Tag Archives: Aga

Dude Review: The Lost Hero

by Richard

The ancient gods of Western civilization have withdrawn from the world following the epic events detailed in the Camp Half-Blood books, starring Percy Jackson (son of Poseidon), by author Rick Riordan.

Of course, just because the gods say they’ve withdrawn from their interactions with mortals, well, that doesn’t make it true. Knowing those gods as we do, through myth, legend and a great series of books, we can be pretty sure there’s still some godly meddling going on.

And there is.

In The Lost Hero, the first book of a new series called The Heroes of Olympus, we’re introduced to a whole bunch of new main characters, most notably Jason, a half-blood demi-god with little to no memory of his past, a strange tattoo on his arm, and a metaphorical target plastered on his back.

For now, let’s all get down on our knees and thank those self-same gods that Rick Riordan is back with another book set in the same universe as the magnificently wonderful Percy Jackson and the Olympians books. This truly is a cause for celebration. To me, the Percy Jackson books are what Harry Potter would have liked to have been if he had any ambition at all. They’re full of fantastically complex characters, fast plotting, tight action scenes and genuine emotional heft. These are books that all young dudes would love to read or have read to them.

Both my oldest (Sarcasmo) and youngest (Hyper Lad) young dudes loved these books. Zippy the Monkey Boy, who’s of the opinion that a book without pictures is a waste of paper, preferred to read the graphic novel version and leave it at that. His loss.

Anyway. Back to the book.

Riordan takes a bit of a chance with this book, consigning as he does, Percy Jackson to, if not limbo, then at least the literary equivalent thereof. That is, Percy Jackson does NOT star in these books. He’s talked about and missed, but he’s not actually on stage. The main player here is Jason, who’s memory begins on the back of a school bus on his way to a class trip with two people who may or may not be his girlfriend and best friend.

The action here is fast and furious, starting early and pausing only to let the reader catch his breath before barreling headlong into another adventure.

Jason, you see, isn’t like the other children of the gods who inhabit Camp Half Blood. In fact, his appearance at the summer camp for the children of the gods causes quite a bit of consternation among the staff there, and not a little bit of fear. But what is it about Jason’s very existence and attendance at the camp that’s causing this level of panic?

That, dudes, is the question. And it’s got a great answer. (Of course I had it figured out, but, then again, this is written with the younger dudes in mind. The fact that I and most other older dudes can enjoy it is just a happy bit of synchronicity.)

The Lost Hero is a fantastic read. If you’ve got a young dude or dudette who is even the tiniest bit interested in Greek and Roman mythology, likes fantastic adventure and well-developed characters, then you must get this book. Without question, this rates five (5) dudes out of five.

Buy it. Read it. Enjoy it. Then suffer along with me until the next book in the series comes out.

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Shouldering The Load

by Richard

I get it. By jimminy, I get it. I really, really do. You dudes can all stop now. Please.

Here is a typical conversation with a stranger, pick a stranger. Basically anyone who I bump into during the course of my day. Anywhere. Anytime. Anyone.

“Hey, what’d you do to your arm? Shoulder?”

Me: “Shoulder,” trying to move on because I know what’s coming.

Stranger: “Rotator cuff?”

Me: sighing, “Yeah, among other stuff. Had the biceps tendon reattached and had some of my clavicle bone shaved off.”

Stranger: “Wow.”

Me: “Yeah,” trying to leave, but knowing it won’t work.

Stranger: “You know, a (insert relationship here; friend, relative, acquaintance) of mine had that kind of thing. He said it was the most pain he’d/she’d ever gone through. I mean, it’s agony on wheels.”

Me: “So I’ve heard. I’m doing all right, though.”

Stranger: “You must not have started the physical therapy yet. Boy, that’s when the pain really kicks in. I mean, she/he told me she/he was crying like a baby every time she/he went to physical therapy. And it kept hurting all the time. For months. Said it was like having a knife jammed in there and then stirred around for good luck.”

Me: wincing in anticipation and starting to feel sympathy pains for my future self, “Um, yeah. Thanks for sharing.”

Stranger: “No, really. I mean, he/she had (insert some horrible, appallingly invasive surgery or medical procedure here) and he/she said that was nothing compared to getting his/her shoulder done and the rehab after.”

Me: feeling nauseous all over again, “Uh, yeah. Thanks for sharing. Again.”

Finally feeling my oats enough to be rude, that’s when I turn around and walk away. Very, very quickly. And normally bump my shoulder into something hard and unforgiving.

So, yes. I get it. I understand that it’s painful. I also know I don’t need to be reminded — constantly — of that fact. You’d think people would get the hint.

Unless — you don’t suppose? — it’s some sort of conspiracy, maybe. Maybe they are all out to get me. That must be it. I’m sure of it. You’re all trying to hurt me. I see it all so clearly now. I —

UPDATE: I’ve cut down on the meds a bit now and I think I should be all better. Just sort of ignore the previous. I know that’s what I’m trying to do.

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Freaky Friday: Verbal Sight

by Richard

It turns out that my wife, known to me as She Who Must Give Instructions — Twice, was right again. Being told what to look for can actually make it more likely that you’ll find it.

In a research study published today, scientists reveal that spoken language can alter your perception of the visible world.

The study in PLoS Onereveals that people given a series of visual tests had dramatically different scores when they were prompted first with a verbal cue. Asked to find a specific letter in a crowded picture, people were much more likely to find that letter when they were given the auditory cue “letter B” beforehand. Interestingly, being shown an image of the letter B before looking at the picture did not help them pick out the letter B any better than a control group could.

I guess we shouldn’t be surprised. After all, we’ve all done word searches in elementary and middle school when the teachers were looking for a little time killer and didn’t want to have to do too much work. With every word search, there’s a word bank to show you the words for which you’re searching. I always found that I did better when I read the words out loud to myself, rather than just reading the words.

The interesting thing to me, though, is I always find words that aren’t in the word bank. A question of looking too hard or just not focusing on the task at hand? I always came down on the side of working too hard, but my teachers kept harping on focus. Po-tay-to, po-tah-to.

Interestingly, although auditory verbal cues increased detection sensitivity, visual cues did not. This finding makes some sense when one considers that linguistic cues involve a non-overlapping format of sensory information that is globally statistically independent of the visual format of information in the detection task itself. By contrast, visual cues involve the same format of information as the detection task, and therefore do not provide converging sensory evidence from independent sources when the to-be-detected stimulus is presented.

Which means that there needs to be a combination of verbal and visual stimuli for this to work, to let you target what you’re looking for.

This has some pretty significant implications for parenting, dudes.

I mean, I know I’ve left notes for the little dudes before and returned to find absolutely nothing accomplished because they couldn’t find what I’d written about. After reading about this, I realized that the little dudes did do better when I gave them the note and also went over it with them.

Something to think about the next time Zippy the Monkey Boy tells me he can’t find that missing shoe when it’s sitting on the floor in the middle of the room.

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