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Kevin Riepl (composer on HENRi & ATROPA)
My First Crush
Welcome back to Go Forth & Nerd! My name is Jesse Bray also known as Mr. Bray and I am your resident nerd.
So Today I’d like to get a little personal, a little embarrassing and of course as always a little nerdy. I’d like to talk about my very first crush. Well the earliest crush I can remember. However, before I begin I want to start off with this statement: Love can hurt, love can be consuming, and love can even be down right dangerous at times.
Let’s begin -
When I was 11yrs old I experience my first real crush. Now I had liked other girls beforehand but it wasn’t until I was 11yrs old that I experienced the sorta puppy crush that consumes your thoughts. Like you know what I mean, you can’t get the person out of your head. You dream about them, you obsess about them and all you want to do is climb to the top of a mountain and profess your undying love for them.
Well herein lies the problem. She didn’t know my name. Worse yet she in fact would never ever know my name. Why? Because she wasn’t human! She was none other than Rogue from the 90’s x-men animated series! That’s right my first crush was with a fictitious woman. This super babe, and member of the x-men, Rogue was the love of my life! Well as far as I understood it. Here I was having awkward dreams of my super powered girlfriend flying me around the globe like a sack of groceries. If this is painful to listen to just imagine how painful this is to tell. However, this is where the story gets really painful. At this point in my life we were living in this dilapidated house in Rocklin, California. Our home was a stones throw away from the railroad tracks. So frequently used were these railroad tracks that I couldn’t roll over and fall asleep until I heard the sound of a train whaling its cacophonous lullaby. To add more necessary details to this story my room was in the corner of the attic - the house had suffered a fire so I was able to the see the stars at night without any sheetrock, shingle or physical roof to hinder my view. My bed was a sleeping bag on a single particle board that connected between two beams. So on this particularly starry night I gazed into the gigantic moon thinking of my lovely mutant crush, Rogue, as the nightly train soared across the tracks. So like a trained animal I fell asleep. Unfortunately I had forgotten to zip up the sleeping bag which kept me anchored in my bed, the safe piece of flat ground between the ceiling beams. So nestled in another romantic dream of Rogue and I flying around like I was Jasmine on Aladdin’s carpet, we started to come crashing to the earth. BOOM! I had rolled off the particle board into the ceiling and away from my sleeping bag and I came crashing through the sheetrock into my sisters room hitting my shoulder on their bedpost tumbling to the floor. Talk about a rude awakening! Love can hurt! Dazed and bruised I tasted the bitterness of reality of falling for an imaginary girlfriend.
Love can be consuming!
Fast forward a decade later and I’m working at an orphanage in a border town in Mexico.
Life at the orphanage was relaxed. Day in day out things were pretty chill. We’d get up early in the morning and take care of the kids, feed them, bath them then go about our day doing odd tasks around to keep the place running. On one particular ordinary day we had a visitor that came to the orphanage that swore he had found the greatest thing ever! He called it “Squeezy-Toes” (most likely a Spanish transliteration of exquisite) they we’re bacon wrapped hot dogs. And he had promised that he would gladly trek anyone of us away from the Orphanage for a visit to this allusive and delicious hot dog truck some 40miles away. Well it was fair to say I was more than a little intrigued, being myself at the time a professed bacon-addict! So on we went to our culinary adventure! These hot dogs were amazing! So I decided on that day whenever I could break away from the orphanage to go on a foodie quest I was gonna headset with this visitor. The next time he arrived he now talked of the greatest tacos he had ever had! I didn’t need convincing! “Let’s go bro!” And like promised these were the greatest tacos I’ve ever had in my life! Honestly still the greatest I’ve ever had in my life! However, this story didn’t have a happy ending. While they we’re the greatest tacos I had ever had they were also the worst gastrointestinal experience of my life! I had caught Montezuma's revenge - basically to spare you the gory details my body was a two way volcano. It was a waking nightmare! I seriously prayed for death! It was awful. But then a little time had passed. And despite almost dying the memory of those life changing and life threatening tacos crept back in. I started dreaming about them both asleep and awake. The tacos we’re like a tune stuck in your head that you just couldn’t shake. They were calling to me… Jesse we love you! I WANTED THOSE TACOS! Looking back as a grown man I have no idea why I was possessed over those tacos. I’ve never before or since ever had this urge before. So the visitor arriving again I demand him take me to those tacos! And like before in my mouth they were heaven wrapped in corn tortillas but in my stomach it was time to pray to my maker to save me from exploding.
Love can be down right dangerous!
Yes falling in love with an imaginary cartoon super heroine or life changing tacos from a questionable vendor in Mexico might not be wise. But they were times in my life where silly as my love for them was that I draw strength from. Why? Because they taught me to laugh at the little bit of crazy we do when we’re in love. So today I want to ask you a question what is a crazy thing you do or have done for the things you’ve loved? Was it something as embarrassing as crushing and crashing hard over a made up character or tempting fate with a tragic culinary crusade? I’d love to hear your own personal stories! Feel free to email me or send me a message on instagram. Thank you all so much for listening, please take care and remember to Go Forth & Nerd!
Wolverine Was My 4th Grade Tutor
Wolverine was My 4th grade Tutor
Welcome back to Go Forth & Nerd! My name is Jesse Bray, also known as Mr. Bray and I am your resident nerd!
Today I’d like to talk about one of my all time favorite superheroes, Wolverine.
We’re all familiar with Wolverine, the x-man with the adamantium claws and the ultra fast healing powers. Wolverine is a rogue, a loner, an antihero. Both running from the shadows of his past and from the massive loss in his life. Wolverine’s story is in many ways a tragedy, much like the tale of the Incredible Hulk. Wolverine is destined for sorrow. Similar to our own lives. Not to bum everyone out or anything just to glean from this modern day myth. You see Stan Lee, for those that are not aware, wrote the X-men comics as a commentary on the civil rights movement. Professor Xavier is a Martin Luther King jr. type while Magneto is a Malcom X type. Both sets of people responding to a real world hurt and conflict. Stan Lee has always been an amazing talent for blending the world of fantasy with reality by using human analogs for his characters and Wolverine is no exception.
Wolverine’s story teaches us that it’s ok to be angry when we’re hurt, mistreated or in the sight of injustice. Wolverine’s story also teaches us that it’s ok to be filled with regret by our past sins and that it’s natural to want to run from the image of your former selves. And that life is seldom fair. These ideas might feel bleak and unexciting but it’s this hard reality about the Wolverine that cuts deeper and draws us in beyond the bright primary colors of the comics. Wolverine is the truest hero because he’s like us. We’re flawed and broken and we’re looking for our place in this world. Wolverine is also like us because he can’t sit by and watch injustice even when all he wants to do is be left alone. He feels pain every time he pops his claws. Wolverine’s life is a metaphor for the human condition. Now that I’ve waxed and waned about the poetry that is Wolverine I’d like to share the title story of this podcast:
Wolverine was my 4th grade Tutor
It was the spring of 93’ and I was failing the 4th grade. From the parade of F minuses on my incomplete homework assignments and failed quizzes It was pretty clear I was going be held back another year. However this was no surprise when you looked closer at my life. My parents got divorces when I was 6yrs old which interrupted my schooling quite drastically. Divorce is messy for those that have dealt with it in any capacity. Adding to that my mother moved us around a lot. Her being a fledgling actress and model our lives were in a constant flux. My 1st grade year I missed six of the total nine months of that school year. From 1st-4th grade I switched back and forth to eight different elementary schools. If it wasn’t for my Uncle giving me a spider-man comic, which I mentioned in a previous podcast I don’t think I ever would of got over my fear of reading with my dyslexia. So here I was clearly marching towards having to repeat the 4th grade. Then in stepped my Grandmother. I’m not sure why it was this was particular time she put her foot down and got involved - guess I’ll never know, yet I am forever grateful. My Grandmother was a retired school teacher and she taught me the basics of doing my homework before drawing or playing but more so than that. My Grandmother paid close attention to me. She saw how hooked I was on the X-men cartoon and how much I loved Wolverine. She would take me out after school twice a week to an ice cream shop that sold her favorite diabetic candies and she would help me do my homework. Furthermore she said if I got good grades she would send give me a Wolverine comic every week. One particular time she gave me a Wolverine action figure with retractable claws. The enthusiasm it gave me was the childhood equivalent of lightning in a bottle! This was a turning point in my educational career. I saw an immediate reward for my efforts which out weighed the boredom of school work. And then soon I fell in love with libraries! It wasn’t enough to just read comics I wanted to learned more and more! I especially loved reading Encyclopedias since they contained snippets of myths and other interesting stories I wanted to learn without having to read an entire book. The library became my Xavier’s school for gifted children and where I’d found continual inspiration for my art and personal comics. In less than two months time I went from an F student clearly looking to repeat the 4th grade to a straight A student winning awards in the Odyssey of the Mind club - it’s here I gained my official nerd status! I loved learning! And while it was the hands of my Grandmother that taught me to buckle down and do my school work it was the claws of Wolverine that hooked me on knowledge and I was never going back!
So today I want to ask you a question? What was your nerdy defining moment? Who hooked you of the nerdiness that is you? Feel free to hit me up with an email to chat! I’d love to hear your personal stories. Thank you all so much listening, you are such an encouragement to me and such wonderful people. Please take care and remember to Go Forth and Nerd!