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[Comments] (2) Unremarkable Taste: I spent a lot of time after we moved to New York trying to keep mental track of the restaurants we'd eaten at and what we thought and what restaurants people had recommended. Only recently did I come up with the brilliant idea of keeping all this information in an HTML page so I didn't keep looking up the same Chowhound threads every time we wanted to go out for a nice dinner. Eventually I'll publish it for your New York-visiting convenience, but for now just take my word for it.

I knew about one weblog covering my neighborhood (Joey in Astoria), but after starting this project I discovered another (The Foodista), and I also found a local forum that has a lot of restaurant-related posts.

Specifically (he says, getting to the real point of this entry), it's occasionally got people who try to astroturf their own restaurants. But they're restauranteurs and not astroturf experts, so you get something sub-infomercial quality like "OCEANO'S the new place in town", complete with Fox News-style push poll.

It's not really cool to make fun of the writing of someone for whom English is probably not their first language, but beyond the spelling and grammar mistakes there's so much rhetorical wrongness in that fake writeup ("DON'T BE FOOLED....between the latino flair.there is something for eve[r]yone."), plus Mary Sue-ism and weird syntactic mistakes like mismatched brackets, that it achieves a kind of transcendence.

i didn't know what to try first.the wait staff was very helpful with their suggestion and i started off with the coconut shrimp appetizer,(delicious with each bite!!! to say the least.}well.as i was still debating on the suggestions of my waiter this gentleman approached my table.he akked me how everthing was,come to find out he was one of the owners!!!! what a pleasant man he suggeted that i try his favorite dish.CHURRASCO CON CHIMICHURRI.you have to try this mouth watering dish words cannot describe the unremarkable taste.

Now the thread has got other people reviewing the restaurant and everyone paranoid that everyone else is a shill. I know which restaurant the thread is talking about and I was kind of interested in trying it, but now I think I should not go just because of this astroturf. And there's not even any reason to do this, because a forum where people talk about local restaurants is not exactly a hostile environment for someone who wants to get the word out about their restaurant. As one thread participant puts it:

The thing is, if they had come on and been all "Hey, my name is Joe, and I own/my friend owns/I am the bartender at Oceano, please come down, if you do and mention this, we'll give you a free glass of wine/10% off/a great big hug/whatever, it would have been cool and this thread would be a lot different.

Compare the recently-opened Mojave which everyone is falling over themselves to praise (we ate there earlier this week and it was great) and where someone in an official capacity shows up and doesn't try to deceive you and is honest and offers free stuff:

From tomorrow we are going to have HAPPY HOURS.. I never worked in a place that implemented happy hours, so i hope it's not going to backfire on me...Sierra Nevada and dos xx are really good. and now we finally perfectioned the SANGRIA. i am sure you will like it, it comes with fresh fruit left in the wine for 1-2 days.. and very very very little ice.....

Anyway, for who of you write in this site i would to offer you an afterdinner drink when you mention about astorians.com

thanks again

The difference seems clear. There's also a panini restaurant that has such a fan base there's a thread where someone posts every day with the soup of the day.

[Comments] (1) Dilbert Minus Dilbert: I've had this idea for a little while, based on Garfield Minus Garfield, and today I did three examples with my nearly-nonexistent GIMP skills. Comedy gold!

Garfield never uses changes of scene (or even perspective, I think), where Dilbert often changes the scene in the second or third panel. Garfield has a small cast of characters; Dilbert has a large cast. So a DMD comic can just be an art-film-esque sequence of closeups and disturbing statements.

In stock Garfield we see Garfield's thought balloons as he remarks on the activities of the other characters (some scientists have speculated that these remarks are jokes). But the other characters don't see his thought bubbles and so can't respond. Garfield lives in a hell where he can never make himself be understood. This is why in GMG we see Jon talking to himself; he's already talking to himself in stock Garfield.

But people talk to each other in Dilbert all the time; it's just that they always talk past each other. Remove Dilbert from a Dilbert cartoon and in one sense you've got people who are having half a conversation with an imaginary person. But you're not missing much because Dilbert is the only one who really engages with what the other person is saying, and he's gone.

My personal favorite:

Update: Karen in Wichita provides prior art.

[Comments] (3) : The back of this old Ace paperback has an order form for other Ace paperbacks, but in the ad copy the title is very slightly bolded (in a way that hasn't aged well with the paper) and put right in front of the author's surname. So you see intriguing titles like this:

The last one being especially evocative. "In a city ruled by crime, I was Darkness LeGuin's left hand... and the one man she could never trust."

This is a simple enough trick that I'll probably hack up a script to generate them automatically and find some more. Sumana and I had a similar game where we looked at books in the bargain bin at the bookstore and tried to find adjacent books whose titles would fit together.

Update: Once again I save Brendan the trouble of coming up with his own character names.


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