I'm entering a bunch of events into my Google Calendar on the web interface and am wondering if I should do them all in local time or select the proper timezone.
If I explicitly pick a timezone (e.g. 1 PM PST) and it shows up as 4 PM EST, will it "fix" it when I go out to California? What about events with different starting and ending time zones?
Yes, at least for me. All of my events are stored as GMT and the time of the event is displayed based on the time of the device (my location).
Now, I don't know what happens if you "specify" the timezone like you mentioned, as I have never done that.
Google calender works with time zones exactly like you hope it would. All events shift appropriately based on your local time zone without user intervention. I particularly like how on the web you can specify a different time zone for the start and end of an event so you can accurately record the time of an airplane trip.
Yes, this will all work as smoothly as you hope.
I recently traveled to a different timezone. Before the trip I added a lot of events in my Google calendar with an explicit timezone set (of my destination). Google (and my phone) did the timezone math correctly when I was there.
The only caveat is that if you travel somewhere outside of your phone's cellular service, then it will not be able to automatically set the timezone (assuming you leave that feature enabled generally). You'll need to use
Settings -> Date & time, then un-check
Automatic and then manually set the local timezone.