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Sean Bean! Rupert Grint! Shakespeare! Who could ask for more?

And now for something completely different… I know, two posts in one day? Inconceivable. But there are only 22 hours or so left to support this film, and I want this to happen so very badly.

Here’s what I’m talking about:

Enemy of Man is an ambitious feature length retelling of William Shakespeare’s greatest tragedy, Macbeth.

This will be the feature directorial debut of actor Vincent Regan. Vincent is no stranger to Shakespeare. Although known for such films as The Messenger, 300, and Troy, he is a veteran of the Royal Shakespeare and National theaters and has directed and acted in Macbeth on the London stage.

Oh, and the cast so far?

Macbeth - Sean Bean (Game of Thrones, The Lord of the Rings), BAFTA nominee

Ross - Rupert Grint (Harry Potter, Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman)

Duncan - Charles Dance (Game of Thrones, Aliens 3), Emmy nominee

Lady Macbeth - Announcement coming soon!

Banquo - James D’Arcy (Cloud Atlas, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World)

MacDuff - Jason Flemyng (X-Men: First Class, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels)

Kern - Neil Maskell (Kill List, Atonement)

Lord, people, that’s nearly enough to all but kill a poor fangirl. I’m dying to see who they cast as Lady M – and I only hope they get the chance; see, the thing’s not a done deal. It’s got a Kickstarter campaign, which has had $213,661 pledged of their $250,000 goal, and there’s less than 22 hours left to go. I am so tempted to go into full PBS-Pledge-Drive mode, but I’d be awful at it, so … I’m just going to leave this here. And cross all my fingers and toes. And whatever else can be crossed.

See, now, if I had gotten on (and won) Jeopardy last time, there would be no problems …

 

 
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Posted by on April 5, 2014 in OT

 

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My Short, Happy Life in “Jeopardy!”

Yes, my friends, this blog is going to be a little Jeopardy!-heavy for the next few weeks. Whether that’s better or worse than it being completely stagnant is debatable.

This, here, is a review of this book:

- and also a recap of my short and happy life in Jeopardy so far. Two years ago (April 23) I had an email announcing that I had (somehow) passed the online Jeopardy! test I had taken in January, and they were pleased to invite me to an audition. Please RSVP within 48 hours. Seriously? Who’s going to wait longer than the time it takes to pick themselves up off the floor to respond? My audition was June 5 in NYC, and it was great fun, and ended up amounting to nothing. (All of which is described in excruciating detail in posts tagged – wait for it – “Jeopardy”.)

A few weeks ago, the Saturday rerun of Jeopardy was one of Brendan Dubois’s episodes, and since my laptop was in front of me I headed to Amazon when Johnny Gilbert introduced him as a writer. And lo, there was ‘My Short, Happy Life In “Jeopardy!”‘, and I thought why not? and bought it. I had a blood drive soon after, and didn’t feel like schlepping the huge Wheel of Time volume I was in the middle of, so I went back to my late lamented Kindle Keyboard for the first time in a while, and spent the ridiculously long time they make a walk-in wait grinning like a complete fool reading Brendan’s account of his audition. If you put his side-by-side with mine, they’re almost identical – except that he remembered more names and details. (Robert James! That was the name of the man who took that dreadful headshot!)

Then I broke my Kindle (yes, to those of you keeping score, again), and went without for a couple of weeks until payday.

Then this past Thursday evening – coincidentally, as I was watching Jeopardy, and the return of Ken Jennings for the Battle of the Decades – I opened up my email. The fact that there was one from Jeopardy! didn’t fluster me too much – I’m on the mailing list, so I’ve learned not to get too excited after the last few turned out to be just reminders of the tournaments going on. And the subject line didn’t entirely give me pause: “Jeopardy! Contestant Auditions in Boston on May 12th at 11:30 am”. My thought was more “What about them?” It was when I opened it – abandoning my attempt to play against The Jennings – and read

Congratulations!  You have been selected for a follow-up appointment at an upcoming Jeopardy! contestant search for the Boston area, exclusively for those who successfully passed the online test.  This is the next step in becoming a Jeopardy! contestant”

- that I started whooping.

(Is anyone reading this near Boston?)

And last night I went back to reading Brendan Dubois’s account of his experience. And it was fun. Up to a point it is so very much like mine – and where it diverges it’s so very instructive and enlightening. This book answered quite a few questions and concerns I had about the logistics of, say, being a New Englander called to Los Angeles for the show; Brendan Dubois was a New Englander called to LA for the show. The possibility of heading off into completely alien territory is less daunting with a really clear roadmap. And this book certainly gives an astonishing amount of detail, from an idea of what the Jeopardy studio smells like to exactly what you see from the player’s podium to exactly what happens in the Green Room and on the sidelines. It demystifies the possibilities without detracting at all from the excitement.

And it was just a fun read, this tale of a man’s attempts to get on the show, his achievement, his success – and his downfall, and the epilogue of watching himself on tv (or trying to). Brendan’s buoyant enthusiasm over the whole adventure is contagious, and nothing like the rather jaded and cynical tone Ken Jennings adopts in his book about his experience. I can only hope to have as much fun as Brendan Dubois had – and at least as much success. (More would be nice…)

 

 

 
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Posted by on April 5, 2014 in OT

 

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Jeopardy redux – !

Well. I have been a seriously awful blogger of late; new job a couple of months ago, after 9 months of unemployment, plus Issues at home – it’s been interesting, and writing of any sort has been the last thing I’ve felt up to. (Except for drawing. My deep apologies to everyone I let down, and I owe you more than that.)

But what has prompted me to break my mostly-silence is … it came! I took the Jeopardy test in January, did marginally better than last time – and lo, there in my email, which I by happy coincidence opened during Ken Jennings’s return to the show, was “Jeopardy! Contestant Auditions in Boston on May 12th at 11:30 am‏”. And that there says it all. I’m so excited I could … write a blog post. I hoped, but I didn’t really let myself expect it. Next month! I’ve got studying to do – because I still stink at geography. And sports. And I’d better start putting a few dollars aside every paycheck, because in the unlikely event I get called the trip will cost me about $1000. But – I’m excited!

(Plus, I’ve only been to Boston once, and that was when I was about 16, for a Star Trek convention, and I didn’t see anything of the city – just Walter Koenig and a bunch of geeks. So – yay Boston! Any suggestions about where to go and what to see and where to eat?)

 
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Posted by on April 3, 2014 in OT

 

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It’s almost here already

~*~*~ Long and personal ramblings to follow… ~*~*~

2013 was a long, strange year. I lost my job in March, and you’d think that the ensuing months of freedom would have been a kind of wonderful sabbatical of reading, writing, drawing, crafting… Instead, deep insecurity; fear of what would happen when the unemployment benefits went away; depression over having lost a job which, while generally dead-end, still had its perks, and over what I still feel was a betrayal; and the knowledge that we were only managing on the pittance from Unemployment because of my cashed-in 401K (a finite amount of money) – all left me with what I’ve been calling “oatmeal for brains”. Read I did, but – as is pretty clear from my poor neglected blog here – I haven’t written much. On my book, the thing I’ve always wished for a few consecutive months to work on free and clear to finish, I’ve managed less than a hundred words. Oh, and I made one teddy bear. (I’m still working on those drawings!)

Part of it, the oatmeal-producing depression, was that in the nine remaining months of 2013 I sent out dozens – scores – of resumes. I started out just applying for jobs I, you know, actually wanted; there was one position with a charitable organization I wanted more than I could say. I did get a phone interview with that one, early on; it was supposed to last 15-20 minutes. It lasted five. I went back to sleeping and reading. Other than one other interview in which I was completely put off not only by the fact that the job was not quite full time but by an interruption from the boss who sounded like someone I didn’t want to have to deal with … oh, and two temp agencies which have been completely useless… there has been absolutely no response to any application.

I thought I was more saleable than that.

Not that I wanted to be “sold”. There’s a commercial where a young man makes a remark about working in a “cube farm”, and that phrase has always induced a little hysteria in me. Terror hysteria, not laughter hysteria. It encapsulates everything I most fear in a job. And I do mean “fear” literally; my biggest dread has been that I would end up in a job that sucked my soul away even more quickly than the last one.

But there’s a mortgage to pay, and a mother and a dog to feed.

When emergency unemployment benefits kicked in, I had to report to the local DOL office – basically, I guess, as a formality to prove I really was trying to find a job, and that I was employable. While I was there the agent recommended I sit down with someone to overhaul my resume, and forty-five minutes later I had a sheet filled with pencil-marked edits that both horrified me (my resume was that bad??) and gave me a little hope (this will be better…)

The oatmeal set in again, and I kept putting off revising the thing, just applying along with the version already saved.

Then one day I got a letter from the DOL which I should have been expecting if I’d been paying attention to the news, but I guess I hadn’t, so I was shocked: though I had understood that the emergency unemployment benefits I was receiving would extend to March, Congress (for which read *&$! Republicans) had seen to it that all emergency unemployment benefits terminated on December 28. I got this letter the Friday (and how does everyone always finagle it that such news arrives on a Friday, when you can’t do anything about it for two days?) before Christmas (at which point I had already spent all the money I was going to spend for presents, which I would NOT have spent if I had known it was going away so soon, thanks very much, oh and merry *&#@ Christmas to you too). That weekend I finally sat down and reworked my resume, and sent it out to 36 jobs.

By the next Wednesday I had three responses – more than I’d had in the previous nine months, if you don’t count the temp agencies (which I don’t). So – wow. If you need a job go have Christopher from the DOL take a look at your resume.

One of those resulted in an interview which I stupidly asked to postpone because it snowed a fair amount that morning and I – having barely left the house in nine months – was kind of afraid to drive, to be honest; with one thing and another I never got to reschedule. (Not for lack of trying.)

One of those was from a company whose website left me completely in the dark about what the company actually does. The job was listed as customer service, but I had a strong suspicion that that was being used as the code for “sales”, which I’ve often seen. I’m a terrible salesperson. (I take “no” for an answer, and I loathe people who don’t.) I had strong misgivings about the whole thing – especially when their confirmation email gave two different addresses (the heading listed “Grand Avenue”, but the body of the email read something like “Here is our address to enter into your GPS” and it said Grandview Avenue. Both are valid addresses. The website has another address altogether. I called to clarify; no answer. I ended up calling someplace in New York, and that wasn’t too reassuring either. And did I mention the typos on the website?

But, still, I went – and it was a little bizarre. There was one other car in the parking lot. The office I was to report to was on the second floor, and my impression was that there wasn’t a soul to be found on the the ground floor. I found the right door, and marched on it – to discover that I had walked into a room empty of everything except a desk, a couple of chairs, and in those chairs a very young man apparently interviewing another applicant. I was asked to wait in the “lobby”, which translated to “the corridor where we have placed a few chairs and a table and some reading matter which will give you even less of an idea about what we do than our website”. Okay. I was early, so I was willing to sit and wait.

I’ve never seen The Shining – but somehow that long, long corridor reminded me of it anyway. I had the same impression as I’d gotten from the rest of the building, that – apart from one room over to my left and the folks in room 213, who left a few minutes after I got there – there was no one else in the place. It was creepifying, and at the same time I had to resist an urge to go snooping around. I sat there, and looked at the pamphlet on that table, and read about very young people making obscene amounts of money through undisclosed methods, and told the sinking feeling in my stomach that yes, I know, it almost definitely was some kind of sales gig, but we were going to go through with the interview because we had no blessed choice, so shut up.

That room I mentioned, off to my left as I sat there? Almost the only sign of habitation in the place? That was the last straw. I don’t know what they were doing there, but it sounded like a Hooters on a Friday night with a game on. (Not that I’ve ever been in a Hooters at any point, never mind Friday night.) There was cheering and yelling and whooping and hollering, and – as time passed – shouted exclamations like “DAMN YEAH!” How … professional. The only explanation I could come up with was that someone was giving a presentation of some sort – a woman’s voice could now and then be heard under all the ruckus, and it seemed like the rest of the mob were cheering her – and maybe she’d had a really good sales week or something. I don’t know. I don’t really care – and if I had cared I wasn’t given any chance to find out. After I’d been sitting there for about fifteen minutes, and they got louder and louder, and I promised myself – and that sinking feeling – that if my interviewer didn’t return exactly on time I’d leave. I think it was when the profanities started coming from the door, about a minute before my interview was scheduled for, that I threw in the towel. I left.

So that left the third interview, which I was hopeful about because it was for a place about five minutes away. Unfortunately, it has seemed like jobs have been either/or: either nearby, or something I might enjoy, never both. Long story, finally, short: I had a second interview last week – in which I learned that the office is, wait for it: a “cube farm” (the phrase was actually used, and not by me), I was offered the job, and I start tomorrow.

It’s going to be extremely strange. I’ve been just about nocturnal at times over the past nine months; fortunately not right now, but I am very used to staying up as late as I darn well want. More importantly, I’m a little worried about the dog. She was not easy to housetrain (that is, bladder functions were fine, but it took her months to realize that bowel functions were to be outside too – sorry, TMI), and my solution has been to keep her with me 24/7. So going from 24/7 to about 15.5/5 is going to be … a challenge. She doesn’t listen to Mom; she’s apparently a one-person dog, and that’s me. I foresee extreme separation anxiety and backsliding, and I don’t know what to do about it. I’d like to come home for lunch every day, but I don’t know how feasible that will be, and in any case, she won’t know when I’m coming back. Most importantly, though, there’s my mother. She’s 86. Her mind is – mostly – fine, but she does forget things. Which mainly means that she declines to use the stove, so that she doesn’t forget and leave a burner on, which is a good thing … She does, however, tend to think she can do more than she can, and this leads to falls. I nag her constantly to make sure she has a one of the cordless phones on her where she can get at it no matter what … but … remember the forgetting thing? So, yeah, I’m not too thrilled about leaving for eight + hours a day.

But I, we, need the money.

Ah, hell. Maybe it won’t be so bad.

Who knows, maybe going back to work will mean I’ll actually write more. If not … sorry about the continued neglect of the blog.

 
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Posted by on January 8, 2014 in family

 

Merry Christmas!

Or [insert politically correct variation here]. And thank you to my followers! May 2014 kick 2013′s rump to the curb…

 

 
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Posted by on December 25, 2013 in OT

 

Peter Jackson is clearly deranged.

I know. There are a hundred other things I should be doing rather than writing here – and if I’m going to write here I have about sixty book reviews I ought to write. But I’m thoroughly disgusted.

I’ve expressed my opinion of the – God help us – “Hobbit” trilogy before. The giant jackrabbit, Thranduil’s moose, hot dwarves, etc. Legolas. Potty humor. (A review of the current middle movie made the latter literal: some female in (I think) Dale exclaims something like “why are there dwarves coming out of the toilets?” Which makes no sense, in any way I want to know about.) Even before I knew about most of the other problems, the simple fact that there were going to be three movies was ludicrous. I swore then I wouldn’t pay to see any of the three (three!) movies in the theatre; when I found out the rest I swore I would never pay a penny for any version or form of them, or anything to do with them.

I just read an article that makes me wish I could take it a step further. Like a lawsuit. Or a hired ninja assassin. I could spit nails. Jackson – and Boyens and company – have to either be drunk with power, or perhaps the more charitable viewpoint is the post’s title: they’ve lost their minds.

The article is here. I have to quote the beginning:

J.R.R. Tolkein never wrote about a butt-kicking lady elf in his epic 1937 fantasy novel. He sure as heck didn’t write about elves — and dwarves for that matter — in love.

But that didn’t stop Peter Jackson from making up brand new “Hobbit” character Tauriel, played by Evangeline Lilly, out of whole cloth.

Though the misspelling of Tolkien takes a little of the shine off that bit of snark, I still approve completely. Then the piece goes on to talk about how, though Lilly made the producers promise not to put her into a love triangle … they did anyway.

One corner of the triangle: Legolas.

Who shouldn’t be in the movies any more than some fabricated she-elf, by the way.

The last corner of the triangle?

One of the dwarves.

One of the hot dwarves, of course – Kili.

I don’t even know which aspect of this nauseates me the most. There are so many.

And what’s saddest of all is that I wanted Martin Freeman to play Bilbo, for years. I’m pleased with some of the casting – though the batting average isn’t nearly as good as in LotR. I’d love to be able to do as plenty of folks plan to do one day: 18+ hour marathon of all six movies. (Probably more like 22 or so, after the extended editions come out.) This is supposed to be Tolkien. This is supposed to be for the fans, by a fan (or so he claims). I’m not so much a purist as I sound like; I’m perfectly fine with some of ways the material was manipulated in the original trilogy. (Some.) Fellowship of the Ring was almost perfect, for the most part. I could get behind the whole “we’re adding all the White Council stuff because it’s essential to telling the whole story (not to make money off three movies!)” … if it were done well. But because of what no one will ever convince me isn’t unbridled greed (or insanity), I will never, ever be able to watch these three movies. I’m not willing to do it to myself. I love The Hobbit – that which was written by J.R.R. Tolkien. I know I wouldn’t be able to enjoy anything good in them because I already know about so much that is awful, and actually watching it would have to be so much more terrible.

And all I’ve heard from people I trust about the first movie is that there’s a lot of filler, and it was surprisingly dull.

In fact, if anyone ever needs to torture me (you know, for all my valuable secrets), I hope it doesn’t occur to them to make me watch these things. “Now I’ll put on The Desolation of Smaug!” “No! NO! I’ll tell you anything you want to know!”

Oh well. Maybe someday before I die it’ll be remade into something I can watch.

 

 
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Posted by on December 14, 2013 in movies

 

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The Bounders’ Music

stewartry:

The Sound of Music – only not quite. Carrie Underwood’s version is on right now, and I keep thinking of two things: The Movie, and … this, which I wrote a long time ago.

Originally posted on Mathom House:

We fly toward a sunny meadow high atop a mountain. Suddenly, the cameraman realizes he’s in the wrong place and there is an abrupt cut to the kitchen of Bag End, the Shire. Gandalf has pulled the Ring out of Frodo’s fire, and is explaining things.

The Sound of Sauron
(The Sound of Music)
Gandalf:
The Dark Lord’s alive – and he wants his Ring back
The Ring which contains part of his own self
The Dark Lord’s sent slaves for to get his Ring back
He won’t be stopped by Man or by Elf…

He wants to beat back all those of good will
And hold sway over all;
He wants to take solid shape and cast the world
‘Neath the darkest pall;
To catch and enslave and bend to his will
As he did once before
To bring, bind, and rule with the Ring on his hand once…

View original 1,881 more words

 
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Posted by on December 5, 2013 in OT

 

So, my followers with pets – -

Please forgive a sort of a commercial interruption, but: I’ve been considering trying my hand at a new career/vocation/who knows what: pet portraits. It’s been a bit of a while since I’ve drawn much, but it’s coming back – but, because of its newness (re-newness) and because I’m just getting started, I thought I’d bug you, my friends with pets.

Here’s the deal. Christmas is coming, as you might have noticed…  What I’m thinking is, if a couple of you might like an extra Christmas (holiday) (no offense intended) gift, I would love to give it a shot. Free. For the first couple of people I hear from, that is. The way I see it going, as a test run, would be: send me a bunch of pictures of your cat/dog/horse/rabbit (I have a feeling I’m best with fuzzy things, but then again I’ve never drawn any non-fuzzies, as far as I remember…), along with what you might like to see in a picture that doesn’t necessarily show up in the picture (for example, something that might involve incorporating bits of a couple of pictures), and what size you might like, and I’ll get to work.

I use pencil on colored paper: graphite and white charcoal. To get an idea of what I’m talking about, I have some older drawings on my blog.

As I said, the first couple of people I hear from (if any…:P) will get free portraits – - on the condition that it’s okay for me to use the final image to shill for er, to demonstrate my ability, on my blog and maybe, if I figure out what I’m doing, on Etsy.

I haven’t worked out what I’ll charge if and when I get to that point; first I want to make sure I can do it to the satisfaction of anyone besides, you know, my mom.

Whaddya think? I’ll be checking comments regularly, or feel free to email me: talavera1809 at hotmail dot com.

We now return you to your regular programming.

graphite on half tone

graphite on half tone

 
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Posted by on December 3, 2013 in OT

 

Happy birthday, Doctor

A lot of the joy of geekiness has been lacking lately; what with the vagaries of some of the folks I’m supposed to be geeked about (Matt Smith, Martin Freeman, and I won’t even mention PJ) it’s just all been missing on a couple of cylinders.

But tonight (last night, sort of) it (to mix metaphors) received CPR. The BBC America aired An Adventure in Space and Time, and it was wonderful. David Bradley was glorious. I am now in love with Verity Lambert and William Hartnell, as I ought to have been before, and as – hopefully – all of fandom is now. I want to go watch all of the first seasons of Doctor Who, as – hopefully – all of fandom does now.

Screen Shot 2013-11-15 at 13.39.02

Oh, as they say, the feels.

Anyway. One of my very favorite things Doctor Who has ever ever done was “Time Crash”, the mini episode that joyously brought the Tenth Doctor face to face with the Fifth Doctor. My Doctors. As I say on the page I’m about to direct you to, I couldn’t find a transcript, so I made one. (And you’re welcome very much, I was still using dial-up and it took me hours. Labor of love, that.)

And here it is. My anniversary gift.

Now… stay up all night and watch the marathon and then “The Day of the Doctor”, or go to bed now and get up and watch? Or not watch at all and hold off until Monday, when I’m going off to the movie theatre to see it on the big screen. (I will be wearing my hand-knitted-a-very-long-time-ago 15′ scarf.) (See? Geek.) (If you’re also a geek you should know that the Doctor’s scarf was 17′ long. I scaled it down. I’m short.)

All together now – Ooo ee OOOO …

 
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Posted by on November 23, 2013 in OT

 

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Wil Wheaton, King of the Geeks

Let me get this out of the way: I hated Wesley Crusher. Deep and burning passion of loathing? I had it. Here was this kid, younger than I was, taking screen time away from the magnificent Captain Picard. Saving the ship. Putting the ship in danger and then saving it. Piloting the ship. There was apparently a group who were rooting for seeing him go out an airlock, and I would have joined it – and, yes, it was in some part jealousy, because I was a young and rabid Trekkie and here was this kid, younger than I was… But it was also some poor writing, of the sort that inevitably created antipathy for this kid. It had little if anything to do with Wil Wheaton’s really quite adept portrayal, but there was no wonder that I was far from alone in hating Wesley Crusher.

Unfortunately, others in that group were more vocal than I ever was, and Wil Wheaton knew all about how much how many people loathed Wesley Crusher. And, even more unfortunately and nonsensically, him. That’ll have an effect on anyone – and especially an intelligent, sensitive, earnest teenaged boy who sees his future as that-guy-who-used-to-be-on-that-show writ large in a kind of pathetic Star Trek font. It – and other factors – made him walk away from Hollywood for a few years, and from Trek for a decade.

What this book is all about, and why it kept me up till oh crap, is that the time?! and why my respect for Wil Wheaton is greater than I ever could have anticipated, is his (insert less clichéd word than “journey” here) from the bitterness and hurt and anger stemming from Being Wesley Crusher and trying (and painfully failing) to resuscitate his acting career … to a mature and rather joyful reconciliation with his past, and new and optimistic plan for the future.

Nemesis. Dammit.

Nemesis. Dammit.

The subtitle promises that the book is unflinchingly honest – and it feels like it is. Wil made an ass of himself on several occasions, and he owns to it – and owns it. He is scathing about those who have hurt him (sometimes, diplomatically, without naming names, but really how hard is it to look up the fact that Stuart Baird was the “dick” who directed Star Trek: Nemesis?), and unstinting with his affection for his family and his Trek “family” (though I can’t help feeling the latter don’t deserve it. At all). He’s snarky, and funny, and not afraid to admit that even some of the trolls who anonymously email wilwheaton.net might not be wrong. And when they are wrong, his phaser is set to k- … no, I can’t.

The book was originally published in, I believe, 2004 (before his deeply creepy appearance on Criminal Minds), so it’s especially nice to read it knowing that Wil Wheaton is not only a staple of “Big Bang Theory” but also the perpetual president of OASIS, and deservedly so. “Just a Geek”? Nah, honey. You’re King of the Geeks. And it’s great.

Edited to add: Here’s the kind of adorkable scene from Nemesis.

 
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Posted by on November 17, 2013 in books, non-fiction, trek

 

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