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68 Public Reviews Given
Public Reviews
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Review of Jordan  
Review by Dr Gonzo
Rated: E | (4.5)
Hi, Ben. I listened to Rival Sons, Jordan, on your advice for six minutes sixteen seconds and enjoyed it a lot. I will have to check out some of their other music to see why you are reluctant to hang the label of country on Rival Son. I assume it is because they have less steel guitar and double bass in some of their other tracks and that 'twang' is just a small piece of the puzzle that is their brand.

Isn't it funny how music can, at times, be polarising. Writers write and painters paint, and even though you or I may prefer one piece over another, we tend not to be overly critical of the work in general (if we like the artist to begin with). To limit oneself creatively because (some) fans want this or that, does not work for an artist who wants...no, needs to explore their horizons. And, isn't this the very nature of art, to produce work that follows a path, but is not afraid to go left instead of right when the creative person who lives inside all artists, shines a light that way and says, "Come on, don't be afraid."

Yet, for musicians, this different path is often looked down upon. My guess is, there is a clique that says, "This is cool, and this is not cool." But I say who is to say what's cool and what's not? Well, I am going to say that Nashville is cool because even though it has it's roots in country, it isn't limited by the label 'country'. Nowadays, it is easy to see the meld of styles there. Crossover is another label that we, as consumers of music in all it's varieties, seem to need to place on artists who just want to be heard and enjoyed without so much of the 'this or that' mentality.

And, as you and I get to know each other better, we will, whether we like it or not, influence each other and hopefully, change our thoughts on various styles of music, and of course, writing.

As you know, I like some of the music that I suspect you have pigeon-holed as not being 'real'. I get that some styles of music just aren't for us as individuals, and imagine if music was all only metal and its sub-genres...or dance and its offshoots...or classical, or...my point being that placing inverted commas on something you may not enjoy, doesn't necessarily make it not real. I know there are a lot of people who say negative things about the music you consider to be real...real, I assume, meaning the artists use tangible instruments and not synthesisers or computers.

Music tends to reflect the society it is made in. The songs from certain genres are the Maccas of music...buy, consumer and throw away...but that doesn't mean the music serves no purpose, or that it isn't real...only that we, as middle-aged gentlemen, might not eat fast food because it tends to give us indigestion and a spare tyre that won't help us when we have a flat.

So many bands...so much music...so little time to enjoy it all. But, that we get to listen and see the talents of others art in all its forms, is a blessing we can all appreciate more than we probably do.

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Review by Dr Gonzo
Rated: E | (3.0)
It's not surprising to me that almost 1/3 of Christian voters (myself excluded for obvious reasons) say we non-believers are destined for eternal damnation. After all, why should a Christian man (or woman, not that they count for much in the patriarchal world of Christianity) live their life as a good, clean living and a fine example of humanity, and have to share heaven with undeserving, smelly non-Christian scumbags, who lived their lives in sin and loved every minute of it? Rhetorically speaking.
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Review of Autumn's Love  
Review by Dr Gonzo
Rated: 18+ | (5.0)
A sad but beautiful tale of two lovers who must face a certain departure each and every year. I loved the parallels between the season and the mood...melded together into one resplendent picture. Melancholic and lugubrious, the story drifts like the shadowy dark clouds on a chilled breeze that the author describes so well.

A short story that could easily continue...in fact, I was left wanting more...to discover who these characters are, how they met and why she must leave...the danger she faces feels all too real.

Exquisitely written and with obvious skill. Rich with the colours and hues of Autumn. An aptly named and intriguing story that I am glad to have discovered.
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Review of The Box  
Review by Dr Gonzo
Rated: 18+ | (4.5)
Bong? BOOM then bang go the boys. Silver Pearl absorbed through atoms and into the lungs of a ghost is certainly a strange way to get high, but no more strange than a beer bong. I'm sure if ol' man ghost had just asked for a cone, they would have been fine with it. But then, who knows what goes through the mind of the dead?

A quirky and fast-paced story about a ghost who is obviously connected with the mafia.
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Review of Who Do I Believe?  
Review by Dr Gonzo
Rated: E | (5.0)
Hi Tina...I read your essay, and although I am not a Christian, I am sure I understand what you are conveying. I try to be as honest as I can in my day to day life and to live with similar values as might a person of faith. I believe that you don't have to believe in God or Jesus or in a higher power to want to be a good person.

I think you allay to this in your essay where you say..."just because someone calls themselves or someone else a Christian, does not mean you can automatically trust them or believe what they say." And so, just because someone IS NOT a Christian does not mean you can't trust them or believe what they say.

I have a bit of history with the subject of Christianity. Much of my writing reflects this, and believe me, it is not all pretty. My mom, who I love dearly and have the utmost respect for, is a Christian, and we have the best conversations (even debates) on this and many other subjects. She and I have managed to find a balance where I respect her beliefs as much as she does mine.

No one should ever have to go to war because they have different spiritual beliefs (or, for that matter, none at all). In fact, if they do feel the need to kill others in the name of God, then a person with any common sense at all must question if those beliefs are in their own interests rather than in the interests of their God.

Your essay makes a lot of sense to me. It's well written and concise. It expresses your opinions without being opinionated, which is a valuable and admirable quality with any piece such as this.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and words.
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Review of Escape From Above  
Review by Dr Gonzo
Rated: ASR | (5.0)
Once again Ben, a brilliant read...captivating and on point. I have always had a fascination with how we, as a species, will meet our demise. I myself have written a series of five short sci-fi stories on the subject, and I wish this was one of them.

I like your style (and you definitely have your own style). It's smart, fresh, and insightful and I have no doubt you could become as well-read as Asimov or A.C Clark. No s***.
This story flows and knows where it is going, but we, as the readers, have no idea...and that is a talent you should hone into a fine blade to cut a swathe to wherever you wish to go.
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Review of Music  
Review by Dr Gonzo
Rated: E | (4.5)
To be confined to one type of music or genre, would be to go through life without contrast. You must hear what you hate before you can hate it, and as you learned, what you hate now, you might change your mind about later in life.

Who knows Ben...maybe one day you will find yourself dancing to ABBA or, heaven forbid, techno...that repetitive DOOF DOOF that is, when you take away the guitars and peel back the layers, all too similar to metal...there, I said it...metal and hardcore trance and techno have many similarities. Agree or disagree? Isn't it also one of the best things about music...that makes it so great...it evokes discussion and brings otherwise strangers together to argue over who (or when) was better.
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Review of A Lil Bit Gangsta  
Review by Dr Gonzo
Rated: 18+ | (5.0)
Yo MF...who da fuck d'ya think is gangsta
Let's find out outside da local milkbar
I'll give yo some of that
And we'll have a bit of a chat
'Bout who's got the coolest shoes in town
Turn your undies from white to brown
Yo ain't seen nothin quite like me
Sit yo down and help you see
Cornetto is better than a Drumstick
Suck on that or suck my dick
Even though I'm not gay
Do it good and I might just repay
Yo, that's so gangsta
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Review by Dr Gonzo
Rated: 18+ | (5.0)
I love this story...beautiful and tragic...sad yet somehow uplifting. The twist at the end I never saw coming, like all good twists should/shouldn't.

The things we do for love...
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Review of to be online  
Review by Dr Gonzo
Rated: 13+ | (5.0)
A well written and constructed piece on the subject of online etiquette, rules and safety.

You are obviously a young person, and after reading this piece, I wonder if, given the amount of thought and consideration you have put into it, and the fact that I am an older person (awkward age difference considered), we were to strike up a conversation, would it be a viable and worthwhile thing to do?

Personally, I don't look too far ahead when meeting someone online. I've had my share of bad experiences, although none that have cause for alarm. I've also met some funny, smart and good people who, although I no longer converse with, I am glad I met. It seems to me there is a pattern where we meet, we talk for a while and from there it branches off in a million ways...some pattern hey?

I believe that most people are, depending of course on the site you meet on, good, and have good intentions. Things can good awry for a million reasons, but if we were to walk away from a person because of a simple misunderstanding or misinterpretation of the written word (which I believe is the most common way for online friendships to break apart), then it would be unrealistic to think we would ever find that one perfect person to converse with.

The BIG question is, what are we looking for? What is it that we want from this meeting? When we put in place a complex set of rules and guidelines to strictly follow, what chance is there of talking about normal stuff? The weather is nice...and I am struggling to find the next subject to talk about. Friendship is about sharing...it is about caring and understanding, and without those things because of a need to be wary and not divulge too much information about ourselves, then what is left for the two people to say?

Ordinarily, time is the answer. Allowing enough time before sharing any details that could be used hurtfully or worse, is the key. But, online predators can be patient just like I am...they can be convincing and the problem is, it isn't the predator who will turn on you, it is the person you thought you knew...and the funny part is, they will likely be thinking the same thing of us. If a friend in our real-life has a bad day and barks at us, if we are a true friend, we look and ask for a reason why they did this. We usually forgive them if it is not something that happens often, whereas in an online situation if the same happens, we are far more likely to end the friendship and never speak to them again. Is this because we fear or because it is far easier to walk away from a screen than it is a face?

You are right to advise to air on the side of caution...bank details, home addresses and the like are not in question, and are not conversation pieces. How you are feeling and why are very good subjects for us to talk about in a safe and helpful manner. However, there must be a point where we place less importance on the shield of invincibility and trust our gut feelings about this online stranger we have met.
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Review of The Addison Daily  
Review by Dr Gonzo
Rated: E | (5.0)
Some very strong opinions here, and not being an American myself (even though the Stars and Stripes adorn my wall, right alongside my own flag), maybe I have no place to comment on any of the points presented by yourself and no doubt supported by millions of other Americans. But, due to the fact I am a citizen of the world, and America is the top dog...well, used to be the top dog, I find myself drawn to the arguments that should by right, be handled internally.

Can I begin by saying I love the USA...you have values similar to us Australians. We have fought side by side in every conflict you have become involved in since the first world war, and we look up to you like our big brother. ANZUS is our commitment to you, and no matter if we thought you should or should not be taking up arms against whomever you were, we still sent our troops to support that commitment. January 2017 saw that commitment thrown in the trash and not by Australia or New Zealand.

Some people may say it was only a small commitment, but we are a small country with only twenty-five million people (New Zealand even less), and yet, ask any vet who he would want by his side in a conflict and our SAS soldiers receive a whole lot of respect. Our politicians on the other hand are a bunch of wishy-washy, do as little as possible and wait to see what the rest of the world does first, followers. We follow you, which, given your situation at present, may not be a wise thing to do.

America is still at war...even though you are now out of Afghanistan, and don't have any official wars going on atm (not including counter-terrorism, random drone strikes in the Middle East or the problems you have with your neighbours to the south). From the outside looking in, and as I see it, the war is with yourselves. Between 2015 and 2019, on average 115551 people per year were shot in the US and almost 20000 gun deaths in 2020 alone...and yet, more and more guns are sold, I assume to protect you from people who have guns.

The wild west continues in a lot of places.

Where does it end?

Will it ever end?

The forefathers could never have imagined a school massacre, where your own children are senselessly murdered, sometimes by other children, who often gain access to weapons that their parents feel they need to protect themselves, yet in the end, these weapons only destroy lives...by design.

The men who signed the bill of rights in 1791 could never have foreseen the changes that have occurred in the last 230 years.

I wonder, if they could see the United States of America today...would they still feel the same way as they did on that historic day?

Who IS to blame?

America for America neglected those who have stood by you. Together we stand, divided we fall. It is a slap in the face and will not make you strong. It is a weakness, not a strength...a weakness which in 2024 will be back bigger and louder than ever, and will win, of that I am sure.

And God help us all when that day becomes our reality.
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Review by Dr Gonzo
Rated: E | (5.0)
Giving is the greatest gift.
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Review of LADA  
Review by Dr Gonzo
Rated: E | (5.0)
Wow...I never knew anyone could be so impressed by a Lada...we had a few exported here to Australia and they were just another European car to me...the windshield wipers were where the turn indicators should be a visa versa so if I came to a turn...on would go the wipers and if it began to rain...I indicated a left turn...but at least the steering wheel was on the correct side...right-hand drive...unless of course, they changed the steering wheel to our side, which would explain the wipers being on the right side of the wheel...now I am confused, but I must admit...your story made me smile...I can really hear the difference in your English back then...Grammarly was coming to ruin this cute accent your writing has...it is almost like two different people wrote this and the other things I have read of yours and I must admit Grammerly...NO...your real voice...yes, please.
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Review by Dr Gonzo
Rated: E | (5.0)
It takes a lot to admit the things you have in this piece...honesty is one of the hardest pills to swallow and yet, is the only thing that can bring peace and true happiness.

I think everyone goes through some form of trauma or life event, or events, at some point, that challenge who we are and what we are made of. Some, like me, turn to drugs or alcohol to cope...and, it works a treat, for a while. The difficulty for anyone who has tried this type of coping mechanism is tolerance...what works today, will not work tomorrow, and it isn't just drugs and alcohol that people use to cope...food, pornography, even drama, all can and do become ways of getting by.

Seeking attention, or not seeking attention...look at me or hiding away, even from yourself...especially from yourself...denial...is probably one of the most common ways to cope. Being honest, which equates to allowing ourselves to BE vulnerable again, is a very difficult thing for anyone to have to do...even those who HAVEN'T suffered such traumatic circumstances, will struggle to allow themselves to be truly vulnerable. I always used to think how silly those counsellors were who would first blindfold, and then get a person to fall backwards and be caught by waiting hands...now, I can see what they were trying to achieve.

I'm not saying this is the answer because there is no one size fits all when it comes to getting over trauma. I've never read a book on psychology, but I know people very well, and I think it comes down to one basic thing...happiness...ask yourself, what it is you think will bring you true happiness? Allow 24 hours to really think about it. I don't think many of us truly know what that is.

I've been thinking about it for years, and I still don't have an answer...at least, not one I am satisfied with...but, if we can be totally honest with ourselves, one day we might gain the insight to work it out, and then, maybe find that peace and contentment I think is missing from so many of our lives.


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Review by Dr Gonzo
Rated: 18+ | (5.0)
Because of my withdrawals, I cry at the drop of a hat...but, this chapter brought them on like crazy...words have such power, they emote times and places we had long forgotten, then brought to life by a few words of familiarity.

I lost someone very dear to me more years ago than I care to remember, I haven't thought about him for a while now, but your words made me think of him, that I still miss him forty years after he was gone.

You have a skill...a gift...rare...but I am glad that I have discovered it and can read more, even if at times, I find it hard to see.
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Review of Last Round  
Review by Dr Gonzo
Rated: E | (5.0)
Boxing is a brutal sport, and here the author describes a fighter well past his prime, in a contest he is losing badly.

Being a former Muay Thai fighter myself, I understood the questioning this character has during his final bout...it is just as much a battle of the mind as it is in a physical sense once that bell rings and it is just one athlete against another...all the hype and talk disappears and the only talk from there on is from the cornermen in the seconds between rounds and the talk inside your own head, which is well captured here in this story.

A good portrayal of how it really is inside the ring, although at 10-1 odds, this guy got in a lucky shot...I just hope he backed himself with every penny he had earned from the years of pain and sacrifice he had endured.
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Review by Dr Gonzo
Rated: ASR | (5.0)
Hi Sisco...I have only been here for one year, yet still consider myself a newbie because I have so much yet to learn...both in my life, as a writer, and about this site.

I noticed that you tagged me and to be honest, I have no idea how you would have come across me or what tagging me even means...sorry for my ignorance on this, but I write...a lot...and I suppose this tends to make my learning of how these things work suffer.

Just the fact that you have noticed me is humbling, considering my relative lack of experience. I do want to thank you though, for that alone. I don't do as much reviewing as I should...a few bad experiences have made me wary, and as I mentioned, I spend a lot of time writing and so, as you would be well aware, we only have so much time in any given day, and so priorities must be made.

I will try and read some of your work in the coming weeks...but in any case, please know, I appreciate any and all encouragement I receive. I would like to donate these gift points towards your causes, I am sure they are worthy.

Neil.
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Review by Dr Gonzo
Rated: E | (4.0)
Best laid plans...and a school yard crush are the ingredients for this short story. Not sure which demographic this piece is aimed at, but I imagine over thirties could reminisce about their own clumsy attempts at getting the girl and living happily ever after.

It's a straight up, wholesome story without any twists or surprises, except, the boy in the story actually got the girl, which didn't happen to me when I was besotted by that new girl at school.

Well written, with only one small mistake, in the third paragraph where it reads...'Frustrated, he wandered off to the side where sat...should read 'he sat'. Overall, a good yarn to kill ten minutes with.
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Review of Gush Me No Gushes  
Review by Dr Gonzo
Rated: E | (4.5)
I note this review of the reviews given on this site that I will be reviewing today, indicates this kindness over critique is not a new phenomenon...and that not a lot has changed in the ten years since it was first posted.

I agree with the crux of the argument here, that we can benefit more from truth rather than pandering, and while each piece of writing should be judged on merit alone, there is a degree of prejudgment going on in most of the reviews that happen here on WDC...as per management instructions I might add, but then creates a type of selection process where we pass over those items we cannot honestly glow over and give five-star ratings to and in reality, helps no one when looking at the overall quality of work which is found on the site.

I think there is a word to cover this err...balance.

The author has done the leg work and researched the stats...read the top reviews and show us that there is a problem with this 'be nice and don't hurt feelings' reviewing style. A style which, yes, fluffs the ego and doesn't cause memberships to plummet...and therein may be another underlying reason management doesn't want the truth to be at the forefront of lifting the overall quality of the pieces being reviewed...better to have membership numbers up, rather than lose the few who may not handle some critique and don't see this is the number one benefit we can have from balanced and fair reviews of our work.

The shortest path to becoming a better writer is through truth, and the only way to hear that truth is by getting reviews that reflect both the flaws along with the highlights of the piece in question...and as the author points out, can help them deal with the rejections they will experience along the way to becoming published authors.
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Review of Label Me  
Review by Dr Gonzo
Rated: E | (4.5)
I like it...and believe me, I am a difficult person to like...like I like this poem because it makes me feel sad. Not like sad but happy sadness that is like nice feelings of sadness washing over me and drowning my sorrows without alcohol but maybe some Prozac will help.

Ok...down to business...satire is my fav thing to write and also to read...your intro had me and I chose your poem because of it...so, well done on that.

The poem itself is really well written...it flows well and the style is yours...not having read any of your other work, I wouldn't be surprised if it washed through to those.

There is something that cannot be hidden, and that is the honesty within the words. I felt what you were feeling when you wrote it all those years ago...there in itself is the key...some works I read and they can be good or not so good, but when I feel the words and they speak from the heart...now there is a talent that we either have or we don't and is a difficult thing to learn...to translate emotions into script.

You have that talent and I will read some more just to make sure I am not speaking a whole lotta rubbish so, please don't make me eat my words because I had a lot for dinner and I just couldn't fit in another mouthful tonight.

Good job, well done and awesome effort etc etc.
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Review by Dr Gonzo
Rated: E | (4.5)
Some good info here for those who still believe in the dream of being published (self-publishing is something else altogether). It is one aspect of writing that seems so remote and difficult to achieve. My method is simple...don't bother. Not because I have had my work rejected or the tasks that must be performed just to get a piece read by a junior staffer are too much (even if they are).

No, it's the odds of actually being published. Even if the i's and t's are dotted and crossed and the submission is perfectly presented to the particular standards they have set...even if the piece is entertaining, funny, spine chilling or just really well written...it's a fickle world and publishing houses know what they want and 999 out of a thousand submissions are not that.

So, I write for myself...the way I like and with all the imperfections that make it mine. Even if I am the only person to ever read something I have created, so long as I am proud of the work and I gave it my best then for me that is enough.

It does seem a little unfair...that the people who create and put their heart and soul into the work are looked at like bottom feeders, yet the publishing houses, who do nothing but select, print, market along with some risk of loss if it doesn't sell well...but if it does they make the lions share of the profit and act like they are above the art but really, only profit from a (select) writers efforts.
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Review of Therapy  
Review by Dr Gonzo
Rated: 18+ | (4.5)
It's not that Matt killed his wife in cold blood...I mean, who doesn't want to do that. If I had a wife, I would spend hours trying to figure out, not just how to do it, but how to get away with it. And this is the crux of the story 'Therapy'.

The fact that the cold blooded killer was planning a new life before he brutally murders his wife with his fists shows his premeditation was obviously by his wife (and typically now known as 'the victim') caused him to act in such a way...it always is. The reason most men don't follow through is their balls are missing and so are no longer of any benefit, at least not to them...not because of age or dysfunction but because they are in the wife's handbag. She uses them to destress from a hard day shopping or hanging out with her friends at the club, by rolling them in between her fingers...one for each hand.

Well, Matt had one way to take back possession of one's "ball's...another is to man up and refuse to hand them over in the first place...it's well known that a woman has no respect for a man who gives in without a protest (that's right guys, if you say no more often you will hear yes more often). A woman likes a man who stands up to her and tells her that she is taking his precious balls over his cold dead body.

I wonder if she pleaded temporary insanity when he was found dead from cyanide poisoning, was stabbed 24 times and had his balls removed with her teeth...in this day and age I doubt she would even be charged...he must have done something to provoke her.

Loved the twist at the end.

I personally suffer from temporary insanity on a permanent basis. It's called Crazsanity.

Disclaimer; no balls were removed during the writing of this review.


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Review of The Gift  
Review by Dr Gonzo
Rated: E | (4.5)
Well...that's a different take on rejection. Through rejection can be found true happiness. I do see your point. The fact that almost everyone has been rejected, we might as well put a positive spin on it. One person's trash is still trash make no mistake...but with some training, a job and a haircut I am trash who used to be suspected, dejected and infected...but now I understand rejection, something unexpected...I'm connected, projected perfected and disinfected.

You wrote this eight years ago and I am wondering if it is still your philosophy? I am so lucky to have been rejected by almost every person I know...my kids, siblings, friends, people online, editors and women (except my mom...she tried but I used every mother's Kryptonite...guilt). I even rejected myself once...but I sneaked back when I wasn't looking.

I've been looking at rejection the wrong way...I'm truly free because nobody wants to hang with me which means I have so much time for me now...my expectations were lowered by rejection, so I am not disappointed anymore. I'm still waiting for all the like-minded people (rejects) to fill the emptiness, but when they do show up...I'll reject them...I don't want to be seen with a bunch of rejects.
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Review of Mon-Anon  
Review by Dr Gonzo
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
I used to know a monster. He didn't care about anyone but himself. Then one day everything and everyone important to him was gone from his life. It was then he realized being a monster seemed fun at the time, but if you are not willing to change and become someone different...someone who isn't scary or selfish...then life becomes the monster and you become the one who is frightened and alone .

I read your stories and poems and I didn't know which one to review and because comedy is my favorite genre, it had to be this gem...original ideas from a very non original group of characters. Did you have to pay for their use?

You are a great writer...consise and skilled at storytelling and mechanics...I also read your bio and wonder what you would do if you stopped writing...a writer who doesn't write? Is a painter still a painter if he never picks up an easel again in his life ? Looking at his past works, we would have to say yes. So, you are a writer...and no matter if you never write another word, you will always be a writer.

I get blocked sometimes and my fear is that I won't come back from that...but if I think of all the stories I haven't written...the places and people and even in my dreams...I can at least write something, even if it is not what I would choose but for lack of imagination.

Believe in yourself and others will believe in you too.

Great stuff, I wish you had more.
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Review by Dr Gonzo
Rated: E | (4.5)
Your story grabbed my attention for obvious reasons...I was so pissed about my situation I wrote a book called, 'The Minefields of Separation and Divorce'. It covers family law in Australia and the points you make in your story are the same the world over. The grubby tricks used by ex's and their lawyers boggles the mind and is all acceptable by courts when seeking an agreement on children.

There are more stories than I could say here which support your arguments for change...but don't hold your breath because legislators and the justice system like to take their time, especially with family law. You won't see any stories in the media about the unfair, often spiteful and illogical outcomes for fathers and their kids...they would rather highlight the few who take the law into their own hands and act violently when the vast majority of men who are going through separation do the right thing.

To say a woman could be responsible for causing harm to the kids they are supposed to love by denying them access, putting their dad...their hero, down constantly and using kids as tools in some spiteful and senseless game of revenge...well that sort of thing never gets said because here in Australia, a domestic violence order will be the next court appearance we find ourselves facing and that is a place no man ever wins regardless...and then everything changes.
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