The Boyfriend of the Week

June 20, 2005

Before I get started, I wanted to take a moment to recognize the passing of yet another totally terrific guy I never got around to putting up on the site. His name was Dana Elcar (click for picture) and he was known primarily for his role as Pete Thornton on the old TV series "MacGyver," which you guys know is near and dear to my heart (Pete was Mac's best friend and boss, for those of you who don't remember the show very well). But "MacGyver" wasn't Dana's only major credit. Long before co-starring on that show, he was in the TV series "Baretta" as well as "Baa Baa Black Sheep." He was also in two of my all-time favorite movies, "The Sting" starring Butch and Sundance, and the terrific kids' movie, "The Last Flight of Noah's Ark." On June 6, 2004, Dana Elcar passed away due to complications from pneumonia. He was an amazingly talented and kind man, and the world will be a lesser place now that he's no longer in it. Dana, wherever you are now, thanks for keeping us so entertained for so long! You'll be missed.

Okay, now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Sorry for yet another late write-up, by the way. But I'm still working on unpacking, and my plans to get this write-up finished last weekend were summarily crushed by the arrival in my mailbox of all the disks of Season Five of "The Sopranos." Work on the computer or watch James Gandolfini kick some butt and eat some pasta? The choice seemed clear. And then before I knew it, another week had gotten away from me and I still hadn't finished up. But part of the problem was that this week's Boyfriend took me completely by surprise. And that surprise was also sort of surprising, because it's not like Wil Wheaton hasn't been on my radar lately. Not only have I had a major crush on Wil since he was Wesley Crusher in "Star Trek: The Next Generation," but I've been a big fan of his web site, http://wilwheaton.net (WWdN), for about three months now. In fact, though I stumbled across it pretty much by accident, it has quickly become one of only three blogs I check nearly every day over breakfast (there are about six or seven others I check roughly once a week, but I'm pretty selective because if I wasn't, I'd be reading blogs all day every day. There are so many of them! And they're so entertaining!).

Anyway, given that and the fact I have ALWAYS thought he was cute and cool (in an adorably dorky way), what took me so long to put his name and the word "Boyfriend" together? Oh, who knows. I weary of that age-old question. It's just one of those things, I guess. It's like the crush becomes so much a part of every day livin' that I forget to notice it's actually there.

As sort of sick as this sounds, what finally made this write-up pop to the forefront of my brain was when I happened to see "Stand By Me" again recently. Yes, yes, I realize he's about 12 years old in that movie and that, therefore, saying it's the film that made me realize I was deeply in crush is kind of. . . gross. But it's not the little boy himself that made me remember how much I truly liked Wil. It was his amazing talent in that film -- the way he stands out as the true star, despite the fact he's surrounded by a group of other kids who rode their own decidedly impressive crests of fame (however short lived): River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, and, of course, ex-Boyfriend Jerry O'Connell (although I will confess I've been seriously considering knocking Jerry's MacGyver Factor Score down a few points because he's suddenly become really freakishly thin. Most of the time I was watching him on last season's episodes of "Crossing Jordan" I was yelling things at the screen like, "Jerry! 1-800-DOMINOS, already!" It used to be that on the rare occasion his character (Woody) would remove his shirt, I would swoon. Now, I cringe as I am instantly reminded of Skeletor from He-Man, who in turn reminds me of Washington State Senator Slade Gorton, who in turn reminds me of the creepy old guy from "Poltergeist 2." It's just a never-ending train of evil boniness, and if ever there were a reason to deduct MFS points, that reason would be "Creepy Guy from 'Poltergeist 2.'" So, Jerry, if you're reading this, do us ladies a favor and eat some carbs.)

Wait, where was I? Oh yes, Wil Wheaton! Wil-with-one-L Wheaton. On the day I watched "Stand By Me," I finally realized the full-blown crush that had been, for lack of a better word, festering for months within. So, since he was on the forefront of my mind, I decided to check to see if he'd posted anything new since I was last at WWdN. And for some bizarre reason, that visit was the first time in over three months of regular checking that I really paid any notice to the two book covers he had posted up in the top right-hand corner of his page. Wait, double-take. Wil's written TWO books? He's cute, he's talented, and he's a PUBLISHED AUTHOR? And not just published, but published by O'Reilly? The same kooky computer guys whose index to the Llama book ("Learning Perl") STILL makes me snicker (it's the rindex entry -- the one about Scooby Doo)? You guys do know that the two search engines on this site are written in Perl, right? That they were the first real Perl scripts I'd ever written? And that that's why they are still here, despite the fact a Google search box would probably be a little more functional? (Though, as a librarian, I would argue that more results are not BETTER results, I will confess that being able to free-text search the Boyfriend write-ups might be nice. It's something I could do with the Perl script -- you can free-text search the book reviews, after all -- but, ohhhh, nevermind.)

Anyway, the answer to all the above questions is a resounding, "Yep." And as if that weren't fateful enough, when I loaded up my public library's web site, I was floored to discover that my local branch not only had a copy of one of Wil's books but actually had it checked in and on the shelves! Dudes, that just doesn't happen. Ever. I have to put everything I want to read on hold nowadays because my local branch is so wee it barely has a full set of encyclopedias. This was clearly kismet. It just doesn't get any more kismetier than that. So, when my lunch break rolled around the next day, I flew up the hill like a cow shot out of a catapult ("Fetchez la vache!" (name that movie)). On the walk back to the office, I started chapter one. By the time I got back to my desk, I was completely hooked.

I talk a little bit more about Wil's blog in the book review down below (incidentally, the book is titled "Just a Geek," which explains, in a nutshell, the origins of my crush -- you know how I feel about geeks, after all), so I won't go into details here. But suffice it to say he is a funny, talented, and honest writer, and he will totally suck you in if you let him!

Once I got into Wil's book, of course, he became the Boyfriend I couldn't get out of my mind, so I had to push aside the other write-up I was working on and order as many of his old DVDs as I could cram into a week's worth of Netflixing. Unfortunately, that didn't end up being as many as I'd hoped. For one thing, I made a mistake and rented "Star Trek Nemesis," after reading the chapter in his book about his couple of days of shooting on that set. I didn't realize until the disk had already shown up that his scenes were eventually cut from the film (you can see him sitting off to the far side in the opening wedding scene, but that's it). So, that set me back a movie. And then a couple of new shows started up this summer ("The Closer" on TNT, which is pretty good, and "The Inside" on FOX, which is unbearably awful (Peter Coyote, why do you keep doing this to me?!), plus a new show starring next week's Boyfriend, whose identity will remain a mystery until I get that write-up posted. Which I promise to do soon. No really. I mean that.)

So, I suddenly found myself with not a lot of spare time for movie watching, and not a lot of movies for Wil watching. However, here's the lowdown on my somewhat abbreviated Wil Wheaton hoedown:

1. Toy Soldiers (1991). This is a movie I've seen at least a dozen times and always enjoy. It co-stars Sean Astin, Keith Coogan, and Louis Gossett Jr., and is about a prep school for extremely rich boys with behavioral problems that is taken hostage by a bunch of terrorists. Their plan is ransom the students in exchange for the release of one of their fellow bad dudes from an American prison. But Sean Astin and his band of buddies (including Wil) are unable to abide by any authority and thus immediately begin plotting a way to foil the bad guys' dastardly plot. It's very entertaining and fun, and the characters are all engaging and real. And Wil -- Wil is just SO CUTE. He plays a kid whose mafioso father (played by Jerry Orbach) uses his ties to organized crime to negotiate with the terrorists directly. But Wil's character hates his father and what he stands for (crime, in essence), and when the terrorists agree to let him go, without his friends, he refuses to leave, an act of rebellion that ends up having pretty horrific consequences. There's not a moment in this movie that you don't see Wil's character's emotions completely clearly. And while it's not exactly a "film," I think it really underscores one of Wil's strongest talents as an actor, one also showcased in "Stand By Me" and a few others -- he has a face and body that are just extremely expressive, and even when his character isn't doing anything physical, you can see exactly what's going on in his head simply by looking at him. I don't know how he does that, but I think it's pretty amazing, and pretty rare in the biz, in my experience, especially in a kid that young.

2. December (1991). I had never seen this movie before -- in fact, I was surprised it even existed because it came out the same year as "Toy Soldiers" and how is it possible, then, that I missed it? Answer? Probably because it sucks. It's also about a group of prep school boys, but this time it's December 1941, immediately after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. The boys have just learned that the school is letting seniors who are planning to enlist out early for the year, so they can go home and be with their families before being shipped off to war. This sparks a debate amongst a small group of friends, one of whom is extremely gung-ho about enlisting, and the rest of whom are a whole lot more wary of the entire thing. I hate to say it, because I appreciated what both the writer and the director were trying to do here, but I found this movie unbearably boring. For one thing, it seemed more like a play than a film -- 90% of the action takes place in a single dorm room, and while that's very effective on stage, in movies it can get old visually fast. But the more significant problem was with the dialogue and the acting. It was just hellishly cheesy and badly written. And despite the fact that several of the other boys were recognizable actors (including Jason London, who I've always liked), Wil was the only one whose character actually seemed like a real person. To be honest, it reminded me a lot of high school theater, with clumsy, overdone acting and completely flat sets and blocking. Wil was the only redeeming quality and even he didn't end up being enough to keep my interest through the whole film. Disappointing!

3. Star Trek: The Next Generation. Season One, Disk One. After the debacle of "December," I felt like I had to watch a couple of episodes of TNG to bring back the magic. Instead of talking about the show itself, though, here I want to expound on something I've never understood about Star Trek fans. What the heck is up with so many of them "hating" Wesley Crusher? I mean, in my opinion, from the very first episode of the very first Star Trek, the primary focus of the series has been sociological. Or maybe it's anthropological. It's something -ological, anyway, and it's all about the study of what it means to be human. That's why every single show (except for the two that sucked, more on those in a second) had at least one character that played the same type of role -- the role of the outsider who was either only part human or who wasn't human at all, but longed to be. Think about it. It started with Spock, who was half human, half Vulcan. He was constantly comparing humanness to Vulcanness and, through that, demonstrating to us over and over what "humanness" really was. After that came Data on TNG -- an android who desperately wanted to be human, and who spent a lot of his time studying what that meant in order to adopt more human qualities himself -- human emotions, human ways of interacting with each other, human mannerisms. Then you had "Voyager," which had two characters in this role, starting with the holographic doctor and later adding Seven of Nine. And, in my opinion, it was the presence of these characters that made these three Star Trek shows stand out as the three best.

"Deep Space Nine" and "Enterprise" were the other two in the series. DS9 I never liked, primarily because it involved sitting around in the same spot all the time -- not much room for adventure. But though it had some alien characters who could've easily played the human-study role, none of them were really built that way. That element, which in my opinion is absolutely vital to the series, was lost. And the same is true for "Enterprise," which I also didn't like (though part of that was due to the absolutely unbearably awful theme song, I'll admit). Their attempt at this "fish outta water" perspective was to have a full Vulcan as part of the crew. But that doesn't work, because Vulcans don't give a rat's hoo-hah about humans. They don't have emotions at all, for that matter. She wasn't curious about what it was like to be a person. She just had pointy ears and no sense of humor.

How does this relate to Wil's character Wesley? Isn't it obvious? Wesley offered yet another perspective on what it's like to be a human. He was the first main character on Star Trek to be a kid. And anybody who's ever spent any time around kids knows that you can learn almost everything there is to know about humanity from them. They are ten times more open -- they're completely unguarded. And they, just like Data, are constantly trying to learn about what it's like to be human. How you are supposed to act. What you are supposed to do and not do to fit in. How to process your feelings and react to things appropriately.

So, in my opinion, anybody who thinks Wesley's character was a negative force on the show is just too daft to recognize what the show was actually about. It wasn't all about warp cores and cool phaser guns -- it was a study of humanity. And in that respect, Wesley was one of the series most vital characters.

Not to mention the cutest li'l puppycat on the show.

In my humble, and quite extremely biased, opinion.

Anyway, I could go on for days. But instead, let me also mention a couple of other great places to see Wil at work, as well as a couple of less-than-great places. Of the latter, comes the film "Python," which is one of the very few bad creature features my Mom and I actually couldn't sit through (and let me tell you, we watch ALL the bad creature features we can get our hands on, and usually our philosophy is "the badder the better," so for us to give up on a film halfway really says a lot about it). Luckily, for every "Python," there's a "The Secret of NIMH," in which a very young Wil voiced the character of Martin. Love that movie. I also wanted to get my hands on a copy of one of Wil's newer films, "Jane White is Sick and Twisted," because it looked hilarious, but I ran out of time. If you've seen it and it was good, email me and let me know? And, of course, fans of the show "CSI" got to see Wil last March in an episode titled "Compulsion." I'd love to see him show up in more guest spots on other shows, actually, because that's always fun for everyone. In fact, now that I think about it, what would really be great is if they added him to the cast of "ER." I am way, WAY ready to see the end of Stupid Rock Star Doctor (Shane West) and Perpetually Cranky Ex-Nurse Doctor (Maura Tierney) -- it's time for a cast overhaul again. I think Wil would be great! Bring on Really Geeky Doctor! He can do tech support when he's not operating on patients!

10 INPUT "What is your name: "; U$
20 PRINT "Hello "; U$
25 REM
30 INPUT "Have you ever had chest pain before? "; N$
35 IF (N$ = "Y") OR (N$ = "y") THEN GOTO 70
50 IF (N$ = "N") OR (N$ = "n") THEN GOTO 110
70 INPUT "Are you having chest pain right now? "; P$
80 IF (P$ = "Y") OR (P$ = "y") THEN GOTO 100
90 IF (P$ = "N") OR (P$ = "n") THEN GOTO 110
100 PRINT "Get me ten cc's of morphine and the OR, STAT!"
105 END
110 PRINT "Then get out of my ER, you big faker! Perpetually Cranky Ex-Nurse Doctor, get me security and a psych consult, STAT!"
115 END

How's that for dusting off the old BASIC memories (note: if there are mistakes in my code, you'll have to forgive me -- it HAS been about twenty years, after all)? But you see what I mean? Really Geeky Doctor could be a LOT of fun!

All right, enough silliness. In the interest of finally getting this thing posted, I'm going to skip the bio -- you can learn everything you ever wanted to know about Wil from his web site and books, after all, and even if you read this entire write-up with a look of anti-nerd disdain on your face, you should really give his writing a try. I think you'll see that Wil Wheaton is a lot more than just that dorky kid from Star Trek. I can honestly say that out of all the hundreds of Boyfriends I've written about, Wil is the first one I would actually love to meet in person (well, okay, I felt this way about Bruce Campbell as well, I'll confess). I can imagine us hanging out and having a good time goofing around, if only because I understand why this (taken from a tee-shirt Wil wrote about recently):

> SELECT * FROM users WHERE clue > 0
0 rows returned

is funny.

MacGyver Factor Score: 96.996% Points off because. . . Hmmm. I'm at a loss. Points off for only writing TWO books instead of three! Points off for only starring in ONE hugely successful TV series instead of two! Points off for being only ONE of the most talented kid actors of his time instead of SIX! Wait, that last one doesn't even make sense. Okay, realistically? Points off because nobody's perfect. And sometimes Wil's hairstyle could use some work. (But hey, so could MacGyver's from time to time. Or, you know, pretty much ALL the time. Mullets. You know what I'm sayin'?)


Boyfriend-Related Links
Wil's IMDB Page
http://wilwheaton.net/
Cinnae's Wil Wheaton Fan Page
An interview with Wil at Slashdot


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