#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).

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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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