What Thanksgiving Means to Me By Way of CHILDREN OF ENDWORLD, Hans Zimmer and the “Interstellar” Soundtrack

Good Evening, Afternoon or Morning, fellow Sh*theads. Happy Thanksgiving Eve to all of my fellow denizens of this side of the proverbial wormhole of existence. It’s been a while since I last wrote… almost too long. For those of you that have been waiting patiently for a new blog entry I’m sorry. Thank you for your tolerance of me and my inconsistency as a writer, lately.  As before, I assure you that it’s not for lack of wanting. I want to write every day. But sometimes, life gets in the way and this aspect of me has to take a backseat to other aspects of me. Husband, father, friend and working stiff. Not to mention laundry, chores, homework and playing princesses with my minions. Birthday parties, holidays… you name it. I do what I must. But tonight? Tonight it’s me, my trusty old laptop, the soundtrack to “Interstellar” and a blank page. And it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without another of my yearly “What Thanksgiving Means to Me” entries.

I promise not to be too long winded. I’ve been accused of that in the past. And really? I don’t feel the need to be so anymore. There’s no need for embellishment to tell you how I feel right now. In short? I feel blessed. Thankful this year more than I’ve been in years past. It’s not that my life has changed much. It hasn’t. Short of my kids being a year older, my marriage being a year stronger and my new-old career coming up on it’s one year anniversary things really aren’t that much different than they were at this time last year. On the surface. Inside? I don’t know. I just feel… what’s the word I’m looking for? Ah, yes. Two words actually…

At peace.

As I sit here tonight with the soundtrack to an incredible movie playing in the background (Hans Zimmer is so very, very good for the soul) I type these words with a sly grin upon my face beneath my bushy, salt and pepper beard. Why? Because I’m at peace. It’s nothing concrete… substantial. Like I said, my life isn’t much different than it was a year ago. But I feel it. I felt it at my daughter’s Thanksgiving Feast today and I felt it as I watched my girls play in the snow outside this afternoon. I felt it when I closed my eyes and took a brief, half hour nap this afternoon and when I woke up and started baking for Thanksgiving tomorrow–Pumpkin Bread and Corn Bread from scratch; I accept no substitute. I felt it watching “Caillou’s Holiday Movie” for the first of many times this season earlier and I felt it when I read my girls their nightly story, tucked them in, kissed them on their respective foreheads, told them “goodnight,” “sleep tight” and “I love you.” It was gul’darned serendipitous, friends. Like now as the composition “Stay” soars.

Serendipity.

I could type a laundry list of the things I’m thankful for this year. I could. But I won’t. Because really? There’s only one way to explain it without filling up Kilobytes upon Megabytes of text here on WordPress. I think I’ve mentioned this before and if I have, sorry for repeating myself. Yet if I haven’t? Well heck, now’s as good a time as any. I’ll admit: I’ve been stymied on CHILDREN OF ENDWORLD lately. Again, not for lack of wanting to work on it. Life, man. It just gets in the way sometimes. But there’s the scene in CHILDREN that I’ve always looked forward to writing. I call it “The Thanksgiving Scene.” It happens around page 300 of 400 or so and without giving anything away, it’s the scene where my hero, William MacNuff is reunited with his brethren in totality for the first time. Past, present and future: All intermingled, as some in Endworld would say. All one.

The other night, after not working on the book for weeks I sat down and finally… finally wrote it. I’d always had an idea of where it would go and who would be involved. A few things have changed from the moment I re-wrote the first words of ENDWORLD until now (sarcasm fully intended; the whole damned thing changed) but surprisingly? The same people that were in it the first time I conceived of it were in it again. Through a hundred and one twists and turns… new characters, unplanned demises et al, the same people showed up the other night in my living room to eat wild turkey, drink Wild Turkey and toast each other on an undetermined day of an undetermined month in the year BLANK of the BLANK (come on; I can’t give that away, can I?). The same people went around the table and said what they were thankful for. And yet when I got to William’s moment I stopped typing. Because really, what was he thankful for? His loved ones. Sure. His life. Definitely. But how could he… how could I rank the things I’m thankful for? Fact: I can’t. And neither could he.

So what did he do? What did he say? That, I can tell you because it applies this cold and snowy night here on my side of the proverbial wormhole of existence. Art imitates reality and vice versa. And what follows sufficiently answers the question posed by the title of this blog entry, “What Thanksgiving Means to Me,” perhaps better than any laundry list ever could:

There was not a lot to be thankful for in Endworld. Living under the proverbial boot of a totalitarian Administration bent on suppressing humanity? Constantly running for our lives to a hypothetical freedom? There once was a poet, whose name I cannot remember that wrote that “nothing gold can stay.” “So Eden sank to grief, so dawn goes down to day.” I believe that’s how it goes. And yet at that moment as I sat there amidst my brethren… my friends after so much time apart an undetermined day of an undetermined month I knew. I knew that there was one thing I was thankful for… the same thing that we were all thankful for, originality be damned. Slowly, I stood from my feast. All eyes followed me as I did so. I picked up my half-filled glass, raised it to the ceiling and spoke.

“I’m thankful,” I began, paused, and completed, “for now.”

Smiles graced the faces of all those assembled around me. A few people nodded. I heard someone sniffle. And then, in a rousing chorus, all of my counterparts spoke in unison.

“To now,” they all said as time moved onward without check, as time always does in Endworld.

Okay, so I edited it down a bit. There were a few “tells” in the passage and I don’t want to give away what’s coming. But that statement? “I’m thankful for now?” That’s really the crux of it for me. Let’s face it, gang: You never know what tomorrow will hold. Carpe Diem, baby. I’d like to think that I’ll be here in the morning to see my wife off to work and watch the Thanksgiving Day Parade with my minions. I’d like to think that I’ll be eating store bought turkey at my mom’s house tomorrow afternoon and thereafter watching the Eagles beat the stuffing (pun intended) out of the Cowboys. But who knows? Anything is possible. If life has taught me anything over the last 39 plus years it’s to expect the unexpected. And if the world ends sometime between now and when I wake up on Thanksgiving morning to a snow-bleached world and a bright, blue sky at least I’ll be able to say that I did. I lived for now. I’d urge you all to do the same. That, friends, is my Thanksgiving wish for you. Seize your respective days and make them your b*tches and b*stards. Booyakasha. Respect.

And that? That’s the end of this little piece of pre-Turkey Day mental flatulence. Thanks as always for your time! May your turkey be warm, your mashed potatoes and gravy be un-lumpy, your stuffing be… well, awesome (’cause stuffing is just awesome) and your yams be sweet. May your afternoon be filled with love and high fives every time the Eagles score. In short?

Happy holiday, fellow Sh*theads. Winky emoticon. Smiley face.

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In Which I Attempt to Write About Something Other Than My Novel and Fail

Sorry if the title gives away the ending, guys. Note that in it, I wrote “attempt.” As in I have no idea if I’ll be able to, but I’m sure as H-E-double hockey sticks going to try. The thing is? I’ve been so preoccupied with launching ENDWORLD – A NOVEL that I’ve forgotten what it feels like to write about something other than it. That’s no reflection on my state of mind with regards to it, i.e. I’m not exacerbated with it. Quite the contrary: I’m quite pleased with how it’s doing so far, and the reception that it’s gotten. Mind you, it’s only received one review (Booyakasha, Anonymous; Respect)–a positive one, I should add–and I have no idea what all the other people that have bought it and are reading it think of it. But I’m optimistic. I’ve always been pleased with it, even back when it was a 200 page (and some change; I think the original draft was 207 pages), fictional autobiography of my life. Will others be? That remains the ten thousand dollar question, guys. Pleased or not, I did my part. My “due diligence ” if you will. Regardless of the reception it gets, I published what I felt was a good novel. I’m planning on writing two more. And some other stuff, too, but that “stuff?” I’m not going to show that hand yet. As Philip Henslowe said in “Shakespeare in Love”:

That said? I have officially f*cked up my “attempt” to not write about ENDWORLD – A NOVEL within a paragraph of when I started writing this blog entry. Survey says?

FAIL. But at least I got to embed one of my favorite scenes from one of my favorite movies in this blog entry.

Mysteries. Life’s full of ’em. The eventual success or failure of my debut novel is just one of them. Solving the mysteries that I encounter on this side of the proverbial wormhole of existence has been a driving force in my life for years. I’m not talking about X-Files-esque mysteries like the existence of life on other planets (“It’d be an awful waste of space if there wasn’t,” right Mister Sagan?). Nor am I talking about philosophical or spiritual mysteries like the existence of God or a God Particle (I believe in both, if that’s even feasible). I’m talking about lesser, more personal mysteries like the one I asked all throughout my early twenties, “will I ever find happiness?” FACT: I did. Or the one that I’ve been asking since I was a proverbial babe of 19, working in the damp and dusty periodical room of a college, “am I capable of writing a novel?” FACT again: I was. I did. Actually, I’ve written three. I’ve rewritten one and I’ve already started rewriting the second.

Will I be a good father? I hope I am, though there are days when I question it (generally every Bath Night, which as I posted on Facebook and Twitter last evening is, I have concluded, the sum total of all the bad sh*t I’ve done in my life being revisited upon me by the Almighty). Am I a good husband? Well, Nicole rarely complains though I’m sure there are things about me that she would change if she could (note that I wrote “rarely” and not “never”). BTW, sweetie, that’s not an invitation to comment about excessive flatulence, BO or something similar here on “Random Musings.” If you have a problem with any of the above things please, let me know privately. Or, if you want, you can DM me via Facebook or Twitter. We are, after all, living in a world dominated by social media. Why shouldn’t we converse via the internet? If we do that, you can watch “The Voice” or play Candy Crush Saga while I “tweak” ENDWORLD – A NOVEL‘s Amazon or NOOK listing and listen to the soundtrack to “Tron: Legacy.”

Sarcasm fully intended, sweetie. I like talking to you IRL, even if said conversations consist of a series of acknowledging grunts and sighs when one of the girls awakens from her slumber, or a car alarm goes off at three in the f*cking AM after you’ve worked a 17 hour shift prepping for your inventory and I’m still damp from getting splashed repeatedly by Cara on Bath Night. F*cking Bath Night. I swear to God, the God Particle and/or the Almighty, Bath Night is the Bane of my Current Existence.

See? Another mystery solved. I’ve been searching for the Bane of my Current Existence ever since I retired the Feminine Bane of my Early Existence X-amount of years ago. Bath Night? It’s the early front runner. That said, whenever I refer to “The Bane of my Current Existence” from now on remember that it = Bath Night. At least until I find a better one. Jeezy-peezy, one of these days I’m going to put together a glossary of Frankisms and post it on my sidebar for those of you that haven’t the slightest frackin’ idea what I’m talking about when I say things like that, or I refer to people as…

Yeah. I know. I almost went there. Good thing I stopped myself, huh? That word = Still on sabbatical until such time as I either A.) Recoup the money I spent to prep ENDWORLD – A NOVEL for publication or B.) Simply can’t hold back my desire to remind all y’all that “the world is full of PLURALIZED BLANK” again. Knowing me, the latter is a lot more feasible than the former.

Incidentally, the above AVI file is a scene from the movie “Puss in Boots.” “Puss in Boots” is one of Cara’s favorite flicks, currently. It ranks up there with “Tangled” and “Caillou’s Holiday Movie” as one of her own, personal all time greats. If you haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend it. Even if you, like me, couldn’t stand the “Shrek” movies. Talk about ideas based solely on excessive flatulence and BO (with a little fairy tale mash-up thrown in for good measure). IMO, the “Shrek” movies represent a nadir in the animated feature film that has blessedly been redeemed in recent years by movies like “How to Train Your Dragon” and “The Princess and the Frog.” Not to mention “Toy Story 3” and “Brave,” the latter of which was not perfect, but was definitely better than anything in the “Shrek” franchise.  I’m hoping that trend continues with “Monsters University” this summer, the sequel to another of Cara’s most requested movies.

While I’m on it, here is what I presume to be Cara’s list of the Top Five, best movies ever made:

  1. “Tangled”: Hand’s down her favorite movie. She never gets tired of watching it, or playing Rapunzel. Daddy normally gets to play Eugene or Max, Natalie plays Pascal and Mommy? Sadly, Mommy gets the unforgiving role of Mother Gothel. Every. TIME. I derive no satisfaction from that, BTW. None, whatsoever. Um… yeah. None. MOVING ON.
  2. “Finding Nemo”: Who doesn’t love this movie? Lovable characters? Check. Adventure? Check. A completely unheralded, burgeoning romance between Marlin and Dory? Check, check, check-skee. Oh, come on. You didn’t see that when you watched it? I’m sorry if I ruined your childhood. Me, personally? I’m holding out hope that the forthcoming sequel, “Finding Dory” ends with her and Marlin tying the knot. Maybe in a ceremony presided over by Bruce the Shark. Remember, “Fish are friends, not food.”
  3. “Caillou’s Holiday Movie”: Honestly? I don’t get the appeal of Caillou. I’ve heard all the arguments for the little guy. Primary colors. Morality lessons about everything from how to treat others to how not to run in the park wearing sandals (okay, so the latter isn’t really a morality lesson; it’s more of a common sense one, i.e. what idiot runs in sandals?). Music. Short episodes to mirror the short attention span of toddlers, preschoolers et al. Teachers praise it. Cara loves it. And Natalie already recognizes it. But “Caillou’s Holiday Movie” is an exercise in excess. I can take one, two or even three vignettes at a time. But a full length movie made up of a dozen of them, all tied together by a singular, flimsy thread, i.e. Caillou’s desire for Santa to bring him a toy space station? Come on. It’s too much. And the songs in it? Sadly infectious. They pollute your brain like a virus until one morning, when you’re getting ready for work, you find yourself humming “Bent and Tiny Christmas Tree” to yourself in the shower. A lesser man would hang himself as soon as that happened but me? I persevered. That’s not to say I didn’t want to off myself when it happened. I simply chose not to.
  4. Any hour long “Dora the Explorer” special: It could be “Dora and the Enchanted Forest Part One,” “Part Two” or “Part Infinity.” It could be “Dora and the Snow Princess.” If it’s more than 28 minutes long it’s automatically one of her favorite movies. Unless it’s “Dora Rocks” or “Dora’s Fantastic Gymnastics.” Both are only 30 minutes long and both are repeated viewing in the Marsh household.
  5. “Puss in Boots”: Next to “Finding Nemo,” this is my favorite of her favorites. How many of you reading this saw “Django Unchained?” Think an old-school, modernized western like “Django” but without the excessive use of the N-word, a blood splattered Plantation or Leo Dicaprio’s totally underrated performance (not that I minded the Academy giving the Oscar to Christoph Waltz but seriously? DiCaprio and Sam Jackson were both better in their respective roles). Less violence, too. That’s “Puss in Boots.” It’s worth it, if only for the Dance Battle. Trust me: You’ll understand better when you see it.

“Monster’s Inc.,” “Cinderella” and “Brother Bear” get honorable mentions. Those of you that think on the basis of what I just wrote that Nicole and I let Cara watch too much television rest assured: We don’t. Other than the occasional movie that she only gets to watch when she’s either A.) Good or B.) Too much of a handful to control without a Disney movie, a juice box and a bowl of Cheez-Its, the only time she generally watches television is in spurts between six and 8:30 in the PM. The rest of the time we’re either playing, or drawing, or making puzzles, or going to the park/mall/Target/Target for Daddies (AKA Home Depot)/food store/Linvilla Orchards, or going to visit family and friends… I’m sure you get the idea. My life at this juncture… my schedule is anything but open, guys. That’s why it never ceases to amaze me when I have time to write a blog entry like this one. Monster Energy Drinks help immensely with that last.

How do I do it? I don’t know. Once again, “it’s a mystery.” One of the many that I find myself grappling with presently. Not mysteries of cosmic significance, and not even the ones that I dealt with in the past like “what causes a Biological to leave his children behind him and flee west?” That one, along with the mystery of the Feminine Bane of my Early Existence, has been officially retired at this juncture. C’est la vie. No more. Thank f*cking God, the God Particle and/or the Almighty. I’m glad, really. I’d much rather ponder lesser mysteries like “what the f*ck is in Gogurt that makes it so appealing to children,” “why do people love Bieber” and “why does my house always smell like a**?” Those mysteries? They remain unsolved for me, a still pseudo-mad denizen of this side of the proverbial wormhole of existence. Just because I’m published now doesn’t change that. if anything, it compounds it. Hopefully you’re as happy about that as I am.

And that, guys? That’s about all I’ve got for today. I’d like to thank “Random Musings of a Pseudo-Madman Version 2.0” for giving me an outlet to write that is only loosely linked to ENDWORLD – A NOVEL which, I should add, is NOW AVAILABLE to purchase from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, in the iBookstore, for your Kobo, via Smashwords or in print at Createspace! Get your copy, today!

Begin and end shameless, self-promotion. If you’re interested in more of it, though, you can check out the book’s website, http://www.theendworldseries.com for “everything and anything related to ENDWORLD – A NOVEL and THE ENDWORLD SERIES!”  

Okay. Enough already. I get it. Really. I’ll stop. MOVING ON, this process was incredibly therapeutic  It was nice… damn nice to spend some time just writing. I didn’t feel like I needed to check Kindle Direct, NOOK Press, Createspace or Smashwords and guesstimate how many units of my book I’ve sold/how many have been downloaded. I didn’t feel like I had to check my Twitter feed, or check Facebook, or answer emails and texts, DMs  et al. The nice thing about “Random Musings” is that it gives me a place to just. Be. ME. The Madchronicler, otherwise known as Frank Marsh: A regular Joe Schmoe in the grand scheme of things, and a self-proclaimed…

You know it, fellow you-know-whats. You know it. Have a great day. Booyakasha. Respect.