Mind Fields: Scammed Like An Idiot By Hackers

Mind Fields

Scammed Like An Idiot By Internet Hackers Vol 3a

“This is completely crazy!” I shouted at my smartphone. I was on the verge of a panic attack. The man at the other end, in his classic Mumbai accent, replied, “No no sir, it is not crazy. Your computer is badly infected. Do you see all these people who are using your private information?” 

He pronounced Private with a “W”. Priwot.

My mouse pointer moved while my hands rested in my lap. The Command Window opened and showed an ominous list of white notations scrolling down the black background. Mumbai Man had control of my computer. I could see repeated iterations of the word “Trojan”

“See there,” he said.  “See, see?  See how many!” I had been fighting him for at least an hour and he was losing his composure.  I was stubbornly refusing to capitulate. Is this what’s called Ransomware? So it seems. I couldn’t get rid of the guy. I couldn’t regain control of my computer until I paid five hundred dollars. Needless to say, I was upset.  And I brought it upon myself by doing a stupid thing.

I had already been softened up. A week ago a demanding white pop-up window informed me that my computer had contracted a virus. In order to fix it I must call Microsoft at an 800 phone number. Riiight! And there are elephants on the moon. The pop up wouldn’t go away. No restart, no Task Manager, nothing. I shut down my computer by pulling the plug. When I rebooted I got on a treadmill of Windows fix-it bubbles that went nowhere. 

After a couple hours of futzing with various remedies, including a  non-functioning backup program, I realized that I had to reformat my computer. That was three days of work. Such work included ransacking all of my closets and bins looking for software. Labor intensive!

Everything was fine after the reformat, my computer worked for a week. Then that same white pop up window appeared and I knew I was in trouble. I didn’t want to reformat again! Like an idiot I called the phone number. Thus an ordeal began that went on for hours. Mumbai Man insisted that he represented Microsoft. He gave me an I.D. number. He gave me a phone number for…uh..Microsoft. I got another phone and punched that number. At the first ring a man with a Mumbai accent answered. “Microsoft Customer Service” he cheerfully announced.

The voice of Mumbai Man #1 created a bizarre feedback loop because as he spoke to me on MY phone, his voice sounded one desk removed on the phone that I had used to call…er…Microsoft..  I went through the motions, juggling two cell phones. I was assured by Mumbai Man #2 that Mumbai Man #1 was a legitimate Microsoft employee. His name was…uh… Sam Taylor. I wasn’t buying it but I was losing my grip on reality.  These guys were slick! They had an answer for everything. They talked and talked and their reasoning was insane. Slowly they dragged me into the upside-down world of internet thieves. They could demonstrate to me how badly messed up was my computer. They told me that even if I bought a new computer the same thing would happen because hackers lurked in my network. They told me that every computer I ever bought from this day forward would be infected if I didn’t pay five hundred dollars.

“Sir, why are you having a broblem with this?” asked..uh.. Sam Taylor, as if this were a perfectly reasonable situation.

“A broblem?” I shrieked. “A broblem? Five hundred dollars and my computer held hostage is a broblem!.  I can buy a new computer for five hundred dollars!”

 “Oh, but sir, the new computer will also have the same broblem if you do not take care of this right away.”

Listen, I love the accent of Indians, be they from Mumbai, Kalikot or Kerala. I love the way they sound like they have three marbles just inside their lower lip. I have adored Indian culture my entire life. However these fellows conformed to a stereotype, this was happening in the real world and in the real world most Americans expect their tech support to speak with that lilting accent. Weirdly, it added a gloss of credibility to what was blatantly incredible.

“I’m sixty two years old,” I told the thief. “Does your mother know what you do for a living? That you rob old people on Social Security?”

“Oh, sir, you are a senior citizen? Let me talk to my supervisor and see what I can do about getting a discount.”

Hmmm hmmm count to five. “Oh yes sir, my supervisor tells me that we can make the rebairs for three hundred forty nine dollars and ninety five cents.”

I gave in. I let them install their shit on my computer. Their spyware, malware, ransomware buggy shit on my computer. I gave them my credit card number. I still don’t believe I did that. Sam Taylor had turned me over to Steve Smith who worked in Billing, and Steve Smith had then given control of my computer to Richie Logan. I watched my screen as program after program was installed, operated, then uninstalled. It was spooky! I was afraid to pull the plug on the modem and shut them out. By this time I didn’t know what to believe and I had the futile hope that these guys were actually fixing my computer.

My lovely spouse had a terrible virus experience once and contacted a reputable repair company who charged her a hundred dollars to remotely fix her computer. I phoned them while my computer chattered away, rolling files across the monitor screen.

“Unplug your modem right now!” This was the order from Jeffrey Everard in Austin, Texas. He works for OneSupport. They handle situations such as the mess I found myself in. I trust them. I think.

Jeffrey worked for an hour on my computer and charged me a hundred bucks.

Barclay Bank shut down my credit card and promised to mail me a new one with a new account number.  Mumbai Men had yet to run the charge and they were not going to get my money. I called all my credit card vendors. I called the bank.

This was a horrible experience. Be careful. These crooks are skillful and incredibly persistent. They are glib, slick and ruthless. They are from India, Ukraine, Thailand, Poland, Belorus and the USA. They find your knowledge level with regard to computers and they know how to convince you that they’re not lying. They twisted my head so badly that I couldn’t locate reality after spending a couple of hours in their company.  Did a little alarm go off at Microsoft Headquarters notifying them that my computer was infected? I posed this vision sarcastically and they said, “Yes that’s exactly what happened!”

I am now afraid to do any browsing on my computer. I’m afraid that any program I purchase to fight malware might be the vehicle bringing malware to my computer.

I made a mistake, a dumb mistake and it could have cost me much more. It will be a while before I can relax and use my computer normally. If ever.

My hands are still shaking.

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Arthur Rosch is a novelist, musician, photographer and poet. His works are funny, memorable and often compelling. One reviewer said “He’s wicked and feisty, but when he gets you by the guts, he never lets go.” Listeners to his music have compared him to Frank Zappa, Tom Waits, Randy Newman or Mose Allison. These comparisons are flattering but deceptive. Rosch is a stylist, a complete original. His material ranges from sly wit to gripping political commentary.

Arthur was born in the heart of Illinois and grew up in the western suburbs of St. Louis. In his teens he discovered his creative potential while hoping to please a girl. Though she left the scene, Arthur’s creativity stayed behind. In his early twenties he moved to San Francisco and took part in the thriving arts scene. His first literary sale was to Playboy Magazine. The piece went on to receive Playboy’s “Best Story of the Year” award. Arthur also has writing credits in Exquisite Corpse, Shutterbug, eDigital, and Cat Fancy Magazine. He has written five novels, a memoir and a large collection of poetry. His autobiographical novel, Confessions Of An Honest Man won the Honorable Mention award from Writer’s Digest in 2016.

More of his work can be found at www.artrosch.com

Photos at https://500px.com/p/artsdigiphoto?view=photos

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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.


Mind Fields: My Bank Account Has Termites

Mind Fields

My bank account has termites. Look at this statement! I’m paying $2.99 a month for National Geographic Online. I pay $4.99 for Bookbug, $3.99 for InfoTune. I’m still using the free version of Spotify. I can’t keep up! I did an audit of my books last night and my monthly internet charges are out of control. The total crept up on me like an infestation. One day it wasn’t there and the next day it was in my life like bugs in the basement. I can’t wonder: How did this happen? because I know how it happened. In the course of acquiring a normal amount of services and entertainment I accrued a creeping army of little debits. Look at this one: Chordbuddy.com. It’s a site that helps me practice piano. It gives me access to every musical chord ever devised. Many thousands of chords! It’s $5.99 a month and I use it every day. What chord is that? OK let’s look it up on Chordbuddy.com. Aha! Cminor 13. What a bizarre chord. 

This tool is a miracle! Beethoven didn’t have the internet. He figured out his own shit without help from the digital universe. NOW… we have the digital universe and I’m teaching myself how to play and write with the aid of these tools. 

I’m so grateful. I take nothing for granted. The world is always fluid and plastic. It melts and flows. Y’gotta be like a surfer..  Ride the waves as they come, big ones and small ones. My bank account gets nibbled at by a horde of seafloor crustaceans in digital form. Here’s my charge for keeping my Viewbug photo website up and running. It’s 10.99. I have to keep my amazing photos visible to the world because that pays part of my rent. Then… there’s $2.99 a month to Google for enough online storage to hold all these images and videos. Holy shit. I started writing this, kind of larking it but now it’s turned serious. I better audit my account again, for real this time.  I need to know this essay has not been an exaggeration. 

There are these fleas too. You get one behind your ear and for the next week even though the flea is long dead you still itch there, still scratch it now and then.

I keep a Sticky Note on my desktop. It has all my credit cards and internet debits listed by the company and last four digits. If I’m going to get hacked I’ll get hacked. One time I had my computer held hostage by a bunch of guys named Rah-jer. It cost me five hundred dollars and a lot of work to recover the contents of that computer. It wasn’t the machine that was hostage, it was the contents. Of course I had back ups. I always have backups and backups to the backups. Still, it was worth 500 dollars to ransom my computer.

I’m going to put the cover on my digital piano now and go to sleep. In the morning I may discover that I’ve signed up for a live Zoom conference with therapists at the South Pole. I don’t know what’s going to happen next:. The pace of change is positively sweaty! Close your eyes and turn around three times. Zipp! The world has changed. If you don’t change with it… well… you haven’t changed with it. That’s okay. If you want to be stuck in the past, pitch your tent with spikes made from old AOL discs.

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Arthur Rosch is a novelist, musician, photographer and poet. His works are funny, memorable and often compelling. One reviewer said “He’s wicked and feisty, but when he gets you by the guts, he never lets go.” Listeners to his music have compared him to Frank Zappa, Tom Waits, Randy Newman or Mose Allison. These comparisons are flattering but deceptive. Rosch is a stylist, a complete original. His material ranges from sly wit to gripping political commentary.

Arthur was born in the heart of Illinois and grew up in the western suburbs of St. Louis. In his teens he discovered his creative potential while hoping to please a girl. Though she left the scene, Arthur’s creativity stayed behind. In his early twenties he moved to San Francisco and took part in the thriving arts scene. His first literary sale was to Playboy Magazine. The piece went on to receive Playboy’s “Best Story of the Year” award. Arthur also has writing credits in Exquisite Corpse, Shutterbug, eDigital, and Cat Fancy Magazine. He has written five novels, a memoir and a large collection of poetry. His autobiographical novel, Confessions Of An Honest Man won the Honorable Mention award from Writer’s Digest in 2016.

More of his work can be found at www.artrosch.com

Photos at https://500px.com/p/artsdigiphoto?view=photos

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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.


Jeff’s Movie Reviews – Mortal Kombat (2021)

Finish him!

by Jeff Bowles

Movies based on popular video games aren’t typically known for their excellence. Among gamers and industry vets, they aren’t even known to please longtime fans in any serious way. Just check out some of the more financially successful ventures into this difficult field, films like Warcraft, Detective Pikachu (which actually wasn’t all that bad), the Tomb Raider series, Prince of Persia, Monster Hunter, all six entries in the Resident Evil franchise, Sonic the Hedgehog….

The problem usually lies in a misunderstanding of what makes video games tick, the basic fact they’re more fun to play than watch. Also a certain greedy approach to cash cows that otherwise net billions annually. Interactive, choice-driven, challenging, often containing stories that work precisely because players feel totally immersed.

Games can and do look and smell like movies, but they aren’t the same thing. An enterprising filmmaker would be loath to adapt a video game beat-for-beat. What would be the point? The most common approach is to try and split the difference, to take a few popular franchise characters, perhaps mix them in with some new no-name placeholders, invent a plot that is similar but not identical to the original, and then race the whole thing through production, packaging, and release.

The new Mortal Kombat film is no different. It thinks it understands what longtime fans want, but in reality it’s just a hodgepodge of half-baked ideas and mishandled IP. Honestly, I don’t know if you’ve ever played a MK game in your life, but the series isn’t about story, not really. It’s about gore and hyperviolence, the kind of bloody entertainment that rewards complex finisher moves so brutal they have but one appropriate name: fatalities.

See the source image

This latest stab at the franchise wants to include all the blood and death, not sugar coat things like the famously inadequate Mortal Kombat movies made in the mid-90s. Lots of people grew up with those films, and Warner Bros. is convinced an updated, adult-friendly retread will hit the spot. For the most part, it does not. The story is messy, the action is simultaneously choppy and too slow (not sure how they managed that one), and let’s not mince words, so many different characters get thrown at you, it’s entirely possible you’ll need a PH.D. in Kombat-ology to keep up.

I’m old enough to remember a time many moms and dads would refuse to let their kids play Mortal Kombat. Video games have only gotten increasingly more realistic since then. A gaming series that pushes the violence and willfully misspells the word ‘Kombat‘ is never going to yield an Academy Award winner. Kome on, all you Klassic Mortal Kombat Kompetitors! Why no Kostly retread of Street Fighter, or Kan we finally Konsider the genre Kompromised?

Skip this movie if you can. Go play the newest Mortal Kombat video game, lucky number eleven, which at least understands what fans show up to see. Blood, blood, and even more blood, gameplay that is tight and fierce, competitive tournaments that let you test yourself against other players, and a story that is serviceable at best.

Because the vast majority of MK players don’t care about story. That just goes without saying. Remove all the things that make the games immersive fun, and you’re left with a whole heap of meh.

Kill the Koncept, Warner Bros.. Kan’t tell you how Kreatively Konstipated this Kategory has beKome.

Jeff’s Movie Reviews gives the new Mortal Kombat movie a Five out of Ten.


Love Madness Demon Cover Final

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!

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

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


Mind Fields: Fish In Or Out Of Water

Mind Fields

We’re just like the fish; we don’t know what water is. But the element in which we swim, the element that is impossible for us to recognize, is stress. 

You may think you know you’re stressed. This isn’t the kind of stress I’m talking about. We have become denizens of a culture that is actually a Torture Machine. It drives us insane by presenting demands so complex as to be impossible to  achieve. Every day, it issues orders to our nervous systems. Turn on your left blinker. Pay your insurance premium. Pick up your kids’ school uniforms. Don’t forget the doctor’s appointment. Where’d you put the McFarland file? Where are the paper clips? Why is this milk sour? Screw it; not worth my time, flush it down the sink. Are the dogs’ vaccinations up to date?

Do I have the receipts for my tax audit?

Why am I always left with the feeling that I’ve forgotten to do a homework assignment? Who is this screaming at me, right next to my ear so that it hurts?

The Antifa people are scurvy hippies. Our government is letting people steal on a massive scale. My bank account only exists long enough for the auto-payments to hit, and it’s gone and I’ve got nothing left to spend.

I think I’m going crazy. I don’t have any sexual desire at all. The last time I felt truly alive was… when? Have I ever felt truly alive? I truly don’t think so.

There’s nothing to look forward to. My old age will merely be a time when insurance machines squeeze the remaining dollars from my estate, leaving my kids with nothing. Zero. The globe is warming up. It’s true. The waters are creeping on shore, slowly. The future is a tsunami.

OUR SOCIETY IS A TORTURE MACHINE, so complex that it takes a genius to maneuver its daily routine. It tortures by its relentless pressure. We don’t need Stalin or Hitler. We have modern life in Amerika. See that guy with the cardboard sign sitting at the parking lot exit? “Will work for food.” He isn’t a pathetic loser. He’s you or me or someone we know who just cracked under the pressure and opted to sit in the TIME OUT box in front of everyone. He couldn’t take the complexity any more.  Now he’s doing better. He has a shoe box where his money piles up. He’s doing better than I am! Could I take sitting in the TIME OUT box in front of everyone? I don’t think so. I’m not tough enough.

Life has always been complex, but not like this… Hunting, gathering, fighting off raiders, that was easy stuff compared to this. The modern Torture Machine can’t be dodged. Your assignment is late! Punishment will be swift and merciless! Your interest will rise, your credit will be cut.

The injustice of it! I’m choking on injustice. I can’t breathe! Give me a cigarette. Where are all these voices coming from? Let me turn off the radio.

The off switch doesn’t work. The voices are coming from my pocket.  It’s my Z-Phone. It doesn’t have an OFF switch. The argument continues, shouting everywhere, lies compound in blatant and shameless huckstering. Everything is a trick. Even the tricks we know to be tricks conceal more subtle tricks. Those Antif types are going to burn down Manhattan in a giant riot. Quick, we’d better launch a pre-emptive pogrom, mow them down before they find out where we’ve stashed the money.

The fish don’t recognize the sea. The people don’t recognize the element that dominates our lives. I will coin a term for it: Phobagonovia. Phobe-ago-NOVE-ee-yah. It causes us to curl up inside our homes with the giant TV playing football games and scripted “reality” shows where people are abused by their in-laws. Phobagonovia. We are afraid of new experiences. The Torture Machine has implanted this condition in our nervous systems. We are afraid of relating to one another openly, of crying in front of strangers, of expressing feelings easily, of hugging or kissing spontaneously, lest we be inappropriate, our strait jacket is “Appropriate”, we haven’t a clue how to dance in a circle while deeply in love with members of a clan, to sing ancient songs, to sit around a fire feeling wonderful under the stars. That doesn’t mean we want to go backwards. We want to invent new communities. We are dying of Phobagonovia. Our neck ties are cutting off our breath. Our high heels are warping our skeletons. The future is over.  Donald Trump will be reborn as a talking pig that can only sputter nonsense. The people of his remote village will laugh at him holding their sides with mirth. They will postpone the time to eat him. He’s so strange that people come from villages far away to throw him pieces of rubbish. His time will come, at last.

When the chief takes the first bite, he will spit it out.

“We laughed too long,” he will say. “This fat talking pig tastes like shit.”

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Feral Tenderness

Arthur Rosch is a novelist, musician, photographer and poet. His works are funny, memorable and often compelling. One reviewer said “He’s wicked and feisty, but when he gets you by the guts, he never lets go.” Listeners to his music have compared him to Frank Zappa, Tom Waits, Randy Newman or Mose Allison. These comparisons are flattering but deceptive. Rosch is a stylist, a complete original. His material ranges from sly wit to gripping political commentary.

Arthur was born in the heart of Illinois and grew up in the western suburbs of St. Louis. In his teens he discovered his creative potential while hoping to please a girl. Though she left the scene, Arthur’s creativity stayed behind. In his early twenties he moved to San Francisco and took part in the thriving arts scene. His first literary sale was to Playboy Magazine. The piece went on to receive Playboy’s “Best Story of the Year” award. Arthur also has writing credits in Exquisite Corpse, Shutterbug, eDigital, and Cat Fancy Magazine. He has written five novels, a memoir and a large collection of poetry. His autobiographical novel, Confessions Of An Honest Man won the Honorable Mention award from Writer’s Digest in 2016.

More of his work can be found at www.artrosh.com

Photos at https://500px.com/p/artsdigiphoto?view=photos

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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 – For Dora

For Dora

It’s been tough around the house this month. My mother-in-law passed away after a long battle with liver disease. She’d been having severe problems for months, but as my wife said a few nights ago, we always thought we had more time with her.

I haven’t felt like writing. Even typing up a blog post like this is draining. Writing is a bit of a safe haven for me. Easily tumbling down the rabbit hole, so to speak, laying aside my heartaches and disappointments, entering worlds of my own design, inhabiting people who don’t really exist.

Dora was a writer herself, and a voracious reader, too. I stayed with my wife and her family a lot in the days I was first starting to tinker with short stories. Because Dora was enthusiastic and willing, I often asked her to read my fist drafts. Her comments were always complimentary, because it wasn’t in her nature to poke holes in something her kids had poured their hearts and souls into.

Her kid, that’s what I was. The family has two daughters, and both were married within a year of each other. Dora never differentiated between the four of us, or at least, she tried her best not to. If everyone was gathering in the same place, it was about the kids and whether or not we’d eaten, her kids and how we were getting along in life, the importance of the kids’ enjoyment of holidays, birthdays, work promotions, collegiate successes.

I have no bad memories of her. Truly, anything contentious between us didn’t live long enough to become an issue. She was always patient and friendly with me. I loved reading her yearly Christmas poems, which she sent to the entire extended family. Never missed a year or an opportunity to fret over one or two words. I liked that about her, a certain willingness to own what she’d created. She never tried to publish anything professionally, but the rest of the family agrees she should have.

Marriage, as it turns out, can be one hell of a rollercoaster ride. My wife and I will be celebrating our twelfth anniversary in September. Most of our friends have been married a far shorter time, which means we can dispense wisdom without pretense. Our marriage has been anything but perfect. Thwarted expectations, mental health issues, a lost house, lost job, grad school, which was pretty tough for me, because I do tend to have a sensitive mindset, things can set me off easily.

I have guilt over whether Dora knew how much I appreciated her, because I doubt I ever communicated it properly. I know my wife and father-in-law are suffering, but the truth is they’re both stronger than I am. There’s been so much in the last year to cause us all grief and misery. No shame shaking your fist at the bumpy ride behind and ahead of us. There’s nowhere else for me to be, nothing else I’d rather be doing. Dora was a presence in this house, this family. She was a pillar, holding things up in that matronly way that looks easy but can’t possibly be effortless. Life will be different now. Better or worse, I don’t know, but different for sure.

I can help my wife by making calls, figuring out logistics, being a shoulder to cry on. I’m not perfect, but then neither was Dora. Sometimes I expect her still to be here, watching movies or making dinner, reading, chatting, clipping digital coupons. One of the last things she did for me was to read the first novel I self-published. She loved it, told my wife I was talented and that I was never to give up.

She would’ve said that regardless of whether she enjoyed reading it or not, but I believed her wholeheartedly anyway. That’s what she meant to me. I was proud to be one of her kids. I’m still proud.

I’ll see you next month in Words to Live By. In the meantime, give someone important a hug. If they’re not a hugger, hug them even harder. Tell them you have my permission.


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!


“Mind Fields”- Suits

Mind Fields

I hate men’s suits. The only suit I would ever wear would be a Zoot Suit, a satire of a suit, with fifty pockets and a banana hanging out of every one, with four ties, one atop another, each with a picture of a naked woman or a flamboyant bird. I would wear a gigantic brimmed hat with a snakeskin band, and polished, pointed shoes with tassles. 

Suits are the uniform of businessmen. They are utilitarian, bland and full of pockets. Suits are the devolution of steel-plated armor, they are about protection and concealment. In these concealed pockets are contained handguns, business cards, appointment books, cell phones, credit cards, cash, condoms and keys.

Traditional Suit

Suits are the symbol of aggressive competition, but are actually disguises of said competition because their function is to be soothing and conformist.

There’s a lot of hogwash these days about reading ancient Samurai books or other pieces of oriental philosophy and applying them to the modern business world. Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War,” or Miyamoto Musashi’s “The Five Rings.”  This equation between the ancient world of the warrior and the modern businessman is a bit of a stretch, spurious indeed. Sun Tzu and Musashi were men of subtlety. Their books are subtle works about archetypal activities, War and Competition. These activities are bred into the human psyche.  I have no problem with soldiers and their uniforms, ceremonies, codes of honor and elaborate etiquette. I have a problem with cunning masquerading as subtlety. Subtlety is never destructive. Cunning is frequently destructive. The men who wear suits have mistaken destructive cunning for philosophical depth, and are hoping to imbibe some of this depth by reading ancient books by men of deep intuition, learning and skill.

The utilitarian suit with its meaningless tie and its muted colors is a sad descendant of the flowing sleeves and pantaloons of ancient warriors, the lacy cravat, the jeweled scabbard and its adornments. 

Self expression, adornment, wildness and color are innate to the human soul. We’re in deep trouble when such natural outlets are discouraged. The hippies let adornment, eccentricity and flamboyance become a way of life. This trend can never be suppressed: it emerges in contemporary young people as tattooing, body piercing, hair coloring, all time-honored ways of adorning and decorating one’s own body as an expression of individualism. 


“Mind Fields” – Weight Loss: Fact Or Fiction

Weight Loss: The Fiction of Being Skinny

Mind Fields

I estimate that each of my legs weighs sixty pounds. That leaves a hundred pounds for the rest of my body. My head probably weights twenty, which leaves eighty for the arms and torso. My belly, that piece of me that surprised me totally when it arrived in the years between forty and forty five, my belly must take up sixty pounds of that remaining eighty. It’s a classic middle-aged man’s belly. It is true, I eat too much and most of that eating is done in bed. Every night of my entire life I have munched or crunched something as I read myself to sleep.

Snack Foods

My theory is that I am seeking a substitute for breast milk. My early days on this planet were not a paradise of blissful bonding between  mother and child. My father tells me that I had night terrors. I tell him that if I was terrified of anything, it was my mother. 

During my futile attempts to rid myself of this belly, I’ve done ten kinds of abdominal exercises, hundreds of reps daily, for months and months on end. My belly didn’t get smaller. It got bigger. 

Why was I exercising my six-pack this way? What myth did I buy into? If I wanted to get rid of my belly, I should have done absolutely nothing. I should have, with the wisdom of hindsight, accepted the fact that this belly is here to stay, it’s a natural by product of aging. It just IS, and why is that so horrible? Why is everyone buying gizmos, electronic abdominal muscle stimulators? Why do they buy gimmicks with names like Abbacizers, Sixpackalongs, Abhancers? Why do people hang from bars and pull themselves up and back, up and back, or lay tilted on long boards, going up and back, up and back? There’s more than a little insanity in this vain pursuit. The obsession with the six pack is about vanity and its monster shadow, insecurity. Our culture pumps its toxic load of media venom into our collective psychic bloodstream, so that we feel inadequate if our bodies don’t adhere to some contemporary ideal of beauty. For the moment, that ideal has become horrifically thin; it forms the ironic counterpoint to the visible reality that Americans have gotten chronically fat.

We’re a culture with a lot of food. There’s never been a civilization in the history of the world with more food. It’s hardly surprising that everyone eats a lot, gets fat and the ideal of beauty is to have arms and legs so thin that you have to walk around storm drains lest you slip through the bars and get washed out to sea.

I wish we could weigh thoughts just as we weigh butter, or scrap metal. How much would my daily output of body-shame weigh? How many pounds, kilos, ounces, grams would every thought weigh, those thoughts that go, “Oh I wish this belly would flatten out, it makes me feel so unattractive, so grotesque?”

Beneath the veneer of our society a drumbeat of subliminal command roars like an underground subway train. It’s saying, rhythmically, “hate your body hate your body hate your body hate your body.” Chugga chugga chugga chugga.

People who are at war with their bodies spend money on ridiculous products. Teeth whiteners! When did this obsession come along? Who cares about teeth whiteners? People who use them look ridiculous. There’s a blinding beam of Cheshire Cat grin every time they open their mouths, a light so blatantly artificial that it obscures the rest of the face with its message: “I am insecure and hopelessly vain.  I use teeth whiteners.”

Recently I heard a radio spiel about a product that reduces shadows under the eyes. Oh my god, here we go again!  The script describes the grotesque anatomical process behind eye shadows: a horrific network of bloated capillaries spreads beneath your eyes until they burst forth to spill a dark disgusting goo of congealing blood, thus producing bruised tissue, thus producing embarrassing and unsightly morning-after shadows, hanging and spreading and sagging until they’re the size of wrinkled leather saddle bags beneath your optical sockets.

Eeeeeeww! How humiliating! Burst blood vessels, bruises, discoloration? Wrinkled leather saddle bags beneath my eyes? I can’t have that! 

This is how to create a market for a useless product. People will start fixating on their fatigue-shadows, examining the mirror for any hint of darkening skin. The stuff will sell like crazy, as another reason to hate one’s body darkens the horizon of the national psyche. This insanity is all about money. People who hate themselves spend more money, spend compulsively, to cover their unhappiness. It serves the interests of marketers to create a social condition in which self hatred becomes the paradigm.

I have to ask myself the question, “Which is worse, being overweight, or being guilty, stressed and ashamed of being overweight?” Which damages my health more? I think it’s the latter. I think that stressing and hating my body is more toxic than glugging down three milkshakes a day.

How many ridiculous weight-loss products bloat the bandwidth of the media empires? How many bogus concoctions feed on the fervent wish that one can lose pounds and become shapely without any effort?

I have invented my own product to add to this glut for gluttons: “Thindremeä!” Here’s the commercial, presented by a blandly attractive blonde woman in front of a red- white- blue studio set enhanced by computer graphics showing fat bodies and thin bodies arranged for before/after comparison.

“Do you dream of going to sleep fat and waking up thin? Now your dreams can come true! Two tablets of clinically proven Thindreme before bed will melt the pounds away as you sleep! The more you sleep the thinner you will get. This new miracle compound acts upon the metabolism of your slumbering body and converts fat cells using the principle of DCE, or Dynamic Caloric Extrapolation. It is a proven fact that Rapid Eye Movement sleep is an untapped source of caloric output. In other words, REM sleep is exercise! Thindreme has come along to utilize this remarkable opportunity. The more you dream, the more weight you lose! Within four to six weeks you can emerge a brand new person, thin, sexy, appealing, without any effort on your part! Forget about diet, exercise, lifestyle. You don’t need will power. Thindreme does it for you! Now you can be the man or woman of your dreams! If you order in the next ten minutes, Thindreme will double your order, and at no extra cost, will give you this free nose hair trimmer. And there’s more! We will also add to your order this stylish miniature folding piano! So pick up the phone, and order now! And remember, Thindreme is Clinically Proven.” *

(Now, the disclaimer is read quietly and quickly:)

*Thindreme (wackazone hydrochloride) can produce side effects in a significant minority of users, including blurred vision, stuttered speech, nausea, excess ear wax, demonic visions, spastic extremities, impotence, frigidity, memory loss, extreme body odor, blurted expletives, colorful flatulence, Fixed Eye Syndrome, increased hair growth on the lower back, muscle cramp, constipation, diarrhea, logorrhea, Recalcitrant Plebny, and black facial warts. If dreaming does not occur, possible weight gain is indicated.

            A Product of ExCon Industries”

          
I’ve given up trying to rid myself of this belly. I know that a group of cannibals would find me delicious. My bicycle thighs would be a Kentucky Fried delight, the most giant Crispy ever to appear in a cannibal’s bucket. 

When I compare my life to the living hell in which I see that most people exist, I feel grateful for the good life that I have. My relationship with my partner has its sick elements, to be sure, its ‘enablings’ and ‘codependencies’ (how I love this modern language of the heart’s twisted pathways). We don’t fight. If something starts to fester between us, it will come out in a talk, a gentle but firm confrontation where our fears are expressed and laid to rest.

This was supposed to be about my belly, but I can’t write about that part of my personal real estate without including all kinds of other things in my life. My belly doesn’t exist in a vacuum, it isn’t just floating around in space, a belly, without connection to the rest of the universe. My belly may be causing storms on Neptune, for as we have recently discovered, everything has a connection to everything else. It’s the Butterfly Effect. Or in this case, The Belly Effect.

 My belly is a dominating presence in my life. I, who spent my youth being thin and sinewy, looking like a Hindu holy man from the hippie trail in Nepal, am now somewhat imprisoned by this entity who sits astride the center of my body. It goes everywhere with me. My vanity is not the main actor in this dismay. My vanity went out about the same time as my hair. Well, that’s not exactly true. I am concerned with how I appear to other people. The problem is, I know that the one person least qualified to judge how I appear to other people is myself. And that is a universal law. You, who think you look thus and thus to the outside world, are completely deluded. When you look in the mirror, the information you receive is so utterly tainted by your needs and dreams that you might as well be looking at a stranger. I wish people would understand this.

            YOU DO NOT KNOW WHAT YOU LOOK LIKE. YOU NEVER WILL.

There are so many ingredients that go into an appearance that are invisible to the owner of a human body, that said owner should just give up. Photographs lie for many reasons. Photos capture one two hundredth of a second, and in that two hundredth of a second, an expression may be crossing your face that is otherwise invisible, so quickly do the facial muscles change with the passing of emotion. That’s why we often look odd in pictures. Videotape is in some ways even worse. I don’t know a single soul who doesn’t cringe when viewing his or herself on video. Its distortions are insidious but nonetheless real.

I say this to my fellow humans: do your best to be hygienic, wear clothes that are comfortable and that please you, and let your nature emerge, because that’s what happens anyway. Your appearance is determined by your nature. The way you look is about energy, not physical features.

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Feral Tenderness

Arthur Rosch is a novelist, musician, photographer and poet. His works are funny, memorable and often compelling. One reviewer said “He’s wicked and feisty, but when he gets you by the guts, he never lets go.” Listeners to his music have compared him to Frank Zappa, Tom Waits, Randy Newman or Mose Allison. These comparisons are flattering but deceptive. Rosch is a stylist, a complete original. His material ranges from sly wit to gripping political commentary.

Arthur was born in the heart of Illinois and grew up in the western suburbs of St. Louis. In his teens he discovered his creative potential while hoping to please a girl. Though she left the scene, Arthur’s creativity stayed behind. In his early twenties he moved to San Francisco and took part in the thriving arts scene. His first literary sale was to Playboy Magazine. The piece went on to receive Playboy’s “Best Story of the Year” award. Arthur also has writing credits in Exquisite Corpse, Shutterbug, eDigital, and Cat Fancy Magazine. He has written five novels, a memoir and a large collection of poetry. His autobiographical novel, Confessions Of An Honest Man won the Honorable Mention award from Writer’s Digest in 2016.

More of his work can be found at www.artrosh.com

Photos at https://500px.com/p/artsdigiphoto?view=photos

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Jeff’s Movie Reviews – Coming 2 America

The Once and Future King?

by Jeff Bowles

So let’s say you’re a movie star who’s been part of the popular imagination for forty years. You’re given the opportunity to reprise a role that helped establish your legacy, and let’s be honest, the big parts aren’t exactly pouring in these days. Should you A). Disregard said opportunity, knowing full well it’s very difficult to capture lightning in a bottle, or B). Throw caution to the wind and have a great time making a follow-up to a movie successive generations know and love?

Eddie Murphy appears to have found himself in just such a situation, because when it came time to make a sequel to Coming to America, he didn’t hesitate. Without a doubt, he and the filmmakers would’ve preferred to debut this new movie in theaters, but that’s not an option during a global pandemic. Coming to America 2 (or is that Coming 2 America?) is available exclusively on the Amazon Prime Video streaming service. The original is widely considered one of the best comedies of the ‘80s. It’s sharp, aggressive, honest, romantic, and best of all, silly in all the right ways. A lot of time has passed since its release, yet it still holds up remarkably well. So why not give it a sequel? Why not take all these fan-favorite characters for another spin around the block?

Here’s why. Nostalgia is only as good as the material propping it up. If a film is going to devote most of its comedic resources to nailing the exact same jokes and situations as its predecessor, it’s got to work twice as hard to prove itself worthy of our time. Unfortunately, Coming 2 America proves nothing except the obvious: you can never go home again. Look, you walk into the barbershop and all the characters are played by Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall. Same joke as last time. Still funny, but not as funny as it used to be. Or maybe you go out to listen to a band with a terrible lead singer (also played by Eddie Murphy) and their ridiculous name, Sexual Chocolate, makes you smile. Same joke as last time. Still funny, but…

See the source image

This pattern appears consistently throughout Coming 2 America’s runtime. Even the basic premise amounts to a variation on a well-established theme. This time around Prince Akeem (or rather, King Akeem) must travel to the US in order to meet his illegitimate son. Hijinks ensue, but um, why does it feel so exhausting? It’s like going to see your favorite band and hearing nothing but cover songs. Wesley Snipes, for instance, plays a pretty clear-eyed comedic version of a murderous warlord turned politician, but his presence does nothing to disrupt the flow of same-old, same-old. No sequel has ever ruined a great predecessor. People may say so, but rarely does the supposition hold water. This sequel, in fact, only makes you want to watch the original more. ‘Cause it was killer fun. You know, yay for that original!

A couple other potential pitfalls for audiences looking to recapture thirty-three-year-old magic: there’s no swearing. I mean none. No nudity either. Is that a problem in general? Nope, but the first movie had some serious edge to it, and this thing does not. In essence, it feels like a sequel to a totally different film. There’s also a serious lack of material shot on location. For a film that takes place in Africa and New York City, movie sets are uncommonly common. Incidentally, just a few days after its release, Coming 2 America quickly became the most streamed movie on any platform during the COVID-19 era. Go ahead and look it up, Amazon has a hit on their hands.

Realistically, though, they should’ve had to work just a bit harder to earn it. Watch this movie and see how quickly you forget about it. For my wife and me, the shelf life was two days, two whole days, and then it vanished like an errant spray of Soul Glo hair product in the wind.

Oh no, a callback to the original movie. See? They’ve even got me doing it now!

None of this is to suggest Coming 2 America is little more than a jaded corporate cash grab. Sincerely, the movie appears to have been made with the best of artistic intentions. Word on the street is Eddie Murphy now wants to make another entry in his Beverly Hills Cop franchise. Everything old is new again. Or is it the other way around? Let’s try Casablanca 2, or maybe Citizen Kane: Rosebud’s Revenge. Apocalypse Now, Now. Star Wars Episode … nope, never mind. They did that one already.

Jeff’s Movie Reviews gives Coming 2 America a Six out of Ten.


Love Madness Demon Cover Final

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!

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

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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.

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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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