Monday, November 1, 2010

Rallying for W00tstock!

Hi, remember me? Yeah, I know, I'm not very good at this whole blogging regularly thing. This is why I will never be an author. Anyway, this past weekend was crazy busy! (Warning, this post will probably get quite long.) First up, Saturday October 30th and the Rally to Restore Sanity:

My day started quite early...3:45am early. Took the 5am bus to Boston to fly to DC. The airport was pretty busy...with flights to DC. There were 4 flights in my terminal that were all going to DC, and it seemed most people were going for the rally. There were signs and t-shirts with various witty remarks. Everyone was in high spirits, and there was lots of discussion about the rally. I even had a TSA agent tell me that he wished he was going to DC with everyone.

We arrived in DC ahead of schedule, about 10:45am. The rally was supposed to start at 12pm, but I had read that Stewart wouldn't take the stage until 1pm. Plenty of time! Passengers from my plane broke into groups of 4 and 6 to share taxis. Which, it turned out, was a good thing, because the taxi fare was quite expensive! (I need to take a moment to explain that I flew into Dulles airport.) I shared a cab with 3 other people. We joked and laughed and got to know each other as the cab flew down the relatively empty highway. We thought we had it made, but the cabbie explained that the highway was dedicated to airport traffic and that when we got off that highway we would hit traffic. Boy did we ever. We soon came to bumper to bumper traffic, hardly moving, and we were still a good distance from the National Mall.

The cab driver, ever so helpful, told us that he could take us the rest of the way, but that it would cost us three times as much because of the traffic, and that there was a metro station just ahead that he could drop us off at. It sounded perfect, so we went for it. (Incidentally, that cab ride was $50. I don't even want to think what it would have been if we'd gone all the way to the mall.) Upon arriving at the metro station, we were greeted with a large crowd. Turned out the crowd was waiting to purchase tickets for the train. Once you had your tickets, there was no line. It was crazy, but the line was moving in an orderly fashion and the crowed was in good spirits. Again, almost everyone was on their way to the rally. It was about 11:45am when we got to the metro station. About an hour later, we had our tickets and had gone upstairs to the platform. (I just want to note here that there was no metro staff anywhere in sight - no one was directing the lines for tickets, and there was no one on the platform.)

1pm came around and the first train showed up since we arrived at the platform - completely full. There was no room for anyone else. We learned at that time that this had been the situation for the last couple of hours, and people were taking trains back to the beginning of the line and getting on there. We couldn't go forward, so the next train that came along going to the end of the line, we hopped on. The train was moderately crowded, with people trying to get to the rally, and people who had already been and had left. We were told it had gotten very crowded at the mall, and it was impossible to see or hear anything. Still, spirits were pretty high, and everyone was happily chatting about the rally.

Our forward-type motion was short lived however, as the train came to a stop at the very next station. An announcement was made that the metro was suspending all service to Vienna (the end of the line) until further notice, because the crowd there was just too large and they needed to clear congestion at the station. Everyone was told to get off the train. The crowd at this station was 3 times as large as the one at the station we had just left. At this point, there was really no hope of getting to the rally. I decided to just go back to the airport and watch what I could online and on the news from there. My flight was due to leave at 4:50pm.

Now, you might be thinking right about now that it was a pretty big disappointment (and a waste of time and money) to go to DC and not make it to the rally. You'd be wrong. Jon Stewart may not have given a clearly defined agenda for the rally, but I had my own clearly defined agenda. Whether Americans want to admit it or not, the world watches what we do, and they see our newscasts. The America that gets portrayed by a radical few is not the America that I live in every day. This rally was an opportunity to show the world that America isn't as insane as it seems in the media, that we really do know how to get along and work together. The fact that there were an estimated 215,000 people who made it to the rally, and who knows how many more like myself who brought down the transit system and never made it to the rally, is just brilliant, and exactly what I wanted to be a part of. Everyone will have their own take from the rally, and whether it was successful or not, but to me, I think Jon asked America to show the sane are out there in force, and we did.

My only regret is flying into Dulles - never doing that again.

Sunday, October 31st

My weekend ended in Boston with W00tstock, and it couldn't have been a better ending, though it wasn't without its share of frustrations. This was my first W00stock, and although I had seen tweets about it and a few blog posts, I really didn't know what to expect. I just knew I would enjoy it. (If you're not familiar with W00tstock, it was started by Paul and Storm, Wil Wheaton, and Adam Savage and is billed as 3 hours of "geek vaudeville." Wil was not present due to filming conflicts, but was represented by Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy.) Since it was their Halloween show, it was requested that the audience wear costumes. It took me awhile to figure out what my costume would be - I really wanted to dress as a pirate for Paul and Storm's "The Captain's Wife's Lament," but at the same time thought that would be a bit cliche. I knew it would be a geek audience, so I could get away with a geeky costume. I came across Star Trek uniforms online, and the idea came to me - I would combine the captain's uniform from TNG with pirate accessories to make: Pirate Captain! Corny and geeky all in one. That's how I roll.

I left my house at 4pm to get to Boston for the 7pm show. It's a 2 hour drive. I made it to the show with just minutes to spare. I fucking hate driving in Boston. So much so that it bears repeating: I fucking hate driving in Boston. Between the road construction, the bizarre intersections that make no sense, and police barricades for no apparent reason, I was beginning to think I would never make it to the show. (Later I would be unsure I would ever make it out of Boston to get home, but I eventually prevailed, both times.)

The show was absolutely fantastic, more than I could have hoped for. It didn't end after 3 hours...closer to 4.5 hours, but I was cool with that. One of the highlights for me was Grant Imahara. Now, I knew Grant from Mythbusters, but had never googled him to learn about his background. I knew he had an engineering background, and was definitely into robots. He talked about his (promotional) time as C-3PO over the course of 10 years, and what it was like inside the suit. It was a neat behind the scenes look at one of the most iconic robot figures in our culture. And so cool that he wore the suit! My respect level for him definitely went up a few notches after his presentation. (I'm not going to lie...I think Grant is a good looking man and I have to say, he looks even better in person.)

The only thing I was disappointed by is that Adam wasn't on stage for very long - I would have thought that as one of the founders of W00tstock, he would have had more of a presence. Maybe the time had something to do with it, I don't know. Adam, by the way, is exactly how he is on Mythbusters - friendly, zany, a little immature and just awesome. He makes a good wookie too. Going back to the plus side of things, I was introduced to the music of Marian Call and if you have not been introduced yet, go, go now to her website and get introduced. Her use of a typewriter is just magical. That's all I'm saying.

If you get a chance to go to W00tstock, I would highly recommend it.