This blog covers everything except sports and gardening, unless we find a really good link about using dead professional bowlers for mulch. The author is a StarTribune columnist, has been passing off fiction and hyperbole as insight since 1997, has run his own website since the Jurassic era of AOL, and was online when today’s college sophomores were a year away from being born. So get off his lawn.

Posts about Restaurants

World's Worst Waiter

Posted by: James Lileks Updated: May 27, 2014 - 12:31 PM

Sounds like a great night out. From Pricenomics:

Unless you were a VIP, your meal would be over the second your spoon hit the bottom of the bowl: Edsel would come by with a broom and literally sweep you out. Only one diner -- who bought him a “weekly ration of free X-rated movie passes” -- was permitted to enjoy a post-meal cup of “Edsel’s Special Tea” (pure ginseng extract). When another customer saw the drink and curiously inquired about it, he was kicked out. This wasn’t unusual: often, Edsel would forcibly remove seated patrons in the middle of a meal, “just to remind them who was running the show.”

He had busy hands, too.

Edsel was also known for his crass “flirtation:” an entire wall at Sam Wo was dedicated to Polaroid photos of the waiter in various degrees of groping unsuspecting young females. “A charming first date destination if you never want to see your date again,” wrote one reviewer in the late 70s. “My ex-wife ended up on the wall. The groping part was the only time I ever saw Edsel smile. She was not amused.” (The pictures we’ve included in this article confirm Edsel's perennial smile in the presence of ladies -- we don't condone his behavior.)

Of course not! Oh, it was just his madcap charm, as another patron notes. Why, he kissed everyone.

He sounds like a horrible person. It sounds as if people tolerated it to show how they understood the rules of the place - unlike outsiders or first-timers, who’d be appalled and surprised. Oh, not you! Why, Edsel’s been yelling at me for years. We go way back.

See also, Carnegie Deli. They’re notoriously cranky. This is supposed to be part of the charm and experience. Eh.

URBANISM In the future, everyone will live in 100-square-foot apartments.

With the world population expected to rise from 7.2 billion to 9.6 billion by 2050, living space is becoming more and more of an issue. A student at Parsons has a vision of our future homes that is both clever and disquieting. Bernando Schorr's "Mixed Reality Living Spaces" project highlights how augmented reality can be used to make windowless 100-square-foot apartments hospitable. The video on his website shows projections on the walls changing to accommodate the different configurations of the environment's only furniture, a trio of modular white boxes. The results are depressingly spartan but functional.

There's a selling point.

Whether you will be forced to listen to the music is another matter.

WHARGARBLE Let’s check on our favorite gibberish robot, putting out pages to game the search engines. I have no idea how this is supposed to work to the author’s advantage; the pages all redirect to a standard Blogger template, with no links or ads. Anyway, today’s subject is Jordan Minnesota Newspaper.

Licensed Minnesota claims adjuster, you will not be affected if you fail an alcohol test or if you refuse to submit to the jordan minnesota newspaper. It also provides for substitute services for you in Minnesota but it is important to note, however, that having a limited drivers license in Minnesota are growing, whether you are running low on time and money. You will reimbursed for the jordan minnesota newspaper between the jordan minnesota newspaper or your car insurance state. This means that home buyers must test for radon levels in the jordan minnesota newspaper who have bought properties in Minnesota and other state colleges, there is an abundance of character and charm. Finding fun, variety, value and making lasting memories with a perfect single person for you.

Whoa! Tell me more.

To help and guide potential investors, many large real estate can also be a good news or a culture vulture with a number of abandoned properties across the jordan minnesota newspaper is the jordan minnesota newspaper for the jordan minnesota newspaper of Minnesota and there appears to be completed as well.

Wise words. Take heed.

YOU THERE Buzzfeed, coasting again:

I would submit that it is unlikely that the person in question destroyed anyone’s childhood, let alone utterly destroyed it, but even if such a thing were possible, the idea that one’s childhood could be utterly destroyed 33 times suggests that childhood is capable of almost limitless regeneration.

HIGHER ED By all means, go into debt for this: college courses on Miley Cyrus and Beyonce. Daily News:

In a career of less than a decade, Miss Miley has already proved herself “a useful primary document” for discussions of sex and power in media, teacher Carolyn Chernoff says.

Cyrus went from squeaky clean Disney star to dirty-minded diva strutting her stuff in every concert. She sparked debates about slut shaming, overt sexuality and the privileges of white stars — as when she borrowed twerking from hip-hop culture and brought it to last year’s Video Music Awards.

“She’s a really interesting case study for how someone can represent sex and gender while maturing in the public eye,” says Chernoff, a visiting assistant professor at Skidmore. “Miley is a work in progress, but you can already see such a complex narrative of how people talk about her unbridled sexuality.”

So that’s what we were doing when discussing how stupid she looked with her tongue hanging out. That was a complex narrative. A complex ongoing narrative, for that matter. Debate was sparked, too. Says another prof:

“Miley Cyrus is a delivery device for themes of American life,” he adds. “When you say, ‘Miley Cyrus? Who cares about her?’ you shut down the very purpose of sociology.”

Thanks for the tip, then.

SPRING CLEANING Don’t think of it as “decluttering.” It’s not enough to start throwing stuff away. You need to have a complex narrative. From Salon:

As far as I can tell, decluttering alone is sort of a farce, a trend promulgated on daytime TV and in trite magazine stories like “67 Ways to Declutter a Messy Home.” What we’re not told is that decluttering by itself doesn’t solve the problem, not long term anyway. Discussing how to get rid of our stuff answers only the what side of the equation, but not the why; the action, but not the purpose; the how-to, but not the significantly more important why-to. In other words, the what is relatively easy. We all know instinctually how to declutter—how to get “organized.” But that’s just one part of the larger issue. Instead of “get organized,” I’ve decided I need to start thinking of organizing as a dirty word, a sneaky little profanity which keeps us from really simplifying our lives.

Somehow I think the thesis could have been . . . less cluttered.

A Glitch in the (Netflix) Matrix

Posted by: James Lileks Updated: May 21, 2014 - 12:11 PM

This is not a movie, but it should be:

Come with me if you want to chew:

From Summarybug, which posts oddly mangled movie summations. 

VINTAGE You may have finished watching Sunday’s “Mad Men” and thought “interesting fast-food restaurant interior; what did it look like before they dressed the set?” I did. Not right away. Later. It didn't seem likely they found a real Burger Chef. But then I went to bed and gave it no more thought  - until this story popped up in a feed: the original location of the Burger Chef used in the closing scene. It was a Burger Chef, albeit a decommissioned one. Yelp has a picture of the interior before it was re-spiffified, here.

It has one vote for being “Very Helpful.”

LASAGNA WAS EVERYWHERE Lasagna was everywhere! Lasagna was everywhere. (via lasagnawaseverywhere)

NO ESCAPE Ugh, no. 9to5Mac:

Those who expressed concern about Google’s acquisition of Nest may have have been right: the company has told the Securities and Exchange Commission that it may choose to serve ads on “refrigerators, car dashboards, thermostats, glasses, and watches, to name just a few possibilities.”

There might be some backlash to this. Imagine the conversation in the store:

“This is the latest Nest model; it learns your habits and sets the temperature accordingly.

Great. Nice. But does it have ads?

”There’s an content-supply system built into the main display.”

So that’s a yes. What kind of ads?

”This model integrates into your Google account, so, if you’ve been looking for gazebo roof replacements, it’ll alert you to new deals posted since your last search.”

How? With a chime?

”That’s customizable. You can silence it from any device logged into your Google account.”

Why do I want my thermostat to alert me to a lower price on gazebo root replacements?

”You can opt out any time. But it’s part of the integrated information package - if your fridge is Google-aware, you can transfer the alerts to the front-panel display. Or your phone. Or your TV through your Chrome dongle."

What do I look like, a Sorayama drawing? I don’t have a Chrome dongle. How can you honestly say I want ads on my thermostat?

”Well, the fact that you’re here in the store instead of buying online tells me you’re not particularly tech-savvy, and we’re hoping you just install it and get used to the ads and never figure out how to turn it off. You’ll get used to having interesting, useful ads piped to your house on every device, but if you like, I can teach you one weird trick for making the ads reduce in frequency and duration.”

HAPPY HAPPY JOY JOY Update on that roundly reviled McDonald’s mascot: it’s been in the works for years. Daily Dot found a 2012 page that shows Happy in many guises, and some of them made me realize what’s irksome about the character. The eyes, those teeth - tt's like an Aardman character without the soul.

Votd Hmm. Well.

Only possible response:

Does that need explaining? Sigh. Okay

Please explain this Grimm cartoon

Posted by: James Lileks Updated: May 6, 2014 - 12:25 PM

I don’t get it. I can’t begin to figure out what I should be getting.

I cannot possibly imagine a sequence of events that would lead a hit man staffing an ice-cream counter to conclude that the customer had requested the leg of a dead man in a bucket.

MOVIES A Telegraph blogger asks a question about horrible movies set in ancient times, and he’s quite serious:

But why do they go on making these awful, stagey films with the same faults that continue from decade to decade – hammed-up dialogue, the same gladiator fights, the same lightly-oiled slave girls, the same beefcakes with tridents?

Can’t possibly imagine why.

Nevertheless, he makes a good point; from all accounts “Pompeii,” the subject of his plaintive cry, was awful, and a missed opportunity. I’ll still see it, because the subject is fascinating, but it’ll be mixed with annoyance because it means they won’t do another Pompeii movie for 15 years. That one will be IMAX immersive holographic 3D, with stones and ash falling all around you. Which actually sounds really unpleasant, now that I think about it. So I’ll wait for it to come out for home streaming.

DESTRUCTION Forgot to post this yesterday: from Saturday’s demolition of the ugly Strib Brick Dullard.

YUM A few months ago I mentioned the fellow who thought food was a waste of time, and came up with a nutritious slurry that replaced the tedium of preparing and consuming meals. The inventor actually calls it Soylent. If it suits his needs, great. Bottoms up. But the number of people who will follow is example is quite small, because people like to eat.

Now it’s the New Yorker’s turn to pretend this is important, or a trend, or possibly both.

Soylent has been heralded by the press as “the end of food,” which is a somewhat bleak prospect. It conjures up visions of a world devoid of pizza parlors and taco stands—our kitchens stocked with beige powder instead of banana bread, our spaghetti nights and ice-cream socials replaced by evenings sipping sludge. But, Rhinehart says, that’s not exactly his vision. “Most of people’s meals are forgotten,” he told me. He imagines that, in the future, “we’ll see a separation between our meals for utility and function, and our meals for experience and socialization.”

No, we won’t. At least not any more than we have now, when the sandwich-at-the-desk keeps you going through noon if you’ve lots of work to do. Provided you’re not distracted by the roller-coaster emotions brought on by insufficient mayo - but more on that in a moment.

The headline is actually “Could Soylent Replace Food?” It could, in the sense that shoes could replace mittens, but it’s not likely. More:

People tend to find the taste of Soylent to be familiar: the predominant sensation is one of doughiness. The liquid is smooth but grainy in your mouth, and it has a yeasty, comforting blandness about it.

Put down that Sriracha, America: we’ve got a food replacement whose blandness isn’t just comforting, but yeasty.

As the writer explores the Soylent lifestyle, disenchantment sets in.

You begin to realize how much of your day revolves around food. Meals provide punctuation to our lives: we’re constantly recovering from them, anticipating them, riding the emotional ups and downs of a good or a bad sandwich.

I have never cried at my desk because of sandwich disappointment, nor felt like bursting into song because the lettuce was crisp.

With a bottle of Soylent on your desk, time stretches before you, featureless and a little sad. On Saturday, I woke up and sipped a glass of Soylent. What to do? Breakfast wasn’t an issue. Neither was lunch. I had work to do, but I didn’t want to do it, so I went out for coffee.

This is the point where one realizes how silly this is, right? Where the writer comes to her senses and runs into a bakery and has three cronuts, right?

On the way there, I passed my neighborhood bagel place, where I saw someone ordering my usual breakfast: a bagel with butter. I watched with envy. I wasn’t hungry, and I knew that I was better off than the bagel eater: the Soylent was cheaper, and it had provided me with fewer empty calories and much better nutrition. Buttered bagels aren’t even that great; I shouldn’t be eating them. But Soylent makes you realize how many daily indulgences we allow ourselves in the name of sustenance.

It’s called “Being a sentient creature at the top of the food chain in a developed industrial society with a functioning economy.” It turns the chore of subsistence into civilized pleasures. It's still worth a read, thoughm and note the end: Soylent literally is people.

VotDThere are days I want to drive a scooter; thank heavens there are videos like this to dissuade me. Unlikely this would happen to me. Unlikely it’ll ever happen to anyone again.

China, supposedly. In accordance with the laws of cartoons, he popped out of a hole in Kansas.

Puzzling Pickles, what’s a fun burger?

Posted by: James Lileks Updated: May 5, 2014 - 12:31 PM

Cultural archeologists must have gotten a nice jolt out of the last episode of “Mad Men.” Burger Chef. Their signature burger: the Big Shef. Critics speculate that confusion about the spelling of the word “chef” eventually did the chain in, as people flocked to the simpler Burger King. (Burger Person was left in the dust by now, closing most of its 42,490 locations.) Wikipedia:

In 1968, the chain was purchased by the General Foods Corporation, which continued its rapid expansion. The chain's mascots were called Burger Chef (voiced by Paul Winchell) and Jeff (the chef's juvenile sidekick). In the early 1970s, the chain introduced first the Funburger, followed by the Funmeal, with specially-printed packaging that included stories about Burger Chef and Jeff's adventures and friends (including the magician Burgerini, vampire Count Fangburger, talking ape Burgerilla, and Cackleburger the witch), with riddles, puzzles, and small toys.

Sound familiar?

When McDonald's introduced their similarly themed Happy Meal in 1979, the chain sued McDonald's, but ultimately lost.

The entry says General Foods was “unable to support the company’s growth,” which suggests the company was out of its league when it came to restaurants. The company also bought Rax around this time.

They sold out to a company that converted them to Hardee’s, which made all the good will and brand loyalty evaporate. There’s still one, sort of - the name has changed but it’s kept all the Burger Chef memorabilia for nostalgists. If there are any. Nostalgia for 70s fast-food is probably nostalgia for your childhood, not the quality of lettuce.

BTW: There was a Rax in Uptown when I lived there. Looking at the wikipedia entry on Rax is the most bewildering thing you may encounter this afternoon. Ready?

Rax was originally known as JAX Roast Beef, founded by Jack Roschman in 1967, in Springfield, Ohio.In 1969, Roschman sold the chain to General Foods, who then changed the name of the restaurants to RIX Roast Beef.

General Foods ran the chain until 1978, when most of the restaurants closed down. The remaining 10 units were franchised units owned by the Restaurant Administration Corporation (RAC).

RAC purchased the remainder of RIX from General Foods, and returned the JAX name to the restaurants. RAC eventually decided to focus on the roast beef business, and began franchising the chain.

The JAX restaurants were renamed Rax to be more suitable for trademarking and franchising, with the first Rax branded franchise restaurant opening in Columbus, Ohio.

If that’s not confusing enough:

In December 2007, Rich Donohue, a franchise owner with restaurants in Ironton, Ohio and Ashland, Kentucky, purchased the Rax trademark. The new company, From Rax to Rich's Inc., purchased the name to bypass licensing costs.

Usually I’d say it’s bad news when a restaurant company goes with a pun, but, well.

A compilation of Burger Chef ads here.

I’m guessing Don didn’t land the account. Incrediburgible! Anyway, all those people who thought “Mad Men” would get around to the Tate murders were completely wrong.

It’s the Burger Chef Murders, that’s what’s coming.

SCIENCE! Horror and fascination: that’s what you get when you ask the question “What would it look like if Saturn slowed and fell into the Sun?” It would doom earth, but that’s the least of it. AHHHHHHHHH

While I don’t want the planet to be ripped apart by tidal forces, it would mean the end of fonts like this:

That’s like Hobo modified to be worse.

Anyway, Sploid found the video, so head over there to see it. Enjoy your Monday!

Worst restaurant idea in the history of mankind

Posted by: James Lileks Updated: April 8, 2014 - 12:05 PM

Headline: PETA wants to turn Jeffrey Dahmer’s childhood home into a vegan restaurant.

Ingrid E. Newkirk, president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, sent a letter dated Friday to the realty agent who has listed the Bath Township house for sale. In the letter, she asked about the listing and proposed making the house a vegan restaurant “to respond to the past with something positive.

Newkirk likened the way animals are slaughtered, processed and consumed to the way Dahmer treated his victims.

Menu items would include chipotle barbecue tofu kebabs and vegan creamy chicken casserole, made from mock chicken and dairy-free sour cream.

Lubinski, the listing agent, raised concerns about the zoning but said he’s willing to discuss a possible transaction with PETA.

The phrase “bad taste” comes to mind.

COMICS The ongoing revision of Archie has been an interesting project; I have no idea whether it expanded the audience, shrunk it down to a dozen, interested old fans, or made converts. I don’t know if the world was crying out for a socially relevant Archie. But now he’s going to DIE. CNN has the details. And only CNN! Exclusive!

Since 1941, comic book fans have followed the exploits of teenaged Archie Andrews and his friends. This July, they'll find out how he dies.

"Life With Archie" #36 hits stores on July 16, and CNN can reveal exclusively that it tells the story of how Archie sacrifices himself to save a friend.

Few details are known, but it seems fitting that Archie would go out a hero. The 37th issue one week later will end the series.

If you’re thinking “aww, that’s just an alternate timeline story. He’s not really going to die,” you’re correct. I remember the days when someone died in a comic, they stayed dead. They never came back. Dock Ock dumps a ton of bricks on Captain Stacy, and he’s not popping up six issues later explaining that was really his clone doiuble.

By the way, don't tell me Archie wasn't relevant in the past:

RIGHT ON, says Miss Grundy, fists balled! Fight the power! Or be the power! 

THIS IS YOUR BRAIN ON BEDBUGS Kids today are injecting crushed bed bugs. I repeat: Kids today are injecting crushed bed bugs.

SCIENCE! A rare sign in the sky. If you define the word to mean “almost commonplace.” USA TODAY:

Skywatchers will get a rare treat Tuesday night, when Mars, Earth and the sun will be arranged in a nearly-straight line.

Every two years, Mars reaches a point in its orbit called "opposition," when the planet lies directly opposite the sun in Earth's sky, according to Astronomy magazine.

This won’t happen again until 2016. Whoa! Question: if this happens every two years, then it happened in 2012, the year the world was supposed to end. I don’t remember Mars alignment being part of that nonsense; it’s possible that the alignment-apocalypse guys have been discredited and demoralized by all those grand line-ups that failed to rip the earth from its orbit or send the moon spinning off into the sun, or whatever they predicted.

WEB Controversy over an upcoming indie game, Luftrausers. Here’s the developers' response.

Earlier this week, several people on Twitter voiced their discomfort with what they perceived as Nazi imagery in LUFTRAUSERS, and the belief that you play as a Nazi pilot in our 2D dogfighting game.

We do have to accept that our game could make some people uncomfortable. We’re extremely sad about that, and we sincerely apologise for that discomfort.

The fact is that no interpretation of a game is ‘wrong’. When you create something, you leave certain implications of what you’re making. We can leave our idea of what it is in there, and for us, the game is about superweapons. We think everybody who plays LUFTRAUSERS can feel that.

Well, if you’re piloting an aircraft with the Stars and Stripes on the side, shooting down planes that bear swastikas, there’s not a lot of interpretation availalble, is there? It concludes:

We wouldn’t dare to fault people for finding the atrocities of the Second World War important. It is important. We agree it’s important, and there are important lessons for us in what happened. We need to remember what happened, we need to commemorate the victims and we need to ensure nothing even remotely like it occurs ever again.

Having been born and raised in the Netherlands, we are extremely aware of the awful things that happened, and we want to apologise to anybody who, through our game, is reminded of the cruelties that occurred during the war.

It looks like this. I’m not getting much of a pro-Nazi vibe here.

This site examines the developer’s explanation, and makes a point that really makes you despair, because it seems so bleeping obvious.

From there, Ismail goes on to explain why he disagrees with Dubbin and Simins, even while acknowledging their opinion is a valid interpretation. That line is so critically important to having a reasonable, nuanced dialogue about difficult subjects, and it’s the part we often miss out on.

It often feels people confuse “criticism” with “censorship” in a way that is never intended when those speaking up are explaining their views. 

Because the internet has degraded people's social skills and made the culture of constant outrage more likely to thin one's skin? I don’t know. But I can’t help wonder how they would have reacted to SWOTL.:

You got to play as a Luftwaffe pilot, IIRC. At the time I thought it was morally problematic, but this was the minority opinion.

VotD It’s beautiful, but as one of the comments says, it’s too short to be poignant.

Bibo from Anton Chistiakov on Vimeo.

Question: why does a robot need a wood fireplace? Another question: when you realize what’s going on, does it strike you as an idea that’s actually been fleshed out, so to speak, at great length elsewhere?

Also, why is 8 AM ice-cream time?

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