Category Archives: Travel

That time I met Billie Piper

So exactly two years and one day ago, this happened:

That's my guy holding my gal!
That’s my guy holding my gal!

Then, this happened:

John Barrowman Sweeps Wil Wheaton off his feetSo while we were at Ottawa Comicon, and I was swooning over Billie Piper, I asked her if she’d like to be part of this tradition, and this happened:

Wil Wheaton Meets Billie Piper
She said I was “lovely”

She said I was lovely, and she hugged me, and I was so excited I felt like my insides were made of bees.

Dark Matter

If you don’t follow me on Twitter (good idea, by the way), you don’t know that the show I’m working on this week is Dark Matter, which is coming to the network formerly-known as Sci-Fi next month.

Here’s the trailer:

The basic premise of the show is: some people wake up from stasis on a space ship, and they have no memories of who they are or why they are there. As they uncover the truth about themselves … it gets complicated (and they have lots of secrets). It’s based on a comic book that I absolutely loved, and though I can’t get into specifics about the character I’m playing (SPOILERS!) … but the creator can!

Wil will be playing the part of Alexander Rook, President and CEO of Dwarf Star Technologies and…well, I can’t say more.  Suffice it to say, you’ll love him in the role because Wil is positively tearing it up, delivering a performance that is cool, controlled, compassionate, canny, confident, with a touch of creepiness and a dash of Angostura bitters.  I was truly heartened by the fact that he clearly gave it a lot of thought prior to his arrival, crafting a charmingly nuanced character in preparation for his scenes and then positively wowing us with his take.

I have had an absolutely wonderful time bringing Alexander Rook to life. In fact, yesterday was the most satisfying dramatic, on-camera acting work I’ve done in years. I mean, I’ve been very lucky to do a lot of comedic work recently, and over sixty episodes of Tabletop is nothing to sneeze at (do people actually sneeze at things to, like, disdain them? Is that a thing? I’ve never seen a person sneeze in derision at something, come to think of it) … but for the last year or so, I’ve honestly wondered if I would ever get a chance to do serious on-camera, dramatic acting again.

Well, it turns out that I can do some tremendously satisfying work, making complex (yet simple in execution) choices, when I get to work with great writing, fantastic actors, and a wonderful director.

Maybe I’m not finished being an on-camera actor, after all.

Maybe …

In which a scene from a movie is recreated (or: further confirmation of the benefits of being easily amused.)

I’m in Toronto for a couple of days, working on a show, before I go to Ottawa later this week.

I’ve had a nice time while I’ve been here, though I wasn’t prepared for how profoundly lonely I would feel after just 24 hours away from my family. I guess after months of spending as much time with my wife, kids, and dogs as I want, I’d grown accustomed to their faces.

To help ease my loneliness, I went for a big walk all around the city today. I took a lot of pictures, and I shot a lot of video, with the intention of making a short thing that I could put on the YouTubes about my day and the stuff I saw. Being creative while I was also being a tourist engaged my brain and my soul in a very good way.

Toward the end of my adventures, I wandered into a train museum thing by the CN tower (TRAINS INTO TUNNELS…) and I got inspired to make this really stupid-but-amusing-to-me thing:

Not bad for something I put together in iMovie in about 15 minutes, I must say.

please prepare the cabin for arrival

As I write this, I am 34,998 feet above the skin of the Earth, traveling East at 527 miles per hour. The captain just announced that we’re about to land, and I have about five minutes of Internet left before I have to buy more.

Looks like I picked a really bad time to write a 1500 word post about a bunch of cool and interesting stuff that’s happened since last Friday.

(In the time it took me to type out those words, we descended a little over two thousand feet. I’m not sure why I felt that was worth mentioning, but then again I’m not even sure why I’m going to be clicking publish in about ten seconds.)

that time I got to see the Arecibo telescope

JCCC5069

I suck at mornings, especially when I’m on a (working) vacation.

But getting up at oh-my-god-it’s-still-dark-out-why-am-I-awake o’clock to go see the Arecibo telescope with my own eyes (and two busloads of nerds) was totally worth it.

The thing about this is that it’s so huge, it sort of distorts the scale of itself and creates the illusion of not being a thousand feet across. But it’s a thousand feet across.

While we were there, I got to watch the detector move, which made me way more excited than I thought it would. Unfortunately, we didn’t discover any aliens or distant galaxies while we were there.

But look at that picture, and just think about this incredible thing that humans built in 1962, existing, harmoniously, next to all that natural beauty. In fact, it doesn’t just sit there beside the natural beauty, it is able to exist precisely because of the conditions created by that natural beauty. I think that’s really neat.

Sometimes we humans don’t suck.

Secret Vacation 2015

We used to feel comfortable talking about where we were when we went on vacation, but that didn’t always turn out so well for us, so now we go on Secret Vacations instead.

This secret vacation features lots and lots of snow, reading books by the fireplace, and convincing ourselves that we can eat more junk food, because our bodies need the calories to keep warm. If you listen to today’s abbreviated Radio Free Burrito, you can hear what I think the best part of this Secret Vacation is.

Now, please enjoy two pictures that capture our long walk today: Anne, with her delightful Kermit the Frog hat thing, and me, trying to decide if having a nearly-frozen beard is the best thing, or the best thing ever.

Kermit loves snow There's ice in my beard

so far away from my wasteland

It turns out that my 24 hour trip to New York, followed by a full day of intense creative work, pretty much kicked my ass. I’m so tired, I don’t even have the energy to go to Staples Center to watch my beloved Los Angeles Kings take on our crosstown rivals, the hated Ducks. I thought about maybe homebrewing some wootstout today, but I don’t think I can even do that. It looks like I’ll spend most of today — and maybe all of tomorrow — watching movies and catching up on TV shows, so I can regenerate HP and Mana, but holy mother of balls am I tired.

But it’s a good kind of tired. It’s the kind of tired that seems to start out in my bones. The kind of tired that I feel has been earned, by lots of hard work. Sure, it’s not the kind of hard work that people who actually work for a living would consider work, but since my job basically entails me creating things and then enthusiastically sharing those creations with an audience, the last week has been some of the hardest work I’ve done in a long time.

While I was in New York to promote the awesome videos I made with Newcastle, I did seventeen interviews in about eight hours. Seventeen times, I found new and interesting ways to answer the same fundamental questions, each time making sure that the person I was talking with got 100% of the energy I had to offer, so that each interview felt like it was the only interview I did.

I did that seventeen times, and by the end of the day, I was completely exhausted. In fact, I had a beer at the end of the day (which was funny, because drinking it was technically part of working), and I fell asleep in the car moments after it pulled away from the curb to take me to the airport.

So, about that … the car took me to the wrong airport. In the wrong state. And I found out when I was inside the airport, at the wrong ticket counter, 90 minutes before my flight was scheduled to depart.

I had the most panicked panic I’ve felt related to travel in a very, very long time, as I hoped against hope that the cab I got into at the wrong airport could take me all the way across Brooklyn and Manhattan and get me to the right airport. The entire way, I did math in my head every few minutes to update my anticipated arrival time, and each time it told me that I’d make it or miss it by about five minutes. I didn’t have any checked luggage, and I had my boarding pass already, but it was going to be incredibly close.

When I got to the right airport, I tipped the driver 100%, and ran as fast as I could to security. “I’m going to miss my flight,” I said, “if you delay me at all. Please help me.”

By the grace of the old gods and new, I encountered a string of very helpful and friendly TSA people who all assured me that I’d be fine, since I had nearly 20 minutes before departure (the airline says that if you get to the plane with less than fifteen minutes before the departure time, you’re screwed).

Here’s the thing about me and travel: I’m good at it. I’m efficient. I know how to get my belt off, and I kick of my slip-on Vans quickly and easily. I have the laptop pull and bin deposit down to a fluid move that is like a ballet.

Only this trip, I was wearing Fluevog boots that tied near my ankles, and when I tried to untie them, the laces knotted themselves tightly. This trip, when I tried to take my laptop out of my bag, I nearly dropped it, and then I fell over while I was removing the knot from my shoe. I nearly forgot to take my belt off. It wasn’t a ballet so much as it was the flailing of a crazy person that would have been a perfect visual for Yakkity Sax.

Somehow, I got through security, and when I slammed my feet back into my boots, I knew that I had to run as fast as I could to get to the gate on time. I didn’t even stop to tie them — which was a mistake, it turns out. If you ever have to run in boots, tie them — and I got to my gate with less than five minutes to spare. I was the second to last person to get on the plane, and thanks to the Lords of Light, I had checked in online and they hadn’t given my seat away. I fell into my seat, explained to the bewildered man next to me why I was sweating and gasping and shaking, and when the adrenaline finally wore off, slept for most of the trip.

Yesterday, I slept straight through my alarm and was fifteen minutes late for my meeting at Geek & Sundry, where I worked with a Top Secret Team of Creative People on the Tabletop RPG show.

I spent the entire day building the world, figuring out what was important for the players, characters, and audience to know, and eventually ended the day with an outline for the adventure we’re going to run. I’ve never broken a season in a writer’s room before, but I imagine that the experience I had yesterday was similar: exhilarating, inspiring, challenging, incredibly fun, and exhausting.

There’s that word again: exhausting.

Exhausted.

Spent.

Drained.

Did you know that intense use of your brain for things burns a ton of calories? I didn’t, either, until recently. There’s no entry for “concentrated on storytelling and worldbuilding and character development for eight hours” in MyFitnessPal, but if there was, I would have checked it off, yesterday.

So here I am, so tired I could probably just go back to bed, but feeling compelled to write and share my experiences with the world, because that’s what writers do, and I’m spending the next six months being a capital-W Writer.

But more on that another time, because now I need to rest.

Rose City Comicon and Portland

This weekend, Anne and I went to Portland for Rose City Comicon. While we were there, we visited my sister and her family, saw a strange ball of fire in the sky that I don’t usually seen in Portland, and had an absolutely fantastic time at the convention.

I took a bunch of pictures, and I think they tell the story of the weekend very well, so this is mostly a picture post. I’m going to put the rest of this behind a jump, so my blog doesn’t take forever to load.

Continue reading Rose City Comicon and Portland

tidepools

Anne and I were standing at the edge of some tidepools, watching tiny fish swim around in them.

“They look just like little versions of the fish we see on the reef,” I said.

“I’m pretty sure that’s exactly what they are,” Anne replied. A wave crashed against the rocks nearby, and the water near our feet gently rose a few inches. As the tide ran out, it created a small current between two tide pools, drawing some new fish into the one we were watching. They swam around together, like they’d always been there.

“You know how I like to think about nature being really simple?” I said, “like how it just repeats little things over and over again to make bigger, more complex things?”

“Like when you talk about fractals?” She said. Another wave hit the rocks, splashing brilliant white foam into the air.

“Yeah, sort of, ” I said. “So let’s look at these tide pools, and consider that the fish who live in them have no idea that, just a short distance away, is the entire ocean, and it’s filled with giant versions of themselves.”

“It’s not necessarily a short distance for them,” she added.

“Dammit. You’re right. That messes this up a little bit, but go with me for a second.” I put my hand into the water and the fish darted away. “These fish may not even know about the fish one tidepool over, separated by a few inches of rocks, unless the tide pushes or pulls them there.

“So. Imagine that we are in this tidepool, and we have no idea that there’s a huge ocean just a short distance away. Or imagine that something is looking at us in this tidepool, and we have no way at all to even perceive that they are there.”

“Woah.”

“Right? And the tidepool can’t exist without the ocean, and the tides can’t exist without the moon, and the moon can’t exist without the Earth, and the Earth can’t exist without the solar system…”

She looked at me, and I trailed off.

“I’m just saying, I think it would be neat if we humans could get out of our tidepool, someday. I’d like to see what’s on the other side of the rocks.”

She clasped my hand in hers. “Let’s go for a swim,” she said.

How I spent my birthday

My sound guy, Matt, helped me take off my mic. My wardrobe stylist, Kristin, helped me out of my jacket, while my makeup artist, Molly, handed me a wipe thing to get my makeup off my face.

Anne stood up from the audience and said, “we have something for you.”

“Dude, I don’t want anyone making a big deal about my birthday,” I said, “especially at work.”

“Well, it’s too late. I got you Batman cupcakes.”

From behind the green screen, my stage manager, Roger, handed me a chocolate cupcake with a batman cookie on top of it. It was pretty awesome.

“Holy shit that’s amazing and I’m so glad you did this!” I said. “Please don’t sing.”

“Nobody is going to sing. We also got enough cupcakes for the whole audience and crew, too,” Anne said.

I turned to the audience and told them. Someone shouted out that they knew, because they’d been let in on the secret while I was changing my wardrobe earlier.

I walked out the stage door, and saw boxes of cupcakes set up on a table. For the next few minutes, I thanked every person who came to the show, and handed them a cupcake and a Sharknado toy that our friends at Funko provided to us to give away. My crew and the show staff gathered around and wished me happy birthday, Kristin gave me some Star Wars Vans, Molly gave me some craft beer, and my writers gave me a card that was accompanied by even more beer. My people just get me, you guys.

After I changed into my normal clothes, Anne and I drove up to Santa Barbara — well, Anne drove while I drifted in and out of sleep — to spend a couple days for my birthday. Traffic was surprisingly light, and we got to our hotel early enough to watch the gorgeous sunset over the Pacific Ocean. We had a wonderful dinner, shared a fantastic bottle of wine, and fell asleep before 10pm.

12 hours of sleep later, we woke up. After five exhausting days at Comicon and a taping of The Wil Wheaton Project, I finally felt rested.

“Happy birthday,” Anne said to me as we stretched and tried to convince ourselves that getting out of bed was a thing we should probably do.

“Thanks,” I said. “It’s totally my birthday.”

“All day long!”

We had breakfast, and then took a long walk on the beach. There weren’t too many people out, and most of the people who were there had adorable dogs running around. Anne and I are dog people, so we got to stop several times to throw a ball or scratch a scruffy neck.

“You know what I think would be awesome?” I said, as we reached a sea wall a couple miles away and began our walk back to the hotel. Before Anne could answer, I continued, “I think we should go to the spa and get massages.”

“That’s the best idea you’ve ever had,” she said.

“I know. I’m kind of amazing.”

We got back to the hotel,found out that we could book into the couple’s massage room, and got 80-minute massages in a beautiful room with windows open to the ocean, the sound of gently breaking waves carried in on a soft ocean breeze.

After our massage, we went back to our room to get ready for dinner … but first I had to take a nap, because when you’re 42, that’s how you spend your birthday.

I woke up two hours later, and got ready for dinner, which would be at one of my favorite restaurants in town. I looked for my nice shirt in the suitcase, and discovered that, in my exhaustion a day earlier, I had forgotten to pack it.

“I’m not as amazing as I said I was earlier. I forgot to bring my nice shirt.”

“It’s okay,” Anne said, “the restaurant isn’t fancy.”

“But I wanted to look nice for you.”

“I don’t care how you look,” she said.

“Even if I look like a hobo?” I said.

“You can’t look like a hobo, because you also forgot to pack your hobo bindle.”

“Dammit!” I pulled on a black t-shirt that was at least more appropriate than the Tabletop T-shirt I had been wearing.

We got to dinner, and it was awesome. I had all the food I wanted, and the restaurant even gave me a chocolate souffle with a candle in it, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY WIL written on the plate in chocolate. I’m always excited when someone spells my name correctly, and then I was even more excited when I found out that they knew how to spell my name because the servers were fans of The Wil Wheaton Project. I blew out the candle, and wished for the show to get picked up for more episodes, because I love working with the people who make it happen.

We went back to the hotel, watched the show I’d taped the day before, and almost immediately fell asleep afterward. We slept for another 10 hours, and took another long walk on the beach before we got back into the car to go home.

It was an absolutely perfect, beautiful day. There were some high clouds, and the sun was very warm, but the breeze off the ocean kept us cool. We were so happy and content, we didn’t want to leave, and by the time we got back to the hotel we realized that we’d walked almost eight miles.

On the way home, as we neared Ventura and were about to turn inland, leaving the ocean views to memory, I said to my wife, “This was the best birthday trip, ever. I feel totally rested, completely relaxed, and like I got all my hit points back. I really needed this. Thank you for making it happen.”

“You’re welcome. I love you.”

“I love you, too.”