Category Archives: Travel

Wesley’s Sweater: Then and Now

Earlier this year, at a convention in New York City, a guy brought me this picture to sign for him.

Wesley Crusher's Sweater 1987

That’s me in 1987, wearing one of Wesley Crusher’s first sweaters.

As I reached for my pen, he reached into a bag he was carrying, and took out … that sweater, which he’d bought at an auction.

“OH MY SWEET BABY JESUS!” I may have shouted, “I NEED TO TAKE A PICTURE RIGHT NOW.”

So this happened:

Wil Wheaton holds Wesley Crusher's 1987 Sweater

As I held that sweater for the first time in 25 years, a flood of memories washed over me: the first day I worked on Next Generation, on Stage 16, walking through Farpoint Station with Gates … the first time I walked through the Enterprise, on stage 9, pretending that it was a real spaceship … the first time I walked into the bridge, while it was still being built on stage 6 … the first few months of working on Star Trek, being part of something I’d loved my entire life, and wearing truly awful sweaters in the middle of summer.

All my peers got to wear awesome spacesuits,  and I was in these ridiculous things that were never cool, in any century, including the 24th.  I remembered how happy I was when Wesley was promoted to Acting Ensign, and I knew that I wouldn’t have to put on one of those hideous sweaters ever again.

That’s when I got an idea.

There’s this thing on the Internet where people will post a picture that was taken in, say, 1987, and then recreate the picture in our modern times. I looked down at the sweater in my hands, and I knew what I had to do.

Wil Wheaton wears Wesley Crusher's 1987 sweater in 2013

I’m not gonna lie, Marge: putting that sweater on again felt strange, but also good.

Here they are, side by side:

Wesley's Sweater Then and Now

I love that I can still do that goofy smile — which was 100% genuine, because I was as excited to be on the Enterprise as Wesley Crusher was — all these years later. And though it felt pretty good to be temporarily reunited with an old friend, it felt even better to take that sweater off for the last time.

Chicago comicon wrap-up

I had a truly wonderful time at Wizard Comicon in Chicago this weekend. I met thousands of people who love the things I love, and spent a whole lot of time geeking out about the games we love to play and the universes we love to visit.

Here’s some of the really awesome cosplay I saw:

Rick Grimes and Darryl Dixon Cosplay Captain Planet Cosplay

I love love love that these young women decided to cosplay as the characters they love, even though those characters are male. I’ve seen tons of Doctor Who cosplay from women, and I think it’s extremely awesome that these ladies are not letting gatekeeper dipshits tell them that they can’t cosplay as the characters they love because of their gender. Kick ass!

I also got to see some really great examples of people getting excited and making things:

LEGO Tabletop painting!
LEGO Tabletop painting. Please enjoy the photobombing.
LEGO Tabletop painting!
Closer view of the LEGO Tabletop painting.

 

Wooden Gordie
This guy made this with a wood burning thing.
Watercolour Wesley
This young woman (I think her name is Amanda) painted this Wesley in (I think) Watercolour. I wish I’d taken a closer shot of it, because it’s beautiful work.

I also made some custom Cards Against Humanity cards, that you shouldn’t look at, because they’re kind of NSFW.

 

They don’t all have to make sense, you guys.
The is the underlying premise of my script "Doctor Screw".
The is the underlying premise of my script for “Doctor Screw”.

 

I got to see some really neat stuff that I didn’t know existed, like Cosmic Boy action figures (I was excited because I played Cosmic Boy on Legion of Superheroes).

Cosmic Boy

I also got to sign a bunch of Robin stuff, because I play the Tim Drake Robin in DC Universe Online, as well as a bunch of cool Blue Beetle stuff (I played Ted Kord on Batman: The Brave and the Bold, and so far I’m the only actor to play that particular role!) that I wanted to just keep for myself.

Finally, some of you may remember Wesley Crusher’s Sweet-Ass Motherfucking Bouffant. If you do not remember Wesley Crusher’s Sweet-Ass Motherfucking Bouffant, I suggest you go look at Wesley Crusher’s Sweet-Ass Motherfucking Bouffant right now. GO NOW I WILL WAIT.

At the con, I met a delightful young woman called Marty. Marty’s friend Hannah is the creative genius who made sure the world knew about Wesley Crusher’s Sweet-Ass Motherfucking Bouffant. I was so excited to meet her, I had to sign special pictures for the two of them:

Wil Wheaton's Bad Ass Motherfucking Fez

To Hannah: Look at this fucking sweet bad ass motherfucking fez. And what the fuck?! That’s right, it’s a false fucking moustache on top of a real motherfucking hot shit panty-dropping real moustache!

Back Right the Fuck Up And Look At This Motherfucking Picture

To Marty

Back right the fuck up and look at this sweet-ass motherfucking non-bouffant.

Fuck.

Yes.

In gold, Wil fucking Wheaton

We laughed really hard while I was writing these things down, which made me very happy, on account of me being easily amused.

I had a great weekend, and I though I have a few more stories to recount, I’m in the airport waiting to go to Indianapolis for GenCon, and it’s time for me to get on my plane and go PLAY MORE GAMES!

Chicago comicon day one

My first day at Chicago Comicon was damn fun, Dianne. Damn fun. My Q&A went well, I got to meet tons of enthusiastic and awesome people, and I was given the gifts of many, many craft beers.

Here’s a couple pictures:

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I got to sign a bottle of w00tstout!

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The world needs more Sparks McGee, so we can have more Sparks McGee t-shirts.

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This made me tear up a little bit. She got excited and made a painting with some of my fundamental rules for life on it.

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This is as painfully accurate as it is adorable.

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This is one of my very favourite things, ever. This young woman’s boyfriend took the words I spoke to Baby Violet, and put them all down on a poster. Then, he put “it’s not about what you love, it’s about how you love it” over them all. It’s really beautiful and was quite moving to me, and I loved it so much I’m hoping to work with the creator to offer something like this with dftba.

Oh, and the comicon is sharing space with a Beatles con, and a rare coin con. A few hotels away, there’s a horror con. It’s like a heist movie just waiting to happen.

in which John Barrowman sweeps Wil Wheaton off his feet

So John Barrowman is really, really awesome. Anne and I got to spend a bit of time with him in Phoenix at the comic con, and he was simply wonderful.

At one point, Anne showed him the picture of her and me with Nathan Fillion, and told him the story from Ottawa Comic Con.

“We should do that, only I’ll hold you and Anne will look sad,” John said.

I made a noise like a tween meeting Bieber, and then this happened:

John Barrowman Sweeps Wil Wheaton off his feetYep. That happened. For real.

 

How does it feel?

So this hilarious picture was posted on Reddit yesterday.

We all made lots of jokes about how paying attention to the wife in each picture was the right decision, but eventually this discussion happened:

Screen Shot 2013-05-17 at 3.03.30 PMIf you can’t see that image clearly, here’s the important parts:

thatgengirl: At least he looks happy in your photo–we walked away from our photo op with a completely different opinion of Wil Wheaton.

me: Uh-oh. What happened?

thatgengirl then PM’d me, and gave permission to repost our exchange. It’s important to me, and I wanted to share it here, as well as at Reddit.

She wrote:

Hey Wil.

First off, I want to say that even thought we were a little soured by the experience–I still follow you on Twitter and read your blog. I started with WIL WHEATON dot NET years and years ago. (Your post about your son trying to communicate that he was kidnapped via bizarre text shorthand is my all-time fave.)

When we saw you were going to the Calgary Expo (2012), my husband and I were stoked! We bought a weekend pass for ourselves to celebrate our anniversary there.

The Calgary Expo is probably where it all went wrong. They were ridiculously unorganized, as was clearly demonstrated on the Saturday that everything was shut down. (My husband had to miss his photo op with Adam West because we were refused re-entry after the Fringe panel).

Luckily, our photo op was for the Friday evening, before others had arrived en masse. We stood in line for a very long time, crazy excited about getting to meet you. We knew from reading the Penny Arcade blog that you never touch people during photos to avoid the flu. We were cool with that.

When we were there, we saw how rushed people were being, and that sort of set us back, but we decided we could make the most of our 5 secs by just simply getting to say hi to an idol.

We were called, you didn’t make eye contact. I tried desperately by grinning a big grin, but you wouldn’t even look at us. My husband said he was a big fan, you didn’t even turn your head to acknowledge him. We were told to stand behind you–we did. You forced a smile (In the photo it looks like you secretly hate us) and the took the picture. My husband blinked, so they had to take it again–you seemed annoyed (But that’s probably projecting). Then you turned to someone who worked there and made a comment about the crying baby hating you. We told to leave, and that was it.

We were a little heartbroken. The whole experience felt like we were forcing you to meet us–forcing you to be somewhere you didn’t want to be. And I bet that’s probably true. You had probably just flown in, were tired, hungry, annoyed that the Calgary Expo spelled your name wrong…. You’re a human, and we get that. But gone was the impression that you were the fan’s fan.

The next day, we decided to get your autograph on the photo. Perhaps you were in a better mood? The line for your booth was insane, but it was what I saw when I got there that annoyed me. You had always affirmed that you never charge for autographs, and yet there was a sign at the front of the line that said “Autographs $30.” We could have afforded it, but it was just icing on the cake. We skipped your line and went to see Aaron Douglas instead. Great guy, I can see why you’re friends.

I’m really sorry I said what I did. I needed this reminder that we’re all humans doing a job and our words can make impressions and last forever online.

I love Tabletop, btw. After season 1 we went out and bought Catan, Smallworld, Ticket to Ride and Zombie Dice. We spend more time together as family now as a result. We would LOVE to see Zombicide on there sometime. We got in with the first Kickstarter and damn that’s a great game! Also, have you considered a children’s episode? My 6 year old loves Catan Jr. and I think it would be adorable if you guys got your kids to play it together (especially if most of the kids are under 10, but you made Ryan join too.)

p.s. Please don’t let them lynch me

I replied:

I’m so sorry you had a bad experience. Last year (2012) at Calgary Expo, I had the flu (Aaron and I went out for dinner one night and I ended up puking it all over a street on the way back to the hotel — good times) and was coming off of a three week performance tour of Australia. I wasn’t 100%, and probably was forcing things to a certain extent, because I felt an obligation to be there and entertain everyone. It was also incredibly emotional for me to be around the TNG cast for the first time in over a decade, so I was a little messed up on top of being sick and exhausted.

That con was the most overly-packed and unprepared for the mass of people I’ve ever been at, and I think that poor planning was most painfully experienced by fans during the photos. I hated that everyone was rushed through like you were, and I made sure that everyone involved knew that I wouldn’t be doing them in the future if they were going to rush people like that. This year, it was organized much better, and everyone was much happier.

I’ve always tried to keep autograph fees minimal or eliminate them entirely, but the reality is time I spend at a con is time I can’t spend working on Tabletop, my books, or any of the other projects I have in development. I give away tons of stuff to people at every con (I never charge volunteers for anything), and I’m never going to be one of those “give me $60 and get out” people cough Shatner cough. That said, it is work for me to be there, and though I’m uncomfortable even talking about it, I want you to know that I do my very best to be fair and reasonable. If someone gave you the impression that it was somehow required to fork over money just to visit and say hello and geek out about stuff, that person was wrong and I apologize for that.

I’m very sorry you had a disappointing time, and I hope that it hasn’t soured you on cons in the future. In the end, we’re all human, and though I make every effort to be as awesome to every single person I meet, when I’m meeting thousands of people I’m going to fall short at least once. I am sincerely sorry that I didn’t give you and your husband the awesome time you wanted and deserved.

I don’t think anyone is going to lynch you, and I honestly wish this exchange had been public; I imagine that you speak for a non-zero number of convention attendees who have had similar experiences. Thanks for taking the time to reach out. I wish you all the best.

Like I said, I believe you speak for a non-zero number of people — especially where the photo-ops are concerned — and convention organizers, the people who shoot the photo-ops, and the media guests who participate in them need to hear this and change the way we do them.

Redditor DireTaco added:

The photo ops are a kind of disillusioning experience in themselves, and not necessarily because of the celebrity; there’s just so many people, and while each fan wants to be able to talk 1-on-1 with you, they only get 5 seconds of a posed shoot and then they’re gone. If everyone got to spend the time they’d like to with you, you’d be there for a week.

And you as the celebrity have only so much time to squeeze in several hundred people, so you want to make the best of each shoot, but then efficiency gets mistaken for coldness. The no-touching rule is an entirely sensible and proper precaution when you have hundreds of people who want to enter your personal space, but it also adds to the perceived coldness.

Honestly, it’s a tough situation to be in for you and other celebs, and I sure as hell don’t envy you.

I replied:

I also have a certain amount of anxiety, and if lots of people are putting their arms around me, I start to freak out. If I reach out to a person, I can handle it, but when someone I don’t know tries to hug me or grabs me, I freak out, because that’s the way my brain is broken.

A general consensus emerged that the photo-ops at conventions are imperfect, but they’re probably the best any of us can hope for, considering the sheer volume of people who want to participate in them and the limited amount of time and energy that we all have to give.

I know “how does it feel” was asked in jest, and it was a really great joke, but I hope this gives a little insight into how it actually does feel, for both someone like me who appears at a con, and someone like thatgengirl, who attends a con.

I was attending cons long before I appeared at them (and even these days I still attend in ways — visiting artists’ alley, poking my head in on panels, jumping into photo-ops if I can) and I clearly recall how I wanted to feel when I went home, so now that I’m appearing at them, I keep that in mind and do my very best to treat people the way I’d like to be treated.

 

being a nerd is not about what you love; it’s about how you love it.

My weekend at Calgary Expo was just amazing. I didn’t think it could possibly get better than last year, when I got to spend a lot of time with my family from TNG for the first time in decades, but I was wrong. This was one of the most amazing weekends I have ever had at a convention, ever.

I’m still processing things like getting to meet Peter Dinklage and Lena Headey, finding out that they’re lovely people, and then being invited by them — twice — to join them for drinks. I’m still working out the reality that I kind of know Nathan Fillion, and when we see each other, we do things like this.

On Saturday, someone asked me during my panel to sum up my life in five words. I thought about it for a minute and replied: “I hope I never wake up.” (I hyphenated wake-up, even though it’s not technically correct. Don’t tell Andrew.)

So also during my panel, I was asked by a young woman to explain to her newborn daughter, Violet, why it was awesome to be a nerd. As it turns out, I’ve been having that conversation with my sons for their entire lives, so I spoke from the heart and told her.

I’m very lucky in that every now and then, I get to say something and people will listen to me. It’s an incredible gift from the great elder gods that I treasure, and respect, so I do my best to honour it when I get to use it. This video went pseudoviral yesterday while I was traveling home, so I suppose you could say that I got to be Dad of the Internet for a little bit, which is kind of neat.

This morning, reader LN sent me a link to this image, because it has Wesley Crusher holding his Sparks McGee hat. That alone would delight me, but the fact that the image goes so well with my talk on Saturday supports my belief that there really are no coincidences in this version of the timeline.

You'll Be Safe Here, by *dryponder at DevianART
You’ll Be Safe Here, by *dryponder at DevianART

I always tell people that conventions are so wonderful, because you’ll be surrounded by people who love the same things you love, the way you love them. But that’s not entirely correct. You’re also surrounded by people who love things you don’t even know about, but you love your respective things in the same way, so you get to love your thing enthusiastically, completely, unironically, without fear of judgement.

In other words, you’ll be safe there, and I’m so grateful that I get to be part of that.

He found what was to his surprise a golden morsel

This post was supposed to be about Planet Comicon this weekend, but it ended up being about something different.

When I was 20, I grabbed the yoke of my life and yanked it in an entirely unexpected direction. I was frustrated with everything about myself, unhappy, confused, and only certain of one thing: I didn’t like the person I saw when I looked in the mirror.

After meeting a the people who were NewTek during a Christmas party in 1991 or 1992, I felt inspired by their efforts to fundamentally change the way television was made with the Video Toaster. See, in those days, if you wanted to make anything to put on television, it was insanely expensive, and profoundly complicated. Someone who wanted to make a show or even a short film needed tens of thousands of dollars and an experienced editor who could help them work with huge, complex, expensive machines. And there was no such thing as digital.

The Video Toaster was hardware and software that could, for about five grand, put the same tools professionals used — at a cost ten times greater — into the hands of regular, creative people. It was amazing, and it thrilled me to be part of what we knew was a fundamentally changing who was allowed to make television. We did that, but until there was online video streaming, the revolution never actually happened. I left the company when I was 22ish, and returned to Los Angeles to complete my Jedi training. Soon after, NewTek fractured, and I lost touch with the people I worked with for those years. I think about them often, and what an important influence they were on me.

It was a tumultuous time in my life. I was angry at a lot of things the way a young person who is trying desperately to get the XP necessary to level up to adult is, but I like to think that I had some of the self-awareness needed to work on changing who I was so I could get on the path to who I am.

During those years, I flew in and out of Kansas City International Airport (MCI) a lot. Like, three times a month a lot. It was something like a two hour drive from Topeka (where we lived and worked for NewTek), on a highway that just kept going and going and going and. It was not a drive I looked forward to making, but the world was at the end of it, and knowing that kept me going.

This weekend was the first time I’ve been in that airport since 1993, and it didn’t seem to have changed at all. On my way out of the airport, I looked back across almost 20 years of memory and saw the garage where I parked my car whenever I was there, and a flood of memories nearly drowned me. It was a tumultuous time, as I said, but it was also, on balance, a very good time. I’ll write about some of my memories one day, when I can sort them all out.

I don’t know how my life would have turned out if I hadn’t lived in Topeka and worked for NewTek when I did. I don’t know who I would be or where I would be if I hadn’t turned off the autopilot of my life and learned to fly while I was already in the air, during a thunderstorm … but I’m glad the flight path I took ended up eventually landing me back in Kansas City this weekend.

I have a lot of memories to visit and process.

another batch of pictures from disney world

I know this is not an original idea, but I don’t care, because I am easily amused and it was lots of fun to take these pictures while we were at Walt Disney World.

Photos from MegaCon, Day Two

The best stories from yesterday at MegaCon will have to wait until later, because I have to be at the show in 30 minutes, and I just woke up. (Check out my rock and roll lifestyle, man.)

Here are a few memorable pictures from yesterday:

Cards Against Humanity Question Card

I get to make lots of Cards Against Humanity cards at conventions. I play a game when I do this, to amuse myself: when I write a question card, every answer card I do after it is for that question, until the question changes. The first question at this con was “What is Shatner’s secret fetish?” The answers can’t be printed in a family publication. Luckily, this isn’t a family publication. The two really gross ones that I remember are: Juggling the placenta, and cum on a moustache. If you’re bothered by that, don’t play Cards Against Humanity.

Lil' Wil with his Easter sweater

Lil’ Wil is all ready for Easter in this snazzy sweater! The whole reason Joel and I made this silly little plushie toy was so people would get excited and make things for him to wear. It’s been slow to take off, but I’m starting to see lots of great sweaters and other costumes for him at shows, and I love that.

Codex and Fawkes Cosplay

My shitty camera doesn’t do this couple justice, at all. She made her costume, including the really, really awesome shoes, and used Felicia’s Flog to build the staff. His Fawkes cosplay is perfect, down to the belt and the sporrin. They were really nice people.

Wil Wheaton at Universal Florida in 1988

This is a picture from 1988 or 1989, when I went to Universal Orlando with a bunch of Nickelodeon people. It was so much fun, I don’t even care that I was wearing a neon green fanny pack.

Nerdist Cosplay!

How awesome is this NERDIST COSPLAY?! This guy was hilarious, and he did a great Hardwick impression. He really fucked the snake out of the cage with this one.

MegaCon Staff having fun

Near the end of the day, the volunteers were having some fun. The volunteers at this show that I have interacted with have been fantastic.

CAH answer

And here’s the most recent answer card for Cards Against Humanity. It’s a little on the nose, but it made me laugh.

I had a really great panel yesterday morning, and the TNG panel last night had some truly memorable moments. I’ll write more about them later.