Radio Free Burrito 2: Electric Boogaloo
I got lots of good feedback from people about the radio station, and I think it will become a semi-regular feature around here.
With the help of the lovely and talented (well, talented, anyway) Ben, from The pAved Earth, the greatest internet radio station of all time, I have figured out how to do a live broadcast, right out of my crappy little computer. So I have this idea. How about if I do a radio show sometime this week? I can play music, read some of my weblog entries, make some jokes, take IM requests, etc. I can even make multiple streams, so people on slower connections can enjoy the fun, too. It’s been a silly dream of mine since I was a kid to be on the radio, so I think I’m gonna do it, no matter what…it’d just be cooler if there were people actually listening.
TNG on TNN
I bet this sounds totally lame, but I’ve been watching (and taping) TNG on TNN tonight. Of course, since I am on the Left Coast, I missed the first broadcast, so I missed all the promos I did, so I don’t know if I sucked or not. Dammit.
But here’s the thing: I forgot just how much I LOVE Star Trek. I’ve watched “Farpoint”, The first one with The Traveller, Datalore and Conspiracy…I have remembered so many stories…I’m excited. I have some cool ones to tell, in the coming weeks.
If anyone has it, would someone please email me avis or mpegs or something, of the promos?
Vega$ ruled. I took lots of pictures, and I will put them all up tomorrow.
I’ve read all the Emails I got while I was gone. I’ll send out replies tomorrow.
Today I went to the race track with my friend Mykal Burns for a super fun microbrew festival, and some horse racing. Based on my experience last time I went to the track, I chose to stay out of the betting…so the goddamn racetrack couldn’t take any of my money, dammit. The way I see it, they have enough already.
Some cool stuff happened while we were there: we got free, uber-cheesy steins, complete with a lame logo, and everything…they are almost as nice as the high quality steins I am offering. /lame ad
We also heard this great 80s cover band while we were there, called The Spazmatics. They were really cool, and I told them I’d link them, so that’s what I am doing, because Uncle Willie keeps his promises. So there.
The feedback on the radio station has been mostly positive, so I think I’ll keep it up, at least until the end of Monday, because I have to go back to Vega$ Sunday. The Star Trek Experience wants to talk to me about booking my sketch comedy show in for a run!! How cool is that?!
I’ll update again when I get back from Vega$. I’ll have pictures.
Be nice to someone today.
Radio Free Burrito
Back when I had the lame page at Geocities, I made a radio station, because one of my dreams has always been to be a DJ. (One of my other dreams, get email from a pornstar, was fulfilled yesterday. Woot.)
I broadcast MP3’s right out of my computer, and used Live365 as a relay.
I stopped using it, because nobody was ever listening, and it took up lots of cycles and bandwidth, but I’m going to be out all day, so I’m putting it up for today. If you like it, say so in the comments, and I’ll make a permanent one.
You can tune in here.
Hope everyone is having a great weekend.
This is more of an announcement, than a real entry: after much gnashing of teeth and pulling out of hair, I’ve decided to make a few t-shirts and things, and sell them through CafePress. I’m doing this because people have asked me when I’m going to open the store, and opening the store, is taking an enormous amount of work. It’s more work to make a store, than it was to build the whole site. Also, I wanna put my energy into the redesign of the site, and the updating of the blog. So, I made some designs, with the help of my good friend and amazing artist Ben, and put them on T-shirts and junk. If this stuff sells enough, I’ll take it as an indication that people are interested in having other stuff, and I’ll go ahead and do the full-blown online store.
I just finished watching “Enterprise” with my best friend Darin.
I loved it. I loved it so much, I am actually going to write Berman and Braga a note, and tell them how amazing I thought it was…
The only thing that I really hated was the theme song…I suspect that the guy who composed that is going to be the new holder of the “Most Hated Man In Star Trek” title…if he calls, I’ll hand over the badge to him…I know I have it someplace.
The best thing about “Enterprise“?
The Return of the Son of SpongeBob Vega$Pants
A long itme ago, in an entry far, far away, I started to tell a story…it was the story of SpongeBob Vega$Pants…So…here we go:
Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?!
Where was I last time? Ahh, after a terribly long tnagent (That’s right, I called it a ‘tnagent’. It’s part of being average), I ran out of time…let’s see where I was before I got sidetracked:
I’d explained (sort of, in a very average, not interesting, you’d-only-read-it-if-I-were-famous way) what a Star Trek convention was. I’ll pick up the story as I’m standing backstage, getting ready to go on.
I’m supposed to go on at 5PM, and I’m supposed to talk from 5 to 5:50. I usually talk for 70-90 minutes, so only having 50 minutes is really tough. I’m nervous, because I don’t think I have a lot of time to work the audience. I have to go out there, and nail ‘em with a funny, so they get on my side.
Well, I’ve got three things going against me before I even take the stage:
1. I’m the last speaker of the day. So the fans are tired, and a little burned out.
2. I’m following Michael Dorn and Marina Sirtis, who the fans LOVE.
3. I was Wesley Crusher.
So I am pacing backstage, looking at my notes, trying to relax and focus, and getting more and more nervous that I’m going to suck.
See, here’s the deal: contrary to what many people think, I care about how I do at a convention. I care about what the fans think of me. Oh, yes, I do. I don’t just write off the fans like a certain WILLIAM FUCKING SHATNER, because I, myself, am a fan. I also realize that the entire Star Trek franchise owes an extreme debt of gratitude to fandom, because without that core fanbase, Gene would have never been able to sell the idea of TNG to Paramount, and then there’s no DS9, no Voyager, no Enterprise. So it’s important to me not to suck.
Finally, at 5:15, Dorn and Marina are done, and I’m going to go on. My mouth and throat get dry. My hands sweat, and shake a little bit. Jesus, you’d think I was going on a date, or something. It’s usually not like this…but this time is different, because I’ve got friends in the audience, and my wife is there, and the last thing I want is to have a whole room hate me in front of them.
Dave Scott takes the stage, and he gives me this great introduction, about how funny I am, and about how much fun they’re all going to have…and I’m just thinking, “Great, dude. Please. Build me up more. Keep raising those expectations. Woo.”
I hear the intro finish, and I come out on stage…and they’re all standing up, applauding, “whoo!”-ing, and stuff…and I think, “Okay, Wil. Start it off with a joke…that’s what they’re expecting…”
So I tell a joke about the water we’ve all been drinking. Here’s a little background, on the water:
It’s hot in Vega$. 10 Circle of Hell hot, which is nothing to me, since that’s where I’m headed, anyway, but it’s pretty bad for eveyone else. Fortunately, TNN has shown up, and, in a humanitarian and self-promotional effort, they’ve been handing out bottles of “Altair Water”. It’s bottled water, you know, but it’s in a nifty green bottle, with some Star Trek graphics on it…and they’re handing them out by the hundreds, because those spacesuits really make you sweat, if I remember correctly.
So I hold up the bottle of water, and I say, “I’ve been drinking this ‘Altair Water’ all morning…and you know what I’m thinking? This isn’t really from Altair. It’s just regular water! So if you paid for it, I think you got ripped off.”
Silence, followed by the first surly heckler, who shouted with the appropriate mix of condescension and contempt: “It’s free, Wil!”
Aw, crap. That was so lame. I mean, come on! How “Hello how are you I’m fine” was that?!
But, like I said, I was nervous, and I panicked, and, after I’ve been on stage for 15 seconds, they allready hate me.
So I take a second, and I regroup, and I say, “Okay…uh, I only have 50 minutes here, and I want to maximize our time together today, so here’s the deal: I have some stories that I like to tell, and I’ll tell them, but I also like to take questions from the audience, and let you all inform the discussion. Since we only have a short time today, I’ll answer the most frequently asked questions first: No, yes, Umbrellas, I can’t remember, and they were real.”
Silence, and grumbling.
Oh shit. I’m dead. I teach comedy, for christsake! I got rave reviews for my sketch show! I know that I can be funny! But I’m panicked. It happens. The few things I have, that I’ve told before, that I know get a good response, the things I have for circumstances just like these, have all gone out of my head. I am drawing a complete blank, and I just want to get off this stage as fast as possible, and get back on my road to hell. Oh, wait, I’m in hell right now. Dammit.
So I say, “Uh. Does anyone have any questions?”
Apparently, nobody does, so I say with a smile, “Well then, I guess we’re done here! Thanks alot for coming, and have a great rest of the weekend!” And I start to walk off stage.
And they all laugh.
What? that was funny? Okay. I’ll take what I can get at this point. So I relax a bit, and we get going. I start to tell my stories, and the questions start to come. Unfortunately, none of the really cool, “In episode 67, you said…” questions are asked, at all. Too bad. Those make for the best stories.
But here’s the thing: while my talk goes on, I keep losing the audience. I can feel it. I can feel them hate me, and I can’t quite figure out why. But, upon reflection, I can take a guess: I tell it like it is. Unlike lots of other actors, who get up there and kiss the collective ass of fandom, and tell them exactly what they want to hear, I tell them what it was really like, for me. The truth is, sometimes being on Trek was the greatest thing, ever. Other times, it really, really sucked. And, as blasphemous as this sounds, at the end of the day, it was a job.
I realize now, that I left out a very important bit of info when I was at the con, and I’ve left it out here: I really, really, really like to watch Star Trek. Star Trek is really, really, really fucking cool. I loved the original series, and, even though WILLIAM FUCKING SHATNER has always been a tool towards me, I still think that he was rad as Captain Kirk. I think he’s got a GREAT sense of humor, and that has come through in the more recent star trek movies. But I digress. The thing that I left out, is how much of a fan of Star Trek I am, and, without that context, it can piss people off that I don’t worship Trek the way some of them do.
So when I say things like, “I really didn’t like DS9 or Voyager very much, because the stories really didn’t interest me,” I’m not saying those things because I want to crack on the other shows, it’s just because, as a viewer, I didn’t like the stories as much as I liked the ones on TNG or TOS.
So I left that out, and when I’d say anything remotely critical of the show, they’d get pissed. And I’d get more and more tense, and I felt really bad. There are few feelings that are worse for an actor, than dying on stage, in front of your wife, parents, and friends. Oh, and 300 Trekkies.
But, somewhere towards the end, I got going, and I was able to recall some funny stories:
I have the limited edition Star Trek monoploy game. Yeah, limited edition of 65 Million. But it’s really valuable, because I got a number under 21 million, and it’s got a certificate of authenticity, signed by Captain Picard! Yes, that’s right, my Star Trek monopoly, which I’ve rendered worthless by opening, comes with a certificate of authenticity, signed by a fictional character.
Cool thing about the game, though, is that there is a Wesley Crusher game piece in it, and the first time we sat down to play it as a family, Ryan grabbed it and proclaimed, as only an 11 year old can, “I’m Wil!! I’m Wil!! Nolan!! I’m all-time Wil!! I call it!!” *smile* that was really cool.
One time, when we were renegotiating our contracts, we were all asking for raises, which we all felt we appropriate, because TNG was really taking off, and was really making lots of money for Paramount. Of course, Paramount needed that money to keep churning out their film *cough* hits *cough*, and was reluctant to share it with us. So a long and annoying negotiation process began, and, during that process, the producers first counter offer was to not give me a raise, but they’d give my character a promotion, to Lieutenant.
What? Were they serious?
My agent asked me what I wanted to do. I told him to call them back, and remind them that Star Trek is a television show! Here’s me calling the bank: “Hi…Uh, I’m not going to be able to make my house payment this month, but don’t worry, because I am a Lieutenant now. Where? Oh, on the Starship Enterprise. Feel free to drop by Ten Forward for lunch someday.”
Last year, there was a contest at Star Trek Dot Com, where they were asking what the best episode of all time, across all the series’ was. The nominees included “City On The Edge Of Forver” from TOS (One of my faves, but not as cool as “arena”, imho. Send your flames here. The entry for TNG was “Best of Both Worlds part 1&2″, and I can’t remember the titles of the ones for DS9 and Voyager, but the DS9 one was the one with the tribbles, and the episode for Voyager was the one where the alien creature, who looked surprisingly like the alien in “Alien” was wreaking havoc on the ship. Now, as I’ve pointed out before, it is just a TV show, and I’m not that competitive, but there was no way I was going to let my show lose. It just wasn’t going to happen. So I went into my office, sat at my computer, and, for 72 straight hours, I, didn’t eat, didn’t sleep, and sat, stinky in my own filth, as I voted, over and over, for TNG to win. So, sometime around the 71st hour, my wife realizes that she hasn’t seen me in awhile, and starts knocking on the door to see what I’m doing, and I don’t want her to know, you know? I mean, how embarrassing for me…I’m sitting here voting in the Star Trek poll! So she stays at the door, and keeps asking what I’m doing at the computer for so long, and, not wanting to embarrassed, I shout out, “I’m downloading porn, honey!”
Finally, through a combination of exhaustion and the fact that my eyes were actually bleeding, I gave up, but not before I had successfully stuffed the ballot box, giving TNG a landslide victory in the all important online poll. Whoo!
Dave Scott ended up coming on stage to get rid of me, and I had a lot of fun walking away from him, pretending that he wasn’t there, and stuff, and I closed with a story that always gets a big laugh, that people seem to enjoy. There are others, but if I tell them all here, you’ll never come see me at a show, right?
I said thank you, exited, stage left, and walked back into the now infamous WFS Memorial Hallway. I sat there for a second, and replayed the talk in my head. The first 90%, they mostly hated me, I thought, with little fits of laughter, and the last 10%, when I finally got going and found my groove, they really loved me, and I felt really good. But it was not my best talk, by far, which was a big disappointment, considering the build up I’d gotten from Dave, and that I had people in the audience.
But I didn’t have time to reflect on it, because I had just 90 minutes before we were all due in the theare for our show, and we still hadn’t had a technical rehearsal…
NEXT TIME, AS THE SAGA CONTINUES:
MIND MELD PRESENTS: “ASSIMILATE THIS”
Anne just called me, very upset, from her cell phone.
She told me that she and the kids are missing me, because I’m spending so much time online. She said that she’s tired of feeling like I’m married to the computer and my website, and that she’s been going to sleep alone for the last 2 weeks, and I wake her up at 1AM when I get into bed.
I was all ready to argue with her that I need to spend time here, and that I have a responsibility to my readers and all that…but something stopped me. It was that little voice in the back of your head that sometimes saves you from saying stupid things to cops. The self-preservation voice. My SP voice said to me, “Dude. Listen to your wife. She is telling you that you’re neglecting her, and the family. Not cool. Not cool.”
Now, here’s something about me: I don’t do well with ultimatums. More than once in my life I’ve gone and done something, specifically to spite someone who tried to tell me what to do. Matter of fact, it was a major contributing factor in my desicion to leave Star Trek.
So I did listen to her, and she didn’t give me an ultimatum. She said that she was starting to resent the computer, and me, because the family is suffering. I could hear the sadness in her voice, as she told me that it was up to me to figure out how to balance this stuff out.
Thing is, she’s right. I didn’t realize it, but I’m putting in more than half of my waking hours on this, between reading and replying to emails, reading the comments here, and (recently) at fark, and posting comments of my own. I mean, I am constantly listening for the new mail sound, so I can run over here and reply, and I’m checking the site a few times an hour for new comments and discussion. Anne told me that the kids are bummed that I’m doing so much stuff on the website, and not just hanging out, and that’s just not cool.
In my efforts to make myself accessible to people who I’ve never even met, I have made myself inaccessible to the people who love and need me the most: my family.
Thing is, if my relationship with my wife is not taken care of, and isn’t the first priority in my life, everything else seems to fall apart. It’s corny and cliche, but Anne is everything to me.
So here’s the deal:
I love my wife and I love my step-kids, and, while I feel a sense of responsibility to everyone who comes to visit here, and I really do want to reply to all the emails, and take part in the discussions, I’m going to have to let this take a back seat for a bit, and focus my time, attention, and energy on my family.
The short term result of this will mean a greater lag time in replying to emails (sorry in advance, though you’ll still get the autoresponse) and even less AIM time. I will still update the blog, because the Vega$ story really is cool, and I’m having a fun time writing it, but cut me some slack if I don’t get right back to you, okay? It’s nothing personal. It’s just a re-focusing of my priorities.
Call To Action
I don’t, and won’t do this very often. The purpose of my weblog is to tell my stories, and let you know what I’m thinking about. I get on my soapbox, to be sure, but not like this, and not very often. But these are dangerous times that we’re living in, and this is very serious.
The summary is: John Ashcroft is trying to force through laws that run completely counter to the Constitution and Bill of Rights, and he is doing it right now because we’re all scared of terrorism.
But the terrorist threat will be taken care of someday, and these laws will still be around, for the gleeful abuse of anyone who wants to silence you.
I listened to Congress “question” Ashcroft today. I put “question” in quotes, because, as a member of the SAG Board Of Directors, and through serving on lots of committees there, I have learned to discern the difference between posturing and speechmaking, and actual questioning to help inform debate, and help someone decide how to vote.
What I heard today, on NPR, was posturing and speechmaking from the committee, not real questioning, because everyone knew what would happen: no one dares oppose this sweeping legislation that Ashcroft, Bush, and Company are asking for, lest they appear “soft on terrorism”. We have seen the amazing success of a congress who refuses to be “soft on drugs”, right? I mean, they’ve done a great job, right? There’s no drug problem anymore, right? Our prisons aren’t full of first time, non-violent offenders, right? Yay. Go Congress!!
The Electronic Frontier Foundation posted the following background today. I quote it here:
Attorney General John Ashcroft distributed the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act/Mobilization Against Terrorism Act to members of Congress after Monday’s press conference at which he indicated that, among other measures, he would ask Congress to expand the ability of law enforcement officers to perform wiretaps in response to the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001. Ashcroft asked Congress to pass anti-terrorism legislation including “expanded electronic surveillance” by the end of this week. The PSCSEA bill appears to be a “backup plan” for S.A. 1562; if it does not pass as part of H.R. 2500, it can be reintroduced separately in slightly different form as a new bill. Sen. Patrick Leahy is also expected to introduce a more moderate proposal sometime early next week.
One particularly egregious section of the DOJ’s analysis of its proposed legislation (ATA/MATA) says that “United States prosecutors may use against American citizens information collected by a foreign government even if the collection would have violated the Fourth Amendment.”
“Operating from abroad, foreign governments will do the dirty work of spying on the communications of Americans worldwide. US protections against unreasonable search and seizure won’t matter,” commented EFF Senior Staff Attorney Lee Tien.
Additional provisions of the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA)/Mobilization Against Terrorism Act (MATA) (whatever the final name will be) include measures which:
make it possible to obtain e-mail message header information and Internet user web browsing patterns without a wiretap order;
eviscerate controls on roving wiretaps;
permit law enforcement to disclose information obtained through wiretaps to any employee of the Executive branch;
reduce restrictions on domestic investigations under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA);
permit grand juries to provide information to the US intelligence community;
permit the President to designate any “foreign-directed individual, group, or entity,” including any United States citizen or organization, as a target for FISA surveillance;
prevent people from even talking about terrorist acts;
establish a DNA database for every person convicted of any felony or certain sex offenses, almost all of which are entirely unrelated to terrorism;
EFF Executive Director Shari Steele emphasized, “While it is obviously of vital national importance to respond effectively to terrorism, this bill recalls the McCarthy era in the power it would give the government to scrutinize the private lives of American citizens.”
During the Congressional session considering the Combating Terrorism Act, which was introduced as amendment S.A. 1562 to an omnibus appropriations bill, H.R. 2500, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) expressed concern that he was asked to vote so rapidly on such important legislation within minutes of receiving it and without conducting hearings in the Intelligence, Armed Services and Judiciary committees:
Maybe the Senate wants to just go ahead and adopt new abilities to wiretap our citizens. Maybe they want to adopt new abilities to go into people’s computers. Maybe that will make us feel safer. Maybe. And maybe what the terrorists have done made us a little bit less safe. Maybe they have increased Big Brother in this country.
If that is what the Senate wants, we can vote for it. But do we really show respect to the American people by slapping something together, something that nobody on the floor can explain, and say we are changing the duties of the Attorney General, the Director of the CIA, the U.S. attorneys, we are going to change your rights as Americans, your rights to privacy? We are going to do it with no hearings, no debate. We are going to do it with numbers on a page that nobody can understand.
EFF shares Senator Leahy’s concerns in this time of national crisis. EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn commented, “These proposals significantly impact the civil liberties of Americans. We urge legislators to please slow down and consider the long-term consequences of your votes.”
“I believe that deep in their souls, Americans understand that the reason this country is so great–is so worth defending–is because it is free,” explained EFF Executive Director Shari Steele. “We should be very careful to make sure that any legislation that passes is truly needed to address national security concerns.”
During World War I, the US Congress hastily passed the Espionage Act which was notorious for decreasing freedoms without improving the security of the American public, under which Congress granted the Postmaster General (who delegated it to 55,000 local postmasters) the authority to read any mail and remove any material that might “embarrass” the government in conducting the war effort.
So here’s the call to action: Gohere, and write, call, fax, and email your congressperson, and let them know that this scares the shit out of you. EFF has sample letters, and a very easy form to use to email your government officials.
Ashcroft is seeking to broaden the definition of “terrorist” to include ludicrous things, that defy common sense. I quote something I posted at Fark today:
If I remember my American History correctly, the founding fathers that Bush & Co. are so gleeful to invoke when it serves their message founded the USA the way they did, because they felt that governments had a tendency to oppress their citizens.
Keeping our critical thinking pants on, and taking off our emotional, angry, freaked-out-because-of-september-11th-pants, let’s think about this: things like a national ID card, backdoors for crypto, and expansion of search-and-siezure abilities for law enforcement have been things The Man has been trying vigorously to get over the last few years. Historically, government has taken advantage of times like these to expand their powers…and I don’t like that.
Does it bother anyone else that we have an “Office of Homeland Security”? Sure, it’s a good idea now, but I see the ghost of McCarthy looming just over the horizon.
Anyone who is not terrified by this cynical powergrab either doesn’t understand the issues, is living in a dreamworld, or is George W. Bush.
Please, please, please, if you never do anything else I ask you, please, I implore you, don’t sit on this. Our American way of life is in grave, grave danger.