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.
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:
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:
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!
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’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:
So, this guy at the studio where I'm recording. I say, "I love your Black Flag tattoo." He looks at me, and HOLY FUCK HE'S HENRY ROLLINS.
— Wil Wheaton (@wilw) November 18, 2014
I proceed to turn into a barely-coherent freak, as I try to convey to him how much his work means to me. I fail. He is patient. He is kind.
— Wil Wheaton (@wilw) November 18, 2014
Dear teenage me: Someday you're going to meet Henry Rollins, and he's going to shake your hand. Try not to spaz. (Spoiler alert: you spaz.)
— Wil Wheaton (@wilw) November 18, 2014
“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
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.
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.
Hey nerds, I thought you may like to know what I'm working on today. pic.twitter.com/yDJGuHZDpq
— Wil Wheaton (@wilw) November 14, 2014
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.
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.
I love this game so much, and I hope we captured the beauty, balance, and wonderful mix of strategy and guile that goes into each turn.
I played with my pal Chris Kluwe, J. August Richards (who some of you may remember from The Wil Wheaton Project), and Jason Wishnov, who wrote, produced, directed, and coded a wonderful game I worked on earlier this year, called There Came An Echo.
I have said this quite a bit in the last several months, and I’ll continue saying it for the next several months: thank you, so much, to all of our backers, for helping us make this show that we love. I couldn’t have done this without you, and I sincerely believe that you’ll be happy that you did, as the season unfolds.
(NB: Apparently, we made a minor rules mistake at one point in the game, which I won’t discuss specifically because spoilers, but I don’t think it would have affected the outcome.)
Newcastle teamed up with Caledonian Brewery in Scotland to make a Scotch Ale, and they hired me to tell you about it. We made a pair of really funny videos together, and this is one of them. I’m super proud of this, because I helped write it, and got to improvise a lot of the silly bits. I hope you enjoy it.
So it turns out that this week is full of stuff that I would like to share with you, Internet.
First, I wrote a column for The Washington Post about how anonymous trolls are poisoning the video game community, and what we can do about it.
Anonymity, in some cases a key civil liberty, also enables society’s worst actors. The loudest, most obnoxious, most toxic voices are able to drown out the rest of us—a spectacle that has nearly pushed me to quit the video-game world entirely in recent months. I don’t need to hear about the sexual conquest of my mother from a random 12-year-old on Xbox Live ever again.
But here’s the thing: that random 12-year-old I seem to encounter so often? He probably isn’t 12. According to the ERSB, the average age of a video gamer is 34. That 34-year-old is certainly old enough to know better, but he probably came of age in an era when trolling was not just acceptable but encouraged by a generation of players who rarely, if ever, had to see the actual people they were playing with. No wonder he feels enabled by digital anonymity. It means he never has to face the consequences of his actions, or acknowledge that there is a human being on the other side of the screen.
It’s time to break this cycle—and to teach gamers that they can compete without being competitive, that they can win and lose without spewing racist, misogynist, homophobic bile at their fellow gamers. But doing so requires casting off the cloak of anonymity.
Early feedback via Twitter is split between a majority, who are tired of being harassed while gaming, and a minority who seem to believe I am advocating for an end to online privacy (which I clearly am not). I’m interested to know your thoughts on this column, so please read it, and comment here, if you don’t mind. If you’d like to read more about it, I highly recommend this article, which quotes my friend, Stepto, at length.
I’m hosting DC ALL ACCESS this week. Here’s the trailer, which makes me laugh:
Tabletop Season Three premieres in just two days!! We put together a special trailer for this season that asks the question that’s on everyone’s mind…
I signed agreements to do two more audiobooks. I can’t reveal their titles, yet, but I will as soon as I get permission.
Next Monday, I’m performing in a live show here in Los Angeles, with Hal Lublin, and John Ross Bowie. It’s Hot Comedy Dreamtime, written by my friend Joseph Scrimshaw.
In a couple hours, I’ll sit on a seat which will magically hoist itself into in the sky, and I’ll end my day in New York City. I don’t think I can talk about why I’m going, yet, but I’ll be there for just under 24 hours, for something really awesome that I can’t wait to share with the world.
PLAY MORE GAMES!
I have additional thoughts, based on your comments, which I wrote while in a seat in the sky. They are behind the jump.