One Year Later...

Is this thing on?

No, no of course it isn't. There's dust and cobwebs everywhere, and flipping on the light switch took some effort. Nobody's home. No one is writing. No one is reading. I ended my six-year run of daily consecutive blogging one year ago, never to return. It’s perfect. It’s symmetrical. I shouldn’t post again and break the clean ending.

It's funny how nature abhors a vacuum, how I found things to fill the time I once used to spend writing, how the days never seem long enough even with one less responsibility. Not much has changed. I haven't quit my job and moved out West to seek my fortune. Still single. Still working hard at the office and with various bands. Still alive.

More importantly, my dad is still alive. He finally went to a new cardiologist for a second opinion, after bypass surgery last Summer did nothing to relive his angina. He was annoyed that they kept him in the hospital for tests, growing more impatient as the week went on. The doctor confirmed he needed a new aortic valve, and that being 81-years-old was not a deterring factor. Newer treatments such as getting a stent were still in the trial stage and there was no guarantee they would help. Being in good health otherwise, a new valve could get him as much as another ten years. Doing nothing in the condition he was in, with chest pain on even mild exertion such as walking through the supermarket, was an indication that he'd die in 2 or 3 years without surgery. I make my decisions based on math, and the math was sound.

It was convenient that his hospital, one of the best heart hospitals in the nation, was within driving distance of my job. My boss was very understanding, and I was able to take long lunch breaks. I remember one afternoon when my dad dismissed an orderly while he finished his salad, then walked up and down the hall looking for his ride. The man of course moved on to the next patient who needed to be wheeled downstairs for testing. When I came back after work, no one had returned for my dad yet. “I canceled the test,” he told me. When a nurse came in, my mom and I asked if he could do that, and he chuckled that no, the patient can't just say he doesn't want a particular test. He wasn't staying at a spa where he could skip portions of his agenda.

The day he was finally supposed to have the operation, we found him standing in the door of his room, waving his arms in disgust. We knew immediately something was wrong. When we calmed him down, we learned that the test showed blockage in his carotid artery, which we knew about. But it was apparently too serious for them to proceed with heart surgery, lest a blood clot be loosed upon his brain and he have a stroke. I got a nurse to patch me through to the cardiologist, who explained this to me, and that a vascular surgeon was on his way down for a consultation. The procedure, called a carotid endarectomy, had only a 1% risk of serious complications. He'd simply make an incision in my dad's neck, scoop all the gunk out of his artery, and sew him back up. Chances are that last year when the other surgeon opted to only do a single bypass, he was afraid of the stroke risk. They never gave us a satisfactory explanation, only that they didn't think the valve condition was that serious. And when my dad went for follow-up visits they told him his results were fine and shrugged when he said he still had symptoms. Thank God he finally found a doctor who'd listen and diagnose him properly.

I went back to the office since I'd likely need the following Monday off for the big surgery. My father had the carotid surgery late on that Friday night, the same day we had the consultation with the surgeon. I work late when I have a print deadline; these guys stay late when they need to save lives. There's a little perspective. I arrived after work to find my mom distraught in the lobby, because the anesthesiologist, a weasely Jason Schwartzman-looking mofo had took her by the arm, told her my dad could die, and rattled off all the potential complications with no bedside manner. I did my best to reassure her, and we spent a very long three hours in the surgical waiting area.

Of course he came through with flying colors and only a sore throat. When we went to see him, a nurse was spending one-on-one monitoring time to make sure he didn't roll over or yank out any tubes. He was angry and uncomfortable, and when the anesthesiologist stopped by to check on things, he shouted “That guy gave me too much dope!” The doc just smirked, checked something off on a chart, and wandered off to play some quirky character in an independent film. My dad went on to spend a long weekend in the ICU before the big day on Monday morning. Having been through surgery once myself, I envy the fact that for him it was over in an instant. My mom and I endured the longest six-and-a-half hours of our life while we waited. At least he had an anesthesiologist with a good bedside manner this time, who reassured us before they went in that he'd be monitoring my dad the whole time, and rattled off the risks like the boilerplate “this probably won't happen but I have to tell you all this in case it does” script he's obligated to read from, instead of the melodramatic “He could DIE!” that the other jerk threw at my mom. With Game of Thrones adapted for television and A Dance with Dragons, the fifth book in the series finally seeing print, I had the motivation to finally finish reading book four, A Feast for Crows. It was hard to focus in the waiting room though. At one point we went downstairs and sat outside. I wandered and found the chapel where I prayed. Hard. I had a sketchbook with me, as drawing was one of the things I finally started doing again in 2011, but even that was difficult under the circumstances.

After six hours we asked the receptionist if there was any news. We knew the procedure involved removing the heart to work on it while my dad was kept alive by a heart-lung machine. We knew it was his second surgery, and she pointed out that re-ops do take longer. She said she'd let us know when she heard something, but the computer showed he was still in surgery. After that, every time she answered the phone we thought it was about my dad. When the woman blew her nose during one call, my mom thought she was crying over bad news. I pointed out that if the receptionist in a cardiac surgical unit teared up every time someone didn't make it, she was probably in the wrong field.

Eventually the surgeon called, and I took the call. He spoke quickly, assuring me that all went well, although there was some bleeding in the catheter. I pointed out that my dad had an enlarged prostate and maybe that caused some problem. Everything went well with the valve though, and he even bypassed a circumflex artery that was 100% blocked. The next few weeks proved very exhausting and interesting. It was an entire day before the breathing tube could be removed, and when we finally could talk to my dad, he was often confused from the medication. Once he got angry when I didn't see the carnival he was seeing. “You're trying to make a fool out of me! There's a clown. Right. There. Inflating a balloon.” His hallucinations had some basis in reality, as an oxygen tank and a helium tank could look the same. I could always figure out the real-world equivalent of what he was perceiving. When those hallucinations improved and he starting seeming normal, we then had to deal with his doubts. “I'm dead and in the ground,” he'd tell us. Once when I was at work, he chided my mom about her demeanor in light of his death: “You don't seem very upset.” It took a while to convince him that it wasn't all a dream, that he wasn't dead and seeing things on his way out.

The biggest hurdle turned out to be the prostate. He had to keep the catheter in, and was constantly passing blood. He couldn't start improving until he could walk, and he couldn't walk until the bleeding stopped and the catheter was removed. Eventually a urologist had to put him through a third surgery, one that would correct the problem. The good news was that when he finally got to go home, he'd be leaving with all his ailments resolved. No more chest pains. No more getting up to go to the bathroom every hour at night. I used car analogies to reason with the former mechanic and to joke with him. “It's like when you bring a car in for an oil change and they find all this other stuff to fix!”

Through it all, I managed to stay on top of my deadlines, and I'm pretty sure my boss lightened my load a bit because a few assignments I was expecting seemed to land on other art directors. I played plenty of feasts, one which took a week, and on one of the nights we phoned the hospital so all the guys could wish my dad a speedy recovery before we serenaded him with the theme from Rocky. It got to a point where the security guard in the hospital parking lot recognized me and asked why I didn't just get a monthly visitor's pass. I didn't expect my dad to spend over 30 days in there, nor did any of us. But with that last surgery, and him finally walking up and down the halls, he was finally cleared to go home. We were assisted by one of the hospital volunteers, a retired old man who was part of a vast staff of people in their 70s up to their 90s who stayed active. My dad's had follow-up visits with all his doctors, and has even been going for therapy and walking on a treadmill. He's been tired, but that's improved, and his legs and back have been sore, but that's improved too. Through it all, he's had NO chest pain. A few days ago he and my mom celebrated their 41st wedding anniversary, so hopefully his extended “sentence” gets him at least another 9 years so they see 50.

While my dad is starting to become familiar with treadmills, I haven't stopped. I run 4-7 miles a day and still manage to be about 10-15 pounds overweight. I skipped my annual race this year, initially because I thought I'd have a feast that day. I wasn't hired for that gig this year, but it all worked out since my dad was hospitalized then anyway. And as I mentioned, I did start sketching again back in January, pushing forward despite being incredibly rusty. For a while I managed 5 or 6 a week, but that has dwindled to once a week. I have no intention of stopping completely though, and will stick with it whenever I have time and/or inspiration. Here are a few of my favorites from this year:

There's no way I could recap all the movies and television shows I've watched this past year. Thor was decent, but Captain America was the surprise of the year. My expectations were the exact opposite for these movies, and I was pleasantly surprised by the latter. I also had a longer wait, and my work buddies were very understanding while my dad was hospitalized, waiting until we could all see it together. It was worth the wait. As of this week, The Avengers' trailer has blown me away. I can't stop watching this thing. I wish it was 2012 NOW. It's everything I read when I was in high school brought to life on the big screen with RDJ of course killing it with the best lines and Joss Whedon's sense of humor and understanding of group dynamics shining through. I expect that will be the biggest draw at this weekend's NYComiccon, with Whedon and some of the cast in attendance, though I doubt I'll get through the crowds to that panel.

In the past few weeks I found out two good friends, one from college and another from high school, had gotten married. I knew the guy from college was engaged, but he e-mailed our crew after four months of marriage with a “by the way I'm married”. It was another week before we learned when he was married, and I realized we saw the bride and groom at a barbecue a week later, where none of us noticed the rings. At a party this past weekend, he laughed at how we admired his watch for like an hour that day and never spotted what was on his finger. When they get some money saved, they'll probably have a larger recommitment ceremony with all their friends and family. My other buddy from high school called to invite me to his wedding, and mentioned that technically he married her a year ago when they bought their place in Brooklyn. The duo run a couple of successful clothing stores which cater mostly to young lawyers with high salaries who don't think a few hundred dollars is a lot for a dress shirt if it looks good and fits. My fashion sense tends to be more Target, but I'm still happy for their success. As long as I've known this guy, he's been the epitome of someone who lives life. Whatever he wanted to do, he's done, without concern of risks or what people thought, and in that he's found success. When he wanted to live in Japan he did it. When he wanted to live in Austria he did that. And when he wanted to stop working for other people and start working for himself, he did that too. He's also a huge karaoke fan while his wife is also a dancer, so it was ridiculously entertaining to see him serenade everyone with a cover of Mr. Loverman while his wife and the bridesmaids did a choreographed dance. And this was all between the ceremony and their first dance. It was everything I would have expected from his wedding and more. The only way it could have been better would be if he got Weird Al to perform, which he told me was something he was seriously considering before deciding that'd be too expensive.

So, that's been my year in a nutshell(help, help I'm in a nutshell). I'm not about to start blogging again, although I did feel the urge this week and an anniversary was as good an excuse as any to post again. Drop me a comment if you meander back this way; I'd love to know what's been going on in your world. I've found a few of you(or vice versa) on a certain social network, so maybe we'll connect again in that all-encompassing realm if not this one. 2011 had its share of trials and detours, and in a Summer that included three major operations for my dad, an earthquake in Virginia that I felt on Long Island, and a hurricane a week later that knocked a tree through a neighbor's house but left us unscathed other than a week without power, I can honestly say this hasn't been a bad year, because everything worked out okay.

I can't wait to see what happens next. Who knows? I might even come back to write about it....


#2198 In a Four-Issue Limited Series

I always knew how it would end. I just didn't know when. But perhaps I should start at the beginning.

Once I decided I was going to start a blog like my friends Curt and Jerry, I began mentally composing my first post in my head. Every morning when I drove to work, my usual anxiety about passing out behind the wheel(a long story, told here many times and mostly resolved), was replaced by subconscious prose. No matter the variation, it always started with the same line: ”When I was five years old, I thought I was Spider-man.” On Wednesday, October 13th, that line became a reality. I didn't really have a theme like Curt did with marriage or my friend Rey had with the bible or my buddy B13 would have with photography. I just wrote about myself, how my accident-prone life took shape early on, how I lived a life of inverse probability. Something that had a 2% chance of happening to one person would have a 98% chance of happening to me. It would take me years to realize that, at one time or another, we all fall into that unfortunate 98%. That's just life.

I didn't know how long it would last. For years I had occupied myself on the internet with a message board based RPG/fanfiction. It was where a “Neurotic O.R.B.” became a “Mysterious Cloaked Figure” and about 100 other characters. And in the ashes of a game that went from dozens of writers to me role-playing by myself, MCF the blogger was born. I wrote about obscure comic book characters(the “O.R.B.” in my original handle came from my college “Obscure Reference Boy” nickname). I wrote about cartoons and television shows. I wrote about my life and my family. The freedom of anonymity allowed me to be open and honest about my likes, dislikes, and fears. More than anything, it was a cathartic exercise. It was good to clear all that stuff out my brain at the end of each day. If no one but 3 or 4 of my friends read what I wrote, it would have still been rewarding. More than 3 or 4 people read and interacted with my posts, so it was amazing.

Somehow, I kept things going every day. Even when there were technical difficulties, or family difficulties, I made sure I posted something. There were more than a few memes, which felt like cheating, and more than a few memes and games of my own creation, which felt slightly less like cheating. A lot happened in six years. Friends had kids and moved away. We had one cat make a miraculous recovery, while another has been slowly slipping away for over a year now. My dad nearly died from a shoulder infection, overcame that, and then survived a heart artery bypass operation at the age of 80. My mom spent time in the hospital and spent time at craft fairs. I played a lot of music on weekends with my Baritone horn. Loved ones left us. We lost my music teacher, my Aunt Irene, my Aunt Josie and my mom's cousin. My mom's brother is still with us physically; mentally not so much. I lost my job at a company I'd been with for 7.5 years, only to land on my feet at another for just over three years now. And we lost LOST, but that was kind of a good thing. Six years is a long time, and it's good that they didn't drag things out any longer like some shows. It was time, and I was glad I was here to see it end, and share my thoughts on that ending. I was glad my dad survived his surgery to see the finale. Truth be told, I'm of course glad he survived. It's strange to think that without LOST, 24 and Prison Break, he and I no longer have shows we watch together. It's just on the brink of going on too long, but maybe I should get the old man back into Supernatural, or as he referred to it back when it began, “The Brothers”. He’d ask, “What’s on, ‘The Brothers'?” then go to bed at the first sign of blood or anything gory.

The first time I kissed a girl, I was stalling like crazy, talking about anything to avoid getting out of her car, searching for that awkward pause to make a move but never shutting up long enough to get it. Finally, in talking about Halloween costumes, she mentioned once dressing up like a Hershey's Kiss. “Kiss...” I repeated, then she repeated it, then we sat there for like another minute, the longest ever, before I leaned in for a quick peck. I did this a few more times because I really liked that first one, then jumped out and went home, and later apologized on the phone if I had been “too forward”. It took me a while to get there, but I would definitely become a lot more forward in the years we dated. I'm not sure what this story has to do with anything, save as an example of how I can filibuster and stall before getting to something scary and wonderful.

When Transformers #1 came out, it was billed as “#1 in a Four-Issue Limited Series”. But it was a popular franchise, with both toys and a cartoon, and if Marvel got 75 issues out of ROM, they could definitely do the same with a larger cast of licensed characters. At the end of the fourth issue, it looked like all of our heroes were dead, which was a pretty crummy way to end things. But it all led up to an announcement that there'd be an issue #5, and that issue had one of my all time favorite covers. I love that painting. The comic book outlasted the cartoon, and most of the toy line. When it finally ended, the last issue sported “#80 in a Four-Issue Limited Series” across the top. This was the end, but it wasn't a defeat. It was a victory, because it survived far longer than anyone planned.

This is #2198 in my Four-Issue Limited series. The blogosphere is not what it once was, but it's not the decline in readership that brings us to the end of the road. Even if it was three or four people and myself, that would be enough for me to write for. The problem is, I started to lose myself. I got more and more tired at night, and it became harder to write what I considered quality posts. There was a lot more a filler, a lot more phoning it in. In writing about my life instead of living it, I had a lot less to write about. There was the occasional party or adventure, but for the most part my best stories were in my youth, and I'd told them all before, some more than once. I began thinking about what I could do with more free time. Would I finally buy a house or join a dating site? Would I teach myself web design or start drawing again? Would I finish the list of books I had put aside years ago? Would I clean my room? At the very least, it might be nice to get a full night's sleep again. I'd often set the time for my post to 12:01 AM, an obscure reference to a cheesy television movie I loved and one of many Easter eggs hidden over the years, but most nights I was up far later by the time I got done with work, gym, television shows, and movies. I was getting less out of the experience, and if my heart wasn't in it, what incentive was there for my readers?

My 2000th post, commemorated by the first truly revealing photo of myself from my company's last Christmas party, would have been a fine place to end things. Part of me wasn't sure if there would be a 2001. For years I'd teased, and with that revelation there wasn't much else I could share. For someone as obsessed with numbers as I am, 2000 had a nice round feel to it. 2198 is a strange number. What does it mean? 2+1+9+8=20, and 2+0=2, and there’s my 2% luck, so there's that. But more importantly, I wanted to finish out my sixth year, my sixth season, and tie up all the loose ends. I also didn't want to come to this decision rashly, to quit and break my streak because I was feeling a little tired. On Thursday, when there's no new post, there is no going back. I can't go on to 2199; my next post would be 1 and I’d be starting over.

I always did ramble on. I always buried ledes, then dug them up, then buried them again. Even now, part of me isn't sure there won't be a 2199. And this definitely won't be the last you see of me. You have my E-mail address, and I'll certainly still check this blog and respond to comments. Who knows, with more free time, I might be able to comment on your blogs some more, something I admittedly got away from. And this might even turn out to be like that stunt comic books pull, when they start over with a new issue #1 to boost readership and increase sales. I don't think I'll ever add to the Nexus, but maybe down the road there will be a new blog. I don't know if it will be daily, or what it will be about. Maybe it will be one day a week, “Sundays with MCF” or “MCF's Weekly Artwork” or something. Maybe my presence on the internet will shift to my weirdest role yet, myself, if anyone tracks me down on one of those social networky things.

Today I am alive. I'm proud of the words and pictures I put on the internet, proud to have achieved some form of digital immortality. Today, my parents and my pets are alive. My family and friends are alive. I can’t speak for tomorrow, or the day after, or the one after that. This is a moment frozen in time, and a good time. Life is change, and for every up, there will soon be a down. I can look back and travel through time and visit any up place in my life in the last six years. I can visit the down places too, because it's important to remember both. It is important to remember it all. Today is a good time to end. Today is a good time to begin.

God bless you all.

The rest....is silence.


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The Ultimate Hat Tip.

Hat Tip: Curt, the first of my friends and coworkers to start a blog, which inspired me to do the same. Though his blog is retired, he remains a Happy Husband and currently a Happy Father of two.

Hat Tip: Jerry, who introduced me to Curt and whose own blog covered a wider variety of subject matter, including comics and other geeky things, cementing my interest in joining their ranks. Though being a husband and a father eventually took Jerry away from blogging, he continued to send great links and support the Nexus.

Hat Tip: Rey, my oldest real-life friend who also became a blogger. An old college pal who got me the job where I met Curt and Jerry, the self-proclaimed “GeekFriends”, Rey already had a Bible blog when he started his personal one. He also designed the nifty icons that topped my blogroll for the past six years.

Hat Tip: B13, another work buddy who got into the blogging game after I told him about my “secret identity”. His skill as a photographer made his daily photoblog a pleasure to check every day, and inspired me to push my own photography at a time when my interest in the hobby was waning. Though he's moved on to other hobbies and updates his site far less frequently, I could still depend on him for the occasional comment or link. He is also partly responsible for the largest number of comments I ever received for a single post, thanks to his campaign to defeat the Unseen Blogger in a competition I was running.

Hat Tip: Kev and Rubi Bayer, who if memory serves were the first readers I didn't already know in real life, who found the Nexus through Curt's Happy Husband site and have been readers and supporters ever since. Their appreciation of things like The Transformers or Joss Whedon made them welcome additions to the ranks of the Cloakfriends™.

Hat Tip: Janet, found through Jerry, whose blog was arguably once the most popular on my blogroll. Her grasp on pop culture and penchant for audience participation through her Tell It To Me Tuesday features would prove anyone wrong who found people disappointing, making her blog one of the most missed active ones.

Hat Tip: Darrell, film geek and Southern conservative who stood by his views with persistence and faced personal and medical problems with a good sense of humor and a strength of spirit. Always a good read and a good online friend.

Hat Tip: Lorna, whom the blogosphere could always count on for wisdom, comments, support, and encouragement. She was like a virtual Aunt May, though a bit hipper and wittier.

Hat Tip: Rhodester, hands down the funniest blogger out there and unsung star of Seabiscuit, and his better half CoffeeSister, whose experience in a video store first brought this dynamic blogging duo to light.

Hat Tip: All my former message board RPG peeps who made the transition at one time or another to blogging and/or commenting on blogs, specifically Neb, FawnDoo, Motocron and Spaceman Bill. Some of them are even still at it.

Hat Tip: Cube, for her great cat pictures, political quick hits, and of course inadvertently being the Samus of the blogosphere.

Hat Tip: Sean, who always posted the best links and pictures of pretty ladies, and whose countdown device I recently borrowed.

Hat Tip: Lyndon, honorary geekfriend with a similar love of robots and music, discovered through Janet's blog.

Hat Tip: SwanShadow, another great find from Janet, a patriarch with determination in adversity and a fantastic collection of commissioned comic book art.

Hat Tip: Sarcasmo, a witty blogger who left this world far too soon, only for her mother to keep the site going a while longer as a tribute to her.

Hat Tip: D. Prince, for keeping the blogosphere abreast of the absurd goings-on of celebrities with humor that rivaled Rhodester or Darrell and photos that rivaled any tabloid.

Hat Tip: Chris Sims, and Bully, my favorite comic book bloggers. Thanks for making me laugh and showing me I'm not the only one with an obscure knowledge of and appreciation for sequential art

Hat Tip: Spockgirl, the latest addition to the Cloakfriends™, certainly one of the more active commenters these past few months, showing there was still some life left in this old blog.

H.T.: All the rest who supported or inspired me in some way. Some were frequent commenters; others were bloggers I read on a regular basis, and more than a few deserve more than being lumped in at the end under “all the rest”. Know that, in one way or another, all of these people made this experience a genuine pleasure, as much as those listed above. Thank you AverageJoe, G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Giuseppe, Dan, Sue, Pratt, Jay, Big Orange Michael, Ali, Dosetaker, The Fifth Column, Dave, Jeff (A Golden World), Hulk, Jamie Dawn, Nehring, Kelly, Jeff (Peachwater), Quick-Change Artist, Solonor, Cap'n Eucalyptus, R.C., Wendy, Paul, The Unseen Blogger, Wil Wheaton, Kristine, Xtine, Otis, Snowball02, The Brothers Chaps, Felicia Day, Stan Lee, Elaina, and TheGreek(because not including him in this list would be seen as escalation).

* * * * *

I hope you'll join me tomorrow for an important announcement that may or may not come as a surprise....




PBW: NYComicCon 2K10: Day Two.

The weekend may be over, but Photo Blog Weekend is not! Yesterday I shared images from my visit to the New York ComicCon on Friday. Saturday morning was a little tough since I had to play a parade in Queens in the morning with one of my Italian bands. I was optimistic when we seemed to be done by 12:30, but then had to stick around for the ceremony to play an Italian anthem. Then our band leader played another song. Then his son told us not to go anywhere, because he wanted us to play “Happy Birthday” for his daughter. Now it was after 1 PM, and less and less likely that I'd make it back to Long Island in time to drop off my dad, change my clothes, grab my weekend pass and camera, and drive to a train station to make it in to the city by a decent hour. We couldn't play while the politicians were still speaking, and I asked the drummer what we were waiting for. His wife got a little annoyed at my impatience, but he finally relented and said if I had somewhere to be, they had enough guys to cover the song. I explained I had tickets to “something” in the city and needed to catch a train.

I met my dad on the corner, and he told me to get the car and drive around the block to pick him up, so he wouldn't have to rush and get chest pains. Somehow, he miscommunicated which block he'd be on. By the time I got to where I left him, which was near the entrance to a highway, he was gone. I found him two blocks up, looking down a one-way street, and he didn't hear me yelling. I couldn't stop, so I had to go around that block. By then he had walked away, but thankfully reappeared before the light I was waiting for turned green again. Now I had to drive around again to get to the block with the highway entrance. By some miracle, I navigated traffic and got home with a half hour to get to the train station in the next town. I ran inside, changed only my shirt and shoes, and was back out the door in less than a minute, with a granola bar in my pocket as my lunch. I got to the train station four minutes before the train I was trying to catch, ran full speed, and got on it just in time. If I missed it, the next train wasn't for another hour. So it was that I was able to catch one more panel, some entertaining performances, and a lot more great costumes and sights. Next year, the convention is a week later, and shouldn't conflict with my band schedule. I still ended up with more swag than I wanted, as people were handing out posters, comics, and buttons every time I turned around. Every year I say I'm going to travel light, but it's impossible to come home with nothing. And the greatest thing I walk away with from the convention is inspiration, the urge to pick up a pencil and try my hand at drawing again. By the end of my second parade on Sunday, it was too late to make it to the city for a third day at the ‘con. It was just as well, since Sunday was also my parents' 40th wedding anniversary and I was also exhausted by then. At least parade and feast season is pretty much done for the next few months, with only one gig in November. During the week I don't want to do much more than watch television after a day at the office and a night at the gym, but maybe I can be creative on weekends if inspiration and free time are in abundance. If nothing else, I'll certainly still be creative through photography, even if capturing the creativity of others. To wit:

Sarah Douglas (Ursa in Superman II):

Katie Sackhoff:

A working cello by Nathan Sawaya:

What not to do if you walk in front of my camera while I'm taking pictures of a steel-bikini beauty:

Much better than that last attempt:

The hilarious and knowledgeable staff of Comics Alliance(including Chris Sims, the internet's foremost Batmanologist, center):


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