TAM 5 Report #1: Wherein I name drop, and be a geek

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Jan 20, 2007

I am in Las Vegas! Woohoo!

I'm here for The Amazing Meeting, a gathering of skeptics from across the globe, where we talk about pseudoscience, frauds, psychics (oops-- same thing) and generally sit around and doubt stuff. It's wonderful.

The lineup gets better every year. We have the usual strong showing of folks, like Michael Shermer, Julia Sweeney (more on her in a sec), Hal Bidlack, Jamy Ian Swiss, Richard Wiseman, and of course Penn & Teller. But last year we got the Mythbusters, and this year Adam Savage is back (more on him in a sec too). It's been a whirlwind day, and there's already been way too much to comment on. First, the man himself:

Randi gave the opening comments, and he was terrific. We had a scare last year when he had a heart attack after TAM4, but after months of surgery, hard work, and support from all of us who love him dearly, he is now fit, healthy, and ready to unflimflam the flummery.

We had great speeches from Shermer, my dear friend Genie Scott from NCSE (she was a key player in the creationism Dover trials last year), and many more. Richard Wiseman, despite computer woes, gave a great talk (I'll have more on him tomorrow or the next). Penn & Teller did a Q&A which was funny and wonderful-- Teller never talks in their act, which is a pity. He is incredibly articulate, warm, funny, and really has a great voice. Irony. Here they are, with Hal giving them their plaques:

Penn is always mobbed at TAM, but I got a couple of minutes to chat with him. He has a national radio show, and tomorrow I will go to his house (called the Slammer) to tape an interview! Holy Haleakale! I have always wanted to see his house-- it's a trip, with toys and gags and goofiness everywhere. I will corner him into doing a brief webcam interview with me, and I'll post it here.

I thought I would too busy for dinner, but I was able to get away for a few minutes to go to the Star Trek exhibit at the Hilton. I ate dinner at Quark's Bar, which was a RIOT. I am such the Trek Geek. Look at this swag:

That model was enormous, three meters long at least. I ran into an old friend, too:

Give yourself three points if you know that was a Gorn. Ah, but who wrote the original story? It's one of my favorite stories, and by a favorite author. Get them both right for ten (non-redeemable) points.

Finally, over the bar was this inflatable Klingon ship:

I have two dogs, and when they get in that position in the back yard I know to get a plastic bag. I didn't know birds-of-prey could do that. I guess it's a warp core dump. HAHAHAHAHAHahahaha! Oh man, geek funny is the best.

Finally, it was back to the Riviera, just in time to see Hal Bidlack do his performance as Alexander Hamilton. I swear, I'm not that interested in history, but Hal is a consummate performer, never dropping character, and giving a fantastic show as Hamilton. He will travel to do the show; if you have a venue for him, seek him out.

Then two very cool things happened. One was that Adam Savage from Mythbusters came in, and I got a chance to chat with him for a few minutes. He was happy to see me again! How frakkin' cool is that? We had a good time last year at TAM 4, but I hardly got to talk to him since he was a superstar there. I'm hoping to get some more time to talk with him here. He has some things on the show coming up I might be able to help them with...

The last cool thing was that my dear, dear friend Julia Sweeney did a show with up-and-coming singer Jill Sobule. Jill's music is kinda rock, kinda folk. She had a small guitar-like thing she had hooked up to an amp, and she sang songs and then Julia would come up and tell hysterical stories about family, love, and the fun and painful things in life. The audience was roaring with laughter and we were eating out of the palms of Jill and Julia's hands. It was the best evening I've had in months.

So there you go, Day One. And I didn't even talk about everything! But I think I've dropped sufficient names and been sufficiently geeky for now. It's 01:00 as I write this, and I'm up early to have breakfast with my old bud Paul Harris, and then give my talk, and then off to The Slammer.

Man oh man. What did I do to deserve this? Surely, these are the best of times.

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