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Still Just a Geek by Wil Wheaton Book

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Still Just a Geek by Wil Wheaton Book Read Online And Epub File Download


Overview: Celebrated actor, personality, and all-around nerd, Wil Wheaton updates his memoir of collected blog posts with all new material and annotations as he reexamines one of the most interesting lives in Hollywood and fandom–and now for the first time in audio, narrated by Wil himself!


From starring in Stand by Me to playing Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation to playing himself, in his second (third?) iconic role of Evil Wil Wheaton in The Big Bang Theory, to becoming a social media supernova, Wil Wheaton has charted a career course unlike anyone else, and has emerged as one of the most popular and well respected names in science fiction, fantasy and pop culture.


Back in 2001, Wil began blogging on wilwheaton.net. Believing himself to have fallen victim to the curse of the child actor, Wil felt relegated to the convention circuit, and didn’t expect many would want to read about his random experiences and personal philosophies.


Yet, much to his surprise, people were reading. He still blogs, and now has an enormous following on social media with well over 3 million followers. 


Still Just a Geek by Wil Wheaton Book Read Online And Epub File Download More Ebooks Every Category For Go Ebooks Libaray Online Website.



Still Just a Geek by Wil Wheaton Book Read Online Chapter One


Where’s My Burrito?


On a hot June afternoon in 2000, I joined my best friend Darin for lunch at one of our teenage haunts, Old Town Pasadena. An afternoon in Old Town is a trip to a time when we were free of responsibility, and the world was filled with possibility and opportunity.

The changes in Old Town reflect the changes within ourselves. Thanks to the efforts of the Pasadena preservationists, the historical building facades haven’t changed, but they are the only thing that remain the same. The empty doorway where a punk rocker once sneered at passing businessmen is now a Pottery Barn, occupied by a San Marino yuppie who screams into her cell phone. The eclectic record store where we’d buy imported Smiths singles is now a Sam Goody,* its windows plastered with posters announcing the latest release from Justin Timberlake.* Tourists stand uncomfortably at crosswalks, trying to ignore the homeless who have come to enjoy the trickle-down economics of a prospering shopping thoroughfare.

All of this progress is not without its benefits, though. Old Town is safe, if sanitized, and several good restaurants have moved into the area.

On this particular afternoon, Darin and I walked down Colorado Boulevard, following the same route as Pasadena’s claim to annual fame, the Tournament of Roses Parade. We passed the Cheesecake Factory, several trendy Japanese noodle houses, and walked straight into Hooters.

Hey, Darin was engaged, and I’m married. Sometimes a guy’s gotta know if he still has it.

We walked in ahead of the lunchtime rush, so we could sit wherever we liked. Through a speaker above us, Bob Seger rhetorically asked, “Ain’t it funny how the night moves?” We looked around the mostly empty restaurant and chose the section with the hottest waitress in the joint.*

As we took our seats, our waitress came over to our table: a cute-but-not-beautiful girl in her early twenties. Bleached blonde, fake tan, long legs. Hooters. Her name tag said “Destiny.”*

She flirted with us as she took our order, all smiles and giggles. We ordered wings. Super Fire Hot, baby.

She stood up and left to put in our order. Darin and I stared at each other, grinned, and exchanged a mental high five. We still had it, and it felt good.

She’d only walked a few steps, when she stopped suddenly, turned around, and came back to our table. She looked at me lustily.* “Can I ask you something?”

Oh hell, yeah, Willie, I thought to myself. The ladies still want your sweet action!*

My face flushed and my pulse quickened. “Sure,” I said.

She screwed up her courage and leaned close to me, her full, pouting lips just inches from mine. Her perfume embraced me. Her ample cleavage seductively longed to bust out from beneath her thin cotton T-shirt. She drew a nervous breath, bit down on the corner of her mouth, and asked breathlessly, “Didn’t you used to be an actor?”

“WHAT?! USED TO BE?! I STILL AM!”* I hollered, as mental images of a hot Hooters threesome were replaced with the cold reality of appearing on Celebrity Boxing.*

She immediately knew that she had made a mistake. She thought quickly, licked her lips, self-consciously, fussed with her overprocessed hair and tried again: “Oh, I mean, weren’t you an actor when you were a kid?”

All I could do was numbly answer, “Yeah, when I was a kid,” as I hung my head and ordered the first of many pints of Guinness.

Funny story, right? Yeah, funny like when you watch another guy get kicked in the nuts. In the days that followed, I tried to write it off. Tried to bolster my wounded self-esteem by telling myself that she was just a Hooters waitress, so she didn’t matter.* But the truth was, that simple, scantily clad waitress had driven home with painful acuity my deepest fear: I was a has-been. I “used to be” an actor, when I was a kid.*

If I “used to be” an actor, it wasn’t for lack of trying. But it was the result of a series of choices I’d made, starting all the way back in 1989, when I was just sixteen years old, and in Florida for a Star Trek cruise . . .*

Even though it was early in the morning, it was already hot and humid in Miami. My brother and I stood together in front of the hotel and waited to get on a bus that would take us to the port. There were hundreds of Trekkies swarming around us, and a ripple of excitement went through the crowd when the hotel doors opened and the entire cast of the original Star Trek, minus Shatner and Nimoy, walked out. Most of them looked a little drunk, and some of them looked a lot unhappy.*

Marina Sirtis, who played Counselor Troi on Next Generation and was the object of a very large teenage crush, came out of a different door and approached us. “How are you doing, Teen Idol?” she said.*

“I’m okay, I guess,” I said. “What’s up with them?” I pointed at the original series cast, who were now posing for pictures and signing autographs.

“Oh, they’re just having a good time,” she said.

“Oh,” I said.

“Okay. I’ll see you on the bus. We are going to have so much fun on this cruise!” She hugged me and walked away.

My brother pointed at one of them and said, “Dude! He is fucked up!”* and began to laugh, but I couldn’t join him. In 1989, Star Trek was my life. At sixteen years old, I was a veteran actor—I worked on the series for fifty hours a week—but I was also a veteran of the Star Trek convention circuit. Three weekends out of the month I entertained audiences at Holiday Inns* all over the country. When I looked at these original series actors, I saw the Ghosts of My Career Yet to Come.*

I had no idea at the time that it was probably not that big a deal to have a few drinks early in the morning while you were on vacation.* I had no idea that some of the Star Trek alumni were quite happy traveling around the country and performing for Trekkies at conventions. It also didn’t occur to me that some of those actors, who had only done three or four episodes, had willingly chosen to live out their lives recalling their time on the Enterprise.

I spoke with the arrogant surety of a sixteen-year-old. “Look at that,” I said. “That’s my future if I don’t get out of Star Trek and do movies. There is no fucking way I’m going to spend the rest of my life talking about what I did when I was a kid. I’m going to prove to everyone that I can do more with my life than just be on Star Trek.”

“Dude,” was all he could say. It was a multipurpose word in our vernacular. “Dude” could stand in for several words and phrases, such as “Check out that hottie,” or “Stop talking now because Mom’s standing right behind you,” or “This is seriously fucked up.”*

“Exactly,” I said.

A couple of hours later we were on the ship, and today, after fifteen years, all I can recall about the entire three-day cruise is that conversation. Because at that moment, I made a choice that would drive my life and haunt me for years: I would get out of my Star Trek contract, and I would go on to a huge career in movies. I would prove to everyone that I was a great actor and that Star Trek was just a small part of my résumé.

Yeah. It didn’t quite work out that way, and it’s probably my karma* for having such a negative impression of those original series actors, who I have come to know as kind and wonderful people. Actually, I have such regard for them now, I almost hate to open this book showcasing such a negative view of them, but that moment in 1989 was the foundation upon which the last fifteen years of my life have been built.**

I thought about that moment often, especially over the next few years, when the writers reduced my role on Next Generation to little more than saying, “Aye, sir. Course laid in,” and the producers of Next Generation prevented me from taking a major role in Milos Forman’s Valmont.**

As an adult, getting paid thousands of dollars a week to say, “Aye, sir. Course laid in,” is a seriously sweet gig, but when I was a teenager, it sucked. I felt like I had to prove to everyone** that Stand by Me wasn’t a fluke, that I deserved all the attention I got from that movie. I never considered that most actors go their entire careers without one film like Stand by Me to their credit. I never considered that I could have stuck around on Star Trek until the end, and then stepped off into a film career, like, say, Patrick Stewart.* Because of that moment on the dock in Miami in 1989, I was convinced that if I stuck around until the end, I’d be stepping off onto a dock in Miami in 1999.*

I have often wondered how different my life would have been if my brother’s “dude” had meant, “Hey, why don’t you relax? You’re young, and you have your entire life ahead of you. You have an opportunity to work on a great series for a few more years, build up a nice bank account, and then parlay the success of Star Trek into a film career. But don’t quit now, or you’ll regret it for the rest of your life. And stop staring at Marina’s ass. That’s just rude.”* Maybe that sentiment was a little too deep for a couple of teenagers.

Of course, I’m still talking about what I did when I was a kid, and I never got that big film career I was hoping for.* When I was released from my Star Trek contract, I was eighteen, and like most eighteen-year-olds, I knew everything.* I realized that I had never had a childhood, and I’d never really just gone off and done things that I wanted to do. I also realized that when I looked in the mirror, I saw the reflection of everything I hated about Hollywood and humanity staring back at me from behind angry and unhappy eyes.*

How the fuck did I let this happen to me? I have to get out of here.

In the early 1990s, I vanished from Hollywood and moved to Topeka, Kansas.* I spent a little over a year there, working on computers during the day, and on my incredibly screwed-up psyche at night. When I felt like I’d put myself back together, I returned to Los Angeles, and enrolled in a five-year acting program.* I remember thinking that I’d gotten all the way to Star Trek on instinct alone, and if I wanted to move beyond it, I’d need some technique.

When I was in drama school, I passed on several film opportunities,* among them, Primal Fear. You may know it as the movie that started Ed Norton’s career. I know it as the Huge Opportunity That I Completely Fucked Up. When my agent told me that I was making a huge mistake, I told him, “Look, man. I’m in drama school now, and I can’t leave until I finish. It’s like when Luke was on Dagobah, and he wanted to go to Bespin to save his friends. Yoda told him not to quit in the middle of his training, but Luke didn’t listen, and he was never able to be as great a Jedi as his father.”*

I foolishly thought that Hollywood would wait for me.* When I graduated from drama school five years later, I had a rude awakening. Not only had Hollywood forgotten me, they’d completely forgotten my type of actor. The everyman was out, and a new type, called “edgy,” had taken my place.

Think about that for a second. Edgy. What does that conjure up in your mind? Now ask the person next to you what their description of edgy is. Your descriptions didn’t match, did they? They weren’t even close, right? Now talk about it for a minute and see if you can reach an agreement on exactly what it means. Can’t do it, can you? Don’t worry, it’s not your fault. I’ll let you in on a dirty industry secret: nobody knew what edgy meant, beyond “unwashed” and . . . uh . . . “unwashed” and . . . er . . . well, that’s it. I’ve just spent several unproductive minutes staring at a blinking cursor, trying to come up with another word besides “not Wil Wheaton,” which is really three words and more of a descriptive phrase than a synonym.

While Hollywood didn’t quite know what edgy was,* they were certain that I wasn’t it. I am passionate, too smart for my own good, unfulfilled, caring . . . but not edgy. So I spent several years struggling, unable even to book a commercial.* I wasn’t well known enough for product endorsements, but I was too well known to be some random guy extolling the virtues of floor wax. The flood of opportunities I had enjoyed when I was a child and teenager slowed to a trickle, then stopped.* I “used to be an actor, when I was a kid.”

It was so hard to get work, I often contemplated giving up life as an actor and going back to college.*

“You have to love the work more than you hate the rejection, and the unemployment,” my mom said.*

I did love the work, and I believed in my abilities as an actor. I felt that I could take direction well, and understood the vagaries of storytelling: those ephemeral things that make an actor’s performance greater than the words on the page. I was compelled to act.*

That compulsion became obsession. Success as an actor had always come my way without any real effort when I was a kid (resulting in that feeling of undeserved success). After I graduated from drama school, I felt like my acting chops were better than ever, and spent several years being just one big part away from making that elusive comeback. That drove me crazy. I was in my twenties, but I looked like I was in my teens, so I often auditioned to play a teenager.*

Since I didn’t have the same energy or mentality* as the real teenagers around me, I never got cast. When I walked into auditions, I was rejected before I opened my mouth, and I felt like I was wasting everyone’s time—including my own. It didn’t take long for the word to spread around Hollywood: Wil Wheaton may look young, but he can’t play young. After countless failed auditions where I was ten years older than everyone else, I became cynical and pessimistic.*

On the very few projects where I was reading for an older character, I would often be one of the final two or three actors to be considered. But consistently coming in second or third was actually worse than not making it past the first round of meetings. It was like scaling Mount Everest, only to die within sight of the summit . . . over and over again.

I couldn’t understand why I kept getting so close to booking jobs without anything to show for it, so I asked my agents to pursue feedback from casting directors. The answers provided more questions: “Wil was absolutely the best actor for this job, but he just wasn’t handsome enough, or edgy enough, for the part.” I suppose telling me I was “absolutely the best actor” was intended to make me feel better, but it only made me feel frustrated and depressed. Each time I heard the word “edgy,” I seriously wondered whether I would ever be able to support my family by being an actor.

Family? That’s right. I was twenty-seven years old and I had a family. Shortly before I graduated from drama school, I had fallen in love with a wonderful woman. Five years later, we were married.* I had taken on the responsibility of helping to raise her two children, with little financial and no emotional support from their father, who actively worked to disrupt not only our marriage, but our relationship with the kids as well. I’d taken everything I had saved from Star Trek and Stand by Me and invested it in our home and our wedding.*

My life as a husband and stepfather was very rewarding, but a desire to regain the success I’d enjoyed as a child and teenager pulled at me constantly. It kept me awake at night and was a constant distraction. Like the Not Me ghost from Family Circus, Prove to Everyone That Quitting Star Trek Wasn’t a Mistake slept between my wife and me in our bed and ate with us at every meal. When I could have been playing with my stepkids, PTETQSTWAM* (Prove to Everyone That Quitting Star Trek Wasn’t a Mistake) and I would sit and stare vacantly at the TV, wondering what could have been.

The weekend after the Hooters Incident (as it came to be known), my wife was out of town and PTETQSTWAM and I found ourselves in front of my computer. I surfed the Internet,* played Diablo II, created Winamp* playlists . . . I did everything I could to get that Hooters waitress out of my mind.*

Yes, that’s how badly it hurt me: I was actively trying to get a Hooters waitress out of my mind. While my wife was out of town.*

Somewhere in that day, while I was battling the forces of polygonal evil on Battle.Net, Prove to Everyone tapped me on the shoulder, and said, “Dude. You should make a website and let the world know that you are still alive and still acting.”*

I paused the game and looked back at him.* I had wanted a presence on the Web for a long time, but I didn’t have the skills to build a website. I’d been given the names of several designers,* but wanted to do the whole thing myself, for better or for worse.

“Oh my god. That’s a fantastic idea! Maybe we’ll even get noticed by Hollywood again!”

“Just make sure you make the website edgy,” he said.

“If you were real, I’d cock-punch you for that,” I said.

I quit the game and went to Yahoo! GeoCities, where I created an account called “tvswilwheaton.” (Get it? “TV’s Wil Wheaton!” Because I’m still on TV, except I’m not.)* Because I had absolutely no idea how to write HTML, and I knew nothing about tables, CSS, RSS feeds, or the W3C, I spent the next few hours clumsily learning my way around the Yahoo! PageBuilder. I used their WYSIWYG editor to—ahem—“design” my very first web page. The result was incredibly lame,* but it was mine. I named it “Where’s My Burrito?” after one of my favorite episodes of The Simpsons.

When it was done, Prove to Everyone That Quitting Star Trek Wasn’t a Mistake and I shared a high five. I was proud of what I’d created. I posted a link to it in a small Wil Wheaton online fan club and wondered if anyone would care.*

Boy, did they care! I had over seven hundred visitors in a couple weeks, without being listed in a single search engine.* The response excited me, and I started updating the site quite frequently by hand-coding “news updates” into the main page. Here’s the very first “news update” I did, way back before I had even heard of a weblog:

22 JULY 2001

HEY PARTY PEOPLE.*

I’ve just come home from the San Diego Comic-Con, where it’s very possible I gave you a lame flyer for this very lame website.

So you actually came, eh? Suh-weet. I feel just slightly less lame than I did last night.

Want to know some cool stuff that’s happened in the recent past? Tough. I’m telling you anyway.

Here we go:

See, TNN* is rebranding themselves. Rebranding is when a network changes its image and programming and goes after a new audience. Well, that’s what TNN is doing. I guess someone decided that there were more Gen Xers than rednecks out there (thank god)* and they’ve changed The Nashville Network (home of NASCAR and Hee-Haw*) into The National Network (home of Miami Vice, Starsky and Hutch, NASCAR and Hee-Haw and Star Trek: The Next Generation). So this is quite cool, if you ask me. I’ve been doing lots of stuff with the TNN folks in the last few days and they are really some of the coolest people on earth.* And I’m not just saying that because they gave me a free trip to New York. Okay, well, maybe a little.*

But check this out: There is this big thing called “The Television Critics Association.” I think there are TV critics in it, or something.* Anyway, they get together every year to run up huge tabs on their corporate credit accounts and see what’s coming up on TV in the next quarter. That’s where I come in. TNN asked me to go to the “TCA” (when you’re a hip, edgy, media-savvy person, you use lots of acronyms, FYI) to be part of this TNG launch-thing. So I went and it was sooo cool!* I got to see some of the old TNG kids, who I don’t ever see anymore since they’re millionaires and I’m living in a refrigerator box* and the coolest thing of all* . . . I got to take a pee right next to BILLY FREAKIN’ IDOL!!!*

Yes, you read that right. Here’s how it happened: I went into the bathroom and I’m doing my business and I notice the guy next to me is rather dressed up, like in serious rocker clothes. So I try to just glance at him, without getting all gay and weird* and he looks right at me, sneer and all. That’s when I realize that it’s HIM! HOLY CRAP! So I say, “My wife and I just saw you on Storytellers.* You really rocked, man!” (tap, tap) And he looks at me and from behind his cool-guy sunglasses says, “Cheers, mate.” And he’s gone.

YES! How cool was that?*

So after that, I’m off to New York to do a cool show called Lifegame,* which will be on TNN in a month or so. It’s an improv show where they asked me to tell stories about my life and then they have improvisers act out scenes based on my so-called life, in different styles. Like the time my parents cornered me in the bathroom and gave me “The Talk” . . . when I was 20, done as a reggae musical.* Very funny. And I got to play the Devil in a scene. YES!

While I was there, I got a tour of MTV networks, met Carson Daly (!)* and was given a CHIA MISTER T!* That’s right. Let me tell you, everything after that was just Jibba Jabba.

After NYC, I came home to LA, my wife picked me up at the airport, and I got on a train to San Diego for the Comic-Con, where I signed autographs and promoted TNG on TNN (I like that. It sounds like NBA on NBC) and this lame website. Honestly, it was mostly lame.* I didn’t sell many pictures, so I barely even covered my costs for the trip and there weren’t as many people there as last year.* HOWEVER! There were a few cool things,* which I will relate now:

I met Oscar González Loyo. He’s an artist for Bongo Comics, who make The Simpsons comic. He drew, for me, a picture of me signing autographs for THE COMIC BOOK GUY! It’s totally cool. I’ll scan it at my brother’s house and post it this week sometime. Two other cool guys, Jason Ho and Mike Rote, also Bongo artists, did cool Simpsons’ caricatures of Ryan and Nolan (my stepkids).*

Thank you Bongo guys!

I also met Spike, of Spike and Mike’s Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation,* (the first guys to recognize Mike Judge’s brilliance in the pre-Beavis days*), and did a little sound bite for their 25th anniversary special, so Spike gave me an autographed DVD of their greatest sick and twisted hits. Cool!*

My buddies at Troma, home of the Toxic Avenger and distributor of Fag Hag* also gave me some DVDs, including Terror Firmer. Very cool.*

Finally, I traded an autographed picture of yours truly for a copy of College Girls Gone Wild. You know the one you see on TV? Trading things is cool.*

That’s it, kiddies. I’m back in LA now and getting ready for my Big Birthday Bash next weekend. I’m turning 29 on the 29th! YES!*

Your punching bag,

Littlest Giant

I am so embarrassed when I read that and compare it to the way I write now. It’s a horrible mangling of the English language. I change from present to past tense and back again, and use an annoying passive voice throughout the whole thing. Oh, and all the Comic-Con stuff is bullshit. I may have been at the keyboard, but Prove to Everyone That Quitting Star Trek Wasn’t a Mistake was definitely in the driver’s seat, so I projected my idealized self: I was a devil-may-care Gatsby, funny and irreverent, and living the celebrity dream.*

Comic-Con was nothing like I had expected, and the truth is, it was a horrible experience. I went there expecting to sell hundreds of autographed pictures to hundreds of adoring fans, but hardly anyone was interested. I sat in a cavernous and undecorated area far away from the main convention floor, surrounded by people who were definitely on the downside of their careers. The hundreds of adoring fans I’d hoped to see did show up . . . when people like Kevin Smith and the cast of the short-lived Witchblade* took up temporary residence at tables near mine. When they left, so did the fans, who glanced dismissively at me, if they noticed me at all. I was humiliated and depressed. This is what my life has come to, I thought, I am a has-been. Prove to Everyone made sure I left those details out, and encouraged me to play up the success of the TCA event and the subsequent trip to New York for Lifegame. So that’s what I did. (By the way, it was pretty cool to take a pee next to Billy Idol. If you get a chance to pee next to a rock star, make sure you do it.)

Though the dishonesty bothered me, Prove to Everyone spoke with a silver tongue, and I convinced myself that if I projected a successful image, it would somehow become a reality. It was a lot of work to fictionalize my own life, though, so I wrote about things that were safe and mundane. I posted links to other websites and talked about my experiences building my self-described “incredibly lame website.” I issued pathetic pleas for e-mail and comments,* but I avoided talking about myself or revealing anything too personal. That all changed when my dad came home from a surfing trip in Indonesia. He was so sick I thought he was going to die.

27 JULY 2001

SURFER ROSA

I just got back from the hospital. My dad is really sick and the scary thing is nobody knows what the hell is wrong with him.

I can talk to someone, in real time, who is on the other side of the world. Spacecraft are taking pictures of Mars.

My Palm Pilot has more memory than my first desktop computer.*

But not one doctor can tell me what the %^$#@ is wrong with my dad. I’ve been on the verge of tears all day.

Sorry, kids. I know you’ve come to expect a certain irreverence from your Sweet Uncle Willie, but I am scared shitless.

I love my dad. I’ve never known my dad as much as I wanted to, because he works all the time and I work all the time. Then there’s the whole “You don’t understand me!” thing, which basically adds up to a bunch of wasted years from 14 to about 22. *Pay attention, young ’uns: your parents are not as bad as you think and someday they’ll be gone and you’ll regret every single moment you wasted being mad at them because they wouldn’t let you go to your fuck-up friend’s house because they knew you’d get drunk there.**

I remember, when I was a little kid, like 7 or 8, my great-grandfather died. I was in the kitchen of my house and my dad was sitting on this high-chair stool thing we have and he started to cry. Like really a lot. He cried hard. I was freaked. I didn’t know what to do. At all. So I ran into the laundry room and I said, “Mom. Dad needs you.” My mom came into the kitchen and she did what I just didn’t know how to do at 7 or 8: she hugged my dad and let him cry on her. I can see the two of them, my dad in his ultra-groovy 1979 perm and my mom in her pantsuit, holding each other in the beautifully wallpapered kitchen in Sunland.*

Later, I asked my dad why he was crying so hard. I had hardly known my great-grandfather and he was cool and all, but I just figured that if I didn’t know him that well, nobody else did, either. (Yes, the world did revolve around me, apparently.) My dad told me that he was thinking about his own dad, my grandfather, and how my grandfather was so sad because his own father had just died. My dad then told me that he realized then, for the first time in his life, that someday his dad would die. Even at 7 years old that really struck me and I think about it all the time.*

A number of years ago, when I was working on Mr. Stitch in France, I awoke with a start one night. I thought “something horrible has just happened” and I couldn’t go back to sleep.* So I called my friend Dave and told him what had happened and asked if there had been an earthquake, or something. He told me I was just being lame* (I am)* and that everything was fine. So I went back to sleep. Later that night, as I was going out the door of my apartment to dinner, my phone rang. It was my mom. She made some small talk, then told me that my dad wanted to talk to me. He got on the phone and told me that his dad, my grandfather, had suffered a massive heart attack and died. I didn’t know what to say. I asked him how he was doing and he choked back a sob and said, “sometimes okay and sometimes not.” I had no comfort to offer my dad and that really bothered me.

Months later, we had a funeral and scattered my grandfather’s ashes out to sea. It was really cool* and I cried really hard, but not for myself. I cried for my dad, remembering what he had told me 15 years earlier.

So tonight, I spent as long as I could at the hospital, talking with my dad, reading my lame HTML book* and watching Blind Date and Letterman.* I kept taking his temperature, which started out at 103 today (scary, since my dad’s 53), then went back to normal and started a slow climb back up to 100.6 when I left.

I don’t know what to do now. I know I won’t sleep well, not knowing what’s happening with my dad. The doctor will be calling in someone from the CDC in the morning if my dad’s not better, since he was just in Indonesia on a surfing trip and they think he may have brought something back.*

But it’s the not knowing that is the worst.

That and replaying in my head every wasted moment with my dad. Every time I wouldn’t play catch with him, or go surfing, or acted embarrassed when he told a lame joke around some girl I was trying to impress.*

Go call your mom. She’s worrying about you.

And for god’s sakes, play catch with your dad.

For the longest 48 hours of my life, I was terrified that I was going to lose my father. After two days, the doctor from the CDC determined that my dad had contracted a blood infection when he stubbed his toe on a boat anchor during his trip. If he hadn’t been in the United States when he’d gotten sick, he would have died. Thankfully, he managed to fight off the infection and made a full recovery.

I still don’t know why I chose to write about my dad, and my very real and unprotected feelings, but when I was face to face with my father’s mortality, Prove to Everyone was silenced and releasing my fears and doubts was liberating.

The few people who were reading my website appreciated the raw honesty. In the days after I wrote that entry, I got several e-mails and comments from people who shared similar experiences with their own fathers, and while I read them, I thought that it might be okay to talk about some of my real feelings.

“As long as you don’t let on about how much you’re struggling in your career,” Prove to Everyone said.

“Oh, you’re still here,” I said. “I thought you’d found something else to do.”

“I think I’ll be sticking around for quite some time,” he said. “With the Voice of Self-Doubt to keep us company.”

He was right. After that brief moment of honesty, Prove to Everyone regained control over everything I wrote and I was back to attention whoring and posting links to other websites. About two weeks later, Prove to Everyone and I sort of collaborated on a weblog post. He got to talk about Auditions, and I got to talk about my family.

02 AUGUST 2001

BEACH-O-RAMA

Tuesday was my stepson’s 12th birthday. It was also the first time in 3 months that I’d had an audition. (Apparently, a bunch of jackass producers, working for vertically integrated, multinational media conglomerates were afraid that the Writers Guild and the Screen Actors Guild may want to stop work, so that we can all make a living wage, so they didn’t “green light” any new projects during that time. Go figure.)*

Things have been tough the past few months. Money has been tight and I’ve been super bored. If I didn’t have my kick-ass sketch comedy show at ACME to look forward to, I probably would have ended up on the sidewalk in front of the Viper Room.

Just kidding. Jeez, lighten up.*

The first call is at 11:15 A.M., to be a regular on this WB show called The Young Person’s Guide to Being a Rockstar. It’s to play a gay drummer. (Why does everyone think I’m gay?*) The second call is at 4:45 P.M., for a movie called Waiting . . .* that is just about the funniest ^%$#ing script I’ve read in over a year.* I’m completely excited, since I have way too much free time right now and I would like to work. (You know, actors are the only people who are unhappy when they’re not working. Unlike most “normal” people, who can’t wait for a break from work . . .) The only problem was, Tuesday was Ryan’s birthday and I was really torn about what to do. I need to work and I really like both of these projects, but I really wanted to be part of Ryan’s 12th birthday party, which was a trip to the beach with some of his friends.

I went over and over it and made the tough choice to take the auditions and see Ryan that evening.

Well, on my way to the first audition, I got a call from my agent and she told me that the afternoon session was canceled! So I went from my first audition (where I kicked ass, thank you very much . . . I’m told that I’m “in the mix” which is Hollywood-speak for “we’re considering you”*) to the beach. I must have been quite the vision in my jeans, Skechers, and black socks, walking down the sand. Long story short, it was awesome. We skim-boarded, played football and wiffle-ball and barbecued hot dogs in the parking lot, which was majorly against the beach parking lot rules (yes! breakin’ the law! breakin’ the law!*).

When we got back, I had an e-mail waiting for me from my friend Roger Avary. Roger is one of the coolest people on earth and a fucking rad writer and director.

Roger won an Academy Award for co-writing Pulp Fiction and is pretty much responsible for everything good that Tarantino has ever taken credit for.* Roger also wrote and directed my absolute favorite movie that I’ve ever worked on, Mr. Stitch. To get back to my point: I e-mailed Roger, because he’s doing a new movie and I asked him if I could be in it, because he is the most fun director EVER and always makes good movies. He e-mails me back and tells me, “of course,” and sends me the script (which ^%$@*ing ROCKS, by the way*) and we’re hooking up this week.

So I’ve got that going for me, which is nice.*

That’s all for right now, kids. I’m going back to work on the new, improved, easy-to-remember website!

How about some e-mail for your Uncle Willy?*

How about that pathetic plea for attention? Yeah, that’s nice. Prove to Everyone said I was bored, which was partially true, but he stopped me before I could continue with, “I’m scared, and I’m horribly depressed. I am a husband and stepfather who can’t provide for his family. I ‘used to be’ an actor when I was a kid.”

The total absence of acting work was hard on my ego, but it was also a terrible financial strain on my family. My wife and I often borrowed money from my parents, and she was working over forty hours a week just so we could have food on our table. I felt guilty that I didn’t initially go with them to the beach for Ryan’s birthday, and I told myself that if we hadn’t been getting calls from bill collectors every day, I would have blown the auditions off to spend the entire day with him. But the insistent voice of the collectors was nothing compared to the Voice of Self-Doubt and my good friend Prove to Everyone That Quitting Star Trek Wasn’t a Mistake. They were the real reason I went on the auditions, which didn’t result in any work, because the part I was “in the mix” for went to someone who was—wait for it—edgy, and the other was already cast when I got there.*

When I e-mailed Roger Avary, and I told him that I wanted to work with him again, I meant it. Mr. Stitch was an amazing experience and Roger is a talented writer/director, as well as a great person to be around. However, Prove to Everyone knew that this movie, called The Rules of Attraction, would be noticed by Hollywood when it was released. If Roger gave me a part in his movie, I would silence Prove to Everyone, the Voice of Self-Doubt, and the Voice of Bill Collectors.

For the first time in years, I had some hope that my stalled acting career would begin to climb again. I relaxed a little bit, and when I wrote in my weblog, Prove to Everyone took a break, and I was able to talk some more about my stepkids.*

14 AUGUST 2001

KIDS ARE COOL

Tonight, while I was sitting here, cursing up a storm while I tried to get the new site closer to operation, my stepkids decided that they wanted to watch The Mummy on DVD.

I told them that they could, but Ryan had to shower before he could start it and Nolan would have to wait for him.

Ryan runs off to his room (kids have two speeds at 12: the excited run and the sullen stalk) and shouts back to Nolan, “Make some popcorn!”

Nolan looks at me and says, “I’m really burnt out on popcorn, Wil.”*

“So just make some for Ryan,” I replied, “that would be a really cool thing to do.”

He goes into the kitchen (he hasn’t hit the two-speed phase yet) and gets out the popcorn (I can’t endorse Newman’s Own enough . . . it rules and the profits go to charity, so we all win).*

I sit back at the computer, trying to make the new site look less lame (it’s not coming along as well as I’d like, dammit) and Nolan calls to me from the kitchen.

“Wil! There’s a lot of smoke coming out of the microwave!”

I get up* and as I get closer to the kitchen, I recognize that smell that is so familiar to college dorms . . . no, not weed, jackass.*

The smell of burnt microwave popcorn.

Nolan is standing there, looking perplexed, like he can’t figure out what is wrong with the microwave. So I stop it and asked him how long it’s been in there and he tells me 4 minutes, because that’s what it says on the bag. Now, whenever I make it, it’s 2 minutes 25 seconds. I’ve gotten it figured out. But I somehow didn’t pass that knowledge on to the next generation; even now, at 2:50 A.M., my house STILL smells like burning popcorn!

Well, Ryan comes out of his room and Nolan looks crestfallen.

“Ryan, I ruined the popcorn and it was the last one,” he says, looking like a puppy who’s just been caught chewing up your Boba Fett that was still in the blister pack.

Ryan looks at me and back to his upset little brother and he totally says, “That’s okay, Nolan, I’ll eat it anyway.”

So we open the bag and take out a black ball of burning popcorn, toss it into the sink and Ryan pours the rest of the popcorn into our popcorn bowl. (You see, when you’re married, all of a sudden you get all this stuff that only has one use. Like the Popcorn Bowl, or the Water Glasses. I don’t know about you, but when I was a bachelor, I only had two bowls and about five glasses and they pulled serious double and triple duty.)*

Sorry. Tangent.

So Ryan ends up sitting on the couch, eating the totally burnt popcorn and all was right with the world.

See what I mean about kids being cool? Nolan made the effort to do something for his brother and Ryan made the effort to appreciate it, even at his own peril.*

I wish adults were more like that.

When I wrote about my family I felt like I was showing school pictures or vacation slides, and even though it was personal, it wasn’t about my struggles in Hollywood. I liked writing about my wife and stepkids, because I knew that I was a good husband and stepfather. I didn’t feel like I had anything to prove to anyone—a dramatic difference from the way I felt when I wrote about auditions and my (lack of) acting work.*

At this point, I was “blogging” almost every day, and even though Prove to Everyone spoke more often than I did, more and more people were stopping by to read what I wrote. “Where’s My Burrito?” was a fine place to start, but I was outgrowing GeoCities. I was ready for a real website, so I bought the domain name www.wilwheaton.net and spent the next several weeks teaching myself how to build a website from scratch.*

I thought “Where’s My Burrito?” had a certain unpolished charm,* but Prove to Everyone knew that if we were going to rejuvenate the acting career, we needed to have a more professional-looking presence on the Internet. The problem was, I couldn’t afford to hire a designer, and I was afraid that even if I did, I would end up with a “celebrity” site that would just be a marketing tool.

Prove to Everyone thought this was a fine idea, but I wanted to do something more than that. I compared the entries I wrote to the entries Prove to Everyone wrote, and saw a remarkable difference in the responses and the way I felt about them. I locked Prove to Everyone in a shed in my backyard and spent several weeks learning HTML and PHP.* I bought a copy of Macromedia Dreamweaver, and surfed around the web for design ideas. I looked at “celebrity” sites, and “personal” sites. All the “celebrity” sites were exactly what I expected: marketing tools, controlled by publicists and professional image-meisters.* But the “personal” sites felt like there was some dude sitting at a computer, putting up stuff that he thought was cool. The “personal” weblog sites gave me a window into the writer’s world, and I decided that I would do the same thing.* 



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