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The ancient gods of Western civilization have withdrawn from the world following the epic events detailed in the Camp Half-Blood books, starring Percy Jackson (son of Poseidon), by author Rick Riordan.

Of course, just because the gods say they’ve withdrawn from their interactions with mortals, well, that doesn’t make it true.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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Bored Games

by Richard

The past is making a comeback in the Jones household.

Despite the fact that we have (in the opinion of the parents) far too many electronic games, game systems and other assorted pixelated attention grabbers in the house (and reading that feels like the 21st-century equivalent of yelling “You kids get off my lawn.), the games that have been getting used the most lately are, in fact, board games.

I think it has a lot to do with the fact that I and my wife, known to the young dudes as She Who Must Be Hatin’ On The TV, have basically forbidden the use of the television, video game systems and computers during the school week. Well, we’re not absolutists. We’ll let them watch something educational occasionally, or sports-related, but plain cartoons or other junk shows? Nope. Nada.

All of which means our young dudes are really quite upset with us for this. However, the white-hot hate has banked a bit as the year has gone along and the young dudes have become used to the restrictions. Now, especially with Hyper Lad, things seem to be turning around.

In the last week or so, we’ve had a Hyper Lad-led Scrabble tournament. Not a tournament, per se. Just a lot of playing of the word game. I actually won a game this time around. Normally I’m terrible at Scrabble. I know a lot of words, but trying to make what I know fit the mess on the board. . . Not nearly the best at it. And, yes, I know it’s tacky to brag about besting an 11-year-old at a game, but, well, come on. It doesn’t happen all that often.

The older dudes have been seeing Hyper Lad, his mom and I having so much fun they’ve started to get interested in playing. So far, Sarcasmo has destroyed me in chess a number of times and Zippy the Monkey Boy is trying to figure out how to whip my butt in what I’m calling laser chess. (No, really.)

Anyway, I’m quite enjoying the return face to face fun, where the competition is based on mind vs. mind, rather than thumb versus electronic thingy. And, yes, I freely admit to being a bit old-fashioned on this one. Not that I don’t love a good round blow-’em’up with Nathan Drake in Uncharted 2, but I like being able to interact with my young dudes without his serving as intermediary.

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In The Land Of The Armless, The One-Armed Man Is King

by Richard

To quote Mel Brooks, “It’s good to be the king.” Or at least it would be if I really were in the land of the armless. Unfortunately, I’m in the normal land here where most everybody has two arms, two hands and can actually get stuff done.

Yep, you guessed right. It’s time for a whine-fest.

It’s been almost two weeks since I had my shoulder operated on and I’m already getting very, very, very tired of walking around with one arm in a sling, strapped to my body. My right arm is basically useless. I’ve been told I can’t even hold things with my right hand because I don’t want to strain the newly repaired muscles and tendons in my shoulder.

I never realized how much I actually do during the day until I couldn’t do any of those things.

I have to get help from my young dudes to tie my shoes. Zipping up is a monumental task. Putting on deodorant requires a few acts of contortions that would strain the credulity of India rubber men at the freak show. I can’t even wash dishes.

See, the thing is I know I have ADD. I can’t sit and do just one thing. If I’m watching TV, I’ll also need to read a book at the same time because I can’t just watch. During most evenings, I will be doing stuff in the kitchen while also keeping an eye on the TV or something similar. Now I can’t.

TV, by itself, is just so boring.

Sitting at the keyboard to write is a chore now. I have to type so very slowly. By the time my fingers have hunted-and-pecked their way to being even with my brain, my brain has moved on and forgotten what I was writing about in the. . .

Still, I can’t get too annoyed. I know I will get the use of my right arm back. Eventually. I’m a lot luckier than a lot of people who are learning to adjust to life with only one arm.

Still. . .

Still. . .

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