Tag Archives: Chil

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The ancient gods of Western civilization have withdrawn from the world following the epic events detailed in the Camp Half-Blood books, starring Percy Jackson (son of Poseidon), by author Rick Riordan.

Of course, just because the gods say they’ve withdrawn from their interactions with mortals, well, that doesn’t make it true.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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Freaky Friday: Bully Brains

by Richard

This is actually kind of scary. We know that being bullied makes for some big-time backlash for the young dudes who get bullied. What we didn’t know until recently is that being bullied also makes some physical changes in the brains of those kids who get bullied.

Yeah, that’s right. Young dudes who get bullied actually suffer permanent changes to the structure of their brains because of the bullying.

If we thought there was a reason to crack down on bullying in schools before, brother, you’d better believe there’s more of a reason now.

They lurk in hallways, bathrooms, around the next blind corner. But for the children they have routinely teased or tormented, bullies effectively live in the victims’ brains as well — and not just as a terrifying memory.

Preliminary evidence shows that bullying can produce signs of stress, cognitive deficits and mental-health problems.

Now University of Ottawa psychologist Tracy Vaillancourt and her colleagues at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario plan to scan the brains of teens who have been regularly humiliated and ostracized by their peers to look for structural differences compared with other children.

“We know there is a functional difference. We know their brains are acting differently, but we don’t know if it is structural as well,”said Vaillancourt, an expert in the biology of bullying.

According to Vaillancourt, she finds changes to the hippocampus, the area of the brain responsible for memory.

Bullied young dudes have already been found to score lower on tests that measure verbal memory and executive function, a set of skills needed to focus on a task and get the job done. Mental-health problems, such as depression, are also more common.

Come on, dudes. This is ridiculous. We need to have a zero-tolerance policy for bullying in schools that’s actually enforced all the time, every time.  Kids need to feel safe when they’re at school, trying to learn.

I mean, come on. How can you learn if you’re constantly looking over your shoulder, fearing the next push or the next time someone starts name calling?

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Dude Review: The Incredible Hercules: Assault On New Olympus

by Richard

I think I might have mentioned it before, but comic books are what helped to form a very large portion of my ethical outlook. Spider-Man taught me that those who are strong have the responsibility to help those who aren’t. Batman taught me to work with what you have (even though most people aren’t going to be billionaire obsessives with a full support team.)

I thought I’d done all the learning I needed to do from comic books. Turns out I was wrong. The Incredible Hercules still had a few things to teach us all.

Amadeus Cho is the seventh-smartest person in the world. He’s been hanging with Hercules, righting wrongs and helping to make the world a better place. Unfortunately, Hercules’ mom, Hera, is also trying to make the world a better place and, in her mind, that means wiping out humanity and starting over again.

Seems like a pretty clear-cut philosophical difference that could be easily settled through the traditional methods of beating each other on the head until one being gives in. Unfortunately for humanity, Hera is backed by a number of the other gods in her pantheon, as well as the terrifying Titan Typhon. Hercules has a smart kid and a few of his pals in the Avengers.

What Herc doesn’t know is that his sister, Pallas Athena, has been training Amadeus Cho to replace Hercules as the new prince of power, the protector of humanity. Sounds great. It’s just too bad there can only be one Prince of Power at a time. Which means for Amadeus to take over, Hercules has to be dead.

All of which means it’s time for Herc to make a head-on assault on Hera’s headquarters, New Olympus. Amadeus spends most of the assault trying to protect his friend, which irritates Hercules no end. And here’s the teachable moment. Amadeus confronts Hercules with his worry and Herc tells him, basically, chill out, dude.

“Everybody dies,” Hercules said. “But not everybody lives. Stop worrying all the time.”

Worrying won’t change things. Live life. Enjoy life. Fight for life. When it ends, it ends. Now, I’m not endorsing a fatalistic outlook, but rather one that embraces change and ending, while showing off the best you can get out of life.

All of which makes for a great comic book.

The fight scenes are amazing. As is the entire last half of the book. Full of humor and pathos and betrayal.

If you’ve been following these reviews, you’ll know how much I’m enjoying them. This book doesn’t disappoint.

Go out and pick this up. Five dudes out of five. Again.


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