Tag Archives: books

Famous Novelists on Symbolism in Their Work and Whether It Was Intentional

I read this great post on John Green's Tumblr, titled Famous Novelists on Symbolism in Their Work and Whether It Was Intentional:

"Reading is not a game of Clue; books are not a mystery that you have to solve by putting all the pieces together. That’s not the point. Find the meaning you want to find in it. That’s what we do with books because that’s what we do in life."

[John adds this:] If the point of reading is merely to understand precisely what the author intended, then reading is just this miserable one-sided conversation in which an author is droning on to you page after page after page and the reader just sits there receiving a monologue.

That’s not reading. That’s listening.

Reading is the active co-creation of a story, complete with all its symbols and abstractions. 

I thought about what John said. It set a small fire in my brain, and this is what came out:

English teachers who forced me to find symbolism and meaning in books make assigned reading in high school absolutely miserable. It was bad enough that I couldn’t just enjoy the story and spend time with the characters, but they also made me go on some kind of treasure hunt where I had to find something the teacher/school/board of education/someone-who-was-not-me decided was the “correct” thing to find.

As a result, I hated many classic works of literature, and actually resented them and the people who wrote them. I'm pretty sure that's the opposite of what any teacher would want their students to take out of any class, especially an English Literature class, but it's what happened to me.

Years later, when I was in my mid-twenties, I spent the summer rereading the books I’d hated in high school, because I figured they were classics for a reason and maybe as an adult, I'd be able to see why. I read:

Great Expectations - still hated it.

A Separate Peace - liked it, didn’t love it, but that’s a big improvement over how much I despised it when I was in school.

1984 - Loved it. Loved it, loved it, loved it.

Brave New World - Read it just after 1984. Loved it.

Romeo and Juliet - Hated this when I was 14 (who, at 14, is mature enough to appreciate it? What a huge FAIL it is to teach this to 9th graders), and was moved to tears by it as an adult. Went on a bit of a Shakespeare tear as a result, and did Julius Caesar, Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hamlet, and Macbeth. Still didn’t understand all of it, but loved every second of it.

All Quiet on the Western Front - When your authoritarian Cold Warrior English teacher isn’t somehow making this book all about how fucking great Reagan is, it’s just amazing.

There were others, but you get the idea, right? I even grabbed the Cliff's and Spark Notes to get some "education" from the books when I was done reading them, but I can't recall anything the notes said, just what the book gave me when it was all done… I think that says a lot.

When I was a kid, I was already an avid reader, so these (hopefully) well-intentioned teachers couldn’t turn me off from reading in general and forever, but both of my siblings still won't pick up a book if you gave them a hundred dollars to do it. I understand that educators want to encourage students to dig into stories and see what they can find in them, and that’s a great exercise, but forcing them to find what some board of education has decided is the One Right Thing To Find does those kids (and did this kid) a huge disservice.

And not that it matters, but I'm going to reread The Great Gatsby just as soon as I finish A Clash of Kings, because it feels like the right thing to do.

Afterthought: I love teachers. I'm on record stating that my heroes are teachers, and I believe that teachers do not get the salary or respect by American society that they should get. I'm not attacking teaching or teachers at all with this post; I'm just recalling the experience I had with a small number of teachers in the 80s, who I'm sure were doing their jobs they way they thought was best for their careers and their students.

 

librarians are awesome

I was recently invited to participate in an awesome literacy project, and I wanted to share an excerpt from my contribution:

I want to take a moment and say thank you to librarians, because it was a librarian who made me fall in love with reading. In third or fourth grade, part of our curriculum was a monthly trip to a local library in Tujunga, California. One of the librarians would read us a short story, give a short talk about a literacy-related topic, and then let us pick a book off a table of paperbacks that we could keep. We were also allowed – no, encouraged – to check out up to three books, which we would have a month to read.

I was a nerdy, shy, awkward kid who was scared of everything, and the library intimidated me; I never knew where to start, I was afraid I’d pick a book the the Cool Kids would tease me about reading, and I always felt lost in the stacks. This librarian, though, reached out to me. She asked me what sort of things I liked on TV and in the movies, and recommended a few different books based on my answers, including the first real SciFi book I can recall reading, Z for Zachariah by Robert C. O’Brien. I loved it so much, when I went back the next month, she taught me how to use the card catalog to find other books like it, entirely on my own. On that day, the library was transformed from a confusing and intimidating collection of books into a thousand different portals through time and space to fantastic worlds for me to explore.

I don’t remember her name, but I do remember that she was in her fifties, wore epic 1970s polyester pantsuits, huge glasses that hung from a long gold chain around her neck, and had a hairdo that was ten miles high. She was friendly and helpful, and when she reached out to that nerdy little kid, she changed his life. If you’re a librarian today, you probably don’t hear this very often, but thank you. Thank you for making a difference in people’s lives.

Libraries are constantly under attack from people who fear knowledge, politicians who think guns are more important than books, and people who want to ensure that multi-millionaires pocket even more money. As an author, father, and a reader, I beg you: please support your local libraries in any way you can, and if you enjoy reading, take a moment to thank a librarian.

anyone interested in a short fiction collection?

I have a question for everyone who reads my blog: if I put some short stories I'd written together into a little collection and sold it at Lulu, would you be interested?

I ask this because I collected a few short stories into a limited edition chapbook for last year's PAX Prime, and it's been sitting here, in my computer, just sort of staring at me accusingly and asking why I didn't release it to anyone in the world who wanted it.

It's just four short stories – well, two short stories and two stories that are slightly-longer than flash – that haven't been collected in any other place.

It will be available worldwide (anywhere Lulu ships). I'll keep the price down, and offer it in print and digital editions (probably around $7 and $5 each, if I've calculated the economics on Lulu correctly) … but here's the catch: it will only be available for one week. (I don't have a good reason for that, I just think it's cool to make something that's a limited edition. Wait, that's a perfectly good reason; a cromulent reason, even.)

Here's the introduction to the PAX edition:

The Day After and Other Stories

Every year, before the summer convention season gets underway, I pull a few excerpts from whatever I plan to release in the fall, take them to my local print shop, and make a deliberately lo-fi, limited edition chapbook to take with me on the obligatory summer convention circuit.

I’ve done previews of Dancing BarefootThe Happiest Days of Our LivesMemories of the Future, and in 2008, I pulled together a sampler that eventually became Sunken Treasure

While Memories of the Future is 2009’s “big” fall release, it didn’t make sense to me to release a Memories-based chapbook this summer, because one already exists. 

It looked like there wasn’t going to be a 2009 entry in the traditional Wil Wheaton Zine-like Chapbook Extravaganza, until I realized that I have several pieces of unpublished fiction sitting in my office, just waiting to be published. 

“Hey,” I said to myself, “people keep asking me to write and release fiction, and I’ve been waiting until I have an actual novel to give them. But these things totally don’t suck, and I bet readers would enjoy them.”

“That is an excellent idea, me,” I said. “And have I mentioned how smart and pretty you are?”

“Oh, stop it. You’re embarrassing me,” I said.

Together, myself and I collected some of my (mostly unpublished) fiction and put it into this chapbook, for safe keeping.

Even though this is limited to just 200 copies, it represents a significant step for me in my life as a writer, because it’s the first time I’ve collected and published stories that I made up. (You know, like a writer does.) I hope you enjoy it, and thanks for your support!

Wil Wheaton

Pasadena 

2009

So, knowing all of this, are you interested?

from the vault: april’s fool

Every year, I dream up some epic April Fool's thing, realize how much work it would take to do it well, and end up just waiting to see whatever Think Geek does.

This year, I ended up doing something fairly (hey, my fingers just automatically typed fail while my brain was thinking fair. That's funny.) Anyway, I ended up doing something fairly quick and silly. On Twitter, I postedDbrentspiner I'm grabbing lunch with levar and frakes before the super-secret TNG reunion show table read. You want to join us?

I wish I'd had enough characters to add, "Just call me on LeVar's cell, because my battery is almost dead," but I think it was pretty funny on its own, so consider this paragraph the Director's Cut, I guess.

For those of you keeping score, replies were about 80% "I see what you did there", "5% HA HA YOUR STUPID AND CANT USE TEH TWITTER", and 5% "Dude, that's so awesome I ca– oh. FFFFFFUUUUUUUUU." The final 10% replied to Pat Buchanan.

And because it's funny to me, here's something from behind the scenes: the first time I tried to send a "fake" DM to Brent, Twitter sent a real one, so I had to send another one to tell him what I was doing. He replied, "Where are you? We're already here, waiting for you at the Paramount Commissary." Brent, as he has since 1987, wins.

So this is all prologue to the one actual April Fool's prank I ever pulled since I started blogging, back in the good old days when digital watches were a pretty neat idea.

Reaching into the vault, I pulled out this, from Chapter 8 of Just a Geek:

"Creativity is the absence of fear," a friend of mine liked to say. After Vegas and The Galaxy Ball, a lot of the fear that Prove To Everyone That Quitting Star Trek Wasn't A Mistake and The Voice of Self Doubt relied upon to survive was gone, and my creativity blossomed as a result. When I wrote in my weblog, I produced entries that were genuinely funny, and entertaining . . . to me at least. Things like:

10 March 2002

Make it burn!

As I write this, Anne is behind me, doing some workout video tape, and I can only hear the breathless voice of the girl who is leading the workout saying, "Oh yeah, oh yeah, doesn't that feel good? Don't stop, you're almost there *pant* *pant*"

If I didn't know any better, I'd think she was watching "Debbie Does 7 Minute Abs."

But seriously folks, try the fish, and be sure to stick around for the comedy and magic stylings of Johnny Funnypants! I hear the late show gets a little naughty.

I was overflowing with creative energy, and on April first, I pulled a notorious April Fool's joke.

01 April 2002

Good News, Bad News

Good morning, everyone and happy April! I hope everyone had a nice weekend. Okay, let's get straight to business: here's the bad news: the entire site has crashed and we can't figure out why. I don't know when the crash happened, or why, because I was offline all weekend, but I'm working on it. I suppose that if you can read this, it means things are working again, which will bring us to our second bad news: I tried to upgrade to Movable Type 2.0 on Friday and it broke. Goddammit! I swear, I am fucking cursed. I know what went wrong and I'm going to start pleading with the authors for some help. They seem like cool people, so hopefully they will be willing to give me a hand. *sigh*

On to the good news! Oh, this is such amazingly good news and it's been so hard to keep this to myself, but there have been contract talks and all sorts of negotiations and all that . . . but I can finally make the big big announcement:

The official announcement will be made on Thursday, but I've been given permission by Paramount's hired goons to make the announcement today.

In four weeks, I will be joining the cast of Enterprise in a recurring role!

The details are still being worked out, but basically what they plan to do is have Wesley use his Time Traveler abilities to move through space and time to the NX-01. He'll be more like the dark, troubled Wesley of “The First Duty” and “Final Mission” and less like the gee-whiz Wesley of days gone by.

Here's a little history: Nemesis is testing very well and Paramount is extremely excited that this lame little website has generated such a huge following. I guess some people started a letter-writing campaign, without my knowledge and Paramount listened. I spent most of last week on conference calls with Rick and Brannon, as well as some of the brass at Paramount, working out the details, making sure that Wesley will not be saving the NX-01 all the time. 

*grin*

I'll be in 8 of 22 episodes for the two seasons, with an option to renegotiate at the end of the second season. I'm only recurring to allow me the freedom to participate in other shows, and pursue other projects.

I'm so freakin’ excited, I don't even know what else to say. I can't believe that I'm going to be working on “Star Trek” again and I can't believe that I'm going to be working on Stages 8 and 9 again.

I have to go to a fitting right now. I'll write more when I have more details. I hope everyone has a great day!!

The Internet bought it completely. My announcement was posted on mega sites Slashdot and Fark (who were in on the joke), and the "news" was carried by many Sci-Fi newswires (who were not). I had very carefully crafted the news, working it out over the course of several of days, adding in difficult-to-verify yet plausible details, like the testing status of Nemesis (they didn't even have a rough cut at the time) and talking with the producers about the nature of Wesley's character upon his return. 

Minutes after I'd posted the prank, the e-mails began to pour in. Hundreds of Trekkies joined the regular readers of my website in expressing the joy I would have felt had it been real. The genuine happiness and kindness, pouring in from people all over the world, was the opposite of the reaction I expected, and as the happy e-mails piled up, I began to feel like I was misleading these people, and taking advantage of their good will. By the afternoon, I felt awful, and I decided to set the record straight.

    April Fool's!

Well, most of you have figured it out, by now, but the truth is . . . 

 . . . I'm not gonna be on Enterprise. Even as a computer voice, or within the secret, dirty, late-night thoughts of Capt. Archer.

I hope everyone takes this in good humor. Lots of people sent really kind and sweet congratulatory messages and I actually feel pretty badly for fooling such nice people. All the idiots who thought it was a really good idea to fill my inbox with “Wesley is gonna ruin Enterprise” crap should get a life and direct any further comments to /dev/null.

To be honest I was surprised at how many people were wishing me well; I was expecting the Kill Wesley Crowd to come out instead.

I think the greatest highlight of the day came when my mom called Anne while I was out..

The conversation went something like this:

Mom: Do you have something to tell me?

Anne: Uh, no.

Mom: Do you have some big news about Wil?

Anne: Oh, that. Uh, what day is today?

Mom: It's Monday!

Anne: Right. And the date is . . . ?

Mom: It's April Fir- OH! Damn you!

Heh. I guess my dad was all pissed off, stomping around my parent's house because I didn't tell them myself and he “had to read it on Wil's fucking website!"

Thanks go to the Frodo Crew(tm) who helped me take this scheme from stupid idea to stupid fruition: Spudnuts, jbay, JSc, Roughy, Bobby The Mat and Greeny. Also to /. and FARK, for getting on board.

All those people really did want me to succeed and they really were happy for me. The joy that I thought I would have felt, had I been given a chance to do Star Trek again, became real and undeniable when I realized that I had redefined myself with my weblog. Some people would still see me as That Washed Up Guy Who Used To Be An Actor When He Was A Kid, but many more people, including myself, saw me as That Guy With The Cool Weblog Who Is Just A Geek Like The Rest Of Us.

It's so weird to look back on the time that is covered in Just A Geek, because my life has changed so profoundly since then. I can so clearly recall thinking, "This will be great. All these people will be angry and go on and on about how I'll ruin Star Trek because they hate Wesley so much, and then I can be all, HA HA YOU GOT MAD FOR NOTHING IT WAS ALL A JOKE HA HA." It never occurred to me that anyone would be legitimately happy for me, let alone excited about the whole thing.

And you know what? Every single time I read anything from Just A Geek, I really want to do the Obligatory One Man Show called "Wil Wheaton is Just A Geek" where I distill the entire thing into 90 minutes or two hours, and perform it. I've done a lot of writing since I wrote this book, but it still means more to me than I can express in words (or pictures, which isn't really saying much because I can't draw for shit.)

Finally, this is probably a good time to mention that you can get your very own copy of Just A Geek: Teh Audio Book from my store at Lulu. As a bonus, if you buy it today and enter the code APRILFOOLS at checkout, you'll save 10%.

Happy April, everyone. The First Of May is just one month away…

You just keep on trying, until you run out of cake.

Yesterday, I wrote:

Well, the power just went out, so it's time for me to pack up my Mac and head out to a cafe with WiFi where I can work on my novel in front of people and get this posted. The weird thing is, while it's likely going to take an hour at least from the time I finish writing this paragraph until it actually posts on the internet, there is no perceived delay from whoever reads this, because as far as you're concerned, the post didn't exist until it was published, though it already existed for me.

Um. Yeah. I'm sure someone who's actually studied physics is going to knock me around for that, but since my knowledge of the field is limited to what I've picked up on my own, it's a fun thought exercise.

Okay, little post, go sit in an eigenstate for the nice people.

Reader Gevmage says:

Your analogy is reasonable. The post existed on your laptop while you drove to the coffee shop, in a state such that it was stable but not portable. Once you got to the coffee shop, by connecting to the internet, you promoted it to an energy state where it could slide easily through the intertubes to our screens.

Since quantum mechanics describes ONLY the behavior of the very small, it has problems when extended directly to the macroscopic (which the idea of Shroedinger's cat is an illustration). You extended the notion as well as it could be.

The eigenvalue then is just a scalar logical value indicating if the post is visible to the world. Every eigenvalue has to have a corresponding operator; the operator is a complicated set of tests of whether or not if you point our browser at wilwheaton.typepad.com, you get a certain character string that's in the post.

Why yes, I am procrastinating, why do you ask? :-D

Even though I don't understand the math behind quantum physics, I have a good enough grasp of the theory behind quantum physics to allow me to follow along when the math is discussed. Put another way: I know enough French and Spanish to put together what someone is telling me, but not enough to actually sit down and compose a letter in that language.

I'm sure I've just oversimplified the whole thing, and insulted a lot of actual scientists and mathematicians, so let me apologize for that before I continue, because I think I'm about to make it even worse.

I was easily bored as a kid. I wasn't athletic, strong or coordinated, but I was smart and I loved to read. I still enjoyed playing tag, hide and seek, and riding bikes, but none of that stuff satisfied me the same way that exploring imagined worlds in my mind did. Those imagined worlds were usually delivered in the form of Science Fiction and Fantasy books, within D&D modules, and occasionally created (or spun off from existing imagined worlds) using action figures. (I guess it's no surprise, then, that I make my living and found my place in life using my imagination.)

I always loved exploring strange new worlds in books and magazines (Dear Asimov's, I never thought it would happen to me, but …) and there was even a time in my late teens when I actively sought out all the weird conspiracy, occult, UFO and supernatural stuff I could find (I truly despise that crap today) because even though I knew it was bullshit, it was yet another weird and fantastic imagined world to explore.

As I wrote in an old Things I Love post, it was the book Hyperspace that fundamentally changed my worldview:

omeone (I think it was my brother) suggested that I read A Brief History of Time. I picked it up, read it in just a couple of days, and realized that my life could be divided into before I read it, and after I read it. On my next trip to the bookstore, I went straight to the science section, and looked for something – anything – to continue my education.

My eyes fell on a book with an interesting cover, and a provocative title: Hyperspace: A scientific odyssey through parallel universes, time warps, and the 10th dimension. It was written by a guy called Michio Kaku. I pulled it off the shelf, and after just a few pages, I was hooked.

There's a story in Hyperspace, right at the beginning, that I'm going to paraphrase. It's the story that grabbed my attention, captured my imagination, and fundamentally altered the way I thought about the nature of existence. I already had "before and after" with A Brief History of Time, and when I got to the end of this story, I had "before and after I read about the fish scientists." The story goes something like this:

In San Francisco, there's this botanical garden, and near the entrance there is a pond that's filled with koi fish. Dr. Kaku describes standing there, looking at the fish one day, and wondering what it would be like if the fish had a society as complex and advanced as our own, but the whole thing was confined to the pond, and they had no idea that there was a whole other world just beyond the surface of the water. In the fish world, there were fish scientists, and if a human were to pluck one of them from the pond, show it our world, and return it to the pond, it would go back to the other fish scientists and say, "Guys! You're never going to believe this. I was just doing my thing, and suddenly, this mysterious force pulled me from our world and showed me another, where the creatures don't need gills to breathe, and walk on two legs!"

The other scientists would look at it, and ask it how it got to this new world, but it wouldn't be able to explain it. They'd want the scientist to recreate it, but it wouldn't be able to. The fish scientist would know, however, that the other world was there, and that there was something just as complex as life in the pond on the other side of some mysterious barrier that they couldn't seem to penetrate.

I'm sure I've mangled the story, but that's essentially what I remember from it. I thought, "Well, shit, if there could be a world like that in the pond, maybe we are in something else's pond!" I didn't know if it was possible, I didn't know if it was just science fiction, but I didn't care. It was this incredible possibility, and my world opened up again. I felt like I'd been granted membership in a secret society. I devoured the book, and I began to think about the nature of existence in ways that I'd never even considered before. When I finally read Flatland a few years later, I was blown away that Abbot had written essentially the same story a hundred years earlier, in 1884, and I was thrilled that I could actually understand it.

My elementary school teachers were real good at putting the fear of God into us kids, but they were just horrible at teaching us math. I tried and tried, but I never understood it, and "you have to learn this because you have to learn it" wasn't the type of inspiration that worked for me. Even today, I'm not very good at math, never having found that teacher who could translate it into something I could actually use and appreciate. 

Growing up, I was a creative kid, an imaginative kid, and while I loved reading and learning about scientists and mathematicians, I never had a teacher or tutor who could help teenage me understand their work the way I understood their lives. (NB: My tutor while I was on Star Trek, Marion, who took me through most of high school, did everything she could to help me get excited about math, but to borrow from a parable: that ground in my brain had never been cultivated, and it just wasn't fertile enough to bear fruit.)

My lack of mathematical ability held me back in science, and it prevented me from ever studying physics or astronomy at anything exceeding the "for dummies" level. Here's a sad and embarrassing truth: I still can't sit down and develop equations for things, I struggle to calculate simple problems that my kids can do in their heads (they were taught math in a fundamentally different way than I was) and few things make me feel as stupid and frustrated as a simple algebra problem.

But when I sit down to read books like Hyperspace, articles about the LHC, anything my friend Phil Plait writes, or comments like the one I quoted above, I understand what they're talking about. I get excited, and take a look at a world that seems fantastic and imagined, but is actually real and right here.

I seem to have wandered away from the reason I sat down to write this post, so let me try to bring it all back together: I love exploring fantastic worlds that only exist in books and my imagination. But I also I love exploring the real world, which is so amazing, it just seems imagined.

(I once read a story about this for an audiobook. I forget the title, but it was about a kid who wanted to leave Earth with a dimension-hopping guy to explore the universe, and the dimension-hopping guy tells him that he shouldn't leave Earth for parts unknown until he really explores all the wonderful and incredible things that Earth has to offer, because due to the laws of dimension-hopping, it's a one-way trip. I wonder if that's still in print? I'd love to listen to it.)

I still wish I had a better understanding of the science and math that makes understanding and exploring the most fantastic parts of our real world possible, but until I do, I'm happy I have a pocket phrase book and a tourist map to help me get around a little bit.

“What on earth did nerds do in the 1980s to figure this all out?”

I'm way late to the party on this, but I just started reading Spook Country this week. Unlike most Gibson books I've read, it doesn't ramp up slowly, and instead hits the ground running (that's not a bad thing). I'm only 30 pages in (it's been a busy week without a lot of time to read) but I'm pretty sure I'm going to like it; I can easily connect to the tone, the characters, the setting, and the storytelling style he uses.

When I logged into Goodreads this morning to put it on my bookshelf, I saw that people had Memories of the Future on their lists, and a few readers had reviewed it (overall, they seem to like it, which pleases me.) One of the readers mentioned that my book was recommended to her by a blog called Stacked. I took at look, and here's what I found:

Christina [Stacked's editor] is watching the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation for the first time ever and reviewing episodes in conjunction with Wil Wheaton's book Memories of the Future.

Christina calls the project Amnesia of the Future, which I just love because it's clever, and I enjoy clever things, as you may already know. I've just read the posts she's done so far (she's up to Code of Honor), and I really enjoyed them. Allow me to share some highlights:

Farpoint

Episode: If someone were to tell me that in a few hundred years humans will regularly be traveling vast swaths of space and encountering other intelligent life forms, I would not at all be surprised to find giant. space. jellyfish included amongst the aliens. Actually, I think it’s kind of cool and in my next life would like to come back as one.

MotF: Post entertaining recap of the episodes, was the “Behind the Scenes Memory” which brings a rather cool dimension to the show. Despite the faults Wil Wheaton points out about the two part episode, they were obviously doing something right. I didn’t notice the repetition of background actors during the mall scene and, even after having it pointed out, re-watched the episode and still missed them despite telling myself “Hey, self, look out for the repeat actors!”

The Naked Now

Episode: …the assistant engineer is acting like a five-year-old attempting to master Jenga and Wesley Crusher is speaking way to coherently for a drunken fourteen-year-old. In fact, he doesn’t seem much different from the previous episode’s overly-exuberant puppynerd self. Shouldn’t a normal drunk teenager be slurring and trying to get laid? 

Dear Wesley, I hope you enjoy being a virgin for the rest of your life. You might want to start stocking up on pocket protectors now.

MotF: I’m so smart! Wil Wheaton also feels that this episode came too soon.  I definitely think that moving it back to a later spot in the season would have been a wise move and an opportunity to play with the repressed desires of the characters that would be bound to come out when intoxicated.

Code of Honor

Episode: Ultimately, the episode was just as hokey for me as The Naked Now. I appreciate the analogy and moral questions raised and the set-up for what happens rolls out very nicely. But where is the Jell-O? If you’re going to have juvenile boy-thoughts about a girl fight, shouldn’t they be in bikinis and Jell-O?  Give them such “advanced” weaponry and have them fight on the set of Flashdance, but Tasha gets to remain in her uniform with her communicator on?  At least Yarinna got to wear a pink lamé bodysuit and come out like the reigning champion.

MotF: Really Wil Wheaton? Pillow fight was as good as you could come up with? Were you afraid of trademark issue in mentioning Jell-O? Because Jell-O fight trumps pillow fight any day. At least you had the Beavis and Butthead running joke. I found that to be infantile and pointless at first, but you pulled it off nicely.

Now I kind of can't wait for her next bout of amnesia (cue the All My Circuits theme) because it's interesting and entertaining to read the first-time impressions of a new TNG viewer 22 years after we made the show, especially when that viewer is reviewing my book in tandem with the episodes. It's just so delightfully meta, I couldn't not link to it. I'll be interested to see if she gets the same facepalm fatigue I started to get, and when it arrives if she does.

Speaking of Memories of the Future, I thought some of you may like to know that work has begun on Volume Two; Angel One is ready to go beneath Andrew's Red Pen of Doom.

Memories of the Futurecast: Episode Three

Futurecast700px-CHey look! It's Monday, and that means it's time for a new Memories of the Futurecast.

Memories of the Future, Volume One, covers the first 13 episodes of TNG, so each week, I'm choosing something from one episode, and performing an excerpt for you. It will mostly be from the synopses, which is where I think the real humor of the book lives, but from time to time, I may work in some things from the other parts.

Two important things:

  1. This does not mean the book comes out in 13 weeks. It comes out much sooner than that.
  2. These are not excerpted from an audiobook. These are recorded specifically for this podcast. I'm not sure if I'll do a full-length audiobook, yet, but I'm open to the idea.

Episode Notes:

  • The Memories of the Futurecast works hard to earn its [EXPLICIT] tag. You have been warned.
  • This week's episode is The Naked Now. I read some of the synopsis and all of The Bottom Line. I also found a memory (of the future) that I hadn't thought about in years, and decided to share it with the class.
  • This week's theme music is Dropping Out of School by Brad Sucks, from his album Out of It. I used it under Creative Commons from Magnatune dot Com. Yay!
  • Garageband doesn't seem to be embedding artwork (designed by Will Hindmarch, who did the cover and interior design for the book) no matter what I do. I'm aware of the problem, but I don't know how to fix it.
  • Memories of the Futurecast is AB negative.
  • Memories of the Futurecast gives +3 to all Gnomes in the party.
  • Memories of the Futurecast will take you out for a nice fish dinner, and never call you back.
  • Memories of the Futurecast is about 21 minutes long this week.
  • Memories of the Futurecast weighs in at 19MB this week.

Download Memories of the Futurecast episode 3

in which bad golf is played and news items are discussed

Last week, I took Nolan to the 3 par golf course I played on all the time as a teenager for a round of what we call Bad Golf. 

The rules of Bad Golf are pretty simple:

1. If you completely blow it on a shot, you get an automatic do-over, no penalty.

2. If you miss the cup by a distance equal to or less than the head on your putter, you count it as "in the hole", so long as you shout, "it's in the hole!"

3. If you somehow hit a squirrel (unintentionally) you automatically win the round.

4. Once a round, you can call "that was totally bullshit" and have a do-over.

5. You must quote Caddyshack whenever appropriate.

These rules were built by me and my friend Kevin when we were in our early 20s, because we loved golf, but were truly horrible at the actual playing of it. They worked out well for us, because they forced us to not take the game too seriously, and gave us a number of excuses to have fun, even when we were playing poorly (which was always.)

This was the first time Nolan or I had picked up a club since the last time we played on this course three years ago, when Nolan was still shorter than me. We played the front 9, invoked Rules 1 and 2 a few times, and had a blast. I shot 37 because I am the master of the four-putt, and Nolan shot 40 because he's taller and stronger than he was last time we played, and even trying to take it easy with his pitching wedge, he was flying over most of the greens. Like everything I do with my kids, though, it wasn't about the score of the game as much as it was about the time spent playing it.

On the way home, I saw a lot of signs around the golf course that pointed to a website called SaveTheGolfCourse.org. When I got home, I looked it up and was horrified to discover that a dirtbag developer is trying to destroy the Verdugo Hills Golf Course and build 320 condos on the land. A lot of residents are fighting it, and I hope they win. I love that place, it's a real treasure for everyone who lives in Sunland, Tujunga, and La Crescenta, and the last thing that area needs is more condos.

And now, various items for your Sunday reading, starting with some book-related things:

I have the final cover for Memories of the Future Volume One, and I'll be posting it next week. Yes, this means that the official release date is right around the corner.

I think I'm bringing a limited-edition chapbook to PAX. If I can get it all together, it will be a short fiction collection, including unpublished stories that I'm pretty sure don't suck.

Jim C. Hines, author of the wonderful book Goblin Quest, read Just A Geek and wrote some extraordinarily kind things about me and my book in his blog.

My columns at Suicide Girls and the LA Weekly, which have been on summer vacation, will be starting up again next month.

For the last two weeks, I've been jogging just a little bit every day, so I can get my skeleton and muscles used to the idea of me doing more physical activity than just sitting at my desk and writing (remember, I've resolved to play ice hockey again before the year is out, and with just four months left, I'm running out of time.) I take my iPod with me and listen to podcasts while I'm out, and I wanted to point out two recent episodes that I enjoyed: From Escape Pod, Carthago Delenda Est and from Stuff You Should Know, The Necronomicon

Back in March, I posted about the debut of my friend Ed's webseries, Angel of Death:

Angel of Death stars Zoe Bell (who you've seen double all kinds of people, but probably didn't know it. She also spent much of Death Proof
riding around on the hood of a car being awesome) as an assassin who
"gets stabbed through the skull; she survives, but the head injury
leaves her with an awkward side effect: She
suddenly develops a conscience."

Though Angel of Death was originally released as an episodic webseries, I guess they always intended to eventually release it as a feature film, and last night, Nolan and I finally got to watch that version on DVD. It looks and sounds great, and the story plays even better on TV than it did in my browser. If you liked Kill Bill, Grindhouse, or Sin City, I think you'll like Angel of Death.

I came across a blog called Study Hacks (via Reddit) that is worth a look, especially if you're a student.

As it turns out, I'm all over the damn place next week: Season 3 of The Guild premieres on Xbox Live on Tuesday the 25th, my episode of Leverage airs on Wednesday the 26th, and the newest D&D Penny Arcade Podcast begins on Friday the 28th.

reminder: book and a beer tonight

It's always kind of silly to post these things a few hours before the event (or, in this case, auto-post via programmable future-scope earlier this week) but if nothing else, anyone who came to the thing (which, once again, is in the future as I write this, the quantum reality matrix threatening to unravel around me any second now) can use this post to talk about it.

Now, on to business:

What: Wil Wheaton reads to you while you drink beer.
Why: Really?
When: Thursday July 23rd, 6pm-8pm.
Where: Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens
Address: 1999 Citricado Pkwy. Escondido, CA 92029

Original post, what is filled with words and phrases most mirthful and descriptive.

to properly commemorate the anniversary of patrick stewart’s birth (or: happy birthday, old baldy)

There are two ways that I can commemorate Patrick Stewart's birthday, today.
The first:

And the second, which comes in two parts. The first part should illustrate how awesome Patrick is, and why I like him so much. The second part should remove any lingering doubt.

This is from Chapter Seven of Just A Geek, which is titled A Sort of Homecoming. It recalls a convention appearance I did with Patrick, Jonathan and Brent in 2001. Wow, 2001 … was I really just 29 when I wrote this? I guess I was.

A deep, commanding voice bounced off the marble floor of the hallway, and filled the room before its creator crossed the threshold.

“Are there Star Trek people in this room?” it boomed, “I just love those Star Trek people!”

We all turned to the door, as Patrick Stewart walked in.

Patrick is one of the most disarming people I've ever met. If you only know him as Captain Picard, or Professor Xavier, his mirthful exuberance is shocking. Patrick is one of the most professional and talented actors I've ever known, but he's also one of the most fun.

“Bob Goulet? I haven't seen you in ages, man! You look great!” he said to Brent, and hugged him.

“Jonathan Frakes! I am a big fan,” he smiled at Jonny and hugged him to.

He turned to me. “Who are you? You look familiar, but . . . I can't place you.”

“Wil Wheaton, Mr. Stewart,” I said.

He looked thoughtful for a moment and shook his head. “I'm sorry, but it doesn't ring a bell.”

“I was Wesley on Next Generation,” I said.

“Get out! You were never that young!” he said.

“Oh, but I was, sir,” I replied, solemnly, “I believe we spent some time in a shuttlecraft together.”

He nodded slowly, but remained unconvinced. “Go on . . .”

“That's all I've got, man,” I laughed.

“Wil, darling, you look wonderful.” he said with a huge smile. He held his arms wide, and pulled me into a warm embrace. “I am so happy to see you!”

He held me at arm's length, and looked at me. Even though Patrick and I are the same height, I felt, like always, that he towered above me.

“You too,” I said. 

*******

This is also from Chapter 7 of Just a Geek. This excerpt picks up right as I’m about to wrap shooting on Nemesis.

The day is a blurred composite of images, and no matter how hard I try, I can't get my brain to separate them into individual memories. All I can clearly recall is how I spent the day spiraling around the Yin and Yang of joy and sorrow, until the director called cut on the final take.

"Thank you, everyone!" The First AD called out, "That is a company wrap for today, and picture wrap for Wil Wheaton!"

There was some polite applause from the crew, who really didn't know me, and some very genuine applause from Patrick and Gates, the only cast members who were still on the stage. They walked over, and embraced me. We knew that this was the real Journey's End for me and Wesley Crusher, but we didn't talk about it.

"I'm going to walk back," Patrick said to me. "Would you like to walk together?"

"I'd like that a lot," I said.

It was late, but not nearly as late as it had been the night before, and it was very cold as we walked through the "New York Street" area of the back lot.

"Remember when they built this for Bronx Zoo?" I said. "I used to come over here and pretend it was real."

Patrick slowed, then stopped. A huge arclight towered over us. Apple boxes and cables ran into the facade of a deli, and someone had left a styrofoam cup half-filled with coffee on the window ledge.

"When I first came here to audition for Next Generation," he said, "I didn't know if I'd ever get a chance to be on a backlot again, so I left the casting office, and spent nearly an hour's time walking round here."

He began to walk again.

"That's so weird," I said. "I mean . . . here you are, fifteen years later."

He smiled. "I know. I remember worrying that the security department would catch me, and I'd end up in a great deal of trouble!"

We laughed together.

"I've lost count of the number of times I had run-ins with the security department." I said. "Most of them involved dangerously speeding around the lot in a 'borrowed' golf cart, or playing music too loudly in my dressing room.

"I wish I'd been able to hang out with you guys when we were doing this every day," I said.

"Oh, my dear, you missed out on a great deal of fun!" His voice became excited. "The late Friday nights when we'd close down Nickodell's [A restaurant that used to be on Melrose, with a backdoor that opened right onto the Paramount lot. It was bulldozed for "progress" in the 1990s] were great!"

"Can I tell you something?" I said.

"Of course," he said.

"I really blew it when I was here before. I should have treasured the experience that I had working with you guys, and I didn't. I'm really sorry that I was such a dick when I was a teenager."

He stopped again, and put his hand on my shoulder. "Wil, my dear, you were a teenager. We all understood."

"Really?"

"Yes. And when we worked together, I always related to you as an actor, first, and you were a lovely actor. You know, I wasn't thrilled about working with a child, but working with you was a great pleasure."

What do you say to that? How do you respond, when it comes from the man who was, for all intents and purposes, a father figure, mentor, role model, and hero? If you're me, you say, "I'm so sad that this is over for me."

"So am I," he said we began to walk again. As we turned the corner and neared stages 8 and 9, I saw someone come out of the stage.

"Hey! That's Brad Yacobian!" I said.

"It is!" Patrick said. "Hello! Brad!"

Brad started as a First AD on Next Generation, and has worked on all the incarnations of Star Trek since then. He was working as the co-producer and unit production manager on Enterprise.

"Hey you guys," he said. "Are you just wrapping?"

"Oh yes. It's Thursday, you know." Patrick said. Brad smiled a knowing smile, and I laughed. See, production usually starts out with early calls on Monday, but the Screen Actor's Guild requires a 12 hour break for the actors between their release, and the next day's call time. So if we start at 8, but don't wrap until 10, we won't start until 10 the next day, and so on. This doesn't happen very often, because it's very expensive for the studios, and if a show isn't starting until the afternoon on Thursday, it usually means that the director is incompetent, the schedule is very complicated, or a little of both.

"Director
or schedule?" Brad said.

"Schedule," Patrick said. He pronounced it with a soft "ch" sound, like "shelf." I suppressed a giggle.

"Who's working tonight?" I asked, hoping the answer would be "Jolene Blalock, and she wants to see you without your pants in her trailer right now."

Brad looked at his call sheet. "I think Scott is still here –"

"Is he in his trailer?" Patrick asked.

"Yeah. You want to say hello?" Brad said.

Oh my god. I'm going to stand with Patrick while he talks to Scott Bakula!

"I'd like to, yes."

Brad walked us to Scott's trailer. It was in the same place where Patrick's trailer was so many years ago.

That's a little weird.

He rapped twice on the door, and from behind it, a muffled voice emerged. "Yeah?"

"Scott, it's Brad. I have someone here who wants to say 'hello.'"

I thought back to all the times I heard this when I was on the other side of that door, and felt a little uncomfortable. The door opened, and there was Scott Bakula, in that cool Enterprise jumpsuit.

"Hey, Patrick! How are you?" He said.

Oh . . . they know each other. Interesting.

"I'm well," he said. "Scott, this is Wil Wheaton, he plays Wesley Crusher."

Plays Wesley, not played Wesley. That was cool.

He extended his hand and I shook it.

"It's really nice to meet you," I said. "How are you guys doing?"

"It's Thursday night," he said with a tired grin.

"Some things never change, I guess, " I said.

We all laughed.

"Listen, Scott," Patrick said. "I've been on and off the lot for several weeks now, and I should have come over much sooner to say hello to you."

"Thank you," Scott said. "I've seen you pass by several times, but I've always been too busy to say hello myself."

They talked for several minutes about the things that you talk about, I guess, when you're the captain of the Enterprise. I remember Patrick said, "You're doing a wonderful job," and I realized that he was having the conversation with Scott that Shatner should have had with him in 1987; he was passing the torch to — well, to the next generation.

I looked at Brad, and before either one of us could say anything, his walkie said, "We're ready for First Team on the bridge." How many times had I stood in this exact spot, and heard those exact words, over the years?

"Gotta go to work," he said. "I'm so glad you stopped by. I'll come over and visit you . . . are you on 16?"

"Shortly," Patrick said. "We're on 29 until tomorrow, then location."

Scott shook my hand. "It was nice to meet you."

"You too."

"Have a good night, you guys," Brad said, as they walked into the stage. He keyed his walkie and said, "I have Scott, and we're walking . . . "

I turned to Patrick. "That was very cool, man."

Patrick just nodded.

We arrived back at the dressing rooms. My trailer was farther away than his, so I said, "I guess this is goodbye."

"Not goodbye," he said. "Farewell."

Happy Birthday, Old Baldy. I miss you.