Category Archives: Television

finally being included is everything to me

Last night, TNG was given the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 51st Saturn Awards. (The Saturn is the sort of the Oscar for genre movies and television, if you aren’t familiar.)

I have never cared about awards (I think I’ve mentioned that being nominated is more than enough), and I still don’t. I’m not minimizing this, to be clear. It’s fucking awesome. But I didn’t need an award to know that I am part of something special.

Photo via I was standing on the other side of Dorn, until Gates insisted I stand with her. I’m not crying, you’re crying.

The thing about last night, though, is that for the first time in almost 30 years, when the TNG cast was recognized and celebrated, I was finally included. (Put another way, I was not deliberately excluded). I got to stand on stage with my TNG family, arm around my Spacemom, while a room of our peers, including people I idolize, cheered for us.

And I got to be part of it. After all these years, that meant everything to me.

have your fondest wish, my friend

In TNG’s first … we will generously say “uneven” season, Q gives Riker his powers, with … unexpected … consequences. He goes on this “wish granting” spree in the fourth act, which includes a moment with Wesley that’s memorable for maybe not the reasons the writers intended. (Here I am, talking about it on Memories of the Futurecast)

This episode and its moment set the stage for this, from Star Trek Wholesome Posting on Facebook.

Some number of you are laughing at this because you recognize the references. But I have noticed that this is the first time a lot of people are seeing The Infamous Clown Sweater, so this is how I answered what became a FAQ:

“I did this fundraiser for EFF in San Francisco in … 2001? 2002? Something like that. It was at DNA Lounge, and after we were done, this person came up to me with this horrific sweater (jumper, for you non-Americans). They told me it was part of The Infamous Clown Sweater Project. What’s that, I asked. They told me they are getting as many people as possible to wear it and pose for a photo, which they would then upload to their webpage — not website, webpage, because it was 2001 or so — for all to see.

“Of course I was down for it, and that face I’m making in the first photo is my very real reaction to the awful stank that was just infused in the acrylic fibers.

“The second picture is from a con about … 2014? Something like that, based on how I look. Someone actually made their own version of that horrible sweater for me. One arm is too long, on purpose, the neck is all stretched out, on purpose, and it fits poorly, on purpose. It’s so damn funny to me, and it came along at a moment when we were doing this “then and now” thing on Twitter (before the fascists took over).

“I still have the second sweater. I have no idea what happened to the original. Last time I checked, the website that hosted all those pictures — so old it was manually coded in html, predating even Flickr — was lost to the sands of time.

“But it never fails to make me smile when this picture comes back around. It reminds me of a specific time, when there was just so much hope for the online future we were all building.”

I’ve done a LOT of things involving The Infamous Clown Sweater over the years. It’s never not funny to me, it’s moment has long come and gone, but when it shows up (which is does, about once a year), I always enjoy it.

And for those of you who are too young to know what Riker giving Wesley his “fondest wish” is, well …

Wesley wanted to grow up to be a blue-eyed blonde who I’m pretty sure the costume designer wanted to fuck?

GEORDI! GROSS! You’re not helping!

Look. I love you, Commander Riker, but … you’re gonna want to try again. Wesley’s fondest wish rhymes with “marathon betazoid orgy on risa”.

I assure you that I am a fully functional human with a backstory and everything.

Yesterday, in r/losangeles, someone asked folks to share their weirdest celebrity encounter. This comes up about every three months, and regular posters in that subreddit know that it’s only a matter of time before the entire thread is horrifying, shocking, come-on-that-never-happened tales starring Andy Dick. Like, every single time. And the stories are always different, though basically the same.

So I went into that thread to see how long it took for the Andy Dick stories to get to the top (4 hours) and saw someone relate how they saw Gary Busey at LAX, and he was just sort of badgering everyone who was near him. I commented that I have seen him at LAX two different times, separated by at least a decade, and he was doing exactly that both times. You know that Far Side “How Nature Says Do Not Touch”? This is where I gesture toward Gary Busey and his teeth.

In response to that, someone asked me to flip the thread and share my weirdest fan encounter. I don’t know that I have one that’s weird (the space between weird and terrifying in this instance is measured in microns), but I do have two that are especially memorable, so I shared those.

I’ve had people behave in appalling ways, treating me like a thing, like a Pokemon to be caught and displayed. One guy followed me into a bathroom at an airport, literally trying to shove a pile of 8x10s into my face while I was at the urinal. I’m a generally laid back person, and I lost my shit at that guy. In retrospect, I should have just peed all over him. His version of the story must be … interesting.

But that’s a real outlier. I’m so lucky that I seem to draw the attention of kind and gentle people more than anything else, so those are the people who tend to approach and interact with me.

My favorite (well, most memorable) experience in recent memory was about … maybe six or seven years ago. My wife and I were in San Francisco for work, and we were waiting at a light to cross the street. This guy comes up from our left, jogging, and as he passes us, this sixth sense I have developed to keep me safe tells me that this guy just made me, and I need to be aware of that. Luckily for me, there are endless escape routes in this moment, but something in this guy’s body language tells me I won’t need them. (Hypervigilance, which is part of my body’s response to trauma, takes all of that stuff in, processes it, and blares it all back at like an air raid siren in the span of about a second and a half. WE ARE AT DEFCON 2 PEOPLE.)

He stops jogging and does that jogging backwards thing. He says, “Are you on The Big Bang Theory?”

He’s jogging in place which always looks funny to me, even though I’m a runner and do it myself.

I tell him that I am. His face lights up. “I knew it! Oh man! I love you on that show!”


“Thank you!”

Then he takes a second while he’s thinking of something and says, “this is embarrassing. I know that your character is Wil Wheaton, but I don’t know what your name is.”

That’s when I got to tell him that I am Wil Wheaton Prime, and that the Wil Wheaton he sees is a character.

“I had no idea you were a real person!” He said. Then, he kind of caught himself, like maybe he’d insulted me or been unkind.

Oh buddy. You have no idea.

“Oh, I assure you, I am a fully functional human being with a backstory and everything,” I laughed.

He laughed with me. The light changed. We did a terrorist fist jab, and went on our separate ways.

I related this to Anne last night. She remembered all these things, because she was there for them.

“Weird shit happens around us a lot,” I said, “because of this weird job I have. But I read that whole thing, and I gotta tell you how grateful I am to know that I’m never showing up in one of those threads as the bad guy in someone’s story.”

“Except the bathroom guy,” she said.

I laughed. “I would love to hear that guy justify how he was the aggrieved party in that story.”

Of course, I know what that guy told himself. He told himself that he waited at the airport for hours and I owed him. That’s a thing that happens all the time, and it’s why I have this blanket policy of never engaging in photos and autographs at airports, ever, for any reason. And I don’t feel guilty about it. I used to, sure, thanks to all my mom’s conditioning, but I gotta tell you, the day I said to a belligerent guy at PDX, calmly and simply, “No, I’m not signing anything for you and I don’t care how long you waited here. You chose to do that, and I don’t owe you anything. Respect my boundaries.” And walked away while he sputtered in self righteous anger? Yeah, that felt great.

I am a fully functional human being with a backstory and everything. 99% of people I encounter know and honor that, and I am so grateful.

ask me how i know

This is a thing that comes up frequently. Someone wonders why Picard put Wesley, who was a teenager, at the helm of the Enterprise.

Surely, the argument goes, there are more qualified, experienced, adults on board who deserve the spot.

This most recently came across my Event Horizon, thusly:

“… The better question is how did this completely unqualified child get to actively pilot the flagship of the federation while others had to attend the academy for years and get multiple placements before even being considered.”

I NEVER respond, but today I felt like Wesley deserved someone to speak up for him, so why not me?

I replied:

“Okay, so. Disclosure: I am the actor who played Wesley. I have spent a great deal of time thinking about exactly this, because angry nerds have been yelling at me about it for 30 years.

“Remember that a being of extraordinary power and ability pulled Picard aside and said, “this kid is special. I can’t tell you exactly why, but it’s really important that you nurture and encourage him to the best of your ability.” And Picard listened. He heard that this being, who had literally just taken them where no one has gone before, and he followed his advice.

“And that eventually leads Wesley to become one of the Travelers.

“I’m sure that there are plenty of officers on the Enterprise who share your opinion. They’re pissed that this kid was promoted. They’re pissed that he’s a nepo baby.

“But they don’t know everything that Picard knows. And Picard is the captain of the ship, so he gets to make that call. And he doesn’t have to explain himself to anyone.”

And what I didn’t add there but will add here is: The Traveler from Tau Ceti made it very clear to Picard that Wesley and Beverly must never know that Wesley is special, the crew and everyone else on the Enterprise must never know. So all of the sudden, Wesley is given this thing he dreams of, and he absolutely knows he hasn’t yet earned it. How do you think this makes Wesley feel? I mean, we never saw it, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist within the character and actor who played him. He wants to make Picard and his mom proud of him more than anything, and Picard promoted him? HOLY CRAP DREAM COME TRUE! But … wait. What’s going on? His peers are jealous of him and what he gets to do. The adults he is around when he isn’t on the Bridge quietly resent him for what they believe is unearned privilege. There are a a thousand people on the Enterprise, and Wesley probably knows maybe two dozen of them. Everyone else who sees him? All they see is the nepo baby, and Wesley knows it. He has MASSIVE imposter syndrome, and spends a lot of his time trying to understand why Captain Picard believed in him and gave him a chance. He can’t understand why that isn’t enough for anyone else. It’s Captain Picard, man! He made the call! Doesn’t that count for something?

Wesley’s dream has come true, and he can’t even celebrate it. Yeah, he’s a full ensign, a Starfleet officer … but he’s a kid who has never been to the academy and learned what being a Starfleet officer means, how to behave and exist around other Starfleet officers who have also gone through everything it takes to get a posting on the federation’s flagship. He is wearing the uniform without having gained the experience that he needs to fill it. He doesn’t know that Picard and the Traveler did this. He just knows that, now, he has to show up and prove that he actually does deserve it.

And this kid has never been in a place where it’s safe and okay to make mistakes and learn from them. And he knows that. At fifteen. It’s a lot. Now this kid has to carry around with him not just the responsibility that comes with the chair and the rank, but he also has to exist on the Enterprise where he passes people in the corridors, sees people in the canteen, waits in line to use the transporter with all these other officers who have never met him, and DEEPLY resent him for something he didn’t do. Wesley feels that resentment every single time, and it hurts like fucking hell. He will spend the rest of his time in Starfleet trying to prove to everyone that he was and is worthy of the promotion. And every single time he sits at the CONN, he knows that if he fucks up even a little bit, everyone he loves could die. He carries that with him, every second of every day. He feels it in every judgmental look, every whispered conversation, every challenge from a bully who has had one too many drinks. And when he doesn’t hear it from someone else, he hears it from a voice in his head. He can’t escape it, until he finally does and it all makes sense.

And, thirty years of Terran time later, after he’s spent more time being a Traveler, seeing and doing things you wouldn’t believe than he ever spent as a human, he’ll hear someone complaining about how he got that promotion someone else really deserved way back when, and it will hurt all over again, because the body remembers.

Ask me how I know.

buy the ticket, take your turn

It’s another one of those round up posts, like in the Before Times! Also, my silly choice to do that outrageous 90s theme (I bet you are all going to miss the dancing baby) has served its purpose, and now we are back to something a bit more readable.

Let’s get started with this thing from my Facebook:

So the phrase “you have too much time on your hands” came across my event horizon, as a response to a silly thing I did to amuse myself. I’ve heard this for my entire life, and every few years, I write a post like this about it. This is a slightly edited version of my response.

I doubt very much you mean to be hurtful when you say this. It’s just a silly thing you say, like “tell us how you really feel”. It doesn’t mean anything, it’s just a little joke.

About that. This is one of the most insulting, degrading, things a creative person can hear. We have all kinds of fun making something, and we put it into the world, and “you have too much time on your hands” devalues our creative experience. It’s another way of saying “don’t you have anything better to do?” Actually, dad, I don’t. This is exactly what I wanted to do with my time and energy.

I had exactly the right amount of time to make whatever the thing is. I choose to invest my time in doing something amusing, or silly, or whatever. “You have too much time” implies that this was a waste of the time I have, time that should have been spent doing something else, rather than the thing I chose to make, because it made me feel good to do that.

I am so confident that most people who say this don’t mean to be hurtful, and if you’re one of them, I hope you’ll hear me, as a creative person who has been dismissed like that his whole life, when I tell you how hurtful and insulting these words are. Don’t take my word for it, listen to all the other creative people who will reply to this, if they choose to share their experiences.

I’m not calling you out. I’m not putting you on blast, and I’ll ban anyone who brigades or attacks you. I’m just taking this moment to share this for you and anyone else who doesn’t want to be hurtful in the future. A teaching moment.

We don’t have too much time. In fact, nearly every creative person you ever talk to will tell you that we don’t have enough time. Please don’t dismiss us or the stuff we make.

Thanks for listening 🙂

NB: Facebook is bad for civilization. There is a future coming where someone researches and produces data which will show how absolutely destructive the whole damn thing is. There is a future where social media as it exists today is looked at the way my generation looks at DDT. We cannot believe it was ever a Thing, and the people who were poisoning us knew it all along. Facebook and Twitchan are a catastrophe for democracy and marginalized people. I can’t wait for the day to arrive when all of social media is regulated like tobacco and alcohol, and gets broken up into some parts that are less predatory and dangerous.

I just want to amplify my dear friend who is not here for anyone’s bullshit:

Okay. Let’s step out of that place and into something more fun!

I’ve wanted to round up some of the TV I’ve been watching:

Holy shit The Last Of Us is perfect. Flawless. Worth the entire subscription.

Netflix’s 1899 went from “interesting, compelling” to “steampunk LOST” so fast I gave up halfway through. The era of “weird for the sake of being weird, style over substance, vague hints of story instead of real character development, and we’ll sort of loosely wrap it up eventually” cannot end fast enough. Honestly, it should have died with Charlie. RIP Charlie.

Conversely, I had to force myself to not binge Wednesday, Brand New Cherry Flavor, The English, The Recruit, and Sandman. Highly recommend all of them.

This morning, I read a horrifying story of AI being used to determine child welfare cases in Pennsylvania.

The Justice Department has been scrutinizing a controversial artificial intelligence tool used by a Pittsburgh-area child protective services agency following concerns that it could result in discrimination against families with disabilities, The Associated Press has learned.

The interest from federal civil rights attorneys comes after an AP investigation revealed potential bias and transparency issues about the opaque algorithm that is designed to assess a family’s risk level when they are reported for child welfare concerns in Allegheny County.


Algorithms use pools of information to turn data points into predictions, whether that’s for online shopping, identifying crime hot spots or hiring workers. Many child welfare agencies in the U.S. are considering adopting such tools as part of their work with children and families.

Though there’s been widespread debate over the moral consequences of using artificial intelligence in child protective services, the Justice Department’s interest in the pioneering Allegheny algorithm marks a significant turn toward possible legal implications.

Supporters see algorithms as a promising way to make a strained child protective services system both more thorough and efficient, saying child welfare officials should use all tools at their disposal to make sure children aren’t maltreated. But critics worry that including data points collected largely from people who are poor can automate discrimination against families based on race, income, disabilities or other external characteristics.

(bolding is mine)

This was timely, as I just watched this short from Aperture about Algorithms a couple days ago.

tl;dr: algorithms are inherently racist, classist, and not at all neutral because the data used to train them is largely drawn from a system that has elevated the opportunities and privileges of CIS white men. It’s appalling.

Let’s stay at YouTube for a minute, because I said this was going to be fun.

I didn’t know about The Electric State until I saw this video. I bought it, and Tales from the Loop, immediately. If you like the things I like, I know you will be entranced by this video and the book that it talks about.

It’s going to be a movie? I just saw that when I looked for a link to the publisher’s page. Hmm. I hope they do it justice. I hear they missed the mark with Tales from the Loop, but I haven’t watched it yet so take that with a grain of highly radioactive 236 U.

We are so lucky to be on this planet at the same time as John Green.

Also, I noticed a Still Just A Geek coffee mug in the background of one of Hank Green’s videos and I’m not gonna lie: I squeed with extreme delight.

One last YouTube mention. I can’t get enough of CGPGrey. I don’t know anything about them, except that their brain is amazing.

This video is about choosing a theme for yourself, like “my theme for this month is reading.” or “my theme for this month is mindfulness.” The idea is to help us build on little successes that fit into a broad theme, rather than setting a single goal and feeling like a failure if we don’t complete it to our liking.

My theme since I turned 50 has been self care and gratitude. I’m spending all kinds of time working on healing my cptsd and trauma, and I’m showing up for myself every day to support that. I’m making a choice to work on specific things in therapy (EMDR has changed my life), and then do the hard work in between sessions to build on the insights I’ve gotten from my therapist.

I felt this fundamental shift beneath my feet last week. This HUGE thing changed in me. It’s so big, I can’t see all of it, you know? Like, I can just see this small part of it that I let go of, and until I get farther away from it, I won’t know what all of it is. I feel so good, so unburdened, that I have spent substantial time being suspicious of it. I legit wondered if I was manic, but after talking with my therapist, I’m pretty sure what I’m feeling is the lack of generalized anxiety that has defined my life for so long I didn’t realize it was there. “This is water,” as they say.

If you only take one thing away from this post: work on your shit. It’s worth it. YOU are worth it. And I’m going to tell you something that’s going to be upsetting: all your friends know you are lying to yourself, and to them, about your mental health. We can’t do anything to support and help you until you choose to be honest and do that incredibly hard work that is so terrifying.

In the land of music, I can’t believe how much I like Miley Cyrus’ new song, Flowers. I love her smoky voice and “fuck you I’m fabulous” attitude.

If you love 90s ambient like I do, I have a happy place for you to visit.

I’ve been listening to Alkaline Trio, Taking Back Sunday, Get Up Kids, Ataris, and all that fabulous early 2000s stuff we all associate with Warped Tour. Yes, I made a playlist at Spotify.

Speaking of, I had no idea that Spotify used so much shitty compression, until my son pointed it out to me with a side by side comparison to Apple Music. The difference between the two is astounding. Real quick: I hate Apple. Their UI is the worst. Their design is stupid and non-intuitive. Oh, how I hate iTunes. And Apple’s refusal to use open standards in messaging can get fucked.

But Apple Music is remarkable (The Linux client, cider, is amazing). The lossless sound is so much better than the over compressed shit Spotify squirts into my ears, and I had no idea until I put them side by side. Spotify is like putting a wet paper sack over your speakers, by comparison. Once you hear the difference, it’s real hard to go back.

Too bad Spotify didn’t invest in sound quality like they did in centering and spotlighting a conspiracy theorist. This is the year I let my membership expire.

Okay, last thing: I searched high and low for a really solid RSS reader that wasn’t full of crap. I eventually settled on Fluent Reader. You can grab the Appimage here, if you’re a Linux user like me.

Oh look the morning is behind me and now I’m late for work. Which will happen in a virtual desktop two clicks over, where I’m writing a brand new thing.