I’ve been busy recording audiobooks, including a few of my own. Today, I complete the audio trifecta of Original Wil Wheaton Works Read By Me, Wil Wheaton, with the release of The Happiest Days of Our Lives: The Deluxe Audio Edition.
The text is taken from the special deluxe edition that Subterranean Press published in 2009, and includes several new stories that were not included in the original release, plus introductions to each chapter that provide some additional context and interesting background information.
Here’s how we describe the book, in super-fantastic marketing speak:
Readers of Wil Wheaton’s website know that he is a masterful teller of elegant stories about his life. Building on the critical success of Dancing Barefoot and Just A Geek, he has collected more of his own favorite stories in his third book, The Happiest Days of Our Lives.
These are the stories Wil loves to tell, because they are the closest to his heart: stories about being a huge geek, passing his geeky hobbies and values along to his own children, and vividly painting what it meant to grow up in the ’70s and come of age in the ’80s as part of the video game/D&D/BBS/Star Wars figures generation.
Within the pages of The Happiest Days of Our Lives, you will find:
- “The Butterfly Tree”: how one Back to School night continues to shape Wil’s sense of social justice, thirty years later;
- “Blue Light Special”: the greatest challenge a ten year-old could face in 1982: save his allowance, or buy Star Wars figures?
- “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Geek”: why fantasy role-playing games are such an important part of Wil’s past – and his present;
- “The Big Goodbye”: a visit to Paramount gives Wheaton a second chance to say farewell to Star Trek . . . properly, this time;
- “Let Go”: a moving eulogy for a beloved friend.
In all of these tales, Wheaton brings the reader into the raw heart of the story, holding nothing back, and you are invited to join him on a journey through The Happiest Days of Our Lives.
Pretty swell, right? Yeeeaahhh.
As with Dancing Barefoot and Just A Geek, you can stream the entire book from the website.
Okay, so here’s the thing that’s kind of cool, I think: Bandcamp makes it very easy for me to sell merchandise, in addition to audio files, and because I have some copies of the Special Deluxe Edition in my home office, I’m going to offer a very limited number of them for sale.
There are 20 signed and numbered copies available, and 30 signed and not numbered copies available, so if that’s something you or someone you know would like, grab whatever you want while it’s there. If you get your order placed in the next 24 hours, it should get to you in time for Christmas (in the US, I don’t know about the rest of the world — which I’ve just realized is one of the most cliche American things I could ever say.)
When I was little, like, really little, before my brother was born in 1976, my parents were really into Elton John. One of my earliest childhood memories is sitting in the living room of our tiny house in the valley (where it was still all farmland), listening to Captain Fantastic and Goodbye Yellowbrick Road and Madman Across The Water while I sat on the yellow shag carpeting, and my parents sat on the black and white checkered couch.
When I was that little, I didn’t know the words, or what they meant, or anything, really (I was 4, after all), but sometimes, I play those albums, and Caribou and Honky Chateau, and I have this sense memory that feels like a security blanket that I can’t see, or touch, but is there nevertheless.
Tonight’s been one of those nights.
When I was writing my first book, Just A Geek, I ended up with a lot of stories that just didn’t fit within the narrative. I didn’t know what to do with them, until my friend and editor, Andrew, said, “Why don’t you put them in their own book?”
I was hesitant, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it was a very good idea, so that’s what I did. I asked my friend Ben to draw some illustrations to keep the stories company, and I published it all on my own, before Just A Geek was even completely finished. The book is called Dancing Barefoot.
After I released the audio versions of Just a Geek and The Happiest Days of Our Lives, a lot of people asked me when I was going to do an audio version of Dancing Barefoot, to round out what I’ve just decided to call a trilogy. The truth is, I never intended to do an audio version of it, because I felt like I’d grown as a writer since it was published, and it would sound and feel strange to revisit that book without wanting to rewrite the whole thing.
But something really changed in me when I turned 40 last year, and I stopped worrying so much about things like that. I accepted that it was the best I could do then, and even if it’s a little rough around the edges, it’s because I made it that way.
So about a month ago, I booked some studio time with my favorite audiobook producers, and finally recorded an audio version of Dancing Barefoot.
It felt a little strange to record something I wrote over a decade ago, as I was entering my thirties, and looking into my past in order to understand my future. It was written during a tumultuous and uncertain time, when I was struggling so much just to make it month to month. Reading it now, knowing what my future actually held, both wonderful and terrible, made it a more emotional experience than I expected.
I had this weird sense of nostalgia as I read it, like nesting dolls: I remembered the stories that I told, I remembered writing them down on my blog for the first time, then editing them into Dancing Barefoot for the first time, and then shipping thousands of books around the world, out of my living room. I remembered how excited I felt when Anne and I opened the first box of books when they were delivered from the printer, and how happy it still makes me feel when someone hands me one of those books to sign for them.
Real quick, before I get to the link for the album, I want to say something to those of you who have been here for a decade, especially those of you who bought Dancing Barefoot so long ago: Thank you. Without your support then, I wouldn’t be here now. There’s a straight line between you buying that book from me, and me working on Eureka, Big Bang Theory, Leverage, and everything else. There’s an even shorter, straighter line between me shipping that book to you from my living room floor, to me writing all my other books, magazine columns, and posts of varying quality on this blog.
F. Scott Fitzgerald is credited with declaring that “there are no second acts in American lives,” and before I began this journey a little over a decade ago, I believed him. But because I people like you kept coming back to read my blog, kept coming to see me perform on stage, and bought my books when I published them, I feel like I may be one of the exceptions to that rule.
I’m incredibly grateful for the life that I have now, the life that I worked so hard to build. Every single day, I’m afraid that I’m going to wake up and discover that it’s just a dream, or a cruel trick in some episode of The Twilight Zone. I worked really hard for what I have now, but I didn’t do it alone. People I’ll never meet took a chance on me and made it possible for me to do what I’m doing now, and I can’t thank you enough.
Okay, I’m rambling, so I’ll just get out of the way. Here’s the product information:
It’s available now on my Bandcamp page, you can listen to the entire thing there for free, or you can buy it for $10 though the weekend, before it goes up to $20 next week. It includes a digital booklet with all the illustrations Ben did, scanned by me from my original author’s copy of the book.
Here’s the description:
Available for the first time in audio, read by the author.
In this wonderful Freshman effort, actor and author Wil Wheaton shares five short-but-true stories about life in the so-called Space Age:
Houses in Motion – Memories fill the emptiness left within a childhood home, and saying goodbye brings them to life.
Ready Or Not Here I Come – A game of hide-n-seek with the kids works as a time machine, taking Wil on a tour of the hiding and seeking of years gone by.
Inferno – Two 15-year-olds pass in the night leaving behind pleasant memories and a perfumed Car Wars Deluxe Edition Box Set.
We Close Our Eyes – A few beautiful moments spent dancing in the rain.
The Saga of SpongeBob VegasPants – A story of love, hate, laughter and the acceptance of all things Trek.
I recently worked on an upcoming video game from Double Fine, called Broken Age. I got to play a really fun character, and I had a super good time working with one of my favorite directors in the industry.
Double Fine announced my participation in a video that includes some shots of me recording, and the response from people who chose to respond was overwhelmingly positive.
Earlier this morning, the following Tweets appeared in my timeline, back to back:
When I was younger, I would have completely ignored the first one, and obsessively focused on the second one to the point of feeling shitty about myself. Part of having Imposter Syndrome is believing that people who praise you are dupes, while the people who criticize you can actually see through everything. But the thing is, the guy who isn’t thrilled has every right to feel that way, and I don’t take it personally. Not everyone digs what I do and what I bring to a project, and that’s totally cool. At the same time, it’s also pretty awesome that a lot of people do dig what I bring to a project, and that is also cool.
Consider this, about having perspective on criticism: If you enjoyed making a thing, and you’re proud of the thing you made, that’s enough. Not everyone is going to like it, and that’s okay. And sometimes, a person who likes your work and a person who don’t will show up within milliseconds of each other to let you know how they feel. One does not need to cancel out the other, positively or negatively; if you’re proud of the work, and you enjoyed the work, that is what’s important.Don’t let the fear of not pleasing someone stop you from being creative.
The goal isn’t to make something everyone will love; the goal is to get excited, and make a thing where something wasn’t before.
Two nights ago, I had this dream that I was super sick, with a sore throat and sinuses filled with concrete-like gunk. Yesterday morning, I woke up with a sore throat, and sinuses filled with concrete-like gunk.
Last night, I had a dream that I was some sort of combination of Superman and The Doctor. I could fly, I was saving the world from some bad guy who was a fallen god and wanted to choke the Earth with soot and pollution. When I woke up, I had no super powers, but I still had the sinus infection, plus I’m starting to get body aches as a bonus.
I call bullshit on this, because if one of those dreams was going to manifest itself in my real life, I got screwed.
Anyway, it’s Thursday, and that means I’m on tonight’s episode of The Big Bang Theory! I’m super proud of this one, and so happy with how my stuff turned out. Also, John Ross Bowie is back as Kripke, and he has what is, in my opinion, the funniest scene he’s ever done on the show.
I loved working with the cast and crew when we shot this show about a month ago, and I left, as I always do, grateful for the time I spent there, and so intensely envious that they get to work with each other every week.
I hope you’ll tune in tonight for the show, and I hope you enjoy it.
Now, I’m going to go take enough cold medicine to make myself believe that I have super powers, because I’m worth it.
This is a collection of new songs from Marian Call — and it comes from the heart, from home, from the road. These are not fancy polished studio tracks, they are simple, clean, imperfect, transparent, all about the music and the words. ‘Sketchbook’ is very small and focused in scope, deep like diving.
The songs are about love, lightning, time, birds, and hope.
This album was recorded all across the country, mostly in homes, in the bedrooms of friends, neighbors, and house concert hosts — people who probably never anticipated that they would be producing part of an album in the back room for a wandering musician.
Sometimes the art comes and seizes you and shakes you and demands to be let out. So you let it out. “Sketchbook” is a collection of little sketches from the road, pieces that would not wait any longer, pieces that have blessed me and left me raw from the honesty. I’ve ripped pages from my journal because I thought you needed to see them.
I hope you enjoy these songs, I hope the simplicity is refreshing, I hope one of them speaks to you sometime when you need it.
Remember — you can make music and art anywhere, anytime. Just do it.
And while you’re at Bandcamp, you can download the first chapter of the audio version of Just A Geek for the low price of free! Yay!
A few months ago, I said on Twitter that I want a T-shirt that’s based on Hokusai’s The Great Wave Off Kanagawa, only the wave is made of dice, and the rest of the work is gaming stuff.
You know, something like this:
Today, that T-shirt exists, thanks to my pals at shirt.woot … and while you’re there, you may want to check out The Wil Wheaton Sale, which has a bunch of shirts and things I curated … you know, for kids!
Yay! Happy Friday.
I just came across this post at Uproxx, where someone transcribed my words to baby Violet earlier this year. It makes me so happy that it exists in this form that I copied it to have on my blog forever.
“My name is Wil Wheaton. It’s 2013. And you’ve just recently joined us on planet Earth. So welcome. I’m an actor. I’m a writer. And I’m a Dad. Your mother asked me to tell you why it’s awesome to be a nerd. That’s an easy thing for me to do because I am a nerd.
I don’t know what the world is going to be like by the time you understand this. I don’t what it’s going to mean to be a nerd when you are a young women. For me, when I was growing up, being a nerd meant that I liked things that were a little weird. That took a lot of effort to appreciate and understand. It meant that I loved science, and that I loved playing board games, and reading books, and really understanding what went on in the world instead of just riding the planet through space.
When I was a little boy, people really teased us about that, and made us feel like there was something wrong with us for loving those things. Now that I’m an adult, I’m kind of a professional nerd, and the world has changed a lot. I think a lot of us have realized that being a nerd … it’s not about what you love. It’s about how you love it.
So there’s going to be a thing in your life that you love, and I don’t know what it’s going to be. It might be sports, it might be science, it might be reading, it might be fashion design, it might be building things, it might be telling stories or taking pictures. It doesn’t matter what it is. The way you love that, and the way that you find other people who love it the way you do, is what makes being a nerd awesome. The way you love that, and the way that you find other people who love it the way you do is what makes you a nerd. The defining characteristic of [being a nerd] is that we love things. Some of us love Firefly and some of us love Game of Thrones, or Star Trek, or Star Wars, or anime, or games, or fantasy, or science fiction. Some of us love completely different things. But we all love those things SO much that we travel for thousands of miles … we come from all over the world, so that we can be around people who love the things the way that we love them.
That’s why being a nerd is awesome. And don’t let anyone tell you that that thing that you love is a thing that you can’t love. Don’t anyone ever tell you that you can’t love that, that’s for boys … you find the things that you love, and you love them the most that you can.
And listen: This is really important. I want you to be honest, honorable, kind. I want you to work hard. Because everything worth doing is hard. And I want you to be awesome, and I will do my very best to leave you a planet that you can still live on.
PS: don’t read the comments at uproxx, for they are full of gatekeepers and jerks who just make comments.
On Tumblr, t wrote:
My birthday is coming up next week and my brother insists on getting me something. He asked me what I wanted and told him I wanted a board game. He asked which one and I kind of blanked ajd told him I’d get back to him.
Being a fan of Table Top I went through and picked out my favorite ones but can’t decide on which game I want. Currently it is a choice between Munchkin, Betrayal at House on the Hill, Elder Sign and Pandemic. Which one would you pick?
This is a fairly common question, though the games are a little different each time. Here’s what I answered:
Those are all very different games, so it depends on what kind of gaming experience you want to have.
Munchkin is silly, pun-filled, and about messing with your friends. It also has about nine million expansions.
Pandemic is about working together in a game that you’re probably going to have fun losing.
Elder Sign is about working together in a heavily-themed game that is very random because of the dice.
Betrayal is about working together — until you find out that one of you is trying to murder the rest of you with kill death. It’s more of an RPG in a box, and is really fun if you treat it that way.
So I can’t tell you which one is best, but hopefully that information can help you make an informed decision.
I can’t say “Oh, if you are choosing from these games, this is the one to play,” because they’re all great games in their own way. I would, of course, try to direct t away from a game that wasn’t fun at all, or had a terrible rule book, because I believe that’s a moral imperative when games are being discussed.
I was recently at a game shop to pick up this game called Hive that is insanely fun. While I was there, I watched an employee try very hard to help a young woman pick out a game. They went through all the aisles, and he explained each game in depth long after she’d lost interest in it. This happened because he wasn’t asking the right question: what kind of game do you want to play? because he was asking questions about theme (you like Torchwood? Well, this game is blah blah blah) that didn’t help her at all. I didn’t want to jump in, but it was killing me to watch this happen. He was trying so hard, and it was like they were speaking the same language but weren’t able to exchange anything of substance between them.
I don’t know what, if anything, she decided to get, but I hope she left with something because the world needs more gamers. One way we can help make that happen is to know how to talk to them, so they can find their way into our hobby, and feel at home there.