This is a collection of new songs from Marian Call — and it comes from the heart, from home, from the road. These are not fancy polished studio tracks, they are simple, clean, imperfect, transparent, all about the music and the words. ‘Sketchbook’ is very small and focused in scope, deep like diving.
The songs are about love, lightning, time, birds, and hope.
This album was recorded all across the country, mostly in homes, in the bedrooms of friends, neighbors, and house concert hosts — people who probably never anticipated that they would be producing part of an album in the back room for a wandering musician.
Sometimes the art comes and seizes you and shakes you and demands to be let out. So you let it out. “Sketchbook” is a collection of little sketches from the road, pieces that would not wait any longer, pieces that have blessed me and left me raw from the honesty. I’ve ripped pages from my journal because I thought you needed to see them.
I hope you enjoy these songs, I hope the simplicity is refreshing, I hope one of them speaks to you sometime when you need it.
Remember — you can make music and art anywhere, anytime. Just do it.
And while you’re at Bandcamp, you can download the first chapter of the audio version of Just A Geek for the low price of free! Yay!
A few months ago, I said on Twitter that I want a T-shirt that’s based on Hokusai’s The Great Wave Off Kanagawa, only the wave is made of dice, and the rest of the work is gaming stuff.
You know, something like this:
Today, that T-shirt exists, thanks to my pals at shirt.woot … and while you’re there, you may want to check out The Wil Wheaton Sale, which has a bunch of shirts and things I curated … you know, for kids!
Yay! Happy Friday.
I just came across this post at Uproxx, where someone transcribed my words to baby Violet earlier this year. It makes me so happy that it exists in this form that I copied it to have on my blog forever.
“My name is Wil Wheaton. It’s 2013. And you’ve just recently joined us on planet Earth. So welcome. I’m an actor. I’m a writer. And I’m a Dad. Your mother asked me to tell you why it’s awesome to be a nerd. That’s an easy thing for me to do because I am a nerd.
I don’t know what the world is going to be like by the time you understand this. I don’t what it’s going to mean to be a nerd when you are a young women. For me, when I was growing up, being a nerd meant that I liked things that were a little weird. That took a lot of effort to appreciate and understand. It meant that I loved science, and that I loved playing board games, and reading books, and really understanding what went on in the world instead of just riding the planet through space.
When I was a little boy, people really teased us about that, and made us feel like there was something wrong with us for loving those things. Now that I’m an adult, I’m kind of a professional nerd, and the world has changed a lot. I think a lot of us have realized that being a nerd … it’s not about what you love. It’s about how you love it.
So there’s going to be a thing in your life that you love, and I don’t know what it’s going to be. It might be sports, it might be science, it might be reading, it might be fashion design, it might be building things, it might be telling stories or taking pictures. It doesn’t matter what it is. The way you love that, and the way that you find other people who love it the way you do, is what makes being a nerd awesome. The way you love that, and the way that you find other people who love it the way you do is what makes you a nerd. The defining characteristic of [being a nerd] is that we love things. Some of us love Firefly and some of us love Game of Thrones, or Star Trek, or Star Wars, or anime, or games, or fantasy, or science fiction. Some of us love completely different things. But we all love those things SO much that we travel for thousands of miles … we come from all over the world, so that we can be around people who love the things the way that we love them.
That’s why being a nerd is awesome. And don’t let anyone tell you that that thing that you love is a thing that you can’t love. Don’t anyone ever tell you that you can’t love that, that’s for boys … you find the things that you love, and you love them the most that you can.
And listen: This is really important. I want you to be honest, honorable, kind. I want you to work hard. Because everything worth doing is hard. And I want you to be awesome, and I will do my very best to leave you a planet that you can still live on.
PS: don’t read the comments at uproxx, for they are full of gatekeepers and jerks who just make comments.
On Tumblr, t wrote:
My birthday is coming up next week and my brother insists on getting me something. He asked me what I wanted and told him I wanted a board game. He asked which one and I kind of blanked ajd told him I’d get back to him.
Being a fan of Table Top I went through and picked out my favorite ones but can’t decide on which game I want. Currently it is a choice between Munchkin, Betrayal at House on the Hill, Elder Sign and Pandemic. Which one would you pick?
This is a fairly common question, though the games are a little different each time. Here’s what I answered:
Those are all very different games, so it depends on what kind of gaming experience you want to have.
Munchkin is silly, pun-filled, and about messing with your friends. It also has about nine million expansions.
Pandemic is about working together in a game that you’re probably going to have fun losing.
Elder Sign is about working together in a heavily-themed game that is very random because of the dice.
Betrayal is about working together — until you find out that one of you is trying to murder the rest of you with kill death. It’s more of an RPG in a box, and is really fun if you treat it that way.
So I can’t tell you which one is best, but hopefully that information can help you make an informed decision.
I can’t say “Oh, if you are choosing from these games, this is the one to play,” because they’re all great games in their own way. I would, of course, try to direct t away from a game that wasn’t fun at all, or had a terrible rule book, because I believe that’s a moral imperative when games are being discussed.
I was recently at a game shop to pick up this game called Hive that is insanely fun. While I was there, I watched an employee try very hard to help a young woman pick out a game. They went through all the aisles, and he explained each game in depth long after she’d lost interest in it. This happened because he wasn’t asking the right question: what kind of game do you want to play? because he was asking questions about theme (you like Torchwood? Well, this game is blah blah blah) that didn’t help her at all. I didn’t want to jump in, but it was killing me to watch this happen. He was trying so hard, and it was like they were speaking the same language but weren’t able to exchange anything of substance between them.
I don’t know what, if anything, she decided to get, but I hope she left with something because the world needs more gamers. One way we can help make that happen is to know how to talk to them, so they can find their way into our hobby, and feel at home there.
Yesterday, my friend Amy Berg wrote on Facebook:
People are turning off the TV and turning to the internet for entertainment. We may not like it, but it’s fact. Which is why I’m making digital series. Better to be out in front of the revolution than scrambling to keep up.
She linked to an article that says: TV is dying, and here are the stats to prove it.
The TV business is having its worst year ever.
Audience ratings have collapsed: Aside from a brief respite during the Olympics, there has been only negative ratings growth on broadcast and cable TV since September 2011, according to Citi Research.
Media stock analysts Craig Moffett and Michael Nathanson recently noted, “The pay-TV industry has reported its worst 12-month stretch ever.” All the major TV providers lost a collective 113,000 subscribers in Q3 2013. That doesn’t sound like a huge deal — but it includes internet subscribers, too.
Broadband internet was supposed to benefit from the end of cable TV, but it hasn’t.
In all, about 5 million people ended their cable and broadband subs between the beginning of 2010 and the end of this year.
It’s a fascinating article, and worth reading if you care about this sort of thing like I do. Setting aside the reality that you never hear someone declare: “Oh man, I fucking LOVE my cable company! They are the BEST! Their customer service is, like, UNBELIEVABLE, and I REALLY get my money’s worth for my subscription fees. I love my cable company so much, and they’ve totally earned my business and loyalty!” and so it’s likely that younger customers are fleeing cable because the experience — not necessarily just the content — sucks, I want to talk briefly about creating original content for online distribution.
I remember a time, in the not too distant past, when we’d feel like we had to justify ourselves for making a webseries, like it wasn’t real TV or film. It was like we were creating for online because we couldn’t make it in the big leagues, and had to seek out an alternative. In some ways, that was true, because in the traditional way of doing things, we had to appeal to gatekeepers at networks and mid-level development executives who were more afraid of losing their jobs than they were excited to make something new. That makes sense: there’s a shitload of money at stake for most productions, and it’s only logical that the people in charge of spending that money would be risk-averse — But what’s the point of being in a creative industry if you’re not willing to take some creative risks? That’s where the Internet came in, and fundamentally changed everything for creators. We could take risks, we could make content that maybe wouldn’t appeal to tens of millions of people, but would appeal to hundreds of thousands. We didn’t need to compete with other creators for ratings during a narrow broadcast window, because we understood that our audiences would watch our stuff on their terms, when and where and how they wanted to. We understood that the world was changing, and people would be watching programming on smartphones and tablets, frequently time shifted for their convenience. We knew that because we were those people.
Being those people, and creating for those people, has let us who are the tip of the spear in online distribution continue to just destroy the legacy media companies: we don’t want to control how our audiences get to watch and enjoy and share the things we make. We understand that attempting to control the experience people have when they watch our stuff just makes them find ways around that control, usually in a way that hurts our bottom line and our ability to support ourselves.
Around the second season I did of The Guild, I stopped feeling like I had to apologize for or justify creating original content for Internet instead of television. I stopped feeling like we were playing in the minor leagues, or engaging in a long and expensive audition for “real” work. I recognized that were were ahead of the curve, and the rest of the entertainment industry was going to have to catch up with us. It was so liberating, and it’s been so exciting for me as a producer and consumer to watch new talent emerge online that would never get a chance if TV was the only option.
The successes and failures in Google’s You Tube thing that made Geek and Sundry possible provide a great example of those who get it and don’t: the channels that the major networks and studios used to dump existing content failed, and the channels that made original content thrived. I think it’s safe to say that the legacy content producers and networks just don’t understand the online audience in the way they think they do. I think they’re afraid of online in a lot of ways, because a lot of the older executives who make decisions about digital are still fighting Napster in their heads. I understand their fear, but they’re going to have to come and join us here in the future, or they’re going to wither and die.
We who make webserieses (is that a word? It is now) have been in the future for a few years now, and I’m very interested to see what happens as people who are used to being the king of the mountain without really trying are forced to compete — or at least share space — with those of us who have worked very hard to earn whatever we have online.
Broadcast, cable, satellite, and movies will always be there, and they’ll always have fantastic and lousy content (just like the internet), and I hope that I’ll continue to work across all mediums as an actor and producer. But looking to the real future (the one that is ahead of us, as opposed to the one we live in now): I’ve believed for years that the next generation of creators will go online and play by their own rules. The next Joss Whedon will never have to deal with an evil FOX executive who ruins the next Firefly because of reasons, andI hope that I get to work with him or her someday, because that person is going to make something wonderful.
For almost two years, the only way to get a copy of Just A Geek: Teh Audio Book was to download it from shady websites, or torrent it. I don’t begrudge anyone who picked it up that way, because I wasn’t doing anything to make it easy to get it in a way that put shiny gold coins in my pocket.
Last night, that all changed. Thanks to the fine people at Bandcamp, you can now get your very own, totally legit, guilt-free copy of Just a Geek: Teh Audio Book! You can even listen to the entire thing on the website, and download the first chapter of the book for the low, low price of free.
Here’s the original announcement:
This journey is a fascinating read, made even more intimate and fulfilling by Wil’s narrative. This is not just an audio book, it’s a glimpse into the psyche of the man who considers himself… Just a Geek.
A few RFB listeners have commented to me that they picked up the audio book after listening to the podcast, so I thought I’d make it nice and easy for anyone who is interested in checking it out. It’s available as an instantly-downloadable, DRM-free MP3 for just $12.
I’m very proud of the 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.
Here’s all the nifty stuff they put at Amazon about the print version:
“A cleverly constructed and vivid collection of
memoirs with flashes of brilliant wit, this title betters even Dancing
Barefoot.” – Paul Hudson, Linux Format, Nov (top stuff award)
Wil Wheaton has never been one to take the conventional path to success. Despite early stardom through his childhood role in the motion picture “Stand By Me”, and growing up on television as Wesley Crusher on “Star Trek: The Next Generation”, Wil left Hollywood in pursuit of happiness, purpose, and a viable means of paying the bills. In the oddest of places, Topeka, Kansas, Wil discovered that despite his claims to fame, he was at heart Just a Geek.
In this, his newest book, Wil shares his deeply personal and difficult journey to find himself. You’ll understand the rigors, and joys, of Wil’s rediscovering of himself, as he comes to terms with what it means to be famous, or, ironically, famous for once having been famous. Writing with honesty and disarming humanity, Wil touches on the frustrations associated with his acting career, his inability to distance himself from Ensign Crusher in the public’s eyes, the launch of his incredibly successful web site, wilwheaton.net, and the joy he’s found in writing. Through all of this, Wil shares the ups and downs he encountered along the journey, along with the support and love he discovered from his friends and family.
The stories in Just a Geek include:
- - Wil’s plunge from teen star to struggling actor
- - Discovering the joys of HTML, blogging, Linux, and web design
- - The struggle between Wesley Crusher, Starfleet ensign, and Wil Wheaton, author and blogger
- - Gut-wrenching reactions to the 9-11 disaster (Author’s note: I didn’t want to include that. I was pushed by the publisher, and I wish I’d pushed back.)
- - Moving tales of Wil’s relationships with his wife, step-children, and extended family
- - The transition from a B-list actor to an A-list author
Wil Wheaton–celebrity, blogger, and geek–writes for the geek in all of us. Engaging, witty, and pleasantly self-deprecating, Just a Geek will surprise you and make you laugh.
It’s no secret that, when we were teenagers, I had the biggest crush in the history of big, awkward crushes on Debbie Gibson.
I just came across this 8×10, taken in 1987 or early 1988. It still has little bits of tape on the back, because it hung in my bedroom until I moved out of my parents’ house in 1990.
Whenever Debbie came to LA, she would have these parties at a diner in Hollywood. They were really innocent, fun, milkshake and hamburger filled affairs. Pretty much everyone who was part of the Teen Hollywood Scene at the time was there, and a lot of photographers and teen magazine people were there, too. It was good publicity for everyone involved, and even though I wasn’t crazy about having my picture taken then, I always went to her parties, because I hoped that somehow, some way, she’d get lost in my eyes.
So this happened.
Aarrgghh BBC London’s gone all weird and now we’ve been given BBC South East! What’s happening?! Is this it?! Is it happening? #zombies
— Simon Pegg (@simonpegg) November 22, 2013
@simonpegg Suggest going to the Winchester and having a pint until it all blows over.
— Wil Wheaton (@wilw) November 22, 2013
@simonpegg SEE WHAT I DID? SEE WHAT I DID THERE? I AM SO CLEVER I BET YOU’VE NEVER EVEN — OH GOD I LOVE ME.
— Wil Wheaton (@wilw) November 22, 2013
@wilw I don’t get it.
— Simon Pegg (@simonpegg) November 22, 2013
It’s important to be easily amused, kids, because then you are easily amused.
My friend Warren Ellis wrote a fantastic short story called Dead Pig Collector, and today I get to record the audio version of it. I’m not sure when it will be released, but if you wanted to hear me read you a new story, now you know that you can look for it in the Mysterious Future.
When I was a kid young actor, I got by on my instincts and ability to take direction. As I got older, I began to realize that instincts only go so far, and I felt a need — a very strong need — to formally study the craft of acting, and to gain a deeper understanding of the art. I spent years studying in various programs, most of them based on the Meisner technique. I learned how to break down scenes into beats, how to understand what my characters wanted and needed, and how to make emotional and intellectual connections to my characters, as well as the other characters in the scene.
One of the fundamentals of Meisner is “keep it simple.” It’s something a lot of inexperienced actors don’t do, because they (understandably and incorrectly) believe that unless they are doing something with every line, every beat, every reaction, every moment, then they are not acting. The trick is that almost all of acting is reacting to things going on around you, and letting those reactions happen naturally, through the lens of your character’s needs, wants, fears, expectations, and circumstances. The very worst thing for an actor is to get caught acting, so the other trick is to know all of that intellectually, and then let it all go so it happens emotionally, naturally.
I have nearly three decades of experience performing as an actor in all sorts of productions, from dramas to comedies, from stage to television, from period pieces to contemporary ones. I feel very confident in my ability to do the work an actor needs to do to be prepared and to create a believable character. I haven’t always been in fantastic works of art, but I’ve always done my best to bring something meaningful to the piece, and do justice to the writing (the number of actors who don’t understand or respect that the thing we’re doing existed as a thing long before we ever held the pages in our hands, and should be respected as a result, is staggering).
I’ve been working on The Big Bang Theory this week, and I’ll be on Stage 25 Monday and Tuesday next week, before I return to my corruptible, mortal state on Wednesday. This is the first episode I’ve done (and I’ve done a bunch) where I finally feel comfortable as an actor, like I know what I’m doing, like I deserve to be there, like I’m not going to get cut for screwing up the jokes. You see, all that stuff I said about being an actor? It’s true, but working on a show that’s shot in front of an audience is fundamentally different from everything else we do as actors. I was talking with John Ross Bowie today about it, and he said, “single camera and theater can not prepare anyone for what it’s like to be on this stage when the audience is in the seats,” and he was right. I often tell people that it’s like playing baseball: it’s very different being in the outfield than the infield, even though you’re playing the same game.
Today, during our run through, I pushed a line too hard for some reason, and after the scene was done, Chuck Lorre reminded me that I didn’t need to do that. “This is one of those times when you can just let the words do the work,” he said. He was right. Letting the words do the work is the difference between a scene being funny and obnoxious, sentimental and sappy, clever or obvious. It made so much sense to me, and even though it was something I knew, it was something I had forgotten. It was like putting a quarter into an old videogame (let’s say TRON) that you haven’t played in years, and after dying on the light cycle level, realizing that you remember the pattern, but had forgotten it because you didn’t need it until just that moment.
I’ve been an actor for as long as I can remember, but in recent years, the majority of my creative life has been spent writing and producing. I’ve been using different tools in my creative toolbox, and I was grateful to Chuck for reminding me where I left the tools for this particular job.
- Anne: The weather guy just said there’s a 70% chance of rain tomorrow.
- Me: I just checked Weather Underground, Weather.com, and the Weather Channel. They all say 79° and sunny.
- Anne: Yeah, I just checked that too. I think he made a mistake.
- Me: I think he’s the worst weather guy ever.
- Anne: I think he’s confused.
- Me: Yell at the TV that he’s a stupid dummy.
- Anne: …
- Me: He won’t hear you, but he’ll know.
… the best part of my life began.
Happy anniversary, Mrs. Wheaton. I love you the most for one thousand times.
About a year ago, I cleaned out my garage. I came across dozens of artifacts of a life spent in the television and film industry, as well as clear evidence of my love for nerdy things going back to my earliest years on planet Earth.
I posted pictures of that stuff on Twitter, and I’ve been meaning to collect them all here ever since, but … reasons.
Today, though, I am back in the garage getting everything out of it so I can have it converted into a clubhouse for playing tabletop games, Rock Band, and poker. I’m also putting my homebrewery in there, guaranteeing that it will be the most awesome thing, ever.
I’m almost done. I have probably two more hours of work, so I’ve been peeking into some of the boxes as I move them out onto my patio. This picture was in a box that’s filled with similar memories:
I love that I found this. I have a lot of great memories from working on Toy Soldiers, and the people you see in this picture (and our awesome director, Dan Pietrie, Jr.), are the reason.
That’s me from 1977. Please note that I’m wearing my grandmother’s fancy gloves to complete the look.
I really like Uber, and I’ll take Uber over a taxi every single time I can. I really like being in a clean car, with a friendly driver who genuinely cares about my experience, because I’m rating them and that matters to them. Basically, they work a little harder to give me better service, and I pay about a 5% premium for that.
Earlier this week, though, I took Uber to and from the Stone Company Store in Pasadena, and both drivers gave me this aggressive sales pitch that made me very uncomfortable. They both wanted me to contact them directly when I needed an Uber car, so they could drive to wherever I was, wait for me to request an Uber car, and then they’d answer the request.
Both times, the pitch was a very hard sell, accompanied by boasts about their clients in Bel Air or Beverly Hills, and left me feeling like I’d rather not ride with either of these guys again. When I’ve hired a driver, I just want that driver to get me where I’m going safely and comfortably. I don’t want to feel like I’m getting a high-pressure sales pitch when I’m basically a captive audience.
I’m putting this out there because I want to know if this is happening to anyone else in LA or any other cities? Is this some new kind of official Uber policy? Or did I just happen to get two seemingly random guys who were working off of almost the exact same script?
We’re having work done on our house, and today they’re in the attic over my office. It’s so loud I can’t think in there, so I’m in my bed with my laptop, still in my jammies at 1:30pm. Talk about dressing for the job you want! I’m living the dream, surrounded by my very happy dogs and one very unhappy cat.
Our cat, Luna, is all black, so she spends October 28-November 1 inside every year, for her safety, because some people really suck. This doesn’t really bother her on the 28th, but by the middle of the day on the 29th, she makes it really clear that she hates us and would very much kill our faces in our sleep with murder death.
Now, because of the loud work in the house, and the construction crew walking in and out the front door, Luna is confined to the bedroom with me and the dogs, where she can let everyone know how truly and completely pissed off she is.
For much of the last hour, she has: tried to lay down on top of my hands while I type, made pancakes on my stomach while showing me her butthole, groomed my beard, bitten my chin, hissed and swatted at two of our three dogs (which Marlowe thought was an invitation to play, which was quite a disappointment to them both.)
Now she seems to have temporarily tantrumed herself out, and she’s at the foot of my bed, pointedly facing away from me, ears shoved back in righteous indignation and furious anger.
And people wonder why I’m a dog person.
Anyway, I’ve just taken a break from writing to watch some YouTube, including one of the most important videos I’ve ever seen from John Green. It’s something I needed to see today, and I think it’s something at least some of you will want to see, too. Take a few minutes and watch it, and I think you’ll be glad that you did.
Attention Pasadena and surrounding villages! Tonight, I’m joining my friend Greg Koch for a special tap takeover at the Stone Company Store!
We’re pouring a bunch of very special and rare Stone beers (2004 Double Bastard, anyone? How about the 03.03.03 Vertical Epic?) including our very own Stone Farking Wheaton W00tstout. I’m going to get behind the bar and pour beers, and I’ll probably drink some beers, too.
It’s going to be a whole lot of fun, it’s going to benefit the Pasadena Humane Society, and Anne’s going to be there with some of our 2014 celebrity pet adoption calendars for sale and autographing.
We’re doing our thing from 6-8pm tonight at 220 South Raymond. You can take the Gold Line to the Del Mar station, or if you’ve wanted an excuse to use Uber, they’ll give new customers $20 off your ride if you use the code “PHS” when you sign up.