April 19, 2021
I Love YouTube
April 19, 2021
The Apocalyptic Age Of YouTube
YouTube blows my mind. It’s GOD, it’s SHIVA, it’s…ummm..you know. Effing SUPERB! So much for the capital letters. I love YouTube. I love all the video platforms, from Godtube to Vimeo. We are living in an extraordinary time. The tools for creativity have multiplied so that billions of people have access to recording devices. Phones, vidcams, DSLRs, we now have quality gear to produce clean videos. It’s Content Heaven, and the content is whatever you want to make of it. I like discovering and studying things, like music, archaeology, astronomy. I go to school every day and it’s on the internet.
I think I’ve learned more in the last year than in all my previous life. YouTube has taught me more than many years of school taught me. I hated school…so there you go. I wasn’t about to learn anything from a place I hated. On YouTube, I’ve acquired skills from the most patient and benevolent teachers. Many providers of content do so out of their own generosity. They don’t make money, they don’t advertise.
The advent of the Vlog, or video blog, is a major development. I found the travel vlog Baldandbankrupt.com by accident. An adventurous Brit travels the world. We only know his name, Benjamin. He doesn’t tell us much else. As a guide he’s superb. He’s simple but entertaining, and his erudition is inconspicuous. He’s just one of us, “one of the guys”. He has a knack for languages. He does passably well in Russian and Hindi. What else does he speak? Who knows?
On the southern perimeter of the ex-Soviet Union there are a dozen nations, all of whom speak Russian. Consider that a gift of the Soviet past. It endowed all of Asia right up to the borders of China with a common language. As we can see through Ben’s travels, the cultures and heritages of the erstwhile Russian Empire are relatively intact. Whether it’s in Ukraine or Kalmykia, those peoples remember their legacies from The Silk Road and the steppes. In essence Bald Ben follows The Great Game, that competition between the British and the Russians that took up so much of the 19th Century. They competed in Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Turkestan. They confronted one another across vast swathes of central Asia. They were full of Imperial ambition. The geography is immense. If Ben wants to be in the middle of nowhere, there are plenty of nowhere places to go. Especially in the once proud Soviet Union.
Back to YouTube, the Guru, The Miracle Baba. It gives tirelessly. It’s our creation, ours. I wanted to learn piano and I didn’t feel that I could afford a teacher. YouTube’s piano teachers are legion, and I’ve fastened on a few piano mentors to help me master the instrument. After nine months of practice I can run scales, play and recognize most of my chords, and perform a few songs. When was this possible, before the internet? When I took trumpet lessons as a kid the dreaded Mister Haspiel came to our house weekly to instill in me the love of the instrument. It turned out that I was a drummer, and trumpet wasn’t so much a mistake as it was my mother’s design to thwart me as a drummer. I hated the trumpet! My mother hated it too, she hated my creativity. She once threw my trumpet down the basement steps. My dad had to buy me another. I got an upgrade: a shiny Selmer to replace that funky old Buescher. Thanks, Dad! And thanks again, departed father, for tolerating my drums after I had pestered you so much that you had to buy me drums to shut me up! I became a pretty good drummer. I can still paradiddle and double paradiddle with the best of them.
Mother’s long gone and YouTube offers free piano lessons, or cheap piano lessons, whatever…I can buy a course for a hundred bucks. If I can tell you anything, it is this: learning is fun. I’m an old man and I’m still learning. I’m still perfecting skills. How cool is that? Don’t get bored. Don’t be boring. Feed your spirit, especially with music.
YouTube is so freewheeling a form that it is possible for you to meet yourself online. Get into someone’s video or make your own. When Ben “Bald” wanders the Ukraine he runs into people who are watching his travel vlog. Now they’re IN his vlog. The loopy nature of this appeals to me. The skills for video making are evolving, but the toolkit is replete with every kind of Fade, Swipe, Roll, Caption, Insert, Delete. The skill with the camera involves knowing exactly when to turn on a subject, how to walk, narrate, greet people in foreign tongues, deter thieves and touts, and when to shut up and be quiet. One does these things simultaneously. It’s a flow, a rhythm and it’s impossible to fake. Vloggers are like musicians learning their chops as they record. A good vlog narration is a consummate filmic device. Not all vloggers are equal. And not all vloggers are as independent as Benjamin Rich on baldandbankrupt dot com.
The YouTube/video post phenomenon has spawned whole new industries. There are video “factories” where buildings are divided not into offices but studios for the recording of videos of all stripes from science to porn. The miniaturization of gear and the lowered cost of production have moved videos into the mainstream.
This is the Golden Age of Content. More people are doing more things with video than has ever been possible.
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
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Growing Bookworms – “Why must I read when the world is electronic and I prefer computer games to books?”Posted: March 10, 2021
Children need to learn to read and write. This is an undebatable fact. Well, it’s undebatable from a parents point of view, it is very debatable from a teenagers point of view. I have had a number of conversations with children, including my younger son, about the necessity of reading.
“Why do I need to read when I can watch a movie?”
“Why must I read when the world is electronic and I prefer computer games to books?”
The simple answer, is that despite our moving to a more visual and electronic platform, everything in our modern lives is still underpinned by the written word. It is merely it’s shape and form that has changed.
Every movie and most television shows are based on screenplays which are written by writers, or even groups of writers. Many movies and television series are adapted from books. If there were no books, our choices of visual media would be much more limited. Screenplays would be written, but without creativity and a knowledge of writing, a screenplay could not exist. In my experience, the range of creative writing and English literacy skills our children learn is far more expansive than what I learned at school. Their curriculum now includes visual literacy and film study as well as the traditional grammar, poetry, comprehension and creative writing I studied. These are changes that accommodate our changing times.
As for computer games, I soon realised that the computer games my children play are not the Pacman or Donkey Kong style games from my childhood, but are sophisticated stories with themes and plots. My sons have learned all about Greek and Norse mythology from computer games, as well as how to plan a war or battle with supply lines and build an entire society form a little creature that whistles to a race that can fly to the moon. When they were younger, they learned about farming. They planted crops, water and feed them and eventually harvested them.
The knowledge and skills they have gained from computer games are not inferior or worthless. The games of strategy have taught them useful survival and planning techniques. The most interesting thing for me about their games is that they require reading. There are pop up notifications continuously as the game progresses. The characters also speak and interact and their thoughts and plans are often set out in words exactly like subtitles. I have also discovered that my children Google information about their games and look up how to do things. This also requires reading.
I point this out to them. If you couldn’t read, you wouldn’t be able to play this game. If people didn’t write, there would be no script for the game you are playing. Because our lives are more visual now does not mean that these skills are not longer necessary. There are vital to engage in this virtual world. In this context, my sons understand the importance of reading. I have linked it to their world.
We no longer write letters, but we spend all day long on email. Writing an email requires good communication skills or you will not achieve the desired outcome.
We no longer draft lengthily reports but precise power point presentations with succinct bullet points. If you have prepared such presentations you will know that their preparation requires more thought and careful word choice than the long and wordy documents we produced in the past. Preparing a good presentation requires an ability to summarise and pick pertinent points out of a larger feedback document.
Even those of us who work mainly with figures – the number crunches of the world – have to be able to write and communicate effectively. A complex spreadsheet and lines of figures must be reduced to a written interpretive document and then to a concise bulleted presentation. They are meaningless without interpretation and communication to others.
As a parent of two teenage boys I have learned to put my personal prejudices [or literary snobbery] aside when it comes to learning to read. There is nothing wrong with graphic novels. In fact, a lot of our adult humour and political sarcasm is shared through cartoons and memes. This makes visual literacy essential – Ha! The teachers are right after all.
I have decided that if my sons see little benefit to reading Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne or The Time Machine by H.G. Wells and prefer to read five volumes of the Minecraft Combat Handbook, that is actually okay.
And having achieved this peace of mind, I even celebrated it with a cake!
About Robbie Cheadle
Robbie Cheadle has published nine books for children and one poetry book. She has branched into writing for adults and young adults and, in order to clearly separate her children’s books from her adult books, is writing for older readers under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle.
Robbie Cheadle’s Sir Chocolate children’s picture books are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision. Her books for older children also incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.
Roberta Eaton Cheadle’s supernatural stories combine fabulous paranormal elements with fascinating historical facts.
Children’s picture books – available as a square book and an A5 book (co-authored with Michael Cheadle):
Sir Chocolate and the strawberry cream story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the baby cookie monster story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the sugar dough bees story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the Condensed Milk River story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the Sugar Crystal Caves story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the Fondant Five story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the Ice Cream Rainbow Fairies story and cookbook
Middle school books:
Silly Willy Goes to Cape Town (includes five fun party cake ideas)
While the Bombs Fell (co-authored with Elsie Hancy Eaton)
Open a new door (co-authored with Kim Blades)
Supernatural fantasy YA novel:
Through the Nethergate
Horror Anthologies (edited by Dan Alatorre):
Paranormal Anthologies (edited by Kaye Lynne Booth):
Spirits of the West
Whispers of the Past
Murder mystery Anthology (edited by Stephen Bentley)
Death Among Us
Find Robbie Cheadle
Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram
Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books
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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 on spiderwebs:
sit lightly with life
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
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.
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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Marvel Meets Dick Van Dyke
by Jeff Bowles
On January 15th, the video streaming service Disney+ premiered the first of its Marvel Studios television series, WandaVision. The show is tied into the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe, which for better or worse means it’s a more meaningful viewing experience if you’re familiar with a few of the newer Marvel movies, most notably Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame. By no means are the two premier episodes entirely dependent on those other films, because really, WandaVision is a Marvel production of a different color (or is that Technicolor?).
WandaVision is high-concept for a comic book adaptation. It’s a hybrid classic sitcom and superhero movie, though the first two episodes depend much more heavily on the sitcom tropes than on muscles and powers. It pays expert homage to old fifties and sixties shows like The Dick Van Dyke Show and I Dream of Jeannie, and it does so in a fairly clear-eyed fashion. Disney+ and Marvel Studios were wise to premier the first two episodes together, because at first blush, the series doesn’t seem to have much more going for it than being a classic American television pastiche.
It’s pretty clear by the end of episode two, however, that there’s something interesting and probably sinister happening underneath an otherwise slick and squeaky-clean black and white veneer. When last we saw Avengers Wanda Maximoff and The Vision, they were embroiled in the whole Infinity Saga thing. The mad Titan Thanos killed Vision to take the elemental stone locked inside his cranial matrix, and a bit later on (after some significant time travel shenanigans) Wanda helped the rest of the Marvel heroes take Thanos down for good. So what are the two of them doing here, living in I Love Lucy land? The show offers a few tantalizing hints, but so far, nothing super concrete.
As with most of the stuff Marvel commits to the screen, WandaVision is based on a couple different comic book source stories. I won’t and can’t spoil it for you, because the cinematic universe always diverges from the comics, and for good reason. But it will be intriguing to see how the series evolves from here. Lots of fun to be had with the concept, and I hope the show takes full advantage of every fun detail it’s set up so far.
The tone of WandaVision is pretty spot on, with a few notable exceptions. Sometimes jokes land in an authentic and genuine manner, and at other times they feel more synthetic than The Vision himself. For instance, in one sequence Vision accidently eats a piece of chewing gum, and it makes him act comically inebriated. For some reason. Again, sitcom logic. Paul Bettany, who plays the android Avenger, must enjoy the opportunity to put a new spin on this guy, because he really gives it everything he’s got. Marvel is taking a risk with this show, and that’s much appreciated. Other comic book movie franchises have gotten stale, but the MCU is proving once again it’s never willing to rest on its creative laurels. Superficially so, at least.
Ultimately, Bettany and co-star Elizabeth Olsen are really charming and comfortable together. Vision and Wanda Maximoff have a long and storied Marvel romance, so it’s fun watching this whole interesting take on superhero storytelling unfold. Some fans may find it slow and laborious. I mean, no big action scenes or sweeping and typically overly dramatic character moments? Really?
But this is good television if you ask me, Americana masquerading as Americana. Truth be told, it’s got more creative potential in its little finger than most comic movies released in the last quarter century had tucked away inside their entire utility belts. The shared universe model is both fundamentally flawed and incredibly successful because it discourages outsiders and incentives people willing to dig in and enjoy a much larger overarching narrative. It won’t be for everyone, but that’s how it’s always been with comics and comic book fans. The good news with WandaVision is that it’s likely to ensnare you if you let it, regardless of whether you can tell Iron Man from War Machine, Winter Soldier from The Falcon, Hulk from She-Hulk.
By the way, She-Hulk, Falcon and Winter Soldier, Loki, Ms. Marvel, and a whole host of other Marvel heroes are getting Disney+ shows in the months and years ahead. Brave new world, if you’re looking forward to it. Eventually you’ll need a Master’s degree to understand the whole complex storyline. Lucky for you, I proudly hold that exact degree.
Jeff’s Movie Reviews gives the premier of WandaVision an Eight out of Ten.
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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I’ve been a Stephen King fan since I was thirteen and read Carrie, but I didn’t realize it until a year later when I read The Shinning one night when I was babysitting. I picked it up after my charges were asleep and I was looking for something to read, and I couldn’t put it down. I called my mom and woke her up at four in the morning, because I was too scared to read more, but I didn’t want to put the book down. I finished it the next day, and after that, I soaked up anything by Stephen King that I could get my hands on. I’ve read The Stand through three times, including the “Special Edition” version with all the cut chapters and scenes. I’ve seen the original mini-series twice, so it was in great anticipation that I awaited the coming of the new mini-series on CBS All Access. I woke up analyzing this s new version of an old favorite, so I knew I had to write this review.
Let me begin by saying that I think they made a huge mistake by starting this mini-series after Captain Tripps has devoured humanity and placed the survivors into the two camps in Boulder and New Vegas, and only allowing us glimpses of the pre-Captain Tripps world, instead of letting us get to know the characters as the story unfolds, as in the book and the original mini-series. By eliminating what was basically the first half of the book and reducing it to flashbacks, we miss out on vital character development, not to mention many of the very intense scenes that occur there.
Now, I know we shouldn’t judge this version by those that have come before, and I’ve tried not to, but in my defense, I know this story inside and out, and it is very difficult not to draw on previous knowledge. But, I’m on episode 5 and I still don’t feel connected to any of the characters. That connection, the feeling of knowing and relating to the characters, is one of the big appeals of this story. Without it, I doubt anyone would keep turning the pages of this massive novel or continue watching, because without that feeling of connection, readers or viewers have no reason to care. And I have to admit, I’m hard-pressed to keep viewing the 20-21 version for this very reason.
But the method of storytelling is only one problem. I have difficulty buying-in to this new cast. There’s already been controversy over the Randall Flagg of the first mini-series and this one, portrayed by Alexander Skarsgard, who doesn’t come off as being evil enough in my opinion, but this could go back to the lack of character developement. Although I could get used to Jovan Adepo as Larry Underwood and Gabreille Rose as Judge Harris, who are opposites of their original counterparts, I feel Whoopi Goldberg misses the mark totally with the character of Mother Abigail.
While I like Whoopi as Guynan on Star Trek Generations, and I loved her as Oda Mea Brown in Ghost, she is not the right actress for this part. Mother Abigail is old and frail and determined to carry out the Lord’s work as long as she is able, and everyone loves her and is devoted to her. Whoopi is none of these things. Goldberg is not old enough, and she’s not frail in any way. In previous versions, Mother Abigail’s strength was established through her determination while she was still alone at Hemmingford Home, (which is now in Boulder instead of Nebraska), which we only see a glimpse of in this version. We don’t see her frailty, or her failing health in the Goldberg character, and it is difficult to buy-in to the character, when I don’t feel as if I know who she is or where she came from in the story.
Overall, I am disappointed in this recent rendition of one of my favorite apocalypse tales. I know Stephen King has writing credits for at least nine episodes, but cutting out half the original story was not a good storytelling decision. Flashbacks don’t offer enough to get to know and connect with the characters. There were also several questionable casting decisions, at least in my mind, which prevent relatabilty of the characters. I honestly don’t know how much more I will watch, because they haven’t made me care about this cast of characters in any meaniful way. I will say that Captain Tripps bears some scary resemblences to the Covid pandemic we’re all living through now, but I don’t know if that is enough to attract viewers, especially without many of the most powerful scenes, such as the journey through the tunnel out of New York, Nick’s time as jailer, and Lloyd’s rat problem, which is alluded to in flashback, but just didn’t carry the same impact. My continued viewing is doubtful. If you don’t already know this apocalyptic story, I recommend the original mini-series, or better yet, get the book.