Geek Mentor

Profiles in Geek Mentors: Cousin Danny

Geek Mentor

Cousin Danny: Portrait of the Geek Mentor as a Young Man.

I grew up geeky: comic books, sci-fi movies and television, the works. It led me to a career marketing comics and enjoying conventions of all stripes. However! While it is good to be a geek these days–with mighty Marvel movies making mucho moolah at the multiplexes and darker DC dramas dominating the (television) dial–back in my day (the halcyon ’80s) we had it tougher. I mean, I had to walk five feet across shag carpeting both ways to turn the channel to catch reruns of The Incredible Hulk!

But in all seriousness, geek culture was not as prevalent or accessible when I was growing up, so as a mature adult, I feel the need to thank and recognize the geek mentors who nurtured my nascent nerdiness along the way, and I’m starting with one who is significant to both my brother and me: Cousin Danny.

Uncle Bruce is my mother’s older brother, and six years after we relocated from California to Oregon (stow it, haters), he moved himself and Aunt Judy to nearby Gladstone with sons Danny and Bryan. At the time, I was six and Danny was nine–impressively older, but not terrifying like 13-year-old Bryan (I’ll be writing a separate tribute to Bryan in a future installment). So when we got together for holidays and whatnot, Danny was leader and playmate to me and my little brother BJ–young enough to enjoy a game that included spinning around his dad’s pool table while listening to “Beep Beep” by the Playmates on the record player, but old enough to transfix us with his genius.

Mild mannered and round cheeked, Danny was perhaps an improbable genius. I have to admit that he played the accordion. But! In his room (where we loved to hang out), he had all of the books to solve all of the different Rubix cubes–extremely cool to us–and even more impressive, he had a Commodore 64, a futuristic device that allowed him to type to other people across the country, in real time! It was like having a pen pal–without having to wait for the mailman!

It was Danny who showed us movies like Gremlins, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and War Games, all on VHS tapes copied by Aunt Judy super-long-play style from cable (they had HBO!). But even better: Cousin Danny was the person who showed us Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back for the first time.

Now, would I have watched Star Wars and Empire without Cousin Danny? Of course. Would I have watched them repeatedly until I actually paid attention? Perhaps not. You see, as a young girl (around seven or eight), I initially dismissed them as “boy movies.” It wasn’t until the fourth or fifth time that I suddenly realized, “Hey! I like these movies. These aren’t boy movies at all!” And I was ready to see Return of the Jedi in the theaters. When I saw The Force Awakens this year (with my brother), I thought of Danny and smiled.

Danny also gave us our first taste of freedom: I vividly remember my brother and I being allowed to go see a double feature of Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and The NeverEnding Story with just Danny–no grownups. I was nine, with money in my pocket to go buy a second round of refreshments during intermission. Truly a heady experience.

Unfortunately, Bruce and Judy moved to upstate New York in 1988, with both cousins eventually joining them, before the whole clan settled near Atlanta, Georgia. However! I was reunited with Dan (Danny no more) a few years ago at–where else–Dragon Con, one of the biggest, craziest geek conventions on the planet.

DanFrame

Cousin Dan today: geek mentor and Dragon Con master!

While Dan has grown up to work in software development (of course), he still books a room at the Dragon Con host hotel every year, and he’s an integral part of The Outworlders, Atlanta, a “science fiction, fantasy and horror fan group that supports and promotes gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender themes within these genres.”

So I salute and thank you, Cousin Dan: hero, genius, geek mentor, and master of my old Speak N’ Spell. I hope you know you’ve made our lives much more interesting and entertaining, and may the Force be with you!

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Happy Monday: Links to Make Your Day Brighter

Happy Monday! Here are some fun/interesting/hilarious links to help you transition into your work week–or, if you’re me, finish up the weekend’s laundry and plan a trip to WinCo. Yes I am living the dream, thank you very much.

Coming later this week: more Circle of Chicken recipes (I’m testing a new one tonight!), a post about baby bedtime routines (I swear Sarah’s has made everything better), and probably more X-Men and Murder, She Wrote hijinks.

But first: let’s see how Jessica Fletcher feels about Mondays!

Via Murder, She Blogged, a fantastic and funny MSW recap site.

Via Murder, She Blogged, a fantastic and funny MSW recap site.

I heard about the passing of Leonard Nimoy, Star Trek‘s inscrutable Mr. Spock, with a heavy heart. Not only did Nimoy perfectly inhabit a beloved character for decades, but he was also an incredibly decent human being who believed strongly in loving and respecting others. NPR has a wonderful interview with him here. This weekend we watched Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan (weeping through Spock’s funeral) and  , which was directed by Nimoy. He was proud of the fact that there was no “villain” to kill in this movie–instead, the conflict sprung from human nature.

Another Rachel & Miles X-Plain the X-Men podcast is live! This week, they tackle the Shadow King, Charles Xavier’s inconsistent mobility, and New Mutants #29-34. If you missed my announcement last week, I was lucky enough to be tapped to guest host next week’s episode, in which Miles and I explore the 1985 and 1997 X-Men/Alpha Flight miniseries. Huge thanks to Rachel and Miles!

Want to cook something healthy, cheap, and incredibly delicious? Braised Coconut Spinach with Chickpeas and Lemon gets five stars in my book!

Need something to watch? Here’s The Best and Worst of What’s New on Netflix This Month, according to Pajiba. Best? Secret of NIMH. Worst? Grease 2. Or is that the best worst? I might want a Cool Rider!

I have a confession: I love, love, love Jennifer L. Scott’s Daily Connoisseur weblog and books. Her 10-Item Wardrobe made me so much better organized–and dressed! I also love that she emphasizes pursuing cultural activities and finding enjoyment in your everyday life. However, she’s a bit of a guilty pleasure for me, because she sometimes comes off like Diane Chambers. You know what I mean. I mean, I love my trash, too!

Got any awesome blogs to share–even your own? Post ’em below!