January 3, 2015

Most annoying sentence in the NYT article by a guy who used Airbnb to find lodging on his road trip through the American South with his wife and 2 sons.

"Sara and Zach gave us a tour of their beautiful Craftsman home; recommended a fantastic restaurant, the Arcade, at a less touristy part of the famous River Walk; and patiently let us check out late when we went to the Alamo and, ironically, I couldn’t remember where I had parked our car."

Look, I was just trying to get out of that sentence alive. I didn't need to be detained stumbling over what was supposed to be ironic about not remembering where you parked your car.

After musing over the possible significance of "Alamo" as the name of a car rental company, the slogan "Remember the Alamo" occurred to me, and I realized that I was witnessing the remnants of a dad joke that the author might have used on his wife and kids: Where'd I park the car? Remember the Alamo?! I can't even remember where I parked the car.

45 comments:

traditionalguy said...

ICYMI the Alamo Bowl is a San Antonio Bowl Game.

Just had to try that out once.

tim in vermont said...

You put more work into that than I would have, but I think you got it right. If you didn't, your explanation is still fake but accurate.

Ann Althouse said...

"You put more work into that than I would have..."

I didn't mean to. I wasn't going to have that last paragraph, but the answer dawned on me.

Edmund said...

Texas is not the American South. It's where the West begins......

Typical of the NYT to not know that.

Bob Ellison said...

Some editors and readers value this kind of writing. It's ADHD stuff, very compact, seeming smart, funny, crazy, and self-centered in a way that I think gives the editor or reader a sense that he/she is getting inside the mind of the writer.

The simpler form wouldn't see print:

Sara and Zach gave us a tour of their beautiful Craftsman home. We asked for a dinner recommendation, and they recommended a fantastic restaurant, the Arcade. It was at a less touristy part of the famous River Walk. We went to the Alamo (remember it?) and got back late, because I couldn't even remember where I had parked the car.

Boring to New Yorker wannabes.

Big Mike said...

@Edmund, agree wholeheartedly.

Bob Ellison said...

Edmund, I think of Texas as both South and West. No?

traditionalguy said...

San Antonio is Mexican American. They were their first. And a flood of German immigrants came into that area early on.

Ann Althouse said...

It's kind of an interesting example of the use of semicolons when you've got commas within the items in a series.

The question is when do you do that, and when do you just make separate sentences.

The choice made here was to emphasize the items in a series -- the things Sara and Zach did.

But you don't really get the feeling that this sentence is all about the wonderful things done by Sara and Zach.

Not that I think breaking it up into sentences would have made this boring set of things any better.

The house was "beautiful."

The restaurant, "fantastic."

It was San Antonio, so they did the obvious tourist thing and went to the Alamo, but then somehow they want credit for going to the "less touristy part" of another tourist attraction, the River Walk, which I know is a tourist attraction only because it's "famous" and it has "a less touristy part."

This is so dull!

Bob Boyd said...

Sara and Zach were like totally awesome with the bitchin' house and they were like go eat here cause its by a river and you won't get harshed by mass tourons and also they were way cool when we came back like late and pretty buzzed.

Bob Ellison said...

How about this:

Sara and Zach. What can I say. Angels and demons, the both, the both.

Craftsman home, fantastic restaurant, Alamo. Tour, eat, tour, forget. Blissful solicitude.

When I was in college, I once locked my bike to a parking meter in downtown San Francisco. Went to smell fish and laugh at tourists. Smelled and laughed too much; got back; forgot where the bike was; had no idea it was illegal to lock to a meter; got busted. Stupid. Should have remembered Alamo.

virgil xenophon said...

The only part of Texas that is "Southern" is that part along the Tex/LA border--especially near Lake Charles, La. in the Catholic south (while the northern "Bible-Belt" WASP part of La. along the Tex/ARK border trends toward more Tex than Louisiana..

Achilles said...

So many ignorant things here. New York and the north east population in general seem to be so cloistered and ignorant of the rest of the country while pretending to be smart and worldly. Also in an article where the city paper is talking about a new innovative service, Airbnb, that the city has banned on behalf of rich hotel owners. Is that ironic?

chickelit said...

It's kind of an interesting example of the use of semicolons when you've got commas within the items in a series.

Maybe the guy's a lawyer. When I worked for a law firm, we always wrote our billable work descriptions in sentences starting with verbs in the active voice, all separated by semicolons. It was the preferred style.

chickelit said...

It made good litigious litany.

Eeyore Rifkin said...

The meaning of "dad" in this usage is defined as "extremely lame."

Adolf Hitler was wounded in the thigh during the Battle of the Somme and according to some legends lost a testicle. If not for Gavrilo Princip, I wouldn't have this opportunity to make a dad joke at the Professor's expense.

JHapp said...

Airbnb is one of those business models which succeed in part by avoiding taxes and ordinances. No surprise here about the NYT coverage.

jimbino said...

"I was too busy remembering 'the Maine, Plymouth Rock and the Golden Rule.'"

JSD said...

San Antonio is Tex-Mex all the way. The River Walk is touristy, but not too bad. Rainforest Café is really awful. Shiloh’s Delicatessen just off the River Walk is cool.

The Alamo guides appear in character. Our guide watched too much “F Troop”. I swear he sounded like Private Duffy, the sole survivor of the Alamo siege of 1836.

"There we were - me and Davey Crockett - shoulder to shoulder and backs to the wall"

My wife punched me when I started to laugh.

Will Cate said...

Honest-to-God, nobody knows how to correctly use the words "ironic" or "ironically" any more.

Gahrie said...

Honest-to-God, nobody knows how to correctly use the words "ironic" or "ironically" any more.

I blame Alanis Morrissette

Gahrie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
richard mcenroe said...

Edmund: Texas is neither South nor West. Judging by the obsession of the rest of the country with it,it is the center of our nation...

richard mcenroe said...

Actually San Antonio was Spanish before it was Mexican, because there was no Mexico when the missionaries first built the Alamo. And it was Native American before it was Spanish.

richard mcenroe said...

Before it was Native American it might even have been Kennewickian, but the Native Americans don't like to talk about that. Heck a lot of them don't even admit they walked here themselves.

n.n said...

Airbnb will help you navigate the world, but misplacing your car will be your Alamo.

tim in vermont said...

I don't know. I kind of like the sentence once Althouse explained the "ironically" part, which I sort of snagged on.

The Drill SGT said...

Texians and Tejanos.

If I were sending somebody to San Anton, I'd tour the Menger Hotel, but not stay there.

Will Cate said...

I blame Alanis Morrissette

Yes! Was trying to think of that singer's name, but had a mental-block and was too lazy to Google it

BDNYC said...

I agree with those who say Texas isn't the South. At least that part of Texas isn't.

East of Houston, sure, there's a Southern feel.

The rest of the state is principally divided culturally among Tex-Mex, desert Southwest, Great Plains, Far West and more. It should come as no surprise that a state as big as Texas would be diverse, and that a state as proud as Texas would still feel distinctly Texan in all these different places.

furious_a said...

Bob Ellison said...
Edmund, I think of Texas as both South and West. No?


Farms and trees to the east of IH35,
ranches and cattle to the west, so *half* South and West, is more like it.

Paco Wové said...

It was inevitable that once the Alamo visit occurred, any instance of forgetfulness that took place on the trip would be "ironic". Like Wallace Stevens' jar, the Alamo took dominion everywhere.

furious_a said...

The French (de la Salle) got to Texas before the Spanish, but their colony failed and was rebuilt as a presidio by the later-arriving Spaniards.

Quaestor said...

Irony isn't what it used to be. Ironically.

Ann Althouse said...

I drove 1200 twice last week, through Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas, and the Texas part was the ugliest. Just the view from the Interstate, but that's where I was.

Quaestor said...

Suppose the author had misplaced a car rented from Alamo, now that's irony.

Joanne Torres said...

Perhaps "ironically" is now used reflexively, as in the abominable "LOLs" that are peppered liberally throughout texts, emails, blogposts, and whatever other social media communications apps and methods there may be, seemingly at random and with no apparent reference to anything one might find funny.

Achilles said...

Will Cate said...
"Honest-to-God, nobody knows how to correctly use the words "ironic" or "ironically" any more."

It can only be used incorrectly in "ironic" jokes or else nobody gets it. But even if they do they don't really.

But the most oft incorrectly used word is literally. People are literally using the word ironically wrong failing to make ironic jokes.

JCCamp said...

The only time I was in San Antonio, ironically to speak at a law enforcement conference, I became a crime victim. We remembered to see the Alamo (impressive), then went to River Walk and had the beef steak. When we returned to the parking lot, our ironically named Taurus had parts missing. I passed on the Giant Rack O' Ribs at the restaurant, and ironically, the roof rack on the rental car was likewise missing. The lot attendant, about 2 feet away in his little shed, said it was ironic that we thought he might have seen something as the perpetrators were probably members of the invisible underclass. Had only we known Sara and Zack, we probably could have spared ourselves this indignity and patronized a higher class parking lot. But, ironically, Sarah and Zack would never have spoken with me for precisely the same reason.

EDH said...

He should have pissed on the Alamo, like Ozzy Osbourne.

ken in tx said...

Texas is both part of the South and part of the West. The South stretches from the Rio Grande to the Potomac, a big place, and includes parts of Indiana and Illinois, any place where you get grits with breakfast without ordering them. East Texas looks like Alabama. West Texas looks like New Mexico. Texas is the most American state. The Texas state flag is one star and two stripes out of the US flag magnified. The Texas weather report is like a US weather report. You can have a snow storm in Wichita Falls, a hurricane in Brownsville, a flood in Austin, and a drought in Waco, all at the same time.

J Lee said...

San Antonio's always been the gateway to South Texas and the Rio Grande Valley, but the economic vibe has been far different the past five years due to the Eagle Ford shale play just to it's south. The city already had surpassed Dallas in population and has blown past it since 2010 in sales tax revenues, not all coming from tourists hanging out downtown, at Sea World or Fiesta Texas.

How that plays out going into 2015 with the current oil price plunge remains to be seen,m while the oil and the oilfield workers are to the south of the city, the money's up in the hills to the north of San Antonio. Both could take a hit this year.

Jeff Teal said...

Haven't been back to Bexar in forty years but then San Antonio didn't feel anything like Georgia.Used to love the Fiesta Flambeau though and Breckenbridge Park was the best zoo.The Woody Museum had an amazing collection of Early Spanish(Mission era) arms and firearms.The Lone Star breweries Hall of Horns was over the top. Fishing was great at Canyon Lake.Like in Atlanta all of us school kids had to make the annual pilgramage to the site of the Honorable defeat(Cyclorama and Alamo).Had my first enchilada at Valley-Hi Elementary school and was promptly sick.Can't get enough Mexican and Tex-Mex food today.Spanish was required in school back then-for a second grader.Loved that place rattlesnakes water moccasins and all.

MadisonMan said...

Our airbnb experience in Paris was excellent. You end up living for a couple days in a neighborhood. I'm sure you can pick a bad neighborhood, but we had beginner's luck, maybe. It's a more rewarding experience than a sterile hotel (where I'm typing this).

JSD said...

Much of Texas is ugly. That’s just the look of money. People bitch about fracking have never seen Eagle Ford or Permian. It ain’t pretty. You can see Eagle Ford from space. All the well flares illuminate a long swath of South Texas on satellite photos (google image). The shale deposit extends deep into Northeastern Mexico. Those fields, called the Burgos Basis, are larger than Eagle Ford. It’s an ocean of oil. In 2015, Mexico is accepting international lease bids for the first time since they nationalized the industry in 1938. I still expect them to move ahead, even with these depressed prices.