Of The Philadelphia Eagles, And The Man That Made Me A Fan

Of The Philadelphia Eagles, And The Man That Made Me A Fan

I considered staring this blog entry with an Eagles chant because… well? That’s what this blog entry is about. But doing so seemed a bit formulaic, this week especially. In case you don’t know–and unless you’ve been living under a rock these past few weeks, or in some far-flung suburb of Ishcabible–the Eagles… my Philadelphia Eagles are about to play in the Super Bowl for only the third time in their long and illustrious history. Just the opportunity to witness another run at the Lombardi Trophy (all three appearances have happened in my lifetime, but only two resonate with any significance for me… I was a few months shy of five years old in 1980) is an amazing feeling. I have high hopes for them this weekend… I’ve been saying for weeks that they’re the only team in the NFL currently that can run with the evil empire, i.e. the… grumble, grumble… New England Patriots and on Sunday? I get to find out if I was right. Am I skeptical? Of course I am. I’m a Philadelphia sports fan. And if they lose… again… I’m going to be very, very distraught. But if they win? Oh my goodness if they win? Wow. Just… wow. It will be the culmination of decades of bleeding green, and routing for them with every ounce of my heart, mind and soul.

But here’s a little known fact about me, and for those of you that have known me for decades, this may come as quite a shock. Believe it or not? I was not always a tried-and-true Eagles fan. My love affair with this team only goes back about 30 of my 42 years on this planet, somewhere on the right, or wrong side (depending on your perspective) of the great wormhole of existence. I came to the Eagles as a pre-teen, and first fell in love with the Kelly Green wearing collection of personalities that dominated the face of sports in this town in the time of Lee Elia and Von Hayes, Tim Kerr and Paul Holmgren. Names like Randall Cunnigham and Reggie White, Jerome Brown and to this day, my all-time favorite Bird, the legendary Keith Byars, i.e. Buddy Ryan’s medical marvel. And Buddy… oh, Buddy. You were just the guy to skipper those teams. Your personality was Philly, and Philly believed in you like they’d never believed in anyone before. Sure, you never won a playoff game but memories? Oh boy did you give us a million. Bounty Bowl and Fog Bowl? Man! Just writing it makes me smile.

So how did I come to embrace the Eagles at the ripe, young age of 13? Well? It wasn’t a decision I came to on my own. I was invited into the fandom by someone that is, sadly, no longer with us this chilly night in 2018 as we prepare for the biggest football game anyone in this town has seen in 14 years (only three more sleeps until Super Bowl Sunday!). I’ve met a lot of Eagle fans over the years but this guy? This guy was and always will be the biggest member of the Bird Gang that I’ve ever encountered. A gruff and chiseled, chain cigarette smoking ex-Midshipman who was… well? Whether he was fond of me or not I don’t know. At least early on. I can only speak for myself when I say, quite transparently that I couldn’t stand him and I did everything in my power to eliminate him from my life for a long time. That changed as he got toward the end of his all-to-short stint in this world in the late 90s but I’m getting way ahead of myself. Back to the 80s. To the time of Def Leppard and Tim Burton’s “Batman,” Jams and Jellies. And, of course, Journey, a band that is, incidentally, playing in the background as I write this.

One day, I was invited by this gentleman to sit down and watch an Eagles game with him and my mother. I remember that I knew football. I played it with my friends and watched the Super Bowl every year, but that was it. I can’t remember who they were playing that day though for some reason, I think it was the Redskins. It was one of the rare times I’d been invited by him to do anything so of course, I obliged. I sat down with a cup of powdered iced tea and a bowl of Snyder’s pretzels in front of me and tuned in. I remember I asked a lot of questions as the game went along. “Who’s that?” Eric Allen. “And that?Cris Carter. I learned that the Running Back was a guy named Anthony Tony and that the Kicker was a guy named Luis Zendejas. And by the time the first half ended and the second half began, he’d basically named every starting member of the team for me, the endless flow of questions ceased and I was able to watch and enjoy… really enjoy what I was seeing. I can’t remember if they won or lost the game. I guess a bit of research would answer that question. But it wasn’t the outcome of the game that stuck with me and caused me to come back and watch again, two weeks later, and every other Sunday after that from September until December, and some years into January well into the 90s. It was, quite frankly (no pun intended), the first time he and I had ever shared something in common. Watching the Birds play on Sunday became our church and temple. Our spirituality. Whether at his house or mine, we always sat down with our powdered iced tea and Snyder’s pretzels and gorged on football. We suffered through Rich Kotite together. We shared countless mainly first, but once or twice second round, playoff bounces together and grew fond of the adage, “there’s always next year.” We never went to a game live together, likely due to the fact that by the mid-90s, he had been diagnosed with Lung Cancer, an ailment that sadly took his life in March of 1997. He never got to see Andy or Jim, Five or Weapon-X. He never got to experience four straight NFC Eastern Division Championships, culminating in the 2004 Super Bowl versus the… grumble, grumble… New England Patriots at the onset of their now over a decade long dynasty. He was gone long before, his last memories those of Ray Rhodes and an embarrassing 6-9-1 record.

But do you know what, friends? He was there, even after he was gone. He was never far from my thoughts in the years following his untimely passing. My first thoughts were of him in 2001 when they advanced to their first of four consecutive NFC Championships. My first thoughts were of him in 2004 when they beat the Mike Vick-led Falcons and advanced to the Super Bowl (even as I drunkenly partied on the streets of Roxborough with my friends and then-girlfriend, Nicole Gentile). And when I cried after they lost two weeks later, it was his voice that I heard in my head and our oft-shared adage, “there’s always next year.” Next year happened, but it was an injury-riddled wash of a year that at one point found some scrub named Mike McMahon quarterbacking our team. Then came 2008 and the Birds’ last run at glory with Big Red at the helm. It ended with a loss to the Cardinals in the NFC Championship Game and that gruff voice, speaking in my head once again, “there’s always next year.” The Andy Reid era came to long-overdue close a few years later and gave way to the Chip Kelly era (shiver). And when I declared on the day that he was hired that “they’re going to win a Super Bowl under Chip,” it was his smile that I saw in my mind. Through all the highs and lows of my life bleeding green since the late 80s, he was there. Whether in body or in spirit, he was a constant presence, routing on our team, teaching me the Eagles Fight Song, urging me to get a Hugh Douglas jersey and not a McNabb one because “Defense wins Super Bowls, kid.” And this past Christmas, when my now-wife Nicole Marsh surprised me with a Carson Wentz jersey, my first since Hugh, it was his voice that I heard in my mind congratulating me on “finding a good one, Frank. She’s a keeper.”

I hear a lot of people talk about what it means to be an Eagles fan. It’s never easy. It’s an invitation to heartbreak. It’s always being an underdog. It’s a fraternity of beer swilling, cigarette smoking, five o’clock shadow wearing a**holes that like to throw snowballs at Santa Claus and cheer when Michael Irvin goes down with a season-ending injury. People don’t like us. The only thing that gets the routing world behind the team from Philly is when they’re playing the team from New England and even then, a good portion of Texas still tells us to go piss up a Crisco-greased light pole. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and I’d never try to impose mine upon anyone. But the thing is, friends? There’s more… so much more to being an Eagles fan than the above listed criteria. Ask around and you’ll find that almost everyone that bleeds green has a story like mine. A tale of how they became a fan. A tale of that first memory of sitting down to watch a team of Kelly Green or Green, Silver and Black clad brothers going toe-to-toe with the expectations. Those brothers? Those teams? They’re family, folks. I may only watch them on Thursdays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays from early August to the first of February, but they’re as much a part of my life, and the lives of many people here in and around the City of Brotherly Love as anyone. This Sunday night? I’m excited to sit down in my customary spot in my living room with my unwashed, number 11 jersey on, my Chip Kelly visor on the floor beside me and the remote control perched precariously on the arm of said chair beside me and watch them hopefully unseat the evil empire (because I’m not superstitious, sarcasm fully intended). The man that introduced me to them? The first person to tell me all the names of the players I was watching? He’ll be there with me too. Never far from my thoughts. And if …

No… when they defy the odds yet again and win? Then I’ll shout, and cheer, and sing the Eagles fight song over and over again, surrounded by my friends and family and yes, I’ll likely cry a bit because I know that somewhere, somehow the man that made me a fan of the greatest professional football team in the country with the most passionate fanbase of any team in the country will be doing the same. I’ll hear his voice in my head and this time? He won’t be saying “there’s always next year.” He’ll simply smile that big ol’ smile of his and say, with all the pride in the universe on this side of the proverbial wormhole of existence…

“I told you so, kid.”

#FlyEaglesFly

F.

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Of Sabbaticals, Life Changes, Writing and Building a LEGO House

“I’ve been here before.”

William MacNuff, CHILDREN OF ENDWORLD

Good Morning, Afternoon or Evening, fellow denizens of my subjective reality on this side of the proverbial wormhole of existence. You all remember me from the past, if such a concept can and does exist here. Past? Present? Future? All are meaningless in a place where we live from sunrise to sunset. Breathing, eating, sh*tting, f*cking… you know the litany. My last post could have been written a day, a month or a year ago and I would not know the difference. As I have learned over the last 38, almost 39 years of my life, time is relative. The urge to write? To revisit “Random Musings of a Pseudo-Madman Version 2.0” has been there… been here the entire time. But sometimes, friends? Sometimes, you simply need to take a bit of a break. Whether you had planned to or not sometimes such things are necessary.  So in answer to the question “where the hell have you been for the last few months, Frank,” the answer is ‘purty simple: I’ve been on a sabbatical, watching as my life changes in once-unimagined ways around me. I’ve also been building a LEGO house with my minions, but I’ll come back to that later.

Truth be told, I have been busy. Oh yes. Very, very busy. Maybe not in the same ways I was before, but busy nonetheless. In the space between when I last wrote–March 26th, actually: I looked it up–and now I’ve established myself in a new job, celebrated my wife’s thirty I MEAN 29TH Birthday, my youngest minion’s second and my oldest minion’s fifth. I’ve attended more parties and family slash friend functions than I can count, celebrated my sixth Father’s Day (counting when Cara Bear was in utero), watched the Sixers tank, the Flyers lose, the Phillies suck and the ‘Iggles… well? I’m optimistic about them.

I’ve also read. A lot. As of right now, I’ve completed the following books since March: The Stand, all seven “Dark Tower” books, A Dance with Dragons and five of the seven “Foundation” books. I’ve further re-read ENDWORLD in preparation for what I hope will be the final stretch of writing the sequel, CHILDREN OF ENDWORLD which is currently 297 pages to the good en route to roughly 400, give or take a dozen in either direction. I still need to finish “Foundation” and complete my re-read and re-write of CHILDREN thus far. All this is one of two things: Me, bringing you up to speed on meaningless trivia about my less than extraordinary existence or me, trying to convince both you and myself that my almost four month break is justified. Was I successful? I have no freakin’ idea.

Let’s delve a bit deeper into some of the things I mentioned above. First and foremost, my job. I’ve got to be honest with you, friends: When I took it back in November of 2013 and started it in December of the same I had my doubts. Staffing and HR was not an industry I was even slightly familiar with. I’d spent the majority of my working life since turning 11 working in customer service, management and sales. Finding people jobs? It was ‘purty alien to me. But I’ve discovered over the last almost eight months that low and behold, I’m actually pretty gul’darned good at it. My office… my Branch is growing, not at an exponential rate but at a steady one. I’ve tacked on over a K in gross weekly margin since taking over, cycled out one partner and am now working with a new one that seems to “get me” and my approach in ways that the last one didn’t. I’ve got a ton of business in the pipeline and more funneling in daily. In short? My job’s good. Real good. I like it more than I’ve liked a job since my earliest days working for CVSStress. In LEGO terms? “Everything is awesome.” Time for a musical interlude? No. Not yet.

Therein lies Caveat One: I enjoy what I’m doing. I put a lot of energy into my everyday, nine to five not-so mundane, routine existence and have little left “in the tank” post-putting the minions to bed to do anything but sit mindlessly and watch the Phillies suck on a nightly basis. Tonight’s a bit of an exception because I drank a Monster around 3:00 PM and am still kinda’ zooted at 10:05. I’m not sure how long this is going to last but I figured I should try to take advantage of it while I can and bang out a thousand words or so. It helps to keep the instrument, AKA my creative mind going. Watching the Phillies really just kills brain cells here in 2014.

So therein lies one reason, perhaps the biggest reason that I haven’t been writing at the same clip that I was last year at this time. Outside of my job, though? There’s my family. My beloved 29 YEAR OLD WIFE Nicole and my equally beloved but at times insanity inducing minions Cara Bear and Nat-Nat Boo. I’ll not lie (’cause really? What would be the point? Nicole would just call my bullsh*t card anyway): When I was knee-deep in the composition of ENDWORLD, I didn’t devote as much time as I should have to them. What can I say? I was at times consumed. I didn’t ignore them per-say. I didn’t retire to the basement and write for hours while they sat upstairs playing princesses and building LEGO houses, but I did allow myself to get caught up in my imagination. And it caused a bit of a strain on things. And I’m not a fan of strain. I prefer that “everything [be] awesome.” So I’v e endeavored to make it so over the last few months. Do you know what? It’s actually been nice. Relaxing for the most part, albeit occasionally enough to make me want to pull every last one of my f*cking salt and pepper hairs out of my head and beard and scream “why God, why can’t the two of you PLAY NICE” at the top of my lungs until I’m hoarse. But teaching Cara to read? Reading “Potty” and working on Natalie’s ABCs with her? Watching “Naked and Afraid” marathons and the god-awful Phillies with Nicole? Hitting up the park circuit and playing in my backyard? All are nice. Awesome, if you will. Cue up Caveat Two: I enjoy spending time with my girls. Not so bad… after all.

As for the other stuff? My ongoing fascination with sports in this town despite the fact that Cleveland may have a champion before we do again (I’m looking at you, Johnny Football)? My desire to start reading books again, albeit books that I’ve read previously rather than always writing them? All are symptomatic of one thing: My need to take a break. A sabbatical, if you will. The last couple of years have been… well? Kind of crazy, friends. Any of you that have tried to balance a career with a family all while self-publishing and marketing your 19 plus year labor of love, not to mention trying to meet the wholly unexpected (I honestly thought people were going to thing ENDWORLD stunk) demand for the continuation of said labor? I’ll repeat: It’s a lot. So you take a step back and try to put things into perspective. You dial back your life changes and “pick up the pieces and build a LEGO house” and you load that f*cker up with as many what we used to call “safeties,” i.e. cross bars that stabilize it and protect it from the destructive tendencies of your two year old as you can. And then…

Then…

When you’ve recouped the sheer amount of energy you depleted in doing all of the above mentioned things… when you’ve replenished “your tank” then? Then, you step outside one hot and humid, early July night and look at the lightning going off in the distance. You inhale deeply on the cigarette you really shouldn’t be smoking, close your eyes, breath in deeply through your nose and exhale through your mouth and for a moment? For one brief, shining moment you realize something completely unexpected. More unexpected than being good at a job you initially doubted you were qualified for and watching the lowly Phillies win four games in a row against one of the best teams in the NL (take that, Brew Crew). You realize that you’re happy. For once in your life, you are actually not a living and breathing facsimile of a smiley face. Your smile? It’s genuine. ‘Cause “everything is awesome.” Is it time, now?

Oh, yes. It is so time:

Try to get it out of your heads now, friends. Odds are you’ll be singing it in the shower tomorrow morning along with me.

All that… all this said, the question remains: How much longer is this break… this sabbatical that I’m on going to last? Well, guys and gals, the answer to that question lies right here in this blog entry. I wouldn’t be pounding these words out right now, abusing my now-seven year old, trusty laptop (might be time for a replacement soon; any suggestions) if I wasn’t ready to hop back on the proverbial horse, get back in the game or whatever chosen cliche you’d like to use to describe the simple fact that it’s time for me to begin writing again. Earlier tonight, I told Cara my two golden rules for building a LEGO house. The first? Never follow the instructions. And the second? Always build until you run out of pieces. I’ve spent enough time following the instructions, and my desire remains to build and build until such time as I have nothing left “in the tank.” Practice what you preach, Madchronicler, AKA Daddy. Who am I to deny that request?

Now, guys. Not a few months from now but now. I know that everything is awesome enough and the time is right. Nicole has my back. Work is still busy, but has stabilized to the point that I’m not spending every waking moment dwelling on it. My minions can play together when they want to, though more often then not it results in the equivalent of a wrasslin’ match, punctuated by screeching and the occasional growl.

And then? There are you. The people that continue to read my random musings and buy ENDWORLD. The ones that ask me when I’m going to finish CHILDREN OF ENDWORLD because they just can’t wait to see what happens next. All the kind souls that have published reviews of my labor of love on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads et al. You guys? You deserve to know. And I promise you that in the very near future? You will. Only 100 or so more pages to write and man oh man: It’s going to be f’n crazy. I can promise you that.

That’s all she wrote, peeps. In closing? Let me just say “thank you.” Thank you all for your constant and unwavering support of me and my endeavors. You remain my rock: That which keeps me going. We’ve all been here before, and because time has no significance on this side of the proverbial wormhole of existence there’s always time. Time to live. Time to breath, eat, sleep, f*ck and sh*t.

And there’s always time to build a LEGO house.

Winky emoticon. Smiley Face.

F.

In Which I Abruptly Break From Writing CHILDREN OF ENDWORLD to Discuss a Topic of International Importance

I say “abruptly” because as of five minutes ago, I was plugging away at Children of Endworld with reckless abandon. I took a break at page 216 to “deal” with what I and my wife, Nicole, like to call “The Revenge of Wings-To-Go” (and if you don’t understand what I’m talking about I’m not going to spell it out for you). When I returned to my computer, I minimized my empty email inbox to check the latest headline on CNN and saw:

CNN Breaking News – Dennis Rodman plans “basketball diplomacy” event involving players from North Korea. 

What little remained of yesterday’s late lunch/Sunday Night Football snack of reprocessed chicken product, smothered in either medium wing sauce or Teriyaki staged an entirely unexpected coup in my lower GI and I found myself once again in the bathroom “dealing” with the problem that has been plaguing me since I woke up this AM. Coincidence, or brought on by the mention of a now D-List, former sports star? I leave that for you to decide.

For those of you who have no idea who Dennis Rodman is, here’s your first lesson:

dennis-rodman-in-costume

As hard as this may be for those of you just now hearing about him to believe, the above pictured… personality is, in fact a Hall of Fame basketball player who won five… yes, five NBA Championships between the Detroit Pistons and the Chicago Bulls in the late 1980’s and 1990’s. You may recognize him better in this picture:

220px-Rodman_Lipofsky

I swear it’s the same… um, “guy.” He is considered by many to be one of, if not the greatest defensive player in pro basketball history. He’s a two time NBA All-Star and a two time NBA Defensive Player of the Year. I could go on and on with his accolades but there’s really no need to. To the non-sports indoctrinated, Rodman has been the star of an ongoing reality series for the last two decades. Whether intentionally or not, he is the walking and talking definition of a “Train Wreck.”

Consider: His propensity toward dressing in drag, his movie career which lasted about as long as Vanilla Ice’s, his stint as a pro-Wrestler, his well documented alcohol abuse (not to mention his appearance on “Celebrity Rehab with Doctor Drew”), his shotgun marriage to Carmen Electra and subsequent divorce a few months later and a laundry list of legal issues ranging from battery to drunken driving. He is also the only person in the western hemisphere that the Communist dictator of North Korea, Kim Jong Un likes which makes him somewhat essential, presently.

Are you as scared as I am? Good. That was my intention. Please excuse me while I step away for a second and “deal” with the stabbing pains shooting through my midsection, presently.

I’m back. Ugh. I’m starting to think that The Revenge of Wings-To-Go is more incapacitating than Montezuma’s Revenge which I also once suffered from. That story = Another story for another time. Not now. Back to Rodman: I can appreciate quirky personalities, especially public ones. I, myself, am slightly quirky as anyone that knows me will tell you (though I’m far from a “public” personality despite this blog, my book, the 173 people that “like” me on Facebook and my 718 Twitter followers). But I’ve never worn makeup and made proverbial “sexy time” with a dictator.

Still, I can’t help but feel a bit of gratitude towards “The Worm.” This country has a lot on its plate, right now. Between Afghanistan, the War on Terror and the clusterf*ck that is the greater, Middle East… well, sh*t. At least we don’t have to “deal” with North Korea, presently. Rodman seems to have that once-problem well in check though admittedly, I’d prefer a more stable, less eccentric personality (i.e. someone with international policy experience) to a guy who I can totally envision seeing a big red button in Jong Un’s office, saying “what does this button do,” pressing it and instigating the Apocalypse.  Not for nothing, someone in DC should call him in for a little remedial diplomacy training. Foreign Policy 101: How to deal with a two-bit dictator who compensates for his gender crisis by threatening aggression. Emphasis on the word “threatening.” Personally, I don’t think he’s got the stones to try. I’d wager he doesn’t want his country turned into a parking lot.

Sorry if that last bit offended anyone. I’m not exactly adept at talking or, in this case, writing about politics or international affairs.  You’ll never see me guest blogging on the Daily Blaze or giving Anderson Cooper an interview about my feelings on Montezuma’s Revenge, and how it’s (conspiracy theory alert) actually an attempt by our southern neighbor to eliminate us one-by-one: An opening foray in what will one day be called The Second Spanish-American War, otherwise known as the war in which we conceded ownership of the southwestern U S of A to Mexico without a single shot fired because none of our soldiers were able to stay off the commode long enough to fire a weapon. Which reminds me…

Sorry. Duty called (and I don’t mean “doody” though… well, I guess I kind of do). Incidentally if you are completely grossed out/pissed off by this blog entry feel free to look away. I promise I won’t hold it against you.

Back to Mexico: I get it. Really, I do. They coax you to come and visit with the beauty of places like the Riviera and the history of places like Mexico City. But what they neglect to tell you is that those people that keep disappearing while on vacation, down there? They’re not really disappearing. They’re being culled… infected with Montezuma’s Revenge like zombies, only to be turned loose on the U S of A when they’ve fermented for a while. You thought a zombie virus was terrifying? Consider one that duplicates the symptoms of Montezuma’s Revenge or, in mine and my wife’s case, The Revenge of Wings-To-Go on a massive scale. Think of the horror. The carnage. Sewer systems overflowing with reprocessed fast food; septic tanks that burst under the strain of the waste from an entire family that ate Corn Dogs for dinner and Fried Oreos for desert (what can I say? I was at a carnival yesterday). Oh, the implications. Oh, the stench. Oh the… ugh. BRB.

That time? Not brought on by Dennis Rodman, Montezuma’s Revenge or The Revenge of Wings-To-Go. I’m pretty sure I grossed myself out. I won’t allow it to happen again. Getting back to diplomacy and Rodman’s either sanctioned or non-sanctioned involvement in our ongoing effort to develop a relationship with North Korea and Kim Jong “I Watched ‘Too Wong Foo: Thanks for Everything Julie Newmar’ One too Many Times” Un. Despite my earlier posturings about the former NBA All-Star and his Bromance with a guy who has openly professed his hatred of the good ol’ U S of A once or twice, I respect what he’s doing.

What if… and this is a big “what if,” but what if Mexico subversively despises its neighbor to the north. What if El Presidente Enrique Pena Nieto really does believe that the southwestern United States is rightfully his? What if he’s planning on annexing it by unleashing his stash of Montezuma’s Revenge infected disappear-ees upon Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California? It would help to have a diplomat like Rodman, i.e, someone with very little foreign policy experience, a working knowledge of the language (which I don’t even think Dennis has) and a following there to smooth things over… to distract them from their hatred of us so that we can deal with more pressing issues like the ever-volatile Middle East and… oh, I don’t know, OUR OWN F*CKING ECONOMY.

Sorry. I veered right where I normally veer left. Please, forgive me my transgression. I am not well, today.

But wouldn’t it be nice? To have someone that’s been to Mexico and likes it there head down, and have a little proverbial “sexy time” with El Presidente albeit without makeup and… well, sex of any sort (I’m married, guys, and incredibly straight: I’m just making a joke ‘kay? ‘Kay?)? Said person could stay in the Riviera and take trips to Mexico City as required. Do you see where I’m going with this? If you don’t, I’m not going to spell it out for you. I’ll simply say that I would be honored and privileged to act as a liaison between Mexico City and DC. I really do have a following down there. Consider that of the 173 people that “like” my Facebook page, a handful of them live in… okay, not Mexico City but Panama City which is still in Latin American and is also a “city.” The fact that they’re all members of a Facebook Group that focuses on the evolution of electronic lifeforms–a concern that the entire, international community should take seriously–should be a bonus, and should make up for the geographical distance between one “city” and the other. Booyakasha “Fictional machines/electronic life forms and evolution scifi club.” RESPECT. I’ll even throw you a redirect HERE.

I like Mexican cuisine. I intersperse my writing with the language (see: “Numero,” “Chi Vato” and “El Presidente”). I have virtually no grasp of politics whatsoever. In short? I’m perfect. All I ask in return is to be allowed to live on the Riviera somewhere and bring my wife, Nicole, and my two minions with me. I’d also love a guarantee that my loved ones will not be kidnapped and trained to be walking, talking and sh*tting assassins. They love the good ol’ U S of A as much as I do. Other than a decent place to live on the beach and a weekly stipend, I’m good. If interested, please contact me via the comments section or via the info on the “About Me” page of this blog. Gracias, senors y senoritas.

In truth? This is not the direction that I thought this random musing was going to go in. I honestly thought I’d mock Dennis Rodman and Kim Jong “I’m Sexy and I Know It” Un for a couple of paragraphs, rue the current condition of my stomach, say something pithy and end with a moral lesson, a winky emoticon and a smiley face. But what was originally benign has grown quite malignant, IMO, and I think that it’s time to bring this abrupt departure from what has been my norm–writing Children of Endworld–for the last couple of weeks to a close. Page 217 awaits and the coup that yesterday’s Wings-To-Go instituted this AM has, apparently, failed (though I do have Monday Night Football, tonight, and some leftover so who knows? Did I learn my lesson or not? Only time… and tonight will tell).

Is there a lesson to be learned from this blog post? Lessons? Have I accomplished anything outside of exhausting all of you reading this? I have no idea. Maybe this: There exists, on one side of the proverbial wormhole of existence a place where Dennis Rodman, alias (arguably) the greatest defensive basketball player in NBA history hosts a “basketball diplomacy” event in an effort to bring countries like the good ol’ U S of A together with countries like North Korea, Afghanistan and Mexico. The President of the U S of A, Kim Jong Un and Enrique Pena Nieto are among the dignitaries that attend. Among the players are Rodman, the 1989 and 1990 World Champion Detroit Pistons and the 1996, 1997 and 1998 Chicago Bulls (his Airness can still dunk). Vanilla Ice raps a version of the national anthem that, much like Hendrix’s, is initially panned but later accepted as a quite good and because of it, he reforms his wayward life and does not end up on “Celebrity Rehab with Doctor Drew.” Carmen Electra handles court side commentary and the cheer-leading squads are made up of all the people, regardless of how they veer, that either lost their jobs, disappeared, were wrongfully gassed or were otherwise suppressed over the last couple of years internationally. And no one suffers from Montezuma’s Revenge or The Revenge Of Wings-To-Go.

Pre-the game beginning, the Panamanian Facebook group “Fictional machines/electronic life forms and evolution scifi club,” is honored by Julie Newmar for their outstanding work done enlightening the international community to the dangers of artificial intelligence. In their acceptance speech, they thank their mentor for writing what they consider a modern treatise on the possibilities, both good and bad inherent in a machine-run or “Administration” run world. That person? He is sadly not in attendance. He is not needed since El Presidente and the President sit side-by-side in their shared club suite making proverbial “sexy time.” No. Their mentor? He sits surrounded on the deck of his beach front home in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico by his wife, Nicole, his minions, Cara and Natalie and all his loved ones. “Too Wong Foo” is playing on the television in the family room but no one is paying attention to it. The sun, setting over the Gulf of Mexico is much more entertaining.

Don’t you think?

🙂

In Which I Attempt and Likely Fail to Get “Freshly Pressed”

I’ve accomplished a lot in my 37, almost 38 year life on this side of the proverbial wormhole of existence. I’ve rambled, ranted and raved about many of those accomplishments–both good and bad–for years, both here, on “Random Musings of a Pseudo-Madman Version 1.0,” in my oldest pieces of “Mental Flatulence” and in my original “Dissertations.”

Most recently, I’ve written about the publication err, self-publication of my first book, ENDWORLD – A Novel (I need to keep it real for the people that think I got a book deal). A quick, parenthetical aside on that: The book is still selling modestly well, even after almost a month, and I am patiently awaiting next week when my self-proclaimed “Memorial Day Week Promotional Blitzkrieg” will begin. Note to all: Be prepared. Me and my book are going to be popping up all over the place. And by “all over the place” I mean across the blogosphere and on social media. Maybe even on one or two Google “Search Result” pages. “I don’t know. It’s a mystery.”

Don’t all “ooh” and “aah” at once. I don’t expect that you’ll see my book cover and my face on a billboard overlooking I-95 through Philadelphia. At least not until I shed a couple of pounds. You think a television adds 10 pounds? Imagine what a 30 foot wide by 20 foot high billboard adds. Crikey. I’d look like an albino extra from an old “Godzilla” movie. Just call me Mecha-Marsh.

I’m even 50+ pages into the sequel, CHILDREN OF ENDWORLD thanks largely in part to the not-so-gentle insistence of the people who have finished the first book and really want to see what happens next, and the new Daft Punk album, “Random Access Memories.” All in all? Life’s pretty good, right now. I’ve got to say that as the eras of my life go, this one ranks pretty close to the top. After all, I’m fulfilling two dreams at once: Being a dad and being a writer (not in that order nor in reverse order).

Are there things that I’d change? Sure. I’d love to drop a couple of pounds (and by a couple I mean 50-60). I’d love to spend more time with just my wife and less time with my wife and my beloved “minions,” AKA my children. I’d love for my book to already be a bestseller. I’d love a place down the shore. But I’m a realist really (try saying that five times fast), and I know that, in the immortal words of Mick Jagger, “you can’t always get what you want.”

Okay. Accepted. But there is one thing that I’m lacking. One last, little accomplishment that I’d love to… well, accomplish. That accomplishment? To be…

Drum roll please… 

Freshly Pressed. 

For those of you that don’t know what that means, here’s a definition: “Freshly Pressed” is something that WordPress does with certain blog posts. Per their tutorial (viewable HERE), they Freshly Press blog entries that “enlighten us, inspire us, entertain us and get us talking.” As for who “us” is I’m assuming “us” = The Powers that Be, otherwise known in this case as the WordPress Admins. There are other criteria but at it’s core? That’s what being Freshly Pressed entails. Almost every blog that I follow here on WordPress has, at some point, been Freshly Pressed. They’ve all got that cool, little “Freshly Pressed” badge on their sites. But “Random Musings?” Nope. Never. I could just copy and paste one to my sidebar but that would be cheating. I believe in earning my kudos, not undercutting the system/fabricating them.

Do my posts not enlighten you? Inspire you? Entertain you? Get you talking? If they don’t okay. No problem. I’ve obviously overestimated the reach of my ramblings. Perhaps I spend to much time talking about things that interest me and too little time talking about… I don’t know. Cats. Or Doritos and Smartfood. Or something else that I know a lot about. I’ll concede that at times, this blog has seemed more of an online journal and less of a… how does one define a “blog?”

A blog (a contraction of the words web log) is a discussion or informational site published on the World Wide Web and consisting of discrete entries (“posts”) typically displayed in reverse chronological order (the most recent post appears first) (SOURCE: Wikepedia of course).

Okay. Per that criteria, “Random Musings” does qualify as a blog and not an online journal. It is a discussion, even if it’s just a discussion with me, myself and my wife who religiously reads every one of these posts in the hopes that she will see something transcendent. Or just funny. I think she’d settle for funny. In truth? I think she just reads it to humor me. And I appreciate that in the same way that I appreciate people telling me that I’m not obese. Um… yeah. Guess what? I am. Morbidly so though I have been told that I carry it well by people that I know would not humor me. Fact? I’m 30 pounds clear of just “obese.” And that’s without consuming sugar. Stupid potato chip-esque products. I should have left you in my proverbial rear view mirror after Lent had expired.

Curse you, Doritos and Smartfood! Curse you to h-e-double hockey sticks! 

There’s more to being Freshly Pressed. A lot more. And admittedly? I want it. I want it so badly. I crave it the way I crave Tostitos,Velveeta and Salsa. There’s nothing like watching college football in the Fall while your “minions” nap with a bag of chips, a trough of cheesy but spicy goodness and a towering glass of Tea Cooler, the latter of which has enough sugar in it to fell a thoroughbred. So this blog entry will be… is an attempt to get Freshly Pressed by analyzing and, hopefully, incorporating each and every one of the selection criteria outlined in the aforementioned tutorial (again, viewable HERE). Will it work? I have no idea. But much like the whole publishing err, self-publishing a novel thing, I’ll never know unless I try. So here goes:

1. Write unique content that’s free of bad stuff. 

In layman’s terms? DOA. 90% of “Random Musings” is “dead on arrival.” Per the Freshly Pressed criteria, “hate speech, fear-mongering, adult/mature content, copyrighted images that belong to someone else, spam or content that’s primarily advertorial in nature” are not allowed (SOURCE: WordPress Tutorial, cited above). I’m good on hate speech, fear-mongering, adult/mature content, copyrighted images and spam. Those items are not in my nature as a person or a writer. I hate no one, not even my Biological though admittedly? I “strongly dislike” him. Fear-mongering? The use of fear to affect the actions and opinions of others? I’m seriously the least scary person I know, though the idea of seeing my mug on a billboard really terrifies the you-know-what out of me. As for adult/mature content, let’s face it: I’m a traditionalist. I feel that certain things need to be kept behind closed doors. The name of this blog isn’t “50 Shades of a Pseudo-Madman” (though if it was, I bet I’d get a lot more traffic) and the only sex scene I ever wrote is contained in the pages of the only novel I ever published. And even it’s not too graphic. Copyrighted images and spam? Okay, the idea that anything on the World Wide Web is “copyrighted” at this point is ludicrous. The bulk of what’s out there… out here is a part of the eminent, public domain and will remain so until such time as someone buys a controlling interest in the Internet, AKA never. And I decry spam/spammers. I’d hunt them all down and spank them if I could. But that last bit? “Content that’s primarily advertorial in nature?” Yep. D. O. A. I’ve spent the better part of the last six months hocking my book, AKA my “wares” on this blog/over on ENDWORLD and THE ENDWORLD SERIES. I’ve even done it in the content of this blog entry. Survey says? Disqualified. I am the weakest link, and I probably should say goodbye at this point. But I’ve already started so really? Why not finish. 

2. Have a point of view/Don’t be afraid of your voice. 

I’m lumping these two together because they’re invariably related. Furthermore, in the interest of time and fairness, I’m only going to rank this as one criteria, and not two. “Random Musings” comes much closer to meeting this one than the first one. I most certainly have a point of view and I express it, sometimes to the chagrin of people who come here looking for something transcendent or amusing and end up reading x-amount of paragraphs that ruminate on my own, subjective life, the universe and everything, i.e. the world… the “All” as I see it. But that’s a point of view, is it not? Everyone sees the ever-turning world around them and the ever-expanding (or shrinking depending on your perspective) universe differently. Me? I generally don’t get depressive about what’s occurring in the grand scheme because really? It’s supremely FUBAR. It has been for some time now and will likely remain so so long as one side of the proverbial aisle can’t agree with the other. Note that I said “proverbial.” I’m not simply referring to Congress though I’m sure that one or two conservatives/liberals will take it that way. I’m referring to one belief system as opposed to another, or one world view as opposed to another. We’re a long way as a species from the idealized Earth that Gene Roddenberry envisioned when he first conceived of “Star Trek” a half a century ago. In this world’s defense? As docile as Roddenberry’s Earth was, his universe was incredibly f*cked up. And we’re still 50 or so years away from Zefram Cochrane’s first warp flight/First Contact so there’s time. But I’d feel a great deal more secure raising my “minions” into adults in a world free of crime and currency that emphasizes learning and exploration, not just on a macro level, but on a micro one (i.e. not just the exploration of the vastness “out there” but of the limits of the mind). And as for not being afraid of my own, unique and sometimes exhaustive voice? Well, I think that I’ve demonstrated that on multiple occasions  In summation? I think I’ve got this one. Survey says? I’m one and one. Moving on.

3. Paint us a picture. 

Ugh. This one is just about DOA, as well. Yeah. “Random Musings” doesn’t really have much of a visual element. That’s the problem with my writing: I’ve grown accustomed to illustrating things with words and not with pictures. I was never very good at taking pictures, though I’ve got a couple at home/on my C-drive that I really treasure. Do you want to see them? Here are a few. With explanations (of course):

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This is a recent picture of me and my “minions.” I’m the ugly mug rocking the grizzly beard on the left. That’s Cara in the middle and on the right? Natalie, otherwise known as “Natalia.” Because in Soviet Russia, everything sounds cooler with an -ia (pronounced “ya”) on the end.

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This is a recent pic of me and my smoking hot wife, Nicole. It was taken at my cousin’s wedding back at the beginning of April. There was a fedora there, as well (the one that you see in my Gravitar profile pic/my author pic) but it didn’t make it into this picture. It made it into others, but showing those pics on here would further violate criteria number one (posts that are free of “bad stuff”). Finally…

Higbee Beach, Cape May, NJ

This is not a recent pic. It’s actually pretty old. It’s a picture of the path through the dune forest to Higbee Beach in Cape May, NJ. If you’ve finished reading ENDWORLD – A Novel (SPOILER ALERT) you know that it plays a pretty significant role in the final pages. It also plays an even more significant role in the opening pages of CHILDREN OF ENDWORLD. The final scene in ENDWORLD originally took place upon it. It was not until a few years ago that I decided to “move” it to another location. But I couldn’t resist bringing Higbee into William’s story. And I like it’s function now a lot more than I like it’s original function. But I’ll leave it at that. You’ll find out soon enough for yourself.

So there you go. Whether that visual element is enough to get me Freshly Pressed remains to be seen. At the least, I got to share a couple of meaningful pictures with you. Meaningful to me. Whether or not they are meaningful to you is open to debate. Survey says? Draw. Still one to one with one push.

4. Make it easy on the eyes/Aim for typo free content. 

Oh boy. Here’s another one… two, actually (ranked as one singular criteria) that “Random Musings” arguably fails miserably at. Actually, I shouldn’t just blame the blog. It’s me. Easy on the eyes? Not physically or proverbially. I’m wordy. It’s about as integral a characteristic of my genetic make up as my love of anything and everything potato chip-esque. In my defense, I’ve been trying lately here, over on the Endworld site and in CHILDREN to cut back on it. One sentence to describe what used to take me two; shorter paragraphs. Have you noticed? Likely not. And if this blog entry is any indication my paragraphs are still as morbidly obese as I am. The problem with that? If I drop the equivalent of 50-60 pounds off of one of my paragraphs I end up with something that is not Mecha-Marsh. I’m descriptive. I think it comes from my Biological, a fact which I acknowledge, but don’t exactly revel in. I do use bulleted and/or numbered text (these criteria being a good indication thereof), I rarely center justify anything and the design of my page–Misty Lake–is one of the cleanest templates available. But verbosity? Yeah. I’m a’cursed with it. As for typos? I was an English Major in college. I had a qualified Editor edit my book. Yeah, typos = Me. Though I do endeavor to cut down on them here. Survey says? A big minus one. “Random Musings” one, WordPress Powers that Be two.

5. Add relevant tags. 

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: I don’t “get” tags. I mean, I understand the idea behind them. “Don’t use tags that are too obscure” and “use relevant tags.” Okay. So I guess “The Ooh Cat,” “Dead Possum” and “Ebola” aren’t exactly popular or relevant to anyone save for:

  • Someone who worships “Puss in Boots” more than my almost four year old does.
  • Someone who lives in a metro area and thinks a “possum” is a creature of lore, right up there with foxes and bunny rabbits (both of which exist in abundance in Broomall and DELCO).
  • Someone who recently traveled abroad and is now suffering from influenza-like symptoms or someone who has watched the move “Outbreak” way. Too. Many. Times (I mean, it’s not that great a movie; the book is a whole heck of a lot better).

FYI: Bulleted points, WordPress Admins. Bulleted points twice in one blog entry. Bonus points, perhaps?

Tags like those aren’t going to get “Random Musings” noticed by the WordPress Powers that Be. And until my book is an established commodity and not “selling modestly” “ENDWORLD” isn’t going to pull in too many readers, either. My tags may not be relevant. But they are creative, and a part of the overall, “Random Musings” experience. Do any of you ever read the tags I tag my posts with? You should, sometime. Therein may lie the transcendence and/or funny content that you are looking for. I mean, what other blogger uses the phrase “Herbal Refreshment” as liberally as I did a few posts ago? The answer? No one. Still, I have monumentally failed to fully grasp the potential of the tag. Survey says? Another big, minus one. The Madchronicler one, WordPress Admins three.

6. Write a headline we can’t ignore. 

Regardless of whether my headlines on “Random Musings” are catchy or not, the WordPress Powers that Be have, by my reckoning (and simple mathematics) clinched victory. The best that I can achieve at this point is a two-three loss. Meaning? Meaning that unless I break from my tried and true formula of writing non-fiction “essays,” not only this blog post, but no other blog post that I have ever written or will ever write here on “Random Musings” will be Freshly Pressed. That said, I think my headlines are pretty catchy. So I’m going to score this one for the good guys. Survey says? “Random Musings” two, WordPress three. Sound buzzer. Game over.

And there you have it. Cue the faceless victors cheering and cue me, the morbidly obese published err, self-published author/blogger with the grizzled beard weeping profusely in the corner of his subjective reality on this side of the proverbial wormhole of existence. Congratulations: You have now shared in yet another, personal accomplishment–one of the bad ones.

The point of this rambling treatise that might get me kicked off of WordPress (but I certainly hope it doesn’t) is this: I don’t write because I seek the validation of my peers. I didn’t write ENDWORLD – A Novel because I wanted the world to see me as more than just Frank Marsh, a semi-regular Joe Schmoe that works an eight to five, Monday through Friday (and every fourth Saturday) job. I said this earlier and I’ll say it again: I’m fine with how my life is, presently. This really is one of the greatest eras of my life too date. Because I’ve got my “minions.” And I’ve got my sweetie (pics above). And Higbee Beach awaits me at the far edge of my vision IRL though in Endworld? It’s currently in the forefront. I was a living and breathing facsimile of a smiley face pre-publication. Being a published err, self-published author is just the icing on the cake. No. I write because I want to tell a story. I’ve got a whole book of ’em in my head. Some fiction, and some non. Some both. And one day, I hope to tell them all to anyone that wants to read them. Time and health–God willing–permitting.

And as far as being Freshly Pressed? If it happens it happens. Again, I don’t blog because I seek validation as a blogger. I blog because I’ve got something to say. I blog the way I talk because IRL? Most of my talking revolves around answering technical questions about hydraulic applications, the myriad of questions that Cara asks me on a given day or teaching Natalie (AKA “Natalia”) how to say “Mommy,” “Daddy,” “Cara” and “Doritos.” Whether or not people chose to hear my voice is their prerogative. Whether or not my ramblings have an iota of meaning for you is relative. I’m sure there are one or two people out there that can relate to my accomplishments–both good and bad–and can commiserate with my musings on life, the universe and everything. Maybe the others just read “Random Musings” because they’re looking for something transcendent. Or just funny. In truth? I think they’d settle for funny, too. Like my wife, who either humors me or hangs on every word that I type (and sweetie? Please don’t ever tell me which; thank you).

I’d love to be Freshly Pressed. I’d cherish that badge the way I cherish a cool, Fall Saturday (not one of the fourth ones) filled with College Football, multiple tall glasses of Tea Cooler with enough sugar in them to fell Godzilla and Tostitos with Velveeta and Salsa dip. Admittedly? It would be really cool to see my ugly mug of a Gravitar picture, fedora and all on that page along with one of my headlines. Much better than seeing albino Mecha-Marsh 30 feet high and 20 feet wide. Who needs a billboard when you can gain access to 500,000 other bloggers, some with like interests to yours and others with completely different ones. Can it happen? Will it? Or am I forever doomed to blogging obscurity?

Here is the conclusion of my pitch, WordPress Powers that Be: When I’m not working my eight to five, oft times mundane, routine existence, playing with my “minions” or squeezing a few all-to brief moments of quiet time in with my wife, I’m writing. It’s not just what I do. It’s what I am. I may not meet your Freshly Pressed criteria. “Random Musings” may be an atypical blog compared to others that you read about cats, potato chip-esque products and “Star Trek.” If that’s the case no worries: So long as you continue to host me I will continue to post here. But give your buddy the Madchronicler, AKA Frank Marsh a shot. If not for the rest of the blogosphere, then just for my poor wife, who can’t understand why I write rambling pieces of “Mental Flatulence” for free if only a select few people read them, searching in vain for something transcendent. Or funny.

I think they’d just settle for funny.

Winky emoticon. Smiley face. Have a great Memorial Day Weekend, everyone.

Of March Madness, Nutrisystem, Miley “Twerking” to “The Rains of Castamere” and the Grand, Quiet Time of the Aspiring Writer’s Soul

Otherwise known as “the time after you ship your recently (or not so recently in my case) completed, e-formatted novel off to a handful of Beta readers and your editor but before you decide on a cover, typeset it and upload it to Amazon.com for sale.” Yeah. I figured that “the grand, quiet time of the aspiring writer’s soul” was a bit more eloquent, not to mention a blatantly obvious shout-out to Douglas Adams’ “The Long, Dark Tea-Time of the Soul.” You may agree. Or not. Either way, its your prerogative, Bobby Brown.

Seriously, though? If it wasn’t for March Madness right now I’d be going completely stir crazy. Few sporting events get me more excited than the prolonged, three week orgy of basketball, brackets, beer and wings that is the NCAA Tournament. Sadly, this year’s “orgy” involves following the action primarily on my phone and my computer, mourning the first day loss of one of my Final Four teams (curse you, Lobos!), drinking glass upon glass of water (already up to five, today) and eating Nutrisystem Mexican-Style Tortilla Soup.

Regarding the latter, a few words to those of you that are considering adopting Nutrisystem as a means of dropping a couple of pounds before an event like, but not limited to a wedding: The food’s not bad. Taste wise its all pretty good. But the portions are tiny as f*ck. They’re made even tinier when you follow the instructions, only to have your already minuscule container of Mexican-Style Tortilla Soup blow it’s load all over your microwave. You are left with a bit less than half of your original meal. Were it not for the multi-grain tortilla and two pieces of cheese I brought as a “Smartcarb” and the apple I brought as a “Powerfuel” I’d be screwed until snack time. Is starvation a part of the Glycemic Index? If so, then this diet is working phenomenally! I’m down six pounds since this past Sunday. But I think my stomach is beginning to eat itself. If I break 10 pounds by this Sunday I’ll already be 75% of the way to my “goal weight.” Know what that means?

You’ve got it, guys! Wings and beer for the Sweet 16!

Basketball and dieting aside, this really is a quiet time in my life. One of the quieter ones that I can remember. I don’t know that much has changed. Responsibility-wise I’m in the same boat that I was in a year, two years, and even three years ago. Sure, I’ve got an extra little one to care for and sure, my three and a half year old is no longer as portable as she once was. But things aren’t that different. It really does come down to the whole writing thing. I’m not actively working on anything right now, be said “anything” Endworld – A Novel, one of its planned sequels or something else. In truth? The only thing that I’m doing right now is updating my blog. While that technically is “something else” its different. Discrepant (one of my favorite words that I never get to use). Discordant? Only if I’m trying to sing a duet with my three year old. I swear that kid already has a better voice than I do.

Hence the fact that I’ve been pumping out two blog entries each week for the last couple, a fact which hopefully isn’t getting too tiresome. What can I say? I need to be writing. Its ingrained in my DNA. My Biological? He was… is a writer, though his style of writing is a  wee bit different than mine. He was always very talented at describing a scene in the least amount of words possible. Me? People have told me that I’m too wordy in my descriptions. Some have told me that my strength is writing believable dialogue, something that my aforementioned Biological was never able to do well. Mind you, I haven’t read anything that the guy has written save for a few letters in the last almost 20 years but based on their content? Yeah. His writing style hasn’t changed much since he crossed the proverbial line from “Father” to “Biological” (he hadn’t been “Dad” in a while). He was always more James Joyce than Stephen King.

Me? I’m a mutt. I’m the bastard offspring of a dozen different writers and their styles. I’m the aspiring author Frank Snow of Broomall, Pennsylvania. If you have no idea what that means I urge you to subscribe to HBO and watch “Game of Thrones.” It’s the best show on television. You have until next Sunday, March 31st to get caught up before Season Three begins. Seasons One and Two are only 10 episodes long each. Plenty of time. You may have to sacrifice a game or two of the Tournament but I promise you that you won’t regret it. It has something for everyone. Even boobs and a**. Why boobs and a**? Trust me: You’ll understand by the end of the first episode.

Furthermore, don’t just watch the television show and accept it as canon. Read the books. There are five of them so far with two more too come, and “A Game of Thrones” is just the title of the first one. The others are “A Clash of Kings,” “A Storm of Swords,” “A Feast for Crows” and “A Dance with Dragons” (author: George R R Martin). I know that reading for leisure is, for many younger people as tortuous as watching paint dry and the prospect of reading something longer than 1000 pages is almost, but not as frightening as watching Miley Cyrus “twerk” in a unicorn suit. But try it. You might be surprised. I used to consume 1000 plus page books like “It” for breakfast when I was a young “whipper snapper.” I read the Bible for fun. Books like those? They not only made me want to be a writer, they made me lust to be one. ‘Course, if the prospect of reading something longer than 200 pages doesn’t appeal to you, you likely won’t purchase my novel when it becomes available (423 pages, pre-edit and pre-typeset). And if the process of making money for a living appeals to you? Well, you can still make money as an aspiring author but guess what? You won’t be doing it as a writer. You’ll be doing it as a Retail Manager. Or an Office Manager, and you’ll be writing in what little spare time you have.

I’m not trying to discourage you from following your dreams, guys. I did. I still am. I’m simply stating the facts as I see them. The unabashed truth on my side of the proverbial wormhole of existence. Let me take this opportunity to say thanks for reading “Random Musings,” even though many of you may now be departing for that really spiffy cat blog you saw beneath my URL on Google. For those of you that decide to remain, I promise that I’ll keep updating this site, even after Endworld – A Novel goes “live,” whenever that ends up being. Some days, the long road from conception to publication, self or traditional really does seem endless. People told me that, but I never believed it. Until now, that is.

Ah, the grand, quiet time of the aspiring writer’s soul. I’ve been here before, and I forgot how incredibly dull it is. On a happier note, my March Madness bracket–which took a beating yesterday–is looking better over the first slate of games of today. I figure if I can get out of today with five or six total losses in the first round (I currently have four) and still only one team out of my Sweet Sixteen eliminated (curse you again, New Mexico!), I’ll be able to make up many of the points I squandered yesterday on teams like the aforementioned one and Pitt (the last stand of the Big East? Come on, Pitt! For f*cks sake, it was Wichita State!), even though I’m also -1 in my Elite Eight and -1 in my Final Four. On an even happier note, I just consumed a piece of Nutrisystem chocolate cake and my stomach has, for the moment, stopped eating itself. I am feeling less starved than I was feeling a few hours ago. Might this whole Glycemic Index thing actually be working? Survey says: Probably not. I’m likely just getting used to the emptiness.

No sooner had I written the last paragraph than Ole’ Miss went on a run and is currently leading another of my Sweet 16 teams–Wisconsin–by six with a minute and a half left to play. Make that seven. Well? You can’t win ’em all, I guess. Some days, though? I wish I could travel to the future. In doing so, I would be able to:

1. See who wins this year’s NCAA Basketball Tournament and adjust my bracket accordingly. Maybe then I’d not risk something as sacred as my Sweet 16, my Elite Eight and my Final Four on a mid-major school like New Mexico or a proverbial disappointment like Wisconsin. It seems that every year, one of the regions of my bracket begins, right around this time on the second day of the Tournament, to look like the scarred surface of a battlefield. This year is no different. The West? Yep. It’s lost. On a happier note, I’m still perfect in the Midwest and the South, and I only have one loss in the East. A man can dream. A man can…

2. See what happens in Season Three of “Game of Thrones.” Okay, I’ll admit that I already know what happens and all I’m going to say to those of you that have A.) Never read the books or B.) Not made it through “A Storm of Swords” yet is this: The Rains of Castamere. That may hold no significance for you now but trust me when I tell you that by the end of this season, it will. As will boobs and a** for all you young “whipper snappers” that watch it and everything else on HBO for… well, boobs and a**. I think I’m more interested in seeing the reactions of the people that have never read the books to what happens than I am in actually seeing it. Their reactions? That would be enough to get me to travel into the future. Yet while I’m there, I think I’ll…

3. Check and see if adopting Nutrisystem was really worth it. How do I look at the wedding? Do I look “tight” or do I still looked like a stuffed sausage wearing pinstripes? If the former, hooray. I now have motivation for sticking it out until the end of the program. If the latter? Well sh*t. I might as well just stop on the way home and pick up a bucket of wings, a jug of blue cheese and a case of Yeungling to watch March Madness on my phone and my computer with. Because really…

4. I could see if it was all worth it. All the writing and revising; all the waiting and wondering about whether or not people will like Endworld – A Novel. Beta readers are great, and if you utilize them right you get a good cross-section of your potential audience (young adult mixed with new adult mixed with middle agers mixed with ole’ timers) to give you feedback before you go “live” with your book. But if I traveled to the future, I’d be able to see the finished product: The cover, the interior et al. I’d be able to read the reviews that people have given it on Amazon.com.

It may seem to many of you reading this blog that I devote a lot of time to talking about my novel, and very little time actually working toward getting it published. Trust me: I’m working my a** off. So much so that when I’m not being an Office Manager or spending time with my family its all that I’m doing. That’s what makes now so strange. I feel like I should be working on it. But there’s not much that I can do at the moment. The book? It’s in good hands. I need to be patient. After all, I have all the time in the world to do this. Why not do it right? I assure you that I will be talking even more about it as the next few days, weeks and months pass. Hell, I’ll likely be marketing it here on “Random Musings” one it goes “live.” I know, that cat blog is looking more and more appealing by the word, isn’t it?

Sadly, I can’t travel into the future. I can’t see the outcome of the Tournament, I can’t see myself in a mirror and I can’t know based on the opinions of a few people if my book is going to succeed or fail. What I can do is cheer for the teams that I picked that are still playing. I can drink my eight plus cups of water a day (up to seven, now), consume my “Smartcarbs” and “Powerfuels” and force whatever I choose as my Nutrisystem Dinner Entree down my gullet. Most importantly, though? I can “just keep writing, just keep writing,” even if two blog entries a week balloons into three. I can’t allow myself to get rusty because once Endworld – A Novel is, blessedly, done and “live,” there’s a second and a third book to write. Maybe more. Who knows?

In closing? Well, I can do this one of two ways. I can post the video of Miley Cyrus “twerking” to Flo Rida’s “WOP” or I can post the lyrics to “The Rains of Castamere.” Both represent an ending: One to a career (sorry, Hannah Montana, but this is the low point of your ever diminishing career) and the other to… well, no spoilers. Obviously I’m more inclined to post the latter, but the masochist within me really wants to post the former. I know! Someone needs to overdub Miley’s “twerking” video with Bronn singing “The Rains of Castamere” pre-the Battle of Blackwater. Then? Well sh*t. If anything can penetrate the grand, quiet time of this aspiring writer’s soul, that’s it.

Get on it, Youtubers. And everyone? Have a great weekend. Winky emoticon. Smiley face.

A Lenten Conundrum

I consider myself a good Roman Catholic, albeit not exactly a practicing one. Most observers would consider me as more of a recovering one. I’ll be honest with you because really, I pride myself on being so in both my life and my writing: I don’t go to Mass every Sunday and I haven’t for some time. I haven’t been to Confession in over a decade and generally when I do go to Mass, I skip Communion because, as Sister Mary Margaret taught me in Grade School (back when we all lived in “J-Town” and no one lived anyplace else), to receive Communion with Mortal Sin on my soul–my aforementioned lack of regular Mass attendance–is punishable by nothing short of the fires of H-E-double hockey sticks.

Despite this, I do consider myself a good, if not a great Roman Catholic. Both of my children were baptized RC; both will attend Catholic School and both will learn the same things that I learned growing up. Why? Because I consider my RC upbringing crucial to the person that I am, currently, and the people I want my girls to be. When they turn 18, they can be whatever they want to be but until that day, guys? They’ll do what I and my wife want them to do. Baptism, First Penance, First Holy Communion, Confirmation… the whole shebang. Hopefully you get the point. If you don’t? This next part is for you.

I believe in God. I believe that His son, Jesus Christ, died for our sins and was Resurrected a few days later.  I’m a little put off by the idea of a Holy Ghost (or anything ghostly, for that matter), but I concede that something changes within us when we are Confirmed. I don’t know whether Mary was a Virgin or not when she conceived Jesus and I don’t care. She is the mother of “the Word made flesh” and that is enough for me. I believe that “faith” is more than just what happens within a building every Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation. It’s more than giving money to an establishment. Faith is something inherent within oneself. Something that one believes. And me? I believe in all of the above and in Heaven, Purgatory and Hell too boot, though I do not believe that my missing Mass most Sundays dooms me to the latter because for the most part, I’ve lived a good and moral life. At least I hope it doesn’t. If it does, wow. My whole existence seems kinda’ pointless.

In essence, I believe in a secular version of the spirituality that I was reared in. I believe that my relationship with the Almighty is a personal one, and not something I have to dignify to a building full of worshipers or anyone, for that matter. That said, my reason for writing this blog entry is not to profess my faith to you, my loyal reader (or readers; I’m not really sure how many of you there are since the whole “Visitor” versus “View” thing here on WordPress is a little vague). It merely gives you a bit of background… a foundation that sets up what this blog entry is about: A Lenten Conundrum. 

Who here doesn’t know what Lent is? A show of hands, please. Lent, for those of you that don’t, is the period of 40 weekdays leading up to Easter Sunday that are devoted to fasting, abstinence and penitence. In essence, Lent is a time of purification for all Christians, not just RCs like me: Purification of the soul for the day that marks the anniversary of Jesus’ Resurrection from the dead which, in biblical times, was also the day new Christians were baptized. Today–Tuesday, February 12, 2013–is the last day of Ordinary Time, pre-Lent and is known in most circles as “Fat Tuesday.” It is a day of excess: Of not fasting, not abstaining and being unrepentant before Ash Wednesday kicks off Lent. It is a good excuse to party and it always has been. But for me in 2013? Fat Tuesday signifies something else. Something much more dire and serious now that my idea of “partying” involves popcorn, sugar-free juice boxes and “Puss In Boots” on a Saturday night with my three and a half year old. Tomorrow, I need to give up something for Lent and this year? I have no idea what in the H-E-double hockey sticks I’m going to give up.

Last year, I gave up Facebook. Don’t all “ooh” and “aah” at once. It is possible despite our seemingly insatiable need as a species to see what our friends are doing and, in some cases, who they are doing, laid out before us in blue and white. The experience, or lack thereof was actually quite liberating. Granted, I spent a lot more time on Twitter than I normally do, but I didn’t feel as locked-in to my Zuckerberg-sanctioned timeline as I usually do. So that one’s out of the question. Been there, done that, have the t-shirt. I generally don’t eat sweets–I can’t because of the whole high blood sugar thing–and my only real vice–smoking–is now a virtual non-vice though I’ll admit to sneaking the occasional Cancer stick, but only on special occasions like at a wedding, or on a Saturday night whilst watching “Lock Up: RAW” with my wife. I’m not a big drinker, and the one thing that I could give up–caffeine–is just not an option. I don’t think I could survive one day, much less 40 without it.

Which leaves me with the title of this blog entry: A Lenten Conundrum. I’d give up blogging–and I’m sure one or two of you reading this would be okay with that–but giving that up is the same, for me, as giving up writing. I can’t. I won’t. It’s too much of a part of who I am. I’d give up sex but come on: I’ve got two kids–a three and a half year old and an eight, soon to be nine month old–for chrissakes. How much do you honestly think I’m getting? How much do you think I even care about getting laid at this juncture? I prefer a good night’s sleep or an uninterrupted hour of reading to getting schazzy. This is in no way, shape or form a reflection on my wife who is as beautiful and desirable now as she always has been. It is merely a personal preference. Nor does it make me less of a man. What it makes me is smart. Sleep… relaxation trumps sex. I can function at work on a full night’s sleep. I can not after a tryst-filled night. So sex? Out of the question, too.

What’s left? I think that pretty much uses up all of the broad topics. Social media? No. Sweets? No. Smoking? Not significant enough. Drinking? See smoking. Caffeine? H-E-double HOCKEY STICKS no! Writing? Nothing to gain. Sex? No point. Am I then reduced to actually picking out specifics to give up like Monster Energy Drinks, Mumford and Sons or Words with Friends? Perhaps. There has to be something. The driving precept behind a Lenten sacrifice is giving up a luxury. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a vice. So what luxuries do I enjoy, outside of the ones mentioned above? Here goes:

1. Cheese: I’m a cheese junkie, guys. I love it. American, Sharp Provolone, Cheddar, Port Wine, Gov’ment and Velveeta, if the latter can even be classified as “cheese” and not a “cheese product.” But there’s a problem with giving up cheese. During Lent, one can not eat meat on Fridays. And I really can’t eat fish. So unless I’m going to eat nothing but greens every Friday between this one and the Good one, I need to keep cheese in my diet. Eating nothing but greens would have the same effect upon me as not drinking caffeine. I don’t know who or what I’d turn into, but I know it wouldn’t be pretty. Why is it that I picture myself cowering in a corner and repeating “my precious” over and over again?

2. Soda: See caffeine. Soda’s not soda, diet or otherwise (and I can’t drink “otherwise” ’cause of the aforementioned, no sugar thing) without caffeine. Anything that masquerades as decaffeinated soda is little more than carbonated liquid in a juice box. I can’t… I wouldn’t survive without it. We’re talking about giving up a luxury, guys, not functionality.

3. Functionality: Both professionally and personally. I could give up being a functional cog in the machine that is my reality on this side of the proverbial wormhole of existence. Give up working; give up going out; give up being a good dad and a good husband. But doing so would be incredibly counter-productive and… well sh*t, just downright wrong. Besides, I don’t think giving up something as crucial to my life as functionality was what my religious forefathers and mothers meant when they came up with the idea of a Lenten sacrifice. I guarantee you that if they did? There would be a lot more of us out there (as if the however many billion Christians that exist in the world, currently, isn’t enough). Admit it: Laziness is attractive. It is to me. I just wish I could be lazy more often. Sadly, there’s not a lot of room for that in my life, presently.

4. Sports: Too, too easy. I mean really? Giving up sports in Philadelphia right now is the equivalent of taking a vacation. The Flyers stink. The 76’ers blow. The Eagles went 4-12 and just resigned Mike Vick, much to the chagrin of 90% of the sports fans in this city. Phillies’ Pitchers and Catchers reported today to Clearwater, Florida for Spring Training but even that does little to assuage the general malaise that exists when one thinks about the local sports scene, currently. After all, the Phillies finished third in the NL East last year (81-81) and are projected to do the same by most pundits going in to this season. I’d do it, but something tells me that the Almighty would look upon it as me, taking the easy way out.

5. One of my many myriad electronic devices: Smart phone, lap top, iPad, Kindle Fire… you name it and I have it. This one could work save for one issue. Actually, multiple issues, one with each. Regarding my smart phone, I’m sure I could go 40 days without it. I could leave it off in my room at home for a couple of weeks and not think twice. But doing so would eliminate the lone means by which most people contact me. Whether via text, email, Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Twitter et al, my smart phone keeps me connected to my friends and family. I have a land line at home but I honestly don’t know it’s number. Generally when it rings I concede that the person calling me is either A.) A telemarketer, B.) A robo-call, C.) My Biological trying in vain to re-establish a relationship with me or D.) My sister, who for some reason always calls my house phone. I automatically assume that if the situation is dire they will call my cell. That said, my cell is necessary to my daily functionality. Ooh, functionality: A double no-no. Plus, I have a March upgrade to look forward to. Samsung S3 here I come! Regarding my lap top, I need it for work since I am the on-call guy for my company. If Sister Mary Margaret’s hydraulic system breaks down at 2:00 AM and she calls me I need to be able to check our warehouse stock, et cetera, et cetera. Regarding my… our iPad, I rarely use it. In essence, giving up the iPad would be the same as giving up my work computer: Something that I don’t own but am allowed to borrow occasionally. Insignificant. As for my Kindle Fire, while it might be nice to give up e-reading and go back to reading paper texts for a few weeks, I am constantly using my Fire to work on e-formatting Endworld. Considering my editor just finished her first edit and will be sending her copy back to me to be re, re, re-revised in the next few days my Fire is, unfortunately, a necessity, as well.

What’s left? I honestly don’t know. I’ve covered everything and anything that I can think of. Is it conceivable that at this juncture, on this side of the proverbial wormhole of existence there are few, if any non-necessities in my life? There are luxuries, but are there any that I can manage to survive without for 40 weekdays? I guess that’s why they call it a Lenten “sacrifice,” huh? The idea behind it is a secular extension of the original idea of Lent being a time of  fasting, abstinence and penitence in preparation for the anniversary of Christ’s resurrection and by association, the day of Baptism. And I profess to be a believer in a secular approach to the Roman Catholic faith that I was reared in, do I not? How can I raise my girls RC if I’m not willing to lead by example?

Maybe I should give up caffeine. After all, I didn’t think I would be able to give up Facebook for six weeks last year and I did. It would be healthier for me, wouldn’t it? Should I? Would I?

I would not. Because I believe in God. Because I believe that His son, Jesus Christ, died for our sins and was Resurrected a few days later. I further believe that neither the Almighty nor His offspring would ask me to give up something pivotal to my existence on this side of the proverbial wormhole of existence as a means of purifying my soul. I can do the same thing through prayer and reflection, can I not? In addition, I remain a little put off by the idea of a Holy Ghost (or anything ghostly, for that matter), but I concede that something within me causes me to think this way at this time of year, even after 30 plus years of doing it. Furthermore, I have believed and always will believe that “faith” is more than just what Sister Mary Margaret defined it as in the Fifth Grade. I believe that faith coincides with belief, and I believe that I have been asked to sacrifice early and often over the course of my life. I have done so with zero debate. I’ve never questioned the motive, I’ve simply accepted that it was something I needed to do. Despite it, or perhaps because of it, I believe that I have lived and that I continue to live a good and moral life. If the Almighty deems it otherwise? Then I guess I underestimated His judgement of what earns one entrance into Heaven, Purgatory or Hell. Still, I am required to give something up for Lent this year and I intend to fulfill that requirement as I have every year since I first learned that I had to. And if I need to pick one of the above listed “necessities” and not caffeine? I choose…

6. None of the Above: You read that right, guys. None of the above. Believe it or not, there is actually a luxury that I have not yet mentioned that I ingest on a daily basis. For lunch; when I get home. In truth? It is likely one of the main reasons why I’m as holly and jolly as I am right now. Chips, guys. Not just potato, but derivatives thereof: Doritos, Fritos, cheesy poofs, Smartfood. All shapes, sizes and flavors. When you combine this with my preexisting inability to ingest candy or anything sugary, I am, in essence, giving up what exists in my subjective reality as junk food for Lent. I figure this will not adversely affect my functionality, nor will the Almighty, His son or that darned Holy Ghost accuse me of “getting off too easy.” Plus, I might drop a few pounds in the process, a not altogether unappealing prospect as Winter begins to wane and give way to Spring and thereafter, Summer.

There you have it! Lenten conundrum solved. I’d like to thank Sister Mary Margret for allowing me to mention her multiple times throughout this composition. I’d also like to thank the Father, the Son and yes, even the Holy Spirit for being the foundation of my spirituality. No matter how secular said spirituality has become in the last few years, I still consider myself a good, if not a great RC. I’d like to thank Mary, the mother of Jesus and her husband, Joseph. Mainly Joseph because really? Mary gets all of the credit, all of the time. I’ll give it to her: The whole Immaculate Conception thing is pretty awesome. But Joseph? Even if Joseph wasn’t Jesus’ Biological he was, seemingly, an attentive and caring father/husband. We should all aspire to be that way, shouldn’t we?

In closing, I’d like to thank my wife, Nicole, who kept Natalie and Cara occupied while I completed this blog entry. She also helped me to decide upon my Lenten sacrifice. She’s giving up sweets–all variations and derivatives thereof–for Lent. No one thinks she can do it but me? I totally think she’s got it in her. Everyone reading this? Please send her your best, positive vibes. Thank you, and have a happy and healthy Easter Season.

Why I Hate February – An Anti-Appreciation

It’s no secret that I always get a little morose around this time of year, guys. To be fair to February, a month that I have panned for many, many years and am planning to pan in this blog entry (try saying that five times fast) my mentality starts to shift in mid-January, reaches its antapex around Valentine’s Day and begins to gradually improve thereafter. Generally by mid-March, I’m back to my oft times holly and jolly self. Cue Easter, baseball season, the hockey playoffs, playing outside, et cetera et cetera. To be fair to January and March, though? Generally only 50% of each month sucks. The other 50%? Not bad at all. 100% of February completely blows.

I’ve always been this way. I guess its just something about the Dead of Winter that gets me down. Granted, it wasn’t always this bad. Pre-the mid-1990’s, I would get slightly bummed out but not overly so. In truth? I’ve had my fair share of good experiences in January, February and March throughout my life. Even a few of the overwhelmingly bad experiences have been tinged with a silver lining or two, i.e. happy memories nestled amidst the sh*tty ones. But for the most part? The aptly named Dead of Winter has been a time of pain and disappointment for me on this side of the proverbial wormhole of existence.

Why do I hate February? I guess I should start with a definition of the Dead of Winter. In actuality? The Dead of Winter refers to the coldest part, or the middle of winter which, chronologically, is more the end of January/the beginning of February than just February. Alright. I’ll concede it: Point, February. That said, it has seemed that over the course of my life, January has actually been pretty nice. Normal. Temperate. Higher then average temperatures; little or no snow save for the Blizzard of 1996 which buried the tri-state area (Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware for those of you not from around here) under three feet of snow for a couple of weeks.

February, though? Without fail, the temperature generally plummets an extra 10 degrees on the outskirts of Philadelphia and the sky almost immediately starts chronically crapping hard or loose–depending on the track of the storm–white stuff. This year has been no exception. While we here in the tri-state area have been spared a major storm thus far and are dodging another bullet tomorrow and tomorrow night whilst points north of us get a “historic blizzard,” we’ve been subjected to multiple… what we call “Nuisance Storms.” We’ve seen the sun for about an hour total since February first and the temperature has barely been above 32 degrees Fahrenheit (it’s 34 degrees Fahrenheit now per my Weatherbug phone app; conceded, then: Another point for February). The fact that that overrated groundhog Phil predicted that Spring was right around the corner this passed weekend is lost on me. Really? What the hell does an over sized rodent know? He doesn’t have to shovel his walkway, dig his car out or occupy a three and a half year year old and an eight month old because he can’t go outside. He gets to hang out, warm and cozy in his Hilton of a tree stump whilst the good people of Punxsutawny, Pennsylvania cater to his every whim. Freeloader. He reminds me of my Biological.

All together now: Ouch. 

No sooner had I written the above paragraph then the National Weather Service revised their forecast for this area and issued a Winter Storm Warning. Christ, I hate Karma. I probably shouldn’t have talked trash about my Biological. When will I learn? One to three inches of snow tomorrow night just became three to six inches tomorrow afternoon in to tomorrow night with one to two inches per hour possible at the height of the storm which, incidentally, will be during my drive home tomorrow night and which which, if history is any indication, will be further revised by the time I go to sleep tonight in to a Blizzard Warning. Jesus, February. Thank you again, sarcasm fully intended. And Phil? Thanks for nothing. I’m sure you were right and Spring likely is right around the corner if you live south of Virginia. But the rest of us? We’re likely screwed for another six weeks regardless of whether you saw your damn shadow or not.

It’s not just the environment on this side of the proverbial wormhole of existence in February that gets my goad, though. There are other aspects of it. Take sports, something which you may or may not know per what you’ve read on this blog I am an avid fan of. Guess what? I am. Anything and everything Philadelphia sports-related save for the 76’ers who for the most part have been a non-entity in this town since 2001. February marks the end of the football season with the Super Bowl, something that the Philadelphia Eagles have only participated in twice–in 1980 and in 2004. Both times they were favored to win. Both times they lost. Furthermore, the one team that has managed to bring home a championship since the mid-1980’s, the Phillies, are still in off-season mode and while Spring Training does start up in mid-February, it’s not enough to satiate the need for something. Anything. The Flyers? I love them. I always have and I always will. But I’ve got to be honest, here: They’re a disappointment. Yes, they’re competitive every year and yes, they rarely miss the playoffs but really? They haven’t won a championship since 1976. Even the 76’ers have won one more recently. Bernie Parent got old, Pelle Lindberg unfortunately got dead and Bobby Clarke got fired by the organization a few years ago (though I believe he’s back now in some capacity). The glory days of Flyers hockey are, I’m sorry to say, far behind us. Remember how many Stanley Cups we were supposed to win with Eric Lindros? We were supposed to be a dynasty. How many did we win? Nada. Zilcho. Zip. Meanwhile, the Sh*tsburg Penguins have won a couple.

One more time with feeling: Ouch. 

My point is that February is, for the most part, a dead time for sports here in Philadelphia and always has been. The Wing Bowl? It’s not a real sport. The Big Five? March Madness, guys, not February. When you’re down… when you’re bummed out, sports has a way of filling the hole that exists within your heart, mind and soul. Unless your teams stink. Then, you just feel worse. Hopefully you see my point. Yet another kick in the nads from February. Thank you, sir. Can I have another?

Sure. Why not? I should note before I continue that yes, my approach to this blog entry is different than it normally is. That’s because I’m a different me at this time of year. I’m not always the living and breathing facsimile of a smiley face that I hope you know and maybe even love a little. In truth? I’m actually pretty damned depressive, as if this composition up until this point hasn’t proven that. Amazingly enough, though? Most people crawl up in to a ball and wait for the moroseness to pass. Me? I’m actually more prolific when I’m like this. If you enjoy reading this little pseudo-psychotic musing then that’s a good thing. There may be more. But if you like your your blogs light and fluffy, maybe you should redirect your browsers elsewhere. I honestly don’t know how bad it’s going to get.

Relationships. I’ve actually been in many relationships at this time of year. I am, in fact, in one currently. It’s called a marriage. Roll snare drum. Oft times in the past, even before my wonderful wife entered my life, I had a warm body to cuddle up to in February. Most February’s I had a Valentine. But most times the relationships in question were anything but warm and fuzzy like my teddy bear, Ixo Facto. Yes, guys, I have a teddy bear. I don’t sleep next to him and never really have. He occupies an almost permanent place in my Man Cave/Cara and Natalie’s supplemental playroom/office next to stuffed Yoda and stuffed Pikachu. He rarely emerges from the depths of the Marsh Household save for on the rare occasions that Sultana Cara carries him to bed with her and he joins, for a night, the stuffed harem that occupies her toddler bed. Ixo? He’s been a fixture in my life since the mid-1990’s and he is the last, remaining product of, surprise surprise, a February relationship.

Said relationship was intense, but short lived. I generally don’t think or write about it but at this time of year? When the cold impinges upon me from all sides and “Nuisance Storms” become Winter Storm Warnings before they become Blizzard Warnings? I’ll admit: I do. I’m helpless not to. I spent a handful of years ruminating upon its failure. Mine. In the end, though? I realized that ruminating upon it was destructive and counterproductive. I purged it from my mind as best I could and moved on with my life. And boy oh man, am I glad I did. Had I not… had I instead decided to dwell upon it I never would have met Nicole. Scratch that: I likely would have met her but I never would have embraced her as a partner and companion the way I did. We never would have married; we never would have bought a house; we never would have produced two beautiful, though at times troublesome daughters, one of whom–Cara–is a Sultana in training and the other–Natalie–is currently on a hunger strike and is perfecting her projectile vomiting skills (ah, parenthood). My life would not be what it is today and while I cannot be 100% sure, I’m pretty sure that I would be miserable. I once believed, as Bob Dylan said, that “chaos [was] a friend of mine.” Now? I believe that it is my own, worst enemy, especially with my well-documented idiosyncrasies. Normalcy, though? It is my closest compadre. My bro’. That said…

Death. The big finale. The ultimate journey. Call it whatever you want to call it. Death has not necessarily been a constant companion of mine in February’s passed but it has been an ever-present concern. Ever since 1997. Back then, I and my brethren all lived in State Pen, Pennsylvania and even the ones that didn’t were frequent weekend visitors. Back home, the only father figure that I had known since my Biological skipped town was fading fast, a victim of the Big C (that’s Cancer for those of you that have never heard the term or seen the Showtime series). There was nothing I could do. Said father figure actually didn’t pass until the end of March, 1997 but those days? February? Those days were the toughest. In the waning days of his life he was little more than an unresponsive figure in a hospital bed but in February of that year? He was still cognoscente of what was happening to him. And he was suffering.

I guess in a way it was good that I was a hundred plus miles west of him but deep down inside, I wanted to be there. I wanted to be beside him at the end but he, always strong-willed, wouldn’t have it. “Stay where you are,” he said to me in one of the last real conversations we had in, you guessed it, February, “finish school. It’s what you’ve been working toward. Whatever happens, don’t worry about me. I’ll be fine.” I knew that it was lip service but I agreed to do as he asked. I guess it was the last request he made of me for I cannot remember any others. A few weeks later, he was gone.

I wasn’t there when he passed. I was working on my senior thesis–“Job, Melville, and the Abandonment of the Human by the Almighty”–when my sister called me to give me the news. I remember being equal parts saddened and relieved: Sad that he was gone but relieved that his pain had ended. And I was speechless. I couldn’t write; couldn’t vocalize what I was feeling, not even to my State Pen brethren. But I remember thinking backwards in disgust. Another sh*tty February, I thought over and over again as I drowned my sorrows with Red Deaths and Long Island Iced Teas. And that thought? It has stuck with me since despite the fact that his big finale… his ultimate journey didn’t commence until almost a month later.

Many others have passed from this world to whatever world lies beyond “this mortal coil,” “this insubstantial pageant,” at this time of year since. I’ve heard many explanations why. Some argue that it’s a question of loneliness because of the “Post-Holiday Doldrum.” Others say it’s simply the deep, winter chill claiming it’s rightful victims. Me? I believe that it’s February. F*cking February. There is something inherently base and decrepit about this month that defies explanation and while I honestly don’t have any proof outside of the speculation that has filled this blog entry thus far, I know it in my gut and I feel it deep within my sometimes cramped fingers. Like tonight. There’s a dull throbbing something going on deep beneath my skin that I hope is nothing more than the impending weather making its presence known. No “dry twist,” I hope (thank you, Stephen King) though admittedly, it does run in my family.

Speaking of the weather, it is now 12:21 AM on Friday–the day of the storm, alias “Winter Storm Nemo”–and the National Weather Service just revised their forecast again: 6-10 inches in and around Philadelphia, Pennsylvania which includes mine, Nicole, Sultana Cara and Natalie’s little homestead in Broomall, Pennsylvania. I’d have continued this blog entry sooner but I had to run out and buy some gas for my snow blower which I will at last be able to use. I’ll give it to you, February. Another point, albeit a reluctant one. At least I have a new toy to play with tomorrow night. More good news: The worst of the storm is also not supposed to arrive until after I get home from work. Sh*t. Point, February. I’ve got to hand it to the current bane of my existence: It’s managed to rack up a few positives over the course of this composition.

Still, I will always hate February. This blog entry? It is an Anti-Appreciation of a month that has, over the course of my life, taken on mythical status in my pseudo-mad mind. If you’ve followed “Random Musings” for a while you know about my Appreciations. “The Mix Tape – An Appreciation” and “Contrary – An Appreciation” to name a few. All are linkable via the handy, dandy little “SEARCH” box on the right hand side of your screen. Just type in “appreciation” and watch what happens, Andy Cohen! Or don’t. It’s entirely up to you. If you choose not to please, forget that I mentioned Andy Cohen. In fact, forget that I mentioned him entirely, even if you choose not to look at any of my previous work. Thank you.

If anything deserved an Anti-Appreciation it was this. February. The Dead of Winter. Right now, Phil the Groundhog is rolling over under his hand-knitted covers in his five star, tree stump Hilton Garden whilst the rest of us prep for a “historic blizzard.” It’s not going to snow much in Punxsutawny, Pennsylvania, one of the perks of being a couple of hundred miles west of the tri-state area when a Nor’easter like “Winter Storm Nemo” comes roaring up the Atlantic coastline. Earlier tonight, the Flyers lost to the Florida Panthers in a shootout and the Eagles informally announced the signing of their new Defensive Coordinator. Um. Yeah. Okay. Is it baseball season yet?

I glance out the window beside where I write these words at the red sky overhead. What’s the old adage? “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight?” Wow. That seems pretty counter-intuitive since most nighttime, red skies that I have seen in my life foreshadow a nasty spell of upcoming weather. I briefly wonder what that person that gave me Ixo Facto so many years ago is doing right now. But then I look over at the sleeping figure of my wife and realize how insignificant those thoughts are presently, and have been for well over a decade. I further wonder if my Biological is glancing up at the sky from wherever he is, currently. But then I realize the truth: Whether he is or is not does not matter. He has his own Karma to contend with, independent of mine.

And the lone father figure that I gave a sh*t about? He is long gone, a victim of the Big C almost 16 years ago tonight. God rest his soul. He used to love nights like tonight: The silence outside, like the silence I beheld an hour or so ago when I ran out to the gas station to get fuel for my previously unused snow blower. “The calm before the storm” he and the people on this side of the proverbial wormhole of existence called it and will likely continue to call it for many years to come. Admittedly? I see the truth in their assessment then and now and despite the time of year…

Despite the way February is crowding me currently with its frigid embrace…

Despite the way that I cringe at the prospect of another couple of weeks of it…

Well, guys? It could be worse. I could be a 76’ers fan.

Goodnight, all. Winky emoticon. Smiley face. Roll snare drum.