Monday, November 24, 2008

A Look to the Future.

A checklist for success:

1. Let the economy collapse
2. Lose your job
3. Become addicted to drugs, to ease the pain
4. Spend all your non-existent retirement savings on drugs, to be left destitute
5. Stab someone repeatedly in the neck, then set fire to her apartment
6. ???
7. Profit!

By the way, that fire/ stabbing happened across the street from my house. See?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Serendipity. That's the word Tony used to describe last night, and I tend to agree. It was just one of those nights where everything fell into place with a minimum amount of effort and a maximum amount of spontaneity. I haven't had one of those in a long time, but I've noticed they tend to happen when hanging out with Tony...

The night started with Quantum of Solace at Union Square. I could go on about how I don't fully understand people's gripes with the movie, but I think Moriarty of Ain't it Cool News said it better than I ever could. Suffice it to say that while it wasn't perfect, I enjoyed it, and hope the series continues in this direction.

We got out of the movie and took the 6 down to Canal Street. We were heading to a party for the launch of Behance's new Action notebook. Free beer and free vodka, what could be better? We got out of the station and started heading to Santos Party House, but not before passing the self-proclaimed "Excellent Dumpling House". The idea was now firmly rooted in our heads: we'll have a drink or two, then get some delicious dumplings.

We met up with Tony's friend Charlene outside of the club, and headed for the door, where stood a female sentry with a clipboard of doom. Tony and I both had e-mailed our RSVPs, so there was no reason for either of us to not be on the list. Tony was first in line, so he gave his name, then gave it again, then spelled it. No luck. Tony kept his cool, though, and obviously the girl was feeling a little chilly herself, so she let us all pass without any further clipboard checking. I chalk it up to Tony's incorrigible suaveness, multiplied by the recent Bond viewing.

The space was actually pretty cool, with a couch pit and a neat fake-brick perspective wall drawn on in fluorescent paint, making the club look much longer than it actually is. As we entered, Scott, the leader of Behance, was just about to make his introductory speech, as if he was waiting for us to arrive. He spoke for a few minutes, and the reverie continued. As it turned out, we were able to approach him immediately, Tony introducing Charlene and I. Scott then invited us up behind the DJ booth, where there was a VIP section complete with its own bottles of booze. We had a drink each, and then decided it was high time for dumplings, and left surreptitiously, avoiding Scott's potential inquiries as to why we wouldn't stay longer.

To our dismay, however, when we crossed the street we found that Excellent Dumpling House was closed! The proprietress was sweeping the floor and getting ready to leave. We were a little distraught, and Tony and Charlene immediately got on their iPhones for help in finding a new, comparable place. Our sadness mounted as we began to read all of the articles and reviews posted in the window, which seemed to confirm the restaurant's name.

A cold wind blew as we stood outside the restaurant, looking longfully at the menu and wishing we had hot, fresh dumplings in our stomachs to warm us up. As the wind passed, I noticed the neon sign inside the restaurant shake. I had to do a double-take, as I was sure the plate glass was thick enough to keep out the wind. When I looked again, I could see a small, gray head nuzzling the bottom of the sign. It was a shop cat, and it instantly pulled Tony and Charlene's attentions away from their iPhones. We stood playing with the cat through the glass for a few minutes, until the lights went out and the owners came outside to pull down the shutters. We began to walk away, considering going to the restaurant next door, but not with our hearts' full content. Suddenly, Charlene came up with a brilliant idea: ask the shop owners where they would eat! We went back and Tony approached them. The woman pointed us to a place around the corner (notice how she didn't tell us to go next door), and off we went.

Just from the look of the place, we knew we had struck gold. Every inch of wall space was covered with bright-colored construction paper announcing practically the entire menu. There was a tree in the middle, still festooned with pumpkins from Halloween and faded red hearts from a Valentine's Day long past. The table next to us was enjoying a boiling pot of broth with various vegetables they were cooking themselves. We ordered some steamed and fried dim sum and bubble teas to start, in complete disregard of price or any other normal meal considerations. The plates came, and we tried to decide on some entrees. We went with Sweet and Sour Chicken and a BBQ beef special, recommended by the waitress. The chicken was surprisingly citrus-y, and the beef was sliced thin, very tender and delicious. We leaned back, satisfied in our choices, and ruminated on the way the events of the last few hours had transpired.

Spontaneity was the key to our adventure. From being let in to the club, to approaching a seemingly unapproachable man and ending up in a VIP section, to asking a restaurateur where she would eat and even asking the waitress for her beef dish recommendation. I've realized some of my best memories have stemmed from spontaneity, and it makes me wonder why I can't be spontaneous more often, and what the catalyst is when I actually am.

I was reminded of an adventure Tony and I had about 2 years ago, when we were both feeling a bit down for various reasons, and were looking for fun things to do to keep ourselves busy. We went to a bar trivia night in the Village, to try to meet some intellectuals and possibly win some free drinks in the process. Suffice it to say that we didn't win, but we did end up with the best consolation prize of the bunch: a box of chocolate chip Eggo waffles. As soon as we got the waffles, it became our mission to find a toaster oven and eat our delicious bounty that night.

We walked all the way to Washington Square Park, and were beginning to think that our search was hopeless, when I spotted a young man struggling to carry a cabinet full of various items down the street. When he got to the corner we were stopped at, I made him a proposition: we would help him carry his stuff back to his apartment, if he would let us use his toaster oven to cook our delicious waffles. Now, I realize that this could have ended in any number of ways, but luckily, it ended in our favor. He accepted our offer, and we made our way to his place, which was actually in an NYU-owned building, overlooking the Park.

We spent the next few hours there, chatting with him and eating waffles, and it was glorious. He and Tony both worked in the Tech world, and he was actually an Israeli student living here on visa. It was a great night, and I owe it all to spontaneity. I hope the future brings more nights like the Eggo one and last night, where things just all fall into place. As Tony would say, times like these are nothing but serendipitous.