I Am John's Stomach Pains.

On The Precipice of Mediocrity, Teetering

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Just a Geekfest  

Last night, I got to see Wil Wheaton give a reading from his book, Just a Geek, at the Borders in Union Square, and it was awesome. I didn't go into my thoughts on the book when I read it last year, but suffice to say, it's an impressive, introspective look into the actor, that I highly recommend (I'm not very good at reviewing books, sorry).

First off, the book store was damn impressive, built up four stories instead of the usual Wal-Mart sized bookstore some of you may be accustomed to. I got there about half an hour before Wil was supposed to go on, so I was in no rush to get upstairs. This was a big mistake. By the time I got to the third floor 10 minutes later, there was standing room only, with at least 100 people there. You could tell the people were surprised, as there was only 60 numbers prepared for the book signing. Anyway, I was able to set myself up on the side, with a good view, and went to reading up on Small Stakes Hold 'Em, which I picked up from the shelves.

I should note that I have never been to a Star Trek convention (while I am a huge fan), nor have I ever been to a book reading; the truth is, I just really like Wil as not only a writer, but as just a cool guy, so when this opportunity presented itself, I was so there.

7:00 rolls around and the woman who invited Wil to the store, juststacey, gives him a great introduction, blowing off Star Trek with a wave, and presenting him as the wonderful writer he's become. As Wil walk up to the mic, in a black shirt with what appear to be eagles sewn into the breasts, I feel a little down that he didn't wear The Shirt. Oh well. My first thoughts, I'm sad to say, is that 'Damn, Wil is alot shorter than I imagined'. I mean, he's not a midget or anything, but I think I always assumed he was 5'11 or something, with his build.

Anyway, Wil appears very humble and appreciative at his introduction, making some funny comments that get the crowd with him immediately. He then gives a nice props-speech to why blogging is one of the best forms of expressions today, and how it can be used by anyone who has anything to say about anything. Coming from one of the OG's of the blogging world, it's great to hear he still has such love for it.

After some more great one-liners, some of which is surely his "back-pocket material", Wil begins his reading. A smile comes to my face as it runs out he'll be doing some of his SpongeBob Vega$pants material. There's a reason fans love this section of the book. It's a great combination of Star Trek discussion and Wil's internal turmoil, and really represents his unique writing style. But as Wil gets into it, it's even more apparent why his readings are even more popular. His improv skills shine through, as he comes up with different voices, imitating fellow TNG actors with hilarious skill, as well as adding a few new words that make the original writing even better.

The crowd is really into it, cracking up uproariously as Wil stutter speaks, "Oh, the costume contests. Think Rocky Horror Picture Show... with less drag... but strangely, more singing. In Klingon... you think I'm kidding."

As Wil gets to a part retelling where his jokes bomb while on stage, his sense of vulnerability is palpable, and the voice he uses for Self Preservation sends shivers into the audience. But then, the jokes come even stronger, and longer laughter breaks bust through, and as Wil ends on a strong note, the audience breaks into intense applause.

After it dies down, Wil goes off on another tangent, giving some more convention pops, which for someone who's never been there, cracks me up. He makes a hilarious aside about the asshole nature of Richard Hatch, which in any other crowd would have brought up Survivor... thankfully, this crowd knows better.

Aside: speaking of which, I also caught the premiere of Battlestar Galactica last night, and damn, it was frakkin' awesome. More thoughts later, probably.

So, after a few minutes, in which I assume the reading is over, Wil surprises us by asking if we'd like to hear another one, one about how he learned to embrace Star Trek. I am ecstatic, 'cause I know he's gonna read the Star Trek Experience story (a continuation of Spongebob Vega$pants) that's one of my favorite parts of the book. Obviously, the crowd is into it, so he begins reading.

Just as before, the laughs are strong, the vulnerability is even stronger, and you can tell there isn't a breath of insincerity in his voice, he's grown to be a centered adult after growing up as a bi of a brat.

My favorite moment of this reading is when he does an aside to the audience after bringing up him meeting Garret Wang (from Voyager) for the first time. He explains the camaraderie that exists between anyone who's starred on a Star Trek show, and then ends with "This is the reason it's such a shame William Shatner's such a dick." Sure, it may be back-pocket material. But damn if the audience didn't lap that up.

The reading is phenomenal, and upon it's completion, the fans begin lining up by number to get a chance to quickly chat with Wil and get their book signed. I'm #71, the last person to get an actual number before they ran of out of stickies. I get into the usual geek-discussions while in line, always fun for those who frequent comic book shops.

By the time I get up front, it's more than an hour later. I am the worst person I know around celebrities, and this is no different, as I stumble out how great his appearance was, very funny. Wil's incredibly nice, and seeing as I'm holding SSHE in my hands, poker of course is the topic of conversation. He recommends another book, Winning Low Limit Hold 'Em by Lee Jones, which he happens to have an extra copy on the desk with him, so I pick that one up as well. As I walk out, I take another look at the line left, the people who got there late and didn't get a number. There had to be another 40 people... very very cool.

posted by Holz | 3:21 PM | Rant & Rave, Bitches! (3)


I'm sooo jealous.

I've spoken to him once on the phone. Would love to see him live and in person. Despite numerous hints, didn't get his book for Christmas.

As for Galactica, seriously, best show this season. (Better than LOST, IMO).

By Blogger Manchild, at 1/15/2005 5:29 PM  

Wow, MC, I could have written the same comment (minus the phone call, of course).

Holz, that is so cool that you got to do that! I had read about that book signing, but I had no idea that you would be there. Very, VERY cool.

And yes, BSG freaking rocks. I've seen ten or so episodes and I have not been disappointed yet.

By Blogger Kate, at 1/16/2005 7:51 PM  

Dude, that's awesome! I would love to have met him. I didn't even know he had a book coming out. I guess it's cause he's not an A-list actor even though he seems like a really cool guy on the behind the scenes interviews on TNG. I did get to meet Chewbacca at the first annual Wizard World East Comicon. He's ok, but his agent/publicist is a witch.

By Blogger Stan, at 1/18/2005 4:33 AM  

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