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February 05, 2013



Several years ago we ate at a Ruby Tuesday's in Houston and I got full blown food poisoning. Needless to say, we will never eat there again!!
I love your description of the waitstaff as "grinning, peppy,and servile"!! I've encountered those too. I want to tell them to tone it down and just be prompt and accurate,


Florence: I really dislike this false friendliness used to cover up bad service and bad products. Like how the flight attendant's grin is supposed to compensate us for delayed flights, cramped seats and lousy or no food. It's very bad for the people who have to pretend to be nice, too. Service people are so underpaid, on top of that. It's a negative situation for everyone involved.


You had me giggle at these waitservers. I play a game. Before one them opens their mouth I say in a peppy voice:

Hello there, my name is WWW and I am your customer for today.

Just. Watch. Their. Faces.

And didn't you know? These chains serve Soylent Green. Safest is vegetarian.


wisewebwoman: Perfect. Soylent green and horsement. Ugh. But probably their vegetables are tainted too.


I loved your list, and those you chose to represent the categories! Could not agree more, especially about Rachel Maddow. She helps maintain what remains of our sanity, 'round here.

Rain Trueax

good thoughts. The problem with deciding what is good and what is not is so often it's subjective as it's what we prefer anyway. I've never eaten at a Ruby Tuesday but have at a Red Robin. Are they comparable and we like Red Robin for their hamburgers--bet their staff is also regarded as perky ;). I also like Fuddruckers, though rarely eat at one because they aren't close to where I live. You put on your own toppings there and the video arcades and decor (Blues Brothers photos) make it likely a lowbrow choice? I don't particularly like Applebees but more because its food is either tasteless to me or oversalted than because I ever thought of it as low or highbrow. I am trying to think if I like any highbrow places that are chains... can highbrow places be chains? Is lowbrow what the ordinary folk like and highbrow what the better off can afford?

And then there is the question-- what makes Maddow highbrow? She has a good show, does some good reporting at times, but it seems to me all that sets her apart from others is she is progressive and leftie. What makes her highbrow? Is Matt Taibbi then high or lowbrow? It seems like writers would be easier to cateogorize as if they use big words-- highbrow? lol

Cop Car

Ah, Hattie, when they serve up crap we need to tell them. There is no game going that should cheat us out of value for our money. Of course, having said that, I was too intimidated one time when (in an ethnic food place) what I ordered turned out to be too salty to eat. I was intimidated because for all I knew, that culture required foods to be 50% salt.

Sorry that you had such a bad experience. I've not been to Ruby Tuesdays for 30 years, so don't know how they are doing these days. Thanks for the heads up.


Rain: Consider: Oliver Stone is very lowbrow, and yet he is a leftie and an admirable person. And sending a Park Slope kid to a daycare center named after Mozart and Einstein is very highbrow and yet reprehensible. We think about these matters all the time in this country and are full of class anxiety but rarely admit how much we are influenced in our tastes by ideas of what is good and worthwhile vs. bad & low class.
As to those "upscale" chain restaurants: in my experience the food is mundane to lousy and it's overpriced for what it is. I ate at a wonderful chain restaurant in France, once, so I know it's possible for these places to be good. Just that I have never had the experience in this country of eating at a good "quality" chain restaurant. And I have no desire to investigate the situation!


We can all agree that this belongs firmly in the lowbrow-and-despicable corner.


(Be warned, photos accompanying versions of this stories are hideous.)

I think Mozart and Einstein both would have laughed at the idea of a school named for them.


Cop Car: Where I live we don't have "quality" chain restaurants. There is not the population to support them. But Honolulu is full of these places.
We have the Diary Queens, Pizza Huts, MacDonalds, Jack in the Box, etc. though, where I never eat. I believe that after a certain age, the food in those places is inedible. People have all kinds of digestive problems that they do not identify as being caused by fast food and food at chain restaurants. We have lots of local places to eat out, though, and we do eat out once a week or so.


Brandon: Thanks, I guess. That does hit some sort of new low, all right.

Rain Trueax

Now I don't know if I've seen very many Oliver Stone movies other than the recent Untold History but what exactly makes him 'lowbrow?' And of movie makers, is then Spielberg low or highbrow? It's funny as I don't tend to think of things this way; so it's a stretch to wonder exactly what makes a movie maker highbrow and who would be one?

Kay Dennison

You forgot Paul Krugman and Robert Reich -- true champions for sanity.

I avoid all chain restaurants when possible. I have, in walking distance of my home, three marvelous restaurants -- one is Greek; one is Mexican; and the third is Middle Eastern cuisine. All are locally owned & operated!! I may never move!!!


Rain: ALL Hollywood movies are middlebrow or lowbrow, no matter how much acclaim they get. There is no such thing as a highbrow Hollywood movie: it's a contradiction in terms. They are commercially produced group projects. In fact, there are some who argue that movies are not an art form at all. Spielberg, interestingly enough, strives for movie magic and sometimes manages it, but he is unable to wash away the middlebrow taint that contaminates all his work, the temptation to Disneyish effects and sentimentality. This means that he remains hopelessly middlebrow. Stone is lowbrow I would say in a good way, because he uses Hollywood techniques but eschews sentimentality and pandering to the audience.
Like most intellectuals, I have more or less thrown up my hands and joined our great kitsch/pop culture and spend my time analyzing it for fun and in my case no profit. Even calling myself an intellectual is dangerous in these parts, but I can't shut off my analytical approach to things. You've heard of public intellectuals; I'm a private intellectual! I've been called a snob and all that ever since I revealed my love of classical music in high school and I was practically declared a traitor to America for my peculiar tastes in books and art. I've got to say that I really liked the cultural atmosphere in Europe much better than here in the U.S.
I think most American culture is garbage, and that's a fact. Not a popular stance, for sure.
Kay: Oh, I love Krugman and Reich and share their dyspeptic outlook on our economy and politics. And aren't we lucky to have so many good small restaurants around! We have several good Thai restaurants in Hilo, our favorite Mexican restaurant, and other choices too.

Rain Trueax

To me it's funny but hey whatever works for a person. I often have called myself a redneck for how I was raised and how I live like with the ranch, animals, and the kind of entertainment I enjoy. But since my Daddy was a redneck, I don't mind designating myself thus. I suppose a lot of rednecks would say I could not be since I don't espouse 'conservative' thinking. Alas as usual, I don't fit a category. I am kind of against boxes though... and yes, I still eat at fast food-- and my stomach is holding up just fine. I should have never said that as soon as I say something like that, everything falls apart ;).


Rain: I'm a city girl and a red diaper baby who grew up in the Bay Area. And that was what formed my attitudes. I was very snobbish in my younger years and retain some of that attitude even today. What happened to me is that we moved out of the Berkeley area when I was 12 and lived for several years in what was a redneck enclave at the time, Sharp Park, about 15 miles south of San Francisco. These were mostly people from rural areas who had come to California for economic betterment but retained the attitudes of their home states. So our family was those commies on the block who read all those books! But that was only part of my dilemma as an adolescent and maybe not even my biggest problem. Our relatives were equally scornful, because we were poor and they were affluent. I was glad when we moved back to Berkeley, though.
My closest friend here is someone like you, with a "redneck" background: she got her BA in agriculture and has an intensively farmed acre in a rural area in Puna, Hawaii. She is left/liberal in her politics, as is her entire family. They are great people. She and her husband are the ones we went to Peru with.


Annie: Do you have good internet service where you are? Do you get Maddow on cable or do you stream her program? I stream it.

Rain Trueax

I actually do put people in boxes and must admit it but I have only two categories. Caretakers and destroyers. No matter the ethnicity, the educational level, the IQ, the gender, some live to destroy and take joy in it. Caretakers want to help and although their methods might vary for what they believe is best, they will do what they can to make the world a better place. I generally like caretaker people and can't stand the destroyers which might explain why so many of us who seem as though we'd never get along actually do-- under it all, we are the same.


When IHOP came to Hilo in 2007 the service and food were really good. Under new management a few years later, everything declined.

But Hilo has many small restaurants, and other businesses, for which I'm glad.

If I'm at a fast food place, usually McDonald's, I order at the most a hamburger and a side salad. I don't get (i.e., understand) the triple-decker burgers.


Rain: I can pretty well keep destructive people out of my life. From time to time someone will slip through my defenses, but it's rare. People in general are pretty decent around here. Even the prisoners I worked with were generally courteous and even kind. I find Mainlanders a lot more aggressive, just speaking very generally.
Brandon: Well, you are still young enough to digest that stuff! Do you ever eat the grass fed beef we get here? We eat as much fresh and local food as we can. We shop once or twice a week at the Hilo Farmers' Market and eat a lot of local fruits and vegetables.


@Rain: That's what it comes down to, ultimately: how people treat one another every day.

@Hattie: But I would never attempt eating the Triple Angus or Hot Mess. I like the grass-fed beef at KTA. It has a richer flavor. And here, starfruit is free. This site is selling six for the sale price of $29.99.



Brandon: $29.00 for starfruit! How ridiculous! I guess they put little slices on their dishes in those fancy ovepriced restaurants on the Mainland. I do agree with you about the local grass fed beef. Have you tried their ground sirloin? The big KTA doesn't always have it, but whenever they do I buy several pounds of it and freeze it.


Hattie~We have satellite t.v. at our place, because we cannot survive without our Rachel Maddow, Stephen Colbert, and John Stewart. No cable/landlines available in our neck of the woods, and our only internet is our cell phones, for now, so I use the internet at our library if I need to.

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