THINGS I LOVED / HATED THIS WEEK #71

LOVE:

Eurovision:

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There is a very special place in my heart for Eurovision. Not many people here in America have any reason to know about it, but there is a select group of us who are enlightened and aware of this miracle. This usually comes from having lived in Europe for some time and watching the show with complete bewilderment that quickly transforms into a fiery passion. For those of you not in the know, I’ll break it down: the Eurovision Song Contest was created after World War II so that the European countries could find peace through a song and dance contest every year. If the premise sounds ridiculous, well, it is, and each year the countries that make it through to the final round perform their song in the host country. These songs range from weepy ballads that nobody likes to insane hard rock or pop, which is really what the show is all about. It’s not about quality, but rather madness and message. Here are some snaps of the lyrics:

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I’ve watched for the past four years, ever since my glorious introduction to it in Paris. For the joy of citizens around the world, the show is streamed over the Internet and I can sit on my couch in my lounge and partake even though I’m on the other side of the world. This year was absolutely phenomenal and the winner, Conchita Wurst, in the gif above, stole my heart as well as the majority of Europe. She is now the Queen of Europe and is a beautiful drag queen with an enviable beard. Here’s her song:

As I said, the show is madness. This year there was bipolar rock from Armenia, a rather good boy band from Finland, suggestive butter churning in Poland, and so much more. It’s the greatest three hours of early spring. After the contestants have performed, the real show begins, which is the judging. Each country can award points in various allotments and then representatives from the country announce the major points. It takes ages, it’s awkward, and it is brilliant. Whenever Russia would get a point, the stadium would boo with reckless abandon. Whenever our beloved Conchita from Austria earned more points, I felt so happy and tearful. She couldn’t believe she was winning and her reactions were flawless and absolute perfection. Before all the countries could give their points, Conchita had already had enough to sweep the contest and all of Europe was gleefully weeping. It was more political than ever because of Russia and the victory of a drag queen was seen as the perfect insult to Putin — which it was, but Conchita was also a divine being who gave a perfect speech as she claimed her trophy. It was very Hunger Games, actually, but it was one of my favorite Eurovision broadcasts of all time. Long live Conchita!

My Writing Is ALIVE Again:

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I have always believed that each person has a novel in them. Some of us have a few, but we all have at least one. In the back of our mind is a story just waiting to be told. Unfortunately, people don’t often write these out, and if they did, Beysus only knows that less than 1% would be published. The traditional world of publishing has something of a tall gate around it — it’s nearly impossible to get in. So, loads of people try out independent presses and self publishing, which I approve of, but sadly this opens the Pandora’s box of crap. So, since there is now an abundance of garbage available to buy, it’s difficult to wade through and find quality pieces. I’m off topic. I was talking about the great novel in us all. I have one that I know will be grand entitled Hôtel-Ker-Maria, which I’ve been actively trying to write for six years. I’ve travelled all over the south of France looking at locations and I’ve spent hours and hours going over the documents I’ve amassed for research. I know the story like the back of my own hand. The characters are all there and the plot is figured out, but when I go to write it, I just can’t. It immediately becomes dry and uninteresting. In the meantime, I’ve been writing a completely different series, which has been one of the most contenting things I’ve ever done. Perhaps you’ve bought a copy of my novella, Haskell & Eudora, where I introduce my new characters? If not, you really should! I finished that at the end of last year and the characters have been dormant for a while, but last week they started talking to me again. Plots began to weave themselves together in my mind. I can’t begin to understand the creative process, so I have no idea where these ideas come from. They fall out of my brain onto paper — or a word processor — and come alive of their own volition. I’m having the best time each day with Eudora in Victorian London as she is about to set out on a new adventure. I think this might be my problem with Hotel Ker Maria. That story is too planned — when I write in this new world of characters, it’s all very spontaneous and comes from someplace I don’t know. Someday the book will be done.

MY RANGE IS INSTALLED:

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I am so happy that a gas line was finally run to my kitchen and I’m finally able to use the expensive professional oven I bought a few years ago in my own home! For the longest time, it was in my other house, but that’s a sore subject that I’m not going to extrapolate on at this point. It sat in my current kitchen for some time — the oven is run off of electricity, so that works fine — but the range is gas, which my house did not have. In the meantime, I’ve been using an awful hot plate, which never gets hot enough to boil water. That’s upsetting. So, I’ve gotten used to doing all my cooking in the oven or on that stupid hot plate or just having cold foods. It’s been kind of awful. I’ve never had a gas oven, so I look forward to learning how to cook using this kind of heat. I plan on cooking my way through Martha Stewart’s book, Meatless, so that I can teach myself all about it. I’m excited for that. I’m not excited, though, that I no longer have an excuse to not finish remodeling my kitchen. I haven’t been painting and wallpapering the last section of the room since I didn’t know where they would run the gas line. Now that it’s all done, I suppose I’d better get the room finished up. Le sigh…it’ll be my goal before school gets out. That gives me a few weeks. I’m sure I won’t. I’m an amazing procrastinator.

The World Market:

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I adore the World Market. I am glad that I don’t live next to one, though, because they would have every single dollar I have ever had. The shop is flawless. I don’t even know how I found out about it the first time. I think I was given a frame for my birthday one year that was shaped like a martini glass and covered in rhinestones. Of course I approved or this and wanted to know more about the shop it came from. I fell immediately in love with the crazy selection of food and household goods and regularly spent too much money there. The spontaneous tea party that cost two hundred dollars is a particularly happy memory. I went again last night and had the best time getting oddities, like organic tonic water and a necklace for my iPhone. That will actually come in handy, I have shorts without pockets, which are the stupidest things in all the world. Go to the World Market, reader.

Wendy Williams:

I’ve written before about The Wendy Williams Show and how deeply I want to be best friends with Wendy. Remember when I walked past her studio audience in New York City and we all said, “How you doin’?” to each other. Good day, that. I’ve always enjoyed gossipy talk shows, but this one is the epitome of everything I’ve ever wanted out of an hour of television. It’s glorious when she goes hard on celebrity gossip, which is really why I started watching. When news broke of the now infamous elevator bashing that went down betwixt Solange Knowles, Jay-Z, and my dear friend Beyoncé, I knew that Wendy would cover the story with aplomb. I was not wrong. It was glorious! It was intense. We were all exhausted after she finished dishing all the dirt. I never knew about Bey’s tattoo that said “JZ.” Did you? It’s gone now, it’s being removed somehow! We know now, as our beloved Wendy said, “There’s something rotten in Denmark.” What a perfect quote. Then, she compared herself to Angela Lansbury in Murder She Wrote and it was basically the most flawless eleven minutes of television I’ve ever had the extreme pleasure to witness. If you aren’t watching or taping this show every damn day, you are doing yourself an extreme disservice. Correct your faults, reader.

HATE:

Two Day Weekends:

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Two day weekends are sad. I have long been a proponent that each weekend should consist of at least three days. With three days, you have time to work, time to luxuriate, and time to recover from the week and weekend. Not on a two day weekend. Naturally you want to rest and recover, so you don’t really get around to accomplishing anything. I don’t anyway, which is why I don’t really get terribly enthused about the weekends. Sure, it’s absolutely nice to get a couple days off, but I’ve long felt that any time spent away from work should be celebrated as a vacation. That’s why I’m turning my house into a vacation home. That was one of the greatest ideas I ever had. I can’t wait for memorial Day!

Mushroom Hunting:

Finally I've found you!

A post shared by Benjamin Phillips (@bdphillips) on

I adore morel mushrooms and if I had a much bigger bank account, I would simply buy them instead of looking for them. I love nature and all that jazz, but I don’t have the patience to scrounge about in the undergrowth of our familial forest to hunt down the little devils. It’s always rewarding to find them, but I hate the constant thoughts that run through my head as I dart through the fallen brush. “Will I find any? Am I going to be bitten by a tick? Is there a headless horseman here someplace? [Genuine concern, reader.] Is there any point in looking? I want to go home. Can’t somebody else do this for me?” Yesterday, I was out for about an hour and found four. FOUR. I was slightly miffed that mother nature was being so cruel to me, I’m sure I’ll forgive as soon as I cook them up into delicious coddled eggs tonight for dinner. Of course, I’ll keep dragging myself about later this week as the yellow morels start popping up. I like the yellow ones better anyway.

CITIBANK:

BLG CITI EARNS

OH I HATE YOU WITH PASSION! LET ME IN! I’ve been whining and complaining for ages about not having a card with a pin and chip. I’ve written companies the most pathetic missives about getting my cards updated, but they have so far refused. It’s stupidity in the extreme. Credit cards with chips are incredibly more secure than the ones we have here with magnetic strips. Anyway, since I’m going to Europe in a little over a month, I want to have a card for the situations where I need one — mainly to get tickets out of automated machines and to rent bicycles. You simply cannot with a magnetic strip and there aren’t always attendants available to help you. This drives me insane. So, I applied for a Citibank card since they have microchips. THEY DENIED ME! Why? WHY!?!? I have excellent credit and a great history with the other cards I’ve used. This is madness. I thought companies wanted to give us as much credit as possible so that we would drown in debt? Is this not the case anymore? In irritation, I’ve applied for a different card with Chase, a company that I prefer anyway, and we’ll soon see if I get my microchip card. If I don’t, I’ll lose my shit.

To-Do Lists:

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A few years ago, to counteract the boredom of my life I decided to make charts and lists of the things I wanted to accomplish, so that I wouldn’t waste my time doing nothing at all. At first, these were helpful, but now they’re oppressive. I work more when I get home than I do at work and when I decide to ignore the list, I feel a terrible guilt. This isn’t how I want to live! I am going to have to do some kind of reforms with my lists. I can’t do twenty-five lengthy tasks each night. It’s getting ridiculous and is completely counterintuitive to my plans to make my home a vacation home. I’m going to start trying to keep the list down to a few important and necessary things — not every moment of my life from dawn until I go to sleep needs to be scheduled.

Impatience For The School Year’s End:

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If you had asked me when I graduated high school what I was planning on doing with my life, I would have immediately curled up into a ball and sobbed. I hated being asked that by every single person in the building. I don’t know why we have to know what we want to do with the other sixty years we have on earth when we are so young. It’s a nonsensical system that I’ve long fought. Anyway, off topic, that just really pisses me off. I don’t think kids should ever be corralled into a university a few months after graduating from high school. They should be given opportunities to see the world and all that it has to offer; they should see a spectrum of careers available in the world. College is all fine and good when you’re ready and you want it, not when it’s an expectation. But back to my original introduction; if you told me I’d be working in the middle school where I went to middle school, I would have glared at you. I didn’t care much for school. I just liked my friends and French class. That was about it. So, the fact that I’m working here is still a confusing thing to me. I really don’t mind it, though. I have come to enjoy working with the teams I’m with and with the students in the classes I’m in. It’s kind of silly, isn’t it? But, as much as I really do appreciate and enjoy this job…for the most part…I simply cannot wait for summer vacation. I’m more anxious for it than the kids. I NEED TO BE OFF NOW. It’s time.

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