Tag Archives: just a geek

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…

In which the audio versions of Happiest Days and Just A Geek get a new home

I've had such a great experience using Lulu to sell Sunken Treasure and Memories of the Future, Volume One, I have decided to start out 2010 by moving the audio versions of The Happiest Days of Our Lives and Just A Geek to Lulu. It made a lot of sense to me to keep all of my self-published work together in one place, and hopefully this will make ordering even faster and easier than it already was.

Now, for the sake of completeness and making a post that's more than 70 words, here's a little bit about my audiobooks, which I yanked from the Audiobooks tag on Wil Wheaton Books dot Com:

The Happiest Days of Our Lives

You can buy the audio version of The Happiest Days of Our Lives right here, for just $19.72. "Why $19.72?" You ask? Because that's the year I was born, and since nobody else is the boss of me, I can do that sort of thing. "How long is it?" You say? "That's what she said!" I reply. Then I tell you that it's about three and a-half hours long, and we laugh and laugh before the episode ends with a hilarious freeze frame.

Like the audio version of Just A Geek, this is a super-annotated edition, filled with tons of what I call "audio footnotes" for lack of a less stupid-sounding term. I hope we've created something that's more like sitting down in a room with me while I tell you stories, than it is a typical audiobook. I don't think a traditional publisher would let me get away with doing it this way, which is a big reason I do these things on my own. If you've ever heard meperform my work at a show, or listened to any of my podcasts, you should have some idea of what you're getting into.

Just A Geek

I'm very proud of this, my first audio book. I've talked in the past about what a huge letdown my experience wih O'Reilly was on the print version of the book, and much of the joy I'd hoped to feel with its release has instead come from the recording of the audio version, which ended up being a performance, with asides, commentary, and reflections on the material that aren't in the print version of the book. I guess it's like I'm reading the book to you, and occasionally setting it down to give some meta-commentary on various passages.

So if you liked the print book, my PAX keynotemy performance of The Trade, or if you like my podcasts, I'm pretty sure you'll dig the audiobook.

For the Lulu release of Just A Geek: The Audiobook, I was able to include a PDF scan of the booklet I created for its previous release, which I think is pretty cool. (If you already own the audio version of JAG and would like a copy of the PDF booklet, just e-mail me and I'll get it to you as quickly as I can.)

My audiobooks are quite different from traditional audiobooks. Rather than create a dramatic interpretation of the literal text, which is what I do when I voice another author's book (Like Peter & Max: A Fables Novel, which I did for Bill Willingham), I am able to use my experience as an actor to bring the words and characters to life while adding my own commentary. The result is much closer to hearing or seeing me perform my material live than getting an audio version of the text.

For both of these books, I worked with my friend David Lawrence, who in addition to producing them, participated in some interesting conversations along the way. In fact, we added so much material through our conversations and my additional commentary, we only half-jokingly call them superannotated versions of the books. It's the sort of thing that I doubt I'd be able to get away with if I wasn't doing this entirely on my own, and I'm really glad that we did the books this way, because I think it makes them special and unique. The feedback I've gotten from customers is overwhelmingly positive, and it appears that my goal of making the listener feel like we're sitting down together while I read to them has been successfully achieved.

Okay, before I sign off, I'm going to address a couple of FAQs that usually come up when my aubiobooks are mentioned:

Q: How about some stats, man?

A: Happiest Days is $19.72, about 3.5 hours long, and is about a 200MB download. Just A Geek is $20.00, about 9 hours long, and is about a 400MB download.

Q: Why is Just a Geek only 28 cents more if it's so much longer?

A: That's what she said! Oh, um. Sorry. Because it's been available for so long, and the old pricing model we used when it was originally released needed to be updated. Look, I know that people can just steal it if they want to, so I figured it was better to make it more affordable for people who want to be honest.

Q: How about a discount if I get them together?

A: I wish I could do that, but I'd have to make a whole new project at Lulu, and I don't think there's enough market demand for that.

Q: Can I get this from Audible?

A: Not right now.

Q: Why not?

A: Two main reasons: Audible takes a huge cut of the purchase price, and for an indie guy like me it's not worth it. Audible also requires DRM, which I'd like to avoid as long as possible. Now, to be super-clear: if Audible could somehow open up my work to tens of thousands of new customers, I think it would be a fair trade off. However, my experience in traditional publishing leads me to believe that that isn't going to happen. I think I can reach 

Q: So why not do it anyway? Why not sell them directly yourself and also use Audible?

A: Hurm. That's a good question, and I can't come up with a very good reason that's more comprehensive than, "because I don't want to deal with the hassle and potential rejection from Audible." 

Q: So you're going to eventually do that?

A: Well … it seems silly not to, now, doesn't it? Tell you what: once I get everything I need to do under control and I'm not behind on a crapton of deadlines, I'll look into Audible, assuming that they'll even be interested in having me.

Q: So should I just wait, then?

A: Facepalm.

Q: Are you going to do audio versions of your other books?

A: I've meant to do a Dancing Barefoot for years, and just never got around to it. If enough people are interested, though, I will. I bet I could give Barefoot a really neat superannotated treatment, especially since I've leveled up so much since I wrote it.

Q: What about Memories of the Future?

A: I really don't know. It takes a lot of time and energy to produce an audiobook, and I don't know if there are enough buyers to make it worth the time it would take to create a Memories audiobook all at once. I've thought about doing it episodically, so if only 20 people are interested, I've only wasted two hours instead of forty, but I'm not sure that would work. But there's always the Memories of the Futurecast, guys.

Q: Hey, is it weird to essentially have a conversation with yourself and present it as a FAQ?

A: Keep your questions on-topic, please.

Q: It's just that, I think it's kind of weird.

A: That isn't a question.

Q: Oh, so the voice in your head can say you're awesome and you'll let that slip by, but if I point out that it's a little weird, you're just going to blow me off?

A: Pretty much. Yes. Okay, um … you in the back?

Q: Hey, I don't have a question, but I just wanted to say that you're awesome.

A: Why thank you. That's very kind of you.

Q: And tell us, once again, where we can get these fabulous audiobooks, please?

A: Great question. You can go to my storefront at Lulu to find just about everything I've recently published, or you can go directly to Just A Geek: The Audiobook or The Happiest Days of Our Lives: The Audiobook.

Annnd, scene. Thanks for reading and (hopefully) listening. Remember to tell all your friends, and be sure to drink your Ovaltine.

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.