Meeting the Mythbusters

Greetings from the still-starstruck lovely Jenn. Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman swung through Portland Sunday for a spirited question and answer session with Rick Emerson at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. I was impressed with how many school-age kids were in attendance and genuinely thrilled to see Adam and Jamie in person. Some of the best questions came from the younger kids. There was a precocious boy no older than six or seven who asked Jamie what it was really like to be in the Tesla coil. As this kid grows up, let’s hope he uses his knowledge for good.During the discussion, Adam and Jamie repeatedly stressed that even when their experiments “fail”, they are still successful because they learn from the experience. The guys were incredibly down-to-earth, and obviously enjoyed sharing the love of their work with the audience. On the question of how to become a Mythbuster, becoming a voracious reader is key. Neither of them specifically trained for the field, and insatiable curiosity about what makes stuff tick keeps them going. Get your hands dirty, explore the world around you, and maybe (big maybe!) someday you can get paid to conduct wacky experiments and blow stuff up.

We watched blooper reels, many explosions, and footage that couldn’t be aired. I laughed so hard I was nearly in pain. Only the Mythbusters would build a rig specifically for the efficient lighting of one’s farts and capture the results with a high speed camera. Good times.

After the show, Aaron and I went backstage for a brief meet and greet in the green room. Ack! How do you prepare to meet your heroes? I have a great deal of respect for Adam and Jamie, and I was terrified of coming across as a goofy fangirl. (Says the woman who wore her “Danger – May Geek Out With No Warning” t-shirt and Kermit the Frog cameo lapel pin to the event – hey, at least they were given a little bit of advanced notice.) My heart pounded as we waited in the hallway before we were invited in.

Aaron swears to me that I was fine, and that I didn’t geek out too badly. He was introduced as “the guy working to get 42nd Avenue renamed as Douglas Adams Boulevard,” and Adam wished him luck. I asked Jamie how many resumes they receive, and his response of a half-dozen a day surprised me. I really expected his company to get more, although potential applicants may have done their homework and noticed that the website clearly states that no applicants from outside the Bay Area would be considered. I didn’t have a follow-up question ready, and I didn’t want to take too much of their time because after two hours of answering questions, they were probably ready to relax and be out of “onstage” mode.

We posed for a couple of photos before leaving the Mythbusters at the mercy of a group of anxiously excited kids. I think I made it as far as the first landing before I lost my composure and went massively giddy. Wow!!! By the time I got home, my brain was itching with questions I should have asked in order to start a good conversation with them. I have finally come to the conclusion that under the guise of a routine meet and greet this is a tough task, and I shouldn’t be ashamed of not making a stronger impression with them because “I’m such a huge fan of your work! You guys are so awesome!” is generally a non-starter. It is so hard to turn off the little fantasy in the back of my head where I talk shop with them and compare notes on projects. I really just didn’t know where to start.

At the end of the day, my inner child is still doing cartwheels over meeting the Mythbusters. My next goal is to have a beer or two with Mike Rowe. Don’t laugh. You’d jump at that opportunity the same way I would.

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