Paswari Naan

I’ve barely nibbled on the food, so I can’t say much about its quality one way or another. What I can do is tell a little story.

Based on some online reviews, I finally plunged in and took advantage of SeamlessWeb. Not the most illustrative name around; basically it’s a service that lists restaurants which deliver to your area, and allows you to order online. No surcharge or anything. What’s swell about this, aside from theoretically not having to bother with the phone, is the breadth of participating establishments. At any time you might see a Jamaican barbecue joint, a Japanese restaurant, two or three Indian places, a vegan sandwich shop, and several pizza places. They only show the stores that should be open, so there’s little chance of confusion or fuss.

Again, in theory.

Granted the night of a blizzard was not the best night to order out. I wasn’t aware of how bad it was out there, as earlier in the day the snow was rather delicate. So my wife and I found a decent-looking Indian restaurant called Bombay Heights, put in our orders, set a tip, and submitted. We immediately got a confirmation, which said to expect the food in 30-45 minutes. Okay, fine. We set to our individual tasks and waited.

An hour later, we were hungrier. My wife suggested that I call the restaurant. Nobody answered. I then called SeamlessWeb. I found myself on hold for several minutes. One of the hold messages suggested that I send an email to customer support for immediate attention. I did so, and sat around for another half an hour. Eventually I called the 1-800 number again. Finally we got through. My wife snatched up the phone and reported that it had been 90 minutes since our order, and that we couldn’t contact the restaurant. The lady at SeamlessWeb tried to contact them, and also failed. She then refunded us our money, and gave us a 25% off coupon for our next SeamlessWeb transaction.

Okay, fine. We toasted up some cheese sandwiches and curled in bed with some Cap’n Crunch. My wife kept musing about how horrible she would feel if that delivery actually turned up.

After another hour, there was a buzz at the door. It was the dude from the restaurant. I opened the door, and there was a wall of snow outside. It was like I had opened a portal to Nunavut. The delivery guy was shaking and miserable. With a mind to how horrible it was out there, we tipped him another ten bucks and marveled that he managed to make the delivery at all.

In retrospect there was probably only the one guy working at the restaurant, and he had to take time out to deliver the food himself. And even then it took him hours just to make it up the block. So the food was late; okay, fine. It was still warm when we got it. And the mere fact of its delivery was kind of amazing.

In turn we called SeamlessWeb back up again, and asked that they reverse the reversal on our charge. I’ve no idea if this food is any good, but the guy prevailed in delivering it. We’re not going to penalize him for circumstances beyond his control.

Basically the point of this review is, if nothing else you will get your order one way or another. And it will be wrapped well, and warm. Even if it means slogging an inch at a time through a hurricane of snow.

Black and White

I’m in a new coffee shop a couple of blocks up into Bushwick. It’s a decent little place; more or less what I want in a cafe. The hipsters seem to have found it out, though not in such droves as to clutter the atmosphere. There’s a nice variety of perches, from the bar stools by the window (with a knee-level nook for bags and coats, and conveniently-placed outlets) to an antique couch to a booth to a quiet table in the corner, separated from life. Service is kind of slow, but the Americano is solid and the sandwiches are cheap. Relatively speaking. Instead of a toaster they’ve a panini press, which makes a sort of weird pastry out of a grilled cheese. Decent grade of cheese, decent grade of bread. I had apples in mine, and they were inserted before the press. Not enough apples, though it was interesting to eat them warm.

It’s a curious view, out the plate glass windows. The street is at an angled intersection — five back roads all meeting like a stick figure jumping for glee. diagonally before and above me — what is it, the L train? Does the J twist up here? I have yet to learn the trains. To the right is a park the size of a closet and the shape of a doorstop; to the left is an empty lot bounded by graffiti-festooned plywood. Across the street is a Tire & Wheel store, as it sells itself, displaying a fine range of hubcaps along the sidewalk. More prominently, and this is where this series of observations has been leading, is the Family Dollar. It feels to me that this view is calculated specially to insinuate that store into my mind. Every time I glance up, I think, oh — there’s the Family Dollar. When I’m done here, I might as well pop over for a moment and see what they have for my spare change. That would be the change left over from my coffee and sandwich, you see. You understand the positioning now.

Despite or perhaps in part because of the subversiveness, I like the feel of this place. The only downfall is that both times I’ve stopped in the barista has been awfully lonely — different barista, same pattern. Not that I’ve a problem with chatty baristas on principle; some of my best friends have been chatty baristas. It’s just that my whole goal in coming here was to soak in the atmosphere; to carve out a little bit of a world for myself. Once I’m settled, okay; the door is open. Come in, chat. Chances are there are some interesting people around here. Yet there is this process.

And so far it seems my process is being respected. The guy is friendly and helpful enough, without making me feel guilty for setting about my on business rather than passing his day a little more amicably. Maybe that’s the New York talking. It does encourage me to return, so good job there.

I notice the place holds a chess tournament. Or maybe it’s a club. Hang on, I think there’s a flyer. No, just a sign. Wednesday, 5-7PM. Bushwick Chess. If I played chess, this would appeal to me on more than principle. On principle, that gives me a strong impression what the management is trying to do with this place — and I like the feel of it.

A lady just interrupted me to point out a hole in the floor that I was in no danger of falling into. Well, that was nice of her.

Maybe I should look a bit into chess. Every time I play, I have to learn the rules all over. They have always seemed a bit arbitrary, especially as codified in the nineteenth century. If there were a more distinct representational logic to the system — well, it’s not like I’ve never learned an affected system. It’s just that I feel like I’m playing a well-balanced fighting game where none of the commands bears any analog to its outcome. You know the kind of fighter I mean. Whereas a quarter-circle forward makes sense for a fireball; it follows Ryu’s or Ken’s arm motions and body balance; another game might assign an arbitrary command such as a reverse dragon punch motion or a series of button commands, just to prevent all the characters from feeling the same.

Take the knight piece — what is it meant to represent, in its motion? So it soars up alongside another piece and then swoops to the side. Or else it steps to the side and then charges forward. What, in the nature of a knight or a horseman, does this motion represent? When does a horse scuttle or leap sideways, around a corner? What man, wearing several hundred pounds of steel, is inclined to suddenly pivot and pounce, waging a surprise attack? I am not as educated as I might be on Roman warfare, so there may be something in the phalanx; I seem to recall a certain craftiness to their motion. Regardless, it is difficult to digest these patterns when their representation seems to me so arbitrary. If the knight were to plow straight ahead, or serve a defensive role, I could better understand its place. Likewise, if the L shape is considered a crucial bit of the puzzle (and I would like to know the logic behind the balance of moves; it may well be brilliant), why not assign a representation more analogous to the motion?

What moves so craftily, in a mix of skips and charges? Some kind of a rogue? If we’re to keep to the nobility and infantry, perhaps a fencer? How then do we distinguish a fencer from a knight? As archetypes go, the line is fairly thin between the two. Casting further, perhaps a hunter? An assassin? Ninja, samurai? Yet again, what really distinguishes a samurai and a knight besides the shape of their armor? I suppose it’s all subjective in the end.

Well, hey. That was a thousand words.

Problem is, the Riddler would take them all away. :(

The older I get, the grosser I realize Hostess snack cakes are.

That said: blueberry Twinkies. Not Twinkies with blueberry “creme”; Twinkies with bits of real-actual, not-dyed-apple-or-pear blueberries embedded in the cake. Doesn’t that sound almost good?

In response to that question, I just did a Google search for “blueberry twinkies”. The first result seems to confirm my suspicion. Though he got it wrong. He went the obvious and most easily disgusting route that I specifically avoided.

Bean there; done that

Every time I open the microwave to put in a frozen burrito, I look around for the little plates I use and can only find one of them. I wash the plate if needed, position the burrito on it, and open the microwave.

And there’s the other plate, with a half-cooked burrito on it.

This has happened three times since the weekend.

Incidentally, it’s out today.

I was invited to the launch party for Star Soldier R, a couple of days ago, in an informal capacity. It was pretty great, actually. I sat and chatted with the new president of Hudson USA, whose name escapes me, for quite a while. And the game is pretty good, for what it is — which is a sort of score attack thing, not unlike Pac-Man CE. I asked, in all fatuousness, if it came with one of those Takahashi Meijin tap-timing controllers — and… it sort of does, in that there’s a special game mode for that.

Eventually there was a competition for the highest score in 2-minute mode — and I came in second place! That’s out of the few-dozen people there. Maybe thirty, forty, fifty people? The guy ahead of me chose, as his prize, a six-month supply of beef. Which I’m sure he will enjoy! I chose six months of coffee, and the third-place winner (whom I sort of know) was left with a supply of barbecue sauce.

It’s a good thing that I recently began to drink coffee — if irregularly.

As we left, everyone was expected to take a gift bag; as many did not, I found an extra one ceremoniously shoved into my hand, meaning that I also wound up with an extensive cache of wine, cookies, and chocolate.

All in all, a profitable evening.