My love of metahumor probably comes from the same place as my love of obscure references, which can be traced, in part, to MST3K.
My love of metahumor probably comes from the same place as my love of obscure references, which can be traced, in part, to MST3K.
In about an hour, I'll be at the studio to be fitted for my Criminal Minds wardrobe. Tomorrow, I start work on the show.
The script's been rewritten a few times since I first read it, and I've been able to read each draft in its entirety, which has been really interesting to me as a writer, as I track the changes and try to figure out what network and studio notes they were intended to address. It's got to be so difficult for these writers to take a certain scene or character in one direction, write really great dialog and stuff to get them there, and then be told that they have to throw it all away and take things in a different direction. And do that three times in five days. I honestly don't know how they do it.
People ask me all the time if I'm working on a screen play, or if I'm interested in writing for television. In fact, a staff writer from a show we all watch told me last year that I'd fit right in on that show, and that I should think about taking my writing career in that direction.
I said thanks, but no.* I know how hard it is to write a good story with compelling characters and an engaging plot. I also know how arbitrary and soul crushing the entertainment industry is, and that's just as an actor. The people who write for television are basically writing the equivalent of thirteen features a season, serving several different masters, including the show's producers and the people at the network. For a fascinating insider's view of this process, you must read John Rogers' posts about his show Leverage:
(There are more Leverage posts, but that's a good place to get you started.)
I had a hard enough time coming up with something clever to write every week for Games of Our Lives and Geek in Review, and in both of those cases, I only had to make one editor happy. I don't even want to think about what it's really like to make a whole bunch of different people happy, especially when all of those people work in the entertainment industry, and there are millions of dollars at stake. I have nothing but respect for the people who can do it.
Anyway, this post is about changing gears, so I suppose I should get to that.
When I went for my Criminal Minds table read last week, one of the writers introduced herself to me and offered to answer any questions I had about the character and script. My first instinct was to ask if I could some sit in the writer's room and take notes, but before I could jam my foot in my mouth, I reminded myself, "You're here as an actor. Do your job." It was then that I realized I'd have to switch gears before I started work on this show. I'd have to take off my rookie writer's pants, and put on my veteran actor's pants for a week. That sounds simple and logical, but it's been tough, especially because I was really building momentum on these short stories I've been writing. I guess it's a good problem to have, though, so I'm not complaining.
This week and last week have been weird for me, because though I don't think of myself as a full-time actor any more, I can't deny that I'm super excited to bring this character to life, and I'm proud of myself for booking the job. Allow me to quote Shane Nickerson: "There's something to be said for not needing it and not seeking it, isn't there? I won't say not wanting it, because I am too keenly aware that no matter how much we try to convince ourselves otherwise, we actors may never stop wanting it, somewhere deep inside." That is 100% true, and I'm not even going to try to deny it. As much as I hate dragging my ass all over town for auditions, and as frustrating and demoralizing as the whole process is, when I'm actually working with other actors and creative people to take words on a page and bring them to life, it's almost worth it.
Almost. Which is why I've mostly traded taking the words off the page for putting them on it.
Yesterday, I tried to spend the day writing. For eight hours, I did everything I could to knock ideas out of my head and give my characters interesting things to say and do. I failed in every attempt at masonry, growing more and more frustrated with each highlight and delete. Finally, I accepted that my internal creative CPU wants and needs to be doing actor things, like breaking down scenes, developing and understanding this character, and learning my lines. Luckily, I've done this long enough that it's all second nature, and it's all deeply satisfying, so it doesn't feel like work at all.
You know, it feels strange, but also good to change gears for a few days. Hopefully, I won't grind them too much.
*There's been a lot of confusion about this, and I want to clarify: I wasn't offered any jobs on any shows. I was told by an experienced writer that, in that writer's opinion, I would be able do it if I wanted to, and I said I wasn't interested in that kind of thing, because I don't believe I have what it takes.
Do you have Just a Geek, Dancing Barefoot, or The Happiest Days of Our Lives, by me, Wil Wheaton? If you do, this is your chance to show me, Wil Wheaton (and everyone else in the world, now that I, Wil Wheaton, think about it) where you've taken them.
So get creative, and show us your books!
From time to time, I crack myself up by calling myself "me, Wil Wheaton." It's a joke that J. Keith van Straaten and I came up with when we were doing his show together at ACME. It's certainly funnier in my head (and on stage) than it is on the screen, but that's never stopped me before, so . . . yeah, I'm just going to trail off now . . . . mmmpthhptt.
I always tell people who are successful to take a moment and enjoy it, especially if it's someone I know and respect, and I know how hard they've worked to earn their success. (Otis, I'm looking in your direction right now.)
But I'm not so good at taking this particular bit of my own advice. My sense of responsibility to my family, and the uncertain economy we find ourselves living in right now forces me to keep my head down and stay focused on whatever the next thing is. This keeps me motivated, but it doesn't leave a lot of room to just sit back and enjoy things, which is something I think I need to do a little more often, especially on a day like today where I just feel . . . stabby.
It's easy for me to lose sight of the thousands of copies of Happiest Days that have made the journey from my office, through my living room, and into the hands of real people all over the world, but in an effort to enjoy the good things a little bit, I present this photo of The Happiest Days of Our Lives, keeping some very good company, on vacation.
It made me really happy to see this picture, for a lot of reasons that I can't detail without feeling like a jerk, so I'll just say thank you to WWdN and HDoOL reader Amanda C. for sharing a little bit of her vacation with me, and allowing me to share it with you.
About six weeks ago, I met writer Chris Ullrich in Pasadena to be interviewed for ComicMix. We talked for about two hours, and he ended up with a transcript that's so long, they're splitting the interview into three parts.
Part one is up today, and rather than excerpt it heavily, I'll just quote my favorite bit:
[TokyoPop] asked me if I would write a Next Generation Manga, and would I write a Wesley Crusher story, and I didn't want to do it because it felt to me like there was no way in that equation that I could return a positive result.
Ultimately, I'm just not interested in Wesley Crusher anymore. It's been a long time and he's sort of frozen in amber in a certain state. I don't have anything to add to that. I don't have anything new to bring to it at all.
CMix: No thoughts about killing him off?
WW: No. I'm way more interested in working on my own original stuff. And there's a finite number of time/energy/creative units that I can gather on my "collect resources" turn. I would rather put those into building my own story than into repairing the Wesley Crusher building.
There are times in my life when I wonder if I spend a little too much time gaming. I frequently decide that there's just no such thing as too much gaming . . . then I read something like this, a faithful recreation of my actual thought process, and I think I should just step away from the bag of dice for a few turns.
Wait. Not turns. Days. I meant to say days.
. . . that's an awesome T-shirt!
Just in time for Comic-Con, one of my favorite Threadless shirts of all time has been reprinted!
SpamSieve is the best spam filter I've ever used in my life, and it's made my e-mail reading much more efficient and pleasant than it once was.
A few bits of junk sneak through, but it's probably one every two or three days, instead of several daily offers for luxury Rolex watches at 80% off, or various ways to take advantage of the ATTRACTIVE PRICE on Cializ and Viagre, so she won't laugh at my noodle every day.
Recently, however, this managed to evade the filters:
mort You computer was infected by our software!
If you will not buy our software - you will bee lost all data on your PC!
It closes with a URL to purchase the software, presumably so the e-mail's recipient can respond to the comical extortion attempt.
I laughed when I read it. I mean, it's obviously a load, so I junked it and went on with my day. I kept thinking about it, though: an intelligent person will see right through this and junk it. I've already updated my corpus to catch future attempts to convince me I "will bee lost all data" on my PC. But the spammer isn't looking to ensnare an intelligent person; the spammer is looking to ensnare exactly the kind of person who reads the e-mail, and sees it as a serious threat.
"This was clearly written by an idiot," the victim would think. Then, after a moment's consideration: "But what if he's serious?! I don't want to bee lost all data on my PC! I'd better do what he says!" Click. Boom.
There are a lot of us who have been online since the Internet was a series of networked BBSes. Some of us remember closed systems like Compuserve and GEnie. We remember what it was like to wait twenty minutes to download a GIF at 28.8, and how magnificent it was to see a weather satellite image on a university's T1-connected computer.
We see through these scams because we pre-date the scammers, but there are lots of people -- and I'm not just talking about our parents and grandparents -- who just don't know any better. They run unpatched machines, leave their routers set to their default passwords, and are prime phishing targets, simply because this technology is, to them, indistinguishable from magic.
As the Internet becomes a more integral part of everyone's lives, we're going to encounter more and more people who don't understand its inner workings any more than I understand how to take apart my car's diesel engine for fun and profit. I believe that we have a responsibility to these people, to help educate and enlighten them, so they understand how to protect themselves online.
Think of this another way: if we don't help people understand how to protect themselves from spammers and phishers, how can we expect them to understand the importance of network neutrality?
I've been going crazy the last month or so, trying to figure out a way to go to Comic-Con. It was about as easy as getting the Babel Fish, but I refused to give up, and earlier today, I finally put the junk mail on top of the satchel.
I am actually going to Comic-Con this year!
I'll be there from Thursday, July 24 until Saturday, July 26. I'm on a publishing panel with Pocketbooks on Thursday called "Star Trek without a blueprint." I'll be there representing volume three of the Star Trek manga, which I think comes out next week.
This is an exciting time for Star Trek, filled with uncertainty and opportunity. I think it's safe to say that there's a lot riding on the new movie, and how it fares will likely affect all of the ancillary Star Trek markets, like conventions, novels, comics, manga, etc.* I don't know if that's what "without a blueprint" means, but if it does, it'll be an interesting conversation. (Of course, it could also mean that CBS is giving much more freedom to people who want to create within the Star Trek universe, rather than forcing them to adhere to a pretty narrow blueprint. That will also be an interesting conversation. My point is that it's going to be interesting, and certainly worth the price of hotel, airline travel, and all the other expenses associated with coming to the show just to watch a one hour panel before you turn around and go right back home.**)
The rest of the show, I'll be set up with my friend Rich and his partners in crime***, who are letting me crash their booth. We haven't finalized my signing schedule, but once we do (and I know the name and number of their booth) I'll update this post.
This will be the only convention I'm attending this summer other than PAX, so I'm really, really excited and grateful that Marco from TokyoPop, and Rich and his partners from awesomeland were able to help me thwart the cleaning robots.
* I remember hearing, during a negotiation for a convention some years ago, that Enterprise was doing so poorly with the fans that it had really hurt convention turnout. I don't know if that's true or not, but I heard it so many times from so many different people, it was either a well-worn talking point or legit. If the new movie doesn't do as well as everyone hopes, we could be hearing about the death of Star Trek again, though I've come to believe that Star Trek is a mighty zombie in science fiction that simply can't be killed. There's a good reason it's still relevant and inspiring to legions of fans forty years after it debuted, you know.
** This statement is completely false. Except for the interesting part. It's absolutely going to be interesting. Also, "interesting."
***I'm not sure if Rich has minions, but if he does, I'm sure that they will be there, too. Hey, maybe I'll fill out a minion application!
As part of my continuing plot to convince you all to read my Propeller submissions, I present a few of my favorite stories from the last couple of days:
In the Red Sox clubhouse a few hours before the start of a drizzly, early-May game against the Rays, Tim Wakefield wraps his hand around a brand-new baseball and models his knuckleball grip. On television, Wakefield's grip appears claw-like and uncomfortable, but up close, it looks effortless...
Okay, first of all, when did the Devil Rays become the Rays? Did it happen because some crazy fundies got all worked up? I'm laying 3:2 that they did.
My enthusiasm for baseball -- actually, in all professional sports that aren't hockey or soccer -- has cratered in the last couple of years, but I still love to watch a knuckleballer confound a batter. It's a dying art , like pitchers who can last more than 5 innings.
In McCain's *open to the public* townhall meeting, a 61 year-old woman was cited for trespassing on orders from the McCain security detail for carrying a sign that read "McCain=Bush." Carol Kreck received a ticket and her court date is set for July 23.
That the event this woman was removed from was a public event, and she didn't do anything more disruptive than hold up a sign. "All I did was carry a sign that said McCain = Bush," Kreck said. "And for everyone who voted for Bush, I don't see why it's offensive to say McCain = Bush." Well, McCain is running for Bush's third term.
It's All Too Much is a terrific book that inverts the typical approach to dealing with existential kipple. Rather than helping you find new places and novel ways to "organize" all your crap, author Peter Walsh encourages you to explore why you ever kept all that junk in the first place.
Some friends of ours have my dream house: it's got beautiful hardwood floors, it's uncluttered, and they can park both of their cars in their garage. My whole life, I've had a problem with holding onto things (real and imagined) so this book looked super interesting to me, not because I need it (I know that I just need to get rid of my shit) but because it tells me that I'm not the only one with this problem.
Hackaday posts plans to build some simple but effective anti-paparazzi sunglasses. They work by mounting two small infrared lights on the front. The wearer is completely inconspicuous to the human eye, but cameras only see a big white blur where your face should be.
I had to deal with paparazzi in that "really fucks with your ability to live your life" way for about two months when I was a teenager. I quickly figured out that if I avoided certain places and certain people, I could also avoid the cameras. But this project is interesting to me because we live in a world where our fucktard leaders are increasingly shoving their faces into every aspect of our personal and private lives, so any effort to say NOT YOURS is pretty important to me.
Why are Americans so batty for bacon? It's delicious, it's decadent -- and it's also a fashion statement.
I'm a vegetarian, so bacon as food is irrelevant to me. However, bacon as a cultural phenomenon? That's something else entirely. Something crispy and delicious!
With causes like ensuring secure voting machines, protecting privacy, defeating censorship and governmental obfuscation, and promoting hacker ethics, the CCC has become something of a hacktivist powerhouse. They hold an annual "Chaos Communications Congress" gathering and also a very cool hacker camp every four years.
Dungeons and Desktops chronicles the rise and fall of the Computer RPG industry, from Akalabeth to Zelda. While the bulk of the book is devoted to the genre's 'Golden Age' in the late '80s and early '90s, author Matt Barton explores the entire history of CRPGs, from their origins in the mid '70s to the very recent past.
I've written a lot of articles about video games, and my love of classic gaming is well known. But I don't know if I've ever pointed out just how much I love computer RPGS. From the Infocom games of my childhood to early Mac games like Uninvited and DejaVu to Fallout 2 and Planescape: Torment, to Bioshock, the RPGS are my absolute favorites. This book seems really, really awesome. (And really, really expensive, unfortunately.)