Feral Tenderness – Just My Opinion

Feral Tenderness Book Blog Tour

Feral Tenderness, by Arthur Rosch, is a poetry and photography collection like no other I’ve ever encountered. I can say this with confidence, because I am the editor and compiler for this book, however it exempts me from posting my opinions of this collection on Amazon. But Writing to be Read is my blog, so I’d like to tell you about this interesting and unique collection of creativity here, taking into account that the author is a friend of mine, so the opinions expressed are likely to be biased. Be that as it may, I’m proud to associate myself with this work of creativity, a collection of poetry and photography worth more than just a casual glance. Arthur’s works need to be savored, like a fine wine, simmered over, like a sweet glaze, and appreciated for their unique and delectable flavors.

As I’ve mentioned on several occassions, Arthur Rosch sees the world in a unique way. Through his creative endeavors, those who care to look are allowed a glimpse of things through his eyes. His photography is amazing. The images that he captures with his lense say so much in a single moment. His poetry, on the other hand, is often a lengthy, social commentary on higher powers, human behavior, or the world at large. Yet, even his short poems seem to have a lot to say.

To illustrate my meaning, the following poem is minimal, yet it speaks volumes. It is my favorite of Arthur’s short snippits of poetry and the only one for which a true companion photo was also available from his photo library for inclusion in the collection.

Dewdrops
Dewdrops on spiderwebs:
sit lightly with life

Little Web

Another of Arthur’s profound poems, “Stars“, declares, in part, (I did mention that some of his poems are rather lengthy, too much so to be reprinted here in full),

” …Stars know what they are.
Stars are alive and individual,
quirky with personality,
often pulsing and drawing
gravity blood, gas and heat,
combining with other stars
combining and mating with other
stars and forming unions of
higher imaginations
in order to serve the Master of Stars… “

Another poem is an expression of nature, as seen through Arthur’s eyes. This one is one of my personal favorites.

Hunted By The Hawk

Make joy from stones.
Make wit from mud,
make humor from blood.
The tiny finch flies crazily,
for the sheer fun of it,
though it knows, each morning,
that it’s hunted by the hawk.
We too, each morning,
are hunted by the hawk.

The cover image for Feral Tenderness also came from Arthur’s photo library. With this photo, I was able to create an awesome cover design, if I do say so myself. We created cover images using several of Arthur’s photos, but in the end, this one grabbed both author’s and publisher’s hearts.

Feral Tenderness Cover

The poetry and photos featured in this collection are so varied in subject matter and tone, that several book promotions with very different appeals seemed applicable to me. I used one of Arthur’s photographs for the background of one of them. Can you guess which one? Let me know in the comments which you like better.

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Mind Fields – My Pandemic Peace

Mind Fields

I am a janitor. I have worked at the same medium sized commercial property for thirty years. It is a job made in heaven! The pay is good, and I set my own hours. I never see my boss. We exchange emails and a check arrives monthly. The pandemic has done little to change my lifestyle. Properties tend to fall apart without the basic services supplied by cleaners and contractors. I work part time as a janitor and the other part time I stay home and practice the piano and write. My janitorial work includes maintaining two public restrooms. This requires a maximum of personal protection gear. Mask and gloves combined with frequent washing are keeping me (I hope) safe from infection. 

My spouse is disabled and spends most of her day in bed. I care for her and keep supplies flowing. She suffers from COPD and Rheumatoid Arthritis. My life is not much different from the time before Covid-19. I go out less and I buy at least a week’s supplies so that I don’t have to return to the store and its dangers of exposure. Judging by the basket loads being checked out by my fellow shoppers, we are feeling much the same.

The adaptations to Covid-19 quickly normalize. I see my therapist via Skype or Doxy.me.com.  I would rather see her in person, but seeing her on my computer screen offers a strange and intangible compensation. I can only call it “looseness”, i.e. I am more likely to say something awkward, which, as you may know, is the good stuff when it comes to psychotherapy.  I must speak the uncomfortable truth. In this way, Covid has presented a weird therapeutic gain.

I communicate via computer and attend my weekly Senior Peer Counseling groups via Zoom.  I don’t have to drive! No gasoline, no oil changes, no flat tires. No traffic! I acknowledge the vast suffering that attends this pandemic. I can’t allow my compassion to be blunted by my relative comfort. The plain truth is that Covid-19 has made my life easier.

I have been a Certified Senior Peer Counselor for three years. This effort offers support to those who are over 55 years of age. I now see my clients via all means possible, be they phone, computer, tablet, holograph, astral projection, quantum entanglement, ubiquitous electron transfer, psychic channeling or yelling out the window. Somehow, the process seems to be effective.

A couple of times a week I make my way up and down Highway 101. It’s a fifty mile round trip and sometimes the highways are virtually deserted. It’s kinda spooky! So far, my personal pandemic has been more of a windfall.

I’m 73 years old. Officially, that makes me a senior citizen. I’m active, creative, mobile, flexible, and in good health. If I tell you that this is due to my excellent personal hygiene, I would be gaslighting you with a heavy frosting of irony. I’ve been addicted to heroin, cocaine, alcohol, tobacco and other bad behaviors. I am a paradox. I have faithfully practiced yoga since the age of eighteen. There have been times when I would inject myself with a speedball, smoke several cigarettes and do a sequence of yoga postures within the same hour. I’m not like that anymore. I’ve worn out my addictions through a steady incremental process, aided by psychotherapy. There was no sudden cure, no breakthrough, just years of steady work. I AM, at last, closer to where I want to be. All I have to do is avoid suddenly dropping dead. 

Count to three. I haven’t dropped dead. This means that I have a responsibility to continue writing. My mentor, the incredible KL Booth, urges me to supply essays, poems, and other material to the ongoing work of the web platform Writing To Be Read. This site is a forum for writers and provides essential exposure for those of us who don’t have the proper connections to achieve big time literary fame. 

There is truth to the maxim that “You have to know someone.” There was a time when I did indeed know someone. I knew the fiction editor at Playboy Magazine. Her name was Vicki Chung. I got to know her through a series of flukes that led to my winning Playboy’s award for Best Story Of The Year. After winning that award, I was invited to Playboy’s 25th anniversary banquet in New York City, all expenses paid. A room at the Waldorf was booked for me. The banquet guest list was loaded with influential writers, editors, agents and publishers. I had gone to Nirvana. They had a wall-sized poster illustration of my award winning short story. I was courted by everyone. I returned from New York City with my pockets full of business cards. “Call me when your manuscript is ready.” They all said that. 

A few months later there was a plane crash near Chicago’s Ohare airport. Most of Playboy Magazine’s literary staff was on that plane. My friend Vicki was gone. My connections were gone.

Later that year my manuscript was stolen. It was the only copy because I was making corrections. At the time I was devastated, but I now know that it was a shit novel, that it was juvenile, pretentious and hopeless. The thief saved me from gruesome embarrassment.

Pandemic? Are we in a pandemic? I think it’s more like a correction, the way the theft of my manuscript was a correction. That sounds cold, but nature doesn’t consider the will of individuals as it operates our planet. Nature does what is best for itself. Covid-19 may be nature’s response to massive overpopulation and utterly depraved management of this stately orb. 

That’s my theory, anyway.

___________________________________________________________________________________________

Feral Tenderness

A Midwesterner by birth, Arthur Rosch migrated to the West Coast just in time to be a hippie but discovered that he was more connected to the Beatnik generation. He harkened back to an Old School world of jazz, poetry, painting and photography. In the Eighties he received Playboy Magazine’s Best Short Story Award for a comic view of a planet where there are six genders. The timing was not good.  His life was falling apart as he struggled with addiction and depression. He experienced the reality of the streets for more than a decade. Putting himself back together was the defining experience of his life. It wasn’t easy. It did, however, nurture his literary soul. He has a passion for astronomy, photography, history, psychology and the weird puzzle of human experience. He is currently a certified Seniors Peer Counselor in Sonoma County, California. Come visit his blogs and photo sites. www.artrosch.com and http://bit.ly/2uyxZbv

Arthur’s books include The Road Has Eyes, The Gods of the Gift, and Confessions of an Honest Man. His lifetime collection of poetry and photography, Feral Tenderness, is soon to be released by WordCrafter Press.

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Want to be sure not to miss any of Art’s “Mind Fields” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you find it interesting or just entertaining, please share.


Words to Live By – Losing My Mind (in Real Life)

Jeff Version_Words to Live By 2

The first Wednesday of every month, writer Jeff Bowles muses on life, creativity, and our collective destinies as makers of cool stuff. You’re a writer, but have you ever thought about how or why? Here are some words to live by.

Losing My Mind (in Real Life)

At three-thirty in the morning, I’m screaming at demons. There’s something inside me, something over which I have very little control, and it’s been at my throat for months. Somehow I’ve convinced myself the voice in my head belongs to a friend from graduate school, that she’s speaking to me telepathically over a great distance. She’s crueler than the person I remember, always mocking and deceiving me, but I don’t do the simple mental math. The voice tells me all sorts of things, and this is the first time I’ve ever been crazy, so I don’t necessarily understand I’m not supposed to listen.

Though I sleep dismally, I call her the very next morning. The real person I mean. I say crazy things, most of which I don’t remember now. A few days later, something even worse happens. An incident with the car in our driveway. My wife, she gets hurt. The voice told me she was trying to kill me, and I believed every word, so I attempted to flee the house and she ended up with six fractured ribs. God, some days are made in Hell. If I close my eyes, even five years later, it’s an easy vision to conjure, and it lays me low every time. This happened, it was real, and I was crazy, crazy, crazy, an animal, a lunatic, someone completely undeserving of justice or fairness or something simple and clean like compassion.

I made a mess of my life, ended up in jail, in court, on a psychiatric ward, and I have had to cope with a version of myself from that time I cannot excuse, someone vulgar and unhinged, someone barely hanging on. I won’t go into details that are still too painful to write in blunt, unadulterated language. The pressures of life had gotten to me, an unexpected barrage of one thing after another, as life is known to dish out. Unexpected health issues, loss of a job, unable to pay the mortgage. No, I’d never heard voices before, but that doesn’t mean I’m worthy of forgiveness. My loved ones keep telling me I should finally let go, be kind to myself on this front, realize people make mistakes, that these things can and do happen and that none of it makes me a bad or dangerous person. I find it difficult to believe what they say. Scratch that, I find it impossible. It’s a miracle no one was killed.

Many prominent creative voices throughout history have commented on the clear and seemingly causal link between mental illness and creative genius, but not every dork with a science fiction and fantasy fetish and a couple of short story sales goes full tilt into lunacy. It’s not in my nature to describe myself in lofty terms. It’s not in my nature to think of myself very fondly at all, and that’s perhaps where dark things like this take root. Whatever creative abilities I’ve been granted and have spent years honing seem to have come at a cost. I knew I had depression at a very young age, but schizophrenia, I didn’t even know what that was.

It’s like this: you can’t trust your thoughts, your senses, your worldly experience. You will hear voices and smell phantom aromas and see things that aren’t there. You’ll think delusional thoughts every once in a while, strange ruminations and lines of logic that make perfect sense at the time they occur. If you’re lucky, medication will help, and counseling will teach you skills you can lean on that boil down to keeping it real, keeping it present, leaning on others if you’re having a truly difficult time distinguishing fantasy from reality. Don’t listen when you think you hear your friend from school. Don’t listen when you think you hear your friend from school. Don’t listen when you think you hear your friend from school.

There were nights I was so terrified I couldn’t imagine surviving till morning. These voices, they torture you in all sorts of creative and intimate ways. They make fun of you in the toilet, in the shower, when you’re dressing in the morning. They con you into driving recklessly in city traffic, convince you your counseling appointment has been canceled, and that in fact, you don’t really need counseling anyway. At some point, the ruse couldn’t sustain, and I finally realized I wasn’t speaking with my friend. Sensibly, tardy as usual, I asked to whom or what I was in fact speaking, in my head, in the room, just out of sight.

It said it wanted to be called Dave. Just Dave. And the more my wife and I used the name as shorthand, the more it seemed appropriate. Dave, like some faceless person who could be anyone or anything at any time. Dave, a personality that might be normal or might be abnormal, just depended on the day. And now when I write, even a simple essay like this one, I feel as though Dave is guiding my fingers over my laptop keyboard.

I can feel him looking out my eyes sometimes. He wiggles my toes and fidgets when I’m barely paying attention. He’s in me, he is me, yet they say he’s not the conscious, aware me. If my id expresses itself thusly, what the hell is wrong with me? Is it any wonder the book I wrote about that insane, scary time depicts Dave as a full-stop demon? Not a biproduct of janky biochemistry or a brain or emotional disorder, but rather something separate and inhuman? Took me two years to write that book. I still can’t stand to read a single word of it.

I wasn’t myself. It must be a constant reminder, or the truth is the person I am today, the person I’ve always believed myself to be, he’s a lie. And this is something I can’t accept. You must take action when your own wounding wounds others. It’s a teaching moment, a failing you can catch like a falling aspen leaf. It was a shot across the bow, an opportunity to reorient myself, look at my life and everything I’ve created and done not as the end-all-be-all, but as a small component of who I am in full. Each and every time Dave speaks to me, I can silently rebuke or ignore him and remind myself what real humility and humanity look like.

They look like the patients at the psych hospital who’d just survived suicide attempts and psychotic episodes. How gentle and caring they seemed. Not like me, strapped to a hospital bed, screaming my head off, trying to cut my wrists in a pretty useless fashion, thinking the Velcro ties would do the trick. Humility and humanity look like the caregivers—yes, even the guards at the county jail—who could’ve condemned me but instead took pity on me, tried to protect and treat me.

Even five years later, I awake sometimes from nightmares. He’s always there, but thankfully, so am I. Watchful, careful, repentant. Honestly, not at all interested in returning to that place ever again. I could’ve lost so much. It all could’ve ended so much worse. My blessings, I do my best to count them, but I know I could do far more. Recovery is a long process, or at least it can be, and it’s a bumpier ride than most people give it credit for being. But I have to go through it. It’s an imperative. Being better to people, hoping one day to learn to be better to myself. Leave the creative stuff aside. In fact, leave everything aside that is surface-level and cheap. Maybe it’s what I came here to do. Maybe it’s what we all came here to do.

If you or anyone you know is suffering severe mental health issues right now, I urge you to seek help. Especially in the middle of this pandemic, it’s a huge issue for many, and we owe it to ourselves, our friends, and our family to treat it with respect. There’s hope, there’s survival, and there is recovery. I’m proof of that. We all deserve to be the best versions of ourselves. All of us. I pray and hope for the best life has to offer, and I pray and hope the same for you as well. Safety, happiness, generosity, and love. Sanity most of all, my friends. Until next month.


Jeff Bowles is a science fiction and horror writer from the mountains of Colorado. The best of his outrageous and imaginative work can be found in God’s Body: Book One – The Fall, Godling and Other Paint Stories, Fear and Loathing in Las Cruces, and Brave New Multiverse. He has published work in magazines and anthologies like PodCastle, Tales from the Canyons of the Damned, the Threepenny Review, and Dark Moon Digest. Jeff earned his Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing at Western State Colorado University. He currently lives in the high-altitude Pikes Peak region, where he dreams strange dreams and spends far too much time under the stars. Jeff’s new novel, Love/Madness/Demon, is available on Amazon now!

Love Madness Demon Cover Final

Check out Jeff Bowles Central on YouTube – Movies – Video Games – Music – So Much More!


Want to be sure not to miss any of Jeff’s “Words to Live By” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you found this useful or just entertaining, please share.


Curvature: An Essay On Discernment

Mind Fields

Curvature

Discernment is the ability to obtain sharp perceptions or to judge well. That’s from Webster’s dictionary. I bring it to your attention because if this nation is suffering from a widespread psychological disorder it is this: a lack of discernment. It is the inability to judge well from the information that’s available. There are millions of casualties to this disease which is more sinister than Covid 19. It is something that has no name. I call it The Plebny or Recalcitrant Flux. Any force, power or person who spreads this disease is committing crimes against our planet. In this turbulent time we NEED discernment to pick our way through the fields of ignorance and bad information.

Listen to me: bad information. There’s no such thing as bad information. I refer to distorted content, warped propaganda, mendacity in the service of ego and power. We’re afflicted by people in power who lie automatically, without internal scanning or external censorship. Damage is being done! Without discernment we are easily manipulated, like cattle being led by nose rings. 

Further, these people without discernment are unaware of their lack. It is impossible to engage in dialogue with people who can’t perceive with precision and conscience. I am willing to consider other points of view. I’m not stuck. It takes a little effort to discern things. It takes honesty, most of all. 

With whom are we honest? We must be honest with ourselves most of all because human beings have a tendency towards various mental impediments to honesty. These obstacles have names, like Denial, Shame, Depression, Grandiosity, Narcissism, Sociopathy, Psychopathy, Crushed Affect, Sleepwalkers Syndrome, Intentional Psychomyopathy and Heartbane. 

There are so many wacked out people in the world that the earth is saturated with their craziness. It is possible to ask, “What behavior is not crazy and how can I do it?” If you conjure an answer to that question, which is a deeply personal one, you’ve found the first gate to discernment.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Feral Tenderness

A Midwesterner by birth, Arthur Rosch migrated to the West Coast just in time to be a hippie but discovered that he was more connected to the Beatnik generation. He harkened back to an Old School world of jazz, poetry, painting and photography. In the Eighties he received Playboy Magazine’s Best Short Story Award for a comic view of a planet where there are six genders. The timing was not good.  His life was falling apart as he struggled with addiction and depression. He experienced the reality of the streets for more than a decade. Putting himself back together was the defining experience of his life. It wasn’t easy. It did, however, nurture his literary soul. He has a passion for astronomy, photography, history, psychology and the weird puzzle of human experience. He is currently a certified Seniors Peer Counselor in Sonoma County, California. Come visit his blogs and photo sites. www.artrosch.com and http://bit.ly/2uyxZbv

Arthur’s books include The Road Has Eyes, The Gods of the Gift, and Confessions of an Honest Man. His lifetime collection of poetry and photography, Feral Tenderness, is soon to be released by WordCrafter Press.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Want to be sure not to miss any of Art’s “Mind Fields” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you find it interesting or just entertaining, please share.


Jeff’s Movie Reviews – The Queen’s Gambit

Jeff's Movie Reviews

Seduction by Chess

by Jeff Bowles

Chess is not typically known for excitement or suspense. The game of kings has certainly been portrayed any number of ways by Hollywood throughout the years, but Netflix’s new limited series The Queen’s Gambit makes it look passionate, dangerous, and well, sexy.

Maybe it’s the stylish 60s themes, fashions, and music. Or perhaps the magic of this series is in the writing, which is sharp, compelling, and just a little bit wild. So too is the basic look of the show. Each and every chess match (and there are quite a few scattered across seven hour-long episodes) has a different feel, a different level of intensity. And make no mistake, The Queen’s Gambit is all about intensity. To finish a single match is to look into the hungry and carnal eyes of your opponent and ask for another round. And here I thought chess was boring.

No two ways about it, Beth Harmon (played by the wonderful Anya Taylor-Joy) is a child prodigy. After a terrible car accident kills her mother, she’s sent to an orphanage and there befriends a lowly janitor who lives in a veritable dungeon of a basement. The janitor, by the way, happens to be a chess wizard himself. After some brief instruction and the early rumblings of blind obsession, Beth beats him, his chess club (all at once in a series of simultaneous matches) and then begins to play on the larger American circuit. She becomes an overnight sensation, her face on magazine covers, her name known to anyone interested in the game. But the fire in her belly is unquenchable. She’s a marvel and a ticking time-bomb. We know she will explode. The only question is when.

Anya Taylor-Joy as Beth Harmon in Netflix’s new limited series, The Queen’s Gambit

We are talking about the 1960s here, and at that time chess and master chess players were honored and respected worldwide. Beth’s basement-dwelling mentor warns her genius often comes at a price. Her personal demons take the forms of addiction, mental illness, and compulsion. Every single night is an opportunity for her to practice and read and imagine (or perhaps hallucinate) whole matches upside down on the ceiling above her bed. She pops a few of her favorite pills, which are never specifically named, maybe has a drink or two, and then she lies down and watches as the shadowy game unfolds above her.

The Queen’s Gambit is based on a novel by Walter Tevis, who passed away in 1984. It’s a shame he didn’t live to see the adaptation, because Netflix has done his book justice. There’s real emotion and drama here. Beth Harmon is a fascinating character, and though she’s entirely fictional, she and her world are so fully realized you might mistake her for an actual public figure. The show drips with passion and lust. It’s incredibly sexy at times. Imagine making chess sexy.

How rare is it to find someone who burns for something, anything, as much as Beth burns for chess? Mastering the game, explosive, sometimes cold, almost always calculated, but there’s a beating heart inside her, a need for appreciation, recognition, for someone to love and understand her. Even those closest to her see her as an enigma. So incredibly young, stunningly beautiful, dressed in the most Chic fashions of the time. A genius, absolutely. But always at a distance, just beyond everyone’s reach, right where she likes it.

Drug addiction adds an interesting element to The Queen’s Gambit. Self-destruction, it seems, can be as seductive as a tender kiss. Even if the acting weren’t top notch across the board (and it is), the fascination, drama, and blind ambition emanating from Tevis’ narrative is stunning. If you were as determined to become the greatest chess master of all time, you might develop a drug problem, too. Then again, maybe you wouldn’t. Beth Harmon comes from tragedy, and it follows her wherever she goes. Adopted by a married couple whose relationship was on the rocks to begin with, she learns from a very early age the only way to get by in this world is to commit to personal freedom and absolute autonomy. She drinks, she pops pills, but the ultimate question of what it all costs comes down to this: if genius and madness go hand-in-hand, when does the ride stop? Where must the line be drawn?

We’re never really sure Beth Harmon receives the answers to these questions. The Queen’s Gambit is an unexpectedly charming, gripping, and seductive limited series all fans of excellent storytelling need to stream immediately.

Jeff’s Movie Reviews gives it a Nine out of Ten.

I think that’s checkmate, everyone.


Jeff Bowles is a science fiction and horror writer from the mountains of Colorado. The best of his outrageous and imaginative work can be found in God’s Body: Book One – The Fall, Godling and Other Paint Stories, Fear and Loathing in Las Cruces, and Brave New Multiverse. He has published work in magazines and anthologies like PodCastle, Tales from the Canyons of the Damned, the Threepenny Review, and Dark Moon Digest. Jeff earned his Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing at Western State Colorado University. He currently lives in the high-altitude Pikes Peak region, where he dreams strange dreams and spends far too much time under the stars. Jeff’s new novel, Love/Madness/Demon, is available on Amazon now!

Love Madness Demon Cover Final

Check out Jeff Bowles Central on YouTube – Movies – Video Games – Music – So Much More!


Want to be sure not to miss any of Jeff’s Movie Reviews? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress


Winter Wonderland My Eye!

Winter Wonderland

Yesterday in Colorado an unseasonably cold winter storm hit us. We went from temperatures in the seventies and eighties to near zero temperatures almost overnight, and at 8,500 feet, we got at least eighteen inches of snow to go with it. Not that I didn’t know it was coming. I pay close attention to the weather in these parts, but knowing a storm is coming and the reality of its impact are two different things. Oh, I made all of my winter preparations, making sure all the yard and garden tools were picked up and put away, digging up my Gladiola corms and storing them for winter, taking down all the hummingbird feeders and cleaning them for storage, too.

I told myself that the approaching storm was a good thing. We need the moisture and the snowfall will surely help get all the wildfires that have been raging across the state under control. I envisioned all the writing I would be able to get done now that there was no more yard work to becon to me and no sun to entice me outdoors. I saw myself staring out the window at a pristine wonderland while soaking up the warmth of the pot belly parlor stove, tapping away at the keys on my laptop as the word count on the book I recently started soared.

But this morning, reality hit when I found I couldn’t step off the porch without shoveling a path through a foot and a half of snow. So, I pulled out my winter coat, gloves and snowboots and bundled up and out I went, shoveling paths to all areas to which I need access.

The Juncos were struggling, perching in the rafters of my front porch to get out of the snow, and I swear, I could see them shiver. Although I’m sure birds have some kind of inner sense that tell them when bad weather is headed their way, they could not have predicted these cold temperatures at the end of October, and they seemed to be at a loss as to what to do. So, a path to my shed to get bird seed was in order, and then one was needed so I could get to the bird feeder to fill it, so my little feathered friends wouldn’t have to tough the freezing tempertures on empty stomachs.

I had to be able to get to the coal bin, so I could keep heat in the house, so a path was needed from the house to there, and another to the generator to keep the electricity on. My neighbor offered to plow my driveway, which is a great help, but I needed a path to the gates and an area cleared so I could open them so he could get his ATV in.

Now, here it is, afternoon and I stopped for lunch, but that is a lot of digging. I still have to dig a vehicle out, so I can at least get out in case of emergency and clear off my back deck. I’m working on this blog post, which should have been posted this morning, and I haven’t typed one word on the new book. The yard work may be over, but shoveling has taken its place. Winter wonderland my eye!


“Mind Fields”: Am I Real?

Mind Fields

Am I Real?

October 15, 2020

Existence. It can be ordinary. It can be magical. It can be hell. Whatever it is for you, in this moment, there’s no getting away from it. YOU EXIST.

I find that there is an aura of strangeness to existence. Like, how did I get here? Why am I here? What are these gases that I breathe? Do I REALLY exist or is this some kind of dream, cast upon the waters of the void by some Being whose nature I can’t fathom? Still, it’s inescapable. Unless I kill myself this very moment, I am here and am likely to be here for a while. Even IF I kill myself, I’m messing with the odds. More than half the people on this planet believe in re-birth, i.e living over and over again in different bodies. I believe in reincarnation. I may be wrong, but that’s what I believe. A suicide has consequences. It carries a ton of karma. The concept of reincarnation answers many questions, but it also asks some important ones: like, what is the mechanism of continuity? Is it my “soul” that holds the threads together and maintains some mysterious seed of consciousness?Soul, spirit, whatever we want to call it, there is a suggestion of the reality of a non-material realm and of a path or route of progression TOWARDs something. Towards what? I call it Self Knowledge.

When I was a kid, seven or eight, I thought these same thoughts. I would walk up our street and step on the sidewalk cracks. Each time I did, I said aloud, “I am real, I am real.” Even then, I wasn’t sure. 

Reincarnation does a great job of explaining things. Why am I this way?  Why am I creative, musical, compulsive, sometimes greedy, sometimes cruel? Can all this complexity be explained by genetics and environment?Maybe in my last lives I had some of these attributes and I simply continued. I’ve always wanted to know the answers to these questions. I’ve read some of the craziest books and perused the world’s wisdom traditions. I have a curiosity that walks inside me like a second skin. I REALLY want to know. I don’t see much point in things if I don’t get to know….at least…SOMETHING.

I began a long string of poetry writing some forty years ago with a poem that ended with these lines: “I want to know I want to know echoes in the chambers of my heart until the lone spark in the abyss of infinity has become the desire to know.” As soon as I had written those lines a huge reservoir of poetry opened, and I wrote and haven’t stopped writing. I had identified a desire, an intention, that has dominated my life.

 I think…I…may know….a little bit of something. Just a bit. I’ve seen the tiny stitches on the lowest threads on the darkest panel of God’s robe. Just the tiny stitches. That fills me up sometimes. It helps me to relax, to stop fighting against the process of life.

Lately, existence hasn’t just been ordinary, magical or hellish..  Existence has been REALLY WEIRD. I mean weird weird. Like this isn’t the regular old bullshit hieroglyphics panel that we call Normal. The phrase has spread like lightning: The NEW NORMAL. The Old Normal will never return. The challenges of the 21st century are so numerous and disturbing that we must adapt or perish.

Adaptation is a question of flexibility. I’m reminded of the Zen concept of Beginner’s Mind. In Zen we are taught that whatever convictions might exist inside one’s self, it is wise to treat them as provisional rather than certain. NOTHING IS CERTAIN. In this realm nothing has been or ever will be certain other than the fact that everything born eventually dies. I would even treat THAT axiom is less than certain. Who knows what people have accomplished? If  by some weird and  persistent work I achieve immortality, do you think I will tell everyone about it? Are you kidding? I would either get taken away in the funny wagon or I’d be overwhelmed by requests to share my formula. And that’s the thing…everyone creates their own formula. If you want to have your eyes opened, to GET IT, you need to do some basic homework. This heavenly sizzle isn’t just there for the picking. It takes patience and character. I have so many defects, but let me stress that the THING, the Sizzle of wider consciousness, does not exclude the defects.

It encourages them. What, in your life, has taught you more than your dark aspects have taught you?

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A Midwesterner by birth, Arthur Rosch migrated to the West Coast just in time to be a hippie but discovered that he was more connected to the Beatnik generation. He harkened back to an Old School world of jazz, poetry, painting and photography. In the Eighties he received Playboy Magazine’s Best Short Story Award for a comic view of a planet where there are six genders. The timing was not good.  His life was falling apart as he struggled with addiction and depression. He experienced the reality of the streets for more than a decade. Putting himself back together was the defining experience of his life. It wasn’t easy. It did, however, nurture his literary soul. He has a passion for astronomy, photography, history, psychology and the weird puzzle of human experience. He is currently a certified Seniors Peer Counselor in Sonoma County, California. Come visit his blogs and photo sites. www.artrosch.com and http://bit.ly/2uyxZbv

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Art’s Visual Media(/Life) Reviews: My Life With Jazz

Art’s Visual Media Life Reviews

Jazz has been one of the great loves of my life. I know, I get it. Jazz is not popular music. Jazz appeals to musicians and people with unusual tastes. It can’t be forced on anyone. It’s pointless (as I learned painfully) to throw it into the mix at a party. It’s a good way to get thrown out of a party.

It’s possible that you know nothing about Jazz. You might have seen films like “Bird” or “Round Midnight”. In spite of its relative obscurity, Jazz has nonetheless crept into our Pop Culture like the ink from a cephalopod. That is…an octopus or a squid.

Jazz has been for me a lifelong experience. I first heard Louis Armstrong when I was twelve. I was in the sixth grade! I had joined the Capitol Records Club, and ticked Jazz as my favorite category. I don’t know why. I had been listening to classical music, especially that of Richard Wagner, and I was getting a bit bored. Thank you, Capitol Records Club, for sending me this LP in the mail. I eagerly withdrew the vinyl record from its sleeve and put it on my blue and white Zenith Portable Stereo Record Player. This rig was built like a suitcase. There were snap-locks on each side and those opened up to become speakers that deployed to the left and the right. For a kid in the early sixties it wasn’t a bad place to start with regard to sound systems. The MacIntosh and Dynaco amps and pre-amps were cool as hell, but I could wait. In a couple of years I would be all over amps and pre-amps until my basement began to look like a used electronics warehouse.

I put on the Louis Armstrong record and held my breath. The music began with a blare of brass. At first it sounded like some kind of Asiatic music, it was  alien and incomprehensible. I heard charging rhythm and thickets of notes. My confusion lasted about half a minute. Then, as if someone had rotated my brain, I started to hear that shining trumpet of Satchmo and it started making sense. I’d been playing trumpet in the school band since I was in the fifth grade. Okay, that’s only a year. I hated practicing and did as little work as possible. I was a Natural and I could coast on my good ear. I could play a little bit.

The Atomic Mr. Basie

The next album I acquired was recorded by Count Basie And His Orchestra.  The album cover was a photo of a mushroom cloud, all scarlet shades and orange flame. It was called, of course, Count Basie Explodes! I put that on the record player. I oh so carefully lowered the tone arm with its precious cartridge transducer until the needle hit and the speakers went “hissssssss” for a second or two before the wildest most confusing outburst of twenty two instruments raged forth and I thought, “Aww shit.  Asiatic music only bigger.” Again, it took a little while for the music to come around and reach my precocious ears. 

The mail man drives down the street in his little cart. He’s bringing another record from Capitol Records Club. Miles Davis’ “Birth Of The Cool”. This is one of the most important jazz records ever recorded. Miles had organized a curious group, an eight piece band otherwise known as an octet.

I didn’t have many friends in the fifth and sixth grades. I had Jay, who was a fellow musician and jazz fan. His mother was a jazz fan.  This was in suburban St. Louis in 1962. It was rare but it happened.

My mom, on the other hand, wasn’t gonna support this shit at all! If I had to play the goddam trumpet, she often screamed; at least I would play respectable music like Mantovani or Andy Williams.

No mom. No. Not happening. I’m going my merry way and you can screw yourself.

My bedroom was at the far end of the house. I had some distance. Some. I could play what I wanted while my mom popped Seconal and slept away her life.

By this time I’m fourteen and I’ve moved into Charlie Parker, Cannonball Adderly and…ultimately…John Coltrane. If there is a magnificent Ganesh-Guru Hindu Monster Elephant Deity of Jazz Music it is John Coltrane. He was doing the impossible. His ideas were so deep and complex that they became equal to the founding of a neo-Buddhist philosophy. A School. A dynastic lineage of Consciousness. 

Coltrane became my teacher. He became thousands of musicians’ teacher and remains so to this day. Get on Youtube and join the session. It’s alive and well. The young musicians, the ones who are serious, want to study and learn. And music’s everywhere. It’s in the air. Then it’s gone. That’s what Eric Dolphy, one of the unsung monsters of Jazz, said at the end of one of his precious recordings. Both Trane and Dolphy passed in the sixties. They were young. We don’t really know what happened. How did these magnificent musicians leave the scene so suddenly? It was shocking and it knocked me off my feet. I had yet to understand how dangerous was the jazz life, how stressful it was to make a living play Jazz.

Fortunately, we were left with other dynamic musicians. We had Charles Mingus and his epochal release of the album “The Black Saint And The Sinner Lady.” This is some of the most sensual music ever recorded. It outrages church goers, it shocks listeners who aren’t prepared for music so graphic as to be well….erotic.

I developed new Jazz heroes. Ornette Coleman was sawing his way through musical tradition and his ideas caused fights on the Lower East Side.  Imagine that: ideological fistfights over varying philosophies of Jazz. Strange but true. Jackie McLean kept the tonal orthodoxy but added intensity and adventure. I was pushing sixteen at this time and my world was filled with all this musical color, all these vibrant creative characters who courted addiction and death to get through the pressures of the jazz life. 

By the age of sixteen I had acquired a set of drums and my instrumental voyages took on the nature of a student: a dedicated student of a peculiar art form. That was my jazz. That was my passion and I was about to leave home in the summer of ’65. I was determined to meet the by-now world famous Ornette Coleman. And so I did…but that’s another story. It’s in another book. 

Confessions of an Honest Man, by Art Rosch

You can find a fictionalized story which mirrors many of Art’s young life in Confessions of an Honest Man: https://www.amazon.com/Confessions-Honest-Man-Arthur-Rosch-ebook/dp/B01C3J0NK2/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Confessions+of+an+Honest+Man&qid=1601086887&s=digital-text&sr=1-1

A Midwesterner by birth, Arthur Rosch migrated to the West Coast just in time to be a hippie but discovered that he was more connected to the Beatnik generation. He harkened back to an Old School world of jazz, poetry, painting and photography. In the Eighties he received Playboy Magazine’s Best Short Story Award for a comic view of a planet where there are six genders. The timing was not good.  His life was falling apart as he struggled with addiction and depression. He experienced the reality of the streets for more than a decade. Putting himself back together was the defining experience of his life. It wasn’t easy. It did, however, nurture his literary soul. He has a passion for astronomy, photography, history, psychology and the weird puzzle of human experience. He is currently a certified Seniors Peer Counselor in Sonoma County, California. Come visit his blogs and photo sites. www.artrosch.com and http://bit.ly/2uyxZbv

Want to be sure not to miss any of “Art’s Visual Media Reviews” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you find it interesting or just entertaining, please share.hn


Jeff’s Movie Reviews – Bill & Ted Face the Music

Jeff's Movie Reviews

Party On, Dudes

by Jeff Bowles

Nostalgia is a fickle thing. Sometimes it can make new spins on old content sparkle. Then again, it can also blind us to bad movies, books, TV shows, really anything marketable to our hungry and impatient inner kids. Nostalgia is often manipulated by the entertainment powers that be. Apart from sex and death, it’s Hollywood’s number one favorite tool. So how did this happen? How did we come to see the release of a new Bill & Ted movie in the year 2020, almost three decades after the last entry in the series, the aptly titled Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey? In that movie, the hapless, witless duo from San Dimas, California went to Hell and back. Literally. Gosh, where else can we take them? More importantly, should we even bother? Especially since stars Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter aren’t exactly high school students anymore?

The answer is that while Bill & Ted Face the Music occasionally misses the mark, it never leaves us feeling empty or bored, especially if that nostalgia factor is in play. I first saw the original when I was a kid. I’m a product of the 80s and 90s, so you can bet this movie was more entertaining for me than it would be for audiences either much older or much younger than I. But if you’re in the mood for a fun, funny, ridiculous time travel movie that’s no more or less useless or necessary than the first entries in this series, look no further. Bill & Ted Face the Music is a great excuse to stay home and stream, avoid the movie theaters, avoid that pesky virus. Heck, I’m not even sure Face the Music would’ve survived in the normal corporate theater chain climate. It’s kind of a specialty product, one nobody was looking or even asking for.

Bill S. Preston Esq. and Ted Theodore Logan have had a hard few decades since they braved the time-ways and journeyed through Hell and Heaven. Their band, Wild Stallions, has failed to ignite the period of world peace and excellence guaranteed by their old mentor, Rufus, and though they actually can play their instruments now, nobody cares about their music, which must be a shock for supposed rock and role messiahs. And on top of everything else, their marriages to the royal princesses (remember them?) are falling apart. It is a most heinous and non-excellent time, dudes.

The rest of the plot is a hodgepodge of different ideas that reflect places and faces we’ve seen before. Bill and Ted must write that one amazing song they’ve been trying to write since they were young, and screw the basic scientific efficacy of the concept of time travel, they’ve only got a few hours to write it. So what do they do? Cheat and try to steal it from their future selves, of course. Meanwhile, their teenage daughters—also cheerfully known as Bill and Ted—go on a quest of their own to recruit for Wild Stallions the likes of Jimmy Hendrix, Louis Armstrong, and Mozart. You see, the girls still believe in their dads, perhaps blindly so. After all, we’ve been promised Bill and Ted would save the world twice before. What makes anyone think they’re likely to do it now?

As you can see, there’s a lot going on here. And it’s only an hour-and-a-half long. More jokes land than miss, and there’s a larger supporting cast that’s hilarious to watch, including a robot assassin that feels terrible, just terrible for killing the wrong targets and the return of fan favorite the Grim Reaper, the ultimate rock bass player, Death himself.

Ultimately, the ride proves worthwhile, especially since Reeves and Winter give it their all. Neither seems terribly put out they’re having to reprise roles they haven’t played since the first Bush administration. They still hit their “dudes” and “whoas” with perfect timing, and it’s genuinely nice to see them again. I’m sure these guys never thought they’d star in another Bill & Ted, and to listen to them chat about it in interviews, they couldn’t have had a more enjoyable time making it if they’d tried.

Some lingering frustrations may ensue if you’ve allowed your brain to clock in at any moment during the running length. Also know this: the special effects were finished during the initial stages of the COVID outbreak, so some of them don’t look as bodacious as they otherwise might.

But so what? Bill & Ted Face the Music has a mind to rock you, entertain and overwhelm you with its nostalgic charm, and just like the original, you might actually learn something about yourself and the world. Like the fact that the great Satchmo was one of Jimi Hendrix’s key influences. Or that you’ve got more of that old goofy teenager lurking in your heart than you thought.

Jeff’s Movie Reviews gives Bill & Ted Face the Music a 7 out of 10.

Now do me a favor and be excellent to each other out there. After all, any one of us can change the world. We just need to sing the right song. Catch you later, blog-reading dudes!


Jeff Bowles is a science fiction and horror writer from the mountains of Colorado. The best of his outrageous and imaginative work can be found in God’s Body: Book One – The Fall, Godling and Other Paint Stories, Fear and Loathing in Las Cruces, and Brave New Multiverse. He has published work in magazines and anthologies like PodCastle, Tales from the Canyons of the Damned, the Threepenny Review, and Dark Moon Digest. Jeff earned his Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing at Western State Colorado University. He currently lives in the high-altitude Pikes Peak region, where he dreams strange dreams and spends far too much time under the stars. Jeff’s new novel, Love/Madness/Demon, is available on Amazon now!

Love Madness Demon Cover Final

Check out Jeff Bowles Central on YouTube – Movies – Video Games – Music – So Much More!


Want to be sure not to miss any of Jeff’s Movie Reviews? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress


Words to Live By – Creative Legacy

Jeff Version_Words to Live By 2

The first Wednesday of every month, writer Jeff Bowles muses on life, creativity, and our collective destinies as makers of cool stuff. You’re a writer, but have you ever thought about how or why? Here are some words to live by.

Creative Legacy

Last week’s passing of actor Chadwick Boseman has put some things into perspective for me, both as a human being and as a creative individual. I loved his portrayal as Black Panther. I’m a huge comics fan, and he was a true joy to watch onscreen. So much nobility and strength, a perfect turn as one of Marvel’s key heroes. As a fan, I’m affected. It’s sad to see someone so young and full of life go. It’s also my birthday today. I’m turning thirty-six. Of course, by most standards I’m still a young man, but Mr. Boseman was only seven years older than me.

His legacy is secured. He didn’t have to fight for it, and he chose to work the last few years of his life, perhaps knowing all along he wouldn’t make it. He chose work. That says a lot about him. I have to ask myself, would I do the same? Would I instead lounge around and take it easy? Would I tour the world, make the most of my remaining time? Or would I sink into despair and miss the fact I could be living instead of just dying?

See the source image

Chadwick Boseman

I’m not big on legacy. There was a time I was obsessed with it, and in a way it came down to the death of things no one ever really expects not to be there for them. My wife and I can’t have children of our own, and back when this fact was slowly dawning on us, oh, ten years ago, I threw myself into my writing, not only because work helps anesthetize pain, but because I was desperate to leave something behind, because I recognized sons and daughters were not in the cards for us. The work yielded some positive results, but I learned career concerns weren’t really the answer for me either. I’ve seen very proud parents who, in consideration of their whole lives, only seem to find meaning in being the best mom or dad they can be. To be honest, it seems like a very radiant and pure existence to me.

And you can’t outrun that kind of pain. You can’t out-type it either. I thought telling stories was the best way to escape a world over which I sometimes felt I had no control. I feel differently now. I’ve changed quite a bit in those intervening ten years. For one thing, I found spirituality, a facet of life I now know was always missing for me. I believe in some form of hereafter, and I recognize that all we make and do and believe in this life are nothing but sandcastles, yielding to the tides no matter how strong we think we’ve built them. What in truth does it matter what I think I’m leaving behind? Even if I left this world as a bestseller, an inspiration to millions, creator of characters and worlds beloved all over the world, how long you figure my name would last? A hundred years? Maybe? Only to disappear beneath that tide regardless. Nowadays I do the work because I like to do it. I try to keep all other expectations to a minimum, because doing otherwise seems crazy and self-sabotaging to me.

What do you think your legacy will be? Career related? Maybe you’ll leave behind strong family ties. I have to admit, with the virus, the protests, Mr. Boseman’s death, everything else going on in the world, I’ve been thinking a lot about the end of life. One thing is for sure, legacy can be a burden for future generations. Or it can be a boon. If you’re of a mind to leave behind a strong body of creative work—writing for instance—I feel inclined to prod and gently remind you it is generally a good idea to be a humanitarian, in however humble a fashion you must be one. Writers can be an ornery bunch, irascible and impatient even at the best of times. We aren’t often wealthy, and maybe that’s got something to do with it. If in this regard you find you aren’t giving people a fair shake, remember life is short, and the truth of your existence depends in part on your ability to share your heart honestly with others.

Everyone we’ve ever met, loved, hated. That’s our legacy. How we treated people, how we acted, when we failed to act, or when we failed to remain still. It’s not just what we made, it’s what we took, the holes we left, the valleys we filled. The puzzle pieces we helped lock into place. I’m becoming more and more comfortable with the idea of a world without me in it. How about you? I’m not ill. I’m not dying. But I will die someday, and everything I could’ve been will become everything I was.

The sages say the trick to life is to learn to die before death, to pass away from the need for anything in this world before this world passes away from you. I like the symmetry of this. I don’t know how attainable it is for regular people. I also don’t know what the end will be like. I suppose none of us does. I have so much more I plan to do. I want to write, meet more people, cause a ruckus, as it were. I’ve got lots more birthdays to go, and I haven’t written a single masterpiece yet, not one.

So what do you guys think about legacy, creative or otherwise? Given the current state of the world, are you seeing things differently, too? Sound off in the comments section, and tune back in next month for another Words to Live By.


Jeff Bowles is a science fiction and horror writer from the mountains of Colorado. The best of his outrageous and imaginative work can be found in God’s Body: Book One – The Fall, Godling and Other Paint Stories, Fear and Loathing in Las Cruces, and Brave New Multiverse. He has published work in magazines and anthologies like PodCastle, Tales from the Canyons of the Damned, the Threepenny Review, and Dark Moon Digest. Jeff earned his Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing at Western State Colorado University. He currently lives in the high-altitude Pikes Peak region, where he dreams strange dreams and spends far too much time under the stars. Jeff’s new novel, Love/Madness/Demon, is available on Amazon now!

Love Madness Demon Cover Final

Check out Jeff Bowles Central on YouTube – Movies – Video Games – Music – So Much More!


Want to be sure not to miss any of Jeff’s “Words to Live By” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you found this useful or just entertaining, please share.