Category Archives: Sports

in which I get to help steer the script

When Anne and I were in Yosemite, my manager called my cell phone.

“I’m sorry to bother you when you’re away,” he said.

“That’s okay,” I said. “What’s going on?”

We have a number of deals in various stages of completion, and I have to be ready to act on them when certain decision points come up. This is awesome and weird. It’s awesome, because it means for the first time in my adult life I can rely on work and plan for the future. This is weird because for the first time in my adult life I can rely on work and plan for the future.

“I have a very interesting offer for you,” he said.

“…go on…” I said.

“You’ve been offered a part in a commercial.”

I set down my coffee and looked out the window of our hotel. It had snowed overnight, and a thick blanket of white powder covered everything. The sun was just starting to crest the trees, melting the thin sheet of ice on the window. Little rivulets of water raced down the glass.

“That sounds interesting,” I said, trying my best not to jump up and down.

“Oh, it gets more interesting.”

I waited for him to continue.

“You know that rather popular football event that happens in February?”

“Shut up!” I said.

“Yes. It airs then.”

He proceeded to tell me about the job. It’s for Lincoln (the car company, not the president). It’s part of a promotion that Jimmy Fallon’s been doing with people on Twitter. The website is called steer the script. It shoots in a week.

By the time he was done, I was out of my chair, pacing excitedly around the room.

“This doesn’t make sense,” I said. “People don’t just offer me commercials that run during the Superbowl.”

Anne, who had been wondering exactly what I was so excited about, nearly spit out a mouthful of her breakfast.

“Well, it does now,” he said. I could hear the joy in his voice mirroring my own. Chris and I have worked together for a decade, and he’s stood with me at some of the hardest times in my acting career, when I struggled so mightily to get any work at all, when I had accepted that I wasn’t going to work enough as an actor to support my family, and decided to be a full time writer. Chris and I have worked very, very hard together to make good choices and steer my career to the place it is today. I still have a hard time believing it, and every day I’m afraid I’m going to wake up from this wonderful dream.

“So… it’s not a trick, right? This isn’t some sort of cruel prank by someone?”

“No, it’s real. And I want you to think about something: this helps the bigger picture, too. Not everyone is asked to do a commercial that airs during the biggest television event of the year. This is going to help me and the agents when we talk with casting.”

“Oh my god I hadn’t thought of that,” I said.

“Yes. This is all very good news. I’ll talk to Wes and we’ll get you all the details tomorrow. Enjoy your vacation.”

I looked out the window again. The sun was higher in the sky now, and had melted enough of the ice on the window to give me a clear view of the valley. Ice crystals in the snow looked like stars.  A few children built a snowman, and huge clumps of snow fell off the limbs of giant sequoias.

“I will,” I said. “I mean, I already was, but now I’m going to have to go do a little dance.”

He laughed. “Congratulations.”

“Thank you, Chris,” I said, thinking about the years we’ve spent together, years when a lot of managers would have cut me loose instead of believing in me.

“You’re welcome. Bye.”

“Bye.” I hung up the phone and did a little dance.

Then I did a big dance.

Yesterday, I went out to Vasquez Rocks to shoot the commercial. My call was noon, so I left the house just before 11 to be sure I got there on time. I listened to Poe’s Haunted the whole way (reading House of Leaves will do that to a guy like me) and reflected on all the times I’d driven out to the Antelope Valley for work over the thirty years of my acting career.

When I was really little, probably around 1979 or so, I shot a commercial somewhere in Canyon Country. I don’t remember anything about it, but my mom let me get an Egg McMuffin on the way. It’s funny how the child’s mind remembers what is truly (relatively) important.

…I need to get my bearings…

When I was a little older, I shot a movie called The Last Starfighter out there. We shot at a trailer park up in a canyon somewhere, and I remember thinking that the winding canyon road we drove on to get there looked like something from the Twilight Zone. Later, I found out that they had, indeed, shot the series on that stretch of highway. I remembered how excited I was to work on a movie that was — as far as my young mind could tell — was basically all about a video game that turned you into a real starfighter. I remembered how disappointed I was when I saw the titular game on the set, and discovered it was an empty cabinet with only lights inside. (Fun fact: the classic Atari Game Star Raiders was supposed to be a licensed game from Last Starfighter, but the deal fell through. They kept the gameplay and changed the sprites. Bonus fun fact: My scenes were cut from the movie before we filmed them, but I was already in the background of several scenes as one of the kids who lived in the trailer park, so I ended up in the credits. Every year, I get a hundred bucks or so in residuals. Semi-related fun fact: the market at the trailer park had a Star Castle game in it, and that’s when I fell in love with that game.)

…and I’m lost…

I remembered doing a movie called The Liar’s Club when I had just turned 21. It was a Roger Corman picture, so it was very much a fly-by-night production. It was incredibly hard work, and I clearly feeling despondent that it signaled the end of my acting career for reasons that belong in their own post at some point in the future.

…and these shadows keep on changing…

We shot ten nights out in Canyon Country, in the bitter cold. Driving out there in evening rush hour traffic and back home in morning rush hour, hardly seeing the sun for almost two weeks, was miserable. That experience played a very, very large part in my decision to stop acting professionally and attend drama school full time.

…and I’m haunted…

It was, as most long solitary drives are for me, a journey of miles and years and memories and questions without a lot of answers.

It was a good drive, with something wonderful at the end.

I pulled into the parking lot just before my call time. I turned off my car, picked up my backpack, and walked toward the set.

Vasquez Rocks — or, as I like to call it, Every Planet Ever In The History Of The Star Trek Universe And Most Sci-Fi Movies From The Fifties — has an incredibly rich film history, but most of us know it from the aforementioned projects. In fact, from the moment I saw the iconic rocks, my brain began a loop of the Star Trek fight music that did not stop until I left the set hours later.

wil wheaton vasquez rocks

I walked up to the honey wagon, which is what we call the truck that has a bunch of dressing rooms in it, and found the door with my name on it.

Honeywagon

wilw dressing room door steer the script

I told Twitter that actors would understand why seeing this makes me so happy. Many people made Tabletop jokes, like “The budget isn’t big enough to keep the trailer, but you get to have this piece of tape with your name on it.” I wished I’d thought of that, and filed it away for future jobs, because you can bet your cheerleading trophy I’m going to make that joke a lot from now on.

For those of you who aren’t actors: it makes me so happy because it says to me, “Welcome home, Wil. You’re on the set, doing a job, earning a living doing what you love.” Lots of things change over the course of an acting career, but the dressing room door with your name on a piece of tape is one of the constants, whether you’re in a honeywagon or a million dollar tour bus (yes, big fancy celebrity stars have those. It’s nuts.)

I put my stuff down, and went to make-up. When that was done, I got my wardrobe approved, and then I sat down and waited to be called to set.

My agent, Wes, came out to set and sat with me while we waited. For a couple of hours, we talked about the things we’ve done together, the people we’ve worked with, and what our hopes are for the coming year. A few years ago, I made a decision and then a commitment to only have awesome people in my life, from my friends to the people I hire to work with me. I will only work with people I like, good people, honest people, people who are honorable. It is as hard as you think it is to find those people in the entertainment industry, but I’ve done it: Chris, Wes, all my agents at VOX and my theatrical agents at Stone Manners Salners, they are all good people who I consider my friends as well as my business partners. I’m incredibly lucky to have found them all, and even more lucky that they all wanted to work with me.

So we ended up talking a lot about gratitude, and how not everyone feels it, and how sadly rare it is.

I was eventually called to the set. This is all I can show you, because this part of the commercial is pretty cool and they don’t want me to give it all away:

wil wheaton picture from the set for steer the script

…but I can share this picture of me:

wil wheaton steer the script

You can’t really tell, but I got to wear the How We Roll hoodie I designed. On television. For millions of people. Squee!

It was insanely cold, and everyone was working very hard through the windchill that dropped temperatures into the high 20s. In spite of the weather, it was one of the great filming experiences. I had all kinds of fun, and everyone was quite kind to me.

“It’s so cool to work here,” I said to the director, “because even though Star Trek always came here, those sons of bitches never let Wesley on the landing party.” (I didn’t ask him if they’d been on the lookout for Gorn, because I didn’t want to be too nerdy.)

When I finished, I thanked everyone who had hired me, the other actors I worked with, and the crew. I thanked Wes as we walked to our cars, and then I began the long drive home.

I called Anne on my way.

“How was it?” She asked.

“It was amazing,” I said. “How was your secret project thing?”

“It was great,” she said.

We were both quiet for a minute.

“I can’t believe that this is our life,” I said. “I mean, we’re really, really lucky.”

“We really are.”

“I want to get in the time machine and go back to the younger us, who are struggling so much, dealing with so much bullshit from [her shitbag ex-husband] and just trying to make it through every day. I just want to tell them that it’s going to be okay.”

“They know,” she said.

“Oh? Did you tell them?”

“No. I was them, and I always knew it would be okay, because we’re good people and we worked hard and we never gave up on each other.”

I was quiet again for a second. Our life together flew through my mind’s eye: our first date, our first dinner after moving in together, my proposal, our wedding, the years and years of custody struggles, Ryan asking me to adopt him, the actual adoption, thousands and thousands of words in this blog and some books and some other places. Lots of ups, even more downs, and all the while standing tall together.

“Are you still there?” She said.

“Yeah,” I said. “I’m just thinking about how grateful I am. I’m really lucky.”

“You’ve worked really hard.”

“That too.” Then: “I’ll be home in about an hour.”

“Okay. Drive safe. I love you.”

“I love you too. I love you the most for one thousand times.”

I pulled onto the freeway and drove toward home.

in which I do not attempt to speak French

When I was in Montreal for Comicon, I had this idea to open my talk with a little bit of French. I’d apologize for not really knowing much French, but through the magic of Google Translate, I could say “good morning Montreal…” and a few other things. It would quickly fall apart into “my hovercraft is full of eels” territory, and we’d all have a good laugh at the stupid American.

The problem was, even though I had the computer talking to me and the words right in front of me, I couldn’t learn it, because French is hard. Then, I got worried that the audience would think maybe I was making fun of their language and culture, instead of my own. So I shelved the bit, and instead explained what I was going to do and why I didn’t do it. Very meta, Wheaton.

Oh? How nice of you to notice. Thanks.

So my talk (which I’ve learned is called a “conference” in Montreal) opened with that bit of pseudo humour, and then moved into what I thought was a really nice discussion about gaming and how much I love being a nerd.

At one point — and I can’t remember how exactly it came up — I mentioned something about the Stanley Cup, which turned into something about how 1993 was soooooo long ago*, which turned into something about the Maple Leafs**.

I engaged in some good-natured gloating about my beloved Los Angeles Kings being the Stanley Cup champions, and when 1500 people rightfully booed and hollered at me, here was my response:

Yes! Yes! Give in to your hatred!

“Yes! Yes! Your tears taste so good!” I declared. Then, we all had a good laugh together.

As the moment passed, I realized that I had made a careful and deliberate choice to not insult the audience’s language and culture … so I insulted their religion instead.

Post updated to include link to an audience recording of my talk.

Oops.***

*That’s when the Habs beat the Kings in the Finals

** If you don’t know why that’s funny, just forget it. You’re probably not a hockey fan and explaining it to you would only bore you and annoy the pig.

*** GO KINGS!

Kings win the Stanley. Freaking. Cup.

I was 12 or 13, the first time I went to a hockey game. It was the old purple and gold Kings, at the Forum, against (I think) the Flyers. It would have been around 1983 or 1984, and a though I can't recall much about the game, a few things are clear in my memory:

  • The Forum was not even half full, but the people who were there were as loud and passionate as the Dodger fans I saw regularly at sold out Dodger games*.
  • The Kings were not a good team.
  • There were a couple of fights near center ice that were awesome.
  • The Kings lost the game.

It took me about half of the first period to understand what was going on, but once I figured it out, I was hooked. Los Angeles isn't a hockey town (despite what the press and celebrities are saying right now), and it never will be. Los Angeles is a Lakers town, and (when they win) a Dodgers town.

I loved (and love) ice hockey — especially Kings ice hockey — because it took effort to understand the game, because it wasn't something that many people cared about or even knew about. In the 80s, it was easy to be a Lakers fan; that team was unstoppable and as dominant as any team has ever been… so being a weird nerd and budding contrarian, I rejected basketball entirely and embraced ice hockey and the Kings, because it wasn't easy to be a Kings fan.**

In 1987, I got hired on Star Trek, and I could afford season tickets to the Kings. Later that year, Wayne Gretzky came to town, and suddenly people cared about ice hockey in Los Angeles. For the next six years, I attended nearly every home game and quite a few heartbreaking first round playoff games. I started playing the game myself, and eventually became a fairly decent goalie.

In 1993, I watched the team I'd grown up loving more than anything make it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final, fighting every step of the way to get there, defeating some of the best teams of that era before an illegally-curved stick put Lord Stanley's Cup out of reach for what would feel like eternity.

Until last night.

Last night, my friends came over and we put on jerseys from three eras of Kings history, hoping against hope that we would finally see our team hoist the Cup.

three eras of kings history
That's our friend Burns! and our friend Stephanie. I've known Stephanie since we were 17. We went to games together all through the 80s and early 90s. She introduced me to Anne 16 years ago. Burns! and Anne worked together when they were in their early 20s, and Burns! grew up with Scalzi. It's weird how small the world is.

The mood in our house wasn't as celebratory as it was for Game 5. We've been close before, and we've been heartbroken. We've been Kings fans long enough to know that, sometimes, the team just falls apart… 

But not this team. Not now. Not this year.

After having a terrible power play all year, this team scored three times on a 5 minute major and never looked back. We were screaming and cheering so much, we scattered my cats and Anne had to put our dogs outside.

Hoverwil
Hoverwil

Hoverwil

I've been doing the Hover Wil quite a bit this playoff season.

 

When the third period started, we put the champagne in the fridge, and hoped we didn't jynx anything.

Then New Jersey pulled one of the greatest goalies to ever play the game, and the Kings scored an empty-netter to go up 5-1. Then, Matt Greene scored from the blue line to make it 6-1 with 2 minutes left in the game.

And we all realized that a lifetime of waiting for our beloved Los Angeles Kings to win the Stanley Cup was going to end. This was really happening. A team that wasn't even supposed to make it past the first round of the playoffs, a team that was horrible in December and January, a team that I was afraid would never realize its potential…

…did this:

image from i.imgur.com
And there was much rejoicing.

 

Kingschampagne
After nearly 30 years watching the Kings have a few ups and a lot of downs, this feels really, really good. I'm proud of these guys, and I hope the ones who are free agents next season will find a way to stick around, so maybe they can do it again.

Unlike the teams of the early 90s, when Kings ownership and management seemed intent on sacrificing the future for a slim chance to win one Stanley Cup, this is a Kings team that has the potential to repeat. This isn't the end of something… this is the beginning.

Oh, and for the die hard, life long Kings fans out there… how awesome was it to finally see this:

Bob Miller Hoists the Stanley Cup
Kick ass, Bob Miller. I can't wait to hear your call of the game.

*Dodger baseball is basically religion in my dad's family. I can't remember a time in my life when we didn't go to games, or listen to games, or watch games, or listen to old people in dad's family talk about games.

** [Hipster Kitty]

GO KINGS GO!!

This is me when the Kings went up 3-0 tonight against the Devils:

KINGS SCORE!

I sort of hover with excitement when the Kings score.

I can't believe they scored TWICE on the power play tonight.

I can't believe they won 4-0.

I can't believe they are up 3-0 in the STANLEY CUP FREAKING FINAL.

I can believe that Jonathan Quick got a shutout, because he's a future hall of famer who should win the Conn Smythe no matter what this year.

I can't believe that this team that I've loved since the early 80s when I went to my first Triple Crown Line game at the Forum is one game away from winning the Stanley Cup.

I'm working at E3 this week, covering the show and interviewing interesting people for Gamefront.com, so I'm going to actually be about 100 feet from the game on Wednesday. If I'm insanely lucky, I'll somehow end up inside, even if it's only for the second and third periods… but even if I don't, I hope that I'll be screaming and doing the Wilflail wherever I am when the game is over.

something stirs and something tries and starts to climb toward the light

I worked on [REDACTED] today, and had more fun than I thought possible. I can't say anything more until July.

Tomorrow, I work on [REDACTED], which is different from [REDACTED], but should be really awesome, too. I can't believe I get to spend two days working with [ACTORS].

(It was a lot easier to talk about my job before the studios became obsessed with secrecy.)

So a couple of quick things before I get back to preparing for [REDACTED]:

  • I'm going to the Phoenix Comicon this weekend. I'll be on a few panels, and I'm doing a special show on Saturday night.
  • Next week, Felicia and I are going to Origins in Columbus, to play games and talk about Tabletop.
  • My testing of the theory that it is not possible to have too many gaming dice continues, so if you're coming to either one of these cons and want to give me dice that I can add to my ever-growing collection, I'd love to have them.
  • Today, the comic I wrote with Felicia for The Guild comes out. It's called FAWKES, and it is about what happens between the end of Season 4 and
    Spoiler:
    in Season 5. It's getting generally good reviews, which delights me. The only negative is that I didn't spend several pages filling in people who don't watch The Guild why they should care about the story and who everyone is, which is a little silly, because I didn't write it for those people (who aren't going to buy it, anyway.)I'm especially happy with the artwork and both covers, and super-grateful to Dark Horse for supporting it.

Finally, my beloved Los Angeles Kings are in the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1993. This is what I looked like last night after they won in overtime:

 

Kings WIN! KINGS WIN!

Not actually taken last night, but I do this whenever the Kings win.

 

From the Vault: An Open Letter to That Guy

ESPN is running a wonderful and heartbreaking documentary called Catching Hell, about Steve Bartman and the Chicago Cubs in 2003.

If you don't have any idea what that means, you can skip this post.

For the rest of you, here's a repost of something I wrote to him back then, when he was Public Enemy Number One for Cubs fans:

An Open Letter to That Guy

Originally published at WWdN on October 16, 2003

Dear That Guy,

Like you, I am a huge Cubs fan. Like you, I've been telling people "next year! Next Year!" as long as I can remember. Like you, I am crushed that they aren't going to the World Series. Again.

Unlike you, most of Chicago (and the world, really) could give a shit about me. That's where this letter, from some guy you'll never meet and could probably care less about, comes in. See, I think we have a few things in common, and I just wanted to take a minute here and tell you that I think you're getting a bunch of shit that you don't deserve.

I used to be on this big cult TV show that had lots of very passionate fans. Many of those fans absolutely (and irrationally) hated the character I played on that show. Most of them wrote me nasty letters and heckled me whenever I'd show up at one of their events, they never called my house, or tried to hurt me, but I can sort of imagine what you're going through. That thing that makes a sports fan wear only paint and a diaper to a ball game when it's 15 degrees outside? It's the same thing that makes a Star Trek fan wear the same unwashed uniform for 5 days in a row at a big ass con.

I've read that just about every Cubs fan in the world is giving you hell for going after that foul ball. Well, That Guy, last time I checked, baseball fans like to catch foul balls. It's something we do, like paying too much for terrible beer and screaming at a player for not picking up that slider that we're so certain we'd be able to hit if they'd just put our fat asses in the game. Hell, I've been going to 20 or 30 games a season at Dodger Stadium for almost 30 years, and I try to catch a foul ball every single time I'm there. I've even had my hot wife flirt with the teenage bat boy in a pathetic effort to score one. To date, I am still empty-handed. But that bat boy, Jesse, is convinced that my wife's going to leave me just as soon as he gets out of high school.

Anyway, That Guy, enough about me. This is about you.

It's not your fault that the Cubs lost game 6. It's not your fault that Dusty Baker probably left Prior in too long, or that Alex Gonzalez chose game 6 to make his 11th error of the whole freakin' year. It's not your fault the Cubs stranded 7 runners. It's not your fault that they lost game 7. It's not your fault that Kerry Wood, normally one of the best pitchers in baseball, just couldn't get it together in game 7. (That was a sweet fuckin' homerun though, wasn't it?! I was screaming and cheering so loudly I scared both of my dogs!)

In short, it's not your fault the Cubs lost three in a row. As a matter of fact, I'm pretty sure it's the players fault they lost three in a row. Even Dusty Baker said, "We didn't lose the pennant, the Marlins won it. We were close and the Marlins took it from us, it's as simple as that." You'll notice that he didn't say "That Guy took it from us."

Yep. You know, now that I think about it, I'm positive that it wasn't your fault, and I'm pretty mad at anyone who's giving you shit about the loss.

It's pretty fucked up that those jackals in the news media printed your name, That Guy, and it's even more fucked up that they disclosed your workplace and forced you to change your phone number. But don't quit coaching the little league team, okay? Since you're not a dad, you're probably not coaching that team for your own personal glory, or doing it because it's the only way you know how to relate to your son. You're probably there for those kids, and you're probably having a positive impact on their lives. What are they going to learn if they lose their coach, That Guy?! Think of the children, okay? Don't be a quitter!

Tell you what. You keep coaching that team, and if you ever come to Los Angeles, I'll get some hired goons, and we'll take you out for a beer at one of the best pubs in the city. If anyone tries to fuck with you, those hired goons will kick their punk asses while we exchange high-fives. It will be sweet!

In the mean time, when someone gets in your face about the Cubs losing, you can say, "Hey! Wil Wheaton says back the fuck off!"

When they look confused and say, "Who the hell is Wil Wheaton?" you can just smile and laugh at them, because you know something they don't.

Rock on,

Wil Wheaton
Life-long Cubs Fan, 
living in Los Angeles

My life has changed so much, and gotten so much better, since 2003… I hope that, wherever he is, Steve Bartman can say the same thing.

in which a good choice is made

Yesterday morning, my dad called and asked me, "So are the Kings wearing a crown tonight, or a jester's hat?"

"It's a test of their maturity," I said. "They could easily be up 3-1 right now if they were a more mature team. If they can play their game tonight, instead of trying to out-Shark the Sharks like they did on Tuesday, I think they can win. If they win tonight, I think they win the series. But I'm pretty sure they're just not mature enough to settle down, and they're probably going to lose."

"So, jester's hat, then."

Did my dad just give me the tl;dr? Did I just get Trolldad'd?

"…yeah," I said, "probably."

"Well, go Kings!" He said.

"Yep. Go Kings. Love you, dad."

"Love you too."

While last night's game wasn't a collapse nearly as epic as Tuesday's disaster, the Kings still allowed three goals on five shots, including two on back-to-back shots. The defense looked like a bunch of beer leaguers, and I'll be astonished if my beloved LA Kings play more than one more game this year.

Contrary to what my only-mostly-joking Twitter Rageface may lead you to believe, this wasn't entirely unexpected. The Kings weren't even supposed to make the playoffs last year, so they're still a year ahead. This was the year they were supposed to get in (and had they not shit the bed at the end of the season, probably would have beaten Phoenix or Nashville) and maybe get to the second round. So, taking the long view, (say it with me, Cubs fans!) There's Always Next Year.

Later in the day, I was up the street talking with my neighbors, who have a five year-old and a twelve year-old. They know that Anne and I are empty nesters (SCORE) and they invited us up to their house to dye Easter eggs with their family.

I love that I live in a place where I get to stand on my lawn and visit with my neighbors, and I love even more that I live in a place where my neighbors invite my wife and me to spend some time with their family doing what is typically a family activity.

I had a choice to make: stay home and watch the hockey game, or miss at least the first two periods and go up the street. I love hockey, I love my Kings, and I love the playoffs … but honestly, it's just a game. It wasn't a very difficult decision.

A little after seven last night, Anne and I walked up the street to their house, and spent about two hours with their family and another one of our neighbors, turning eggs into art — well, some semblance of art, anyway. I'm one of those artists who can tell stories and perform characters, but I can't even make a good looking stickman with some pipe cleaners and a sign that says, "THIS IS A STICKMAN."

But it was still a really good time. It's been fourteen years since I dyed Easter eggs with a five year-old, and I'd forgotten just how much fun it is to watch that fragile eggshell mind in action, mixing colors, drawing shapes, and offering the unique perspective and commentary that comes from a lifetime that currently isn't much longer than sixty months.

We made eggs that were covered with glitter, eggs that had patterns drawn on in white crayon, and eggs that were shrink wrapped with pictures of duckies and bunnies.

To see my effort to nerd things up, look past the jump:

Continue reading

in which i spend a day as both father and a son

My son Ryan came home for Thanksgiving, and before he left, my dad and I had planned to take him and his brother to play Frisbee golf.

When I got up today, it was fifty-seven degrees below zero, and the wind was gusting with gusto (HA HA HA), and I knew the conditions were not, shall we say, optimal for the playing of disc golf. Or being outside, for that matter.

I called my dad, and asked him if he wanted to go out to lunch, instead. He suggested that we go bowling, and then go to lunch.

Now, I am a terrible bowler, and not a huge fan, but I love doing things with my dad, and I love doing things with my boys, so bowling was more of an excuse to spend more time together than we would if we only went to lunch.

I put on the best bowling shirt I own and drove over to the bowling alley, where my first three frames went like this: 0-1, 0-3, X. I went on to win that game with something around 150. I told Twitter: I just won at bowling, and didn't have to break anyone up to do it. Today, life does not imitate art.

The second game, I bowled spares through the first 7 frames, but my dad was matching me and dropping a few strikes in there himself, so by the 10th frame, I needed to throw a turkey (two strikes followed by a spare, incidentally, is now called a TOFURKEY in the Wheaton Hall of Bowling Nomenclature.) I didn't pull it off, and my dad edged me for the win. I told Twitter: I shanked my last ball, and didn't want to break up my parents to win, so my dad edged me out to win the second game.

Ryan and Nolan had a blast, too, giving out high fives, sincere and mocking applause as appropriate, and issuing the required number of Team Homer and Lebowski references.

After bowling, we went to Lucky Baldwin's for some pub food. When I got home, I made this stupid cell phone video in my living room:

It was truly wonderful to have three generations of Wheaton Men together, and it meant the world to me to spend the day with people I love, as both father and son.

In this video, I say that I won at bowling, but the more I think about it, today I feel kind of like I won at life.

LA Daily: Miniature Golf and the Goddamn Volcano Hole

Having realized my own creative limitations, my contributions to the LA Daily will now be bi-weekly, instead of weekly. Let’s all celebrate with this week’s story, which appears to be about playing minigolf with my wife.

“Fucking Pagoda hole. That was bullshit. The volcano hole will be the great equalizer!” I declared.

She laughed as she teed up.

I looked around and tried to overlay my memory of this particular course over what I saw. My ponds were clean, my fountains were blue-tinted geysers, my little boats and seaside town didn’t have peeling paint or broken windows. The carpet on each hole was smooth and pristine, and the arcade inside the castle behind us was filled with dozens of different video games and pinball machines.

“I can’t separate how this place really looked in the ’80s from how I want to remember it,” I said. “I wonder if I’ve just idealized it, or if it really did look and feel fitter, happier, and more productive when I was a kid.”

She drew her putter back, and left herself in as good a position as any to get the inevitable six on the goddamn volcano hole. Behind us, the freeway was a wall of white noise, occasionally broken by the rumbling of a downshifting semi. The pond to our left was covered with a blanket of brown foam, broken by the nozzle of a dry fountain.

“Of course it looked better when you were a kid,” she said, “it was new then.”

“I can’t believe I never thought of that before. You’re exactly right.” I put my golf ball, yellow and worn, on the middle tee, feeling heat radiate off the heavy black rubber against the back of my hand. A gentle breeze carried children’s laughter and the unmistakable smell of that particular kind of pizza they only serve at minigolf courses past us.

I whacked my ball down the fairway. It rolled up the little volcano at the end and down one side, coming to rest in a corner next to some pine needles.

“I’m really bad at this,” I said.

“Don’t beat yourself up. I hear the volcano hole is the great equalizer.”

I gave her the stink eye as we walked down to finish the hole.

When I’m the king of the world, I’m going to buy a city block, and convert the whole thing to an 80s fun zone. It will have a classic arcade with vintage games, a single-screen movie theater, a waterslide, and a perfectly-maintained minigolf course.

my god, it’s full of unicorns

A little known fact about me: I'll do just about whatever my friend Chris tells me to do, just because I want to be popular*, so a half an hour ago, when he told Twitter to go to espn.com and type the Konami code into the search box, I stopped performing life-saving CPR on a hobo and did exactly that.

Here's what ensued:

Omg_fucking_espn_unicorns_fuck_yeah

Every time you hit a key after pressing enter, a new unicorn would pop up. It was so fucking glorious, I made sure it was the last thing the hobo saw before he died, because I knew he would have wanted it that way.

Whoever wrote that code deserves a medal. Whoever forced them to take the code out (almost as quickly as it was discovered) deserves a boot to the head**.

*not true.
** and one more for Jenny and the wimp.