Book Review 47: Dacing Barefoot

Today is the second day of CES.  And means it is once again time for Star Trek Book Week.  This is the third edition because working the show floor leaves me too tired to write new content, so I like to prep this weeks in advance.Only in this case, because I am running out of cast member memoirs, and because the show starts on Thursday, this will actually Star Trek Book Weekend. Previous reviews are here.

Last year, I wrapped up with Wil Wheaton's "Just a Geek."  This year, we'll start with the Secretary of Geek Affairs once again.

Dancing Barefoot is a short collection of Wil Wheaton essays. The material is similar to what you will find in Just a Geek, which followed it a year later.

If you enjoyed Just a Geek, or just think you want to start reading some of Wheaton's work, Dancing Barefoot is a great book to read.

There are 5 stories in this book:

  1. Houses in Motion
  2. Ready or Not, Here I Come
  3. Inferno
  4. We Close our Eyes
  5. The Saga of Spongebob Vegas Pants

In "Houses in Motion," Wheaton shares the touching story of picking up furniture from a recently deceased Aunt's house. It's a bitter sweet story of the love he felt for her and the impact she had on his childhood.

"Ready or Not," Here I come is the the story of a game of Hide and Seek. While "Houses in Motion" talked about Wheaton as a child, "Ready or Not" is about Wheaton as a Dad.

"Inferno" starts with Wheaton at an audition, living the actor's life:

The casting office, which was once a small onebedroom apartment, is across the street from the CBS studio. It sits at the top of an impossibly small stairwell which is always cramped with too many actors. They sit on the steps, the air heavy with the scent of Altoids, as they silently mouth their lines, and hope that this audition will be "The One."

Page 25

It soon drifts into the tale of a 15 year-old-boy awkwardly talking to a girl, trying to muster the courage to ask her out, and failing to do so. Not that I would know anything about that...

It's a simple story about vulnerability and missed opportunities.

"We Close our Eyes" is a nice contrast to the missed opportunities of youth. It's about a wonderful evening Wheaton has with his wife. It says that we don't have to feel bad for him over the events in the previous story, because romantically, things could not have worked out better.

Those four stories take up the first 35 pages of the book. The remaining 65 pages are what fans new to Wheaton's work are waiting for -- his thoughts on Star Trek.

"The Saga of Sponge Bob Vegas Pants" covers material readers may already be familiar with. Large sections of this story appeared in the other book. Dancing Barefoot is the full story, and a more limited version appears in Just a Geek.

Earlier in the story, the phone rings, waking him when he would rather be sleeping. He tries to ignore the phone.

I launch mind bullets at it, and visualize a spectacular explosion followed by silence. It continues to ring, so I try the more conventional route and pick it up.

Page 37

Wheaton describes his internal dialog when deciding what to do. He hears the internal voice of Stay-in-bed.

Stay-in-bed says, "Dude, mumble again and go back to sleep. It'll be okay." Stay-in-bed is calm, and reassuring. Sounds good to me.

Page 38

It's an interesting technique that Wheaton continues to use, on occasion, in his Tweets (@Wilw ) when he posts discussions he has with iTunes

In this lengthy story, Wheaton shares the roller coast ride of his Star Trek convention experience, his meetings with fans, and his experiences with other members of the cast. He also talks about his first meeting with William Shatner, and the shabby way Shatner treated him (shocking, I know).

If you want Star Trek stories, this last essay is where you will want to turn. Star Trek doesn't really come up in the first four stories. They are more about the universal experiences most people have had or will have. Wheaton's celebrity stature doesn't come into play in those tales.

But the last essay will tell you what you need to know about Wheaton and Star Trek today. About how he came to love it again. About his sketch comedy troupe that performed at a convention. And about his relationship with other inhabitants of various Enterprises.

So pick up Dancing Barefoot. Whether your a fan of Star Trek, or just a fan of the well written personal essay, there's something in here you will likely appreciate. And at just 110 pages, it's not a major time commitment.

And stop back here tomorrow for the next edition of Star Trek book week.

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