Saturday, June 15, 2013

30 Days of Birthday: Day 15 -- (More) Flash Fiction

I'm exploring some flash fiction that I forgot I wrote. Working on stitching them into something more comprehensive. Until then, enjoy.



Now that I am the kind of insomniac that daydreams about sleep, I sometimes wonder what was so terrible about bedtime when I was little.  At the appointed hour, my mother would walk into the den with a flourish, clap her hands three times as though she were summoning the palace guards and that was it.  Bedtime.  There was no such thing as arguing or tantrums or any of the time-honored tactics that proved themselves effective in other households.  She simply wasn't that kind of a mother.  I resisted with the empassioned fervor of an unjustly incarcerated inmate awating a twelfth hour pardon, feverishly watching the clock, holding out, hope against hope, only to be sent to my room, to my bed, to sleep.  I resented it, of course.  Each night found me wide awake, staring at the ceiling and stewing in my five year old rage.  Later, I could hear my mother's high pitched squeal of a laugh, promptly followed by my father heh-heh-hehing over the din of applause on the TV set: they were watching The Johnny Carson Show -- and I hated them for it.  Obviously, the good life began after bedtime.

Summers in Charleston with my grandparents were basically more of the same, thanks to my grandmother's uncanny sense of timing.  My brothers and I were usually bathed, pajama-ed, prayed up and tucked in before we realized what hit us.  As everyone sat on the porch and ate boiled peanuts and crablegs, their lively conversation would ebb and flow through my open window. I would watch their words fall and crash against the ceiling.  Sometimes I would sit up and lean against the headboard of my bed to look out the window, in an effort to steady myself amidst this sea of verbal chaos.  Within the confines of this strange and powerful lullaby, I fell asleep with wide open eyes, eyes that saw so many ideas unfold within me that I would often wonder, for days on end, how they would emerge.  In my world, dreams were for the sleepless.  I was quite young, but old enough to realize that no dreamlike state could compare to the world I inhabited when my imagination unleashed itself.  This was the time to be awake, I thought to myself each time I fell asleep at that windowsill, while so much in me was alive.  I knew that I couldn't go on like this.  I had to think of something.  I had a lot of living to do.

Strong reading material seemed to be the only available remedy.until adulthood offered other more suitable options, so an innocuous little scheme was hatched: I sandwiched books inbetween the mattress and the box spring of my bed and read them when everyone assumed that I was asleep.  The wee hours of the morning would find me writing little vignettes by the light of a huge industrial sized flashlight that I had "found" underneath the kitchen sink.  The light was so powerful, I would attempt to conceal it by playing "tent", a precarious undertaking which involved propping up pillows against the sheets to create a secret cubbyhole, lined with comic books, typing paper and hardbacks galore.  I couldn't have been happier.  From the doorway, it looked as though the bed was attempting to digest a sunbeam.  I lay there quietly in the light and the darkness, wallowing in a wordy undertow that spun about the room and into my head, languishing there.

I should have known that nothing that good could last for very long.  It took her awhile, but my grandmother caught me one night, sitting amidst a pile of Jet magazines, reading an encyclopedia.  This incident, like so many others I starred in, became something else to sit on the porch and laugh about, but for me it confirmed what I already knew:  being a child meant having to endure the necessary indignity of constantly being told what I could and could not do, where I could and could not go, what I could and could not have, what I was and was not capable of.

Nowadays I can watch my dreams come true but bedtime happens whenever it happens.  I have my days, days when I wake up in my loftbed fully dressed and surrounded by paperwork, my laptop still on and running and resting in my lap, the TV going, the phone ringing me into a semi-conscious state.  I also have days when I go through the ritual of bathing and putting on my bedclothes and calling it a night, even if it is noon and I have to pull the shades to do it.  As I lie there, wide awake and dreaming, somewhere in the netherregions of my subsconscious thoughts I can still lean against that windowsill to see bright stars in a blue-black sky.  I realize, as I begin to fade that  in all the years since childhood, there are moments when I have found myself wishing that someone would walk into the room and clap their hands and say that word.  More often than not,  I am left to clap my own hands as I fall asleep to the lull of the cityscape and it's mourning tide.

Friday, June 14, 2013

30 Days of Birthday: Day 14 - A cool documentary

I used to go to The Angelika quite a lot, until their tiny screens and crappy seats wore down my resolve.  Now that there's going to be an Alamo Drafthouse uptown soon and AMC Theaters (like the one on 84th and Broadway) are stepping up their game with comfy bark-o-loungers for everyone, there's no reason to go downtown -- unless something interesting is showing.

This documentary 20 Feet From Stardom is way more than interesting.

It's an irresistable premise:  the stories of the (mostly) unsung vocalists who spent a lifetime singing back ups for some of the biggest names in the business are unravelled before our very eyes -- and ears. Clearly, its essential viewing. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

30 Days of Birthday -- Day 13: Reality Check (Yes, this is Prince.)

Awhile ago, I had a weird conversation with what I'll describe as an Italian-American musician who angrily reassured me repeatedly that Prince wasn't really black. His proof? Several scenes in the movie Purple Rain, wherein a beautiful Italian woman portrayed his long suffering mother -- and a dark-skinned black man was his brilliant, tortured, violent, abusive father. (Surprise, right?) When I pointed out the fact that this film wasn't a documentary about Prince's life, he laughed.

"What about his skin, his hair?" he said flatly, waving me off.  "Come on! Just look at him."

Ok. Let's do that. Let's look at Prince.  (And while we're at it, let's take a look at his momma and daddy.)

For the record, Prince Rogers Nelson is 55 years old, he's 5'2" and he's African-American.  Because let's face it: creative and heavy-handed casting options may obfuscate the truth but snapshots from high school never lie.

This is what Prince looked like when he was a teenager. Now that's an Afro! (It was the 70s. Didn't everybody have a blowout?) Here's an interesting tidbit: his nickname as a kid was Skipper.

Here's another shot of him as a high school senior -- looking especially Italian, don't you think?

By the time Prince was 18, he had a record deal with Warner Bros. Here he is in his first photo shoot.

I don't know why but that belt is really doing it for me.

...and of course, this is his first album cover. This album came out in 1978 when he was 20. Remarkably, he's still rockin' that 'fro. What a trippy shot. (Why, it's almost as though he doesn't want you to see what he looks like...!)

After this, a strange thing happened: Prince got a perm. 

I distinctly remember seeing this poster of Prince -- with this perm and naked on a white horse -- on my cousin Leslie's bedroom wall when I was a little kid.  Our conversation went something like this:

Me: (sitting on the floor, playing jacks -- stops and stares at the poster) Who's that supposed to be.

Leslie: (propped up in her bed, leafing through a fanzine with him on the cover -- flabbergasted) That's Prince!

Me: He looks like he wants to be a Princess.

Leslie: (puts down her magazine, makes a disapproving face) That's not funny.

Me: (ignoring her) I wasn't kidding.


Me: (cont'd) Why doesn't he have any clothes on? Don't they wear clothes in his kingdom?

My Aunt Willie Dean/Leslie's mother passes by Leslie's door as I say this. She laughs so hard she hoots.

Leslie: That wasn't funny, either.

Aunt Willie Dean: (from down the hall) Yes it was!

Me: What does his music sound like.

Leslie: (getting excited) It's really funky.

Me: Well, that's good.

Leslie: (excited) You wanna hear it?

Leslie plays the album before I can answer the question. We both stop what we're doing and listen. Aunt Willie Dean comes to the doorway when she hears the music and listens, too. Leslie sings along softly. She's a lousy singer. She knows all the words.

Me: He sings like a girl.

Leslie: (defensive) No, he doesn't.

Aunt Willie Dean: (in a consoling tone) Yes, he does.

Leslie: (snaps) Well, what if he does? There's nothing wrong with that.

Aunt Willie Dean: (same consoling tone) No, there isn't.

Me: Of course there isn't. I love Sylvester.

Leslie throws a pillow at me as I start singing Do You Wanna Funk. Aunt Willie Dean laughs and walks off. End scene.

Ah, childhood.  Even as a tot, I was full of snark.

Here's the interesting thing. That first album could have gone the way of many debut efforts but the label wanted to make their money back and Prince wanted to be a star.  So he did what every budding star does: he focused on the visual and created a look for himself, amped up the sex (in this case, he decided to be pretty and somewhat effeminate -- way less of a threat to girls like my cousin and thus, more alluring) and last but not least, he took all of his clothes off. (And on album covers, no less!)

He also made himself into this racially ambiguous, hypersexualized creature and sealed that myth into the pop vernacular with an Italian mother in the ever-popular Purple Rain.  And now? Lots of people believe he's biracial. Mission accomplished.

Sorry folks -- a lightskinned momma and a black daddy doesn't make you biracial. Someone should tell that to the people who published this book.


Prince's singing and songwriting helped a great deal. But that wasn't enough. He himself had to hook the audience with a compelling visual -- and that hairdo, that nose and that skin tone wasn't gonna make it happen.  This tiny little man had to obscure his race to make it okay for anyone to find him attractive -- while toying with the idea of being a sexual behemoth of epic proportions, thus selling himself to the highest bidder. It's kind of hilarious, the way he woke up in the 90s after selling millions of albums and realized that he was a gigantic corporate tool.  His shock seemed genuine. What a hoot.

Clearly, his transformation didn't end with the look on his second album cover. Still and all, it's interesting to see exactly when he decided to turn that corner.  

The Afro he's sporting now is no surprise. What with his image being so clearly tied to a perm or a cold wave or whatever, wouldn't everyone be compelled to see him with new eyes if he went in the opposite direction?

He's looking a lot like Phil Spector in this shot, don't you think?

I don't know. Maybe I'm wrong but it seems that if you want to make it in the entertainment industry, what you look like matters more than just about anything else. It takes a lot of strategic planning and forethought and risk to make things happen, and gobs and gobs of money -- money that has absolutely nothing to do with songwriting or performance.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

30 Days of Birthday: Day 11 - Toxins and Carcinogens, Part 2

I'm not paranoid.  I'm not some loud mouthed upstart that's raging against the machine or the federal government (or "the man" if you prefer) and all the nefarious things they can't stop doing. I'm not politically astute. I'm not a protester. I don't believe that the government should give me anything. (And yes, Europe is winning on this one.) My I pay my taxes -- and no, none of the things I pay for with my taxes are entitlements.

I figure I'm batting a thousand because I know who my representatives are and I vote in every election but it's moments like these -- moments when I read about what's in my food, what's in the products I use on my skin, what's in the air that I breathe and the water that I drink -- that make me feel like I'm turning into a gigantic hippie. At this point, with all the damage that's been done, there's probably a little hippie in all of us. 

Who doesn't want to eat clean food and breathe clean air? Who wouldn't complain if there were something wrong with those things? Who wouldn't want to do something about it?

I believe that if we habitually put our money where our beliefs are, we can collectively change the world, one purchase at a time.  I'm already making readjustments with the products I use on my skin and in my hair and that has me rethinking my food choices all over again, even though I eat clean most of the time.  Getting around this GMO issue is going to be sticky because it's so pervasive.

I intend to take especially good care of myself from now on and that starts with what I eat and how much I exercise.  The truth is, if I want my body to look a certain way and if I want to feel a certain way, there are some things that I just can't eat anymore.  Fast food is simply not an option. It's a herculean struggle to keep sugar, salt, fat, corn and dairy off my plate. And I love dairy products but none of them are particularly fond of me. Clean food -- nuts, fruits and vegetables, certain kinds of fish -- is my medicine. 

Here's my plan, so far:
  1. Every 3 months as the seasons change, I'm going to do a thorough cleanse and I'm going to a Korean day spa for a proper soak and scrub down at least once a month. 
  2. It's not that hard to find farmer's markets with locally grown organic food.
  3. There's a lot of organic food markets in the city. (Who knew?)
  4. When it's time to eat out, Clean Plates really helps.
  5. I have to drink more water. Thankfully, my Britta water bottle fits in my purse.
This isn't like that tv show Bewitched, where I snap my fingers and get the body and the good health and the physical energy I want. It's a process. This takes discipline and sacrifice and work, work, work -- and more importantly, it takes time. I had to change the way I thought about food. I had to be patient when I didn't see results. My palate had to readjust. And no, I don't like a lot of the vegetables I'm eating. But I LOVE the results. 

The funny thing is, I wasn't that far off the mark in the first place, but I'm fairly certain that the readjustments I'm making now will matter a great deal in my future.

Monday, June 10, 2013

30 Days of Birthday: Day 10 - (More) Flash Fiction

This is yet another very short story I yanked out of my laptop and dusted off and put in the summertime rewrite bin, an eternal snapshot of my New York City life.  When I say that I should write a book, MPB says I already have -- I just have to organize all of it and give it a good edit. Now that I'm finding pieces like this, I'm starting to believe he's right.


                                                            TRAIN RIDE

Run for the train.

As you stand at the top of the stairs, you feel the blast of warm air, like the subway is gasping.  You start down the stairs and the whole world starts up the stairs, at you.  It is a tidal wave of people, an endless barrage of old people and baby strollers and small children being dragged around by the wrist that leaves you wedged against the wall, close enough to the train to see it leave you breathless.  The teller tries not to laugh at you and fails miserably.

Wait for the train.

Find yourself staring down that long dark empty tunnel as though you and everyone else on the platform staring with you were attempting to will the train to appear. Know that when you see those headlights, you and everyone around you, with your collective pacing and complaining and the tension that is bouncing around inside all of you, had something to do with it finally showing up. You tell yourself that you can keep this up all day.  And you do. 

Get on the train.

Every detail from every train ride melts into each other until one ride is indistinguishable from the next, and then somewhere in between switching to an express or catching the cross town shuttle, all of it becomes one long ride to nowhere.  You may not be wearing the same clothes but it’s the same train ride,day in and day out. The clean seats.  The screaming babies. The vomit.  The obnoxious tourists. The businessmen. The intimate conversations you didn’t want to hear. The foreign languages you don’t understand.  The walking sickness next to you dying and then in front of you begging gradually becomes the same gaunt homeless faces passing you by with the same story, bony arms outstretched for anything you’ve got, like death on holiday. By midday, you look up at someone in a cheap suit sitting across from you inhaling a gigantic hoagie absentmindedly and you realize you haven’t had anything to eat all day.

Your one constant is the book you are reading.  When you read, you are elsewhere.

Get off the local and transfer to the express line.

It’s an unspoken rule that everyone reads over everyone else’s shoulder.

You give your seat to a pregnant woman and glare at the guy next to you. More confirmation that chivalry is dead. You check that subway map next to the door, the one you think you know like the back of your hand, because you’re not sure which stop is yours. The tangled mass of train lines at the lower end of the city spangle the map like the back end of some wierdo’s psychedelic rainbow trip, As you lean down to get a closer look, the plumber in front of you readjusts politely.  You know that you just gave him something to wank off about later because your blouse fell open for a moment longer than it should have and he saw more than he was supposed to.  You sigh and let it go. 

You know that’s all the action you’re going to get for a long, long time.  For a moment, you are grateful to him for not smirking at you.  You look at him for a moment.  Older. Stocky.  Strong.  A touch of gray.  Pale watery blue eyes.  Filthy hard working hands, the kind you were raised to believe that a real man ought to have.  He looks Czech. No, you think to yourself.  Polish.  You are rewarded for your unfailing powers of observation when he pulls out a Polish newspaper from his back pocket. A moment passes.  You stand over him and lean in, pretending to read over his shoulder.  His friends who are sitting nearby stop talking and watch you.  As he attempts to turn a page, you stop him and pretend to finish a last paragraph, then indicate that yes, now he can turn the page. Everyone laughs. You laugh, too.  He offers you his seat. When you refuse, he insists.  Surprised and grateful, you take it. As he leaves, he pretends to give you his Polish newspaper.  You pretend to take it. You both laugh again and wave goodbye. You will never see him again.  You think to yourself, I love New York.  And you mean it.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

30 Days of Birthday: Day 8 - Carcinogens and Toxins, Part 1

i don't know what happened to me. all of a sudden, i want to get all of the toxins and carcinogens out of my life, toot sweet. the thing is, i'm not sure what has to go. i didn't wallow in alcohol, i never smoked cigarettes and recreational drugs didn't become this ritualistic habit that everyone else has embraced. i maintained that stance in my post-college adult life because as an actor and vocalist, my body is my instrument and it's maintenance and upkeep is a full time job -- especially as i transition to on-camera work. (for more on that process, click here.)

in my perpetual search for the best sunscreen i can get my hands on (yes, it's european), i began to do research on toxins and carcinogens -- the things that poison so many of us on a daily basis, a little bit at a time, from the inside out. what i discovered was more than a little disturbing.

the one ingredient that really freaked me out was sulfates - and yes, there are hundreds of varieties. once upon a time, everyone made their own soap. then in the 1930s, someone put sulfates in soap (and lots of other products we use on our bodies, like toothpaste) to make them sudsier. and it worked - but it also tended to dry out the skin and hair.  nowadays, more than 90 percent of shampoos and body washes contain sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) -- widely known as a skin irritant -- or sodium laureth sulfate (SLES).  this stuff is linked to premature baldness, enviornmental cancers, cataract formation, contact dermatitis and more. it's in baby products, too. (yeesh.)

this infographic sums up quite a lot. in the meantime, i'm going to go through all the products i use on my body to make sure that they're sulfate, silicone and surfactant free.

Friday, June 07, 2013

30 Days of Birthday: Day 7 - The Civil War exhibits at The Met

 An ambrotype image of the Pattillo Brothers of Henry County, each holding D-guard Bowie or side knives: (from l to r) Benjamin, George, James and John -- Company K, 22nd Regiment, Georgia Volunteer Infantry. They enlisted together on the same day -- August 31, 1861 -- and served with the Army of Northern Virginia.  If you'd like to know what happened to them in battle, click here.

When I spend the day at The Met in the Balcony Lounge -- listening to jazz, rewriting and rereading, and yes, thinking way too much -- sometimes I wander into an installation to distract myself and clear my head.  There are several on hand that coincide with the anniversary of the Civil War and they are wondrous.

The exhibit Photography and the American Civil War is the one that has consistently pulled me in from the inside out, in part because I love to tromp through history books and sift through it all to find out What Actually Happened.  This is the war that was photographed exhaustively, the first major conflict to come alive inside that lens. The hoi polloi was understandably transfixed.

What's especially alluring (and yes, disturbing) is that the people in the photos look real. Really, really real. There's just no other way to put it. Most of them look as though they are reaching through that expanse of space and time and whatever else stands between us, and really seeing me. The kicker is that a few of them look like people I actually know.  The brothers in the photo above are no exception.

I can't see a piece of art once and get everything out of it and walk away. The more I look at it, the more I see, the more inspired I feel.

These photos are ethereal.  I can't get them out of my head.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

30 Days of Birthday: Day 6 -- An Intensive Summer Workshop

I started that workshop this week, which is kind of fantastic because I'm forced to write and rewrite all of these ideas out of my head.  And yep, that's exactly why it's not fantastic at all.  Thankfully, inspiration is there more often than not. There are plenty of places for me to hide and disappear all day. So far, so good.

The flow of my day feels a little surreal. I'm grateful that I've got enough time to write and develop new ideas.  Here's what's keeping me up late at night:
  1.  My musical The Billie Holiday Project -- it went so well at at The Apollo last spring that I'm absoutely determined to develop it.
  2. A dance piece with Francesca Harper called Billie Holiday Deconstructed
  3. A treatment for an as of yet unnamed TV show
  4. A short 10 minute film
  5. A one act play that's all over the place
Next week, I'll hand over 15 pages of dialogue from a theater piece I'm working on about modern black girls.  It's kind of like a black feminist version of The Colored Museum.

Pithy Quote of the Day

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

30 Days of Birthday: Day 5 -- A New Dress

This is a beautiful vintage gown of a dress, circa 1930 something -- a perfectly delicious, carefully ruffled, buttercup yellow, moire taffeta sliver of loveliness, puffed sleeves and all -- that I found on Etsy. There is no zipper. There are no closures. It's cut on the bias. It simply slips on over my head.

(This is the part in my head where I hear Madelene Kahn saying, "Taffeta, darling..." to Gene Wilder in that train station scene from Young Frankenstein. *sigh* Mel Brooks, I love you.)

I'm seriously thinking about wearing this to the Jazz Age Lawn Party. We'll see how I look in it when it gets here.

The quality of vintage clothing is so much better than what's affordable now.  And it's always a real kick in the head to wear unique things. I simply can't stand seeing what I'm wearing on anyone else.

I do so love to wear old things. It's like I'm wearing history whenever I dress up in it and strangely, it makes me feel connected to the past in the most reassuring ways.  I will wear a 1930s day dress and pass a shop window as I zip down the street and I will glimpse someone from another place and time, and lo and behold, it will be me. That doesn't creep me out. It gives me comfort.

Newton thought that time was absolute. Einstein proved that it was relative. Isn't there a theory that says everything is happening all the time, simultaneously?  Why yes, there is. Everything forever, all the time.  When I wear vintage, this makes perfect sense.


I am seriously addicted to the good stuff on the Discovery channel.

Monday, June 03, 2013

30 Days of Birthday -- Day 3: My Body, My Self

I don't know what happened to me.

When I was a kid, I was full of verve. I had a ton of energy that was boundless and explosive, energy that kept me moving from the moment I leaped out of bed until I was forced to go to sleep. I didn't know it but in a way, my body was my best friend. I took care of it inadvertently but it was excellent care, nonetheless -- thanks to my father's heart attack, we ate clean for the most part -- fresh fruits and vegetables, and chicken, lots of different kinds of fish and game, usually roasted.  We weren't allowed to eat candy.  Thanks to my mother's budget, we hardly ever ate fast food. We had a swimming pool, bicycles, acres of wooded area to run through and explore with plenty of trees to climb.

(Yes, I'm from the South.)

Later in college, there was no alcohol, no hard drugs and no carcinogens of any kind.  Initially, I wasn't interested. When I got curious, I couldn't afford it because at that time my real name was Poverty McBroke-ington.  Not having money meant that I cooked for myself most of the time, so I maintained the eating habits I had when I was a kid. What I could afford was monthly facials at a deluxe spa. And plenty of sunscreen. And a decent pair of running shoes -- along with a sports bra that would keep Pancho and Lefty completely stationary.

What can I tell you? Your money follows your priorities.  I didn't realize it at the time, but the foundation had already been set in concrete from childhood. I couldn't eat garbage -- well, I could and when I did, I felt like garbage, so I stopped. I didn't know how to drive, so I rode my bike everywhere. And on a college campus that covered 3 zip codes, I put in some serious mileage every day.  Last but not least, I wore sunscreen religiously. I even wore sunscreen on cloudy days. Force of habit, I suppose. When you're constantly reinforcing good habits, the payoff is immeasurable.

By the time I got to New York City, I was really broke -- but I got a gym membership, anyway. And a bike. And lots and lots of sunscreen. I still ate at home, usually. And when I had money, I got facials.  Sometimes this routine was easy to maintain and sometimes it was very hard. But whenever I fell off, I always dusted myself off and got right back on that horse. I was so used to living this way that it felt weird to not do it.

Jump cut to here and now. I've been team natural for years but I've only made a concerted effort to grow my hair long for the past four years or so. Thanks to a skincare regimen that has included high end products, regular spa visits and sunscreen, my skin is flawless. I've been more off than on with the gym these days because I've been busy with other things but today I hit a snag: it took me 15 minutes to run a mile. Unthinkable. And therein lies the fork in the road. I can either keep eating or I can start running all over again.

Needless to say, I'm getting back on that horse. My goal is to run a mile comfortably in less than 10 minutes within a month.

What's the moral to this little story?  Good health isn't an accident -- and neither is beauty. Coco Chanel was right when she said there are no ugly women -- only lazy ones.

It's a lot of good habits, all piled up on top of each other, and it's a TON of hard work. It's the hard work of staying on that treadmill for an hour. It's the discipline of eating clean instead of popping into McDonald's.  It's getting the products and the professional treatments you need to take care of your hair, skin and nails. And it never, ever stops.

Little did I know that maintaining an eat clean/live clean regimen was my saving grace. I just thought I was too broke to live the good life when lo and behold, I was living the good life all along. I seriously wish someone had told me that being a girl was this much work, though. It'll be worth it, knowing that I'll look 28 when I'm 50.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

30 Days of Birthday - Day 2: A parting shot, from the Philly comic con

Here's a snapshot of Princess Leia, Han Solo and I before we go out and conquer the universe. (I'm the one that doesn't need a gun -- or a costume, apparently...)

Saturday, June 01, 2013

30 days of birthday - Day 1: June's NaBloPoMo, comic cons and everything else...

NaBloPoMo June 2013

Ah, the joy of writing prompts, morning pages and that sudden burst of inspiration that sends me reeling into a creative expanse that knows no bounds. When such hurricanes touch down and take me away, blogging is sometimes where I momentarily land.

I'll be celebrating my birthday every day this month. Really, it's the usual high octane hi-jinks.  No additives, no artificial colors or preservatives. I am 100% pure fun.

I'm also finding different ways to wear myself out physically on a daily basis (God, I love boxing...) and I'll be eating clean for the foreseeable future, because my body is so unbelievably happy when I do.

Today finds me at the Philly Comic Con with MPB -- a nerd prom of epic proportions. (He's working -- I'm the one that's goofing off.) Not surprisingly, they're expecting a jillion people. Comic cons are more popular than ever, and with more and more comic books and graphic novels becoming blockbuster Hollywood movies (The Avengers, anyone?) and TV shows (The Walking Dead, anyone?), it's only a matter of time until the rest of the world shows up. At this point, the entertainment industry tends to use them as a kind of pop culture barometer.

The Javits Center is too small for the New York Comic Con. Yes, that's right -- you heard me correctly: over 675,000 square feet isn't enough space for their weeklong comic book geekfest fandom cosplay shenanigans. They blew it out at 116,000 attendees, with scalpers selling passes in the street for several hundred dollars a pop. The San Diego Comic Con is even worse. It's pretty much understood that it's impossible to get tickets. Consider this: last year's event was sold out -- over 130,000 tickets, gone in less than 90 minutes -- more than 5 months in advance. 

It's not just the east coast or the west coast, either. There's comic cons in lots of other cities, too. Philly is no slouch -- and neither is Chicago

So yeah, comic cons are kind of a big deal.

While the publishing world can't stop whining about how nobody's buying books anymore, comic books and graphic novels seem to be exploding all over every genre there is, with more on the way all the time. 

Think about it: for days on end, you can dress up like your favorite superhero or whatever, get original artwork from your favorite graphic novel or visual artist, get an autograph or take a picture with the star of a cult horror movie or tv show, see movie and tv premieres before anyone else does and on and on it goes. If you're a gamer, this place is just this side of heaven. 

I'll find Darth Vader later. Right about now is the time for me to carpe some diem: run a few miles (the Westin is so dope!), find a shot of wheatgrass, get lost in beautiful art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and write, write, write.