God, “A God” or the Gods – A Pseudo-Madman’s Take

I had intended on finishing up Part Three of Children of Endworld today but found myself unable to do so. Not for lack of desire: That’s there. But my eyes, and the eyes of many have been glued to developments in the naval yard shooting that happened in DC this AM. If you are unaware of what I am “talking” about please open another window in your web browser and redirect it to either CNN, Fox News or whatever outlet you generally follow. You’ll quickly see what I’m referring to. You can come back to this later. Priorities, priorities.

Are you back? Cool. Welcome.

As is often the case when something like this happens, I keep one eye on the news and one eye on my social media feed since I am always curious to see what other people are thinking about it. In the process of checking the latter I came across a curious Facebook status post in which a friend of mine questioned the existence of God, “a god” or the gods in light of not only this horrific occurrence, but others (i.e. the boardwalk fire in Seaside Heights this past week, the historic flooding transpiring in Colorado. the Aurora movie theater shooting last year and the Sandy Hook tragedy last winter).

I’m not going to quote him/her ’cause… well, I didn’t exactly get their permission and I don’t want to incur their wrath but he/she brings up an interesting point: When a rash of sh*t “goes down” like it has in the recent past here on this side of the proverbial wormhole of existence, what are you supposed to think? Faith can only get you so far. Most people want to see proof: Proof that there is, in fact, a benevolent force that watches over us and guides us through our daily travails. When “stuff” like what I mentioned in the previous paragraph happens, though? It’s hard. Damn hard. I know: I’ve been there and who knows? I may end up there, again though quite frankly (no pun intended), I don’t quite want to.

The above veiled message brought to you by my subconscious. Frank Marsh’s subconscious, sending cryptic messages to people for over 20 years.

Where’s the proof? Twelve dead, one shooter DOA and one more potentially at large in DC, currently. Dozens of schools around the naval yard on lock down; hundred of thousands of people, both employees and neighbors alike scared sh*tless. Dear God: Where the f*ck are you, right now? Is it true what Al Pacino said in “The Devil’s Advocate”–that you’re an “absentee landlord”–or what Piers Anthony described in his Incarnations of Immortality series–God, nothing more than a bored smiley face looking down from above upon the world and not doing anything while his arch nemesis the Devil wreaks havoc?

I don’t know, guys. I honestly don’t. I have about as much proof of God’s existence as you do. But I was raised to believe in His/Her/It’s existence and I cling to that, even now when my entire subjective universe seems to be “flaming out.” It’s not just DC, Seaside, Colorado (times two) or Sandy Hook. It’s North Korea. It’s Syria. It’s Cold War Deuce between the good old U S of A and Russia. I cannot think of a time in my 38 plus years of existence when the world has been this completely and totally f’d up and admittedly? The claim that “the end times are nigh” is starting to feel slightly more relevant than it did a few days, weeks, months and years ago.

Maybe that’s the case. Maybe the sub-segment of the population I once called “The Bible Thumping Junkies” are right, though I deign to start interpreting the context of the Book of Revelation as proof that we’re all about to get rapture’d something fierce, even in light of my background over-evaluating everything from Will Shakespeare’s sexual preference to the now-defunct TV series “LOST.” Whenever it happens, it happens. If that’s tomorrow then so be it: I intend to be standing at ground zero, just like I always said I would with my minions on one side of me and my wife on the other. ‘Cause really, who wants to live in the post-apocalypse? Not I and, I hope, not my wife and my minions. If I’m going to be forced by God, “a god” or the gods to “shrug off my mortal coil” then gul’darnit, I want to do so with my loved ones beside me. The afterlife just wouldn’t be the same without Cara’s singing and dancing, Natalie’s laughing and Nicole’s… well, that’s between her and me. Sorry to disappoint.

The above veiled message brought to you by my libido. Frank Marsh’s libido, scaring the f*ck out of the women in his life for over 20 years now.

No. I’m not going to hop on the end of the world bandwagon. Nor am I going to act like nothing is wrong. I can understand my friend’s statement that in times such as these, he/she doubts the existence of “something.” Not necessarily God, “a god” or the gods but “something.” I like that word: Something. ‘Cause you can explain virtually everything that happens on this side of the proverbial wormhole of existence with science–from evolution to life, to death and the universe–but in my experience? There’s really no way to describe how it all or what I like to call “The All” began. Even if you believe that the universe on this, and every side of every wormhole in existence has always existed in some way, shape or form there has to have been a beginning. Or perhaps that’s me trying to impose order on chaos. But it’s what I believe. And that’s really what this all comes down to, guys: Belief. Whether you agree with me or not is irrelevant. If you choose to debate what I’m saying please do so in the “comments” section and I will do my best to respond.

So what do I believe? Simple: I believe that once upon a time, something existed, and said something was a very young, very curious, very lonely something. He/She/It had a knack for creativity… imagination. One day, He/She/It took two possibilities and synthesized them into what He/She/It hoped would be fact. Whammo: The beginning. But little did He/She/It know that what He/She/It had created was at it’s core uncontrollable. So He/She/It did the best that He/She/It could, kind of like me and you and you (yeah, you; don’t look so surprised) trying to control our oft times uncontrollable lives. It made mistakes along the way like we do… it still makes them to this day like we do; He/She/It can’t get everything right which is how we end up with a shooting in DC, a fire in a shore resort north of AC, a flood and another shooting out west and a shooting up north, not to mention a dictator in the Far East that likes basketball and another one in the Middle East that is sitting on a cache of chemical weapons. Did I mention Cold War Deuce? Brought to you by “Hot Shots Part Deux.” Why? ‘Cause I can. And ’cause Charlie Sheen is always winning.

That something? He/She/It is still learning and likely will continue learning long after me, my minions, my wife, all my loved ones and all of you reading this are long gone. Maybe one day He/She/It’ll “figure it out” and what was once eminently changeable will become consistent. But I see no indication that that day is coming any time soon. And maybe by the time it does those two, initial possibilities that He/She/It synthesized into fact will “fizzle” out like some chemical reactions do and the whole shebang will come crashing down. Then? Well, depending on where something is at that point He/She/It will either chose to start over from scratch, or concede defeat and go back to twiddling His/Her/It’s proverbial thumbs in the vast, silent nothingness. Admittedly? There are days where I wish I could do that. Is it wrong of me to believe that on days like today, when the universe on this side of the proverbial wormhole of existence appears ready to explode from one too many “possibilities synthesized into fact,” He/She/It does, as well?

So to my friend who posted what he/she posted on Facebook today I say this: In answer to your question “how do I believe” I don’t know. You just do. Or do not. It’s really up to you. But when you can’t take your eyes off of CNN or Fox News… when the naval yard in DC is on fire and even a historic flood can’t put it out or eradicate the shooter, nay the shooters that terrorized it this AM, a movie theater last summer and an elementary school last winter… when the existence of God, “a god” or the gods seems utterly and completely unfeasible, look into the eyes of your husband/wife like I look in to the eyes of mine; look into the eyes of your own minions… feel the love that you feel for them surging through you and tell me, even as your subjective universe is “flaming out” around you that there isn’t something “out there.” He/She/It exists…

He/She/It’s just still learning.

The above blog post was brought to you by something. Something: Giving Frank Marsh a topic to “talk” about for 38 plus years.

Winky emoticon. Smiley face. And say a prayer for the victims of the DC naval yard shooting, guys. If you don’t pray, spare them a thought. Please. Thank you.

Advertisements

The Thunderstorm – A Long Overdue Appreciation

generic+umbrella+rain+storm

“I think there’s a poet who wrote once a tragedy by Shakespeare, a symphony by Beethoven and a thunderstorm are based on the same elements.”

Maximilian Schell 

It dawned on me last night–as I watched a storm roll in over my home in Broomall, Pennsylvania with my ever-enraptured oldest minion, Cara on one side of me and my youngest, I-could-give-a-sh*t-about-a-thunderstorm-I-just-want-my-ba ba minion, Natalie on the other–that I’ve been writing for years. Decades, actually. Depending on who you ask, I’ve been writing since I was between 10 and 13 years old (whenever I wrote that fully illustrated short story about meeting Bruce Springsteen; I’m still waiting for Mom to confirm). I’m now almost 38 (SHIVER). I’ve published a novel, am 118 pages deep into another and in the time between then and now I have written little to nothing about my love of a good thunderstorm. A sublime love, really. In truth? It’s one of things that I enjoy the most in my life on this side of the proverbial wormhole of existence. All sun and no storms makes Frankie a dull boy.

Doctor Sleep, the sequel to The Shining by Stephen King, coming soon to a bookstore near you. I’ve already pre-ordered my copy. Have you?

I’m not quite sure why I’ve never written about thunderstorms before now. I can pinpoint one or two possibilities. The easiest? That some things are just too awe inspiring to explain. Sure, I can describe what a thunderstorm looks AND feels like… can write about the way everything falls silent seconds before the first drops of rain begin to fall… can ruminate at how charged the air feels, so much so that the hairs on your forearms and the nape of your neck stand on end. I can write about that smell… you know the one? That sharp, metallic smell that precedes the first lightning strike. But even that feels insufficient. For me, trying to describe a thunderstorm is like trying to describe God, or rather, my concept of what God is (not necessarily the same as yours but no worries: Variety is the spice of life). I can do so using a f*ckload of superlatives like “awe inspiring” but I’ll never get close. Some things simply defy explanation. Thunderstorms are like that.

The other possibility? Not so easy to describe, not even using superlatives. Thunderstorms are invariably linked in my mind to my Biological. Once upon a time, ’cause all good stories, and even a few of the not-so-good ones begin as such, my once-Dad was a storm chaser. Before “Storm Chasers” existed. He’d gather up his son–me–pile him… ME into whatever second hand car he was driving at the time, and drive off after the lightning and the thunder. He never used a map, nor did he use GPS (Tom-Tom and Garmin weren’t exactly in wide use back then and had they been, he wouldn’t have been able to afford them anyway). He “followed his nose.” More often times than not, his nose was pretty accurate. I can remember multiple times when we found ourselves in the middle of the nastiest part of the cell. We’d follow it as far as we could for as long as we could, until such time as either A.) We got low on gas or B.) Found our road blocked by a fallen tree or other obstacle. But he… WE never tired of the chase. If we stopped and turned around, we did so because of an extenuating circumstance or two. Never out of boredom.

Fast forward X-amount of decades to last evening as I watched a pretty nasty cell roll over my… over OUR home in Broomall, Pennsylvania. You know, the one I share with Mama Bear, Biggish Bear and Smallish Bear. Cara–Biggish Bear–has always been fascinated with thunderstorms. Never afraid of them. Quite the contrary, actually: She loves them. She loves the “ziggy-zaggy” lightning and the “s’raining, Daddy, raining!” She’s not a huge fan of thunder… she generally cringes when an unusually large clap of it shakes the house or the car, but she understands that there is something called “God” and that God–whatever your idea of him, her or it is–occasionally likes to go bowling like her Pop-Pop does. Hence “thunder,” otherwise known as the sound of God getting a Strike. As for power outages? Well, despite Broomall’s notoriously fragile power grid, we haven’t had an extensive one since Hurricane Irene rolled through back in 2011 and I prefer it that way. Cara doesn’t like the dark. Something tells me she’s going to be sleeping with her fish tank light and her desk lamp on until she’s a teenager. Oh well. Acknowledged. Time to move on.

It’s no secret to anyone that’s been following “Random Musings” in it’s newest incarnation–Version 2.0–and/or it’s earlier one–Version 1.0–that I’ve got a few well-documented Daddy Issues. I’d really rather not recap them for you, herein. If you’re curious about them (which I highly doubt but hey: To each their own), you can check out “The Man I Once Called Dad.” It’s about as comprehensive a listing as exists. It’s also one of my all time most-viewed blog entries on either version of “Random Musings.” Go fig. I guess some people were interested once upon a time. Regardless, you don’t need to be familiar with it or my psyche to understand this next part. Having kids? It’s was tough for me to initially agree to it. I’ve always wanted children, but for a time, I was standoffish about it. Why? Because I was fearful of making the same mistakes that my own father, AKA The Man I Once Called Dad AKA my Biological made with me. ‘Cause I’m a lot like him. He was… IS a writer. Me, too. He’s wordy. Me, too. He loved Stanley Kubrick’s version of “The Shining.” I maintain that it is one of the freakiest movies I’ve ever seen, albeit no where near as good as the book was. He loved… LOVES thunderstorms (I’m sure). Me? See above.

But in the end, I conceded that my misgivings about having children and my undeniable similarities (appearance wise, too) to my father were not enough to keep me on the sidelines. I wanted to be a Dad. Daddy. And now? I’m one times two. Both girls… thankfully. I’ll not lie: The idea of having a son still kinda’ freaks me out. Not as much because of the whole “making the same mistakes as my own father made” thing. No. Not anymore. I’ve made my bones as a Daddy and while I’m still learning… ALWAYS learning, I think I’ve done a pretty serviceable job despite certain mental handicaps, i.e. my always overactive psyche. But because I simply can’t envision a smaller version of me in the world. A living, breathing, walking and talking facsimile of a smiley face with a graying beard, a pot belly, an aversion to anything green (broccoli? Can’t do it) and a fondness for Velveeta cheese? Not to mention wordiness, and a love of Stephen King and Stanley Kubrick? He sounds like a nightmare. What would Mama Bear do?

But I digress. Despite the fact that my daughters are, at an early age, undeniably more like my wife than me (though Natalie belches like a champ and Cara thinks it’s funny to “toot” on you, two very, not-so-endearing traits that are reminiscent of me and my well-documented, sophomoric sense of humor) my oldest has adapted one characteristic that is undoubtedly mine: Her love of thunderstorms. As she watched, awe inspired last night, gasping at every lightning strike no matter how minor, I found myself smiling. Because she looked SO MUCH like I’m sure I did back in the day, before divorce lawyers and visitation rights forever tarnished my youthful naivety at an early age. I’ve always focused intently on what happened AFTER that moment–the day when the Man I Once Called Dad took me for a walk along the Delaware Bay Beach in North Cape May and told me that he and my mother were separating–and how my experiences thereafter turned me into the man I am at almost 38. But I’ve rarely ruminated on my life BEFORE. Probably because I don’t remember much of it.

But I remember thunderstorms. They pre-date my short story about meeting Bruce Springsteen. They pre-date the end of my mother and my once-father, now Biological’s marriage.  They LONG pre-date my first reading of The Shining and my first viewing of “The Shining” but, in the case of the latter, not by much. What can I say? I watched a lot of seriously f*cked up sh*t when I was a kid, thanks largely in part to you-know-who. They pre-date Mama Bear, Biggish Bear and Smallish Bear, Tom-Tom and Garmin, blogging, Hurricane Irene, one published novel and one novel that’s 118 pages to the good as of last night. In short? Save for my mother and my sister, both of whom I love immensely, they have been the lone constant in my life the longest. And to not ever write of them and what they mean to me would be… IS a disservice. I write plenty about God. Why hesitate to write about him bowling?

Because some things, like God and his ever-present quest for a perfect 300 frame are indescribable. Some things? They’re deeper than writing. Some things you can’t explicate. You just FEEL them. And as I watched  my storm chaser in training, Cara last evening out of one eye and my Greens-loving Natalie “You-Take’a-My-Ba Ba-I-Break’a-Your-Face” out of the other, I felt something that I hadn’t felt in a long time. And I smiled. ‘Cause all sun and no storms really DO make Frankie a dull boy. But only partially. For the first time in as long as I can remember, I felt youthful. Naive. At peace with my ever-present Daddy Issues and my at times turbulent past. And now? Almost 24 hours later? Well, they’re calling for another round of “ziggy-zaggy, s’raining, Daddy, raining” tonight. It’s going to take every ounce of restraint that I have in me to keep from grabbing my girls, throwing them in my car and heading off in search of the nastiest part of the cell.

😉

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.

😉

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.

A Lenten Conundrum

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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