I needed new headshots and publicity shots, so I asked my friend, Kaelen, to come over to Castle Wheaton and help me out. We took a few dozen pictures in a few different locations, and I’m super happy with what we got. Here’s one of them:
When we finished shooting for the day, I had a realization that probably means more to me than it will to anyone else, but since that’s never stopped me from writing about something before…
I hate having my picture taken. I feel like I have ugly teeth, my forehead is too big, and my eyes always reveal how deeply sad I am inside. If you wonder why I’m usually pulling a face in pictures, now you know why. It’s like my armor, I guess.
This started early one morning when I was seven or eight years-old. I had to have headshots taken for commercial casting agents, and my mom took me out of school one day to meet with a photographer she knew. I remember feeling like I was getting a free day off, because I didn’t have to go to school (I don’t know why we didn’t do this on a weekend. Or maybe we did and I don’t remember that part of the day correctly. It’s not the important part, which I’m getting to, anyway)....
I was thinking about reinstalling Rock Band again recently, but I decided that, even though I really loved playing it back in the day, I am at a point in my life where I would rather spend that time actually learning an instrument, instead. I have played bass guitar and ukulele in the past. I also played guitar in the way that every lame college dude does, which means I never learned any theory, but I memorized some guitar tabs and chords, and sort of faked my way through a few songs for friends who were either too polite or embarrassed to tell me how bad I was.
I was sort of thinking that doing it as a game would be fun, so I gave Rocksmith guitar a try, but after about two hours of different game modes, it’s not for me. It was like all the frustration of Rock Band or Guitar hero, but without any of the fun of pretending that I was a rock star. I may plug in my old bass guitar (which is now a vintage instrument because I’m old) and try that mode, but for now, I’m going to try something different.
I have always wanted to learn to play the drums, and I was pretty good at the Rock Band drums when we played all the time, so I decided to pick up a small, inexpensive, student kit, and use YouTube videos to master the basics. While I was shopping around about a week...
The airplane shakes as violently as I have ever experienced in a flight, and I can hear the engines whine as the pilot cranks them up. I push down into my seat just a bit as we begin to climb. Two years ago, this kind of turbulence would have terrified me to the point of white hot panic, but I am calm. Ever since I got medical treatment for my depression and anxiety, I have been able to rationally accept things that I was once irrational about. I am able to react to things the way I imagine a normal person would (my doctor discourages me from saying “normal” in this context, because it makes me sound abnormal. He wants me to say “healthy” or “non-depressive”, but he’s not the boss of me). I know what’s happening: we are flying through the leading edge of a storm front that is on its way down the Pacific coast. The winds that are pushing and pulling that front are shaking the plane, so I imagine that I’m on a boat in heavy seas, or in a wagon on a rough dirt road.
We dip slightly, and my stomach goes weightless for half a second before we resume our climb. Anne grips my arm so tightly it hurts a little bit. I glance at her, and she frowns. She does not enjoy this. I close the book I haven’t been able to read, lean my head back, and shut my eyes…
I wrote this on my dumb Facebook yesterday:.
Unsurprisingly, when a shitty person is shitty, they attract other shitty persons to their blog. When a blog that presents itself as news writes shitty posts that are intended to make shitty people feel better about themselves by attacking and tearing down other people, those sites attract shitty people. And now a lot of those shitty people are all up in my business. I can ignore a lot of it, and I block and move on, but it’s frustrating and disheartening to see so much hate and cruelty projected from people who I don’t know and wasn’t writing for in the first place. It’s gross and it makes me feel … well, the only word I can come up with is “icky” and that’s not the best word. I just feel like the stink of toxic, terrible people is around me today, and it makes me grateful for the millions of you out there who are not that, who choose to spend a little...
At least three blogs linked to my blog about the minifigs today. All three of the ones I saw essentially quoted the entire thing, and then added commentary that misrepresented what I said, and what my intention was when I said it.
Another blog, home to one of the most pathetic, sad, empty, angry, hateful failures in the universe also linked to it.
The resulting flood of toxic and cruel and hateful people into my life has been appalling and revealing.
Approximately 162% of the total population of Twitter users has sent me this Gizmodo post about some mostly-awesome custom (unofficial) LEGO minifigs that are inspired by the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Approximately 600% of them asked me to comment, and since I can’t do that in 280 characters without resorting to the dreaded [THREAD 1/66], I’m doing it here.
Before I get into the Wesley part of this that you’re all here for: I love that this set exists. I love that enough people want to do TNG LEGO to create a market demand for these figures. I can’t speak for the rest of the cast, but things like this, based on us, are always awesome. Earlier this year, a guy gave me a little minifig that he made of Wesley, and even though it’s unofficial, it is a delightful thing to own. He’s in his little red spacesuit, and he looks like he’s got a course you can plot. I love it.
In this particular custom set, though, Wesley is depicted as a crying child, and that’s not just disappointing to me, it’s kind of insulting and demeaning to everyone who loved that character when they were kids. The creator of this set is saying that Wesley Crusher is a crybaby, and he doesn’t deserve to stand shoulder to minifig shoulder with the rest of the crew. People who loved Wesley, who were inspired by him to pursue careers in science and engineering, who were...
We went to The Last Jedi at the Chinese theater last night. It’s the first time I’ve been to the Chinese since Pulp Fiction or 12 Monkeys, and I feel no pressing urge to go back any time soon. That area of Hollywood is just gross and crowded, like someone took the worst aspects of Times Square in the 70s and now, put them together, and concentrated them into two awful blocks.
But I digress before I even begin, because of course I do.
I loved The Last Jedi. It’s a little long, it has some humor that felt a little out of place to me, and some of the edits were a little jarring, but I am willing to overlook those flaws because it was just a really fun Star Wars experience. I felt like, if I were a kid today, this movie would be my Star Wars, it would the one I would still be talking about in forty years, the way the original Star Wars (that I refuse to call ‘episode whatever’) is for me today.
You may need a second to parse that, because I did and I wrote it so go ahead. I’ll wait.
Hi. I’m still here. Glad you are, too.
I’m not going to discuss specifics, and I hope you won’t comment on specifics, either, so people who haven’t seen it yet don’t have to worry about spoilers. But here are some thoughts:
I’ve been reading all the comments so many of you left on my last post, and I wanted to take a moment to thank you for your kindness. It really does mean a lot to me, and it really does make a big difference, to know that I’m not the only creative person who is struggling right now, and has been struggling this entire year. It means so much to me that so many of you who are reading this took a moment to let me know that you’re there, and that you care about what I make.
The Internet in 2017 (at least in my personal experience, which is absolutely affected by my depression) is so flooded by casual cruelty, it is overwhelming and suffocating and exhausting. Thank you for showing and reminding me that good and kind people are in this world. Thank you for taking the time and making the effort to reach out to me. You didn’t have to do that, and I’m very grateful that you did.
I went to my brain doctor a few days ago, and talked with him about how much I’ve been struggling. I told him how bad I’ve been feeling, and how hard it’s been for me to do any of the creative things that I’ve always loved to do. He told me that a lot of his patients are having the most challenging year they’ve had in a long time, so it’s not just me. We talked about some different...
Every day, I open up this editor.
Every day, I sit here at my desk, and stare at the empty space.
Every day I struggle to find something to put into the empty space.
And every day, after hours of frustration and false starts that lead nowhere, I close it.
I hate this. I hate this so much. I used to get stuff done every day, even if it was only a few hundred words, but this whole fucking year I keep feeling like none of this matters and none of this is worth the effort and nobody cares and there’s just no reason to do any of it.
I really really really hate this.
A Redditor messaged me, “You’re a board game guy so i figured I’d take a shot in the dark and ask for your advice. Basically wanted to start Dungeons and Dragons and wanted your recommendation on the cheapest way to get everything I needed to actually start playing for real[assuming my boyfriend and our friends want to make it a regular thing]. I’ve seen people debating on what handbooks and packs i need to start, and i want to be sure I’m not wasting my money on useless books and all that”
It’s been way too long since I played or talked about D&D, so I’m sharing my response here, in case it’s helpful to other people.
Hey! I’m so glad you asked me, and I’m happy to help. This is one of those questions that wakes up the gatekeepers and can lead to people giving up and walking away from D&D before they ever start. I’ll do my best to give you a simple answer, and then some more information that you can come back to later, if you’re interested.
Speaking as a voice of experience, who has played the game since 1983, and who is intimately familiar with every edition and potential entry point: the very best way to get started is to pick up the 5th edition starter set. It has everything you need to learn and play the game, and if it turns out that D&D isn’t for you, you’ve only spent around $20. It’s widely available in bookstores, toy...
I am so far out of the demo, this feels maybe like an Abrictosaurus reviewing an opera, but for the six of you who have asked me if I’ve listened to the new Taylor Swift record, Reputation, (because I’m such a big dumb fan of 1989), here are my first impressions.
I just finished the first playthrough, and I like it. I haven’t paid super close to the lyrics, because I’ve literally listened to it one time, so this is just based on the general musical tone and pacing of the album.
Thoughts on the rest of the record:
…Ready For It? kicks off with a punch that winds me up for the rest of the record. I’m generally not a big fan of that dubstep wuuuubbbbvvvvsszzzzzzsound, but it works for me in this context.
End Game is a collaboration with Ed Sheeran and Future that left me cold. It feels out of place on this album, but especially after …Ready For It? got me so pumped up to hear what comes next. The vocals are so overproduced, the whole thing is a little much for me, but I suspect that the legion of Taylor fans who love Ed Sheeran will eat it up. (See above about how I’m not in the demo for the album.)
I Did Something Bad is glorious, lyrically and musically. I love that Taylor Swift is just dropping a...
A few months ago, our friend, Kari, had a birthday party. She encouraged all of us who attended to come in some kind of 70s or 80s tacky prom outfit. Because most of us at the party are actors, writers, directors, or some other type of creative storyteller, we didn’t just show up in costumes … we showed up in costumes with backstories. It’s important that you know that none of these stories — or the existence of the backstories at all — was coordinated or even encouraged. It’s just a thing that happened, because when you get a bunch of creative people together and give them an excuse to let their imaginations run wild, you just strap in and feel the gees.
I don’t have a picture of Anne and me together, but our characters were the high school senior (her) and the creep who graduated three years ago, will never move out of their small town, and is dating her because he’s a total loser creep (me). She’s looking for a way out of her parents’ house, and wants to get back at her father. They’re using each other, are doomed to end badly, and we just hope that they don’t drag any children into their dysfunction. He will get drunk and throw up on her dress before the night is over.
I mean, maybe we put a little too much into it but — wait what am I saying. We put exactly the right amount into it.
I wrote this last night.
30 years ago today, John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness was released.
That means that 30 years ago tonight, I was at the AMC 10 in Burbank.
Today, that part of Burbank is filled with businesses and chain restaurants and street performers. 30 years ago, there was the theater, a parking garage, a Fuddrucker’s (that’s still there and still terrible), and not much else. It was quiet when you went outside, especially after a movie that started late.
We went to a show that started around 10 or 1030pm. The air was cool, and it was so foggy, we couldn’t see the streetlights, just their glow. I went with three of my friends, who were all older than me and could drive. We listened to Van Halen in the car.
I remember that the movie wasn’t what I wanted it to be, and I was disappointed. It wasn’t scary, and the effects seemed cheesy. I wanted it to scare me the way The Thing scared me, and it didn’t do that. But it was foggy as hell that night, which is something that doesn’t happen in Burbank very often, and that made the post-showing silence especially eerie, and worth the drive. The walk to the car was more satisfying to me than the movie was.
On the way home, we went on streets instead of the freeway, because it would take us longer to get home that way, and that’s what being out at night with your friends is about when...
Wil Wheaton was a child star in Stand By Me, a regular on Star Trek: The Next Generation as a teenager, and has been trying to figure out his role in show business for a long time since then. He was dealing with the pressures of fame and the fickle tastes of Hollywood, all while dealing with a chemical imbalance in his brain that made him prone to anxiety and depression. Wil’s better now thanks to medication, but despite his long IMDb page and regular work on The Big Bang Theory, his hit YouTube show, and a thriving and varied career, he sees himself primarily as a failed actor.
It’s a good show, as they say. Go give it a listen.
Tabletop’s Eldritch Horror Pt. 1 was released this week.
Speaking of horror, I think I mentioned that I had this idea for a 1970s-style ridiculous, bloody, Grindhouse horror film. I thought it was just a silly story exercise, but the more I thought I about it and the more I did the story work for practice, the more I wanted to do the story work to make it into a real thing. So I’ve been working on that. It isn’t on cards just yet, but it’s on the whiteboard and it has its own file of ideas and beats and characters and stuff. I don’t know if it’ll get made, but at the very least I’ll have a script to publish.
I’ve been using that idea as an excuse to watch a ton of actual 1970s ridiculous, bloody, Grindhouse horror films. I’ve thrown some classic exploitation films into the mix, and learned a lot about how those movies were made. Some of them are terribad, but most of them have a sincerity that is utterly charming and worthy of emulation in my own screenplay.
I’ve been leveling up my understanding of story and character construction with this book called The Anatomy of Story. It’s densely packed with information and examples, and it’s slow reading for me because I keep going back to review, and I’m making a ton of notes in my notebook, but I’m pulling in tons of XP with each chapter. If...
It was an incredible honor and privilege to contribute a story to this anthology. We were given the opportunity to write a story about a minor character in the Star Wars universe, and I chose the guy who watches ships fly away from the rebel base.
My editor pointed out that one of the guys (who I call Rebel Base Bucket Guy, because that amuses me) is already named, so my Rebel Base Bucket Guy is a different guy. I have to point this out, because the Star Wars Nerds are going to force choke me if they think I renamed their canonical Rebel Base Bucket Guy.
As a general rule, I do not enjoy party games. Codenames is one of those delightful games that is the exception to the rule.
Codenames is an incredibly fun communication game that can support up to around five players per team before it starts to get messy. I highly recommend it.