Friends, I hope that all of you and your families had a Happy Thanksgiving. Janice and I left after work Wednesday, 23 November 2005, and drove as far as Pennsylvania. On the holiday itself, we drove past snow the rest of the way to my parents' home in the Blue Ridge Mountains, where we feasted with my family, including my brother Peter and his wife Kelly, her mother Maureen, and their young daughter Ava, whose intensity was our main entertainment.
On Friday, Janice and I laid low (I had just recovered from a stomach bug), and we caught up on reading and eating at my parents' place. On Saturday, we went to Northern Virginia, where we visited Chipotle, our favorite Mexican fast-food joint. That afternoon, Janice and I returned to our old haunts in Falls Church, where I stopped by "Hole in the Wall Books" and "the Compleat Strategist" to continue rebuilding the portion of my library destroyed in the previous month's basement floods.
We then met Steve M.R. & Aleece Z.R., David A.H. & Katy L., and Hans C.H. & Carolyn M.P. for an enjoyable pub dinner at "Ireland's Four Provinces." It was great to see them, however briefly. Corbin A.Y. & Andria K.Y. weren't able to join us, having just returned from their own travels. Unfortunately, we also missed Ron J.K.'s visit to his family in Massachusetts while we were down in the capital area.
Back at Peter & Kelly's, we played "Cranium," a fun board game that's a cross between Pictionary, Trivial Pursuit, and charades (Janice and I won). We also watched on their new big-screen TV "Kingdom of Heaven," which was an O.K. tale of the Crusades.
Janice and I made the long drive back to New England on that Sunday, and I spent most of this past week getting over a chest cold (aggravated by mold as I continued sorting damp papers in our basement), working longer hours after Michael P.'s departure, and dealing with numerous e-mails. We did, however, manage to screen "Harry Potter  and the Goblet of Fire," which was well-done, if somewhat more compressed than the excellent "Harry Potter  and the Prisoner of Azkaban."
I haven't watched much mainstream television lately, but I'm still enjoying "Veronica Mars," "The Daily Show," "The Boondocks," and the just-canceled "Teen Titans." Janice and I also caught up on our DVDs, watching Aardman Studio's first season of the stop-motion animated comedy "Creature Comforts," which takes amusing observations by British citizens and puts them in the mouths of animals. I've decided to wait for rental for "Zorro 2" and the live-action version of "Aeon Flux."
Many of us are also looking forward to the movie adaptation of C.S. Lewis' "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe," Peter Jackson's remake of "King Kong," and the stage production of "Spamalot," which is coming to Boston. "Superman Returns" and "X-Men 3" also look promising for next summer. In the meantime, however, I've got holiday shopping and cards to get to…
The latest face-to-face D&D3.5 "Vanished Lands: Seekers of Lore" heroic fantasy game at the home of Brian W. & Beth S. in Newton, Mass., went well, as some of the would-be adventurers explored the Saganim human port of Sileran and got into a steel cage wrestling match… This coming Tuesday night's session may have to be scuttled if the Boston area gets more than an inch or two of snow tomorrow.
The role-play by e-mail activity has also picked up, as Greg D.C./"Janus" joined Carolyn M.P./"Grace" and Byron V.O./"Ibrahim." I still hope that Dexter V.H./"Faelonia" and David A.H./"Vortanus" can join them and Stuart C.G./"Tunnel"… I'm also looking forward to getting back to the "City of Heroes" MMORPG with Dex and to the D20 "Mutants & Masterminds" superheroic game.
Today is Janice's birthday. I got her an XM satellite radio setup, as well as a chocolate cake to be eaten later. We plan to go to "Fuji," a relatively new Japanese steakhouse in Needham, Mass., for dinner. However, since half of our basement is finally getting painted today, we'll have to spend some time tonight shuffling our remaining stuff down there to the other half. Our landlord hasn't yet said when a sump pump will be put in.
In the meantime, Happy Birthday to Ron J.K. tomorrow, and I hope all's well with the rest of you as winter arrives, -Gene