Sell my old clothes, I’m off to heaven

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.

92 thoughts on “Sell my old clothes, I’m off to heaven”

  1. Awesome. Glad you had a good time. I pack earplugs for just such an occasion in a hotel room. It sucks not getting enough sleep.

  2. Wish my cable co carried TechTV! I have to wait till I go back to work and catch it on the satellite. Maybe they will re-run your episode this weekend.

  3. I think it is so cool how the drab nuts-and-bots of doing the show are just second nature to you, Wil.
    Just casually running through the stuff… yeah, the telepromter, ho-hum, the names of different parts of the set, la la la, production meeting, yeah yeah.
    Man, all that crud sounds like So Much Fun(tm). Heck if I ever would think about the idea that it might be important to know tha names of different parts of the set. You the Pro, Wil.
    I wish I had cable so I could have seen it.

  4. First of all, I’m number 4, that is very cool. SIt sounds like you had a fairly decent day in the Bay area, even if the weather, the heater and the flight sucked. But you did great on the show even with the blue hair. So have a great day, and start looking forward to the next big storm. Now you know what we put up with in Seattle.

  5. Darn it! The one show that I miss is the one you host. This bites. Not enough VCRs in my house and my computer dies every time I install my video card’s DVR software. The whole world is against us, Silent Bob, I swear to god.

  6. Aww, I can’t believe that Wil was in the same building I work in and I wasn’t even there. So much for my big brush with *greatness*!

  7. I love the cold, windy, cloud-covered Bay area too. and when the fog rolls down over the hills on the Peninsula — wow!
    great description of SF, Wil. thanks!

  8. wow…colour me shocked….
    here i was, wondering what the hell this tech tv thing is, figuring it must be some cool ass thing that they only get in the states…
    and low and behold, on my drive in to work today, they mention it on the radio….
    of course, i don’t have it on my cable ……
    but still….atleast i know now that it’s theoretically possible to see it here in toronto…
    anyhow, great post wil, and congrats on what sounded like a fun time in san-fran…..
    my brother in law Justin was just there and said it was a fantastic city…
    i’ll see it one day..

  9. You did an excellent job on the show! You seemed very comfortable up there. If you worked there as a host I would watch The Screensavers all the time. Wait, I already watch it all the time. Well, my wife would watch it all the time then since she thinks you are “dreamy” also.

  10. The show was awesome. The hair looked great… and you and Pat sounded like you were having a good time. I think a LOT of people think your “dreamy” (with 4 letters 😉 )
    Hope you get to host it again it looked like it was fun.

  11. Ive been watching the screen savers for a long time and I thought that this episode was the best Ive seen. I didnt know you had a website until your little plug. Great job on the show and I hope to see you on again in some shape or form. Id love to see you and martin seargent do a show together!!

  12. Hay will,
    I had tickets to the show but was not able to attend, any chance you will be out for another show in the near future??
    Can you give us MONKEYS some more notice next time, i had to pull a lot of strings to get those tickets and since i couldn’t go i probobly will not be able to pull those strings again…
    More info would relly make my life eay…

  13. I thought you did a great job! Hope to see you on again soon. Mabe you can slide yourself in to being a regular, or mabe even a host. It’s great having someone young on the show (MArty is just wierd.. funny.. but weird..) I watch SS pretty much every day, and catch up on the weekends, would love for you to be on as a host. ( I know.. said that already.. i ramble..)
    Congrats on teh great show.

  14. Bummer! I wish I would’ve known about your trip sooner. FAT is only a couple of blocks from Union Square just South of Market. I would’ve loved to have given you cats a tour and loaded you up with promos.
    I didn’t get to see the show either. reruns?
    Right on, Wil.

  15. I thought Wil was great on the show. Very relaxed. There were some points where they didn’t click together as hosts, but for a first time out the interaction was great.
    I loved Wil’s comment about Nethack on a 15 inch screen. Really showed me how long he has been in the geek game.

  16. Born and raised in Chicago, but spent two years living in the Bay Area in the early 1990’s. If I ever make enough money, that is the city I would live in the rest of my life. I still love Chicago, but I give it all up for a chance to live there again.

  17. Went over to a friend’s house just to watch the show last night. Quite entertaining! Thanks for giving us the heads-up that you’d be on, so those of us without cable or satellite could make arrangements to mooch off our friends…
    The Shirt went well with the blue hair, by the way. Congratulations on a job well done!

  18. Just got back from the TechTV website, and there are 2 things I noticed:
    Gary Coleman will be guest hosting soon.
    Morgan Webb, too !@#$^&ing hot for words, has an article about throbbers.

  19. I see TechTV every day. I seen all NGR about 2 times each. I loved that show. I did not know that Gene Roddenbery was no more for a long time. But I did see that the NGR was not that good any more. It was about when Gene Roddenbery was no more that the NGR was geting not so good. I liked the Movie that was just out or is out. I like to get that on DVD when it comes out. Sounds like most did not like it.
    Any way that’s the only place I seen Wil. Seems like you were on TechTV before too. What I thought about you on the show was that you did it so very good. I thought you know how because you did NGR show. I wanted to see your web page and I did. Very good talking about Tech TV the day you went there. Thank you!
    -Raymond Day

  20. I was in San Francisco a few years ago for a conference, and I stayed just off of Union Square. It was the weekend just before Thanksgiving, and they were putting up that giant tree. Every day, I’d walk past it and see a little bit more decoration, and it reminded me of the first few lines of “Silver Bells.” (;

  21. I admit, I thought the show would be lame because they were going to have an “outsider” co-hosting, I was proven wrong.
    Great job! Hope to see you back on sometime

  22. “The rain beats down on the window-mounted air conditioner, its steady plink-plink-plinking competing with the sputtering and hissing of the radiator”
    I think I stayed in that hotel. Considering how cold it was in July, I feel for you.
    But yay for the show going well.

  23. Wil,
    Dude, you rock! Leo’s in BIIG trouble, even if he’s more ‘technically-minded’… besides, you’ve better taste in shirts. :) I watch Screen Savers off and on, and this has got to be the best show yet… NetHack, WWDN, AND all in the SAME SHOW! (did someone scam my “bored at work” bookmarks from my browser, or what?)
    And I’ll have you guys know I skipped “Monster Garage” to see this one.. glad I did, too. 😀
    Question: what did you think of having the Mac OS X machine on your side of the podium? Or did you even care? (pphpt!)
    (yes, Morgan is a hottie. Keep your hormones in check, Wil, you’re married.)
    Glad to hear the flight home was peaceful, apologies for the lousy weather, and hope Anne gets over her cold soon (chicken matzo soup. I’m serious, that stuff has magical cold-curative abilities…)

  24. Wil, you were awesome. I’m totally going to read Hyperspace, it sounds like a book I’ve been looking for.
    Your hair looked awesome. What did you use to dye it? It was very grown up blue hair, which is what I’m looking for.
    Thanks, Wil

  25. “Sell my old clothes, I’m off to heaven”
    Wonder how much The Shirt(tm) would go for on eBay?

  26. *sniff*
    I really love, love, love San Francisco as well and then I got to the part about Loren and Kelly and I really love them as well. I haven’t seen them in .. *counts* two years I guess. WAH! I want to see them! 😉

  27. Hi Wil;
    I would like to apologize for the lewd and belligerent behavior of my miscreant friends and band-mates. We will heretofore reserve our enmities for the bastards at the corporate helm… please accept our best wishes and do not hold our little rock and roll outfit accountable for this brash outburst of pugilistic fulminations… Perhaps we can send you a copy of our new album in a gesture of truce…?
    We’ll understand if you are not interested…
    The band is JIM…
    Thank you for your time…

  28. Just found your site yesterday. Interesting stuff. Liked your character in ST: TNG, but don’t remember much about Stand by Me — will have to watch again.
    Bummed that I missed the show yesterday — have always wondered what Screen Savers is like and have never seen you outside of TNG. If yesterday’s Screen Savers ever reruns, I hope to hear about it.

  29. Wil,
    I’m glad you had a good time in the city by the bay. You can never meet or work with to many good people.

  30. Great Show! Just saw it this morning at 5am (rerun). Careful what you write because Anne might be reading it too, so yeah Morgen is hot!

  31. Damn. You were *on* last night. I don’t mean “hey you were on TV” either. I was laughing for most of that show. Maybe they should dump Leo and use you permenantly.

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