Wednesday, November 3, 2010

w00tstock 2.9

Adam Savage threw up a tweet yesterday saying there was still time to get tickets to w00tstock 2.9 in Austin, Tuesday Nov 2. Well it was the first of the month and I was flush with cash so I busted out the debit card and reserved a seat. I wasn't exactly sure what to expect at w00tstock. People watching YouTube videos together? Sounds like what I do anyway with my IM friends sending me links off Reddit. So I might as well go do that in public.

The venue was the Paramount, an old movie palace like the Fox in Atlanta. I worked on the house sound system at the Fox with Dr. Patronis so I wanted to see how it compares. And the neighborhood isn't completely unfamiliar to me. It's only 6 blocks from my doctor's office. Coincidentally the ticket was the same price as my insurance copay, but w00tstock was a hell of a lot more fun than a pelvic exam.

About 5:30 this afternoon it started raining. This threw off my whole plan. The traffic was snarled the way I planned to go so I went another way, found the theater ok, but couldn't find a place to park. Finally I found the Alamo Drafthouse parking structure and walked quickly and randomly three blocks to the theater in the rain. Will Call handed over my ticket. Paul and Storm had just gotten started when I got to my seat.

The Paramount struck me as a fetal Fox. It has a close family resemblance to the Fox, but it's just a tiny version of it. The Fox seats over 4600. The Paramount doesn't even give their seating capacity on the web site. They don't have the Moorish theme going on like the Fox, but the Paramount has it's own style of gaudy plasterworks and a grand proscenium. Seating is arranged like the Fox with orchestra, mezzanine (called the loge at the Fox. Same definition in the dictionary), and balcony. I got the back row of the mezzanine because I like not having people kick the back of my seat.

The stage was set up pretty simply with 4 mics and monitors across the apron and a screen in back that was presumably a projector connected to somebody's Macbook Pro. I felt right at home, like I was in front of my own computer, right down to the custom icons. Somebody downloaded the OSX icons from too. They had Homestar as their hard drive icon where I have Marshie. Renaming my computer parts after characters from Earth Girls are Easy is all me, though, I guess. Theirs was still Macintosh HD or whatever boring default name it has. (I  diverged from my Earth Girls naming pattern when I named my iPhone "Into a Deep Sleep" because it cracks me up when iTunes says "Syncing Into a Deep Sleep.")

Paul and Storm did a song about the inventor of the chicken nugget and then one about a nun wrestling league featuring the Assaulter from the Altar, the Nundertaker and other aptly named contenders. It was my favorite kind of fun with words.

The sound reinforcement was pretty good. The space was acoustically very easy to work with I think. Lots of things sticking out here and there to prevent nasty reverb. The house sound has small front clusters and lots of small speakers on the sides that were properly delayed so everything was very understandable.

In addition to the loudspeakers they had two American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters up front. They had a LOT of fun with these guys. I enjoyed watching the signers, particularly because one of them was an incredibly good looking man. They signed out all the song lyrics no matter how fast Paul and Storm sang and they did all the stories, including spelling out elephant spunk in a Neil Gaiman story, which required using all the letters. When Adam Savage said cocksucker there was a single gesture for that. Towards the end of the show they took great delight in making them spell out elephant spunk about 20 times, but even Adam Savage was too polite to make them do cocksucker but about three more times.

I was glad I'd done a little internet work before the show so I knew what was expected of me. This pirate song video went a long way to helping me keep up with the last number which they stretched out over 20 minutes with "[blank] is the name of my [blank] tribute band" jokes. For example, Adam Savage might end a story with "...sometimes a cable tie will do, but sometimes you just have to have a hose clamp." And Neil Gaiman would pipe up with, "Hose Clamp is the name of my '80s metal cover band." (Only funnier. I made that one up but the actual ones were better. My eyes were streaming with laughter.)


After the show I went onto the cold streets and tried to go back to the parking deck a different way than I came, thinking I went out of the way before. I confess to walking around a few blocks before getting out my iPhone to study the aerials on Google Maps to find the Alamo Drafthouse with the nearby parking garage. When I got to my car I found I'd left it unlocked. Way to go! Glad I parked in an attended lot within sight of the guy in the little booth. I am really out of practice with this going out in public thing.

I have to get up tomorrow and figure out how to set up Microsoft Windows Server 2008 Remote Desktop Licensing so I should stop writing. I considered taking a sign with me to w00tstock that said "Rumplestiltskin, where are you?" to try to find me an IT guru who could spin this straw into gold for me but I know myself too well. With the exception of the girl in the Will Call window I didn't say a word to anybody. Well, I hollered, "FAKE! GAY!" at the Red vs. Blue guys, Rooster Teeth, when they said they are more comfortable with YouTube comments than an actual audience. (I like people to feel at ease.) And I'm pretty sure nobody made eye contact with me over the course of a 4 hour show.

What do you get when you fill a theater with introverts? w00tstock!


  1. So, that's what goes on at w00tstock! Shit, I have got to get to one of those. Love the comment to the Red vs. Blue guys.

  2. They actually gave prizes to the best hecklers. Video games mostly, so since I don't have any game consoles it was just as well they couldn't tell who said that.

    Some guy's iPhone rang on my row at the beginning of the show (Old Phone ringtone) and they stopped the show to find out whose it was. They gave an xbox game to the guy sitting next to him and chided the audience for not putting their phones on silent. I hadn't flipped the silent switch on mine and I bet the majority of people hadn't either. Why bother? Nobody is gonna call. I was impressed that there was somebody in that crowd that gets real voice phone calls.

  3. From a former Paramount usher: the theater seats around 1,400 if you sell every seat in the house including the obstructed-view seats (rows A and G in the balcony, if memory serves).

  4. Thanks for that seat count! I guessed it was about 1/3 the size of the Fox. It's a really nice theater. I wish I had known about the summer film festival.

  5. It'll come round again, probably until the day Paul Beutel (former ED of the theater, who still books the film series for them) dies. The summer film series has been going since the '80s, and has shown some classic double features in its time. Look for it to start around Memorial Day.