Weekend wanderings

I’ve already reported on college chum David I.S.’s visit this past month, but it was just the start of our busy season. On Friday, 26 April 2013, Janice and I drove to Utica, New York. We met her family for dinner at Babe’s.

The next day, we attended the second wedding of Janice’s middle sister Michelle at Chesterfield Restaurant. It was nice to see family, including Janice’s Uncle John and cousin Kristin, who came down from Canada.

While we were unfortunately unable to attend the birthday celebrations of nieces in Upstate New York and Northern Virginia, Janice and I have kept busy. On Saturday, 4 May 2013, we visited The Outer Limits in Waltham, Mass., for Free Comic Book Day. We then went into Boston for the Food Truck Throwdown between Boston and New York vendors.

The street food was all very good, including crepes, cupcakes, and a wide variety of cuisines. I especially liked the pita sandwiches from Comme Ci Comme Ca, a Mediterranean-style truck from New York. Janice liked the empanadas from Nuchas.

Janice and I then went to the Museum of Fine Arts, where we toured exhibits of Michelangelo drawings, paintings of New Hampshire’s White Mountains, European posters, and an extensive collection of samurai armor, among others. It was nice to again enjoy the spring weather by walking around town.

On Sunday, we caught Iron Man 3, had dinner with friends at Bertucci’s, and attended Ken G.’s annual Cinco de Mayo party at Lanes & Games in Cambridge, Mass. We had a good time chatting with people, playing pool, and watching the bowling. I’m sorry that I missed the videogames and air hockey, but it’s back to work!

Playing pool
At Lanes & Games in Cambridge, Mass.

In the coming weekends, I look forward to the annual Watch City Festival, which will feature steampunk events, artists, and vendors. I’ve also got my weekly games and historical weapons classes, and the “Escapists” book club is meeting next Tuesday night.

I don’t know if I’ll get to the Phantom Gourmet Hot Dog Safari or Anime Boston later in May, but I do look forward to a cruise from Newport, R.I., with Janice’s parents at the end of the month.

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Game changes

A few weeks ago, between Free Comic Book Day and seeing The Avengers, Janice and I went to Lanes & Games in Cambridge, Massachusetts, for fellow blogger and former co-worker Ken G.‘s annual Cinco de Mayo party.

Ken G.'s party at Lanes & Games
Cinco de Mayo 2012

We met other IDG/CW alumni Michele L.D. and Bob R. and their respective spouses Paul D. and Sheila K.R. Just a month before, I had dinner with Ken, Michele, and Bob at the Met Bar & Grill in the Natick Mall for “The Escapists” book club. We discussed Michael Chabon’s Pulitzer Prize winner, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, which we mostly enjoyed. As a longtime comic book fan and onetime New Yorker, I found the novel very evocative.

We played a few rounds of billiards/pool as munchies and Ken’s other friends arrived, including a few I remembered from previous shindigs. None of the friends I’ve introduced Ken to made it. We then tried candlepin bowling, which both Bob and Ken were good at. I lobbed gutter ball after gutter ball (I’m not as bad with regular bowling or its Wii equivalent). Janice’s game improved significantly, though.

I did slightly better with air hockey, which I won a tournament in back in the early 1990s in Queens, New York. Overall, we had a good time, and it was nice to have an excuse to socialize. I get along well with most of my current co-workers, but the copy desk crew had a decade for its chemistry to develop.

In other games, my role-playing groups are in transition. On Monday nights, I have been running my “Vortexspace opera for two face-to-face teams of about six people each, using FATE 3e Starblazer Adventures/Mindjammer and Bulldogs. I haven’t heard from Team 2 (the grifters on the Appomattox) since my recent move from Needham to Waltham, Mass. I know those guys are busy with other things, including Greg D.C.’s FATE 3e Dresden Files modern supernatural game.

Vortex” Team 1 (the explorers aboard the Blackbird, for which I owe an update) has chosen to take a break for Jason E.R.‘s “Glassworks” superhero miniseries. The fictional city of Hamilton, Delaware, is the same setting that Jason ran with his DarkPages noir one-shot, but we’ll be using the Marvel Heroic Roleplaying system.

So far, these Cortex-based rules have gotten mixed reviews (I do like the Leverage adaptation). Marvel Heroic Roleplaying‘s dice-pool mechanic reminds some of us of the “FASERIP” Marvel Super Heroes, and its Power Points are similar to FATE, but the core book’s organization could be better. A good alternative might be D20/OGL Mutants & Masterminds 3rd Ed./DC Adventures or Icons. I trust that Jason will come up with interesting scenarios for our street-level vigilantes.

On the weeks when Jason isn’t running, we’re looking at various ideas, including Bruce K.’s Pathfinder: Conan” and Rich C.G.’s fantasy and horror proposals. Brian W. has graciously offered to host the Monday games. I don’t mind the break from Game Mastering, but I’m sure I’ll want to be back behind the screen soon enough.

On Sunday nights, my “Vanished Lands: the Uncommon Companions” fantasy campaign (using Pathfinder, Skype, and an online dice roller) is again on hiatus because of scheduling conflicts for half of that teleconferencing group. So in the meantime, Josh C. has been running his “Spelljammer: the Show Must Go Onspace fantasy miniseries (using FATE 3e Legends of Anglerre and Google+/Tabletop Forge).

Last for now, but not least, my historical weapons class at Guard Up! in Burlington, Mass., has continued to be interesting. Each Wednesday night, I and about 10 other students spend half an hour practicing our moves with wooden or resin weapons and half an hour sparring with foam ones. It’s good exercise.

Our instructor, Karl, has shown us the basics of the quarterstaff, longsword, and warhammer. We’re currently learning about the naginata (a Japanese pole arm) and will eventually get to the great sword and fencing.