THINGS I LOVED/HATED THIS WEEK #243

LOVE:

Pierre Hermé in New York City:

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It is embarassingly passé now, but I’m obsessed with macarons. I learned how to make them at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris as a student and worked diligently to perfect and improve my own recipe. This took me considerable time, dedication, frustration, and expense, but after many failed experiments and a number of glorious triumphs, I felt that I could declare my macarons the best ones available in the United States of America. For the longest time, I held true to that belief. I don’t think it’s completely hyperbolic either, reader, because I went out of my way to try each and every macaron I could come across. I would try the ugliest ones, the most beautiful ones, the most expensive, and the most frozen. Inevitably they were awful. And reader, I was absolutely thrilled when they were bad. The worse the better for me because it reinforced my sense of superiority. There exists one baker though that I admit does better than me. His macarons are a masterpiece. His name is Pierre Hermé. I’ve never had the opportunity to meet him, but I have been a devoted acolyte of his ever since I tried his milk-chocolate and passionfruit macaron called the Mogador. It changed my life. Whenever I found myself in Paris, I found myself in his shop. Whenever I was in London, I made a detour to stock up. When I lived for a month in Nice, I was thrilled to find a little kiosk selling my beloved macarons. I will forever be a fan. But Pierre would not come to America. When asked, he said that it was too difficult to find the butter he likes. This was so pretentious that I was ever more enamored of him. Somehow, though, things changed, and Pierre’s macarons arrived on my side of the Atlantic. Inside of Saks Fifth Avenue, on the ninth floor, inside of a fancy restaurant called L’Avenue, is a tiny Pierre Hermé storefront. It has a limited selection of Pierre’s full range, but the Mogador was there. I could have cried. I may have done so. Last week, I finally had the opportunity to be in New York City and I made sure that I made my way to Pierre’s. It was everything I had ever dreamed of. The staff was fabulous. The macarons were fabulous. Everything was absolutely fabulous. I’m so happy. It’s incredibly comforting to know that while Pierre might be on the other side of the country, at least he’s not on the other side of the world.

Omens:

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I’m not sure if this is the right spot to write about this, but it’s been intensely interesting for me, and I have to share with you. For the majority of my life, I’ve been intrigued by the supernatural and the paranormal. I’m a rational person, but when a huge percentage of people claim to see ghosts or predict the future or even encounter an alien, I have to think that something is going on. Could they all be delusional? Maybe. Is that really statistically likely? No. There are things in the world that we simply don’t understand. And though I’m an educated man, I firmly believe in ghosts and the ability to gather information paranormally. It’s happened to me myself. Last week, my father passed away. I didn’t know what to expect, but a few things happened that have forced me to speculate on the supernatural. He was a major fan himself, and if there was a person who would delight more in meddling from the beyond, it would be him. The oddities started occurring when he was in the hospital. My sister and I were rushing to the hospital to deal with his situation, and as we drove, an antique hearse slowly crept by us. This was a coincidence of course, but since then I have seen an inordinate number of old hearses. Literally at least five and none of them new. They’ve all looked like they’re from a junkyard. That was weird in and of itself, but for me, one of the most striking and inexplicable things that happened was the day before he passed away. I was on my way to the hospital to sign papers to transfer him to Hospice care and the second I got into my car, I noticed something didn’t smell right. I worried that maybe a mouse or something had died in my engine, but there was nothing there when I checked later. As I drove the hour to the hospital, the smell got worse and worse. I rationalized that maybe it was a skunk that I’d managed to hit or it was coming from a meat packing plant — even though there were none nearby. About halfway there, the smell was overpowering. It was the sickly sweet scent of a dead body. You know the smell? It is absolutely unmistakable. I was in a rush, but this was perturbing enough that I pulled off on the side of the road to open the hood of my car and look for the cause of the smell. I fully expected to see a rotting raccoon or even a cat, but there was nothing. I got back in the car, gagged on the smell, covered my nose with my shirt and hurried to my destination. That night, the car smelled normal with no trace. He died the next day. The last oddity is a clock that’s hung on my wall for as long as I can remember. It’s probably been there longer than I’ve been alive. My father didn’t like the ticking sound it made, so it hadn’t been wound in at least four years. It hasn’t ticked or rang in all that time. I moved it off the wall and sat it down and it hasn’t stopped ticking and ringing since. Yes, it was moved, but I don’t think I jostled it enough when moving it ten feet for it to be acting like it was newly wound. It’s rather perturbing. Now, all of this might be coincidental, and the majority of it surely is, but there’s still something odd about it all. I have to believe it’s a message from beyond. And if not, at least I’m going to find some comfort in it.

Ring Doorbell 2:

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Every time I make a purchase on Woot.com, I feel an urgency to share the news with you all. It’s one of my favorite hidden treasures on the Internet, even though it isn’t all that hidden. I am constantly satisfied with the results of my purchases there. I’ve bought computers and fat freezers and now doorbells. Because of recent events, I’ve been curious about having some more security at my house. Certain events have occurred and I have no idea how to check the validity of them, so I decided I needed some kind of security camera. The Internet is spying on me, obviously, and all of you too, so I got a notification about a sale on Ring doorbells. I’ve known of them, but they’ve always been far too expensive for me to trifle with one. Woot was offering refurbished models for a little over half the retail price, so I bit the bullet and ordered. I was distracted by personal matters for a spell so it took me a while to get the thing installed, but that was the easiest thing in the world to do. After getting it set up and hooked to my network, whenever somebody rings the bell, “Hava Nagila” starts playing on all my Alexa devices and my watch buzzes and my phone alerts me. I literally can look on the phone and see what is happening on my front steps. It records any significant motion. It alerts me whenever a person walks past the doorbell. It allows me to take a live look at any time of day. It allows me to communicate with the person on the other side of the door from wherever I am. I’m twenty miles away right now and just answered a family member who was stopping by to offer condolences. We had a conversation through my doorbell. I could not have done this without it and I have never felt so connected to the world. Absolutely wild. You must get one, reader, it will change your life and make you feel so secure. I bought this as a whim, but I now firmly believe it’s a necessity.

Derry Girls:

Derry Girls

A lot has happened since I binge watched Derry Girls, so this might not be my usually hyperbolic and effusive review. As I wrote before, over the Labor Day weekend, I did next to nothing, which was something that was immensely necessary for me. I’ve been stupidly busy of late and I needed to just sit on the couch and laugh. Jessica suggested this show, and I have to admit that I didn’t really get it at first. It’s about an all girls Catholic school in Ireland during The Troubles. This was a recent period where there was immense fighting between the Catholics and Protestants in Ireland. It seems so strange that this could still be an issue the way it was back in the Medieval times, but people have always been — and will always be — intolerant. A group of friends attends this school and they aren’t exactly popular or smart or sporty or anything really. It’s their exceptional normalcy that makes their characters so heartwarming. One of the group is a young man forced to attend the all girls school who is constantly bullied by his friends, but he is also beloved by them. Over the course of the first two seasons, the group navigates the school paper, getting to a concert, surviving domestic terrorism, the consequences of taking hallucinogenic scones to a funeral, going to the prom, and all the normal things that all teenagers go through. It’s very, very funny when you figure out what’s happening. Once the accent is sorted and you get a better handle on the character dynamics, you can’t help but fall in love with the show. It’s silly and warm and overcast with a touch of tragedy. The Troubles are in the backdrop, but they are always at the forefront mentally. There are only twelve episodes out right now, and you’ll tear through them, and then you’ll be a Derry Girl forever like Jess and I.

Mean Girls on Broadway:

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Like every millennial, I enjoy the movie Mean Girls. It’s a hoot and a half and was one of the last moment’s that Lindsay Lohan’s star shined for cinematic fame instead of tabloid infamy. I like Lindsay both ways, if I’m honest with you, and if I write with candor I prefer the wild Lindsay of terrible Lifetime movies and failing Grecian beach clubs. And did you watch that wild reality show that she did where Oprah nodded at her sadly? It was insane. But this installment is not about Lindsay, it’s about BROADWAY! I enjoyed the movie, but I have never been obsessed with it like some people. When I heard that Tina Fey was going to make a musical version of it, I wasn’t sure that I agreed with the potential. I wasn’t able to imagine how it was possible to translate to the stage. Well, for a change, I was very wrong, and the film might be inferior to the musical version. If you don’t know the story, it’s a about a young girl who starts at a new school after living with her family all her life in Africa with her scientist parents. She comes to the new school eager and excited to make friends and do normal things but it isn’t long before the wrong crowd claims her and she finds herself in the fierce and dangerous world of teenage drama. Madness ensues. The movie has held up well, but the stage version has the story updated for today. Now there are Tweets and Snaps and references to the current presidential administration. All of these things make the stage adaptation much better. The songs are well done and the character of Regina George is a complete triumph. Her character was meant to belt sultry and scary ballads. I saw the play this weekend in New York City, and I didn’t plan to love it so much. That seems to happen at every Broadway show that I see, though. The man seated beside me must have been a repeat viewer. He said the lines along with the actors and then guffawed so loudly I was glad he was seated on my deaf side. He was having the time of his life, and we all were because of him, too! The play was wonderful. It’s going on a tour, and reader, you simply have to see. Go now. At least download the recording.

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