On the VMAs, Tweeting, Miley Cyrus and Keeping My Minions Off the Pole

Good Morning, Afternoon, Evening and/or Night, fellow Sh*theads. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I spent last night after my minions went to bed sitting in my living room with my wife, Nicole, drinking raspberry lemonade, Tweeting and watching the MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs for short). Why? Morbid curiosity and a dearth of things to watch on Sunday nights now that “The Killing” is over and “The Walking Dead” is still a few weeks away. I hadn’t watched a full VMAs in over a decade and admittedly, the idea of seeing how much it’s changed since my days of watching it for acts like Pearl Jam and The Red Hot Chili Peppers really appealed to me. Like I said: Morbid curiosity. And Justin Timberlake. FYI: I think JT is the f*cking bomb. That’s a little known fact about me that I hope doesn’t ruin my “street cred.”

He didn’t disappoint (though I could have done without the N’Sync mini-reunion) but that’s not why I’m writing this blog entry, right now. I made it through Lady Gaga’s opening performance unscarred though admittedly, I got really sick of seeing her in the audience wearing her shell bikini all night. Taylor Swift, too. I know that Miss Swift is “in” right now but seriously, someone PLEASE feed her a sandwich. It pains me to look at her emaciated figure.

Post-Gaga, they gave out the first award which went to an “ar-teest” I’ve never heard of before and then? Then? Oh my goodness, then. I can’t describe it. You simply have to see it for yourselves if you haven’t yet. And here it is for your… ahem… viewing pleasure, sarcasm 150 percent fully intended:

Like I said: There are no words. Nada. Zilcho. Zip-a-rooni. If you follow me on Twitter (@madchronicler97) and were keeping up with my feed last night well? This particular Tweet says it all:

Why is Hannah Montana on stage in a bathing suit, dancing with teddy bears? #ThingsIthinkIthink while watching the #VMAs. 

And this one, which followed it a few moments later:

“WTF IS this?” #ThingsIthinkIthink AND VOCALIZE to @CarasMomma while watching the #VMAs. 

BTW, @CarasMomma is my wife’s Twitter handle. I highly recommend following her as she tempers my oft-times insane, subjective Twitterverse that centers around sports and books with a much more restrained one of her own that circulates around @adamlevine and pharmacy memes. She’s funny. Here’s a sample of her “work”:

I’m going to be defeated by a 1 year old today. Her super power of whining will indeed win out. 

Seriously, guys: Check her out. She deserves to feel as loved in her own, subjective Twitterverse as I feel in mine. End parenthetical aside.

What is it with these once-Disney Channel superstars post-their Disney Channel careers? Miley Cyrus, alias “Hannah Montana,” Amanda Bynes, Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears et al. In truth? JT may be the only one that left the Mouse House and went onto a scandal-free, successful career. The rest of ’em? It’s like they’re the… to employ a much overused yet highly relevant cliche, “the cat’s meow” pre-leaving. They’re the “next big thing.” Then they leave and embark on careers sans-the overbearing influence of the Disney Powers-That-Be and within a couple of years, they’re in rehab, or posing for Penthouse, or in Miley’s case, copulating with Robin Thicke and a foam finger while wearing a gold bikini that looks like something out of Cheryl Tieg’s closet circa 1976. WTF?

It makes no sense to me. Maybe the old adage about finding fame young is true. Maybe it really does destroy people like Miley. I can’t imagine that a teenager or a pre-teen… a “tween” is equipped to cope with all that comes with stardom. But for every train wreck like Miss Party in the USA there’s an Emma Watson, who started playing Hermoine in the Harry Potter movies at the ripe, young age of 11 and managed to come out of the experience not just unscathed, but more mature and well-rounded than most teenagers I knew growing up. For every Amanda Bynes there’s an Emma Stone who found success early, and is now at 20-something one of the most in-demand actresses in Hollywood.

Maybe “Hermoine” and “Easy A” are the exceptions to the adage. For every child “ar-teest” that went onto a successful, adult career there’s a half a dozen Macaulay Culkins and Jodie Sweetins. Mind you, my interest in this kind of thing is purely limited to what I hear about from my co-workers and read in my wife’s Twitter feed. But admittedly, I’m a bit… I wouldn’t say concerned about it but perturbed? Most definitely.

Consider that last night, I had a dream. As near as I can tell I had it sometime between when I passed out around midnight and when smallish bear woke up briefly at 2:30 AM. In it, I was at a diner with Miley Cyrus post-her VMA performance and I questioned her… for lack of a better (and less repetitive term) questionable acts in pursuit of her “art,” i.e. dry-humping the guy who sings “Blurred Lines” and simulating masturbation with a foam, nail polished finger. Her response was to tell me that she didn’t give a sh*t what I thought. She proceeded to call security and have me thrown out of the diner. The fact that the security guards were all zombies ala “The Walking Dead” was just an extra added bonus, as was the crossbow I magically had on my person and used to eliminate said “biters” before I turned back and saw that Miley was gone. Then, I woke up. True story, guys. I rarely remember my dreams but that one? It stuck with me, and I’ve been dying… no pun intended… to write it down all day.

But the dream itself was supplemental to the fact that in my explanation to the former Miss Montana of why she should re-consider her raunchy “act” in the future, I brought up my own daughters, i.e. my minions, and I remembered… and still remember what Chris Rock said once upon a time: My only job as a father is to keep my daughters off the pole, i.e. the stripper pole. I pride myself on my capacity to raise them right and keep them from a life spent dry humping smelly dudes wearing stained sweatpants and fishing dollar bills out of their underwear. And Billy Ray Cyrus? He did a piss poor job of keeping his own, talented little girl off the proverbial pole. Shame on you, Billy Ray. As if “Achy Breaky Heart” wasn’t bad enough. Insert b*tch slap here.

But I’ve learned over the last couple of weeks that my minions have certain talents, likely inherited from their father and his grandfather, both once-theater geeks who sang, acted, danced and even had one or two moments of caddiness that they… that I regret, to this day. But I don’t think that I’m tooting my own horn when I say that I was talented. Perhaps I still am despite the rigors of age, cigarettes and alcohol. I caught myself singing “Jesus Christ Superstar” yesterday while driving home from my sister’s house and I’ve got to admit, I sounded pretty good. Even Cara told me so. Maybe one day I’ll re-embrace that side of my personality and fulfill my dream of playing Pilate in “JCS.” Regardless of whether I do or don’t I have to acknowledge the fact that my little ladies? They may have a career in front of them as singing, dancing and acting “ar-teests.”

Cara’s a born performer: She’s been making up songs and banging away on her little pink piano ever since she got it for Christmas a few years ago. I have a video of her singing “Call Me Maybe” that is priceless though I won’t post it here (at this point, I hope you are aware of my feelings on publicly posting pics/vids of my daughters). And Natalie? Natalie’s not even 15 months old yet and she already can sing parts of the “Caillou” theme song and the “boom, boom, boom” portion of Katy Perry’s “Firework.” I just played JT’s new single “Take Back The Night” for her earlier and she was smiling, dancing and laughing to it the entire time. It warmed my heart. It always does when I watch them perform.

But then, I think of the curse of the once-Disney Channel stars and starlets. And I think to myself, “what if one of both of MY daughters are the next face of the Mouse House?” My gut tightens and I wretch because my lone job as their father is to keep them off the f*cking pole and if that happens? Then the odds of them one day wearing a teddy bear leotard and sticking their tongues out incessantly in front of tens of millions of people increases. If the old adage about childhood fame is, in fact, true, and all evidence points to the fact that it is, then stardom = Rehab. And I don’t want that for either of my little’uns. So what do I do?

If one or both are, in fact, born performers… if it’s “what they’re meant to do” then the last thing I want to do is suppress them. What parent doesn’t want to see their child or children successful? But I also don’t want to see them 19 and Tweeting topless pictures of themselves to their million plus Twitter followers ala Miss Bynes. I don’t want them to be the featured “ar-teests” on that skank Perez Hilton’s highly overrated website. I never want the term “upskirt” associated with them. Mind you this is all speculation. I have no idea what biggish bear and smallish bear are going to be doing x-amount of years from now. The future is, of course, unwritten. “Destiny” is equivalent to laziness, i.e. it’s an excuse that people use to sit still and not work for the things that they want. But could it happen? Of course it could. Cara could be “Hannah Montana: The Next Generation” and Natalie could be Selena Gomez. So how do I resolve one with the other? If one or both have futures as “ar-teests,” how do I keep them off the pole?

By doing exactly what I’m doing, right now. By preaching “right,” decrying “wrong” and eliminating any “Blurred Lines” between the two. By fostering a love of a real “ar-teest” like Justin Timberlake who has managed to achieve super stardom, sans controversy despite his lowly beginnings as a member of the Mickey Mouse Club and later, as a member of… SIGH… N’Sync. By making sure they know who Pearl Jam and The Red Hot Chili Peppers are, despite the fact that by the time they’re “of age” Anthony Kedis and Eddie Vetter will likely be sharing a room in their local Home for Aged Persons. By introducing them to Taylor Swift’s music which is, actually, pretty good, but cautioning them against her lifestyle (or, just telling them to EAT A SANDWICH). By allowing no trace of Miley “I Was Just Impregnated By A Foam Finger,” “Hannah Montana” Cyrus to impinge upon their own, subjective universes… EVER, By blocking Amanda Bynes from their respective Twitter feeds when they’re old enough to use Twitter and all social media responsibly. By encouraging them to watch cerebral television and not just the VMAs. By reading the Harry Potter books and watching the Harry Potter movies with them, and pointing out that Hermoine is a textbook example of what a strong, young female role model looks like. By watching “Easy A” with them and making sure they understand not just the humorous subtext, but the story behind it, i.e. The Scarlet Letter.

And last but not least? That being a theater geek who sings, acts, dances and even has one or two moments of caddiness is not a bad thing. It’s a good thing so long as they keep things in perspective, and understand always that being a member, proverbial or not of the Mouse House is not necessarily a precursor to being a punchline on TMZ. Being one doesn’t give you “street cred.” No, not at all. Nada. Zilch. Zip-a-rooni. Keep your wits about you, little’uns, and don’t crush your daddy’s achy breaky heart, else I might have to roll up and bitch slap Perez Hilton.

G’Night, friends. Have a glass of raspberry lemonade on your old buddy the Madchronicler.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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