Forbidden Desert, on Tabletop

This week on Tabletop, Alan Tudyk, Jon Heder, and Felicia Day join me for a cooperative game that’s devilishly hard, Forbidden Desert!

A couple of notes for you all, before I get back to preparing for this afternoon’s bacchanal, starting with a comment on r/boardgames, with my reply:

> You move the tiles according to the card you flip, not the “storm”. Nothing too important. But they excavate (flip) tiles that they are not on. This one makes it easier.

I’m really unhappy and annoyed that this happened. I can’t remember every single rule for every game, and if we were playing at home, we’d have the rules next to the table to be sure (we also wouldn’t be playing 21 games in 10 days). I have a producer who is supposed to catch all of this stuff, and ensure that we don’t make mistakes like this, and I think he was stretched a little too thin this season, so if we do a fourth season, I’ll make sure that we hire someone *specifically* to keep an eye on the rules.

I’m annoyed and disappointed that we’ve aired two episodes this season, and we’ve made a rules error on each of them (not such a huge deal in Tokaido, but a huge deal in this one, because we unintentionally made the game much easier on ourselves.) I know there’s a big mistake coming up later this year in Stone Age, too.

Ultimately, the goal of Tabletop is to be entertaining, to introduce people to boardgames, and to get people excited about playing games. If we misunderstand a rule here and there, it’s not the end of the world, because that happens in real life when we play at home, but I do hold my show to a higher standard, for obvious reasons.

I don’t think this is going to get in the way of anyone’s enjoyment, except for the übergamers who nitpick and complain about every mistake or sub-optimal play we make, but I’m honestly not making this show for them, anyway.

That said, I regret making such a massive and fundamental mistake.

Also, you may notice that someone in our graphics department wrote Forbidden Dessert on the thumbnail, instead of Forbidden Desert. On the one hand, this is a simple and basic grammar error that should never have happened. On the other hand, it is pretty hilarious, will obviously be corrected, and gives us something to never let that department live down until the heat death of the universe.

For some of us, today is a holiday about being thankful. For others, it’s a day off from work or school and a chance to eat a lot of food. For the majority, it’s Thursday. Well, whatever today means to you, I hope it’s a good one.

this post has no title

Yesterday, I went up to our new Geek and Sundry offices, and watched the current cuts of three Tabletop episodes, so I could offer notes and suggestions to our editors as they take hours of raw footage and turn it into the show.

I was reminded, again, how much our show is actually made in post-production. Sure, the playing of the game is important, but turning what we do on the set into something that’s entertaining to watch is much more complex and challenging than I ever expected. I’m grateful that we have the editorial team that we do, and I hope to have them back for the RPG show.

Speaking of the RPG show: I’m going to take the next three months off from acting (with a few exceptions) to work on that full time. I haven’t been this excited about writing and creating since I realized that the manuscript for Just A Geek was coming together into a cohesive story, and this time I actually know what I’m doing before I get started!

But first, I’m off to work on an audiobook today and tomorrow.

Tabletop’s RPG Show

This is one of those “write it now so I can refer to it later” posts, because this is a FAQ.

A Redditor asked:

Still excited about the RPG show, any idea when we’ll be hearing any news on that front?

I responded:

We’re in preproduction right now. I’ve designed the fundamental pillars of the world, met with some writers and game designers to get the ball rolling on the actual world building and campaign writing, and I’ve written an outline for the campaign itself.

We have a schedule on the board, but it’s likely to change, and we have to go over our final budget on Monday to determine how many episodes we can afford to produce. Once all that stuff is locked down, and we’re confident that things won’t change, we’ll make some announcements, but I can’t tell you when that it, because I don’t know.

I am so incredibly excited about this show, and I love the world we’ve created for it. The system we’re playing is really great, and I hope we’ll be able to share some of the details with the world sooner than later.

For now, here’s a shot from our editing screening yesterday:

TableDerp

PibblesUnderCovers

for my fellow pibble owners…

PibblesUnderCovers

We have officially reached that time of year where it’s cool enough at night for my dogs to activate “DAD WE NEED TO SLEEP UNDER THE COVERS OKAY” mode.

Tokaido Gag Reel and Nerdist News

Our gag reel for Tokaido is out:

And I visited Jessica Chobot at the new and awesome studios that we now share with Nerdist, to do a silly Best Worst segment for Nerdist news:

I give great thumbnail face, you guys.

Be careful — I almost got fooled by malware

I’ve been around long enough to recognize malware when I see it, and I still take lots of precautions to ensure that something doesn’t sneak by (I use OpenDNS, Web of Trust, NoScript, and Ghostery, for example) but a few moments ago, I was almost tricked by a malware site, and if it could happen to me, it could happen to someone who is less paranoid.

So I present this as a warning, a reminder, and a public service.

I thought I was going to youtube.com/geekandsundry to see if our Tabletop gag reel had been posted, yet. When I hit return, I saw this:

Bogus-flash-install-screen

I haven’t heard of Flash Player Pro, but it looked real, and maybe this was some new stupid thing that I was going to get mad about, with YouTube forcing me to download some new version of software that I didn’t already have.

So that should have been my first warning: YouTube is never going to make it harder for me to get to see the stuff I want to see, because that would make it harder for YouTube to show me ads.

But I’m still waking up, so I clicked “accept and install”, and saw this:

installation.exe screenshot

Ah-ha! Evil malware people use .exe files because it’s easier to infect Windows than it is to infect OS X, and I understand that it’s fairly common for people to tick off a box in Windows that allows pretty much anything to install itself. You know, for convenience.

Well, I clicked CANCEL, and tried to figure out how my browser had taken me to this site, and how it had even gotten past all of my defenses to load itself.

It turns out that I’d typed youtuve.com, not youtube.com, and the bad guys had done the rest.

So be careful out there, kids, because not everyone online is a good guy.

Edit: Here’s the gag reel!

Sticky post: Quarterly

Quarterly is a pretty neat idea: a little box of stuff will be curated by a person you choose, and four times a year (quarterly – get it?) a new box will show up in your mailbox. You can get stuff from awesome people like Bill Nye, Timothy Ferris, and Book Riot.

Last week, Quarterly asked me if I’d be interested in curating something for them.

“I’d love that,” I said, “but nobody is going to be interested in it.”

“We think you’re wrong,” they said.

“Your face is wrong!” I said. Then I ran away and told on them.

Anyway, if enough people are interested enough in subscribing to a box of stuff, curated by me, then we’ll do it. But the thing is, we need to know that you’re interested. So if you are, go to Quarterly and fill out the thing.

Or don’t. I’m not the boss of you.

I know that I can be broken.

I’m recording an audiobook today and tomorrow, in a small studio up in the valley where I work fairly regularly. Everyone there knows me, and it’s comforting and sort of grounding to go to work in a familiar place, even though I’m working on entirely different books whenever I’m there.

Today, I finished the first of two stories from a collection, and got about halfway through the second story before my voice gave out.

“I am out of gas,” I told the engineer, “and I have an audition for a voice commercial later today, so I need to call it.”

She checked the word count and told me that we were far enough along that we would have plenty of time to finish tomorrow, on schedule.

“Great,” I said. “I’ll see you in the morning.”

I gathered up my things, put on and zipped up my favorite new hoodie, and left the recording booth. I walked up a hallway and into the main lobby, where some of the other engineers, directors, and artists were eating their lunches.

I walked past one person who I haven’t seen before. He had grey hair, wore glasses, and had his head down, reading something off an iPad. I noticed that he had an old school Black Flag tattoo on the base of his neck.

He was right next to the door to the parking lot, so I paused before I opened it, and said, “Hey, I really love your Black Flag tattoo. They were one of my favorite bands, growing up, and I’ve been seriously considering getting one just like it.”

He looked up at me, sort of squinted a little bit, and furrowed his brow. Before he could speak, I felt all the blood drain out of my body. My body, in fact, ceased to exist. I was, at that moment, just a brain, a mouth, and a pair of eyes.

Because I was looking at Henry Fucking Rollins.

With some degree of horror, I heard the following come out of my mouth: “Holy shit. You’re Henry Rollins.”

He seemed to recoil, just a tiny bit. I’ve heard that he’s shy, and thank the old gods and new that some part of my brain reminded me of that.

“I … um … wow. I can’t believe I’m in the same room as you,” I said.

He continued to look at me, a little unsure.

“I … um … I am going to do to you what people sometimes to do me. It’s weird and embarrassing and will probably make you a little uncomfortable, but I want you know know how much your work has meant to me.”

I held out my hand. Or, rather, I realized that my hand had extended itself from my body, drawing my arm behind it. It sort of hovered in the air between us. “My name’s Wil. I’m an actor and an author …” I trailed off. Like Henry Rollins is going to give a fuck about who you are or what you go. Get to the point and just leave, dude.

He took my hand, gently, and politely shook it. “I’m Henry. Nice to meet you.”

I said something else. I don’t know and can’t remember what it was. I felt like I was six bottles of w00tstout into a night, or like I was falling through the black emptiness of some kind of deep well that had minimal gravity, and no air to speak of. I felt like I was both outside of and inside of my body.

I swallowed. “I’m so sorry. I know you’re busy, and I feel really awkward and I can’t stop talking but I want you to know that I’m trying to,” I stammered, “but I listened to your band all through high school, and when I was in drama school, I used your books — especially See A Grown Man Cry and Now Watch Him Die — as sources for my monologues. I had to emotionally internalize your words and feelings and make them my own, so … wow I just realized how weird that sounded.”

I tried to breathe, couldn’t, and decided to just keep talking.

“I’m so sorry. I feel so weird when people do this to me, but it’s just that your work meant so much to me, and played such a huge part in my development as an actor and as a writer, and I have this really great life right now, and I don’t expect this to mean to you what it means to me, but thank you for being part of it. Thank you for all of your work.”

At least, that’s what I think I said. That’s what I intended to say, though I could have just said “Duuuuuuuuuuuhhhhhhhh….” for all I know. He said something back to me, but I can’t remember what it was. I think it was positive. I’m not sure. I hoped that I wasn’t pissing off one of my heroes.

I felt like I was going to pass out. I don’t mean that in the hyperbolic way people say, “oh my god I shit my pants.” I mean that in the very real way that something was happening to my body and I was on the verge of losing consciousness. In front of Henry Rollins.

I pulled it together enough to realize that I really needed to stop talking.

“I really need to stop talking and leave now,” I said.

He said something else, again, I think it was positive, or at least neutral, and he went back to his iPad.

I turned to open the door, and it didn’t budge. I pushed on it, hard, then I pulled on it, hard. I can only imagine what a jackass I looked like, this babbling idiot who vomited this deluge of things onto Henry Fucking Rollins, who was now unable to operate a simple door. A simple door that he’s used dozens of times. I was completely broken.

“You have to push the button to release it,” someone said.

Of course! The button! The green button that I’ve pushed dozens of times to open this door.

I pushed the green button.

“This is so embarrassing,” I said. Then: “I’m so sorry. I’m really, really sorry.”

I practically ran across the parking lot to my car. I got into the driver’s seat, and pulled out my phone. I told Twitter:

“I definitely learned a lesson this time. I know that I can be broken. I am not as tough as I thought. I see it now. At this point, it’s the only thing good that came out of all of this. I know myself better now and know what I have to do.”-Henry Rollins, The Portable Henry Rollins

 

it’s good to be busy

What passes for Autumn has finally arrived in Los Angeles. It’s warm and dry during the day, and cool at night. Our animals are even more snuggly than usual. Seamus insists on getting under the covers every morning (just pibble things).

After a weekend of doing nothing but watching tv and reading a little bit, I’m recovered and restored after a hectic last week … just in time for a hectic this week. In a few minutes, I’m leaving for a pair of meetings that could result in two very awesome things happening. Tomorrow, I’m starting production on two days of audiobook recording. Thursday, I’m filling in for Larry King, then going to another meeting that has the potential to turn into something huge and awesome. Friday, we’re screening rough cuts of Tabletop episodes so I can give notes to our editors.

And whenever I have “free” time, I’m working on Tabletop’s RPG show, as well as breaking a story in my head.

It’s good to be busy.

This song and video is related to where I am at the moment, but I can’t exactly say how, because I don’t know.

so far away from my wasteland

It turns out that my 24 hour trip to New York, followed by a full day of intense creative work, pretty much kicked my ass. I’m so tired, I don’t even have the energy to go to Staples Center to watch my beloved Los Angeles Kings take on our crosstown rivals, the hated Ducks. I thought about maybe homebrewing some wootstout today, but I don’t think I can even do that. It looks like I’ll spend most of today — and maybe all of tomorrow — watching movies and catching up on TV shows, so I can regenerate HP and Mana, but holy mother of balls am I tired.

But it’s a good kind of tired. It’s the kind of tired that seems to start out in my bones. The kind of tired that I feel has been earned, by lots of hard work. Sure, it’s not the kind of hard work that people who actually work for a living would consider work, but since my job basically entails me creating things and then enthusiastically sharing those creations with an audience, the last week has been some of the hardest work I’ve done in a long time.

While I was in New York to promote the awesome videos I made with Newcastle, I did seventeen interviews in about eight hours. Seventeen times, I found new and interesting ways to answer the same fundamental questions, each time making sure that the person I was talking with got 100% of the energy I had to offer, so that each interview felt like it was the only interview I did.

I did that seventeen times, and by the end of the day, I was completely exhausted. In fact, I had a beer at the end of the day (which was funny, because drinking it was technically part of working), and I fell asleep in the car moments after it pulled away from the curb to take me to the airport.

So, about that … the car took me to the wrong airport. In the wrong state. And I found out when I was inside the airport, at the wrong ticket counter, 90 minutes before my flight was scheduled to depart.

I had the most panicked panic I’ve felt related to travel in a very, very long time, as I hoped against hope that the cab I got into at the wrong airport could take me all the way across Brooklyn and Manhattan and get me to the right airport. The entire way, I did math in my head every few minutes to update my anticipated arrival time, and each time it told me that I’d make it or miss it by about five minutes. I didn’t have any checked luggage, and I had my boarding pass already, but it was going to be incredibly close.

When I got to the right airport, I tipped the driver 100%, and ran as fast as I could to security. “I’m going to miss my flight,” I said, “if you delay me at all. Please help me.”

By the grace of the old gods and new, I encountered a string of very helpful and friendly TSA people who all assured me that I’d be fine, since I had nearly 20 minutes before departure (the airline says that if you get to the plane with less than fifteen minutes before the departure time, you’re screwed).

Here’s the thing about me and travel: I’m good at it. I’m efficient. I know how to get my belt off, and I kick of my slip-on Vans quickly and easily. I have the laptop pull and bin deposit down to a fluid move that is like a ballet.

Only this trip, I was wearing Fluevog boots that tied near my ankles, and when I tried to untie them, the laces knotted themselves tightly. This trip, when I tried to take my laptop out of my bag, I nearly dropped it, and then I fell over while I was removing the knot from my shoe. I nearly forgot to take my belt off. It wasn’t a ballet so much as it was the flailing of a crazy person that would have been a perfect visual for Yakkity Sax.

Somehow, I got through security, and when I slammed my feet back into my boots, I knew that I had to run as fast as I could to get to the gate on time. I didn’t even stop to tie them — which was a mistake, it turns out. If you ever have to run in boots, tie them — and I got to my gate with less than five minutes to spare. I was the second to last person to get on the plane, and thanks to the Lords of Light, I had checked in online and they hadn’t given my seat away. I fell into my seat, explained to the bewildered man next to me why I was sweating and gasping and shaking, and when the adrenaline finally wore off, slept for most of the trip.

Yesterday, I slept straight through my alarm and was fifteen minutes late for my meeting at Geek & Sundry, where I worked with a Top Secret Team of Creative People on the Tabletop RPG show.

I spent the entire day building the world, figuring out what was important for the players, characters, and audience to know, and eventually ended the day with an outline for the adventure we’re going to run. I’ve never broken a season in a writer’s room before, but I imagine that the experience I had yesterday was similar: exhilarating, inspiring, challenging, incredibly fun, and exhausting.

There’s that word again: exhausting.

Exhausted.

Spent.

Drained.

Did you know that intense use of your brain for things burns a ton of calories? I didn’t, either, until recently. There’s no entry for “concentrated on storytelling and worldbuilding and character development for eight hours” in MyFitnessPal, but if there was, I would have checked it off, yesterday.

So here I am, so tired I could probably just go back to bed, but feeling compelled to write and share my experiences with the world, because that’s what writers do, and I’m spending the next six months being a capital-W Writer.

But more on that another time, because now I need to rest.

50,000 Monkeys at 50,000 Typewriters Can't Be Wrong

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