Portland and Seattle, I am about to be in you.

Tomorrow morning, Anne and I are heading up to Portland to vist some family, eat some donuts, play some classic video games, buy some books, drink some beer, and do a show with Paul and Storm at the Alberta Rose Theatre. I got confirmation last night that our friends The Doubleclicks and John Roderick will be joining us for some happy funtimes, and I’m looking forward to the show.

When I was on JoCo Cruise Crazy 3, I forced myself to step way out of my comfort zone, and I did about 10 minutes of stand up comedy as part of my set. I haven’t seen video of it, so I don’t know if the audience liked it, but I recall feeling like it went pretty well, and besides, it was a lot of fun to write it and take the chance performing it. I think one of the best reasons for stepping outside of your comfort zone is to expand it, and by that measurement, it was a successful experiment.

So last night, my friend Chris Hardwick came over and helped me develop some material I’d been putting into my notebook in advance of the show, and we ended up putting together some stuff that I think is pretty goddamn funny. I’m terrified, but excited, to try it out in the show.

I know it’s cart before the horse (in the sense that there is no horse and the cart hasn’t been built, yet) but we even talked about maybe shooting a special with me doing jokes and telling stories and selling it on the Internets some day in the mysterious future. I think that could be really cool.

After Portland, I’m on my way to Seattle for the Emerald City Comicon. This is one of my favourite conventions of the whole year, and is the gold standard (with Phoenix Comicon) for how a con should be run, how fans should be treated, and what kind of value you should get for your money. Paul and Storm and I are doing a show (disguised as a panel) on Saturday morning, and I have a Tabletop panel on Sunday afternoon. The rest of the weekend, I’ll be signing pictures and books and boobs and action figures. Saturday night, the Kings are playing the Canucks, so Aaron Douglas and I are planning to find someplace where we can watch the game and talk all kinds of shit at each other. It should be fun.

I’ll have a limited number of books with me at the convention, as well as some pictures, if you’re interested in that sort of thing. I am still accepting dice for project How Many Dice Is Too Many Dice.

Now, as always, the thing I have to say before I go to a con:

I got the Swine Flu at PAX Prime, and it was the worst two weeks of my life. When we went to PAX East, all of us (Jerry, Mike, Kurtz, Straub, Paul and Storm, The Professor and Mary Ann) all agreed that we wouldn’t shake hands, give hugs, or engage in human contact with people, to limit the introduction of infection vectors. Most people understood, and we gave each other the old Iron Guard Salute (not the fascist thing, the gaming thing that looks like like “love” in ASL). The result: a few people were cheesed off, but none of us were too upset about that, because none of us got sick. It was the first con I’ve gone to in my whole life where I didn’t get some form of Con Crud, and I’d like to repeat that until we turn out the lights on Planet Earth. So, tl;dr: I’m not going to touch people at the con. I know it seems weird, but I hope you understand why. I’m not trying to be a dick, I’m trying not to get sick. 

 A non-zero number of readers seem to have a real problem with this, and people on the rest of the Internets are already giving me a hard time about it in very unkind terms. This makes me really sad; I hoped for a little more empathy and understanding. Not that it should matter, but I have Epstein-Barr, so my immune system isn’t as robust as a normal person’s; it is very easy for me to catch viruses and other nasty things. I’m not going to apologize for not wanting to get sick, especially after two weeks of Swine Flu. If you can’t understand that, it’s your problem, not mine.

People don’t like to hear this, and I hate that I have to say it. I’m not sorry, because I don’t particularly like getting sick.

Sorry that the big Tabletop announcement didn’t happen today. Something related to it wasn’t ready, so we have to delay it until tomorrow. Feel free to continue speculating.

I’m writing a new story. I’m aiming for 30,000 words, but it will be the length that it wants to be. I’ve been doing a little bit every day, and I’m up to about 4,000 words. I’m having a lot of fun writing it, and if it’s worth publishing when it’s done, that will happen.

56 thoughts on “Portland and Seattle, I am about to be in you.”

  1. You are doing right by not touching unknown people at Cons.
    People who don’t understand this may never had been touched by hundrets of others, so they don’t know, how easyly one can catch the flu this way.

    Please enjoy the trip an have a good time.

  2. You’re making me think I should start trying to make it up to ECCC now…

    Speaking of disease, I get what you’re trying to do and all but just bear in mind a lot of viruses are also airborne. Maybe because I’m allergic to every animal on the planet and as a result I choose to surround myself in my home with every animal I can find, I’m sort of used to paying attention to when my hands are “contaminated”. Soap and water or anti-bacterial spray/hand sanitizer all goes a long way to allowing you some contact and a great deal of safety despite the odds.

    My wife is a student affairs officer at a university so she’s responsible for upwards of a thousand students (not to mention those that aren’t part of the department who come for counseling because she’s just that good). She is constantly getting sick and she’s not even engaging the students physically. I’ve even told her she needs to just start a policy forbidding any sick students from showing up at her door.

    That said, be sure to rest up, exercise (even a walk around the block) is your friend (if you want a nice long-winded story about why, I’d be happy to share…and I mean a biological story, not something you’ll get from a personal trainer), and just remember not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth with those hands until you’ve washed them. Same thing goes with touching Anne. :) Put that all together, add in some gaming goodness, and you’ll be just fine. Take two Pandemics and call me in the morning…

  3. Woh Stand up?
    Awesome, definitely cool to be pushing your boundaries, especially after you’ve made it!
    This year will be my first ECCC so I’m glad to hear it’s your gold standard of cons.
    Any events or things that shouldn’t be missed besides your panel?

    I only snagged a pass for Sat so I will have to miss out on the awesome tabletop stuff
    (hopefully your announcement is it’s becoming a weekly series!!!!)

  4. One of these days, I’ll get motivated enough to brush up my skills for the games at Ground Kontrol, and challenge you to a duel. Have a good trip, I’m still trying to talk my wife into the show!

  5. So sad that I’m missing both of those shows. Stupid grown up decisions… I second Joey, not touching strangers is best for you. And that’s what is important. Take care of yourself.

  6. Wil, I was in the audience on JCCC3 and loved your comedy. I’ll also be in the audience in PDX and look forward to more (or whatever you have ready for us)! Would clean dice in ziplock bags be preferrable to open air dice? (for whatever amount of germ prevention that would provide)

  7. I’ll be there as a Minion for the first time (after meeting you the last two years to have you sign a photo and a TNG knick-knack — and giving you a t-shirt with a “Foundation” reference on it and a couple of CDs), so I may not get to see you this year, but you’re always one of my personal highlights of attending a convention. I shook your hand the first time (right before reading the text above about personal contact) and I’m just glad I didn’t have anything that I could’ve passed on to someone else. And I’m totally fine with your rule. Being healthy is much better than being sick. I know, right?

  8. My baby caught swine flu that year too. THANKS A LOT, PAX. But hey, we survived because now he’s that strapping four year old who loves Batman (if you recall via the Twitters). I now carry hand sanitizer to cons (nowhere else though because I’m not crazy) and do not handshake/touch/kiss unless it’s my super cute nerd husband.

    Anyhow maybe see ya there, if I can stand being in line for a long time to say hi again. Running out of stuff to have signed by you. Gotta miss your panel though because it’s scheduled to conflict with the Elfquest panel. They win this round since I’ve never seen them and they’re the only comic I ever collected/cared about.

    I’ll wave at least if I see you around. :)

  9. I’m so excited to see you at ECCC this year. I totally don’t blame you for not wanting to shake hands. I go to 2 – 3 trade shows a year and everyone wants to shake hands. I got pneumonia after a show one year. It’s so hard to remember not touch your face or eat anything during the course of the day and shaking a hundred hands!

  10. I came down with a virus last week. I had a fever of over 102 degrees, and got so dehydrated I ended up in the hospital twice where they had to put a total of 5.5 liters (!!) of fluid back into me. I was vomiting so violently I actually hairline fractured a rib, and was horrified when the doctor told me I wasn’t even the first person he had seen *that week* who had done that.

    So basically, I got my ass kicked by the viral equivalent of Samuel L. Jackson’s IMDB roster. (And yes, it amused me at the depths of my misery to imagine the little viruses all with muttonchops, lightsabers or eyepatches as they tore through my system.)

    While normally I would understand your desire not to get sick, after that experience I start to think this practice of ‘no touchie’ might not go far enough. (There’s probably a way to cosplay at PAX in a hazmat suit, right?)

    Regardless, stay safe and healthy.

  11. The PNW is not the most touchy-feely part of the country so the no touching policy shouldn’t offend many people. I say it’s a good thing to implement. Maybe if more people did the same we’d spread fewer illnesses (not that I’m a germaphobe or anything.) Have fun up here. It’ll be cloudy, damp, and cold but the coffee is awesome.

  12. I wanted to recommend The Angry Beaver in Greenwood for your hockey watching needs, they serve 2 kinds of vegan poutine. Plus if you’re in the neighborhood, Chucks 85th Hop Shop has 38 rotating taps and a great craft beer selection. :)

  13. Having just finished a year of for an unknown undiagnosed skin problem, I know what you mean about staying away from human contact. I had to wait till the meds had cleared my system to even get a flu shot since it’s an antagonist for the immunosuppressed.

    You could break down and wear one of those face masks that are out there that have some super special coating (saw Bruce Hensel talking about it on Channel 4) that keep the bad air out.

    Keep up the writing. Can’t wait to see the story that will come out of your neurons.

    Enjoyed you so much on Eureka and on BBT (my relative who works on the show said you’re an awesome guy and so nice to everyone) and Leverage.

    Peace. Have a safe trip, don’t let the TSA get you down and stay healthy.

  14. For watching the Kings/Canucks game in Seattle, the Tap House Grill is near the convention center. Plenty of TV’s, if the game isn’t on just ask. They have over 100 taps, with a strong local and west coast focus.

    If you’re willing to walk a bit, go to Pike Brewing on 1st and Union, maybe a 15 minute stroll from the cc. Great brewery, grab the tripel or any of the pale/IPA family. There are TV’s scattered throughout; the Museum Room Bar would be my choice (biggest TV), but since there’s a Sounders game on Saturday your best bet is probably to ask for a seat in Naughty Nellie’s Room.

    Oh, and if you have time, I have to put in a pitch for a visit to Reuben’s Brews, about 5 miles north of downtown. Tiny brewery, fantastic beer, charming brewer. You won’t regret it.

  15. The best place in Seattle to watch hockey is probably the Angry Beaver:


    It’s a Canadian-themed bar, so you might be outnumbered by Canucks fans, but that’s probably going to be true wherever you go in Seattle. Downside is that it’s probably a $15 cab ride or 30 minute bus ride from the Convention Center, but the upsides are (1) they’re a hockey-themed bar that opened during the lockout and could use the extra support, and (2) they offer poutine flights. Poutine flights!

  16. I’m really looking forward to your panels this year. I’m glad it’s a bit different than last year too, as we get to see more sides of Performing Wil!

    I too reeeallly want to avoid the con-plague I caught last year at ECCC. I’m practicing my awkward-shy-girl-germaphobe wave now. I think I’ll use a combo sci-five/wax-on maneuver.

  17. Looking forward to the show in PDX tomorrow night! Prior to that, if you like, you can come over to help remodel the garage into an art studio. Who doesn’t like demolition, loud noises, and a startled-by-commotion barking dog? No one, that’s who.

    Working form home is fun. Yes, this turned out to be more about my day than you post. Sorry. 😉

  18. Well, if you’re going to be like that! I’m so disappointed, I was looking forward to planting a big wet kiss on those magnificent lips of yours…of course we don’t know each other and that’d be extremely awkward. But, I’m willing to make sacrifices to see this relationship work.

    Okay, I’m done with the creepiness. Wil, I’d love to have seen you in town and you have gone to see you, I love your writing and insights. I’m hoping you have a great time and stay healthy man. I had my first taste of Portland doughnuts today, someone brought VooDoo Doughnuts to work, I live and work in the OTHER Vancouver just north of Portland, and I cannot wait to try the other d-nut places in Portland. And if someone is to be believed at work there are better ones at there, and if that is true – they are worth traveling for.

  19. Looking forward to seeing your panels, too. I’m not sure if you’ve seen this, or if you visit panels yourself, but over on Twitter, I extended an invitation to you to visit my friends’ podcast panel, The Post Atomic Horror. A video invitation, in fact:


    That’s all. I don’t want to be pushy, I just figured I’d post it in multiple venues. I really think you’ll like what they do. It’s a very positive fan environment. Hope we can see you there. Oh, and my brother, who’s a huge beer guy, seconds the Pike’s Brewery suggestion.

    1. I appreciate the invite, but I never have time for anything when I’m at a con except for the things I’m scheduled to do.

      1. Ah, fair enough. I can only imagine how crazy your schedule must be.

        1. I hope the con’s awesome. I wish I could be there.

          I also agree about the contact limit. The last thing congoers and panelists need is to feel like they’ve been through a train wreck. The conditions alone are pretty rigorous to get through. Besides, we all need a little more ILY in our lives, right?

  20. Thanks for shout-out to Phoenix! We like having you join us, too!

    I understand completely about the touching thing. I don’t think that people wash their hands enough. I’ve worked as a professional chef and never got sick during that time, probably because we washed our hands a lot. Also, probably because being in the back of the house means you don’t meet many people besides your coworkers.

  21. maybe for those who REALLY wanna shake your hands, you could have a wooden hand with a long stick that they can use. 😛 they hold the stick, you “shake” the wooden hand. no physical contact but they get what they want. win-win :)

  22. Portland will be lucky to have you sir, and keep in mind what I told you on twitter just as the saying goes “if you cannot bring muhammad to the mountain bring the mountain to muhammad” same goes for your parts, if you cannot get the part you want then you need to create the part you want to play, even if its low budget after all it can also just be the joy of the play sometimes doesn’t always need to be a major block buster, so long as you are happy wth what you are doing!

    If it comes down to it go indi film and direct to netflix that bitch lol

  23. I appreciated the elbow bump I got in Austin. You were sick at the time (so sorry!) so i hope it fit within your comfort zone! Sending germ-free karma your way. Hope Anne is up to snuff tomorrow. Woof. 😉

  24. I hate to hear that you’re getting harassed for wanting to stay ‘clean’. That sucks.

    In general it seems like asshole-ry of the shit-giving kind stems from an inability to relate. So maybe these assholes have never been sick. Or maybe they’ve never been touched.

    Either way. I won’t be in Portland or Seattle (someday, though!) so for the time being, could I ask for a germ-free, cross-country high-five?

    PS: You rock. Hard.

  25. I’m so excited about Seattle! It is going to be my first Con! I recently sat and watched every episode of TableTop and am working on getting my friends to play more board games because of it. I also recently visited my local game store due to TableTop, so thanks very much for providing the impetus for that! I’m looking forward to this weekend! =)

  26. Speaking as one of the people who’s gotten in touch with you about homebrewing and also as a professional brewer:

    If you’re interested, I’ll be passing through Portland tomorrow on the way home from work–Prodigal Son Brewery and would love to a) bring you a growler of something and b) buy you a beer. There are a number of brewpubs in Portland even better than the ones you’ve written about previously, and I know most of them pretty well.

  27. *Iron Guard salute*

    Have a great time, Wil. Wish I could make it up that way or to Phoenix this year (props to Kids Need to Read – I used to blog for them in the early days…ah, nostalgia), but alas, we all do what we can, right?

    You know, it’s funny. The one year I really made a big effort not to get concrud at Dragon*Con, I got it. Other years, with just normal hand-washing, etc, I didn’t. Luck of the draw, I guess. But that’s as an attendee. As a guest, who deals with So Many People…eww. Totally okay not to touch, not that you needed me to say that.

    And on that note, I must away. Good luck with the show and the stand up! *sterile high five*

  28. You have my support on the no touch rule, for whatever it is worth. Disease usually get spread before symptoms show and a crowded place like a con is just asking to be infected with something. Have fun and hope you stay healthy…how else will I be entertained.

  29. I don’t like touching random people either so I totally get it, but, question…

    What about signing things? I was going to come out to Megacon and have you sign my Catan desert piece. Not really had anything signed before so just thought I’d check.

  30. The not shaking hands sounds a tad hypochondric and it doesn’t help if you still touch: Doorknobs, money, water taps, airconditioned buildings, air planes, cold foods… 😉
    Also when people bring you materials to sign you should not touch those because they too are almost as likely to transmit virusses.

    I used to be a massive hypochondriac! Ironically I wasn’t afraid of death but getting sick!
    My lovely little brother (6 years younger) had to study microbiology… Well since I heard all his stories I thought: “WTF, damn it I am not going to worry about it anymore!” The worst virusses are transmitted by air and since they can travel an distance of 30 meters from one sneeze…. brrrrr….

    The fact that I am writing this from behind my desk at a customer in a building with 1500 people with the aircon.

    But caution is probably a good thing.

  31. Looking forward to your return to Seattle, as always. Hope you get a chance to have a little time off to enjoy the con! If you do wander down into the lower two floors of the Gaming area, you’ll find a number of friendly, familiar faces among the ECCC Minions (many of which you already know as friendly PAX Enforcers).

    I’ll be running the Tabletop Tournaments — and many of the games I will be running I chose to run because you gave them exposure on Tabletop. If you can make it down to the Basement and say hello – awesome! If not, hey, no worries. You’re booked solid.

  32. we even talked about maybe shooting a special with me doing jokes and telling stories and selling it on the Internets some day in the mysterious future.

    Here! Take my money!

  33. Since I am too far away to make it to either event, and you are not talking about the TableTop announcement, can you elaborate on your new story? Any details on the genre of the book?

    I would like to make a suggestion for a future project. You have talked about the old choose your own way books, and I think it would be a great exercise in exploring a storyline from all angles. It would be good to see books like that again.

  34. I was on JCCC3. Your set definitely had an amateur air to it, as you weren’t comfortable or smooth with your delivery. But it was funny. And I absolutely loved the “neerrrrrrdd” story!

    Out of curiosity, did you get Cruise Crud? It seems like a lot of us (including my wife) did. But I haven’t noticed you or Anne mention it.

  35. I get that it it’s a drag for fans to not get to express their joy at meeting you with physical contact, but you’re probably seeing hundreds if not thousands of people in a single day; and I would venture to guess that at least 1/3 of them are fighting off some form of Captain Trips to lay eyes on your sweet little man-peach visage. Perspective: people need to have some.

  36. Quite a while ago, I’d said I’d come see you if you were to visit Portland. Now, I doubt you’re coming just to see if I’d make good on that promise, but I will be there. See you tonight!

  37. I hear ya Wil, I also have EB, and have dealt with it for a long long time. The ups and downs are not fun, and the health issues can be a ‘lil scary. For those not familiar with it, you can read about it at the cdc.gov site here: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/diseases/ebv.htm When I was diagnosed the Doctor made me quit work and rest, or as he told my then girlfriend “He must get some rest, reduce stress etc.., or pick out a casket”.

    It’s no joke, and Wil was being kind just glossing over it. He has to be careful, it’s just that plain and simple.

  38. Met you briefly at JoCoCruiseCrazy 3. Thanks for being so nice, nice guy! We plan on seeing you in our beautiful hometown of Seattle this Saturday for PAUL & STORM VS. WIL WHEATON. Looking forward to it. Should you have a moment of spare time (which I doubt), have a beer at Brouwer’s in Fremont (only about 15 minutes away from the Convention Center). They are a Belgian pub located in a renovated warehouse with over 60 beers on draft, over 300 bottles, and over 60 scotches. I am in no way affiliated with them; I just think it’s a place you might enjoy. http://brouwerscafe.blogspot.com/ Cheers! #SEXPARTY!

  39. A guy named Silas may say hi to you at ECCC. He started stand-up about a week after I did, but is way more comfortable on stage since he has been active in theater for many, many years. He is also producing shows in the Seattle area and has a pretty good geek-oriented routine. You might have mutually beneficial interests.

  40. Great Set Wil! My partner Tina and I really loved the show, although we must admit being baffled by the Pirate ‘Song’, it being the first time we’ve seen Paul and Storm. (ARRRR!)

    I especially enjoyed the stand-up. More please! You took the stage, and held it. The energy in that room was wonderful. I met some new friends, drank some delicious IPA, and laughed myself hoarse.

    Thanks so much. We’ll see you anytime you come to P-Town.

    In George Carlin’s autobiography “Last Words”, he recalled going to a concert and realized they were recording for an album. So, while listening to Charlie Shaver play an especially nice solo, he yelled “Make me cream Charlie!” He mentioned that many times in his career, people have done the same and similar things during his concerts.

    I didn’t expect you’d get the reference, and I don’t think you record your shows, but in the excitement of the moment, seeing you live for the first time… Well… yep… I shouted MAKE ME CREAM WIL, and earned a punch in the leg from my tolerant girlfriend.

    Folks, he didn’t miss a beat. He said ‘Do people still say ‘cream’?

    No… no they don’t Wil. :)

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