From Big Ol’ Face Full of Monster Magazine; BOOK REVIEW: Lost Echoes, by Joe Lansdale

Title: Lost Echoes
Author: Joe R. Lansdale
Length: 341 Pages
Publisher: Vintage Books
Publication Date: February 2007

There is an ageless quality to the beginning of Joe R. Lansdale’s novel, Lost Echoes. The opening to the main narrative – which arrives only after a newspaper clipping and a brief retrospective thought from the novel’s lead character – has a quiet sense of timelessness that could lead a reader to believe that this story could be taking place at any time in the latter half of the 20th century. An ill child awakens from a fevered sleep and wanders through a quiet house in the dark, reveling in his innocence by watching drive-in cartoons through his living room windows, parents all the while unaware. The sweetness of this picturesque scene is soon stripped away, when this single incident leads to a new talent that will haunt this child, young Harry, for much of his life.

The idea is fairly simple: the story of a young man, who, as a result of this childhood illness, sees and hears what is not there. Or, rather, what once was there, but has long since lapsed into the forgotten memories of countless villains and their hapless victims. Where Lost Echoes differs from a bevy of other paranormal thrillers is that the focus is not on the hero learning to use his gift to save the day, but rather learning to cope and bear the weight of knowing, seeing and feeling what others have left behind.

The novel is broken into three basic components, all centered around the story’s major player, Harry: a battle against the self, a battle against alcoholism and a twisted little mystery that draws both together. These major components of the story arc are oddly segregated, with the mystery crime-drama aspect relegated to the last and least important position. While the mystery of an accidental suicide that could be a murder, wrapped in the perfumed cloud of a returned childhood crush, is intriguing, it plays only a supporting role to the real drama of the traffic hero Harry’s battle with his alcoholism and the terrifying visions – the title lost echoes – that come to him carried on waves of seemingly harmless sound.
This is in itself an intriguing idea, bring realism to the idea of a human being plagued by haunting visions of the past. Visionaries, psychics and mediums are a dime a dozen in fiction of a paranormal bend, but rarely do they possess such depth and reality. Lansdale presents Harry as sympathetic figure, plagued by visions he does not want and cannot stop. He is no sage mystic, using his supposed sight when and if he feels it necessary; he is just a tired, overwrought kid, attacked daily by a barrage of horrible images, vestiges of the inhumanity man wreaks upon himself and others. The evil med do, the author seems to subtly remind, can never truly die away, and while most can forget it with the passing of time, there are some, like Harry, who can never ignore it. He must deal with everything the rest of us leave behind; all of our fears, our horrors and our hates, invading the life and mind of the young man.

Unable to escape his gift – or, rather, curse, as Harry himself seems to see it – he draws himself into an obsessive compulsive cocoon of padded walls, planned ‘sage routes’ and avoidance. Anything he cannot control, Harry drowns in a flood of liquor, numbing his senses and halting the flow of the echoes that torment him. It is only after meeting a fellow barroom regular – an older man, perhaps representing the only future Harry will have if he continues on his self-destructive ‘safe’ path – and an unscheduled deviation from his normal routine that Harry begins to believe that there must be a better way. Enter Tad, a middle-aged martial arts master gone to seed, who drinks a nightly tribute to his own sad memories, a startling contrast to young Harry, who instead uses the alcohol to blot out and numb away everyone else’s lingering echoes. Together, the two embark on a quest to regain their control – find their centers – over their own lives.

Lansdale creates the world through Harry’s eyes – or, better, his ears; readers find the idyllic quiet of what seems to be modern day small town perfection shattered by the silent reverberating screams left only for Harry to see. Hidden here, and perhaps everywhere, are the dirty little secrets and softly spoken lies that are the underbelly of even the happiest of settings.

3 Most Common Types of Biking Crashes

1. Riding out of a driveway without stopping first and looking for traffic.
2. Not stopping at a stop sign (rolling stop) and looking for traffic before crossing the street or turning.
3. Turning left or swerving left on the road without checking behind for traffic.

***In addition, riding against traffic is a major contributing factor in all types of bicycle crashes!

Note:   Young people are not miniature adults. Children only see about 2/3 of what an adult sees peripherally. They have difficultly telling which direction a sound is coming from and they tend to lack a sense of danger. They have trouble judging the speed an object is coming at them and are restless and have trouble waiting for things like a traffic signal to change. They tend to focus on what is important to them at the moment (the friend they are riding with) instead of where they are going and things like traffic. They also believe that adults (drivers of vehicles) will look out for them.


THE HURT LOCKER by Will Caroll

Athletes often ask themselves, when it comes to racing “why am I doing this?”, “it really hurts”, and “do I want to hurt that much?” Nearly always at the 30k of every Ironman they say “I’m never doing another one of these!”

So how do you deal with this? The truth really lies within you. Before you even start training you would have asked yourself, ‘Am I here to finish or here to do the best I can and get a PB?’ If you have answered yes to either one of those, then at some time during a race you are going to visit the “HURT LOCKER”!! (If you have answered no to both than stop reading now!)

I always find it unusual that people will go out every morning and afternoon, sometimes at obscene times, to get their training done. They do this and then seem to think just because they do that, and tick off all the training sessions that they are entitled or are going to have a good race. Whilst your chances of having a good race is greater due to all the training, you will never achieve your full potential without being prepared mentally to deal with uncomfortable periods during the race.

Let’s face the facts; the fitter / better prepared you are, going into a race, the more likelihood there is of you going faster. However to reach that potential, you are going to need to dig deep mentally when things inevitably get tough on race day to unlock all that hard work that you have been putting in. It is not going to happen just because you are fit. In fact the fitter you are the more you may have to suffer as you push the boundaries further than before. To do this you need to start working on your focus and feeling your way for a race during training. Your ability to successfully deal with the uncomfortable periods during the race (because everyone else will have to do this too) can be the difference between an average race and a great race, between a DNF or a finish.

So how do you do this? Well everyone is different and deals with discomfort and effort in exercise differently. I found when I competed that focusing on things you can control like form, nutrition and pacing, as well as asking yourself the questions that you have gone over before the race can serve as a distraction from the “pain”. What pace am I going? Too fast? Too slow? What is my heart rate? Am I eating/drinking enough and at the right times? Answering these questions and solving any problems not only will help your focus and ensure you are doing the right things, but all of a sudden you find yourself through the rough patch and your training kicks in and off you go again. This process may need to be repeated many times over a race, however concentrating on things you can control instead of the pain which is essentially wasted energy, will aid your performance / pace and also get you through the tough times.

Another way push through the barriers is to set yourself smaller goals throughout the race. For example, aim to run to the next aid station at a certain pace and then when you get there aim for the next one. It is the little mental tricks and questions that you internalize throughout the race that can turn a walk into a jog, a jog into a run, a run into a finishing sprint no matter how much you may be suffering.

Essentially it is up to you to get through these difficult times. Internalise your suffering and think positive at all times. Don’t forget even with a good training base behind you, you will, or more importantly should be still hurting in any race……..that’s a given, but internalize the hurt, work through it, and ask the key questions. That way you will be able to tolerate it, go to the “hurt locker” and come out the other side striving / achieving personal bests in no time.

Biking – Ready to Ride Checklist

1- Properly fitted helmet
2- Bright yellow vest (orange if last in line)
3- Properly fitted bike
4- Check A,B,C’s

  • A = Air – Proper tire inflation
  • B = Brakes – Check to see both front and rear brakes work
  • C = Chain and crank

*If any of these items are not in working order, repair or if unable to repair – choose another bike

A bicycle is defined as a vehicle. The operator of a vehicle is granted the same rights and subject to the same duties of the driver of any other vehicle.

Ride with Traffic: Always ride on the right side of the road going in the same direction as other traffic. Ride as far to the right as practicable (not as far right as possible). Practicable means safe and reasonable.

When is it not practicable?
1- When passing another vehicle traveling in the same direction
2- When preparing for a left turn at an intersection or driveway
3- When reasonably necessary to avoid unsafe conditions (fixed or moving objects, parked or moving vehicles, pedestrians, animals, or surface hazards).

Hand Signals: Bicyclists are required to use the same hand signals as motorists. Hand signals are required within 50 feet of your turn.

Hand Signals for turning and stopping:
Left turn = Point left hand to the left with arm parallel to the ground
Stop = Point left hand down toward the ground. Shoulder to elbow parallel to the ground and elbow to hand straight down
Right turn = Point left hand from elbow to hand straight upward. elbow to shoulder parallel to the ground.
****Alternate Right turn – Point right hand with arm parallel to the ground to the right.

Passing: A motorist passing a bicyclist in the same lane must give the bicyclist at least 3 feet of clearance and maintain that clearance until safely past. Bicyclist must do the same when passing.

Biking at Night: Requires at least one white front headlight and a red rear reflector. The white front headlight must be visible to others at least 500 feet away. The red rear reflector must be visible to others between 50 and 500 feet away. A red steady or flashing light may be used in addition to the required reflector.