I don’t have TIME to read!
I don’t know who’s bright idea it was to have NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) coincide, but they are not on my list of favorite people right now. My Reader was already backed up and now? Forget it!
*Note: I apologize for the low quality of the photos in this post. We were pretty far back from the stage and flash wasn’t allowed (of course). Motion capture drive 4TW!
So, if you haven’t gathered by now, we went up to Austin last week to attend w00tstock and, let me just say again, it was fantastic! The self-description of “Geek Vaudeville” is totally apt. Seriously, if you have a geeky bone in your body and there is a w00tstock happening close to you, ever, you are under direct orders to go. From me. For all that’s worth.
Let me just sum it up for you: imagine an event so awesome that with each passing moment of awesome/hilarity, you keep thinking “I need to remember this.” or “This is the best moment ever!” A week later and I’m still randomly chuckling about things that I remember. So much awesome!
We started off the evening with Adam Savage coming out onto the stage to apologize for replacement Wil Wheaton, Neil Gaiman being delayed. There had been some trouble with his flight so at show time, he was on his way from the airport. Paul and Storm took the stage, noting the ASL translators with the quip “We’re so not gonna break that toy by the end of the night” and launched into their go-to set starter “Opening Band”, always a crowd pleaser, especially the final note that seems to go on for ever. As Aaron put it, “Damn trained singers. ::grumble::”
During one of their songs, Paul moved over to where the translators were seated, sat on the male translator’s lap and serenaded the female, who was translating at the time. They really were great sports all night and I COULD NOT STOP WATCHING THEM!
Somewhere in the middle of their set, they announced that in lieu of Wil, they had a facsimile prepared and a poster on wheels of “recursive Wil Wheaton” was wheeled out by none other than Neil Gaiman! It took some of us a moment to realize it was him, as the poster was funny and awesome and no one really notices the stage hands, but once he was spotted, applause and cheers abounded! Squee! (For the remainder of the post, I will probably refer to him as Neil himself in homage to his twitter handle and because I think it sounds awesome.) He said hello and then left the stage after a dramatic head shot was featured on the overhead.
Up next, after a video break from Wil Wheaton (from here on out, I won’t mention all of the video breaks, which were plentiful and hilarious), was Bill Amend who writes the comic strip Fox Trot.
I’ve always appreciated his nods to geekdom, ranging anywhere from characters playing Dungeons and Dragons to quips about computers. He was understated and didn’t seem to know what was expected of him, but he came prepared with a slide show of what he called his 2% comic strips. e.g. the strips that only two percent of readers would really get. They brought down the house! Funny, funny stuff! My favorite was a nod to the horror that is the impending “Star Wars 3D”. Everyone booed at the right time and it was great!
Next Neil himself took the stage and we were treated to not one, but two short stories:
Let me just say that if you’ve never heard Neil Gaiman read, go buy one of his audiobooks, find a reading of one of his short stories or something. I could listen to him talk for hours… But that’s beside the point… Moving on…
The first story was a “scientific” experiment to examine the effects of alcohol on creative writing. It was witty and, as the drinks flowed in the story, progressively more incoherent and crass. Perfectly appropriate for this crowd! About half way through the bottle, he started talking about a program he had seen on TV about elephants and mused that a single ::ahem:: dose, shall we say, of “elephant spunk” could feed an ant colony for a year and proceeded to provide a dialogue between an ant child and mother which ended with the mother telling the child to “finish your elephant cum” Needless to say, all eyes turned to the translators at the choicer moments and “elephant spunk” became the joke of the night.
The second story was a noir murder mystery set in a fairytale world focusing on the death of Humpty Dumpty. Great story including many a nursery rhyme character, though the first story was a bit more memorable for obvious reasons.
After intermission, it was Stephen Toulous (or Stepto), who is XBOX Live’s Director of Policy and Enforcement. With Paul and Storm chanting the Halo theme randomly, he read from a big bible-looking book about a player (p00nhun+er) that fooled the system and ruined lots of people’s fun. And lo, the banhammer did fall upon him and there was silence in the land. And it was good!
Then, I think it was Mary Jo Pehl (who was on Mystery Science Theater, apparently) who came onto stage in an emotional tizzy and apologized. She said that she had just read “the latest” issue of a comic book in which Super Girl (I think?) was killed in some elaborate, out of this world, way. She stopped for a moment, hand to face, then concluded with “which is exactly how my grandmother died.” and walked off the stage.
More video, including a Red vs. Blue PSA especially made for w00tstock, after which the creators came out, drinks in hand, said they didn’t have anything to say and walked back off stage.
Then it was Molly Lewis, with her ukulele:
She started with “An open letter to Stephen Fry” in which she offers her womb as a surrogate since his genes should clearly continue to grace the earth after he’s gone. Sweet! Then a song about Wikipedia. She closed with “Our American Cousin”, a song about Abraham Lincoln that is simultaneously awesome, thought provoking and heart tugging. I’ve already listened to it several times since we got home and I love, love, love it!
Last, but not least, was Adam Savage (for real this time):
He started with a funny story about Jamie Hynemen and then went on to share about the porn talk he had to have with one of his eleven year old sons (he has twins) during which we got to learn the sign for c**k-sucker (which is pretty much what you would expect it to be). It was kind of cool that he would share such an important and private thing with us and I think the way that he handled it was admirable. He didn’t shame his son but he did stress the fact that the internet can be scary and dangerous if you’re not careful and that there are a lot of people out in the vastness of the internet that hate women. He told him, “Savage men respect women. We are not those men.” Seriously, mad props, Mr. Savage! We could use more dads like you!
Finally, like all w00tstocks, the four hosts, Neil (as Wil Wheaton), Paul, Storm, and Adam took the stage:
And so began “The Captain’s Wife’s Lament”, a song about pirates with full audience participation (ARRRRR!) that Paul and Storm always do at the end of their shows. The song can be stretched to fill any amount of time, as there is a lot of banter and randomness that usually goes something like this (complete with pirate-y accent):
Storm: “Give us an ARR!”
Storm: “What’s that spell?”
Storm: “Pirate S.A.T. You all pass!”
And so on for a very long time. But no one really minds. It’s great fun! There was a gag in which they made Neil himself put on a monkey hat (which you can see in The Bloggess’ post about w00tstock and interviewing Neil) and giving us a small polite “arr”. And elephant spunk was said a multitudinous amount of times, much to everyone’s delight. The song ended, after a very long time, the way it always does, with a rousing verse about sea men (har, har) that’s loads (snerk!) of fun.
Once the show ended, we queued up to get autographs. An hour later, we reached the end, getting autographs from (in order) Bill Amend, Stepto and Molly Lewis. Aaron chatted with them while I stood mute as mud, struck by social awkwardness. Then we went around the bend:
My heart got all fluttery, lump in my throat, as Paul, Storm and Adam defaced each other’s little likenesses on the poster, while they signed. I kicked myself, yet again, for forgetting to bring a book to get signed, and then we were there. After Neil signed our poster, I swallowed my anxiety and told him it was an honor to meet him… And HE HELD OUT HIS HAND! My breath caught and I reached to shake his hand. I said some more stuff that, for the life of me, I can’t remember. I don’t know why (WHY FOR THE LOVE OF GOD?!?! No one cares!) or how I mentioned being a teacher and he said that he found teachers inspiring. I’m sure I grinned and muttered something else no one cares about and that was it.
Aaron shouted a final “Farewell Nerds! And thank you!” to which our hosts replied with a hearty “Thank YOU!” and we were outside. As we walked back to the car, what had just happened sunk in. We entered the building were we had parked and as we approached the garage elevator, I started getting all squealy just as a trio of girls entered from the other door equally squealy. In the elevator we had a little Neil Gaiman fangirl party of squeals and OMGs before going our separate ways and heading back to the hotel.
I think, aside from meeting Neil himself, the best thing about w00tstock and other such things, is the feeling that you are surrounded by people that “get” you. As someone that often feels like the odd one out, the feeling of belonging is priceless. It was truly fantastic.