Moment of Zen: Aug 15-19

As I said before in the previous post, things have been pretty crazy this summer in my professional and personal life.The Summer Reading program is fun but keeps us super busy at the library. Plus I’ve been trying to decide where I want my career to go next within the library system I currently work in, and have only just now made a decision. Plus my personal life is a whole other minefield I won’t go into right now. So I’ve been trying to find new ways to become less stressed and more calm. I should take some examples from Bill the Cat and Opus the Penguin and have a spontaneous “monarch flash mob” instead of a nervous breakdown. 

Bloom County July 10, 2016

Because of all the stress and worry I’ve been having lately, I thought it would be good if I could find one awesome moment that made me smile each day. I’ve been thinking about this for ages, but have never managed to write it out. So in the future, I will be having at least one post a week about my daily “Moments of Zen” that I’d like to share. 

Tues: I was working at one of the branches for the first time, to get a feel for what it was like working there and they assigned me Kids Cafe. I’m the site supervisor at my location, so doing this on my own is no big deal. This little girl who was probably about 7-10 yrs old started talking to me as she was one of the first ones in there. She was so positive and happy to talk to me, excited even, and helped me put away chairs at the end of the program and gave me a hug. I had never met her before or visa versa, but it was just a nice experience. It made me feel really loved. 

Wed: I got complimented by one of my fellow co-workers who just became a supervisor. It was interesting because before then I had never really ever got direct positive feedback from him and to hear him praise me to another new co-worker was very cool because it made me feel very wanted/needed (which I hadn’t been feeling that there lately).

Thurs:  Experimenting with a completely new recipe and using beef (which I hardly eat) and having it turn out really tasty. 

Fri: Reading Imprudence by Gail Carriger, a book I’ve been waiting months to read and it was really hilarious and just enjoying my lunch break whilst reading it.

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Dragon Age: Magekiller

DA - Magekiller

Dragon Age: Magekiller (Dragon Age: Magekiller #1-6) written by Greg Rucka, Front Cover Art by Sachin Teng, Pencils by Carmen Carnero, Inks by Terry Pallot, Colors by Michael Atiyeh, and Lettering by Michael Heisler

To be published: August 9, 2016

Tessa and Marius are mage killers, and we see the evidence of their handiwork in the first couple of pages after a mage turns into an abomination and tries to kill them. They escape, only to be tailed to their hideout by an elven slave coming to ask their help for his Tevinter magister master. Marius immediately turns it down, as he himself was a former slave and wants to have nothing to do with them. The elf convinces them to come and they do, only discover that the magister is not just another mage, but the Archon himself (the equivalent of ruler in the Tevinter Imperium). He wants Marius and Tessa to get rid of four Venatori agents who are aiming for Tevinter to be restored to the way it was 200 years ago, in the “glory days” of the Imperium. The mage killers make short work of their targets, until it comes to the last one. Marius knew the woman from his past, and won’t kill her. In the end,  she helps Tessa and him escape from the Archon.

Shortly after their escape attempt, the Breach opens up in the sky and rifts start forming and spewing out all manner of things. So not only are they fighting the Archon’s assassins, but also demons. After a big battle that saved a few farmsteads worth of people and going back to the closest town to recuperate, a mysterious woman comes in and Tessa is sure that she is an assassin sent by the Archon. Charter, an elf, turns out to be a scout sent by the Inquisition (the soldiers and other people banding together to seal rifts and get rid of demons and other baddies), asking them to join the cause. Tessa and Marius join the Inquisition and they are sent to the Western Approach to get rid of the Venatori in the area. They are joined by Dorian Pavus, a Tevinter mage and the Chargers, led by Krem. They manage to rescue all of the slaves captured by the Venatori and destroy the camp before returning to Caer Bronach in Crestwood to recover when they run into Leliana, spymaster of the Inquisition, and are summoned to the headquarters at Skyhold. They find themselves thrown into the final battle with Corypheus at the remains of the Temple of Sacred Ashes as reinforcements for the Inquisitor. Can everyone work together to save the world from evil? To find out, read this exciting comic. 4 stars. 

I am a huge Dragon Age fan, so when I found out that this comic was coming out, I jumped at the chance to review a copy. So my review will probably be a bit more detailed than most people because I recognize most of the locales in the comic, even if they aren’t labeled. This blog post will illuminate that further. This is a cool comic because not only does it feature the freaking Archon, a character only hinted at in-game, but also because timeline-wise, it is situated between Dragon Age 2 and Inquisition. So you get to see the Breach and the rifts from an outside character in Thedas. While I really enjoyed the comic, I can see how someone who is not versed in the Dragon Age universe would get very lost. There are a lot of unexplained parts and storylines that just stop or end awkwardly. Maybe a preface with a map and a brief description of Thedas would be a good way to ease people into the story. 

Tessa reminds me a lot of Cassandra, and not just because they are both from noble families in Nevarra. They are both strong, determined women who do what they have to in order to survive. I absolutely adored how Greg Rucka managed to sneak in a copy of Varric’s Swords and Shields as choice reading material for Tessa and Marius, it made me laugh! My favorite parts were when the “assassin” comes to kill Tessa and Marius in the town after they defeat the demons and Tessa begs her to come back tomorrow morning as they are both too tired and the assassin says “There are no such thing nice assassins.” Followed shortly thereafter when they both have daggers to each other’s throats and instead of making a move to strike, they count to three and both take a sip of beer. And of course, they had to bring in my favorite mage, Dorian to make things more snarky (yay I love Dorian!). Plus you get more time with all the interesting characters from Bull’s Chargers. 

Disclaimer: I received an Advanced Readers Copy of this comic, from Edelweiss via Dark Horse Comics, in exchange for my honest review. 

Phoenix Comicon 2015 – Day 1

I haven’t been back to a comic convention since I went to my second one (though my first major one) two years ago. Again this year, the library is allowing people to help out in the Youth Art Room at Phoenix Comicon and I jumped at the chance to do it. I missed it by two weeks last year. Extra added bonus, I got a free full event pass to the event! So I went today to pick it up, despite only having about 4-5 hours of sleep last night, which was mostly my fault as I had stayed up to read more of the third Outlander book, Voyager. The author, Diana Gabaldon, is supposed to not only be signing copies of her book on Saturday but also doing a panel at Comicon, so naturally I will be going back. I am a latecomer to the Outlander series, having only discovered it about a month or so ago after finally getting to watch the first season of the new Starz show, highly recommended if you haven’t seen it yet. It has a bit of everything in it, for guys and girls. I mean how can you not totally lust over actor Sam Heughan’s version of Jamie Fraser, with his long curly red hair, kilt-wearing, Gaelic speaking, Scottish-accented self! (Note: the pics below don’t really capture the hotness as well as I would like, but you get the idea.) I was definitely enthralled, but the show actually has a really good storyline too, except for the fact as I found out after reading the first book, that the first season only covers about 40% of the actual story. Not to mention, if you read further in the books, you discover that Jamie’s incredibly strong yet vulnerable, well-read, and pretty smart. So pretty much the perfect fictional man…Le sigh.

Jamie Fraser in KiltJamie Fraser shirtless

Anywho, back to my original story. I decided to pick up the event pass, which I assumed would be a pretty quick thing but the process dragged on for an hour. I was thankfully saved by the lovely volunteer coordinator who not only waited in line with me to get my pass at the correct location but also showed me where I was supposed to go tomorrow. I was impressed by the kinds of kids programming they had available there, which is great as there was a ton of kids. I had a little time before I had to go pick up my son from daycare, so I decided to walk around and see if I could check out the Exhibition Hall (example pic below at bottom of page), where the main vendors, authors, comic book artists, and celebrities were going to be. Only problem, as I found out, was that the freaking hall didn’t open up until 4pm and I had to stand around for roughly another hour before I could get in. Plus then I only had an hour to browse before I had to leave. I did get some free stuff from Dark Horse Comics and bought a couple of things while there, but as usual, most of the cool stuff was out of my price range.

Comicon logo

If you’ve never been to a Comic Convention, it can be a little overwhelming, but still pretty fun. It’s definitely the best place to be as nerdy as you want and celebrate that fact, as well as wearing whatever costume from popular culture you can think of – mostly today there were a lot of video game, anime, manga/comic, movie and TV show characters. There was a guy dressed up as Butthead from Beavis and Butthead (it was more of a giant head), there was a gaggle of girls dressed up as My Little Ponies (both shows originally were popular and came out when I was a kid, and I know for certain most of these kids weren’t even born then, but that’s a whole other thing), a kid dressed up like a tape recorder, a guy dressed up as a Nintendo Game Cube, someone with a whole Loki costume, many girls in scantily clad outfits (mostly anime characters I think), one really cool looking Red Royal Imperial Guard (ala Star Wars), a kid in a Darth Vader costume, a kid in a full Stormtrooper costume, and tons more. The energy there is crazy. For example, about 10 minutes before we were allowed to go into the exhibition hall, one of the staff guys starts getting everyone to make noise, i.e. screaming and clapping and we all did it. Mostly b/c we could be loud and also because I think most people (or at least me) were tired of standing in line and just wanted to get in already. It’s a good thing I’m not claustrophobic because the amount of people in there was insane! And it was a freaking Thursday, a day I figured most people wouldn’t be there because they had to work. While I had been waiting in line the third time to get my pass, the vounteer guy told me they were expecting anywhere from 75-90K people this year. I can believe it. Last year they apparently had over 77,000. They’ve got an impressive list of actors there again this year, and I am hoping to see some of them, at least from afar as I can’t afford to get signatures or have a photo taken at $30+ a pop. Last time I was there, they had John Barrowman, star of Torchwood and several Dr. Who episodes, who is so campy but I love him. After my 3 hours there today, I was tired, had sore feet and felt totally drained. I will be back tomorrow morning to do my volunteer shift as part of my work shift and then have to come back to work in the library in the afternoon. Hopefully my feet will stop throbbing by then.

Phoenix Comicon Exhibition Hall