Tag Archives: geeks

memories of w00tstock 2.4

I walked across two sets of train tracks, through a tangle of nerds and normals, and navigated my way up Fourth Street toward the theater. My Bag of Holding, slung diagonally across my body, rested comfortably against my side. Inside, my costume changes (read: Nerdy T-shirts) and script (read: Happiest Days of Our Lives) waited patiently to be called upon for w00tstock.

It took longer than I expected to walk up to B Street, so I used the journey to prepare my introductory remarks. Instead of reading a modified version of the intro I'd used in the past, I was working off some bullet points, to keep the intro short, and to allow myself the freedom to improvise a little bit. What had seemed like a good idea earlier in the week was beginning to feel like the opposite.

I paused briefly at a red light. A pedicab rode by, blasting the Macarena. "That's a very effective way of announcing that you don't want any passengers," I thought.

The light changed, and I continued on my way. A few blocks later, I walked into the theater and found Paul at the sound board.

"…so, there's a little, uh, 'w00tstock wrinkle'," he said.

"…okay, what's that?" I asked.

"The venue is 21 and over, and there is some liquor law that prevents Molly from being inside the theater at all."

"Wait. What?"

"They have to have security escort her on and off the stage, and she can't even sit inside the theater with us for the rest of the show."

I waited a moment for the Bazinga, but he was serious.

"Wow, that … that really sucks," I said.

"Yeah. She's outside the stage door." He pointed across the theater.

"I'll be right back," I said.

I walked through the empty space while staff set up chairs and Marian Call waited to do her sound check on the stage. I waved to Jason Finn. "You better grow your beard back," I said, "the council of beards is trying to remove your seat. I'm doing my best to hold it for you, but there's a faction gathering strength against you."

I realize that this doesn't sound nearly as funny now as it did to me at the time.

"I'm glad you've got my back," he said.

A square of bright daylight streamed in through an open door and stretched out, almost to a rectangle, on one side of the stage. Motes of dust danced in it, and I squinted as I walked through them to the loading dock.

Molly and her boyfriend Chris were outside. She was sitting on a chair and didn't look nearly as sad or upset as I would have been.

I opened my arms, she stood up, and I hugged her. "This sucks," I said. "I'm so sorry."

We talked for a few minutes, and I was impressed by how good her spirits were. It was like she'd decided there wasn't anything she could do about it, and had decided to make the best of a bad situation.

"You know what you should do? You should totally play a cover of Save Ferris' 'Under 21'!"

Before we could talk about it more, I was called into the theater to handle other pre-show tasks. I went to our dressing room, where I was delighted to find lots of beer from Stone Brewing for our performers. We always try to get some local craft brew when we do shows (Portland presented us with an embarrassment of riches) to have backstage, and I was pretty excited that Stone hooked us up.

I set down my bag, and pulled out my notebook to go over my intro notes. I was seriously doubting my plan to simply give a brief history of w00tstock before the show. I felt unprepared, and a little queasy as a result.

About forty minutes later, an hour before the show was set to begin, I walked out to check on Molly again. She and Jason Finn were listening to Under 21 on her iPhone, and working out the chords and changes.

"I may add a key change here," Molly began.

"Yeah, that's hashtag-things-drummers-don't-care-about," Jason said.

We laughed for a long time about that. I left them alone to get ready.

About 20 minutes before showtime, all of the performers, including our super-secret guests, gathered backstage. Paul gave the pre-show pep talk, and I found an empty hallway to go over my introduction.

I paced around, talking through my points, directing myself, and trying to find that elusive intro I was convinced I should have just written.

I don't know exactly when it happened, but in the dim light of that corridor, with the growing murmurs of the audience filling the theater – the sold out and standing-room-only theater! – it came to me: this w00tstock is special because it's at Comic-Con. I didn't want to do this show, because I didn't think anyone would come, on account of how many things there are to do at Comic-Con. I was wrong, and that's awesome.

Once I had that, the entire introduction came together, and not a moment too soon. "You have about five minutes," our stage manager (who we call our Dungeon Master) Liz, told me.

"Thank you, five minutes," I said. For the first time since I walked into the theater, I felt more excitement than fear about talking the stage and introducing the show. I may have done a very subdued bit of pogo-ing in the empty corridor after Liz walked away.

The show began. The audience went crazy. We went crazy. We all threw themed underpants at Paul and Storm during Opening Band (mine had 8====D on the front, which is twice as funny if you know the reference). We all crowded around the side of the stage to watch the show.

Molly came out early, accompanied by security, and began her set. "Would you be Molly's music stand?" A voice said.

I turned around and saw Chris, holding a sheet of paper with lyrics written on it. Across the top, it said, "OMG LEARNING A NEW SONG!"

"I would love to do that," I said. I took the paper and carefully held it while Molly sang about breaking up with Wikipedia.

She called me up to the stage, and I had the most fun I've ever had being a music stand. If you were there, you know how great it was, and now you know that she and Jason learned the song and put it all together in a little less than one hour. (I know, right?)

One more Molly memory before I move on to the rest of the show: Molly played an all-request ninja show in the parking lot during the intermission that was watched by all of the performers, and about 1/3 of the audience. It was simply magical, and I am not ashamed to admit that I may have wiped a few proud tears off my face while she sang. I mean, when I was her age, if I'd found myself in a similar situation, I probably would have been pissed at how stupid and unfair the whole thing was, and that would have been the end of it for me. Molly, on the other hand, learned and modified a song – and performed it for a sold-out theater – and then played an acoustic show in the parking lot during intermission. I once said that Molly Lewis is a national treasure, and now you know why.

The majority of the show is a blur of squee and laughter and OMG. Adam observed that everyone came off stage just beaming with joy. As a performer, to have that feeling … it's one of the greatest things in the world. If you were in that audience, and you helped us feel that way: thank you.

A few things stand out for me, though, like how amazing Marian Call was live, how much Chris Hardwick killed with his set, how Jamy Ian Swiss blew our minds so thoroughly, nobody could hear me yelling "WITCH!" over the applause and cheering. I got to stand next to the stage while Rifftrax did Lunchroom Manners (aka Mister Bungle) LIVE. Matt Fraction destroyed the audience with THE BATMAN DREAMS OF HIERONYMUS MACHINES, just like he did at w00tPDX.

I know that I'm forgetting things, and for that I am sorry. Like I said, the show really was a blur of squee and laughter and OMG, and I know I'll remember things in the days to come, so until the updates begin to shake themselves out of my brain, let me close with this:

One of the great surprises for everyone was when my friend
Aaron Douglas, who played The Chief on BSG, came out during my Rocky
Horror story (the joke was, "Hey, I asked for toast, not a toaster!").
It was so much fun for me to introduce Aaron to everyone backstage, and
watch them squee to various degrees. It was especially fun for me to
stand on the stage when Aaron walked out – in his frakking flight suit from the show! – to thunderous applause. It was incredible.

When the four hour show was over (The Captain's Wife's Lament was especially fun, and clocked in at a relatively-reasonable 25 minutes), we all went out to sign autographs and meet the audience. We signed for close to two hours, and finally finished a little after 2am.

I traded hugs and thank yous with everyone, and headed out of the theater with Fraction.

"Do you want to take a cab to the hotel?" Matt asked.

"No, I need to walk off the adrenaline of the show, even though I feel like I'm going to fall down any second from exhaustion."

"I totally get that," he said.

We walked down Fourth Street, toward the convention center. Homeless people slept in doorways and drunk nerds staggered out of bars and clubs. An energy crackled through the cool, foggy air: It was Comic-Con weekend, and w00tstock was just the beginning.

never forget your roots

While walking through Comicon three or four years ago, I stopped to look at one of those booths that's filled with a hundred different T-shirts.

Somewhere among the various superhero crests and clever nerd phrases and obscure sci-fi homages, I saw a fairly simple design: an Atari joystick, sitting atop the word ROOTS. I grinned and reached for it, and noticed that it was folded next to a similar design that replaced the Atari joystick with a classic NES controller.

"Of course," I thought to myself, as I felt like Old Man Wheaton, "for a lot of the damn kids today, the Atari 2600 is as relevant as black and white television or a transistor radio."

This thought triggered a trip in my mental Tardis to long afternoons spent playing Yar's Revenge and Megamania, and I ended up wandering away in a fog of nostalgia, forgetting to buy either of them.

A few months ago, I was preparing my dungeon delve for the Emerald City Comicon. Rather than pull something pre-made out of the Dungeon Delve book, I created something entirely new. Though I would eventually do the final revisions with Dungeon Tiles, It was the first time I'd designed and built an adventure since I was a teenager, so I started the way we did in the old days: I sat on the floor with some books, some dice (even though I didn't really need them), and used a pencil to build my dungeon on graph paper. 

While I sketched out the first few corridors, counting squares and carefully making my lines as straight as I could, my brain slipped into a stream of wibbly wobbly, timey wimey … stuff … and it used that memory from Comicon as a lens to look back through years and years of afternoons spent alone in the sanctuary of my bedroom, building and refining hundreds of dungeons with nothing more than some analog tools and my imagination. 

Earlier today, my friend Scott Twittered:

Nobody has created an online toolkit for drawing D&D maps? This is ridiculous. I'm using graph paper and pencils like a monk from the 1800s.

replied:

@pvponline Using graph paper and pencils to design dungeons isn't a bug, it's a feature.

I couldn't help smile to myself when I saw Scott's Twitter, because I knew that later today … well, in this case, a picture is worth 1000 words. Here's the idea I had so many months ago, turned into a T-shirt:

Wil_wheaton_roots_t-shirt

As I said I Twitter this morning, I'm especially proud of this one because it's relevant to my interests. If you like it as much as I do, you can get your own in basic, premium (which is a softer fabric, and a slimmer cut), and women's from Jinx.

Hi, I’m Wil Wheaton. I’m not a dick, but I play one on TV…

the 8-bit bang theory by r. stevens

The first appearance of Evil Wil Wheaton on The Big Bang Theory is airing again tonight, so I thought I'd gather up all the posts I wrote while working on it in one place:

leveling up while geeking out on the set of the big bang theory

I remember being in drama school in my early twenties, and having at least a decade more experience than everyone else in the room except our teacher. I remember paying close attention all the time, even when I wasn't working on a scene in front of the class, or getting notes directly from her. I remember her telling the other kids in the school, many of whom were convinced that they were going to be The Next Big Thing (all of them except Salma Hyek were wrong) that they didn't learn anything about performing while they were actually doing it. They learned while watching other actors perform, and understanding why their choices worked or didn't work. 

I haven't done a show like this in years, and I want to make sure that I am completely back in shape, I guess you could say, by the time we perform the episode next week. To make sure I get there, I spent the entire day, even when I wasn't in the scene, watching and listening, and remembering skills that I once used every day, but haven't even thought about in a very long time. By the time we got to my last scene of the day (God, I wish I could describe it, because it's hilarious) I felt confident, I felt funny, and I felt weird but also good.

The Big Bang Buzz

Once we started rehearsing, I noticed something that had changed from yesterday's rehearsal: the script was just as funny, but it was more alive when we performed it. I guess that, having lived with the script for a full day and having run the scenes several times alone and together, those difficult-to-quantify things that make us actors (I guess we could call them "Dramachlorians") have started to do their thing. We're thinking about the scenes when we're not in them, we're hearing the characters in our heads, we're subconsciously applying the notes we got from the director yesterday, and what was a collection of notes and chords 24 hours ago is starting to turn into a piece of music.

unraveling the mystery

I can't get into any real specifics, because we've reached that point in the production where any new insights or revelations that have happened (and they have) are all related to things that would certainly qualify as spoilers, or are observations that I feel would be unprofessional to share without the explicit permission of my fellow actors.

However, during rehearsal, I got to watch them take something that was already very funny, and then try several different approaches to one particular bit, each one funnier than the last, until they settled on something that I know is going to kill when the audience sees it. You know you're working on a tremendously funny show when the stuff they throw away is funnier than the stuff that makes it on air on other shows. I also have a new appreciation for how perfectly the writers on The Big Bang Theory balance the extremely geeky jokes that guys like me go crazy for, with the non-geeky jokes that people like my wife enjoy. It's a lot harder than it sounds to gently push a time machine through the eye of the comedy needle every week without touching the sides and making that one dude's nose light up … which sounds kind of funny, but trust me, is not.

The Creepy Candy Coating Corollary

First of all, for anyone who is wondering, the show's art department made actual cards with actual graphics and rules on them, and we all spent a fair amount of time making up some logical rules to go with the Mystic Warlords of Ka'a. As far as I know, there aren't official rules or an official card set, but I'm sure someone will create one within a couple of weeks if the show doesn't. (Oh please, oh please.)

When he first talked to me about working on the show, Bill Prady told me that I'd be playing a "delightfully evil version" of myself. This sounded like a lot of fun to me, but it was more difficult to find that character than you'd think. When I'm playing Fawkes on The Guild it's easy to slip into his kilt and be a jerk, but wearing my own clothes and essentially playing a stylized version of myself made it a real challenge to hit "delightfully evil" without veering into "not committed to being delightfully evil" or "just plain evil." Keeping that twinkle in my eye, and knowing that Wil Wheaton (The Big Bang Version) is planning to scam Sheldon from the moment he sits down, was essential to this particular characterization working out, and I didn't completely find it until we'd run the episode a couple of times.

During one of the run throughs, when Jim did his Klingon bit, I turned to Kevin and asked him, "Did he just say 'revenge is a dish best served cold' in Klingon?" like I was trying to figure out if that's actually what happened, like maybe I misunderstood him. Chuck Lorre told me that it would be funnier if I was more exasperated. "You're just here to play this game, and now some guy is quoting Klingon at you. This happens everywhere you go," he said. 

I sighed dramatically, and said, "Oh, it does." Everyone laughed, hard, and Chuck pointed his finger at me. "Yes. That is exactly the way to play that beat."

When Chuck gave me that note, I grokked how to play Evil Wil Wheaton (The Big Bang Theory version), and I could see the comedy in every beat I played for the rest of the show.

Finally, I did a Q&A post about Creepy Candy Coating Corollary last month, before I knew I'd be returning to the show. You'll have to go through the comments to find the questions and my answers, but if you're interested in that sort of thing, I think you'll dig it. There is also a hilarious T-shirt in that link that you probably want to see, regardless.

Also, my second episode, which is titled The Wheaton Recurrence (!) airs April 12 on CBS. Tell all your friends, and that one guy up the street who washes his Camaro in jean shorts on his lawn every weekend … he needs friends.

in which w00tstock 2.0 and 2.0.1 are announced

When we did w00tstock 1.x last year, we all hoped it would be successful enough to warrant taking the show on the road to some of our favorite cities.

Well, w00tstock 1.x was so much fun for us and the audiences who saw it, it didn't just warrant it, it WINGER'd it. Hell, it may even have Damn Yankees'd it or Skid Row'd it … or Whitesnake'd it.

Whatever gloriously awful 80s hair band reference amuses you the most, the point is this: w00tstock 2.x is coming to Seattle and Portland in May:

This is the dawning of the Age of Geekdom–and its voices will ring true at w00tstock.

w00tstock v2.0: Friday, May 7 – Moore Theater, Seattle, WA (tickets available soon)
Special Guests: TBA

w00tstock v2.0.1: Saturday, May 8 – The Alladin, Portland, OR (tickets available soon)
Special Guests: TBA

So if you live in Seattle or Portland areas, go get your tickets now. If you don’t, then tell all your friends who do live there to go; because if these do well enough, we hope to do more of them! Go forth, geeks, and spread the good word!

Here's everything you ever wanted to know about w00tstock. Here's my recollection of the awesome w00tstock 1.x experience (a post so filled with awesome, it required an addendum. AN ADDENDUM, PAUL!) Finally, if you need to convince your non-geek boyfriend that you guys really will have fun at the show, you can show him a whole big mess of w00tstock videos.

Please note that all spelling and version-numbering errors are copied from the original source, my good friends Paul and Storm, who I have just thrown under the geekbus. Nyahh. Nyahh. Nyahh.

In which my friend @Muskrat_John is congratulated by me, @wilw.

The gaming industry, like the voiceover industry or the genre fiction industry is not very big, when you really get down to it. In fact, among creators, the overlap between "industry" and "community" makes almost a perfect circle. Everyone pretty much knows everyone else, and good news travels as quickly as bad.

Yesterday, one of the truly great people in the gaming industry, who I think we all believed had reached maximum character level, surprised us all and leveled up a little bit more:

John Kovalic's Dork Tower joins WIRED's GeekDad.

If you know of Dork Tower, then you’re already squee-ing in excitement right alongside us. If you don’t know what Dork Tower is, then either you’re about to add a new layer of happiness to the Photoshop composite of your life, or you’re slowly beginning to realize you didn’t click through to the Monkey Bites blog.

Dork Tower has, in its decade of life, existed as a standalone comic book, a featured comic in DragonScrye and Games magazines, and one of the earliest regular webcomics online. Its creator, John Kovalic, is also the illustrator and co-creator of world-renown games Munchkin and Apples to Apples. But perhaps his greatest creation is his new daughter, whose existence has transformed him from a simple, Bruce Banner–like comics and game illustrator, into a hulking green(bay) GeekDad. Which is where we come in.

This is kind of like my favorite indie television show getting picked up by a major network. It's such a perfect match, I can't believe nobody ever thought of it before. You know those people who are so delighted to be a parent, they sort of jingle and glow and levitate off the ground with joy when they talk about their kids? That's John. You know those guys who you know you can speak to in the most obscure geek dialect, secure in the knowledge that they'll grok you? That's John.

Congratulations to John and GeekDad, and to all their individual readers who are about to discover an awesome new level of the dungeon to explore.

A few geeky games that are worth setting aside some Geek Time to play

I've discovered that, unless I specifically set aside Geek Time for me, Wil Wheaton, I end up doing nothing but work. This isn't entirely bad, because most of the work I do is geek-related, but I eventually run out of HP, and I have to recharge. by doing some private geeky thing, like reading comics, playing a little Xbox, or getting together with my friends 

Think of it this way: reading a comic book gives me a little HP, like 1d4. Reading a graphic novel gives me 1d6+2. Settling in with a good book (Currently reading Spook Country) gives me 1d10, but I can't do anything else for several turns and have to save versus distractions at -2. Playing a video game gives me 1d8+1, unless it's Rock Band with my friends or family, which gives me 2d10+5.

In fact, doing any geeky thing with friends is an automatic additional d10, which is why I like to get together with my friends at least once a month to play hobby games. During these gatherings, I can usually count on going all the way back to my starting HP, and if I'm especially lucky, I'll gain 1d10 additional HP that is lost at a rate of about 1 point every two hours after we've all gone back to our regular lives.

(Incidentally, writing those three paragraphs gave me 1d6-2, in addition to the 3d6+10 I got earlier today when I got to be a voice actor for four hours.)

So recently, I had a bunch of friends over for a game day, and we played some games I loved so much, I wanted to share them with the rest of the class, in case some of you are dangerously low on HP and need some healing:

Dominion

This is a card game that plays like a CCG (think Magic: The Gathering) without requiring you to buy a bunch of booster packs and participate in the deck-building arms race that makes most CCGs a meta game of "who can spend the most on cards." BoardGameGeek says: 

In Dominion, each player starts with an identical, very small deck of cards. In the center of the table is a selection of other cards the players can "buy" as they can afford them. Through their selection of cards to buy, and how they play their hands as they draw them, the players construct their deck on the fly, striving for the most efficient path to the precious victory points by game end.

Dominion is not a CCG, but the play of the game is similar to the construction and play of a CCG deck. The game comes with 500 cards. You select 10 of the 25 Kingdom card types to include in any given play — leading to immense variety.

Dominion plays very fast, and is one of those games that you can play while drinking a beer (or three) and still play (mostly) competently. 

There are expansions, but I won't buy them on principle, because that path leads to the CCG stuff I'm trying to avoid or at least limit.

Revolution!

Steve Jackson Games is famous for putting out the classic RPG GURPS, irreverent card games like Munchkin and the Chez games, and war games like Ogre and Car Wars. This is the company's first offering that could be considered a Eurogame, and I absolutely love it. Quoth BGG:

In Revolution! players take advantage of the fluid political situation by secretly bidding for a number of characters, each yielding a combination of territory control, points (popular support) and more currency with which to bid next round. Players win by gaining the support of the people (the most points). Players can gain bonus points by controlling an area of the city at the end of the game. This game is for 3-4 players and takes 60 minutes to play.

What I love about Revolution! is the lack of one clear perfect strategy to win the game. In many respects, it's like poker: you win by playing against the other players as much (if not more) than you play the actual game. It's very simple to pick up (I'd say it takes about 5 minutes to teach) and really needs four players, though you can play with three.

Bonus soon-to-be-released SJ Games: Cthulhu Dice (I played this at RinCon and loved it) and Zombie Dice (which I haven't played, but looks like a whole lot of fun.)

Pandemic

I love cooperative games, where the players are working together against the game itself. Some games, like Shadows Over Camelot, toss the uncertainty of a traitor into the game, while others, like Arkham Horror, are so purely cooperative, they can even be played as solo games. Pandemic is a purely cooperative game that BGG describes thusly:

You are specialists at the CDC/Atlanta where you watch several virulent diseases break out simultaneously all over the world. The team mission is to prevent a world-wide pandemic outbreak, treating hotspots while researching cures for each of the four plagues before they get out of hand.

Players must plan their strategy to mesh their specialist's strengths before the diseases overwhelm the world. For example, the Operations Specialist can build research stations, which are needed to find cures for the diseases. The Scientist needs only 4 cards of a particular disease to cure it instead of the normal 5. But the diseases are breaking out fast and time is running out: the team must try to stem the tide of infection in diseased areas while developing cures. If disease spreads uncontrolled, the players all lose. If they can cure all four diseases, they win.

This game looks and feels beautiful, and though it's probably the most complicated to learn on this list, it's not nearly as complicated as an RPG, a historical wargame, or understanding one of us geeks. You can adjust the level of difficulty (from easy to legendary) and if you get the expansion, On The Brink, you can add mutations and virulent strains of the various diseases, as well as a bioterrorist who is working against the other players. You rarely breeze through a game of Pandemic, and even though you start out sort of losing, victory is almost always decided by a razor-thin margin. 

Pandemic is so frakking hard to beat, it shouldn't be fun, but I have had more fun losing games of Pandemic than I've had winning a huge list of other games.

Small World 

Days of Wonder is probably best-known for games like Ticket To Ride and its sequels, Battlelore and its sequels, and Memoir '44 and its sequels. Small World is a very recent release from Days of Wonder, and I think it's one of the best games they've ever published. One more time, let's borrow from Board Game Geek:

Small World is inhabited by a zany cast of characters such as dwarves, wizards, amazons, giants, orcs and even humans; who use their troops to occupy territory and conquer adjacent lands in order to push the other races off the face of the earth.

Picking the right combination from the 14 different fantasy races and 20 unique special powers, players rush to expand their empires – often at the expense of weaker neighbors. Yet they must also know when to push their own over-extended civilization into decline and ride a new one to victory!

Okay, so that description doesn't really capture what's awesome about this game. Let me try to explain why I love it so much: first, it's a map conquest game that comes with different maps for different numbers of players, so you get a balanced game whether you're playing head-to-head or with three or four other friends. Second, the zany characters get different unique special powers every time you play, so there's no point in developing a strategy (or counter strategy) exclusively for Flying Amazons or Dragonmaster Ghouls, because you may not get to use it that often. Third, it employs an elegant scoring system that tends to keep the games close (are you sensing some commonality among the games I really like?). Fourth, it just looks beautiful. The counters and the boards feature great artwork, so it's easy to buy into the theme. Finally, it's a relatively quick game, which is important to a guy like me who doesn't have nearly enough time to play all the games he wants to play.

All of these games are suitable for ages 12 and up, with the exception of Pandemic, which I think is >just< a little to complex for the under-14 set.

Now that I've spent enough time on this post to have actually played one of these games, I'd like to close with three RPGs that I haven't played, but desperately want to play:

Okay, now that I've regained some of my HP, I think I'm ready to go ahead and attempt the Drop Off Packages At The Post Office quest. If I don't come back, avenge my death and immortalize me in song.

the obligatory w00tstock post

Everything I could possibly say about w00tstock has already been said by Paul and Storm, who made a lovely list, and Molly, who made a comic that captures exactly how I felt the whole time we did our shows.

I loved feeling the terror and exhilaration of trying something totally new (The Trade, with music) that was raw and unrehearsed enough to allow for surprises every night.

I loved how totally geeked out we all were to be working with each other, too. I mean, I knew it would be cool to meet Adam Savage – the guy's a freakin' genius, after all – but I was unprepared for how completely and utterly cool, kind, and enthusiastic he was. And his 100 wishes are wonderful, especially that he, like I, wishes for his children to have careers that they love.

I loved feeling like we were creating something unique and special, that people would be talking about long after it was finished.

I loved how much fun we had every night, even though I was exhausted down to my bones by the time we finished our last show Wednesday night (actually, Thursday morning).

I loved how wonderful the audiences were at all the shows. Geeks truly are the best crowd, because even when they heckle us (I'm looking at you, Los Angeles front row) it was done with enthusiasm and love. Yes, even the hecklers were, in their own way, supportive.

I loved that we released the entire show under a Creative Commons license, so anyone who wanted to could record and share the show online. There are tons of videos at YouTube and pictures at Flickr, as a result. 

I love that I can blockquote myself right now:

someone recorded all of w00tstock 1.1 from Los Angeles, and uploaded it. It's an audience recording, so you can pretend you are actually sitting at Largo next to the guy who recorded it! If it's the guy I think it was, he had a magnificent pimp hat on. If it's not … well, now you know that there was a guy at w00tstock in LA with a magnificent pimp hat, and you have yet another reason to wish you were there, sukka.

>I love that that recording was done on a freakin' iPhone, and it sounds fantastic.

I saw a post this morning that pretty faithfully recreates the show in Los Angeles from YouTube videos, so rather than try to duplicate that for all three shows, I thought I'd share a couple of my personal highlights, in video form:

First up, a wonderful compilation … almost a montage … from the LA show:

Here I am, recreating the moment when Luke Skywalker saw the smoking hulks of his aunt and uncle. This probably isn't as funny out of context, but if you were at the show, you'll know why I was so amused by this. By the way, the flapping hair in the wind was all Molly's idea, and it killed at all three shows.

Kid Beyond absolutely blew my mind when he performed Wandering Star by Portishead … using only his voice to create loops. If you think this is incredible on video (and it is) you should see him perform live, especially if he brings his video mashups.

Finally, everything Molly did was simply brilliant, and her cover of Toxic is sensational, but I just adore her song about breaking up with Wikipedia:

There's more, of course. Paul and Storm got a lovely pair of, um, undergarments thrown at them in Los Angeles. The acoustic Date My Avatar was great. Jeff Lewis did comedy as Vork, and completely killed. Kasper Hauser made me laugh so hard at the 1.0 show I bruised my medulla oblongata. I've known Chris and Mike forever, but I'd never actually seen them perform as Hard 'n Phirm in person until the Los Angeles show, and I wish I hadn't waited so long to enjoy the majestic wonder of El Corazon live. Josh Cagan seemed a little bemused that we'd added him to the show, but after seeing what he did to just 30 seconds of Roger Corman's Fantastic Four craptacular, I hope he'll come with us for 2.0. And, oh yes, three different versions of The Captain's Wife's Lament, each longer and more ARRRRRRRRRtful than the last. Those two videos (I can't find a video from 1.0 at the moment), do a great job of capturing how much fun we all had together.

When Paul and I talked about w00tstock a million years (or a couple months) ago, we hoped that it would be successful enough to justify the time we would need to put into creating it, we hoped we'd have fun working together, and we really hoped we'd draw enough people to make it worth doing future w00tstocks.

I don't think we ever seriously worried about having fun together, but I was very worried about actually drawing an audience. When we sold out two shows in San Franciso, and only had 20 or so seats left vacant in Los Angeles – where it is notoriously difficult to get people to come out to see shows – we knew that in the future, there will be w00tstock v2.x.

I want to thank everyone who was in the show, and especially everyone who came to watch us, for making the three days of w00tstock so memorable and wonderful. I can't wait to do it again.

coming soon: w00tstock – 3 hours of geeks and music

W00tstock

From Paul and Storm's website:

For decades, geeks were ostracized, picked on, laughed at and punished by the sun’s harmful UV rays. But there is only so long that a people can be kept down before they rise up against their oppressors; and, indeed, the dawn of the 21st century has seen the ascendancy of geeks and geek culture.

We now celebrate that rise to power–and let’s face it, nerds pretty much run everything now–with w00tstock, a special event for geeks of every stripe. Television host/special-effects artist Adam Savage (”MythBusters”), actor/author/blogger Wil Wheaton (”Star Trek: The Next Generation”, “Stand By Me”) and music-comedy duo Paul and Storm (hey; that’s us!) present a night of songs, readings, comedy, demonstrations, short films, special guests, and other clever widgets born from and dedicated to the enthusiasms, obsessions, trials and joys of geek pride.

This is the dawning of the Age of Geekdom–and its voices will ring true at w00tstock.

I can't wait to do this. It is going to kick all kinds of ASCII.

(snort)

Axis of Anarchy RULES!

A few months ago, Felicia Day asked me if I'd like to play a character in Season 3 of The Guild.

The conversation went something like this:

Felicia: So, I wrote this character for Season 3 of The Guild and I wondered if y—

Me: YES YES A THOUSAND TIMES YES YOU HAD ME AT "THE GUILD!"

Rob Reiner's Mother: I'll have what he's having.

Felicia told me that she and the other producers wanted to keep my involvement in the show and the the details of my character a secret, because they planned a big reveal at Comic-Con.

So all those times I told Twitter some variation of, "Holy crap if I could tell you what I'm working on right now, you'd be all 'OMG NO WAI' and I'd be all 'WAI' and you'd be all 'awesome!' and then I'd be all, 'I know, right?'" Now you know one of the things I was talking about.

We started shooting a few weeks later, and after some 31-hour shooting days, my work on the show was done. I still can't get into specifics about my character or the story, but I think it's safe (and totally unsurprising) to tell you that working on The Guild was as fun and wonderful as you would expect, and every single person on the cast and crew was an absolute joy to work with.

As I said on The Guild panel at Comic-Con, I've known, written, and performed with a lot of these guys for years, and I'm not surprised in the least that everyone loves them so much. It rules to see so many people in the world (millions per episode, I guess) finding out for themselves what I've known for years.

Season 3 is going to kick thirteen different kinds of ass, and I'm thrilled to be a small part of part of it. I'll talk about each episode a little more after it's released.

LEVERAGE: day four

Woke up early yesterday and wrote for about an hour. Met Rogers and walked to a fantastic place for breakfast (forget the name of the place, but President Clinton ate there once and they have something named after him on the menu.) Had a delicious tofu scramble thing, and the most sensational French press coffee I've had since I got here.

Took Rogers to Powell's, because, he said, if we didn't go right then, he probably wouldn't make it there on his own. I couldn't let that happen, for obvious reasons. While we were there, I got a couple of the Fighting Fantasy books I loved so much when I was a kid: The Citadel of Chaos and Seas of Blood. Citadel of Chaos even has little kid writing on the character sheet inside.

"This could have been me," I said to John.

"I would have copied it onto an index card and written all the stats there, to keep the book pristine," he said. I remembered that I'd done exactly that with one of my Lone Wolf books, so I could keep the character more portable.

While we were talking, I had a little bit of a realization:

"I just realized why these books and these games are so important to me," I said, pointing to all the D&D books that surrounded us.

"During a childhood that was completely abnormal, filled with things that I didn't choose for myself, these games were something I chose to read and play. These games were part of my normal."

"Oh, so you were like everyone else who played D&D when they were a kid," John said.

I smiled. "I guess so, yeah."

We bought some books, looked like creeps when I wanted to walk into the kids' section to see if they had any classic Choose Your Own Adventure books (John, a little too-loudly: Why do you always want to go into the kids' section? You're a 36 year-old man! Me, much too-loudly: Because it's a great place to meet new people!) Sadly, they did not.

We walked back through Portland, and got to our hotel about fifteen minutes before a massive rainstorm showed up. I wrote for the next few hours (it always amazes me how much writing I get done when I'm on my own, away from home. I don't think about it too much, though, because I don't want to mess with whatever makes it work) before I met up with my sister, who I haven't seen since she moved here a year ago.

We spent the afternoon together dodging the rain (I sent this to Twitter: "Me: Okay, looks like the rain's let up. Guess I can go outside. The Rain: He's outside again! Resume downpour! AHAHAHAHA!!!!") and catching up. It was awesome, and totally the best part of an already-fantastic day.

I took her to the set to meet some of the cast and crew, and then I went on a local television show called The Square, which was a lot of fun. If you visit their site, you can watch me do my thing and see for yourself.

Then I went back to the hotel, finished reading SHATNERQUAKE (review forthcoming), enjoyed a lot of awesome Star Trek puns from followers on Twitter (UHURACANE, SULUNAMI, SPOCKALYPSE, TSUNIMOY, and DEFORESTFIRE among them search "@wilw" from last night if you want to see them all), and went to sleep happy; I really love being here.