New Kid Shatters Ice


That’s the sound. That’s the sound of my name tag being stuck on to my shirt. Why the nametag? Well I’m the new kid here. The new kid in town, in school. That being said (or in this case written) I need to engage in the cliched tradition of breaking the proverbial ice. Well, why? Why should I? I mean, you’ll get to know me in time right? Why would I need to spill everything at once? I mean is there a reason I can’t just be random and let you all find me? In a word, no.

So I’ll do the standard intro. You know, what I like and what I’m all about. However, I won’t list a bunch of random things. Boring I know. Instead here’s a little something that happened a while back that might give you an idea of what you’re in for. Okay? Here goes then.

Ten years ago, I was part of a show called Musical Of The Living Dead. The show’s creators, in an effort to promote the show had secured us a table at the annual Wizard World Convention. It seemed perfect fit. A musical send up of zombie films among the sci-fi and comic world? Of course.

So there we were, at our little table promoting the hell out of our show to convention goers. It was crazy. I personally had never been to one of these before so I just took it all in. I felt like a primatologist on a mountain. But in truth, I was clearly a nerd out of water.

It wasn’t all work, though. We worked in shifts and when not at the table we walked about the convention itself. So I figured it was time to do some exploring. So keeping in mind some sage words from a wise man that “it’s hip to be square,” off I went.

Now I’m not (at least I’ve been told by puristis) a true nerd. The closest I have been called is “nerd adjacent” so let’s go with that. You’ll see what I mean, believe me. I mean I’m into comic books. I just don’t collect them. I like Star Wars . I had the action figures growing up, saw the films, etc. I even like superheroes. Especially the Justice League. Although, I’m more the Saturday morning cartoon JLA fan. Yep, many a Saturday was spent watching by the hours, and without question, Superfriends (in all their respective inccarnations) ranks high. Full disclosure: Apache Chief was (and still is) one the greatest heroes ever. I’ll go to the mat for that.

Now as for what my degree of nerdom is? See, I’m a classic film/tv, music and retro junkie. So much so, I’ve never seen things like Pulp Fiction or Shawshank Redemption for starters. I watch TCM more than anything on televison. Also, as I compose this, I’m listeneing to a playlist of late 80s hits. If you close your eyes, it’s like I’m doing homework back in high school.

Where was I? Right, Wizard World. So I’m now at the photo/autograph section. Looking and looking and not reocognizing anyone, I turn a corner and spy a familar name. Erin Gray. Some, mostly those of my genereation,might know her. Those who don’t, two words, Silver Spoons. It was no secret that I wanted to be Ricky Schroder. Come on, that house, the train? Now I’m not stuck in the 8os or anything but I (still) have the same crush on her now that I had back then. I took my picture with her.

A giddy shot of the author with Erin Gray

I moved on and was looking around and around. I was so caught up, that I literally collided someone who I thought was just another patron. It turned out in fact to be….LEVAR BURTON? (BTW, the obvious choice to succeed the great Trebek, but that’s another story) I was stunned (stunned? Get it?) Sure, he was there as part of a panel featuring his Star Trek TNG castmates. But to me, it’s Reading Rainbow right? I’m not stuck in the 80s or anything.

So at this point I’m (again) kind of stunned (again, get it?) so walking into a nearby booth, I look up and don’t believe my eyes. Sitting behind the table, right before me , is Louis Gossett Jr. I smiled and said hello. I was truly in awe. Of course, he looked a little different than I had remmebered , but times change for all of us. Aside from his being a little heavier, he still sounded the same. So I just talked with him for while. About a lot of stuff, that I wish I could remember. Then, well then, things took a bit of a dip.

Now, remember when i mentioned how much of a classic TV fan I am? Well that played a part into what happened next.

It went a little something like this. As i mentioned, we were basically just talking when, abruptly stopping, I said, “Oh, I just ran into Levar Burton!”

He smiled. He was happy about this.

It must have been the fact that I was just sitting here talking to Mr. Gossett that something must have taken over. Because it was then I said, “Oh if only it had happened sooner. It could have been a Roots reunion with Kunte and Fiddler!”

With (and truly in awe of) the incredible Lou Gossett Jr.

Yes. That is what i said. It was then that time seemed to stop, causing my words to just hang in the air.

Now before I continue, let me take this back. I mentioned this was ten years ago. I’m bringing this up because it was back when NETFLIX was DVD only. Okay? What does that have to do with anything? Well, you see, about a month before this meeting, I binge watched the entire Roots miniseries. The original, from 1977, beginning to end and loving every minute of it. I truly did. One of the reasons for its brilliance was, undoubtedly, due the performances its incredible cast. Especially the scenes with him and Mr. Burton. Truly powerful stuff. So just had to share my feelings with the man himself. I mean I had to right?

Mr. Gossett took a minute. Smiled and put a hand to his chest.

“Thank you,” he said. “That’s very sweet.”

“Of course,”I said, with my own smile.

I was relieved that he was so touched. I wanted him to know that i meant what I had said was coming from a place of true admiration and genuine affection. The smile on his face told me he knew. It was magical.

It made me feel better. I was happy I said it. I was even happier that I had met him that day. A picture was taken.

Well, there it is. A little bit about me. I’m sure overtime you’ll get even more of an idea. I may go a little against the grain, talk about things from days gone by from time to time but it’s all from a good place.

So I hope I broke the ice. I’m more than happy to do it again.

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