Archive for October, 2010

Scent Diary, Oct. 25-31, 2010

Brief Note:  A Week of Violets kicks off Monday, Nov. 1 – check here at noon Eastern Daylight Time for the first review of the week.

Monday, Oct. 25: Rain.  Rainrainrain.  We needed it, but I must say that I was juuust a wee bit miffed that it started to pour only after I got to work, and so missed out on hauling the Lancome Climat out.  I don’t know why, but I like Climat in the rain.  The samples I had in my purse were thoroughly overmatched by the weather, so I waited until I got home to be scented.

And by then it had stopped raining.  SOTE: Shalimar Light.

Tuesday, Oct. 26: Another warm day – where is our fall weather? I miss it.  Also, I’m still mowing the grass every two weeks.  (This pleases The CEO because it means the grass in the pastures is still growing, and this puts off the time when he’ll have to start feeding hay.)  SOTD: Champagne de Bois, which the grocery clerk liked so much she asked where she could get some.

Took the boys to pick out new glasses, since they haven’t had new ones for two years, and Taz’ lenses are so scratched he can barely see out of them.  Gaze’s glasses are still in good shape, and I’ll keep his current pair as a backup since his prescription didn’t change very much.  I think The CEO is getting to need glasses as well – not surprising, since he’s heading into his mid-40s, when many people’s eyes begin to change.

Wednesday, Oct. 27: Rained again this morning.  Sunny again this afternoon.  Weird violets today – I have CBIHP M4 Room With a View on one wrist and Stephen Jones for Comme des Garcons on the other.  In contrast to my previous explorations of these, I’m liking RWaV much better and SJ much, much less… this is very strange.  Must retest on another day.

Thursday, Oct. 28Happy Birthday to The CEO!  Smooches.  Cake and presents after supper…

Another warmish day today, in the 70s, and I’m wearing the girly-wirly Annick Goutal La Violette while finishing up my review of it for the Week of Violets.

Thursday, Oct. 29: Chillier today, highs in the mid-50s.  Well, this is more like it!  I’ve been waiiiiting for this kind of weather.  SOTD: Penhaligon’s Violetta, while finishing up my review for Week of Violets.  These reviews were already mostly-written, but I wanted to re-wear La Violette and Violetta to see if I had missed anything significant. 

I notice that Eddie Van, my minivan, smells like Champagne de Bois from where I spritzed it the other morning.  Yum

SOTA: That Slut Tocade.  I’ve been missing her, and her rosy, smoky vanilla is just right wafted about on this chilly wind.  I mowed about half the yard before it got too chilly… and then I got brave, and dabbed some Rochas Femme (new) on the back of my left hand, and Houbigant Apercu on the back of my right.  Femme is pretty freaky – definitely cumin and crushed peaches for a good hour, and then it’s got a deliciously warm drydown.  I’m thinking now of Balenciaga Rumba.  Apercu, as I expected, is a dry restrained chypre, and although it’s very nice, it’s not comfortable for me.  But then, I’m not an automatic chypre fan; generally chypres have to be very, VERY floral before I can appreciate them.

Friday, Oct. 20:  We had frost last night!  My begonias are (finally) done for, but miraculously the salvia is still fine.  SOTD: Cuir de Lancome.  This is smokier than it was last time I wore it – is my bottle deteriorating? or is it my nose?  I can’t believe how tired I am, and how much stuff I have to do before November starts…

Saturday, Oct. 21: The cousins – Curiosity and Primrose – are visiting this weekend along with their mom, The CEO’s sister, and the boys are all excited.  Bookworm’s gone; the marching band left this morning for a band competition and then were going to head on to an amusement park and stay until the park closed at 1 am before heading home… we’ll have to go to the high school to pick her up around 3 am early Sunday morning.  (Grrr.)  SOTD: Smell Bent One.

As late as Thursday, Taz was insisting that he wanted to be a knight for Halloween.  He had an old cheapie knight costume I bought several years ago – helmet, breastplate, and sword – of which only the breastplate survives, so I was planning to make him a new helmet and sworn out of a gallon milk jug and craft foam, and a shield out of aluminum pizza pans.  Instead, today he insisted that he wanted to be a Viking instead.  GRRR.

Gaze was planning to dress as a cowboy for Halloween, since we had most of that costume just lying around, except for a hat.  We couldn’t find the old cowboy hat, and it was in such badly worn shape the last time I saw it, I’m sure I had thrown it away.  So I picked up the only one I could find – and of course, it’s too small for him!   I guess I shouldn’t be all that surprised: this was the kid who made no progress down the birth canal, and when he was finally born by C-section, my OB-GYN took one look at him and said, “No wonder! Look at the head on this kid!”  His head is, literally, bigger than mine.  And then we realized he’d outgrown the set of cowboy boots too… so that was out the window.

SO.  I therefore spent the entire weekend making Viking costumes.  Horned helmets (supplies: milk jugs, newspaper, masking tape, duct tape, brown paper bags, elastic, fake fur), armor straps and wristbands (more duct tape), and furry capes (faux fur, ribbons and my sewing machine).  Long shirts made good tunics over sweatpants, and the black work boots we already had completed the clothing.  While I was fiddling around trying to make shields, it finally occurred to me that the lids from my big canning pots have handles!  They were great, with some colored tape for decoration, as shields.  Taz had an old “pirate” sword, and Gaze took an old bent curtain rod with a fleur-de-lis finial for a spear. 

Sunday, Oct. 31:  The CEO graciously got out of bed to go pick up Bookworm when she called us at 3:17 a.m.  Sigh.  SOTD: Mauboussin.  Boy, this is a nice fragrance.  I notice that I was using the dregs of my mini bottle, so I’m officially out.  I’m still puzzled as to how I managed to spend so many years thinking I hated Oriental scents, when so many of my current favorites are of this genre… oh, yeah.  Opium, that’s how.

Halloween is officially being celebrated in our town tomorrow night, purportedly because the merchants who participate in the Treat Trail wanted to move the date to a business day.  Crazy, I think – why wouldn’t they just host the Treat Trail on the next business day after Halloween?  Anyway, here’s a picture of Taz (at left) and Gaze as a pair of adorably stern Vikings:

Top image is from Parfumgott at Flickr.  Bottom photo taken by The CEO.

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I have decided, as suggested in a recent post at Perfume Posse, to try wearing one fragrance – and ONLY one fragrance – for the week of Nov. 1-7, as a perfumista experiment.  Will the experience be the same from day to day?  Will I still love whatever I picked as much on Day 7 as on Day1?  What new aspects will appear with multiple-day wearings?  The idea of not picking a new scent every morning (and sometimes yet another in the afternoon or evening) is appealing, since I’ll be spending all my spare November moments working on this year’s novel.   I do tend to pick fragrances for my characters as part of the background material, and wear those fragrances while writing.  For example, last year during NaNoWriMo, I spent much of the month in Chamade, Le Temps d’une Fete, Coty Exclamation! and YSL Paris, because those were the scents my main female character had worn at different points in her life.  I think it might be quite difficult to write scenes for a particular character if I’m wearing something that is all wrong for her (funny, my male character’s fragrance choices never figure into this…)

I’ve narrowed my choices down to four, all fairly quiet scents that have the advantage of being right in many different situations and weathers, and all of which I love: Le Temps d’une Fete, Mariella Burani, Smell Bent One, and Cuir de Lancome.    (Chanel Eau Premiere is another that would work just fine, but I tend to save that one for times when I want to smell elegant and not too individual.) Not sure which I’ll pick, but I’ll announce it in the Scent Diary installment of Nov. 7 okay, fine, I’ll tell you Nov. 1, down in the comments.

Feel free to guess which you think I will pick, or should pick.

Image is of a rare complete collection of miniatures in the book presentation of Jean Patou’s Ma Collection, from seller perfumedepot.123 at eBay.  (If you have an extra $700 lying around the house, it can be yours!)   Ma Collection includes:  Amour Amour, Adieu Sagesse, Caline,  Chaldee, Cocktail, Colony, Divine Folie, L’Heure Attendue, Moment Supreme, Normandie, Que Sais-Je, and Vacances.

I have actually tried several of these (Adieu Sagesse, Chaldee, Normandie, and Vacances) and have samples of Amour Amour and Colony yet to test (thanks, Donna!).  Vacances is one of the most beautiful fragrances I have ever smelled, and while I have not made a decision to sell my firstborn or an internal organ in order to obtain a bottle of it, I seriously considered it.  It’s lovely.  The other three did not suit me at all, although Adieu Sagesse came closest.  There are reviews of several of the Ma Collection scents at Now Smell This, Perfume-Smellin’ Things, and The Non-Blonde, if you visit those sites and search for “patou ma collection.”  I didn’t mean to go into detail about this set of fragrances, but was inspired by that gorgeous photo…

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Helg/Elena at Perfume Shrine has posted an excellent, informative article on the hazards of buying from alternative sources… which are, by and large, the  only ones I buy from!  I can say from experience that everything in her article is valuable information, particularly if you’re going to go chasing “vintage” on eBay or looking for, say, the lovely discontinued Shalimar Light online.

Here’s the link to Elena’s article – do go and check it out, because there are some truly wonderful scents to be had through these avenues, but caveat emptor.

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NaNoWriMo 2010

It’s that time again.

You know, that time when I neglect my family and home (and this blog) in order to frantically type dialogue and description and the like to meet my word count for the day, trying to finish a 50,000-word novel.

Here’s my post on it from last year, and if you click here you can follow how things went for me in 2009.

I’m going for it again this year.  Wish me luck.

Image is Keyboard-blur by striatic at Flickr.

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Fall Picks, 2010

I wanted to wait a while and keep track of not just what works well in the autumn, but what I’ve actually been wearing, bar the scents I’ve worn for test or review.   I knew Scent Diary would be good for something besides my running off at the mouth… So here it is the last week of October, and since I may be incommunicado for a large portion of November, working on my novel for NaNoWriMo, let’s talk fall scents now.  My picks for 2009 are here.

Sonoma Scent Studio Tabac Aurea – especially in the evenings.  Still a sexy-man bomb.  Still a wonderful amalgam of sunny afternoons, faint whiffs of tobacco smoke, earthy forest floors, dry leaves, a worn bomber jacket and the warm skin of one’s beloved.  Gorgeous.  See here for an earlier post on this one.

SSS Champagne de Bois – sparkly sandalwood-and-spices.  Warm, delicious, and cheerful.  (Hey, two SSS fragrances making the list.  Way to go, Laurie!)  Here’s a link to my review of CdB along with Chanel Bois des Iles.

Smell Bent Onea sleeper hit for me.  I’d ordered a small bottle unsniffed, because I thought I’d like it, plus a few other samples from Smell Bent.  Turned out this was the only one I really enjoy start-to-finish; it’s a lot like Dzing! without the animal hide/dung that makes Dzing! so (fascinatingly) impossible for me to wear.  Old books, spices, dry vanilla.  Yum.  Comfort with a side of edgy weirdness.  Brief review here.

 Parfums de Nicolai Le Temps d’une Fetemagic in a bottle.  In the spring, the florals strike me as being more noticeable, but in cooler weather, I tend to notice the lovely base, which is a gorgeous marriage of cool patchouli and moss to warm woods, hay and narcissus.  Makes me think of dappled sunlight through leaves.   Here’s my review of LTdF compared to Guerlain Chamade.

Cuir de Lancome – still the epitome of “Mother’s good leather purse, with her No. 5-scented hanky inside.” I should go get another bottle right now, because it’s out of production and the only leather scent, other than vintage Jolie Madame, that I really like.  When I want it, nothing else will do.  Really, there’s no excuse for not stocking up while I can.  I really don’t see this kind of thing coming back into style.  (Besides, The CEO likes it.)  Review here.

Mariella Burani – very much a comfort scent since it reminds me of my mother, and an any-occasion scent as well.  It’s a friendlier version of No. 5, and I love the lightly-powdery drydown.  Review here.

Others that I’ve worn occasionally, and which have been perfect on the rare occasions we’ve actually had fall weather so far: vintage Lancome Magie Noire (review here).  In fact, the only time Magie Noire seems right to me is on a blustery, rainy fall day.  And I only wear it when I’m going to be by myself, because a) it’s pretty loud, even a drop at a time, and b) it’s actually sort of… stinky, or at least my little bottle of vintage EdT is.  It’s bitter and earthy and witchy, herbal in a magic-cauldron sort of way.  It is not cosy in the least, and The CEO hates it. I have also enjoyed occasional squidges of Teo Cabanel Alahine (review here) and the lovely but discontinued (booo!) Guerlain Shalimar Light (review here), especially before bedtime.  I find them very cozy to sleep in.  I’ve also been wearing a number of violet scents, partly because of the Week of Violets review series, but also because I like violets in the fall: Laura Tonatto Eleanora Duse, Berdoues Violettes Divine, Aimez-Moi, CDG Stephen Jones, SSS Voile de Violette, Balmain Jolie Madame, Annick Goutal La Violette, Penhaligon’s Violetta, Soivohle Violets & Rainwater.

How about you – what scents are you turning to with enjoyment this autumn?

Photo is Autumn River by Evgeni Dinev at freedigitalphotos.net.  Here’s a link to the photographer’s portfolio.

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Scent Diary, Oct. 18-24, 2010

Monday, Oct. 18: Temps in the mid-70s… I sure wish for some rainy-windy weather.  It’s lovely for talking walks, but everything is getting dry and crunchy, and I don’t mean just the leaves.  SOTD: Laura Tonatto Eleanora Duse.  I have been getting out alllll my violet samples and wearing them.  I was surprised to get about 25 minutes’ worth of wear out of Eleanora Duse (I almost abbreviated it ED, but we watch enough sports around here that I am sick to death of the commercials for medications that treat erectile dysfunction).   Last time I  wore it, it lasted at least three hours.  Huh.  Wonder if I underapplied. 

I think I’m getting sick with Bookworm’s virus thingy – I may have missed out on the strep throat, but I have gook running down the back of my throat and I’m coughing those deep rattly coughs that hurt your chest.   SOTE: Alahine.  Sigh, then smile.

Tuesday, Oct. 19:  Low 70s today, expecting rain this evening.  SOTD: Stephen Jones for Comme des Garcons (or the other way round, I forget which).  I hope to wear this often enough to get a handle on it and write a real review.  It is a freaky thing.

I also broke down and bought a small bottle of Moschino Funny! on eBay, after using up two samples this summer and still loving it.  I’ll be putting it away for some time, since it will probably be a birthday present in January and winter would surely suck the life out of this happy grapefruit-rose-tea scent.

Wednesday, Oct. 20: Wet morning in the mid-50s, dry afternoon ten degrees warmer.  SOTM: Serge Lutens Chergui.  Which I don’t like, and which I keep trying because I keep expecting to love it.  I still don’t.  I officially give up.  There are only a few scents I keep trying, hoping that the beauty that others sense in them will someday be mine, and Chergui is one.  The other is Mitsouko.  I think I may hang on to my small decant of Mitsy edp, and retry once a year, but then again I may get sick of the whole fruitless, bootless pursuit. 

SOTA: SSS Tabac Aurea.  Mmmm.  One spritz on my inner elbow, and I have Virtual October 1985 escorting me around everywhere.  “That’s interesting,” Gaze commented as I breezed through the room on the way out the door to pick Bookworm up from cross-country practice. I had put it on about twenty minutes before getting her, and when she got into the van she commented, “You smell weird.”  Oh yeah? I asked.  “It’s not bad or anything, just… strange,” she explained.  Interesting, weird and strange?  Not really.  It’s the far-off hint of cigarettes, mossy forest floor, leaf mould,  leather bomber jacket, gingersnaps, a perfect golden autumn afternoon, old bonfire, and the warm skin of your beloved.  If a man walked by wearing TA, I’d follow him down six miles a’ bad road.  At least.  (Sadly, The CEO has refused.  He has no idea what he’s missing.)

Thursday, Oct. 21: Sick.  Coughing my head off.  I didn’t really want any perfume until later in the day – I eventually thought it might cheer me up.  Although my nose is running, and I’m coughing and sneezing and blowing my nose every third minute, I actually can smell somewhat.  So I put on Cuir de Lancome.  Delicious.  Such a smoky smell, I always think, the P:TG review notwithstanding. 

Just checked Incendiary, the novel by Chris Cleave, out of the library.  Saw the movie on DVD, and Michelle Williams is extraordinary as the unnamed Young Mother whose bomb-squad cop husband and four-year-old son are killed in a suicide bombing at a football game, while she’s at home rooting around on the sofa with the neighborhood journalist/playboy (Ewan MacGregor, by turns really sexy and loathsomely selfish, the sexy part surprising because I’ve never found him attractive before).  Her guilt and grief and loss of purpose drive her to extreme ends.  Added into the mix is her husband’s former boss (Matthew MacFadyen, who like Michelle Williams is an amazing actor – his performance here is a blend of vulnerability, self-righteousness, and irrational stalker behavior, and it set me to actually squirming in my chair from the creepiness), and what he did or did not know beforehand about the bombing.   Excellent, disturbing movie.  The ending, while not exactly Hollywood Happy, is satisfying.  I cried.  (If you’ve seen the film, please mention whether or not you picked up on a David-and-Uriah sort of reference, or whether you think I’m reading too much into it.)

I ran across this line in the book, and have been thinking about it all day – the Young Mother, thinking of her son, writes, “His room smells of boy.  Boy is a good smell it is a cross between angels and tigers.”  Boy is a good smell, one of my favorites in the world, and I especially love the smell of my sons’ and nephews’ heads when they’ve been outside running around.  “Sweat,” my mother says, but that’s not entirely it: wind, leaves, skin, candle wax, and – yes – a bit of skin and sweat.  It’s been a great sadness to me to realize that as Gaze has gotten older, he’s lost that boy-head smell.  Now if he goes outside to play football with Taz, and they both come in and hug me, Taz smells of boy head, and Gaze smells sweaty.  (Well, Taz’s armpits smell locker-room sweaty – but his head is still young.) 

Little girls smell good too – but different; they keep the sweet baby smell longer but never develop that outdoorsy-boy-head smell, no matter how long they play outside.  

Friday, Oct. 22: I feel a little better.  I was scheduled to work the concessions at the football game tonight, as a band parent (what do the football parents do to raise money, or do they not need to?), but since I am still hacking like Doc Holliday, The CEO offered to step in for me.  Sweet man.  SOTD: SSS Champagne de Bois.  I thought surely someone would tell me I smelled nice, but no one did.  However, they might have been simply staying a safe twelve feet away from me and my runny nose, and thus could not smell me.

The CEO related to me something that happened while he was working the concession stand: a kid named JT that he recognized from Gaze’s baseball team walked up to buy a hot dog, accompanied by a couple of other kids, and they were talking to each other: “That’s Gaze Woodenshoes’ dad!” “Yeah, really?”  Then JT asked, “Hey, aren’t you Gaze Woodenshoes’ dad?”  The CEO said yes, and one of the other kids said, “Gaze is awesome!”

Well.  Well, yeah.

Saturday, Oct. 23: Beautiful weather, sunny and 75F, with a bit of breeze.  State marching band festival at the high school.  Left the house at 8 am, spritzed with my darling Le Temps d’une Fete.  Picked up 32 hot dogs at the grocery store as the sophomore band student’s contribution to the day, then helped set up and run the registration table.  I did get to see our band’s performance today and thought they did very well; however, they didn’t score the Superior rating they were aiming for.  Bookworm is an excellent marcher: crisp and precise, with a good sense of place and turns so sharp you could cut your finger on them.  I’m proud.

Sunday, Oct. 24: More beautiful weather.  SOTD: L’Artisan Parfumeur Orchidee Blanche, candy-sweet, innocent little thing.  Pretty, but has not captured my heart like Iris Poudre did for “just pretty.”  (Sigh.  Iris Poudre… I want some.  Somewhere, my lemmings have started a demanding chant of DE-CANT, DE-CANT, DE-CANT!  Which would be bad, actually, because if I had it, I’d get used to wearing it, because it’s seasonless, pretty and comfortable, and the more I wear it the more I like it.  And then I’d want a full bottle.  Of a Frederic Malle.   Ouch.  And it’s not even complicated or terribly unusual, it’s just pretty.  Really, really pretty.)

Image is Vintage perfumes from pas89 at ebay.com.  (No, the auction is no longer live. )

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Why am I compelled to write this stuff? Dunno. Just becuz. Bear with me. There are multiple digressions and/or rants in here, so be warned. Or if you’re looking for perfume stuff, go skim the archives. There’s a perfume review category over there on the side, eat your heart out.

I’ve been rereading my copy of Mr. Darcy’s Diary by Amanda Grange, after having reread Pride & Prejudice. I also reread Daphne du Maurier’s classic Gothic novel Rebecca, and Sally Beaumann’s brilliant but disturbing Rebecca’s Tale. (Are you sensing a pattern here? Do you reread books, and if so, which ones?)

In any case, now I want to go pop in my DVD of Pride & Prejudice – yes, I am a philistine, I like the movie version with Kiera Knightley and the velvet-voiced Matthew MacFadyen, with its near-hectic pace that reminds me of student plays I’ve been in… oddly, I find this aspect interesting, but then The CEO tells me I have near-inhuman tolerance for the stage experience. Wait, where was I? Oh, yes, Matthew Mac and his gorgeous voice and his blue eyes, his prodigious nose (seriously, check out his profile – that is a nose, baby!) and his sturdy thighs (what is it with me and the thighs?). Not to forget that mouth… honestly, that’s the most decadent mouth I’ve seen on a human being since Liv Tyler, and she doesn’t count since she’s a girl.

Speaking of which, it has recently come to my attention that Joan Jett is a lesbian. I know, I know, everybody else already knew, and my just finding out now is a little bit like being the only one without a touch-tone phone: embarrassing, hopeless fuddy-duddy-dom. I can only assume that such information was not widely disseminated when The Runaways (the real ones) were hot – or if it was, I was too young to have picked up on it. At one time I knew all the lyrics to “Crimson and Clover,” but the idea that Joan was singing about a girlfriend was just way over my head at the time. I’ve always kind of liked Joan… I think I knew that she was the kind of person who, beyond her rock-n-roll looks, didn’t care much about what people thought of her, and I thought that was kind of cool. I’d have bought a JJ & the Blackhearts album with my Christmas money in the early 80s, but my mother thought it was subversive, so I picked Barry Manilow instead.

And don’t you dare tell me that there’s no room in the world for both Barry and Joan: of course there is! And for Pat Benatar, the patron saint of Spandex, and A-Ha, and Sarah Brightman, and… oh, there are more, but I’ll stop there. No, one more: Mandy Patinkin. You know, Mandy PatinkinInigo Montoya from “The Princess Bride”? Played Barbara Streisand’s love interest in “Yentl”? Played a doctor in “Chicago Hope” and a profiler on “Criminal Minds” on TV? Yeah, that Mandy Patinkin… he got started acting in Broadway musicals, and he’s got this gorgeous pure tenor voice, as well as a sense of humor. 

So why am I running off at the mouth (fingers) like this? Dunno. But I think it has something to do with NaNoWriMo, the start of which is rapidly approaching. This will be my third year, and I’ve got my novel outlined and planned out, which is a change – and I decided to take it easy on myself and write a romance novel sans cheesy sappiness (oh, don’t worry, there will be mushy stuff – it is, after all, a romance) after the years I have spent saying, “Wow, I can’t believe somebody published this dreck – I could do better with one hand tied behind my back!” Time to put up or shut up, and I’m Puttin’ Up. It’s a Romance Throwdown, people.

This follows the Ambitious Year of NaNo, in which I conceived of the dramatic saga of grad school sweethearts and their tribulations and years apart… and which ultimately I could not figure out how to tell without resorting to the Evil Flashback, or ellipses during which years pass, both of which are stupid. I haven’t abandoned the thing, just shelved it until I figure out how to tell it.

SO. I’d better be clear up front, November posts will probably be thin on the ground, once we’re past A Week of Violets. I have a few reviews in the can, ready to post, and will probably do an abbreviated Scent Diary and a “Howzitgoin at NaNo?” each week, but that’ll be about it until a couple of days into December.

Back to Joan Jett: We’ve got “The Runaways” on our Netflix queue (oh, not for the kids to see, just me and The CEO) because we somehow missed it at the theater… we hardly ever go to movies, even ones we want to see, and those are rare. I have never been a big Kristen Stewart fan, having avoided the “Twilight” movies because I thought the “Twilight” books a perfect example of self-indulgent, juvenile, crappily-written so-called literature (that nonetheless I would have been crazy about at the age of 15, when I had a taste for self-indulgent, juvenile so-called literature). And yet, I must point out that, yes, I did read all of them. I read the first one because all of Bookworm’s friends were reading it, and it would be negligent of me to let her have a book that could engender such huge mania without reading it first myself. I think it was a pretty decent love story that got caught up in wacky, self-indulgent, juvenile, crappily-written trappings. C’mon… leaving aside glittery teenage vampires for the moment, (because I read most of Anne Rice’s books as a young adult and don’t have a leg to stand on here), the ridiculous coincidences and the adulation of the main character alone make it crappy writing. There’s a writerly phrase for the “Main Character as Unique Precocious Genius Prone to Coincidences That Make Her Life Special,”: Mary Sue Syndrome.  You’re Not Supposed to Do That. It’s, hello, crappy writing.  Here’s a link to a Mary Sue litmus test – if you run it for just about any character in Twilight (except maybe Charlie Swann, Bella’s dad), they’ll come out a Mary Sue.  But somehow Stephenie Meyer has purveyed a decent love story, crappily written, dressed up with glittery teenage vampires and muscled teenage werewolves and angsty music, into a BILLION-DOLLAR INDUSTRY.

I really must stop grinding my teeth. End Twilight rant. End digression. Sorry.

Anyway, Kristen Stewart (I’ll get back to Joan, gimme a minnit)… turns out that the girl who played doe-eyed, mopey, passive Bella is actually a seriously good actress. I’ve seen clips of her as Joan. It’s eerie. Her whole body looks different – she’s fierce, aggressive, a ball of energy, self-confident and vulnerable underneath. There’s talent there. This pleases me. It ought to please Ms Bad Girl Stewart, who when she’s not acting is apparently sleeping with/not sleeping with her Twilight costar, chisel-jawed, strangely emotionally-detached British actor Robert Pattinson. (Who, incidentally, has got nothin’ on Matthew MacFadyen.) But I digress yet again.

SO. Finally, back to Joan Jett and her interest in girls. I can’t say I was all that surprised to find out Joan was a lesbian – well, okay, I was surprised for about ten seconds, but it was mostly a sort of “How has this factor escaped me?” surprised, not a “How can this be?” surprised. Sometimes I pick up on stuff, and sometimes I don’t. It took me several months to realize that a high school friend of mine was really more interested in kissing me than in continuing to discuss fantasy novels. Well, she’d probably have gone on discussing Stephen Donaldson after the kissing, but the point was I wasn’t in the least interested in kissing her, and so the friendship disintegrated. I always felt a little hunted and she always felt a little rejected, and eventually we had very little to say to each other.

 The CEO is a little annoyed with me at the moment: I took a certificate of his, where the governor had appointed him to a state board of regulation, to get it framed, and accidentally, um, crumpled it. Oops. It’s not horrible, but you can see the crease. He didn’t fuss much, but I could see he was really disappointed. I feel bad about it. You can’t unbreak an egg and you can’t uncrease an embossed document, even if you’re really really sorry. I’ll have to think up some way to make it up to him. (Call the governor’s office and tell them what happened, and ask for a replacement? That seems a waste of public resources. Ask for a replacement and offer to pay for it? I still think they’ll find it a nuisance. I don’t know what to do.)

I have this really, really annoying cough that’s not going away. Better go buy stock in Ricola, I’m keeping them in business.

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Anybody want to tell me why I don’t love Chergui?

It’s just… wrong.  And I don’t know why.  There’s some good stuff in there, but it’s overwhelmed with the musty smell of, and I know somebody is going to chastise me for this, old people’s houses.  It reminds me of going visiting with my grandmother when I was a kid.

EDIT: For more on the discussion, head over to this post at Chicken Freak’s Obsessions, and enjoy!

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Scent Diary, Oct. 11-17, 2010

Monday, Oct. 11:  Lovely day, in the low 80s as it has been for the past few days: Indian summer.  I’m actually wishing for a bit of cooler weather, so I can wear more autumnal stuff like Jolie Madame and Tabac Aurea.  And after smelling the woods at Monticello yesterday, I’m wanting just a tad of vintage Magie Noire.  However, since I’m working on a review of Caron Aimez-Moi, to be posted with some other reviews of violet scents the first week of November as part of a joint blog project with Scent of the Day and Redolent of Spices, I wore that.  I like it.  I have a small bottle, and I have to say it’s one of the prettiest bottles I own.

Came home from work and found the front door wide open – and dog tooth marks on the doorknob.  Bad Hayley dog!  I  mean, smart Hayley dog, but bad dog!  Guess we’re going to have to start locking the doors.  I know, I know…  But we live on a road nobody can find, and we have a few neighbors close by, at least one of whom is nearly always home.  She was outside because yesterday she got into something really incredibly foul-smelling (Fresh manure? Something dead?  That stinky plant I don’t know the name of?  All three?).

I think Bookworm has got Gaze’s strep throat.  I figured we’d eventually be paying for this hectic schedule of hers, and although her grades are still excellent, the late nights and constant running around are really messing with her health.  This is her second illness of the school year.  I think Cross Country and marching band is just too much. 

The CEO just gave Hayley a bath in the basement tub, and I can hear him singing to her, “Towel time, it’s towel time – time to dry off the doggie!”  Awwwww.

Tuesday, Oct. 12:  Took poor Bookworm to the doctor – yep, it’s strep.  Wore Moschino L’eau Cheap & Chic, which P:TG says “for a time, does a pretty good imitation of Serge Lutens’ insanely wonderful… La Myrrhe.”  You know how I feel about La Myrrhe (love it), so I was interested enough to pick up a mini bottle for nottalotta $.  So does LC&C resemble La Myrrhe?  No.  Not the least little bit.  It’s not bad, mind you, but it isn’t congruent to any of what I’d call La Myrrhe’s salient points.  Shimmering aldehydes? Umm, sort of, a few soapy ones… okay, I’ll be generous.  Aldehydes, check.  Vaguely medicinal air?  Well, no.  Cooking herbs, maybe.  We’ll call that one “close but no cigar.”  Rose and jasmine shot through with light? (crickets)  Resinous myrrh with sun glare?  (more crickets)  Nope.  No, as a La Myrrhe smell-alike, LC&C is a big FAIL. 

I know P:TG says “for a time.”  But how long a time, I’m wondering – a nanosecond?  During the aldehydic part?  As far as I’m concerned, even the aldehydes aren’t the same.  What LC&C really reminds me of is L’Artisan’s Passage d’Enfer, with the herbal stuff, the resiny pine bits… PdE is more shaving cream, while LC&C is more bar of Dove soap, but still: herbs, pine, and lather.

SOTE: F Malle Iris Poudre.  Which is still terrific.  Still almost delicious up top, and still reminds me of Mariella Burani in the drydown.  And I have a nearly-full bottle of MB (which is discontinued but still available for around $30 at the discounters, if you can find it).

Wednesday, Oct. 13:  Happy birthday to Gaze!  He’s 12 today. 

I have recently gotten very excited about the upcoming Hermessence, Iris Ukiyoë, which is supposed to focus on the iris blossom, not the usual iris root.  I’ll predict right now that there are going to be a lot of iris-lovers annoyed by it, because it won’t be what they were expecting (and they didn’t do a lot of research on it before jumping).  IU is supposed to be released by the end of November in Paris, but apparently the tester’s available, if hidden, at the Paris Hermes location.  Denyse at Grain de Musc called it a “sweet wet blossom” (here’s her review) – and it’s supposed to have been inspired by Jean-Claude Ellena’s collection of Japanese Ukiyo-e woodcut art, many pieces of which focus on iris.  Iris blossom is very delicate-smelling, and I love the scent.  My guess is that IU is exactly the sort of delicate, streamlined scent likely to be a thing of beauty in JCE’s hands.  I do have a few reservations: Denyse hints at aquatic notes (lotus, perhaps? I liked it in DSH’s Secrets of Egypt Susinon/1000 Lilies) and orange blossom.  OB tends to go quite soapy on me, but if there are just aspects of OB plus other stuff that add up to “iris flower,” I’ll be very happy.  We’ll see.

SOTD: PdN Vanille Tonka, because apparently the last time I wore this pink blouse a spritz of it landed on the fabric.  Oops.  It was too distracting and too near my face to wear something else today.  Good thing I love VT.

Thursday, Oct. 14: Busybusy rushrush.  SOTD: Nothing.  Too tired, and I don’t feel good.  Hope I’m not coming down with strep.

Friday, Oct. 15:  Feeling much better – and The CEO came by work to take me to lunch at the Mexican restaurant, too.  SOTD: Guerlain Idylle edp.  I’m not sure why all the complaints about this one – it’s nice.  The florals are very well-blended and remind me somewhat of the floral portion of Alahine, which you know by now that I love, and then the base is sort of patchouli-woody-musky, deeper than your usual mall swill.  Apparently there are people who firmly believe that Guerlain should never release a scent that could be described as “merely nice,” but honestly, why not?  Chant d’Aromes, Champs-Elysees, and even Chamade were the equivalent of “nice girl” fragrances for the times in which they were created.  I think people are snarky because a) the card for this sample mentions “floral chypre,” and chypre it is definitely not and b) it does rather smell a bit like an upscale Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely.  Difference is, I don’t like Lovely, and I do like Idylle.

On the other hand, if someone is going to give me a bottle of “merely nice” perfume, I want a bottle of Marc Jacobs Daisy instead.

Better yet, someone could save up and get me a bottle of Frederic Malle Iris Poudre!  Which, I admit, is not terribly distinctive and original and shocking and quirky, the way serious perfume nuts often like their scents to be – but I can assure you I’d wear the toothpicks out of it. 

Saturday, Oct. 16: A gorgeous day, sunny, breezy, with temps in the mid-50s F.  Took Bookworm to the high school for PSATs, then came home and cleaned up the house.  The CEO and Jeff the Hired Guy loaded up two bulls with wanderlust – after the fifth time we found them four fields away where they should have been – and took them to an entirely different part of the farm where they couldn’t jump fences.  (Actually, it may have been the plain old-fashioned variety of lust rather than wander-, because we kept finding them in with the heifers.) 

SOTD: Nothing, because I went shopping for a few birthday presents for the boys, having been unable to find what I wanted online, and I tested a few things.  Victoria’s Secret’s new scent, Bombshell?  No.  Just… no.  Went to Bath & Body Works to try to check out those Halloween Pocket-Bac things Jessica reviewed on Now Smell This, and sad to say, they were all gone.  They had Christmas scents, though, so I bought a few Pocket-Bacs in scents like Vanilla Bean Noel (a minty vanilla thing) and Comet’s Ginger Mint (self-explanatory).  Smelled all the Slatkin candles they had out, both the autumn ones and the winter ones, and disliked most of them.  Leaves, Autumn, Spiced Cider, Holly Wreath, Pumpkin Spice, Frosted Cranberry – all of them trying too hard, or something.  I do like the Fresh Balsam one.  And I did fall pretty hard for the candle called Winter, which has a sort of icy-crisp smell, with evergreens and clove and bayberry, maybe even a hint of citrus in there.  For something that sounds like every holiday cliché in the book, it’s restrained.  I even fell hard enough for it to jostle my wallet loose: I bought a small candle in a metal-topped  glass for $5 (half-off sale).

I sprayed some of their new men’s scents on paper to test.  Ocean is, predictably, a Calone marine scent.  Oak was marginally better but still noticeably synthetic.  Noir is, in my opinion, the best of the bunch, a classic aromatic fougere, but unless you were desperate and down to your last $30, you’d be better off with Polo or Drakkar Noir.  In all honesty, you’d be better off still with a 5ml miniature bottle of DN – they sell it at Wal-Mart now, for about $9.  I also smelled the “Summer Vanilla” body spray series (Lemon Vanilla, Coconut Vanilla, and Berry Vanilla), largely because someone mentioned the Lemon Vanilla favorably on one of the blogs I follow.  Coconut and Berry are, as you might expect, toothache-sweet.  Lemon Vanilla I went so far as to actually spray on my left thumb because of its lovely tart lemon-curd topnote, which lasted for a good twenty minutes before the ethylmaltol showed up (Hello there, Angel!). 

Sunday, Oct. 17: Chillier today.  SOTD: Honore des Pres Vamp a NY.  I still dig it, but perhaps less than I did in the summer… it is a bit trashy.   It appears that I don’t mind that trashiness in the summer, or maybe it just goes better with beach novels and sunburned noses.  It lasts alllll day, which is nice as so few things hang around on me.  Also, it blended pleasantly with Bookworm’s Hanae Mori.  (Her samples are almost gone, she tells me.  Time for a small 1 oz bottle?  Or just a few more samples?)

Had the boys’ Family Birthday Party this afternoon, with cake and presents and grandparents and whatnot.  It was nice.

Image is from ScentStash.  

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I first became aware of Smell Bent about a year ago, when the small start-up perfumery run by Basenotes member Brent Leonesio put out its first press release.  Brent (hey, Brent, do you mind if I call you Brent?  I feel like we’re friends already) has stated in interviews that he started Smell Bent because he felt that perfume should be fun, and shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg. 

Smell Bent’s line includes such fragrances as Lemon Cowboy, Blimey Limey, Mama Cassis, Hungry Hungry Hippies, Violet Tendencies,  Tibet Ur Bottom $, Monaco Dependent, Thai’d Down, and St. Tropez Dispenser.

The names, descriptions, and illustrations for all of the Smell Bent scents are clever and tongue-in-cheek.  Unlike Etat Libre d’Orange, whose Poke Fun at the Mainstream attitudes tend to simply annoy me, Smell Bent’s content amuses me.  Smell Bent fragrances are produced in oil format and eau de toilette; several scents are available in both formats, but some are only available in one or the other, so if one of the  above list has caught your fancy, scrutinize the website carefully.

A word about that website: I think it’s a little difficult to negotiate.  I would love to see a page listing every single scent on offer, including formats, sizes and prices.  Instead, Smell Bent divides its fragrances into collections that you explore, then click the “back” button to explore the next collection.  I can see why they’ve done it this way, particularly when I know that SB tends to release fragrances in batches, approximately five scents at a time.  I’m sure that the SB guys think of them in groups.  It’s probably easier to maintain the site when you’re frequently changing what’s in the “limited edition” section.  Also, this type of organization leaves plenty of room for the clever, mad-kindergartener-with-a-crayon illustrations, which I must admit really charm me, even if I’m not in the least interested in a particular scent.  But this is a Creative-Person type of organization, and I tend to think in a more linear fashion (witness my slavish devotion to lists!), so I get confused.  At least, momentarily confused – I did manage to negotiate the site well enough to order samples of all the scents that interested me, so fear not if you’re a linear thinker.  You’ll just have to have some patience.

What I ordered: 4ml bottles of Prairie Nymph and One, Smell Bent’s “anniversary” scent, both of which are LE and edp.  I also ordered samples of Bollywood or Bust, Chile Vanilli and Commando.  My order came very quickly, with freebie samples of Never Never Land and Lucy Fur, and a friendly note from Brent himself.  Admittedly, this is not a very wide representation of the various Smell Bent fragrances; it’s just what I was interested in testing. Here’s a rundown on what I thought of the scents I tested.

Prairie Nymph – “honeyed beeswax, carnation, clementine, and soft musk.”  I love real carnations, and often have trouble finding a carnation fragrance to love. (I am currently saving my pennies for DSH’s stupendous Oeillets Rouges; CdG Red Carnation was a bit soapy and harsh, Prada Oeillet and Caron Poivre are well out of my price range, Ava Luxe’s was dreadful on me and so was Caron Bellodgia.  I liked Fragonard Billet Doux a lot, but its staying power was not good.)  The citrus in the topnotes is really nice, a much-quieter, fresher version of Andy Tauer’s favorite mandarin note, and it smells great with the carnation-rose-spice accord.  No potpourri in sight – it’s just some fragrance materials harmonizing like a Sweet Adeline Chorus.  For four hours, this thing is pretty and fresh and entirely wearable, a pleasant smiling floral with a sense of humor, and I liked it a lot for four hours. 

After that, the musk is what’s left, and it was still going strong 14 hours after application.  I’m not a huge musk fan, and this one is a little dirty, and when I could still smell the musk ten hours after the rest of the fragrance had worn off, it was wearisome.  Enough musk already!  I can’t complain about the top of the fragrance in the least; I liked it a lot.  I am complaining about the musk wearing out its welcome, though, and I don’t know when I’ll have the patience to wear this again.  Maybe the trick is to enjoy the floral four hours and then scrub thoroughly… which I could definitely do, for a carnation fragrance as comfortable and pretty as Prairie Nymph.

Bollywood or Bust  – “an intoxicating blend of red rose absolute, robust sandalwood, and rich, savory spices.”  Okay.  This one is pretty much what it says – rose, sandalwood, spices.  Nice.  Not terribly complex to my nose, and the rose has got that sort of screechy vibe that you sometimes get with rose soliflores like Creed Fleur de The Rose Bulgare.   I tend to think that this is a scent that sounds better on paper than it actually is on skin; it’s not blended very well.  I have smelled rose attar compounded in sandalwood oil, and that was actually much better-blended; the rose and sandalwood were holding hands instead of standing side by side in an elevator pretending they don’t know each other, as they do in BoB.  I have a feeling that this mixture is good quality raw materials that might have simply needed more time hanging out together to develop a real relationship.  Maybe some more maceration time was needed for this particular batch… I dunno.

Chile Vanilli  – “vanilla bean absolute spiced with light patchouli and cinnamon bark.”  I picked this out myself.  What was I thinking?  It says “patchouli” right there in the description.  Right there!  I suppose I was thinking of perfumes like Tocade and Organza Indecence, which successfully combine a dusty patchouli with a deep smoky vanilla.  I love those.  However, there must either be an infinitesimal amount of patch in That Slut Tocade and OI, or the balance is way off in Chile Vanilli, because what CV smells of to me is an oily, sour mess of hot peppers, cinnamon flavoring, dirty headshop patchouli and very little vanilla.  It’s possible that my hypersensitivity to patchouli is popping up here (I’m guessing that at least some of you are saying to yourselves, “Wait, there’s patchouli in Tocade!?”), but this thing is an utter fail for me personally.

Commando – “a motley crew of animal musks rounded out with a base of tonka bean absolute.”  This one is a favorite of Tom who writes at Perfume-Smellin’ Things; he calls it a “wardrobe staple,” and “smelling like the skin of a child,” and although we don’t usually go for the same type of scent, I thought I really must try it if I’m exploring musks.  (Here’s Tom’s post on several Smell Bent scents.)  I see that I really must mention my prior relationship with musks before I get into specifics.  My mother wore Jovan Musk for Women when I was younger, and that’s a very pleasant, “skin-and-clean-laundry” sort of smell.  Serge Lutens Clair de Musc is exactly the same sort of thing, except perhaps a bit paler than the Jovan.  I have never liked the other Jovan musks (White Musk, Vanilla Musk, Sexiest Musk, whatever), but Skin Musk is still nice, a powdery-warm-skin sort of thing.  I related my experience with DSH Perfumes’ Special Formula X-treme here.  I have a small sample from a swappie friend of Musc Ravageur that I have yet to test, but I have not tried – and probably will not try – the Beast itself, Muscs Kublai Khan.

So what happened with Commando?  Bear in mind that this one only comes in oil, so it doesn’t radiate much.  The first time I tried it, it smelled pretty great to me – a warm-skin smell that reminded me of clean, hairy-chested male (yum).  But Bookworm jerked her head back from my wrist, making gagging noises.  I wrote that off to “the teenage girl nose phenomenon,” since she tends to have the same reaction to anything even vaguely skanky (L’Arte di Gucci’s unwashed-hair castoreum note, Rumba’s musk, whatever’s in Bal a Versailles that smells like postcoital skin, all of which are simply faint hints to me).   The second time I tried it, I had the same reaction that Bookworm had – ewwww!  It still smelled like hairy-chested male, but… um… shall we say, hairy-chested male in desperate need of a shower, fairly raunchy.  Every time I’ve gotten the vial near my nose since the second wearing, my stomach has turned over and I haven’t been able to, er, man up and put it on skin again. 

Never Never Land  “rich amber, desert rose, guaiac wood, vetiver and the arid outback.”  I was expecting this one to be pretty great;  I like this sort of thing in general.  And it was really terrific for about ten minutes, a dusty rose tossed onto a hot grill with some spices.  Then, inexplicably, it morphed into Play-Doh.  Seriously.  Play-Doh.  Where’d that come from?  I’d already run into the infamous Play-Doh accord in People of the Labyrinths Luctor et Emergo, and I didn’t like it then.  I didn’t like it in NNL either, and to my chagrin it stayed Play-Doh for a good three hours before I gave up and washed it off.  Urgh.

Lucy Fur (oil) –  “sinful red musk mixed with vanilla cream and a splash of patchouli.”  This is the one that was holding up my writing this mini review.  I didn’t pick it out myself, and to be honest, wouldn’t have chosen it.  I sniffed from the vial and was uninspired to put it on skin. The vanilla and spices say, “Eat me!” The animalic musk says, “And die!”  Urgh.  I did actually, finally, put it on skin, and kept thinking of a mink or a weasel lolling amidst vanilla cupcakes.  Urgh.  NO.   Four hours plus of this, and then I scrubbed.  It’s just not my thing.  You know what this reminds me of, to  be honest?  Dior Poison.  And I mean Poison Back-in-the-Day, too, the kind of dichotomy of Sweet Vs. Deadly that it used to have then.  Not the actual smell, of course, just that juxtaposition of deliciousness and evil.  Which, I guess, is what they were going for anyway.     

And, to end on a positive note, One “aging paperbacks buried under cardamom, dark vanilla, dry wood and sweet musk.”  To be brief, I totally dig this thing.  This is a lot like what I was expecting from Dzing! after having read the review in P:TG – old books and vanilla.  I won’t say I was disappointed in Dzing!, because I think it’s fascinating, but Dzing! is pretty much Virtual Circus to me, complete with sawdust, animal fur and dung, and cotton candy: really cool, but too dirty-smelling for my personal taste.  One, though, is terrific.   It does open up with the clearly identifiable, slightly-musty smell of old books, which I love, and then slides through spices into woods soaked in vanilla extract.  It’s a wonderful combination of weird and comforting, pretty much the same effect as Bvlgari Black.  It’s LE and only available through October 31, so if you’re intrigued, get some NOW.     

Smell Bent Smellies are very reasonably priced, with 50ml bottles of edp running around $45 and large 4ml samples at $6.50.  The scents I tested seem to have been clustered around the Vanilla-Floral-Spice-Musk nexus, but I hear good things about several of their other fragrances, so I strongly encourage you to check out their offerings.  I look at the results from my six Smellies, and I’m all over the board with them – from Dear God, NO to Ooh, I wanna bottle of THAT.   The ones that were failures for me were, at the very least, interesting failures.  There’s not a boring one in the bunch.  If I lived in California, I’d be haunting the shop just to get free sniffs.  Kudos to Brent and the Smell Bent Bunch for giving me so much fun in just a few little glass tubes.   They were well worth the smelling.

Here’s another batch of quickie reviews of Smell Bent smellies by Patty at Perfume Posse.  And happy anniversary to you, Smell Bent!

All images are from Smell Bent via Fragrantica.

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