Tag Archives: Soun

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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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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Freaky Friday: Online Ostracism

by Richard

Most of the time, being a bully means abusing someone (normally) smaller than you, either physically, emotionally or verbally. Still, there is another, much more subtle form of bullying. It’s called ostracism, which means ignoring someone, casting them out of the group, and it can have a decidedly detrimental effect on the self esteem of young dudes and dudettes.

A recent study based in England looked at how a group of children, a group of adolescents and a group of adults reacted to being ostracized during the playing of an online computer game.

The study was carried out by a team at the University’s Centre for the Study of Group Processes and was led by Professor Dominic Abrams. Professor Abrams explained that research into cyber-bullying usually focuses on direct abuse and insults.

“However, a more indirect and perhaps common form of bullying is ostracism — when people are purposefully ignored by others,” he said. Professor Abrams also explained that “online ostracism affects adults by threatening their basic needs for self-esteem, sense of belonging, sense of meaning and sense of control. We wanted to discover whether children and adolescents have similar reactions.”

And, yes, for those of you wondering, children and adolescents do have similar reactions. However, those reactions are more significant in the case of the children.

Ostracism affected the self-esteem of the eight and nine-year-old children more than the other groups. This suggests that the adolescents and adults have developed better buffers against threats to self-esteem.

What happened was that these folks were asked to play a game of online ‘cyberball’ in which three online players — depicted on screen by their names — passed a ball to one another. In games where the participant was included, they threw and received the ball four times within the trial. However, in a game when they were ostracized they received the ball only twice at the start, and then the other two players continued to play only passing the ball between themselves.

The good news is that the detrimental effects were basically cancelled out when the subjects were asked to play another game and then included, rather than excluded. This suggests that, if parents and or teachers are on the ball, it is possible to easily remediate any damage done intentionally or unintentionally by bullies.

I think it’s extremely important for us, as parents, to be on the watch for this. Now, I’m not advocating that we go nuts, hover over our little dudes and make sure everyone is included in everything. That would be nuts. Only that we listen to our kids, find out if they’re feeling excluded and find a way for them to participate in something where their input and presence is valued. Sounds like a pretty good way to make sure our kids keep feeling good about themselves, and for good reason.

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