A Letter To Restaurants About Self-Esteem

Dear Restaurant,

You should know that restaurants come and restaurants go. But all restaurants, yourself included, have an ideal customer to attract or a genre they are trying to occupy. Diners do their no-fuss thing with Bunn-bearing coffee fillers while the truly fancy roll out the white-tablecloth hush-hush treatment.

However, you could be one of those restaurants that want to be FUN, trendy, visually appealing and hip. Sadly, these restaurants lack self-esteem. Yes, self-esteem. In a restaurant. You show it in practices that make you look like you are trying too hard, and one habit stands out the moment courses are served: fear of empty plate space.

This plain cheesecake is garnished with raspberry sauce AND chocolate ganache, neither flavor represented in the cake. Thanks, Chef ‘docgeek’. No disrespect.

This fear can be witnessed in places as diverse as wannabe midscale chains to wannabe midscale local joints with aspirations of hipness. It is on striking display on rims of plates from starter to dessert: an unwillingness to let the food sit unmoored on the dish. You see, plate rims are for holding the contents of the plate in. They do not need a dusting of dried parsley to add visual “whatever”. Here are common manifestations:

Oh gawd, the poor, poor crème brûlée….

One caveat, dear restaurant: not ALL showy saucing is superfluous. There are places where the artistic swirl of flame red was an essential flavor component of the dish, to be mixed in and enjoyed as a true sauce. You awesome restaurants follow the sauce/garnish rule, which says that they should: 1) complement or enhance the dish’s flavors and 2) be edible.

Everyone else: just stop it, please.

Restaurants, you do often have other (not so minor) issues like not having a phone number on the website or not being open when you say you are or forgetting food orders between your table and the kitchen. Fix those issues first, and then attend to the trying-too-hard stuff. You’ll be a better place to dine.

Sincerely, It-Can’t-Just-Be-Me

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BNT: Animated GIFs in the Key of Lovely

Friday and I think I ought to lighten things up just a tad. Next week I’ll have lots of serious shit to post about health and nutrition and other amazing and scary things, so, for today, let’s have some fun.

In the style of Rachel Maddow, this is my “best new thing” submission for the internet as I’ve seen it of late. 🙂

If you’d asked internet experts back in 1999 what thing they figure would make a comeback in the next 10-15 years, you can bet that very few would have said, “hey, these animated GIF things are super rad!”

And yet…. here we are. They range from cheesy to cute, but WIRED just put together a nice little list of well-designed examples from the pros.

http://www.wired.com/design/2013/09/the-rise-of-subtle-tasteful-and-commissioned-animated-gif-illustrations

And for the art aficionados, we have another set which is a bit more subtle but still cool:

http://www.wired.com/design/2013/10/these-wild-gifs-bring-greek-sculptures-to-life/

A Fair Amount of Kale Involved

Just a quickie today – I read a decent article in The Atlantic about food, our guts, and skin health and a quote popped out that made me smirk:

Maybe if you’re 20 you just have good genes and you can have pizza and beer every day and still glow. But if you’re over 40, often there is a fair amount of kale involved. – Robynne Chutkan, author of Gutbliss

Expectation does not Equal RealityYeah, that’s true – taking care of ourselves is a moving target that can shift from year to year, decade to decade. And yet, it is all to easy to find “inspiration” (or the more insidious varieties called thinspiration or fitspiration) for how we should look or feel or perform in people who do not resemble us AT ALL. They are almost always possessing of several attributes that are conveniently forgotten:

  • young
  • they are fit for a living
  • at the end of a long diet process
  • starving and dehydrated on photo shoot day

… those “amazing” looking women on the cover of Shape are – more often than not – dehydrated and almost about to pass out from hunger. They are likely at their lowest weight point of the previous (or upcoming) six months.

In short, THEY DON’T REALLY LOOK LIKE THAT. Just like you don’t look like the 10 years-old photo on your driver’s license, or the tiny and cute avatar that’s been attached to an email account for eons, or the glamor shot used for your corporate bio at your firm. And that’s OK, as long as you see the parallels in the disassociation from reality in both camps.

BNT (Best New Thing): Episode 1, Oh Myyy!

In the spirit of Rachel Maddow and countless other internet memes, I will occasionally post something I deem to be a super-neato thing I found out in the world. They’ll get tagged with “BNT” and “Best New Thing”.

Here goes with Episode 1:

George Takei has his own URL shortener domain (and primary book domain, too):

http://ohmyyy.gt

Oh, myyy!

Knock, Knock, Anxiety Mutherfukker

quickmeme bloggess

Quickmeme aside, this post is short and sweet.

Jenny Lawson, a.k.a. The Bloggess, has forever changed the way I look at decorative chickens. No shit, any time I see one of those motherfuckers in a store, I think of her immediately. That’s some branding, y’all. Impressive (even by Ze Frank standards).

She wrote a non-funny, personal, touching blog post today that got over 1400 comments in a matter of minutes. The commenters are people who love her for spewing out her confusion, her sadness, and her fear. People who have those same thoughts, daily, monthly, or minute by minute.

It’s no secret that honesty will get you far. This is yet another example.

We love you, Jenny. And, thanks.

The Anti-Antihero: Heart of Darkness

(NO specific spoilers for Breaking Bad episode 5.11)

It is fascinating to me that after the latest Breaking Bad episode, more than half of viewers polled believe that Walt demonstrated a glimmer of caring and sincerity to an old ally. Such deception! Such willingness to hope and wish and pray that NO ONE is ever 100% evil, that there must be a human still down in there waiting to be redeemed. That is the antihero ideal: a front-and-center villian that is able to feel affection. Angel from Buffy the Vampire Slayer is an antihero. Bender from Futurama is an antihero. Hell, even Homer Simpson is an antihero. This is my posit: Walter White is the ANTI-antihero.

In the latest episode, there is a vague implication that he’s showing heart – but this could be to contrast the later re-reveal that Walt did indeed harm an innocent (and frame it on someone else) to successfully reinforce loyalty, and now the object of that loyalty-grab has figured it all out. Very impressive. Did he, didn’t he, how did he? Viewers with tight analytical skills have solved this.

But now, those that Walt has deceived and those that he is still openly manipulating KNOW with clarity anew. They really, truly, know what and whom they are dealing with, even if the knowledge is difficult to accept; even those on the show have a hard time accepting pure evil as a possibility. They are gobsmacked at the prospect, slack jaws hanging at the cusp of dislocation.

So it seems clear that Walt is evil. Really, really evil. Like, not-ever-having-a-prospect-of-a-shred-of-humanity evil. There is no “anti-hero” here. There is no heart of gold. There is only blackness. Accept that some things are 100%, even in television-land. And thank gawd for Vince Gilligan to stick with it.

Five episodes left.