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26 Public Reviews Given
Public Reviews
Review of The Enigma  
Rated: E | (4.5)
It seems that I promised you a review back in January, which I did, but neglected to send it. At least I can't find a record of it. If sent, please accept my apologies for resending it. If not sent, please accept my apologies for the oversight. In any case, here it is.

I enjoyed 'Enigma'. There were many of your words that resonated with me. I appreciate those things that make me think, to re-examine what already exists as truth, and investigate those things that I have yet to discover. You've done that, and I thank you.

I could say that it would be nice to have a deeper insight into the things you mention, but it is not my decision. While it is intriguing and compelling, it is unfinished and yet still inviting. I guess I do much the same with my own writing. People always want to know more about me, when I really desire that they learn more about themselves. No matter how much I relate my own experiences to others, they can never really comprehend because of the overwhelming expanse of their own experience and perspective.

It sounds like a capitulation and a farewell, and yet it talks of the future. I was a little bit confused. I also feel the wear of many years, but am unwilling to give up what little time is left me to despair and the unknown. I persevere and continue my path, enjoying the journey, reluctantly accepting there may well never be a destination.

Life is a bitch, and yet I sit here knowing that I am who I am only because of that bitch. I wish to be no one else, and find contentment in knowing that I played an integral part in that evolution.

Ah, alone. I long ago realized that we walk that path alone, no matter how many may share it with us. Was it real? It was the only 'real' I know. I think I may have been able to direct it better at times, but I embrace the fact that it was the creation of 'I'.

I have no solace in the memories that I have left behind. Very few ever really knew me. I barely knew myself. If my words or actions touched someone else, then I am somewhat content. We do what we think is right, and nothing else is within our control. That is my focus.

Existence is a highly personal experience.

I enjoyed your final quote. Is it one of your own? I play with poetry myself at times. I found it insightful and intriguing. Thoughtful. I have a bit of an obsession with 'self' so it resonates.
Review of Lazarus  
Rated: E | (3.0)
I've been meaning to take a look at your suggestion for a while. I am sorry it took so long.

I always find it somewhat difficult to assimilate the written word, especially when it is based on a religious principle, that relates to what someone says, or what is written in a book, and not so much the reaction and interpretation of the individual because of some real-life event. As I read it seems more of an explanation or a translation than something that was actually experienced. I don't want to call your belief system into question, because I understand at least some of what you are trying to do. I related to you that both my brother and uncle were priests and that I have been exposed to the belief system on an intimate level.

When I began my search for answers about life and truth and god, one of the first things I researched was the Bible. I read virtually the whole book, trying to find something that would resonate with my limited experience at that time, to try and make sense of a world that did not hold a lot of answers. While there was much of value in parts of what was presented, there was much contradiction and things that just made little or no sense to me, it didn't bring me any deeper understanding of myself or those around me. I found it wanting. This is not to say that it cannot be something of value and substance to someone else. If it assists someone in becoming a better person, then I make an attempt to appreciate what that individual was able to find in the teachings and stories about life. I accept it as a piece of the puzzle, with valuable lessons and a hint of direction and suggestions for thought and actions. I embraced those things that could help me with my quest but had to reject those things that were thought to be less than complimentary to my already developing a personal philosophy. It is just the way that I process things, and I have done so with a number of other religions and disciplines, some traditional and others much less so, from Catholicism and Christianity, as already stated, as well as Muslim and Judaism, through Buddhism and Confucianism and Daoism, even Shintoism and Paganism, not to mention American Indian cultures. They all have something important to say about what is needed to find god. They all have given me direction and aspects of thought and action that I have accepted as instrumental in finding that which I am looking for, which is peace and harmony, and I find it hard to believe that any god would hold my expectations against me.

Our thoughts on what god, if he exists, are quite disparate. I find benefit and satisfaction in discovering what is right, and doing whatever I can to integrate that into my everyday actions. You believe that your god gives direction and imperatives. I believe that God, if he exists, wants us to experience understanding without coercion or direction. I am more than willing to face him, again, if he exists, and to make my case to him, and no one else. He has never spoken to me, and I await the event. If it never happens, then I will determine my own destiny. I don't believe anyone else can do that for me, including you, my brother, or any sage or representative of a divinity. I try not to judge your own decisions and actions, and I hope that you are willing to do the same for me.

You talk of gods' will, and I respect that, but I am sorry that I cannot accept that. I have talked with many that say God has a plan. If so, it may well be that this is his plan for me, and I intend to live a life of integrity doing just that. Can you tell me that he does not have a plan for me? Can you tell me that what I am relating to you is not that plan? How can you possibly say that?

My interpretation is that you have a strong belief in what you are saying. Belief and passion are wonderful things. I have that as well. Is it not my right to come to these conclusions by my own volition? I acknowledge your desire to help in some way, but when does that wish to help become coercive?

You say that I cannot see 'further than these things' but I will be able to with Jesus. This may well be so, but I seem to be making a credible attempt as we speak. All of these trials and tribulations of marriage that you present are real enough, but my wife and I just celebrated our 46th anniversary just last week. It seems undeniable that we are doing something right. While many of those things he taught in the Bible are a part of our lives, he is not a part of our lives, nor his father, or any other god from any other belief. Perhaps we live in some degree of denial, and yet we live in harmony with each other, and bring no harm to others. What is it that we are doing wrong? I am comfortable with our efforts.

Your narrative tends to lean towards preaching at times, and that, at least in my case, does nothing to convince me of the righteousness of your positions. You are relating nothing from personal experience, but simply relating what is said in a book. Without the existence of this tome, there is nothing to provide legitimacy for your words. I find this troubling which leaves me unsatisfied. If you wish to have me reconsider a lifetime of thought and contemplation, you are going to have to do much better than that. I mean no disrespect. It is a simple reality.

I accept that evil exists in this world, but find it difficult to acknowledge an actual satan. Can I be mistaken? Most assuredly, it is possible. I have been wrong about so much in my life, it could fill volumes. The whole concept of truth is somewhat humourous. If I am able to recognize good and evil and work towards defeating the existence of evil in our lives, does it really matter what motivates me? Is it not of more importance whether I really have a legitimate comprehension of what evil is? At some point, I need to know, with some surety, or I will fail in my quest. God may be able to help, but the revelation cannot come through you, it must come directly from God himself. It will simply be next to impossible for me to accept anything else.

I am very uncomfortable when I start hearing about obedience and an arbitrary judgment of my 'ability' to 'learn' faith. This is normally understood to be a determination to be made, but not by me, and that invariably makes me resist and reject. Be careful when you begin to speak in these terms, they are dangerous on so many levels.

The narrative continues to relate to us, albeit with some colloquial re-phrasing of the storyline, but it remains a regurgitation of Bible passages and consistently in a preachable format. Speaking of format, another aspect of being taken seriously is to put the time and effort into your own submission. To have the reader respect your work, you have to respect it yourself. Spelling, grammar, formatting, using text-ese. These things reflect on the whole piece. This is not to say that mistakes are not made, things overlooked or simply not recognized as wrong. It is an imperative for the writer to try and remove as many of these distractions as possible, or the reader can get lost in the story and eventually lose interest, not something that you want to happen. Proofreading is an integral part of the writing itself. It is so difficult to entice someone to read a work, even harder still to engage with them and keep them interested, it is self-destructive to be sloppy or lazy in your presentation.

As mentioned, there is a certain strength and passion in your writing. The writing is capable, but the flow can be improved by reducing mistakes and some tweaks to delivery and presentation. I don't know if you reread your postings before submission, but reading it aloud will help you find those areas that sound forced and discordant. I can't help but reiterate that the preaching is a real turnoff for me. I have been accused of it repeatedly. Passion will make you do that with any subject and seem to be preaching even when there was no intent to do so. With religious-related items it is almost impossible. I don't normally subscribe to the absolutism demanded by many to show, don't tell, but in this case, it would seem that it would be much more palatable if there was a more intimate revelation that involved you as opposed to quoting or paraphrasing from the scripture. This is all the opinion of a single individual. It is simply my observation after reading your work. We look at this life from different perspectives, but at no time do I say that you are wrong, only that if you wish to create a larger impact, in my humble opinion, you need to make some adjustments. But in the end, it will be your decision. I sincerely wish you well. What you are attempting to do is extremely difficult, as I have found out. I have a few essays on god and religion, and try very hard to refrain from alienating people with limited success. If that is what you wish to do, you will have to accept, re-evaluate and adjust accordingly continuously. I can only wish you good luck in your efforts.

I think that the piece would be so much more compelling if it was more a narrative about your own personal thoughts, no matter how much they are influenced by your faith. It is admirable in many respects to hold strong beliefs, but the level of preaching is going to turn many people off. I guess it depends on what type of audience that you are trying to reach. If you are looking to start a movement or develop your own community, it may be more valid. If you are trying to simply engage with believers and non-believers alike, then you need to approach this with a totally different perspective. Those that have similar beliefs will not give much push-back, but those that are already skeptical, or uninformed as to your beliefs, are going to be concerned with the tone and direction of the narrative. This is just my opinion, of course, but I think it a valid one. My own position is a well-established and developed system of beliefs, and I have heard nothing that I have not heard before, in many guises. It would be necessary to make me question some of my own comfortable positions before it would be even possible to actually make an effort to re-investigate what I consider bedrock tenets that my philosophy is built upon. You have not done that. You are not saying anything new, and you need something I have never heard of or thought about to impress me.

I truly wish you well. I hope you are able to find your way through the 'mind-field' of conflict and resolution. Maybe you can write some reasoned arguments about specific concepts within the religion that are open-minded and welcoming to those that may disagree with your position. Your kind of writing can be very intimidating and interpreted as aggressive. You have to find a way to get around that or I fear that you will be frustrated with the results. I am all the time. I hope that you can accept these observations in the manner in which they were intended, as information that may be of some use to you. If not, it can be rejected and discarded. It was meant to help, and not to hurt. I hope that you understand that.

Enjoy your day. Keep writing. I wish you nothing but peace.


Lone Cypress Workshop

Rated: E | (3.5)
I appreciated your somewhat nebulous interest in my attempt at starting a group on the subject of essays. I hope that you will decide that you would like to sample what my 'group of one' may have to offer. I read this piece at your suggestion and found it relevant to what I am hoping to do with the group, that being to understand and develop the usage of the essay in our writings. I found your essay a perfect example of what an essay is, and what it may be.

As a reviewer, I tend to shy away from telling a writer what to do, and what to say, and how to say it. It is my position that it is for the author to ultimately decide his direction and style. Having said that, there are some comments and observations that I would like to share for your consideration. Just something to think about if you are going to develop the piece, or for possible use within something else in the future. It may give you some insight into the kind of conversations that we may have within the group.

My first reaction to your introduction was that conventional wisdom would suggest that you make it more a narrative than a 'list' of things that you would like to accomplish. In either case, you do have to accomplish the same things, but a list can be rather dry to the reader, and while you may 'hook' them with your comments, since most readers are not going to be enthralled by the subject of mathematics, it may alienate even more of your audience.

Myself, I am a student of mathematics and have always had an interest. I recognize the importance of usage in everyday life and enjoy hearing anecdotal stories about the subject. The problem with an essay is that it is not normally a story, but a rigid presentation. The formal essay does this by design, and to some degree, it sometimes works but lacks a certain 'entertainment' value. This is one of the reasons that I tend to favor the 'informal' and do not believe that it cannot be enjoyable at the same time.

I am somewhat ambivalent about your intro. At first, it seemed a bit clinical, but upon reflection, it is, in essence, a direct and personal invitation to the reader, and I appreciate that. I could see some others possibly criticizing that it is not structured and formal enough, but I like the informality of the presentation.

Your first points, while technically valid, are not particularly cohesive. While they are legitimate statements they don't seem to have a relation to one another and takes me out of the narrative to some degree. They need to be tied into one another, as well as the concept of 'lying' that we are expecting. Perhaps with more explanation it might make more sense. Each point could be the nexus of a sub-narrative, building upon the intro and setting up what is to come. While it creates some anticipation for where the piece is going, it also disconnects the attention.

I am not sure that there is evidence that mathematics is suspect at this point, but you suggest that your next argument may rectify that. You introduce contradiction between different proofs, but at some point, in pretty much all of the 'sciences', we have to rely on previous conclusions to make progress. Most science is not built upon factual evidence, although there is much that does exist, but upon consensus and acceptance. Theoretical science is taking over all the disciplines, and the existence of truth gets more tenuous with each passing day. Don't get me wrong, I actually agree with much of what you say. It is just that it comes across as more confusing than convincing, especially for those that are not scientific in temperament. I believe that you are presenting too many aspects too quickly, and not giving the reader more information to understand where you are going with the narrative. I, of course, do not really know the audience that you are attempting to reach, which has many implications for delivery and intent.

The reference to the Milky Way, while illustrative of a three-dimensional example, does not prove your point. Even two-dimensional representations, using multiple perspectives, could define and present three-dimensional objects. I am not sure what you are trying to prove here. We have to represent things that exist to the best of our abilities, with mathematics no exception. It seems more of a limitation that we continually try to improve upon, than a misrepresentation.

As for the creation of a 'new' mathematics, that is an intimidating challenge. All the sciences seem to evolve in a way that is very difficult to restrict and direct. It is like they have a mind of their own, and this inevitably creates errors on many levels. It is like saying that our politics or our laws should be more fair or consistent. I certainly would not argue the fact, but the challenge is in making the changes necessary. How do we accomplish that? I have no idea. I don't get to make the decisions, and no one seems to care about my opinion.

In many ways, Physics is not even really mathematics, although they are intimately related. You seem to be losing the reader with your foray into changing one of our most sacred beliefs, that E=MC2 to E=M. I think even some scientists are scratching their heads at this point. The following points are difficult to follow for most, including myself. I think that you are presenting a daunting amount of information into a demonstrably inadequate-sized narrative. It does not draw the reader into the conversation but removes them from the narrative, and that is probably not what you are looking for.

But. . . . I completely agree that these 'theoretical' disciplines have gotten so complex and intricate that they are allowing themselves to be forced into not proving in any compelling way that their conclusions are real, but they are forcing the proverbial square peg into the round hole, making it work by adding even more theoretical numbers and terms into the formulas to get a satisfactory result. Not what science was supposed to be about. I guess you can understand the frustration, but science is not made to respond to the impatient, but to the focused and rational on a long-term investigation.

The concept that mathematicians lie is finally introduced but a bit forced into the narrative ending, almost as an afterthought. It could have been referenced with some of the points brought up previously to set up the ending. It seems that the effort was over-ambitious for a conventional reader. Many of your points demanded much more information and clarity, and some of them might require quite a bit more background. If you assume that the reader understands much of what you presented, the audience is inarguably restricted. For the normal reader, it would have to be more instructional so they could follow the storyline. I have found that adding that instructional component makes it that much more complicated to make an essay an engaging submission. We have to understand and accept the makeup of the audience here on writing.com, with most not particularly informed with your subject matter.

I hope that this does not come across as highly critical, because it was not meant to be. It is exactly what I hope to attempt to do with the essay group, to talk about how to make the 'beast' palatable to the normal reader. To instruct and entertain is difficult enough, but to engage and hold the reader, especially with subjects and concepts that may not be their 'bread and butter' so to speak, is never going to be easy. To get them to want to continue to read something that they would normally not be interested in is almost impossible. It begins with the beginning and that 'hook' that everyone talks about. To get their attention and to 'help' them to think about something in more detail than they might want. I think that you did that, but the need to keep them engaged during the whole process of the entire essay is just that much more difficult.

As I said, I enjoy mathematics and have enough background that I know what you are talking about, and was still having difficulty staying focused on what was presented. I could see the eyes possibly glazing over with many readers. It was not that it did not have substance, and there is nothing wrong with your ability to write, but the reader needed it to be offered in a manner that it would remain both interesting and enjoyable. With mathematics, that is a difficult challenge. Personally, I think it is something that could be done, but it might take a couple of thousand words to do so, or perhaps make it a series of mini-essays, with a limited amount of specific items at a time that could be covered sufficiently, and allow the reader to finish and contemplate what was said, and hopefully return for an encore.

Thanks for the opportunity to read it. Keep writing.


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
Review of The Sun Also Sets  
Rated: 13+ | N/A (Review only item.)
I am so glad that I took the time to sample your submission.

I found it to be refreshing and creative. Well structured and with a consistent, and surprisingly believable quality to it.

A good point of view and perspective. I have some experience with the bovine community and Hooves is well above average in his intelligence and philosophy. His ability to find clarity was evident, although he did end up in Spain, but he basically foretold his own demise, so he was prophetic as well.

I guess we won't go into the logistics of a traveling bull, not to mention his admittance into a bistro. The allusion to 'Midnight in Paris' gave a good backstory to the narrative, provided of course you saw the movie. Which I have.

An insightful and contemplative bull, and that's no S#@t!

It was nice that they were 'simpatico' although Hemingway was the only one that lived to write another day. I had a fondness for Hooves and it was sad to see him go. It seems it was somehow inevitable.

He truly is a legend.

In this time of turmoil, this was a welcome and entertaining distraction. Well written and consistent. Good dialogue. Smooth transitions and not much to critique in PS&G.

Well done. Thanks for writing. Thanks for sharing.

*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
Rated: E | (3.0)
It is difficult indeed for me to give much criticism since it is a belief that I hold deep within. It is nice to see it articulated in a poem. Which is too short I might add. A simple poem, and yet one of strength and reeking of truth. I am not sure that one cannot live a rich and full life without the love of another, A life of solitude can be a thing of beauty, but very few are capable of withstanding the perpetual burden of self. I think the real misery comes from a life that does not know love at all, and never finds the path to love of oneself. That is truly a crushing pressure to endure.

The sentiment is strong, and difficult to dismiss or to argue. Love is not a trinket or a piece of candy. It has value, and it can be precious if you understand what it means, and you so aptly voice what many have uttered over centuries, but few have been able to understand fully. It cannot be bought or sold, and it cannot be given in a mindless manner. To know love, one must know self. And for that to happen, there are obligations and responsibilities that must be contemplated and experienced.

I am only a single individual, but I find it difficult, if not impossible, to love someone that I do not respect, deeply, and therein lies the crux. If you do not know and respect 'self' and understand the concepts, there can be no love. Love is the most selfish, as well as the most selfless thing that anyone can do, and to understand the difference is not easy.

I always appreciate when someone touches on a fundamental to happiness and peace. Your piece did that. I would have liked for you to expand and contemplate the concept in more depth. If interested, I have given the concept some thought as well. You can find my perspective in my portfolio in 'Crazy Little Thing Called Love' and 'What's Love Got To Do With It'.

Thank you for sharing, and never stop writing.

*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
Review of Salt  
Rated: E | (3.0)
When I look at someone else's work, it is an attempt, for me at least, to try and interpret what I read, primarily as a reader, and not as a writer. It is difficult not to recognize that it is also seen as a work in progress, because nothing is ever really finished, depending on what the writer is trying to accomplish. PS&G is not my strong suit. I disagree with much of what 'traditional' or 'conventional' sources believe is the 'proper' way to produce literature. My views are rarely mainstream. There is no intention to promote those positions. These observations of mine should be taken with a 'grain of salt' as the saying goes. No attempt is made to rewrite the piece, although many suggestions and alternatives may be offered. These are made only to give the writer the ability to look at some other perspectives. Everything I do, from reviews to essays, is offered as an opportunity to entertain other possibilities. My own situation is similar in the respect that I truly listen to what someone else offers by way of observation and opinion, but I find that I receive as many points of view from those that have an opposite and just as credible view, and I am invariably left pretty much where I started, and the result ends up being adjustments or changes from a personal decision anyway. But they give me much to think about, and it all goes into the process. I do listen, just not as much as others would like. The assumption, for me, is that you will go through much the same progression. If there is something that interests you, that is gratifying. If not, there is no regret for my words or my opinion. I understand the frustrations of being a writer. I respect what they are trying to do. There is no intent to be harsh or to hurt feelings, although being honest almost ensures that it can be a possibility. It will always be given as a single individuals' opinion, nothing more. At that point, it is up to the writer to find value in my thoughts. Feel free to keep them and think about them, or to disregard them at your leisure.

I find that there is often a need to define a word or concept that I wish to cover in my work. So many words in our language have been 'hijacked' by special interests and they have perverted or simply promote an explanation that was never intended. Difficult to stop that, so the writer has to present exactly what their interpretation of that concept is. Normally, I would go through at least ten sites to get the varied information from origins and usage and possibly use it in context to attempt to make the word more interesting. What you have done, while there is nothing wrong with it, comes across a little bit dry. More like something from academia. I realize that the title tells us this will deal with salt, but we don't know in what way. It could be any of the four you include. It could even be all of them, but the piece would have to be longer, possibly much longer. That is something that I would suggest in any case.

My problem is that it does not 'hook' the reader, so some kind of narrative that contains the information would probably have been easier on the reader, and you could have introduced something specific that could be the reason that they, the reader, continue to follow the story. It might also be better to drop the secondary meanings that you will not use in your work, although I think they all could have been incorporated into the piece if you wanted to. If you had touched on the flavor of life, with all of the trial and tribulations, the common-sense conclusions that you came to after your deployment, the skepticism that has overtaken you with the changes in society, the need for steadfast individuals to fix things, and especially the 'old salt' sailor, since you ARE a sailor, and a writer, and that, in essence, is what an old salt is. All of these things could have given so much depth and interest in conjunction with what you actually put down to paper.

The writing is competent and consistent. It flows naturally and the thoughts are consistent throughout. There were some good phrases like behemoths of steel and stabbed the darkness falling over the sky. Nice stuff, but most of the time the narrative was in simple and matter-of-fact form. While everything related well, and I liked the story, it was missing something that I can only describe as 'introspection'. It was not personalized enough. There is a 'relaying' of what you did, but little depth as to why you did it, and especially what you were really thinking during the 'doing'. Some of what you are thinking comes through, but it is distant and superficial. The deployment is life-changing. I want to know exactly how. The fact that you talked to the MMC is not particularly interesting, although the fact that he came to you instead of going to him could be. But you didn't say why. This comes across more as something of a memoir, and, of course, it is since it is just about you and your experience during this event, but I never really get the sense of your fears and anxiety, both before leaving and then the turn of events that change the paradigm. It is obvious that you had no premonition of the pandemic but you didn't really relate how that affected you.

There is some good information and the story is interesting, but a bit superficial. Now, I am prejudiced, I like introspection. I always want to know the things that people say, but I really want to hear the things that they do not want to talk about. The things that they are afraid to share, that makes them vulnerable and open to criticism. I think many feel the same way. That is how you get the reader invested in the story and the character. Readers like to feel that they are just like the people you write about, or they want to know how they deal with many of the same things that they do, or they want to feel that they are doing better than them and get some satisfaction that the decisions they make are working for them. But the bottom line is that they want to know more. Always more. The development of you, as the main character, and being vulnerable and open, is what will 'catch' them. That 'hook' everyone talks about? It doesn't have to be right at the beginning, It can come at any time when the reader decides that they want to read it all and find out what happens next. The problem is that if it is not sooner rather than later, there may be no reader left to get 'caught'.

Another personal preference is that, with all of this depth I suggest, it means the length increases. Many critters will tell you to say with four words what you have done in ten. I say, maybe it will take a hundred. There is no rush to get to the end of the story, and fewer words mean less information, not that you can accomplish more with less at times. But not often. As a personal example I will give you a quick peek into my thinking. One of my favourite books of all time is Ayn Rands' 'Atlas Shrugged'. I know a lot of people don't like her work, but I think it is more an issue of her politics and philosophy. But the book is well done from a literary point of view. Second best-selling book of all time behind the Bible. The book is long, over a thousand pages. Most say way too long. Me? I wish it was twice as long. Length is not intimidating. Boring is. If there is value, and I found value on almost every page of one kind or another, length ceases to exist. Reading is a journey into a timeless place where you lose yourself in thought and fantasy. That is what you get with introspection and well-developed thoughts and dialogue.

Speaking of dialogue, this episode with the girl was just begging for some dialogue. Not to mention some dialogue with yourself with all of these issues. Dialogue is not my strong suit either, but it gives a different dimension and flow to the overall piece and a buffer between all the narrative parts. Back and forth between them gives a nice continuity.

Every paragraph there is something mentioned but not developed further. Those great behemoths of steel? You never mentioned what you felt about them. No mention even of exactly what your position was, and it seems like after your two months you are leaving and never coming back? How do you feel about being on these monsters? How does it feel as you progress through the ranks? What are your goals? What are your dreams? What do you hope to accomplish? We never found out what you did while on board the ship, just that you worked half of every day. A good amount of information. The potential was endless. There were questions flying around like fireworks in my head throughout the whole piece. To me, this means opportunities lost.

Most people that join the military (merchant marine? / Coast Guard?) have an interest in history, at least of their particular branch. You took the time to mention that it was 'never important to me'. Why not? It is to me, why is it not to you? Is this certification germane to the rest of the story? It doesn't seem so. Who is this guy that you wear on your chest? I can't find anything. Hamilton, Jones, Barry? I can find nothing that points to anything on the uniform of any branch of the military. These are distractions that can affect a reader. If you mention something there needs to be context, and if you can add some introspection, all the better.

The pandemic is something I am pretty ambivalent about. But you bring it up and again just go over the peripherals. Another opportunity to go into some detail, both surface and deeply. It must have been difficult to get basically imprisoned on a ship while this goes on, and you never let us know just how long that imprisonment was. You continue to relate a story but it continues to be under-developed. Don't get me wrong, I think the piece continues to be consistent and with a good degree of information and interest, it's only that it is so limited in scope and depth.

You move into the concept of salt now, and this again is interesting. These ships are made of nothing but metal and open to the weather and the worst nature can throw at it, and always in a salt-laden environment. It is a never-ending challenge to keep up with the work necessary to keep it sea-worthy. Again, while interesting, it comes across as a relating of information. And then you make the analogy with the 'scars after the hurt remains'. It kind of drove me crazy. What an absolute perfect segue into some deep insights into the human condition, integrated with the salt and the military and the hurts that we experience every day, with what you had to go through, and everyone everywhere, whether just staying alive, or dealing with the coronavirus. Another piece of fruit on the vine. You didn't go after it.

And that could have transitioned right into the fact that there was no one to care if you even ever returned to port. But you offer no explanations of why. No thoughts of what was lost or never existed. I think many readers at this point are dying to find out more about our MC. There are expectations. You have my attention, most assuredly. You then start some reflection of sorts, and you go into some good fertile ground. "The ocean blinds you of distractions and your (you're) left to whatever horrors you've locked in the depths of your mind". I love it! This is what I want to see all the time. This is more poetic that introspection, but both if you read it slowly. This is good stuff.

Not sure why you called her an 'acquaintance'. Wasn't she just another 'shipmate'? Good place for that dialogue here when you 'cast her off' twice. You cried and she comforted, and you came to realizations that you are never really alone, and there is always a soul in reach. There is no doubt in my mind that you could have made the narrative so much more inviting. Even here, you are giving us a view from a distance of what happened, when we should have been right there with you.

"We pushed our birds out of the nest to fly in a storm". Another good line and another good opportunity to lose yourself in a reverie about whatever was in your mind. You told me to not hold back when doing this review. My strongest impression is that you should stop holding back when you are putting pen to paper. But you say you only give the sea a glance one last time as you say goodbye. Where are you going? Are you never coming back? I am not sure I have ever read something with so much mystery and unanswered questions.

Again, I have to say this was a real opportunity to put something together that was as real as it can be, and would have reached people on a number of levels, all of them good. Those other definitions I mentioned that maybe were not all that important to start? They all could have been brought in. Especially the sailor part, the 'old salt' teller of tales. The common sense as we confront and address our problems with society and self. The singular nature of human beings and the interaction we have with them, from our own conversations with ourselves in our own mind to our relationship with pandemics and strangers that bring us solace and comfort when we least expect it.

This is a good story. Unfortunately it needs work, but I see nothing that would tell me you can not do it. It needs to be more poetic, and you showed in many instances that this is not a problem. It is something that you have the ability to do. I keep asking myself why you didn't. Don't overdo it but do it more. It needs to really leave your mark as to who you are, and that may be the biggest problem. It means letting all those readers see you naked on the page. I think it will be worth it, but who am I to say? I know nothing about you except what I read on these pages. You really did everything right. You need to put more of yourself into it. It could be something that is really good. I would think that all depends on what you are willing to do to get there.

I think that I have already given more 'suggestions' than I am normally wont to do. The problem is sometimes I just can't help myself. I did some quick research while doing all of this and I found some references into what historically is known as an 'old salt'. It jumped out at me as an interesting and inviting title for the piece itself. Old salt is the saltwater after the moisture evaporates and leaves that crust of salt on everything, and I am assuming that much of what you did on board was involved with that. The old sailor is the analogy of the person who spends their life on board various ships, with adventures innumerable, continuously coated with salt, and they end up a crusty caricature of their original selves, full of stories and anecdotes, with a wit and a perspective few people will ever experience, which of course is why it is so interesting to listen to their tales, even if they are stretched or even fabricated. The connection to any writer is an eerie comparison. I might envision myself as that old salt, and the story my reminiscence one from years in the future, instead of last week or last month, with all the same events, and all the same feelings. A flood of memories of my youth. And that would leave the door open to remember and recall almost anything else from your life that you wanted to add to the story to make it poignant to the point of profound. Once again, just another suggestion. I am confident this could work. I would like to see it happen.

All the fundamentals exist, it would only be the actual presentation that needs attention. A bit of focus on the prose itself. Let yourself get lost in the memories more. I have no idea what processes you go through, but one that I have found invaluable, and many others do as well, and that is reading your work to yourself, out loud. There is nothing that I write, from essays to reviews, that I do not read to myself, out loud, to work out the timing and the simple cadence of the sentences and delivery. I find that it is invaluable. And not just once. With every rewrite, there is another reading. I find many flaws by doing so, and it is surprising how many times mistakes are overlooked by the writer themselves.

I've given you some observations. I then ask if you have your own list of misgivings, and did I touch on any of them? Don't you want to share more with the reader than you did? If so, then you need to think about it more. If not, then you need to think about it even more. There were some spelling and grammar questions, but I leave them for you to discover, or someone else that may review with the need and ability to do so. I hope that you continue to work on this. I think it will be worth the effort, and it sounds like a story that deserves to be told.

Good luck with the writing. Thank you for sharing your words and your thoughts. I hope there is something contained in all of this that can be of some assistance. Nothing would make me happier.

*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
Review of Enrichment  
Rated: E | (4.0)
Well played. I liked it quite a bit. You almost lost me in the beginning. If you had led with the 'lemonade' you may have. But the 'marshmallow' was enough to get me to continue. Rather simple to start but it built well to some pretty complicated concepts. The progression was natural, if not unusual. Just the interaction with this character was refreshing since many would not wish to encourage conversation with what I tend to call an 'other', those that are vastly different from us on the outside, and yet surprising on the inside, not so different at all, at least in some respects.

It is a chance to take, to interact with these 'others' but while potentially dangerous, it can be rewarding as well. If for no other reason than to remind us that things are often not what they seem.

You took it a step further with his ability to exhibit knowledge superior to those around him, which no one would ever know without taking the chance of engagement. Many questions beg to be asked. How did he get to this point? Was he a scientist, or just a curiosity? Does he even really know what he talks of? Is he here by choice or by way of tragedy, either from the outside or from within? The mind scrambles to put some perspective. Is there another reality than my own? I enjoy the challenge of the unexpected. I appreciate the impulse to think of things not so 'mundane'.

And it does not stop there, even if it could have and still be enjoyable. You introduce one of the fundamental philosophical questions of all time. The proverbial 'which came first, the chicken or the egg?' One of my all-time favorite quotes from Descartes, "I think, therefore I am" can really only be considered in relation to Jean-Paul Sartres' "I am, therefore I think". Which is more credible? Which is true? I fear we will never know. Do I exist because I think, or do I think because of that same existence? You assume that he misquoted (and you are the author so I feel obliged to defer) but perhaps he was not the 'Essentialist' that you thought, but instead, an 'Existentialist' in disguise? But you are right of course. The order of the words may be insignificant. And yet?

I applaud your acknowledgment that you are a richer man for the meeting with a not-so-simple vagabond. We are all enriched with every event that helps in our growth and understanding of self, and our enlightenment of the reality around us, which again, is often not what it seems. With every thought we take, there is the potential to be the better for it.

I am the 'better' for reading your piece. I thank you for sharing and for thinking outside the box. It gets stuffy in that box, doesn't it? I really enjoy surprises, and you presented me with more than one. Good luck with any future endeavors. I hope to read something else in the future. Well done.

*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
Rated: E | (3.5)
Interesting bag of thoughts. Since I often think of these things, and write about them, I thought I might give a perspective. In many ways I agree with much of what you have said, and yet I find myself questioning much of it as well. But that is never a surprise, especially in my reality. Let's take a walk through your words.

First of all, as mentioned, you have presented much to think about. From a writing standpoint, it is rather chaotic. It would probably be more enjoyable for the reader to put like concepts together and deal with them in relation to one another. It comes across more of a stream of consciousness than a narrative. Possibly your intent but it can be confusing at times. One just begins to engage in a concept and you are already in something else. Give the reader time to digest and assimilate.

In any case, you make a good point to start. Our species has been around for a while. And maybe our claim to fame is indeed our ability to survive. I am not sure the progress has slowed down, but it seems to be a mindless juggernaut into the future with little or no thought as to why.

I would tend to disagree with you as to people 'becoming' selfish. Mankind has been that way from the beginning. Actually, that, in and of itself, is a survival trait. We do not 'survive' by taking chances, or disregarding our own safety and requirements. In fact, the whole concept of 'selfish' is something I take a real interest in. Selfish is not a one-size-fits-all concept. In fact, it is a necessity not just for survival, but for peace and happiness as well. We need to be selfish about our children, our family, our health, our education, our jobs, and even our futures. You, yourself, comment that we need to 'Concentrate on ourselves rather than how many likes and followers we can get on social media, stop worrying about what others think', immediately after saying that we need to be 'less' selfish. I find that selfishness is a two-edged sword. What we do to enhance our own lives and needs allows us, at some point, to be able to help others that may need our help, whether it be resources or personal assistance. Selfish is a good thing when handled rationally and intellectually. But it can be horrible when used for self-aggrandizement at the expense of another, when an individual will do anything to promote themselves and enrich their lives with the undeserved, and they care little about what they do to achieve those ends. That kind of selfish is indeed to be criticized and harshly judged. Be careful on the use of the word. It is not as simple as many believe.

Unfortunately, we have many members of our 'society' that does exactly what you say, and will destroy what brings others pleasure with that 'hatred' you reference, simply because it is not what makes them personally happy. Instead of simply removing those aspects from their own lives, they wish to force everyone else to reject it as well. Our politics makes that abundantly clear on a daily basis.

I am not sure this has anything to do with being a millennial. These generational labels are amusing at best. We all go through the same fundamental process when we attempt to grow and develop our own personal philosophies to address all of the challenges we encounter in our lives. The millennials are no different. but the only ones that can resolve those difficulties are themselves. It takes time and effort, and a whole lot of thought and contemplation to be able to find the answers. They may have different obstacles placed before them, but the goals are remarkable the same. Comfort, security, lack of need, and especially the reduction of want.

I realize the world seems like a tragic place. I often am discouraged seeing those same individuals that you describe in your piece, but in reality, from my own perspective only, I think that there are more of those that agree with what you see, and want the paradigm to be adjusted or changed to reflect different aspects of mankind as we hope it to be, instead of how it looks at the moment, but they are intimidated and afraid of the effort that will be necessary to initiate those changes. The rest of us need to show them, somehow, that it can be done. But it all starts with each one of us, especially those that think about the issues and write about them, such as yourself. And not only speak, but act with character and integrity to show them that it can be done, and just maybe, those changes can be accomplished. I am not so sure it can, but I have to believe it to be so, for I don't like the alternatives.

This 'generation-gap' you depict is a tragic reality. The young always think that they have the answers, without evidence or reason. They use emotion, which rarely accomplishes anything. The elders also think that they have encountered everything imaginable and have the answers. In some cases they have, but it is somewhere in-between where the true answer lies. Without communication and conversation, we will never find out what those answers are. We need to not only talk, which is important, but moreso we need to listen, and listen deeply, to discover the value of not only the hard-fought knowledge of experience but the optimistic expectations and dreams of youth and vitality who look to the future with dread and fear because it will remain an unknown.

I hope that you are right in thinking and hoping that the pandemic will change our way of thinking. It will be a while before we can even begin to consider if this is true. I find it hard to believe since people simply do not change their behaviour except when forced to do so, or when they put the effort into understanding and discovering the things that confront them and investigate how to fix them, and then the hardest part, enact the change through thought and even more hard work through action. They were not willing to do so before the pandemic, I see little reason to expect that will change. I hope I am wrong. Time will tell.

Will life change? I think that is indisputable. Back to what it was? Maybe not, but we have gone through epidemics and wars and catastrophes uncountable, and we always revert to a similar life. If we really want change, we will delve into philosophy and learn to understand ourselves. We will fire every single politician on the face of the earth and start from scratch. We will study what started this country and why, and we will attempt to return to those ideals as well, and maybe, just maybe, we can give it another shot. I am confident that we can make it work. I am just not sure that we have the resolve. Many believe that our system is a large part of the problem. I have come to the conclusion that it was never broken. The problem is not the ideological or economic systems we use to govern, it is the value and substance of the people who lead, and we have seen a reduction in the character and ethics and integrity of those people over the decades. The question is how do we pick better people if we are not better people ourselves? How do you choose someone of high standards when we do not possess those standards ourselves? I will have to leave that question for every individual to answer for themselves. The answer is relatively simple, The implementation is more than a little difficult. Do not wish for others to be that which you think is necessary if you cannot allow yourself to be that same individual.

Do you really think those that live for the selfie will lay down their phones and begin to look at nature? The opportunity has always been available to them. One of the greatest gifts we have is nature. It is ironic that those that wish to save the planet, and do everything they can to force others to see their vision for the future, cannot elevate their gaze from the ridiculously small screen in front of their faces to 'smell the roses' and the wonders that abound, all around them. The start of a new mindset? Wouldn't that be a wonderful thing? A societal mindset implies a societal consensus, and that does not look like it will ever happen. Are all the ideologues out there going to walk away from their firmly held beliefs and grant their opponents the opportunity to try their own vision for the future? Do you really think so? If only it were true. Are YOU willing to do so? I don't think so. We need to change, but it needs to be a fundamental change. That philosophy that I talked about. That listening I mentioned. That 'thinking' that is integral to the resolution of our woes? You are talking about changing the world. If only.

All of these things that you mention to close out your thoughts. Less selfish (already covered that), respect all things, slowing down, contemplation, awareness. I have been trying to do these things for a lifetime, and yet people still hate, even when no one even attempts to force them to do anything. Hatred is a difficult malaise to treat, much more difficult than some mindless coronavirus. I applaud your introspection and your ability to see much of what is wrong with the world. But there is nothing that you present that has not been an issue for years, decades, and even millennia. The 'Millenials' need to put that reality into perspective. They are not the first to feel the way they do. They will undoubtedly not be the last. Stop labeling one another. Stop labeling yourselves and thinking that you are somehow unique and/or superior to everyone else. You may be, but the others think they are as well. You're both right, but how do we decide who really is and when? We are the same, and I like to believe that we all want the same thing in the end. If we work together it may happen. If we distance ourselves, socially or generationally, we will never 'touch' one another, and we will never resolve our issues, whether on the outside, nor deep within. As you mention, we need to look for the light. I certainly hope that you find it, that all of us find it. I am still looking. I catch a glimpse at times, but it remains just beyond my grasp.

*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
Review of The State of Play  
Rated: E | (1.5)
I try to refrain from commenting directly on political issues. For one thing, it tends to be a personal issue, normally highly ideological, and not objective, as is necessary for a society to be able to govern appropriately. For another, it is normally highly inflammable to simply disagree, without context, and does little to further the discussion. Lastly, it is usually so faulty from an intellectual and reasonable perspective as to have little or no value in the actual issue at hand. Let us take your 'editorial' as an example. I have no intention of going into great detail. Not because I cannot, but more because, at least on the surface, it would seem to be an exercise in futility.

An editorial, at least in essence if not in actuality, is simply an opinion piece, as yours most certainly is. But ... it is also 'supposed' to be based on some semblance of information that is based on fact, and not 'just' emotion. I had so many questions as I read your words. You wish to be specific as to the date, and I applaud that, but we will return to that in a minute. You mention it is bad form to criticize a sitting President, as you proceed to do so. Bad form? Indeed. It has also been bad form for an ex-president to do so, and yet that 'rule' has changed as well. Also bad form indeed. Is it just as bad form for a sitting President to do so for an ex-president? In that, you would be right. But I guess that means you believe in the 'two wrongs' DO make a 'right' or some such. I do not.

It is true that the president of 'any' country has the obligation to 'protect' the lives of its citizens. But you say he is receiving 'failing' grades? From whom, exactly? While the political opponents and the 'unbiased' media may agree with your assumption, who else does? The polls, and I have to admit I am not a big advocate of the way polls are conducted, seem to say otherwise, even the polls from these same media outlets that do not agree with the President. A slim majority, but a majority nonetheless, support his efforts to date and have done so consistently. What exactly do you believe that he has done wrong? Specifically? He shut down flights in from China before everyone else and paid a political price. Every other country followed suit. This inarguably saved lives. What was 'your' suggestion? If it were not so tragic, it would be amusing the way these politicians and talking heads climb all over one another to try and place the last nail in his coffin, which they may ultimately do to the glee of many. But they all, almost without exception, have been consistently wrong with their own suggestions. Who among them would like to have the responsibility for the welfare of 325 million souls? They fail miserably trying to manage their own cities, states, and 'constituencies'. Every one of them begging the Federal government for help with things that 'they' have neglected forever in the aftermath of their social engineering. And the government, and this cannot be disassociated from the President, did more than a credible job of finding, and supplying the necessary equipment to them, irrespective that the obligation to take care of the states resides with the elected officials from that state. That is the way the system works, That is the autonomy of the states themselves. Don't get me wrong, I acknowledge that mistakes have been made, it's just that I passionately believe that there is no one, and I mean 'NO' one, that could have done a more credible job than what has happened. Every mayor and governor has offered praise for the efforts, while immediately going on-camera and spitting on the hand that fed them. Despicable.

But that is not what I wanted to talk about today. It has to do with the specificity of dates, and the factual content of mindless comments to promote an ignorant position based on nothing but emotion, and that primary component of political ideology, the freedom and ability to hate. First of all, as a side note, the election year is 2020 and not 2021. The beginning of the term is in the year following the election. Another problem with our system, we do not teach civics in our schools anymore. We haven't for decades now. But you made a comment that "I was shocked at what unfolded in a re-election rally for 2021 and the words said to the audience by the sitting President. The words used were to the effect of: "I don't care if you're on your death bed, stay alive till November and make sure you vote for me." I realize that this will make little or no difference to many, but that was not said at a rally in 2020 but back in 2016, years before the issue of a corona pandemic even existed. Does fact have any meaning when slandering a person? Does context mean anything at all? It was a joke, and he said so at the time, but that is not really important, is it? Not if you want a particular narrative out there. It doesn't say much for the ability to research and understand what one is talking about. It also doesn't say much for 'Rita' since she did not correct your remark, either afraid of confronting a zealot, or not caring in any case.

I don't really expect to change your mind on any particular issue. I just find it so disappointing when people look silly when they argue from a position of ignorance. Disagree if you must, but try to do so from a position of fact and not fiction. With each discrepancy, you damage your own credibility. At some point, it is difficult to take the comments seriously. I would imagine that one would wish people to listen to their arguments and even consider them reasonable and possibly even change their minds to some degree, or just to gain respect as an individual. Why else does one promote ideas if not to be a credible source for future discussion? Why talk at all? It is the way we grow, It is the way we develop our own personal philosophies. It is the way we evolve into better human beings. I do not follow an ideology. I follow reason. I follow the truth. I do not follow the beliefs of another, but my own hard-fought philosophy. And I do not lead, nor expect others to follow me. They can discuss, and suggest. I hope that they are open-minded and willing to listen. I try very hard to do so. I search for answers. A convoluted quote I have seen on the net jumps to mind. 'I am not who you think I am, you are who you think I am' or something similar. Words to ponder. It's better to think and know than to guess and judge.

His comment was poignant, and profound, whether this was his intent or not. He asked everyone who was reaching the end of their life to think about making one last statement. and vote for what they believe to be right, before they do not have the chance anymore. Do the right thing before you leave us, for your children, and those that follow, even if you will not be here to savor the benefit of that vote. Vote for America, and not the socialist and communistic America that is attempting to emerge from the ashes of discontent and division, but the America envisioned by our forefathers and those that truly believe in freedom and equality. Do not allow unbridled hatred and prejudices to allow the American Dream to dissolve before our eyes. This country has many flaws and challenges before them, but they are capable of being resolved. Nothing will solve them except the actions of good people who deal in fact and can discuss issues, and even agree, when things do not go their own selfish way. We are probably well past the point of agreement anymore, and for that, I feel discouraged and forlorn. And yet. And yet I have to believe that it is still a possibility, to work together to achieve something greater than its parts. The parts are disturbing and disappointing. They hurt my heart. We can still do it but only with people of character and integrity, people who care about facts and truth, and people who are determined not to allow the hatred of ignorance to win the day.

I also wish that God will Bless America. But I fear that we are not on the same page. We do not want the same America, and we do not envision the same God. He needs to come down and put one of us back onto the right track. Maybe both. We will never resolve these issues if we are not capable of conversation and debate. We need to listen as well as speak. It is so easy to talk, and so much more difficult to listen, to really listen. I welcome the opportunity. The question I have is if you do as well? We all need to think about it. What do you search for? Complete victory at any price, or a rational resolution where we can all live together at peace with one another. It truly is up to 'us', and not 'government'. Time will tell. The sands of time are running out.

*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
Review of Cheetah McGee  
Rated: E | (3.5)
I liked it. A diamond in the rough, you might say. The keyword for me is 'potential'. I can't make up my mind if I like the first line, or not. On one hand, it seems fairly mundane, to the point of irrelevancy, or 'who cares?' Many people might feel the same. But then again, it has a certain aire of intrigue. What does he intend to discuss? The statement is not as mundane as it seems. In many respects, there is nothing at all 'the same' about them. Apples can be many colors, but 'orange' is not one of them. Curious. The texture of an apple is as different from the orange as the night is to the day. Obvious. You cannot 'peel' an apple with your hand. Difficult. They are both sweet and yet the orange tends to run down your hands in a cascade of juice. Sensuous. No, nothing the same at all. And they say that the tomato is a fruit? Does that change the paradigm? The 'potential' for debate is endless. And all this from a single sentence? Amazing.

So you've got me. Did you mean to? I have no idea. My thoughts go where they will. That is the magic of writing. And reading!

And we jump into the realm of our feelings towards humanity? Tramps and brain surgeons? Money? Abuse? Great novels? I like it. A little too much, a little too fast maybe, but it was refreshing and an interesting intro. A number of observations that are both obvious on the surface and profound in essence. Things that we should think of more often as we journey through life. Things, as they say, are often not what they seem. All the things that society espouses, ad nauseam, like justice and equality, empathy and tolerance, diversity, and even love? Why are we so quick to judge? No reason, we just are, and it is not a positive characteristic.

What if? It is something that we all should think of, deeply, BEFORE we make our decisions. I like the questions you evoke, for no other reason than they need to be discussed, and contemplated, and resolved, at least in our own minds, to even attempt to live with one another as a people, a society. I appreciate the opportunity to think about these things, although I do it all the time anyway. It's just refreshing to see someone else do it in a unique and inviting format.

Talk about potential! While I liked the simplicity of the piece, I would love to see something similar in more depth. With all the whimsey and tongue in cheek comments. No matter how dark and dire the need to think of these things, we should never lose our ability to smile and even laugh at our challenges. It makes us human and brings enjoyment to the exercise of thinking. I think there is a good opportunity here to expand and develop the concepts contained and make something more substantial. Just an opinion, a suggestion. I believe that it is something as a people that is needed as we attempt to navigate the future, together.

And if that wasn't enough, you found a way to bring in aliens. Excellent! A complete surprise, and I always appreciate a surprise. And more than one. Very nice.

Overall, a very good job. A little too short and sweet, and yet I am glad I found it. Consider something with more depth and consequence. You have all the trappings here for something more substantial. A book-length dark/comedy/philosophical dissertation on the human condition and the future of the species. And don't forget the fruit!

Thanks for sharing. Good job. Good luck.

*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
Rated: E | (4.5)
I came across your piece by accident, which I guess you can say about most things I end up reading. I have seen many people make an attempt to talk about the subject with different degrees of success. I found this particular item to be one of the best. Many writers do not put the time and effort into thinking about these kinds of things. They are focused on their expectations and immediate goals and fail to understand the most advantageous ways to get 'there' from 'here'. I thought your narrative was insightful and can only be beneficial to anyone and everyone that ever dreams of being a successful writer.

You'll notice that I did not say a published or acclaimed writer. That is something that is peripheral to our quest of being good at what we say we are trying to accomplish. To be a writer. I do not write to make friends. Oh, I've picked up a few here and there along the way. If you are just looking for friends, seek them out on Facebook or some such social media outlet. But the deeper meaning of friend is what we really need to become better at our craft, and it is indeed a craft, and not a hobby, at least for most of us. A craft means hard work, focus, and invariably those people who can help us reach the level that most of us, unfortunately, will only dream about.

Whether in life or in writing, a friend is someone who cares about our best interests. Friends give encouragement and comfort, of course, but they give something else that is so much more valuable than a pat on the back. They give us that thing that is elusive and so fundamentally important to our evolution as a writer. They give us their honest opinion of our work. They give us a perspective into our own work that is unique and ultimately necessary. The best ones do so with a willingness to help, with compassion and understanding. They are friends, but they are human. They make mistakes and offer insights that we may not have seen ourselves, and what they offer may, at times, not be what we need nor want, but it should be considered and weighed as we make our journey through whatever reality we are trying to develop.

A friend without honesty is like no friend at all. If one wishes to be a writer, they have to take whatever they can find as feedback, ofttimes unwanted, if they truly want to improve and control their words, make them say what they envision, and bring interest and pleasure to those that see those words. The life of a writer is not an easy adventure. We need to embrace our own vision, and look for those that can help us find the answers necessary to achieve that dream.

And that is the conclusion to my rambling rant. Probably not. But I wanted to make some comments in direct response to your own.

I think people put way too much into these star ratings. Not that they do not have a certain importance. They give an indication that the reader found enjoyment, or issues with your piece, not that it is good or bad. They may have a point, or not. It is always your decision to give their rating value. I think it more important to weigh and consider the comments themselves. Do you see the truth in their words, their observations? Or not? The 'critter' is but a tool we use to investigate our own inclinations and expectations as we try and go through an evolution from idea to reality. We pick and choose what to embrace and what to reject. We are responsible for the final product, not the reviewer. They can help, but they cannot write it for us. If they do, then we are not the 'writer', they are. The ratings are simply an indicator and one that we should contemplate without malice or dread. I myself find the negative reviews usually of more value than those pats on the back. I know when I write something that is 'good'. but I often need some assistance to make it better, or dare I say, very good.

The best way to encourage a writer is to give them an insightful and well-balanced perspective through the review. If there are both good and bad in the piece, which is normally the case, then make sure that you touch on them all, no matter how small. It is tough to dismiss someone who criticizes an area of your work when they also call attention to those things that are done well. I had a writer that I gave a pretty harsh review one time. There was much that I thought was enjoyable. It was a pleasant read, but I thought I saw the opportunity to make it so much better. It seemed that they were a bit lazy with many aspects of the piece, and I said so. I told them that I thought, with some time and effort that it could be much better than all-right or good, it could be something to be proud of. I spend a LOT of time crafting my comments when I review. I thought I had been considerate and respectful. They responded by saying that they were 'sorry' that I didn't like it and asked me to not review further pieces. It is a shame that more writers don't understand the importance of that 'constructive criticism' that I personally crave so passionately. I daresay that this person may well never become that writer of which they dream. They think that everything they write is gold. I understand the feeling when you finish a piece of work. I have also come to understand that the writing of a first draft, of anything, is only the beginning of the journey, not the end.

The writer needs to understand that if reviewers do not really enjoy their work, they will often pass on it for something else. When we receive comments it is because someone saw something that caught their eye, from something as simple as the title to the concepts presented or the writing itself. They need to make an attempt to discover exactly what it was that worked, as well as what didn't. And then fix it, to the best of their ability, and then do it again. And again. It's a process, and very few can do without it.

There are distinct differences between 'reader' and 'reviewer'. A reader reacts to a story with a perspective of enjoyment and presentation. The reviewer delves a bit deeper, and points out things that may be known to the writer, who may have included them for their own reasons, or may have eluded the writer and they may need to consider them. And, of course, they see discrepancies and obvious mistakes, or perceived issues, as well. In the end, it is for the writer to decide. Important decisions. to investigate or to reject. I tend to be more of a reader, and react to the story and relate my feelings as the story unfolds, but certainly point to whatever discrepancies come to my attention. We all have our own strengths and weaknesses as a writer, a reader, and a reviewer. It is important to contemplate all of these things for our abilities to evolve. I have found that reviewing can be every bit as important to our overall ability to write, and in many cases, indispensable.

Reviewers can get overly invested in the rating system, and it turns into a distraction. Like 'counting' your 'likes'. It is like the difference between 'telling' and 'showing'. The stars are like the telling whereas, through your words, and explanation, is the showing of what you mean exactly. A star to me is vastly different from whatever the recipient may interpret. The reviewer is a writer, so they should write (the review) which is just another exercise in the development of your own style and voice. Take every opportunity to do so. It's all a part of the journey.

All of these questions the reviewer asks as to what is expected is misplaced. Be honest, and be respectful. 'Tell' them what you are doing, and why. Who could ask for anything more? Why would anyone want you to skew your impressions and conclusions? That would be living a lie, and will never result in the growth and understanding we are all searching for. Give what you would like to get, and think about what that means. Do you want undeserved praise or 'destructive' and 'unfair' comments? Of course you don't. Who would? Honesty is the greatest gift you can offer to another writer, even if they do not realize it immediately. I search for brutal honesty. I want to be the best writer that I can be. I accept anything and everything one wishes to share. I am perfectly capable of separating the wheat from the chaff, as it were, even if it brings a tear to my eye at times. It is the price we pay to achieve our goals. We should all try to be considerate and empathetic as we try to offer truth and assistance as we all take that next step towards our destiny. How many writers simply give up when they are not as good as the ratings they receive? When publishers reject them continuously, even though they have talent, because they never put in the thought and effort required to develop that talent and were discouraged?

A reviewer should never question what the writer is expecting, as far as a review is concerned, unless it be specifics from them as to grammar, dialogue, arc, etc. Everyone wants good ratings. The whole point is that they be credible and reflect only the reviewers' interpretation of the work. The writer is left with the challenge to develop the work to improve the results. What could be more encouraging and satisfying than getting an improved rating from someone that has bee 'critical' in the past? That shows growth and development. That reeks of success.

Reviews are not given with the intent to be 'appreciated'. It is meant to be a sharing moment. Sharing your feelings with another writer with your observations of their work, irrespective of the level of ability of either player. It is meant to be a teaching and learning moment, to both of them, as they investigate the words before them. A time to grow and comprehend one another. A time to be an invaluable asset to the other. To be a friend, in whatever way we can. To help a kindred spirit, another writer, be the best damn writer that they can be. Why else are we doing all of this?
Rated: E | (3.5)
I liked the poem. I find many of the sentiments floating around in my thoughts repeatedly. I wasn't so sure about the repetition at first but I think it works. While I agree with most of your words, I can't help but question some things in my own mind. They seem to want out so here they are.

I agree that we cannot really ever 'fix' someone else. We need to fix 'self' first and support others in their quest to resolve their own issues. We can help others to understand their challenges through our own experiences and possibly some empathy but in the end, only they can find an answer. Only they can make the decisions necessary to move forward. But I don't think that we should never try to be a part of the solution for them. Always do what you can.

Our essence is ours alone. We are unique. It is what makes us interesting. The world would be so much less exciting if we were the same. Acceptance is integral to being happy and to sharing with others. The goal is to like being oneself but do you believe most people are? I wish they were. I think we would ultimately all get along if we could do that. In the end, we are who we decide to be, or are forever unhappy.

Growing and learning together is instrumental to those ends. But we are all broken to some degree, some much worse than others. I am not sure that they cannot be repaired. But it takes much time and effort, and recognition by all that they need some assistance to do so. If we are not willing to participate, then they may well never be able to 'fix' themselves. We, both them and us, need to search for alternatives, possibilities.

We are indeed all flawed, and perfection is something of a fantasy, and yet the striving, the path to perfection, is the development, the evolution, of who and what we are. The destination, the 'perfection' loses significance as we investigate the many ways we can improve ourselves along the way. Perfection may not be a 'reality', and yet giving up on the concept would tend to suggest a certain acquiescence to mediocrity. We should reach for the stars, even if we can never grasp them. I would tend to disagree that perfection is lifeless, mindless, and unfeeling. I see it more as the epitome of those things, and noble goals, even if they are little more than an impossible dream.

You are certainly spot on to suggest fixing self before ever trying to help someone else. Our 'imperfections' should make us leary about trying to fix another. We can hinder as easily as help. The more we fix 'self', the more we can help others, if only with encouragement. And whatever we do should never be an imposition. We give what we can, an offer, a gift. For the other to accept or decline. I am not sure there can be any other way.

Everything I write is with one specific objective in mind, and that is to get the reader to think. You have done that with this piece. It makes me take a closer look at myself, as well as those around us. It makes me question their limitations and the challenges they face. We need to cut them some slack, and if we cannot help, let us at least not be an obstacle to their ability to make the changes that are necessary for them to find resolution. Thank you for putting your words to paper. Thank you for making me think. You have given me much to contemplate. Thank you for sharing.

*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
Rated: E | (4.0)
I found the poem to be heartfelt and poignant. The sentiment is real and tragic. I find myself thinking similar thoughts every day. I often say that I am trying to understand why people do the things that they do, why they hurt so much inside that they hurt others as well. You would think that they would know better than anyone what it means to be damaged. I guess many of them don't realize it. Probably because they are damaged in the first place. I don't condone the things that they do, and in many cases it is unforgivable, but we should at least try to understand. People talk of empathy, and I have attempted to experience it, but from my perspective, I am not sure it is something that is even possible. We all have those experiences that hurt us more deeply than anyone could even imagine. How could someone else understand? We just have to acknowledge that these bad things happen and try to put life into perspective.

Your words illustrate very well some of the challenges that we all face when we look around us as we travel through life. So much just doesn't make sense. My experience with god and religion has invariably brought me to question if god exists. I haven't particularly given up on him, but I have seen many question his existence because of all the pain and suffering he allows (?) to exist in this world. They point to war and hunger, and the unthinkable conditions that people, and specifically children, have to endure every single day on this planet. Not tens or hundreds, but millions. It is incomprehensible, it verges on the edge of madness. People blame this entity, which for the most part we created ourselves, to put this right, to fix everything. They don't want to do it themselves, but I have asked myself many times, maybe, again assuming he does indeed exist, just maybe, he wants us to take the lead and fix it without him. It is just a thought, a musing of mine, but it's there all the time. What are WE doing to fix these things?

People die every day. Counting abortions, over a hundred million souls cease to be every year. So death is not something we can hide from, but I have to question those that could have been prevented, should have been prevented. Old age and disease are inevitable, although as our current situation forces us to address intent, the fact is that it is normally a completely normal course of events. But when someone sixteen, or younger, and especially the unborn, have to endure the end of existence when they have not had the opportunity yet to live their own lives under their own terms, it seems like such a waste, such a shame. I think you clearly showed that with your words.

I am not sure that humanity ever really shows that it is 'back on its feet'. I like to think that there is progress, but it is so difficult to objectively profess any real progress in our 5000 years of a so-called 'civilization'. It is extremely frustrating and eternally disheartening. We live in a potential Eden. I don't understand why more people do not understand that and work towards that goal. I recognize that some do, but however many there are, it seems that we need so much more. Or is it nothing more than a dream?

Love is such a vague word, and sentiment. We seem to say we love everything and everyone. Or they say we should. I get a lot of negative feedback for such a position, but I think love can only flower and have value and substance through the power of our minds, our intellect. Philosophy is the culmination of that. Perhaps then we can turn our intentions and expectations into something more tangible.

I like your passion and your sensitivity. I think it was well done. I would have liked something a bit more flowery and poetic. It would have made it more memorable than it already is. I love words, and that is one of the reasons that I am here. No matter what we do, it can always be improved. It is insightful and heartwarming to know that people think of these things, and wish that our reality could be different. We can only hope, and yet do what we can. No one can ask for more than that.

I have some other comments that I will follow up on in another thread. Thanks for sharing. I enjoyed it. I hope we talk again soon. I wrote a piece on empathy that happens to be available in my portfolio; "Is That All Ya Got?". It deals primarily with empathy among other things. I invite you to take a look. I strongly insist that you take a look at it on the website (link in the piece) if for no other reason than the featured image that goes along with it. I always have an accompanying image with all my items on the website. I believe it is easier to read it there as well. If you by chance do read it I would love to hear your comments, in as much detail as you are willing to offer, on anything that catches your eye. I thank you again.

I wish you nothing but peace.


Lone Cypress Workshop


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
Rated: E | (3.5)
I enjoyed your narrative. I appreciate the fact that you are not looking at the issue from a specific viewpoint. Not many people seem to be capable to do so anymore. They all seem to have all the answers. But it ends up they don't.

From a writing standpoint, I see no issues. Decent structure. Consistent. Well written. Flows well between concepts. I am not much of a PS&G guy but nothing jumps out at me. Comfortable style and easy to follow your train of thought. I am a bit unsure about the relevancy of the Hitchhikers reference and the third sentence is a bit confusing. Also dates you a bit. Does anybody read that anymore? Possibly. I enjoyed it many years ago.

I consider myself a philosopher. Maybe I am just fooling myself but I think anyone who makes an effort to think has potential. Your first example gave me pause, and I always like that. When we ask ourselves (or others) questions we tend to learn or to teach. For me, that is the ultimate goal of philosophy. Were they both telling the truth? I honestly don't know. You say it is an obvious yes. I am not so sure. The boy may or may not be delusional, and the 'demon' may have left just before the mother opened the closet, or even may not see or hear what the boy does. We experience truth from both an objective as well as a subjective position. Truth at any level can be quite elusive. Absolute truth seems to exist only in science-fiction.

Your universe scenario always intrigues me. I see no reason that they do not co-exist simultaneously. If gods do exist, and I am highly skeptical, is it not possible that they started the process and it has been allowed to evolve from there? Is that such a stretch? After a few million years, the missing link could be explained by a small 'tweak' to their work. I just don't understand why it is so important to so many that it be one or the other. A lot of time arguing peripherals instead of working on being a better individual. That's what we need more of, good people. The fact is that it is all mereMore science-fiction. Neither side has any absolute truths or even a good facsimile.

I think that I might question whether there is deception from the camps. Politics is an obsession, a compulsion, and make no mistake, this is mostly politics. Not government maybe, but politics just the same. Ideology. Agendas. Being right. Hypocrisy. Both sides "know' that they do not have all of the answers, and many are possibly contained in the opposing views. Why not collaborate and search together? I know it is virtually impossible for them to do so, but wouldn't it be nice if they did?

You attempt to relate this back to the story of the boy. You say his belief is based on assumption and imagination. But previously you said he was telling the truth, and he 'definitely' heard the scratching noises. And you equate this with the concept of religion. Not particularly unreasonable, and yet until you can demonstrate that absolute truth that a god does not exist, there can be no resolution. 'Logic' dictates that the possibility exists, no matter how small, that there may be 'truth' in such a belief. The mother represents 'science'? There is no preponderance of evidence, nor even circumstantial. She was disinterested, apathetic, inconvenienced. Science is based on demonstrable and repeatable results from experience. You (rhetorically) can present that as science but it is something else entirely and overly prevalent in our society. If you can't prove me wrong than I am right, but do not try that if from a religious perspective. Don't get me wrong, I do not validate the religious, I attempt to invalidate the quasi-science.

The existence of god is always a fascinating exercise in futility, but I enjoy it immensely. He has no obligation to prove anything. Who says he cares? We consistently think he will act as we do. That is a dangerous assumption. That would mean a vile god of retribution and coercion and not one of love. In either case, it is beyond our control, except to contemplate, and again, to attempt to be the best individual in our own power. I played with the concept a bit in one of my own essays: God Is Irrelevant, People!

I think I already addressed your conclusions previously. God is a theory, but a persistent one, based more on some kind of need than actual truth. Science is more dangerous because we give it more credibility even though it has been consistently wrong over time. And science has evolved (devolved?) into nothing but theories as well, impossible to even understand except for a very small handful of individuals, who we are forced to 'believe' in. It is there that half of humanity places their 'faith' The other half? They tend to stay with the old standard.

I don't have any of the answers either. But I really enjoy looking for them. It is the responsibility for each individual to find their own absolute truths, and then to have the integrity to live them every day of their lives. If we don't do that, then I am at a loss as to what existence is all about.

I am so glad that I came across your piece. I have so little time to read and review. This is it for the week I think. Thanks for sharing. We should all take the time to think of these things more often. I like to consider the concept of gods but find little time to worry about his existence. It's mankind that needs attention, and god, if he exists, is not taking an active role. We are going to have to fix ourselves and that perpetually worries me.

Thanks again.

Review of Live Geology  
Rated: E | (3.0)
I liked the analogy. A bit rough at times but some good visualizations. Perhaps a bit rushed but I enjoyed it.

Yes, I am because I think. I would exist in any case but would be less interesting. Just look around you for examples. Without me, there exists nothing, at least for me. And finally, my reality is always objective, except when it isn't. All interesting questions that can only be answered by a single individual. That would be 'I'.
Rated: 13+ | (3.0)
RE: TAGS & KEYWORDS: I would like to know the proper way to insert tags/keywords when I am setting up a static item. I have no idea if this is set up and working. Do you just need a space between words, or is it necessary to have a comma or a slash. Any help would be appreciated.
Rated: 13+ | (3.0)
TAGS & KEYWORDS: I would like to know the proper way to insert tags/keywords when I am setting up a static item. I have no idea if this is set up and working. Do you just need a space between words, or is it necessary to have a comma or a slash. Any help would be appreciated.
Review of The Bamboo Cutter  
Rated: ASR | (4.0)
Nice story. Well written. I enjoyed it.
What is the name of the original folktale? I would like to see that as well.
Rated: 13+ | (1.0)
I am having problems understanding the 'community' we have here. I read a piece named 'scars' (#2191134) and wrote a review. I cannot find it now at all. Is this normal. I take the time to write a review and I can never see it again? I found the article and it asked me to write another but should I not be able to see at least my own review, and why not any and all reviews by others? It is a disincentive for the future. I wanted to relate my comments to my wife, and except through memory, I cannot find the words That I wrote.

I would appreciate knowing what I am doing wrong, how I can alleviate this in the future, or an explanation of why this is necessary. I just don't understand what is happening. Your interface is extremely complicated and not intuitive, but if you could explain it would be greatly appreciated.

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