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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Interview By A Fish

Interview with author Art Rosch conducted by
General Stonewall Jackson Cichlid

            A note from Art Rosch:
            In 2004 I was passing the fish tanks in a large pet store.  I hadn't intended to buy a fish.  The idea was absurd, as we were then planning to move into an RV. Nothing stays put during the driving portion of RV adventures.  An aquarium would be a disaster.  Now that we're hardened RV hipsters, we understand the uses of Gorilla tape, bungees and slip-loks.  We can, to a degree, securely fasten doors, closets, cabinets, drawers, small children and  demented adults.  In the early days any sudden turn would bring all the silverware out to bury itself in the faux wood paneling.  
            A fish swam up to the glass and fastened its eyes upon me.  It was a thumb-sized cichlid with iridescent stipples of blue and red.  It was stunningly gorgeous.
            "Hey," said the fish. "I'm for you.  Get me out of here."
            I tried to ignore the creature but it kept pace with me the length of the aquarium.  Other fish got out of its way as if it were a predatory monster. 
            "I'm serious," said the fish.  "They don't obey my orders in here.  They don't know who I am.  What am I supposed to do with an undisciplined rabble like this? " Its eyes almost crossed with contempt, " Angel fish?  Mollies, guppies, goldfish?  Star fish!  I have only one good thing to say about star fish.  They don 't drop their weapons and run when the fighting gets hot."
            I had to stop.  The fish and I squared off and looked deep into one another's eyes. 
            "General?"  I inquired.  "General Stonewall Jackson?"
            "I know," he replied. "This is embarrassing.  I was a Presbyterian."
            That was how I acquired The General.  He liked people.  He hated fish.  He ate the female cichlid we introduced into his tank. 
          We rigged a special travel bowl that hung from a hook on the motor coach's ceiling.  No matter how we bounced and yawed, the nylon sling that held the bowl kept the General's water nice and placid. 
            When we planned to stay somewhere for a while, we bought ten gallons of bottled water, heated it to the proper temperature and put The General in his aquarium.  It was a major pain in the ass.

End of  note.  Begin interview.

General Cichlid:
            Mr. Rosch, you've maintained a literary career of extraordinary purity.  You sold a story to Playboy Magazine in the late 70's.  It won a prestigious award.  The online magazine Exquisite Corpse published two of your satirical pieces  Aside from fleeting brushes with notoriety, you've barely sold or published anything at all.  In fact, I believe no one besides your partner and your household pets has ever read your most important work. 

Art Rosch:
            First of all, please call me Art.  This formality is silly.  You are one of the household pets who has read my work.  In fact, you've read more of my work than anyone besides my partner.
General:  Yes, thanks for setting up that music stand and turning the pages.  You're a patient man.
Rosch:  Fox did most of the page turning.  You know how she is.  Anything for a reader.
General: Let's get back to the uncompromising nature of your written work.
Rosch:  It's easy to have integrity when you're not getting paid.  The lack of pay is a great motivator.  There's always the looming possibility of posthumous fame.  I don't worry about it too much.  I'm fairly certain I'll be forgotten long before the quality of my writing is recognized..
General:  You don't find this obscurity frustrating?
Rosch:  Not at all.  If I became a successful writer, I would have to behave like one.
I would have to increase my medications.  I would have photos taken of me with my chin on my fist.  I would have to travel on airplanes.  Who wants to do that?

Further Author's Note:

            As you can discern, The General was a remarkable fish.  The preceding fantasy
is half true.  One story about The General that is completely true involves an amazing leap of faith, an awesome feat of piscatory prowess.
            One day I was cleaning my friend's aquarium.  I had prepared a large bowl
with about three gallons of his water, and set him to swimming in it while I poured out the rest of the water and cleaned the gunk off the glass and out of the filters.
          The General wasn't thrilled about this; he slapped the surface of the water with his
tail and darted in angry circles.  Before meeting The General I had never conceived that fish could have such elaborate personalities.  Now I know better.  Animals, all of the creatures on this planet, need to be taken seriously.  Fish, fowl, mammal, invertebrate, they are all conscious, each with unique complexity.  The General was a lesson.
            Having cleaned the rocks, the castle, the plastic plants and all the pumps and filters, I put the aquarium back on the table.  I went through the procedure of getting fresh water to the correct temperature and began filling the tank.  The General was in the big bowl, about four feet away on a dining table.  I was going to net him and transfer him back to the aquarium.  Then I would gently pour the water in the bowl back into the tank until it was topped off.
             I approached the table with the net in my hand.  I was about to chase The General around the bowl until I had him in the little rectangle of green mesh.  He saved me the trouble.  With an explosive leap, the fish flew through the air to make a perfect dive into the aquarium.  Sploosh!!
Let me make this completely clear.  A fish the size of my thumb flew a perfectly accurate arc that must have been at least twenty feet in total extent. If he had missed he probably would have died.
          I will assume that the General was taking no more risks regarding demise by friendly fire.

            This, I swear, is completely true.


The Animal Companion Book Circle

This is Bear

General Stonewall Jackson Cichlid

          In my efforts to remain the world's most obscure talented writer, I have enlisted the help of my household animal friends. I've told the story of Bear's rescue from the puppy mill.
I've told of my encounter with General Stonewall Jackson Cichlid. I'd like to introduce the other members of the book circle and give a thumbnail description of each of my friends.
           Bear is certainly the leading intellect of the group. He is willful, stubborn and sometimes hard to motivate. He learns dog tricks as if they're beneath his dignity, (which they are), but in order to please us he sits, shakes hands and rolls over.
          Bear is the most loyal of fans. He loves my writing and his critiques are incisive and sometimes painful. But that' as it should be. A writer needs to hear about failures from someone who is supportive. A book circle such as this one, dedicated to the work of a single author, is a special vehicle for the writer's work.
          Bear's loyalty is demonstrated in his absolute devotion to his sex partner,
a stuffed dog named Samantha. Here it is, almost a year since his nuts were cut off,
and Bear still humps Samantha two or three times a week. He has no shame in these public displays. He does a little dance around Samantha. He jumps up and forward in a canine declaration of love and dominance. It's a complex movement. His hind legs make a motion as if he is kicking dirt backwards into the faces of any rivals. Those legs stay on the ground while Bear raises the front of his body to a forty five degree angle. This is accompanied by a simultaneous hop forward by a few inches. This dance is done in a circle around Samantha before Bear begins the serious humping.
          "Ufff ruff," he says. Samantha lays on her side. She's a toy, she's inanimate. It doesn't matter to Bear. When he was just a puppy he had his first girlfriend, a toy brown dog named Greta. Somewhere between Greta and Samantha, and before we had Bear's nuts chopped off, we mated Bear with a real toy poodle named Snickers. That's another story. The union, however, produced another member of my Book Circle. This is Gabriel Kuruk (pronounced koo-roook).
         Gabe is a dog of mischief. He was the runt in a litter of two. His sister Kiani
is about the size of her mother, Snickers. Gabe barely weighs three pounds. Bear is a hefty hunk of muscle tipping the scales at seven pounds. Undaunted by his smallness, Gabe is fearless and clever. As a critic of literature he's a joker and is apt to make snide comments about my Philip Roth-style stories of Jewish life in the suburban sixties. Still, it takes all kinds to make a dynamic Book Circle.
          We know that Gabe prefers comic books. We also know that he's not stupid.  He takes his time learning things like "shake hands" but once he's mastered a skill he takes it to breathtaking extremes. Gabe shakes hands with everyone and everything.
          Bear always knows which end Samantha is the business end.  Gabe doesn't care. He messes with Samantha just to piss on his father's head.  So to speak. On our walks with the double leash it's Bear who usually pisses on Gabe's head. It only seems fair that Gabe will take any approach to Samantha:
head first, hind end forward, I don't think he really knows the difference. Besides,
it's too late for Gabe to attempt any production of heirs. He lost his nuts the same day Bear's gonads were separated from his body.  It seems to have done little damage to the father-son bond. They may tease one another, they may piss on one another's heads, but they remain close.

(More tomorrow about the Animal Companion Book Circle, sharing the works of

the world's most talented obscure writer, Art Rosch.)

Sunday, September 8, 2013

A Brief Lesson In Sunshine

A solar flare of considerable size and power

Don't park your go-cart on the sun
don't park your skateboard or your razor on the sun
don't park your mountain bike or scooter with
a clown horn or a hooter don't park anything NASA's not tutored
on the sun.  Don't mess with the heliosphere
don't fuck up the corona don't throw old popcorn or discard soda
don't park your pickup to kiss your girlfriend
within a light year or with your door open
a solar mass ejection might damage your erection
even wearing goggles don't go there for a snoggle
don't do back flips or wheelies on the sun.

Taken in ultraviolet light. Temperatures of areas shown as white: one million degrees
The solar magnetic field.  It flips every eleven years.  It's getting ready to flip again.

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