Smile and Nod

Smile and Nod: The Escapist at the Webbys

Russ Pitts | 16 Jun 2008 17:00
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We were in New York City to accept our twin Webby Awards for Best Game Related Website. Ordinarily when I travel for work I'm strictly business. Up early, down late, skipping the parties to get a little more work done and hating life until the day I go home. This one was different. For this one we decided to enjoy it a little.

Tuesday afternoon we were sipping drinks and eating in a little joint called Felix's, described by our guide, the inimitable Chairman Kurz, as French Morrocan Cuisine. I had the trout. It was divine.

Better than the fish, though, was the ambiance. Felix's is an open air joint, and that day in Manhattan it was easily above 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Sitting there, watching the traffic pass by, smelling the patina of the restaurant's antique wooden furniture roasting in the heat, wondering how quickly it would take to get used to not having HVAC again, I realized how infrequently I actually stop to smell the rosewood and smiled.

Later that night we caught up with Yahtzee and headed for the festivities. The first stop of the evening was the Museum of American Finance, where they were serving drinks and snacks. I don't get to Manhattan very often. The idea of holding a cocktail party in a neo-classical museum space is new to me, but I rolled. My first scotch and soda came to me as Macallan 12 year with a little soda on top and I knew it was going to be a good evening.

Across the street at Cipriani's, another gigantic marble structure that surely wasn't intended for food service, we were seated in the middle of the room, a shoulder jab away from Lou Reed, David Byrne and the man of the evening, Stephen Colbert. Ours was arguably the second best table in the place. There, too, the scotch (and champagne, and wine and whatever the hell you could imagine) was flowing and that almost took the edge off waiting to see if somebody would finally have something witty and fun to say with five words.

It became a sort of game unto itself. You knew the marketing folks were going to try to slip in a slogan or two. The smart web guys were almost universally trying their hand at snappy humor and failing, and occasionally someone would try something so completely complex it made one wonder how you could hear the rule "one person and five words only" and think that meant it was OK to bring three guys on stage, each holding part of a five-piece sign that spelled out something barely legible. And then there was the guy who just said "thanks" and got grilled by emcee, Seth Myers for being "The Iceman."

In all it was a fun event. The steak was perfectly cooked, and the seemingly endless parade of five-word speeches served as a reminder that there was a world of creativity in that room. I was thrilled to be in their company.

Russ Pitts does not ever want to taste sweet candy vomit ever again, thank you. His blog can be found at

(Pictured: Newton Grant, Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw and Julianne Greer take in the sights of Manhattan.)

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