Previously, in Trip's Life...

30 April 2014 - Wednesday

I probably did something today. I wonder what? Must not have been important.

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29 April 2014 - Tuesday

Even when it's on Tuesday, Monday is still inevitable.

The Bone Flower Throne (T L Morganfield) is quasi-Aztec fantasy. Maybe more than quasi-, but something about it feels insufficiently authentic. Maybe it's my view of the Aztecs that is flawed.

The Burning Dark (Adam Christopher) is so-so as SF, but is suitably creepy as horror.

Dying is My Business (Nicholas Kaufmann) starts out urban fantasy noir, but quickly takes a turn into the (IMHO, less interesting) superpowered heroes vs gigantic monsters genre.

Devils and Realist (Utako Yukihiro, Madoka Takadono) falls into the lamentably common trap of thinking that anyone who doesn't cling to an irrational belief in gods and devils must be clinging to an irrational belief in something else.

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28 April 2014 - Monday

Because I am not always dumber than dirt, I had already taken today off, to recover from my vacation. Mostly, I ran errands.

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27 April 2014 - Sunday

We could have waited longer to get a cab back to the airport, but it didn't hurt anything to sit around there instead of at the hotel. And, finally, the airplane carried us back to California, where my cats are not even slightly dead!

After days of no network, it was very nice to see Avalon again.

Deadroads (Robin Riopelle) is one of the books I found through The Big Idea, which I don't think has steered me far wrong yet. It features ghosts, devils, dysfunctional family dynamics, more ghosts, and divergent French.

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26 April 2014 - Saturday

Marith said she wanted to sleep until she woke up, so I went out and looked at things without her. (First I tried to get Internet working, but no dice. What is this, the second millenium?)

With my pathetic knowledge of blackjack, I turned $100 into $112.50 and then quit, although later felt that I should have kept going, since it wasn't like I hadn't allocated the money to be spent on entertainment. Well, I can say I've won money in Vegas, anyway, even if my profit was negligible compared to the other guy at the table (who admittedly had been playing all night).

Marith was still asleep, so I wandered around the mall that was attached to the hotel. It was a mall. There were a couple of galleries with nice art.

Marith was still asleep, so I went over to the Bellagio (right across the street, although there was some detouring for pedestrian bridges) to find out where we would have to go later, and to see the fountain show. The fountains were very dramatic, first rising from the bottom of the lake like a lost city, then shooting way up into the air in synchronized waves with a fireworks-like boom, but the music was "Luck Be A Lady", which makes me go "...".

Marith was finally not asleep, so we got kind of organized and went to see Cirque. It was amazing! And damp! O is the one where the stage is mostly a huge circular pool, albeit with a grilled false bottom that can be raised and lowered in sections, so there is a lot of splashing and some of it reaches the front row. On the other hand, there are brightly-colored acrobatic mermaids. Also, brachiation as an art form!

Before Cirque, we watched a fountain show that was not as cool as the one I saw earlier and looked through the exhibit of sculpture in the lobby of the O theater, by some guy who uses Cirque performers as models. After Cirque, we saw the Bellagio conservatory, some flowers that were made of glass instead of flower, the largest chocolate fountain in X area, and another fountain show that wasn't as good.

We did not go to a nightclub with Marith's cow orkers tonight either.

aw, I like that song by marith (Tue May 6 22:51:28 2014)

"Luck Be a Lady" is sexist, true, but it is awfully fun to sing. I guess it doesn't bother me because I always think of Sky Masterson singing it to the dice, and he's not what one would call a reliable narrator.

Re: aw, I like that song by Trip (Wed May 7 10:09:59 2014)

I like it musically! But yah, the benighted past.

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25 April 2014 - Friday

Today, Las Vegas! I have never been, so this is guaranteed to be an Experience. Even if the plane falls out of the sky and we are eaten by desert whales and/or space penguins.

So far, it is not an experience of victory. Because I didn't get PTO straightened out and have Marith sign me up as her +1 until slightly after the last minute, we were on a different flight than everyone else, so we ended up trapped in the Labyrinth of Taxi Queueing and missed the planned lunch and afternoon activities with the rest of Marith's company and their +1s. (From the sound of things, we didn't miss much with the afternoon acivities, but it's the principle of the thing.) We successfully checked in to the hotel early so at least we could stop carrying our stuff around. It is a pretty budget hotel, but there were 143 people on the trip, so I guess they couldn't afford anything better. Or maybe they want to have money to keep the company running next quarter.

We did make it to the planned dinner and I even wore the clothes Avalon helped me pick out. (Apparently these clothes make me look like Marith, since at least four people told us we looked alike when Marith introduced me as her brother, which normally never happens because we aren't actually related.) We still sat at the geeky table, not at one of the many skinny and fashionably-dressed tables, which turned out okay because no one there was doing tequila shots either. We did get a ringside view of the famed mechanical bull and the people being flung from its back, which made me realize that if Avalon had been there, she would have made me ride it. So I had to, even if no smooches were involved.

Fortunately almost none of my self-image is built on being good at riding mechanical bulls, because in this case by "ride" I mean "fall ignominiously from". But, it is a thing I have done!

After the feeding was finally completed (like an hour between courses, I guess to give people more time to order tequila), most all of Marith's company went off to a nightclub like the hip young people they are. Some of them were quite hot (like the one who said Marith was awesome, and the one with the amazing dress), so I considering going with for about one-quarter of a second, but then I went back to the hotel like the grotty little toad I am.

Travel means reading!

The Palace Job (Patrick Weekes) is a caper novel set in a fairly generic fantasy world. It is properly caper-tastic, with double triple quadruple crosses, and the cosmology behind the death priestess is cute, but the fantasy element is interesting only where it intersects with the caper.

Silly by Avalon (Fri May 2 20:26:11 2014)

You are not a toad, and next opportunity you will hear me thinking you should dance too. Mechanical bulls are made for falling off of, I still think. =) xoxoxoxo!

Re: Silly by Trip (Fri May 2 21:18:32 2014)

What?! I am never silly! I am like an orange cat with orange stripes!

If you were there, I could have gone and danced with you. Without you, I dunno.

There was not really any question that no one was going to stay on the bull forever, no matter how much (or little) the operator wanted to get them to bounce out of their clothes.

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24 April 2014 - Thursday

Tomorrow I am off, so today is like Friday. Yay!

Tomorrow I am off, so today I must buy clothes. Ack. Fortunately I have a camera phone and Avalon, so I am not reduced to relying on my own shopping abilities.

Heaven's Queen (Rachel Bach) completes the trilogy about a hapless powered-armor grunt vs people who think they know what measures are necessary against the Great Enemy.

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23 April 2014 - Wednesday


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22 April 2014 - Tuesday

More customers. More Heartbleed.

Today, I sucked at gaming! Not the organizational aspects, I was the first one there. But I suck at coming up with characters, and I suck at not sucking. Presumably now Ken's friends hate me and wouldn't want to game with me anyway. (Although Ken was really very nice about it. (I hope I am not damaging his Man Cred by saying this, but it's true anyway.))

The Serpent's Shadow (Rick Riordan) completes the Egyptian-mythos-in-modern-day trilogy. You will be saddened hear that the world is not devoured by Chaos, I am sure.

Travel Light (Naomi Mitchison) is somewhere between fairy tale and myth, but quite depressing. Humans suck.

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21 April 2014 - Monday

Too far behind. Short blog entries now.

Rachel Rising (Terry Moore) volume 4 explains too much, but is still creepy.

Numenera: Injecting the Weird is just d% tables of strange attributes/behaviors for ancient artifacts/creatures/facilities, but could work to spur a GM's imagination.

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20 April 2014 - Sunday

As promised (not by Dave), Dave ran an exciting adventure of demons, corpse possession, and fluffy bunnies. The subterranean labyrinth of alcohol and doom was merely a bonus.

We celebrated Jewish Zombie Day by eating ham. Also leeks and hot cross buns and deviled eggs and other yummy stuff. We had a surprise Earl at dinner, but not for dinner.

Knights of Sidonia (Tsutomu Nihei) volume 8 shows just how terrifying the Gauna threat is. Terror is an appropriate response.

The Throne of Fire is the second in Rick Riordan's Egyptian-mythology-in-modern-day YA series. I like Egyptian mythology better than Greek, so yay.

The Devotees is an adventure for Eclipse Phase which features a completely legitimate, and extremely horrible, x-risk.

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19 April 2014 - Saturday

Still no brain.

  • Princess Tutu 4-5: Those really are exceptionally horrible "friends". I guess being a duck didn't get her enough disad points.
  • Slayers Revolution 8-9: It's almost as though Xellos feeds on the despair and/or aggravation of those around him.
  • Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood 45: No! Don't listen to the leech!
  • Shakugan no Shana season 3 10: Hey, look, humans can do stuff too, without even setting off magic alarms!

Monsters & Magic is another "old-school feel, new-school mechanics, use your old modules" game. Its is by the same person who did Legends of Anglerre, Sarah Newton, so it has physical and social constructs with the same stats as PCs but on a larger scale, and some free-form traits. It also has magic-users and elves and Strength and Dex and levels, as one would expect. However, it is all 3d6+level+stat_mod (the modifier for your class primary stat is doubled) vs opposing roll or target number, with the margin of success either doing straight damage to physical or mental HP, or being traded away for minor/moderate/severe consequences placed on the enemy (or removing consequences previously placed on you etc), which is generalized to cover pretty much all conflicts.

"You got your Fate in my AD&D! You got your AD&D in my Fate!"

Sex Criminals vol 1 (Matt Fraction, Chip Zdarsky) explores the question that no doubt has plagued many great thinkers of our time: "What if someone automatically cast Time Stop when they had an orgasm?".

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18 April 2014 - Friday

Tiny brain. Tinier than the walnut brain of a cat.

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17 April 2014 - Thursday

Heartbleed excitement continues, but it's okay because I have Avalonhugs.

Unwrapped Sky (Rjurik Davidson) is far future New Weird. It feels very much like Numenera, actually, with the vast underground structures full of incomprehensible machinery and the strange ancient creatures. Also, minotaurs and labor disputes.

The excuse used by Hexcommunicated (Rafael Chandler) is that being transformed into a fake vampire or werewolf causes much less SAN loss than having your body stuffed with machinery until you are an inhuman monstrosity, even if medically the two are almost indistinguishable. Add international intrigue and murder on various scales, and fling at a concrete wall, very fast.

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16 April 2014 - Wednesday

More Heartbleed excitement. We got the biggest customer who screamed the loudest the early version of the fix, which they managed to install mostly on their own with only light casualties, so I guess we're moving forward.

The final version of Inverse World is out in PDF form, available at DriveThruRPG! (The physical version will be a bit longer, apparently.)

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15 April 2014 - Tuesday

Oh look, customers are all flipping out about Heartbleed. It's almost as though they think their data has some value.

Argh, I left work early to get to gaming at Ken's, and then Ken called me to say that everyone else who didn't already live there had cancelled. No gaming for us! Only Zuul!

Maybe next week? Or maybe trying to game with grownups is just futile.

They have failed us! To the crocodile pit with them!

The Pillars of Hercules (David Constantine) starts off as leverpunk AH, with a multi-way war in which Macedonia is at least two sides, but then spirals out of control in several directions at once. I really did not expect it to go where it ended up, although possibly I should have.

Ruins (Dan Wells) is the end(?) of the "Partials" sequence, in which the very few remaining wild-type humans and very few remaining modified humans manage to not drag each other down, barely. I still liked the John Cleaver books better.

Jadepunk: Tales From Kausao City is jade-powered steampunk in an enormously corrupt colonial metropolis, using Fate Core. It seems like it should be a good idea, but something about it leaves me flat. Not enough evocation in the background, I guess.

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14 April 2014 - Monday

Oh look, customers are all broken.

Twelve paws!

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13 April 2014 - Sunday

For some strange reason, Avalon seems to still like me.

Empire State (Adam Christopher) is a rollicking tale of superheroes, supervillains, alternate dimensions, and conspiracies within conspiracies. Also, robots.

Oh yes by Avalon (Mon Apr 21 17:44:57 2014)

I still like you, and I /like-like/ you. =)

Re: Oh yes by Trip (Tue Apr 22 08:41:42 2014)


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12 April 2014 - Saturday


  • Princess Tutu 3: Ayse is still enjoying this, so Marith is happy.
  • Slayers Revolution 6-7: I hope they didn't get charged too much for that cruise.
  • Shakugan no Shana season 3 9: And Jedi think they're cool because they can TK their weapon into their hand. Pikers!
  • Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood 42-44: I am totally down with Envy getting smacked, but I don't have much hope that it will last.

The Teratic Tome is for OSR games, but ones that take the horror element seriously. Some of these monsters are stand-up opponents, but a lot are things that creep into a city and surreptitiously do horrible things to people who have committed a particular sin, and some are the kind where the earth quakes and calves are born with two heads in the days before they arrive.

Re: Princess Tutu by marith (Mon Apr 21 22:08:29 2014)

I am happy because it is still awesome on second viewing and _I_ am enjoying it (though of course I am also pleased that Ayse is enjoying it too, and that you and Dave at least do not appear to be suffering under the crushing burden of animated duck ballet).

The Crushing Burden of Duck Ballet by Trip (Tue Apr 22 08:41:02 2014)

It's okay, ducks have hollow bones. :)

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11 April 2014 - Friday

Too sleepy to brain.

Hillfolk is built on Robin D Law's DramaSystem, which is a fairly minimal system built on the premise that proper stories need dramatic beats, not just procedural ones (see Hamlet's Hit Points). There is a rudimentary system for doing things, but mostly, you need to make a character who a) has two dramatic poles to oscillate between (principle vs expediency, etc), and b) wants something emotional (love, respect, punishment, etc, etc) from two of the other PCs that they don't want to give. There is a system of tokens to encourage people to give a little, but mostly the PCs are just supposed to chew on each other, with the GM there to provide external threats to ramp up the tension.

That's the first few pages, plus an Iron Age Eastern-Med setting with no magic. The bulk of the book is a couple of dozen alternate settings (by other people) in which drama could occur once a group has played in the default setting enough to overcome their desire for procedural scenes. These range from professional wrestling to a gang of robots living under the thumb of a frustrated transcendence in the post-biological future of Earth.

I'm not sure about DramaSystem itself, but the idea of requiring every PC to want something from another PC seems like it would make party dynamics more exciting in most games.

{Quarter, Half, Full, Double, Captain's, Owner's} Share (Nathan Lowell) are a series of direct-to-videoebook novels about the career of a young spacer in a fairly low-tech interstellar future (gravitics, jump drive, autodocs, and not much else), from orphaned kitchen mook to expert spacer who gets all the chicks with his tailored clothes to owner of a starship. There is surprisingly little violence in them for space adventure, even on the one ship where a lot more would have been justified. The main character is engaging, but I think the author cheated to make him look smarter. Either that, or it's a future in which all the lessons of software engineering have been lost. Also, I am deeply unsure about the economics as portrayed, but that is true for all tramp-freighter-in-space settings. But the handling of the gravity slingshot maneuver was good.

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10 April 2014 - Thursday

More interviews, also ¾ unproductive. But I escaped the office early so I could spend some time with Avalon before being sucked into the pits of recruiting.

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9 April 2014 - Wednesday

Up until 98264589 o'clock interviewing guys in India, of which at least ¾ were unworthy.

Maybe I should have let the cats help more.

Judge vol 1 (Yoshiki Tonogai) is deathtrap psychological horror: a bunch of random bozos are kidnapped and locked up, while mysterious messages say that if they can't agree on one person to sacrifice, they all get the chop.

Is The Waking Engine (David Edison) New Weird? It is certainly Infinite City (examples: Perdido Street Station, Rats and Gargoyles, Thunderer, although they are not literally infinite), which I think is pretty much always a subgenre of New Weird. Anyway, it has death and shamanism and liches in skyscrapers and pilots in barrels and transformations and depraved aristocrats with weapons from the dawn of time.

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8 April 2014 - Tuesday

So far the customers are not as horrible this week, but on the other hand, I have more late-night interviews scheduled for tomorrow.

The Alchemist's Revenge (Peter Cakebread) is set in the world of Clockwork & Chivalry, with Puritans in clockwork tanks vs Royalist mages alchemists, turning all England into a war zone with both opportunities and obstacles for avenging wrongful deaths.

Scarlet Heroes is an OSR game, but with some interesting differences. It is intended for one player and one GM (take that, fiendish schedule) to play through OD&D or AD&D modules. PCs have the same hit points, but monsters take damage directly to hit dice; the same kind of damage dice are used but they are read very differently: 1 => 0, 2-5 => 1, 6-9 => 2, 10+ => 4. This adds up to monster hit points and all damage being reduced by a factor of about five, so that the one PC takes as much killing as the whole party of five would in regular D&D. The PC has one die of damage that can be freely inflicted on anyone of equal or lower level each round, so hordes of mooks melt away like butter. Finally, the PC can take two dice of damage (bigger dice each time) to either escape certain doom, or make it past something they don't have the skills for by complete coincidence. (The skill system is freeform backgrounds, very much like 13th Age's and not very old-school. It also rolled on 2d8, like saves, instead of 1d20 like attacks, I guess to avoid accusations of having a la-di-dah system instead of rules.)

The setting is mostly Asian, with some vikings and dwarves and assorted others who also got driven into Campaign Archipelago tucked into the corners, and the locals (who got tagged with unflattering names like "orc" and "goblin" but are pretty much human) in the areas no one with metal weapons wants. The bestiary is all obscure Asian monsters too, since you can get popular monsters from existing material.

Twelve paws!

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7 April 2014 - Monday

Workingu, workingu, la la la.

Angelfall and World After (Susan Ee) entertain me because not only is it set in places I know, or at least have seen, but I recognize the self-defense moves the protagonist uses as being from IMPACT. Those angels are pretty sketchy as divine beings, though. Maybe the third book will explain some of that.

Twelve paws!

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6 April 2014 - Sunday

How do we play this game again?

Oh yah, I make up stuff to annoy the PCs! However, in the end, they managed to capture one catgirl ninja and fight the others to a draw long enough to get her to the Empress and get rid of the -2 penalty on all other activities that no one ever remembered to inflict on them. Then we tried to remember what we were doing in Jeremy's adventure, which was both ages ago for the players and out of chronological order for the PCs. We got it to a place where we could leave it until the current time, and then subjected Hyacinthe to a visit to the place where her entire family was brutally massacred by plant monsters. There was still a clue there, although it is pretty ambiguous. We are pretty sure something freaky was going on when Hyacinthe's ancestress was sacrificing PoWs and rhubarb monsters to make magic weapons. Even more freaky, I mean.

Okko vol 1 (Hub) is a French comic about about a ronin and his strange companions (a PC group if I ever saw one) in not-Japan, vs pirates and vampires and stuff. It is totally a Legend of the Five Rings adventure.

Oh, sure... by Jeremy (Sat Apr 26 16:34:43 2014) sounds freaky when you say it like that.

Re: Oh, sure... by Trip (Sun Apr 27 19:02:45 2014)

Then give us more information so we have a different way to say it!

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5 April 2014 - Saturday

I continue to be not on call, but also lazy.

Not too lazy to go to Monkeycat Towers for friendship and pizza, however!

  • Princess Tutu 1-2: Ballet battle, Duck vs Anteaterina!
  • Slayers Revolution 5: Finally we learn some about Pokota. And [SPOILER] is back!
  • Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood 41: Kimblee's motto seems to be "I can always get new henchmen".
  • Shakugan no Shana season 3 7-8: Villainous dialog!

Zenn Scarlett and Under Nameless Stars (Christian Schoon) are YA space adventure with alien animals, but I think the animals fail on a) cube-square law (yes, even in Mars gravity), and b) nothing makes sense in biology except in light of evolution. These are very traditional SF-biology failings, but they still sadden me.

Twelve paws!

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4 April 2014 - Friday

I'm not on call any more! Yay!

But, Avalon is dealing with Impending Family Drama, so no date tonight. I will have to go blblblbl and read stuff and pet cats.

Sarah Monette's "Doctrine of Labyrinths" series was not received as well as it should have been by the Philistinate, so she had to publish The Goblin Emperor as Katherine Addison. Perhaps this time she will get her proper due, because this book is pretty good. It's not perfect — some of the antagonists are gratuitously (although not unrealistically) awful — but I liked most of the characters and strongly approve of the protagonist's attempts to not suck despite being an untrained hereditary ruler.

Although this book is fantasy, the genre elements are not at all central. All the important characters in the book are elves, goblins, or hybrids, but they are pretty human except for including mobile ears in their body language. Likewise, although there are steampunk elements (airships, pneumatic mail tubes) and magic, they're almost entirely background and the story would probably work almost as well without them. On the other hand, the secondary world elements (language, social structure) are very nicely done, so it's not like it could have been historical fiction.

Hurray, Shadow Unit vol 14 (Emma Bull, Elizabeth Bear, Leah Bobet, Will Shetterly) is out! Oh the doom! But it would nice if there were a little more development of WTF is going on.

Carl recommended Norse Code (Greg van Eeekhout), but it turns out I had read it before, I just didn't remember the name. It seems suitably bleak in some ways, but I still like the Pitts books better for modern Norse myth.

Dictatorial Grimoire (Ayumi Kanou) ends with volume 3, and not really that much doom. It may have been anticlimactic, but "Yah, so?" was clearly the correct answer to Cinderella's big reveal.

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3 April 2014 - Thursday

I could not escape early today because there was a meeting right up until the end, but at least I escaped from that without too many action items.

Dinocalypse Now (Chuck Wendig) is one of the tie-in novels Evil Hat put out for Spirit of the Century. It is okay but kind of over the top. Maybe I don't actually have the pulp sensibility after all.

A fiction book with no specfic elements? Who am I, and what have I done with Trip?! Well, wherever I stashed him, I used the time to read Panic (Lauren Oliver), which is about desperate teenagers behaving in self-destructive ways for arguably good (or at least optimistic) reasons, which they wouldn't have to do if the adults around them didn't suck.

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2 April 2014 - Wednesday

I was here for thirteen hours yesterday, so when the Horrible Customer became quiet I unilaterally figured the stock price could survive my leaving after only eight hours today, to do all the stuff I would have done yesterday. Like Avalon! And also returnng library books and eating pizza and petting cats.

Princeless vol 1 (Jeremy Whitley, M Goodwin) is not terribly original, but I am very much in favor of princesses rescuing themselves and even being sensibly clad. I'm not sure about that sidekick, though.

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1 April 2014 - Tuesday

Date with hot internet girlfriend: FAIL, due to Horrible Customer.

Getting library books back on time: FAIL, due to Horrible Customer.

Dinner: FAIL, due to Horrible Customer.

Going to bed on time: FAIL, due to Horrible Customer.

The main characters of Rat Queens vol 1 (Kurtis J Wiebe, Roc Upchurch) are totally what Amazon Quartet of Justice would have become without the moral compass of Sophia.

Volume 3 of Saga (Brian K Vaughan, Fiona Staples) needs more weirdness, but at least they found a way to bring back the spider-monster.

4 right paws + 4 orange paws + 4 left paws + 4 white paws + 4 front paws + 4 brown paws + 4 back paws = 12 adorable paws!

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