Just a Geek: Unflinchingly Honest Tales of the Search for Life, Love, and Fulfillment Beyond the Starship Enterprise

Just a Geek: Unflinchingly Honest Tales of the Search for Life, Love, and Fulfillment Beyond the Starship Enterprise

by Wil Wheaton


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Wil Wheaton has never been one to take the conventional path to success. Despite early stardom through his childhood role in the motion picture "Stand By Me", and growing up on television as Wesley Crusher on "Star Trek: The Next Generation", Wil left Hollywood in pursuit of happiness, purpose, and a viable means of paying the bills. In the oddest of places, Topeka, Kansas, Wil discovered that despite his claims to fame, he was at heart Just a Geek.

In this bestselling book, Wil shares his deeply personal and difficult journey to find himself. You'll understand the rigors, and joys, of Wil's rediscovering of himself, as he comes to terms with what it means to be famous, or, ironically, famous for once having been famous. Writing with honesty and disarming humanity, Wil touches on the frustrations associated with his acting career, his inability to distance himself from Ensign Crusher in the public's eyes, the launch of his incredibly successful web site, wilwheaton.net, and the joy he's found in writing. Through all of this, Wil shares the ups and downs he encountered along the journey, along with the support and love he discovered from his friends and family.

The stories in Just a Geek include:

  • Wil's plunge from teen star to struggling actor
  • Discovering the joys of HTML, blogging, Linux, and web design
  • The struggle between Wesley Crusher, Starfleet ensign, and Wil Wheaton, author and blogger
  • Gut-wrenching reactions to the 9-11 disaster
  • Moving tales of Wil's relationships with his wife, step-children, and extended family
  • The transition from a B-list actor to an A-list author

Wil Wheaton—celebrity, blogger, and geek—writes for the geek in all of us. Engaging, witty, and pleasantly self-deprecating, Just a Geek will surprise you and make you laugh.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780596806316
Publisher: O'Reilly Media, Incorporated
Publication date: 09/28/2009
Pages: 298
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Wil Wheaton may be one of the most unusual celebrities of our time. Born into stardom with the movie "Stand By Me", and then growing up on television as Wesley Crusher on "Star Trek: The Next Generation", Wil was in the spotlight nearly his entire childhood. Instead of burning out as a child star, he left fame behind and became a computer specialist in what Hollywood might consider the middle of nowhere: Topeka, Kansas. Now, Wil considers himself "just a geek", and both Dancing Barefoot and the forthcoming biography Just a Geek are about his journey in rediscovering himself and coming to terms with what it means to be famous, or, ironically, famous for being previously famous.

Table of Contents

A Note to the Readerxvii
Introduction: This Monkey's Gone to Heavenxxi
Act I
1.Where's My Burrito?3
3.SpongeBobVega$ Pants41
Breaking News: The World Has Turned67
Act II
4.Stop Me if You Think That You've Heard This One Before71
5.Last Place You Look79
7.A Sort of Homecoming93
8.April's Fool132
9.Alone Again, or ...137
10."You're Gonna Be a Great Writer Someday, Gordie"156
Act IV
11.The Wesley Dialogues175
12.All Good Things185
Epilogue: Hooters 2: Electric Boogaloo223
Appendix A.The WWdN FAQ225
Appendix B.Selected Interviews237
Further Reading267

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Just a Geek 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 58 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Wil Wheaton is best known for his teenage role as Wesley Crusher in Star Trek - The Next Generation. But after several seaons, he left. In part, as he explains here, because he wanted to branch out into other acting roles. Probably unlike most of you, I'd only seen a few episodes of TNG. I was familiar with his role and had assumed that he'd made a packet and was now quite well off financially. But this book disabused me. Wheaton gives a searing autobiographical narrative that expands upon his earlier work, 'Dancing Barefoot', and is far better written. In 'Geek', he fleshes out a lot of the backdrop to the first book, which in many ways is a set of disjointed essays. This book describes his travails in trying to find acting roles, especially back in TNG. Very revealing of how, even for someone with an accomplished record, rejections are so common. I've known people in Los Angeles who've dreamed of becoming professional actors, and also a few SAG members. None has even remotely equally Wheaton. Yet even at his level, it can be heartbreaking. He chronicles a series of failed auditions. All the while struggling to help support his family. Also poignantly, he regrets many times not staying with TNG for its full run. At the very least, it would have let him build a nest egg and so enabled less hardship later. In retrospect, his decision to leave was one of those fateful junctions in life. (The moving hand having written, cannot now unwrite, and all that.) Many readers will find much to identify with here. Even if you have nil interest in acting, his experiences speak to broader issues in life that so many have encountered and endured. Wheaton writes for Everyman.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm almost at a loss for words about this book. It truly is unflinchingly honest, and I think the amount of times I've laughed out loud and the times I've basically been reduced to tears because of it are about equal. It's an outstanding book, and I'd recommend it to anyone at the drop of a hat. If Wil Wheaton has any difficulty landing acting roles, he should feel safe knowing he could easily make a living as an author. Five stars.
Daniel.Estes on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The strength of Wil Wheaton's memoir is his willingness to bare his soul, flaws and everything. His heart-on-sleeve style is nearly too much for me, but I can't help but admire his courage to be this honest. No doubt much of his strength comes from his supportive spouse and kids. Any person seeking answers in life would be lucky to have the family he has.Just a Geek chronicles Mr. Wheaton's personal journey from successful child actor (Stand By Me, Star Trek: TNG) to a man in his early 30's searching for his niche. He uses a writing format of reprinting his blog posts and then commenting on them which works rather well. He wrote an earlier book called Dancing Barefoot which probably has more to say about the period of time just after he left Star Trek. This book basically starts with his first blog and the creation of his website.
silentq on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was a pretty fast read for me (done in a day), maybe partially due to the fact that I've followed Wheaton's blog for quite a few years and was familiar with the blog posts that he included. The material joining together the posts was new and really held it together as a continuous story. It's definitely worthwhile to read if you're at all curious about how a child actor can make the transition toward being a writer. It would be neat to see version 2.0 which could include his forays into the world of poker.
salimbol on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Another funny, bittersweet collection of anecdotes. Extremely readable, especially if you've ever liked Star Trek, been a geek, or just doubted your path in life.
bragan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Wil Wheaton is best known for playing Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation during his teenage years, a fact which has caused him a lot of difficulties and mixed feelings, from bearing the brunt of fans' hatred of his character to spending most of his adult life second-guessing his decision to leave the show to pursue a film career that never materialized. These days, he has successfully reinvented himself as a writer, largely thanks to his blog, wilwheaton.net, which has gained quite a following among the geekier sections of the internet population, not all of whom are reading because they're interested in Star Trek. This book is about that personal journey, and about his lifelong, love-hate attempts to come to terms with Star Trek and his with his child-actor past. It's very honest-feeling, often very funny, and sometimes surprisingly moving. A fair amount of the book does consist of material originally posted on his blog, most of which I'd seen before, but I found I didn't at all mind reading it again, and there's also a lot of new material, much of which helps put the blog posts in context. All in all, an enjoyable read by a sympathetic and likeable guy.
shy-shy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I saw Wil Wheaton speak at DragonCon 2011. He told the story of the time he first met William Shatner, and he was hillarious! I bought this book hoping for more of the same, and I was NOT disappointed. His book is an easy read that has you angry, sad, and laughing out loud as you learn a little about his life and also what it means to be a struggling actor. I can't wait to read Dancing Barefoot!
Rigfield on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm not a fan of biographies or memories. I find them to be self-glorified, embellished tales written by ego-centric individuals looking to capture (or capture) their fifteen minutes of fame. Wil Wheaton is not that guy and Just A Geek is not that kind of memoir. It is well-written, brutally honest, intriguing and filled with enough pathos that you truly care about this guy, and what he's been though - whether you know him or not. For those that don't know Wheaton, he was the youngest cast member on a little tv show called Star Trek: The Next Generation. But this book is MORE than just a 30-something actor remembering his teen years. It's about a man trying to be a good husband, a good father, and overall, a good person. It's about a man being unemployed and struggling with his self-identity. It's about a man coming to realize what is truly important in his life, and being ok with it. At no time does Wheaton hold back -- he puts it all out there in a truly refreshing and honest way that often is lacking in these celebrity memoirs. Proof that Wheaton is not just a good actor, but also a great writer. Here's hoping he'll write more.
freddlerabbit on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I rarely read memoirs or autobiographies - in fact, the last one I can remember reading, clearly, was when I was in eighth grade or so. I think this is because, for the most part, I can be amused or sympathetic with the narrator, but in the end, I just can't care about them enough for the actual details of a real life to be compelling to me (I have a different experience with fiction, for some reason). Just A Geek won't convert me to the memoir genre, but it stands out as a marvellous, honest, open and passionate book that I thoroughly enjoyed - sometimes actually laughing out loud, and sometimes feeling my eyes prickle.Wil Wheaton talks about his struggles to understand what is important to him, in his life, and some of the mistakes he makes along the way. He is honest about his mistakes and failings - his own anger and hangups and all the worst parts. He discusses how difficult celebrity at a young age was for him, especially when, post Star Trek, that celebrity didn't carry on in terms of work and exposure the way he hoped it would. He is unflinching in this book, and deeply compelling. Wheaton writes about the people in his life - those he loves, like his family; those he doesn't know well, like many of his blog readers; and those who have treated him poorly, like some "fans" and directors - with empathy, compassion, and, where appropriate, gratitude - and also without hesitating to stick up for himself when he feels he's been treated badly. He clearly cares about being a good human being, a wonderful father and husband, and a creator who can be proud of his works.Never before have I read a book where I have ended my reading thinking, man, is this guy someone I would very much like to be friends with. Never before, too, have I felt so inspired by someone who strives to be the best person he can be in the context of, at least in many respects, a very normal life. It is hard to feel like you can be a good person, sometimes, if you're not Overcoming Adversity or Saving the World, but by example (never by preaching), Wheaton lives that out, and we can all be inspired by it. One of the most touching motifs for me is Wheaton's gratitude to his fans and supporters. He writes with an awareness that he is part of a community of people, and that we all need one another for different things - that no man is an island. I think you will like this book if you are inspired by people growing in spite of themselves and in spite of obstacles; if you appreciate and admire gratitude and effort, and if honesty, humour and affection appeal to you. After finishing the final pages here, I went out and picked up everything else he's written.
melydia on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The story most people are familiar with is Wil Wheaton's appearance in Stand By Me, followed by his portrayal of the oft-maligned Wesley Crusher in Star Trek: The Next Generation, after which he completely fell off the radar. In a sense, this is the story of What Happened to Wil Wheaton After Star Trek. But it's more than that, too. It is an unabashedly honest (and often hilarious) account of one man's journey from struggling and extremely insecure actor to confident and content writer. Though it probably helps to be at least passingly familiar with the Star Trek universe, you don't have to be a die-hard fan to appreciate Wheaton's writing. He learns and shares many lessons about regret, validation, and acceptance. I devoured this book in about a day and enjoyed every minute of it. Wheaton has lots of very good and important things to say about acting, blogging, and celebrity, but there is also plenty of humor to keep things rolling. Definitely recommended.
jasonpettus on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted here illegally.)In case I've never mentioned it, since opening CCLaP I've had a growing amount of friends here in Chicago start to loan me older books on a regular basis, simply because they're interested in seeing what I have to say about them; that's how I ended up with Just A Geek, for example, the 2004 personal memoir and "blog-book" by former child actor and now respected writer Wil Wheaton, loaned to me by my friend Jude the other week, while I was over at her place watching the series finale of Battlestar Galactica. (And speaking of which, whoo man what a series finale...but that's a whole other frakking essay for a whole other frakking day.) And indeed, it's highly appropriate that a show like BSG should lead to me reading this book; because for those who don't know, Wheaton is perhaps best-known among the general public for his teenaged role in the seminal '80s science-fiction TV actioner Star Trek: The Next Generation, a show so immersed now in the popular culture that it still follows/haunts him to this day.What many people forget, though, is that Wheaton was already a gifted and celebrated child actor even going into that show; his breakthrough performance in Rob Reiner's Stand By Me, for example, is considered by many to be even better than most adult actors, and the film to this day still holds up surprisingly great. And so like David Caruso and Julianna Margulies and a thousand other arrogant young actors before them, Wheaton famously quit Star Trek in his late teens before the series had run its course, in order to go off and become the big movie star he was convinced he was destined to be; and it was then that his acting career promptly fell flat on its face, with Wheaton suffering years upon years of constant second- and third-place auditions but never once actually clinching another major job. And so like many others in that position, that led him to the so-called "Hollywood ghetto" of fan conventions, eBay auctions and more; but unlike most others, Wheaton also turned to confessional writing at the same time, not only putting his life back together again post-child-prodigy but also publicly chronicling the process, starting with a personal journal at the old Geocities online community long before the invention of the term "blog."And that's when the big surprise came out -- that Wheaton might possibly be just as good a writer as he is an actor, and that his blog is far more than the whiny navel-gazing exercise in egomania we expect from celebrities in that position. (And to make it clear, I've been a reader and fan of Wheaton's blog itself for years now, long before reading this bound collection.) Because the fact is that Wheaton as a confessional writer is sweet and disarming at points, opinionated and political at others, with an intuitive understanding of the three-act structure and how to apply such a thing subtly to almost all of his entries; his blog posts tend to be much more like standalone literary stories than the Twitter-like stream of inane babble so plaguing the internet these days, and reading a chunk of his archives in one sitting can be surprisingly similar to sitting and reading a short-story collection. And along the way, of course, he dishes up just a whole mound of the insider Hollywood dirt we expect and love from such celebrity blogs, stories of humiliating auditions and assh-le directors and megalomaniacal actors and all the rest. (For example, a running joke at the site is that William Shatner is always referred to as WILLIAM F-CKING SHATNER, because of a hilarious story concerning one of the first times Wheaton ever met him; and I have to confess, I still laugh out loud each and every time Wheaton refers to him that way.)So it would make sense, then, that a publisher in
Jenson_AKA_DL on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I've never really thought too much about Wesley Crusher to tell the truth. Yes, enjoyed the heck out of Star Trek TNG (if you watch my home movies of when my son was small in the '90s always in the background is either STTNG or NASCAR, depending if my husband was home or not), but I was never a Trekkie inspired to dress up and go to conventions or pay more than passing interest in the fact that this character moved on to other things. However, from reading this book I guess Wesley's desertion of the Enterprise was a much bigger event, world changing even, to those who loved and/or hated the character respectively and particularly to Wil Wheaton, who has been emotionally reeling from his decision for all these many years. I never knew!Although the title claims Unflinching honest tales of the search for life, love and fulfillment beyond the Starship Enterprise this is primarily a story of how Wil Wheaton has come to terms with the effect Star Trek has had on his life and really doesn't move very far past that. His blog, also featured here, is a large part of how Mr. Wheaton is accomplishing this. But, this is just fine with me because if it hadn't been for the Star Trek aspect I would have never picked this book up considering the thing I remember him for most other than the big 2 (STTNG and Stand by Me) is his appearance on The Weakest Link where he acted like the world's biggest a**hole. Frankly, in the part that touched upon his Weakest Link appearance I was shocked that he made no mention of this and I read through the rest of the book thinking, "if he doesn't realize how much of a jerk he was then, I can't really take this book at face value." Thankfully, in one of the Appendixes he addresses a question about the appearance, and said he was "acting" the part since the studio just wanted to make the host look good anyway *big sigh of relief* I was very happy about this considering how much I enjoyed the book.I absolutely do not pity Mr. Wheaton for the decision he made that so irrevocably changed his life, he manages to do this quite well all on his own without my assistance. He does do a lot of bellyaching about being haunted by the ghosts of his consciousness, "Prove to Everyone That Quitting Star Trek Wasn't A Mistake" and "Self Doubt". Actually, considering the amount of complaining, you would think this memoir would be a miserable read. It Is Not. No, I didn't find it exceedingly hilarious (except for the part about Jonathan Frakes running into the door during a scene), but it was interesting. Mr. Wheaton managed to keep me hooked, the writing was smooth and entertaining and I loved his honest declarations of his feelings towards his fellow actors and the acting industry. In fact, I can totally empathize with a lot of what he's feeling. The pettyish overreactions to slights (real or imagined, will we ever know?) by ST producer Rick Berman rather mirror my own reactions in comparable situations and the resentfulness towards those who criticize you or worse, ignore you. I could totally feel for him.Overall I thought this book was really "cool" :-) I read every last word right through the appendixes and into the acknowledgements, which I would usually never do with a biography. Although I probably won't be an avid daily reader of his blog as I found the other parts of this book more interesting than those entries, I wouldn't completely discount the possibility of a little look-see. I am now curious to see how things are going with this conflicted man, he is an interesting character in and of himself, even without a script.
terriko on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I admit, I caught myself crying on the plane home as I was reading this book. I wouldn't have thought I'd find myself identifying so much with the stories in an actor's biography, but Wil Wheaton has an amazing gift for telling stories about life, love, geekery, and just plain growing up. These stories are taken from his popular blog, but Just a Geek strings them together and fills them out into a coherent story that transcends the blog-style snippets of life. His over-arching story about trying to prove oneself, as well as learning what "proving oneself" really meant for him is really touching.
.Monkey. on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Wow, what can one say about this?? Wil Wheaton is simply amazing. His writing warms your heart, fills you with laughter and tears, and pulls you into his life so well that you can't help but fall in love with the man. I simply cannot write about this in an objective detached manner, and I don't feel I should have to, as that is completely the opposite of Wil Wheaton's writing! So allow me to delve right into the personal here. This book made me smile constantly, giggle, chuckle, and have full belly-busting laughter. This book ALSO made me shed tears, and seethe in anger at the people who have wronged him. He tells it all so well, that you feel as though you were right there with him, experiencing all his amusement, his sadness, and his hurt. Quite frankly, when I finished reading it I wished he were the real-life friend I felt like I had made when absorbing his book. I would give it 100 stars if I could!
busy91 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Wil Wheaton is fun and sometimes deliciously humorous in this book. Although at times the book takes a serious turn, Wil never loses his optimism. He talks about his early acting years and his time on the set of Star Trek: TNG. I found that chapter to be highly entertaining, educational and enlightening. You never really know what goes on behind the set. Wil is one of those attainable celebrities (as attainable as they get in the age of the internet), and currently blogs, and has a flickr page as well where he shares pictures of the more interesting snippets of his life. In this book he talks about his geekness with a lightness of heart, although I don¿t think he¿s a geek at all. Wil is still a classy actor and a great author.
bluesalamanders on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
For the second time, reading a blog made me want to read the blogger's books. Unfortunately, my library only had this one, but I'll find Dancing Barefoot sometime. The book is excerpts from his early blogging and expanded stories about what he'd written then. Wil talks about some very emotional subjects in this book; some stories brought tears to my eyes and a number of the stories made me laugh out loud (quite a feat for any written text).
wfzimmerman on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Very enjoyable book by the Star Trek: The Next Generation actor who documents "the next act" in his life after playing the insufferable Wesley Crusher.
lunaverse on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Wil Wheaton -- he's not just Wesley Crusher anymore. In fact, he's a real-life geek.This is Wheaton's longer book of short, autobiographical stories. His way with words will make you laugh and make you cry. I've found both of his books, and his blog, to be real inspirations.
PriPri More than 1 year ago
Very good read. It was a nice walk thru his time on TNG and how he basically shot himself in the foot by leaving the show. But he's succeed in spite of it. Wil is a very good writer and tells very funny stories that actually transport you as though you were living the memory yourself.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wil Wheaton's truthful tale in his blog and behind Star Trek: The Next Generation leads readers down the struggling reality of outliving past shadows. Honest and open, he let's us see what really happens behind the scenes and growing up during and after the Enterprise. This autobiography is certainly worth a read, even those that aren't Star Trek fans. Only four out of five because writing style was a little repeatitive after time, but still a delight none-the-less.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Being a proven nerd myself. (Ecleast evreyone ive ever known or maybe not known has siad so.) I can relate to wil. And when i read this book ive found a number of sad and funny parts that i think you can relate to as well. This book is not just for us geeks as well. (Is there a diffrence beetween nerds and geeks ? Anyways.) I think other peaple can relate it more beacuse he is very 'down to earth' but very funny at the same time. As the cover tells this book tells boyond than just the USS enterprise.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. Well written and honest tales of life in the lime light and being a nerd
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