Category Archives: blog

starry starry night

While looking for something in my documents folder, I came across this in an old drafts folder. It looks like it was written in winter about five years ago, and I’m not sure if it was ever published, but even if it was, I like it enough to repost it today.

I stayed up until almost one this morning, reading comic books.
I know, it’s like I’m 12 all over again. And it’s awesome.

Around four, Anne woke me up.

“What’s wrong?” I said, while I was still waiting to clear immigration between Dreamland and Reality.

“Nothing. I just couldn’t sleep, so I got up and went outside to watch the meteor shower. It’s really cool, and I knew you’d want to see it.”
I sat up, pushed the covers to one side, and ignored the grumbling protests of our dog, who had just lost his primary source of warmth and cuddling.

“It’s cold out, though, so put something warm on.”

I grabbed a hoodie and put on my totally-not-lame-but-always-make-me-feel-self-conscious-to-wear-them slippers. I walked through the dark house, past the quiet and strangely comforting hum of my aquarium’s filter, and out onto our patio.

I know it’s cliché, but the stars were brilliant jewels against a field of black velvet. Betelgeuse was a brilliant red. The Orion Nebula was bright and fuzzy. Sirius, in Canis Major, was such a bright blueish-white I couldn’t look directly at it. To the North, Ursa Major dominated the sky, and I could even see Mizar without any effort. Back on Earth, a distant train’s whistle sounded from far away, probably from the train yard near Commerce.

“You just missed a fireball,” Anne said, quietly. She pointed to the Eastern sky and added, “and there have been tons of little flashes from over there, too.”

I wrapped my arms around myself to stay warm and let my eyes roam across the sky. I didn’t see any fireballs, but I saw lots of meteors fly across the sky, greenish and yellowish trails flashing then fading behind them.

Maybe it’s because I wasn’t entirely awake, or maybe it’s because I’d been reading about mutants and other worlds before I went to sleep, but as I looked up into the sky, toward Castor and Pollux, I really felt, for the first time in my entire 38 years on this planet, the overwhelming vastness of the universe.

Where I have always felt awe, I felt small. Where I have always felt inspiration, I felt vulnerable. “I’m on a planet, spinning on its axis, racing around a star, moving faster than my mind can comprehend, through that,” I thought. “And right now, that planet is flying through an ancient asteroid debris, bits of dust and rock smacking into its atmosphere like bugs against a windshield.” I felt a little freaked out.

I’ve quoted Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot so many times, I don’t need to look it up anymore to get it right, but last night, looking up into the enormity of the universe, it was suddenly more than poetry and a reminder to take better care of each other.

I moved closer to Anne and put my arms around her. She leaned her head back against my chest and we looked up into the sky together, watching faint meteors streak across the sky every few seconds.

“I’m glad you woke me up,” I whispered. “Thank you.”

“I’m sorry you didn’t get to see the fireballs,” she said.

“Nah, it’s okay. I didn’t need to.”

The train’s whistle sounded again. This time, it didn’t seem so far away.

We stood there and watched the sky for several minutes, until our hands and feet were numb with the cold, and went back inside.
When I got back into bed, I pulled the covers up over my head, and tucked them around myself as tightly as I could. It took a long while for sleep to reclaim me.

Seamus and Marlowe Wheaton Give You A Tour of Pasadena Humane Society

I thought it would be cool to show the world how your support of Team Wheaton helps make awesome things happen at the Pasadena Humane Society, and what better way to show you that than by getting a tour from Seamus and Marlowe?

If you’d like to to help us help PHS help animals, and get a really awesome 2015 celebrity pet adoption calendar at the same time, everything you need to know is right here.

At long last, you can homebrew w00tstout — officially!

One of the great joys of my life, the hobby that relaxes me and keeps me sane when the world is threatening to turn me into a pile of goo, is homebrewing my own beer.

I document all of my homebrew adventures at my homebrew blog, the Devils Gate Brewing Company, but this bit of news is so exciting to me, it’s getting its very own post right here on the mothership.

Northern Brewer and I have teamed up with Stone Brewing Company to make an official homebrew version of w00tstout!

w00tstout-homebrewThis is an official recipe for w00tstout, converted to homebrew specs with the help of Stone Brewing Company’s brewmaster, Mitch Steele. It is released with the blessing of all the collaborators, and I can’t wait to make it myself next week. It’s available in both extract and all-grain kits.

This is a huge beer, and not something I’d recommend for a first time brewer (if you’re looking to get started in homebrewing, you can get your feet wet with my #VandalEyesPA 1-gallon kit).

 

Anne’s 2015 celebrity pet adoption calendar is available!

This is our dog, Seamus:

Seamus Wheaton

Seamus is part of our family because we walked him in the Wiggle Waggle Walk a few years ago. The Wiggle Waggle Walk is an annual fundraiser for the Pasadena Humane Society, and a few years ago after our dog, Ferris, died, Anne and I formed a team to raise money for pets in her honor and memory. Readers of my blog contributed so much, our little team shot to the top of the contributor’s list, and PHS asked us to walk a shelter dog at the event, as a thank you.

Seamus was that dog, and we adopted him about a week after we met him.

Two years ago, Anne and I were at PHS to see how the expansion they were building at the time was going (as donors, we occasionally were invited to see how our money was being spent). While we were there, a staff member brought a beautiful little pit bull puppy who I immediately fell in love with. We adopted her a week later. That little puppy is now fifty-six pounds of snuggle named Marlowe.

But if I sit here, I can haz it!

Marlowe and Seamus quickly became the best of friends.

Seamus Wheaton and Marlowe Wheaton are buddies

Here’s Marlowe, on her first Wiggle Waggle Walk:

Here’s our oldest dog, Riley, who says I’M A DOG!

I'm a dog!
I’m a dog!

We had so much fun at the Wiggle Waggle Walk, and PHS has brought so much joy and love into our lives, we’ve made it an annual commitment to give back, by raising as much money as we can to help them help animals.

Last year, Anne put together a wonderful celebrity pet adoption calendar to help raise money for Pasadena Humane Society, and to encourage people to adopt pets instead of buying them from breeders.

Here’s the video I helped her make for it:

Lots of people loved the calendar (if you own one, you get to see us with our dogs all this month!) and we ended up raising a little over $50,000 for Pasadena Humane Society.

This year, she did another calendar, with all new people, like our friends Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting, Ed Brubaker, James Gunn, Tricia Helfer, and my space mom, Gates McFadden.

Here’s the video I helped her make for the 2015 calendar:

If you’d like to get one of your own, and help us help PHS help animals, go to teamwheaton.org and make a contribution of $40 or more.  We cover all the costs with our foundation, so 100% of your donation goes to PHS. We will ship worldwide, and we can only offer one per household, because quantities are limited.

Thanks for supporting our team, and thanks for helping animals!

if you enjoy sitting on counters…

A massive hurricane is currently tearing up the ocean just off the coast of Mexico, and the surf here in Southern California is huge. Waves between fifteen and twenty feet have been common, and on Wednesday, Anne and I went down to the beach to see them for ourselves, and take a long walk along the sand.

School has just started, so there weren’t many people down there. Parking was easy, and after a quick walk across the hot sand, we got to the edge of the water. We stood there for a few minutes and watched enormous waves explode into foam, before the ocean seemed to completely flatten out into deceptively serene beauty between sets.

We walked about four miles down the sand, and another four miles back. We shared a meatball sub for lunch, and a little after 2pm, we got in the car to head home.

We were about a quarter mile from our house when my cell phone rang. I vaguely recognized the number, so I picked it.

“I have [Syfy Network Executive] for you,” a disinterested assistant said.

“Okay,” I said. The line fell silent, and I knew that my work with Syfy was over.

“How are you?” He asked me.

“I’m fine,” I said, honestly. “I just got back from a nice long walk with my wife, and it’s been a pretty great day.”

“Well, I’m about to make your day less great,” he said. Then, he told me that Syfy will not be ordering more episodes of The Wil Wheaton Project.

He assured me that it wasn’t the quality of the show. He told me again and again how much he loved it, how funny he thought it was, how much he liked me, how much he wanted to find other things to do together.

Ultimately, he told me, the executives in New York just didn’t think we had enough viewers to justify more episodes. I didn’t say anything about the total lack of promotion off the network, or point out that our ratings were on par with The Soup, or that ratings are always lower in summer than the fall. I didn’t  bother saying any of that, because I know he knows that. I was reasonably confident that he made those arguments with New York when he was trying to get the show renewed. I presume he fought hard for us, but ultimately couldn’t sway executives in New York who never seemed — in my opinion — to really understand what kind of show we were doing, who I was and why I was hosting it, and how to engage with and promote to the audience who would like it.

I thanked him for the call, thanked him for the opportunity to do a show that Syfy had never tried before, and sincerely thanked him for all his creative support. He’s a good guy in an industry full of bad guys, and I genuinely enjoyed working with him. I know that he’s trying really hard to put the sci-fi back into Syfy, and if anyone can do it there (which is going to be incredibly difficult, I think), he’s the guy who can make it happen.

I hung up the phone, and told Anne that we weren’t being renewed.

“How do you feel about that?” She asked me.

“I’m really okay with it,” I said. “I’m super sad that I won’t get to work with my writers and producers, and I’m sad that we don’t get to keep writing jokes, but I did everything I could to help the show succeed. I promoted it the best way I could, I worked hard to write stuff that was funny, and I tried so, so, so hard to get the network executives in New York to understand how they could help the show succeed.

“I can only do so much, and we didn’t get a lot of promotional support. I did everything I could, and I’m proud of the work we put on the screen. On the one hand, it’s a shame that they stopped us right when the show was hitting its stride, but on the other hand, we went out with some great episodes.”

I’m disappointed that I won’t get to keep working with people I really like and respect. I’m sad that we won’t get to do more silly segments like How Will They Bite It? and Skeletor Reads Angry Tweets. I’ll miss the scarecrow most of all.

I’m grateful, though, to the people at Syfy who believed in us and gave us a chance to succeed. I’m grateful for the creative support we got, and I’m grateful that I got to spend my summer working with wonderful, talented, funny people. I grew a lot of levels in comedy writing over the last 18 weeks or so, and I owe it all to the amazing people I got to work with.

I had made a decision the day we wrapped the show, that I was going to be okay whether Syfy picked us up, or not. I can honestly say that I am really okay with where I am today. I’m looking forward to doing Tabletop and our upcoming RPG show. I’m looking forward to writing more stories, getting excited, and making more things.

Thank you to everyone who watched our show. Thank you for your kind words, and for being part of a pretty great summer.

Until next time: Play more games!

Oh, and let me just stop this before it starts: we nerds have a penchant for letter-writing campaigns and stuff to try and save shows we like. Please don’t do that here. It’s not going to happen, and we should instead put that energy into something else, like getting #butts to trend.

What would you like to see us play on Tabletop Season Three?

Anonymous asked:

Second Season of Wil Wheaton Project. Yes or No? I hope SyFy channel has the foresight to keep it going.

So for those of you who don’t know, earlier this summer, I did 12 episodes of a silly comedy show on Syfy called The Wil Wheaton Project. It was basically The Soup for people like me who enjoy sci-fi, fantasy, and horror, as well as jokes about those things. If you’d like to see a bunch of clips from the show, they’re right here on my YouTube thing.

We’re officially on hiatus right now, and we don’t know if the network will order more episodes. I know that they liked us in a creative sense, but the ratings weren’t very good (ratings are generally not very good in summer, and while I don’t believe that ratings are as important as they once were, my opinion on the matter isn’t particularly important to the decision makers), but the people who did watch us really liked us. So I won’t know for a few more weeks, but until then, I’m on hiatus, which means I get to write more, play more games, and prep for season three of Tabletop, which goes into production in October.

Part of that preparation includes finding 20 games to play on the show, and as of today, I have eight (maybe nine) that are strong contenders.

What do you want us to play on the show next year? Would you tell me the game, the publisher, and why you like it?

Keep in mind the criteria for Tabletop game selection:

  1. Plays well with 4 people.
  2. Plays in under 90 minutes.

  3. Can be generally explained in about 5 minutes.

  4. Has a high ration of luck to strategy, so everyone has a chance to win the game.

  5. Looks great, has clear graphical design and photographs well.

  6. Is not something we’ve played before.

I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments.

home again

Last night was the first night in almost two weeks that I haven’t had a series of horrible nightmares that woke me up at the end of every REM cycle. I woke up this morning next to my dogs (Anne is still in New York) who seemed as happy to snuggle next to me as I was to snuggle next to them.

GenCon was, on balance, awesome. I played some fantastic new games, spent some great time with friends, and ate a couple of fantastic meals. The only bummers were a day of fucking awful anxiety that threatened to keep me in my hotel room, and a single person (out of hundreds) who was a dick to me when I explained that I can’t stop to take pictures because it draws a crowd and then I get pinned down in one place, unable to enjoy the convention.

There’s lots going on right now that I want to write about, and being on hiatus from The Wil Wheaton Project should afford me time to sit at my desk and be a proper writer for the first time in months, but today I am home, and  I need to rest and reload my HP and Mana.

More to come.

Akira and me

So last night my wife and her friends went out to dinner, and I stayed home for a quiet evening alone with my dogs, a homebrew, and ​Akira. If you haven’t seen it, and you like anime, science fiction, cyberpunk, or some combination of those things, I highly recommend it. In the US, it’s streaming on Hulu Plus, and the Blu-Ray is amazing.

This is the movie that introduced me to anime, way back in 1988 or 89. I remember buying a bootleg VHS at a comic convention, which had a photocopied paper wrapped around the outside, entirely in Japanese. One of my friends said he had heard it was a great movie, so I dropped the twenty bucks or whatever and picked it up. When we got home, we put it into the VCR (kids, ask your parents – it was like a streaming media server that only served local files to a single device, off of very inefficient, removable storage medium) and watched.

It wasn’t dubbed, it wasn’t subbed, and we had absolutely no idea what was going on, but we loved it. In 1988 or 89, there just wasn’t anything like this movie. We had Voltron and Robotech and Battle of the Planets, and they were all pretty awesome, but the breathtaking beauty of Akira was unequaled. We watched it over and over again while we played tabletop games, until we wore out the VHS. We invented some sort of story, where Kaneda and Tetsuo were fighting the espers for some reason, and were eventually defeated by them when Akira is reborn. I remember finally seeing it with subtitles in the mid-90s, and being blown away by the story that was actually being told, which was quite a bit more interesting and complex than the one we’d made up.

I loved Akira so much, it lead me to Ghost in the Shell, all of Miyazaki’s movies, and unintentional hentai (boy, it sure was a shock to us when we picked up a thing called Demon City, only to discover that it was all about tentacle dicks fucking everything in the world. I don’t recall the story, but I can clearly recall how we were all traumatized but unable to look away from it.)

I don’t keep up with the world of anime now, because I have too much other stuff to keep up with and not enough time for everything, but I will always have time to watch Akira.

The Real Batman v Superman

We made a thing for last night’s Wil Wheaton Project, and I think it’s pretty great.

As of today, we have one episode left. We won’t know if Syfy is going to order more episodes for about 5 or 6 weeks. We all need the break (it’s a lot of work to make this show, and I think it’s safe to say that we’re all feeling a little worn out), but I’m sad that we’re going to take the break now, when I finally feel like our show is firing on all cylinders.