Some people write novels. Some write Hallmark cards. Walter G. Meyer does it all; he calls himself “a writer of books, screenplays, novels, plays and for newspapers and magazines.” His latest project is Gam3rs, which he has developed into a play and is in the works for a web series, as it turns out, being produced by the team behind Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World! Meyer, who has been in the real world Hollywood writing game for quite some time, is among the few writers turning out work for any audience range: men or women, straight or LGBT or old or new generations.
Your play, GAM3RS, challenges the gap between reality and video games. What was your inspiration for this story?
I wasn’t so much inspired to write about video games, as asked to. I was sitting at home one night and a friend-of-a-friend called and told me he had a play due the next day for grad school. He said, “I have this great idea, but I’ve never written anything before and after working on this for two weeks, I have 17 words on paper and I think 14 are bad. I know you’re a professional writer. Can you help me?” For whatever stupid reason, I went over to his place at 10 o’clock at night and we pulled an all-nighter to do the first draft of what would become GAM3RS. I didn’t actually play World of Warcraft until after I had been working on the play for about three years. As I have often said, he had all these beautiful Christmas ornaments, but no tree to hang them on. I created a tree–story arc, character development, plot points. I trusted that his jokes worked for the context and really didn’t have to understand the game to write the structure.
In recent years, a lot of movies are coming out about video games. One I can think of right away is “Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World.” That said, it’s soooo much easier putting this to work in a film format. How can a gaming-related play succeed?
GAM3RS is a one-man show, so much of the action and characters has to take place in the heads of the audience members. You can envision the most evil boss you’ve ever had when our one character talks to “Ms. Krakower.” Early in the play, we use a plot device where our character Steve explains to the (unseen) guy, “Bob” in the next cubicle the entire game, the massive raid Steve is launching (“it’s the largest raid ever in the history of video games–well, as far as I know!”) so the audience can follow the action and the battle through Bob’s eyes. The web series based on the stage play is being made by the same company that made Scott Pilgrim, so there will be some elements of Scott Pilgrim in the series–rage meters above characters’ heads, the cubicle farm becoming a PacMan board, and other pieces of games.
Of your work on television, what memories stick out to you? What was your favorite show to work on?
The first television show I worked on was “Tales from the Darkside” and it was exciting as a kid fresh off the turnip truck from Pennsylvania to work with Hollywood legends like Keenan Wynn and Tippi Hedren and hear their stories. But of course I have to say my favorite show to work on is GAM3RS. During casting it hit me that I had moved to Los Angeles 25 years earlier to sell scripts and make TV shows and movies and now here I was having real actors come in and read lines I wrote to try to impress me for a part in something I had created. It took a long time, but it was finally happening.
How is television a more difficult medium than writing a novel?
There are pluses and minuses to TV and writing novels. Writing a novel is lonely work. Until you are done, there is no input from anyone else. But that also means that you have absolute control. Those characters are exactly who I want them to be. With the web series, my co-writer Brian Bielawski has a great deal of input and then the producer, director and even the actors get to weigh in. Sometimes they have great suggestions and make scenes much funnier. And it is very gratifying to see an actor perform something you wrote. People can tell me how much they liked my novel “Rounding Third,” but I can’t really see their reaction. I can’t watch them enjoy my work.
Let’s talk about you as a person. In your coming out article for The Los Angeles Times, you talked about how in the 1990’s, a friend giving you an AOL free hours disk, warning you about men seeking men on the Internet. Do you think as time has passed, it is still easier to come out online first and actually helpful to go about it this way?
I think for many people it still is easier to come out anonymously. Internet sites are no longer as popular as they were when I came out, but the few times I have been on Grindr, I have seen profiles for men saying they are married and experimenting, or looking for their first experience with a guy. I think the world has changed a lot and societal acceptance has made it easier for lots of people to come out. When I came out, zero states allowed gay marriage, for instance. But the homophobia expressed by members of the San Francisco 49ers (in that, the gayest city in America) make it clear that there is still a lot of acceptance that needs to happen for everyone to feel comfortable coming out and if hiding behind a keyboard or smart phone makes it easier, people will still use those devices.
You said, “The only gay men I knew were nothing like me.” Do you think people should guess whether someone is gay based on what a man looks like? And gay people included, doing the guessing game? Do you feel people can ever really tell if someone is LGBT or is it all in people’s heads?
In saying that I didn’t know any gay men like me, I was expressing more my own limited version of the gay world, not that all gay men are so stereotypically “gay” that everyone could spot them. I later learned that there were lots of gay men around me, I was just too clueless to realize that gay men take all forms. Some of the “gayest” men I know are straight and I know many gay athletes and Marines. I do not think people should make assumptions. If someone is a good Marine or mechanic or hair dresser or florist, does it really matter who they date in their own time? I have terrible “gaydar” and that is probably just as well. It keeps me from stereotyping.
Another quote: “Feeling too gay for the straight world and too straight for the gay world, I felt like a man trapped on the ledge of a burning building, terrified of the flames but even more afraid to leap.” Have you now met a lot of men who *are* just like you?
I have met lots of men like me. Many of whom got married because the pressure not to was too great. I think as LGBT people are more accepted by society those pressures to spend time dating a gender you have no interest in will diminish and fewer people will waste time on pursuits that don’t interest them. I think of how much more I could have done if I hadn’t spent so much of my life fighting my own urges and fighting a rear-guard action against the world. Since I came out to myself I have been able to concentrate on moving forward with much greater success.
How did you end up coming out offline? You talk about it in the article, but what really made you do it? What feelings? Events?
Once I know there could be acceptance–maybe not even from my family and old friends–but from someone and that I didn’t have to go on feeling so alone, the choice seemed easy. After I kissed my first guy, I understood what I had been missing–why people wrote poetry and love songs and talk about violins and fireworks. I didn’t care if I ever saw another girl let alone kissed one. There was no turning back to the dark age I had escaped.
And right, uh, write, back again! What does being a writer mean to you?
I recently told the father of another writer friend that being a writer is sort of like being an alcoholic. No one would really chose to be a writer. You are born that way. And you suspect life might be easier if you did something else, but you can’t stop, so you go on doing it. I read once that people used to often tell Ernest Hemingway, “I want to be a writer.” And his response was something like, “Then you never will be. If you had told me ‘I have to be a writer’ or ‘I am a writer’ I would say you can be.” I never really chose to be a writer and it so much a part of me that when I have tried to do other tings, it has never worked out. I love watching people laugh as they view GAM3RS and this is from my web page about writing:
“I did a reading/signing the other day and the post reading/talk discussion was amazing. Not so much because of me–I just was the facilitator, but because so many had read the book and were able to make really great comments and give amazing insights. And all were careful not to give away too much to those who had not read the book. I felt like I was a professor conducting a PhD course in literature, the comments were that intelligent. Moments like that are why I want to be a writer. To have people so excited about my work and my writing and to really get the message and want to debate its finer points—wow. It felt great. To have people get teary-eyed as they talked with such passion about characters I had created…it was awesome.”
I’m all about self improvement at home, no matter what, no matter if it is working out or cooking! How can someone improve themselves as a writer without taking a writing course?
To be a great writer, you have to read a lot. A lot of good writers. But also some bad ones to see what they did wrong. And write. A lot. I have taught some writing classes and been a guest lecturer for some writing classes and I always preach that I come from the Nike school of writing: Just do it. If you wait until you’re in the perfect mood, or perfectly inspired or the tea is just the right temperature and there is nothing good on TV….if you’re looking for excuses, you’ll find them. If you want to write–if you need to write–write!
If people grasp anything from your work across all platforms, what should they remember you for?
For a class many years ago I was asked to write a mission statement for my life and I created one that said, “To use my writing to better the world.” Whether reading my novel helps someone come out or accept a gay family member or my book about Alzheimer’s helps people understand that horrible disease or my play not only makes them laugh, but inspires them to do what they need to with their lives–face up to life’s challenges and surmount them…I hope to be remembered for writing that helped change the world. In my first book I make reference to changing the world. No one individual can. Not even Gandhi or Martin Luther King changed the world. They changed a piece of it. A much bigger piece than most. But if we each do our part to change a piece of it, the world will be a much better place. I hope to be remembered for improving my little corner of the world.
You’ve seen pop culture expert, Brian Balthazar, appear on The Wendy Williams Show quite a bit over the last few years. He even co-hosted the show on three separate occasions. It wasn’t until his last visit where he and Jason Biggs chowed down on a KFC Cheetos Chicken Sandwich that it hit me: Being on the daytime talk show makes Brian Balthazar hungry!
The proof is in the pudding…pun definitely intended. Carla Hall made sure to bring some snacks for Brian when they cohosted together.
Sure, Wendy is known for telling us to “grab a snack and come on back”…
But you’d have to be absolutely famished to want to eat fish sliders at 10am.
He’s gotten so hungry he resorted to eating GRASSHOPPER TACOS on the show!
Could it be that Brian isn’t actually hungry though? Could he just be a brave soul willing to be the taste tester so we don’t have to? Could my theory be flawed?!
I suddenly feel like maybe we owe Brian a big thanks…
Either way, it’s fun to watch! Click below to take a look at a compilation of all the fun stuff Brian Balthazar has eaten on The Wendy Williams Show!
Get The Look! A Buyer’s Guide To Brian Balthazar’s Philadelphia Home Redesign
As the world was forced to spend more time at home, Brian Balthazar found himself in a position where he had sold a house before the lockdown and had to find a new one.
“We sold our home with all the furniture in it, so not only did we find ourselves struggling to find a new place, once we found one we didn’t have any furniture to put in it.”
And so, Brian and partner Dennis got resourceful, turning to refurbishing and buying store floor models. They were inspired to make bold, fun choices in color and style when they started shopping around for wallpaper.
Below is the segment as it appeared on the Today Show, and further down, a rundown of where you can find the pieces or ones with a similar look!
THE DINING ROOM
Let’s start with the Dining Room!
Move the slider dividing the image to see all of the before or all of the after!
Brian says: The dining room was the first space we wanted to do. I haven’t had a true dining room since I was a kid, and I’ve always wanted a big table for dinner parties! There were no tables within the price range we wanted, so we found a floor model at one of our favorite go-to stores, Arhaus. We easily saved 75 percent on this table by getting the one that they weren’t going to carry anymore. The chairs are from Wayfair. On each side of the fireplace (not seen in the photo, but visible in the Today Show video) are two black tall lanterns flanking the fireplace. I got them at Target. I can’t currently find them on their app, but similar versions pop up every year. Get thee to Homegoods! Homegoods and Homesense (same parent company) are my go-to spots for home accessories for virtually every room in the house. You never know what you’re going to find, which is part of the fun.
But let’s focus on the real WOW element to this room – the wallpaper! This pattern is called Bellewood, by RebelWalls. As you will soon see, I’m sort of obsessed with their patterns. To me, this room is magical with the added whimsy of this forest pattern. (They also have a more muted version with grays and even one with blues.) I also love that by hanging the paper from the chair rail up, you almost get the feeling that you’re standing on a balcony overlooking the forest. I surrounded the whole room with this paper, which I love, but you could easily add the same magical feeling by just doing one feature wall. Their website shows how it can translate to a bedroom or office. You might be intimidated by hanging wallpaper but don’t be! This pattern has so much going on that it really looks perfect when it goes up!
ON TO THE GUEST BEDROOM!
Brian says: The guest bedroom is on the top floor of the house, so it’s got roof lines on two sides that make it a tricky space to navigate if you’re not careful. The planning of this space alone resulted in a few bonked heads. On the upside, the wall where the bed goes is tall, so it was an obvious place to create some visual pop. Again, the wallpaper takes the spotlight. Called “Nude Roses,” also by RebelWalls, I love this design. Floral wallpaper was ‘big’ in popularity back in the 1920s when this house was built, but the patterns at that time were smaller, repeated more often, and were often really bold in color. This interpretation is so fun to me! Gone are the small roses in favor of oversized blooms, and the bold colors are more subdued pink and gray hues, with touches of dark green and creamy whites.
While roses can inherently feel feminine, the plaid bedding (30 dollars for a queen set from Target) are a surprising complement that keeps everything from feeling a little stereotypical. The side tables are mismatched – partly because we didn’t want to go too “matchy=matchy” – but also to save some money – the one on the left side (hard to catch here) was from West Elm. Normally $199, we got it for half off as the floor model. The one on the right we found in the trash. It was perfectly fine, clearly someone had just gotten tired of it! Nothing some disinfectant can’t fix. That gave us some extra money to spend – To reduce the softeness we went with industrial lamps and edison bulbs. The lamps are called “Ginyard,” from Wayfair. The headboard was on sale at Arhaus. The dark gray takes balances out the pink hues well. The pillows are from Target and Homegoods.
For the 360 degree view of this room, watch the Instagram reel below! You’ll see the dresser, on sale for $599 from Arhaus, a lamp from Homegoods, and mobiles from Amazon which we fashioned into a ‘piece of art’ that keeps you from hitting your head on the angled wall opposite the bed. Watch the video to check it out!
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THE GAME ROOM
Brian says: The idea for the basement game room was to create a space that feels like a lounge you might find if you went out with friends. When you go into this basement it definitely feels like you’ve gone someplace unique! Believe it or not, I found out the Today Show had invited me to to record my house tour just a few days in advance, and so we turned around this spot in just THREE days! There was literally no pool table at the time, (although it had already been scheduled to come on Friday, the wallpaper came on Saturday, (as well as the floor tiles!) and by Sunday we were covered in paint and glue and drinking wine to celebrate it’s completion! I recorded the final video that Monday.
Some people might not think to take a bright basement and make it dark, but that was our first instinct. Clubs are dark and moody, and we wanted this to feel like that. We painted the walls Wrought Iron by Benjamin Moore, which is a very dark gray that seems to take on different hues based on where you paint it and the light that shines on it. We painted the ceiling black. This was Thursday night! Then Friday the pool table came. The floor tiles (“Tweed Indeed” in black by Flor) hadn’t arrived until the next day, so when they did arrive I meticulously trimmed four tiles to fit around the pool table legs so it looks like they were there the whole time. I had ordered the pool table online weeks before from PoolTables.com and by sheer coincidence it was scheduled to arrive in time for me to shoot the redesign. This was the second time I have ordered a pool table from them (which was initially scary because you’re not even seeing it beforehand!) but it always arrives in perfect condition to your specific selections. I love that the felt jet black and keeps things dark and moody. In the time that has passed since this photo was taken, I’ve added more of the carpet tiles to make the carpeted floor area darker and bigger.
But once again, the wall mural steals the show in a marvelous way! This mural is called “A Priori” from Rebelwalls, and is inspired by The Allegory of Divine Providence and Barberini Power, a famous fresco by Italian artist Pietro da Cortona. Fitting, because this house is Italian in style on the outside. You can’t see it from this photo but the wallpaper runs up part of the ceiling as well. It truly gives the room a wow factor when you enter it. The lamps are from Homegoods, (we’ve since added some industrial floor lamps for extra mood lighting) and the piano was something we brought with us. The bar tables are from Amazon ($72 each) and the stools we brought with us – they were discards from someone who didn’t like their original bright colors and thought they were dated! We covered them ourselves with gray plaid fabric and they’re better than they were new!
So there you have it! Hope you enjoyed the rooms and find something you like!
The Pentagon Has Released Official UFO Videos Because 2020 Is The Absolute Worst
Aren’t swarms of locusts supposed to be the next installment of this plague?!
Can we finally declare 2020 as the worst year ever? In January there were fears of a third World War. In February the coronavirus began its rapid spread. In March the world essentially shut down due to social distancing and quarantining. And now in April…with only two days left in the month…we have official government footage of unidentified flying objects. I’m sorry but Milton Bradley’s game of “Life” never prepared me for any of this!
The Pentagon has confirmed the authenticity of three videos that have been circulating the web but didn’t really answer what is visible in them. In the videos, now declassified by the Department of Defense, navy pilots capture “unidentified aerial phenomena” aka unidentified flying objects aka UFOs! Pentagon officials were sure to state that the videos do not show “any sensitive capabilities or systems,” meaning we probably won’t be seeing any little green men any time soon.
“Look at that thing!”
— ABC News (@ABC) April 27, 2020
The first video dates back to November 2004 and the other two from January 2015. Of the Pentagon’s confirmation of authenticity, Pentagon spokesperson Sue Gough said the videos were released “in order to clear up any misconceptions by the public on whether or not the footage that has been circulating was real, or whether or not there is more to the videos.”
So great. We now know that these strange videos are real but what exactly are we looking at? Well, the Department of Defense says it has no concrete answer as to what might be floating around the skies and has classified the phenomena as “unidentified.” And…just like that I suddenly feel less defended.
Social media is having a field day with this revelation of course. The #AliensAreReal has been trending high on Twitter since the news broke. One user referenced Independence Day and said the aliens are “getting ready for July 4th.” Of the bad timing, another wrote “Et tu aliens?” And finally one user couldn’t help avoid sarcasm and wrote”Where’s the space force when you need it?”
Well 2020, you have worked your awful black magic once again. What’s next, cat videos get banned from the internet?! You’ve taken everything else from us!
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