Friday, March 24, 2006

I'm Just A Geek, Too

I’ve just added two books to my “must read” list -- and they’re sneaking ahead of the many many books already there, right to the top.

Let me explain.

A few days ago my buddy Shoop sent me some links to podcasts featuring Wil Wheaton giving a talk at Gnomedex 4.0. It was two back to back ITConversation podcasts, each about an hour long, and once I started listening I just couldn’t stop.

Wheaton is a wonderful speaker, an intriguing personality and a gifted storyteller. His talk was a combination of off the cuff banter, prepared pieces and selected readings from his two books: Dancing Barefoot and Just A Geek.

But let me go back to the beginning. I remember Wil as a boy in the movie Stand By Me. He played Gordie Lachance, the young writer I so admired. Because the character was a writer and a meek little nerd, I identified with him immediately. When I found out the movie was based on a novella by Stephen King, I sought it out and read it. It was the first book by Stephen King that I ever read. I’ve been an avid fan ever since, and if I ever write something that’s even half as good as King’s “The Body” I’ll have succeeded as a writer. Thanks, Wil.

A few years later, Wil reappeared as Ensign Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation. I loved that show. To me, it’s the best series within the whole Star Trek Universe, maybe partially because of the way it made the whole Star Trek mystique accessible to non-science fiction fans, like my wife and her best friend. I haven’t been able to get Francine to watch Deep Space Nine, Voyageur or Enterprise, but she eagerly enjoyed TNG. Fun sci-fi and time spent with my honeybunny? Priceless. So again, thanks, Wil.

Then Wil seemed to disappear from Hollywood. Within the last few years, he reappeared in another guise. Blogger. Writer. Wil’s two books are based upon the blogging that he has been doing since he first started up his web site in August of 2001. And within those books and his blog he talks about being a child actor, going through the phase of being a “has-been” or “used to be an actor” and rediscovering himself and his passions.

Wil is a brilliant and gifted storyteller. And he is hilarious. At times he’s a riot. Part of the humour comes from his frank self-deprecating manor, part of it comes from the clear and easily imagined pictures he creates in his stories, and part of it comes from his strong narrative voice. I enjoyed listening to his tales as much as I enjoy listening to CBC’s Stuart McLean from the Vinyl CafĂ©. I wouldn’t do any justice to Wil’s tales by attempting to recount them here.

I did write down a single quote from Wil’s podcasts that hit home for me. “One of the things that I absolutely adore about my wife is her ability to get right to the heart of my bullshit.” I sighed when I heard that, because that’s one of the things I cherish about Francine. And depend on. Because me and bullshit, we’re thick as thieves.

So I guess after a few decades I’m still identifying with Wil in his new guise. I’m a geek, too. Okay, well not actually a geek, I’m more of a nerd, but I’ve been working for several years at refining my geekness, and I think I’m getting more geeky each and every year.

And I do urge anyone who is a blogger, a writer, a Star Trek or sci-fi fan or anyone who enjoyed the various roles Wil played as a young actor to check out the podcasts. (Part I & Part II)

I’m pretty sure that, like me, you’ll start checking out Wil’s blog (due to site construction, the current direct link is here) on a regular basis, and put his books onto your “must read” list.


Kimberly said...

Hey Mark,

I found Wil's blog awhile ago while blogger surfing and was totally blown away by the fact that a guy who was (and is) a famous person was doing something as normal as blogging. Not only that..but his writing was great!

I look forward to finding and reading his books!

Tish said...

I've recently started reading Wil's blog, and I've really enjoyed it. Now I want to read his books! I really enjoyed your post. Great job!

Tish said...

By the way, check out my blog. I posted a link to your post. :)

Sheri said...

Stand by Me is one of my favorite books of all time and it is one of the few that the movie is almost as good as the book. The Different Seasons book is an all time favorite of mine. Stephen King writing as Richard Bachman in The Bachman Books is definately worth a read as well.

Gabby said...

I've read "Just a Geek" - it's what got me thinking I should start a blog. I really connected wiuth what Wil was saying even though his life as a child film/TV personality couldn't be further from my life.

Dancing Barefoot is on my Amazon wishlist - but nobody's bought it for me so I may just have to shell out the loot myself for it!

There's meant to be another book in the pipeline too I believe...