the overhead view is of me in a maze

Friday I took my monthly sauna, then drove to Cambridge to celebrate RJ’s () birthday at the Midwest Grill. and had made the trek all the way from Chicago to toast the man (and to see family and friends, etc), so I got to catch up with them, as well as the rarely seen Erik . Apparently Erik has just moved into a small but well-placed apartment in Boston’s Back Bay.

I gorged myself on meat but left room for dessert, as usual. “That plate of ice cream is bigger than your head,” Dea observed.

“It is not,” I retorted. “I’ve got a really big head.”

I followed the party to Katie () and RJ’s apartment, catching the last few minutes of Santa’s Slay and helping RJ break open Super Mario Strikers. Quick review: it’s like soccer, but fun. You control the Mario characters with the Wii paddles, maneuvering them around a highly destructible soccer field. Super-charged shots and tackles enable you to set the ball on fire, electrocute your opponents and launch a barrage of multiple shots on goal at once.

On Saturday, I cleaned out my closet for the first time in, I believe, ever. I now have a stack of clothes on the floor of my bedroom that can go to Goodwill or a consignment store at some point soon. I then cracked open a Christmas present – some Shield – and had a late lunch.

Patriots madness at Fraley and Melissa’s place in Newton came next. Guests included Hawver, Dea, Will S. and Kate (). The Patriots obliged us by scraping and scrabbling until the 4th quarter, when Maroney found his footing and the defense started to make some tackles.

“I know Wes Welker’s of average height,” Will said, “but he looks so small on the field.”

“And his perfectly unblemished skin really stands out on hi-def,” I said.

“What?” I added a moment later.

Sunday found me at Auston and Deirdre’s for boardgames. The highlights of the day:

  • Catchphrase: Pass around a handheld LCD display that gives you a phrase to coax out of your teammates (a la $10,000 Pyramid or Cat Password). If your team’s holding the device when the timer goes off, the other team wins. Auston, Deirdre and I share pretty common thought patterns, such that we can guess each other’s answers very quickly even with incomplete or incorrect clues. Could you get “Rookie of the Year” if the clue was “not Dustin Pedroia”? Especially considering he was the AL Rookie of the Year?
  • Illuminati: Despite the occasional moments of hushed and flurried math, I still find Illuminati really fun. I got labeled the scourge pretty early on, leading everyone to gang up on me and (accidentally) give the game to David’s wife, Michelle. Rest easy, folks – the Bermuda Triangle does not rule your world tonight.
  • Cineplexity: Draw two cards at random, each of which names a film trope – a setting element, like a Wedding; an important prop, like a candlestick; a particular actor, like Al Pacino; etc. The first team to shout out a movie that combines both of those tropes gets the card and the point. Christine () and I went on a tear as team “This Totally Isn’t Weird,” racking up one obscure flick after another. This game proved so fun we all played it twice, discovering in the process that “Back to the Future” can be used for many, many different categories.

    (Oh, and: if you can think of a movie that both [A] stars a Baldwin, Barrymore or Fonda and [B] stars an Actor With The Same Last Name as a U.S. President, you’ll accomplish what a dozen adults couldn’t with ten minutes of silent trying on Sunday. Good on ya!)

I ducked out of boardgames early to revive an old tradition over in Newton: Starcraft LAN parties with Hawver and Fraley. In the age of 2.0gHz processors and wireless networking, setting up a local Starcraft game has never been easier, and we were all patched and logged on within minutes. Except for Fraley, who had to disable Windows Firewall first.

Our initial forays against the computer proved hilariously abortive; later attempts only prolonged the agony. We retreated to the kitchen to discuss battle plans and consume the delicious hot toddies that Mel had made for us. I rediscovered my early game with a little practice (build, build, build) but forgot everything I knew about the midgame. I never expanded in time and lost the ability to focus on multiple priorities at once. When my Terrans weren’t overrun, they quickly lost the ability to contribute in any meaningful way.

But just being able to sit around with the gang, drinking heavy and yelling at SCVs while the snow fell outside, brought it all back for me. We can always be young again.


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