Entry for November 30, 2006 Elvira, Thanksgiving, newspapers, and visits

Friends, I hope you had a good Thanksgiving weekend. After a compressed workweek, Janice and I drove to Upstate New York to visit her immediate family. We ate the big holiday meal at Janice's parents' house near Lake George. The entire family took advantage of the unseasonably warm weather to go walking in the woods Thursday afternoon, although the various lap dogs and cockatiels stayed home. We also played pool in Marvin & Linda's basement. I've posted some family photographs at Yahoo.

I telephoned my parents and later heard from my brother Peter, Damon F.P., and James B. Early last week, I checked in on Eliza Y., who has been confined to bed rest late in her pregnancy, while her husband Cliff Y. was out of town on business. Ron J.K. had e-mailed holiday wishes and visited his brother in Brookline, while Mark A.S. & Ann W. sent an early card from New Zealand. I also spoke with former "Dragonslayer" Robert A.S. in Sharon, Massachusetts, for the first time in months.

On "Black Friday," Janice, her two younger sisters Michelle and Melinda, and their mother awoke at 3:30 a.m. to get a jump on Christmas shopping! I later met my brothers in law Gary T.L. and Melvin W. and took my nieces Becky, Laura, and Amanda and nephews David and Joshua to see "Happy Feet." The computer-animated musical comedy was decent.

That night, we ate tasty leftovers and watched "Ice Age 2: the Meltdown" on DVD at Gary & Melinda's. Both "Happy Feet" and "Ice Age 2" were amusing, although I liked Aardman's recent "Flushed Away" more. While we've been concerned about various family members' health, I hope everyone had a pleasant holiday. On Saturday, Janice and I drove from our motel to her parents for lunch before heading back to New England.

We caught up on newspapers, including the Boston Globe, the Boston Phoenix, the Cambridge Tab/Dig, the Improper Bostonian, and Stuff at Night, as well as two free Needham weeklies. I also regularly read the top stories of the New York Times, New York Newsday, and the Washington Post through the RSS feed on my Yahoo home page.

The Globe is best for overall local coverage, although I like the alternative (read: left-wing political and cultural) viewpoints of the Phoenix and Tab/Dig. The Improper Bostonian and Stuff at Night are useful for local events, although the glossy nightclub photographs and advertisements are pitched at younger and wealthier readers than me. Reuters is another news source that I used when I was a wire reporter/editor at BNA and again now at CW.

Since most genre television was in reruns, Janice and I watched other things, including an old Ray Harryhausen-animated Sinbad movie, some nature programs on PBS and Animal Planet, the music video channels, and various cooking shows. We do watch a bit of Home & Garden TV, the Discovery Channel (such as "Mythbusters"), and of course, the Food Network.

My favorite celebrity chefs are Wellesley's Ming Tsai, goofy scientist Alton Brown, and Italian "Iron Chef" Mario Battali. I get a fair amount of grief from co-workers about liking the attractive Giada De Laurentiis, the casual Rachael Ray, and the boisterous Emeril Lagasse. Other than "Iron Chef America," however, I'm not a big fan of all the competitive reality shows, including those involving inedible sugary skyscrapers. I prefer simple but filling and good-tasting cuisine.

On Sunday, 26 November 2006, I joined Kim M.E.A.G./"Lady Bewilder" and Dexter V.H./"Lady Faelonia" online as "Nightfall IIb" for "City of Heroes." Our costumed metahumans leveled up after clearing out more warehouses of mutant criminals. I hope that David I.S./"the Excoriator" and Steve M.R./"the Blazing Corona" will rejoin us in coming Thursday nights or Sunday mornings.

The recent release of videogames involving the X-Men, Avengers, and the Justice League are tempting me to buy a console such as Microsoft's Xbox 360, Sony's PlayStation 2, or Nintendo's Wii, but I have neither the time nor the money right now. In addition, I doubt I could get my friends and family to agree on one system. Simpler PC games such as "City of Heroes," "Lego Star Wars II," and maybe "Neverwinter Nights 2" are more than enough for now.

In the meantime, I've got to prepare for the regular Tuesday night face-to-face D&D3.5 "Vanished Lands: Halmed Desert" heroic fantasy sessions and this coming weekend's one-shots for Byron V.O./"Ibrahim" (and maybe Dex). The higher-level party is looking forward to taking on an undead dragon in her castle lair, and I'll be running the latest edition of the classic "Ravenloft" module! We're still having difficulty setting up videoconferencing between Byron's new home in St. Louis and the Boston area.

Plus, Janice's birthday is next Tuesday, and I've got holiday shopping to finish! While Janice went to the malls around Albany, New York, I expect to complete shopping for my family online, mainly on Amazon.com. BTW, the photo attached to this posting is from the Super MegaFest–see my previous blog entry. In addition, a co-worker just invited me to her holiday party, and similarly overworked David I.S. may be visiting the Boston area at the end of December. Take it easy, -Gene