Category Archives: blog

The Trade

When I was a kid, I traded my Death Star for a Land Speeder and 5 bucks.
The kid who talked me into the trade wasn’t really a friend by choice. He was the son of some of my mom and dad’s friends, and we’d play together at his house while our parents listened to Fleetwood Mac in the den with the door closed, giggling about stuff that just didn’t make sense to me, at all.
So we were like prisoners of war, forced share a cell together, knowing that once the war was over, we’d never talk again.
I was aware of this situation, even at 8, so I was naturally skeptical of anything he offered me. He was already 10, and in Double Digits, so I knew that I should be a little wary of him.
The offer came to me one afternoon in his backyard, next to his parent’s swimming pool. I’d brought over my Death Star and some Star Wars figures, so we’d have something to do. There was no way I was going to endure a repeat of the last time I’d been there, where I my only entertainment was watching him organize and gloat over his collection of exotic matchbooks.
So we were sitting by the pool, which was doubling for the shore of an exotic new planet, where the Death Star had been relocated. He drove up his Land Speeder, and as he began to help his passengers out, I casually admired it.
He immediately offered a trade, but I declined. There was no way I was about to give up my Death Star for a Land Speeder that didn’t even have any obvious guns.
He expressed some shock at my reluctance, showing off its exciting and retractable wheels, and exquisitely-detailed dashboard sticker.
Although I was intrigued, I resisted. I really liked my Death Star. It had a cool Trash Compactor Monster.
He then let me in on a secret that only the ten year olds knew: Death Stars were lame. Land Speeders were cool.
This was news to me, and gave me pause for consideration. Did I really want to keep this Death Star, knowing that it was lame? How many of the Big Kids were laughing at me while they raced their own Land Speeders around, as I sat with my Death Star, wheel-and-stickerless?
While I wondered about this, he made a very generous offer: He would trade me the Landspeeder for the Death Star. He didn’t need to worry about what the other kids thought, he told me, because he also had an X-Wing Fighter and Darth Vader’s TIE-Fighter. This combination, he went on, was even cooler than a Land Speeder, so he was alright.
While I considered this new information, he made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. He would give me five bucks to sweeten the deal.
Five bucks?!
I didn’t need to hear another word.
I made the trade, willingly handing over the deed to my Death Star without so much as a handshake. He gave me the Land Speeder, followed by five bucks from the front pocket of his Rough Riders. Shortly after that, my parents came out of the house, telling me that it was time to go home, after a stop on the way to pick up many bags of potato chips and pretzels.
Now, I know this seems like a shitty trade, because it was, but at the time, five bucks was as good as one million, and that Land Speeder did have wheels, man! WHEELS!
With those wheels, I thought, I could ferry four of my Star Wars figures across my kitchen floor with just one push!
One push was all it would take for Princess Leah and Luke Skywalker escape the dangerous prison The Empire had built from Tupperware cups and a Styrofoam drink cooler in the shadow of my parent’s refrigerator! They could be accompanied on their journey to the safety of the Rebel base, which was cleverly hidden from the Empire beneath the breakfast table, by C3P0 and R2-D2, who would be attached to the back of their seats via amazing foot-peg technology! This vehicle was all that stood between the rebel alliance and victory! I couldn’t believe that I had even considered for a moment not trading my very un-cool Death Star for this magnificent chariot.
The entire drive home, I sat on the back seat of the 1971 VW Bus, paying no attention to the cool strains of the Grateful Dead playing out of the 8-track. My mind was focused on the coming prison escape, and ensuing battle, where I just knew the Empire would enlist the help of GI Joe and He-Man. Good thing Luke and company had this new Land Speeder to get them out of danger!
Sadly, once I was home and on the kitchen floor, the reality of the trade did not meet the grand build up it had been given by my young imagination. That single push did not send my heros to quick safety. Rather, it sent them forward about 6 inches and to the left, coming to an anticlimactic rest against the front of the dishwasher. Only the constant presence of my grimy 8 year-old fist would give them adequate propulsion away from danger. And the foot-peg technology was quickly replaced by the more reliable scotch-tape-and-rubber band technology.
The novelty of rolling that Land Speeder around the floor quickly wore off, and I really missed my Death Star.
Fortunately, all was not lost: I had that five bucks. Five bucks to spend anyway I wanted. I was rich, man. Filthy rich, and that made me a god amongst the kids on my block.
For weeks I sat in my bedroom, atop my Chewbacca bedspread, holding that 5 dollar bill in my hands, just looking at it, admiring it, basking in the glow of unimaginable wealth while the noe-forgotten Land Speeder gathered dust in the back of my closet, behind Mister Machine and a partially completed model of the USS Arizona.
I capriciously thought of ways to spread my new found wealth amongst the other kids in our group…A pack of Wacky Packs stickers for Scott Anderson, some Toffifay for Joey Carnes, maybe even the invitation to Kent Purser to play doubles on Galaxian, my treat.
I was going to be very generous with my new wealth. I was going to be an 8 year-old philanthropist. Maybe I’d set up a foundation for the kids around the corner, who always wore the same clothes and smelled funny.
Maybe I’d stand outside the doors of Sunland Discount Variety, offering low-interest loans to kids wanting to play Gyruss or Star Castle.
I even thought about opening a savings account at the local Crocker Bank, where I’d get my own passbook and a set of Crocker Spaniels as a thank you gift.
Ultimately, though, like any normal 8 year-old, I kept it for myself, and there was a brief but shining moment in the summer of 1980, when I was allowed to ride my bike all the way to Hober’s Pharmacy, stopping at every intersection to check the front pocket of my two-tone OP shorts to ensure that my 5 dollar bill, which I’d folded into a tight little square and tucked into my Velcro wallet, hadn’t somehow escaped my possession. I took that five bucks, and bought myself Wacky Packs, a Slush Puppy, and enough surgical tubing to make several water weenies. I even had enough left over after playing Bagman, Donkey Kong, and Asteroids Deluxe to take a chance on the intimidating wall of buttons that was Stargate. It was one of the grandest days of my young life, and helped soften the disappointment that came when my friend Stephen proclaimed that my Land Speeder wasn’t “rad”, but “sucked.”
I recently went back to Sunland, hoping to pick up a Slush Puppy, and maybe see one or two of the phantoms of my youth haunting those stores, but they were nowhere to be found. I ended up getting a Mellow Yellow-flavored Slurpee from 7-11 and heading back home, where I spent some time looking for that Land Speeder in my garage.
I don’t know why, but I still have it. There’s an inscription on the bottom which proclaims “THIS IS WIL’S LaNdSPEEdR! kEpP YOU hANdS OFF OF It OR ELSE!!”
I took it out of the box, and dusted it off. I held it in my hands for the first time in twenty years, and suddenly that trade didn’t seem like such a bad idea, after all.
Look out, Darth Vader. You can build your Prison Fortress on my kitchen floor, but the Rebel Alliance has a new escape pod on the way, and you’d better “kEpP YOU hANdS OFF OF It OR ELSE !!”

Home Now

On my way home from work about an hour ago, a really weird thing happened to me.
I was sitting in traffic, waiting for a light to change, and I looked at the car to my right. The driver was a girl, probably in her early 20s, talking on a cell phone. She was crying, really hard, and seemed to be really frustrated with the person on the other end of the line.
As I watched her, I noticed something: we were separated by only a few feet, but we were completely isolated from each other in our cars. Different cars, different clothes, different ages, different music on our radios (unless she was listening to Return of Saturn also)…just looking at her, I couldn’t tell if we would have had anything in common, other than our basic humanity.
I watched her, and I began to feel really badly for her. Just by watching her, I could feel her frustration with the person on the other end of the line, and it made me really sad, and I began to cry.
I cried, really hard, for close to 5 minutes, because of a person who I have never seen before, and will probably never see again.
I thought about what a metaphor that was for life, and the way we all deal with one another. We move through our lives, passing closely to hundreds of people each day, and we’re total strangers to each other. We keep our heads down, averting our eyes, rarely looking up to say hello to a stranger in the hallway. Even in our own families we isolate ourselves in our metaphorical cars, and stay in our own metaphorical lanes.
I wonder how different the world would be if we made an effort to roll down our metaphorical windows and say hello more often.

Flaven

Hey, guess what I got today? I got my very own desk, here at G4!
Normally a desk wouldn’t be something to get excited about, but having this desk means that I have more space for stuff, and that means those cool Simpsons action figures I’ve bought over the last year or so have come out of the cabinet at home, and are now proudly on display. There’s something oddly comforting being observed by Professor Frink all day, while I’m sitting here with the writing and rewriting and the emailing and the Heeeyyyyy!
Honestly, when I got this job I told my brother to come and smack me in the head if I ever cared too much about where I sat, because that would mean that I’d gone totally corporate, but I really do like the extra space. I think I’m going to get some of those little chili pepper lights, and put them around my cubicle walls tomorrow.
NOT!
Jesus, what do you take me for? Come ON!
So, onto the weekend.
Friday, I took the boys to see Spider-Man.
I really liked it a lot. I was never much of a Spider-Man weenie, like I was for Batman, so I can’t really go Comic Book Guy on it, which I guess is a good thing. I wonder how many otherwise enjoyable movies are totally ruined for us because we go Comic Book Guy on them? That’s something interesting to think about…
I’m going to hold off on the big review for a few days, so I don’t lone-gunmen-are-dead it for anyone.
My favorite thing? I sat next to Nolan, and more than once he tuged at my sleeve to tell me, “Wil, I LOVE this movie! I can’t wait to get it on DVD!”
Other than that, it was a very uneventful weekend. I brought Silent Hill 2 home from work, and really enjoyed that, too. What a scary freakin’ experience that was…on the advice of a guy I work with, I played it late at night with all the lights in my house turned off…and after about 2 hours I had switched on a light, and had called Ferris to sit with me.
Yeah, I’m a sissy like that.
Speaking of video games, Anne and I took the kids to the Pakk Man Arcade in Pasadena on Sunday. It’s this arcade that I’ve been going to since I was too young to drive myself, and it’s really awesome to share that place with my boys, and see them experience the excitement that I once felt.
The thing is, the Pasadena City Council, in their infinite “wisdom”, is on the rampage to close down the arcade. They’ve been at it for years, but it looks like they may have finally found a way to do it. I’m beyond furious at this, and I’m joining the fight to keep the arcade open. If you live in or near Los Angeles, or Orange County, please consider coming to a huge rally that is being held to save the arcade, on Saturday, May 18th.
If you’re planning on attending, email me and let me know. I’ll look for you there, and we can make up some sort of WWDN battle cry to holler at the rally. It’ll be cool.
Speaking of cool, the auction ends tomorrow, and I can’t believe that it’s over 200 bucks. I think that’s really cool. I’ll be able to pay for a GPS device for geocaching with my kids, and I’ll have extra left over to pay some bills. Cool! :-)
It’s time to get back to spinning in my cool chair before my meeting.
Thought for today:

“We live in age when unnecessary things are our only necessities.”
-Oscar Wilde

Small Wonder

Today’s title comes from The Vandals album “Fear of a Punk Planet.” One of the true classics, if you ask me.
Doctor update: I have a sinus infection, and the doc put me on antibiotics. I didn’t want to take them, but he agreed to dance around me with a stick chanting the theme to Knight Rider if I did, so we compromised.
I have heeded countless email requests, and I’ve put up an eBay auction. It’s an 8×10 of me in the spiffy red spacesuit. Interesting fact about this photo: it’s the only one of me from TNG that I really like. Of all the publicity photos I ever did, I think I look the least lame in this one. The auction is set for 5 days.
Also, I’ve updated the library selections on the right side over there. I was going to let them stay for another week or so…but when I saw that Hitchhiker’s Guide was out, I couldn’t wait. I am such a geek.
So check it out: if this auction goes well, I can totally buy a GPS, and start geocaching…how cool would it be to make a WWDN geocaching team?
I’m taking the kids to see Spiderman tonight. I hope it doesn’t suck.
Funny, isn’t it? In a post-Episode I world, every time I get excited about a big movie opening, I am reminded of how ripped off and angry I was when I left that movie, and my excitement is tempered…then I recall how much I loved X-Men, and my excitement rises again…and then, while I’m basking in that warm feeling…I remember Jar-Jar, and [whine] “My name is Anakin, and I’m a peson!” [/whine]
Well, at the very least, Kirsten Dunst is hot. :-)
Oh, and speaking of hot…maybe Episode II won’t be so bad after all. Meow.
I’m off to work now. I hope everyone has a great weekend!
Oh, and….GO LAKERS!

Cough

Well, I’m still sick. I’ve broken down and made a doctor’s appointment for today.
I was reading loren’s site earlier today, and I have found a new purpose in life: Geocaching. As soon as I get some time and some scratch, I’m totally getting a cheap GPS, and taking the kids to do this. It looks awesome.
Thought for Today:

“If you sacrifice others for yourself, you will suffer the consequences.”

Good news and bad news, and good news

Good news and bad news:
Good news: G4 did the official switch from Pong to real programming at 12AM EDT this morning. My show, Arena, even has it’s own page on the website now. I just checked it out, and they’ve added TONS of stuff to that page. You can click the little 8-bit picture of me, and see all sorts of spiffy stuff.
Bad news: I am officially sick. I have some sort of sinus infection thingy. My head is so stuffy and my throat hurts so badly, I may have to go see a real doctor (I much prefer those guys who dance around you and chant, while shaking a stick that has a complete set of A-Team dolls tied to the top of it.)
Even though I was feeling like hell last night, I went out to our official launch party, where everyone from Comcast down to the janitor in our building watched the programming switch from Pong to Blister. It was a strange feeling. I felt like we’ve been pushing this rock up a hill for months, and we’ve totally been able to control where the rock is going, and how fast it’s rolling…and now it’s over the top of the hill, and on it’s way down, and we just have to keep up with it, and hope that it doesn’t roll too far away from us.
It’s still a bit surreal to me, because Arena evolves heavily from our first episode to our fourth, and we’re just now hitting our stride…so it won’t be until the third or fourth show is on the air that I’ll feel that sense of accomplishment and excitement that I always feel when a something I’ve worked on is put in front of an audience.
The thing that’s totally new and different for me is that I’ll be constantly producing new material, so I won’t get to sit back and think, “Man, Episode 107 was GREAT!” Because Episode 108 is right around the corner.
It’s good though, one thing I’ve never liked to do is sit back and rest on my laurels.
Oh! One last thing before I go back to bed: I drove over a screw a few days ago, and my tire was going flat yesterday, so I took it back to the tire shop, and got a free replacement, because I’d bought that stupid road hazzard insurance for like 8 bucks. Hmm… 8 bucks or 200 bucks? I was happy to save the 200 bucks.
So I bought myself a cool new shirt for 25 bucks (Or should I say, Vega$ bought me a shirt?! Oh YEAH BABY!), and called it even.
Thought For Today comes from the Tao:


“The sky is everlasting
And the earth is very old.
Why so? Because the world
Exists not for itself;
It can and will live on.
The Wise Man chooses to be last
And so becomes the first of all;
Denying self, he too is saved.
For does he not fulfillment find
In being an unselfish man?

True Dreams of Wichita

Boy, I should really be in bed now, but I can’t sleep.
I think I’m getting sick, and my throat is just killing me. My sinuses are all dried out, and I keep coughing. I think all that smoke and recycled air in Vega$ got to me.
Anyway, so I’m in bed, just starting to doze off, which is a good thing because I have to be up early tomorrow, because we’re filming 2 episodes of my show, and I’m pretty sure the Big Men In Suits are coming to watch us…but as I’m dozing off, I get this idea for a sketch to present at ACME tomorrow night, so I hop out of bed to write it.
When I sit down here, I see that I have email waiting for me, that they’re talking about me at Mike Doughty’s BBS. Now, Mike Doughty was the man behind one of my favorite bands of all time, Soul Coughing.
Apparently, they were pokin’ fun at that stupid picture of me that Robert posted at RetroCrush a couple of weeks ago…
So I read through it, and posted:


“So anyway, Mike (can I call you Mike?), here’s some fanboy ramblings from the artist formerly known at TVs Wil Wheaton: Your band was and currently is one of my all-time favorites, and I was listening to Ruby Vroom this morning. You were a real inspiration to me (along with Burroughs and Rollins) when I was younger and wanting to be a writer.
Okay, that’s the end of my fanboy lameness.
Here’s my stickin-up-for-myself lameness:
We all looked like tools in the 80s. Anyone who denies that is either too young, or too delusional to remember. Unfortunately, I have the joy of my 80s lameness being forever preserved in magazine form for all eternity. And for the record, “Party Naked” was the pathetic plea from a confused and awkward 14 or 15 year-old for female attention. Pink Floyd was one of the few bands I had heard in 1987 who had anything meaningful to say (Listen to Animals, and you’ll get my drift).
In times like these, when I feel mortified at this photographic record, I thank the gods that I never wore anything like Corey Feldman.
Well, at least I was never photographed in my fedora.”

God, don’t I sound like a stupid fanboy, there?
Anyway, if you haven’t heard Soul Coughing, you really owe it to yourself to check out Ruby Vroom and El Oso, at least.
So when it’s 5AM and you are listening to Los Angeles, you can know if the Radio Man is laughing at you, or with you.

10:15 Saturday Night

Just to clear up any confusion, today’s title has nothing to do with this entry; I’m just listening to The Cure, and that’s the song which is currently playing. Hey, by the time I finish writing this, maybe I’ll change the name to “A Forest.”
So the weekend was awesome. I can only share a few things with you all, because it was a bachelor party after all, and therefore The Code of Guys Has been inVoked.
What I can say is:

  • Dee is getting an awesome husband out of my friend Darin.
  • The Rum Jungle at Mandalay Bay is really cool, even of you can’t stand rum.
  • Interestingly enough, Caius is completely full of shit, and it’s only a matter of time before Ron moves into a cabin in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by landmines and razor wire.
  • For the first time EVER I won money in Vega$. That’s right, Vega$ can still kiss my ass, but I have 80 of Vega$’s bucks, so I only have about 2,020 to go before I’m back to even over my lifetime.
  • On Sunday morning, this cute girl comes running over to me, and says, “Stop! I have to tell you something! You are so hot!
    So I got that going for me, which is nice.
  • I have a new motto for Excalibur: It’s Laughlin on the Strip!
  • That thing they say about making sure you re-hydrate after having “just a bit too much to drink: is totally, completely, 100% true. Oy.

It was wonderful to get away from everything, and just be stupid for 2 days. It was awesome to call Shennanigans on Caius, watch Mike pass out fouls and penalties, bowl at 2AM because we could, and spend 5 bucks to play Pai Gow Poker for 90 minutes.
I even found my funny while I was gone, which was an unexpected bonus.
Speaking of funny, and pretty cool, Something Awful wrote a thing all about yours truly today. Sure, it’s not a 21 year-old girl telling me I’m hot, but I’ll take what I can get.
Well, I guess if I was going to change the title, I’d be calling it “Primary,” but I’m too lazy to do that, so 10:15 Saturday Night it shall remain.

Advantage: Left Paddle

All Pong, all the time.
It sounds like one of those joke commercials from GTA 3, doesn’t it? I mean, it’s not quite “Fernando’s New Beginnigs,” but it’s a close third after PetsOvernight.com.
Well, G4 went on the air yesterday, and we’re broadcasting all Pong, all the time, for 7 days.
It’s what they call a “Launch Stunt.” They program something silly for a week or so, and it gets people talking about the network, and builds audience. I think it also lets them test the signal and stuff, and work out any problems before the “real” programming goes up.
Well, we’ve already gotten lots of press, including this story at Slashdot, from this morning.
Best thing about the comments so far? People saying, “Man, if they did a show where I could watch people play UT, I’d watch that!” Well, that is EXACTLY what my show is! If you look carefully, you can find my post all about it.
This is how much of a nerd I am: I didn’t care about The Wall Street Journal (I’d link, but those bastards want 50 bucks from me), or Reuters… but I got all excited when I saw the channel I work for in a story on Slashdot. Yep, news for Wil, stuff that matters.
A cool thing happened last night: I was going to pick up dinner, because Anne and I realized at about 7:30 that we didn’t have anything in our fridge, and I asked Nolan if he wanted to come with me. He said that he wanted to stay home and play PS2, but when he saw that I’d taken the cool games back to work, he decided to come with me.
On the way there, we were listening to Incubus in my car. I know that he likes to see the CD case for what is in the player, so I passed it back to him, and I told him that there were many things about our relationship that I loved, and many things about him that I loved, but it was very special to me that we can share an interest in music. I mean, he likes all the same bands that I do, especially the super indie stuff. So I go on and on, telling him that, and he says, “Wil, when you gave me the case, and you said there was something you wanted to tell me, I was going to say everything that you said.” Then he says, “I love you, Wil.”
I just thought that was so cool. Parents don’t always have things in common with their kids, as much as they’d like to, and it touches me deeply that I can share something like music with Nolan.

7

While I look for my funny, I’m going to heed the advice of many people, and do a list of Seven Things…to keep perspective, and stuff.

  1. I spoke with my manager, and he made some calls about Trek X. The word is that it’s too early to know if I’m out or not, and it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to cut my scene, so this may turn out to be a Stupid Internet Rumor(tm). I am grateful that I have good people working for/with me, who care about my career as much as I do.
  2. I got to come home early from work today, because I finished and turned in two episodes a day earlier than I thought I would. So instead of sitting in traffic, I’m sitting at home waiting for Anne and the boys to get back.
  3. The episodes that I turned in are being described as “really really funny” by the head writer, my producer, and my executive producer.
  4. My mom sent me a really awesome “This totally sucks, what you’re going through, but look for the lesson and respect The Balance” email.
  5. I get to go away for the weekend with my best friend Darin, for his bachelor party. It’s just sinking in right now, I mean, at this very moment, how happy I am that I’m going to get to spend 4 days with just The Guys(tm).
  6. I have two desk calendars. One is The Far Side, and the other is quotes from the Dalai Lama (“Hey Lama! What about the tip? How’s about a little something for the effort?”). Between the two of them, I bet I can find a great deal of wisdom and happiness…if I’m just willing to look.
  7. Finally, I am extremely grateful to know that, for the few “fuckin’ internet fucks,” there are the TONS of people who seem to “get” me, and send me good wishes. Having said that, I got some great Wisdom from a comment earlier today: I have been putting WAY too much of my happiness and sadness in the hands of other people. I never would have seen that, if someone hadn’t pointed it out to me. I learned today that my current struggle is to just be comfortable and happy within myself.
    I wonder if that’s The Lesson that I need to learn right now? As I approach 30, and as I look around me for my funny, and I deal with all the external frustrations that I can’t control, even beyond my career…I wonder if The Lesson is that, in order to succeed, I need to rely upon myself, trust myself, love myself, and not put my happiness and sadness into the hands of others.
  8. I am grateful that I just had that moment of clarity. That’s cool. I totally wasn’t planning that when I sat down here.

Okay, that’s 8. But I’m giving myself permission to break my own rules.
The Thought for Today is going to bounce around in my head for awhile.