Standing in line at the Boulder Theater, I was overwhelmed within less than 30 seconds by the nerdom of the evening, and I hadn't even walked in the door yet. Around me was talk of Lord of the Rings, a woman playing Nintendo DS, a conversation about particle physics. It was w00tstock in Boulder, or rather most of w00tstock ,as the event was missing key component in the Artist Formerly Known as Wesley Crusher (fromStar Trek: The Next Generation
), Wil Wheaton. We got most of the party though, with Paul and Storm providing the music, Adam Savage ofMythbusters
and Boulder's own Phil Plait.
For the uninitiated, w00tstock is, by its own description, "three hours of geeks & music," which it delivered with an accuracy only true geeks could appreciate. The evening kicked off with Paul and Storm providing their blend of music and comedy with songs sporting titles like, "Frogger! The Frogger Musical!," "Opening Band" and "Nun Fight." Paul and Storm is a comedy-band in the way They Might Be Giants is a comedy band -- in that they can play music just fine, but the highlight, or lowlight if you're not a geek, is in the lyrics. The band was genuinely funny at moments, but the most laugh-inducing parts came during the tribute section.
You don't really even need to have been there to appreciate the titles of these 30-second long tribute songs: "If Bob Dylan Were Hiding in a Well," "If James Taylor Were on Fire" and my personal favorite, "If Aaron Neville Were Waiting for a Parking Spot at the Mall, But Someone Else Snagged It."
After Paul and Storm was a brief intermission -- the time in which a normal crowd would make for the bar, the bathroom or smoking area -- but being a geek-fest, most of the crowd made its way to the merch booth or sat around awkwardly in their seats. I grabbed another drink -- make that two. Ahead of me was a gaggle of of geeks that seemed to fit a variety of stereotypes, including a man that so closely resembled The Simpsons comic book guy that I had to double check to make sure he wasn't in costume. He had his arm around a woman I was pretty certain was "really into horses." Next to them was a kid that looked about 20 rocking giant mutton-chops and a t-shirt with an all-around print of the solar system. I could go on, but let's just say geeks of all shapes and sizes were well represented, and people wearing glasses certainly outnumbered those without.
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Phil Plait came on stage to give a Powerpoint presentation about the universe's, ahem, more natural aspects -- namely, penises in the sky. For 15 minutes, the author of Death from the Skies: These are all the Ways the World will End showed a variety of slides of various Hubble shots of the universe, then quickly highlighted the variety of genitalia-shaped objects in each picture. It was funny, but at this point I was growing increasingly aware that the family sitting next to me had a nine-year-old kid with them. I could hear him whispering questions to his dad: "What's a cl-cli-clitoris?" or "what does he mean by that?" It was all about to fall apart for this poor family.
"Jamie Hyneman's dick isn't going to suck itself," commented Adam Savage, at some point during his set. I could see the dad sitting next to me shaking his head. The bubble the Discovery Channel had put around the cast of Mythbusters had broken, and spilling out of it were Savage's uncensored thoughts on the show, life and everything in between. Suprisingly, Savage was on-point and hilarious throughout his presentation, which featured uncut footage from Mythbusters as well as jokes that showed he might actually have a flare for stand-up.
The show ended with a 20-something minute long song with the whole cast about pirates, complete with audience participation and joke digressions that would send the four presenters into a spiral of inside jokes. Without the meanderings, the song is probably about a minute long, but this was a form of w00tstock, which meant it was going to last as long as it could.
Walking out of the venue, I was the first out, with the majority of the rest of the crowd sticking around for photos and a signing. This was a crowd that relished in its signings -- perhaps because baseball cards never appealed to them, or maybe just because they were all super-collectors of one type or another. Regardless of the lack of Wil Wheaton, the show was a success, and certainly delivered on geeks and music.