Comic Con 3: W00tstock!

By Phil Plait | July 26, 2010 7:00 am

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.

Here’s online goddess Veronica Belmont and my friend, the siren Marian Call:

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.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Cool stuff, Geekery
MORE ABOUT: w00tstock

Comments (18)

  1. Wait…”woostock”? Not “wootstock”? Typo in both your post and on the marquee.

    Oh, and you did a TV show?

  2. Speaking of Chris Hardwick, when are we going to get you on The Nerdist? Actually, that high a concentration of “nerd” and “awesome” could be dangerous.

  3. I find in interesting that they wedged it in between Lil’ Kim and Snoop Dogg/Ice Cube.

  4. Phil,
    Can you share what Jaime Hyneman’s one-liner was?

    Thanks for the great SDCC posts! Living vicariously through you.

    - Ben

  5. BradC

    Found it! As posted by GeekyPleasures:

    Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5SR-W6NS9DQ

    Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7uuVNABTrKs

    Even includes the (still unavailable) trailer for your new show!

    Awesome!

  6. Here’s online goddess Veronica Belmont

    So, that’s why there’s no TZD today? She’s out gallivanting at Comic Con.

  7. Neil V

    My children and I are all excitedly awaiting the airing of “Bad Universe.” It’s great to have another scientist making shows that can enthuse people, especially children, about science. Here’s hoping that Discover give you a full series!

  8. Phil -

    As it happens I went with the explicit task of getting a video of you for Julia Sherred’s Geeky Pleasures – here is your talk in 2 parts:

    http://youtu.be/5SR-W6NS9DQ
    http://youtu.be/7uuVNABTrKs

    You were a great addition to the w00tstock community, by the way. Excellent job and congrats on the new show! Can’t wait to see it!

  9. Richard

    Phil,
    You (and everyone else) were tremendous at w00tstock, and I’m really excited for Bad Universe. My friends and I all had a great time. Thanks for coming out!

  10. Stephen M

    “In other words, it was w00stock. ”

    I think Woostock is a different event, more skeptical in nature than nerd oriented. :-)

  11. I see my minion beat me to posting the links to your video :)

    Hopefully the remainder w00tstock footage will be up in the next 24 hours.

    Phil, you were hiliarious!

  12. It was a pleasure meeting you and I’m very excited to watch Bad Universe with my boys. They’ve already got Adam’s bad influence, but there’s room for more ;D I hope you make it to the next Seattle w00tstock where I can bring my 11 year old, Anakin to see you be geeky with the other w00tstalkers!!!

    Sincerely,
    the girl who gave you a button with the representation of the representation of herself sized 100px by 100px and in 72 dpi,

    @nerdrage42

  13. merbrat

    Yeah, I think Wil or someone posted a pic of the marquee saying:
    “One of these things is not like the others”

  14. I’ve had the pleasure of chatting up Jamy Ian Swiss at the Monday Night Magic shows here in lower Manhattan. A very nice guy and a veritable walking encyclopedia of the conjuring arts.

  15. Jack Mitcham

    Hey, Phil… I think you dropped something. Are those names by your feet?

  16. Hey Phil! Great seeing you, as always! Can’t wait to check out the new show :)

  17. David

    Phil, I think you should come to TAM Australia! Come on….. you know you want to!!

  18. Jeff

    This is where I have a fundamental disagreement. On the spectrum of geek-dom, there are those who have talent. But to me, geeks should “remain in the closet” at their companies and universities. I myself, yes, was a big comic fan as a kid, and read all those comic books. I wouldn’t have traded those old days (I mean pre 1965 or so ) with any of the stuff my students have now in video games, etc. And I can outcalculate them with my calculator and their modern widgets and out-think them too. But to me, geeks should never make a public display of their “entertainment values”.

    However, other members of geeks’ families can be great performers. My father, for example, is a well -known musician in the midwest, but has none of my geek genes (at least not dominant or recessive genes).

    Maybe only those on the “borderline” of geek-dom should come out of closet, maybe that could be a 1 on a 1-10 entertainment value.

    Just my opinion, but even though I think Lindsay Lohan and her ilk are scum-bags, I still would rather watch her for 8 hours , boring as that might be, than one geek for 1 second.

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