Friends here's my end-of-year update, a version of which some of you may have gotten with your holiday cards. Janice and I hope that all your holidays were happy, and we wish you a healthy and prosperous New Year! I received several books and movies for Christmas, including an encylopedia of Victorian fantasy and Marx Brothers DVDs.
After a busy fortnight at work, I've had a chance to catch my breath this week. Since we saw my family in Virginia around Thanksgiving, Janice and I spent Christmas in Upstate New York with her folks. We played with our nieces and nephews, as well as with numerous pets, including six dogs, a cat, a chicken, and rats.
I also went with brothers in law Gary T.L. and Melvin W. to screen "King Kong." Peter Jackson's remake of the classic 1930s monster movie (also remade in the 1970s) started very slowly, but the action scenes later on made up for that. I liked the recent movie adaptations of "The Lord of the Rings" and "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" better (not to mention related kaiju "Godzilla: Final Wars," which I haven't yet seen).
I've spent much of this week catching up on filing, sleep, and reading, as well as running D&D3.5 "Vanished Lands: Seekers of Lore" sessions and playing in Paul J.'s game. Tomorrow (Friday, 30 December 2005), Janice and I may visit the new Ikea furniture store in Stoughton, Massachusetts, and on Saturday, I'll be meeting some of the local social/gaming groups for the "Star Wars" exhibit at the Boston Museum of Science.
In retrospect, it was great to see so many of my friends at the bachelor parties and weddings of Corbin A.Y. & Andria K.Y. in Virginia and of Steve M.R. & Aleece Z.R. (who are expecting their first child) in Cleveland this past spring! Janice and I took a weeklong cruise on a small ship around the New England islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket last summer. We also hosted visits by our families, Steve & Aleece for the Boston Marathon, Carolyn M.P. from Virginia, and college chums Dexter V.H. and Stuart C.G. from New York. I hope to get down to metropolitan New York and Washington D.C. again soon. With a little advance notice, you’re always welcome up here in the Boston area, but you might want to wait until after our long winter!
On a less happy note, Janice and I are still recovering from our basement floods of October, in which eight-plus inches of water destroyed scores of comic books and magazines, about 200 gaming books (a third of my total collection), and about 35 years’ worth of personal mementos. While I’ve replaced some of the books with help from friends such as Erik B.L., Tim M.B., Jim J.D’B., and Greg D.C., it’s still a pain for a pack rat like me. Our renters’ insurance company won’t cover any of our losses.
In the three years that we’ve been in the duplex in Needham Heights, Massachusetts, we never had a problem with moisture in our basement until recently, and while the new development up the hill has regraded its lots and our landlord has repainted our storage/gaming area, we won’t have peace of mind until a sump pump is put in.
Janice and I also had to give away our chinchillas, Josie and Ginger, which we had inherited from Mark A.S. & Ann W. when they moved their growing family to New Zealand. Janice had become sensitive to their dust baths, hay feed, and fur, and while we were sad to see “the girls” go, we managed to find a good home for them in Connecticut. Janice has also started volunteering at a different animal shelter (one closer to home) on Sunday mornings.
The local social/gaming group has been very active: Eight guys have been meeting for role-playing sessions every Tuesday night. The “Seekers of Lore,” the latest Player Character party in my D&D3.5 “Vanished Lands” heroic fantasy campaign setting, started out as a band of wandering minstrels but became Goblin-fighting mercenaries and have now set sail on the dangerous Sea of Nagendwa…
I’ve also run several successful one-shots, some involving past “Dungeons and Dragons” parties, such as “Faelonia,” “Tunnel.” and former “Dragonlayers” destroying the dreaded Flying Citadel, as well as the D20 “Mutants & Masterminds” 2nd Ed. “Drake’s Port” superheroes! I look forward to returning to them and trying out GURPS Fourth Edition in the coming year. In addition, I’ve been playing the “City of Heroes” multiplayer online computer game with Dexter V.H. and have run play by e-mail scenarios with Carolyn M.P./Jaguar Woman Ranger “Grace” and others… You’re welcome to join us!
What were your favorite movies of the past year? The long-awaited “Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith” was mostly satisfying, if dark, and “Serenity” was a very good capstone to “Buffy: the Vampire Slayer” creator Joss Whedon’s short-lived “Firefly” television space western. Of the latest wave of comic-book superhero flicks, “Batman Begins” was one of my favorites.
Stop-motion fable/horror spoof “Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit” held its own against numerous computer-animated competitors, and “Harry Potter  and the Goblet of Fire” and the adaptation of C.S. Lewis’ “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” continued the resurgence of fantasy in the wake of Peter Jackson’s epic version of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings.” I haven’t yet seen “Zorro 2,” but I’m looking forward to “X-Men 3,” “Superman Returns,” and “Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dead Man’s Chest” in the coming months!
What television shows are you currently watching? I haven’t been following most broadcast programs, such as “Lost,” but I have made time for “Veronica Mars,” “Smallville,” “Stargate SG1,” and the outgoing “Teen Titans” and “Justice League Unlimited.” Janice and I have also enjoyed the BBC’s revived “Doctor Who” more than the SciFi Channel’s revisionist “Battlestar Galactica,” despite the latter’s quality and popularity.
Anyway, take care, and I hope to see you in the coming year, -Gene