Monday, May 25, 2015

In Which I am (as Always) a Geek

At the beginning of this month, I had the chance to hang out with Christian. When we stopped for lunch, the lady who was our cashier noticed my Spiderman t-shirt and asked if I had seen the new Avengers movie, Age of Ultron. I had not, but that was no hindrance for a conversation about Marvel. She told me about her grandson, who was obsessed with Iron Man. No surprise there. Little boys tend to love him. I think it might be all the cool guns he gets to play with. Make something go boom, and the boys will be fans. She went on to say that they told him Iron Man is Robert Downey Jr. One evening he heard on a commercial that Downey was going to be on a late night show. He begged to stay up to see Iron Man, and they let him, much to his delight. That's the closest many people are able to come to meeting their heroes. I have to wonder if maybe the boy will actually meet his hero in the flesh some day, or if he might step up to the "big screen" and be the Iron Man of a next generation. I suppose I'll never know.

Saturday however, I did finally see Age of Ultron. I didn't wear my Marvel t-shirt--but only because it was in the wash, otherwise there would have been absolutely no question as to attire. As far as sequels go, it was a good movie. I was surprised that I wasn't already aware of very much of the plot, considering the amount of time I end up spending on websites riddled with fandoms. It seems the Marvel fandom is better about spoilers than the Sherlock or Doctor Who fandoms. The after credits scene made me very nearly squeal, so I'm looking forward to the next film Marvel puts out (not that I wasn't already).

After a Marvel movie, the only reasonable stop is the bookstore. There were more people than an introvert wants to find in a bookstore at four o'clock, but books are books and I still had gift cards (how I hadn't spent them already is beyond me, but it's most likely that I couldn't decide which books to spend them on). I followed my usual route, skimming over the new releases before stopping at the journals. I had three blank ones waiting for me at home, but I knew I'd regret not stopping to flip through bare pages and investigate the new designs. One burly leather volume caught my eye and nudged me into a smile. It had no pattern printed on it, only two words: Carpe Diem. Appropriate for a journal, but it also made me think of an English teacher I had, and I made a mental note to mention it to her. She taught us to seize each day and to know the difference between seizing the day and being reckless. Carpe Diem is far more appealing to me than YOLO ever could be.

I kept my visit with the journals short and took my normal path to hunt down the graphic novels. I was a tad surprised when I came to the usual aisle. It had changed, allowing more room for manga and moving the Marvel comics and graphic novels to the other side of the shelf. I was fine with this. I had manga I was planning on taking home, if I could locate them. It seems that the next book I need in a series is always the only one not on the shelf, but Saturday was a good day for me, and I found both the books I had been looking for, despite having to stay out of the way of other readers. Although, this time it wasn't much of a bother. I heard a conversation between, presumably, a father and his daughter in her mid to late teens. Another father occupied the aisle with me, his child, however, was much younger, a boy of maybe eight, wearing a bright yellow t-shirt and talking almost constantly. Weirdly enough, I didn't find it annoying. A short while later I slid into the science fiction section and found the same father and son carrying a conversation that I couldn't help but grin at overhearing.

"That's a TARDIS!"

"That's right."

"The TARDIS is cool." The little one was silent for a moment, contemplating. "I want a TARDIS."

Don't we all?

I could almost hear his father smile. "Me too, Buddy."

"The TARDIS is a time machine."

"Well, it's interdimensional. It travels in more than just time..." He went on explaining the particulars of the TARDIS's traveling abilities to his son, and the boy listened.

I was beaming after hearing them. Be they American superheroes or British aliens, we all need someone to look up to. Nerd parents make me happy, and on almost any day, I wouldn't be able to say why. Today I can supply one reason, if not the whole picture. As opposed to other children, the children of nerds and geeks have special role models, heroes with extraordinary abilities, but it's not the abilities that make the heroes special. Superheroes have failings, flaws. They are aware of these flaws and are constantly working to overcome them. Sometimes the weakness can be an object like Superman's kryptonite, but often weaknesses are as common place as pride; the flaws often found in everyday people are reflected in their heroes. Heroes help us learn to overcome internally as much as externally. Children need that. The little boy is going to grow up, and his interests will change. He may come to believe that he's too old for Doctor Who, but he won't forget the love he had for it. He won't forget the Doctor who saves the universe by solving problems instead of killing, who runs to help no matter what race or species is calling out to him, and who cares about the individual people as well as their worlds. Although, at his age, he probably just likes it because of the time travel and aliens. Who's to say?

The duo wandered off, and I continued my perusal of the shelves. I made a point to stop by the YA books. Most are romance, but there are always a few gems. I am Princess X caught my eye. Honestly, I probably wouldn't have given it a second glance if the cover art had shown a normal high school girl. It didn't. The image was of a blue haired girl wearing a pink dress and holding a katana. But what sold me on it was when I noticed the author: Cherie Priest. That was it. The book was coming home with me.

I poked around in the graphic novels and was again presently surprised. There was Brody's Ghost by Mark Crilley. When I decided to improve my drawings years ago, my friend Maxine was the first person I went to. After she helped me with some basics, she had introduced me to Mark Crilley's drawing videos on YouTube, which have been a major help for both of us. We'd always been interested in reading Brody's Ghost, but we'd never come across it, and there it was in Barnes & Noble. I carefully slid the first book from its companions and added it to my growing pile.

After I checked out, I texted Maxine a picture from Brody's Ghost that I knew she'd recognize and added the caption of "Look familiar?" Needless to say she is going to borrow it the next time we see each other, and seeing as I was not the one driving and the book was rather thin, I read it in the car on the way home. I car sick afterwards, but it was worth it. Before I went to bed that night, I had finished my manga, and the next day I read through I am Princess X. Cherie Priest did not disappoint.