Entry for October 16, 2006: Bio, birthday, and SFTV

Friends, thanks again to all of you who sent birthday wishes this past weekend. To continue my occasional autobiographical postings, I was born on 15 October 1968 in Roosevelt Hospital in Manhattan (I'm a Libra born in the Chinese astrological year of the monkey). My parents had immigrated to the U.S. after meeting in the Philippines. My mother worked as a nurse at Roosevelt and New York Hospital, and my father was then studying for his Ph.D. in medieval history at Adelphia University and the City University of New York Graduate Center.

I lived in Manhattan until about the age of 2, when we moved to the North Bronx, where my father taught at Lehman College-CUNY and my mother worked at the VA and then the Jewish Home & Hospital for the Aged in Kingsbridge Heights. Naturally, I don't remember much, if anything, from that early period, but childhood photos and growing up in the New York metropolitan area did make an impression. New York City had passed its golden age of the 1930s through the 1950s, but it will always be my first home. My brother Peter arrived in March 1973.

Much more recently, I wrote and filed two brief profiles of information technology executives for an upcoming CW issue. My father had his latest surgery to remove malignant tissue and is slowly recovering. My niece Ava has started to talk, and I'll be visiting my family in Virginia this coming weekend. Janice will be visiting her extended family in Pennsylvania early next month. Of course, events such as North Korea's testing of an atomic weapon, the ongoing conflict in the Middle East, and economic and environmental uncertainty at home aren't helping anybody's stress levels.

The Boston-area D&D3.5 "Vanished Lands: Halmed Desert" game, in a similar style to "The 1,001 Arabian Nights," is going well, and the role-play by e-mail is moving ahead with Byron V.O./"Ibrahim" in St. Louis and Greg D.C./"Janus" locally. David I.S. and Steve M.R. have continued to make halting steps to joining Dexter V.H. and me in the "City of Heroes" online game, which we're moving from Sunday mornings to Thursday evenings. We may eventually consider other multiplayer computer games.

Rather than repeat my list of genre television shows I'm watching this season, I'll focus here on just a few. Janice and I have been enjoying the second season/series of the BBC/SciFi Channel's revived "Doctor Who," especially the episode with former companions Sarah Jane and robotic dog K-9, as well as the sinister cameo by "Buffy: the Vampire Slayer's" Anthony Stuart Head. Interestingly, David Tennant was similarly puckish in the recent BBC/PBS "Casanova" miniseries. Tennant's style is somewhat lighter than that of predecessor Christopher Eccleston, but he's still a worthy bearer of the role of the Gallifreyan Time Lord known as the Doctor, IMHO…

Our other favorite program right now is "Avatar: the Last Airbender," an animated fantasy series now in its second or third year on Nickelodeon. Heavily influenced by Chinese mythology and anime (Japanese/Korean animation), "Avatar" features appealing but not flawless adventurers, clever plot twists, and an internally consistent world. More happens in a good half-hour episode of "Avatar" than in many other animated shows and even a few full-hour dramas!

Speaking of telegraphed dramas, I should mention my pleasure at finally seeing Oliver Queen/Green Arrow (played by Justin Hartley) in "Smallville." D.C. Comics' Emerald Archer has long been a favorite superhero of mine, partly because of this latter-day Robin Hood's social conscience (especially in the "Hard Traveling Heroes" storyline with Green Lantern in the 1970s). While I've collected many different comic book titles over the past 20+ years, Green Arrow is the one constant "must have" on my list, no matter where I've lived, from New York to Virginia to Massachusetts. So far, this season has turned out to be relatively strong for "Smallville," with less adolescent angst and kryptonite monsters of the week.

"Heroes" is the last show I'll mention for now. NBC's noncostumed metahumans have been well-introduced so far, with multiple plot threads gradually coming together, similar to the popular "Lost." Time will tell whether the would-be heroes learn to work together in time to stop catastrophe and are able to evade the attention of those who would use their powers selfishly and destructively (like almost everybody on the revisionist "Battlestar Galactica").

On Saturday, 14 October 2006, Janice and I helped out at a fund-raiser for the Pine Ridge Animal Center, the Dedham, Mass.-based branch of the Animal Rescue League of Boston. We mucked out some stables and ran the "dog kissing booth," where children could pay a few tickets to interact with two very gentle cocker spaniels and a miniature pit bull (American Staffordshire bull terrier) mix. The early autumn weather was surprisingly pleasant, especially in comparison with the two feet of snow dumped on Buffalo, N.Y., and I'm glad to finally have seen the shelter where Janice volunteers on most Sunday mornings.

Yesterday, we celebrated my birthday with lunch at "Fuji," our favorite local Japanese steakhouse. Janice gave me a gladius (Roman short sword) replica, for which I've been looking for many months. I also received birthday wishes and gifts from Damon F.P., Steve M., Ron J.K., and Steve M.R., as well as calls from my brother and parents. By Crom! In addition, Janice baked a chocolate cake. Now that my boss Michele L.D'F. is back from her Italian vacation, I hope this week will go smoothly before my next jaunt! Be well, -Gene