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Friday, April 24, 2015

The Milkman of Gumption

I was afraid this would happen. I haven't been reading fast enough to keep up with the blog. I thought I could do it, and I probably could, if it weren't for those dang Nintendo games.

I got distracted. Lost sight of the ball for a minute. Just ran out of moxie. Here it is, too late on a Thursday night, and I just know you're waiting for six A.M. Mountain Time to roll around so you can get your full-sized, packed with jokes Friday blog and here I am just not having the gumption. I'm all out, folks. It's an empty glass bottle and I don't think the milkman of gumption is scheduled to come within the next 8 hours.

It was a good run, though, right? Longer than I thought I had in me. It's tough to send blog posts out into the internet, knowing how big it is. Well. Having an idea of how big it is but really probably not even grasping that. Knowing, in fact, that there are hundreds, maybe thousands of people like me blogging about books. What makes ol' Howie's unique?

Truth is? I don't know.

But here's the thing. I got ahold of a couple of original Nintendo Entertainment Systems and spent a lot of time kind of wallowing in nostalgia. That's one of the reasons I haven't been reading fast enough. Another? Watching that new Daredevil show. Another? Reading Avengers comics from the library.

Here's a thing about those:

So Nintendo cartridges didn't hold a lot of information, see? To make the game worth your $50 (which is, adjusted for inflation, more like $1900 give or take), it had to last more than an afternoon. To last more than an afternoon, the games had to be really hard. Contra hard. Ghosts & Goblins hard. Battletoads hard. You had to beat your little head against these things. They hated you and you hated them but also you loved them because at school you weren't sure anyone cared about you as much as the little guys in the NES cared about rescuing the girl.

So you got back up. Little Mac gets back up. Even when he's tired. Even when he's pink.

Think of poor Hawkeye. He's just a dude. His coworkers are virtual and literal gods. They fight against gods. They fight against indestructible foes with the power to destroy planets. Hawkeye probably has to fight rashes sometimes. Yet there he is, just shooting those arrows like he belongs. "Hey there goes Hawkeye," Thor the mighty god of thunder says. "Look how cute he is when he tries."

"SO CUTE," Hulk says before punching Thor. It's funny every time.

That's a theme in the new Daredevil show, too. He just keeps getting back up. He learned that from his dad, a boxer. There's a scene at the end of the second episode where he gets back up and does what he needs to do. The stakes are high and he delivers.

You know who else delivers? Summer. Oh. That's the name of the girl in The Thing About Luck by Cynthia Kadohata. This is going to be hard. I know that my descriptions of books rarely get you a'runnin' to the bookstore or library. I have yet to hear from a single soul, in fact, that they read and enjoyed one of the books I've recommended. And this one may be the hardest sell yet.

OK, so Summer is a 13-year-old girl. Her family is going through some really bad luck. Her parents have gone back to Japan to take care of her mother's parents. That leaves her with her grandparents on her father's side. They're coming out of retirement to finish the harvest. It's in Iowa or whatever. Some place like Iowa. There are a lot of places like Iowa, I think.

Anyway, Summer helps her grandmother cook for the whole harvest crew while her grandpa drives the big tractor thing. Her grandparents are immigrants from Japan and are sweet and hilarious. Her brother is autistic. Summer is a very lovely, responsible person who doubts herself a lot. She realizes, at some point, that it's up to her to change her family's luck. She's a tough girl, and I just like her so much.
“I felt like I didn't understand a single thing in the whole world. I didn't understand a single person. I didn't even understand myself.”
Do you remember being 13? I think it was when I felt like the most insignificant thing in the whole world. What could I do to change the world? To help my family? To figure life out? Who knows. Whatever it was, I didn't do it. I remember feeling like Summer did, though. Maybe all I needed to do was keep getting up.