Entry for November 09, 2006–Virginia, Halloween, visits, and politics

Friends, as you can guess, I've been too busy lately to update my blog. So let's catch up. The weekend after my birthday (21 to 23 October 2006), I flew down to Virginia to visit my family. It wasn't really a social call, since my father is recuperating slowly and painfully from his latest surgery. My younger brother Peter and I tried to help our parents around their house in the Blue Ridge Mountains, trimming a persimmon tree and sorting through boxes of our childhood toys.

Still, it was nice to see my folks, enjoy my mother's cooking, and play with my niece Ava, who has started to walk and talk. She is the best medicine for my father. I stayed one night with Peter, Kelly, and Ava in Northern Virginia so as not to exhaust our parents.

In Alexandria, I caught the decent cyberpunk movie "The Island" on cable television, played an "X-Men" videogame with Peter, and hung out with Steve M.R., whose grandmother had unfortunately recently passed away. I also briefly saw Aleece Z.R. and Connor B.R., but Corbin A.Y. & Andria K.Y. were on the road (congrats to Dave & Amy R-B. on Noah R.!). In addition, Peter and I ate at "Chipotle," Janice's and my favorite fast-food burrito restaurant in the area, before returning to Boston.

Like many of my peers, I've been dealing with later hours at work, often not getting home until close to 7:00 p.m. I also recently submitted my latest brief profiles of information technology executives for an upcoming print issue. CW's long technical migration is finally bearing fruit, and our copy desk attended a gathering of editors at sister publications. Although I can't compare my workload to those in medical or legal professions, it does make weekend time more precious.

The following weekend, Janice and I stayed in and caught up on videotapes and reading on a rainy Saturday and went shopping on that Sunday. We've also had to rake leaves this autumn, whereas in previous apartments, we could rely on the wind or street cleaners to take them away.

Of current genre television, my favorite shows so far this season are the heroic and emotional "Avatar: the Last Airbender," "Heroes," and "Doctor Who." The "Ultimate Avengers 2" and "Hellboy: Sword of Storms" animated telemovies were also decent adaptations of their respective comic books, IMHO.

The D&D3.5 "Vanished Lands: Halmed Desert" role-playing group is also going well so far. Prospective gamer Otis D./"Ali-Jubal" hasn't attended in a few weeks and may have dropped out, but Beruk A./"Kunal," Greg D.C./"Killian," Brian W./"Mumtaz," and James B./"Ib" have been patiently working together in their initial "1,001 Arabian Nights"-style adventures. See my Yahoo/eGroups Web site (http://games.groups.yahoo.com/group/DnD3VanishedLands/) for more details.

Byron V.O./"Ibrahim" hopes to participate by teleconference, and Greg has been keeping me busy on the role-play by e-mail side as "Janus." The face-to-face group could use one or two new people (especially reliable local and female gamers), but we're not in a big rush to recruit right now.

On a related note, college chum Dexter V.H. visited from Brooklyn, New York, this past weekend (4 to 5 November 2006). Janice visited her extended family in Pennsylvania and Steve M. in Connecticut. We hung out, ate out at local Greek and Jewish restaurants, and got dressed up for my annual Halloween costumed gathering! Dexter borrowed my Jedi knight garb, and I wore the Batman costume that I had intended to wear last year before surgery prevented that.

Although we didn't get many young trick or treaters, the postholiday party was a success (it would be more fun if it were before or during Halloween; see my photographs at Yahoo). Beruk/"the Stranger" was disguised as a catburglar, Brian came as geeky Southern gentleman "C.J.," and Paul J. wore a wreath of leaves as "Captain Oblivious." Latecomer James B./"Nick" borrowed Brian's mirror shades and Beruk's fake mustache to resemble the Unibomber.

Dexter and I also talked about his Drow Ranger "Faelonia" and visited some electronics stores and Pandemonium Books & Games, our favorite shop in Central Square, Cambridge, Mass., before I dropped him off at the Logan Express Bus. Dex decided to fly back south rather than endure another 7-hour bus ride.

Alas, although Thomas K.Y. has returned from his family trip to Japan, he's been too busy to rejoin the gaming group. We have sketchy plans to try to screen "The Prestige," "Flushed Away," or "Casino Royale" in the coming weekends, and I've got the Super MegaFest genre convention right before Thanksgiving, which Janice and I will be spending in Upstate New York with her immediate family.

This past Saturday, I ran a D20 "Mutants & Masterminds" 2nd Ed.: "Drake's Port" one-shot. As always, the pickup game was a lot of fun, including a fight with vampiric sharks and penguins in an aquarium, time travel, a cult summoning a Cthuloid monster, and old and new costumed vigilantes meeting! I hope that Dexter/"Neutralizer-X" and other friends will continue to make such cameos.

Speaking of superheroes, Dex/"Dalance," David I.S./"the Excoriator," and I (as "Nightfall IIb" and "the Emerald Quarrel") have continued to play in the "City of Heroes" multiplayer online game! See http://games.groups.yahoo.com/group/dimensionalcorpsonline/ for some related discussions. Steve M.R. has been unable to fully participate as "the Blazing Corona" because of technical problems, but I hope that he and others will eventually join us.

As Steve's blog has noted (http://blog.360.yahoo.com/blog-zA8iOK8iaalgc0hpoQY-?cq=1&p=207), this past Tuesday's U.S. elections provided an opportunity for a significant course correction in domestic and foreign policy. I've made no secret of my liberal sympathies, but I hope that both ascendant Democrats and chastened Republicans will be able to work together for a better future for us all.

I have strongly disagreed with the current administration in the White House regarding its erosion of civil rights and use of gay marriage as a "wedge" issue, stubborn stance toward the ongoing carnage in Iraq while allowing atomic proliferation in North Korea and Iran, laissez faire environmental and health care stances, and no-tax-and-spend fiscal policies.

While I'm not yet convinced that the Democrats have articulated clear and executable alternatives, I'm glad that the American public has given them a chance. On the state level, the absentee governorship of Mitt Romney and negative campaigning of Kerry Healey directly led to the victory of idealist Devall Patrick. I wish all of us good luck.

This coming weekend, I'm tempted to go to the United Fan Con genre entertainment event in Springfield, Mass., but I'll probably rake leaves and catch up on filing photographs and comic books. I hope that you also have a chance to enjoy the relatively warm (if damp) early autumn weather–at least for those of you not in Buffalo!