Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Book Review: Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson

WarbreakerWarbreaker by Brandon Sanderson
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

It took me nearly a month to finish WARBREAKER, mainly because it felt so tedious and none of the characters were very appealing until at least 280-300 pages into it. I'm wavering between two and three stars on this one, and for now I'm settling on two. Just way too much political set-up and info-dumping exposition, and not enough doing. The final 100 pages or so were excellent, with everything ramping to a head, but all of this happened too quickly compared to the rest of the book, and was just not enough to redeem the first 500+ pages I had to slog through.

My Rating: Two stars out of five. Sorry, Brandon. I still love you, man.

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Saturday, November 13, 2010

It all began with Secret Wars…

Marvel Super Heroes Secret WarsMarvel Super Heroes Secret Wars by Jim Shooter
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was fourteen before I decided comics were cool. SECRET WARS #1 was the very first comic book I ever bought, and I became an avid comic book reader for the next fifteen years.

One sunny day in early June, 1984, being out of school for the summer, I walked to the local book store ready to spend a few hard-earned dollars on the latest GOR novel and that’s when it happened. I strolled by the magazine rack on my way to the sci fi/fantasy section of the Little Professor when a colorful cover illustrated by Mike Zeck jumped off the shelves at me. SECRET WARS #1. My gaze locked onto Captain America's howling face. Then I saw the Hulk leaping high, Spider-Man swinging in, Wolverine brandishing a pair of shining claws. Just too cool! It had never occurred to me that all those heroes might come together at once. I was impressed. It was even more unusual because I used to tease my younger brother about his comic books (he mainly collected LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES and G.I. JOE) and, as he "grew out of them," I was falling in love.

I stopped reading comics around 1999, a bit burned out by the business side of things (having been involved in comics since ‘89 or so). I just recently returned to reading graphic novels as my four-year-old son is way into super-heroes – he’s in the next room right now playing LEGO Batman on the 360. I gotta admit it's been fun catching up on the adventures of Batman, the X-Men, Daredevil, Wolvie, Catwoman, and more in the past year or so. It takes me back to being a boy, where it all started in the summer of ‘84 with a comic book featuring Marvel's greatest classic heroes, SECRET WARS! 

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(Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #1)

Friday, November 12, 2010

I have officially seen the face of Crazy.

All this month—and next—my fieldwork takes place in a geriatric psych ward, so right now I’m dealing with behavioral health issues on a full-time basis. In the past two weeks I’ve seen depressed patients, patients with organic mood disorders, agitated patients, hallucinating patients, delusional patients, schizophrenic patients. Some are high-level as far as function goes. They’re conversational, cooperative, pleasant. Those are the ones that don’t stay very long, and they’re also the ones who help me maintain a positive outlook.

I’ve also had to deal with low-level people who are basically in a catatonic stupor, incontinent, unable to feed themselves, unable to convey their thoughts. They sit for hours at a table staring off into space, or sleeping, or fighting nurses who are trying to administer meds or change their diapers without getting kicked in the stomach or spit on.

Speaking of getting hit, we have some truly psychotic ones admitted at the moment. I had to help carry a naked woman around today, actually pick her up out of her chair in the activity room where she had removed her clothing, and lug her to the bathroom for a shower, which she probably hadn’t had in weeks. Of course, she was resisting and screaming the entire time, and I was doing my best to soothe her, making eye contact, displaying a sympathetic expression, speaking in low tones. I went to brush her hair out of her eyes and she tried to bite my hand. That’s the thanks I got. Not to mention she also tried to come on to me while three nurses were washing her (well, one was washing her, while the other two held down her arms).

It’s weird, though. As exhausting as it is, it’s also exciting.

My typical day might consist of trying to calm a panicking 95-year-old woman who can’t even tell me why she’s anxious, then talking with another woman who is smiling at me one second, then screaming at me to leave her alone the very next. During a co-led group session, I’ll talk with an old man who, by all accounts, seems normal as can be, except for the fact that he somehow works into the conversation that he’s been arguing lately with the Archangel Gabriel and when he called the angel a liar, the Virgin Mother gave him a spanking, and if she does it again he’s going to “go tell the Almighty and Mother Mary’s gonna get her own butt beat.” Later, after lunch, a 71-year-old woman calls me into the activity room and sweetly asks me to hand her a box of Kleenex, then tries to grab my arm and when I move away she throws the box at me and accuses me of fathering her child. She says she just peed all over herself while hissing a litany of curses, lifting her pillow off her lap to reveal she isn’t wearing pants, then throws her urine-soaked gown at me.

What a day, huh?

I’ve had clinical instruction in rehab and home health, as well. I haven’t decided yet if psych is for me. But I’m certainly not bored like I was in rehab. That’s definitely not for me. But psych? Well, considering all of the above, no small wonder that by the time I get home, I’m entirely depleted of all energy. I know I’m still learning the ropes and trying to take everything in. My CI (clinical instructor) has been urging me to put in my résumé. I might. But right now, at this very moment, all I can say is ‘Thank God it’s Friday.”

Saturday, November 6, 2010

An Update: Writing, Stuff

Through the rest of this year my writing progress will be slowing down some, not to mention my book reviews, as well as the frequency of my blog updates, I imagine. This past week I began an eight-week clinical rotation to finish up my education as an Occupational Therapy Assistant and I. Am. Exhausted.

Yeah, already. After just one week.

But taking in this much information and pulling ten-hour-days, bookended by a 45-minute drive through bumper-to-bumper rush hour traffic both ways will do that to you. Especially when my optimal time of the day happens to be midnight to four a.m., but “a man’s gotta do…”

But some good news! I gave you a writing update almost two weeks ago and it included some recent info on the short story called “Blind Ambition.” Well, I sent off the first 500 words to a publisher shortly thereafter, and this morning I received a request for the FULL MANUSCRIPT!   I’m about to send the whole thing off in a few minutes and when I hear back (they said it will probably be a few weeks) I’ll post the news here first. I’m pretty excited, though, to have made it through the first round.

Otherwise, that’s about it. Oh, but I did just watch BATMAN: UNDER THE RED HOOD, and wow! I loved it. The best animated Batman I’ve ever seen. When it was over my son just looked over at me and said, “Dad, that was awesome!”