Rat Queens, Vol. 3: Demons

Rat Queens, Vol. 3: DemonsRat Queens, Vol. 3: Demons by Kurtis J. Wiebe
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have enjoyed every volume of the Rat Queens.

The comics are great, and I am even more impressed they dumped the artist who assaulted his significant other. That combined with the whole idea that the Rat Queens are a strong, female only group means it is refreshing step away from the regular tropes.

As a gamer/DM I have ran countless campaigns. I have been very fortunate to have a very high proportion of women in my games, usually more than half. The whole sleazy, sexy, camaraderie in the comic book matches up pretty well with my experiences with women gaming.

The new art brings out the Queens even better, albeit I have to admit I still love Betty the most. The personalities are drawn very clearly, and only inspires me to find more like this.

I waited this long to read it because I had heard it ends on sort of a cliffhanger and I didn’t want a long waiting times. Well Volume 4 is out now so I had finished this one, and am already ordering Volume 4.

The cliffhanger is the only reason this comic gets 4 and not 5 stars.

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The Graveyard Book

The Graveyard BookThe Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is for the audible audiobook version.

I saw this book on a very good sale on audible.com and I bought it on a whim. I like Neil Gaiman and while I haven’t read everything of his (American Gods here I come) I have always liked it.

What I didn’t realize with The Graveyard Book was that it was a children’s book. It wasn’t what I was aiming for, but it sucked me in and I don’t regret it.

The writing itself is very good, penned with a cadence that kept my interest. The story of a child growing up in the graveyard presents a lot of surreal imagery, along with the impossible characters and situations.

The most interesting is the story is snippets of Nobody “Bod” Owens childhood from infancy until his teens and the circumstances that befall him during that time.

All I can say without revealing any spoilers, this is a wonderful children’s book that adults can enjoy.

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MY FATHER’S PASSING, PART 1 – THE BEGINNING

MY FATHER’S PASSING, PART 1 – THE BEGINNING

I have been circling this writing for more than a year. It was by far the most horrendous event I have been witness to in my personal life. More so then when strange men came into our home when I was a teen with guns, threatened us and caused us to have to live in a car for over a year with an actual contract out on our family. Worse then being evicted from multiple places to live. Worse then not having enough food so that I would get stretch marks that didn’t go away until I was in my 20s from losing weight by the end of of the month. Even worse then horrible nights when there is an alcoholic rampage in the house.

It bothers me enough I still haven’t sat down and cried, instead I am so very angry at so many other people that I haven’t really talked to anyone about this but my husband Wolsey. I have found that trying to unpack it is a large undertaking and to be honest I don’t know if this even covers everything. This is about the circumstances before, during and shortly after my father passed away. I know I will miss details as I go. Hopefully Wolsey will point them out and I can update this post over time.

My father was a very complicated man. He loved his children very much, he had been in trouble with the system for most of his life, and he ended his life in poverty. He had an endless supply of love and acceptance for me and Wolsey. He would support us no matter what. However, his decision making had been damaged due to PTSD, mental health and most impactful was alcoholism.

We tried to help as much as we could, but he was proud, and he also knew we had our own bills so the best we could do was help out with some bills, some food and some extra stuff I knew they would like (below is a video of 60th birthday from March 24th, 2008, he always liked carrot cake).

That video is four years after he was diagnosed as terminal. He had been terminal for close to a decade. The spots on his lungs kept growing, but he kept trudging on. We didn’t realize how bad his health was, he kept it to himself, but even with as bad as it was, he still might have made it a couple more years.

I think about it now though; I think I knew he was closer subconsciously. One day in March the year before he passed I had traveled up to Bellingham by myself, in a rare non-Wolsey trip. For some reason a song came on my iPhone on the way home and I had to pull over and cry, I was worried about my dad and mom’s health out of the blue and I realize now I was already grieving.

He survived much longer than anyone had expected. He had gone back into the pulmonologist that had originally diagnosed him six years before and they all came out to visit. None of the staff thought he would have made it a year, let alone six. My dad just smiled and told them he was immortal, no one could kill him.

There was a saying all my friends and family joked about since I was 18. No mere mortal could kill John Bradley. He was tough, resourceful, and just enough luck that everyone believed he would survive just about any situation. In the past he had taken on multiple cops, Vietcong, members of other outlaw clubs and abusive family members when he was a child. This saying changed as he got sick though. Our saying didn’t change much, but it went to “He has one more good fight in him”, even his last year where he couldn’t walk very far from his chair we said he still had a good thirty seconds in him, and to be honest thirty seconds would still be enough for most circumstances.

I tell you all of this to give you some background on him. In the future, I will probably have a lot of amazing (and some terrible) stories about him.

It started in January of 2016. His health was fairly poor, and like usual he went in and out of the hospital as his lungs were getting worse. He had gotten out and was recovering. We had been up there a lot to look over him and my mom. Things seemed to be getting out of the weeds and back to normal.

It was then that we started preparing for the hubby’s top surgery. He was ready to go, and the night before my dad received news that an old friend of his Joe had passed away and this was a huge blow to my dad.

Most of my dad’s friends were gone. They were hard living outlaw motorcycle club members and he was on the other side of sixty. This meant those that didn’t go to prison and die there already were all in bad shape. Joe was the third to last friend my dad had (Jimbo and Dennis were his last friends). This is out of literally dozens of hardened men I grew up with and called family. It set my dad into a tailspin of depression.

My father is the one in the white shirt, a couple of months before his passing. Dennis, the last time he could come up and visit my dad is on his left holding his hand. My little brother Bear between then with my mom on my dad’s right and my nephew and niece Kristen and Wyatt.
Same people (mom, dad, Dennis, and his then GF Kristen) more than 25 years before.

I should have picked it up earlier. He had mentioned to me once in passing that lately he was missing my grandmother. She had passed away 30 years ago and I now realize he was probably feeling depression, lost and just not in a good headspace. It didn’t help that he was bipolar, and had severe depression/mania episodes.

From 1971/72 me as a child, my grandmother (dad’s mom), mom, and dad (both approx. 24 years old)

He called me one night, and I could hear the exhaustion and depression in his voice that night. I talked with him, reassured him and reminded him that the hubby and I would be up the next weekend. He perked up a bit and was excited about the surgery and the results. I hung up thinking everything would be fine. Things weren’t fine, and wouldn’t be fine for the next year.

The next day Wolsey went into surgery and while it was a successful surgery it was inundated with a lot of complications. No one had told us how bad he would leak from liposuction portion of the surgery would suck. The actual mastectomy went well, healed quickly, etc. The doctor’s office messed up though, they sent him home long before they should have and it left me by myself to take care of him. He couldn’t move well; he couldn’t clean up after his wounds and he was just hurting too much.

Wolsey almost a week later. Still exhausted.

At no point in time did I begrudge that. I am here for him, just like he was here for me for everything. It didn’t bother me to have to put in that effort of getting up every 20 minutes, help him to the bathroom, while he was in there clean up the bed, change bedding and then put him back to bed and give him more pain pills. He is my life, and it was the least I could give to him.

It was also at this time I got a call from my mom. My dad had gone back to the ER and his O2 wouldn’t stop falling. They had him on positive air and he could talk. They were discussing options about how to handle it.

Something snapped in him, or maybe it’s better to say a decision was made by him. He took the positive air off his face, got up and while the doctors were talking he went downstairs and had a cigarette. When he came back up, they told him he couldn’t do that anymore and that he would have to use the positive air for a large part of his life, or at least until they could get the O2 under control. I was told he just shrugged and told them to fuck off. He was done.

My dad and jumbo, sometime in 2000/2001.

He checked himself out of the hospital, meanwhile they were telling him he would die. He wasn’t going to let himself loose anymore of his freedom. I also think he had hit a depressive point again, his closest friends had passed, they weren’t ever going to make it back down to Lake Tahoe, or pretty much anywhere out of their apartment except for when I could take them places.

He decided to do this on his terms and he took their info for hospice and went home and determined that is where he would pass. My mom told me this over the phone and in my head, I was freaking out. My dad was dying, probably wouldn’t be longer than a week or so and I couldn’t leave that night at all since Wolsey couldn’t take care of himself.

The worst part is Wolsey couldn’t take care of himself at all for the next few days. It was unlikely he could get up to Bellingham before my father passed. Meanwhile I knew I would have to drive up there daily (a 250+ mile roundtrip) that I would have to fit around being home to take care of Wolsey. I couldn’t imagine it ever being worse.

I was wrong, a thousand times wrong once the hospice situation happened. However, that part of the story is still coming up and I think I have mulled about it enough for today.

AHS: Hotel (Season 5)

Now AHS has finally hit its stride and is in that sweet spot of horror and drama.

Overall this is the best season so far that I have seen. The stories all wrap around a hotel, a countess, things that are similar to vampires, spirits and serial killers. The base idea is wrapped around a similar serial killer H.H. Holmes who owned a hotel that was sometimes called the Murder Castle in Chicago.

The real serial killer claimed at least 27 people were killed in various rooms when they checked into his hotel. Of course in traditional American Horror Story style the body count is upped by tenfold, using chutes to hide bodies, ghosts to kill guests and visits from other serial killers.

Even though the story focuses on a possible serial killer, my favorite character is Liz Taylor, played by Dennis O’hare. He as fantastic, and I found his story definitely interesting and touching.

My favorite character!

Lady |Gaga made her AHS debut here, and she did well, along with Kathy Bates and the returning cast. I really didn’t have anything negative to say about this season at all.

Pros: The show finds its groove, the cast are at their best and Lady Gaga does fairly well in my first exposure to her acting.

Cons: I wish they had focused on Liz more.

The show keeps putting out good content, it doesn’t feel like they have exhausted the theme of the show yet.

Helix (up to Ep. 10)

Don’t even bother, you have seen this a thousand times.

I wasn’t sure about the tv series. It sat on my Netflix queue for awhile, waiting for me to decide. Finally I pulled the trigger and started watching, and at first I was pleasantly surprised. Sadly, this surprise only lasted two episodes and then it began to bog down.

I wasn’t sure how the pretext of CDC investigating a disease would work or how long the premise would last. I thought maybe it was about a legitimate CDC team and we would see them go to fight Ebola, Bubonic Plague, something man-made. I thought even if they made each season about a specific outbreak I would be good with that as well. So when the first episode revealed zombie like disease I was interested, but more wary.

Sadly, the actual show seems to be about a group of “immortals” (approximately 500) who control a corporation and they want to either control or cleanse the world. Honestly the show never made it clear what exactly the consequences of those 500 immortals was, and by episode 10 I didn’t care to know anymore. This would explain why it only had a two season run. I have seen this in many many incarnations whether it was aliens, vampires, demons, or some super secret cabal of non-humans. Totally not worth it.

The acting was good, I didn’t have a problem with the cast at all. I found some of the characters interesting and if they had kept with the CDC investigating worldwide outbreaks I would have been ok with that, at the very least I would have finished watching both seasons.

Pros: The acting and the characters were interesting.

Cons: The show itself is something we have seen in different incarnations a thousand times already. A small group of aliens/immortals/vampires and those struggling against them to stop their control.

Just move on, don’t do it.

Blood of Elves (Witcher Book 1)

Blood of Elves (The Witcher, #3)Blood of Elves by Andrzej Sapkowski
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is for the audiobook. Possible Spoilers Ahead

I came to this series through the Witcher video games, so I was vaguely familiar the world. I played all the way through Witcher 2 which picks up before this novel, and Witcher 3 which is after this novel. It is because of those video games that I tried this novel out.

THE PROS

What I noticed was the world was even richer in the book. I really like the in depth writing about Geralt, Ciri and Yennifer. Magic made more sense after reading the book, and an appreciation for Geralt was even better. Hearing his thoughts and seeing him interact with Ciri and Yennifer changed a lot of my perspective from the game. I think when I go play the DLC for Witcher 3 it will be even better. I still like hooking up with Triss better than how the book works and I still Yennifer is still cold and distant and I don’t like her, but the infighting between Geralt, Yennifer and Triss makes more sense.

THE CONS

The book itself is will be very slow for most people. Coming from the video game I expected the book to have a lot more action and adventure. It is actually a lot more talking and passive interaction between characters. I don’t think this is bad in itself it was just a surprise and I think it would have been better served to have a quicker pace, or a more ruthless editor.

The writing itself is very dense. The author likes to use in-world languages and then translate them and it throws things off. I realize for “realism” there would be other languages, but this is probably the most extreme situation like this. I grew a bit tired of listening to the author first have a character say something in a language I didn’t know, then translate it and say it again.

I also haven’t figured it out if its so distracting and ponderous because the way the novel itself is written, or if its because it is a translation from Polish, or because it is an audible book of a translation of a book that is already too dense. Either way the writing does lose some of the steam it built in other areas.

Overall I appreciated the book. I will probably still get the second book but I won’t hurry to it. If you can get this book on sale, then I would recommend it, otherwise just play the video game.

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October Bellingham Visit

Personal Post

Yesterday the husband and I went up to Bellingham early. The purpose was to visit my mom’s grave, as it was her birthday a short time ago, we had just gotten the solar Christmas lights they would want, and then to continue my photography project where I photograph all of the old places I lived.

The first place in Bellingham we stopped at was Fred Meyer’s for flowers and a super rich, chocolate frosted, chocolate cupcake with a chocolate straw and sprinkles on it. My mom loved chocolate cake with chocolate icing and would always sneak it in even with her diabetes.

We visited their grave and noted that our solar candle and wind chimes are still there. That was a surprise to both of us as we figured when we put them up in May, we would have to replace them every few months either due to teenagers, or just the weather.

P1020680
Flowers, chocolate cake and an electronic candle for mom, with a few candy corn for dad so he doesn’t get jealous.

We pulled out the solar Christmas lights and realized we didn’t have any ties to run it up the shepherds crook. We will be going up the weekend after Thanksgiving to put a Christmas wreath on it so we will just put the lights up then. We would wait closer to Christmas to spread out the going up now and then, but with the hubby’s surgery the following Tuesday Nov. 28th, we won’t be able to come up until after Christmas.

I felt a bit guilty since I hadn’t been up there in almost five months and due to work/injuries and stress I put off doing it. My goal is to come up four times a year to visit, both of their birthdays, wedding anniversary and Christmas. I realize over time this will probably lessen, but I guess there hasn’t been enough time yet.

While we were up there, we went to visit my brother who had just gotten out of rehab and is temporarily staying at his ex’s place with his kids. We dropped off a HD video camera we bought about five years ago since our phones and my camera match it to them. The kids evidently have youtube channels and wanted a better camera to film. I am glad to see my brother, sister (in-law unofficially) and younger grouping of nephew and niece.

P1020699
Brother, sister-in-law,nephew and niece.

We then went around to the remaining places I lived in Bellingham and photographed them as they look now. All I have left after this is the Everett, Lake Stevens, and Seattle areas, but the Whatcom County areas for living are done. I was incredibly pleased when they hubby said I could photograph his old places he lived in before being with me. We will do that the weekend we come up to put the wreath and lights up. I also told him I considered doing the same of a project of all the places I worked (dozens and dozens of places, literally), because it is a larger scale then the living, we will see if that goes that way.

We then left town and on our way back stopped by Flyer’s Restaurant and Brewery (their Burlington location). I will probably do a full Yelp review, but suffice to say the burger was really good, the staff was nice, but it was not quite the atmosphere we were looking for.

We were wanting to check it out as a possible entry in our 2019 book we are trying to get started that is a guide to greasy spoons and American diners in Western Washington. Way to upscale a place. Its on the Skagit Regional Airport and people literally can fly their small planes in and park next to the restaurant. Not what we were looking for, but still pretty good meals.

Hubby being himself at Flyer’s.

We then got home and before I could pull of my walking cast and rest, the drain pipe of our garbage disposal cracked and spilled everywhere. Hubby was great, he jumped in, cleaned up the water as I watched helplessly unable to help with my cast. We then called maintenance and they put a plug on the drain and supposedly this week they will repair it (replace is probably more likely).

Well that was my day today, went pretty well overall. All that matters is I got to spend it with my best friend and husband (yes they are the same person).