What Happens when “geek” hits mainstream?

The new Miss USA comes out as a geek, and sends the world on its ear. “Oh god, she’s too pretty to be a geek.” Really? Or is she jumping on the bandwagon as others suggest? Some of the criticism is even coming from within our own geek culture! Is it hard for some of us to imagine that among the ranks of geeks and nerds, who stereotypically have been pictured as awkward less attractive individuals living in the basement, there are people who are simply coming out because they never wanted to be viewed as a geek because of the stigma?

If you grew up in the 80’s and were labeled ‘nerd’, were or are picked on for liking Star Wars or Lord Of The Rings, looked at funny as you walked up to the check-out counter of a toy store by yourself with several Transformers in hand, or made to throw away your Dungeons and Dragons books because they were called satanic, then you know what stigma I speak of. Even if you hid what you loved, you probably heard ridicule because of how you looked, walked, acted, spoke. You wear glasses to help your eyesight, and are scoffed at because of this. Kick me signs on the back, wedgies, dirt in the face, spit in your food. Coworkers talk behind your back because you come in on a day off with a Batman shirt on, have a few My Little Pony’s in your cubicle, or have that awesome FLCL wallpaper on your work PC.

Patton Oswalt wrote that geek culture needs to die in order to move forward. I say not necessarily. I’m one of those old school geeks who had to toss out D&D books cause of religious kooks, got picked on cause of looks, had to give away Star Wars and Transformers toys because I was “too old for them”. Now I live in a day and age when I see and hear about geek culture from all over the world. Social networking is a great tool for meeting people, much more evolved than old CRT telnet clients (yes, I said telnet, look it up if you are scratching your head), and allowed people from all over to connect.

So how does this relate to the idea that beautiful women have to prove their geek cred? In my eyes, they don’t! I learned from those who picked on me as a kid so many years ago to not have the same prejudice against others. Maybe some of them are pandering to geeks and nerds just to get our attention because they are sexy and attractive? Sure, every culture has those types. Give them your attention for a little while, then go back to your own thing. If they later turn their backs on geeks, did we lose anything? No. There are hundreds of thousands of people in this world who claim geek and/or nerd. Some keep it quiet, only to speak of it in confident circles and behind closed doors and computer screens. Others fly the flag with pride, whether that be the Autobot sticker on your car, the Stormtrooper armor you march in parades with, or the way you interject yourself into conversation when the topic of how good is “Game of Thrones” comes up.

My message is an obvious one. Be yourself. And that even goes to those ignite the fires of debate among us geeks. It’s fine to talk about and question others sometimes. Long as it’s not hurtful to either side. Some of your were in debate teams in school remember? Conversations about attractiveness and geek cred help keep our minds fresh, they bring out geeks who otherwise would not have a voice. I’m one of them. A year ago I would have never talked much about it. Now, I can’t wait to head out in the world, traveling to different conventions and events….and simply saying “Hello, how are ya today?” to all my fellow geeks and nerds.

We’re a culture, a family, a mighty force of nature. Stand tall, be proud, wear your geek on your shoulder and your nerd on your chest. Show respect to each other, raise your children with a bit of science and Spongebob. We are geeks. We are nerds. We are mighty!!


Unity And Equality

A quick explanation. Katie Cook is the creator of the webcomic “Gronk”, as well as an artist who has done works of Star Wars, Fraggle Rock, Jim Henson, and other properties. NOH8 is a movement brought about by California Proposition 8, which is an amendment to their constitution that states that marriage between a man and woman only will be recognized in the state of California.
Via Twitter, Katie noted the other day that a reader of her comic had sent her an email. In the email, she was asked to remove the “NOH8” logo from the main character Dale’s t shirt, or they would cease reading of the comic. She replied to him, in her own polite way, that she would not. She also quoted on Twitter that, “I think it is discriminating against anyone because of who they believe in or who they love is bullshit.”
I’ll go on record right now and state to all my readers that I am a supporter of gay marriage and gay rights in general. Many of my friends are gay, and I have seen the struggles they face in life. However, I do not see them as gay; I see them as human beings. They deserve the same right and privileges that each and every one of us has. If you want me to being this into the movement I am in, many gay people are geeks and nerds just like us, why would we discriminate against them? They are no different than us, and stand shoulder to shoulder with us to show our unity.
The more I think on this and talk about it, the more I hope to see a geek and nerd unity. Let us show the masses that we are proud of who we are, welcome all with open minds, and share no ill thoughts to others. We may differ on opinions and views, but we are intelligent enough to simply share our views, not force them on others. This is why I always welcome discussion here. Have your own voice.

May The Fourth Be With You

I’m going to start a bit of a series with this, and I hope to reach out to all my fellow geeks. Maybe this is just retreading ideas we have all had, but with this being a grand day for Star Wars fans and geek and nerds in general, why not say it anyways.

Inspired by others, I wish to make a simple statement.

We are geeks. We are nerds. We are fanboys. We are otaku. More importantly, we are family. This is more than just a hobby, it is a lifestyle. This is our culture. It does not need to die, it simply needs to flourish. We may hit bumps in the road; we may get the occasional stone tossed at us. Words will be said to us that are both praise and scathing. It hurts, yes, but the pain will not last. And for every one bully you face, a hundred fellow brothers and sisters will come to your aid.

Just remember, if you feel down or scared about showing your geek and nerd to the world, think about every 501st trooper who gives up their time to bring a smile to a sick child. Remember every year how we unite to say, “May the fourth be with you.” Remember the friends you made as you stood in line for that chance to meet Stan Lee. Never forget that the money you spent on a shirt, hat, or even an in game pet, went to a good cause.

Why are we family? We stand together, shoulder to shoulder, equal in our own eyes and hearts. As long as you believe in the geek within you, you never have to prove your geek to anyone.

Let’s have a conversation, shall we?

The Measure Of A Collector

“How did you get your start as a collector?”

I remember back when I was a very, VERY young kid, and my grandfather gave me my first comic books. I still have it. It is two issues of Brave and the Bold from DC comics with Batman, one with him fighting Metamorpho, and the other featuring Dr. Fate. I also remember around that time sitting in front of a black and white TV (this was the early 80’s people, color TV was still kinda expensive I think) and watching Adam West and Burt Ward fight crime as Batman and Robin on Saturday mornings. I think it’s safe to say that thanks to those early years, I became a lifelong Batman fan.

“But, what about Star Wars? Aren’t you a huge Star Wars fan too?”

Sure am. Around the same time as the early Batman exposure I can remember going up to my grandparents house on Christmas day and looking in awe at the most awesomest toys ever: The AT-AT and the Millenium Falcon. However, there was one character in Star Wars that grabbed my attention more than anyone, and that was Boba Fett. You see, Empire was my first Star Wars film, since I was way too young to see the first one in theaters. I finally got to see the first one a year or so after seeing Empire thanks to my uncle who had the most advanced bit of tech available in the early 80’s, a BetaMax player.

“So you probably got tons of stuff from Batman and Star Wars I imagine.”

Not really. Matter of fact the only remnants from my childhood are those two issues of Brave and the Bold. Don’t get me wrong, I had tons when I was a kid. Star Wars, Batman, Transformers, G.I. Joe. I even had the USS Flagg aircraft carrier, and for being a kid from a family without a lot of money, that was something of a status symbol for me. Sadly though, all of those toys were lost, sold, broken, and in some cases simply forgotten due to time and changing attitudes.

“What do you mean, changing attitudes?”

These days, I wear my geek badge with pride and carry my nerd I.D. card wherever I go. I also had days back in middle and high school where I tried to be one of the ‘cool kids’. I never went so far as to start playing sports, but I tried to shed that image of being some kind of nerd. For a while, I saw collecting toys as something for kids. I thought it was just something stupid. Then, I started my first job in a comic shop.

“You worked in a comic shop?”

Yep. Memory Lane Comics to be exact. Started working there shortly after a guy named Adam took over from the old man who owned it for so long.

(oh, side note. I remember going to Memory Lane when I was very little, not sure exactly when, but I know G.I. Joe #1 from Marvel Comics was on the new rack)

Working at the comic shop did two things for me, well three really. First, it showed me that being a comic and toy collector was something alot of people of all ages did. Two, it showed me the value of taking care of collectibles. And three, it showed me that if you let a cat live in your shop like old man Henry did……oh god the yellow bags……

I still have nightmares about the yellow bags.

“And now? Sounds like you got it made now.”

From a certain point of view. I told someone recently that I was gonna sell off quite a bit of my Star Wars collection and they reacted like doing so doesn’t make me a collector. It was a joke, but it really got me thinking, “I’m a huge Boba Fett fan yet I only have a few figures. I love Batman but the comics I own are few of those titles.” So I want to refocus myself. I want to build a new computer soon. I want that sweet looking Boba Fett life size bust. I want to have a kick ass run of Batman and Detective comics. I can’t do that while I am trying to buy everything under the sun.

“So what truly makes someone a collector?”

If you are a geek and/or nerd and you love something so much you want to own stuff, then you are a collector. I think the highlight of my collecting life has to be two events. The first was heading to a show in Tennessee called AdventureCon and getting to meet the man who wore the Boba Fett suit, Jeremy Bullock. And of course, I can never forget DragonCon back in 2008, when I got to meet Adam West. I don’t care how many of you young people grew up watching him voice the Mayor from ‘Family Guy’, he IS Batman.

(Trivia note: The other most notable appearance, at least in voice, for West was in the Batman Animated Series episode ‘The Gray Ghost” as Simon Trent/Gray Ghost, who Bruce Wayne idolized as a child and used as influence later when he became Batman. Cool.)

So I guess my message to all my fellow geeks and nerds is this: Collect what YOU want. We are all in this together. I’m not trying to be better than the other guy, I’m not worried about how much I own. I just want to get the cool stuff.

Oh, and I still have a goal to meet Wil Wheaton and Felicia Day next. And Kevin Smith too, though if I get called up on stage for a performance of “Let Us Fuck”…..oh boy……

“Loose Cannon”

Note, this isn’t quite SFW just cause of language, just in case you really need to know

Ok, todays isn’t so much a teaser as more of a snippet. Well, not really a snippet since its not from anything yet really developed. I just find that sometimes I want to write a passage from a story to kinda get the idea of the mood and how the characters will act. All this stemmed from last night. As I was laying down for bed I just had something come to mind. I’m really glad for my iPhone and the notepad on it, cause this is what was written down:

Aryana Morrison, born October 5th, 2260 in New Cairo, Dakota. Age 28.

So that’s it, my story now has a protagonist, and she has a name. Now, why New Cairo and Dakota? Well, I always envisioned doing a story set in the future, in a time when political rivalries mattered more than the well being of the masses. A time where technology was so integral in our lives that it bordered on overkill. Countries and even states fought over borders. War both large and small ravaged the land. Cities were destroyed and rebuilt. People lived on the moon, Mars, and even on Saturn’s moon Titan. Society has both embraced and rejected religion. And a detective working a simple industrial espionage case gets in way over her head. So here is another sample:

Shots rang though the nightclub as a strange hooded figure ran though, knocking over patrons and tables. Aryana persued him, gun drawn, looking for the chance for a clear shot. As the hooded assailant jumped onto the stage, he grabbed one of the dancers and drew a unusual gun, placing the muzzle to her temple.

“Stay back bitch, or this whore dies!”

Aryana stopped, sights trained on her foe. “Your wanted Jarna…dead or alive. Don’t think that holding a hostage is going to stop me from bringing in your head.”

‘Drop your gun or she ge…..” A shot pierced through the dancer’s head and exited the back of the hood. Blood and viscera splattered onto the curtains and back wall as the two bodies collaped onto the stagefloor. As terrified patrons dashed out of the front and back exits, Aryana walked up to the bodies, gun still trained just in case. The dancer, a synthetic humanoid, lay motionless, her eyes wide open and a yellowish fluid coming from the wounds in her head. Aryana kneeled and pulled the hood back from the attacker. It was Jarna alright. He was Telzaran, almost human in appearance except for the lack of ears and eye pupils. She smiled a bit, “Got ’em.”

Outside, police and rescue vehicles gathered. Aryana walked out of the bar, carring with her Jarna’s ident pack. She walked up to her captain, who didn’t look very pleased.

“What in the fuck do you think you’re doing?! I told you to track Jarna and bring him in, not raise holy fucking hell downtown! And to top that off, killing a civilian? You’re stepping way over the god damned line this time!!”

“Look,” She said calmly, holding out the pack. “I got him. He’s not going to cause any more trouble for the company. All the information they were looking for is here. And besides, the only people who died are a murderer and spy, and a repro whore.”

The captain statched the bundle from her, still raging with anger. “I don’t give a good shit damn what you think about clones, they still got all the same rights under the law as anybody! If you keep this up, I’ll have you busted down to traffic patrol on Mars. How would you like that?”

She turned away, walking to her craft. “Well, beats working this shitty place.” She turned her head back and gave him a flirtatious look with her piercing ice blue eyes. “But you know you can’t bear to get rid of me, I’m the best you got.”

The door to her craft shut and it took off. The captain stood his ground, and muttered, “You’re right, but you got bigger problems than me girl….”

Not such a nice person is she? Well, thats really the point. This is a world that doesn’t breed nice people anymore. Don’t worry though, I promise you that you’ll see the good people when its all said and done.

“The Red Lights And Dark Nights”

Ok, another night and another teaser. What I am trying to do is challenge myself to write one blog a day and write more and more on some ideas for stories I have had for so long. This one is kind of an old project for me. It started many, MANY years ago when I wrote a fiction story for an english class in high school. Set in a distant future on our own world, a world that has been corrupted by our own greed and thirst for power. I decided to change the main character from a male to female, and have her as a cop instead of some crazy superhero. Still got alot to do on this one, but here is another little taste.

“I hate this city. Lived here all my life. Seen it go from being one of the brightest and wealthiest cities on the Americas continent to sinking into a pit of filth and corruption. Whores of all races and species constantly beg for your money, and petty thieves simply try to take it by force. Most of the businesses here are centered around synthour and drugs. Some cater to those damn posi-brains. Why do I walk these streets every night? Least the job pays well, being a cop here means always having something to do. And at least its better than living up there….”

Ok, thats it for now. I swear this is one I really want to work on and cross my fingers will get published one day in the future.

Clerks, or…is it?

I’m back!!! So after months of not writing anything due to a drastic change in life including moving, I’m finally gonna get back to blogging. One thing I want to do with my blog is use it as a tool to show off my art and writing. I’ll try to write a longer poster later, but for now….a teaser of what I am working on. The idea came to me while working on deliveries the other day….

“I hear people all the time say it. Always saying how wonderful it must be to work in a comic shop. Well, they must be on crack if they think its really that great. The hours suck, the owner never does anything (and hardly even makes an appearance), the customers REALLY suck, and the pay is terrible. The good part? Well, some of the customers are too bad. My sis works here with me too, and we actually get along most of the time. And then of course….there’s her……..”

Yeah, that’s it, nothing more than a teaser. Hey, isn’t that how we felt after watching those Super Bowl commercials? Well, I’ll work on it and write more soon. And look for some awesome photography here soon once I get my taxes back and get me a new DSLR.

Episode I: The Shortpants Menace

So last month I had the pleasure of being able to write a story for a contest by John Scalzi. Basically you had to come up with a short story based upon this picture:

yeah, kinda wierd eh? Well, it was alot of fun trying to come up with some kind of fitting explanation as to how these two vastly unique characters came together, and why Wil Wheaton is riding the craziest looking creature ever seen outside of Monty Python. So, I dug deep, and came up with this story…enjoy!

The Day The Skies Rained….Kittens?

Sir Wil had never been one to play with the fair and just. After all, when you are the leader of a group of warriors and mercenaries who look up to a rather hideous demonic clown, people tend to look at you with a bit of disgust. This did not bother Wil though, for he was very assured of himself, almost self-centered in a way. Basically, he was a rather arrogant fellow.

Now, just because the Demonic Klown Order took their orders from, well, a demonic clown, did not necessarily make them evil. Quite to the contrary, they are considered among the grandest of citizens and the guardians of the capital city of Gothgeelia in the land of Wheatonia. And on this fateful day, Sir Wil and his gallant guard shall be put to the test. For it is today, that the Orcs invade.

Orcs. Vile, hideous deformed creatures from the deepest and darkest nightmares. They lived deep in the volcanic Ignilian mountains far south of Gothgeelia. Long have they been a bane to the townspeople, due in no part to a deep hated of all humans for having captured many orcs and put them into slavery. On this day, the Orcs were preparing to rise up and conquer the humans.

Its was two months prior that Sir Wil, at the request of the people and the ruling council, had asked for a cease fire with the orcs and to speak with their leader, Scalz. Its was in the forest of Exteia that this fateful encounter was to happen.

The orcs arrived at the agreed upon meeting location mere moments before spotting the humans approaching on horseback from the the west. Sir Wil, however, was not among them. He rode high above on the great creature known as the unifelphon, a rather drollish looking creature. Best described as a gryphon with a unicorn horn and the head of a delightfully cute kitten, its purpose in life was simply to ferry commanders into battle, whilst distracting the enemy with its blatant odd cuteness. Then of course it gouges your eyes out.

“Come down here and face me man to man, pink skin!” Scalz shouted into the sky. The unifelphon swooped down with a fierce speed and landed mere paces from the feet of the enemy orcs. Sir Wil slowly dismounted, his chainmail armor brightly adorned with the colors of their order, which curiously took the shape of a clown. He stood tall, not only in reality but in self-assuredness. A smug, wily grin came across his youthful bearded face.

“You, sir, are no man. Matter of fact it is not even clear if calling you a man is even proper. And how dare you call me a pink skin.” He said, his eyes looking up, as if searching for answers. Or words. “I shall have you know that we humans are not in any way pink, and we would ask that you and all orcs cease from calling us that. It is rather insulting.”

“Hah, I bet you turn pink when we boil ya in a steaming cauldron!!” A voice shouted from within the crowd, followed by a burst of laughter from the orc legion.

“Enough!” Sir Wil shouted. “Lets just get this started and over with as quick as possible. Now, in exchange for you not attacking any human villages from here on out, we are willing to give orcs work in the farms and in the villages helping out with menial tasks. Your pay will be rations and better rags to cloth yourselves in. Agreed?”

“That is slavery!” Scalz replied with much hatred. “We orcs shall not, and will never be, slaves to you or to any humans ever. We live free!!” The cheers and chants from the orc legion echoed through the forest.

“No? Very well then, we are done here” Wil proclaimed, as he turned and walked back to his mount.

“Wait, that’s it? No negotiating at all?” Scalz asked of Wil.

“Negotiate? The mere fact that you even know of the word is hilarious in itself..” he replied. “And besides, those frilly shortpants of yours are hurting my eyes. Men, we are….”

“What!” Scalz interrupted. “How dare you insult my grand gimcrack. You shall pay for this insult with the death of every pink skin in Gothgeelia! Rest assured Wil. In two hours time, I shall return with the largest army of orcs you have seen. We will tear down the walls of your precious city and feast in the halls of the Demonic Klown!”

Back in the present, as the orc legions hammered and clawed at the main door into the city, Sir Wil took to the skies. He knew that the only way to stop the legions once and for all was to kill Scalz and tear down their morale. However, did he have it in him to take another life, no matter how twisted? As he soared the sky, he spotted Scalz’s encampment planted onto an outcropping on the tallest of the volcanic peaks.

Orc scouts signaled to Scalz that Wil was approaching. His gaze fixed on the smoke filled skies, and he drew his mighty battle axe in preparation for what could be a final battle. As Sir Wil swooped in upon his mighty unifelphon, its from claws gleaming and ready for striking, he took his spear in hand. With a mighty throw, it found its mark with deadly precision…….in Scalz’s foot.

Sir Wil, assured of victory, leapt from the sky and his mount. As he found his footing, he drew his sword from the sheath on his back, its sharp slightly curved blade glinting in the light. He walked over to his adversary, who desperately tugged at the heavy spear that pinned his foot the the mountain rock.

“Surrender. You have lost the battle.”

“Never, pink skin, not as long as I still hold my axe!”

As he raised his axe to strike, Wil sliced the air with his sword. The razor sharp blade found its mark, separating Scalz’s axe, and hand, from him.

“No!” he shouted in agony. “Thats my good hand you demon! The battle can not end like this!”

“Call off your army now, Scalz, and I shall let you leave with your life.”

“Very well, Sir Wil, but mark my words. The orcs shall return in much stronger numbers and conquer your people.” Scalz said as he tore the spear, finally, from his foot.

“Please,” Sir Wil said to him with a slight chuckle. “Don’t be a ninny.”

The orcs began retreating into the dark valleys of the Ignilian mountains. And as the smoke cleared and the fires put out, life in Gothgeelia began to return to normal. Children played in the streets, men drank ales in the taverns, women did womanly things, and Sir Wil stood proud in the halls of the Demonic Klown, having saved the day once again.

However, carried in the breeze, was a distant echo. An echo of a maniacal cackle. Somewhere, beyond the great sea, a demon plotted……..

The End?

The Curious Case Of A Human Centipede

So last week I had the dubious pleasure (or displeasure?) of watching a little independent film called “The Human Centipede”. Now, knowing virtually nothing about this film save for the little bit of information I shaved from the net before going over to a friend’s house to view it introduced an interesting experience to say the least. Because of work schedules and other influences, it is rare that I get to view a film with others for the first time. This was a case when no one in the viewing party had seen this film prior, so we were going in with something of unbiased eyes.

Now, before I proceed further, I should note a few things. One, I am not a hardcore horror and terror fan. I’ve always been more of a science fiction and fantasy film fan myself. Horror and me have flirted a little bit in the past, but it wasn’t until I got to go to a little show in Baltimore called Horrorfind that I really started an appreciation for horror. Most of my likes tend to be of the classics (Dracula, Frankenstein), the staples (Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street), and the low budget/indie/exploitation (Evil Dead, Chainsaw Sally). The staples are ones I really dislike because they start out great but get so watered down in sequel after sequel and even now remakes and reboots. Indies are a favorite though mainly because of my being able to meet some of the creators in person and learn about their passion for the genre.

That brings me to the ‘indie’ Human Centipede. I give it quotes because to me, indie films need no major studio backing, and tend to focus more on the gore and terror. If the director of Centipede really wanted to do go he should have talked to the master of schlock, Lloyd Kaufman. Lloyd has given us such rich and sick films as Toxic Avenger and the “I want to see if for the title alone” masterpiece Poultrygeist. I’m really not gonna get into too much detail about the plot of Centipede, other than its just the typical evil scientist tries to mess with human nature formula that has been around for nearly a century in films but has really been lightly touched upon in the last few years. Frankenstein, Island of Dr. Moreau, and Re-Animator are but a few examples.

You are wondering…just what is this film about? Well, basically you got a mad scientist who wants to create. So, he kidnaps three people, and through some admittedly cleverly concealed explicit surgery, he stitched them mouth to…well…rear. His point is to have food go in the front person, through the middle person, and out the end one. Sounds pretty grotesque eh? Well, that’s pretty much the film. Very little blood is seen save for some scenes where the stitched together prisoners try to escape and of course the inevitable final confrontation.

Did I like it? Not really. The first viewing I think I was more disgusted with the idea I was borderline watching scatporn (don’t ask). Plus not having watched anything remotely scary in a while had the effect of not really numbing my senses to the film. Upon a second viewing and comparing it to other films of its, basically, exploitation genre, I just came to the conclusion that this was a film that tried to take itself too seriously and had some horrible acting to accompany it. Most exploitation tends to NOT have messages in it and just assaults your senses. This film is trying to make the viewer feel bad for being human or something, not really sure.

Recommended? Sure.

Wait, why?

Go watch this, then go watch Frankenstein. Only difference is Frankenstein lacks like line, “Swallow, swallow it!!”

Oh, and no ass to mouth. I prefer that in my Kevin Smith films.

A trip down memory lane….

You ever have one of those moments in your life that just triggers a childhood memory so vivid and so wonderful that it brings a smile to your face and perhaps even a tear to your eye? And no I don’t mean the “oh, I just got a spec of dust in there” kinda tear, but the one that shows a thought or feeling of true joy and happiness. Well, I had one of those moments the other morning and let me tell you it was just a wonderful trip back down the road of my geeky past. I was heading into town to do a few errands. It was a nice sunny day. A beautiful blue sky, gentle breeze, and of course the…..wait for it…..frustration and dislike of sitting in traffic. Factor in that my truck has no working a/c at the moment and it was just really kinda miserable. Course all wasn’t so bad. I had some good music playing (i think mc chris but I cannot remember), and I was just off in my own little world.

As I approached a railroad crossing I noticed the gates lowering, a sure sign that a train was coming down the tracks. I was behind the first car in line, so I just popped it in neutral and waited. I don’t really know why I did what I did next, but I reached over to pause my ipod and rolled down both windows. I sat there, listening for that all familiar warning horn signalling the approach. Suddenly, there it was. The low shriek of the train’s main horn, and the dull clack clack of the rails as the large metallic beast lumbered across. Now, what happened next was only a matter of seconds, but what a jolt. I noticed the big diesel engine was pulling the load in reverse. As I glanced out of my driver side window, I caught the eye of the conductor as he sat in his area, arm draped out of the window. In that moment, he looked over toward me, and waved……

It was a nice spring morning in the early 1980’s. The exact year and month escape me, but I’m sure it was a weekend day since I was not in school that day. I ran out of my parents house, grabbed my bike, and rode up to my grandfather’s garage. He was a town mechanic, back when Wilmington was much, MUCH smaller and less populous than it is now. I always like going up there to just play around, watch him work on old cars, and every now and then watch the freight trains go by. I walked up to him and asked, “Grandad, when is the train coming by?” He looked down at me and simply said, “In a few, but today I got a surprise for you.”

Now, normally I just sat in front of the garage and watched the trains pass, counting how many cars were being pulled and writing down the name on the engine. Today was special though. We soon heard the horn sound in the distance. My grandfather took my hand, and walked me up to the road. We looked both ways and crossed the two lane highway. As we walked up to a small dirt road that crossed the tracks, I could see the engine. I was a gray engine, Seaboard Systems Railroad like I had seen numerous times. As the engine approached, I remember looking up and seeing the conductor leaning out of the window, watching ahead. He glanced down at me as he passed us, and waved. “Morning young man!”, he shouted over the loud engine. That was such an awe inspiring sight and it made my whole day……

Back to the morning in my truck. Seeing the conductor waving at me, I waved back. I thought back on that day when I was young. My grandfather has long since passed. The road is now much larger, a sprawling five lane highway. The tracks are long gone, replaced by shopping centers and businesses. The spot where my grandfather and I stood is now a oil change shop. His garage now a vacant lot. Before all the Star Wars and Tranformers, before teenage years and responsibility, I was simply a boy who loved trains, and that was the high point of my life that day.

So to all my friends and to all who read this, remember something and take this with you. If you have children, or ever have then…..have one of those moments. And remember your own moments. We live in an age of computers and ipods and 3D high definition false realities. However, we are geeks, and even geeks have that one simple moment from the past that makes them smile.