Archive for July, 2010

It All Comes Back to Me Now

The weather report says it will never be cool again.

Or at least it say that it probably won’t be cool again in the next week or so. In the meantime, summer has finally caught up with my air conditioner and the apartment is beginning to swelter. Morning comes with a feeling like a hangover because of overnight dehydration. This morning I found myself seriously contemplating a gin and tonic at 10 as I sat like a vampire, shades drawn and lights out, in the living room of my apartment.

Two summers ago I lived in a hell-hole near Porter Square, drunk from mid-July through mid-August, since rum and gin were my substitutes for air-conditioning. Temporary relief would arrive in the form of a sunless sky and a sudden downpour, but then the humidity would siphon whatever life was left in the apartment. My neighbors, who refused to put trash in dumpsters because they were rich and paid a guy to collect trash every couple days, left their dainty little trash bags mouldering in the fire escape doorways that led down to the building’s basement. Doing laundry was a descent into hell, and then the roaches arrived.

So this could be way, way worse.

Still, it’s late and I’d like to go to bed, except it’s an inferno in there and MK is already asleep in there, slowly melting into the sheets. And to be honest with you, this is the first time it’s been bearable in this apartment all day. I want to enjoy the respite from this heat.

Would it be crazy to go nocturnal?

Tango On

This is a trite observation, but I am amazed by how much easier life is with friends around. Thursday night a WordPress update and a server error combined to sink this blog like the Lusitania and I was locked in a downward spiral by midday Friday. I couldn’t get the blog straightened out, I wasn’t getting anything else done, and I was falling behind on every front as I entered the weekend.

Then Cory Banks gave me a phone call out of the blue. He was here on some business and stuck in Boston with nothing to do. He had a place to stay in Arlington, but he didn’t want to go sit by himself in the burbs for four hours while working himself. So he got my number from Julian Murdoch, and I invited him over.

In no time, we’d discarded the whole idea that he’d be staying in Arlington. He would crash at my place throughout the visit, and I gave up on meeting any of my goals. But as we sat around drinking, he started fiddling with my blog until he had quietly fixed the problems and gotten it 95% restored. We were also half in the bag from supplementing the air conditioning with cocktails. That meant it was time to go have dinner with Julian and Jess, Dave Lennon and his wife, and Ken Levine and his wife.

I will pause for a moment here and simply observe that my life has changed a great deal in the last year. For me, people like Ken Levine and Julian Murdoch both existed in another world, providing entertainment and intellectual companionship through ice-blue Wisconsin winters. I treasured dispatches from people who cared passionately about the things I cared about, and did the kind of work I wanted to do. Sitting at dinner on Friday, it dawned on me that by some miracle, I find myself living in the world I chose.

The nine of us passed the evening arguing about the best squares along the Red Line, the dubious merits of Quincy, and the best way to dispose of old electronic equipment. Lennon’s company had the best solution: one of their employees takes old CRT monitors and server stacks out to a shooting range and proceeds to unload on them until they turn into modern art. After dinner was over, Julian and Jessica took us out for ice cream in Harvard Square, before leaving the MK, Cory, and myself to go bar hopping around Cambridge.

The plan for the next day was that the three of us would grab crepes and then meet with Julian at a games store in Central Square, but Julian and his family decided to go to a fair in New Hampshire. Cory adores the entire Murdoch clan, and while I didn’t really want to go hang out at a fairground, I figured, what the hell, it might be fun.

Which it was, because fun has a way of following Julian. The three of us barreled out of Boston after a late brunch, and an hour later we were being led from arcade to arcade by Julian and his son. I had my first funnel cake, heard about Julian’s life as a medieval battle re-enactor (is use the term loosely), and stole a few licks off MK’s soft-serve ice cream cone. Peter played air hockey against MK and they fought each other to a draw, but he didn’t have as much luck with me in skee ball.

Julian also made a point to introduce me to some truly superb pinball machines, like Stern’s excellent Pirates of the Caribbean.  There was a point where Julian, Cory, MK, and myself were all lined up at different machines, hunched over the flippers while we juked and twisted in a futile effort to control the ball through psychic energy. I also came away with a new appreciation for pinball: there’s a lot to be said for the tangible thrill of launching the ball into a nest of bumpers and watching the score counter go berserk while the machine shudders beneath your fingertips with the clicks and snaps of the machinery.

Finally, the three of us went out for an evening of food and drink. If you’re ever feeling a little low, I can only suggest you attempt to get a dinner date with Cory. Over burgers and beer he spent two hours finding alternately stroking my ego and demanding that I go get the work and career my talents deserve. By the end of the meal I was ready to call it a night and spend the rest of it writing pitches and taking on the whole Empire myself.

Today, Cory and I were too wiped to do anything more than stay inside playing Summoner Wars, hitting the Steam sale, and watching The West Wing, which he and I have a habit of quoting at one another. He and I wrapped up the weekend with pizza, a stiff cocktail, and the opening episodes of Season Two. It wasn’t really the weekend I wanted or planned. It was quite a bit better than that: just a series of delightful surprises from great friends.

Service Will Be Restored…

Obviously this site has been kind of screwed up lately, and a lot of things aren’t back to normal. Cory “Demiurge” Banks has helped me get this much fixed, and since I’d rather hang with him and some other GWJers tonight rather than battle WordPress to the death, I’m going to do that. When I start trying to restore everything the way it was, things might get screwed up again. My apologies in advance, and I’m sure everything will be back to normal… someday.