Summer Plans…

What are your plans for the summer?

I will be hitting up a few cons and working my butt off to help create a fantastic New York Comic Con in October.

SDCC-w00tstock

I will be at San Diego Comic Con in July. The main reason I am there? w00tstock. Oh, how I miss w00tstock. This is guaranteed to be an epic show. Not that I get to choose who will be in the show, but there have been some amazingly talented folks talking to ME to put in a good for them. I can only imagine what the P&S+A+W are dealing with. Actually, I can imagine, cause I know…. mmwwahahaha

After w00tstock on Thursday I will hit up the rest of the con and absorb that comic con world that I love. Well, less on the absorbing, more on the experiencing and partaking.

 

Gen Con-

Early August I’m off to Gen Con! I’m very excited to see the show, meet with friends and play some games. If you are going to be there, let me know! I’d love to meet up. I have a feeling there will be a few tweet ups that week.

 

PAX Prime-

In a perfect world I would be at PAX in August. I still hope to go, but it is dangerously close to the insanely busy season for New York Comic Con. There’s a lot to do to put on an amazing show. If I do make it to PAX you will know and we will hang out.

 

Somewhere in there I hope to see family and hit the Oregon coast.

 

JoCo Cruise Crazy-

In case you hadn’t heard, there’s a cruise….a Jonathan Coulton (Cult-0n) Cruise. I will be reprising my role as “Goddess of the Seas.” After last year’s success we are going to make this bigger and better and awesome..er.  Last year was a first time out, experiment type thing. This year we are going in with a better understanding of what we are doing and a track record to show what works. Many cool things planned.  WE ARE SO EXCITED!

Coincidence or Destiny?

Norwescon is this weekend. It takes me back to what happened a year ago. I was at a Starbucks that weekend, grabbing a coffee after buying a pair jeans. I ran into my friend Rennie Aruacto. He was on his way to Norwescon and invited me to go along. I debated and eventually decided to go. I’m glad I did.

At the convention I ran into Mike Selinker of Loneshark Games. We ended up going out to lunch with a big group. When we talked about work and different projects, he got a text from none other than Wil Wheaton (who I had only met briefly at PAX East). Mike explained that Wil had asked him if he would create a puzzle for this show called w00tstock. I was familiar with the show, I had tickets to see it in Seattle in May. Being the eager volunteer, I offered my help to Mike for this puzzle project. He said he might have something I could do.

As the weeks passed I spoke with Mike briefly about how I could be involved. The weekend before the show, the puzzle performance changed and they no longer needed my help. My desire to participate prevailed. I asked if I could come early anyway. Maybe I could hang out, or find some place to help out. Mike asked Paul (of Paul and Storm). Paul said they would love to have me. So I went.

When I walked in I was greeted by a busy and slightly crazed Paul trying to run everything, coordinating sound check, his own rehearsal with Storm and Wil, an Adam Savage who was MIA and all the content on his laptop. I was surprised at the friendly greeting I got from Vic-20 and Sturgenis of MC Frontalot’s band. They were excited to see me having met me at PAX East.

I remember standing awkwardly on the side of the stage with nothing to do. Sturgenis walked up to me. “I feel awkward with nothing to do. I want to help but it’s not really my show,” I said. Sturgenis looked at me and said, “They obviously need your help. You’ll be running the whole show by the end of this.” I laughed.

But then, I did. Paul was on his phone and seemed concerned. Adam Savage had been dropped at the wrong theater. I recalled that google maps listed the wrong location for the Moore Theater, and unfortunately it showed the location as in Pike Place Market. I asked Paul, “Is Adam in Pike’s Place Market?” Paul asked Adam. Yes, he was. This was a problem. Adam Savage, recognizable celebrity, was right smack in the middle of touristville. He must be surrounded by people trying to get a picture. As it happened, yes he was. With the market about six blocks away, I offered to go get him and walk him to the theater. And that’s when I met Adam Savage for the first time.

As an aside, every time I have meet a celebrity or famous individual I am usually able to keep my cool and not fan girl out. This is because I usually meet these folks while I am working. I have a job to do, there is a set dynamic. I know what to say and I don’t have to come up with silly chit chat or talk about the weather. When I meet folks outside of that dynamic… Well let’s just say it usually leads to funny story.

Having worked at the Moore before, I knew the backstage entrance. Avoiding the crowds out front, we used the back alley to the stage door.

Once inside there was another fire to put out. And then another. It is what I do, what I’m good at and what I love doing. I ran the show. When I was younger, being bossy wasn’t always received with such appreciation. :)

Later, before the show I was up front dealing with a ticket issue and ran into Sturgenis and Mike Selinker. While I had been running around putting out fires I had missed the big speech Paul gave to the performers.

“Hey Liz,” Mike said. “Paul just described you as being ‘in charge’ and what you say goes.”

“Told ya.” Sturgenis said with a smile.

And the rest is history.

 

It’s silly to think, but if I hadn’t run into Rennie at that Starbucks, I may not have ended up with w00tstock. Life has these little moments and seemingly small decisions that can direct the course of our lives. I had worked hard the years before to gain the skills and reputation to allow me to step in at w00tstock with such success. The opportunities may arrive due to luck and chance, but you have to be prepared when those opportunities present themselves. And for w00tstock, I was ready.

w00tstock Tour 2010 – episode 1

What is w00tstock?

For those of you who don’t know what this w00tstock is, check out w00tstock.net.  Basically it is a sort or nerd vaudeville or geek variety show.  The show was created by actor and author Wil Wheaton, Mythbuster Adam Savage, and musical comedy duo Paul and Storm.  Their first three shows last year (version 1.x) were so well received that they expanded the show this year with 12 performances across the country (version 2.x).

 

w00tstock Tour 2010 – episode 1: (Los Angeles v2.6)

The one where Weird Al jumped on stage with an accordion

 

"Shaving Cream"
Everyone singing Shaving Cream

 

This tour was a fantastic experience.  It is difficult to fully explain how amazing this was without writing a novel.  I will attempt to do it justice on my blog.

This was the first tour of this size that I’ve worked on.  Five shows in nine days can be an easy thing, that is, if you aren’t flying across the country.  To report on the trip, I will post about each city individually.

 

It is important to be said that Wil was extremely missed on this tour.  If the show had not been fully booked when Wil had to pull out, we probably would have considered cancelling.  And here’s why:  Wil Wheaton is truly the spirit of w00tstock.  The shows, the sense of community, the casual format, all of these things are really from the heart of Wil.  Despite our great “stand-in Wils” the show was truly lacking something.  Now don’t worry all of you who saw the show- I know you had a great time and enjoyed yourselves.  But just wait until the Wheaton factor is back.

Now that I have cleared that up, let me tell you about the show.

Los Angeles (Largo at the Coronet Theater)

Thinking back to the start of the tour seems like years ago- or a month or so at least.  The trip was so packed with events and experiences that my sense of time completely changed.  Storm refers to it as its own separate time, out of the regular timeline.  Road Time.  I understand now, a week seemed like a month.

This show was in honor of Dr. Demento’s 40th anniversary.  He introduced all of our musical acts in his signature suit and top hat.  It was an honor to meet the man who has been such in an influence in musical comedy genre.  That’s what we do here at w00tstock.  Dr. D’s show launched Al Yankovic’s career and brought silly and hilarious songs to many.

Dammit Liz and "Weird" Al Yankovic

I MET WEIRD AL!  There I said it.  Meeting Al Yankovic was a geeky childhood dream come true.  He’s such a nice guy, professional and easy going.  He arrived in time for the show and sat on the side of the stage, on the floor, watching the entire show.  Not every celebrity cameo will do this.  It was also great to see how elated the other performers were when he complimented their bit or act.

The plan for Al was simple.  At the end of Dr. Demento’s set, everyone came out to sing “Shaving Cream.”  Dr. D needed some sort of accompaniment, and after asking everyone on stage if they could play, it seemed t

hat there was no hope.  Then the one and only Weird Al Yankovic jumped out on stage in heroic fashion with his trusty accordion to save the day!  He was greeted with a cry of surprise and joy from the crowd.  We can say: “And the crowd went wild.

Al had taken a picture of the gang backstage and held it, tweeting it 30 seconds before he went out on st

age.  I laughed as the twitter feed responded with “what the?” then “OMG

Weird Al is on stage!”  It was a delightful performance as Dr. Demento led everyone in a rendition of “Shaving Cream.”  As with w00tstock tradition, it was one of a few “finales” for the show that night.

In addition to Al and Dr. Demento, I met Garfunkel and Oates, Jed Whedon, Mo Tancheroen, and Eric Swartz.

A confession:  I had been lobbying for Garfunkel and Oates for a long time.  So I was ecstatic when I heard they were in the show.

As a fan of their work, it was great to finally meet Mo and Jed- another couple of sweet, down to earth people.  It was surprising to see how nervous Mo was.  She was even surprised.  Not to worry, their performance went off without a hitch.  I almost had to kick out some folks who snuck backstage, until Mo vouched for them.  This Fran Kranz guy… I dunno. 

On a side note:  Fran is supposed to be a part of another project I’ve worked on, JourneyQuest.  www.journey-quest.com


I always enjoy w00tstock because I get to work with my friends.  The first hour or so of the w00tstock reunion involves lots of hugs, catching up, and relaying new and old stories.  It’s like the first day of school, without the school part.

I was fully entertained watching Hard n’ Phirm for the first time. It was one of those great performances. They had the chemistry of performing together many, many, times, but the enthusiasm and energy that comes with playing together after an extended break. So much fun.

Backstage at Largo has limited space.  Adam says it’s his favorite space because it is such close quarters.  I can see why, it creates this close knit group, producing unique and interesting conversations amongst performers and crew.

Phirman as Wolverine v. Beer

My one “fire” turned out to be something to laugh at later. Despite the fact it was a bit intense, it was crazy funny (after the fact) when Phirman missed his cue and I had to run through backstage, outside, upstairs into the practice room, swing open the door and cry “YOU’RE ON!”  That was the only mishap during a show on this tour.

After LA, we took off for New York.  I always wish we could bring everyone with us.  Hopefully one day we will make this w00tstock a three day festival of sorts and we can all hang out in one place.

Stay tuned for episode 2…New York

The w00tstock tour begins….

Paul, Liz, Adam, and Storm

I am writing this on my flight down to Los Angeles to start the five city tour of w00tstock.  This trip will be my first tour to cross the nation (from LA to New York) and I am excited to see what will happen.  This job is one of my favorites.  Every day I “work” on this show I feel so very lucky to be a part of a spectacular show.  The talent and people brought together for each w00tstock continue to amaze me.

With that in mind, I created a list of what I am looking forward to:

  • Super awesome surprises in Los Angeles
  • Going to New York for the first time and performing at the Best Buy theater in Times Square
  • Mini-reunion with Enforcers on the East Coast
  • Working with Neil Gaiman (again!)
  • Meeting new and talented performers

There will certainly be many exciting adventures this week.  I hope to report them all.  For instant updates, follow me on twitter.

Until later…

Daleks, explosions, beerbots and other w00tstock fun

Postshow show down

At long last my update from w00tstock San Francisco.  I am preparing for the w00tstock tour coming up next week and with w00tstock on my mind it is time to write.  The tour takes us to LA, New York, Boston, Austin and Dallas.  The excitement for this trip continues to build as new and exciting surprises develop.  I plan to update from the road, but we shall see.  As a side note, it is unfortunate that “Boston” and “Austin” sound so much alike.  I have had multiple instances of confusing the two.

San Francisco

San Francisco is a great city for a w00tstock.  In fact, it is so great we had two sold out shows!  I have many favorite memories from these shows.

Dalek cameo

I surprised Wil with a cardboard stand up Dalek.  He hung out backstage with us for the first show and finally made it on the stage for the second.  He was kind enough to fill the Finn spot, since our drummer Jason Finn (of Presidents of the United States of America fame) was not able to make the second show.  Before introducing Wil to the Dalek, he was equipped with a sonic screwdriver.  He was prepared as the Dalek ambushed him in the greenroom.  Due to Wil’s quick reflexes the Dalek was quickly defeated and the greenroom hummus was safe once again.

Surprises such as the Dalek are part of our w00tstock tradition.  In San Diego we surprised Paul and Storm with themed panties.  What shall happen next week?

Explosions

Mythbusters Bombing Range
Ready for explosion at the Mythbusters' bombing range

Friday morning a few of us drove out to the bombing range on the Mythbusters set.  I have to say this was very cool.  I continue to make fun of Wil for the fact he preferred to sleep in rather than see an explosion, but you know, that’s an everyday thing for him.  Part of the fun of this trip was riding out of the city in a car with Paul, Storm and Phirman.  These guys are hilarious and the car ride was quite entertaining.  We joked back and forth and shared cool internet videos we had found.  Thank god for iPhones.

Molly Lewis and her boyfriend Chris met us at the bombing range. (I just love typing “bombing range”).  The explosion was on the smaller scale, but the excitement was being on the “set”.  Recognizing the range from the show and laughing with friends.

Beerbot

Beerbot

Grant Imahara made a special robot for the show, the now famous beerbot. Thursday night was his premier and he walked on stage to much applause.  Of course, it was Grant in costume.  It was quite an ordeal trying to get beer bot to the stage.  We picked up the costume that morning, a great excuse to see M7, and it had not been tested fully.  We didn’t have much room to dress Grant backstage, and with his lack of mobility we needed to set him up as close to the stage as possible.  I staged him in the hallway behind stage left.  This was a great location to access the stairs and offered some set up space.  Unfortunately, it was also the path to the kitchen for all the servers.  Grant and the dressing crew did a fancy dance with the servers trying to suit up and not knock over plates of nachos passing by.

As we prepped for the show I measured the stairs and discovered beerbot’s “feet” were bigger than the steps and Grant would need to side step or tiptoe to get on stage.  We compromised with a crew of us escorting him on stage.  I ended up as back up so that he didn’t knock over the microphones and keyboard.  Once on stage beerbot performed his intended task and opened a beer. Well, he tried to.  The beer opening had never been tested and proved…difficult.  With some assistance, beerbot succeeded to cheers from the crowd.

After beerbot’s first appearance, Grant went on stage in partial bot costume, to introduce Molly.  His entrance was greeted with chanting from the audience, “BEERBOT! BEERBOT!” I don’t think Grant was expecting this.  It is safe to say that beerbot was a success; another fun addition to the w00tstock list of surprise appearances.

Molly and Wil with iPads (video)

I always enjoy watching w00tstock from the side of the stage.  It has become a tradition to have the performers on the side of the stage watching.  There is definitely and added element of entertainment when the group is in plain view.  Their reactions are priceless.  As Wil and Molly hold up special drawn pictures on their iPads while Paul and Storm perform (and try not to laugh) you can’t help but laugh along.  Looking at the group of friends I get to work with was pretty amazing.  I was standing there watching Paul and Storm perform next to Molly Lewis, Wil Wheaton, Adam Savage, Kari Byron, Grant Imahara, Bonnie Burton, Mike Phirman, and so many others.  I love what I do and I can’t wait for new adventures next week.

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