Did you know you can go to a science fiction convention and tell someone you’re going to read one of Wil Wheaton’s books and get asked ‘Who’s that?’
For those who don’t know, yet somehow manage to be cool anyway, Wil Wheaton was the kid version of the narrator in the movie “Stand By Me”, he was Wesley Crusher in what most people consider the second best Star Trek series, he’s a geek, he’s a blogger, he’s a poker player, he’s an author. He’s like one of the top people being followed on twitter. How do you not know who he is?!
He wrote a book. Several, in fact. Collections of blog entries, loosely themed. If you haven’t visited his blog, it’s over here. Called Wil Wheaton Dot Net, though it’s not longer at dot net, or WWdN if you’re in the know. And now you’ve read this, you’re in the know.
The Happiest Days of Our Lives is one of the books he wrote. Or, if you prefer, collected. It’s a collection of some of his favorite blog entries, about being a big old geek, and about growing up in the 70′s and 80′s, and a bit about Star Trek. I gather more of the Star Trek and lots of other geeky stuff is in the other two books, which I had fully intended to buy, and to read. I cite lack of money at the time they came out and plethora of too many other interesting books coming to my attention since as to why I haven’t bought or read them.
Summer, York Beach, Maine, near that cheesy animal park. In a camp right next to the cheesy animal park, so you could hear the lions and things at night. Which, okay, maybe made the camping experience a little more surreal and I shouldn’t call the park cheesy. It wouldn’t be, really, if it’s wasn’t the biggest amusement park in all of Maine. And that’s just pathetic. (I grew up near Great Escape; I am, perhaps, jaded.)
I had recently gotten into watching TOS and reading science fiction. I had and/or bought a copy of the novel Enterprise I was reading on that trip. But also, a Starlog. (Okay, I’m not entirely certain it was Starlog, but odds are pretty good it was Starlog and I just heard Starlog published its last issue this month, which totally bums me out, so.. if it wasn’t Starlog, it is now.) This Starlog had a whole big article on a NEW STAR TREK. Totally awesome. Totally confusing. Because I’m reading along, and it’s saying how the doctor has a son. And I’m like.. chyea, dudes, McCoy has a daughter okay. Get it right.
Somehow I totally didn’t spot the cast pictures going along with the article until I’d read more of it. So eventually it dawns on me that this is a whole new Trek. Android. Awesome. Kid. Awesome.
(Totally unrelated, but the other thing I remember when I think about this campsite is War and Peace. So I must have read that along about this time. Or, started to, all the names eventually bogged me down and bored me to tears, so I stopped.)
I’m not sure if I realized it then, but TNG was about to become my Star Trek.
Back at school. Junior high cafeteria. Sitting at a table with some girls (with the girls may be pushing it) and they’re looking at Teen Beat. And there’s a picture. A full page picture of Wil “Stand By Me” Wheaton. My friend must’ve noticed me wanting it. I demurred. Much giggling. I didn’t want them to think I had a crush on him or anything, because I really didn’t. Not even on Wesley. But regardless of what they thought, I did want that picture. (Even though it shocked me that she’d even offer to tear a page out of bound, written material for any purpose!) It hung on my wall, with an accumulation of Star Trek posters, for a good long time.
I totally did not have a crush on him.
Wesley was treated badly by the adults. Especially Picard. How can you hate kids?! How can you treat him like a kid? He’s my age! Probably even a bit older. He’s totally not in the same category as the little kids you made him run around with in a couple episodes. You suck, Picard.
But at least Wesley didn’t die and make me cry in the first season.
Stupid mumblegrumblegrr writers.
I started going to Star Trek conventions with Dad. Mostly Creation run. This is probably about the time I started hearing rumors that people didn’t like Wesley. (Pre-Internet, at least pre-WWW) That kinda hurt. Because he was one of my favorite characters. And everyone seemed to hate him just because he was a kid. And/or smart.
You’d think Star Trek geeks would have more sympathy for the smart kid. But what do I know?
Wil Wheaton, at a con. TNG is over by this point, I think. Wheaton’s only about a year older than me, but at this con, he seemed so far beyond my comprehension. He was dressed in what then I would’ve called a dangerous kind of punk style. I was afraid he’d turned into, or always was, one of those kids into drinking, smoking, music. I’m not sure if I thought him unChristian or unCool at this point, possibly both.
But he was involved with Video Toaster, which was used in seaQuest. And seaQuest, of course, is totally cool. And he was funny on stage. So I left that con not quite sure what to make of him.
I realize now that he was just being a teenage geek. I just couldn’t recognize it at the time.
College – alt.wesley.crusher.die.die.die and strek-l, and well, it’s college. I had moved on to DS9 and Pern MUSHing and occasional attendance of classes.
At some point I started hearing about this blogging thing, which was somehow different from a website, but not. And I’m sure someone, possibly K, must have pointed me to Wil Wheaton’s blog. And I discovered all over again that he’s a geek. I started reading his blog pretty regularly.
But then he got into playing poker. And blogging about poker. Incessantly. I have little to no interest in poker. Though I did watch him in a game on TV. I stopped reading the blog. I haven’t actually gone back. Relying on other people to tell me he’s going to be in an upcoming episode of something. Or that his book is going to a new publisher, so it’s the last chance to get this version.
There are two entries in this book that I read on his blog. And they’re very, very good ones, that I remember reading. How many blog entries do you remember years later?
The one is about being a stepfather to teenage and near-teenage boys, music, and the generation gap, and being a geek.
The other is about a beloved cat.
Yea, those freaking cats are everywhere around writers and bloggers. But it had me tearing up when I reread it in this book anyway.
Reading these, you feel like Wheaton is a fellow geek. A fellow child of the 70′s and 80′s. And I get a glimpse of what it’s like to be a father, and an actor, and even a boring old poker player.
I don’t know if it’s from growing up being an actor, how he was raised, his genes, or what, but he’s really, really good at telling an honest, emotional story.
All of the entries in this book are worth reading. All in one gulp, or one by one when you have a spare five minutes.
My least favorite is probably the last one, because it’s about poker. But it’s also about being a minor celebrity in the land of television. It’s a good wrapup to the book. And well, he did need to end it with something more light-hearted than the cat entry before it.
Buy his book. Read his blog. Enjoy being a geek with him.