Friends, I hope that you have a happy and prosperous New Year! Also, congratulations to newlyweds Dexter V.H. & Linda N.-H.! In addition, my thoughts are with friends Ray C., Stuart C.G., and Robert A.S., who are all fighting serious illnesses.
Janice and I went in to work on 28 and 31 December 2007. Traffic was light, which was good, since New England had gotten some more snow and ice. Although CW's offices were nearly empty, there was still enough work to keep me busy.
On Saturday, Dec. 29, I ran a makeup session for the D&D3.5 "Vanished Lands: the Broken Chains" Arabian fantasy campaign. The regular Tuesday night role-players (Beruk A./"Kunal," Greg D.C./"Killian," Brian W./"Mumtaz," John C.M./"Nebi," and Sara F./"Neela") were rejoined by Paul J./"Rache," Alex J./"Karril," and Bri/"Rhiannen," as their Player Characters continued their misadventures in the hostile Halmed Desert. The game went well.
On Sunday, I played the City of Heroes multiplayer online game, but my usual superhero group wasn't available. Janice and I then went to Masala Art, a local Indian restaurant. We also watched documentaries about Star Wars and Star Trek on the History Channel, as well as an adaptation of Jane Eyre on PBS. The truncated workweek after that went quickly.
On Friday, 4 January 2008, Janice and I caught an Amtrak train from the Route 128 station near Boston. I find riding the rails to be much more relaxing than driving or flying. I caught up on some newspapers and issues of Wizard magazines, while Janice read a historical mystery novel and did some crosswords. We arrived at New York's Penn Station by early afternoon.
Our gracious host, Stuart C.G., met us so we could drop off our luggage at his place on Manhattan's Upper East Side. Unfortunately, Stu was feeling under the weather for most of the weekend. Speaking of weather, we couldn't have been luckier for this time of year, with an unseasonably warm and dry spell.
We got to meet college chum Stuart's patient wife, Zoe, for the first time, as well as his rambunctious sons Sammy and Benji. We also played Rayman Raving Rabbids, Dance Dance Revolution, and Cooking Mama on his Nintendo Wii game console. Janice and I liked shooting plungers at the rabid rabbits the most, since the other videogames require more coordination and practice.
Fellow State University of New York at Binghamton alumnus Dexter V.H. was originally supposed to join us at 4:00 p.m., but we ended up meeting him for dinner at the Dave & Buster's restaurant and arcade in Times Square around 8:00 p.m. (Zoe stayed home with the boys.)
Dexter and his fiancée Linda N. were still scrambling with last-minute wedding preparations. We found Linda to be pleasantly down to earth. Since this wasn't Dex's first wedding, a more subdued rehearsal dinner/bachelor-bachelorette party was in order. We went our separate ways after that for Stu and Dex's sakes, but Janice and I did get to know Zoe better later in the evening.
On Saturday, Jan. 5, Stuart, Janice, and I picked up breakfast (bagels and lox!) at Tal Bagels and M. Rohrs' House of Fine Teas & Coffees. I had forgotten the convenience of having everything one could ever need within a few blocks' walk, and I've missed the diverse people of the Big Apple. We played a bit with Sammy and Benji, and after a lunch of New York pizza (with olives), we caught a taxicab to the historic Convent Baptist Church in Harlem.
The bride and groom ran late because of family members traveling with them to the church from Brooklyn and Queens, but the actual ceremony was brief and went smoothly. I again had the honor of being best man, and we were all happy to see Dexter's father, Vernon, who is still spry and flirtatious at 94 years old! Stuart arranged for a minivan and driver to take some of us out to Glendale, Queens, for the reception and dinner at the China Buffet restaurant.
On the way, I learned that Linda's older sister had worked at the same hospital as my mother in the Bronx, and Janice and Zoe talked with Leala, one of Dexter's more precocious children. The reception was enjoyable, with about 50 of Dexter & Linda's family, friends, colleagues, and even students all in attendance.
On Sunday, Jan. 6, Zoe and Benji had to attend a birthday party, so Janice and I walked with Stuart and Sammy to Eli's Vinegar Factory, a spin-off of the famous Zabar's "epicurean emporium." We had a good brunch with Carlo R., Steve A.L. and his son Nathaniel L., Erik B.L. & Wei T.L. and their daughter Emma L. The Asian-Jewish New Yorker subculture was well-represented.
It's hard to believe that I've been friends with Carlo for about 25 years, since freshman year at Archbishop S
tepinac High School! I've known Steve (and his wife Michele) since college, and Erik since graduate school at the George Washington University.
Steve, Erik, and I talked about politics, urban life, and technology, while Janice chatted with Wei. I also talked about speculative fiction and travel with Carlo and Stuart. Cute Emma flirted with all the boys, but athletic Nathaniel and balloon-chasing Sammy weren't interested. I hope to see more of my friends, many of who turn 40, in the coming year!
That afternoon, Janice and I returned to Massachusetts. I spent much of Monday catching up on rest and e-mail in preparation for this week's "Broken Chains" session and the "Holy Steel" teleconferencing team with Dexter/"Faelonia" and Byron V.O./"Ibrahim" (in St. Louis).
Thanks to holiday cards and my Web 2.0 presence, I've recently reconnected with several friends, including Ray in Florida, Mark A.S. & Ann W. in New Zealand, and Robert A.S. in North Carolina! I hope to stay in touch with them and others in the coming year.
Next time: Genre entertainment update…