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The ancient gods of Western civilization have withdrawn from the world following the epic events detailed in the Camp Half-Blood books, starring Percy Jackson (son of Poseidon), by author Rick Riordan.

Of course, just because the gods say they’ve withdrawn from their interactions with mortals, well, that doesn’t make it true.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

by Richard

I figured it was time I took my own advice.

About a month or so ago, I wrote about how scientists had been doing some actual scientific research on some good stuff. They’d been looking at massages and found that getting a good massage actually altered your body chemistry, leading to a reduction in cortisol, the stress hormone.

So I went out and booked myself a massage. Now I have only one question: Why in the flark did I wait so long to get a good massage?

After an hour of subtle, delicious pressure, I was barely able to get off the table. I felt that relaxed. Plus, you know, getting rubbed with oil. When is that ever a bad thing?

Anyway, I went to see a certified massage therapist in the Charlotte area named Rachael Schrader. First a disclaimer: I’m not writing about her because I expect to get free massages out of this. I didn’t even tell her about the blog here. I just really enjoyed the massage and want to tout its benefits to you dudes.

I will say I’m not all that enamored of the New Agey stuff that comes along with the massage, but I’m willing to put up with it if it leads to me getting a great rub down. And I did get a great rub down.

First I got asked to disrobe to my comfort level. For some people, that’s stripping down to their birthday suit. To me, that was keeping my suit on. Well, I did strip down a bit, but I stayed (barely) clothed. That’s me, though.

So Rachael oiled up her hands and got to work. I don’t know how she did it, but she found every tight muscle in my body and rubbed, poked and prodded there until those muscles finally unclenched. There was some pain involved, but it was really worth it. The feeling as those muscles finally let go was magnificent.

I really can’t say enough good things about the experience. At the end, Rachael asked if I wanted to schedule another massage, but I demurred. I was floating somewhere above cloud 10.7 and wanted to wait a bit before deciding, not wanting to spend more money based solely on the euphoria I felt in the moment. Well, I waited long enough.

I’m going back. If you can, I recommend you start getting this done. Find a good massage therapist and get into the rub.

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