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Critical Ass

[whitespace] Will someone please buy food editor Michael Bauer a thesaurus?

By Dan Pulcrano

Persons who find themselves consistently annoyed by the shortcomings of contemporary culture and modern society should consider going into professional journalism, where the art of expressing annoyance can be turned into a livelihood, or at least a way to collect free CDs.

In the Chronicle, for example, compact-disc reviewer James Sullivan referred to "the typically annoying Sheryl Crow" as if it were a royal title. Meantime, Aidin Vaziri described Nine Inch Nails-sound-alike Richard D. James' "Come to Daddy" as having a "nauseating effect." Not only did it make him want to hurl, but he found the musician's electronic special effects--you guessed it--"annoying."

The prize for most annoyed writer, though, goes to Chronicle food editor Michael Bauer, a man without peer in local newspaperdom, as determined by a sophisticated computer analysis. Bauer conveyed his annoyance no less than seven times in the first 11 months of 1997, inevitably when restaurants failed to shower the impatient foodie with the impeccable levels of service he has grown to expect on his employer-funded scarfing expeditions.

In a January review of the Hebrew-influenced landmark Moxie, Bauer commented, "The restaurant's weakest point is service," although "the frustration level is never high enough to become truly annoying." In March, on the other hand, he grew increasingly annoyed, complaining that pacing was off at DallaTorre. "It was slightly annoying," he groused.

The same month, after dining at Yabbies, Bauer equivocated, "At times the food comes out a little slowly ... but it stops short of being annoying." Eight months later, he recycled the identical phrase, noting that the service at Cassis "stops short of being annoying."

To appear original, the vocabulary-impaired cut-and-paster sometimes flips the phrase when he feels compelled to expose a clumsy cliché to the Bay Area's morning light more than once. About service at the Franciscan, he wrote, "these missteps might seem less annoying," while at Garibaldi's he found such "annoying missteps" as "too much salt, underdone meat, hard vegetables." Then, in a rare moment of succinctness, Bauer let one dining establishment know how he really felt, without "stopping short" and without "missteps"--or even a "slightly" or a "truly." He really let them have it, concluding: "The most annoying aspect of One Market is the service."

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From the January 1998 issue of the Metropolitan.

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