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. I enjoyed the show last night. Felt you did very well. Don’t know if it was you or the topics for the day but it was somehow more engaging than usual. On the Wayne’s World to Nightline spectrum, it leaned more towards the Nightline side last night (my own opinion). It’s probably you (ibid).
    So, congrats on a good show.

  2. Great job on the show Wil! I’ve been watching TechTV since it was called ZDTV, before Paul Allen took over. I’ve watched most of the episodes of TSS and think that yours is a classic that will stay on my Tivo for a long time. Loved the show! Come back and do another!

  3. Wil,
    I haven’t read any of the comments yet, but I will go back and read them…. I just wanted to say YOU ROCKED last night on TSS, and this is from someone who, sadly to say, wasn’t looking forward to it…. I mean, I’m sorry, but…. well, I miss Leo…. and who are you? :::::::WELL HERE IS ME EATING MY OWN WORDS BECAUSE I AM AN IDIOT:::::::CHOMP::::CHOMP::::CHOMP::::
    I want you to be on the show now all the time! I am writing to TPTB at TTV and telling them, too, since they are forever putting LAME CELEBRITIES on the show talking about how technology is stupid (sorry, I don’t mean to offend you or anything by speaking about celebrities like that) BUT YOU ARE A GEEK and a CELEBRITY, you need to be on TV EVERYDAY on The Screen Savers.
    WOW! Can you imagine how great it would be to have you on the show modding a computer with Yoshi? Or over-clocking an Athalon with Patrick? Or having you interview Woz????? IT WOULD BE AWESOME BECAUSE YOU “GET IT!”
    Sorry I didn’t put my real email in here, I don’t want spam, but I hang out in Leoville a lot, so come over and hang out with us over there.
    “EB” on Leoville

  4. Nice job, Wil. I thought you were very relaxed and came across as a natural. But I wanted to whack you at one point and say, “Stop leaning on that damn table!” I’ve only seen SS a couple of times but I think you were a much better host than those other two. Loved the shirt!!

  5. Wil –
    You really were a terrific host. I knew you were a professional, but our show can get bizarre sometimes and I’ve never seen anyone fit in so well.
    It was an an honor and a whole lot of fun to work with you. I’m sure Loren and Kelly would agree that you and Anne should move to San Francisco immediately and come work on The Screen Savers full time.

  6. Ok first of all….
    Wil, you were on the weakest link last night on the mighty institution that is the BBC, or Beeb to her friends.
    Much comedy and the shirt had Laydeez on it. Ok so i’m late in seeing this but, ya know, who cares…
    Secondly, take my advice.
    Don’t use an auto-cue.
    I found mine too cumbersome so now the conversations with my friends are ad-libbed.
    Whilst many have warmed to this new improv style, some prefered the rigid scripted of our previous conversations and as such, missed many comedy moments.
    I personally am glad i dont have to plan the following days conversations the night before.
    I tink oi need to lie downer…

  7. Man… I wish I had “real” cable instead of cheap “I pay ten bucks a month for better reception” cable. Does anyone have any screen captures of The Shirt complemented by The Blue Hair?
    I’m a recent WWDN convert/junkie, but this is a cool thing you’ve got here. And, totally off-topic, but… wow. Wil likes the Pixies. That does my heart good.

  8. “…we’re ready to go home and sleep in our own beds.” Gee, separate beds?
    You did a great job on the show. What I’d like to see is you and Chris Pirillo co-host. I bet the two of you would have great chemistry.

  9. I grew up in the Bay Area, and loved your comments about SF. Keep it up, and maybe the Chronicle will give you Herb Caen’s old job.

  10. Wil, you SO MUCH surpassed the performance of all the guest hosts of TSS that I have seen since I got satellite about a year and a half ago – several orders of magnitude that is – “Billions and billions.” I had no idea that you were so ‘hip-literate.’ I especially liked your plugs for Linux. TSS bad mouths MS-OSs all the time but continues to offer tips and fixes for ‘Outlook’, ‘Access’ and ‘Internet Exploiter.’ It’s like telling everybody to cover their screen with duct tape to keep the cold out rather than just close the door. Just think how much better off we would all be if Linux got the air time MS gets and MS got what Linux gets.
    I think you have found your calling if you want it. Tech TV, TSS and West Wing are about the only programs I watch regularly. Leo has made it known that he is leaving TSS when his current contract is up. I have always felt Leo would be a tough act to follow for any of the current staff. Although they are all very talented, intelligent and make excellent co-hosts, it really takes a special talent to anchor a program such as TSS. I always felt that TSS would fail to hold my interest for long after Leo left. I think you are one of those rare personalities that could fill those Flaming Shoes. Please consider it.
    We love ya’- even in ‘All most heaven’ WV
    Dave Cowan

  11. I caught the show last night and thought that you were great! In fact I made sure to catch it when I saw that you were going to be hosting. Seems like TechTV and you were made to be together, It was like you had been hosting TSS for years.
    Well done!

  12. Crap! I missed the show, completely forgetting about it when my wife was the “lucky winner” of a trip to the emergency room Tuesday evening. It turns out she has tendenitis in her foot, but the nurse she spoke to on the phone thought it might be a blood clot. We, naturally, were worried. Thankfully, Laura’s fine (if a little numb) and things are cool. Is this epsiode of Screen Savers going to be repeated in the near future?

  13. wil: it’s been bugging me since i saw the “BLUE HAIR” picture you posted here…and then your hair had a blue sheen to it on “THE SCREEN SAVERS”…is you hair really blue?…or is this just an optical illusion?

  14. Damnit, I *live* in SF and don’t get TechTV….
    Next time you’re in Union Square, have dinner at the Cheesecake Factory. And wait for a seat on the patio – the view is worth freezing your ass off. (It was obscenely windy the night the b/f and I had dinner there, even with the plexiglas buffers they have up around the patio, but it was still amazing.)

  15. Great job Wil! I was working in the control room at the switcher and didn’t really have a chance to meet you. Everyone here agrees that you did a fantastic job and fit right in. We want you back ASAP. From the technical side, you walked right in and nailed it. Sorry to hear about the prompter problems but it didn’t show at all. You seriously had me rolling when we came back from the Patti LaBelle package and you exposed Kevin for drawing on his face. We were all set to shoot around it so Kev could save a little face (pun intended) and what’s the first thing that comes out of your mouth? Classic. Hope you make it back up here soon!

  16. Wil,
    I did live TV when I was about 7 years old. This person got sick and then I had to stand in for them. They put this school play on live TV and I lucked out because,tech speaking, I had no idea what I was doing. It went great and everyone in my life loved it. I would not wish this on my worse enemy. It is hard work. Taped or filmed stuff, to me , seem to be a sane cup of tea. When it does work live, though, very few feelings can top it. Keep up the good work dare devil. I hear you pulled off a nice stunt.

  17. Wil,
    You Big Pimp, you rocked on TSS last night. It’s a shame you weren’t on tonight to save Marty from that annoying little man that is Gary Coleman. There were a few times tonight when I wanted Marty to kick him in the head. Even he said, “Why couldn’t I get Wil Wheaton!?” So there you have it…
    Seriously though, you impressed me last night. You really are an uber-geek. I bow to your superior knowledge. Please try to get back on TSS again…obviously Megan wants you back on (see her comment up there!) and so do all of us fans.
    Keep bein that Big Geek Pimp you are…

  18. thanks for doing the screensavers! you really did a brilliant job… here’s to you getting a full-time gig on that show!

  19. My band does a “post-mortem” every time we play out. Definitely necessary. Goes good with a Steinlager.
    I would comment on the show, but i have no TV to watch in on – haha! So, glad it went well for you.

  20. “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.”

  21. Wil,
    Unfortunately, I was unable to see TSS as my cable company doesn’t seem to carry TechTV. I believe it is a planned edition in the near future so with any luck, I’ll be able to catch a rerun. In spite of that fact, judging by comments from folks who did see the show, I’d say that you did quite a job and have had yet another success story to add to your resume. Congrats!
    It would be wonderful, in this world of tasteless talkshows and overweight blabbermouth hosts and hostess, to see someone like yourself host your own television show, perhaps a talk show, but unlike Jerry Springer, you could spend your time discussing things such as technology, politics, and possibly some creative and thought-provoking editorials? Also, maybe interviews with other people you have worked with over the years (excluding a certain exec producer of a certain Sc-Fi producton) and others could be interesting highlights…
    Normally, when talk shows come on I quickly change the channel. I would, however, definately watch your show, and religiously at that! :)
    It’s ironic that at this very moment I am watching “Stand By Me” on tape and at this very moment, you are face to face with a deer. When I imagine you sitting in front of your computer, writing the eloquent bits that you do, I see you not as you are now, with a Fark T-shirt and blue hair, but rather as that young boy, venturing into a world so much bigger than your little corner, yet holding on to a certain innocence that is so rarely found anywhere else.

  22. Damn, you take a few days off…
    Missed Screen Savers–hope I can catch a rerun! Way impressed re: Michio Kaku; I saw him on Tech TV’s “Big Thinkers” series and he had absolutely the best line ever about life, the universe and everything (with apologies to ripping off Douglas Adams…):
    We now believe the mind of God is music resonating through ten-dimensional hyperspace.
    Works for me…
    Glad to see you weren’t a complete no-show in “Nemesis”, but like everyone else, I’m already dying to see the DVD edition with the extra 50 minutes (including the Head Monkey) restored.
    Love the hair, the lawn, the dog and the shoes, hoping all’s well with you and yours, wishing you Happy Festivus and Happy Chanukah and Happy Diwali and Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and happy everything else that I left out!
    Take care, Wil.

  23. Whoh…this WWW is like a maze. It(google) took me to May 7, 2002 after you got home and after seeing a girl breakdown on her car cell phone…anyway, water under the bridge, I read about your difficulties about crying for parts and how a stranger could suddenly turn on your waterworks. Ironic? I dont know. But if a person(anyone here) cant feel for his fellow human being then maybe youve never really left the Enterprise, know what I mean?:D
    Congrats on your new ventures. Good Luck. Happy holidays, may the new year get you that big Moby Dick part.(I love metaphors, DONT YOU?):)

  24. I saw most of the show and it was just.. great. You were pretty hilarious. And you did seem to fit right in there.

  25. san francisco WAS a wonderful city. not anymore.
    unless a massive and entrenched beliggerent homeless population, huge unemployment across the board, a rediculous cost of living, daily traffic snarls that would send crowley into paroxysms of delight, and one of the most overcrowded cities in america is wonderful.
    i miss the old san francisco. my heart hurts everytime i come back to see it being eaten from the inside out with cancerous yuppies.

  26. Well, from someone who has lived in SF off and off since 1995, this city is ALWAYS changing. Many of the “cancerous yuppies” have left anyway, after the crash, and many of the ones who remain have a changed perspective. You forget the brilliant food, the coffee shop on every corner, the amazing parks, the “live-and-let-live” attitude. A friend of mine who just moved here from NYC says that in NY, everyone secretly wishes they were rich, and in SF, it seems like everyone secretly wishes they were an artist.
    Sure SF has its problems and downside, but what city doesn’t? To deal with the homeless, I volunteer at a soup kitchen, to deal with the traffic, I drive a vintage Vespa.
    I’m thrilled Wil had a great time here –but sorry about the terrible weather! We NEVER get rain and wind like this.

  27. I really love my country, but sometimes it sucks to live in Australia because we miss out on a lot of cool stuff you Americans get daily via your mind numbing amount of television channels.
    Wil… is it anywhere near possible you can put a selection of your television hosting performances on a tape and sell them via your site?
    And sell them in a format that is compatible with Australia?
    I’d really love to see them!
    Congratulations on what sounds like a great time!

  28. I watched a recording of the show last night. Great job, Wil. You fit right in. Busting on Kevin after the Patti LaBelle segment was hilarious. My wife has made fun of me in the past for reading your site and my geeky ways (good naturedly, of course), but she said she’d even watch the show if you were hosting. Not a bad compliment.

  29. Wil,
    TechTV is really a top notch network with quality shows and high production values. When G4 came out (with you on it) I was hoping for something similiar but it didn’t even come close with cheap sets, too little new material, poor shows and a whole lot of other problems. Even “Arena” (the best of the shows) which you and Travis tried so hard to make a quality show was hurt by poor quality contestants, management restrictions on games, and a 30 minute time slot.
    That said you SHINED on TSS last night. TSS is the best show on TechTV and the best show on tech I have ever seen. I have been watching it now for 2 1/2 years and still am amazed at that “little” show. My wife who has little intrest in computers other than her browsing and shopping and email on them doesn’t mind to watch TSS because Leo and Patrick do an amazing job of making unwatchable topics seem down to earth and… watchable. It comes as news to me that Leo is going to leave TSS but if that is true I TRULY hope TSS offers you a full-time gig, and that your life can except it because you were the best guest host I have ever seen on the show. Megan, Morgan, and Martin are all critical elements of the show but do their best job when reporting from the sidelines and while I hope Leo never leaves, if he does I sure hope you can get the gig.
    I wish you best of luck in all your future endeavors but clearly, and I think your realizing it, your life is heading in a new direction that will likely never been box office stardom again… but will be so much more rewarding.
    PS: I flew on a bumpy airline ride last night… I was just sitting in the front seat (yeah the front *most* seat on the left with the big picture windows) thinking what does space bound Wil not like about flying? Hell, I do it every day. 😉

  30. Hey Wil, glad you enjoyed your stay in SF. Next time, you definitely want to talk to the hotel about how “quaint” their rooms are. Hotels suck as a general rule, but unless you need ancient plumbing and heating for a true “SF Experience,” you’re better off making sure the place is reasonably modernized. There’s a hell of a lot of quaintness in my town.

  31. LOL –> 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.
    sorry but i thought thast that was hilarious!! lol…. well i;m sorry u had such a shitty sleep in the hotel :) lol its nice to sleep in ur own bed sum times!!

  32. Saw you on the screen savers (I actually, after reading that you would be on, deliberately set a reminder to watch it..) I thought the show was fantastic and I must say the hair suits you.
    Have a good holiday!

  33. Aww damn. I work at Macy’s, on the sixth floor (best view from there), and I look out over Union Square every day, and the -one time- I’ve ever traded my shift had to be the day you stopped by. And I don’t get Tech TV, so I didn’t even get to see you on the show.

  34. I had the extreme pleasure of booking Wil’s visit to The Screen Savers” and taking him and his lovely wife Anne out to dinner.
    Wil is delightful, brilliant, and engaging, and I sincerely hope we can find a way to maximize Wil’s unrelenting talent on TechTV.
    Feel free to email me (with Wil Wheaton in the subject line), if you watch TechTV and have any ideas on how you would like to see him shine on the network.
    Warmest wishes for a wonderful holiday!

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