January 16, 2005

April, Wil and Me

As April has supplied the narration of our trip up to see Wil Wheaton at a reading and book signing at a Borders in San Francisco, I'll provide the promised pictures. Yes, it's long, but there are pretty pictures to break up all those pesky words.

First up is the view from our seats. Seats I had to go retrieve with my very own hands off a stack, by the way, because there were more people than they expected. There was no way I was going to stand for the whole thing, which was smart because it also lasted longer than we expected. Please try to ignore the gentleman with the very shiny hair in front of me.

I couldn't get away from his head, so that was the end of taking pictures from the seats.

I was there as Official Sidekick for the first part of the evening, the reading, and Official Photographer for the second half, the signing. I can't tell you which hat I wore longer, since the wait in line felt about as long as the reading. But the reading and the Q&A were enjoyable, much more so than the wait.

Part of the problem was what section of the bookstore they put the line. It was the "Music" section and it was depressing to see how many crappy books there are. Here was my view for what felt like for-ev-er:

That's April on the right, by the way, clutching her copy of Wil's book, Just a Geek. And that's about as much of her as you will see because I enjoy life and would like to continue enjoying it.

As the line finally (finally!) moved up and we got closer to the beginning of the alphabet, I saw the following and had to take a picture just for Bibb and Yaz because we all know what big Clay Aiken fans they are:

At long last, we were almost to the front. Wil's a nice guy and he doesn't rush anyone through the line, so if someone stood there and wanted to chat, he chatted. Picture? Sure. And that's cool and all, but it made for a long night. (More so for him than us -- when we left there were still a LOT of people in line.) Please note that in the picture below, all the books that were on the wall behind him are now gone. They sold a lot of his books that night, and they ran out of the ones they had available on the table.

The guy you see in the white shirt, standing in front of the table as Wil signed his book, eventually turned around for a photo and was wearing a Wil Wheaton t-shirt. Gotta admit, that struck me as a little surreal. And the guy directly in front of us, with the stylish white and yellow jacket, was what I would call a serial offender. He came with an enormous Poloroid camera (circa 1982) slung around his neck and a rainbow-colored autograph book, and told Wil exactly what he wanted him to write in the book: "Walt, glad you liked the movie 'Stand By Me.'" This was uttered, monotone, as he stared up at the woman assisting in the signing who was about to take their picture with said Poloroid. Which he then had Wil sign. I had the distinct impression that he was just someone who went to these things to meet celebs and get the photo snapped; he had no interest whatsoever in who Wil is as a blogger and writer.

Then, finally, it was our turn, lucky #45. I sprang into action and took a series of rapid shots (sans flash) while he was signing the book for April, two of which appear here because the other few are, well, pretty much exactly the same as the first one:

Somewhere in the midst of this he noticed me and April's friend, D, standing there playing the part of The Entourage. Because April wasn't about to do it, I asked, as The Official April's Entourage Photographer, if she could go around the table for a picture, as well. Being the accomodating guy he is, he said of course, while April plotted a most painful death for me. Please note that this picture doesn't do him justice and that April has been cropped out at her request. (Okay, it was an order. I left in her elbow just to spite her.)

And that was it. As we walked on by, D swiped one of the chocolates that had been set out on the table for people, which he kindly gave to April as a momento. Being a smart woman, she quickly ate the momento and had me wishing that I had not been so wrapped up in my photographing so I could have snagged one, too. The evening ended with dinner at The Cheesecake Factory atop Macy*s in Union Square, where I made up for the earlier lack of chocolate in spades with a big ol' slice of Chocolate Oreo Mudslide Cheesecake for dessert.

I have to admit, I enjoyed going to see Wil a lot more than I had anticipated. Not that I have anything against him, mind you; back in the day I was a huge fan of ST:TNG and I was never a Crusher-hater. But he was there as a blogger who became a published writer and I've not been a reader of his blog up to this point. (Now, damn it, I have no choice but to start reading it because he is a fantastic storyteller.) I told April that I would explain why that is, since she's been telling me how good he is for a long time, so I'll try to do that here.

A good way to describe me is "contrary." The best way to get me not to do something is to tell me I have to. Case in point: I read like a freaking fiend but I would almost never actually read the books assigned to me in English class back in school. I've "done" the play Hamlet twice between high school and college and I still haven't read the damned thing. In high school I would sit in Chemistry and Social Studies and read all manner of books behind my textbook (never did get caught) but often not the assignments. (And yes, I still graduated with honors -- don't hate me because I'm lazy but brilliant.) Another good example: A person I met relatively recently is a big fan of going to the gym, and frequently exhorts people to do the same. At one point I mentioned that I have a membership to the gym at work and she told me that, well, then "you have to go." Bad move. That's the point where I shut down and won't really listen to what-all you have to say about it because, frankly, no, I don't "have to."

This same quirk applies to the blog world from my perspective. You'll notice that there are no "big-name" bloggers on my blogroll. The one for Dooce up top is temporary and once those awards are done, it will be gone. It took me a very, very long time to actually start reading her (and once I did, I kept going back because she cracks me up) simply because she was linked everywhere, and that was about all it took for me not to be interested.

To me, there are so many more interesting stops along the way that I'm just not interested in reading the sites that "everyone" reads. Instapundit? Never been there. Daily Kos? Same thing. Wonkette? Nuh-uh. Give me a Crawly Amphibian who has something to say that I can relate to and who still cares about someone coming across their blog and wanting that blogger to link back to them.

My feeling toward Wil's site was pretty much the same. And, after this post, I'll probably never link to him again. But I'll be reading, 'cause you gotta respect a guy who's really just a geek and writes his heart out.