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.

Dora the Explorer – A J. J. Abrams Film

So the word on the street today is that J. J. Abrams–he of the TV shows “Alias,” “Lost” and “Fringe” and the movies “Cloverfield,” “Mission Impossible 3” and “Super 8” among others–is planning to direct the new Star Wars movie–Episode VII–coming out in a few years. For many of the people like myself who endearingly refer to him as “J. J.” and have embraced seemingly everything he has done since popping on to the entertainment scene a little over a decade ago, this news is great news. After all, look at what he did for the Star Trek franchise a few years ago and what he’s hopefully planning on doing with it this year (the sequel, “Star Trek: Into Darkness,” is due out in May). He’s taken once-dry material and made it fresh and new again. Who wouldn’t want him to do that with arguably the most beloved, movie franchise in cinematic history? Something to help us at last wash the dual tastes of Jar Jar Binks and springtime on Naboo out of our collective mouths. Not to mention Anakin/Darth Vader’s primal scream at the end of Episode III. Brrr. I get shivers just thinking about it and they’re not from the bone-chilling cold outside.

In truth? As a lifetime aficionado of everything and anything Star Wars, the only director I’d personally want to handle this daunting task more is Joss Whedon, endearingly referred to by many, including myself, as just “Joss.” But he is otherwise preoccupied with making the Marvel multi-verse completely bad ass right now, so J. J. is, for me, a more-than suitable replacement. He’s arguably one of the two best, young directors in Hollywood presently (the other, Ben Affleck, was apparently vetted for the job but not chosen; s’cool for him, though. Word is he’s been tapped to direct the Justice League movie in a few years which could, conceivably  be equally as bad ass as “The Avengers” if the right superheros are chosen).

But not everyone is as ciked as I am. Por ejemplo: I’ve seen a lot of people who hated J. J.’s reboot of Star Trek online today, trolling the entertainment sites and lamenting the fact that this is happening. The term “Lens Flare”–a filming technique that he has been criticized for overusing–was even trending on Twitter last night after the news was officially announced. Still, most people appear to be cautiously optimistic about it. I guess we’ll all know all in a few years but for now, let the speculation about a story line and a cast begin. Josh Holloway (Sawyer from “Lost”) for Han Solo, anyone? Lord knows if J. J.’s involved, you’re not going to know anything about Episode VII’s plot until it is released.

But this announcement has gotten me to thinking. J. J. has already taken on one beloved franchise. Now, he’s taking on another. Whether or not the Trekkies and the Star Warsies go to war over this remains to be seen (I classify myself as “both” and “neither” at the same time and as for what that means, I have no frackin’ idea). One reviewer classified it as the equivalent of owning Coke and Pepsi with Dr. Pepper (the Mission Impossible franchise) thrown in for good measure and you can imagine what that would do to the fans of both, can’t you? Coke and Pepsi can not be made by the same company! We need to retain some measure of capitalistic competition in this country, people! 

Okay, maybe not. But it got me to thinking anyway: What if J. J. were to take on another, beloved franchise but not a franchise beloved by Geekdom. Rather, a franchise beloved by, say, children? ‘Know which one I’m talking about? The title of this blog entry says it all. Without further adieu, I give you one madman’s speculation on the possibilities inherent in:

Dora the Explorer: A J. J. Abrams Film

The opening shot of the movie is a close up of a blinking, brown eye. The camera pans out and we see our heroine, Dora’s face. It is streaked with dirt and she is laying in a corn field. She is wearing her customary purple, nondescript belly shirt and her equally nondescript orange capri pants, but her sneakers have disappeared (she is still wearing her yellow socks). She sits up and looks around her but the area in which she finds herself is unfamiliar. She honestly can not remember how she ended up there. She stands and calls out to her best friend, Boots, but receives only silence in response.

She again surveys her surroundings. Instinctively, she reaches behind her in an attempt to remove Map from Backpack and get her bearings. With a gasp she realizes that Backpack and, by association, Map are gone. She considers what she should do. In doing so, she realizes that there is a small structure of some sort at the edge of her vision. She squints: It looks like a shack. Why had she not seen it before? She considers it as she starts off in a trot toward it.

Ten feet or so away from the onset of the shack’s ramshackle porch there is a line of what looks like gray ash piled in her path. She pauses before it, looks left and then right and realizes that the ash frames the entire property. Tentatively, she steps over the line but nothing happens. She runs the last of the distance to the porch of the shack, gains it, and raps on the old door that hangs loosely from its hinges outside. A raspy, male voice tells her to “come in” and she does.

She opens the door, and immersed in the shadows that fill the structure’s interior she sees someone or something sitting across from her in a rocking chair. She can not tell much about the figure’s appearance at first: It seems to be made of shadow itself. But slowly it takes shape. She then recognizes the figure that leans forward in to a single beam of light as her friend Benny the Bull.

She asks him what has happened; asks him where her friend Boots is and what has happened to Backpack. Benny informs her that apparently, Swiper’s experiments with Red Matter–a hobby of his when he’s not swiping–backfired and created a singularity which he fell in to. It carried him back in time to the exact day that Dora’s Abuela first gave her Backpack. Seeing an opportunity to improve upon his future self’s situation, Swiper swiped Backpack before the exchange could be made and ran away. He disguised himself, traveled to his childhood foxhole and gave Backpack to his past self. Thereafter, he vanished, never to be heard from again.

Said alteration of the original timeline of Dora’s life set in motion a series of events that caused the new timeline within which she finds herself, a timeline in which Boots and her never became friends and she never received Backpack. Dora the Explorer is, in fact, plain ole’ Dora Vasquez. As for why he is imprisoned within the timeline, as well, Benny is unable–or unwilling, Dora thinks–to provide Dora with a reasonable explanation in the time allotted them. But he assures her multiple times that they are not in Purgatory. 

Dora asks Benny what she needs to do and Benny tells her that she must travel to Swiper’s foxhole and confront him. She must then use the Red Matter–which Swiper still dabbles in–to create her own singularity and travel back in time. Once there, she must either prevent Swiper from swiping Backpack before it can be gifted to her, or she must swipe it back from him after and give it to her younger self. As for which one, the choice is hers, Benny tells her. The end result in both cases, he reasons, is the same. She asks how she’s going to get to Swiper’s foxhole without Map Quarterbacking her through it and Benny gives her a GPS device. He also tells her that she may have to get bloody. Dora tells him that she’s not afraid, and that she’ll do whatever she has to do to restore the original timeline. After all, she tells him, Explorer, not Vasquez IS my middle name. 

Benny advises her that actually, Vasquez always has been her last name and Explorer is more of a title than a last name. Dora thanks Benny for his help and turns to leave. Before she can do so, however, Benny calls to her. She turns back at the door to look at her friend, who warns her that the path to Swiper’s foxhole, even with the assistance of a GPS device is fraught with peril. Dora suspiciously–because she has been wondering about him since she first saw him–asks Benny how he knows this and watches, helplessly, as Benny de-materializes in to a black smoke cloud, wisps around her once, and blows out the door in a flurry of grinding, mechanical clatter.

Dora switches on her GPS device as she exits Benny’s shack but quickly realizes that she has been duped. Benny the Bull’s GPS runs Apple Maps which, she knows, will get her no where near her intended destination. How on Earth will I find my way to Swiper’s foxhole now? She asks herself. At that precise moment, a single engine plane lands on the ground before her and she sees that her friend Isa is flying it. But Isa, Dora quickly realizes, is not her friend in this alternate reality. In fact, Isa’s pilot’s uniform–little more than a set of gray overalls–has what Dora understands is Swiper’s insignia–a mask with two beady eyes peering from within it–upon its lapel. Isa takes Dora in to custody. She binds her hands and feet and puts her in the back of the plane. She then takes off. Well, Dora reasons, I guess this is easier than trying to find my way there without Map or a functional GPS device. 

Some time later, Isa lands her plane next to what looks at first like a towering pile of junk in the shape of a foot. However, Dora quickly realizes (as she is forcibly removed from the plane) that the “junk” is actually the sum total of everything that Swiper has swiped and not used since he first swiped her Backpack years before. Toys and appliances; clothes and Tupperware. Everything and anything that she can think of is represented in the makeshift structure that Swiper has framed his foxhole with. Swiper emerges from within his “castle” to greet Isa and Dora sees it hanging from his shoulders: Backpack.

Backpack! She shouts and tries to rush Swiper but is quickly restrained by a collection of overall-clad, automatic rifle carrying guards with red shirts beneath, wearing masks similar to Swiper’s. Swiper orders them to place her under arrest pending termination. No sooner has he done so then a wormhole opens up directly to Dora’s left and the “over there” version of her steps through, flanked on either side by her friends Tico and the Big, Red Chicken (who are played, respectively, by Michelle Rodriguez and Jorge Garcia). Each is armed with a phaser and they immediately open fire on the guards trying to restrain Dora. They fall quickly, but not before one of them gets a shot off and mortally wounds the Big, Red Chicken (‘like what I did there with the color red, Trekkies?). Swiper flees in to his foot-shaped foxhole, followed closely by Isa. Dora, Dora and Tico pause for a moment to tend to the Big, Red Chicken but it is too late. He has expired.

Come on, Dora says to Dora and Tico, let’s go get Backpack AND some retribution. Dora and Tico agree. Dora takes the Big, Red Chicken’s phaser and follows Dora and Tico in to the foxhole. After a few moments, they corner Swiper and Isa in one of the interior chambers of the foxhole next to the large, sphere of Red Matter that Swiper dabbles in while he’s not swiping. Swiper holds out Backpack in one hand and a turkey baster with a single drop of Red Matter in the other. You want this? He threatens, then come and GET IT! Before Dora, Dora and Tico can react Swiper drops the drop of Red Matter on to the floor before him and a singularity opens up which he and Isa subsequently fall through.

Dora moves to follow him but Dora and Tico pause. Come ON, Dora shouts, we need to get Backpack back so we can restore the original timeline. But Dora and Tico look at each other and shake their heads. To do so, they tell Dora, would be too much of a risk and could potentially cause the collapse of not just the alternate reality in which they currently are in but “over there,” and all realities. We will wait here for you to return, Dora says to Dora. Tico nods his head and says dios velocidad which translates to God speed. Dora leaps in to the singularity, phaser in hand, and lands a few seconds later…

In the same room. No, Dora realizes, it is not the same. It is brighter and the decor is outdated. I’m in the past! She understands. But which past? She considers, and how far back? She runs out of the room and follows the tunnel which she had come down in the other reality with “over there” Dora and Tico up to the surface. She emerges in to the sunlight. The items that had comprised the foot that had framed Swiper’s foxhole are gone and she can see Swiper and Isa fleeing down the road about 100 feet away from her. She runs after them as fast as she can and finally catches up to them. She orders them to stop and they do so. Swiper turns, Backpack still in hand, and holsd the turkey baster–also still in hand–up to it.

There’s still a little left, Dora, Swiper cautions, one squeeze on Backpack and it’ll cease to exist, which is another way of saying that once again, YOU’RE TOO LATE! Simultaneously, Dora hears something mechanical clanking in the trees to her right. She turns, just in time to see the big, black Benny smoke cloud come roaring out of the woods. It targets Swiper and Isa, swirls around them, picks them up and throws them screaming in to the distance before it stops swirling, and re-materializes in to Benny the Bull on the road before her. Benny holds up his hand and Dora sees Backpack hanging there.

Backpack! She cries and moves to take it, but Benny steps back and holds it away from her. Not so fast, Dora, he says gruffly, I will give this back to you so you can complete your adventure and restore the original timeline but in exchange, I need something. Dora skeptically asks him what he needs and Benny replies, quite simply with your body.

THIS vessel has outlived its usefulness, he tells her. I need a new vessel before it expires and I would like that vessel to be you. So, Dora asks,  you’re not really Benny the Bull? Benny the Bull? The Benny-thing says, no. What I really am is far older and more difficult to explain. Dora tasks him to try her and he replies that he cannot explain it thoroughly in the time allotted them. He assures her once again that they are not in Purgatory, which makes absolutely no sense to Dora since they weren’t even discussing Purgatory, but she dismisses it. She looks longingly at Backpack and thinks of her good friend Boots. After a moment’s consideration, she reluctantly agrees. But only after I give it to past-Dora, return through the singularity and make sure that things have been restored to normal. Benny agrees and gives her Backpack. Benny tells her that he will see her shortly, morphs in to a polar bear and runs off toward Swiper’s foxhole. 

Dora travels the last of the distance to her Abuela’s house and arrives simultaneously with Swiper. Instead of chanting “Swiper no swiping” like she always does she opts, instead, to shoot him with the Big, Red Chicken’s phaser before he can enter and swipe Backpack. It works. She watches, hidden in the bushes with an incapacitated Swiper beside her as her Abuela gives her younger self Backpack. Once satisfied that the exchange has been made, she binds Swiper’s hands and feet with the rope stashed in her version of Backpack, throws him over her shoulder, and runs quickly back to his foxhole.

She arrives to find the singularity promptly closing. She leaps in to it with Swiper in tow, and arrives back where she started. The sphere of Red Matter is gone and “over there” Dora and Tico have vanished. They probably took it with them to protect it, Dora thinks. The singularity closes behind her with a “pop” and she lays Swiper down on the floor  just as he is waking up. She loosens his bonds and informs him that she is going to cut him loose. The alternate version of you and your cronie alt-Isa are trapped forever in the past, and the Red Matter is gone, she informs him, if I so much as SNIFF you doing anything but swiping in the future I’m going to come back here and finish what I COULD HAVE finished before. She holds the phaser up so he can see it, points to the switch–labeled “Stun” and “Kill” which is currently set to “Stun”–and asks him if she is clear. Swiper stands up rubbing his wrists, snaps his fingers together and says, “aww, man,” but he agrees. Dora swings Backpack on to her shoulders and leaves him that way, cowering in his foxhole.

She emerges on to a hillside. There is no foot shaped pile of swiped items around her. Standing a few feet down the hillside are her friends Isa, Tico, the Big Red Chicken and Boots! She shouts his name as she rushes toward and embraces him. Boots embraces her back and asks her what has happened. Dora states that she will explain it to him over a banana and a cup of Abuela’s non-alcoholic Sangria. She reaches behind her and touches Backpack. Backpack says “yum, yum, yum, delicioso!” Map? She asks and hears the familiar refrain of “who’s the guy you need to know when you’ve got someplace to go,” and smiles. She releases Boots, and is about to exclaim that “we did it!” when she hears a mechanical clanking behind her. She turns and watches as the black Smoke Benny cloud re-materializes in to Benny the Bull.

I was wondering when you’d show up, the Benny-thing says, I have fulfilled my promise to you and you DID IT. Lo hicimos! You have completed your adventure. The timeline has been purified. Now, are you ready to fulfill your promise to me? Reluctantly, Dora agrees that she is. Boots inquires about what is going on and Dora turns to him and explains the accord that she reached with Benny while in the past. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, Boots, she states. Boots is saddened, but he understands that any contract, even one between a black smoke thing and his best friend is binding and he reluctantly agrees to let her go. Or the one, he replies and Dora nods. They embrace again, and a few tears are shed. Dora hands Backpack to him and tells him to give it to Diego. It’s time for him to become more than just plain Diego, she says and Boots agrees. Dora says goodbye to Backpack and Map and also embraces Isa, Tico and the Big Red Chicken before she turns back to the Benny-thing and informs it that she is ready. Benny thanks Dora and tells her to close her eyes. The camera zooms in on Dora’s brown eye: The same one it had zoomed in on at the beginning of the movie. And as she closes it, the screen fades to black and the credits role.

The End. 

I’ll concede that it’s more “Lost” than anything else but there are echoes of J. J.’s other shows and movies in it, as well. At least I think there are. Anywhos, that’s my take on how J. J. would treat the Dora the Explorer franchise were he to get his hands on it. There’s the potential for so much more. Whatever the case, please do not mistake this as a portrayal that mocks J. J. Abram’s style. It isn’t. If anything, it is an appreciation of that style. I can’t wait to see what he does with Star Wars. And if he happens to get his hands on this treatment and decides that it resonates with him, this next part is for him. Dear Mister Abrams: I admire your body of work greatly. I think the Lens Flare is an awesome filming technique and do not feel as though you have used it to excess. If you are interested in collaborating on a reinterpretation of “Dora the Explorer” please drop me a line either here or via email (madchronicler@verizon.net). And if you’re not? Well, sir, I wish you all the best in your future endeavors. Sincerely, Frank Marsh, alias (‘like how I did that?) A Big Fan.

The Marsh Family Christmas Newsletter (2012 Edition)

It was not my intention to write this. This blog entry actually started as a rumination on the upcoming 2012 Phenomenon or, as I like to call it, the Mayan Apocalypse, but the Christmas music that has been playing incessantly in the background since I sat down at my desk this AM coupled with something my wife proposed to me last night has got my mind going in a completely different direction. A yuletide one. And that never happens, does it?

All together now: Sarcasm fully intended. 

If you are reading this then you are likely familiar with the practice of giving and getting Christmas cards every year. And if you are not familiar with that practice then to Nibiru with you, you cold-hearted Scrooge. What you may or may not be familiar with is the practice of sending a newsletter with your Christmas card or, in some cases, in place of it.

I don’t begrudge the newsletter senders this practice, especially the ones that I only correspond with once every Mayan Apocalypse via phone call, email, snail mail or Facebook. I’m happy to hear about what you’ve been up too and admittedly? I’m oft times embarrassed that you have done so much in the last year while I have done so little. But last night when I returned home from a long day at the office ruminating on valves, motors and various shaped and sized Apocalypses my wife handed me one of these newsletters.

I started reading it while I sipped on my Frappe and ate my crab cakes, potatoes and crescent rolls. The more I dug in to its content the wider my eyes opened. One monumental event after another unfolded on the professionally rendered page of stationary in front of me until I reached the end. There, directly beside a blessing and a signature was a picture of a lamb and a deer standing upon the snow-covered ground. They were looking up at the twinkling Christmas star. The only thing missing from the scene was the sound of a chorus of angels singing Handel’s “Messiah” in the background. It was so very, very perfect, and I knew what Nicole was going to ask me before she even spoke it between a mouthful of crab cake and corn:

“Why don’t you write one of these for us, honey?” The actual question was slightly less intelligible.

Me? I chuckled because I knew that the 2012 Marsh Family Christmas Newsletter would read like a set of directions on how to spend countless hours sitting upon a couch with a restless baby on your lap. It would read like an expert account of how to watch “Tangled” two dozen times and not shout at the end that “it’s not her real mother, honey,” thus traumatizing an innocent three and a half year old for the rest of her natural life. It would be a treatise on how to beat the new, Hoth level of “Angry Birds: Star Wars” or how to drop a 101 point word score on your “Words with Friends” opponent (hint: Position “JAZZY” on a triple letter and a triple word score and marvel at the results).

Sure, there were momentous events in our life over the past year. Natalie’s arrival in late May; me finishing my “Endworld” rewrite in January; me winning big at the Roulette table last month by playing Cara’s birthday, thus offsetting my wife’s heavy losses (love ‘ya, dear). But save for a few isolated incidences like those the year was pretty saccharine. Still, my sweetie asked me to so here you go. Without further adieu I give you the Marsh Family Christmas Newsletter (2012 Edition): 

12/12/12 (or, if the Mayan’s were dyslexic, 12/21/12 AKA the end of the world)

Family and Friends, 

Seasons Greetings and salutations from the Marsh Homestead in Broomall, Pennsylvania! I hope this newsletter finds you healthy, wealthy and wise! 2012 has been a banner year for the Marsh family and I’d like to share a bit of it with you if you will allow me to. You will? Great! 

2012 began with a proverbial whimper, i.e. it began with Cara sleeping and Nicole and I eating ring bologna, pepperoni and cheese while watching a marathon of “Boardwalk Empire.” I still can’t believe they killed off Jimmy! Wait, you did know that, didn’t you? If you didn’t oops. My bad. Next time I’ll post a spoiler alert. 

Okay, SPOILER ALERT: I can’t f*cking believe they killed off Jimmy Darmody! And that truth that he dropped on Nucky about not being half a gangster right before Nucky planted a cap in his a**? I remember saying to Nicole at the time that it would make a great tagline for Season Three. Guess what? It did. Wow. Sometimes my capacity to predict mundane things that have absolutely no bearing on anyone’s life but mine and my wife’s amazes me.

In late January, I completed my rewrite of “Endworld – A Novel” and immediately questioned why the f*ck I had copyrighted it back in 1998 as “Endworld – A Novel” and not just “Endworld.” I know I was a bit of a pretentious little sh*t back then but really, anyone who picks it up can tell instantaneously that its a novel and not a cookbook. I edited it and shipped it off to an editor and a couple of Beta Readers. Only one of the latter read it through to the end and got back to me with his/her thoughts, and he/she pretty much told me that it was terrible. So, I took his/her observations and applied them to a re-rewrite which I then shipped off to him/her again. He/she read it, came back and told me in no uncertain terms that it was slightly less terrible than it had been previously. Needless to say, “Endworld – A Novel” has not yet been published. It is “Pending Further Feedback” and another inevitable rewrite. New Year’s Resolution FAIL.  

The next few months passed without incident but in early April, there were a few complications with Nicole’s pregnancy. Long story short, she went in to premature labor at 32 weeks and ended up on bed rest for the rest of her term. We were forced to step up our preparations for Natalie’s arrival because really? Nicole was pretty much in constant labor from early April on. I converted our office in to a nursery and our basement in to a combination office/playroom/Man Cave by mid-April, always wary that Natalie was going to show up before I was done. I even hung a ceiling fan without maiming myself. Okay, maybe I maimed myself a little, but it’s just a little scar and it’s on my shin. You can’t even see it unless I wear shorts. By the time May rolled around we were 100% ready for Natalie’s arrival. 

Guess what? She didn’t show up until May 30th and that was only because the doctors got tired of waiting for her. They induced Nicole and within four hours of when it started it was over. Welcome to the world Natalie Theresa Marsh! 7 LBs, 0 OZs and 19″ at birth and she’s been growing exponentially since. As of this past Monday she weighs almost 17 LBs and is 27″ long. Which is really just the scientific/mathematical way of saying that she’s a six month old beast compared to how big her older sister was at six months old. But she’s got a wonderful disposition and has been the perfect baby since we brought her home. Who cares about her new habit of waking up between 1:30 and 3:30 AM every night and howling until someone comes in to check on her? Not me and not Nicole. We get a chuckle out of  it despite the fact that neither of us has gotten a decent night’s sleep since Halloween. Ha, ha and HA. See? There has been some isolated talk of training Cara to get up when the baby cries and go check on her but as of yet, we have not committed to it. That’s a lot of responsibility for a three and a half year old though admittedly, Cara probably wouldn’t mind it. It would give her another excuse along with her myriad other ones to stay up past her bedtime. 

Natalie arrived at the end of May and a month later, Cara turned three. I simultaneously decided that it was time to introduce her to “Dora the Explorer” and have been paying the price for that decision since. The Marsh Homestead has been overrun by everything and anything Dora. Backpacks, plates, flatware, stickers, movies and dolls? All f*cking Dora and her good pal, Boots. The good news? It’s not “Spongebob” which my niece and nephew introduced Cara to a few weeks ago, much to my chagrin. We appear to have quelled Cara’s “Spongebob” curiosity for the moment but from what I’ve been told it’s like the Dark Side: Once you give in to it, it will forever dominate your destiny. I’m trying to buy myself a few months of continued innocence from my first born by re-introducing her to her old favorites like the Biscuit books, Dr. Seuss, “Caillou” and “Sesame Street.” So far so good, but she keeps asking me for a crabby patty. I tried to pass an actual crab cake off as one but to no avail. Cara’s a smart kid. She knows the difference. And she only eats chicken nuggets, Gerber ravioli and pizza so really, what was I thinking? 

I just realized that the last paragraph makes it sound like all that Cara does is read books, watch television and eat. Let me restate that: She does the stuff that most three and a half year old’s do, too–playgrounds and play dates, sleepovers and birthday parties–and she also takes ballet every Tuesday afternoon and gymnastics every Saturday morning. 

I‘ve not yet been to a ballet class but gymnastics is ‘kinda my “thing” with her. Needless to say, I’m a bit put off by her gymnastics class and have been since day one. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad that she’s learning a little discipline and athleticism but it‘s so damn regimented: Like Soviet Russia for tumbling tykes. The teachers make her and her little friends march in formation from one station to the next every time someone rings a bell, and they constantly yell directions at the kids like drill sergeants. And the head of the joint? He looks like a scientific experiment, the result of some mad scientist splicing the genes of an ex-Hippie with those of Bela Karolyi. From his perfectly groomed beard and wild, Einstein-y hair down to the clipboard he never relinquishes, his flannel shirts and Birkenstocks he and I have had a hate-hate relationship from the beginning.

Despite it, the experience has been a good one for Cara and that’s all that matters. If there’s one thing I’ve learned this year it’s that my feelings don’t. I get a little nauseous each week from the overwhelming stench of feet mingled with piss mingled with unwashed hair that seems to pervade the place but I’ve learned to deal with it. I’ve even stopped showering before I go so as to fit in better. I don’t know if its working but I’m less grossed out and Bela Karolyi’s Cousin’s Former Roommate steers clear of me, now. Yep. #Winning. 

Cara also has a pet, now. A fish named “Lucy.” I won the original Lucy for her at the fair but within 12 hours of when we brought her home she keeled. Belly up, baby. Complete parenting FAIL. Rather than explain to Cara why Lucy was sleeping so much I decided to leave work early, go to Pet-Smart, buy a female Beta and sub said female Beta in for Lucy. Hence, Lucy 2.0 became a daily part of our lives. Sure, she’s pink and not orange and sure, she looks nothing like a Goldfish but that eventuality is easily explained to a three and a half year old. Cara: “Daddy, why is Lucy pink now?” Me: “Lucy knew pink was your favorite color, honey, so she changed for you.” Cara: “Wow. My fish is magical.” God bless her. May she retain her innocent belief system forever and never have to face the sad and sordid truths that we adults do on a daily basis.    

As for Nicole and I? We’re good. Still working the same jobs and same hours that we were working at this time last year. I’d call our respective existences mundane but I’d be lying. Nicole recently discovered “Song Pop” and I recently re-embraced blogging. I’m also trying to publish a short story but I can’t remember its name, presently. My mind has grown ‘kinda numb from all this 2012 recollecting. What a fascinating year! If it gets any more fascinating I may have to take up hard-core drinking to offset the fascinating-ness of it. But hey, ’tis the season, guys! Rejoice and be glad! All the more so with a tumbler of Single Malt Scotch in one hand and a cigarette in the other. Breathe in and breathe out. Smell that December air. Smells like feces, doesn’t it? Ahh. The sweet smell of parenthood. We. Are. BLESSED. 

And we hope you are, too. Hopefully your respective years have been as eventful as ours has. We look forward to seeing many of you over the upcoming holiday. For those of you that we will not be seeing don’t worry: It’s not you. Okay, well maybe it is a little bit but indirectly. It’s not that you smell or we’re suffering from anything communicable. It’s just that if given the choice between an extra few hours of sleep and getting together/being social, the Marshes will opt for the former. That said, have a wonderful holiday season, whatever your spirituality. Happy Hanukkah, Joyous Festivus, Merry Christmas and Happy Kwanzaa! And to all my Atheistic family and friends out there? Hi. Happy December. 

All our Love, 

The Marshes. 

Okay, so maybe our year wasn’t that uneventful. I mean really, it’s all in how you look at it. I just read back over what I wrote and I’m ‘kinda impressed at how much actually has happened to us in 2012. If the world ends in nine days (or, as some dyslexic Mayan’s predicted, tonight at 0:90 MP), at least I’ll be able to meet my maker, secure in the knowledge that I didn’t just spend the entire year farting in to a seat cushion. To the extent that I could I lived my life. I taught Cara how to write her name (with the help of her school, of course) and how to spell everything from it to daddy, mommy, pop-pop and mom-mom (we’re still working on Natalie). I finally managed to get her to a Phillies game and the Devon Horsey Show. So what if I also memorized the lyrics to “I’ve Got A Dream” and can recite whole “Dora the Explorer” books and episodes from memory? So what if the Marsh Christmas Newsletter isn’t overflowing with milestones and pictures of farm animals deep in prayer? I’ve got plenty of time for that in the future. After all, Christmas does come once a year. So long as Nibiru keeps its distance next Friday, it’ll return again in 2013.

In the meantime, I’m done but I don’t feel done. Incomplete. FAIL. I think I know what I need to do but not today. Today, I’ve got a date with a couple of younger women at my three and a half year old’s Christmas concert/cookie decorating spectacular. Perhaps tomorrow I’ll write the Completely False and Over-Exaggeration Laden Marsh Christmas Newsletter (2012 Edition). Tune in then to find out what its like to scale Everest with a six month old in tow.