Category Archives: Travel

…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.

 

My trip to Australia was amazeballs

I am home from Australia, and only mostly dead exhausted. Go me!

I'm too tired for a proper post about the entire trip, but I'll offer a few memories and highlights:

I did not meet a single unkind person the entire time I was in Australia. I realize that my sample size was quite small, but it was still remarkable to me. Even the cranky old bus driver we encountered one day was more amusing than anything else. 

I snuggled a Koala. I have pictures that I'll share in the near future.

The show we did in Melbourne with the MSO was fantastic, and I'm very proud of the show we put on. Standing on the stage next to the orchestra while they played the theme to HALO is a memory I'll not soon forget.

Supanova was spectacular in both cities. Everyone involved in the show was kind and easygoing, and so were all the fans I met while I was there. If they invite me back for other shows in the future, I'm almost certainly going to say yes.

I spent a fair amount of time with Chandler Riggs (he plays Carl on Walking Dead) and his dad. We made a video together that makes me laugh so hard, I pee a little. I'll edit and upload it soon. He's a great kid, and I felt a certain kinship with him, on account of us both being kids on a popular TV show. He has a great sense of humour about staying in the house, too.

You know who are awesome? James and Oliver Phelps, who played the Weasley Twins in Harry Potter. Those guys are like the freaking Beatles at conventions, but they never act like it. I like them so much, I wish I was a bigger Potter fanboy.

If you ever go to Brisbane, make the effort to get out to Moreton Island. It's really worth it.

Okay, that's all for now. I have to get ready to go to Calgary this weekend.

Greetings from Australia!

Greetings from Australia! I’ve been here for something like four days (I say “something like” because the time travel thing that happens when you cross the International Date Line is still confusing me), and I just love it.

Anne and I are in Melbourne, which I’ve found to be an absoulutely wonderful city. My sample size is very small, but every Australian I’ve encountered since I’ve been here has been friendly, kind, and generally awesome. The food is fantastic, and the city itself is beautiful.

When I’m not rehearsing for Thursday’s performance at the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Anne and I have been exploring the city. Yesterday, we made music by dancing around in front of a giant theremin, walked up and down about a dozen alleys (I think they call them “laneways” or something like that, here) that were covered with all sorts of gorgeous street art, and ate a pizza that was covered with nutella, strawberries, and slivered almonds. If you’d told me three days ago that I would eat that on purpose, I would have told you that you were crazy. If you’d bet me a million dollars that I’d actually enjoy it, I’d now be in your debt for the rest of my life.

So, yanno, build the time machine, meet me in Melbourne last Sunday, and start planning to make enough money from me to fund the construction of your time machine.

Hey, did I ever tell you about the time I helped build that time machine?

Restaurants I’ve fallen in love with: Cookie in the central business district, and The Local Taphouse in St. Kilda. Food I’ve fallen in love with: all of it, especially baked beans on toast for breakfast. And even though Anne wants to kill Vegemite with fire, I’m starting to like a thin smear of it on toast with honey or marmalade.

In case you’re here in Melbourne: come to the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra on Thursday for Video Games Unplugged: Symphony of Legends. It’s going to be amazing. Then, come to Supanova this weekend!

The weather has been nasty and cold, but it’s supposed to start turning around today, just in time for us to go to Brisbane on Monday. I’m super excited to have a few days to myself on the Gold Coast before Supanova happens there, a week from Saturday.

… I just realized that I haven’t yet listened to Men At Work or INXS in the original Australian, so I think I should go do that before I go to rehearsal.

Question for Locals (in Melbourne and Gold Coast): Can you suggest a “must see”, “must do” and warn me off of “not worth your time” activities? Anne and I like to get away from touristy things and find places that locals enjoy.

I forgot to mention that I’m coming to Australia

This Friday, I'm heading to Melbourne to present Video Games Unplugged with Scott Kurtz and Kris Straub. The show is going to be amazing: the MSO will play music from games like Bioshock 2, Heavy Rain, and Final Fantasy. As the music plays, they'll show the games on a huge screen. And did I mention that it's presented by Scott, Kris, and me? Yeah, that too.

I'm also going to be at Supanova in Melbourne April 13-15, and at Supanova Gold Cost April 20-22.

I've never been to Australia before, and though I'm a little unsettled by the idea of a 16 hour flight, I'm currently about 55% excited, 45% teetering-on-an-anxiety-attack-about-the-whole-thing.

Because of the International Date Line, I leave on Friday, but I don't arrive until Sunday. Then, on the way back, I actually land in Los Angeles four hours before I take off. I'm considering wearing a bowtie and a fez for the trip.

Someone found my Kindle on the airplane this weekend. I’d really like it back.

I left my Kindle on an airplane this weekend (post-convention exhaustion will do that to you), and someone found it.

I know that someone found it, because they've been using my account to buy games and books. Based on the purchases, I'm fairly sure the person who found my Kindle (which is named Wheatley) is young, possibly a teenager or a college student. He or she likes Scrabble, Battleship, Spelling Star, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and something called Telesa. He or she also hopes to learn Samoan, French, and Spanish. He or she has spent a fair amount of my money on these things.

I used Amazon's Personal Document thing to send a note to my Kindle, thanking the person for finding it, and telling them that I can be contacted at [email protected] to arrange its return.

I'm hopeful that this person will do the right thing and get in touch.

*Updated*

I called Amazon, reported it stolen, and they deactivated it after refunding me the fradulent purchases.

This isn't the end of the world; I can afford a new Kindle (thank Steve the Fruitbat), and in the grand scheme of things, it isn't the biggest of deals… but I sincerely hoped that whoever has my Kindle now would have read the note I sent to it, which is titled TO THE PERSON WHO FOUND MY KINDLE, and gotten in touch to return it to me. I want to believe in the basic goodness of people.

I really hope that it wasn't just taken by some kid who decided to keep something because, you know, Finders Keepers. I really hope that it was taken by some dirtbag who turned around and sold it to a kid who is too young to know that "this Kindle comes with whatever you want and you never have to pay for it, just give me fifty bucks for meth!" or whatever is a pretty clear flag that something isn't totally honest with this thing.

Anyway, it looks like I'm not getting it back, and all someone has for their trouble is a useless piece of plastic and wires.

“It’s Like Geek Summer Camp for Adults.”

Our second day was spent at sea, which would normally mean it's time to sleep in… but we had a Q&A panel at 9:30am (6:30am, according my my jet lagged brain) so I was up nice and early (damn early… too early… according to my brain) to make it there on time.

I'd guess that about 1/4 of the Seamonkey population came out to interrogate all of the performers, and we had as much fun as we did last year. As expected, The Hodgman and the F. Tompkins were hilarious.

After the Q&A… I can't remember what I did. But it's safe to assume that I spent the remainder of the day sitting by the aft pool, reading and sunning myself, and making sure that the inside of the pirate ship still worked.

You know, I realized that I didn't make notes for every day, because I was too busy just enjoying every day. I guess that's why I don't have lots of video of my kids when they were little, because it was more important to me to be there than behind a camera.

So let's just wrap this up like this: The cruise was amazing. Anne observed that it's like Geek Summer Camp for Adults, and I was as impressed by her observation as I was jealous that I didn't make it first. By the end of the cruise, I was looking forward to the next cruise with the same excitement and "is it time to go yet?" excitement that, until last week, had been reserved exclusively for PAX.

Every single one of the shows was great to watch, but it was the "second stage" stuff: the Karaoke, the other Karaoke, the Open Mic, the Joseph Scrimshaw Show, and the two DJ Flans dance parties that really blew me away. These events were more intimate than the big stage shows, and felt like they were more about all of us doing a thing together than they were about us enjoying watching a thing together. If there's one reason everyone should go on a JoCoCruiseCrazy (seriously, enough of us so we can get a whole boat without any Snorks to complain at us about things), that's it.

I'm sure there are other stories to tell about the cruise, but I'm drawing a blank. If there's something from our voyage that you'd like me to write about, leave a comment and I'll see what shakes out of my brain, which is convinced that it's still on the boat.