Thursday, June 30, 2011

Running with Geeks

My wife and I had the pleasure to attend WITS last Saturday night at the Fitzgerald Theatre in St. Paul. I have to say it was steeped in Geekiness from the get-go, complete with Tweets up on the big screen, an accordion player who knew “Smoke on the Water,” Neil Gaiman’s dogs and lots of other fun stuff. I believe one of the tweets described it as a “hipster sweat lodge” which seemed kind of appropriate. It was one of the more unusual shows I’ve gone to in a while, but I loved every minute of it.

In no particular order, here are some of the things I learned and bits and quotes I liked, all filtered and paraphrased through me, a slightly intoxicated writer/audience member. My apologies in advance for any inaccuracies—and for my inability to recall necessarily who said what when. Q (Claudia) from our very own Scribblerati was there too, as well as her musically gifted husband up on stage. Q please do pipe up about anything I missed or got wrong.

The host told an amusing story about John Clarkson, his invisible friend.

“Have an inner life that goes outside the lines.”

“Allow other worlds in.”

Neil Gaiman talked about how his novel “American Gods” (to be made into a TV miniseries soon) is about the “immigrant experience”

“Funny books take people places and have them see things with new eyes.”

“Geography Sucks”

As a child Neil Gaiman worried about Daleks. Who can blame him?

Neil says he has at least 7 unfinished story ideas in his head now. It sounds like he may work on his books for many years. This makes me feel a little better about my book in progress (also taking years and years)

Some people think you are a particular character in your book—but the truth is the author is ALL the characters in their book(s). You must connect with all characters as you write and give them some little part of your soul for them to come alive and be believable.

Neil read from “American Gods” (The “I believe” speech)

“There are no second acts in American lives.” F. Scott Fitzgerald (Wil Wheaton doesn’t believe this)

To succeed in writing you need other people/writers, hand holding and luck

According to Wil Wheaton the actors on the Big Bang Theory are not really nerds

Josh Ritter sang. I was unfamiliar with him, but really liked his stuff; he performed “Galahad” and “The Curse” and “The Temptation of Adam.” I was impressed by the way his songs all embodied stories.

Which monsters are these celebrities?

Marilyn Monroe = Cave Troll

Thomas Edison = Elf

Benjamin Franklin = Were Turkey

Emily Dickinson = Cthulhu

Josh Ritter = Elf Slayer

The form dictates the story

“Writing a novel is freeing. They don’t have to rhyme” Josh Ritter (song writer)

“Novels have to answer questions—songs don’t” Neil Gaiman

My personal bummer of the night: I failed to bring any device to Tweet with; also I did not win any Neil Gaiman honey during the Intermission

A good story (novel) resonates with other things you know and have read—but takes you someplace different

Neil Gaiman sang his song about Joan of Arc (I’m not sure of title)

Bigfoot has a facebook page. Friend him. He’s probably lonely.

“Believe in giant man-beasts. It’s OK.”

“Witchcraft is involved in Rod Stewart’s career.” Neil Gaiman

“Raising women is difficult.” Adam Savage (MythBusters)

“Liquid Oxygen is some of the scariest stuff on Earth.”

On the MythBusters TV show when nothing happens with one of their experiments, “it’s the scariest thing possible.”

Adam Savage is a bleeder. He also did the most awesome imitation of Gollum I’ve heard. Tremendously funny! Here it is: SavageGollum

Neil read his poem, “The Day the Saucers Came.” Awesome.

The show ended with a group sing along of “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer.” I now get to say (like anyone in the audience) that I’ve sang with Neil Gaiman (as well as the other awesome people there that night).

My wife got to pet one of Neil Gaiman’s dogs. I did not. They didn’t even growl at me.

So what’s my point in all this? Thank God for writers, entertainers, comedians, thinkers, artists, people who think outside the box. This evening was a silly, fun romp and I’m glad we were able to attend. I heard somewhere that “Wits” was sponsored in part by the Minnesota “Legacy Act.” As a taxpayer in Minnesota I think it was money well spent. I find it hard to put a price tag on creativity and joy--and both were in high quantity at this event.

I was also inspired to dig out my copy of "American Gods" and get to reading.


Carolyn Crane said...

Wow! Thanks for this recap. Fun!

Jon said...

Man, sorry I missed it. I assume no direct contact with Neil happened? Mark? Claudia?

Mark Teats said...

It was a great time....

Jon: No direct contact with Neil on my part. Q?

Shawn Enderlin said...

Is it just me or is this conversation beginning to take on a scandalous tone?

Qlaudie said...

I Tweeted Neil to say "hi" to Tony on stage. (He'll be the one playing the clarinet.) Impossibly, Neil SAW the Tweet, and tried to do so!!! However, Tony was not at the rehearsal - he was at another gig right before. So then the next day I sent Mr. Gaiman another Tweet saying thanks for trying - and he twittered me back again. I tried to make a third contact, but no response, no surprise. Very cool that he did that much.
I got to scritch the doggies' ears, and help save them from a vicious Westie. (Okay, vice versa, but the Westie was very sanguine about the whole thing) - I hook Kevin Murphy's hand, and made John Munson (Trip Shakespeare, Twilight Hours) laugh.
And Mark - it was Elf Murderer, not Slayer (which is somehow much funnier to me.) and Thomas Edison was an Elf. As is Kelsey Gramer.
What a fun night! The Golum bit was the best.

Qlaudie said...

"shook" not "hook"
This is worth watching too - Neil Gaiman wrote this song with Ben Fold. There's Tony behind Neil's head. Heh.

Anonymous said...

This is not music. This is awful amateur night. Gaiman is a crap musician and should take some lessons.

Jon said...

Gasp! Our first Troll! Another milestone reached.