Catching up: Raiders, Halloween, and the Rhode Island Comic Con

On Sunday, 28 October 2012, Janice and I went to the Brattle Theater in Harvard Square, Cambridge, to screen a remastered print of Raiders of the Lost Ark. I broke out my fedora and leather bomber jacket (but not my whip) for the occasion.

The cliffhanger movie has held up well after 30 years, and it was great to see Harrison Ford again as the charming scoundrel, John Rhys-Davies and Denholm Elliott as Indy’s pals, and most of all, Karen Allen as the spunky Marion Ravenwood, who’s every bit the equal of the adventuresome archaeologist and his Nazi nemeses.

Janice and I also browsed among our usual bookshops and had a good meal at Grendel’s Den. Unfortunately, former co-worker and fellow blogger Ken G. wasn’t able to join us because his return flight from Peru had been delayed.

For Halloween, I dressed in full chain armor for my weekly historical weapons class. It was fun to practice our moves with metal weapons for once.

At GuardUp!
Dueling in Norman-style chain armor

On Saturday, Nov. 3, I drove down to Providence, R.I., for the first Rhode Island Comic Con. The genre entertainment convention was a success, with strong attendance, numerous dealers and artists, and several celebrities, including (but not limited to) the following:

  • Star Trek: John De Lancie, Robert Picardo, Gary Graham
  • Star Wars: Peter Mayhew, Tom Kane
  • Buffy: the Vampire Slayer: Nicholas Brendon
  • Buck Rogers in the 25th Century: Gil Gerard, Felix Silla

And last, but not least, from the original Battlestar Galactica:

  • Richard Hatch (Cmdr. Apollo and Tom Zarek)
  • Dirk Benedict (Lt. Starbuck)
  • Herbert Jefferson Jr. (Lt. Boomer)
  • Jack Stauffer (Capt. Bojay)
  • Sarah Rush (Cpl. Rigel)
  • Noah Hathaway (Boxey)

As a child of the 1970s, I was excited to meet more actors from one of my favorite military space operas of all time. While I was disappointed that Laurette Spang (Cassiopeia) and Anne Lockhart (Lt. Sheba) couldn’t make it, it was still cool to see so many classic BSG actors together.

The actors still resemble their characters, almost 35 years later. Hatch was as gracious and philosophical as I remember from our previous meeting, and Jefferson still has his military bearing and is down to earth. Rush was perky as ever, and during the BSG panel discussion, ailing Stauffer talked about giving back to the acting community.

Benedict was as roguish as ever, soft-spoken one on one but sarcastic and funny during the panel. Hathaway, who was also Bastian in The Neverending Story, has grown into a tattooed, wiry guy with an attitude closer to that of Starbuck than adoptive father Apollo.

Everyone spoke highly of the professionalism and courtesy of the late Lorne Greene, a.k.a. Adm. Adama. They acknowledged classic Galactica‘s debt of inspiration to Star Wars, as well as the problems with producing a grand space adventure in the face of TV network opposition to its budget and tone. The cast even mentioned the derivative Galactica 1980 and Ron Moore’s grim BSG reboots, as well as plans to return the Galactica franchise to movie theaters.

Among other people, I enjoyed chatting about Buck Rogers with Gil Gerard (I had met Erin Gray at a previous event) and about Alien Nation with Gary Graham. I was pleased to find both actors approachable and good-humored about their respective television careers.

It was also nice to chat with artists Bob Eggleton and Craig Rousseau, whose works I’ve followed and whom I’ve met at past conventions. I also talked with Star Wars reference book author Ryder Windham, who agreed with me in being optimistic about Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm and plans for more films in the saga.

In addition, there were many creative and confident cosplayers at RICC, and I was impressed when a zombie flash mob broke into dance to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” I didn’t have time to participate in any of the games that were being played in one ballroom.

I’d definitely consider attending the Rhode Island Comic Con if it is held again next year. Sure, the organizers could have done a better job of handling the crowds for certain panels, but I hope that the event was profitable enough that it can join the Boston Comic Con and this coming weekend’s annual Super MegaFest.

Playing catch-up

Person of Interest
Conspiracy drama

Although Janice’s and my Verizon FIOS wasn’t restored until Thursday, 3 November 2011, I hardly missed land-line telephone, cable television, or Internet service after the early winter storm last week. A decent number of trick-or-treaters came to our door on Halloween, and I’ve caught up a bit on reading, free of fund-raiser calls.

Of the TV shows I missed, I should be able to see Masterpiece: Mystery and Homeland in reruns, and I can afford to miss episodes of Castle and Psych because they don’t rely too heavily on story arcs. I’ve already dropped Terra Nova and American Horror Story. Fairy-tale dramas Grimm and Once Upon a Time are just getting started. I prefer the quirky sense of humor of the former over the romantic visuals of the latter. I also enjoyed the latest low-key Person of Interest.

Now, if I had missed “sci-Friday,” I’d have a lot more to catch up on: Batman and the Brave and the Bold, Young Justice, ThunderCats, Star Wars: Clone Wars, and X-Men for animation. In addition to them and Grimm, there’s also Chuck, Fringe, and Sanctuary (and eventually Spartacus: Vengeance). Of these, my favorites right now are Clone Wars, ThunderCats, and Fringe.

Coming soon: Food, once and future co-workers, games, and reading…

Snow on the scarecrow


This just doesn't seem right
Happy Halloween 2011!

After an optometrist appointment on Saturday, 29 October 2011, I drove to the spacious apartment of Josh C. & Sara F. in Abington, Massachusetts, for Josh’s one-shot of Fortune’s Fool. I enjoyed the alternate history/fantasy game, in which I role-played “Giuseppe de Cellini,” an Italian Halfling gentleman rogue and swashbuckler.

I was joined by Bruce K. and Rich C.G., who are in one of my FATE 3e “Vortex” space opera teams, as well as Josh & Sara’s friends Rob & Ginger and Robyn, whom I had met at a cookout. The scenario involved our Player Characters looking for demon summoners around fourteenth century Paris. Despite a slow start, we enjoyed the Fortune’s Fool session, Josh’s punch spiked with mist-making dry ice, and the Chinese food that we ordered. Janice had also baked brownies for the potluck.

We did find Fortune’s Fool‘s rules, which use Tarot cards rather than polyhedral dice for conflict resolution, to be overly specific for combat (reminiscent of D20). They were also a bit “swingy,” granting only about a 50% chance of success for anything, given our average skill levels.

History buffs like Jason E.R. and I also had some questions about why a Renaissance would even be necessary in a world whose demihumans had long lifespans and memories of classical culture and technology, but such details would be more of a concern in a long-term campaign. I’ve tried to blend fantasy and alternate history in my own GURPS Steampunk/D20 Etherscope: “Gaslight Grimoire” adventures.

Bruce, Rich, and I left around dinnertime, before Josh & Sara’s Halloween party, to avoid the worst of an early Nor’easter. Boston’s inner suburbs got only a few inches of wet, heavy snow, but areas north and west of us got as much as a foot. Most of our autumn leaves haven’t even fallen yet, but raking will have to wait until after the snow melts.

Janice and I lost power briefly on Sunday night, but our Verizon FIOS (telephone, Internet, and cable television) was disrupted. Fortunately, we have more than enough to read and watch on DVD in the meantime. For instance, we watched some more 1940s Superman serials, Batman: Year One, and a few episodes of the anime Case Closed.

I thought that Year One was very faithful to the influential Frank Miller/David Mazzucchelli graphic novel, which depicts Bruce Wayne, Jim Gordon, and Selina Kyle at the start of their crime-fighting careers. I also look forward to the all-star voice cast (similar to that of the videogame Batman: Arkham City) for the upcoming direct-to-video release of Justice League: Doom.

Without connectivity or quorum, my Pathfinder/Skype: “the Vanished Landstelecom fantasy game again didn’t meet last night, and the “Vortex” group is skipping a week because of the holiday. I look forward to greeting trick-or-treaters tonight. Have a Happy Halloween!

P.S.: Verizon will be sending a technician out this coming Thursday, so I won’t have land-line phone, Web, or TV until then. Still, my situation is better than those of the many people still without power. Stay warm!

Early fall 2011 travels

Janice & Gene
Janice and Gene

As I’ve already mentioned, I’ve been busy during the past few weeks shepherding some big projects to completion at work. I’ve also been fighting a recurring sinus infection, no doubt aggravated by seasonal allergies and fatigue from travel.

In the last weekend of September, Janice and I flew down to Virginia to see my family. We were originally scheduled to attend Nathaniel L.’s bar mitzvah in Brooklyn, New York, but since an ailing uncle of mine was visiting from Belgium, my folks took priority.

We joined my parents and uncle for lunch at Café Indigo before checking into the Courtyard by Marriott at Battlefield Park in Manassas. We stopped by Game Parlor in Chantilly before a hearty dinner at Cracker Barrel.

On Saturday, 24 September 2011, my brother and his family joined us for the Rappahannock County Farm Tour. My nieces enjoyed the hay ride, got to saddle up for the first time on a horse rather than a pony, and watched in awe of a beekeeper using smoke but no protective gear. We had lunch at Belle Meade Farm, listened to some music at the Link, and had dinner back at my parents’ home.

That Sunday, we attended mass at the Church of the Nativity, where Lili had been baptized, before another big meal at Peter & Kelly’s. Janice and I returned our rental car without incident, but we were held up at Dulles Airport because of a temporary security lockdown.

Despite predictions of rain, Janice and I enjoyed the Needham Harvest Fair on Saturday, 1 October 2011. The highlight of the annual festival is the “Souper Bowl,” in which local establishments compete. The weather was even nicer this past weekend, but we decided against the long drive to the King Richard’s Faire, instead visiting local Halloween shops.

On a more serious note, I hope that my uncle and my brother-in-law Gary feel better soon. Although I won’t be attending my 25th anniversary high school reunion this coming weekend, Janice and I will be going to a bed and breakfast in Providence, Rhode Island, in the coming weeks. After that, we’ll see what’s in store for Halloween and Thanksgiving!

2 November 2009: Hungry for Halloween

Halloween 2009

Friends, I hope you had a Happy Halloween! Janice and I spent much of this past weekend raking leaves around our duplex. On Saturday, 31 October 2009, we drove down to the New England Comics in Norwood, Massachusetts, to participate in its costume contest. I dressed as Captain America, and Janice was Supergirl!

We were relatively early, so no other contestants were around. We were also
disappointed in how few trick-or-treaters came to our door that night. Perhaps
the area children were at events at local shopping malls and churches, or maybe
they were scared away by our boisterous neighbors. Our leftover candy will go to co-workers and gamers.

Speaking of food, now that it’s getting colder outside, everyone around me (and much of the TV I watch) seems to be focused on food. On Friday, Janice and I tried to go to dinner at Acapulco’s, but its parking lot was full, and we ended up at the Union Street pub in Newton, Mass. On Sunday, in between raking leaves, we went to Legacy Place in Dedham and had lunch at Four Burgers. Today, my boss Margie brought in a sushi lunch from Fuji. I’ll be at a work-related conference in Boston tomorrow.

Last week, we got into the spirit of the season by rewatching It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and The Nightmare Before Christmas. I’ve already mentioned the Scary Godmother television specials, and I’m caught up on recorded genre shows — just in time for the November ratings sweeps and midseason turnover!

Coming soon: Comics and conventions