."
I wrote those words recently, hoping to rally and inspire people to action.
I was talking about the rapid erosion of our free speech and parody rights on the internet, but that phrase applies to any movement, really.
One voice is easily ignored or silenced, but when other people add their voices to yours, you become a chorus not easily ignored.
It turns out that a lot of people got angry that I wouldn't be attending the 15th anniversary of TNG celebration next month. It turns out that those voices joined together in emails, phone calls, internet postings and FAXes. It turns out that those voices became a chorus not easily ignored.
Thursday afternoon, I had a message on my machine from Adam Malin, president of Creation. He told me that he'd been "flooded" with emails, phone calls and FAXes. He said he'd read the internet postings, and he wanted to talk with me. He told me that he felt terrible, sick, and was very upset that I felt the way that I did. He was apologetic, and hoped I'd call him back so we could speak directly and if nothing else, clear the air.
When I set the phone down in it's cradle, I was surprised to feel my hands shaking.
I was, quite honestly, stunned. Shocked. A phone call from a lawyer I would have expected. An angry phone call, maybe, given the rage people were expressing on message boards at my own site and elsewhere. But a personal, cordial, apologetic call? I just didn't think it would happen.
I didn't have a chance to call him back until yesterday, during my lunch hour at work. See, we've been busting our asses at Arena to pull together this HALO National Championship event, and yesterday was the culmination of weeks of 12 hour days, of hundreds if not thousands of individual hours of work.
So lunch comes, and I phoned him.
I apologized for not calling him back right away. I explain to him that we're working on this special, and it's maxed out my internal CPU.
Before I can say anything, he apologizes again for not talking to me directly, and letting his underlings deal with me instead.
He tells me that he has never thought of me as "not part of the family."
I tell him that I have been given the impression from everyone at Creation, even the people with whom I am friends, that there are "levels," and it (rightly) goes: Captains, Data, everyone else...then there was me.
I tell him that I've felt marginalized, and treated like my contributions to Trek weren't important to him, Creation, the fans, or Paramount.
He apologizes again, tells me again that he doesn't feel that way. Tells me that he wanted to make it right. He wants to have me at that convention.
I am stricken by how genuine he seems. I am beginning to feel badly for not going over the heads of his employees and speaking directly to him, myself.
I also notice something that is a new feeling to me, as far as Star Trek goes: I'm being treated like an adult. Treated with respect, spoken to fotrhrightly and candidly.
This may seem like an overstatement of the glaringly obvious, but even though I am thirty years old, I still feel like I'm "the kid" where Trek is concerned. Not feeling that way is something new to me, and I'm not sure how to deal with it.
Adam tells me that he has heard great things about my sketch group. He's heard that they are fabulous, and the fans really love the show we do. He tells me that he wants to hire them for the show, wants me to speak at the show, and he really wants to make it work out.
I tell him that there wasn't time to get the group together now, and produce a quality show. He is really upset about that. He asks me if I'd be willing to get my group together for Grand Slam 2003.
I notice that we're having a cordial, comfortable conversation. It's like we've both been stung. Me by the posture taken during the previous negotiation, and him by the vitriolic rebuke from the fans. He seems to genuinely feel badly that my feelings were so hurt, and I get the palpable impression that he wants to make things right.
He asked me again if I'd be willing to do the show for a very reasonable fee, just a little bit below what I was asking for before negotiations broke down last month.
I am immdediately torn.
I think about this thing that someone said in the comments yesterday: "If you turn your back on Trek one more time, I'm buying you a revolving door."
I think hard about that. It burns inside me.
I dont know what to do.
On the one hand, I want Trek behind me.
On the other hand, it will never be behind me no matter what, because, let's face it: Trek was and is HUGE. Bigger than me. Bigger than I will ever be in my (stalled and slowing) acting career.
After I'd gotten the first phone call from Adam, I talked it over with Travis (from Arena) who is a very good friend of mine. Knows me very, very well.
Told him I'm having mixed feelings about it. I can think of reasons to do the show, and reasons to not do the show.
He asked me why I didn't want to do it.
I gave him some reasons, pro and con.
He asked me if I was happy writing.
I told him I was.
He asked me if I liked being on stage.
I told him that I did.
He asked me why I could possibly not want to be onstage in front of people who want to like me, and read my work to the same. He reminded me of the sketch shows we've done together at conventions, and how we have always felt great afterwards.
He asks me again why I can't embrace Star Trek as something wonderful that I was part of, and at the same time continue to move forward as an actor and writer.
I couldn't answer him.
I don't fucking know.
The people on the 'net have rallied around me about this. The fans have raged at Creation, and Creation listened.
But there's that revolving door. I'm stuck in it, big time.
I think of this email I got where a guy said he felt like I was trying to convince myself that it is okay to be booted from Star Trek things. He's right.
I think of a comment where a guy criticizes me for being so angst-ridden about Star Trek, accuses me of being full of shit, says he can see right through me.
He has a point too. I meant what I said about being cut from the film. But having the safety bubble burst? Well, I'm still standing in it's remains, hoping I can find a way to refill it, just in case. Setting Wesley free, embracing a sense of freedom? I meant that, as well.
I feel like I have grown older, and changed. But I feel unfulfilled, unsure, and I know that the last few months of entries here have focused on that. Maybe I'm giving way too much weight to the comment of one random person who didn't even have the courage to put an email address with the anonymous comment. For all I know I could be biting on the biggest troll ever.
But there is truth to what that anonymous poster said. I'm torn. I am caught in a revolving door, and I don't know what will happen, and I am filled with angst, and that feeling is burning inside of me, keeping me awake at night, distracting me every minute of every day. It's burning in me so fiercely, so hot and insistent, that I have lost perspective. I can't make objective decisions and weigh the pros and cons effectively.
So I seek counsel from some very good friends of mine. Some people who I really trust and respect. I write to them what I've written above, with the following pros and cons:
I will do a question and answer session at the convention, and I will bring selections of my writing, and read them for the audience during and evening program.
I ask him for one more thing. I tell him that I have more in common with the fans now than I do with the actors, and I keep hearing how the fans are getting the in-person-autograph shaft these days.
I want him to put my autograph table in an area where I can sit for a few hours, so all the fans can get their stuff signed, so I can talk with people who are so inclined.
He tells me that he'd really like that. Many actors just won't do that, and he thinks it would be great.
I feel very good about this conversation, and I feel very excited to be part of this celebration.
Resolution? It's a long ways off. That's why they call it "angst."
But there is something wonderful buried in all of this:
I doubt I would have gotten this phone call if there hadn't been such a loud and immediate response from the fans.
You spoke up on my, and your, behalf, and your voice was heard.
Think about that for a moment.
Your voice was heard. You made a difference. Creation is the 800 pound gorilla of conventions. They don't have to listen to anyone.
But they listened to you. They listened to us.
That, my friends, is huge, and everyone who is reading this gets to own part of that.
I strongly suggest that you take a moment, and phone, write, FAX, or email Adam or Gary or whomever at Creation, and thank them for hearing your voices.
And if you come to the 15th show, please, please, please seek me out and introduce yourself. I'd like to know you.
Yesterday, I wrote about the scary nature of facing the world outside of what I guess we'll call "your safety bubble."
At least that's what I was trying to write about. YMMV.
I also promised to talk about why Creation cut me from their 15th anniversary of Star Trek: The Next Generation convention, and why I think it's a good thing.
To understand the events leading up to the cut, it's important to understand the realities of the Star Trek Convention (and all SF conventions, really): There was a time, long ago, when these cons existed by and for fans. They were places where fans could get together, safely dress up in costumes, debate the minutae of scripts, and generally geek out amongst friends without fear of The Jocks showing up.
Some folks realized that they could turn this phenomenon into a working business, and for better or worse, Creation was born.
For years, I had a great relationship with Creation. When I was a kid, I attended the Fangoria Weekend of Horrors shows at the Ambassador hotel. When I was on TNG, I appeared as a speaker at countless Creation conventions.
Then I had a not-so-great relationship with them for awhile. I felt that they had become the 800 pound gorilla in the convention world. They were the only kid on the block who had that cool football that all the other kids wanted to play with, and without any real competition, they charged too much, and I felt that the fans were increasingly getting the shaft.
Not the cool Richard Roundtree Shaft, either, so you can just shut your mouth right now.
In retrospect, there were many factors contributing to what I would describe as the decline and fall of the convention experience, and I think the guests need to be at the top of that list.
I never made very large speaking fees, even when I was A Big Deal™, but there were plenty of actors who did. It didn’t bother me too much at the time, because I felt that the fans were mostly showing up to see these headlining actors, and that meant Creation would earn a lot of money.
I always felt that the actors should share in that profit, until I became aware of the escalating costs to the fans, and the declining quality of the convention experience.
It was like I’d stepped out of the Ivory Tower for the first time, and I’d seen the suffering in the streets. I didn’t want any part of that world, and I didn’t want to do any more conventions. However, I was heavily pressured by my agents and publicists, so I continued to go.
I felt obligated, and I hated it.
I withdrew when I was onstage, I didn't give it my all, and I even stopped signing autographs in person. I guess I was 16 or 17 at the time. What I really wanted to be doing was playing GURPS and goofing off on this new computer network called GEnie where I could talk to people all across the country in real time!
After a few shows in this frame of mind, I quit entirely. I only did one convention that I can recall, when I was about 20, in Kansas City. It was horrible. There were about 50 people there, all crammed into the back of this auditorium because they didn’t want to pay for the “VIP” seats, so I was left talking to 50 people in a room intended for about 700, across 30 or so empty rows of seats.
I’m amazed that I didn’t climb to the balcony and jump off right then and there.
It was really hitting “Star Trek Bottom” for me, and I swore that I’d never do another convention again.
The convention world went on without me. My fellow cast members continued to regularly attend shows all over the world. I did one or two, including one in England, mostly because I love England and it was an opportunity to get over there on someone else’s dime. But in my heart, and in my ever-blackening soul, I hated it. So the cons were few and very, very far between, until I gradually stopped entirely.
Years passed, and I grew up. Like a battered wife, I began to forget the bad things and only remember how exciting it was to see OJ run for 500 yards in a game, how he would smile at me from the end zone, how sharp he looked in those Bruno Magli shoes.
I agreed to attend a convention in Pasadena, where I did the interviews that are in “Trekkies.” I don’t remember much beyond feeling like a complete loser for even being there, and embarrassed that my girlfriend, who eventually became my wife, was seeing me like this.
The world turned, and I eventually saw “Galaxy Quest.”
Seeing that movie reminded me about all the nice dinners I’d had with The Juice, how he always felt bad after he’d hit me, the fun trips we’d taken together, and how nicely tailored his gloves were.
I made a call to Adam Malin at Creation. I told him that I’d seen “Galaxy Quest,” and that it reminded me how fun Conventions could be. This was an entirely true statement. I told him that I’d be interested in doing some shows, if he’d have me. We had a very nice chat, and he invited me in for a meeting.
I went and saw him the following week, and we talked about what I was doing now, and how the convention world had changed. It was strange for me to be sitting in his corner office, on the top floor of a building in Glendale, looking out at the mountains where I used to live, telling him how grateful I was for the opportunity to talk with him about shows.
We agreed that I’d do some for him, and they’d be in touch.
What I didn’t tell him was that I hadn’t worked on anything meaningful in years, and I was really struggling as an actor. Anne and I had just gotten married, and we were under a mountain of debt.
I walked to my car, feeling dirty.
A month went by without any phone calls, and I thought that I’d been involved in yet another meaningless meeting featuring yet another string of empty promises. I began to feel depressed.
While I waited for the call to come, I spoke with Dave Scott, who owns a company called Slanted Fedora Entertainment. Dave had been doing lots of conventions, and had a good reputation amongst the fans, and more importantly, amongst my Star Trek actor friends. I told Dave that I hadn’t done a convention in a long time, and I was wondering if he would be interested in having me do one of his shows. He seemed interested, and said he’d get back to me.
Again, months passed. I did a few shitty, embarrassing, forgettable movies and I began to wonder if maybe it was time to get into some other line of work.
Something that involved exotic language like “Soup du jour.”
Before I could begin learning the art of up-selling wine, however, Dave called, and invited me to a convention in Waterbury, Connecticut, in March of 2001. In addition to me, Brent Spiner, Gates McFadden, and Denise Crosby would be attending. I was ecstatic. We agreed on a speaker’s fee, and I went to the show.
As an example of how long I’d been removed from Trek, I offer the following scene:
At the airport, I see Brent and Gates, standing by the gate, waiting to board our plane.
My heart leaps, and I walk towards them, beaming, with open arms.
They both looked up at me, like I am Hannibal Lechter, and begin to retreat.
They don’t recognize me, at all, until I tell them who I am.
Yeah, I’d been out of the game for awhile.
We did the convention, and it was really great. I had a wonderful time, and I thought that everyone there enjoyed my talk. I didn’t realize just how much they enjoyed it, until I read this review, though.
A few months after I got home, the call from Creation came. I was invited, not as a speaker, but as an autograph-signer, to the upcoming Grand Slam Convention in Pasadena.
Not as a speaker, like the rest of the cast, but as an autograph-signer, like that guy who played Transporter Chief #7 in episode 34.
This was a serious blow to my ego, especially after the success of the Slanted Fedora show, but I had swallowed my pride before, doing what I had to do in order to support my family.
I can’t imagine where I’d be right now without WWDN.
I’d also gone to the Hollywood Collector’s Show, which is often referred to as “The Hollywood Has-beens Show,” where I realized that, no matter what anyone said, I really wasn’t a has-been. I was just a guy who was really struggling, having had too much success too young.
Hey, at least I wasn’t one of the Coreys, right? Yeah, that's what I'd try to tell myself.
However, at each of these events, as frustrated as I was, as much as it wounded my pride and bruised my ego, I knew that it was a much better alternative to, “Would you like to me to check your oil, sir?” I knew that I was very lucky, and I was grateful, if ashamed, for the opportunity to support my family.
So I accepted the offer to be a signer, rather than a speaker. I didn’t get a speaking fee. I got what I could by charging a fee to sign pictures, posters, trading cards…sadly, no boobies.
Although, at one point during the day, a very pretty girl came over to me, and I am not afraid to tell you, she was seriously putting the vibe onto your Uncle Willie. I mean, she was vibing me hard. She walks up to me, hips swinging, lips pouting, eyes leering, and says, “Do you have a girlfriend?”
“No,” I tell her…expecting a replay of the hooters incident, “I have a wife!”
BOOYAH BABY! I await her chastened response.
“Oh,” she says, coyly, putting a finger in the corner of her mouth, and drawing her tongue seductively across the tip. “That’s too bad.”
And she walks away, hips swinging.
Swinging, man. The room falls silent as she walks out. A guy in a Red Dwarf T-shirt drops a box of unopened Magic cards.
I picked my jaw up off the floor.
Shortly after this convention, I was looking for posts about the con on UseNet, and I saw that some dude had taken a picture of this girl, who was like a piece of steak in a piranha tank around all of us geeks.
The message said something like, “Look at this hot girl who was at the Star Trek Convention!”
There was a reply, which said something like, “Look! Here’s another picture of her!” It was that same girl, alright, but she sure wasn't wearing the same Charlie's Angels T-shirt that she was wearing at the con...matter of fact, she wasn't wearing anything at all.
That’s right, the full-on porn model totally hit on me, right there in front of everyone. Not that I would have hit it, being married and all that, but it sure did make my inner geek happy.
That convention ended up being really great. I was able to promote my ACME show, and climb a little bit further out of debt. I did end up giving about a 20 minute talk in a very small room, which was intended to hold about a hundred people, but was packed to standing with about 150 or so. The talk went fabulously well, and Adam Malin sought me out himself to tell me that he was sorry for not putting me up on stage in The Big Room. He said that he didn’t know how much the fans liked me, or how good I was on stage. He promised to have me speak at the Grand Slam Show in 2002.
At that show, I saw Dave Scott, and he invited me to the Vegas convention that is chronicled in the as-yet-incomplete Saga of SpongeBobVegasPants.
I was back in the game, baby, and I was loving it. Cons were fun again. I’d been on the other side of the table, standing shoulder to shoulder with the fans, for a few years. I’d grown up. I’d spent time on stage in sketch comedy shows and improv shows. I understood what audiences wanted, and I was learning how to connect with the Trekkies, how to identify with them. I felt like I was able to make up, in some small way, for the years I’d spent being an ass, and I really liked it.
Then came 9/11. Then my Great Aunt died. Then the economy fell apart.
I had to cancel some cons, because of work and family commitments, and cons had to be cancelled because there simply weren’t enough people willing to buy tickets.
The promised invite to Grand Slam 2002 never materialized, but I did attend again as an autograph-signer, this time without any damage to the ego. I saw it as an opportunity to promote the WWDN, and get closer to that magic Zero on the Home Equity Balance Sheet. I did speak in that same little theatre, this time to about 14 people, because I was programmed opposite Ricardo Montalban, who was occupying The Big Stage.
The only cons I was able to attend were the Galaxy Ball, chronicled here, and the CruiseTrek trip to Alaska, which is in the as yet unwritten “Untitled CruiseTrek Project,” which is coming soon, I promise.
I was also invited to attend the Creation Celebration of 15 Years of Next Generation, and a Slanted Fedora convention in Las Vegas in early September.
Why do I do cons? There are several reasons. It’s a good way to support my family, first and foremost. It would be disingenuous to say otherwise. I also enjoy the attention. It’s nice to tell my stupid stories, and make my stupid jokes for an audience that wants to like me. But the reason that I’ve become aware of since that Waterbury show, the thing that I’ve really gotten in touch with, is the tremendous satisfaction I derive from giving something back to the fans.
Look, the way I see it, I'm getting paid a speaker's fee for these shows, and that fee is coming out of the fan's pockets, so I owe the fans a memorable experience. I work my ass off at these shows, because it is my responsibility to ensure that they get their money's worth. If someone wants to ask me a question I’ve been asked a hundred times, I’m glad to answer it, because it means I won’t have be answering a question that I’ve been asked a thousand times…but seriously, folks, try the fish.
Wait. If someone wants to ask me a question I’ve been asked a hundred times before, I’m going to listen, and answer it like it’s the first time I’ve ever been asked. I’m going to do everything that I can to let the people who are there know that I value their time, and their appreciation of what we do. I’m going to really make sure that people feel that it was worth it to come to the damn convention. I’m going to give something back to the fans, however small.
One of the things I've been doing, to make conventions memorable for the fans, is performing with my sketch comedy group. We do a show that is geared for a smart, sci-fi-oriented audience, and each time we do it, the fans go nuts.
When Creation asked me if I would attend the 15th Anniversary Celebration show, they also asked if I would bring my sketch comedy group to perform a show. They told me that they’d heard from people who saw it in Las Vegas, or on CruiseTrek, that it was great, and would I consider doing a show?
I told them I’d love to do that, and they asked me about fees. I did some math in my head, figured out what it would cost for my group, reduced my personal speaking fee (bad economy, people losing jobs and 401(k)’s and all that) and gave them a figure. They said it sounded good, and they’d be in touch.
They called back in early August, with a very different number. A low number. An insultingly low number.
I asked why the number was so low. I put my fees into perspective, alongside the fees commanded by some of the other Trek actors.
The terse answer came very quickly: “Well, we just don’t think of you as a very big part of the Trek family.”
They had a point, I guess. TNG ran for seven seasons. I did four as a regular and a few episodes in the fifth year. There have been five TNG movies, and was almost in one of them.
Yeah, I guess I wasn’t as big a part of the Trek family, from their point of view.
But I was an original cast member on TNG. This was a “Celebration of 15 years of TNG” convention. They’d just made several million dollars at a show in Las Vegas. Surely they could come up a bit, negotiate a little.
Not a chance. Take it or leave it, Wheaton.
I considered their offer, and did some math. I thought about what it would cost for my comedy group. There are eleven of us, and putting together a show is expensive. The people in my group are all professional writers and actors, and I have to pay them for their time. We have to pay for rehearsal space, costumes and programs. I did the math, and when it was all done, if I paid my comedy group what they deserve, I would earn a few hundred dollars. I was unwilling to make them work for less than they deserve. I told this to Creation.
They’d just made several million dollars at a show in Las Vegas. Surely they could negotiate a little.
I offered to do the show for the fee they were offering, but I wouldn’t be able to provide the comedy group. In place of the comedy group, I’d bring some selections from my website: The Trade, The Wesley Dialogues, Spare Us The Cutter, and I’d read them on stage. It would fill the hour, and it would give something really cool and unique to the fans. I read some things on CruiseTrek, and they loved it.
No dice, Wheaton. The offer is for your group. Not for you alone. Take it or leave it. You’re not part of the family.
This put me in a very tough position. I wanted to be part of this show. I wanted to see the cast again. The fans, I thought, would really enjoy seeing me. The fans, I told them, have been reading my website in huge numbers. The fans, I told them, and I have really made a connection in the last year. I think it’s going to suck if I’m not there. They’d just made several million dollars at a show in Las Vegas. Surely they could reconsider.
We’ve made our position clear, Wheaton. You’re wasting our time. Take it, or leave it.
Well, I had to leave it. I think that there is a certain value attached to having me at a convention, especially one which purports to celebrate 15 years of The Next Generation, and while I was willing to adjust that value greatly, They’d just made several million dollars at a show in Las Vegas, and I wasn’t about to undervalue myself.
It sucks, I think, that I won’t be there.
It sucks for me, and I think it sucks for the fans.
Sure, there are fans that will be as angry at me as I am at baseball players right now, and I can’t fault them for that.
But I hope that there are fans who understand why I had to make the decision I made. They’d just made several million dollars at a show in Las Vegas. I tried to negotiate with them, but they had decided that I wasn’t a member of the Trek family, and it is their business. I respect that, though I may disagree with it.
When I hung up the phone with them, I felt awful.
I walked Ferris, which I often do when I'm upset, or stuck, or need to gain some perspective on things.
During that walk, I realized that in the long run this will be a good thing.
Yesterday, I wrote about the scary nature of facing the world outside of what I guess we'll call "your safety bubble."
Star Trek has always been my safety bubble, and getting cut from this convention, along with getting cut from the movie, has pretty much burst that bubble.
As that bubble collapses and pools around me, I step out of its false sense of security.
I take another step into a brave new world, conquering myself until I see another hurdle approaching.
Sometimes we know in our bones what we really need to do, but we're afraid to do it.
Taking a chance, and stepping beyond the safety of the world we've always known is the only way to grow, though, and without risk there is no reward.
Thoughts like this have weighed heavily on me for the last year or so, as I look around and reassess my life.
This past year has involved more self-discovery and more change than any so far in my life. It's been tumultuous, scary, exhilarating, depressing, thrilling, joyful.
I've realized recently that I have changed dramatically since I started this website. When it began just over a year ago, I was very adrift, terrified that the Internet would tear me apart.
Well, it did, and it turns out that was a great thing. The Internet kicked my ass, and it forced me to find strength within myself, and to not derive my sense of self-worth from the opinions of others.
This website has introduced me to amazing people, weird people, scary people. This website, and many people who read it, has also helped me figure out what is important to me in my life, what makes me happy.
I guess the feeling has been building for a long time, and I knew it was there, but I wasn't willing to acknowledge it. It was --is-- scary. It's a major change in my life, but I can't ignore it, and to ignore it is to ignore myself, and cheat myself out of what I think my real potential is.
Back in the middle of May, I was asked to do this commercial. Well, not just a commercial, more of an infomercial, really. My first reaction was, "No way. Infomercials are death to an actor's career."
But then I thought about the last few years of my life as an actor. The daily frustrations. Losing jobs for stupid, capricious, unfair reasons.
I looked back and saw that it really started when my friend Roger promised me a role in Rules of Attraction, then yanked it away from me without so much as a phonecall or email or anything. Then there was the roller coaster of Win Ben Stein's Money, and missing family vacations so I could stay home and go on auditions that all ended up being a huge waste of my time.
Throughout this time, this painful, frustrating Trial, I began to write more and more. It's all here on WWDN. I can see my writing style change, as I find my voice, and figure out what I want to say, and how I want to say it.
The emails changed, too. People stopped asking me to do interviews for them about Star Trek, and started asking me if I'd conrtibute to their magazines, or weblogs, or books.
When this phonecall came for the infomercial, I took a long walk, and assessed my life.
The bottom line was: They were offering to pay me enough to support my family for the rest of this year. I wouldn't have to worry about bills anymore. I wouldn't have to view each audition as This One Big Chance That I Can't Screw Up.
Accepting it would mean some security for me and my family. It was also a really cool computer-oriented product (which I'll get to later, don't worry). It's not like I would be hawking "The Ab-Master 5000" or "Miracle Stain Transmogrifier X!"
It would also mean, to me at least, the end of any chance I had of ever being a really major actor again. That elusive chance to do a film as good as, or better than Stand By Me or a TV series as widely-watched as TNG would finally fall away.
I thought of all these things, walking Ferris through my neighborhood.
It was a long walk.
I thought of Donald Crowhurst.
I thought about why actors --and by actors I mean working, struggling actors like myself, not Big Time Celebrities like I was 15 years ago-- suffer the indignities of auditions and the whims of Hollywood.
I remembered something I said to a group of Drama students just before their graduation: "If you want to be a professional actor, you have to love the acting, the performing, the thrill of creating a character and giving it life. You have to love all of that more than you hate how unfair the industry is, more than the constant rejection --and it is constant-- hurts. You must have a passion within you that makes it worthwhile to struggle for years while pretty boys and pretty girls take your parts away from you again and again and again."
I listened to my words, echoing off the linoleum floor of that High School auditorium, and realized that those words, spoken long ago were as much for me as they were for them.
I listened to my words and I realized: I don't have that passion any more. I simply isn't there.
I am no longer willing to miss a family vacation, or a birthday, or a recital, for an audition.
I am no longer willing to humiliate myself for some casting director who refuses to accept the fact that I'm pretty good with comedy.
I am no longer willing to ignore what I'm best at, and what I love the most, because I've spent the bulk of my life trying to succeed at something else.
So I walked back to my house, picked up the phone, and accepted the offer.
It was tumultuous, scary, exhilarating, depressing, thrilling, joyful.
I would spend the next three weeks wondering if I'd made the right decision. I would question and doubt it over and over again.
Was it the right decision? I don't know.
Things have certainly changed for me, though. I have had 3 auditions since May. A year ago that would have killed me, but I'm really not bothered by it now.
I've made my family my top priority, and decided to focus on what I love: downloading porn.
I've decided to focus on what I really love, what is fulfilling, maybe even what I am meant to do, in the great cosmic sense: I am writing.
I write every day, and I see the faint outlines of something really cool. I occasionally catch glimpses of an ability, unrefined, long-ignored, coming to life.
Sometimes we know in our bones what we really need to do, but we're afraid to do it.
Taking a chance, and stepping beyond the safety of the world we've always known is the only way to grow, though, and without risk there is no reward.
Risk was always one of my favorite games.
Tomorrow: Why Creation Cut Me From The 15th Anniversary of TNG Convention, and Why It's a Good Thing.
I'm working my ass off today for Arena...we're working on a really cool special, and I'm under the gun to finish a script, so I don't have time for a real entry...
The interesting thing about this story, and the proliferation of stories like it, and celebrity weblogs, is that most people aren't able to see people like me, who are on their tvs, as real people, with real problems and real dreams.
People look for and expect to find a validation of their perception of the celebrity in question, and when they don't find that, they either react with surprise and delight, or they find ways to force what they found to fit their perception.
If someone came here looking for a failed actor, they could find that. If someone came here looking for a very happy husband and father, they could find that too.
It depends on what they're looking for, I think, and what they're willing to see.
The call came while I was out, so I didn't get the message until days later.
"Hi," the young-sounding secretary said on my machine, "I have Rick Berman calling for Wil. Please return when you get the message."
I knew before she was even done with the message, but I tried to fool myself for a few minutes anyway.
I looked at the clock: 8 PM. They'd most likely be out, so I'd have to call tomorrow.
I told Anne that I had a message to call Rick's office, and she knew right away also.
We'd thought about it for months, ever since I'd heard the rumors online. Of course, I tend to not put a whole lot of stock in what I read online...if I did I'd be overwhelmed with the sheer amount of hot teen bitches who want to get naked for me right now, and I'd be rolling in Nigerian money.
But it made sense, and I couldn't fight what I knew in my heart to be true.
I returned the call late the next day from my car on my way home from work. I was driving along a narrow tree-lined street in Pasadena that I sometimes take when the traffic is heavy on the freeway.
Children played on bikes and jumped rope in the growing shadows of the July afternoon. The street was stained a beautiful orange by the setting sun.
"This is Wil Wheaton returning," I told her.
She tells me to hold on, and then he's on the phone.
"Hi kiddo. How are you?"
"I'm doing fine. You know I turn 30 on Monday?"
There is a pause.
"I can't believe we're all getting so old," he says.
"I know. I emailed Tommy [his son] awhile ago, and he's in college now. If that made me feel old, I can't imagine what my turning 30 is doing to the rest of you guys."
We chuckle. This is probably just small-talk, so it's not as severe when he tells me, but it feels good regardless. Familiar, familial.
"Listen, Wil. I have bad news."
Although I've suspected it for months, and I have really known it since I heard the message the night before, my stomach tightens, my arms grow cold.
"We've had to cut your scene from the movie."
He pauses for breath, and that moment is frozen, while I assess my feelings.
I almost laugh out loud at what I discover: I feel puzzled.
I feel puzzled, because the emotions I expected: the sadness, the anger, the indignation...aren't there.
I realize that he's waiting for me.
"Why'd you have to cut it?"
This doesn't make sense. I should be furious. I should be depressed. I shuould be hurt.
But I don't feel badly, at all.
"Well, it doesn't have anything to do with you," he begins.
I laugh silently. It never does. When I don't get a part, or a callback, or get cut from a movie, it never has anything to do with me. Like a sophmore romance. "It's not you. It's me. I've met Jimmy Kimmel's cousin, and things just happened."
There is an unexpected sincerity to what he tells me: the movie is long. The first cut was almost 3 hours. The scene didn't contribute to the main story in any way, so it was the first one to go.
He tells me that they've cut 48 minutes from the movie.
I tell him that they've cut an entire episode out. We laugh.
There is another silence. He's waiting for me to respond.
I drive past some kids playing in an inflatable pool in their front yard. On the other side of the street, neighbors talk across a chain link fence. An older man sits on his porch reading a paper.
"Well Rick," I begin, "I completely understand. I've thought about this on and off for months, and I knew that if the movie was long, this scene, and maybe even this entire sequence, would have to go. It's just not germaine to the spine of the story."
He tells me that they had to consider cutting the entire beginning of the movie. He tells me that he has to call one of the other actors because they've suffered rather large cuts as well.
I stop at a 4-way stop sign and let a woman and her little daughter cross the street on their way into a park filled with families, playing baseball and soccer in the waning light.
I look them. The mother's hand carefully holding her daughter's.
I realize why I'm not upset, and I tell him.
"Well, Rick, it's like this: I love Star Trek, and, ultimately, I want what's best for Star Trek and the Trekkies. If the movie is too long, you've got to cut it, and this scene is the first place I'd start if I were you.
"The great thing is, I got to spend two wonderful days being on Star Trek again, working with the people I love, wearing the uniform that I missed, and I got to re-connect with you, the cast, and the fans. Nobody can take that away from me."
"And, it really means a lot to me that you called me yourself. I can't tell you how great that makes me feel,"
It's true. He didn't need to call me himself. Most producers wouldn't.
"I'm so glad that you took the time to call me, and that I didn't have to learn about this at the screening, or by reading it on the internet."
He tells me again how sorry he is. He asks about my family, and if I'm working on anything. I tell him they're great, that Ryan's turning 13, and that I've been enjoying steady work as a writer since January.
We're back to small talk again, bookending the news.
I ask him how the movie looks.
He tells me that they're very happy with it. He thinks it's going to be very successful.
I'm feel happy and proud.
I've heard stories from people that everyone had lots of trouble with the director. I ask him if that's true.
He tells me that it was tough, because the director had his own vision. There were struggles, but ultimately they collaborated to make a great film.
I come to a stoplight, a bit out of place in this quiet residential neighborhood. A young married couple walks their golden retriever across the crosswalk.
We say our goodbyes, and he admonishes me to call him if I'm ever on the lot. He tells me that he'll never forgive me if I don't stop into his office when I'm there.
I tell him that will, and that I'll see him at the screening.
He wishes me well, and we hang up the phone.
The light turns green and I sit there for a moment, reflecting on the conversation.
I think back to something I wrote in April while in a pit of despair: "I wonder if The Lesson is that, in order to succeed, I need to rely upon myself, trust myself, love myself, and not put my happiness and sadness into the hands of others."
I meant everything that I said to him. It really doesn't matter to me if I'm actually in the movie or not, and not in a bitter way at all.
I could focus on the disappointment, I suppose. I could feel sad.
Getting cut out of the movie certainly fits a pattern that's emerged in the past two years or so.
But I choose not to. I choose instead to focus on the positives, the things I can control. I did have two wonderful days with people I love, and it was like I'd never left. I did get to reconnect with the fans and the franchise. Rick Berman, a person with whom I've not always had the best relationship, called me himself to tell me the news, and I felt like it weighed heavily on him to deliver it.
Nobody can take that away from me, and I'm not going to feel badly, at all.
Because I have a secret.
I have realized what's important in my life since April, and they are at the end of my drive.
The dog-walking couple smile and wave to me.
The light changes.
Somewhere in Brooklyn, Wesley Crusher falls silent forever.
For the last 10 days or so, I've been hearing this countdown at least once a day.
It goes something like this: "9 more days until my birthday!"
Or, "you know what happens in 4 days? It's my birthday!"
(That last one sounds better if you sing it)
Well, the countdown has been leading up to tomorrow, August 8th, which is my wife Anne's birthday. We look forward to her birthday each year because we always take the family camping for a couple of days...and we don't have to hear the countdown.
Well, that's not entirely true...we'll hear "Only 364 more days until my birthday!" At least once.
So today is the day that we leave for the magnificent and storied Great Outdoors. I won't have time to write again until next week.
In honor of my wife's birthday, I offer the following Thought For Today, which perfectly describes our life together:
"I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I --
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."
I have just returned from Chicago.
That's right, Chicago.
Because my wife surprised me for my 30th birthday, and took me to Wrigley Field to watch the Cubbies.
There are many exciting details, but no time to go into them. I've got a busy day ahead. I'll try to update infor later.
Today is my step-son Ryan's 13th birthday.
He is excited because he's turning 13 on the 31st, which, he pointed out to me, is a palindrome.
Okay, how many 13 year olds do you know of who even know what a palindrome is, much less care enough about it to get excited?
I know 1, and he is awesome.
Well, it looks like the time has come for me to step into the carousel.
While I am entering my 30th year on planet earth, WWDN isn't even officially 1 year old, although technically I had the old, lame website up at this time last year...craziness.
My "My Yahoo!" page says, "Happy Birthday, TVsWilWheaton!" and when I click it, it takes me to this page. Check out who's number 3 on the celebrity birthday list! This made me giddy with excitement last year, and it did it again this year. :-)
Since it's my birthday, I think I'll start out the celebration by posting 7 things I'm grateful for on my birthday:
Finally, I am amazed and grateful that people even give a shit about how I'm doing, and what I'm doing, and take the time to make things like this:
Thank you to everyone who sent me this image, and the cool site that posted it, and thank you to the scores of WWDN readers who have sent birthday wishes, especially those of you who have been visiting this lame website since it began.
An extra-special thank you is due to the Monkeys in the Soapbox. You guys RAWK, and you know why.
Yesterday my little brother got married, and I was the best man in the ceremony.
It was wonderful.
I'm going to keep the details private, because sharing with the entire internet the particulars of a very special family event is just weird.
However, I will say: I have always felt that weddings should reflect the personalities of the bride and groom. Weddings shouldn't be about forcing the couple into anyone's particular mold or any one person's *cough*grandma*cough*'s idea of what a wedding should be. I just hate it that people feel like they must conform to certain ideals, and I was thrilled that Jeremy and Jenn did their wedding their way. It was very unconventional, fun, touching, and memorable.
One really cool thing they did was to welcome to the ceremony people who couldn't be there, whether they were living or dead, by ringing a bell. Jeremy rang the bell, and welcomed, among other people, my Aunt Val. It breaks my heart that Aunt Val didn't get to be there in person to see Jeremy and Jenn get married; she always called him "my little boy," and I know that they each kept large areas of their hearts reserved for each other. I was really glad that she was able to attend in spirit, and I thought that the ringing of the bell was beautiful.
The next time we have an important family gathering, I'm going to ring a bell, and invite Aunt Val to join us.
At the reception I saw lots of people who I don't see very often, and many of them told me that they've been reading my website...which immediately made me feel weird. It's easier to write what's on my mind when I don't think about the people reading it, especially people I know. When I wrote the story about 4th of July recently, my dad told me that he sent it to everyone in the family who was there, and how they remembered it and all that...it's just strange. Even writing this paragraph now I have had to resist the urge to delete it.
Well, tomorrow is my birthday. I turn 30. Then Wednesday is Ryan's birthday. He turns 13. Holy. Crap.
I have already gotten some AMAZINGLY COOL Birthday presents, but they get their own entry in a few days.
I hope everyone is having a great weekend. Now go outside!
I turn 30 in one week. Almost to the minute, actually. I think I was born sometime around 12:30 in the afternoon. My great aunt used to tell me that being born close to noon was a good thing...so I got that going for me, which is nice.
Lots of people have emailed wondering what's going on, because my posts here have been less frequent, so I'll address that for a minute: It's summer. It's warm and beautiful outside, and I've been spending less and less time in front of the computer. This is quite the opposite of a year ago, when I was sitting here for 5 hours a day, working on the site, updating the weblog and answering emails...I guess my priorities have been reassigned, because there is really nothing in the world more important to me than hanging out with my wife these days.
Speaking of my birthday and my insanely cool wife, she had a HUGE surprise party for me on Friday night! She got all of my friends in on it, even convinced my family to come out, and totally surprised me. 100%. It was really cool.
See, she'd told me that our friend Burns was going to see James Brown, and he had an extra ticket, so he was going to take her. This left me without anything to do on Friday night, so my friend Stephanie (who introduced me to Anne) and I decided that we'd go do something, and that something ended up being going to see Save Ferris at the OC Fair.
I was all excited to leave early, get to the fair in the afternoon, and eat numerous types of food (all on-a-stick of course), ride the dangerous carnical rides (staffed by creepy dudes on work release of course), and learn many exciting facts about Emus and Ostriches (sitting in a pen right next to a stand selling Ostrich and Emu burgers...on a stick of course).
Trouble was, Stephanie told me, she couldn't leave until almost 7PM, because she was doing something really important (turns out it was setting up for my party). So I waited...played with Ferris, played Tony Hawk 3 (opened up the Cruise Ship level!) and ate some Chick-Nuggets, lamenting the fact that they were not on a stick.
Well, 7PM finally arrives, and Stephanie isn't at my house. 7:30 comes and goes, and she's still not there. Now I'm beginning to get anxious, because SF goes on at 8:30. Monique put us on the guest list, and I think it's extra rude to show up late when you're on the list.
It's 7:45 when Steph finally shows up. I run to her car, jump in, and tell her that we may need to push the speed limt just a bit so we get there on time...and she tells me that she needs to drop off an envelope at this guy's work for a friend of hers. She tells me that it's right off the freeway, so it should only take 1 minute.
So I tell her that I'm going to count once we get off the freeway...which I do. I'm approaching "50" when we pull into the parking lot. Stephanie tells me, "Run this envelope in, and give it to Terry. He should be right inside the door."
I hop out of the car, run up the stairs, and say, "I'm looking for Terry!"
Turns out there's not a Terry there, but my wife, parents, and most of my friends are, and they all yell, "SURPRISE!!!"
I was totally stunned. It was the last thing in the world I expected, and we went on to have an insanely fun night at this place. There were batting cages, lazer tag, basketball courts, video games...funny that we had a party for my 30th birthday at a place I would have loved when I was 12. This fact really sums up who I am. :)
The party was awesome. I played nearly an hour of lazer tag, learned that even though I'm left-handed, I bat much better from the right, and ate way too much cake.
The best part, though, was the feeling I had when I stopped to think for a second about how hard it is to pull off a surprise party. I know how hard it is, and it really made me feel loved by my wife and friends, because the pulled it off flawlessly.
Saturday was spent doing a bunch of nothing, and yesterday Anne and I took Ferris to the Dog Beach in Orange County. If you live with an hour of this place and you have a dog, you just gotta go. It was really, really fun.
One last word on updates, and the frequency of them: I'm writing this from work, because my computer at home completely blew up this morning. Smoke and everything. So until I replace it, we may all have to spend even more time outdoors...which isn't such a bad thing, really. :)
Last summer, at the Creation Grand Slam convention in Pasadena, there was a tribute to Gene Roddenberry. I was asked to speak at the tribute, and I eagerly agreed. However, the tribute was going to conflict with a show that I was in at the ACME, so I couldn't be at the tribute.
By the way, can I please say "tribute" again?
Tribute. Tribute. Tribute.
Well, I was very torn. I really wanted to be there to honor him, but I couldn't back out of the sketch show at the last minute. So, I asked my friend Richard, who was putting together the event (notice I didn't say "Tribute?") if I could write something down, and have it read on my behalf. He agreed, and I was able to be in two places at once. Sort of.
Earlier today, Anne and I were cleaning and organizing stuff in our house, and I found what I'd written, dropped behind a dresser, on a folded up sheet of yellow legal paper.
I'd like to share it with you all today.
"Gene Roddenberry's office door was always open to me, regardless of who was already there.
He always made me feel important, like he was proud of the work I was doing, and that he was glad to have me as part of his great creation.
When we were shooting TNG, I had no idea that he had named Wesley after himself. I'm glad, because at the time, the sense of responsibility would have paralyzed me.
However, knowing that now, the sense of honor and pride is overwhelming, and hope that, somewhere, Gene is still proud of all of us.
Gene was an anachronism in Hollywood. He was a warm, caring, profoundly creative man who never compromised his vision.
I am proud to be part of his legacy, and it is an honor to remember him tonight."
It's nearly 10PM.
The kids are with their dad, leaving Anne and me in an empty, quiet house.
We sit at our dining room table, Ferris asleep at our feet, the 85 degree Southern California air stirred only by a single fan in our air-conditioner-less house.
We're reading. She reads a magazine, I read a book, and Charlie Parker travels through time from 1950, transported by our radio, tirelessly bebopping at us.
These moments that we share, just the two of us are precious few, and I cherish them.
I close my book and tell her, "You are the other half of my heartbeat."
They're not my words. I've borrowed them from Dizzy Gillespie, who was speaking, ironically, of Bird...
...but truer words have never passed my lips.
You know that adage, "Be careful what you wish for?" I should have heeded it. For months I was complaining about how bored I was and how I had nothing to do...there are few things in the world that I hate more than being idle...and, while I wasn't looking, I got busy.
Really, really busy.
I crammed months and months of work into about 8 or 9 weeks: Writing for Arena, two different sketch shows, preparing for the show we did on the cruise, trying to keep this website interesting and relevant...oh, and being a husband and step-father, too.
Actually, it was pretty cool, and I'm really grateful that I was so busy, but I'm glad it's over.
I have never been so creatively exhausted in my life as I am right now.
And get this: to end it all, in the last 36 hours I've been in 4 different states, and seen two major oceans with my own eyes. (More about that later, when I actually have the time to tell a long and interesting story)
So this morning, as I sit here, drinking my coffee, listening to Exodus, getting ready to go to the beach with my wife and kids for the first time this summer, I take a deep breath, look at my dog, and enjoy this moment.
I don't believe that we're ever given more than we can really handle, even if we don't think we can handle it.
Life is good.
So the short version is: We're back. We had an amazing trip, and now we're home.
The long version is: We're both sick, I have a show tonight, and no time to write anything about what we did.
But it was just weird to me to see this big empty space...so I filled it.
Anne and I are getting ready to leave. Our plane to Vancouver departs in just a few hours, and we're finishing up the last-minute packing, and cleaning up our house, because it's so nice to come home from a vacation to a house that's not a mess.
Our house is usually a mess. I say it's the hallmark of a family who works a lot...Anne says it's because I'm lazy...I think the truth is somewhere in the middle.
So the last 2 weeks have been crazy, as we get ready for CruiseTrek. I've been working on 2 shows for G4, finishing all my sketch comedy writing class assignments( we have a show the day after I get back from Alaska), and re-writing my sketches for the ACME show. I also enlisted the help of my friend Sean to help me design some cool T-shirts for our sketch comedy group, which we are calling Earnest Borg 9.
Get it? Who's with me?! Yeah!!
So the point of all this is, I've been really busy, just getting ready to go, and I sat down here about 10 minutes ago, just to check the weather in Alaska, and take a quick look at the website, and I thought to myself, "Hey, I think I'll check out my walk-a-thon sponsorships, and see how I'm doing."
You people RULE!! It's been less than a week, and already we're at $1,875.00!!
I am so ecstatic, and so proud. I don't think I'm going to have a problem reaching my goal of $5,000. As a matter of fact, if I hit that goal by the end of July, I'm going to reset my goal and aim even higher.
Thank you, most sincerely, to everyone who has donated to sponsor me.
I will attempt to update from Alaska, so keep watching this space.
Have you checked out my Message Board yet? It's a fun place to hang out while Uncle Willie's out of town.
Thought for Today:
"Our doubts are traitors,
And make us lose the good we oft might win
By fearing to attempt."
-William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure
I slept on the couch last night, and set my alarm to 415 am so I could watch the game without waking up my wife.
Nolan slept on the floor in front of me, and ordered me to wake him when the game started.
When the alarm went off, we both sat up, and watched USA take on Germany...
In October, Anne and I are participating in the AVON Breast Cancer 3 Day Walk from Santa Barbara to Malibu.
It's a 3 day, 60 mile walkathon. All the money raised goes to Breast Cancer Research, and to support women and their families who are affected by the disease.
We are walking for a friend of ours who is a survivor. Even though she survived, her bills and lost income are still affecting her and her family.
I've set my goal at 5,000 dollars. I think we can easily do that. Please take a look at my walk homepage, and give whatever you can, no matter how small, and sleep well tonight, knowing that you've made a difference.
Thank you :-)
Thought for today:
"Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow"
I've been staying up well past midnight the last couple of weeks, to watch the World Cup.
I'm one of those rare people in the US who actually LOVES international soccer. I'm not a huge fan of MLS, because the level of play just isn't very good, but I watch English Premiere League all the time, and I never miss a USA Cup qualifier if I can help it.
So I get pretty damn excited every 4 years, even though I have absolutely nobody in my circle of friends with whom I can discuss the matches.
Last night, I watched Team USA (who is actually pretty good for the first time in my lifetime) take on Team Mexico (who has been a VERY good team since about 1997, I guess). You can read more if you'd like to hear my ramblings on the match. If you're planning on watching the delayed match, don't click it. :)
Yesterday morning, I had to run some errands. I had to go to the bank, put some bills in the mail, and stuff.
Ryan was working in the Snack Shack at the little league field, so I asked Nolan if he wanted to come with me.
Nolan never wants to come with me, because he's the kind of kid who'd rather hang at home and watch TV or play PS2, or do just about anything except ride in the car.
But I ask him each time, because I really do enjoy his company, and there's always a chance he could say yes.
Yesterday, he said yes. I think it had something to do with the fact that I have a new car (turned in my Passat for a Golf since my lease was up) and I suggested that I may be stopping at 7-11 for a slurpee on the way home.
Hey, a little bribe never hurt anyone.
Well, that's not even remotely true, but the point is, he agreed. :)
I was surprised, but happy, and we headed out to do our errands.
We had a great time, listening to Cake and Save Ferris, Nolan asking me all the technical specs of the new car, recalling drives we had in the old car, and talking about the coming summer vacation.
The bank I go to has this new security thingy, where they make you walk through this chamber where both doors must close before you can get in or out.
Nolan wants to go through by himself, but I told him that I wanted to go through together to save time. He agreed too quickly, and I could tell that he was scheming.
So we conduct our business in the bank, and as we're getting ready to leave, Nolan races ahed of me, and into the exit chamber. He lets the door close in my face, and crosses to the outer door, which he opens, and then holds open, pointing and giggling at me, because now I can't get out.
I laughed with him, and told him to close the door, so he lets it go, but catches it with his foot, so it's held open about 3 inches. He continues to giggle and point, and finally lets the door close.
We hit the post office, got our slurpees, and headed home. I went to an ACME workshop while he stayed with Anne and Ryan and played in the pool next door.
When I got home, we barbecued turkey burgers and went for a walk all around our neighborhood, the 4 of us laughing about all sorts of things, chasing each other, and enjoying the beginning of summer. When we got home, Anne took out the hose to water the lawn, and we stayed out front with her, watching Ferris jump through the water and tear around the yard.
When Anne was nearly done, the kids decided to limbo under the stream of water, which of course led to the 4 of us having a massive water fight at 9PM last night.
I can't remember the last time we had a day in this family where we just played, and enjoyed each other, and felt free of the burdens that have hung over us for nearly 3 years. Let me tell you, we needed it. Things have been extremely tough for Nolan and Ryan, Nolan especially, with their father the last couple of months. He often puts his interests ahead of theirs, with really upsetting results for the boys. It's been killing me to see these two little people, who I love so dearly, be constantly hurt by someone who they love. Not being able to really do anything about it sucks, too. They've both been really unhappy, Nolan especially, and seeing them both giggle and play and laugh and just relax for a whole day was really wonderful.
We ended the night eating ice cream and sitting on the living room floor listening to the radio.
When I put the kids into bed, I said to Nolan, "I really had fun with you today. I really enjoyed your company."
He lifted his head off his pillow and replied, "Me too, Wil. I want to spend LOTS of time together this summer."
I hope they're all days like yesterday.
Today is Ryan and Nolan's last day of school.
I can't believe that it's here. The end of elementary school for Nolan, and the end of 7th grade for Ryan.
I recall those days when time was measured in terms of school years, but when I look back at my childhood, the only times I remember with any clarity are the summer vacations.
I remember the oppressive heat and still, smoggy air in the San Fernando Valley where I grew up.
I remember the sense of accomplishment I felt when I forced myself to stay awake nearly all night the day I got out of school in 5th or 6th grade, watching VHS tapes of wrestling on the top-loading VCR, just because summer had started, and I could sleep in.
I remember the progression of water-themed toys: The hose, the thing with the clown hat that spun atop the stream of water that you jumped through, the slip-n-slide, and finally the swimming pool.
The Sunland of my elementary and early middle school days only exists in those summertime memories of ice cream trucks and afternoon naps underneath the wall-unit air conditioner.
Back when the livin' was easy.
Before I say anything, I should point out that, yes, the last entry should be titled TAKE THAT, Comic Book Guy.
It is a glowing, shining, permanent example of just how totally over-extended I am in my life right now.
I actually woke up last week, and realized with great horror that I was simply...empty. I was totally out of ideas, and didn't have anything interesting to write about here. I think I'm being pulled in too many creative directions all at once, which is A Very Good Thing(tm)...but I'm more than just a little bit bummed that I'm not living up to my own standards here, recently...I mean, come on, reruns?! That shit is played, y0.
Anyway, since last time I wrote, I've actually been out in the real world doing stuff: I hiked to the top of Henninger Flats with Anne and found a geocache, went to Sacramento to collect on my bet with Boomer and The Dave at KWOD 106.5, and signed 200 pictures for the Star Trek Cruise.
There's some other very exciting stuff, but I can't talk about it yet. :-(
I've been up since 4AM on 5 hours of sleep, so I'm going to slllllllmmzzxxlxpxhghgxxxxxxx
Included in this huge lot of stuff is a series of memos written by Bob Justman, one of the main creative producers and a very cool guy, to Gene Roddenberry. In the memos, Bob gives notes on the various scripts and story ideas.
This memo is about the episode "Code of Honor":
"Next problem. No Wes. We have Will Wheaton on a 13 out of 13 deal -- just like our other regulars. We pay him whether we photograph him or not. If we don't use him, all his teenybopper fans are going to be disappointed and we won't be taking advantage of one of our new show's greatest assets. I'm told we're not using him because our writers don’t' know how to write for him. I find that hard to believe. They're writers, aren't they? I know damn well that *you* can write him -- so why don't you show them how? Put him in a scene. I know you can do it. Another problem solved." "Listen to what Rick Berman has to say about this script -- and everything else, for that matter. He's smart and has very good ideas. He's already a great asset to you and 'Star Trek'. I'm sure that, as time zooms by, he'll become even more valuable."
I've looked over most of this stuff, and it's just incredible the amount of work these people put into making this series work.
While I'm sure some lucky (and wealthy) collectors will gleefully add this stuff to their private collections, I sure hope that these memos and notes are copied somewhere, and eventually collected into a book. I'd like to read it.
The show last night ranks in my top 10 JKvS shows of all time.
Keith and I were in perfect synch, the audience was totally on our side, and Save Ferris simply RAWKED!
I can not believe that I got to sit on the stage while one of my favorite bands of ALL FREAKING TIME played three songs.
There is ONE JKvS Show left this year, in two weeks...so make your plans now, kids.
OH! I totally forgot: Tomorrow (Sunday) is Wesley Crusher day on TNN!!
Okay, so I know that the little guy is totally gone and all...but there's something infinitely cool about TNN devoting a whole day to that silly little freak.
I hope everyone had a nice weekend...mine was spent with the boys, because Anne headed up to Portland to visit one of her friends for her birthday.
I was really looking forward to a cool "just us guys" weekend, but the boys were really in a lousy mood most of the weekend. They just wouldn't stop bickering with each other, and Ryan had on his "I'm 12 and you're an idiot" pants most of the time. I bet he found them in my box of stuff from my parent's house...I think I'll go burn the "I'm 14 and you're an asshole" pants before he can find them. Nostalgia be damned!
We did do some cool things this weekend, though.
Nolan had a soccer game on Saturday, and I thought I was going to miss it because I have a class on Saturdays, but the teacher gave me the OK to come late, so I could watch the game. Nolan's playing indoor soccer in a different league than the evil AYSO league he played in last year here. It is really non-competitive, with the focus put 100% on the kids having fun and goofing off. The parents and the coaches were really cool, except for one parent who was sitting next to the kids and me while we were waiting for Nolan's game to start. This guy's kid must have been, oh, five, maybe six years old, and his dad thought it was extremely important that he scream at the kid to "ATTACK THE GODDAM BALL, JUSTIN!"
Yeah. He's lucky I wasn't wearing my "I'm 29 and you're a shitty parent" pants, because I'd have let him have it.
The coolest thing happened at this game, though. Nolan had invited my parents to come and watch, as well as two of my friends. My friends never showed up, but my folks did, and I wish I could recreate for everyone the look of pride and joy that filled Nolan's face when he saw that they'd come to watch him.
They walked past the goal where he was standing, and he just lit up, and came running over to us, and threw his arms around my mom and then my dad, and said, "You made it! Thank you for coming to my game!"
He's seemed a little unhappy recently (I think there's some stuff going on with his dad), and it was really awesome to see him so joyful for a change.
He played a great game, in pretty much every position. He did not allow a goal when he was in the net, and nearly scored three different times. The game was a total blowout, but I could tell that all the kids, on both teams, were having a great time. I guess it makes a difference when parents aren't wearing their "I'm middle-aged and unhappy with my own life so I'll try to get some vicarious glory through my kids who just want to play and have fun" pants.
Saturday night, Ryan spent the night at his friend's house...he told me that they spent the evening singing karaoke with his parents.
I'm not too sure I'm so comfortable that. ;-)
So Sunday came, and I took Ryan and Nolan geocaching.
Filled with the flush of success, we headed up to this one, which was my favorite of the day...what a beautiful hike, where we saw some deer, and a spectacular view of where I grew up in La Crescenta!
We were all feeling tired, and thinking of heading home, but the kids insisted that we go try one final cache, which Nolan found, much to his delight.
I realized that the best part of it for me was not the actual finding (although we were pretty frustrated to not find the one at the bridges), but the spending time with the boys (oh, how I wish I could call them "my boys," but that's another story) and discovering new places that we had never seen before.
We've gone looking for 5 different caches here in the last week, and each cache has been in a place that I've driven past about three hundred times a year, but never bothered to look at closely.
For example, I drive over the Colorado street bridge at least 4 times a week, and I've never been down into the Arroyo before. If any of you live in Pasadena, I strongly suggest heading down and walking the path that leads beneath the two bridges. It's really beautiful, and great for dogs. Just watch out for the poison oak!
I thought back to the metaphor about ignoring things which are right in front of us, and I was really greatful to the people who placed the caches for giving my an excuse to explore these areas, and spend the time discovering them with the kids.
Anne came home late last night, after numerous flight delays, and all was right with the world. It was a good weekend, indeed.
Thought for today:
"People inflict pain on others in the selfish pursuit of their happiness or satisfaction. Yet true happiness comes from a sense of brotherhood and sisterhood."
In response to numerous emails: I'm not dead. I just haven't had anything worthwhile to write about.
Soapbox is completely screwed up. I don't know why, but the database keeps crashing. I don't have time to work on it, I'm really sorry. I think we can work on it later in the week, when I get some free time.
When I was a kid, I traded my Death Star for a Land Speeder and 5 bucks.
The kid who talked me into the trade wasn't really a friend by choice. He was the son of some of my mom and dad's friends, and we'd play together at his house while our parents listened to Fleetwood Mac in the den with the door closed, giggling about stuff that just didn't make sense to me, at all.
So we were like prisoners of war, forced share a cell together, knowing that once the war was over, we'd never talk again.
I was aware of this situation, even at 8, so I was naturally skeptical of anything he offered me. He was already 10, and in Double Digits, so I knew that I should be a little wary of him.
The offer came to me one afternoon in his backyard, next to his parent's swimming pool. I'd brought over my Death Star and some Star Wars figures, so we'd have something to do. There was no way I was going to endure a repeat of the last time I'd been there, where I my only entertainment was watching him organize and gloat over his collection of exotic matchbooks.
So we were sitting by the pool, which was doubling for the shore of an exotic new planet, where the Death Star had been relocated. He drove up his Land Speeder, and as he began to help his passengers out, I casually admired it.
He immediately offered a trade, but I declined. There was no way I was about to give up my Death Star for a Land Speeder that didn't even have any obvious guns.
He expressed some shock at my reluctance, showing off its exciting and retractable wheels, and exquisitely-detailed dashboard sticker.
Although I was intrigued, I resisted. I really liked my Death Star. It had a cool Trash Compactor Monster.
He then let me in on a secret that only the ten year olds knew: Death Stars were lame. Land Speeders were cool.
This was news to me, and gave me pause for consideration. Did I really want to keep this Death Star, knowing that it was lame? How many of the Big Kids were laughing at me while they raced their own Land Speeders around, as I sat with my Death Star, wheel-and-stickerless?
While I wondered about this, he made a very generous offer: He would trade me the Landspeeder for the Death Star. He didn't need to worry about what the other kids thought, he told me, because he also had an X-Wing Fighter and Darth Vader's TIE-Fighter. This combination, he went on, was even cooler than a Land Speeder, so he was alright.
While I considered this new information, he made me an offer I couldn't refuse. He would give me five bucks to sweeten the deal.
I didn't need to hear another word.
I made the trade, willingly handing over the deed to my Death Star without so much as a handshake. He gave me the Land Speeder, followed by five bucks from the front pocket of his Rough Riders. Shortly after that, my parents came out of the house, telling me that it was time to go home, after a stop on the way to pick up many bags of potato chips and pretzels.
Now, I know this seems like a shitty trade, because it was, but at the time, five bucks was as good as one million, and that Land Speeder did have wheels, man! WHEELS!
With those wheels, I thought, I could ferry four of my Star Wars figures across my kitchen floor with just one push!
One push was all it would take for Princess Leah and Luke Skywalker escape the dangerous prison The Empire had built from Tupperware cups and a Styrofoam drink cooler in the shadow of my parent's refrigerator! They could be accompanied on their journey to the safety of the Rebel base, which was cleverly hidden from the Empire beneath the breakfast table, by C3P0 and R2-D2, who would be attached to the back of their seats via amazing foot-peg technology! This vehicle was all that stood between the rebel alliance and victory! I couldn't believe that I had even considered for a moment not trading my very un-cool Death Star for this magnificent chariot.
The entire drive home, I sat on the back seat of the 1971 VW Bus, paying no attention to the cool strains of the Grateful Dead playing out of the 8-track. My mind was focused on the coming prison escape, and ensuing battle, where I just knew the Empire would enlist the help of GI Joe and He-Man. Good thing Luke and company had this new Land Speeder to get them out of danger!
Sadly, once I was home and on the kitchen floor, the reality of the trade did not meet the grand build up it had been given by my young imagination. That single push did not send my heros to quick safety. Rather, it sent them forward about 6 inches and to the left, coming to an anticlimactic rest against the front of the dishwasher. Only the constant presence of my grimy 8 year-old fist would give them adequate propulsion away from danger. And the foot-peg technology was quickly replaced by the more reliable scotch-tape-and-rubber band technology.
The novelty of rolling that Land Speeder around the floor quickly wore off, and I really missed my Death Star.
Fortunately, all was not lost: I had that five bucks. Five bucks to spend anyway I wanted. I was rich, man. Filthy rich, and that made me a god amongst the kids on my block.
For weeks I sat in my bedroom, atop my Chewbacca bedspread, holding that 5 dollar bill in my hands, just looking at it, admiring it, basking in the glow of unimaginable wealth while the noe-forgotten Land Speeder gathered dust in the back of my closet, behind Mister Machine and a partially completed model of the USS Arizona.
I capriciously thought of ways to spread my new found wealth amongst the other kids in our group...A pack of Wacky Packs stickers for Scott Anderson, some Toffifay for Joey Carnes, maybe even the invitation to Kent Purser to play doubles on Galaxian, my treat.
I was going to be very generous with my new wealth. I was going to be an 8 year-old philanthropist. Maybe I'd set up a foundation for the kids around the corner, who always wore the same clothes and smelled funny.
Maybe I'd stand outside the doors of Sunland Discount Variety, offering low-interest loans to kids wanting to play Gyruss or Star Castle.
I even thought about opening a savings account at the local Crocker Bank, where I'd get my own passbook and a set of Crocker Spaniels as a thank you gift.
Ultimately, though, like any normal 8 year-old, I kept it for myself, and there was a brief but shining moment in the summer of 1980, when I was allowed to ride my bike all the way to Hober's Pharmacy, stopping at every intersection to check the front pocket of my two-tone OP shorts to ensure that my 5 dollar bill, which I'd folded into a tight little square and tucked into my Velcro wallet, hadn't somehow escaped my possession. I took that five bucks, and bought myself Wacky Packs, a Slush Puppy, and enough surgical tubing to make several water weenies. I even had enough left over after playing Bagman, Donkey Kong, and Asteroids Deluxe to take a chance on the intimidating wall of buttons that was Stargate. It was one of the grandest days of my young life, and helped soften the disappointment that came when my friend Stephen proclaimed that my Land Speeder wasn't "rad", but "sucked."
I recently went back to Sunland, hoping to pick up a Slush Puppy, and maybe see one or two of the phantoms of my youth haunting those stores, but they were nowhere to be found. I ended up getting a Mellow Yellow-flavored Slurpee from 7-11 and heading back home, where I spent some time looking for that Land Speeder in my garage.
I don't know why, but I still have it. There's an inscription on the bottom which proclaims "THIS IS WIL'S LaNdSPEEdR! kEpP YOU hANdS OFF OF It OR ELSE!!"
I took it out of the box, and dusted it off. I held it in my hands for the first time in twenty years, and suddenly that trade didn't seem like such a bad idea, after all.
Look out, Darth Vader. You can build your Prison Fortress on my kitchen floor, but the Rebel Alliance has a new escape pod on the way, and you'd better "kEpP YOU hANdS OFF OF It OR ELSE !!"
On my way home from work about an hour ago, a really weird thing happened to me.
I was sitting in traffic, waiting for a light to change, and I looked at the car to my right. The driver was a girl, probably in her early 20s, talking on a cell phone. She was crying, really hard, and seemed to be really frustrated with the person on the other end of the line.
As I watched her, I noticed something: we were separated by only a few feet, but we were completely isolated from each other in our cars. Different cars, different clothes, different ages, different music on our radios (unless she was listening to Return of Saturn also)...just looking at her, I couldn't tell if we would have had anything in common, other than our basic humanity.
I watched her, and I began to feel really badly for her. Just by watching her, I could feel her frustration with the person on the other end of the line, and it made me really sad, and I began to cry.
I cried, really hard, for close to 5 minutes, because of a person who I have never seen before, and will probably never see again.
I thought about what a metaphor that was for life, and the way we all deal with one another. We move through our lives, passing closely to hundreds of people each day, and we're total strangers to each other. We keep our heads down, averting our eyes, rarely looking up to say hello to a stranger in the hallway. Even in our own families we isolate ourselves in our metaphorical cars, and stay in our own metaphorical lanes.
I wonder how different the world would be if we made an effort to roll down our metaphorical windows and say hello more often.
Hey, guess what I got today? I got my very own desk, here at G4!
Normally a desk wouldn't be something to get excited about, but having this desk means that I have more space for stuff, and that means those cool Simpsons action figures I've bought over the last year or so have come out of the cabinet at home, and are now proudly on display. There's something oddly comforting being observed by Professor Frink all day, while I'm sitting here with the writing and rewriting and the emailing and the Heeeyyyyy!
Honestly, when I got this job I told my brother to come and smack me in the head if I ever cared too much about where I sat, because that would mean that I'd gone totally corporate, but I really do like the extra space. I think I'm going to get some of those little chili pepper lights, and put them around my cubicle walls tomorrow.
Jesus, what do you take me for? Come ON!
So, onto the weekend.
Friday, I took the boys to see Spider-Man.
I really liked it a lot. I was never much of a Spider-Man weenie, like I was for Batman, so I can't really go Comic Book Guy on it, which I guess is a good thing. I wonder how many otherwise enjoyable movies are totally ruined for us because we go Comic Book Guy on them? That's something interesting to think about...
I'm going to hold off on the big review for a few days, so I don't lone-gunmen-are-dead it for anyone.
My favorite thing? I sat next to Nolan, and more than once he tuged at my sleeve to tell me, "Wil, I LOVE this movie! I can't wait to get it on DVD!"
Other than that, it was a very uneventful weekend. I brought Silent Hill 2 home from work, and really enjoyed that, too. What a scary freakin' experience that was...on the advice of a guy I work with, I played it late at night with all the lights in my house turned off...and after about 2 hours I had switched on a light, and had called Ferris to sit with me.
Yeah, I'm a sissy like that.
Speaking of video games, Anne and I took the kids to the Pakk Man Arcade in Pasadena on Sunday. It's this arcade that I've been going to since I was too young to drive myself, and it's really awesome to share that place with my boys, and see them experience the excitement that I once felt.
The thing is, the Pasadena City Council, in their infinite "wisdom", is on the rampage to close down the arcade. They've been at it for years, but it looks like they may have finally found a way to do it. I'm beyond furious at this, and I'm joining the fight to keep the arcade open. If you live in or near Los Angeles, or Orange County, please consider coming to a huge rally that is being held to save the arcade, on Saturday, May 18th.
If you're planning on attending, email me and let me know. I'll look for you there, and we can make up some sort of WWDN battle cry to holler at the rally. It'll be cool.
Speaking of cool, the auction ends tomorrow, and I can't believe that it's over 200 bucks. I think that's really cool. I'll be able to pay for a GPS device for geocaching with my kids, and I'll have extra left over to pay some bills. Cool! :-)
It's time to get back to spinning in my cool chair before my meeting.
Thought for today:
"We live in age when unnecessary things are our only necessities."
Today's title comes from The Vandals album "Fear of a Punk Planet." One of the true classics, if you ask me.
Doctor update: I have a sinus infection, and the doc put me on antibiotics. I didn't want to take them, but he agreed to dance around me with a stick chanting the theme to Knight Rider if I did, so we compromised.
I have heeded countless email requests, and I've put up an eBay auction. It's an 8x10 of me in the spiffy red spacesuit. Interesting fact about this photo: it's the only one of me from TNG that I really like. Of all the publicity photos I ever did, I think I look the least lame in this one. The auction is set for 5 days.
Also, I've updated the library selections on the right side over there. I was going to let them stay for another week or so...but when I saw that Hitchhiker's Guide was out, I couldn't wait. I am such a geek.
I'm taking the kids to see Spiderman tonight. I hope it doesn't suck.
Funny, isn't it? In a post-Episode I world, every time I get excited about a big movie opening, I am reminded of how ripped off and angry I was when I left that movie, and my excitement is tempered...then I recall how much I loved X-Men, and my excitement rises again...and then, while I'm basking in that warm feeling...I remember Jar-Jar, and [whine] "My name is Anakin, and I'm a peson!" [/whine]
Well, at the very least, Kirsten Dunst is hot. :-)
Oh, and speaking of hot...maybe Episode II won't be so bad after all. Meow.
I'm off to work now. I hope everyone has a great weekend!
Oh, and....GO LAKERS!
Well, I'm still sick. I've broken down and made a doctor's appointment for today.
I was reading loren's site earlier today, and I have found a new purpose in life: Geocaching. As soon as I get some time and some scratch, I'm totally getting a cheap GPS, and taking the kids to do this. It looks awesome.
Thought for Today:
"If you sacrifice others for yourself, you will suffer the consequences."
Good news and bad news:
Good news: G4 did the official switch from Pong to real programming at 12AM EDT this morning. My show, Arena, even has it's own page on the website now. I just checked it out, and they've added TONS of stuff to that page. You can click the little 8-bit picture of me, and see all sorts of spiffy stuff.
Bad news: I am officially sick. I have some sort of sinus infection thingy. My head is so stuffy and my throat hurts so badly, I may have to go see a real doctor (I much prefer those guys who dance around you and chant, while shaking a stick that has a complete set of A-Team dolls tied to the top of it.)
Even though I was feeling like hell last night, I went out to our official launch party, where everyone from Comcast down to the janitor in our building watched the programming switch from Pong to Blister. It was a strange feeling. I felt like we've been pushing this rock up a hill for months, and we've totally been able to control where the rock is going, and how fast it's rolling...and now it's over the top of the hill, and on it's way down, and we just have to keep up with it, and hope that it doesn't roll too far away from us.
It's still a bit surreal to me, because Arena evolves heavily from our first episode to our fourth, and we're just now hitting our stride...so it won't be until the third or fourth show is on the air that I'll feel that sense of accomplishment and excitement that I always feel when a something I've worked on is put in front of an audience.
The thing that's totally new and different for me is that I'll be constantly producing new material, so I won't get to sit back and think, "Man, Episode 107 was GREAT!" Because Episode 108 is right around the corner.
It's good though, one thing I've never liked to do is sit back and rest on my laurels.
Oh! One last thing before I go back to bed: I drove over a screw a few days ago, and my tire was going flat yesterday, so I took it back to the tire shop, and got a free replacement, because I'd bought that stupid road hazzard insurance for like 8 bucks. Hmm... 8 bucks or 200 bucks? I was happy to save the 200 bucks.
So I bought myself a cool new shirt for 25 bucks (Or should I say, Vega$ bought me a shirt?! Oh YEAH BABY!), and called it even.
Thought For Today comes from the Tao:
"The sky is everlasting
And the earth is very old.
Why so? Because the world
Exists not for itself;
It can and will live on.
The Wise Man chooses to be last
And so becomes the first of all;
Denying self, he too is saved.
For does he not fulfillment find
In being an unselfish man?
Boy, I should really be in bed now, but I can't sleep.
I think I'm getting sick, and my throat is just killing me. My sinuses are all dried out, and I keep coughing. I think all that smoke and recycled air in Vega$ got to me.
Anyway, so I'm in bed, just starting to doze off, which is a good thing because I have to be up early tomorrow, because we're filming 2 episodes of my show, and I'm pretty sure the Big Men In Suits are coming to watch us...but as I'm dozing off, I get this idea for a sketch to present at ACME tomorrow night, so I hop out of bed to write it.
When I sit down here, I see that I have email waiting for me, that they're talking about me at Mike Doughty's BBS. Now, Mike Doughty was the man behind one of my favorite bands of all time, Soul Coughing.
So I read through it, and posted:
"So anyway, Mike (can I call you Mike?), here's some fanboy ramblings from the artist formerly known at TVs Wil Wheaton: Your band was and currently is one of my all-time favorites, and I was listening to Ruby Vroom this morning. You were a real inspiration to me (along with Burroughs and Rollins) when I was younger and wanting to be a writer.
Okay, that's the end of my fanboy lameness.
Here's my stickin-up-for-myself lameness:
We all looked like tools in the 80s. Anyone who denies that is either too young, or too delusional to remember. Unfortunately, I have the joy of my 80s lameness being forever preserved in magazine form for all eternity. And for the record, "Party Naked" was the pathetic plea from a confused and awkward 14 or 15 year-old for female attention. Pink Floyd was one of the few bands I had heard in 1987 who had anything meaningful to say (Listen to Animals, and you'll get my drift).
In times like these, when I feel mortified at this photographic record, I thank the gods that I never wore anything like Corey Feldman.
Well, at least I was never photographed in my fedora."
God, don't I sound like a stupid fanboy, there?
So when it's 5AM and you are listening to Los Angeles, you can know if the Radio Man is laughing at you, or with you.
Just to clear up any confusion, today's title has nothing to do with this entry; I'm just listening to The Cure, and that's the song which is currently playing. Hey, by the time I finish writing this, maybe I'll change the name to "A Forest."
So the weekend was awesome. I can only share a few things with you all, because it was a bachelor party after all, and therefore The Code of Guys Has been inVoked.
What I can say is:
It was wonderful to get away from everything, and just be stupid for 2 days. It was awesome to call Shennanigans on Caius, watch Mike pass out fouls and penalties, bowl at 2AM because we could, and spend 5 bucks to play Pai Gow Poker for 90 minutes.
I even found my funny while I was gone, which was an unexpected bonus.
Speaking of funny, and pretty cool, Something Awful wrote a thing all about yours truly today. Sure, it's not a 21 year-old girl telling me I'm hot, but I'll take what I can get.
Well, I guess if I was going to change the title, I'd be calling it "Primary," but I'm too lazy to do that, so 10:15 Saturday Night it shall remain.
All Pong, all the time.
Well, G4 went on the air yesterday, and we're broadcasting all Pong, all the time, for 7 days.
It's what they call a "Launch Stunt." They program something silly for a week or so, and it gets people talking about the network, and builds audience. I think it also lets them test the signal and stuff, and work out any problems before the "real" programming goes up.
Best thing about the comments so far? People saying, "Man, if they did a show where I could watch people play UT, I'd watch that!" Well, that is EXACTLY what my show is! If you look carefully, you can find my post all about it.
This is how much of a nerd I am: I didn't care about The Wall Street Journal (I'd link, but those bastards want 50 bucks from me), or Reuters... but I got all excited when I saw the channel I work for in a story on Slashdot. Yep, news for Wil, stuff that matters.
A cool thing happened last night: I was going to pick up dinner, because Anne and I realized at about 7:30 that we didn't have anything in our fridge, and I asked Nolan if he wanted to come with me. He said that he wanted to stay home and play PS2, but when he saw that I'd taken the cool games back to work, he decided to come with me.
On the way there, we were listening to Incubus in my car. I know that he likes to see the CD case for what is in the player, so I passed it back to him, and I told him that there were many things about our relationship that I loved, and many things about him that I loved, but it was very special to me that we can share an interest in music. I mean, he likes all the same bands that I do, especially the super indie stuff. So I go on and on, telling him that, and he says, "Wil, when you gave me the case, and you said there was something you wanted to tell me, I was going to say everything that you said." Then he says, "I love you, Wil."
I just thought that was so cool. Parents don't always have things in common with their kids, as much as they'd like to, and it touches me deeply that I can share something like music with Nolan.
While I look for my funny, I'm going to heed the advice of many people, and do a list of Seven Things...to keep perspective, and stuff.
I wonder if that's The Lesson that I need to learn right now? As I approach 30, and as I look around me for my funny, and I deal with all the external frustrations that I can't control, even beyond my career...I wonder if The Lesson is that, in order to succeed, I need to rely upon myself, trust myself, love myself, and not put my happiness and sadness into the hands of others.
Okay, that's 8. But I'm giving myself permission to break my own rules.
The Thought for Today is going to bounce around in my head for awhile.
Well, I've started and erased 3 different entries this morning, so this is the last try to not be grouchy and lame.
The thing is, I'm just having a really shitty day. I presented material at ACME last night, and it SUCKED. I just haven't been able to find my funny for months, and tangible reminders of that, like absoultely BOMBING on stage last night, really sting.
It's okay, though. It will pass. It has to pass.
Well, that's what I keep telling myself anyway.
It's been so hard for me to be funny recently...I won't go into it, but my life has been under siege for the last 2 years, and it's just getting worse and worse, with no sign of improvement.
Between that and this "hyper-nostalgia" that I spoke of over the weekend, I just can't be funny.
It also doesn't help that I keep seeing the phrase "Has been" and "washed up" immediately preceeding my name all over the place.
Boy, it's a great fucking feeling to know that people are calling me washed up at 29.
Oh, and I hear that they've cut me out of the Star Trek movie. Perfect.
Incidentally, I'm totally not fishing for encouragement. I'm just saying...well...it hurts. It shouldn't, but it does. That's all.
Hm. Failed at the "Try to not be grouchy and lame" thing.
I am officially a total geek right now.
I am listening to the Batman soundtrack (the Danny Elfman score, not that Prince monstrosity) on my PC speakers while I type this.
I think it's appropriate, because I'm writing this morning about those really awesome days of youth, when nobody understands you, your parents are completely unreasonable, and you can't wait to grow up.
During those days in my life, the Batman score competed with Black Celebration and Only a Lad for air time in my car. It was part of the soundtrack of my life.
Last night, I was watching the History Channel, and this commercial for some 80s super box set comes on. It's pretty standard for an 80s collection: there's Foreigner and Journey, as well as some Crowded House and Howard Jones (yeah, I thought that was a weird mix, too.)
While I'm watching this commercial, I start to feel this completely overwhelming sadness. This type of massive sadness that starts so deeply within me, I can't even define its origin in a physical location. It was sadness coming out of my soul. I get this feeling that I can only describe as "hyper-nostalgia."
So I'm sitting there in bed, my cat snuggled up to me on one side, my wife sound asleep on the other side, and I start to silently weep, as this David Fincheresque montage of childhood images and feelings races through my mind. I can feel my fear and nervousness the first morning I went to public high school in 9th grade. I can feel the excitement of standing in line to see Batman, in Westwood, at 9AM a few weeks before it opened. I see faces of friends long forgotten, and places which were teenage hangouts that don't even exist anymore. I feel pain, love, hope...but mostly, I feel sadness and regret that is completely overwhelming.
It's like I'm sitting in my bed, mourning the passing of my youth.
It's not that my life is totally miserable now, it's just so much more complicated than it was when I was a child, and I haven't really stopped to think about that in quite some time.
I mean, I would gladly trade wondering whatever bullshit my wife's ex-husband is going to pull today for not being able to stay out past 12 with my friends.
I would gleefully trade worrying about making mortgage payments for...well, for anything, really! :)
Every time I go to Paramount, I look around and I think to myself, "man, I had it so good here. Too bad I was too young and arrogant to realize that." But that could be a series of entries, all on it's own.
When I go up to my parent's house, and go to my old bedroom, I can see in my mind the phantoms of my teenage years: Watchmen comics bagged and hung on the walls. Depeche Mode concert posters above my bed, where my cat Ziggy would be sleeping. Stacks of GURPS source books on the floor, and, of course, my Mac II, complete with smokin' fast 2400 baud modem.
I miss all of these things, and writing about them now I can really feel a sense of loss, and longing. I just closed my eyes, and I could see things in my old bedroom that I haven't thought about in years: 82 Los Angeles Kings season ticket stubs from 1988-89, taped to the wall next to my computer, underneath this simply dreadful fantasy-art poster I bought at a game con that same year. A clump of silly string mashed into the cottage cheese stuff on the ceiling, above my bed. Five book shelves, filled with VHS copies of the entire collection of 79 episodes of Star Trek.
I recently visited one of my best friends from high school, who moved into his mom and dad's house when they moved out. It's the same house we hung out in when we were young, but now his kids are running around in it...and I can still see the path we wore through the ivy, going up the hill to my house. The house is the same, but it's so very, very different now.
My best friend Darin is getting married in just a few weeks. Darin and I have known each other since I was 14 and he was 16. We have done just about everything together, and crossed lots of major bridges together on our way to adulthood. I've been married with kids for 2 years, but never felt like it was that big a deal...it's HIM getting married that makes me feel like we're finally adults, with mortgages and responsibilities. When he is married, we will have crossed another major rubicon together.
So when I saw this commercial last night, it hit me: I'm turning 30 in 3 months.
Three months, man.
I am the primary father figure to two kids, one of whom will be a teenager two days after I turn 30.
A teenager, man.
I am going to be the parent to a teenager, and I'm going to be 30. I don't know why that's fucking with me as much as it is, but it sure is burning a lot of cycles in my brain.
Thing is, I know that I'll be 40 someday, and I'll look back and think, "Man, I thought things were so messed up at 30...and I was so wrong," as I watch Ryan graduate from college, or get married, or whatever.
But right now, I miss those wonderful days in the late 80s and early 90s, when I couldn't wait for the weekend, so I could hang out at Darin's house and play GURPS and Illuminatti, before heading out to the movies to catch whatever crappy Lethal Weapon movie was in theatres.
I totally understand that saying about youth being wasted on the young. I guess that's the beauty of childhood: we don't know how tough life is going to get when we grow up, so we cavalierly waste time, blissfully ignorant of how valuable our youth is going to be to us, late one night when we can't sleep, because we're thinking about paying bills.
Playing dodgeball yesterday up in Sacramento with Boomer and The Dave was a very traumatic experience, and it brought back all the painful childhood memories associated with goddamn fucking dodgeball.
Matter of fact, the only difference between playing yesterday, and playing in 3rd grade, was that I wasn't crying when I walked off the court.
I still sucked, I still got hurt, I still felt humiliated and embarrassed when I tried to play...
But at least I knew why I felt so terrible when I was done: I just suck at dodgeball. I'm weak, I can't throw, and that stupid ball always slips out of my hands when I try to catch it.
My wife, on the other hand, rules at dodgeball. In 6 games that we played, she was the last person left on our time 4 times.
So Dodge Club (har) really sucked for me, but I did have fun the entrire rest of my trip up there. Boomer and The Dave are really cool guys, and the whole crew from KWOD is always super hellacool to me when I visit them.
But I hate dodgeball, man.
I fucking hate fucking dodgeball so much, I could sit here all morning, and well into the evening, and rant about how fucking much I hate fucking dodgeball.
But I won't.
I've got lots more to write, but I have to get to work and finish an Arena episode today, so I'll briefly say:
The show last night was really fun. Holy crap there were TONS of soapboxers and posse members and farkers all in effect, and it really made me feel great.
I know that I got to meet lots of you, and that I had to literally run from the building to catch my plane (which had 4 people on it, including me and Anne) so I missed a few of you, and I'm really, really sorry that I didn't have time to stop and talk and stuff.
Coolest thing yesterday: Hanging with Tiffany. Wow. What an amazingly cool person. She agreed to be a guest on the JKvS next month, so all of you who are in LA should come out and see us. I'm trying to get her on the May 10th show.
As I was running out to the car to get to the airport last night, there were a few people walking in front of me...and one of them reaches up, and puts a sticker on a stop sign, the way I put OBEY stickers on everything in the world. So as we approach the stop sign, I look up at it, and see that it's a "Wil has a posse" sticker.
How cool is that?!
So I took a picture, which I'll scan and upload next week sometime.
Speaking of pictures, here's a color version of Sweet Uncle Willy.
The show last night was really fun. I got to meet lots of Farkers, inluding Drew, who is just a really cool guy.
The show wasn't my funniest of all time, mostly, I think, because David Carradine had this certain energy that said, "Hey, Wil, just keep your bitch mouth shut, funnyman." Don't get me wrong- he was extremely cool, and told great stories. He just wasn't as easy to joke around with as some of our other guests. It didn't help that I was really intimidated by him. I mean, Kung Fu for farksakes.
However, I did get some good funny out there. At the beginning of the show Keith and I sit at the desk, and he asks me what I've been doing, and I said, "Well, Keith, my wife and kids have been out of town for over a week, which means that I'm living the bachelor life right now.
"And I've learned a thing or two this week, while they've been gone: I have learned that there is, indeed, such thing as too much Playstation and porn."
(pause while the audience laughs)
"I mean, goddamn. My hands are KILLING ME! I can hardly get them to work anymore!"
I held up my hands, twisted and contorted into this crazy shape.
People laughed. It was fun.
We had two other guests, who were simply BRILLIANT. Our comedian was Greg Fitzsimmons, who made me laugh until it hurt.
Our musician was an amazing jazz singer, Sandra Booker. I can't believe that I got to sit on the same stage as her, while she sang. If you like jazz at all, you should check her out.
After the show was over, I hung with the Farkers for a bit, then headed home, where I stayed up until 4:30 playing GTA 3, completing only 3 missions. Which is the beauty of GTA 3, I think. :)
Today, I'm writing more Arena stuff, and working on the Soapbox.
Thought for today:
"The concept of violence is out of date. The destruction of your neighbor is the destruction of yourself."
Final updates: Not testing on any of the pilots. Not going any further on the other call from Monday, but not because I wasn't funny...because I'm too old. Which is really okay, because I kind of knew that as soon as I looked around and realized that 1992 is Nostalgia, and Perl Jam is $#@!^ing oldies for the other kids there.
But I'm going to trust that this is Balance for something really wonderful that is just beyond my ability to see right now, and I'm going to put down seven things I'm happy or grateful for:
I have a partial update from the auditions on Monday:
I've heard nothing from the second call. However, not surprisingly, the first call, where they really made me feel unwelcome, is going nowhere.
I talked with my manager about it, and he got some feedback from them: they found people they really liked on Friday, and I guess lots of actors left that room on Monday feeling shitty, like they didn't even want them to be there. Well, duh. If they found people they really liked on Friday, why even bother to bring us in on Monday?! And why bother to bring in actors if they're going to make us feel like they don't even want us there?!
Now, I know I probably shouldn't say this, because in the entertainment industry, nobody is supposed to say obvious and truthful things, like Tom Cruise sucks, or James Cameron is an epic A-hole and Michael Bay is a complete hack, but here's some information from The Inside(tm):
This happens all the %$@!^ing time. Actors prepare their guts out for an audition, only to get there, wait an hour or longer (SAG says they're supposed to pay us like 30 bucks or something if we're there longer than an hour, but if an actor actually asks for that he will be blacklisted by that casting director, so nobody ever does), and go into a room where producers are on the phone, or looking through paperwork, or doing just about everything in the world except paying attention to the actor who is auditioning for them.
Most of the time, the person who is reading with you is so overworked, he or she doesn't take the time to learn what the scene is about, and reads the other lines in the scene with a flat, monotone disinterest that throws off the best of us. I guess what most of them fail to realize is that the best acting is reacting, and it's tough to react to complete and utter disinterest.
A notable exception to this rule is Tony Sepulveda, who casts at Warner Brothers. He is one of my absolute favorite casting directors to read for, because he ALWAYS makes me feel welcome and comfortable, and he ALWAYS knows the material he's reading. The last time I read for him, he was totally off the script, and even improvised with me. Tony is an incredibly busy man, yet he still manages to find the time to make actors feel welcome. It's a shame that there's only one of him.
You know, if I were a producer or director, I would want every actor who comes into my room to feel extremely comfortable. I would want to create an atmosphere where actors are free to feel vulnerable and take chances, and where they are able to do their absolute best work. I would want actors to come before me, and not worry about anything, at all, except showing me their take on the character.
Oh, I'm so living in a dreamworld. That is just not how it is. 4 out of 5 times, I go into an audition, and the people I'm reading for don't even stand up and thank me for coming in. Most of the time, I'm lucky if anyone other than the casting director even says hello, or shows a remote interest in my being there. I have experienced people taking calls on their cell phones and talking during my audition, taking calls on their cell phones and leaving the room while I'm doing my audition, reading the newspaper, reading their schedule for the rest of the day, talking to another person in the room...it goes on and on.
Good acting comes from an actor who is not afraid to stand there naked in front of a room, and bear their soul to the camera. You'd think that the non-creative philistines who run this bullshit industry would give a shit about that, and try to create an atmosphere where actors can relax and do their best work.
But here's the truth: these days, most of the people sitting in that room know that their show is going to maybe make it three episodes before the equally-insecure and un-talented people at the network cancel it before it can find an audience, and put re-runs of some shitty reality show in it's place. And because they know this, they are scared to death, and they don't trust their instincts, and they project all their insecurities onto the actors who are in front of them.
You know, the audition process for Win Ben Stein's Money was the most fun I have had in YEARS, and that was entirely because Andrew Golder and the entire group over there told me, from the very beginning, "We want you to feel comfortable and relaxed. We want you to feel free to make mistakes, and not worry about looking bad, because when you can do your best work, it makes us look good." It made me feel likeI was playing before the home crowd in The Big Game(tm).
So the challenge for me is to somehow get over this terrible enviroment that pervades auditions these days. I have to be able to walk into a room, and not give a shit about them, because they certainly don't give a shit about me. But that's extremely hard! I do care about them. I have put time, energy and effort into creating this character for them, and I want to please them! It's really tough to do my best, when I feel like the people in the room don't care whether I'm there or not.
Now, maybe I'm insane, but wouldn't it be better, and easier, and more cost-effective for the studios to put actors at ease, and make us feel like they do, in fact, give a shit about us being there? If they'd do that, actors would be able to do much better work, because they wouldn't feel nervous and overly scrutinized. Shows would be cast much more quickly, and everyone would go home happy.
But, as I said, I am so living in a dreamworld.
Thought for today:
"If imagination is not set to the task of building a creative life, it busies itself with weaving a web of inner fears and doubts, blame and excuse."
-Laurence G. Boldt
Happy Tuesday, everybody.
Hey, remember that band "The Happy Mondays?" I wonder whatever happened to them...if I only had some vast, global reserach device at my fingertips to find out.
Oh well. I'll put it on the Big List of Future Stuff.
Before I get to the recap of my auditions, I thought everyone should know that the G4TV website is up and running. Take a look*! My show is called "Arena."
Also, WWDN got reviewed by The Weblog Review today. Take a look.
So, there is no word yet on the auditions, but here is my personal recap:
The 2:30 wasn't as good as I had hoped. The I went in after a guy who clearly did a great job (he was in there for close to 20 minutes), which is the absolute worst time an actor can go in...I could tell that he had given them exactly what they were looking for, and I really felt like they just wanted me to hurry up and get out of the room. They were all really nice people, though...people I could totally work with. It was just bad timing for me.
A good thing though, was that I saw Sean Astin while I was there. Now, Sean is one of my absolute favorite people in the world. I've known him since forever, and I respect him tremendously both as an actor and as a person. It's funny; every time I tease him about getting roles in Lord of the Rings, or Goonies, or any of the other kick ass movies he's been in, he tells me, "Hey, you got Stand By Me. So we're even."
So, since I am always looking for the hidden positives in the increasingly shitty world of life as an actor, seeing Sean made that call worthwhile.
The 5:00 call went much better. It was also for a sitcom, and it was over at Warner Brothers. It was tough for me to focus, because of the lousy experience I had just had at 2:30, but I was somehow able to leave that behind me, and I did a pretty good job. There was only one other person in the room besides the casting director,which means that there is not a ton of laughter where there would normally be, if you were in front of an audience. That can really throw someone who isn't experienced in these things, and I was really glad that I knew how to handle that. I think I'm a little bit too old for that part, but I guess they're seeing people of all different ages, so I think I'm still in the hunt on that one.
Thank you to everyone who sent me their good wishes. I especially enjoyed "cat mojo.conf > /dev/Wil"
I copied that one onto the back of a calendar page, and carried it in my pocket.
You know, the thing about both of these calls is, I did everything that I could possibly do to be prepared. I created characters, I learned the lines, I developed the relationships...I will never get used to the people on the other side of the table not putting as much effort into their side as I put into my side.
So, now the stupid waiting begins...I'll update when I hear something.
Thought for today:
"You're a jerk, Dent. A complete kneebiter.
*the site is loading very slowly for me, YMMV
Often, when I have an important audition, I won't say anything to my friends or family, beyond my wife. I know that my friends and family get their hopes up for me, the same way I get my hopes up for myself, and sometimes that messes with my head.
It's like knowing that half the stadium is friends who have shown up to watch me play in The Big Game. :)
So, it just hit me this morning, there must be thousands of people (based on my webstats) who know about these auditions today. Jesus. Talk about filling the stands!
Well, it has worked in the past, so I'll do it again: would you please spare a moment for me today, at 2:30 PM PDT and again at 5:00PM PDT? I swear, in the past when I've asked for people to send me mojo, it has really worked. I'm the most skeptical bastard on the planet, but I swear to god I felt it.
I also realized this morning that I feel this extra pressure to not blow it today, because I stayed home from the vacation, and I have spent the whole weekend preparing. I mean, there is really a lot at stake this time out, and I can't blame it on not having time, or whatever, if I mess up.
However, I am super prepared...nearing that place where I'm over-prepared. I had time to create full characters, as well as get extremely familiar with the material.
The only thing I could do to be more prepared, is memorize the script, but I don't ususally memorize material for a first audition, becuase memorizing lines can lock me into a performance. If a producer or director wants me to change a performance a bit one way or another, it's much easier to make those changes when I have the sides in my hands. Of course, at this stage, the other actors have all been in on this at least once, in some cases twice or three times...so I'll have that working against me.
Heh. I have just realized something: for the first time in a very long time, I feel nervous about an audition. Not nervously excited, but anxious. I feel like there's a lot at stake this time, a lot more than usual.
Oh boy. Please send that Mojo as quickly as you can. I need it. :)
The house is so empty, and quiet...if it weren't so clean, I'd say it feels like when I was still a bachelor.
Being alone is sort of weird, since I've been with Anne and the boys for close to 6 years, but having an empty house does have some advantages...
Well, maybe not that last part. At least not the hookers part.
Seriously, the quiet has been really nice, because I've been able to completely prepare 2 of 3 auditions, and get a rough draft of my Arena script done, and still have lots of time for Tony Hawk 3.
Here's a word of warning to PS2 owners: Finding memory cards is really hard. The 16 Meg "Mega Memory" card thing is a pile of crap, and, though I absolutely love EASports, Triple Play 2002 is the worst pile of shit game I have played since ET on the Atari 2600. I'm gonna go trade it for High Heat later on today.
The Thought for Today is actually from an Email I read this morning. It made me laugh out loud, so I'm sharing it with the world.
To: < [email protected]>
Subject: star trek
Ya know the writers could have solved that whole image problem of Wesley Crusher by
A. Giving him a cool name like "Sparks Mcgee" and a peculiar accent, possibly a tattoo
B. Having him kill people randomly on the ship for no apparent reason.
C. Giving him a cool car to drive around in, like a 1978 Trans Am or one of them Dukes of Hazard cars
D. Giving him a cool catch phrase like "I got a course you can plot"
E. Wear a cowboy hat
Then like Picard would say "Number One, where the devil is Sparks Mcgee?"
Then Number one would say "In his muscle car sir", then everyone would laugh except Worf who would say some shit about honor or something. Then people at home would think, "Man that Sparks Mcgee sure is cool, a real rebel."
My response to him:
Dude! Where the $#@! were you in 1988? Your country called you, and you failed to answer. I'm re-printing this at my site, so the whole world can see how much better Star Trek could have been if you'd just answered that phone call.
The Big Plan for this weekend was to go up North with Anne and the kids, because it's their Spring Break, starting today.
So we get the *cough* rental minivan *cough* loaded up, and ready to go, and I get a call from my manager: I have two auditions on Monday, both pilots, and I have an audition on Tuesday, for an Indie. I'm also supposed to test for at least one, possibly two pilots on Wednesday.
So all of my stuff comes out of the rental beast, and I go from spending the weekend with my family to spending it alone, preparing for these three auditions, as well as writing an episode of Arena, which is due on Friday.
Holy crap, how things can change in an instant.
It's not a bad thing, missing the vacation I mean, because I continue to make it down to the last handful of actors on all my auditions, (except for the call I had last week, where I got to spend all of 25 minutes with the material, and the producers were taking calls on their cell phones and leaving the effing room while I was doing my audition) and the more I have the better my odds are...but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't going to miss them.
It's weird to be in my empty house, alone, without even Ferris to keep me company.
It's just me and the cats, just like the old bachelor days...except I am under pain of death to "keep the $!%$#ing house clean" from my old lady.
So it should be interesting to see how I do on these three auditions, since I'll have three whole days to prepare a character and memorize the sides, without any distractions.
Well, except one.
I finally broke down and bought that PS2 I've been staring at in the Toy Shop window all these long months.
The angle of the story was that this guy does a great job with the website, and that Walter's fans know that it really represents him, because there's only this one guy running the site.
This was fascinating to me, because I see a trend developing in Star Trek alumni websites.
See, I know this other Star Trek guy who has a website, and he's got a pretty firm hold on it, and it's a really good representation of who he is, because he's fairly close to the webmaster.
He wasn't even mentioned on this show, nor was he mentioned in the feature all about blogging, even though he's got a pretty widely read blog himself.
I think we all know who I'm talking about.
Thought for today:
"For those about to rock, we salute you!"
Ferris is currently sitting behind me, chomping away at this chewie bone thing that we got her the other day. The thing that's so cute about this is that she also has her Kong, and her Big Bouncy Ball protectively under her right front leg. Even though she's really working this cornstarch bone thing, she is totally staring at me, just in case I decide to make a move for any of her toys.
It reminds me of this dog one of my friends used to have. His name was Boris, and Boris was insane. He would pee on everything, until they got him fixed, and even then he still humped everything in sight. It was pretty funny, when we were all about 22, to go to my friend's house, and watch everyone jump out of the way, because once Boris got his heart set on your leg, or the leg of the sofa, or the cushion you'd just tossed on the floor, he was unrelenting in his expression of love.
Well, Boris had all kinds of toys, and he would move all of these toys from room to room in my friend's house, depending on who he was happiest with in the family, at any given time. Usually, they all lived in my friend's dad's room. On those rare occasions that Boris was pissed at everyone, the toys would all be in the back yard.
This one time, in the early 90's, my friend's dad noticed that Boris, who was a little terrier dog, was getting really fat, so he put him on a diet. Strange thing was, Boris didn't lose any weight. He actually gained weight.
Nobody could figure out what was going on, until my friend's dad caught him jumping up near a wall in the backyard, grabbing and eating avocados off a neighbor's tree, which hung over into my friend's yard. It turned out that Boris had been eating all the avacados he could get his paws on for weeks, which is why he was getting fat in the first place. So my friend's dad scolded Boris, fairly severly I guess, took the avocado away, and picked up all the pits and things that Boris had left under the tree.
Later that day, my friend's dad went into his bedroom. Not surprisingly, all of Boris' toys had been moved into the back yard. However, there was one thing left behind: an avocado pit, sitting in the middle of his bed.
Thought for today:
"Don't forget your history
Know your destiny
In the abundance of water
The fool is thirsty."
Boy, did this site get hammered yesterday!
Check it out:
Then we had to put up the moose.
So I want to talk about this, for just a second, and how it came about.
I thought it would be cool to pull an April Fool's prank, because I've never done it before, and I am always taken in by them. Matter of fact, the only reason I didn't completely buy all the otherwise unbelievable stories I read yesterday is because I was spoofing one myself!
Here are the ideas I had, in the note I sent to my friends:
I want to do a good April Fool's Day thingy on the site.
Current ideas include:
1. WILLIAM FUCKING SHATNER DOT NET -funny on the face of it, but could be considered derivative of the parody SA did of WWDN.
2. A false news story revealing that I have signed a contract to appear as a regular, reprising the Wesley role, on Enterprise.
3. Put up a page that says something about "w3 o\/\/nxx0rs j00!"
4. Same as 2, but the story is that I've signed to be in Stand By Me 2: Back to the Body. It's a horror film, this time, and The Body has come back to life.
I like 2 the best, because I think it's the most plausible, and should be able to fool the most people.
Do you cats have any ideas?
Oh, and keep this secret, you bastards.
So that was the genesis of it. We all hammered it out, and you saw the results. What you didn't know is that MT got completely borked on Thursday last week, and I've been observing a "minimal computer on the weekends" policy for about 4 weeks now. It was clear that I wasn't going to be able to fix it in time to do the story, so I downloaded the entire index page, and hard-coded the entry in notepad. That's why you saw the date being all screwed up at the top.
A couple of things have come out of this: it would seem, at least on the face of it, that the ratio of Wesley (and therefore Wil) haters to non-haters has changed, from like 6:1 to 1:4 or so (well, maybe 7:5, thanks to pari-mutuel betting). This was a really surprising, and wonderful discovery. I really did begin to feel badly that people were congratulating me, and sending me all these warm fuzzies...but it really did make me feel good to know that so many people want me to do well. When I am really successful again, I will feel so good knowing that I'm sharing that success with everyone who reads WWDN, sends me mojo, and rides the insane roller coaster of the entertainment industry along with me.
Last time I'll say it: I didn't intend to do anything rivy. It was really just a prank, and I'll apologize again to everyone who was taken in. I hope you'll forgive me. Also, apologies to everyone else who is hosted by logjamming. I'm sorry that WWDN took the server down, and took your sites with it.
IMDB even picked up on it, saying, "April Fool's Joke Backfires on TNG Actor." I couldn't disagree with that characterization more, but it's pretty cool that they picked up the story!
The Think Geek WheatoniX joke was created a few weeks ago, and I had intended to send them a picture of me, surrounded by technical manuals and printouts and stuff, but then I got super busy with auditions and meetings last week...so they ended up using artwork that my friend Ben designed*. You may recognize that head drawing from the "Wil Has A Posse" T-shirts. I strongly encourage everyone to check out Ben's portfolio, and consider him for some design work. He is such an amazing artist, and should be way more famous than he is.
Watching the dust settle, would I do it again? Yeah, I probably would. It was really fun, and the "god you suck, jackass!" emails have been vastly outweighed by the "oh man, good prank! you totally got me!" emails. I also think it may have brought a few new people to the website, which is always a good thing.
I'm out. I have a meeting, then an audition, then a commute.
I hope everyone is having a great day! :-)
(*Yeah, I know that the link is currently down, but I'm sure it will come back up soon enough.)
Well, most of you have figured it out, by now, but the truth is...
...I'm not gonna be on Enterprise. Even as a computer voice, or within the secret, dirty, late-night thoughts of Capt. Archer.
I hope everyone takes this in good humor. Lots of people sent really kind and sweet congratulatory messages, and I actually feel pretty badly for fooling such nice people. All the idiots who thought it was a really good idea to fill my inbox with "Wesley is gonna ruin Enterprise" crap should get a life, and direct any further comments to 1> /dev/null.
To be honest I was surprised at how many people were wishing me well; I was expecting the Kill Wesley Crowd to come out instead.
I think the greatest highlight of the day came when my mom called Anne, while I was at work.
The conversation went something like this:
Mom: Do you have something to tell me?
Anne: Uh, no.
Mom: Do you have some big news about Wil?
Anne: Oh, that. Uh, what day is today?
Mom: It's Monday!
Anne: Right. And the date is...?
Mom: It's April Fir-- OH! Damn you!
Heh. I guess my dad was all pissed off, stomping around my parent's house because I didn't tell them myself, and he "had to read it on Wil's $%@#!ing website!"
Thanks go to the Frodo Crew(tm) who helped me take this scheme from stupid idea to stupid fruition: Spudnuts, jbay, JSc, Cherish, Roughy, Bobby The Mat, and Greeny. Also to /. and FARK, for getting on board.
A couple of cool things did happen today: with the help of Ben Trott, I was able to get MT working again. Still ironing out some trouble with the templates, but at least I can write again, and login to 2.0. Just as soon as I get the template thingies fixed, I will turn comments back on. 2.0 has IP banning, which is a good thing.
I also spent the entire afternoon skateboarding with Nolan all around our neighborhood. I think we skated for close to 3 miles, up and down hills, past peacocks and squirrels (none of whom went "weeeeee", strangely enough), with Nolan skating up next to me to hold my hand, and telling me that he loved me and that it was really fun to skate together about once a block.
God, I love that kid. :)
Thought for today:
"Peace is the dream of the wise. War is the history of man."
Good morning, everyone, and happy April! I hope everyone had a nice weekend.Okay, let's get straight to business: here's the bad news: the entire site has crashed, and we can't figure out why.I don't know when the crash happened, or why, because I was offline all weekend, but I'm working on it. I suppose that if you can read this, it means things are working again, which will bring us to our second bad news: I tried to upgrade to Moveable Type 2.0 on Friday, and it broke. Goddammit! I swear, I am farking cursed. I know what went wrong, and I'm going to start pleading with the authors for some help. They seem like cool people, so hopefully they will be willing to give me a hand. *sigh*
On to the good news! Oh, this is such amazingly good news, and it's been so hard to keep this to myself, but there have been contract talks, and all sorts of negotiations, and all that...but I can finally make the big big announcement:
The official announcement will be made on Thursday, but I've been given permission by Paramount's hired goons to make the announcement today.
In four weeks, I will be joining the cast of Enterprise in a recurring role!
The details are still being worked out, but basically what they plan to do is have Wesley use his Time Traveler abilities to move through space and time to the NX-01. He'll be written more like the dark, troubled Wesley of "The First Duty" and "Final Mission", and less like the gee-whiz Wesley of days gone by.
Here's a little history: Nemesis is testing very well, and Paramount is extremely excited that this lame little website has generated such a huge following. I guess some people started a letter-writing campaign, without my knowledge, and Paramount listened. I spent most of last week on conference calls with Rick and Brannon, as well as some of the brass at Paramount, working out the details, making sure that Wesley will not be saving the NX-01 all the time. * grin *
I'll be in 8 of 22 episodes for the two seasons, with an option to renegotiate at the end of the second season. I'm only recurring to allow me the freedom to participate in other shows, as well as continue working for G4.
I'm so freakin' excited, I don't even know what else to say. I can't believe that I'm going to be working on Star Trek again, and I can't believe that I'm going to be working on Stages 8 and 9 again.
I have to go to a fitting right now. I'll write more when I have more details. I hope everyone has a great day!!
Last night, after I watched "Greg The Bunny", which is currently in a tie with Andy Richter Controls The Universe for the coveted "Wil's Favorite New Show" award, I was cleaning out my brain, and I saw a couple of things that I forgot to share about the Convention.
So, before I recycle them, here they are:
I met Linda Park, who is on Enterprise, on Saturday. Now, I have read that she thought that TNG was the best Star Trek EVER, and she said somewhere that she had a crush on your pal, TV's Wil Wheaton. *grin*
So I walked over to where she was sitting, and I felt like this grizzled old veteran, welcoming the rookie onto the team. She was really nice, and really, really beautiful in person. I mean, holy crap, dude. Seriously.
I asked her if she was having fun on her show, and she said that she was, and that it may sound corny, but she felt like they were really a family, and they all really liked each other. I told her that we felt the same way when we were doing TNG, and that I'd heard that there wasn't so much love on DS9 or Voyager, so we were really lucky. I really liked her, and I hope that I get to talk with her again.
Also on Saturday, this dude from WILLIAM FUCKING SHATNER's website came over to say "Hello."
Now, to be completely honest, I was a bit nervous...I thought that I was going to get some serious shit, because...well, you know...but he was really cool! He told me that he was one of the webmasters over there, and that he wanted to tell me how much he liked my website. He told me that it was funny and insightful, and that he liked my simple layout, and lack of Flash and assorted bullshit. He also told me that it was impressive that I do the whole thing myself.
It meant a lot to me, coming from a professional, to hear those things.
Incidentally, I asked him if WFS really does write his own weblog, and he said that it is indeed from The Shat's mouth to your ears. The only thing they do is correct the spelling.
Thought for Today:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
I can't believe that I haven't written since Friday. I have a good excuse though: when I wasn't at the Star Trek convention, I was playing NetHack. Can you believe that I've played nethack for over 10 years, and I still haven't found the goddamn amulet of Yendor? I even play pocket rogue on my handspring, and I haven't beaten that, yet.
It's truly sad.
Anyway, it's been a cool few days, and I'll do a quick recap here:
Thursday, we did another studio run through of my show, for G4. I'm not allowed to get into specifics, or G4 will send their hired goons after me, but I will say that I am extremely excited about my show. I think it's going to be one of the best ones on the network.
Sometimes, when I'm working on something, I'll get this "oh my god this is going to suck" feeling. It can take a few days, or even as long as a few weeks to settle in, but once it's there, it doesn't go away, and there is nothing worse for me than working on something that I know is going to end up sucking.
Fortunately, I do not have this feeling about "Arena". Matter of fact, I am extremely proud of what we're doing, and I can already see stuff that's going to get cooler with time.
Friday, I went to the Creation Grand Slam convention in Pasadena. It was a good time. I got to meet lots of fans, and many of them told me how they read my lame website, and that they really liked it.
I even got to meet a WWDN reader, named Mike, who came all the way from Swizterland! He was wearing a WWDN T-shirt!!!! I took a picture of him, but I'm lazy, and I'll post it later on.
I was so excited to hear from so many people that they read my site. I mean, I can look at the stats, and see that I get lots of traffic, but it's something completely different to actually meet real people, and have them tell me how much they like it. I heard from people, over and over again, that they thought my site was funny, insightful, and unlike any other "celebrity" site on the net, to which I would respond, "That's because it's not a celebrity site. It's WWDN!" Hey, it was funny at the time.
YES! Uncle Willie's still got it!
Oh, speaking of the metal fist, I was listening to System of a Down on the way to the show, and I had this thought: Toxcicity really reminds me of Metallica, circa "...And Justice for All". I'm down for SoD, because they're hometown boys, from Glendale.
Anyway, the show went really well. I felt like Keith and I were really in synch with each other, and we were able to give up lots of the funny.
The next show is on April 12th. Make reservations now!
Saturday was also really cool at the convention. I got to meet many more people, had the time to actually sit and talk with some guys who I always see, but never get a chance to visit with, and play a practical joke on my friend Aron, who played Nog on DS9.
I also ran into Jonathan back stage, and he says to me, "Do you know who got your part?"
I told him no, I didn't.
"Jeremy Piven," he tells me.
He tells me that I did a great job, and he really wanted me to have the role, but they needed to go older.
I tell him that I sot of knew, when I walked in and saw that I was easily 10 years younger than everyone else, that I wasn't the guy.
"Well, I thought you were the guy. And I really appreciate you coming in and reading for me. You shouldn't have to do that."
He then tells me that he was having a really hard time finding an actor for the role, and his wife said to him, "Why don't you bring in Wil?"
So, he tells me, that I need to give all the credit to his wife.
While I'm talking to Johnathan, WILLIAM FUCKING SHATNER goes on stage, and I listen to him for a few minutes. He does a really great job with the fans, you know? As I was watching him, I was thinking to myself, "Goddamn, man. That guy is 70 years old."
I went back, and signed some more autographs for people. I gave lots of trading cards away to little kids, and I met some really interesting people: I met a guy who is working on a linux distro which he swears will take over the desktop. I met a guy who is called "Red Shirt" by all his friends, because he was killed by Worf in the 7th season of TNG. I also met his girlfriend (I think) who is, get ready...a full-on porn star. Only at a Star Trek convention could you meet someone who is going to change the world, and a porn star within minutes of each other.
Saturday night, I had hoped to go out and see the closing of Paul Frank's show here in LA, but I ended up going to sleep at 9:30.
On Sunday, the convention was winding down, so I spent most of the time wandering around, looking at stuff in the dealer's room (where, for the first time in hundreds of conventions, I didn't buy a single thing! My wife was so happy). I did get to see this guy I know named Gabriel, who I know from way back when. He was that kid in Trekkies, and he's also on Beat The Geeks from time to time. Gabe is a really, really good guy, and, like me, he has left that 14 year-old weenie behind, and, like me, people still give him shit about it.
But we had fun joking with each other, and we even traded autographed pictures.
The only thing that I didn't like about the convention was the talk I gave on Sunday. There were only 20 or so people there, because they'd booked me into the little room, against Ricardo Freakin' Montalban in the big room. Now, honestly, who are you going to go see? Mr. Rourke, or TV's Wil Wheaton?
Because there weren't a lot of people in the room, there wasn't a lot of energy in the room for me to draw on, and I just sucked. I think I was able to get a few good stories out, but I left feeling very let down. Fortunately, I don't think that the crowd felt let down, but I didn't meet the standards I've set for myself, at all.
Luckily, the whole weekend, I didn't meet a single weirdo, or anyone who needed to tell me how much they hated me. I'm looking forward to the next show.
One last thing: Last night, the family and I gathered around the old TV to watch "The Simpsons", which is a Sunday night ritual in our house...only to find that FOX was running Independance day. We couldn't figure out why, until Anne and I remembered that last night was the Oscars.
So we watched just a little bit of it, and I must say that watching Halle Berry accept her Oscar made me cry like a little sissy bitch.
See, The Academy is dominated by old white guys, and women of color have been marginalized for 74 years in the awards.
Watching Halle Berry win, and then Denzel Washington, was not insignificant, at all.
Here's what Halle Berry said, which is our Thought for Today:
"This moment is so much bigger than me. It's for every nameless, faceless woman of color that now has a chance because this door tonight has been opened. I am so honored, I'm so honored, and I thank the Academy for choosing me to be the vessel from which this blessing might flow."
I really like my dog.
12 February 2002
Official! Wil Wheaton Now Coolest Person in the Cosmos
Yes, I realize that I'm a bit late to the party, seeing as how it's a month out of date...but it made me giggle, regardless.
So how was your weekend?
Mine rocked. I spent the entire day on Saturday with my brother, at the race track.
Well, it was more like at the micro brew festival, which was in the infield at the race track, but the important thing is, we tied several onions to our belts, which was the style on Saturday, and we had a great time. Then I got to go out to dinner with my wife, and I made her watch "Go", which I really enjoyed in the theatre. I described it at the time as "Pulp Fiction for 20 year-olds."
Sunday was spent cleaning up the house, which is something that I always enjoy doing. I love getting rid of stuff, and taking control of the house back from the piles of laundry and dishes in my kitchen.
Yeah, Anne and I were working so much last week we didn't have time to do laundry. The good part of this is that when I went to vaccuum my bedroom, there really wasn't any dirt on the floor...thanks to the laundry covering it.
We had a HUGE storm last night, which absolutely covered the mountains behind my house with snow, and made it look like we're having winter again. Which means that this weekend it'll be right back into the 90s again. Weird.
Did anyone else see "The Simpsons" last night? I love it when they do parodies and "Simpson's versions" of well-known stories, like The Odyssey, as they did last night. Something that's always impressed me about the Simpsons is that their writers reward smart, well-read people, without alienating average folk who just want to watch funny pictures..like George W. Bush, for example. I bet FOX, with it's current catering-to-the-lowest-common-denominator (Temptation Island, When [X] Attacks!, Celebrity Boxing) is the single more popular network in the white house.
Until Ashcroft comes over. Then it's time for TBN!
Last night, on KLOS, they played the entire Midnight Oil album, Diesel and Dust. It's one of my favorite albums of all time, and was my one of my earliest exposures to music as activism, outside of "Freedom Rock" ("Hey! Turn it up, man!")
I bring this up because they're playing concerts in LA this week: at House of Blues in Anaheim Tomorrow, and in Hollywood Thursday, and SoCal residents may want to go see them, and the tall bald man. :-)
Our Thought For Today comes from Halle Selassie:
"Until the philosophy which holds one race superior, and another inferior, is finally, and permanently discredited and abandoned....until the color of a man's skin is of no more significance than the color of his eyes...there will be war."
Night before last, I got home very late from work.
When I checked my messages, there was one from Jonathan Frakes, who said that he was casting a show, and there was "a wonderful acting opportunity for Wil Wheaton in it."
I can't tell you how excited I was. To have one of my friends call me, at home, to tell me that they're casting something, and they wanted to put me in it...well, it was awesome.
Now, I'm my excitement is tempered, because the last time I was promised a role in a movie I got a whole bunch of nothing, but there's something about Jonathan. He wouldn't call me if he didn't really think I could handle this role.
So yesterday, at 12:30, I get a call while I'm at work that they want to see me at 2PM for Jonathan's project: The Twilight Zone.
That's right, they're doing it again! I love the Twilight Zone, the most. When I was a kid it scared the shit out of me, but in a good way. The first thing I ever wrote was an adaptation of one of the scariest episodes, when I was like 11.
So I get the call at 12:30, the sides arrive via FAX at 12:45, and I have 30 minutes to prepare 16 pages.
Somehow, I manage to get a handle on this character, a task made much easier by the high quality of the writing. It's specific and clear, so I get an understanding of what the character is immediately, and I'm able to add my own shading and color to him really quickly.
When you look at a script, it usually tells you what the writer wants; what he's going for. All the actors coming in should know that, and should be able to meet the demands of the material. In my experience, sitting on both sides of the table during auditions, the thing that makes the difference amongst all the actors who come in to read is that shading and color; that little extra understanding, or that ability to recall something from your real life is what's going to make a difference, and get you the role.
Of course, 30 minutes is not exactly the best amount of time to create this complex character, but what's great for me about not having all the extra time is I am forced to trust my instincts (which are almost always right on, but usually end up getting over analyzed. I can be a little too smart for my own good).
So I am thinking of all this stuff, all the various colors I can add to this character, and the experiences I've had in my own life which I can draw upon, while I'm driving over to the audition, which is in the middle of downtown LA, at a place called "LA Center Studios." I've never been there before, but the place is really cool and creepy at the same time. It feels like the set of a 70s post-apocalypse movie. The floors are all marble and linoleum, the walls are all wood, with these strange metal accents, and the whole place is only about 20% occupied, so it really feels like, well, The Twilight Zone.
Oh, get this: on my way there? Totally got passed by a high speed chase, going the other way on the freeway. I gave the news choppers the finger. I don't think they noticed.
So I get there, park my car in the mostly abandoned garage, and try to find the office where I'm reading. That post-apocalypse feeling is reinforced when I walk up 3 flights of turned-off escalators, which are lit by flourescent lights and covered with dust. I mean, I really did expect to come around a corner and see Charlton Heston screaming, "Soylent Green is people! It's people!"
I finally got to the room where I was supposed to do my reading, and I saw Jonathan, who gave me a huge smile and a warm bearhug, and told me how happy he was to see me. He always has this twinkle in his eye, you know? It says, "I can't believe I'm doing this! I'm totally getting away with it! Woo! This is so much fun!"
The casting director tells me that they only want me to read the first and last scenes, which is great because I can spend my 15 minutes waiting just focusing on those scenes, while they set up the room for auditions.
Now, I view warming up for an audition like being a relief pitcher: you don't want to over-work yourself, so you're tired, but you also don't want to be warming up when you're on the mound, either, so you have to know exactly when to get up in the bullpen. It also helps to know that you're going to just need your curve ball working, and maybe a slider, so you focus on those, and trust that the fast ball will come when you need it.
Did I just lose everyone? I sometimes do that with extended metaphor.
Anyway, I work on those two scenes, and go in. Jonathan thanks me for coming and introduces me to the other producers. He says, "Wil and I know each other, you know."
"Yeah, I knew him back when he was cool," I say.
"See? He tells the same story," he says to one of the producers.
"Well, your story checks out," the producer says to me.
"That's a relief. I thought that the 5 year photographic record wouldn't be enough," I reply.
We all laugh, and he tells me to begin when I'm ready.
Now, here's something that I love about being an actor: I was just joking around, and now I get to totally switch gears, and play a guy who starts out honest and earnest, yet becomes corrupted by power. The two scenes show the beginning and ending of that transformation. I love that I can go from joking around, to becoming this character in a matter of seconds.
I do the first scene, and I can see Jonathan out of the corner of my eye, and he I can tell that he's really into what I'm doing. It fills me with confidence, and I totally relax into this character. He tells me that it was a great job, and asks me to read the second scene. He gives me some direction, and tells me a bit about this character; stuff I already have figured out, but it really makes me feel confident, knowing that what they want is what I've already prepared.
I read the scene, and he asks me if I wouldn't mind doing a third scene. This is a good sign, because he wouldn't ask for it if he wasn't happy with what I'd already done.
But I've had all of 30 minutes with the material, and I really haven't prepared this scene, at all...I mean, I read it once, looked at it again when I was waiting, but I am not nearly as confident with it as I am with the others...but I do it anyway, and it feels really good.
I have really good instincts, as an actor. I know when I totally suck, and I know when I've done a good job. Again, to use the baseball metaphor: I know when I've hit it out, when I bounce back to the mound, and when I go down swinging. With the first scene, I hit it deep to center. With the second scene, I hit it out. I really need to get a stand up double on this third scene, now. So I read it, and that's exactly what I do. If I'd had some more time with it, I would have gotten a triple, for sure, but I'll take the double.
I finish, and put down my sides, and Jonathan says to the producers, "He is such a great actor."
He turns to me and says, "You are such a wonderful actor. You still have it, W."
Of course, it would be great to get this job, because I'd like to work with him, and I think the marketing opportunity for the studio is huge: Launch the new Twilight Zone with two guys from Star Trek.
But even if I don't book the job, I will have Jonathan's kindness and warmth to hold on to. It will be good balance for all the times I read for people who treat me like shit, and, as longtime readers know, it's all about The Balance.
Updated at 1:03 PM
Just found out that I didn't get it. Is there an award for coming in second?
Seven things I am grateful for today:
Our Thought for Today is more of a meditation, than a thought, and it comes from the Tao Te Ching:
"Weapons are the tools of violence;
all decent men detest them.
Weapons are the tools of fear;
a decent man will avoid them
except in the direst necessity
and, if compelled, will use them
only with the utmost restraint.
Peace is his highest value.
If the peace has been shattered,
how can he be content?
His enemies are not demons,
but human beings like himself.
He doesn't wish them personal harm.
Nor does he rejoice in victory.
How could he rejoice in victory
and delight in the slaughter of men?
He enters a battle gravely,
with sorrow and great compassion,
as if he were attending a funeral."
As I write this, Anne is behind me, doing some workout video tape, and I can just hear the breathless voice of the girl who is leading the workout saying, "Oh yeah, oh yeah, doesn't that feel good? Don't stop, you're almost there *pant* *pant*"
If I didn't know any better, I'd think she was watching "Debbie Does 7 Minute Abs" or something...but anyway...
A few weeks ago, I did an interview for the 4th season DVD release of Star Trek: TNG. While I was at Paramount doing my interview, a friend of mine who writes for Star Trek: The Magazine asked me if she could talk to me about a special issue they were doing, focusing on the second season. I told her that I'd be glad to do the interview, if they'd put me on a mailing list, and send me issues of the magazine.
Hey, daddy needs to get nice things, you know?
So she said that'd be no problem, and we did the interview. It was really cool, and I won't spoil it for you by talking about it here. It should be on the stands in a month or so.
On Friday, my first issue of the magazine showed up, and the whole thing is devoted to the first season of TNG. It focuses mostly on the behind the scenes aspects, with all these cool production drawings, interviews with the producers (Bob Justman says that "Wil Wheaton was always going to be our Wesley"), and a brief history of that first season.
Reading it really made me feel nostalgic, and I was flooded with wonderful memories from those years.
As I read it, I got to thinking...I have some unfinished business here...so, today, my dear Sunday reader, I am proud to give to you:
When we last left our intrepid hero, he had finished performing the highly anticipated "Mind Meld presents: Assimilate This!".
With minimal rehearsal, with less than ideal performing conditions, and needing to pee for the last 30 minutes of the show, we had managed to pull it off. The crowd loved us, and would have made me cry, if I was not, as I have pointed out many times before, such a complete badass.
So, to pick things up...
The house empties out, and I run at mach 4 to the bathroom. When I get back into the ballroom, I get the most important review, of all. My wife comes up to me, puts her arms around me, and says, "Honey, you were great. I've never laughed so hard in my whole life."
We stand in the ballroom for a few minutes, and I feel the familiar rush of left over adrenaline that I get at the end of every show. Even though it's been a hellishly long day, and I've performed twice (once on stage with the sketch group, and once during my talk) I've got this massive surge of energy, and I must use it.
So we pack up the show, say goodnight to my parents, and head out into Vega$ for some drinks, some slots, some craps, and some fun. We can't decide where we are going to go, because it's a weekend, and most of the casinos have insanely high table minimums, and somehow we all end up at The Rio. Now, I'm not too crazy about The Rio, since they kicked out De La Guarda, which is, I think, one of the coolest and most unique shows I've ever seen. But we ended up there, anyway.
Travis and I were really hungry, and just wanted to get something to eat, and the rest of the gang just wanted to get a few drinks in them and throw some money away -- er, I mean, gamble. So Travis and I head off to some 24 hour restaurant in the hotel (walking, of course, through the casino, then through more of the casino, and, finally, past some slot machines). The rest of the crew heads up to some club at the top of the hotel, which they later tell us is filled with poseurs, and I try to act surprised.
Travis and I talk about the show, and how it went. It's funny when you get two actor/writers together. We did a really good show, and we were, and are, very proud of it...but we can only talk about the things that we didn't like. We talk about the fact that I should have picked up a mic at the end of the show to say my thank yous and introduce the group. I was unhappy that I flubbed some lines, and could have had a funnier ad-lib here or there...but that's the nature of being a perfectionist, I guess. It's also the reason most of my shows are so good. I won't allow myself to do anything less than my absolute best, and I am always pushing myself to be better.
So Travis and I deconstruct the show, talk about the possibility of taking it on the road, talk about how much fun we had, complain about how horrible the farking food is, and we head back to meet the rest of the gang, in the casino.
So, by now, it's got to be close to 2AM, and that adrenaline buzz is wearing off. Remember when you were a teenager, and you'd just started hanging out all night? That first or second time you stayed up all night with your friends, watching the sun rise, thinking to yourself how cool it was that you were awake this late, never wanting the night to end? That's how we all felt...but we're all exhausted, and some of us have to fly home early the next morning. So we gamble a bit, I collect on a bet from Tracy Burns (she had to buy me a scotch. I forget why, now), and we say a teary farewell.
We all go our Separate Ways, seeking out our own Frontiers, filled with Lights, knowing that we'll never Stop Believin'.
What happened there? Sorry.
Anne and I return to our we-would-never-get-this-if-we-were-paying-for-it suite at Bellagio, and fall asleep before our heads even hit the pillows.
The next morning, we get up, eat breakfast, and pack our bags. We're going to stay the rest of the weekend, so we can attend the party at The Star Trek Experience on Sunday night, but we're not staying at Bellagio any more. We're moving to Monte Carlo.
I've decided to spend the day sitting in the Autograph room at the convention, so people who missed me the first two days can get their picture or autograph, and so I can hawk my friend's CD. (if any of you were RFB listeners, before it went off the air, you may have heard me play them from time to time)
The thing is, it kind of sucks. I realize that I'm spending the entire day there, really to sign what amounts to less than 10 pictures, and I only convince 3 people that Warp 11 is really funny. I also know that 2 of our friends (Stephanie, who introduced me to Anne, and BURNS! who is one of our best friends) are on their way to meet us, so I decide that I'm done. I pack up, and screw up the courage to introduce myself to Alan Ruck, who played Cameron in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, and was in some Trek movie, I guess. He is really cool, and as excited to meet me as I am to meet him, which always surprises me and makes me feel good.
I meet Anne, Steph, and BURNS! at the Monte Carlo, where I am discover what will be the theme for the remainder of our trip. That theme is "Who can be the most rude to Wil and his friends?"
Now, here is the thing. I am an extremely patient, understanding, forgiving person, when I am in a restaurant, or at the front desk of a hotel, or dealing with any person who works in the "service industry." I figure that most people treat them badly, talking down to them, and stuff, and I really go out of my way to be extra nice, and patient with them. I also know that they may appreciate this, and hook a brother up with a free desert or something, so it's not completely altruistic. Hey, at least I'm honest about it, preachy.
When we're checking in, the girl who is checking us in is really cool. She's sweet, friendly, helpful, and all the things you'd hope for. She tells us that we're in some sort of suite, and I tell her that we were just at the Bellagio, and while we were staying in that suite they gave us some sort of VIP pass, for some lounge or something, and a buffet line pass.
Tangent: let me tell you, when you're in Vega$ during a busy weekend, having that buffet or cafe line pass is GOLD. The last two times I've been in Vega$, which I hate, by the way, the lines for restaurants have been insane, and I would have sold my soul for a line pass. (Don't get too excited. My picture's been taken so many times, I don't have any soul left)
End of Tangent.
So the girl tells me that she isn't sure, but I can go and ask Casino Services if the suites at Monte Carlo come with the same pass as the suites at Bellagio. I cross the large lobby, and enter through some french doors to the Casino Services area. It's a small room, with a lovingly handcrafted particle board desk, and two armed chairs. A pinched woman is sitting behind the desk, and she makes no effort to mask her obvious contempt for me as I approach her.
"Can I help you?" she sneers.
"Yeah," I tell her, and proceed to explain the situation at Bellagio, and I ask her if Monte Carlo has a similar policy.
Although I am taller than her, and she is sitting at a desk, she somehow manages to look down her nose at me. She tells me, with complete disdain, "No, sir. Our Casino Premiums [you can hear in her voice that she capitalizes those words in her mind] are reserved for a certain caliber of guest."
A certain caliber of guest?! Did she just say that?!
I take a second to imagine how hollow her life must be when she's not sitting behind that desk, and I thank her for her time. Remember, I'm patient, forgiving and understanding.
I cross back to the check-in desk, and the girl asks me if the woman was able to help me. I tell her that she was not able to help me, and, in fact, insulted me. I tell her that when that woman told me that they "are reserved for a certain caliber of guest", what she clearly communicated to me was that I was not of a certain caliber, and therefore not worthy of her time.
I was upset. Not because I didn't get that magic card, I mean, that's their policy, so that's fine with me. I don't expect preferential treatment, ever (well, unless I'm at Jumbo's Clown Room, but that's more like frequent flier miles, if you get my drift). What upset me was the way she talked to me. The way she treated me as if I was beneath her from the moment I walked in.
A manager has heard me relaying my story to the check-in girl, and she has joined the conversation. She apologizes many times, and asks me to wait a minute. She crosses to the Casino Services room, and I see her have a heated exchange with the woman behind the desk of power. She then returns, and gives me, Anne, Steph and BURNS! these cool VIP passes, which are good for lines, shows, and get us into some sort of lounge on an upper floor of the hotel. She apologizes many times, and implores us to enjoy our stay. I am impressed with her kindness, and for a brief second I bask in the customer service.
We head up to our room, Steph and BURNS! head off to meet one of our other friends, Jen, and Anne and I unpack, and take a nap.
Isn't the weird? We take lots of naps in Vega$. I think it's because we really like to stay out all night, or as close to all night, as we can. I think that staying out all night is part of the mystique of Vega$.
I wanna digress for a minute, and talk about the mystique of Vega$. See, I think that we all want to buy into the "romance" of Vega$. That thing that the city has, as portrayed in "Viva Las Vegas!" and "Swingers" and anything concerning the Rat Pack. We want to believe that it is the land of all-you-can-eat $2.00 buffets, where we are always one pull of the slot machine away from the Rainman suite. But the truth is, Vega$ is a sad, hollow, tragic monument to greed and excess, where parents dump their kids at the edge of the casino with some fast food while they get drunk and gamble. It's a place where you'll find more unemployed locals than tourists at a five dollar buffet, and it's more like "Taxicab Confessions" than anything else. I can only take it for 48 hours at a time...and this time, I was there for 5 freakin' days. However, it does have Nomi Malone, and Nomi's got heat, so it's not all bad.
So we take our nap, and we get ready for our big night out. We've got reservations at this restaurant that is supposed to be really cool, and I've even put on a clean shirt to go out.
Dinner at Chez Midlife Crisis!
The Roulette that ate my wallet!
The Star Trek Experience
When WWDN presents, Spongebob Vega$Pants: The Final Chapter!
Last night was our first J.Keith vanStraaten Show of the new season.
I love being on a live stage, in front of a live audience, and I'd forgotten how much fun it is to do that show.
One of our guests last night was Bruno Kirby, who I realized is in 3 of my favorite movies of all time, and who's father was in Stand By Me! We were talking backstage and we realized that we were just 1 degree of separation, in many, many ways. It was cool.
The show started out really well. Keith's monologue was hilarious, and the full house loved it. Then I came out, and I felt that we were a little rusty. So much of comedy is timing and rhythm, and we were just slightly out of rhythm, but we got in step after a bit, and the show went very well.
The coolest thing was, some WWDN readers came down to see the show, and support your old pal, Un-- oh, you know what I mean.
Bruno Kirby was amazing. He was telling these amazing stories about working with people, and one of them was about Marlon Brando. He was telling us how he was working with Marlon Brando in New York, and they went into an Italian restaurant together, with Al freakin' Pacino. Bruno says that he thinks, since the Godfather, Brando has not been allowed to pick up a check in an Italian restaurant, and I say, "Yeah, I hear that Al Pacino isn't allowd to go to the bathroom alone, either." The 30% or so of people in the house who have seen Godfather laugh really, really hard, and I figure that I just made up for being a little slow at the top of the show.
The rest of the show goes great, the band, Blockage, kicks more ass than Jackie Chan, and John O'Donnell, the comedian, tells one of the funniest stories I've ever heard.
In two weeks, we have Aisha Tyler, from Talk Soup, on the show, and we're anticipating a sell out, so you should make your reservations now!
And now, yard work.
When I was 18, I really wanted to go to college. I wanted to go because I have always loved to learn, even if I've never fit in particularly well in the academic environment, and I truly believe that the more knowledge you have, the more options you have in your life.
I mean, how many guys do you know who are college educated, who get a different job in sales every 6 months?
It's all about knowledge and options, man.
The only problem is, I never, uh...well, I never took the SAT. I took the PSAT, and did pretty well. If I recall correctly, my results said that "96% of people who take this test will score lower than you" on the verbal section (yes, there was a time when I could spell correctly and even use correct grammar. Of.) but on the math section, it said something like, "You will only score higher than Anna Nicole Smith. Do yourself a favor and find some rich old dude to marry, then wait for him to die and take all his money, because you're never going to get anywhere, mister."
Yeah, back in those days education wasn't as focused on making people feel good, like it is now. Back then they actually wanted me to learn something.
So anyway, when I was 18, I moved out to Westwood, with the intention of just enrolling in the UCLA extension, and going to college that way. Trouble was, I kept getting work as an actor, and I was never able to see my plan all the way through. Around that time I decided to take my semi-retirement from acting, and, instead of staying here in Los Angeles and just going to school, I ended up in Topeka, Kansas, working for NewTek. Being on campus again, though, brought back many happy memories. You know, my life is so different now, so much more complicated and filled with responsibility...I wish I'd known back then how easy things truly were, but I guess part of the halcyon of youth is not knowing...
Anyway, I completely digress. The point is, I went to UCLA to hear and meet Michael Moore, which I did. I got there nice and early, to ensure that I had a seat, and sat in line reading "Trust Us, We're Experts." I felt so subversive, standing there in my OBEYT-shirt, wearing a backpack filled with controversial books, waiting to hear this guy who so many uberconservatives hate.
So they finally let us into the auditorium, we watch a few minutes of "The Awful Truth", and Michael Moore arrives, and begins his talk.
I realize that I don't often get to go watch people speak, and it's a rarity that I am on this side of the microphone, so I pay very close attention to the way he speaks, how he interacts with the audience, when he gets off point, how he gets back on point. It's funny: I'm there to see this guy who I respect and admire, and I'm not even listening to him. I'm making mental notes, so the next time I speak, I do more of one thing, and less of another. It's the same thing that happens when I watch a movie, or see a play.
He starts slowly, but he finds his groove, and gives what I think is a great talk for about an hour or so. He doesn't say anything that I haven't already heard or read from him, but he does make one point that is very inspiring to me: he suggests that our country is not as right-wing as the right-wing would have us believe. He tells us how his book, which almost did not get published, is number one at amazon, number 3 on the New York Times best seller list, and number 9 ( i think. I'm not too sure about that number, but it's in the top ten) on the Wall Street Journal best seller list. He tells us how the vast majority of people in this country support unions, oppose the death penalty, are pro-choice, and pro-environment. He suggests that "president" Bush's approval ratings are less an endorsement of the "president", but more a condemnation of terrorism. He suggests that when your house is attacked, you rally around the leader, but he tells us that Bush is going down, because we've just seen the tip of the iceberg with Enron.
He also inspires us all to take action. He tells us that great changes in history have been brought about by tiny, individual actions. He reminds us that the end of segregation was brought about because a tired seamstress didn't want to get up and move, because her feet were tired. He tells us about many, many instances where one person, who was otherwise unremarkable, made a ripple which became a tsunami.
I am so inspired, and so heartened, not only because he's reaffirming what I know in my heart to be true, but because I am surrounded by 18 and 19 year-old kids, and they are all inspired to take action, too. For the first time in a long time, I am filled with hope, and I think that our country is not doomed.
When he's done, he hangs around to sign his books, and I wait in another line. This line is moving very slowly, because Michael Moore stops to talk to each person who comes up to him, and again I think how funny it is for me to be on the other side of the table.
After about 30 minutes, there are only 3 people in front of me, and I am getting really nervous. I know that I have about 45 seconds to say what I want to say, and make my impression, and I really want to stand out to him, you know? I don't want to be just another person saying "me too!" So I get up to where he is, and I ask him to please sign my book to Wil, with one "L", which he does. I tell him that we have a mutual friend in Tom Tomorrow, and that Tom says for him to check his email. Michael Moore smiles at me, asks me how I know Tom Tomorrow, and I tell him because of our websites. I tell him that I really admire and respect him, and I thank him for his support of unions and working class people. I tell him that I am on the board of directors of my union, and that I'm trying to make the union stronger and more focused on the needs of its members. He asks me what union, I tell him that it's SAG, and he stops for a second. He says, "Wait- what's your name?" I tell him that my name is Wil Wheaton, and he says, "I know your name. And now I recognize your face. Why do I recognize you?" I tell him that I was in Star Trek and Stand By Me, and I realize that I always feel sort of sheepish and embarrassed when I share this fact with anyone. He goes, "Oh! That's why! Cool! So you're active in your union?" I tell him that I am, even though, thanks to the recent election, we are totally doomed.
Then he does something that's really cool: he extends his hand, and he says, "Thank you for..." but I'm so giddy that he's telling me thank you, and shaking my hand, that I totally don't even hear what he says. I wonder how often that happens when I meet people at shows?
So that was it. I thanked him, he told me to tell Tom Tomorrow that he will check his email, and I was on my way, book clutched to my chest like a total geek.
On my way out, I go up Bruin Walk, where there are about 100 kids, all of them handing out flyers in support of their various causes, some progressive, some conservative, but all of them passionate and determined.
I realize that, despite what the lazy, corporate media would have us believe, the youth of America, at least as UCLA, does care, and they are active. The Establishment would be wise to start paying attention to them, because I get the impression that they're not going to be seen and not heard for very much longer.
Remember when we were younger, and we'd start planning our Friday nights on Tuesday?
Remember those big plans, to go out to a club, or a concert, or a show, and find some hot member of the opposite sex, and take them home?
Yeah, me neither.
But now that we're older, our Friday night plans usually go something like this:
Sound familiar? Want to return to the days when we were crazy and free? The days when we'd actually go out on a Friday night, because, goddammit, we were young and free?
Well, I've got something for you, chucky: If you live in or near Los Angeles, and you don't know what to do for your Friday night, you can come and see me, Wil Wheaton, live and in person, on the J. Keith vanStraaten show!!
Tonight's guests include Bruno Kirby, comedian John O'Donnell, and kickass band Blockage.
The show is always insanely fun, and I'd love to meet any WWDN readers who come over to see us.
We are at the ACME Comedy Theatre, and the show starts at 10 PM. There are only 6 shows this season, so time is already running out. You can get information on reservations and ticket prices from Keith's website.
Now, if you're not in or near Los Angeles, of you're just afraid to leave the house without your Tinfoil Hat, I have another thing that you can do tonight: you can stay home, safe and secure, and watch my sister, Amy, on First Monday, tonight at 9PM on CBS.
Now how about that? Who else on the internet helps plan out your Friday night Social Calendar?
Nobody, that's who.
Except for your old pal Uncle Willie, because he cares.
Yesterday, I finally got some new headshots done. They should be back from the lab next week.
I've been using the same headshot for years, and it's really been time for a new one for quite awhile...but the thing is, I absolutely hate having my picture taken.
I bet that seems weird, what with me being an actor, and all, but it's true. I'd much rather be holding the camera than posing for it. Unless I'm posing for some midget porn, so I can get on the Kevin and Bean Show.
But yesterday was different. The photographer was really awesome, and we approached it from a more creative place, and it was more like working on a short film. I'm very excited to see the results next week.
Guess what I got in the mail? A whole buncha CDs! Some old blues records, and some amazing Bob Marley records. If you listen to reggae, you owe it to yourself to pick up the deluxe edition of Exodus! A big thank you to the cool guys who sent me awesome music.
Speaking of awesome music, I have gotten tons of emails today about WILLIAM FUCKING SHATNER'S Blog. The general tone of the emails is that he's ripping me off...but I don't think that's the case, at all. I mean, I wasn't the first person to write a weblog, and I'm certainly not the best.
If he really wrote it, I think it would be really cool...but I doubt that it's really him. If it is, I suspect that it's heavily edited. Tsumo at metafilter said, I really can't imagine Shatner overtaking Wil in popularity any time soon. There's just a completely different... feel... to Shatner's site. 'Overproduced' would the be word that comes to mind. Wheaton's is just down-home fanboyish and a lot more fun to read. Shatner's entry felt so polished and professional that I can't help it was passed by half a dozen copy editors on its way to the website."
On the other hand, Michael Moore (who is going to be in Los Angeles from today until Friday! I get to see him on Friday! Weeeeee!) is keeping a weblog, and he really does write it, and I think it's awesome.
One final thing, before I head off to work: A friend of ours, Amanda, occasionally babysits for Ryan and Nolan. Amanda is incredibly smart, very driven, honest, caring, and just an all-around good person, who really deserves all the good things in life. Well, I heard last night that she got accepted into USC, and maybe even into Occidental, too. Congratulations, Amanda! You deserve it!
Oh! I taught Ryan how to juggle last night, because they're doing a medieval day at his school, and he's dressing up as a court jester. It was really awesome. My relationship with Ryan has always been at arm's length, because I haven't ever wanted to force myself into his life...but in the last 2 months or so he's really made major efforts to come to me, and close that gap. It's wonderful.
Thought for today:
"If we wish to secure peace for ourselves, we must start by championing it for others."
I am so damn handy. Today, I replaced a messed up sensor light which hangs on my garage. Turned the power off and everything. Then I replaced a fixture in the kitchen, and turned my sights on this area under the kitchen window where nothing will grow.
I "planted" 30 pounds of black river stones over the dirt, until I can think of something better to put there.
I was so damn handy around the house, I told my wife to turn on the porno music, because I was comin' inside, "to get a drink".
Well, it's all true except that last part. I wasn't coming in for a drink! Oh yeah! Yeah baby! Woo!!
That's not true, either. I came in for a sandwich, and then we went back to Home Despot for more hardware and stuff.
See, the thing is, we've lived in our house for 2 years, and we haven't taken care of any of the things we said we'd take care of when we moved in: the lawn still looks like shit, the ugly wood paneling is still on the walls in the living room and family room, and the ugly brass lamp hangs over the dining room table.
But all of that is about to change. Thanks to the sense of empowerment we got today when I hung that damn light fixture, all by my self, in my big-boy pants, Anne and I have made...A List(tm).
That's right, folks, A List(tm). On this list is everything we want to do to our house, how much it will cost, and when we're going to work it out.
Next on the list? Rent a roto-tiller, tear up the ugly-ass lawn, rake out the lumps, dig trenches, install sprinklers, and lay down sod.
Sounds expensive, doesn't it? It's not. We can do the whole thing for about 50 cents a square foot, total. Because we're doing it ourselves, we'll be saving literally thousands of dollars (which we don't have, anyway...but I'm hiring Arthur Andersen as my new accountant...I'm an overnight millionaire!)
Once that is done, we will focus our attention on the ugly 1970s-homemade-porn-backdrop-style wood paneling which is currently offending all standards of good taste by hanging in not 1, but 3 rooms in our house.
There's a rumor that I'm going to have Gallery up and running very, very soon, as well...so that means lots of before and after pictures of our rooms...and pictures of my handyman butt crack.
The past few days, I've been in sort of a funk, and I haven't really been able to put my finger on exactly what it is.
I was talking about it with Anne tonight while we were folding our clothes, and I think we puzzled it out: it feels to me like the world is just...well, it's just falling apart.
I don't know if you're hearing this if you live out of California, but a 7 year old girl was kidnapped from her own bedroom, about a month ago. Yesterday, they found a body, and today they identified it as hers. I can't stop thinking about the incredible pain and loss that her parents are feeling, right now. I mean, jesus christ, if your kids aren't safe in their own freaking beads, where are they safe? What the F*** happened?!
I turn on the television, and the Israleis and Palestinians are blowing the shit out of each other, every chance they get, it's 90 degrees in FEBRUARY, and people rejoice, rather than think about the fact that maybe it's like this from global warming and pollution. As I wrote recently, there's a potentially innocent man about to be executed down in Missourri, one of who knows how many innocents currently facing the death penalty. Thousands of people lost EVERYTHING because of the greed and hubris of Ken Lay and the rest of Enron, and we all know that they'll probably get away with it.
And if all that isn't enough, I hear that there's a sequel to Battlefield Earth in the works.
I could go on and on, but I think you get what I'm going for, here.
It's so weird, because as recently as a few days ago, I was feelin' just fine...but something about the kidnap and murder of this completely innocent child has made something snap inside of me, and my glass is suddenly half-empty.
Am I alone, here? Am I the only one who reads the paper, listens to NPR, and thinks that something is terribly, terribly wrong?
Sorry to be such a downer...but there are a lot of smart, thoughtful people who read the old WWDN, and I bet we'll all figure some stuff out, if we talk about it.
Thought for today:
"Everybody wants a happy life."
I'm sitting at work, decompressing from the infuriating 100 minute commute (to cover the vast distance of 27 miles -- thank you Los Angeles for your oh-so-useful mass transit system that is currently useless to me).
I'm supposed to be writing for my show, but, seriously, I'm so dang frustrated from the drive, that I'm taking a few minutes for myself to catch my breath and settle down.
I gotta stop drinking coffee when I drive, too...and I shouldn't listen to democracy now. It just gets me all riled up.
Couple of things: I really enjoyed reading the trash-talking and back-slapping that went on in the last two posts. I'm happy to see that there are other people around who know what and what not to take too seriously...and if you think I got worked up about hockey, just you wait until baseball season starts. I'm calling out all the Giant fans right now. Now that I think of it, wouldn't it be cool to do a WWDN fantasy baseball league, at Yahoo? I've played in those the last two seasons, and it's really really fun. I'll add that to the TODO list.
If you live in or near the City of Angels, and you enjoy your old pal Wil Wheaton, and you enjoy the live theatre, you can come and see the two combined, starting in two weeks, because my friend Keith and I are kicking off a whole new season of the J.Keith vanStraaten show!! I'm really, really excited about this season, and I sure hope that lots of WWDN readers will come out, see the funny, and then introduce themselves after the show. Unless, of course, you're a freakin' weirdo. Then I'd prefer you go see shows at The Groundlings.
Ahh...I feel much better now, thanks to the cathartic process of writing, and the soothing sounds of Catherine Wheel, who give us this entry's title.
I hope you all have a wonderful day!
Seven things I am thankful for today:
Imagine if you can that it's the summer of 1988. Not too hard, what with the terrible economy, deficit spending and incompetent president.
Still with me?
So it's 1988, and a little show called Star Trek: The Next Generation is in it's second season. It's struggling a little bit, experiencing the typical sophomore slump of any new series, and a writer's strike is not helping very much.
In the summer of 1988, I turned 16 years old, and, just like the Corey's, I got a License to Drive!
It's well documented within the Star Trek community that Patrick Stewart and I bought almost the same car, a 1989 Honda Prelude...the, uh, only problem is, I bought a model that was just slightly cooler than his. (He got the si, and I got the si4WS, baby.) Patrick has really had fun over the years, teasing me about how, since then, he's always had cooler cars than I do, to which I reply something about his driver.
What's not well documented, however, is this thing that happened, in the summer of 1988, in the parking garage at Paramount, where we all parked our cars.
We were all working late one night, probably shooting blue screen on the bridge, so we were all wrapped at the same time (a rarity). I excitedly walked to the parking garage with Jonathan Frakes, who I was already looking up to.
So we're walking back to our cars, and we're talking about something, I can't quite remember what, and I really feel like Jonathan is treating me like an equal. He's not treating me like I'm a kid. It really makes me feel good, and I say to him, "You know, Jonathan, I can tell, just from talking to you, that when you were younger? You used to be cool."
He laughs, and I think to myself that I've cemented my position with him as cool contemporary, rather than lame ass kid.
Then he says, "What do you mean, used to be?!"
I realized what I'd said, and how it didn't match up with what was in my head, which was, "Gee, man. You are so cool now, as an adult, I bet that you were a really cool guy, who I'd like to hang out with, when you were my age."
He knew what I meant, I could tell, and he really tortured me about that, for years. Every time I see him nowadays, he turns to a person nearby, and he says, "You know, Wheaton here told me that I used to be cool." We laugh about it, and I make the appropriate apologies, and explanations, while Jonathan makes faces and gestures indicating that I am full of shit.
Now, when I was working on Trek, I always wanted to be:
I'm still working on those things, and Jonathan just recently showed me how cool he still is.
Jonathan directed this new movie, called "Clockstoppers". It's a movie geared towards kids, but it seems smart enough for their parents to sit through it without dreaming up ways of eviscerating the writer responsible for robbing them of 90 minutes of their weekend, which sets it well apart from most "family" films.
Ryan and Nolan have been talking about how they can't wait to see this movie, and I mentioned to them last week that I was friends with the director, and I had heard that it was going to be really cool, and I was pretty sure that I could get us into a screening.
So I called up Jonathan's office, and asked if I could get some tickets to a screening, so I could take the kids, and be a hero to them. Jonathan's assistant said that it would be no problem, and I'd hear from someone at Nickelodeon about the screening.
The next day, the phone rings, and it's totally Jonathan himself, calling me back, telling me how happy he is that I want to take my step-kids to see his movie, and that he's really happy to get me into the screening on Saturday.
See, the thing is, Jonathan is what we in Hollywood call A Big Deal(tm), and usually people who become A Big Deal(tm) don't usually talk to people who aren't also A Big Deal(tm).
But Jonathan is not only A Big Deal(tm), he's also A Really Great Guy(tm), and he didn't need to call me back, personally. Actually, I really didn't expect him to.
But he did, and that proves that he is now, and always has been, cool. Despite my fumbled proclamations as a 16 year old dorkus.
I woke up this morning to find my entire dining room table covered in cat pee.
Goddamn Felix. He won't use the cat box, and I guess he didn't get to go out early enough last night...so he decided to use the grocery bag on the table. Little bastard even got some on my cool G4 hat.
Why do I bring this up? To show, by example, why I haven't written anything in 2 days.
I got nothin', man. Nada. Zero. I got UPN ratings for ideas to write about, my friends.
I think it has to do with my cooler-than-me, funnier-than-me, better-looking-than-me wife's previous entry. I haven't had anything that could top that, except for the final installment of SpongeBob Vega$Pants, but I haven't had time to write that up...and it's killing me, believe me!
Oh, and I've been printing out all your comments, and giving them to her. You guys have all made her feel really, really happy, and I want to thank you, sincerely, for being so cool. Maybe we can talk her into coming and playing with us sometime again, in six months or so. :)
So I sit here this morning, constantly refreshing the traffic map, waiting for a break, so I can leave for work, sipping this Chai mate tea that I just got, lamenting my lack of inspiration.
Oh! The cat pee reminds me of something funny that happened when I was doing the "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Sunday Show" show at ACME last year. My friend Kate had written this really funny sketch, that was a take off on PBS's "Great Performances", where a bunch of us wore all black, and performed 80s pop-tunes as dramatic spoken word pieces. It was hellafunny, and it was one of my favorite sketches in the show. For my costume, I wore black jeans, socks and shoes, and a black shirt, that was sort of a "hipster" shirt, that I got at Hot Topic. It was polyester, short-sleeved, and had this pseudo-shiny stuff up the center. Boy, that description really makes it sound gay, doesn't it? Trust me, it was fairly cool.
So we're all changing backstage, getting ready for "Great Performances". I can hear the audience dying, cracking up to "Let's Swap", we're all talking a bunch of shit to each other, because that's what actors do, as we're changing.
I pull my shirt over my head, and sit down on the couch to tie my shoes...and I am overwhelmed with this terrible, terrible smell. So I ask Maz if he smells it. He does not. Dara doesn't smell it, either, nor do Chris or Kevin. But Cynthia is sitting next to me, and she smells it, and we both realize that it's my shirt, but we can't quite place the horrible smell...it's not just cat pee...it's something more, probably because of the chemical interaction between polyester and cat pee. Dammit, I wish DATA were here. He'd know what it was.
So I realize that I have a pretty serious problem: we are on in less than a minute, and I smell like something you'd find in a back alley in Hell's Kitchen, right after Republican budget cuts have forced the closure of another homeless shelter.
So what do I do? I suck it up, and I go out there, like a man. A cat-pee-stinkin' man, and I do my bit in the sketch, and I make the audience laugh, while making Dan Fester, who is standing next to me, nearly gag.
Because the show must go on, Virginia. The show must go on.
I'm going to start by saying that I am so lame when it comes to computers. I don't even know how to turn one on. In fact, I'm pretty bad with any electronics. When the daylight savings time happens, the clock in my car is off by an hour for six months. Before meeting Wil, my VCR was always flashing 12:00. Pretty lame huh?
My friends tease me for having a husband who can build his own website, yet I have to ask what a BLOG is. You get the picture. So when Wil told me that he put on his website (he has to read me his entries and prints out responses for me to look at) that he wanted to do something cool for me for putting up with all the time and energy (and MANY profane words) he has put into building and maintaining his site, by doing sort of a "donation box" for a gift for me, I was so touched by this. So touched, in fact, that I had Wil set up this whole little deal here so all I had to do was type what I want to say. And boy, do I have a lot to say. I'm so excited. I feel like I finally have communication with this whole world that I only hear about! I know, you're probably thinking, "what the hell is wrong with this girl? Does she live in some sort of cave?! Well, as a matter of fact, yes. I live in an Atari 2600 world. Simple, yes. Advanced? No. But that's ok. I have a husband who can look things up for me if I really need to. But it is pretty cool to finally have a chance to have my thoughts about all this heard. So first things first. (Oh and by the way, I still play my Atari. what the hell is this Playstation thing anyway?)
First of all, I was totally surprised when I came home from work today and Wil told me about his "donation box" story. Surprised mostly because I have friends who read his entries everyday, and didn't tell me he was doing this. But also that there were enough donations that he was able to get me a gift certificate for a yummy day at a spa. Mmm... massage.... oh sorry, where was I? Anyway, these past few months have been very difficult, but at the same time very rewarding for Wil, as he was able to get his site going. You know, I think it has been for me too. Wil would stay up FOREVER working on this, which meant me going to sleep by myself, and work on it every free moment he had. So it's nice to see Wil so happy with all his hard work paying off for him. He feels like people get to see what he's really like, instead of what some "I hate Wesley" fan guy has to say. And just in case you were wondering, I had never seen Star Trek until they started running that marathon on TNN or TNT whichever one it is. Wil watched that thing practically the whole time it was on. He kept saying, " Oh, this is my FAVORITE episode." ok seriously, he said that like 20 times. But it was kinda funny that he really likes that stuff. Even when he's in it. So once in a while he'd say, "look honey! There I am! Man does that suit look stupid. Oh man, look at my lame hair!" But he's all into science fiction stuff, so that must have been pretty cool to be part of something you like so much.
Anyway, his website means so much to him and I think that it's so awesome that people have responded so well to it. Of course, he tells me about the occasional lame ass that has to throw in his negative two cents now and then. But I guess that's the beauty of this on-line world. You don't have to say your shit directly to the person's face. But I guess you do what makes you happy. I think that Wil tries to not take that crap seriously. Doesn't mean it doesn't hurt any less. I never thought that all his time spent on this entitled me to any sort of gift. I have the gift of a happy husband. (I know... gag) Nevertheless, I am extremely touched by your generosity, and I'll be thinking of you all while I'm having my spa day. Thanks!
On to the next subject. The most recent entry of Wil's (at least the one he read to me yesterday, and printed out all the responses for me to read) The 7 things you are thankful for today. My list is for today and everyday since I am a dork with this computer and probably won't get a chance to do this for another six months
1. My husband- his unconditional love for me and for Ryan and Nolan (my men)
- his little love notes in my lunch I take to work or my suitcase when I go out of town
- the way he rubs my ear at night to help me fall asleep
- when he thanks me every time I do his laundry
2. My aforementioned men (Ryan and Nolan)-the way Ryan laughs so hard he can't sit up (just like I do)
-when Nolan tells me he loves me and gives me a kiss in front of his class (because he doesn't care what his friends think yet)
-that they both still make me Mother's Day cards out of construction paper
- they have Wil's sense of humor, even though they aren't biologically his
3. My friends- the handful of close ones I have had for years
- the same ones that have to hear the same stories about the bullshit my ex husband is doing now
- the same ones that we take turns taking each other to the airport
- the same ones that go do stuff with me while my husband works on his website
4. My job- that I'm actually doing something I enjoy-something I chose for a career
-that I can make my own schedule so I can be here for the kids or take a day off to hang out with Wil
5. My health and my family's health- I know that that seems like a typical one, but we have had a lot of death around us recently, so I am truly thankful that we are all well.
6. Chocolate- need I say more?
7. The Simpson's- now you're probably thinking "what? does she mean OJ?" No. Definitely no. As in Homer. You see, that show is probably the one thing that makes Wil laugh harder than anything. It's funny. He laughs so hard he puts his hand in front of his face, but you can still see that the tip of his tongue curls up. Isn't that weird? I wonder why that happens. Probably the same explanation as me not being able to sit up straight when I laugh really hard. Just one of those things. Anyway, hours of entertainment, that's all. And the happiness it brings my husband.
I just loved reading all the responses and lists of everyone's 7 things. Wil is pretty cool that way. I guess that's why I married him. He's a smart guy. An honest, funny, loving, caring, wanting to make the world a better place kind of guy.
I think this whole computer thing isn't so bad after all! Of course, it's taken me an hour to type all this. No seriously, it has. I think my 10 year old could type faster than I could. I guess I should finish now. I think I'll go kick Wil's ass in some Air-Sea Battle- guided missiles of course. He hates that he can never beat me. Then again, I am 3 years older than him. That gives me 3 more years practice. Whatever the case, he's still getting his ass kicked by a GIRL!
Thanks again for the awesome gift! And please, tell Wil to wear his glasses (they totally look like the ones Corey Feldman wore in Stand By Me... I think he jacked them) while he's on the computer. He looks cross-eyed when he's on this thing for too long (which is everyday)
P.S. Did Wil ever finish telling you about the Vegas trip back in September? I think that was how all this got started and he mentioned a while ago that he hadn't finished it yet. So let me sum it up for you.... his sketch comedy show was awesome, William fucking Shatner still doesn't speak to Wil (but I guess he has since then...Weakest Link thing)....we... I should say I, lost my ass at roulette(is that how you spell that?) and our second-hand smoke filled 5 day extravaganza was finished off by my laryngitis, and upper respiratory infection due to all the damn smoke -illness. God I hate Vegas. I can't wait to go back. Later!
Four days off.
That's like 5 years in internet time, isn't it?
What a great time it was, though. The whole time we were together, Anne and I kept commenting on how we couldn't remember the last time we did anything "just the two of us." After some discussion, we figured out that the last time we spent any time together alone, it was over our anniversary, back in November.
It was really awesome, and a very much needed diversion from "real life." I turned the computer off on Friday morning, and it stayed off until about 30 minutes ago. And I have to tell you, I am surprised to say that turning it back on was not an easy thing to do...mostly because my poor computer is really on it's last legs, and it's painful to watch the poor old girl start up... :-)
Today is a school holiday for the kids, and I was planning on staying home, and hanging out with them, and working longer days tomorrow and Wednesday...but I have two, count 'em, two auditions tomorrow, and I won't be able to go into work, so I spent a half day there, finishing up some re-writes that are due in two days.
I really love my job, and I really like the people I work with. I realized as I was driving home today how lucky that makes me. I know so many people who just hate their jobs, and dread going to work, and I am not amongst their number. Sure, it helps that we all play lots of games, but the creative freedom I have on my show, and the visceral excitement I feel when I watch an edit of one of our shows is what really makes the hellish commute worth it.
You know, now that I think about it, there is really a lot in my life that I love: my job, my wife, my step-kids, my dog, my friends and family...
I had an email a few months ago from a WWDN reader who mentioned to me that his Thai Chi master has him write down 7 things each day that he is thankful for. I think that's a simply brilliant idea, and everyone should do it.
I'll go first. Today, I am thankful for:
That's all I have for now. I'm off to prepare my auditions.
Thought for today:
If you are able, help others. If not, at least refrain from hurting them.
7:48 PM PST: I want to add something to my list...
8. Nolan serenading Anne and me during our dinner.
Now, I will explain: Earlier tonight, both kids went to play at their friend's houses. As dinner time drew closer, we got a phone call from Ryan, asking if he could stay at his friend's for dinner, followed almost immediately by a similar call from Nolan. So Anne and I prepared for a romantic, candle-lit dinner for 2, while the boys were off with their friends.
I raced up to the market, and picked up this yummy stuffed chicken breast, and a wonderful bottle of Bordeaux. Trouble was, the chicken took almost an hour to cook, and by the time we were sitting down to eat, both kids had come home.
Nolan walked into the dining room, assessed the situation, and announced that he would be right back. He returned with his saxaphone, and proclaimed that he would play all his songs for us while we ate dinner.
So Anne and I ate our romantic dinner for two, while Nolan played "Hot Cross Buns", "The French Song", "The German Waltz", "Yankee Doodle", and the ever-popular "Oats Peas Beans." It was the one of the coolest things I have ever seen him do.
If I wasn't such a badass, it may have brought tears to my eyes.
I am officially lowering the cone of silence.
And Mrs. Wheaton will be enjoying a full-on, super-cool facial, massage and pampering treatment, compliments of the awesome posse, here at WWDN.
Have a wonderful weekend, everyone. Happy Valentine's Day. :)
As a step-parent, I have this strange set of ever-changing boundries that I have to respect with my step-kids.
On the one hand, it sort of sucks, because I don't think I'll ever be as close to them as I want to, even though they live with Anne and me. On the other hand, I totally respect and understand their limits, and I am not about to force myself on them, or force them to have a relationship with me that they aren't ready for. For example, I don't ever want to be called "dad". I'm really happy just being "Wil", because they've alread got a dad. I've made a point of that, over the years, and I think that it has made things easier for the kids, because I'm not putting them in an uncomfortable position of having to choose who they love more, or who they want to be around.
The other side of that is that I sometimes feel like my influence on them is minimized, and that they aren't "getting" the same things that they'd be "getting" if I was the only father-figure in their lives.
But sometimes, things happen, and I really see myself in them, and it's just awesome.
Anne and I worked long days today, and we realized that there was no food in the house when it was time to fix dinner, so we decided to go out to eat.
Normally, I'm not a big fan of the dining out experience. Somehow, I've managed to avoid the being a waiter part of being an actor, and I think restaurants scare me, because I know I'm "The Curse, Part 4" away from asking if anyone would like to know what the "soup du jour" is, and then sighing sadly when my answer, "that's the soup of the day", doesn't elicit the peals of laughter that I was hoping for.
But when there's no food in the house, and I don't want to order pizza, our options are limited.
So we put the kids in the car, and we headed out to a local eating establishment for some grub. While we were there, a couple of things happened, and I totally saw myself in both of the kids, and it nearly brought tears to my eyes.
But it didn't, because I'm a bad ass, and I'm cool, and tough, okay? Okay?!
So we're eating underneath this picture of Jack Nicholson, the one where he's holding a magnifying glass, and his teeth are huge, and his chin is pulling a Leno.
I point at it, and I say, "Hey, guys, do you know who that is?"
Ryan says, "Drew Carey?"
"No," I reply, "it's Jack Nicholson."
"Oh," says Nolan. "I thought he was dead."
Then they look at each other for a second, and explode into laughter. Of course they know Jack Nicholson, they tell me. They were totally messing with me.
Which is something that I would do.
Later in our meal, Anne is telling the kids that the exterminator came to our house today, and he left some traps in the attic...she then tells the kids, "So, later tonight, you may hear: scratch, scratch, scratch, scratch..." And she SLAMS her hand on the table, and shouts, "BAM!" which she immediately follows with this screaching "EEIPPE!" noise.
Ryan looks at the table across from us, and he says, to the couple who is staring at my wife, "I don't know this woman. I am so sorry."
Which is something that I would do.
After dinner, when we're back in the car, Nolan says, "Wil, can we listen to Jimmy Eat World?" I tell him no, because it's in the CD player at home.
He follows that up with a request for Tool, and a request for Bad Religion.
I inform him that both of those CDs are also at home, and Ryan says, "How about Cake? Can we listen to Cake, Wil?" He begins to hum "Comfort Eagle" to himself.
J.E.W., Tool, Bad Religion, and Cake. Every last one of them bands that I listen to.
Oh, and a few days ago, Nolan was on the phone telling his friend, "You should never wait to tell your mom that you love her." He waits, while his friend presumably asks him why, and tells him that you never know what's going to happen to someone, so they should always know that you love them.
Which is totally something that I do.
Last night, we all took a trip down memory lane, to the glory days of Universal Studios, when Conan The Barbarian was so cool, they gave him his own stage show, housed in a cool-looking castle.
Back then, they actually shot movies at the Universal lot, and, if you were lucky, you could take the tram tour and actually see as much film work as you'd find on an average Vancouver street these days. I remember not being able to ride the tram down one of the magical backlot streets, because they were filming this movie with the kid from Family Ties, where they drove this cool car, and some stuff happened. It was a long time ago, so I don't completely remember.
Anyway, back in those glorious days, before runaway production ruined so many lives and dashed so many dreams, taking the backlot tram tour would actually put you, the lucky tourist, in the movies!
You could ride across this collapsing bridge, and go through an actual avalanche, from the Six Million Dollar Man. You could ride through the actual Red Sea, parted by the commanding voice of our tour guide, with the help of his trusty driver.
Jaws, the real Jaws, would actually jump out of the water at the tram, with only the skills of the aforementioned driver to save tramloads of "Maui 1980"-shirted tourists from certain doom.
Of course, facing the dangers of the movies was exciting and all, but that was nothing, after you'd driven into an actual Cylon Spaceship, and faced down the wrath of the Imperious Leader, with a little help from this guy named "Apollo", from the real Battlestar Galactica. It was the first real "event" of the tram tour, and it was my absolute favorite part. Even better than the Psycho house, or 1313 Mockingbird Lane.
Once, when I was doing that whole "Teen Idol" thing, I was invited to Universal to host Nickelodeon's Kid's Choice Awards. It was there that I met, and developed the hugest crush ever on, the one and only Debbie Gibson. (Who, in a bizarre twist of six degrees of separation, is good friends with one of the actors who I just worked with in 'Neverland'. She told him to tell me "Hello". Rock.)
Anyway, while we were at Universal, shooting segments for the awards show, they took us into the actual Cylon Spaceship, and let us experience it, "behind the scenes". I got to put on the Apollo helmet, pick up the balsa wood gun, and lip synch, "In the name of the federation, I demand the release of the humans!"
It was beyond cool, even though I was like 15 or 16, and should really have been too cool for the whole thing, especially since I was hoping that Debbie Gibson would get lost in my eyes, and not be able to shake my love.
But, alas, the romance was not to be, and, although I did my best Apollo, they wouldn't let me put on the whole costume and do it for real tourists.
The closest I ever got to being on Battlestar Galactica was running around the Enterprise, which wasn't as good a consolation prize as you'd think.
A few years later, I read in the paper that the Battlestar Galactica attraction was gone, replaced by, get this, an escalator, that would transport tourists to the bottom of the hill, where they could wait in line for lame attractions like "ET's Adventure" and something stupid from An American Tale. Billed, at the time, as the "world's biggest escalator", it failed to impress me the same way that balsa wood gun and FX smoke-filled room did.
Although I hadn't ridden the backstage tour in years, I knew immediately that I would miss it forever.
I never went on studio tours again like the ones I did when I was 16.
Jesus, does anyone?
Looks like winter has decided to take the week off...it's already 74 degrees here, and all the trees are blooming and blossoming, thinking that it's spring. Didn't that damn groundhog say there were 6 more weeks of winter? If this warm weather keeps up, I will have no excuses for my yard looking like Beirut.
Actually, I love spring. It's warm, beautiful, and the perfect season to follow winter...problem is, spring doesn't like me, or my wife.
At least, the pollen doesn't like us. We've been sneezing and itching for the last 48 benedryl-hazed hours, with no end in site. And I have to do yard work today. Oy.
Last night, Anne and I watched "Amazon Women on the Moon", the sort-of sequel to "Kentucky Fried Movie. I saw "Kentucky..." about 2 weeks ago, and, unlike a lot of topical 70's comedies, it really holds up. And I'm not just talking about "Catholic High School Girls In Trouble", either.
It was the first time Anne had seen "Amazon...". It was cool to watch something that I'd seen so many times, with someone who hadn't ever seen it before, and see her laugh out loud that jokes that I just smile at now, because I know they're coming.
Speaking of stuff I've seen a million times, I introduced Ryan to "The Prisoner" day before yesterday. We sat and watched "Arrival" on Friday night, and "Free For All" yesterday afternoon. Ryan is really smart, and he totally gets the symbolism and deeper meanings of a lot of the themes in the show, so far, and he has come up to me a few times saying, "Wil! I totally know who Number One is!" I can't wait to talk with him about it when we finally watch "Fallout".
Well, it's time for me to grab a rake, crank up Zeppelin 4, and attack the yard.
Have a great Sunday, everybody!
Today, I had an audition over at Paramount for a pilot where the character I'm reading for is turning 30, and regrets some decisions that he made when he was a teenager. So he wishes for a chance to go back and have a "do-over".
I am not making this up, and the show is not called "The Wil Wheaton Story".
I had lots of fun doing it, because the show is a comedy, and the character is, and again, I'm not making this up, very ironic, sarcastic, and acerbic.
Now I'm wondering if I should sue them for stealing my move?
Anyway, since I was there, I stopped at the "Nemesis" set, and got an eyeful of some amazingly scary aliens, and got to say hello to Patrick and Brent, and John Logan.
I also wanted to wish Patrick and Brent good luck in the 4 Man Bobsled event at the olympics, in which they've decided to compete, as late entries.
You know, every time I go to Paramount, I am overwhelmed by this weird conflicting melange of emotions: nostalgia, happiness, and melencholy being the most prominent ones...for as much as I didn't like it when I was younger (mostly due to my age), I really miss that place...and being on Stage 16, which was our "Swing Stage" (a stage that can be changed from week to week to be a planet, or alien spaceship, or holodeck set), really flooded back the memories. If only I had been listening to "Strangelove" or "Head on the Door" on a walkman, the circle would have been complete.
I also got a call from my friend Seth Wiley, who directed me in "The Good Things", and he told me that I was mentioned over at LaidOffLand.com. I thought that this quote was really cool:"Wil Wheaton should be named like the Grand Chancellor of the Internet. For his assistance, I've named him The El Supremo of LaidOffLand."
That brought a big smile to my face. :-)
So I had this idea, that I thought was nice and sweet.
Turns out it was a really bad idea, and I've really turned some people off.
I'm super sorry.
To those of you who also thought it was a good idea, and contributed, thank you. We'll be having a nice dinner. To those of you who felt the need to attack me about it, I appreciate your honesty, even if your words stung a bit.
I'm totally at a loss for words.
I just...well...I'm sorry, everyone.
Despite what the title says, there is not a small space that you can crawl into and take over my body...not yet, at least.
It refers to the title of this really wonderful story that was written about me and WWDN by this guy Tod Goldberg (BAHHH!!! Who's next?!).
Big thanks to Joyce who emailed me about it...makes me want to finish SpongeBob Vega$pants.
Today was a ridculously long day. Anne and I are working on our friend's movie (she's the hair dresser and I'm one of the actors), and we're shooting it really, really far away from where we live...so we drove something like 160 miles total today. We also had to juggle where the kids were going to go before and after school, and what we'd do with Ferris for the day. We are going to have to repeat this for the next 8 days, and I have a very strong, and new-found respect for families with 2 working parents, who have to deal with this sort of thing every single day.
The shoot went really well, today. All the actors are wonderful! They're all from the theatre, so they know what the hell they're doing, which is not something that usually happens on low budget movies. The whole crew is really wonderful, too, and we're all having fun, and getting good work done, too.
Tomorrow afternoon, I have my second callback for the producers for this MOW. If you've got some mojo to spare at 4:30 PST tomorrow, send it my way, and I'll be forever grateful.
I have worked really hard to make this website not totally suck, and I love it that so many people enjoy coming here (90,000 of you a month, eating up close to 25 gigs a month), and I am so giddy that you cast your votes for me, and WWDN. There is so much more that I want to do with this site, and, not ever being content to rest on my laurels for too long, I will be building some really cool stuff over the next couple of months.
I want to thank some people, since I don't know when I'll ever get to give and "acceptance" speech again...but first, I'd like to call attention to the plight of the...haha. Just kidding.
I would like to thank my wife, for enduring the website-as-other-woman, and my step-kids for hearing, "Not now, I'm working on my website", but still asking me to play with them the next day.
Loren, Josh, Ben, Ashley, and Logjamming Hosting, for helping me get this thing going in the first place, and extra-special thanks to Loren and Roughy for really helping out with some techincal issues.
Jim and .drow for some bigtime behind the scenes help.
A huge debt of gratitude is owed to Noah Grey, who wrote Greymatter, the weblog program that I originally used, and Amy, who helped me fix Greymatter and get all my old entries exported into MoveableType, which I am currently using. I also have to give recognition to Ev, and Blogger, which was so easy to use, and so reliable, I was able to continue this weblog, even while I was having hellaproblems with GM and then MT.
Finally, I want to thank the entire community of people who read and contribute to WWDN. Whether you've been here from the beginning, or if you've just found us recently, you guys have added a great deal to this lame little website. I consistently get emails praising the thoughtful discourse we have here, and the fact that most of the people who read and post to WWDN are smart, thoughtful people, who will argue issues, not personalities, and I am proud to say that we've had some great arguments here over the last 6 months or so, without a single stupid flamewar.
For those of you keeping score at home, here's the categories that WWDN won:
I am humbled, shocked, awed, excited, and extremely grateful.
/me does the happy dance
This week has been the busiest week I've had in months. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining, at all. I like to be extremely busy. Matter of fact, I go absolutely nuts when I don't have anything to do...so nuts that I make work for myself...like WWDN, for example. :)
I had 2 really big auditions this week, and I major deadline at work. I talked with my boss, and she said that I still can't talk about G4 at all...but I can say that I'm doing some really cool work there, that I'm already very proud of, and I can't wait until you all can see it.
Many people have this complete misconception about actors. They think that actors just have their agents call someone up, and then that actor is magically placed into a role, or into a movie. The way things really do happen is quite different. It sort of breaks down like this: After a role is created, the writer, and producer usually sit down, and talk about "types", like "we want a Paul Rubens type" or "we need a brooding, mysterious, handsome man for this role". They then think of all their friends and relations who don't come close to any of these "types", and try to make that square peg fit a round hole. Then they hire a casting director, and the casting director goes through his or her list of actors who he or she likes to work with, and the casting director brings those people in for auditions.
Sometimes, managers and agents hear about roles, and they submit their clients to the casting director, but, more often then not, the casting director doesn't want to hear from an agent or manager, because the casting director would like to work with the people they already know.
This trend can benefit actors, because there are lots of casting directors who have good relationships with agents, and they'll call those agents up, asking for a type to fill a role, and the agent can then tell the CD that he has a client who fits the type, etcetera, etcetera. This works out great for relatively unknown actors, but if you're sort of known, like I am, it can hurt me.
There's also this thing about not being wrong. The entire entertainment industry is extremely insecure, because everyone knows that they're playing to a very fickle public, who can be in love with someone one week, and hate them the next (see "Mariah Carey"). So casting people get it in their minds that they "know" a person, and they don't like to be wrong about that. They're not adverse to "discovering" someone, but they are (sadly, understandably) reluctant to take a chance on someone, because, more often than not, the casting person gets burned.
So this process goes on for a few weeks, and, ultimately, it's weeded down to me and one other guy, and they hire Jimmy Kimmel's cousin.
Here's why I tell you all of this: I recently added management to my team. I was really reluctant to do this, because I've had managers before, and they've never really managed to make any major difference in my career, as far as getting auditions or work goes. Basically, I haven't been able to find a manager who works as hard as I do for me, and who cares about my career as much as I do.
Until now, that is.
One brief thing about managers, that you have to know, so this makes sense: Managers really should be an extra set of hands for an actor. They should be able to make calls when the agent isn't able to get to somone, or is being told "no" by a casting person.
I think I'm a pretty good actor, and I know that I'm very dedicated to my craft. But that's really not enough these days. For example, it really helps to be related to Jimmy Kimmel, or have a nice rack. As I've said before, many months ago, there has been this misconception within Hollywood that I was still 14, or still on Star Trek, or whatever. Casting people knew me as a strong dramatic actor, but not as a comedic one. They knew me as a child, but not as an adult. Basically, they knew me as Wesley or Gordie, and that was it.
This is where a good manager comes in.
My agents, who are simply amazing, awesome, hard-working bad asses, have struggled mightily the last year or so to convince casting people that I wasn't that kid anymore, and to just give me a chance to change their mind, and the casting people were always saying "no". Until two weeks ago, that was the end of it...but this time, things were really different, thanks to my new additions to my team.
My agent submitted me for a role in a very big MOW, that will end up being what they call "an event". That's just slightly bigger than "a very special" episode, I'm told. The casting director calls back, gives my agent a few reasons why she won't see me, and that's that. But this time, my agent calls my manger, explains the situation, and my manager gets on the phone to the casting director, does his thing, and I have an audition three days later, because the casting director decided to trust my manager and take a chance on me.
I have a final producers and network call back on Thursday for this role. I think there's 3, maybe 4 of us left, out of the entire entertainment industry, within our type, going on this call back. How cool is that?! I went from "no way" to producers and network call back. I've been doing the happy dance all week.
Then, this morning, I got a call from one of my managers (there's 3 of them, and they all work together. I'm sure this is terribly interesting to everyone. But it's my damn website, so get off my back.). She had called a very important casting director at a major studio, and talked him into seeing me. He had told my agent that I was a great dramatic actor, but that he didn't know about me for comedy. So my manager talks to him, gets him to give me a chance to change his mind, and he relents. I go into the audition, and I did a really good job with the material. As a bonus, I really liked the guy, and he really liked me (we know some of the same comedy people, it turns out). My manger was calling me after she'd gotten off the phone with him, where he raved about me, about how funny and nice I was, and told her that he was bringing me back to producers for his show.
I think it's just awesome that these casting directors gave me the chance to show them what I can do, and I'm so thrilled that I brought my "A" game, and didn't let them down.
I'm really excited about all of this...I think my years of suffering as the constant runner-up are going to come to an end, and pay off, finally.
Besides, Kimmel can only have so many cousins, right? :)
Quite some time ago, Anne and I went to the zoo. We took this really cool picture of ourselves.
I've also added quite a few items to some of the stores, for Valentine's Day.
Also, I know that the styles are all screwed up right now, but I've got bleeding eyes. I'm going to take a break, and work on this some more later.