A Matter of Perspective

There is a scene towards the end of Children of Endworld in which one of the main characters–I’m not going to tell you which one–stands upon the precipice of a cliff and looks down at the ocean, smashing against the rocks below. He/she/it (yes, I wrote “it.” It’s a book about robots for crying out loud, did ya’ think I wouldn’t create robot characters?) considers “doing it”: He/she/it has been through much. He/she/it is mentally, emotionally and physically scarred. He/she/it wonders if “doing it” is better than the alternative, i.e. living in a world without love, joy or hope. Does he/she/it follow through? I’ll write more about that later.

I’ve been relatively quiet lately and for that, I am sorry. I’ve been preoccupied. Not much with writing though Children is about 75% done this cold and dreary night in early October, 2013. I’ve mentioned… “stuff” in one or two blog entries lately and that “stuff?” It’s still around. It’s even been compounded by other, unrelated “stuff.” Stuff + More stuff = One big Stay Puft Marshmallow Man of sh*t and right now? I’m covered in gooey, sugary deliciousness. But I’m surviving despite it. There are days where I feel like I’ve gone 10 rounds with Ivan Drago and the only thing that’s keeping me “up” is my heart and my resolve. There are days where I wake up feeling refreshed and ready to tackle a couple of hell hounds and Gozer the Gozarian. My mentality varies. But the one thing that has remained consistent throughout all the BS is that vision that I detailed in the first paragraph of this blog entry: That of a man/woman/machine standing upon the edge of a cliff, looking out over the angry ocean below and wondering if he/she/it should “do it.” That he/she/it? He/she/it is me, right now. I am standing upon the proverbial precipice of my 38 year life on this side of the wormhole of existence and I am wondering: Do I jump, or do I turn away?

Mind you I wrote “proverbial” for a reason. I’m not contemplating suicide. Nor am I sick and/or dying. The “stuff” in question? It’s not life threatening in the common, everyday sense of the term “life.” And I am sorry, but I’m still not going to go any deeper into detail than that. It remains mine and mine alone to contend with. But the sheer cliff face that I am looking over? I can most certainly write about that. Metaphorically, of course.

I never thought that I’d be 38 years old and married with two kids, two cats, two mortgages and soccer practice every Saturday morning. Let me get that out of the way now. I hoped for it but did I actually believe it? No. I really didn’t. Not until I met Nicole and then? Even then it took me a while to come to grips with that fact that I, too, could be happy. That I, too, could be a father and a homeowner. This was not the life I envisioned for myself some 15, very odd years ago when we all lived in and around “Oz” and no one lived anyplace else. I’ve come a long way from those Halcyon Days of my wayward youth. Yet still, here I am at 38 years young or old depending on your perspective at a crossroads. Arguably the most important one I have ever happened upon on the oft times winding road of my life. And the decisions that I make in the next couple of weeks and months are going to affect me and my loved ones for a very, very long time. Hence the extreme analogy of the cliff: Do I take the plunge or do I turn away?

It seems like an easy question to answer until you’re faced with it. Then it becomes the most difficult thing you’ve ever contemplated. And your choice will have consequences either way. The intoxication of the unknown or the comfort of the known? The world that lies behind you, back away from the precipice or the one that lies in front of you, cloaked in obscurity? One is filled with risk and the other? Not so much. What type of person are you? Are you the kind of person that embraces the questions or the kind of person that avoids them? And is your life as a risk taker or a home body sustainable? Questions, questions and more questions, all without answers save for one: I have no f*cking idea what to do.

Therein lies the rub, guys. I know I am faced with one of William MacNuff’s “watershed moments” and I know I need… I NEED to make a decision one way or the other. Do I leap or do I walk away? Sadly, I cannot decide which way is best. I’ve always been a moderate. Were I the President, I would be the Commander in Chief that straddles the aisle more than any President in history. I’m a hybrid: Both a city slicker and a suburbanite; a student and a teacher. Of course I am. I’m a guy that was raised by a woman albeit an incredibly strong woman (booyakasha, Mom. RESPECT). The only other Y-Chromosome in my house is the one my gender-challenged, almost 11 year old cat ‘Dorna possesses. I exist and have existed for decades as a contradiction: A practical artist; a dreaming realist. An oxymoron? How dare you call me a name you… you… you YOU you. But yes, I am an oxy… moron. And my current indecision? It is a direct result of that.

Each choice has potential positives and negatives. Sadly, very little is apparent on the surface. Most of it is speculation. Let me reiterate that I am not contemplating killing myself nor am I considering catching the red eye to Jamaica and cliff diving (aw HELL no). The cliff? It is a metaphor and metaphorically? I, like my character, stand upon a precipice. I, like my character is wondering “do I” or “don’t I.” I, like my character know that the decisions that I make in the next few weeks and months are going to affect me as much as the physical action of either jumping or turning from the cliff would. I am 38 years old and the remainder of my existence on this side of the proverbial wormhole of existence is hanging in the balance. Do I, or don’t I?

Perhaps the answer is evident in the actions of the character from Children that is standing upon his/her/its own precipice. I’m going to let you in on a little secret, guys: I’ve written the character too that point but I have not yet written what he/she/it does. Why? Because the Endworld books have always been reflective of my own life. An Autobiographical Fiction, if you will and until I make the decision for myself? Until I leap or don’t? I cannot make it for him. Or her. Or it. Damn, dirty metal bastards.

And with that? It’s back to “stuff.” G’night, all. Pleasant dreams. It looks like “Rocky IV” AND “Ghostbusters” are on right now. But I don’t think I am going to watch either. There’s a “The Walking Dead” marathon on AMC. Metaphorical? I leave that for you to decide.

Winky emoticon. Smiley face.

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?

🙂

On A**holes, Sh*heads, Thursdays and “LOST”

I am functioning on very little sleep as I write this. Let me be upfront about that. I don’t think I’m suffering from sleep deprivation yet but I am getting close. Call it borderline sleep deprivation. If there were a way for me to sleep for 24 hours straight right now, I would. Of course, knowing me, I would wake up crankier than I am, presently. Your ol’ buddy the Madchronicler is funny like that. I can go x-amount of days on limited sleep and be in almost complete control of my mental and physical facilities. But if I get more than five or six hours in a given night? I wake up with a headache and an overwhelming need to scream “FTW” from the proverbial mountaintops. It’s not helping that seemingly every person I’ve talked to today is a complete and total a**hole. I’d say sh*thead but as you that are reading this already know, the term sh*thead is reserved in my subjective universe for a different type of person. I am a sh*thead, and the world is full of them. Of us. I’m not an a**hole, though. At least I don’t think I am.

Am I?

One of the early signs of sleep deprivation is paranoia, so I need you, my friends, Romans, countrymen and women to confirm for me that I am not an a**hole because despite the fact that I don’t think I am one, I can’t help but feel like I am one, presently. Why? I have my reasons but for the purposes of this blog entry, all you need to know is that I just do. Please, feel free to leave your comments, good or bad below. Or, drop me a line at any of the number of places out there… out here on the World Wide Web that you can find me. Twitter, FB et al. Links to “contact” under the “About Me” tab. Or, just check out the ENDWORLD page (www.theendworldseries.com). They’re all on there, too.

I just texted my wife about the prevalence of a**holes in my subjective reality, today. Here’s the screen cap of our “conversation”:

IMG_20130808_114325

Assuming that Nicole is right and Thursday is… we’ll call it National Be An A**hole Day, then I can’t be the only one going through this right now, can I? Let me take a poll: How many of you reading this are suffering from the same BS that I’m suffering from, i.e. “short” people (as in angry, not vertically challenged), rude people… an assorted collection of all the different types of a**holes that exist. Professional a**holes (i.e. people that are trained to treat other people like crap), personal a**holes (i.e. people that treat other people like crap ’cause they want to), romantic a**holes (i.e. people that use other people to “get their rocks off” and then drop them like a bad habit)… you get the idea. Moving forward, the general term a**hole will refer to any one of the above mentioned… well, a**holes. And if you have any others that you’d like to add to the list? Please, contact me via the same procedure I outlined above. I look forward to your respective responses.

Suffice it to say that the world, at least on Thursdays, is apparently filled with a**holes. Just like the world is full of sh*theads 24/7/365 (and in a Leap Year 366). But why? What is it that brings them out on days like today, when I’m functioning, albeit barely on minimal sleep and the sky overhead is gray/the air is thick enough to cut with a knife? I can think of any number of reasons. Postulations, really. And here they are:

  1. It’s Thursday. As in the weekend minus one. And here in southeastern Pennsylvania in the summertime, weekends mean one thing: The Shore. As in the Jersey Shore and no, I am not referring to the now defunct, MTV show (the damage on pop culture from that little phenomenon is, blessedly, done). Come Thursday, people are already looking forward to cutting out early on Friday, packing their families into their respective cars and heading east to that place where the ocean meets the land. So of course they get grumpy and turn into a**holes on Friday minus one. It’s like a Jekyll and Hyde “thing”: Those same people that are calling me up/cursing me out on the phone today will be the ones sitting on the beach tomorrow night with a wine cooler in one hand and a cigar in the other. Maybe that’s why I’m not one, at least per my own reckoning. I don’t, in the immortal words of Billy Joel “spend my weekends on the Jersey Shore.” I generally spend them at home in Broomall, Pennsylvania either doing stuff with my kids and my wife when she’s not working, or doing stuff around the house. So Thursdays, for me, are just another day. Fridays, too. Saturdays, Sundays… they all kind of meld together for sh*theads like me. I haven’t really had a weekend in a while. Maybe I need one. But then again, if I do take one I might end up turning into an a**hole. It’s a Catch-22.
  2. They’ve had almost an entire week to build up to it. This one presumes that a**holes are just a**holes 24/7/365 (and in a Leap Year 366) and Thursday is, in fact, National Be An A**hole day. It’s an unwritten pact among them. They begin building up their angst on Monday AM and let it fester until Thursday. And then? They lash out with the full force of their a**hole-ness. They get it out of their respective systems by the end of the day Thursday so that Friday, they can come in to work fresh and unhindered and coast through the day until the ringing of the bell at quittin’ time. Then, they go home and treat their loved ones with respect. Because they “got their rocks off” on poor, unsuspecting sh*theads like me. If I may bastardize the words of the progressive rock band Midnight Oil, “A**holes are a**holes so why should it be, you and I should get along so awfully?”
  3. It can’t be Jerk-Off Day. That’s Monday. Depending on who you ask, every day is Jerk-Off Day. I once knew a guy who bragged that he could do so two, three… four times a day (his nickname was “KYW” and if he’s reading this, he knows who he is). Quick parenthetical aside: How does one do… that that many times in one day? It’s the equivalent of paint primer on a very sensitive portion of the male anatomy. Calluses, maybe? ‘Dunno. End parenthetical aside. This blog entry is not about Jerk-Offs though it was inspired by my wife’s text regarding them (booyakasha, dear: RESPECT). It’s about a**holes. But the Jerk-Offs already have a claim to Monday (I trust Nicole on that point implicitly). Wednesday is Hump Day which eliminates it and Friday, Saturday and Sunday are the Weekend which eliminates them. That leaves Tuesday and Thursday and Tuesday? Tuesday has no identity. It doesn’t deserve one. It’s just… BLAH. Never any good television on and most people are just… not a**holes, but miserable because they’re a day plus detached from a weekend and further away from the next one than closer. Tuesday doesn’t deserve an identity in my subjective reality and since we’re chillin’ on my side of the proverbial wormhole of existence here on “Random Musings,” F-Tuesday. I’m eliminating it from contention. Thursday wins by default.
  4. They miss “LOST.” I guess this one’s a bit of a stretch but think about it: For six seasons, the mind-bending, water cooler conversation enhancing, oft times brilliant, others aggravating television show “LOST” was on every Wednesday night at 9:00 PM. I know my wife and I never missed an episode. It gave us something to talk about on Thursday AM. But ever since the show ended I’ve noticed an uptick in the quantity of a**holes that come out every Thursday to make my life a living h-e-double hockey sticks. Are they longing for the adventures of Jack Shephard, Kate and Sawyer? Locke and Ben? Richard Alpert and the Others? I guess the likes of “Chicago Fire” and “Nashville” just don’t measure up comparatively. Damon Lindelof, Carlton Cuse and J J Abrams take note: If you’ve got a spin-off/sequel in you, now might be a good time to start writing it, ’cause the longer the world has to go without the particular brand of insanity/brilliance that was on display every Hump Day the more chance that everyone, including me is going to morph into an a**hole. “Property Brothers” has been a good, temporary stop gap but I need me some thought provoking television. I love “The Walking Dead” but it’s mainly popcorn entertainment. I love “Game of Thrones” but I already know the outcome having read the books. I love “The Killing” but they totally “Seven’d” out the end of this last season. That said, I’m begging you on behalf of Losties everywhere: We’re still here. And we’re waiting. Save us all from our inner a**holes.

I couldn’t think of “5.” My mind is starting to go a bit fuzzy around the edges. Gul’darned borderline sleep deprivation. Sorry. If you’ve got a “5,” a “6” or a “7,” please feel free to… repeat the litany with me, guys: Send it to me via the above mentioned procedure. It’s a heady proposition that Thursday = National Be An A**hole Day, and while the above, four postulations give a good basis for my argument, circumstantially at least, every argument, especially one by a sleepy sh*thead that calls himself the Madchronicler deserves all the support it can get.

Things have quieted down here in my subjective reality on this side of the proverbial wormhole of existence this afternoon. The gray, threatening sky overhead has finally started to yield a little bit of precip here in southeastern Pennsylvania. One of my all time favorite movies is “The Crow” and there’s a song in it called “It Can’t Rain All The Time.” It seems like it’s been raining on both a**holes and sh*theads alike for the last couple of weeks. Whether on the weekend, Jerk-Off Day, the identity-less Tuesday, Hump Day or the theoretical National Be An A**hole Day… apparently precip plays no favorites. This past weekend, I did get to go down the shore for a bit and it was actually sunny and beautiful for once. I sat on the porch of the house on the Jersey Shore where I was staying with a White Russian in one hand and a cigarette in the other and I pondered… postulated. Years ago I said that “the world is full of sh*theads” and I ended that piece of mental flatulence with a bold statement: I want to be a sh*thead. I want a mundane, routine existence as a normal nine to fiver. The question that I now face–as Thursday slowly segues into Friday, AKA another weekend spent landlocked with my girls in Broomall, Pennsylvania with a full list of things including yard work and replacing a shower head to do–is this:

Would I be better off as an a**hole? Do I want that the same way I wanted to be a sh*thead back when we all lived for a time in “Oz” and no one lived anyplace else? Would I rather be the caller than the unsuspecting answerer? That’s a damn good question, guys. I look around me and do you know what? The a**holes? They’ve got nice lives for the most part. They spend “their weekends on the Jersey shore,” they “get their rocks off” during the week so they can go home at quittin’ time on Friday night and treat their loved ones with respect. They could give a flying fig about Tuesday and Jerk-Off Day? It only comes (pun intended) two, three… four times a month. Just like every other day. Maybe they miss “LOST” as much as I do. Maybe they just can’t stand “Chicago Fire” and “Nashville” and haven’t yet discovered “Property Brothers.” I could be that person. That guy. An a**hole. So why don’t I?

Because despite the borderline sleep deprivation I am suffering from, I’m still in complete control of my mental and physical facilities. And those facilities? They’re generally not predisposed to a “FTW” mentality. ‘Cause I’m a sh*thead. A nine to fiver. And I’m a nice guy. And if nice guys are destined to always been the answerer? Well, guys, it turned out okay for Jack Shephard, didn’t it?

Yeah. It did. Until next time, fellow sh*theads and a**holes. Stay frosty.

F.

On Being An Artist Extraordinaire (Pronounced “Ar-teest”)

Last evening, something pretty awesome happened in my subjective reality on this side of the proverbial wormhole of existence. Yes, I said “awesome.” What can I say? I am a child of the 80’s and back then, awesome was arguably the most used superlative (runners-up: Gnarly, rad (as in “radical”) and excellent). We–as in Nicole, Cara, Natalie and I–were fully engrossed in our nightly routine: In our PJs and “settled” with the Good Night Show on in the background. Nicole and Cara were playing tic-tac-toe, i.e. Cara’s new, favorite game. They were doing so on her new, Barbie Doodler when Natalie… the best way I can describe it is “toddled up.”

Picture this, if you will: Curly, crazy hair. chubby cheeks, a pair of “Heal the World” PJs and a bottle hanging out of her mouth. Always smiling, unless you take her last bottle away from her or try to put her to bed before she’s ready. I’d post a picture of her herein but I’m leery of plastering my kids’ faces all over the internet and always have been. Anywhos, she “toddles up” to Nicole and Cara, grabs the pencil that you draw on the doodler with in her right hand, holds it almost as well as I hold a pen, and starts… well, doodling.

It wasn’t anything too out of the ordinary: Just some scribbling, punctuated by the occasionally triumphant “anh!” or “Hodor!” Yes, I wrote Hodor. I swear that Natalie’s taken to saying that, recently. If you are a fan of either the Game of Thrones television series or books then you understand the significance. If not? Well, my wife thinks she’s trying to say “what’s that” and it comes out sounding like “Hodor” but me? Come on. The kid has a dragon named Smaug and saw the Lord of the Rings movies for the first time when she was two months old. Ya’ think I’m trying to instill my interests in her at an early age? Survey says: Undoubtedly.

But I was visibly shocked. I couldn’t believe it. We couldn’t even get Cara to hold a crayon pre-turning two and even then, she wasn’t really interested. But Natalie? Fourteen months young and counting and she’s already holding a “pencil” perfectly and understands what to do with it. I immediately went into the playroom which adjoins and generally overflows into our living room, got a crayon and a pad of paper, came back into the room, sat down on the floor with both, motioned Natalie over (she came), and handed her the crayon. What did she do? She sat down on the floor, the nipple of her bottle still clamped between her teeth, and started scribbling. Scribble. “Anh!” Scribble some more. “Hodor!”

I was so gul’darned proud. This went on for about five more minutes before she lost interest and started attempting to eat the crayon which I quickly stopped. Thereafter she went back to her “ba-ba” and Wibbly Pig and all returned to normal. But for just one singular moment in whatever passes for time ’round these parts, an entire future passed before my eyes. The too-be-told story of Natalie Marsh, Artist (pronounced phonetically as “Ar-teest”) Extraordinaire.

It’s no secret to anyone that knows me and knows Nicole that Cara almost immediately adopted her mother’s personality. She’s analytically inclined (as much as a four year old can be), well-spoken, can already count to 70 (with a little bit of help) and knows how to add and subtract using props, i.e. fingers or Cheerios. She knew how to spell her name shortly after she turned three and was able to write it by three and a half (though she’s still having difficulty with her “R’s.” Hey, “R’s” not an easy letter to master!). But numbers? Numbers are her passion. Much like my wife, who as you may or may not know is a pharmacist (sarcasm fully intended; if you don’t know that by now then you’re not reading the right “Random Musings”). I’m not bragging guys, i.e. my kid is smarter than your kid. I would never do that. I’m just stating the facts. “Just the facts, sir. Just the facts.”

But what about me? What about my characteristics? Save for a slightly twisted sense of humor–she’s fond of making a special trip to sit and “toot” on Daddy’s leg before laughing like a loon and walking away–an expansive imagination and a penchant for over-dramatics, she’s about 70% Nicole and 30% me. Which is fine. I will never complain. Nicole’s my wife and Cara’s my daughter, and I love her… love them implicitly.

But Natalie? It’s like she adopted her Daddy’s personality from day one. She’s stubborn, knows what she wants, gets emotional when she doesn’t get it, loves hugs, fancies a good drink (milk, in her case, Scotch in mine) and now? Now, she’s showing an early, artistic penchant. And this? To have a child that has the potential to not just be yours but to be like you? It’s the most awesome, gnarly, rad and excellent thing that can possibly happen to a parent.

Nicole’s taking the minions out to Target, today, to get Natalie her own crayons. “My First Crayola Washable Crayons” and if you have toddlers and haven’t tried them yet please: Try ’em. I’ll even link them for you HERE. Let me know what you think. And I’ll be sure to keep you abreast of Natalie’s burgeoning career as an artist (again, pronounced “ar-teest”) moving forward.

I could speculate on where Natalie might go from here. I could come up with a whole scenario involving her being an artistic prodigy: About her rising up through the ranks of that particular society and having her first gallery showing at age 10. I could. Heck, what parent doesn’t envision a successful life for their minions? I could even postulate about a collaboration with her dad one day in which she illustrates something that he wrote. I see a picture in my mind of me, older, grayer and hopefully thinner, standing next to her with her crazy, curly hair, each of us holding up a book that I wrote and she created the cover for. That, guys? That’s a pleasant vision.

I know I’m a dreamer. It’s who I am, who I was and who I’ll always be. I want the fantasy. You know, the one that I envisioned years ago after eating a really bad bowl of New England Clam Chowder, back when I lived somewhere between Indianapolis, Indiana and Abington, Pennsylvania and no one lived anyplace else. You don’t? Okay. I promise that one day in the near future I’ll tell you more about it. But this isn’t about my dream for me. It’s about my kids. And I’m allowed to dream about my kids and their lives 10, 20 years from now, aren’t I? Of course I am. It’s part of being a parent. I believe in supporting them in whatever they choose to do. After all, that was what my mother did for me regardless of her own, personal biases towards certain careers that I considered. Booyakasha, Mom-Mom Minnie: RESPECT.

But for me, this isn’t about Natalie’s burgeoning career as the next Salvador Dali. Heck, she might abandon her new crayons all together next week. It’s about one of my girls showing an inclination toward the type of person that I am, however briefly. Not that showing an inclination toward Nicole is or would be a bad thing. Quite the contrary: I think it’s great that Cara’s so much like her Mommy and if Natalie ends up being the same? Awesome, gnarly, rad and excellent. But I take a great deal of pride in even the remotest possibility that one day, Natalie might be an “ar-teest” extraordinaire like her Daddy is, or wants to be (whether I am or am not I leave for you to decide).

But I would caution her the same thing that people cautioned me for years. That path? It’s not lined with rubies and emeralds, i.e. it’s not always profitable or socially acceptable. It’s a struggle for a long time. Heck, it still is. Just because I published a book and it’s sold modestly well up until this point doesn’t mean that I’m a successful author. Heck, I haven’t even broken even yet though I’m pretty close. I’m closer to relevancy than I was before, when ENDWORLD – A Novel was little more than a file on my old HP 286 with the monochrome screen. But it’s not my career. Not yet, at least. But I’m one step closer to it being so than I was a couple of years ago and that? That is a comforting thought. For me and, I hope, for my wife and my minions.

Bring an artist? You have to work at it daily and when you’re tired of working at it? You have to work at it some more. That’s the only way it ever goes from being a hobby to a career. You’re not always going to be accepted. Quite the contrary: Career-types discount people that write, or draw, or sculpt because of the age-old stereotype of the starving artist. That’s understandable, and that is not, I repeat NOT a knock on people that chose a profession. I married one of those people. Some of my closest compadres are doctors, lawyers et al. I love them and admire them all the more for their accomplishments.

But the idea of the starving artist? It exists. It pervades our society. Some of the greatest “ar-teests” in history were. Van Gogh was a pauper who was never recognized until after he died. Dylan Thomas chose a life of poverty as a “minor artist” because it offered him a different way of living, albeit a way that inspired him. Henry Miller was a Bohemian. I could list other names but to do so would be counterproductive. There are a thousand and one, both known and unknown that meet the classification.

But what the white-collar, career-types despite my respect for them and what they have accomplished in their lives don’t always take into account is that starving artists? They worked and are working just as hard and at times harder than them. Art? It is their career, however un-fulfilling it is monetarily. And the rewards for the ones that stick it out and find eventual success? Relevancy? They are the dream, i.e. the rubies and the emeralds. Not many people can say that they’re living their dream existence on this, or any side of the wormhole but me? Well, I may not be living it now but I still believe that one day, I will. By the grace of a sometimes humorless universe, I still believe in the fantasy that was spawned by a bowl of Bad New England Clam Chowder so many moons ago. And I will continue to work toward it, ’cause it’s what I chose. It’s who I am. Not the whole “me,” but a gul’darned big part of it.

I just talked to Nicole a couple of moments ago. She, Cara and Natalie went to Target despite the torrential rain that has been pounding southeastern Pennsylvania since I woke up this AM. They didn’t have My First Crayola Washable Crayons so instead, Natalie got jumbo ones and Cara got markers to practice not only writing her name and playing tic-tac-toe, but drawing, as well (she actually does a really good face, and a few weeks ago, she drew a whale that I actually recognized as a whale). She–Cara–has taken an interest in drawing houses, lately, and I showed her the rudimentary way to do it: One square, a triangle on top… you know what I’m talking about. Maybe she’s got an artist in her, as well. Maybe Natalie will be the doctor. Maybe they both’ll be white-collar career types or maybe they’ll both be starving artists. Whatever they become in the next 10, 20 years I will love them implicitly, and I look forward to seeing them grow, and develop. And if, one day, my dream of collaborating on a book with one, or both of them comes true?

Well, guys? That would be pretty awesome, gnarly, rad and excellent, all at once.

All together now: “Hodor!”

A Pseudo-Madman’s Double Life (Guest Starring Clark Kent/Superman, the Fisher Price Little People, Susan Lucci, the Genie from “Aladdin,” Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster, Professor River Song and Some Guy Named Frank Marsh)

I lead a double life. Kind of like Clark Kent/Superman but without… well, super powers. I’m not faster than a speeding bullet. Nor am I more powerful than a locomotive. I am unable to leap tall buildings in a single bound unless said buildings are my youngest minion’s Fisher Price Little People play sets. If you look up in the sky, you will see birds and planes, but you will never see me. I dwell here upon the humid, oft times soggy surface of Terra Firma on this side of the proverbial wormhole of existence, somewhere between a little town in eastern Pennsylvania called Broomall and a little town west of Broomall called Royersford, Pennsylvania, with the occasional foray even further west to York, Pennsylvania or south to Baltimore, Maryland.

Despite all this, I do lead a double life. Sadly, mine is not nearly as interesting as the son of Jor El’s so really, why even claim it? Simple: Because it’s true. If you want to know why, I invite you to read on. If not? Thanks for playing. You win nothing! I’m not cruel. I just don’t have anything to give away. But if you’d like a copy of my debut novel, ENDWORLD drop me a line either here, or on any of the myriad other sites that I whore myself out to and I’ll hook you up in exchange for an honest review of my “big, meaty book for summer reading.”

No sexual innuendo intended, guys. I’m a happily married man. That’s what one reviewer called it, though. “Five stars in my log,” she said with an exclamation point. Apparently, a few people agree with her though I wouldn’t know because I’ve only got five total, published reviews between Amazon (four) and Barnes and Noble (one)Which is an incredibly uncouth way of saying “please read and review my book because unless I get 10 positive reviews on Amazon it will never be featured as anything other than an afterthought on any site and will be doomed to obscurity.” I may be biased… ah, who am I kidding? I am biased. ENDWORLD is better than “doomed to obscurity.” I know it.

Seriously, guys. I know I’m not supposed to self-promote on here if I ever want to get Freshly Pressed but I need you on this one. One free copy of ENDWORLD in exchange for an honest review. That’s all I’m asking for. You choose the e-platform: EPUB or MOBI. I can do PDF, as well. Up to you. Get in contact with me and you’ve got it. I’m at 424K on the Kindle Best Seller list currently, which isn’t bad when you consider Amazon’s got over two million titles on their site, but my ranking has been steadily dropping since the end of May after plateauing at 11K. I’m starting to get depressed. I don’t know if I can go on… 

Okay. I admit it: I’m over exaggerating. A lot. It’s all I can do to keep up with my oldest minion who, I have officially concluded, is four going on 14. There are established drama queens less dramatic then her. Don’t get me wrong: I love her and think she’s hysterical, but if nothing else, she’s got quite a career ahead of her on “General Hospital.” Susan Lucci? Eat your heart out. And watch out.

But I digress. This blog entry isn’t about ENDWORLD. Well, not directly. And there’s no better means of turning people away from your product than by whining about it. So I’m not going to whine anymore. I’m going to “stick with the plan.” And that is?

I lead a double life. Really, I do. The truth of this fact really hit home for me earlier today. I was “tweaking” the ENDWORLD site with some new info, and I got an email from a prospective vendor asking me for my name and my title. In the past, I’ve simply written “Office Manager/Inside Sales” without a second thought, but as I wrote it today, I realized that I wasn’t being entirely truthful. And I pride myself on bring truthful. I was being pseudo-truthful–that’s what I am from eight in the AM to five or 5:30 in the PM every Monday through Friday, plus every fourth Saturday–but it ended there. Pseudo. The truth?

The truth is that I am an Office Manager/Inside Sales representative during the time frame specified above.   But from the moment I leave work to the moment I return? I’m something far different. I’m a father/husband/homeowner/”indie” author/eternal optimist and hopeful dreamer. I’m also an avid sports fan though right now, I’m not exactly enchanted by what’s going on in Philly sports. Seriously, Phillies? You win six games in a row, get over 0.500 for the first time all season, get your fan base fired up and then you lose three games to the frackin’ Brewers? They’re the Brewers for God’s sake! They haven’t been better than “slightly above average” since the mid-1980’s. That’s not a knock on Milwaukee, nor is it one on Wisconsin. I love both. Really, I do. But the Brewers? Really? 

Okay. Enough about that. Rooting for the Phillies… h-e-double hockey sticks, rooting for any of the major Philadelphia sports franchises has been a tiring task these last few years. Almost as tiring as self-publication though without the sublime joy of knowing that something you wrote is now available for purchase via Amazon, Barnes and Noble and multiple other sites (links to buy at www.theendworldseries.com under “Where to Buy ENDWORLD – A Novel“)! Pick up your copy TODAY and PLEASE post a review when you’re finished! End the shameless self-promotional portion of our program. I now return you to your regular blog entry, already in progress.

The specter of 2008 still looms largely in my mind. I remember watching my Phightens hoist the Commissioner’s Trophy and thinking that the drought was over… that we were ensured multiple championships not just in baseball, but in football and hockey, as well (basketball? Not so much). How many have we won since? Survey says?

Zero. New York, Pittsburgh and Baltimore have all won at least one. Even Boston’s won one. But Philadelphia? Nada. Zilcho. Zip-a-dee-doo-da, zip-a-dee-aye, my oh my what a crap-tastic time to be a Philadelphia sports fan. And it’s not getting better anytime soon. The Eagles are rebuilding, the Flyers are chronic underachievers and the Sixers? Yeah. Not so much. Dare I pin my hopes on the Soul, again? They started what I thought was going to be a championship renaissance in my hometown back in 2008 by winning the Arena Bowl. Might they be able to do it again? Maybe, but even they’re pretty bad, right now. Which is really just a drawn out way of welcoming you, my readers back to the drought. See you in another 20 or so years on Broad Street. End parenthetical, sports related aside.

I lead a double life. I’m not Clark Kent/Superman. My secret identity is not a costume that I wear beneath the t-shirt and jeans that I sport to work every day, or the dress shirt and slacks that I wear when I visit my York office or travel to Baltimore. It’s the extra Google Chrome screen that I keep hidden on my second monitor. It’s the Word Document that I oft times edit during “down times” like today. You can never see it: It’s hidden beneath a proverbial bank of windows that contain pertinent information to my daily existence. And I rarely do anything but edit or “tweak” while working because despite what you might be thinking, I actually like my job, alias my mundane, routine existence. I’m proud of all that I’ve learned and how good I’ve gotten at what I do in the last almost eight years and I’d rather not risk losing it. So I refrain.

But admittedly? On occasion, one or more of the developing characters in my head–my own, mental Peanut Gallery–cry out for help or attention, much like my youngest minion is fond of doing when she’s playing with her Fisher Price Little People play sets and I’m rehearsing Shakespeare with my older, diva-licious minion, tears and all. Those times? I minimize everything from Outlook to my company Intranet and I answer the call. I may not be faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive or able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. I may not be a bird or a plane but in the subjective universe that exists inside my oft times ridiculed, “big” head? I’m a god. Not the God. There’s only one of them and you’ll know I’m referring to him or her when I capitalize the “G.” But god. A lesser deity with immense, cosmic power… 

And an itty bitty living space, otherwise known as my cubicle. Thank you, Genie from “Aladdin.” Those times? Not even the son of Jor El can stand toe-to-toe with Frank Marsh, though in the grand and not subjective scheme of things, my “power” is nothing compared to his. Assuming, of course, that Superman is a real man. Which he is. Or isn’t. I’m not really sure, but I like to think that somewhere out in the vast multi-verse that is… well, this he exists. Maybe through one of the many other wormholes that pseudo-madmen like me can cross through. Maybe not me, per say, but another one? Most definitely.

I’ll let you in on a little secret, guys. The wormhole that I’m always referring to? The wormholes? It’s… they’re not real. Not tangible. They’re a metaphor for imagination, something that people like me and the guys who created Clark Kent/Superman, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster know about. This side of my proverbial wormhole of existence = IRL. The other side is where ENDWORLD and all my other ideas come from. If you didn’t know that before now there you go. I’ve just revealed a little known secret about me, myself and I. There are others, but I’ll leave them for another time. I can’t give away everything now. As Professor River Song is so fond of saying, “spoilers.”

When I leave my Monday through Friday, and every fourth Saturday mundane, routine existence, there’s no need to wear my disguise, though. I’m like the son of Jor El returning to his Fortress of Solitude. The place where I can just. Be. Me. Not the guy that’s had to learn how to be an engineer in the last almost eight years, but the guy that existed before that. The husband. The father. The homeowner. The eternal optimist and the hopeful dreamer. And the avid, albeit long suffering Philadelphia sports fan. I like that guy too. He’s the guy that’s writing this blog entry, presently. His words? They’re not appearing on a secret Google Chrome screen on his second monitor. They’re appearing on the 13 inch screen of his Samsung, I5 laptop, the same one that he… that I wrote 75 to 80 percent of ENDWORLD on and the same one that I’m currently writing CHILDREN OF ENDWORLD on. Which, by the way, is 70+ pages “to the good.” Part One = Done. I’m taking a day or two off before I begin Part Two. Unless my mental Peanut Gallery cries out in distress before then. Then, like every other super hero that leads a double life, I’ll be obligated to answer the call.

So long as it doesn’t conflict with my youngest minion’s desire to play with her Fisher Price Little People play sets or my oldest minion’s desire to reenact “MacBeth.”

Susan Lucci? Eat your heart out. Watch out. And if you’re reading this? Drop me a line. I’ve got a book I’d love for you to read and review.

😉