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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Feeding Frenzy

Definition of tourist trap: Myrtle Beach.

Water Park ticket costs $30. When you get there, you'll pay $2 to park. A Slurpee costs $6, but you'll pay $7 to include the cup. There aren't enough tubes for the water slides, so you wait until someone is done with one. Or you can rent one for $4.

It costs $1 to even look at the upside-down house.

After shelling out $250 for an ocean-view room, you realize view means leaning over the balcony to see it. Technically, they're right.

The cheapest thing at Broadway on the Beach is feed the fish for $0.25, but you feel sick after watching the massive carp maul each other in a feeding frenzy for a single pellet. Even the fish the want everything in your pockets.

You leave feeling sore, used and cheap. Everything you want from a vacation.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Tooth Fairies Hurt

Time slows the closer we reach the speed of light. And in hospital waiting rooms.

Our daughter had oral surgery to correct a host of problems. Nothing major. But we sat in the waiting room, staring at the status monitor, locating her patient number. Over and over. Tried to read magazines. Tried to have casual conversation. But always looking up, always locating the number.

When two hours passed, time began to slow. Each minute fell like a feather. Landed like a rock. Thoughts piled up. Even simple procedures can go wrong.

The doctor came out. Surely they don't deliver bad news in the waiting room. Flanked by resident medical students, he said, "Everything went fine."

And I began breathing again.

Your child in a hospital gown. An oxygen mask. An IV. These things slow time. When the doctor says all went fine, they renew life.

Friday, July 1, 2011

A Real Man

Sometimes a book is so good, you just got to share. Here's my review of Eric Greitens's The Heart and the Fist.

Too often a real man is defined by the baser elements of machismo. By his ability to annihilate his enemy. By the number of notches on his bedpost.

Eric Greitens clarifies the litmus test of a real man.

His story starts out in a liberal attempt to help humankind, detailing humanitarian trips to third-world countries when he was 19 years old to aid the abandoned, the hungry, the homeless. While we were spending summer on the beach, he was helping the people in this world with a shattered past and a hopeless future.

Greitens's epiphany is a result of these selfless acts. People need food and shelter, yes, but they also need protection from tyranny.

His journey leads him to the military's most challenging test, the Navy SEALS. He details the unimaginable training where cadets are drowned and driven into the sand. Where even the most physically fit human is often happy to quit. But Greitens does so without egotistic style, without chest-thumping. His journey is spiritual. "Hell Week tests the soul, it doesn't clean it."

The writing is good. And why not, he's a graduate of Oxford, given the option to live a life of academic freedom and comfort. A life he eschewed for a higher calling that wasn't necessarily religious. The dialogue keeps the scenes from becoming overly dry, but often reads clunky and contrived. Unnatural. Sometimes reads like a squeaky clean sitcom, more Beaver Cleaver than Nickelodeon.

However, Greitens changes the perspective of a kill-first military. Some soldiers are on a spiritual journey. They are real men. Real women.

Real warriors.