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nekouken is away on his birthday road trip. Instead of working…

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nekouken is away on his birthday road trip. Instead of working and hanging out alone, it seemed like an ideal time for me to take some time off from work (which I really needed to do) and invite nick_number to visit me.

We had an excellent time. I picked him up at Midway on Thursday, and then after nekouken got home from work we went with him and L over to bammba_m's to hang out with her and polyfrog. We picked up Buona Beef on the way, which had all different salads since the last time I was there - a stone bummer, because they used to have awesome ones and the one I had was merely adequate.

After coming home, nick_number and I went to karaoke here in town - it is one of his new activities of choice, and there is some just down the road. It took me ages to work up the nerve to get up, but it went well. I was still stiff, I think - my main concern about karaoke has been my inability to let go of years of training and just relax into the informality of the setting - but looser than I used to be. As ever, Carole King is my go-to girl.

nekouken left bright and early Friday morning, and L headed out that afternoon. That evening was a karaoke reprise. It's a separate basement room in a busy bar called JB's, and it was packed on the Friday night. There seems to be a healthy little community of karaoke regulars of varying skill levels frequenting the place. The smaller space makes it more intimate than other karaoke I have experienced, and the crowd was interestingly supportive. I'm torn by dual desires to try to join that community and to study it from outside. I could stand to dust off the vocal cords more often (i.e., outside the shower).

nick_number and I cooked together, which was pleasantly like the old days, except that fella, wanting to build himself a recipe repertoire, is moving away from his once purely sous chef status to take part in the later prep. We made Lentil Mushroom Stew and invited elision for dinner and gaming. I forgot the tomatoes, which was serendipitous since elision doesn't care for them, and though they don't dominate the dish, it is worthwhile to note that it turns out differently but just as good without them. The trick when making it with red dal lentils is to stir pretty much constantly so they don't scorch after they break down.

After dinner we played Small World, and it was really fun. There were many pieces to be punched out of cardboard, but the cutting had been done expertly, so they were not only easy but actually fun to remove. Once we'd done the setup, we read the rules partway before jumping into play. The game has a complex system but it's easy to comprehend. There's a spread of races, each with a with randomly assigned characteristic (flying, merchant, pillaging), and they flow and ebb across the board. It's got a little bit of the flavor of Risk, with each race dominating and dying out in succession, but at a comparatively lightning pace. You don't want to get attached, because you will discard the first race and draw a new one at least a couple of times in the ten rounds of the game. Turns go by very quickly, and the winner is determined by a victory points system. I lost, of course. I think it would be better with four or five players but three was fine. Thumbs up!

Aside from all that, we did other lazy things: we went to a place called Chocolate Cafe that I have wanted to try for some time and experienced the 20 Below Hot Chocolate - it's a cold blender drink, and it does taste just like hot chocolate; we made each other watch previously unseen movies (The Craft and Exorcist III for him, Full Metal Jacket and Zombieland for me); we translated hugs and snuggles into jiu jitsu moves (ok, he did that, but I played a necessary part); we spent a full day in pleasant coexistence - I enjoyed catching up on my internet reading while listening to him laugh at the absurdity of the broad range of weapons in Dead Rising. We made up for lost time and long absences, and finally I had to take him to the airport yesterday morning.

It was a pretty great visit. I'm hoping to reciprocate soon.
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