Category Archives: blog

The Phantom Mannix

Last night, after I watched “Greg The Bunny”, which is currently in a tie with Andy Richter Controls The Universe for the coveted “Wil’s Favorite New Show” award, I was cleaning out my brain, and I saw a couple of things that I forgot to share about the Convention.
So, before I recycle them, here they are:
I met Linda Park, who is on Enterprise, on Saturday. Now, I have read that she thought that TNG was the best Star Trek EVER, and she said somewhere that she had a crush on your pal, TV’s Wil Wheaton. *grin*
So I walked over to where she was sitting, and I felt like this grizzled old veteran, welcoming the rookie onto the team. She was really nice, and really, really beautiful in person. I mean, holy crap, dude. Seriously.
I asked her if she was having fun on her show, and she said that she was, and that it may sound corny, but she felt like they were really a family, and they all really liked each other. I told her that we felt the same way when we were doing TNG, and that I’d heard that there wasn’t so much love on DS9 or Voyager, so we were really lucky. I really liked her, and I hope that I get to talk with her again.
Also on Saturday, this dude from WILLIAM FUCKING SHATNER’s website came over to say “Hello.”
Now, to be completely honest, I was a bit nervous…I thought that I was going to get some serious shit, because…well, you know…but he was really cool! He told me that he was one of the webmasters over there, and that he wanted to tell me how much he liked my website. He told me that it was funny and insightful, and that he liked my simple layout, and lack of Flash and assorted bullshit. He also told me that it was impressive that I do the whole thing myself.
It meant a lot to me, coming from a professional, to hear those things.
Incidentally, I asked him if WFS really does write his own weblog, and he said that it is indeed from The Shat’s mouth to your ears. The only thing they do is correct the spelling.
Thought for Today:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Rockin’ The Suburbs

I can’t believe that I haven’t written since Friday. I have a good excuse though: when I wasn’t at the Star Trek convention, I was playing NetHack. Can you believe that I’ve played nethack for over 10 years, and I still haven’t found the goddamn amulet of Yendor? I even play pocket rogue on my handspring, and I haven’t beaten that, yet.
It’s truly sad.
Anyway, it’s been a cool few days, and I’ll do a quick recap here:
Thursday, we did another studio run through of my show, for G4. I’m not allowed to get into specifics, or G4 will send their hired goons after me, but I will say that I am extremely excited about my show. I think it’s going to be one of the best ones on the network.
Sometimes, when I’m working on something, I’ll get this “oh my god this is going to suck” feeling. It can take a few days, or even as long as a few weeks to settle in, but once it’s there, it doesn’t go away, and there is nothing worse for me than working on something that I know is going to end up sucking.
Fortunately, I do not have this feeling about “Arena”. Matter of fact, I am extremely proud of what we’re doing, and I can already see stuff that’s going to get cooler with time.
Friday, I went to the Creation Grand Slam convention in Pasadena. It was a good time. I got to meet lots of fans, and many of them told me how they read my lame website, and that they really liked it.
I even got to meet a WWDN reader, named Mike, who came all the way from Swizterland! He was wearing a WWDN T-shirt!!!! I took a picture of him, but I’m lazy, and I’ll post it later on.
I was so excited to hear from so many people that they read my site. I mean, I can look at the stats, and see that I get lots of traffic, but it’s something completely different to actually meet real people, and have them tell me how much they like it. I heard from people, over and over again, that they thought my site was funny, insightful, and unlike any other “celebrity” site on the net, to which I would respond, “That’s because it’s not a celebrity site. It’s WWDN!” Hey, it was funny at the time.
Friday night, I did the J. Keith vanStraaten show at ACME, and there were TEN people in the theatre (which only seats 99 people) who were WWDN readers!! And get this: 6 of them were girls! Hot girls!
YES! Uncle Willie’s still got it!
*metal fist*
*devil horns*
Oh, speaking of the metal fist, I was listening to System of a Down on the way to the show, and I had this thought: Toxcicity really reminds me of Metallica, circa “…And Justice for All”. I’m down for SoD, because they’re hometown boys, from Glendale.
Rock.
Anyway, the show went really well. I felt like Keith and I were really in synch with each other, and we were able to give up lots of the funny.
The next show is on April 12th. Make reservations now!
Saturday was also really cool at the convention. I got to meet many more people, had the time to actually sit and talk with some guys who I always see, but never get a chance to visit with, and play a practical joke on my friend Aron, who played Nog on DS9.
I also ran into Jonathan back stage, and he says to me, “Do you know who got your part?”
I told him no, I didn’t.
“Jeremy Piven,” he tells me.
He tells me that I did a great job, and he really wanted me to have the role, but they needed to go older.
I tell him that I sot of knew, when I walked in and saw that I was easily 10 years younger than everyone else, that I wasn’t the guy.
“Well, I thought you were the guy. And I really appreciate you coming in and reading for me. You shouldn’t have to do that.”
He then tells me that he was having a really hard time finding an actor for the role, and his wife said to him, “Why don’t you bring in Wil?”
So, he tells me, that I need to give all the credit to his wife.
While I’m talking to Johnathan, WILLIAM FUCKING SHATNER goes on stage, and I listen to him for a few minutes. He does a really great job with the fans, you know? As I was watching him, I was thinking to myself, “Goddamn, man. That guy is 70 years old.”
I went back, and signed some more autographs for people. I gave lots of trading cards away to little kids, and I met some really interesting people: I met a guy who is working on a linux distro which he swears will take over the desktop. I met a guy who is called “Red Shirt” by all his friends, because he was killed by Worf in the 7th season of TNG. I also met his girlfriend (I think) who is, get ready…a full-on porn star. Only at a Star Trek convention could you meet someone who is going to change the world, and a porn star within minutes of each other.
Saturday night, I had hoped to go out and see the closing of Paul Frank’s show here in LA, but I ended up going to sleep at 9:30.
On Sunday, the convention was winding down, so I spent most of the time wandering around, looking at stuff in the dealer’s room (where, for the first time in hundreds of conventions, I didn’t buy a single thing! My wife was so happy). I did get to see this guy I know named Gabriel, who I know from way back when. He was that kid in Trekkies, and he’s also on Beat The Geeks from time to time. Gabe is a really, really good guy, and, like me, he has left that 14 year-old weenie behind, and, like me, people still give him shit about it.
But we had fun joking with each other, and we even traded autographed pictures.
The only thing that I didn’t like about the convention was the talk I gave on Sunday. There were only 20 or so people there, because they’d booked me into the little room, against Ricardo Freakin’ Montalban in the big room. Now, honestly, who are you going to go see? Mr. Rourke, or TV’s Wil Wheaton?
Duh.
Because there weren’t a lot of people in the room, there wasn’t a lot of energy in the room for me to draw on, and I just sucked. I think I was able to get a few good stories out, but I left feeling very let down. Fortunately, I don’t think that the crowd felt let down, but I didn’t meet the standards I’ve set for myself, at all.
Luckily, the whole weekend, I didn’t meet a single weirdo, or anyone who needed to tell me how much they hated me. I’m looking forward to the next show.
One last thing: Last night, the family and I gathered around the old TV to watch “The Simpsons”, which is a Sunday night ritual in our house…only to find that FOX was running Independance day. We couldn’t figure out why, until Anne and I remembered that last night was the Oscars.
Duh again.
So we watched just a little bit of it, and I must say that watching Halle Berry accept her Oscar made me cry like a little sissy bitch.
See, The Academy is dominated by old white guys, and women of color have been marginalized for 74 years in the awards.
Watching Halle Berry win, and then Denzel Washington, was not insignificant, at all.
Here’s what Halle Berry said, which is our Thought for Today:


“This moment is so much bigger than me. It’s for every nameless, faceless woman of color that now has a chance because this door tonight has been opened. I am so honored, I’m so honored, and I thank the Academy for choosing me to be the vessel from which this blessing might flow.”

Diesel and Dust

I read this in the soapbox, and thought I’d post it here, because it put a huge smile on my face:
12 February 2002
Official! Wil Wheaton Now Coolest Person in the Cosmos
Yes, I realize that I’m a bit late to the party, seeing as how it’s a month out of date…but it made me giggle, regardless.
So how was your weekend?
Mine rocked. I spent the entire day on Saturday with my brother, at the race track.
Well, it was more like at the micro brew festival, which was in the infield at the race track, but the important thing is, we tied several onions to our belts, which was the style on Saturday, and we had a great time. Then I got to go out to dinner with my wife, and I made her watch “Go”, which I really enjoyed in the theatre. I described it at the time as “Pulp Fiction for 20 year-olds.”
Sunday was spent cleaning up the house, which is something that I always enjoy doing. I love getting rid of stuff, and taking control of the house back from the piles of laundry and dishes in my kitchen.
Yeah, Anne and I were working so much last week we didn’t have time to do laundry. The good part of this is that when I went to vaccuum my bedroom, there really wasn’t any dirt on the floor…thanks to the laundry covering it.
Har.
We had a HUGE storm last night, which absolutely covered the mountains behind my house with snow, and made it look like we’re having winter again. Which means that this weekend it’ll be right back into the 90s again. Weird.
Did anyone else see “The Simpsons” last night? I love it when they do parodies and “Simpson’s versions” of well-known stories, like The Odyssey, as they did last night. Something that’s always impressed me about the Simpsons is that their writers reward smart, well-read people, without alienating average folk who just want to watch funny pictures..like George W. Bush, for example. I bet FOX, with it’s current catering-to-the-lowest-common-denominator (Temptation Island, When [X] Attacks!, Celebrity Boxing) is the single more popular network in the white house.
Until Ashcroft comes over. Then it’s time for TBN!
Last night, on KLOS, they played the entire Midnight Oil album, Diesel and Dust. It’s one of my favorite albums of all time, and was my one of my earliest exposures to music as activism, outside of “Freedom Rock” (“Hey! Turn it up, man!”)
I bring this up because they’re playing concerts in LA this week: at House of Blues in Anaheim Tomorrow, and in Hollywood Thursday, and SoCal residents may want to go see them, and the tall bald man. :-)
Our Thought For Today comes from Halle Selassie:

“Until the philosophy which holds one race superior, and another inferior, is finally, and permanently discredited and abandoned….until the color of a man’s skin is of no more significance than the color of his eyes…there will be war.”

Submitted for your consideration, one actor

Night before last, I got home very late from work.
When I checked my messages, there was one from Jonathan Frakes, who said that he was casting a show, and there was “a wonderful acting opportunity for Wil Wheaton in it.”
I can’t tell you how excited I was. To have one of my friends call me, at home, to tell me that they’re casting something, and they wanted to put me in it…well, it was awesome.
Now, I’m my excitement is tempered, because the last time I was promised a role in a movie I got a whole bunch of nothing, but there’s something about Jonathan. He wouldn’t call me if he didn’t really think I could handle this role.
So yesterday, at 12:30, I get a call while I’m at work that they want to see me at 2PM for Jonathan’s project: The Twilight Zone.
That’s right, they’re doing it again! I love the Twilight Zone, the most. When I was a kid it scared the shit out of me, but in a good way. The first thing I ever wrote was an adaptation of one of the scariest episodes, when I was like 11.
So I get the call at 12:30, the sides arrive via FAX at 12:45, and I have 30 minutes to prepare 16 pages.
Somehow, I manage to get a handle on this character, a task made much easier by the high quality of the writing. It’s specific and clear, so I get an understanding of what the character is immediately, and I’m able to add my own shading and color to him really quickly.
When you look at a script, it usually tells you what the writer wants; what he’s going for. All the actors coming in should know that, and should be able to meet the demands of the material. In my experience, sitting on both sides of the table during auditions, the thing that makes the difference amongst all the actors who come in to read is that shading and color; that little extra understanding, or that ability to recall something from your real life is what’s going to make a difference, and get you the role.
Of course, 30 minutes is not exactly the best amount of time to create this complex character, but what’s great for me about not having all the extra time is I am forced to trust my instincts (which are almost always right on, but usually end up getting over analyzed. I can be a little too smart for my own good).
So I am thinking of all this stuff, all the various colors I can add to this character, and the experiences I’ve had in my own life which I can draw upon, while I’m driving over to the audition, which is in the middle of downtown LA, at a place called “LA Center Studios.” I’ve never been there before, but the place is really cool and creepy at the same time. It feels like the set of a 70s post-apocalypse movie. The floors are all marble and linoleum, the walls are all wood, with these strange metal accents, and the whole place is only about 20% occupied, so it really feels like, well, The Twilight Zone.
Oh, get this: on my way there? Totally got passed by a high speed chase, going the other way on the freeway. I gave the news choppers the finger. I don’t think they noticed.
So I get there, park my car in the mostly abandoned garage, and try to find the office where I’m reading. That post-apocalypse feeling is reinforced when I walk up 3 flights of turned-off escalators, which are lit by flourescent lights and covered with dust. I mean, I really did expect to come around a corner and see Charlton Heston screaming, “Soylent Green is people! It’s people!”
I finally got to the room where I was supposed to do my reading, and I saw Jonathan, who gave me a huge smile and a warm bearhug, and told me how happy he was to see me. He always has this twinkle in his eye, you know? It says, “I can’t believe I’m doing this! I’m totally getting away with it! Woo! This is so much fun!”
The casting director tells me that they only want me to read the first and last scenes, which is great because I can spend my 15 minutes waiting just focusing on those scenes, while they set up the room for auditions.
Now, I view warming up for an audition like being a relief pitcher: you don’t want to over-work yourself, so you’re tired, but you also don’t want to be warming up when you’re on the mound, either, so you have to know exactly when to get up in the bullpen. It also helps to know that you’re going to just need your curve ball working, and maybe a slider, so you focus on those, and trust that the fast ball will come when you need it.
Did I just lose everyone? I sometimes do that with extended metaphor.
Anyway, I work on those two scenes, and go in. Jonathan thanks me for coming and introduces me to the other producers. He says, “Wil and I know each other, you know.”
“Yeah, I knew him back when he was cool,” I say.
“See? He tells the same story,” he says to one of the producers.
“Well, your story checks out,” the producer says to me.
“That’s a relief. I thought that the 5 year photographic record wouldn’t be enough,” I reply.
We all laugh, and he tells me to begin when I’m ready.
Now, here’s something that I love about being an actor: I was just joking around, and now I get to totally switch gears, and play a guy who starts out honest and earnest, yet becomes corrupted by power. The two scenes show the beginning and ending of that transformation. I love that I can go from joking around, to becoming this character in a matter of seconds.
I do the first scene, and I can see Jonathan out of the corner of my eye, and he I can tell that he’s really into what I’m doing. It fills me with confidence, and I totally relax into this character. He tells me that it was a great job, and asks me to read the second scene. He gives me some direction, and tells me a bit about this character; stuff I already have figured out, but it really makes me feel confident, knowing that what they want is what I’ve already prepared.
I read the scene, and he asks me if I wouldn’t mind doing a third scene. This is a good sign, because he wouldn’t ask for it if he wasn’t happy with what I’d already done.
But I’ve had all of 30 minutes with the material, and I really haven’t prepared this scene, at all…I mean, I read it once, looked at it again when I was waiting, but I am not nearly as confident with it as I am with the others…but I do it anyway, and it feels really good.
I have really good instincts, as an actor. I know when I totally suck, and I know when I’ve done a good job. Again, to use the baseball metaphor: I know when I’ve hit it out, when I bounce back to the mound, and when I go down swinging. With the first scene, I hit it deep to center. With the second scene, I hit it out. I really need to get a stand up double on this third scene, now. So I read it, and that’s exactly what I do. If I’d had some more time with it, I would have gotten a triple, for sure, but I’ll take the double.
I finish, and put down my sides, and Jonathan says to the producers, “He is such a great actor.”
He turns to me and says, “You are such a wonderful actor. You still have it, W.”
Of course, it would be great to get this job, because I’d like to work with him, and I think the marketing opportunity for the studio is huge: Launch the new Twilight Zone with two guys from Star Trek.
But even if I don’t book the job, I will have Jonathan’s kindness and warmth to hold on to. It will be good balance for all the times I read for people who treat me like shit, and, as longtime readers know, it’s all about The Balance.
Updated at 1:03 PM
Just found out that I didn’t get it. Is there an award for coming in second?

Tranquility Base

Seven things I am grateful for today:

  1. Going to Fry’s with my brother, who I haven’t seen in over a month, and him helping me pick out a new computer.
  2. My brother telling me, in his way, that he missed me, and would like to hear from me more often.
  3. Ferris and Sketch (my cat) sleeping in identical positions on their backs in the middle of my living room.
  4. The freedom to loudly criticize my government without fear of being “disappeared”. Yet.
  5. A November day, around 1995, when I went with my friend Dave to the beach, and we stood on the end of the pier, watching the huge, storm-driven waves crash against the bottom of the pier, getting our feet wet, and not being afraid.
  6. Nolan showing me a sign-up sheet for a summer science program that he wants to attend, proudly proclaiming, “I wasn’t into science last year, Wil, but this year I totally am!”
  7. The fact that my wife notices that I curl the tip of my tongue when I laugh really hard. Something I was not even aware of myself.

Our Thought for Today is more of a meditation, than a thought, and it comes from the Tao Te Ching:


“Weapons are the tools of violence;
all decent men detest them.
Weapons are the tools of fear;
a decent man will avoid them
except in the direst necessity
and, if compelled, will use them
only with the utmost restraint.
Peace is his highest value.
If the peace has been shattered,
how can he be content?
His enemies are not demons,
but human beings like himself.
He doesn’t wish them personal harm.
Nor does he rejoice in victory.
How could he rejoice in victory
and delight in the slaughter of men?
He enters a battle gravely,
with sorrow and great compassion,
as if he were attending a funeral.”

Make it burn!

As I write this, Anne is behind me, doing some workout video tape, and I can just hear the breathless voice of the girl who is leading the workout saying, “Oh yeah, oh yeah, doesn’t that feel good? Don’t stop, you’re almost there *pant* *pant*”
If I didn’t know any better, I’d think she was watching “Debbie Does 7 Minute Abs” or something…but anyway…
A few weeks ago, I did an interview for the 4th season DVD release of Star Trek: TNG. While I was at Paramount doing my interview, a friend of mine who writes for Star Trek: The Magazine asked me if she could talk to me about a special issue they were doing, focusing on the second season. I told her that I’d be glad to do the interview, if they’d put me on a mailing list, and send me issues of the magazine.
Hey, daddy needs to get nice things, you know?
So she said that’d be no problem, and we did the interview. It was really cool, and I won’t spoil it for you by talking about it here. It should be on the stands in a month or so.
On Friday, my first issue of the magazine showed up, and the whole thing is devoted to the first season of TNG. It focuses mostly on the behind the scenes aspects, with all these cool production drawings, interviews with the producers (Bob Justman says that “Wil Wheaton was always going to be our Wesley”), and a brief history of that first season.
Reading it really made me feel nostalgic, and I was flooded with wonderful memories from those years.
As I read it, I got to thinking…I have some unfinished business here…so, today, my dear Sunday reader, I am proud to give to you:

SPONGEBOB VEGA$ PANTS: SCREAM SPONGEBOB, SCREAM!

When we last left our intrepid hero, he had finished performing the highly anticipated “Mind Meld presents: Assimilate This!”.
With minimal rehearsal, with less than ideal performing conditions, and needing to pee for the last 30 minutes of the show, we had managed to pull it off. The crowd loved us, and would have made me cry, if I was not, as I have pointed out many times before, such a complete badass.
So, to pick things up…
The house empties out, and I run at mach 4 to the bathroom. When I get back into the ballroom, I get the most important review, of all. My wife comes up to me, puts her arms around me, and says, “Honey, you were great. I’ve never laughed so hard in my whole life.”
We stand in the ballroom for a few minutes, and I feel the familiar rush of left over adrenaline that I get at the end of every show. Even though it’s been a hellishly long day, and I’ve performed twice (once on stage with the sketch group, and once during my talk) I’ve got this massive surge of energy, and I must use it.
So we pack up the show, say goodnight to my parents, and head out into Vega$ for some drinks, some slots, some craps, and some fun. We can’t decide where we are going to go, because it’s a weekend, and most of the casinos have insanely high table minimums, and somehow we all end up at The Rio. Now, I’m not too crazy about The Rio, since they kicked out De La Guarda, which is, I think, one of the coolest and most unique shows I’ve ever seen. But we ended up there, anyway.
Travis and I were really hungry, and just wanted to get something to eat, and the rest of the gang just wanted to get a few drinks in them and throw some money away — er, I mean, gamble. So Travis and I head off to some 24 hour restaurant in the hotel (walking, of course, through the casino, then through more of the casino, and, finally, past some slot machines). The rest of the crew heads up to some club at the top of the hotel, which they later tell us is filled with poseurs, and I try to act surprised.
Travis and I talk about the show, and how it went. It’s funny when you get two actor/writers together. We did a really good show, and we were, and are, very proud of it…but we can only talk about the things that we didn’t like. We talk about the fact that I should have picked up a mic at the end of the show to say my thank yous and introduce the group. I was unhappy that I flubbed some lines, and could have had a funnier ad-lib here or there…but that’s the nature of being a perfectionist, I guess. It’s also the reason most of my shows are so good. I won’t allow myself to do anything less than my absolute best, and I am always pushing myself to be better.
So Travis and I deconstruct the show, talk about the possibility of taking it on the road, talk about how much fun we had, complain about how horrible the farking food is, and we head back to meet the rest of the gang, in the casino.
So, by now, it’s got to be close to 2AM, and that adrenaline buzz is wearing off. Remember when you were a teenager, and you’d just started hanging out all night? That first or second time you stayed up all night with your friends, watching the sun rise, thinking to yourself how cool it was that you were awake this late, never wanting the night to end? That’s how we all felt…but we’re all exhausted, and some of us have to fly home early the next morning. So we gamble a bit, I collect on a bet from Tracy Burns (she had to buy me a scotch. I forget why, now), and we say a teary farewell.
We all go our Separate Ways, seeking out our own Frontiers, filled with Lights, knowing that we’ll never Stop Believin’.
What happened there? Sorry.
Anne and I return to our we-would-never-get-this-if-we-were-paying-for-it suite at Bellagio, and fall asleep before our heads even hit the pillows.
The next morning, we get up, eat breakfast, and pack our bags. We’re going to stay the rest of the weekend, so we can attend the party at The Star Trek Experience on Sunday night, but we’re not staying at Bellagio any more. We’re moving to Monte Carlo.
I’ve decided to spend the day sitting in the Autograph room at the convention, so people who missed me the first two days can get their picture or autograph, and so I can hawk my friend’s CD. (if any of you were RFB listeners, before it went off the air, you may have heard me play them from time to time)
The thing is, it kind of sucks. I realize that I’m spending the entire day there, really to sign what amounts to less than 10 pictures, and I only convince 3 people that Warp 11 is really funny. I also know that 2 of our friends (Stephanie, who introduced me to Anne, and BURNS! who is one of our best friends) are on their way to meet us, so I decide that I’m done. I pack up, and screw up the courage to introduce myself to Alan Ruck, who played Cameron in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and was in some Trek movie, I guess. He is really cool, and as excited to meet me as I am to meet him, which always surprises me and makes me feel good.
I meet Anne, Steph, and BURNS! at the Monte Carlo, where I am discover what will be the theme for the remainder of our trip. That theme is “Who can be the most rude to Wil and his friends?”
Now, here is the thing. I am an extremely patient, understanding, forgiving person, when I am in a restaurant, or at the front desk of a hotel, or dealing with any person who works in the “service industry.” I figure that most people treat them badly, talking down to them, and stuff, and I really go out of my way to be extra nice, and patient with them. I also know that they may appreciate this, and hook a brother up with a free desert or something, so it’s not completely altruistic. Hey, at least I’m honest about it, preachy.
When we’re checking in, the girl who is checking us in is really cool. She’s sweet, friendly, helpful, and all the things you’d hope for. She tells us that we’re in some sort of suite, and I tell her that we were just at the Bellagio, and while we were staying in that suite they gave us some sort of VIP pass, for some lounge or something, and a buffet line pass.
Tangent: let me tell you, when you’re in Vega$ during a busy weekend, having that buffet or cafe line pass is GOLD. The last two times I’ve been in Vega$, which I hate, by the way, the lines for restaurants have been insane, and I would have sold my soul for a line pass. (Don’t get too excited. My picture’s been taken so many times, I don’t have any soul left)
End of Tangent.
So the girl tells me that she isn’t sure, but I can go and ask Casino Services if the suites at Monte Carlo come with the same pass as the suites at Bellagio. I cross the large lobby, and enter through some french doors to the Casino Services area. It’s a small room, with a lovingly handcrafted particle board desk, and two armed chairs. A pinched woman is sitting behind the desk, and she makes no effort to mask her obvious contempt for me as I approach her.
“Can I help you?” she sneers.
“Yeah,” I tell her, and proceed to explain the situation at Bellagio, and I ask her if Monte Carlo has a similar policy.
Although I am taller than her, and she is sitting at a desk, she somehow manages to look down her nose at me. She tells me, with complete disdain, “No, sir. Our Casino Premiums [you can hear in her voice that she capitalizes those words in her mind] are reserved for a certain caliber of guest.”
A certain caliber of guest?! Did she just say that?!
I take a second to imagine how hollow her life must be when she’s not sitting behind that desk, and I thank her for her time. Remember, I’m patient, forgiving and understanding.
I cross back to the check-in desk, and the girl asks me if the woman was able to help me. I tell her that she was not able to help me, and, in fact, insulted me. I tell her that when that woman told me that they “are reserved for a certain caliber of guest”, what she clearly communicated to me was that I was not of a certain caliber, and therefore not worthy of her time.
I was upset. Not because I didn’t get that magic card, I mean, that’s their policy, so that’s fine with me. I don’t expect preferential treatment, ever (well, unless I’m at Jumbo’s Clown Room, but that’s more like frequent flier miles, if you get my drift). What upset me was the way she talked to me. The way she treated me as if I was beneath her from the moment I walked in.
A manager has heard me relaying my story to the check-in girl, and she has joined the conversation. She apologizes many times, and asks me to wait a minute. She crosses to the Casino Services room, and I see her have a heated exchange with the woman behind the desk of power. She then returns, and gives me, Anne, Steph and BURNS! these cool VIP passes, which are good for lines, shows, and get us into some sort of lounge on an upper floor of the hotel. She apologizes many times, and implores us to enjoy our stay. I am impressed with her kindness, and for a brief second I bask in the customer service.
We head up to our room, Steph and BURNS! head off to meet one of our other friends, Jen, and Anne and I unpack, and take a nap.
Isn’t the weird? We take lots of naps in Vega$. I think it’s because we really like to stay out all night, or as close to all night, as we can. I think that staying out all night is part of the mystique of Vega$.
I wanna digress for a minute, and talk about the mystique of Vega$. See, I think that we all want to buy into the “romance” of Vega$. That thing that the city has, as portrayed in “Viva Las Vegas!” and “Swingers” and anything concerning the Rat Pack. We want to believe that it is the land of all-you-can-eat $2.00 buffets, where we are always one pull of the slot machine away from the Rainman suite. But the truth is, Vega$ is a sad, hollow, tragic monument to greed and excess, where parents dump their kids at the edge of the casino with some fast food while they get drunk and gamble. It’s a place where you’ll find more unemployed locals than tourists at a five dollar buffet, and it’s more like “Taxicab Confessions” than anything else. I can only take it for 48 hours at a time…and this time, I was there for 5 freakin’ days. However, it does have Nomi Malone, and Nomi’s got heat, so it’s not all bad.
So we take our nap, and we get ready for our big night out. We’ve got reservations at this restaurant that is supposed to be really cool, and I’ve even put on a clean shirt to go out.
NEXT TIME:
Dinner at Chez Midlife Crisis!
The Roulette that ate my wallet!
And
The Star Trek Experience
When WWDN presents, Spongebob Vega$Pants: The Final Chapter!

Godfather, meet Godfather

Last night was our first J.Keith vanStraaten Show of the new season.
I love being on a live stage, in front of a live audience, and I’d forgotten how much fun it is to do that show.
One of our guests last night was Bruno Kirby, who I realized is in 3 of my favorite movies of all time, and who’s father was in Stand By Me! We were talking backstage and we realized that we were just 1 degree of separation, in many, many ways. It was cool.
The show started out really well. Keith’s monologue was hilarious, and the full house loved it. Then I came out, and I felt that we were a little rusty. So much of comedy is timing and rhythm, and we were just slightly out of rhythm, but we got in step after a bit, and the show went very well.
The coolest thing was, some WWDN readers came down to see the show, and support your old pal, Un– oh, you know what I mean.
Bruno Kirby was amazing. He was telling these amazing stories about working with people, and one of them was about Marlon Brando. He was telling us how he was working with Marlon Brando in New York, and they went into an Italian restaurant together, with Al freakin’ Pacino. Bruno says that he thinks, since the Godfather, Brando has not been allowed to pick up a check in an Italian restaurant, and I say, “Yeah, I hear that Al Pacino isn’t allowd to go to the bathroom alone, either.” The 30% or so of people in the house who have seen Godfather laugh really, really hard, and I figure that I just made up for being a little slow at the top of the show.
The rest of the show goes great, the band, Blockage, kicks more ass than Jackie Chan, and John O’Donnell, the comedian, tells one of the funniest stories I’ve ever heard.
In two weeks, we have Aisha Tyler, from Talk Soup, on the show, and we’re anticipating a sell out, so you should make your reservations now!
And now, yard work.

Meeting Michael Moore

When I was 18, I really wanted to go to college. I wanted to go because I have always loved to learn, even if I’ve never fit in particularly well in the academic environment, and I truly believe that the more knowledge you have, the more options you have in your life.
I mean, how many guys do you know who are college educated, who get a different job in sales every 6 months?
It’s all about knowledge and options, man.
The only problem is, I never, uh…well, I never took the SAT. I took the PSAT, and did pretty well. If I recall correctly, my results said that “96% of people who take this test will score lower than you” on the verbal section (yes, there was a time when I could spell correctly and even use correct grammar. Of.) but on the math section, it said something like, “You will only score higher than Anna Nicole Smith. Do yourself a favor and find some rich old dude to marry, then wait for him to die and take all his money, because you’re never going to get anywhere, mister.”
Yeah, back in those days education wasn’t as focused on making people feel good, like it is now. Back then they actually wanted me to learn something.
Bastards.
So anyway, when I was 18, I moved out to Westwood, with the intention of just enrolling in the UCLA extension, and going to college that way. Trouble was, I kept getting work as an actor, and I was never able to see my plan all the way through. Around that time I decided to take my semi-retirement from acting, and, instead of staying here in Los Angeles and just going to school, I ended up in Topeka, Kansas, working for NewTek. Being on campus again, though, brought back many happy memories. You know, my life is so different now, so much more complicated and filled with responsibility…I wish I’d known back then how easy things truly were, but I guess part of the halcyon of youth is not knowing…
Anyway, I completely digress. The point is, I went to UCLA to hear and meet Michael Moore, which I did. I got there nice and early, to ensure that I had a seat, and sat in line reading “Trust Us, We’re Experts.” I felt so subversive, standing there in my OBEYT-shirt, wearing a backpack filled with controversial books, waiting to hear this guy who so many uberconservatives hate.
So they finally let us into the auditorium, we watch a few minutes of “The Awful Truth”, and Michael Moore arrives, and begins his talk.
I realize that I don’t often get to go watch people speak, and it’s a rarity that I am on this side of the microphone, so I pay very close attention to the way he speaks, how he interacts with the audience, when he gets off point, how he gets back on point. It’s funny: I’m there to see this guy who I respect and admire, and I’m not even listening to him. I’m making mental notes, so the next time I speak, I do more of one thing, and less of another. It’s the same thing that happens when I watch a movie, or see a play.
He starts slowly, but he finds his groove, and gives what I think is a great talk for about an hour or so. He doesn’t say anything that I haven’t already heard or read from him, but he does make one point that is very inspiring to me: he suggests that our country is not as right-wing as the right-wing would have us believe. He tells us how his book, which almost did not get published, is number one at amazon, number 3 on the New York Times best seller list, and number 9 ( i think. I’m not too sure about that number, but it’s in the top ten) on the Wall Street Journal best seller list. He tells us how the vast majority of people in this country support unions, oppose the death penalty, are pro-choice, and pro-environment. He suggests that “president” Bush’s approval ratings are less an endorsement of the “president”, but more a condemnation of terrorism. He suggests that when your house is attacked, you rally around the leader, but he tells us that Bush is going down, because we’ve just seen the tip of the iceberg with Enron.
He also inspires us all to take action. He tells us that great changes in history have been brought about by tiny, individual actions. He reminds us that the end of segregation was brought about because a tired seamstress didn’t want to get up and move, because her feet were tired. He tells us about many, many instances where one person, who was otherwise unremarkable, made a ripple which became a tsunami.
I am so inspired, and so heartened, not only because he’s reaffirming what I know in my heart to be true, but because I am surrounded by 18 and 19 year-old kids, and they are all inspired to take action, too. For the first time in a long time, I am filled with hope, and I think that our country is not doomed.
When he’s done, he hangs around to sign his books, and I wait in another line. This line is moving very slowly, because Michael Moore stops to talk to each person who comes up to him, and again I think how funny it is for me to be on the other side of the table.
After about 30 minutes, there are only 3 people in front of me, and I am getting really nervous. I know that I have about 45 seconds to say what I want to say, and make my impression, and I really want to stand out to him, you know? I don’t want to be just another person saying “me too!” So I get up to where he is, and I ask him to please sign my book to Wil, with one “L”, which he does. I tell him that we have a mutual friend in Tom Tomorrow, and that Tom says for him to check his email. Michael Moore smiles at me, asks me how I know Tom Tomorrow, and I tell him because of our websites. I tell him that I really admire and respect him, and I thank him for his support of unions and working class people. I tell him that I am on the board of directors of my union, and that I’m trying to make the union stronger and more focused on the needs of its members. He asks me what union, I tell him that it’s SAG, and he stops for a second. He says, “Wait- what’s your name?” I tell him that my name is Wil Wheaton, and he says, “I know your name. And now I recognize your face. Why do I recognize you?” I tell him that I was in Star Trek and Stand By Me, and I realize that I always feel sort of sheepish and embarrassed when I share this fact with anyone. He goes, “Oh! That’s why! Cool! So you’re active in your union?” I tell him that I am, even though, thanks to the recent election, we are totally doomed.
Then he does something that’s really cool: he extends his hand, and he says, “Thank you for…” but I’m so giddy that he’s telling me thank you, and shaking my hand, that I totally don’t even hear what he says. I wonder how often that happens when I meet people at shows?
So that was it. I thanked him, he told me to tell Tom Tomorrow that he will check his email, and I was on my way, book clutched to my chest like a total geek.
On my way out, I go up Bruin Walk, where there are about 100 kids, all of them handing out flyers in support of their various causes, some progressive, some conservative, but all of them passionate and determined.
I realize that, despite what the lazy, corporate media would have us believe, the youth of America, at least as UCLA, does care, and they are active. The Establishment would be wise to start paying attention to them, because I get the impression that they’re not going to be seen and not heard for very much longer.

It’s Friday, I’m in Love

Remember when we were younger, and we’d start planning our Friday nights on Tuesday?
Remember those big plans, to go out to a club, or a concert, or a show, and find some hot member of the opposite sex, and take them home?
Yeah, me neither.
But now that we’re older, our Friday night plans usually go something like this:

  • heat up leftovers
  • start laundry
  • clean up kitchen
  • move laundry from washer to dryer
  • clean up living room
  • take burned dinner out of oven
  • curse at oven
  • order dinner
  • open bottle of wine, so it can “breathe” before dinner gets here
  • vaccuum family room
  • pour glass of wine while waiting
  • clean bathroom
  • pour second glass of wine
  • call boss, give him a piece of my mind
  • get into argument on internet
  • yell at delivery guy for taking two $#!ing hours to deliver my lasagna, which is now cold
  • pour third glass of wine
  • pour fourth glass of wine
  • fall into sad, nostalgic stupor watching Wacky Races on Boomerang
  • pass out ^H^H^H^H^H^H^H go to sleep

Sound familiar? Want to return to the days when we were crazy and free? The days when we’d actually go out on a Friday night, because, goddammit, we were young and free?
Hell yeah!!
Well, I’ve got something for you, chucky: If you live in or near Los Angeles, and you don’t know what to do for your Friday night, you can come and see me, Wil Wheaton, live and in person, on the J. Keith vanStraaten show!!
Tonight’s guests include Bruno Kirby, comedian John O’Donnell, and kickass band Blockage.
The show is always insanely fun, and I’d love to meet any WWDN readers who come over to see us.
We are at the ACME Comedy Theatre, and the show starts at 10 PM. There are only 6 shows this season, so time is already running out. You can get information on reservations and ticket prices from Keith’s website.
Now, if you’re not in or near Los Angeles, of you’re just afraid to leave the house without your Tinfoil Hat, I have another thing that you can do tonight: you can stay home, safe and secure, and watch my sister, Amy, on First Monday, tonight at 9PM on CBS.
Now how about that? Who else on the internet helps plan out your Friday night Social Calendar?
Nobody, that’s who.
Except for your old pal Uncle Willie, because he cares.