Entry for April 16, 2008: Byron’s visit

On Friday, 11 April 2008, former Boston-area role-player Byron V.O. arrived at T.F. Green Airport in Rhode Island. He, Thomas K.Y., Janice, and I ate dinner at Bertucci's, a restaurant chain that hasn't yet reached St. Louis, where Byron now lives with his family.

Byron, Thomas, and I then watched the Stargate SG1: The Ark of Truth on DVD, thanks to Thomas' Netflix subscription. The direct-to-video release wrapped up the main storyline from the military space opera's 10-year run on television. It felt like a longer-than-average, more elaborate episode, but it was satisfying to see a cast and crew that we liked one more time. Stargate: Atlantis and Continuum (as well as a possible out-of-continuity movie sequel) will continue the franchise, which hasn't gotten the recognition it deserves.

On Saturday, April 12, Byron and I stopped in at Newbury Comics for miniatures before meeting Thomas, Beruk A., and latecomers Sara F. & Josh C. for lunch at the busy Minado sushi buffet in Natick, Massachusetts. The meal and camaraderie were excellent. From there, we drove back to Janice's and my second duplex in Needham Heights, Mass., where we were joined by Greg D.C., Brian W., and John C.M. (see group photo above).

The latest D&D3.5 "Vanished Lands: the Broken Chains" Arabian fantasy session went well. Byron, as Anpur (Jackal-man) Druid "Kemosh," and Thomas, as Sylvan Elf Ranger "Ahrad," met up with the current Player Character party — Beruk/"Kunal," Greg/"Killian," Brian/"Mumtaz," John/"Nebi," Sara/"Neela," and Josh/"Raz" — on Emein Island, where they fought demons.

As we do on Tuesday nights, we ordered dinner from Oak Hill Pizza. In addition to our usual levity, we talked about pop culture and upcoming one-shots between the "Broken Chains" and our first Dungeons & Dragons Fourth Edition party, such as Josh's proposed Everway scenario. Byron and I later drove back out to Natick to drop off Beruk and Thomas, and with cleaning up after the gamers, it ended up being a late night/early morning.

On Sunday, after her usual stint at an animal shelter in Dedham, Mass., Janice cooked pancakes and sausages (she had made brownies that we had inhaled the day before). Byron and I then logged in for a D&D3.5 "Vanished Lands: Holy Steel" teleconferencing session with Dexter V.H. in Brooklyn. Despite some technical and scheduling snafus, Byron's Paladin "Ibrahim," Dexter's Drow Ranger "Faelonia," and their followers made significant progress in their journey across the hostile Halmed Desert.

We weren’t able to get together with Ken G., but there'll be other events. Unfortunately, I'll be missing about a month's worth of City of Heroes with the Thursday night/Sunday morning supergroup because I'll be busy, but the face-to-face games take priority. Greg stopped by briefly on Sunday afternoon, and Thomas rejoined us for dinner at Blue on Highland, a very good bistro in Needham Heights, Mass.

Once again, we talked late into the night about travel, gaming, science fiction and fantasy, and history. It turned out that all of us like Nickelodeon's animated fantasy Avatar: the Last Airbender, but have mixed feelings about the SciFi Channel's revisionist Battlestar Galactica. We're also looking forward to this coming summer's crop of genre movies.

Since then, I've returned to work and caught up on recorded television shows. The first season (and possibly series) finale of immortal New York cop drama New Amsterdam was good, but ended on a bit of a down note, while the series premiere of The Sarah Jane Adventures was entertaining. I met lead actress Elizabeth Sladen at a recent science fiction convention.

The Doctor Who spin-off is aimed at a younger audience and is thus much lighter in tone than conspiratorial sibling Torchwood, which featured its characters' backstories and whose second season ends next week on BBC America. The fourth season/series of the revived time-travel drama Doctor Who will begin airing in the U.S. soon.

Last night, Janice and I walked up to the Trader Joe's near where we live for a cheese tasting before watching the latest episode of Spectacular Spider-Man and Part 1 of "Masterpiece's" well-done adaptation of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility (not to be confused with the recent movie with Emma Thompson and Hugh Grant). I also touched base with fellow science fiction fans David I.S. and Jim J.D'B. This coming weekend, we'll be driving down to Pennsylvania to visit Janice's extended family.