Category Archives: blog

Auditions

I just walked in from my I, Robot audition. I think I did well, and I really had a good time. The scene I read felt very familiar to me. I think the writer took it from one of Asimov’s robot books, but I couldn’t tell you which one. The scene had a robot being questioned by a detective, who accused the robot of placing his owner in danger, then allowing his owner to die. Sound familiar to anyone?
I prepared the audition perfectly: I knew my lines, so I didn’t need to refer to the sides (that’s what they call the part of the script they give us to read) at all, and I was able to make some bold character choices. I didn’t feel nervous, anxious, or uncertain at all when I went in. I felt excited! I couldn’t wait to play this robot.
After one reading, the casting director, who also knew his lines and had clear character choices — an extreme rarity in Hollywood — gave me some direction, and we did it again. The difference I felt between the two performances was striking, and gave me a jolt of excited euphoria when I left. I had that feeling I talked about back when I was working on Boise, that thing I call “Mine.” Whether I get the job or not, I got to have that feeling, so it was a successful call in my book.
It’s funny, the way the entertainment industry works. I haven’t had an audition in forever, and I’ve had two in two days. I, Robot today, and a call for a pilot called “All About The Andersons” yesterday. The best part of yesterday’s audition was this sign I saw on my way out. I passed by the production office for some new show called “Real Celebrity Look-Alikes Caught On Tape!”
WTF? I laughed out loud when I passed it.
Hollywood is out of ideas, indeed.
Though both of these jobs would bring in good pay checks and help raise my profile a little bit (well, a lot if I book the movie), I didn’t feel the tense, pinched, “oh my god I must get this job or I am a total failure” feeling that so overwhelmed me last year. I think this is because I stoppd defining myself by my acting success or failure, and turned my creative focus onto writing, and my emotional focus onto my wife and stepkids. Seems really obvious, I know, but I had to spend a lot of time trying to climb the mountain before I learned to sit at its base and just enjoy looking at it.
Updates have been sparse recently and haven’t said much. When I finish the rewrites on my book, I should have more good stories to tell. Thanks for sticking around.
I’ll update when I hear feedback on the auditions.
Thought for today:

“One sees great things from the valley, only small things from the peak.”
–G. K. Chesterson

More Thoughts From The Wife

Hey! Check it out! The wife is actually using the computer! I’m pretty proud of myself. I even did a little on-line Christmas shopping. Guess who has on her big girl pants now!
I wanted to say a little something regarding our shitty (can I say that on here?) New Year’s Eve. See, I hadn’t heard any horror stories about the dog. Just that he was nervous around people. And that the dog didn’t like Darin (which is so odd, since Darin is the nicest, most non-threatening guy I know). Me being the animal lover, I just didn’t see that this dog was vicious. Just scared. I took my time hanging around the dog, and he eventually was rolling and rubbing his face on me. He seemed very happy. All the commotion in the house just scared him and I was the first thing he saw.
The first two days, I felt a little nervous when Ferris would lay on her back and roll over toward me, showing her big happy face and a mouth full of teeth. But this doesn’t change how I feel about animals. I even took my son to a shelter on Saturday and we hung out with the pooches. Stitches and all. And yes, all my other stitches (50 total in the face now….8 from jumping off my brother’s bed and hitting the mattress frame between my eyebrows) were from the dog we had when I was little.So the scared feeling I had when I was a kid definitely came back. I can’t imagine how Wil must have felt when I looked over at him with a mouthful of blood. He kept himself together though.
After my swelling went down a bit (I must say, I was kind of enjoying my Kim Basinger-like full pouting lips) I read the comments that were posted after Wil wrote about this. I am so touched by all of the ‘mojo’ and kind words everyone has sent. I was amazed to read all of the stories of dog bite incidences, as well as several stories of shitty (did we find out if I can say that yet?) New Year’s had by others. At least it was the end of a year, so we can all have a fresh new start!
The bite was a nice straight slice so I think it will heal fine with little scarring. My stitches are a lovely shade of blue which I’ve kind of gotten used to now. I won’t miss them when they’re gone though. And hopefully this will be the last time a dog uses my face for a chomping pad.Wil was right, it could have been so much worse.
Thank you so much for your concern. You are all awesome! No wonder Wil likes doing this website.
Take care and have a healthy, happy, injury-free year!
Anne (the wife)

Schoolyard Derision

From an e-mail:


Hi! I was browsing your site, and saw that you mentioned a Kent Purser. Now, keep in mind that I am a nerd, and the fact I had a chemistry teacher who may or may not have known a cast member of Star Trek: TNG excited me. So I planned on asking him about it, the only problem is I had graduated from high school already and wasn’t in the area. None of my lazy friends who were still in high school would ask him if he was indeed the Kent Purser who knew Wil Wheaton, so I had to wait until I went back to visit last week. He was indeed the Kent mentioned in your Star Wars toy story (Do you still get those? I got the coolest Jabba’s Palace one a while ago.) So yeah, Kent is now a chemistry high school teacher. He watched some Star Trek: TNG (Bet you wanted to know that), and claims he used to beat you up in school. I’m not sure if I believe him on the beating up part though. If you want, I’ll send you a picture of him (He looks somewhat goatish. A goatee will do that.) Adieu

Response:
Ha! Kent never beat me up. As a matter of fact, the only bully who ever beat me up was Joey Carnes, and that was just two hits: his fist hitting my nose, and my body hitting the ground.
Kent was one of The Cool Kids who I so desperately wanted to be friends with. Since he was a Cool Kid and I was a Total Geek that just wasn’t going to happen. He picked on me a lot, but that really doesn’t put him in any great club — everyone picked on me in grade school, because I was a Total Geek.
However, he did humiliate me pretty hardcore one time. In 5th grade, I was sitting off to the side of the playground, looking over a Monster Manual, or Player’s Handbook or something, when Kent and some of the other Cool Kids — Jimmy Galvin, Scott Anderson, Brandon Springs — walked by, heatedly discussing Schoolhouse Rock. Kent shouted over his shoulder to me, “Hey Wil, do you watch Schoolhouse Rock?”
I loved Schoolhouse Rock, and got up early on Saturdays to watch it at 6:00 a.m. before Superfriends. I knew the entire preamble to the Constitution, understood the complexities of Manifest Destiny, and was a math whiz, because of my devotion to SHR. I would often sing “Verb! That’s what’s happenin’!” in my head while waiting for my parents to pick me up from school. But we were in 5th grade, and I hadn’t heard enough of their conversation to know if I was supposed to answer in the affirmative, or not. So I flipped a mental coin, and sneered. “No way,” I laughed, summoning all the contempt and scorn I could muster. I did my best to sound like our principal, Mr Schultz, during one of his long lectures about the dangers of rock music. “Schoolhouse Rock is stupid. It’s totally for babies.”
I sat back, anxiously awaiting their agreement and approval. Maybe they’d welcome me into their circle for a few days, and they wouldn’t throw at my head when we played dodgeball in PE.
Kent made a braying sound, and topped my carefully measured derision. “For babies?! Schoolhouse Rock is cool, Wil. I watch it every chance I get.”
Kent and The Cool Kids all laughed, and walked away. My face began to sting, anticipating PE.

Happy New Year

As we approached the automatic doors, I drew a tense breath. I feared what they would reveal when they opened. I’ve spent many nights in Emergency Rooms, and it’s never a pleasant experience.
I held my arm around Anne’s shoulders, and we walked into an empty room. A television hung from one wall, and Dick Clark counted down the remaining hours of 2002 for several empty chairs and a threadbare couch — the only occupants of the very small waiting room.
Anne pressed a towel to her mouth, hoping to slow the flow of blood. The shock was wearing off, and she was beginning to feel the pain.
I walked to the check-in window and thought, this is a fucked up way to spend New Year’s Eve.
Since the kids were with their dad, this New Year’s had presented Anne and me with several options. We could have attended numerous parties, eaten dinner in several restaurants, stayed home alone, or even walked to Colorado Blvd. and staked out a spot to watch the Rose Parade.
Two of our friends had recently bought a new house, and they were having a quiet gathering there. Most of our friends would be in attendance, so that’s where we went. Quiet and low-key would be the perfect way to end the year.
The evening had been pretty fun. A trip to the ER was the farthest thing from my mind as I played Munchkin with some of my friends, and Anne sat on the floor, trying to convince our friend’s new dog that he and Anne should be friends.
The dog, however, is the anti-Ferris: he’s really aggressive, and not good with people at all. He was recently rescued, and is still getting socialized around strangers. During the evening, he’d snapped at pretty much everyone there, and kept growling and barking at my friend Darin. Anne has the animal empathy of an 18th-level Druid Ranger, though, and she was determined to bring out the love in this animal.
She was doing a great job, too. She sat on the floor with him for close to two hours, calmly talking to him while his master held his leash, and the dog eventually relaxed. Everyone at the party was amazed, except for me. My wife is the very definition of boundless love, especially for animals. As soon as we were warned about the dog, I knew that Anne would have it eating out of her hand by the end of the evening.
While Anne continued to pet the dog, my friends and I prepared to follow up Munchkin with a rousing game of Naval War. We were laughing and fooling around, and then, like a bad made-for-cable movie, everything went horribly wrong.
I was holding the instructions in my hand, looking for the number of cards to be dealt, as my friend Cal shuffled them. KROQ was counting down the top 106.7 songs of 2002, and our friends Pat and Shane had just arrived. I heard the dog begin to growl at Darin, and thought nothing of it — he’d been growling at Darin all night long.
Then the dog barked, and I heard Anne’s voice cry out, shrill above the din of the party, “Wil!”
I turned, and saw something no husband would ever want to see (unless he was OJ Simpson): my wife was holding her mouth, as blood poured over her hand.
Anne went into shock, more from the emotional trauma than the wound, I thought. Before last night, Anne had taken 44 stitches in her face, and eight of them were not from a dog. When that dog bit her lip, Anne was five years old again, helpless and terrified.
We packed ice into a towel, pressed it against her mouth, and drove her to the hospital. Since it was empty, we got through triage and into a bed very quickly. While Anne was being prepared for closure, I walked out to the waiting room, to tell our friend Joe what her status was. He owns the dog, and he and his wife felt terrible about what had happened. We told him that he should go home to be with his wife at midnight, but he insisted that he stay with us until Anne was cared for.
As I walked to the waiting room, I passed an old man who was on a ventilator. A woman, possibly his daughter, sat at his feet, and leaned over the bed, clutching his legs. Sobs rocked her body. My heart went out to them, as I thought, “it’s just a dog bite. It could be so much worse.”I told Joe that we’d be leaving soon, and walked back to be with my wife. The doctor put six stitches into her lip, and we were out of the ER by 11:45 PM. We walked back into Joe’s house with 2 minutes remaining on the year. Anne drank a champagne toast, and we hugged our friends goodbye.
Joe and his wife walked us to the car, apologizing the entire way. We weren’t upset with them, and still aren’t. It wasn’t their fault. It was just a terrible accident. I thought back to that man on the ventilator, and told them that it could have been much, much worse.
We drove carefully back to our house. Each car on the freeway was a potential drunk driver, especially the one who was weaving across three lanes on the 210. I pointed to the car, a white Toyota, and told Anne that things like that made me wish I’d outfitted my car at Uncle Albert’s. She didn’t get it.
We were in bed by 12:30. Anne watched “Sex And The City” and I read “Watchmen.” We were asleep by 1. Yeah, this was not the way I planned on spending New Year’s Eve.
Anne woke me up in the middle of the night, crying. Her Advil had worn off, and she told me that the pain in her face reminded her of when she was a little kid. I wished that I could take her pain away from her, but I did the best that I could: I held her in my arms, and let her tears fall against my cheek and roll onto my pillow.
We fell back asleep, and slept until two Stealth Fighters flew over our house at 8 a.m. to start the Rose Parade.

Tastes like burning

On December 7th, my wife and I, with the help of some friends, put down about 3000 square feet of sod in our front yard. It was tough work, but worth every strained muscle and aching back: the yard looks beautiful.
In addition to representing lots of hard work, the lawn also represents a significant financial investment, so I am sort of manic about keeping it looking its best.
Because of this mania, I am ready to fucking kill the goddamn skunks who keep tearing up the edges of the grass each night.
However, I am a peace loving man, and I’ve chosen to refrain from planting AP mines at the corners of the yard. Instead, I bought a big old jug of red pepper flakes at Smart and Final (for 5 dollars, thank you very much), and spread them all over the perimeter of the lawn last night.
Here’s the thing about red pepper flakes: even when you wash and dry your hands really well after you’re done? The oil that makes them spicy is still on your hands. So when you absentmindedly scratch your chin, or rub your eye, or go to the bathroom, every single thing you touch will immediately burst into flames.
Every. Single. Thing.
Burns.
Oh, how it burns.
So when I got into bed last night, I felt like I’d spent a week in Bangkok.
But when I got up this morning, the burning had subsided, and my front yard was unmolested by the little stinky bastards.
Skunks- 5
Wil- 1

Christmas 2002

The scent of balsam fir and spiced cider permeates every corner of our house.
Wrapping paper and ribbons, tags and tape litter the living room floor. Our cats chase bits of ribbon and bows, tearing around the floor like they are kittens again.
Ferris snores heavily by the fire.
We turn out all the lights, and stand together in front of the fireplace.
Candle and firelight play across our faces. The only other light in the house comes from the village atop the piano and the lights on our tree. We share a Christmas kiss, before settling our brains for a long Winter’s nap.
Merry Christmas, everyone. May peace prevail on Earth.

Cough revisited

An 8×10 sale update!
The photo lab finished printing my order this morning, so all the 8x10s have been mailed out, except for about 6, for people who haven’t told me what to sign on their pictures.
So if you’ve ordered, but you haven’t sent me your request, get on it, man! :)
Anything going out after today clearly won’t arrive in time for Christmas, but if you’ve been waiting to order, and it’s not a gift, go ahead and do it. I have about 50 of each photo left after filling orders, and if those sell out, I’ll order more in the new year.
I’ve gotten sick, it would seem, despite my best efforts to hold off the cold which is ravaging my family right now.
Since I’m feeling like crap, I’m putting off the last-minute shopping until REALLY the last minute, and I’m spending my time the last couple of days heavily editing my book.
I gotta tell you, I’m really excited, and getting nervous. Excited, because my editor, Andrew, has given me notes that fall into two categories: “Duh. I am so lame for missing that.” and “Holy crap! This is such a great idea! I can’t believe I didn’t think of that on my own!” His notes have made the book much more readable, and clearer than it would have ever been if I’d done it all on my own.
Nervous, because as it gets closer and closer to being released to Real Life Readers, I worry that it just isn’t good enough. This is normal, though, for me. It happens with everything creative that I do. I guess it’s just my nature.
Back to work!
:)

STORM WATCH!

This massive Pacific Winter storm is bearing down on Southern California, threatening to turn our burn areas into giant rivers of mud and rocks. The wind is currently gusting outside my bedroom, pelting my window with rain.
All of this means that we here in Los Angeles are on STORM WATCH!
That’s right, baby! STORM WATCH! Wall to wall coverage of brave citizens filling and stacking sandbags in their backyards, rugged individuals stubbornly refusing to leave their trailers under the threat of up to three inches of deadly rain!
As I write this, Anne is watching the CBS news, and Laura Diaz is urging everyone to stay warm, and for the love of god, if you travel over the Grapevine, take blankets and extra food and water!
Now, for my STORM WATCH! coverage, I much prefer the undisputed master of local news hyperbole, the inimitable Paul Moyer, who can turn the very threat of rain, still a week away, into the greatest drama since OJ’s slow speed chase. But Anne will not be moved. The Channel 2 News Team, with the watchful eye of Chopper 2, will be taking us along on STORM WATCH! tonight.
This is the first night in weeks that I’ve been sitting in bed watching TV at 11. Until tonight, I’ve been sitting in front of the fireplace every night reading this amazing book, “The Best American Non-Required Reading of 2002.” I give this book the strongest WWDN endorsement possible: the coveted and never-before-awarded GOLDEN MONKEY! The writers in this book are so amazing, and their stories so compelling, with the turning of each page I learned how far I have to go before I can call myself a writer.
Whenever I finish a book, I feel a sense of achievement, and I begin to look forward to the next one in my ever-growing stack. However, I also feel a certain sadness as I bid characters or an author farewell.
Thank god I have STORM WATCH! to ease the pain.
And Anne just rolled over and turned off her light. As soon as she dons the eye mask and ear plugs, I can grab the clicker and switch to NBC.
. . . *click*
D’OH! Paul Moyer is running down the Golden Globe nominations.
I’ll keep watching, though, because when we’re on STORM WATCH! the news can break at any time.

Sell my old clothes, I’m off to heaven

The plane lurches from side to side, then pitches violently forward. Strangely, nobody in the cabin screams. Anne grips my hand tightly, and I reassure her (and myself) that this turbulence will pass just as soon as we get over the storm.
Fifteen minutes later, after climbing through the first major winter storm we’ve had here in Southern California, an experience which can be compared to riding in a wagon over a deeply rutted and poorly maintained dirt road, or sitting on a raft in heavy seas, we break through the clouds and level off.
We’re on our way to San Francisco, where I’ll be co-hosting The Screen Savers.
From above, the clouds look soft and inviting, betraying no hint of the violence we’ve just passed through. We cruise in relatively smooth air for another 40 minutes, and finally land in Oakland. I’m not crazy about flying, and I’m always happy to be on the ground.
After a quick walk through the terminal, we meet up with Steve from Tech TV, who will drive us into the city. We step out into the gloomy December morning, into the Bay Area that I have always loved: cold, windy, cloud-covered. The heavy black clouds we’ve just flown through decide to get in one last assault, and dump a hard, cold downpour on us as we walk through the parking lot to the car.
The drive into the city is quick and uneventful, and as we cross the Bay Bridge, I recall the months I spent shooting Flubber on Treasure Island. Those were good times, and it’s nice to revisit them in my mind for a few moments.
Steve drops us at our hotel, and tells us he’ll be back at 6 to take us to dinner.
Anne and I walk through The City, finally ending up at Union Square. We head to the top of Macy’s, so I can look out over the square and pretend that I’m in “The Conversation.”
Back when Gene Roddenberry was alive, he talked about The Enterprise being a character in the show, and even being the “real” star of the show. I always wondered how something like a spaceship could have a personality, but standing here, on top of Macy’s in the cold and rain, looking out at all these old and new buildings standing side by side, watching the throngs of holiday shoppers swarm across the square, past the giant Christmas tree, I get it. San Francisco is truly a wonderful city.
We meet Steve and his fiancee for dinner, which is quite lovely, and head back to our hotel, where we both have the worst night’s sleep in years. The rain beats down on the window-mounted air conditioner, its steady plink-plink-plinking competing with the sputtering and hissing of the radiator. After two hours, I have come to truly hate this radiator, though it is the only source of warmth in the room. Anne is fighting a cold, so she tosses and turns the entire night on the too-small bed, and end up spending much of the night staring at the ceiling, cursing the radiator.
When morning comes, we have just enough time to grab a coffee and a muffin before I have to be at TechTV for a production meeting. I kiss Anne goodbye, remind her that if she goes shopping that we only have one small carry-on bag (a reminder she ignores), and hop into a cab.
I spend the rest of the morning and early afternoon preparing for the show, and having meetings with the execs at TechTV. I really like them, they really like me, maybe we’ll work together someday.
Suddenly, the day is behind me, and it’s time to tape the show. I run over my teleprompter bits, read over notes for the interview I’ll be doing, and familiarize myself with the numbers for the different cameras, and the names for different parts of the set.
Everyone keeps asking me if I’m nervous. I am not, but this constant questioning makes me think that I should be nervous, so now I’m nervous because I wasn’t nervous.
I don’t want to let myself get all worked up, so I talk to the cast. Megan is funny and sweet, and calls me “dreamy.” Patrick knows so much more about computers and technology than I ever will, and though I am totally intimidated by his knowledge, he puts me at ease the whole time I’m there. Morgen Webb is just too !@#$^&ing hot for words. And smart, and friendly. I blush a bit when I talk to her.
I get to finally meet Chris Pirillo, who I’ve talked to countless times in e-mail, but never actually seen in person. I instantly like him, and know that we could have fun hanging out together.
At 4PM, we start the show, and everything is going well, except for one small thing: the way the camera points, I can’t read the left side of the teleprompter for the whole first segment. I manage to stumble through it, but I really feel like I’m sucking. But it’s live, so I push through it, and hit a groove. The show is really, really fun. All the people are super nice (cast, crew, producers — everyone is just awesome. Very different from other jobs I’ve recently had) and I’m just having fun. Though the show lasts 90 minutes, it seems much faster, and before I know it, we’re done.
The audience is dismissed, and we gather with the producer to do a post-mortem on the show. This is my favorite part of any live show, whether it is radio or TV or theater. This is when we sit down together, talk about what we did well, and what we can do better. It’s what sets the live experience completely apart from film or tape, this ability to constantly learn from day to day and move closer and closer to perfection.
The notes are given, but I won’t recount them here. They belong to the people who made the show.
Anne and I say goodbye to everyone, and meet Loren and Kelly for coffee before we have to get to the airport.
Here’s the thing: I really, really, really like Loren and Kelly, and I just hate it that they live so far away. There is a severe shortage of Good People in this world, and I wish that I could spend more time with these two. I take some comfort in the knowledge that Southwest can put us at each other’s doors in under two hours for under 100 bucks.
Anne and I make it to the airport, check ourselves in, and grab a sandwich. It’s been just over 24 hours, but now it feels much longer, and we’re ready to go home and sleep in our own beds.
Our flight is called, and we travel home beneath a full moon, above a blanket of moonlit clouds. It is quick and turbulence-free, and by midnight, we’re back in our own house.
While Anne gets ready for bed, I check my email, and there are nearly 50 messages waiting about Screen Savers, and every last one of them praises my performance on the show. I am really moved by the compliments, and feel very proud of a job well done.
I fall into bed, and sleep soundly, straight through the night.

…and a little good news

Before I get to the good news, I just wanted to thank everyone who sent me kindness yesterday. While not getting invited really felt like a slap in the face, it is certainly not the end of the world, by any means.
Now I’ll be seeing the movie for the first time with my friends, in a regular theatre, with a “real” audience, which will be cool.
The good news: a few months back, Chris DiBona approached me, and asked me if I’d be interested in joining the Board of Advisors for a new game company he was forming.
I said yes, and I’ve managed to be useful already, which is cool. Their first game is a MMORPG called Rekonstruction.
Anyhow, the press release went out today, and I thought I’d pimp it.