Category Archives: Travel

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!

In which Rock Paper Scissors is played at the Montreal Comicon

Yesterday at the Montreal Comicon, a guy asked me if I would play Rock, Paper, Scissors with him. Of course I said yes.

I read him as a paper guy, so when we counted to three, I went scissors. He held up three fingers.

“What the hell is that?!” I may have almost shouted, every fibre of my being offended by the deviation from accepted Rock, Paper, Scissors norms.

“That’s the W,” he said. “It means that you automatically win.”

Just as quickly, I abandoned my blind adherence to the aforementioned norms, thrust my arms into the sky in the universal pose of victory, and made shouty noises about how I was so great.

But then … then … then it got awesome. He pulled a roll of duct tape out of his backpack, and he wrote my name on a piece of the tape, just like I do at the end of every episode of Tabletop . He held it out to me and said, “Now, for the rest of the day, everyone who sees you will know that your name is Wil, and you’re a winner.” (Just like I do at the end of each episode of Tabletop).

I shouted again, jumped out of my chair and asked him to take a picture with me, and then shouted some more.

I’m incredibly lucky and incredibly grateful that people care at all about the things I make, and it never fails to blow my mind that so many people, like this guy, do awesome things inspired by the stuff I do.

The picture below is me, wearing my winner’s tape, sitting in the Montreal airport while I wait for my flight home to board.

I’m sure this will be a FAQ, so: I am wearing my Bobak FerdowsiNASA Mohawk Guy Fan Club” T-shirt. It is awesome.

2012 Montreal Comicon – Day Two

“Will my talk be moderated, or am I setting the agenda?” I asked Dan, my convention liaison, as we got ready to head across the show floor to the theater were I’d be speaking.

He told me that I wasn’t moderated, and I could spend the hour however I wanted. I grabbed a copy of Sunken Treasure off my table and began putting together my mental setlist.

When we got into the theater, the Munchkin episode of Tabletop was playing on giant screens. About a thousand people were watching it while more people filled the remaining seats.

I’m not going to lie, Marge: seeing my show on a screen, ten feet tall and luminous, was awesome.

While I waited to go on stage, I looked through the book in my hands. I love the stories I put in there, but none of them really felt right. I cursed my damn brain for forgetting to remind me to remember to bring my iPad to the con, so I had access to the complete works of me,  Wil Wheaton, to choose from.

I looked up at the back of the screen, and saw myself playing games with my friends … and I knew exactly what I’d talk about.

When I was introduced, I walked out to a wonderful audience that made me feel like I was playing for the home team the entire time I was out there, even when I teased all of Canada about my Los Angeles Kings having the Stanley Cup. It was a great hour, where I spent about half talking about why I created Tabletop, and why gaming is so important to me. The second half I spent taking questions from the audience, talking about things from Sparks McGee to Stand By Me.

Even though I’m supremely jet lagged, and my scumbag brain has woke me up in the middle of the night and kept me awake for an hour two nights in a row that I’ve been here, I felt invigorated and damn good when I walked off that stage.

I know the talk was filmed and recorded. I hope it shows up online.

This is where I’d put a clever segue, if I wasn’t so fucking deliriously tired. Here are some pictures I took yesterday at the convention:

This adorable drawing was done by this adorable lady.

I made some more custom Cards Against Humanity cards:

I ran into two of my favourite people, and their booking agent photobombed us.

When someone asks you to sign a poster of the cast of Firefly, YOU! SAY! YES!

And then you sign right across Nathan Fillion’s junk.

So the the face I think I’m making is “oh my god this is so cute!” But it turns out that the face I’m actually making is Overly Attached Wil Wheaton.

The day ended with a game of Settlers of Catan. I started out fairly well, and then got trapped against the coast with 6 points. Luckily, I was able to build out toward the center of the board, get another city, and WIN THE FUCKING GAME with largest army and longest road.

I got so excited, I jumped up onto my chair, and nearly fell off the damn thing. I know the entire game was filmed by some guys, and I assume it will get online at some point. I’m red, if you want to try to put it all together. We’re playing on a beautiful, giant board.

I ended the day having a local beer (Maudite by Unibroue) with my friend Sam Witwer, who it turns out is on location in Montreal.

In about an hour, I’ll check out of my hotel and go back to the con for the final day. If the previous two days are any indication, it’s going to be great.

pushed up above the leaves

The plane shuddered and then rocked — not violently, but severely — from side to side. Water splashed up and out of my glass. The seatbelt light came on, and the captain announced that we were in some moderate turbulence.

I took a deep breath, put my faith in science and aeronautical engineering, and made sure my seatbelt was fastened. So it went from the Rocky Mountains to Lake Michigan. To tune it out as much as possible, I worked on the second draft of the comic script I wrote before PAX. When I finished that, I opened up a new document and worked out the page beats for six short comic stories that I’ve been playing around with in the back of my mind for about a year.

It was a very productive flight, and I was so focused on being A Writer, I didn’t even realize that the turbulence had stopped, or for how long the air had been smooth.

I grabbed the flight attendant’s attention and asked for some more water. When he walked toward the front of the cabin, I got my first good look at the man in seat 1B, across the aisle and one row ahead of me.

I … I think that’s Ray Gideon, I thought.

Ray wrote Stand By Me with Bruce Evans. The last time I saw him was on my 25th birthday at my parents house.

He looks like Ray, but a little olde– then I realized that, yes we probably would have aged at the same universal constant rate of time.

I unfastened my seatbelt, took off my headphones, and walked up to him.

“Excuse me,” I said, “did you write Stand By Me?”

He looked up at me, and I knew it was him before he answered.

“Yes, I did,” he began.

“I love that movie so much,” I said with a smile. I paused for a second as he smiled back at me. “I was Gordie in that movie,” I added.

I watched his brain try to match up the way I look now with the way I looked when I was twenty-five, and the way I looked when I was thirteen.

“Oh my God! Wil!” He burst out of his seat and wrapped me in a joyful hug.

“I thought it was you, but I wasn’t sure and … man, I am so happy to see you!”

He held me at arm’s length, the way a parent does, and looked at me.

“I didn’t recognize you at all! You’re so … the beard and …”

We laughed together, and for the next hour or so, caught up on our lives. By the time we began our descent into Montreal, we’d traded numbers and planned to get together when we got back to Los Angeles.

As I walked out of the airport and toward the arrival lounge to meet my convention liaison, I reflected on the conversation Ray and I had on the plane. I told him about marrying Anne, raising the boys, adopting Ryan, and getting both Ryan and Nolan successfully through school and into the beginnings of happy and healthy adult lives. It’s never easy raising a family, but it was extra hard for me because of the relentless legal and emotional assaults from Anne’s ex-husband during their entire childhoods. But when it got really rough, I strapped in, focused on what was important during the turbulence, and eventually learned to ignore the annoying and nauseating things outside that I couldn’t control.

I focused on what was important, what was right in front of me, and when that plane landed, the rough air was barely a memory.

I cleared customs and found my con liaison.

“How was your flight?” He said.

“A little rough in places, but not bad,” I said.

Not bad at all.

 

Montreal! I am about to be in you!

I’m on my way to Montreal in a few hours for this weekend’s Montreal Comicon. The last time I was in Montreal, it was 2006 for the always-awesome CruiseTrek. It was a memorable trip, because I used Eventful to put together a reading and signing of my then new book Just A Geek. I didn’t know if anyone would show up, and I was blown away with a couple dozen people did. It was pretty awesome.

This weekend, I’ll be speaking on Saturday morning at 1130. I’m not sure if it’s just a Q&A thing, or if the content of the hour is at my discretion. I’m bringing some stories to read, just in case.

Until I get home on Sunday, I won’t have instant access to the blog, so comments may take longer to be moderated than usual.

 

…across the gulf of space…

Last week, I got to do one of the coolest things I've ever done in my life: I went to JPL in La Canada to record a video for the landing of Mars Curiosity on August 5.

I have to believe that their first through eighth choices weren't available, because it's the only thing that makes sense, but somehow I was chosen to be the host and narrator of a video for, among other outlets, NASA TV, that explains how Curiosty gets to the surface of Mars, and what she'll do once she's there. It's pretty incredible stuff, and I am still astonished that I was chosen to be the guy.

While I was at JPL, I got to get up close and personal with the full-scale replica of the rover that stays on Earth while her sister goes to Mars, so I took a few pictures:

image from i.imgur.com
image from i.imgur.com
I grew up about 10 minutes from JPL, so I lived around a lot of NASA sceintists and went to JPL's open house every year. Being chosen to go to JPL to make the modern equivalent of the films I loved watching when I was a kid was a tremendous honor. I'll post the video I made whenever it's live.

Memories of the Phoenix Comicon 2012

In about 22 hours, I leave for Origins Game Fair in Ohio. I've wanted to go to this convention since I was in high school, and I'm really excited to finally be attending.

Felicia and I are doing a bunch of TableTop stuff, and the organizers have even set aside time in our busy schedules for some gaming. If you're coming to the con, I'd love to accept any gaming dice you wish to add to my growing collection.

And now, a brief recap of the Phoenix Comicon:

I was hoping to be there Thursday through Sunday, but I got an awesome job that worked on Thursday and Friday, so I didn't get into town until Friday evening, with my wife and my son in tow.

We settled into our hotel, met up with our friends for dinner, and headed over to do the late show with Hardwick and the Nerdist crew. The podcast was entertaining, the audience was engaged, and we all stayed up WAY TOO LATE.

They gave me this IPA in the green room from O'Dell. It was cleverly named "Odell IPA." It was wonderful, and reminded me of Racer 5, with a touch of Ruination.

But the thing is, I couldn't say the name of it without cracking up and then quoting the infamous accident on the Knife Show from a few years ago. This joke carried us through the weekend, because Anne and I had a lot of O'Dell IPA while we were in town.

I went to sleep, woke up sooner than I wanted to, and made my way to the convention center. It was a merciful 80 degrees this year, instead of 184 like it was last year, which I bet made the cosplayers happy.

I signed lots of pictures and books, posed for some photos with my friends from Eureka, and then we did the Eureka panel.

Fun fact: Colin Ferguson and I are looney hockey fans. He likes the Habs, while I am Kings Fan Super Number One Top Fan Guy. But since we're both living in Los Angeles, and our team in the Stanley Cup Final, Colin suggested that we both wear Kings jerseys to the panel.

So I provided two jerseys from the early 90s:

image from i.imgur.com

It was so awesome to troll 4000 people. Colin walked out to raucous applause, which almost immediately turned to boo-urns when they saw what he was wearing. When I came out onstage, it was even better, because I walked to the front and really played it up. I think it was mostly taken in the spirit it was intended, which made us both feel like we'd trolled successfully.

The panel was great, and it was so wonderful to hear from so many people that Eureka was and is important to them. I'm so proud of the show, and it still stings that I only got to work on it a little bit before the network formerly known as Sci-Fi sent it off to the Land of Wind and Ghosts.

After a much-needed break for a little bit of food, I went back to signing things and meeting people. The line was ridiculous, and I did my best to get through it without making anyone feel rushed. I was not prepared for how many people wanted to meet me, and I was a little overwhelmed a lot of the time. 

Storytime With Wil went better than expected. I performed a bunch of fiction, and told a couple of stories about me and Anne. I was especially happy that the audience seemed to enjoy The Monster In My Closet, and the thing I wrote about A Place Where Men Run Wild.

After storytime, we had a-fucking-mazing pizza at a place called BRICK (the wait for Pizzeria Bianco was until July), then met up with my friend April and her friends for the biggest and dirtiest game of Cards Against Humanity that I've ever played. I fell asleep at 11pm, and when I woke up at 8 on Sunday, it still wasn't enough sleep.

What the hell is that about, anyway? I thought you needed less sleep as you got older, not more. This is bullshit.

Sunday was very low key. I got there early and did a bit of shopping, including something AMAZING from Monkey Minion Press that will be revealed at the exact moment it is to be revealed, and not a second sooner. I also got a d12 Fez from Fez-o-rama, because I love the d12 and I hate that it's always in the d20's shadow. (Fun fact: that's why it's a d12 in the Tabletop logo.)

The show opened, and I did some photos with most of the Star Trek: TNG cast, before we did a huge TNG panel. There were easily 6000 people in the room of all ages, and several generations. I can't believe that, twenty-five years later, we can still get 6000 people into one room to celebrate what they love about the show. That's just awesome.

I'm sure I'm forgetting things, but those are the things that are clearest in my memory. I had a wonderful (if totally overwhelmed) time at the show, and I hope everyone who came out had a great a memorable experience. I'm already talking to the con about coming back next year. 

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.