Category Archives: blog

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.

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.

I helped make a thing that’s funny

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.

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Regarding Anonymous Gaming Trolls, Tabletop, and More

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.

Oh! Also next week, I’m filling in for Larry King, and interviewing Chris Hardwick for Larry King Now.

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.

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welcome to my life, tattoo

No, not this tattoo.
No, not this tattoo.

I’ve wanted tattoos for as long as I can remember, but it wasn’t until this year that I finally felt like I could make good decisions about what I’d permanently put on my body.

At first, I thought maybe I was too old, but when I asked my friends who have lots of tattoos what they thought, they all said that waiting until I was in my 40s was a great idea, because it means I won’t ever have to reckon with an unfortunate decision made during Spring Break in my 20s. That reassurance, coupled with me dedication to not-fuck-giving about what random people think, was all it took for me to go ahead and get some artwork to live on my body.

First, I got Anne’s heartbeat tattooed on my left forearm. She wrote a lovely story about it on her blog, which I encourage you to read (in fact, even though I’m a little biased, I think everything she writes on her blog is pretty great, and worth your time.)

I wanted her heartbeat because I wanted to carry part of her with me wherever I went. I wanted her heartbeat on my left arm because I’m left handed, and I felt that it symbolized her guiding me. I wanted it on the inside of my arm, because I wanted to be able to look at it whenever I thought about her, and I wanted to be able to lay her heartbeat against mine whenever I missed her.

It was quick and easy and before my artist was even finished with it, I was making plans for another. They say you’ll either have a single tattoo, or a whole bunch of them, and I see myself landing squarely in the latter category.

A few months later, I went back to see Kim, my artist, and started work on a fairly large octopus piece on my right forearm. There are a lot of reasons that I wanted an octopus, but they’re personal and I’m keeping them to myself. I will allow this: the octopus is amazing, and the more I learn about it, the more I love it.

It took three sessions, for a total of about six hours, to finish her (I don’t know why, but I know that the octopus I have on my arm is female) and when she was finally finished, I felt like she needed a name.

“What are you going to name her?” Kim asked me as she put a bandage on my arm.

Maybe it was the endorphins talking, because I’m a pretty sciencey, skeptical, get-your-woo-bs-out-my-face-because-SCIENCE! guy, but I said, “I’m not sure, but she’ll tell me when she’s ready.”

A few weeks went by, and I tried out different names for her, but nothing felt right. Maybe naming her was a silly thing to do, like when I named my neato robot vacuum “Dobby”, and then felt terrible when I kicked it in the dark, and it shook side to side like I’d hurt it (it was making sure that he — it. It. Not he, it — was still connected to its charging station).

But one day, I think during Comicon, I was walking with my friend, Joseph Scrimshaw, and he asked me if she had a name.

“Not yet,” I told him, “but I decided that she’ll tell me what it is, when she’s ready to name herself.”

I had no endorphin excuse, this time, but after several weeks, giving her a name had become A Thing.

The words came out of my mouth, and a name popped into my head. It was not a name I ever would have chosen, but it was there, all the same.

“She kind of looks like she should be called ‘Gloria’,” he said.

Gloria was the name that had popped into my head, two seconds earlier.

“Okay, this is weird, but not only is that a name I’d never choose on my own, but it’s the name that popped into my head just before you said it. So I guess her name is Gloria.”

I don’t know what it means, I don’t know why I chose it, I realize that we could have heard or seen or otherwise subconsciously had something happen around us that made that name land on us at the same time, but whatever the rational explanation, the idea that this ink on my arm, which is in the shape of an octopus, assigned a name to itself — to herself — is cool to me, so I accept it.

Today, I went in to see Kim, to get Gloria some touch ups. When I was done, she looked like this:

Wil-Wheaton-Octopus-tattoo

Eventually, I’m going to get my right arm sleeved. I talked with Kim about some of my ideas today, and we’ll probably get to work on them next month.

Halloween stuff and Tabletop stuff

Happy Thursday!

To begin: I did a Not The Flog that was released this morning. In it, I talk about the season three premiere date for Tabletop, offend nearly everyone for one reason or another, and bounce around on my couch while I wear a fancy Captain Kirk tunic.

Oh, I also talk about some dumb Halloween stuff that is occasionally amusing to me.

NEXT.

I co-hosted DC All Access today, with my friend Tiffany. I think it will be released in the SOOOOOOON.

ALSO.

I listened to a fucking amazing NPR show this morning, from Snap Judgment, called SPOOKED V. It’s a collection of fantastically creepy and scary stories, just in time for Halloween. I highly recommend it.

FINALLY.

I’ve been spending a fair amount of time on archive.org recently, and have been doing my best not to completely fall down the rabbit hole of amazing films and weird bullshit they have there, but this time of year, I just love checking out some of their old and creepy silent films. I mentioned on Not The Flog that you can see The Golem there, but you can also watch a gorgeous transfer of Nosferatu, a Symphony of Horror, a silent Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde short, and the unforgettable 1960s B-Film classic, Carnival of Souls.

I’ve been having such a good time downloading and remixing things from the Internet Archive, I almost feel like I could just write about it and publish the stuff I make for the next several weeks, but I have other duties to which I must attend. So until next time, have a happy Halloween, and PLAY MORE GAMES!