Tag Archives: Fanta

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The ancient gods of Western civilization have withdrawn from the world following the epic events detailed in the Camp Half-Blood books, starring Percy Jackson (son of Poseidon), by author Rick Riordan.

Of course, just because the gods say they’ve withdrawn from their interactions with mortals, well, that doesn’t make it true.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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Dude Review: Divine Cupcakes And Yogurt Cafe

by Richard

Let’s start off with the most obvious pun: Yes, these cupcakes are divine.

I don’t know what it is, but suddenly cupcakes seem to be all the rage in the confectionary circles. There seems to be cupcake stores opening on just about every corner. Okay, maybe not every corner, but there are cupcake stores opening in a lot of places.

Maybe it’s because you can carry away a cupcake in your hands and eat it on the way to the car, as opposed to a cake, which must be carried carefully and eaten at home. Or maybe it’s just that cupcakes are delicious and wonderful and so very much fun. Or it could be that I’ve bought into the cupcake myth, but, oh, my, I do love the frosting and the cake. So, yeah, I’m just the right kind of mark to fall and fall hard for a good cupcake.

I guess I’m lucky, then, that Divine Cupcake and Yogurt Cafe serves a darn fine cupcake.

Located at 1315 East Boulevard, Suite #170, Divine Cupcake and Yogurt Cafe offers — oddly enough — cupcakes and soft-serve frozen yogurt in a variety of styles.

The first thing you notice when you walk into the Cafe is this is every bit the trendy, arty store you might expect to be newly opened in the Dilworth area of Charlotte. And it is. Opened less than a month ago, Divine Cupcake and Yogurt Cafe has a wall devoted to local artists, arty cupcake sculptures hanging from the ceiling and a wonderful pop-art sensibility cupcaked to the walls.

But enough about the surroundings, let’s talk taste. The Cafe offers mini, regular and jumbo cupcakes at reasonable prices, both for the single fix and for multipacks. They also offer pull-apart cakes, that is, cakes made from cupcakes. Which means you can do away with the knife and just grab bits of the cake to eat. I can think of a lot of kids to whom this will be their idea of heaven. Not to mention a few adults who’ll be salivating just at the idea, much less the taste.

And the taste, which I sampled on my second, secret appearance (more about that later), is fantastic. They offer everything from the standard red velvet to berry cream cheese and Boston cream varieties. Check out the menu on their website.

The great thing about the Divine Cupcake and Yogurt Cafe is in their name. Not only do they offer great cupcakes, they also have a rotating selection of soft-serve frozen yogurt and a bewildering selection of toppings to go with it.

This place gets the full-on dude recommend. It’s a great atmosphere, great cupcakes and great yogurt. Go eat there. Now. You’ll be glad you did.

And, as for the reason I had to go back a second, secret time? Well, that’s because the first time I went there, I was an invited guest. See, they were silly crazy uninformed nice enough to invite me there to read to a bunch of preschoolers. I guess no one learned after the Riot of ’09. But more  on that tomorrow.

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More Than A Rooster

by Richard

So, Zippy the Monkey Boy and I roll up into the bustling metropolis of Conway, SC, and the first thing that comes to my mind is to roll down the windows and listen for the sound of dueling banjos. ‘Cause, dude, if I hear the first string pluck, I was so far gone out of there they wouldn’t even know we’d been there.

Fortunately for us, the hard-pounding, deep, throbbing (you know, I might have been away from home and the loving comfort of the arms of She Who Must Be Hugged for a bit too long) bass line coming from the car’s speakers drowned out any unelectric stringed instruments.

The hotel I’d picked on the internet was located off the side of the, and I used this word advisedly, highway all by itself. I mean, it was the Bates Motel done in post-modern Soviet bloc architecture. Still, the room was air conditioned and relatively clean. Good news.

Now here’s where I talk about how dumb I can be. I’d looked up Coastal Carolina University and knew it was relatively near the beach and located in Conway. What I didn’t do was to look about 15 miles east. Turns out, the university is right next to Myrtle Beach. Motto: Just like Daytona, only smaller and with fewer redeeming values. Still, Zippy the Monkey Boy and I did have a good time wandering around and seeing what was what. But more on that later. It’s long past time to talk about the tour.

To start with, the campus is small. Beautiful, but small. Which was not a bad thing. With only 8,000 or so students, it was a good size. Zippy was immediately taken with the scenery, the buildings and the fact that the university actually owned it’s very own barrier island set aside purely for marine science research for the students. Now that got him excited.

I was excited as well, but mostly because I’d just hit the part in the CCU brochure that talked about how much it cost to send an out-of-state little dude there for school. It’s, well, it’s a bit of a shock. Still, I did like that they showed some extensive work on possible scholarships offered there. These merit scholarships are given automatically to kids who are accepted and meet certain marks on the SAT, GPA and other abbreviations and suchlike. Something to shoot for.

What impressed me most, however, was the size of the dorm rooms. Those things had 10-foot ceilings and three beds inside each two-person room. I know. I was depressed at first, as well. I figured they were going to be stuffing three dudes in a two-dude room. Turns out, they offer the extra bed as a (and, no, I’m not making this up) guest bed. Just in case. The students can send them back and get an extra desk if they want.

Our tour guide this time out was fantastic. She was erudite, engaging and did a great job of communicating the enthusiasm she felt for the school.

All in all, it was a great visit and leaves Coastal Carolina University high up on Zippy the Monkey Boy’s list of schools he’d like to attend. We also learned something new. Coastal Carolina University’s mascot is the Chanticleer. The thing looked like a rooster, but Chanticleer? Never heard of it. So we looked it up. Turns out Chanticleer was a rooster, known from certain fables, mostly those surrounding Reynard the Fox (a Germanic and French folkloric trickster).

And now you know. And knowing is half the battle.

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