Oct 26, 2005

Pajama Party

Last night, two friends from my gaming group and I made our second foray into the Deadmines. (Sorry you couldn't make it, Ken!) WoW is becoming a wonderful tool for us - busy, "responsible" adults all - to keep in touch and blow off some steam. It took me several months of convincing them to check out the game, but I think I've finally set the hook, as it were. Except for James, that is.

[Jedi mind trick] You really want to start playing WoW, James! [/Jedi mind trick]

These friends and I, working folk all, with significant relationships, children in tow and/or in progress, and the general busy lifestyle of the young American adult, are finding that an occasional in-person mid-week gaming session is becoming more and more difficult to schedule, especially if said session were to include more than two or three of us. What a wonderful thing that the four of us were able to have dinner with our families, take care of the chores de jour, get the kids tucked into bed, and still easily jump into our desk chairs, in our respective comfy evening attire, for a session of wonderful gaming bliss.

No mad dash out to the car in the chill and rain, no spouses miffed due to our absence, no sleepy drive home through the gloomy night, but rather twenty more minutes of lovely sleep. No, faithful reader, last night when we broke up for the evening, the vile villain Van Cleef's head tucked firmly in our knapsack as proof of our victory over the forces of evil, we simply logged off the server and stumbled upstairs into our warm beds. Thanks, Blizzard!

Cold Spell

Not that anyone's actually reading, but sorry for the lack of entries. Last week, I was the unwilling host of the nasty little organism known as the common cold, my second such incidence of this wonderful experience already this season. The first day of autumn barely behind us, I hope this is not the beginning of a trend to come this winter!

Oct 12, 2005

Serenity - a review

I first have to state that I'm not an early Firefly adopter. As a matter of fact, I haven't even finished watching all 13 episodes. Friends in my gaming group have been touting the series as a must-see ever since the release of the DVDs, when it seemed to show up on our collective geek radar.

Seeing as the movie was coming out, I borrowed the Firefly DVDs from our new gaming group recruit, Cory, and started to watch them with my wife. We are big Buffy fans, having watched the entire collection via Netflix, so come on - Joss in Space didn't take too much of a leap of faith.

Before seeing the movie, I had not yet finished all of my Joss Whedon rabid fanboy space Kool-Aid, but was sipping contentedly. Heather and I were definitely enjoying the series. Good, solid TV Sci Fi. Shows like Battlestar Galactica and Firefly give me hope that actual *good* TV sci fi is here to stay.

Back to the movie though, my family and I bopped out through Sundays disturbingly relentless, pouring rain to check out Serenity, our good friend Jon in tow. We'd all seen and liked at least some of the Firefly series, from Jon's full season viewing to my son's occasional snippets. The movie, however, floored us all. Even the annoying, talkative, fidgety family that sat behind us slowly quieted down to a hushed calm by five minutes into this two-hour celebration of what sci fi can and should be. Like he rest of us, they were too busy trying to pick their jaws up off the sticky theater floor to talk.

For the cinematic presentation of Firefly, Mr. Whedon pulled out all the stops. I was expecting a good, solid movie. I wasn't ready for Serenity. Possessing in equal parts the pacing of Raiders of the Lost Ark, the epic swell of Star Wars, and the fresh take on sci fi a-la The Fifth Element, this remarkable movie tumbled us through a washing machine of sudsy, far future fiction splendor and spilled us out onto the theater sidewalk, reeling, excited, talkative, and thoroughly satisfied.

Universal Studios, my brain has been washed. Assimilation is complete. Joss Whedon is my master now. More movies, please!

Oct 11, 2005

Dungeons & Dragons II: Wrath of the Dragon God - a review

My son and I finally got a chance to sit down and watch this flick last night. DVR's are a wonderful thing, people!

Dungeons & Dragons II: Wrath of the Dragon God is a direct-to-cable movie that first aired on the Sci Fi Channel last Saturday night. Now, you may be fortunate enough to ask, "what do you mean Dungeons and Dragons II - there was a first D&D movie???" That study in fan disappointment limped past movie-goers nationwide in 2000, and is best left forgotten. It wasn't a horrible movie, but faithful gamers worldwide were hoping for much more. Unless you have a particularly masochistic sense of curiosity, best to leave that flat attempt lie undisturbed in its shallow cinematic grave.

Back to the subject at hand, I really found D&D II: WotDG to be enjoyable. Between the disappointing first D&D movie and the fact that this new installment aired directly on cable, I didn't have high expectations. I must say that my trepidations were unfounded. The new movie was quite well done, especially given the format.

First and foremost, a nod was certainly given to the players. The movie was rife with references to specific spells, magic items, creatures, locations, and gods from the actual game. The story led us through the necessitated formation of a traditional D&D adventuring party, their journeys across a varied fantastic landscape (including some honest-to-gods actual dungeons crawls), and finally into several epic confrontations with a collection of evil masterminds and vicious beasties.

Sure, the acting was frequently over-the-top, but I believe that to some extent, this may have been a tongue-in-cheek attempt to mirror the high-cheese melodrama spouted around many a dining room table every Friday evening. The only thing missing was the alluring clatter of rolling dice.

For the other parents reading, there was certainly some rather vivid violence, a little blood, and a goodly group of creepy critters and beings. That said, it was presented in such a fashion that I personally had no compunctions against my 9-yr-old son watching.

In any case, my son and I very much enjoyed curling up on the couch and soaking up this pulpy but exciting and entertaining flick. I think one must take it for what it is, but for Sci Fi's first attempt, they certainly hit their mark. Watch it soon with a son or daughter near you!

Oct 6, 2005

The Maelstrom

Everyone is still talking about Hurricane Katrina, and will be for months to come. The storm that hit home for me (disturbing pun intended), however, was Rita.

Rita made landfall just east of the Louisiana/Texas border about one month after the disatrous Hurricane Katrina. Now, as you may know from reading, I live in Eastern Pennsylvania. However, my company's division that manufactures the coatings that I develop is in DeQuincy, Louisiana, which happens to lie - you guessed it - just east of the TX/LA border.

Ever since we moved our coatings production there in the early spring of 2002, I've been visiting our LA plant 4 or 5 times per year. So, needless to say, I've made quite a few friends there. It's been really heartbreaking to hear all my friends evacuated out of their parish and forced to shack up wherever they could, sometimes whole states away.

Thankfully, Rita lost most of its steam the day before it made landfall, and the destruction was nothing like the eastern side of LA had seen a month earlier. Still, downed trees and power lines made the roads all but impassible, and the authorities would not allow anyone into the area for any extended period of time, even up until a week ago.

I'm happy to say that Wednesday last week, phone and power services to the area began to come back up. Most of my friends and coworkers have been able to return home, and as importantly for their families, to work.

Only one fellow's house was seriously damaged - that due to several fallen trees landing on his home. Everyone else has a lot of cleaning up to do, but thankfully they are able to resume their lives after a long interruption.

All these events get me thinking about people form the other side of the state. It's one thing for one's home to be damaged or lost, but when one's place of business or employment is also lost in the process, the impact is magnitudes more devastating.

When I was a young teenager, our house was heavily damaged by a large tornado. The thing is though, my father still had a place to work and we were well-insured. As such, our lives continued with only the moderate interruption of cleaning up and getting the house restored to its former state by contractors specializing in catastrophic damage. Not so bad compared to some. My thoughts are with the folks affected by these storms.

Addendum - I've been writing this post over several days. Over the weekend, South Asia was rocked by a devastating earthquake. Those folks have an even more difficult time ahead of them than our own mid-south. What is it about this year and natural disasters??