THINGS I LOVED / HATED THIS WEEK #73

LOVE:

The Hunt:

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My life is forever changed by this app called The Hunt. With it, you can take a picture of an outfit you want but can’t find anywhere online. Then, you upload it to the app and other peasants who have the app look for it and find it for you — for free. I’m obsessed with this concept. I have an entire folder on my laptop of sweaters and pants I can’t find. Now they will all be mine! Oh, reader, I shall look glorious! Jim Chapman wore the most beautiful ombre sweater that I fell in love with. I knew that I would look awesome in it, but I couldn’t find it anywhere. My people on The Hunt found it for me in a few hours, but I can’t afford it. It’s $160! I can afford that, of course, but not with a trip to Europe coming up in less than a month. I think I will attempt to make my own ombré sweater. How hard can it be, really? Y’all should download the app. It’s fabulous.

Olive Garden’s Caprese Salad Topper:

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I don’t know why I’ve spent so many years of my life not eating salad at Olive Garden. I don’t know why I’ve spent so much time of my life not eating salads in general. I love salads. I would eat one for every meal now. And I’m not saying that in the annoying way that healthy hipsters do; I actually enjoy salads. Especially ones fresh out of the garden with a nice vinaigrette. Or a giant bowl full of everything at Whole Foods. I think it’s an incredible blessing that I don’t live next door to a Whole Foods — I would never have any money at all! Anyway, Olive Garden now has the option to put a topping on your salad. One is with salami, to which I say, “NO THANK YOU,” but the other is a caprese topper. You get kale and balls of mozzarella and roasted peppers and you’re supposed to get basil, but I never get any basil at all and that’s tremendously upsetting. It’s still delicious, though, and I gorge on it whenever I get the chance. I’ve rarely had a better salad anywhere, and I’ve been nice places, reader. The salad at Ralph Lauren in Chicago is better, I suppose, but these are different realms. Get to the Olive Garden, reader; when you’re there, you’re family.

Basil Gimlet:

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Each summer, I take great responsibility in choosing my official drink of the summer. In the future, I like to think that perhaps this will be an eagerly awaited announcement that my fans will be clamoring for. Liquor companies will send me their finest stuffs to sample and mix and the cocktail I choose will become emblematic. In the mean time, I just take simple pleasure in concocting new things and old things and finding what best speaks to me. The summer of 2012 was all about the sidecar, which I still love. I’ve had so many of them, though, that I don’t take the same pleasure in them as I once did. Last year was the year of the gin and tonic, a cocktail that will never truly go out of style and will forever remain my favorite drink. But this summer, after much deliberation and much anguish and much concern, I have chosen the basil gimlet. This is nectar from heaven, reader. When I take a sip, I’m transported to Robertson Boulevard in Hollywood, sipping on one of their crazy expensive drinks as I watch the peasants and celebrities parade last from Chanel to Prada and then back again. Gimlets are traditionally made with limes, but they’re impossible to find these days, since all the lime trees died of the plague or something — I couldn’t follow the story, I was too anguished. Instead, I use Rose’s Lime Juice, a truly delightful concoction that is heartily unhealthy. To make the gimlet, take six basil leaves and muddle them with 1.5 ounces of Rose’s in a cocktail shaker, add 2 ounces of gin and ice. Shake like mad. Strain into an antique champagne glass, garnish with another basil leaf, and enjoy. You can serve over ice if you like and you can add tonic if you choose — all these options are lovely. I adore basil and I think this cocktail is just swell. I will need to plant some more basil in the garden, though!

Neurobiology:

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I bet you never saw this one coming. Neurobiology is not something that I would have ever discussed as something I found any pleasure in — I don’t think I really even knew what it was until a month or so ago. I began an introductory course to neurobiology on www.coursera.org and immediately fell rather in love with the topic. I do not claim to be an expert on this at all and find it very challenging, but it’s such a great joy to understand how my body operates beyond the basics that we are all taught in high school — or even just middle school. I never quite realized how miraculous my brain was until taking this course. I didn’t realize all that went into vision. I didn’t understand the difference between the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system. I didn’t know what the different sections of the brain did or what they were called. I didn’t know we all have blind spots! I didn’t know that I was excellent at facial recognition! I didn’t know that it was such fun. I always thought the brain was a murky blob in my head that played some kind of vital role, but I had always regarded it as a very foreign and confusing part of me. I now realize that we know incredible amounts about it and I honestly don’t understand why some of this information is not better imparted to schoolchildren around the world. Maybe it’s just because I went to a below standard school district? I don’t know. I highly recommend you learn more about your brain, reader, it’s fascinating.

Sweet Tea:

sweet-tea2

Here’s something not everybody knows about me: I’m basically Southern. I spent many months of my childhood in Nashville with country stars and wonderful buttermilk biscuits and Southern hospitality. As a child, I probably personally knew more country singers than other children. I haven’t thought about that for some time, but I think it might be why I’m rather Southern now. My dad grew up in Tennessee in some tiny village where the people have such thick accents you can barely understand them. Some vestige of this must have rubbed off on me and my sister. We speak more slowly, more fluidly, more melodically than the people here. Although I’m a native Iowan, I have always been more of a Southern gentleman. There is potential for a biological explanation to this — allegedly, I have an ancestor who owned a plantation. If this is true, it really explains a lot about me. Mainly my total adoration of countryside mansions, live oak trees, and mint juleps. One aspect of southern life that I never really understood was the obsession with sweet tea. I never tried it, really, but the concept disturbed me. Well, the other day, I decided to give it a go and I’ve since changed my mind. It was very hot outside and I needed a refreshing beverage that wasn’t full of gin. So I brewed a strong cup of pomegranate-black tea, shook it over ice, and topped it off with simple syrup (something I always have in my refrigerator.) It was light and refreshing and I fell in love with it. I have it every day. This might help explain my newfound obesity.

HATE:

Slanted Walls RUINING MY DESIGN:

Not quite the Chateau Marmont, but it works for now. #luxury

A post shared by Benjamin Phillips (@bdphillips) on

At my house, I have the full run of the upstairs. I can do anything I like with my design and it’s very nice. I’m finishing up work on the “gym,” which is really just a big walk in closet. I have one more room to do (actually two, but my brain can’t quite focus on that one yet), which I’m thinking of turning into some kind of art studio — I think I’d like a place to work on painting. I’ve always wanted to be a painter, after all, well, I’ve always wanted to have the ability to paint. I think my work would be a blending of Van Gogh and Munch before my own style developed. This post is not about my future painting career, it’s about the goddamn slanted walls that are ruining my life! For reasons I’ll never understand, back in 1880-something-or-other, my ancestors decided to build the most idiotic house in the nation. They made choppy rooms that made little sense on the lower level and then upstairs they decided to have walls that are all slanted. Why they couldn’t have built the house a few feet higher so that the upstairs is actually usable, I’ll never know. I’ve long thought that if I come into money and I still live there, I’ll raise the roof up and fix their error. It’s just stupid. Why not have slanted walls in the attic where nobody goes? It’s beyond idiotic and it has made my interior design rather trying. You can’t hang anything on the walls. They eat up all the space. It’s awful. I’ve managed to work around them so far, but I get so pissed off. I’m easily pissed off.

Neighbor’s Dogs:

Dogs

I’m the first to admit that I’m not a dog person. Give me every cat in the world, but you can keep the dogs. I have no issue with them. I’ve owned dogs and I surely will again — every year when I go to the State Fair, I fall in love with the greyhounds, and my brother has Pomeranians that are total delights. But, I’ve always been more of a cat person. I love all animals, but I have my preferences. And so, nothing irritates me more than being chased, growled at, followed, and licked by dogs when I am just trying to take a walk. It seems that every one of my neighbors (I hate having neighbors, by the way, I just want to be a hermit) has at least three dogs that roam freely about. This is so rude. Why do I have to be molested by no less than seven dogs every time I leave my house? There are people who actually have fears of dogs. People think that everybody loves dogs and wants to have them around. WELL I DON’T. I don’t want any dogs around and I don’t want to make idle chitchat and I don’t want any kind of interaction with anybody at all when I don’t want it. I’m not the kindliest person, I know.

Poor Vision:

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I hate my eyes. I have hated them for ages now. I can no longer recall a time in my life when I could see without glasses or contacts. I can’t imagine the joy that would overwhelm me should I ever wake up one morning fully able to see the world around me. I’d weep openly. I’d weep every day nonstop. I was told that my vision would stop changing so much as I aged, which is somewhat true, but I still notice my eyes getting blurrier and blurrier with each passing year. I can’t see my own hand before my face. It’s really very upsetting. If I lost my glasses, I myself, would be inexorably lost. I hope to someday soon have my vision corrected with lasers so that I can experience for a while the joy of perfect vision. I’ve long been convinced that sometime in my life I will go blind and I want to see all the world before then. I can’t think of anything worse than bad eyes.

Not Having A Place All My Own:

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I have very few regrets in my life. I’m not all that old, really. I oftentimes feel that I’m ancient, but that’s so very far from the truth. I can reasonably expect to live about sixty more years — at a minimum. There’s loads of time left to explore and learn. I hope that I won’t be saying that the day before I drop dead. For as long as I can remember, I have had a deep and incredible fondness for property. I’ve long wanted to own a building where I could experiment with my style and different living concepts. In another life, I would have been an architect and interior designer like Frank Lloyd Wright — he designed every last detail of his creations — except I would have more massive windows and much higher ceilings. I hit my head on one of his ceilings once, and that has lingered in my memory ever since. I nearly had a wonderful old brick  building that I affectionately termed the Palazzo, but that’s a tale of woe that I won’t delve too deep into lest I spend the rest of my day weeping. I live out in the countryside in a decent sized farmhouse with acres and acres of land spreading away from me on all sides. It’s all in the family, but it’s not mine. Not yet, anyway. I crave a place where I can escape, where I can do anything I like, where I can turn on as many lights as I want and I can hang whatever art I want on the walls and I can paint the ceilings black. I need something like that. I think it’s very important for a person to be alone. In another life — probably the one before being an architect — I would be a hermit. I would be the world’s happiest hermit. Fingers crossed for my future Transylvanian apartment.

Becoming Fat:

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Ummmm, so, why didn’t any of you tell me that I was getting fat? I rely on other people to tell me when my beauty is fading. Ever since I gave up on my lengthy quest for abdominal muscles, I admit that I haven’t been the most dedicated to fitness. It was winter and there was no force on earth that could motivate me to do much more than nap and eat. As spring has arrived, my dormant desires for exercise are slowly returning and I’m walking and running again. I don’t look any different, which makes the revelation of my weight quite a shock. I haven’t weighed as much as the scale told me this morning in ages. I almost don’t believe it. If I looked fat, I think I might be conscious of it. Maybe I do! Maybe I have that mental disorder where you can’t see yourself as you truly are? Oh Beysus, please let me be skinny again!

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