Day 42: The Happiest of Birthdays

by Eli Hodapp

I think it’s justified to be worried about celebrating any holiday abroad, but especially birthdays. That’s such a friends and family centric day that being alone here in Spain could have turned out really bad. However, I’ve completely lucked out with this entire Spanish experience, and I’d say that my Danish roommates Jonathan and Sameneh are a major part of that.

Last night I got all my crazy birthday drinking out of my system through the series of Mobile World Congress parties and other ridiculousness that ensued afterwards. I woke up understandably hung over, and as soon as I was up and about Jonathan was making these shockingly elaborate chicken sandwiches for all of us. We had breakfast lunch on the terrace with white wine and plenty of sunshine. A great start for any birthday.

I didn’t really know what I was going to do the rest of the day, but I figured that it’s probably in my best interest to get as much done as possible as early as I could to allow for proper Spanish dinner times. This meant coming good on my promise of posting about any iOS game that was put on sale specifically for my birthday.

Long story short, the App Store has this totally silly trend that’s been going on basically forever where developers will use even the lowest-grade of American holidays as an excuse to drop the prices of their games, blast out a press release, and encourage us to include them in our Casimir Pulaski Day coverage. Note: I am pretty sure we’ve never had Casimir Pulaski Day coverage, and, to make things worse, I still am not entirely sure who Casimir Pulaski even is. This never stopped me from enjoying the day off of school though.

Anyway, I’ve been joking about this for a while and mentioned on Twitter that it seems that my birthday is a more iOS-relevant holiday than George Washington’s and Abraham Lincoln’s birthdays. I mean, can you even imagine what Lincoln and Washington would say if they knew their births were being observed by iPhone game sales? At least I’m alive to appreciate it.

Apparently, quite a few developers either agreed, and a good number of games had “Eli Hodapp Birthday Sales“. Tiny Tower even did a free Tower Bux promotion. Weirdos who like that game spent most of the day tweeting at me thanking me. Pretty crazy.

The only other noteworthy thing that happened was the iPad 3 official announcement of the press event on the 7th. Conveniently, I’ll be in San Francisco anyway that week, although I’m not sure if we’ll be able to score an invite or not. TouchArcade historically always gets invites super late, as we’re definitely in the scrub group of the Apple PR lists. But, that’s OK. I’m really never sure how much value there is in being at an actual keynote anyway. It seems like I can cover it better by aggregating a dozen live blogs than actually sitting in the audience. Now that Steve Jobs is gone, the magic is sort of lost too.

I’m just glad I got to see Steve’s final keynote live, although it was pretty unsettling because it was beyond obvious that he was not doing well at the time.

In the evening, I went out with Jonathan, Samaneh, and our downstairs neighbor Morten. We were originally going to go to this local paella place to get the squid ink-packed black paella I’ve heard so much about. They were closed, so we shifted gears to sushi, and this restaurant might have had the best sushi I’ve ever eaten.

In the US, well, I guess this is hardly limited to the States, but, there’s a massive spread of quality when it comes to sushi places. I’ve been to some really bad suburban sushi places that I’m surprised I’ve lived through, and “ulta-high-end” sushi places in San Francisco where they allegedly fly the fish in from Japan. Barcelona sushi, oddly enough, beats that.

The attention to detail at this restaurant was phenomenal. The nigiri was picture perfect, the california rolls had more crab in them than I’ve ever seen in a california roll, and the other assorted dishes we ordered were similarly out of this world. Really though, I cannot overstate how good the presentation was. You could’ve taken a photo of any of the plates we received and use that as the cover of any book on sushi, without any modifications.

I tried my best to help Samaneh with her chopsticks, and it really hit me how oddly cultured I’ve become in recent years. In… 2005, maybe, I think I had sushi for the first time. I asked for a fork and didn’t eat anything that wasn’t cooked. Only a few years later and I’m the resident expert on using chop sticks. The Eli of 2005 would never believe it.

After sushi we went out for beers, and ran into Maarten, the organizer of the International Mobile Gaming Awards. We hung out for a while, then paid our bill and decided to move closer to Barceloneta. We dropped off Samaneh and Morten back at home and made our way across the plaza to a bar I’d never been to even though it’s like only a few hundred feet from my doorstep. The density of everything here makes visiting everything nearly impossible.

Anyway, I was expecting a really calm end to the evening with a couple beers, but things at this bar quickly turned south. We were almost immediately approached by this incredibly drunk old woman who was with this crew of three other people. My horrible Spanish only picked up some of what was happening, but after this woman got tired of harassing us she tried to pay for her bar tab with an unsigned credit card that she also had no ID for.

The bartender was having no part of this, and understandably so, as that seems really shady. They then got into this incredibly heated argument that ended in the bartender grabbing the phone, going outside, and calling the police. The rest of what happened didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me, and can basically be summed up as “I think they were just really drunk.”

In the US, people don’t generally seem to like the police very much, but if you believe you’re right about something and someone is threatening to call the cops, you stick around because if you are right, the cops are going to side with you. Alternatively, if you’re really doing something wrong, you’re not going to hang around because then the cops are really going to ruin your day.

What these people decided to do was just continually harass the bartender for calling the police. They eventually wound up paying by emptying their pockets of change, but the whole exchange was just insane. It wasn’t like they were worried that the police were coming, they just wanted to berate the bartender for actually calling the police.

Things eventually escalated to the bartender calling the bar owner, who is this old guy who has a cat that follows him around. I’ve never seen anything like it. This dude walks in, his cat is right behind him, and then just stands in the door looking side to side and smugly swishing its tail around. If there ever was a point where I expected a cat to shift into Professor McGonagall, this was it.

I’m not sure how the situation was finally diffused, but the drunk people left and Jonathan and I closed the bar out with the bartender and the owner. We all did a round of some sort of crazy hot sauce-laden shot of something, shook hands, and headed home.

Seriously though, an absolutely fantastic birthday. Thanks to everyone involved.

Oh, and I did a great job of staying up all night as soon as we got back. I think this whole plan to get back to American time might just work.