Old Friends I’ve Never Met

I mention from time to time how I’ve been online since dinosaurs roamed the earth (or so it seems) and I used to have far more expendable free time. A few years ago, I stumbled upon Wil Wheaton’s blog (I’d guess this was about 2001), and was pleasantly engaged by his writing and wit.

Further, I felt a kind of geeky commonality with the guy.

Now he out-geeks me by a factor of Warp 9 at least, having been shoehorned by short-sighted writers into becoming the most loathed Star Trek character of all time (at one point), and “Throw Wesley Out The Airlock” campaigns sprung up world-wide, all conveniently forgetting that dude!, he’s a little kid! What kind of power did he have over the lines written for him, or the director’s creative choices? So he became the uncoolest kid in space, forced to wear itchy polyester sweaters and Save The Day in various obnoxious ways, and I’m sure that there was a lot of geekly rage along the lines of “Damn, why couldn’t I be on the motherfuckin’ Enterprise, instead of him? as well.

Anyway, I was never disturbed overmuch by Wesley Crusher. Then again, I have never been a huge fan of the Trek franchise. It is enjoyable, but I don’t exactly feel the need to fuss over the technobabble and contrived plot points. Further, I can take or leave television, for the most part. Since Comcast snatched “my” channel away from me (CourtTV), I occasionally watch Law and Order reruns and go through brief spurts of interest in other things (I was mildly addicted to home design / remake shows for a while, but that may have been because I wanted to look at Evan Farmer and listen to his cartoon character voice, and muse over how no carpenters I have ever seen look anything remotely like Carter or Andrew Dan Jumbo. (WRYYY? So unfair.) I kind of like hanging out at Home Depot from time to time–well, every once in a blue moon–so I have seen my share.

Some blogs and websites just…stop, after a while, leaving you hanging. What happened to Isabella V., of shes.aflightrisk? She got an Esquire feature, earned the scorn, and attention, and male interest, of a sizable chunk of the Internet denizens at the time, then…poof. Nothing. But when she was updating semi-regularly, her writing could reach descriptive heights few bloggers can even hope to aspire for, all while sounding like an interesting espionage novel / gothic fiction tale of monstrous parents and unlimited wealth in the making. She became her own action hero, showing smarts in some areas (Debian and AirSnort on a Dell laptop, learning to pilot small aircraft) while being a typically short-sighted twenty-something in others (refusing to dye her distinctive copper-red hair, blogging in the first place while on the run). At any rate, she stopped posting in March, 2006, after writing fewer and fewer intriguing entries of any depth, and, well, who knows where she is now? Did her personal adventure end in her favor? We may never know.

With Wil, I felt, and feel, a sort of kinship. He bemoans once having an ICQ number under 100,000, and I nod and sigh and say “Yeah, me, too,” even though I never even really used the damn thing. (You, of course, may not even know what ICQ even refers to, and that’s OK.) I, too, remember alt.wesleycrusher.die.die.die, but for different reasons. Me, I remember it was one of a rash of alt.something.repeated_word.repeated_word.repeated_word newsgroups that sprung up at pretty much the same time. Wil namedrops Kibo, and has a fondness for O’Reilly’s zoo, whereas I merely beta-read a book or two, and was not geeky enough to catch geek errors, but only Red Pencil typo-level bloopers. Of which there were few, IIRC. He has a fondness for Fark and Homestar Runner. I’m completely jealous of his wife, not because she is married to Wil Wheaton, but because she seems to be a really cool chick I’d easily like and befriend if I had the opportunity. I don’t think I’m quite as cool as Anne.

Wil loses me a bit when he fusses over sports (I could not care less, though footie and fencing (and Jackie Chan marital arts films) are awesome), but his tales about conventions ring true (and I especially love his kind, but damn accurate, miniature word portraits of some convention attendees who need to get out of their parents’ basement already and take the “you should really just relax” mantra of MST3K to heart…because, even as a Token Non-fandom Guest at many conventions, I have met more than my share of those, and don’t get me started on fursuiters) and I used to try to learn what makes console gamers tick, given that my thesis class professor was in Game Development. (This is why I got and finished Post Mortem and Syberia in a weekend, and revisted Zork, and would be dinking around with Myst if it wasn’t an UBISOFT product tainted with StarForce drivers, a fact unknown to me when I ordered it, and I have the driver zorching software, but it is against my principles to knowingly install crappy drivers on my machines if I can avoid doing so, thus I keep looking at Myst and sighing, because it would be nice to play those games. But I don’t think I’m ever going to be into MMORPG type games (too much enforced socialization required) or first person shooters (too twitchy and adrenaline-spiking for me, when I play games to think and relax and be escapist for a while), or a fan of buying yet another expensive electronic device that requires a television to work.)

What always got to me was the openness of his blog. He fully admits that he was a farking arsehole when he was in his late teens and early twenties (and that makes him different from most boys that age..how?), though not without extreme provocation, and he shares excitement when things go well in his life, even if it is just something as mundane as a busy Saturday laying down sod, and I think I really feel his heart most when he writes excitedly about a project he has high hopes for, only to have those hopes crushed (yet again). Wil’s not what I would call an emo blogger, though, and I rarely comment on other people’s blogs, even those I really like. So I’ve been tempted to comment once in a while, or had been tempted in the past, but never did. As time goes on, it seems more and more odd that I know so much about this stranger, both the external, acted, persona and the less-external, partially revealed, blogger, but never, ever have contacted him, though he gives a number of contact points, implying that, well, I could.

Anyway, real life intruded, and I sort of wandered off, and lost some bookmarks during the Great Mac Meltdown of 2002 (one of two, whereby my Macs were endlessly reliable and awesome, day after day, and then, one day, fell down and could not get back up…not sure if this is better or worse than dealing with the typical PC-related woes), and since I am a Serial Obsessive, I forgot to re-bookmark good ol’ Wil. Even when I saw him posting at Fark or Killogg’s, or noted that he’d written a couple of books. (You should know that I pretty much lurk at places like Fark, because I don’t have the energy to get all geeked up and participate and go through the hazing process, but I’ve lurked for ages, on and off, because I’m just geeky enough to get where they are coming from.)

I re-discovered Wil’s blog, and re-read the old entries from the beginning. I got up to 2004, and it’s nice to know he’s still blogging, as I may get hooked again once I catch up to the present. At least I think he’s still blogging. It would be a shame if he’d quit. I’m not skipping ahead to the end to find out what the last chapter looks like. Not yet.

Interestingly, we “kinda-sorta” know some people in common. One Kevin Bacon-esque link is through a guy who used to work at Dad’s Garage in Atlanta, Joseph, though I sincerely doubt he’d know me. We were not close, and, in fact, I may have known he’d moved to California, but I didn’t really ponder the fact much. I may have spoken to the guy a total of a dozen times, and may never have introduced myself. I always liked his stuff, though.

There are other “you like what I like, so I like you” moments, and what is friendship, at least on an acquaintance level, but a shared set of interests? We share the same views on politics, he remembers many of the same cultural references I do (I suspect we are about the same age, actually), and sometimes I imagine that we have a similar sense of humour (I think “Gonads and Strife! WEEEE!” is hilarious, too). You get MOAR LOLcat slang and an occasional assumption that no one reads my crap but my buds from me (hence, some half-assed ramblings), and more WILLIAM FUCKING SHATNER(!!!1one!einz!!1)  and carefully tailored work from Wil, and so I think he kind of wins that one.

We both have “friends in high places,” but he actually gets to see his more often, and is not, like me, a crappy correspondent. Mine tend to be music folk, his tend to be actor folk.

At any rate, I was pleased to be reminded of Wil’s blog recently: he’s on Twitter. Hello, old friend. How’s by you?

Don’t spoil the ending for me. I kind of want to catch up the slow, enjoyable way.

Lastly, in tribute to Wil, here’s a Star Trek-related post from Happy Fun Pundit, posted in 2003. (Don’t worry, Wil apparently loved it.)

The Star Trek Universe, nutshelled:

10.    Noisy doors.

    You can’t walk three feet in a starship without some door whooshing or screeching at you. My office building has automatic sliding doors. They’re dead silent. If those doors went “wheet!” every time a person walked through them, about once a month some guy in accounting would snap and go on a shooting rampage. Sorry Scotty, the IEEE has revoked your membership until you learn to master WD-40.

9.    The Federation.

This organization creeps me out. A planet-wide government that runs everything, and that has abolished money. A veritable planetary DMV. Oh sure, it looks like a cool place when you’re rocketing around in a Federation Starship, but I wonder how the guy driving a Federation dump truck feels about it? And everyone has to wear those spandex uniforms. Here’s an important fact: Most people, you don’t want to see them in spandex. You’d pay good money to not have to see them. If money hadn’t been abolished, that is. So you’re screwed.

8.     Reversing the Polarity.

For cripes sake, Giordi, stop reversing the polarity of everything! It might work once in a while, but usually it just screws things up. I have it on good authority that the technicians at Starbase 12 HATE that. Every time the Enterprise comes in for its 10,000 hour checkup, they’ve gotta go through the whole damned ship fixing stuff. “What happened to the toilet in Stateroom 3?” “Well, the plumbing backed up, and Giordi thought he could fix it by reversing the polarity.” Between Scotty’s poor lubrication habits and Geordi’s damned polarity reversing trick, it’s a wonder the Enterprise doesn’t just spontaneously explode whenever they put the juice to it.

7.     Seatbelts.

Yeah, I know this one is overdone, but you’d think that the first time an explosion caused the guy at the nav station to fly over the captain’s head with a good 8 feet of clearance, someone would say, “You know, we might think of inventing some furutistic restraining device to prevent that from happening.” So of course, they did make something like that for the second Enterprise (the first one blew up due to poor lubrication), but what was it? A hard plastic thing that’s locked over your thighs. Oh, I’ll bet THAT feels good in the corners. “Hey look! The leg-bars worked as advertised! There goes Kirk’s torso!”

6.    No fuses.

Every time there’s a power surge on the Enterprise the various stations and consoles explode in a shower of sparks and throw their seatbelt-less operators over Picard’s head. If we could get Giordi to stop reversing the polarity for a minute, we could get him to go shopping at the nearest Starship parts store and pick up a few fuses. And while he’s shopping, he could stop at an intergalactic IKEA and pick up a few chairs for the bridge personnel. If you’re going to put me in front of a fuseless exploding console all day, the least you could do is let me sit down.

5.    Rule by committee.

    Here’s the difference between Star Trek and the best SF show on TV:

Star Trek: The Next Generation:

Picard: “Arm photon torpedoes!”
Riker: “Captain! Are you sure that’s wise?”
Troi: “Captain! I’m picking up conflicting feelings about this! And, it appears that you’re a ‘fraidy cat.”
Wesley: “Captain, I’m just an annoying punk, but I thought I should say something.”
Worf: “Captain, can I push the button? This is giving me a big Klingon warrior chubby.”
Giordi: “Captain, I think we should reverse the polarity on them first.”
Picard: “I’m so confused. I’m going to go to my stateroom and look pensive.”

Firefly:

Captain: “Let’s shoot them.”
Crewman: “Are you sure that’s wise?”
Captain: “Do you know what the chain of command is? It’s the chain I’ll BEAT YOU WITH until you realize who’s in command.”
Crewman: “Aye Aye, sir!”

4.    A Star Trek quiz:

    Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and ‘Ensign Gomez’ beam down to a planet. Which one isn’t coming back?

3.    Technobabble.

    The other night, I couldn’t get my car to start. I solved the problem by reversing the polarity of the car battery, and routing the power through my satellite dish. The resulting subspace plasma caused a rift in the space-time continuum, which created a quantum tunnelling effect that charged the protons in the engine core, thus starting my car. Child’s play, really. As a happy side-effect, I also now get the Spice Channel for free.

2.    The Holodeck.

    I mean, it’s cool and all. But do you really believe that people would use it to re-create Sherlock Holmes mysteries and old-west saloons? Come on, we all know what the holodeck would be used for. And we also know what the worst job on the Enterprise would be: Having to squeegie the holodeck clean.

1.    The Prime Directive.

    How stupid is this? Remember when Marvin the Martian was going to blow up the Earth, because it obstructed his view of Venus? And how Bugs Bunny stopped him by stealing the Illudium Q36 Space Modulator? Well, in the Star Trek universe, Bugs would be doing time. Probably in a room filled with Roseanne lookalikes wearing spandex uniforms, walking through doors going WHEET! all day. It would be hell. At least until the Kaboom. The Earth-shattering Kaboom.


That one’s for Uncle Willie.

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