Entry for June 07, 2007: Swashbuckling and scheduling

I'm sorry that it has been a while since I've posted a blog entry, so let me catch up here. I've been busy at work during the past few weeks, with the departure of Carla D., for whom the commute from Rhode Island eventually became too long to bear, and with work on double issues and a pending redesign at CW all coming before Independence Day.

On Saturday, 26 May 2007, Janice and I drove down to Sharon, Massachusetts, to visit Robert A.S. & Susan S. and to meet their young son Ethan. We got takeout from a good local Chinese restaurant. Rob and family will be moving to North Carolina, so he gave me a low bookcase and five boxes of science fiction and fantasy books to share with our other friends, sell, or donate.

On that Sunday, Janice and I caught an early matinee of "Pirates of the Caribbean 3: At World's End" in Dedham, Mass. The swashbuckling sequel was better than its immediate predecessor, if not as good as the first flick in that Disney series. The middle hour, which featured multiple rounds of double- and triple-crossing by the cursed pirates, could have been shorter, but the computer-enhanced monsters and battle scenes were still spectacular.

I'd give "Pirates 3," which starred fey Johnny Depp, lightweight Orlando Bloom, feisty Keira Knightly, and a grizzled Geoffrey Rush, among others, about a 7 out of 10.

I've now seen a "threepeat" of blockbuster sequels over the past month: Marvel Comics-based "Spider-Man 3," fairy tale spoof "Shrek the Third," and "Pirates 3!" Of these, the computer-animated "Shrek 3" was the most consistent in quality with its predecessors, in my opinion.

"Spidey 3" suffered the most in comparison with "Spider-Man 2" because it had too many supervillains (unlike focusing on "Doc Ock") and a weak romantic subplot, while "Pirates 3" managed to improve upon the muddled storylines (and overexposure of Depp's popular "Capt. Jack Sparrow") of "Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dead Man's Chest."

I'm looking forward to a few more sequels still to come this summer: "Fantastic Four 2: Rise of the Silver Surfer" and "Harry Potter [5?] and the Order of the Phoenix!" I'm less interested in the pyrotechnics of the live-action "Transformers," but Pixar's "Ratatouille" looks amusing.

Various games have also kept me busy, whittling down my free time on most weeknights. The D&D3.5 "Vanished Lands: the Broken Chains" Arabian fantasy party has continued traveling through the hostile Halmed Desert and has arrived at the lost city of Tel Silat. Meanwhile, the higher-level teleconferenced heroes of "Holy Steel" have narrowly escaped a trap beneath the Plains of Sathendo set by the nefarious Drow and evil dragons!

The role-play by e-mail has stagnated, both due to my increased workload and because of challenges getting missions organized. Greg D.C., like Carolyn M.P. before him, has had to deal with that. On the other hand, despite some ongoing technical and schedule disruptions, the "City of Heroes" online gamers have pressed forward…

On Saturday, 2 June 2007, Janice and I met her middle sister Shelly and her family before going into Boston for the day. The humid weather didn't deter us from following the Freedom Trail past the shopping district of Downtown Crossing and historical sites such as the Shaw Memorial on the Boston Common, Faneuil Hall, and Paul Revere's house in the now-Italian North End.

Because Shelly, her husband Melvin W., and their three children (ages 14, 12, and 9) live in central New York, we don't get to see them very often. We had lunch at Quincy Market's excellent food court, and Becky, Laura, and David were excited despite the long walk and wait to board the U.S.S. Constitution, the oldest sailing ship in the U.S. Navy — or that's still afloat of any navy in the world.

We managed to catch a commuter rail train back to Needham Heights, Massachusetts, in time for a spaghetti and meatball dinner. My favorite! We ate on the tables in Janice's and my basement that I usually use for the weekly gaming sessions, and it was nice to have space for both adults and kids to be seated together. Becky claimed some of Rob's books, and we may have scared our neighbors by sparring with wooden practice swords at dusk. The only injuries sustained were mosquito bites, however.

On Sunday, June 3, Janice and I met Shelly and family at their hotel in Milford, Mass., where we decided that the weather was too uncertain to risk going to the Southwick Zoo. Instead, we drove west to Worcester, where we spent a few pleasant hours at the Higgins Armory Museum, which I recommend to anyone interested in medieval and Renaissance history or arms and armor.

Ever the doting uncle, I offered to buy David, Laura, and Becky souvenirs, and they chose wooden practice swords like the ones I had showed them the night before! I hope they use them wisely, or Shelly and Melvin will be annoyed at the gifts that keep on giving — potential welts, bruises, and bumps on the head. They then drove back to Upstate New York. I hope that my in-laws enjoyed their visit.

Speaking of out-of-town guests, this coming weekend, Janice and I will be hosting college chums Dexter V.H. and Stuart C.G. I plan to run a D20 "Mutants & Masterminds" 2nd Ed.: "Drake's Port" superhero scenario, and in the coming weeks, we'll be switching to Verizon FiOS, traveling to New York City to meet my family and friends, and I hope to finish my latest round of dental work!

In future postings, I hope to get back to discussion of recent genre movies and television, comic books and co-workers, and of course, role-playing cohorts! As Stan "the Man" Lee says, "Excelsior!"

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