Last night I met Lucy and Trish for dinner at Su Hong in Menlo Park, my favorite Chinese restaurant in the Bay Area.
I always feel silly saying things like that, because there are hundreds of Chinese places in the Bay Area - even excluding chains like Mr. Chau's - and I've been to maybe a dozen. Still, Su Hong does compare favorably with every Chinese restaurant I've ever been to.
Okay, I'm going to natter on about Chinese restaurants a little longer: When I was a kid, my parents would take me to a Chinese restaurant in Massachusetts. Truth to tell, I now have absolutely no idea what this place was called, or where it is. But it was always a real treat to go there. I fell completely in love with the Chinese spare ribs in the appetizer dish, and my mouth is watering right now remembering them. I've never had any anywhere else that were anywhere near as good, and they're no longer a staple of my Chinese restaurant experience (replaced, I guess, by Pot Stickers). This particular restaurant seemed cavernous when I was young, although I went there last I guess about ten years ago and it seems normal size at that point. It was dimly lit, which gave it this otherworldly quality. No doubt if I went there today it would feel terribly mundane, but the memories are vivid.
You know, I was going to tell a really embarrassing story about myself and this restaurant when I mortified my parents and grandparents in public at age 5 (or so). But I don't really think I need to provide my friends who read this journal with any more ammunition.
Anyway, rest assured that I did not similarly embarrass Trish and Lucy last night. We had a nice quiet dinner, although I think I saw Lucy's eyes glaze over as Trish and I gossiped about work. Or maybe it was because she's getting over a nasty cold. But we had a good time anyway. Lucy's very excited about her cruise next week.
We walked over to Keplers afterwards so Trish could find a copy of Bill Bryson's I'm a Stranger Here Myself, which Lucy highly recommended. And while there we discovered that the latest collection of Mutts has come out, catching up to the strips I first read in the newspaper. Lucy and I each snatched up copies, and later we ran into my cow-orker Melissa who spied my copy and said "Where did you find that??" and picked up one for herself. I also snagged the latest issue of Analog.
We parted company and I went over to Borrone to read, but instead I ran into John and his friends Mike and Eric, and later we were joined by his other friend Paulette (whom I've seen working out in the Apple fitness center in the morning). So we all hung out for a while (despite the annoying Spanish band that was playing there and making it hard to hear people), and I finally departed an hour or so later.
Today I joined Subrata and we headed over to Lee's Comics' opening of their new store in Mountain View. Actually, their Palo Alto store moved because they lost their lease (rumor has it that they forgot to renew their lease and the landlord rented it to someone else once the renewal deadline had passed).
Lee's Comics is in my opinion no higher than fourth on the "depth chart" of South Bay comics shops (behind Comics Conspiracy, Big Guy's Comics, and Heroes). Their strongest feature is the number of independent titles they stock. They also have a good selection of collections and graphic novels, but so do most other stores these days. For me, they fall flat in their back issue selection, the quantity and variety of which could best be described as "skimpy". Moreover, I feel that they over-grade their back issues, and thus overcharge for them. And it's not just that they differ with my opinion of how comics should be graded; I can typically find 60s and 70s comics of similar condition at lower prices at many other stores.
Anyway, they were having a 20%-off sale on everything in the store, with deeper discounts on a few items. I picked up a handful of random back issues, and also two collections of Cerebus, as I've decided to fill in the rest of the volumes of that title that I'm missing. Cerebus, by Dave Sim, is a very strange title which started as a satire of Conan the Barbarian ("Cerebus the Aardvark"), turned into a satire of the comics industry, then of politics and religion, and then presented one of the best stories in comics history in "Jaka's Story", about an artist trying to make her way in a cruel world. From there it went sharply downhill, becoming a metaphor based around the last days of the life of Oscar Wilde (yee-awn!), and then a platform for Sim pontificating about his extremely harsh views about gender relations. But by the end of that story it became more interesting, focusing on Cerebus' many and varied character flaws, and presenting him with some trials to see if he could learn from his mistakes.
Anyway, at its best Cerebus is funny and moving, and Sim is one of the four or five comics creators in history with the strongest command of how to use the medium. Which has kept me following it (off and on) despite its flaws, which, like Cerebus', are many and varied.
Anyway, Subrata picked up a few things and we spent the rest of the afternoon watching baseball and sitting around reading. Which is about what I wanted to do anyway.
In the evening, Subrata and I drove over to the Moffett Field, where Apple was throwing a big party in the giant dirigible hanger in honor of finally shipping Mac OS X a month ago.
Reputedly, Apple was once famous for its company parties, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on them back in the 80s. Apple still has beer bashes nearly every other week, although they're somewhat more modest affairs, I gather. This is the first huge party Apple has thrown since I started working there. They had a wide variety of food, and what I had was quite good. (Okay, I mainly ate a lot of sugary desserts!) They also had a gambling set-up, which I didn't partake of, and a live band and dancing.
(The band struck me as mediocre, although acoustics inside the hangar were terrible, so if you weren't standing right in front of them you mostly just heard a lot of white noise. Yes, it was often hard to hear people you were talking to, which was a bummer.)
Most of my department was there, as were the Project Builder people I know, and many other folks I know around Apple, include Trish. There was a lot of confusion this past week as to the dress code for the event, and people ended up coming in everything from jeans and jeans jackets to snazzy suits. (Mike, a manager on the PB group, showed up in a suit and looked pretty sharp with his long hair not tied behind his head as it usually is. He also told a story that when he bought the suit at Nordstrom's, his credit card company actually cancelled his card between purchases in the same store, because they couldn't believe he was actually buying things at Nordstrom's!)
I wore some slacks I bought earlier this week (my old slacks now being much too large for me), and one of my seldom-worn turtlenecks. Though I never wear my black turtleneck anymore since I'm afraid of people accusing me of trying to look like Steve Jobs. Rollie and Kelly showed up in very impressive, Victorian attire; they would have fit right in walking their poodle Mira at night in San Francisco a hundred years ago, I think.
One of the interesting things about large parties like this is noticing who around campus shows up with a date or an SO, and who doesn't. As I'd guessed, pretty much every woman who's caught my eye around campus showed up with someone. But, that's life in the Valley! Plus you get to meet the SOs of your cow-orkers.
So for me it was an evening of eating and hanging out with folks and catching up on new about people. Even if my throat was a bit raw at the end of the evening, it was fun!