Politics, Technology, and Language

If thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought — George Orwell

Circus Circus, Liar Liar

Posted by metaphorical on 16 January 2008


Unite with Circus Circus while we help in conserving the natural resources of our land. For our NEW GUESTS, bathroom towels are freshly laundered. As part of our commitment to the environment, we offer you the option of reusing your towels. Throughout your stay, we will replace the towels which are left on the floor and in the shower. Towels remaining on the rack or hanging will be left for use again. For any SPECIAL REQUEST, please contact our Housekeeping Department at Ext. 702.

You’ve seen the notices in many, if not most of the hotels and motels you stay in these days: we’ll only wash the used towels when you want us to, in the interests of the environment.

I wish I had kept track — I think maybe once this was actually done. Maybe never. It certainly didn’t happen at Circus Circus. I don’t know why this happens and I don’t really care. I just want these signs to tell the truth, or in the absence of that, for them to go away.

I’d feel guilty about picking on Circus Circus except they had a second inaccurate sign. The cost of broadband was, according to one of these standup cards on the desk, $10.99, which was already more than I’ve ever paid for an Internet connection in a hotel or motel, and it was exactly $10.99 more expensive than the Days Inn in Arizona I had stayed in the night before my first in Circus Circus. Oh, and the sign was wrong – the actual charge was $11.99, which is exactly $11.99 more than the Super 8 motel I stayed in the night before the Days Inn stay.

It’s a commonplace that expensive hotels charge for broadband and the cheap ones don’t. Circus Circus manages to combine the worst of both – it’s at the low end as casinos on The Strip go, and charges the max for a broadband service that was so bad that when I complained about the two times it was down for hours, I was refunded the charge for both days.

Anyway, back to conservation. There’s only one hotel I’ve stayed in in the U.S. that really gets it right, a place whose name I can’t even remember in downtown Los Angeles that’s within walking distance of the convention center. It’s owned, or at least run, by a European fellow who set the policy: they don’t even make up the room unless you ask. (If you do ask, it’s no problem and they make the room up just fine.) Or you can just get fresh towels. Or whatever. But the default is that the room is made up only between stays. Why is that not true everywhere? You don’t change the sheets at home every day.

After my first stay in the Los Angeles place I began to tell hotels not to make up the room at all from time to time. I’m not sure why I don’t do it all the time. Except it’s a hassle. Why should the rational policy be the one that’s a hassle? Welcome to America, where that’s the rule, not the exception, be it ice in beverages, cream in coffee, cheese in almost anything, and reusing, recycling, and conserving just about everything.

27 Responses to “Circus Circus, Liar Liar”

  1. digglahhh said

    I don’t know what about cheese in everything constitutes “a hassle.”

    It’s certainly not convenient for you, but I’m not sure if it counts as a hassle.

    Same for ice in drinks – in fact, I like ice in drinks. If it’s something I shouldn’t be drinking, I drink less of it. Additionally, most places don’t do it to hassle you, they do it to cut down the portion they give you.

    True story: I was out with a friend and his friend who was in from Hungary. This kid was straight broke (nothing wrong there, just setting the context). We were at a bar and he asked for some sort of mixed drink – no ice. The bartender filled up the glass halfway!

  2. Vicki said

    “Making up the room” doesn’t necessarily mean washing sheets. It means straightening up and vacuuming and cleaning the bath. I do not, as you say, change the sheets at home daily, but I do make the bed at home.

    I see not cleaning the room daily as a way to get out of employing those pesky minimum-wage workers. It doesn’t save me any money to eschew a made-up room, so I really have no motivation to get the maids fired because there isn’t enough work.

    Wait, did I just say that you could pay me enough to be sanguine about seeing a poor woman lose her job?


  3. Well, I just view it as a job that still exists due to an historical quirk, with little justification nowadays. I’m usually okay with the bed going unmade for the 15-17 hours each day that I’m not in the room. YMMV, and sometimes mine does as well.

    You can go to China and see all sorts of people doing things that aren’t jobs here in the U.S. They have people sweeping the streets and they have crossing guards at every major intersection. Yes, cars move a little more efficiently, and we have a limited number of crossing guards ourselves here in New York, but in China its specifically an employment program for the uneducated.

    We could abandon direct dial telephony too, and employ all those switchboard operators too. We could get rid of EZPass on the Thruway, and all vending machines everywhere. Exactly how far do you want to go with this?

  4. Vicki said

    Well, I’m not advocating a rollback, but I do feel for people who are either too poorly-educated (arguably correctable) or too mentally deficient to find simple labor jobs that were thick on the ground 100 years ago.

  5. ClaireDePlume said

    Not to worry Vikki. The unwashed, when unemployed, can always get a job at their local airport. Not everyone can tacitly imply lip gloss, the new threat to world peace and MAKE lack-lustre travelling women put their lip colour in little sandwich sized glad bags. This takes talent.

    As for conserving energy, I am all for it. If this means using a hotel towel two days in a row to save a whale pod, I’ll do it.

    And while we’re at it, let’s spare the ice in drinks – it freezes the esophagus and wreaks havoc on the digestive tract anyway. Cream in coffee, cheese on everything from fries to (cooked) moo cows and sugar sugar on everything – it’s a conspiracy to eliminate life in North American AND waste waste waste like there’s no tomorrow. This is called conserving wanton wastefulness.

  6. digglahhh said

    Hey Claire, long time no talk (type), good to see ya. Okay, enough with the niceties and on the sarcasm…

    I’m sorry – normally I’m pretty good at being over-the-top idealistic, but ice in drinks a conspiracy to end life in North America…

    David Icke ain’t got nuthin’ on that, shit!… Step ya conspiracy theory game up, baby!

    I remember reading in “Mindless Eating,” that ice in drinks helps you burn a few more calories a day because your body has to heat the ice to melt it. Good enough for my overweight ass…

    Besides, what’s the heroic alternative? More Coca Cola? Is that the path to preservation?

    The “conspiracy” ends at the restaurant maximizing profit.

    Cheese tops neither fries nor burgers (moo cow, gobble turkey, onomotepeia- less soy or veggie) unless one asks for it.

    Also, isn’t it only waste if it is left on the plate – technically speaking? I understand it is waste in the sense that it is far more than a body “needs.” But, that’s kinda a tough line to draw – even “responsible eaters” will often fall short of this bar. I think you’re failing to distinguish between waste and overconsumption.

  7. Cheese tops neither fries nor burgers unless one asks for it.

    One of these days you’ll visit America, Digg, and find cheese in salads and steak sandwiches, on fries, and generally contaminating all sorts of foods it doesn’t in the internationalized cosmopolitan cultural oasis of New York. You’ll find sugar in ketchup, peanut butter, whole wheat bread, salad dressing, hot dogs and their buns, ice tea, french fries, and even salt. Oh, wait, you’ll find all that in N.Y. as well.

  8. digglahhh said

    Oh, so that’s how I sound to others, Meta?… Interesting.

    (Unphased:) In what places in NYC would I ask for a hamburger and get a cheeseburger? In what places are fries topped with cheese and listed as french fries, and not “chesse fries?”

    I’ll give to the salad thing, but only as a pretty infrequent exception, and not the rule your post implies it is. Most salads that have cheese are “designer” salads, the components of which are listed (in all their euphemistic glory) on the menu.

    I remember the side salad at Wendy’s used to come with cheese, and the first time I saw that it was a surprise. I haven’t eaten at Wendy’s in ages, but I don’t think the salad has cheese anymore. Actually, that’s my only recollection of a cheese-as-the-default house salad…

    I’m not going to argue against the other things you mention. I don’t think I ever implied that I would though.

  9. ClaireDePlume said

    :-) Digglahhh! Good to see your familiar font again. Okay, I’ll stop here so as not to seem toooo nice :P

    Yes, Ice, Icke and I – we’re a set and cannot be split, not by infinitives, not by the evils of cheeses even.

    Okay about Ice – it’s a waste of energy to make those useless things, wanton and waistful too like adding croutons to salad. Solution? (pun intended) Follow thy grandmother’s advice Grasshopper, “Eat & drink neither foods too hot, nor foods too cold.

    More coke please? Yikes! That’s a dirty word, and if you can’t put the word in your mouth, then don’t put the damn drink in your mouth either.

    Conspiracy you say? Yep. North America is the turkey being fattened up for Christmas, should we all live so long. That is, if we don’t eat the planet out of house and home first of course. You don’t see thin turkeys at the slaughterhouse, do you?

    Conservation begins at home – the home we commonly refer to as our own bodies. Do we really need to sugar sugar everything everything beginning with our drinking water? Should we also get cheesed off at all the cheesiness of our dietary habits too? (Mickey D’s burgers including their filet o’carp all come automatically with cheese, and all the other fast food places fall in line with the Cheese Factor too). No cheese on fries you say? Then don’t visit Montreal and expect french fries WITHOUT the stuff. Quebec is world famous for Poutine – a French Canadian invention that just might dominate the free world one day if this cheesy cuisine sticks. After all, we all know that cheese binds.

    North America is both wasteful AND waist full. From excess in our hotel habits to excess in our ice ice ice in and of everything, to cheese on top of it all including cake and then some. Is this a conspiracy? I’ll read the Icke website and see what he says. And I’ll use moderation there too. We can always get carried away with our carrying on, and that can’t be good either. Not exactly a motto for conservation.

    (And please! Give up the icy icky coke for lent or give it up for fun. Pick a reason and just do it! It’s the real thing alright – same as any “good” poison.)

  10. In what places in NYC would I ask for a hamburger and get a cheeseburger?

    No where I know, no where I go. But between the coasts, it’s as common as Coke itself. You should visit sometime, and see for yourself.

  11. ClaireDePlume said

    :-) There are no Big Macs and Quarter Pounders in NYC? Wow. Big Apple dump ling.

  12. Well Digg is saying that you’d never get a Big Mac with cheese unless you asked for it, in New York, and I’m sure that’s true.

    Out of New York, I’ve certainly gotten fries with cheese on them because the cook or the waitress was doing me a favor or upgrading me, or something, the way Avis will give you a midsized car sometimes even though you ordered a compact. Usually I want the compact, though, and always I want no cheese.

  13. digglahhh said

    I’m sure you’re going to accuse me of grasping for technicalities, but a Big Mac isn’t a hamburger, it’s a specialty sandwich – and there’s a gigantic picture of it over the counter! I don’t think one can claim surprise at finding cheese on a Big Mac.

    I thought there was a distinction between Quarter Pounder and Quarter Pounder with Cheese – but I readily admit that I may be mistaken.

    A little sour grapes just in case – unless we’re talking about hassles because of allergies or something (clearly not the implication of the original post), you probably forfeit your privilege to make claims of health/diet-related hassles upon entering McDonalds.

    I have no interest in visiting America, by the way, but thanks for the advice…

    BTW, using w/ cheese as the default would be a nice price-gouging weapon if the restaurants wanted to implement it. After all, they don’t adjust an item’s price downward when you ask one them to leave out one the toppings or ingredients of a dish. By making cheese the default, they could effectively charge hamburgers at cheeseburger pices.

    In “Nickel and Dimed,” Ehrenreich talks about how the disnempowered wait staff sometimes sees the doling of extra calories (I think she refers to sour cream on baked potatoes and whipped cream on ice cream) as an act of defiance, since they are normally instructed to give only a certain amount.

    So, Meta, that plate of cheese fries could be an authentic artifact of speaking truth to power. I’d take a doggy bag, wrap em up, and sell ’em on Ebay as the revolution on a plate.

    Or you could just save them and bring them to Tom; he’d eat em, even a month after they were served…

    For some reason, I’m finding this discussion really fun!

  14. ClaireDePlume said

    And I’m sure you might accuse me of grasping for technicalities too. A sandwich is 2 pieces of bread with something in between (this according to Wikipedia & a brief history of the Earl of Sandwich). He’s the guy who I suspect was oft caught between a rock & hard place when trying to eat some cheesy meat without bookending it with something flat to keep it all together.

    But without losing it, I’ll just be happy that we have discovered yet another way to conserve energy by opting out of adding unwanted cheese to anything. May we include even specialty sandwiches and Quarter Pounders of heart pounding, artery screaming superfluosity?

    :-) Is this a good place for me to throw in the towel now on the hamburgers in NY fiasco?

  15. digglahhh said

    Actually, this would be a very good time to pass this debate on to my brother who has some very, um, postmodern, shall we say, ideas as to what constitutes a sandwich.

    Basically, he contends that any item “sandwiched” between two like items is a sandwich. cucumber – potato chip – cucumber (he’s probably actually eaten this), viola – potato chip on cucumber sandwich…

    To reel his argument is a bit, for exhibit A, he would submit the ice cream sandwich.

  16. ClaireDePlume said

    :-) I’ve not forgotten about our great sandwich debate. I’ve posted a question on Yahoo!Answers (well two actually) and will report the results of a world wide web inquiry as to the state of the post-modern sandwich once the final facts & figures are available. Oh and I’ve also been conserving energy. Mine.

    So yes, I’ve not forgotten. This is not the time to sigh, sit back, and relax with an Ice Cream Sandwich.

  17. ClaireDePlume said

    Digglahhh, while you’ve been licking your chops on Ice Cream Sandwiches, I’ve been busy…

    According to the results of my question to Yahoo Answerers, the split is 50/50. This doesn’t include the two who are wise asses (possibly New Yorkers anyway).

    While you may hold half a sandwich in all of this, don’t lick your chops with delight just yet.

    Here, with permission, is a response holding the meat of the matter:

    “Question This” writes (and with a delicious sense of humour/humor too I might add):

    “Gasp! There is no Truth left in the World”

    Already I am on her side of the plate. Then she goes on to state, “Imagine the dire consequences, if, in this terrifying realm of post-modern diction, a well-meaning mother asked her son if he had eaten a sandwich. He, having ingested a frozen slab of sugar-and-cream placarded between two bits of chocolate-colored cardboard, could honestly answer in the affirmative. A lifetime of poor nutrition, followed by an untimely death, is the obvious result.”

    Wow. She picked the bones of my own brain clean with this. But wait there’s MORE dressing to slather on this delectable tid bit!

    “We must create limits! A cucumber-potato chip concoction, besides being an abominable waste of perfectly good cucumbers, is sandwich allusion, at best, not definition.

    Really; is oil floating on top of water now an “open-faced sandwich”? Madness, I tell you!”

    This is an Epicurean delight to my own senses, all with a side of aesthetic style to boot. Not only is she a sandwich aficionado who cuts to the heart of the matter, but she’s polite too!

    “Thank you for bringing this appalling example of society’s lazy phraseology to my attention.”

    Question This is reeling on her kitchen chair as she writes this, I’m sure. She concludes with,

    “I intend to write my congresswoman at once, if not sooner!”

    So. I can only wonder if this Blog will now be not only under the scrutiny of a faithful readership, the Girl Scouts of America, but now perhaps the likes of Hilary Clinton too?

    Is such a thing possible that proper sandwich etiquette now becomes a hot potato in the political realm too? Will presidential candidates be scrutinized & publicly graded as they dine sumptuously on sandwiches of all proportions and magnitude?

    Will they require that their cloth napkins be laundered after a single use or will they be “green” about all of this?

  18. ClaireDePlume said

    p.s. Indulge as you will one more sandwich madness here:

    The British do provide us with a staple in our humour diets, cucumber sandwiches and all.

  19. digglahhh said

    Its creator is named McDonald… Priceless!

    But our friend is not commenting on sandwiches, she is really just rejecting postmodernism. If her worries about a child eating an ice cream sandwich for lunch and being able to claim he had “eaten a sandwich” color/colour her opinion on the matter, we’re dealing with a conflict of interests.

    I mean, her initial objection presupposes that a sandwich must be healthy, to some degree at least. Rhetorically, I’d ask if a pastrami sandwich from the Second Avenue deli is better for the body than a “Flying Saucer” from Carvel?

    This is a question of form not of substance.

    Here’s another question (I’m better at questions than answers). If you go to a diner, you’ll often see on the menu, under sandwiches, “Cream cheese” What’s the difference between cream sandwich (on a bagel) and a bagel w/ cream cheese? Is there more cream cheese on the sandwich version, can that be it?

    My main point is that the word sandwich is used pretty liberally already.

    Does this person have a list of what is acceptable to play the bread role, and what is acceptable to play the meat role? And a justification for such choices other than increasing the ease of parenting?

  20. ClaireDePlume said

    Dear Digglahhh, I’m feeling sandwiched between you and my friend “Question This” and will ask her to come here and answer your questions in person. That is, if she’s not still reeling from the last onslaught.

    All I can say is, that being a reformed sandwich eater myself, I applaud the gusto with which you support a more progressive and creative outlook. And please don’t tell anyone, but I have actually made “sandwiches’ using very leafy lettuce in place of bread. So you see, I have actually taken a slice out of your loaf and am not so starchy afterall.

    “Where all thinking is the same, there is very little thinking” –Confuscious

  21. Question This said

    Hello Digglahhh, CdeP! Question This, here.

    Although I was probably chuckling in my chair while typing my sandwich outrage, I maintain the correctness of my definition. Though sandwiches are a laughing matter, miscommunication is a meaty problem. When you read this, you will have to guess if I am seriously strict about sandwiches, or if I am arguing in jest. Two available choices, thus, you have a 50/50 shot at being correct. And the statistics hold under study; you only interpret me correctly 50% of the time. Yet, people *believe* they are correct in their interpretation 90% of the time. (reference: http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/news/2006/02/70179) So my cheesy concern is not just for ease of parenting, or for nutrition, but for the world-ending travesty that is miscommunication.

    I am only trying to distinguish between formal “definition” and reference. For example, a man standing still may be called a “statue”, yet, when I ask you to DEFINE “statue”, you will not answer “a man standing still”. That is because he is only statue reference, or statue imitation. We can prove this point, by hypothetical, to be true. If I say to you, “Today I saw a beautiful statue,” you will not suppose THIS to be my meaning: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FaC4-jZsQPM&feature=related Hence miscommunication, loss of friendship, death in solitude, and eventual consumption by wild dogs.

    As for finding truth is menus–many times I have seen, at a restaurant, something that I personally would not have defined as “food”. To name cream cheese on a bagel a “cream cheese sandwich” is just a method of selling breakfast foods throughout the day. Certainly one would not suggest that we should re-think our definition of “volcano”, just because a chocolate cake dripped with ice cream and bubbling fudge is named, on a menu, “Volcano Explosion”. It is metaphor, not annotation.

    I could begin to list acceptable breads and meats, but we cannot define in this fashion, without encountering the problem of infinite divisibility. I might say, “One acceptable bread is whole-wheat bread.” You would then object, “What constitutes whole-wheat bread?” If I answer, “Bread made with whole-wheat flour,” you may ask, “How is whole-wheat flour defined?” And we could go on like that all the way down to the molecular level. Instead, we must say a sandwich is “(everything-that-constitutes) bread filled with (everything-that-constitutes) meat, and/or (everything-that-constitutes) cheese, and/or (everything-that-constitutes) vegetables. Anything else is just sandwich similitude.

    That’s my story, and I won’t budge a six-inch. ;-)

  22. ClaireDePlume said

    Lets hope that the next menu we read doesn’t have cucumber and potato chip sandwiches as the daily special. (Question This, if such a thing ever happens, then it might be high time to give up restaurants but not sandwiches!)

    But at least we didn’t digress into the nebulous world of ice cream cakes and pies (are Eskimo pies made with real Eskimos?).

  23. digglahhh said

    Sandwiches, of course we can’t discuss sandwiches without getting into signifier vs. signified…

    I’ll grant your largest point. But, I will also ask whether it matters. Is the “essence of a sandwich” worth preserving at the potential cost of culinary creativity? I dunno.

    Personally, I’m more postmodern on my interpretation of sandwiches, but you do make a very good case. This is a circular argument though. To truly convert me you’d have to prove the existence of some sort of essence of sandwich.

    Either way though, the volcanic sundae is a straw man.

    And for the record, I don’t believe that I am correct nearly as often as I simply believe the person I’m debating with is incorrect.

  24. Is the “essence of a sandwich” worth preserving at the potential cost of culinary creativity?

    Well that’s a straw man, isn’t it? A chef can still create a cucumber – potato chip – cucumber concoction, they just wouldn’t be able to call it a sandwich. Indeed, by abandoning the word “sandwich,” creativity could be freer.

  25. ClaireDePlume said

    Let’s not stifle or sacrifice invention at the cost of holding onto tradition with both hands. HOWEVER, let’s call it what it really is:

    Sandwich – the traditional, commonly identifiable 2 slices of any kind of bread holding together a filling.

    Bandwidthwich – the kitchen sink and all of the cupboards between anything

    Fanwich – the kitchen sink layered between 3 other anythings (anything-kitchen sink-anything-kitchen sink- anything

    Handwich – a one hander of something in between two anythings

    Norwich – nothing between two anythings

    Panwich – a panorama of somethings in between two anythings

    xxxxwich – your own creation, named as you like it

    Zenwich – a buddhist version of the nectar of the gods, held together by the universe and everything

    I’m all for culinary creativity, provided it is aptly named, easily identifiable on a universal level, and served on a plate that is washed after *every single use*.

  26. digglahhh said

    Okay, Meta, I hear you. But, at the same time, that’s kinda my point throughout.


    You’re awesome. Zenwich is classic! For what it’s worth, I don’t totally disagree with you. As long as the person who is going to eat said sandwich (or non-sandwich) is clear on what he or she will get when it comes out of the kitchen, this discussion is just academic.

  27. ClaireDePlume said

    “As long as the person who is going to eat said sandwich (or non-sandwich) is clear on what he or she will get when it comes out of the kitchen” <—- :-) Digglahhh, I think there’s room in the universe for world peace. (But what would we call an eatery that serves everything from sandwiches to zenwiches?)

    “A chef can still create a cucumber – potato chip – cucumber concoction”
    Meta, what kind of chefs do you visit? Between circus circus hotels hotels and chipwich makers, I’m well, perplexed… I think I’ll go and wash some double use towels now.

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