As I write this, last night I was at W00tstock, an incredible evening of geekery that was one of the most fun and wonderful things with which I have ever participated.
Run by Adam Savage™, Wil Wheaton, and singer/songwriters Paul and Storm, it features lots of geeks singing and talking about the stuff they love. A friend of mine called it a talent show for nerds. That’s about right.
I was invited by the gents above to give a ten minute presentation while I’m at Comic Con, and I didn’t hesitate to accept! I mean, c’mon. Adam? Wil? Chris Hardwick? Veronica Belmont, the Rifftrax guys, Marian Call? How could I turn that down?
When they asked me I didn’t hesitate to say yes, but then one minute later realized this meant I had to come up with a talk, and not just any talk: it had to be funny, geeky, and only 10 minutes long. Yikes! I knew it had to be astronomy-related, and after a few more minutes of pondering and back-and-forthing with Mrs. BA, the topic seemed obvious: astronomical pareidolia, objects in the sky that look like other things. The obvious choices are things like the Eskimo Nebula, and all the heart-shaped craters and nebulae I post every Valentine’s Day.
But it had to be funny. And not just funny, but nerd funny. That became obvious too, once I realized what I could do. Without going into too much detail, let me just say that I borrowed a couple of pictures from my friend Amanda Bauer’s Astropixie website. I’d seen most of her imagery before, so I felt safe enough using them, and gave her full credit, of course. I ran with the premise, and perhaps went a little “bluer” than most people would expect from an upstanding citizen like me. But it was a lot of fun to do. I haven’t seen any video of my talk on YouTube yet, but if anyone finds any, please let me know!
I also showed the new trailer to my TV show, “Phil Plait’s Bad Universe”, which got a very healthy and warm reception. In fact, I was overwhelmed with the response; a whole lot of folks came up to me and told me how happy they were and how they couldn’t wait to see the show! That makes me very happy and adds thermal energy to the cockles of my cardiac muscle. I realized later that I was nervous after my presentation; a common event for performers. But I was surprised to realize that I was more nervous about showing the trailer than I was about the talk itself! Interesting. I’m sure a psych student could write a thesis about me. If you do, be prepared for the inevitable B- you’ll get.
Anyway, the acts were incredible. I haven’t laughed so hard for so long in ages. But for me, the real magic was behind the stage. Paul said it was like a parallel world running along at the same time; I got to hang with so many cool kids!
That picture is fairly typical of the behind the w00tstock scene: Adam Savage telling (a probably dirty) story to Nerdist podcaster Chris Hardwick, fellow Mythbuster Grant Imahara, and magician Jamy Ian Swiss.
You can see more of my pictures from the event and Comic Con at large on my Flickr page.
Aaron Douglas (Chief from BSG) was there, Jamie Hyneman made a cameo, and so many others. I can’t tell you in words how awesome and amazing the evening was. Smart people! A thousand of them! Laughing, sharing their joy, being unabashed geeks reveling in their nerdery! It was warm, it was welcoming, and wonderful.
In other words, it was w00tstock.
Thank you thank you thank you to Wil, Adam, Paul, Storm, and everyone else who was there and made this dorky astronomer
feel like know that he belongs. And if you ever, ever have a chance to attend one, do not hesitate. If you’re a geek – and you are, it’s time to admit it – then this will be one of the best evenings you’ll have.