my occasional musings on life, love, art, perfume ... what else is there?


He Insisted On Telling You Himself ...

(Bucky sez Happy New Year!)

The Clock Winds Down


A Few of My Favorite Things 2005

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens;
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens;
Brown paper packages tied up with strings;
These are a few of my favorite things.

In year-end celebration, here are my personal best of 2005 (You'll note these are geared to women. What can I say? That's the crowd I run with.) Plus, I add my sincere thanks to Blogdorf Goodman, Scentzilla and Now Smell This for inspiration, graphics and concept!

Serge Lutens Chergui: Just take those basenotes ... amber, iris, rose, sandalwood ... and you have explained the appeal of this arm-gnawable fragrance.
MAC MV3: The most adult vanilla/woods comfort fragrance that exists.
Decleor Rose Oil: For the ladylikeness of it plus I counterintuitively believe it helps oily skin.
Dr. Hauschka Cleansing Cream: It's gritty, it's smelly and it works, especially when you cut it with cetaphil cleanser.
Trish McEvoy #11 eyeliner brush - The only way I can keep to the straight and narrow.
T. LeClerc Powder in Banane: I'm blue undertone pale and this odd sheer yellow color blends into my skin, giving perfect matte-ness (but no jaundice).
Cargo blush in Laguna: The strangest bright orange in its oversize tin ... but tap a bit onto a flatedge blush brush, lightly, lightly apply ... and you actually look healthy!
Stila Kajal Eyeliner in black: Whenever I feel faintly mideastern. Or like Betty Boop.
Kiehl's Lycopene Moisturizer: For the tomato-y [no, you can't tell it's tomato but it does improve your skin tone] richness of it all.
Bliss Steep Clean Cleanser: To obliterate any t-zone problems.

And my friends have great ideas, too! Please visit these fine lemming purveyors if you have no idea how to spend that bundle you received for the holidays! They'll help you!

Ideas Needed

So. I got nothin' in terms of deep thought. Would you mind if I just walked through New Years menu ideas with you?

Ideas are appreciated. I'm running on empty regarding food ideas.

Could be the sugar orgy I just got done with. Seems like a little salt is in order.

Ok. Did I mention I needed ideas?

Got any?


Local Heroes ... Plus One

I've seen the mansion from afar ... and I still respect them.

For giving $24 billion dollars to help bring health to the world's most impoverished children.

For trying to wipe out malaria in our time, in the places where it is most resistant.

For not spending their time and wealth jetsetting or consuming, consuming, consuming.

Bono I respect for telling the President -- to his face -- that his begrudging support of world health and aid efforts is not enough. It is not enough.

Persons of substance. 2005.


I Like Making EVERYBODY's Lists

It gives me more control over content.


And, In Other Important News ...

Taking a page from Annie's Blogdorf Goodman, I submit to you my fashion sense according to one of the blogquizzes that I can't remember taking, but to which I did save the answer code:
"Classic with clean edges and very businesslike. You don't like to get outrageous or overly boisterous. Keep It Simple is your motto and you do it well."

Fragrance? SL Chergui! WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! From the notepad of the inimitable Bela, here are the glorious notes: honey, musk, leather, incense, tobacco leaf, hay sugar, amber, iris, rose, sandalwood. I love this scent. And because I have too much sugar in my system to think coherently, here is Aedes' description, for good measure: Named after a hot desert wind that sweeps into Morocco, Chergui is a bewitching fragrance that unfolds into spicy layers of incense, tobacco leaf and leather underscored by rich honeyed darkness. Ornamenting the sensual composition is an elegant accord of rose and iris that grounds the fierce intensity of Chergui's ambered warmth. Yes. What they said.


The Menorahs of My Life

I could only find photos of two of the four menorahs of my life. I've found, oddly, that the menorahs I've celebrated Chanukah with over the past twenty-two years have coincincided with who I was becoming. (Yes, I know. Scintillating. Please follow along.)

Menorah One, for which I don't have a photo, was provided to my first husband and me by his father -- it was his mother's menorah, a small, old, old asymmetric brass one, styled like an ancient oil lamp, with the service candle to the left and the other eight candles to the right. It was a little off-balance, but sweet and very traditional. This menorah went back to my ex-husband's family at the end of my marriage, where I'm sure it found a place of honor.

Menorah Two, I call The Struggle. This stone menorah, a sculpture commemorative of the Warsaw Ghetto, was purchased by me -- I cannot tell you why. Maybe it reminded me of my marriage. It is the most depressing piece of Chanukah equipment I have ever seen. Neither I nor the ex- wanted it at the end. I have no idea where it is currently residing.

Menorah Three was purchased right after the divorce. It's a tasteful, art-deco piece that balances gracefully on angular legs ... befitting the new me, a stylin' menorah that I was certain would fit into my avant-garde single lifestyle. *rolls eyes* I still have this menorah. It is more stylish than I am. But I have plans.

And: Menorah Four, the Tree of Life menorah. Appropriately, it is small and unassuming, and its curving branches symbolize the unexpected twists and turns of life. This menorah is wise, if not old. And I love it the best, for its humility, and its grace. Hopefully, I've earned a bit of both of those.

Our latkes won't make their appearance until later during this week of Chanukah. But please accept my warm wishes for a happy Festival of Lights as it begins tonight!



Il est né, le Divin Enfant

Nobody knows who painted this nativity scene, today found in the Hungarian National Gallery in Budapest, although they do approximate a date for it: 1450 CE.

What I like about it is the face of Mary, oddly very human. Not that holy, more a concerned woman who gave birth in rough circumstances, but is swept away by the child she brought forth.

With this image, and the carol that follows, I wish you a very Merry Christmas, and ask that you share my hope for peace on earth, our goodwill toward each other.

(My favorite carol is French, Il est né, le Divin Enfant. Here is the English translation:)

He is born, the divine infant,
rejoice oboes, resound bagpipes.
He is born, the divine infant,
let us sing at his nativity!

For over four thousand years,
since the prophets foretold his coming;
for over four thousand years,
have we waited for this happy time.

He is born, the divine infant...
Ah! He is beautiful, he is charming,

his graces are perfect!
Ah! He is beautiful, he is charming,
he is sweet, the divine infant.

He is born, the divine infant...
In a stable is he lodged, a little straw for his crib;

in a stable is he lodged, what humility for a God!
He is born, the divine infant...

O Jesus! O all-powerful king!
As a little baby you come to us.
O Jesus! O all-powerful king!
Reign over us entirely!

He is born, the divine infant!

We're Not All Home Yet

(waiting for our soldiers to come home)


Is THIS Why Santa Is Overweight?

The Holiday for the Rest of Us!

With non-denominational fervor and the help of Wikipedia, I bring you all the info you need to know to celebrate "A Festivus for the rest of us!" traditionally held December 23! Today!

Originating with the Seinfeld show -- Frank Costanza, its founder (not George) explains how it came to be:

Frank Costanza: Many Christmases ago, I went to buy a doll for my son. I reached for the last one they had, but so did another man. As I rained blows upon him, I realized there had to be another way.
Cosmo Kramer: What happened to the doll?
Frank Costanza: It was destroyed. But out of that a new holiday was born . . . a Festivus for the rest of us!
Cosmo Kramer: That must've been some kind of doll.
Frank Costanza: She was.

Some holiday features:

The Festivus Pole: The Costanzas' tradition begins with a bare aluminum pole, which Frank praises for its "very high strength-to-weight ratio." During Festivus, an unadorned aluminum pole is displayed. The pole was chosen apparently in opposition to the commercialization of highly decorated Christmas trees, because it is "very low-maintenance," and also because the holiday's patron, Frank Costanza, "find[s] tinsel distracting."

Festivus Dinner: The Festivus dinner menu is flexible, but it should consist of filling, non-holiday comfort food (no turkey, duck, goose, or ham). The televised dinner featured what may have been meatloaf or spaghetti in a red sauce. (Presumably, an entree in a red sauce is more festive.) Kruger took a flask out from his jacket and took a swig; so one might interpret that
drinking is optional.

A FESTIVUS HIGHLIGHT: The Airing of Grievances: At the Festivus dinner, each participant tells friends and family of all the instances where they disappointed him or her that year.

and ...

The Feats of Strength: The head of the family tests his or her strength against one participant of the head's choosing. Festivus is not considered over until the head of the family has been pinned to the ground. A participant is allowed to decline to attempt to pin the head of the family only if they have something better to do instead.

May you quickly pin the parent to the ground! Have a wonderful Festivus!


Generosity of Spirit

As I ambled around the net today, I found this week's column by Rabbi Marc Gelman in Newsweek and it seems to me to embody this season of miracle and light.

Secure and serene in his own faith, he has no problem taking joy in another's. I wanted to share his generous, gracious take on Christmas with you ...

"I love that Christmas is a holiday for the celebration of miracles. That is what I love most.

I also love the baby Jesus. I don't love him as my Messiah, but I love him as the Messiah for my Christian friends, and I love their story. I love that, just like God appeared to Moses in a humble bush, the Christian Messiah was born in a humble manger. I love that both his birth and his death—and of course his resurrection for my Christian friends—are the objects of their two greatest holidays. The birth of Jesus is understood as an unmerited gift, a gift of God's grace.

The word I use to describe grace is the Hebrew word hesed. It means the same thing. It means that the beginning of every faith and every spiritual journey is that you are being given a path (Tao), a teaching (dharma) or a law (halacha) that will help lead you to the truth, and this guide or guidepost is not being given to you because you earned it or deserved it. It was given as an act of superabundant love. To get what you need but did not deserve is the meaning of the miracle of Jesus' birth to me.

It is also to me the miracle of other paths up the same mountain to God.

... Birth and death are a miracle in the person of Jesus, who Christians believe is the Christ. I cannot find a resonance for that story in my soul, but I can find a brotherly love for that story, which resonates in different but similar ways, not only in my faith of Judaism but in all the great wisdom traditions of our earth.

I love the bubbly lights and the Christmas trees, and I love Santa and the reindeer (Blitzen is my favorite reindeer because he is just kind of stuck there back in the pack). I love the carols, and I love the cookies, but mostly, my Christian brothers and sisters, I love the fact that you were formed and sustained by a miracle that has changed the world.

I am proud that your story begins in my story as a Jew, and I am proud that you have taken your story into the hearts and souls of one out of every three people on planet Earth. I love that you are happy now, and my joy is joined to yours. ...

And so I offer you my Christmas wish: May we have a voyage apart in the same direction, and may an unseen magnetism connect us and may we make our way to the same port speedily and in our time.

Merry Christmas!"

Best Last Words Department:
"Now comes the mystery."
Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887)


Sound of One Dog Laughing

Today's Fragrance: Susanne Lang Cashmere and Pashmina ...

A minor complaint: Susanne, I know you're protecting your formulas, but could you please give us something more tangible notewise in your descriptions? I understand the romance of "As we journeyed by camel across the Jaisalmer desert, the sunset took forever to die in its furnace glow" but it doesn't help me anticipate, or understand, a fragrance.

One of my friends swears Cashmere is a mixture of Calvin Klein Obsession and Sheer Obsession, and gave me side-by-side vials to prove it. Darn close. Vanilla-y amber comfort scent. Pashmina? To me, like Cashmere, but spicier.

The art of these fragrances is their complicated uncomplication. Seeming simple, there is a subtlety to their textures. Yes, variants on the amber-vanilla-spices-woods genre, but I sense -- I haven't got the nose to qualitate it; others can -- there's more going on underneath.

Soft elegance. No one will dread you coming in the room with these on. Some will even look forward to it ... not the worst thing you could say about fragrance.

Best Last Words Department
Never forget it: decay is inherent in all things.

the Buddha (died 483 C.E.)

Join Me At Waking Ambrose

It's my honor to be a guest on the Waking Ambrose blog today.

Channeling the deeply cynical Ambrose Bierce most weekdays and broadcasting a story each Saturday (the man's voice is worth the price of admission), Doug brings us all a bit closer to our inner curmudgeon.

There's no room for false sentiment, soft edges or too-pretty talk in Doug's world ... and his skill is that he makes you laugh as he shows you how ridiculous it all -- ego, pretense, artifice -- is.

And yet, it's Christmas at Waking Ambrose! Please come over to Doug's blog as I join him, Willie and Walela for some Christmas lore ...

Today's fragrance: When Willie and Walela want to impress, they make sure they have a bit of the Canadian company fruits-passion's HOTdog Eau de toilette behind their ears. Specially designed for a dog’s sensitive sense of smell, the light eau de toilette contains half the alcohol found in regular eau de toilettes and leaves them pleasantly perfumed for days. With its fresh notes of fruit, fig leaves and cedar, it makes Doug and W/W each other’s best friends EVAH. *Yes, this product does exist. Yes, I have some. Yes, Bucky has worn HOTdog. Bucky, however, prefers to go au naturel as he feels it gives him more of a butch image*

Best Last Words Department:
"Wait 'til I've finished my problem!"
Archimedes of Syracuse (298-212 B.C.E.)


Christmas Memory

I was talking to a friend about midwestern winters -- the kind with the hip-deep snow -- and I realized how much I miss them and don't miss them.

The most traditional kind of Christmas I can ever remember -- and I'm sure I'm making at least some of this up -- was in Sweetser, Indiana. This New Yorker illustration is an idealized version of that small town's main, and only, street.

It was the kind of town where everybody knew everybody and their dog. Our beagle had scars on his rear from the vet digging buckshot out of him for messing with some farmer's chickens. Nice guy. The beagle carried some of those pellets for the rest of his life. (Moral: don't get too caught up in how wonderful rural American life can be.)

But the town under a heavy blanket of snow, especially at night, was beautiful. And there were tall trees with icicles like tinsel ... and standing firs layered with that thick coat of white ... all gleaming clean under moonlight.

I like that Christmas memory. I'm going to keep it.

Fragrance of the day: Every once in a while I just want to be femme. And, thanks to c, I feel very pretty in Sublime by Patou (creators of the classic Joy fragrance). I've come to realize that most often my likes in the floral palette are pretty limited. I like rose. I like jasmine. I like jasmine and rose. Sublime meets these criteria! That plus amber and musk! This is the edt, which may explain why it is so comparatively soft compared to the knock them down and drag them out seduction of Joy. Really, it suits me better. I so rarely knock a man down and drag him out. *darn* Addendum: apparently the notes are more complicated than I thought. They also include citrus (don't smell it) and ylang-ylang (well, maybe a little) and sandalwood (yes, in drydown, I do get this). Still like it a lot.

Best Last Words Department:
"Everybody has got to die, but I have always believed an exception would be made in my case. Now what?"
William Saroyan (1908-1981), American novelist

See. There's Evidence.

Today's fragrance: Ormonde Jayne's Ormonde, with notes of cardamom, coriander and grass oil, black hemlock, violet and jasmine absolute, vetivert, cedar wood, amber and sandalwood ... I wonder if there is an Ormonde Jayne "guerlinade" on which she bases her fragrances? This is without a doubt different from, but with a significant inkling of, my beloved Ta'if. Lovely. ♥ Annie

Best Last Words Department:
"Wait a second."
Marquise d'Etoiles [Madame de Pompadour] (1721-1764) ... A lady of the French court and mistress to Louis XV, Madame de Pompadour was a major influence on French politics of the mid-1700s. As she died, she called on God to delay a bit. The delay allowed her to quickly apply rouge to her cheeks.


It Takes Guts to Enter Politics

She lost her right leg above the knee and her left leg below the knee when a rocket grenade took down her helicopter.

Army Major Ladda "Tammy" Duckworth, a Black Hawk helicopter pilot, lost both legs and much of the use of her right arm when her aircraft was hit in Iraq November 12, 2004.

Ms. Duckworth received the Air Medal as well as a Purple Heart.

A Democrat, Ms. Duckworth is currently seeking her party's nomination in a March 21 primary for the seat being vacated after 32 years by Republican Representative Henry J. Hyde in suburban Chicago.

"I had my legs blown off in Iraq, and because I had my legs blown off in Iraq people are listening to me," said Ms. Duckworth, 37, who announced her candidacy officially today at a rally and in an appearance on the ABC News program "This Week."

"I'm not going to get my legs back, and that's fine, but if that gives me a platform to talk about the things that are important to me, like education and jobs, that's great."

Best Last Words Department:
"Don't mourn for me. Organize!"
Joe Hill (1879-1915) joined the International Workers of the World (the Wobblies) c. 1910 and in 1914 murdered a Salt Lake City store owner and was sentenced to death. His last words became a rallying cry for the labor movement of that time.


Funny. Mean ... But Funny.

Best Last Words Department:
"I see that you have made three spelling mistakes."
The Marquis de Favras (1744-1790) on the scaffold, when handed his official death sentence for treason (he was captured by French Revolution radicals in an attempt to assist Louis XVI to escape).


Angels On High

And it's such a clear, cold full moon night in Seattle, you should be able to see them.

Our tree is upright in the living room, not yet decorated ... and the scent fills two rooms.

Wonderful smell-of-the-pine-woods that reminds of so many Christmases past.

Tomorrow we decorate the tree, I need to address cards, I get to bake thumbprint cookies and russian teacakes and maybe another batch of frosted Christmas cookies. The Patriots are on TV tomorrow morning, Jim is happy, Bucky is happy, I am happy.

This holiday is a good one for me, and I am truly grateful.

Today's fragrance: Thanks to Annie, I'm trying Caron's Coup De Fouet ("Crack the Whip"), the edt version of the Poivre urn fragrance. Maller has compared it to DSH's Oeillets Rouges, and other reviewers have noted that it is perhaps a more wearable version of the Poivre. I don't know about that, but I know I LOVE this ... a geranium rosa base, with rose and carnation and clove and pepper and ... yum. Spicy, but a dry spicy. Nothing sweet that I can tell. It's perfect.

Best Last Words Department:
"Waiting are they? Waiting are they? Well--let 'em wait."
Ethan Allen (1738-1789) on his deathbed, when told angels were waiting for him.

New Yorker cover illustration by Steig


Ho Ho Ho!

I am afraid my blog is boring, boring, boring. So, here: an R-rated holiday illustration.

*Cover the children's eyes, Mildred.*

Why? Well, as Tan Lucy says, "When you get old, you can be bad."

Only she's not old. But I'm bad. Heh.

*That's mistletoe she's got there.* *Soon important new information regarding mistletoe will be posted on an unspecified blog.*
*Don't miss it.* *Oh. I'll tell you where later.*

Best Last Words Department (J, this one is for you):
"I am about to--or I am going to--die; either expression is used."
Dominique Bouhours, a French Jesuit grammarian who worked tirelessly to promote purity in the French language.

illustration: Raphaël Kirchner, "Le Manchon de Gui," 1915-1916


Gift Ideas!

Obviously I've been hanging around too many 19 year olds. Because this speaks to me.

From EmilyStrange dot com, "The Kitty Hoody is back in black! 100% polyester anti-pill fleece hooded sweatshirt with kitty ears (pink fur detail), full front zip, and two front patch pockets applied with cover stitch. Comes with detachable kitty paw mittens (pink fur detail)."

Detachable kitty paw mittens! Come on, you know you want it, too.

AAANNNNDDD There's Shopping and Baking!

2000 (A High Point in the Rose Odyssey)

I parlayed my sample of Lancome 2000 et Une Rôse into three days of sniffing (each sniff breathing a bit more gratitude to the person who generously shared this with me), where I kept my wrists beside my nose at all times, in order to catch as many whiffs as possible of this extraordinarily ladylike (with a significant exception), well-behaved rose and amber fragrance.

The exception? Just when you are thinking, "Ahhh. Lovely. All is beautiful and nothing surprising going on here," the pepper in the fragrance jumps up and makes itself known. But even the pepper is soft ... there are no discordant notes in this fragrance. It is smooth and delicate and one of the best rose fragrances I've ever experienced. And you know I've experienced a lot. Heh.

But it's hard to get. And I need something to tide me over until either I or (more likely) someone who likes me travels to the Lancome boutique in Paris and stocks up on this beauty.

The answer: Stella (or maybe Stella Absolute -- I haven't tried that one yet). No, they're not the same, but there are some familial similarities and sometimes one loves the one one is with.

But regarding Stella and 2000 et Une Rôse, I turn to a quote from Bois de Jasmin (as I often do when perfumed words fail me; thank you, V): "2000 et Une Rôse can be compared to Stella ... However, on the basis of a side by side comparison, 2000 et Une Rôse wins easily, being more full-bodied, more complex, with a warm peppery touch that seems to enhance its radiance. While Stella sustains the same note and then vanishes, 2000 et Une Rôse continues to unfold into gorgeous layers of silky petals." As usual, she says it all.

Again, many thanks, Ms. Anonymous. (That could be her in the photo).

Best Last Words Department:
"Pardonnez-moi, monsieur." Marie Antoinette, Queen of France (1755-1793), as she stepped on the foot of her executioner.


Spicy Adventure Story

Erm. I don't have one today.

Except that I'm wafting the spicily beautiful Lancome 2000 et Une Rose and thinking about all the wonderful things I need to say about it. *Mwah, anonymous benefactor!*

*But they had some wild imaginations in 1936, didn't they?*

Best Last Words Department:
It has all been very interesting.
Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, last words, 1762


Criticism and Creation

Addendum: A quote from Henry Fielding, author of Tom Jones:

Now, in reality, the world have paid too great a compliment to critics, and have imagined them to be men of much greater profundity than they really are.

Today's post includes the last two NellyRodi perfumes: Parfum 7: Ambre by the perfumer Dorothée Piot of SYMRISE with its ingredients of Amber, Vanilla and Musk ...and Parfum 8: Rose, also by the perfumer Dorothée Piot of SYMRISE, with ingredients of Bergamote, Coriander, Cardamome, Rose, Ylang, Mimosa, Cinnamon, Caraway, Musk, Civette, Vanilla.

I like them both. The Ambre is simply amber -- softened by the vanilla and musk. Simple, and I like it that way.

The Rose is a clean-smelling spicy floral that is cut with a sharp bit of civet (which I really hope is synthetic). It's nice. Not the most unusual rose out there, but I like it.

My point today, though, is to make a brief comment about how difficult it is to make art -- which perfume certainly qualifies as -- and that I hope my reviews never disparage the artist, even if I don't like their creation.

Whether the scent is a product of a science-tethered conglomerate, or a cottage-industry natural perfumery ... there is a human somewhere beneath it. A human who devised the concept and isolated the scents/chemical components, and combined and evaluated and reworked and sweated to make beauty.

It doesn't always work. Nothing does. But in most of these cases, a human made a valiant effort to make beauty and deserves a certain amount of respect for it.

There is always the sharp edge between criticism and creating. And it's good to remember that we will inevitably find ourselves in both roles. (Unless one makes a life of criticizing and never creating. Now THAT is true impotence.)

The critic would be wise to be kind, and measured in their evaluation. Because someday that caustic, dismissive tone could be used against their own work.

Is the criticism instructive? Is it input that could help the individual further develop their work?

Or is it just cruelly glib, gratuitous flexing by an individual in a position of "authority"? Because they can?

Final NellyRodi scores:
MANE = 0 for 2
ROBERTET = 2 for 3
SYMRISE = 2 for 3


Adventures with NellyRodi, continued

Today's fragrances are NellyRodi Parfum 5 Gingembre by perfumer Richard Ibanez of ROBERTET with notes of Grapefruit, Saffron, Baie rose, Muscade, Ginger, Incense, Patchouli, Vanilla and Amber


Parfum 6 Bois by perfumer Amandine Marie of ROBERTET with ingredients of Cardamome, Caraway, Clove, Birch, Patchouli, Leather, Cedar, Vetiver, Santal, Amber, Musk

Before I put on the Gingembre, I get all comfortable with the idea of ... ginger! What do I get? FRUIT! I really dislike fruit in fragrance. I believe it is the root cause of all cheap-smellingness, fruit. And the note in this fragrance is not distinguishable to grapefruit, which if it had been at its acidic best, say as in a Calyx or, I understand, Pampelune, might have been interesting. This is more of a grape-likeness, or a sweet currant. For two hours: grape koolaid. I forebore getting out the Dawn and attempting to wash it off. Hours later -- and most of these perfumes do get points for their staying power -- there's a faint whiff of patchouli. I never discerned the notes that would have been most appealing to me: Saffron, Incense, Vanilla and Amber. I'd say no to Gingembre. Someone who likes sweet fruit will disagree.

Bois? Lovely from the beginning. You get what you're expecting. Perhaps the only surprise is the deftness with which the perfumer has woven these notes together. And you know they're all there, if not clamoring for attention. There are no harsh collisions ... just an orderly procession of dark spices, cedar and santal. Not exceedingly dry, but not sweet at all. Really a perfect winter fragrance.

Of the six NellyRodi scents I've tried, the two I've liked have been Rhum and Bois, both by Robertet. Both the type of scent you want to gnaw off your arm. It is really apparent that different perfumers, different houses are responsible for this collection -- there is such a love/hate disparity in their appeal.

NellyRodi scores:
MANE = 0 for 2
ROBERTET = 2 for 3
SYMRISE = 0 for 1

Robertet's looking good. Now, on to Rose and Ambre... and who knew Brenda Starr was a perfumista?


Badges of Courage

I'm not usually very interested in Jim's Sports Illustrated but there's an article in this week's issue that would be good for us all to read.

It's called "Run to Daylight" and it profiles five Iraq war veteran-amputees in the Iraqi War Vets 10-Mile Race event.

I could only pull one of the photos out of the article -- most show the vets' pictures in full uniform, and then with their prostheses visible, side-by-side.
In the full-uniform photos, you can't tell anything is missing. They're just whole, and proud. And I think that's the point of the article -- that's how these vets would like us to see them, that's what they're working toward becoming, again.

Please remember this picture of Dawn Halfaker, wounded in Iraq, next time you see a politician talk about sacrifice.

photo of West Point graduate, Second Lieutenant Dawn Halfaker by Simon Bruty for Sports Illustrated


One Term Down, One to Go

Intro! Contracts! Civil Procedure! Done!

Next? Legal Research! Bankruptcy Law! Labor Law! Intellectual Property!




John Lennon
9 October 1940 –
8 December 1980

Another Reason Why Dogs Are Our Friends

"The Canine Genome Project was developed to build a comprehensive genetic understanding of the canine genome.

Its primary goals are to map and identify genetic markers linked to inherited diseases, and to use this information to improve the overall health of the canine population and further understanding of the many complex diseases that arise in the canine genome.

The Canine Genome Project began at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (in Seattle) but is now included in the National Institutes of Health. It involves veterinarians, population geneticists, molecular biologists, statisticians and computer scientists working to discover underlying canine genetic structure and disease susceptibility.

The canine study of the genotype/phenotype relationship and the analysis of the causes of many genetic diseases, with simple or complex inheritance, will benefit dogs but also the human population.

This rich potentiality is due to the natural history of dogs whose domestication from wolves dated back at least 15,000 years. All modern dogs originated from a limited number of female wolves from Eastern Asia. But humans have created over 350 breeds, each of them
corresponding to a genetic isolate and altogether offering a unique panel of polymorphism never encountered in any other mammals.

The Canine Genome Project is accepting canine DNA samples in the form of cheek swabs or blood samples from specific breeds of purebred, registered dogs. To check the list of breeds needed, please visit the research site."

Today's fragrance is NellyRodi Parfum 4: CACAO by perfumer Dorothée Piot of SYMRISE with notes of Patchouli, Vanilla, Incense, Myrrhe, Styrax and Castoreum.

WHAT did they do to these notes to make this smell so bad? ICK! ICK! ICK! The plastick-y smell of a chocolate Easter Bunny gone bad! Who suffered through an electrical fire! Just awful.

In all fairness, I despise chocolate scents. But this really is intolerable. I see that the same perfumer is responsible for the rose and amber -- my two favorite -- scents coming up.

Oh please, let her not be to blame for this. Let it be poor quality ingredients, let it be a bad batch, let it be anything but the perfumer's fault. Nobody wants to take the hit for this one.


NellyRodi scores:
MANE = 0 for 2
ROBERTET = 1 for 1
SYMRISE = 0 for 1


Finals: Two Down. One to Go.

Today's late day fragrance: Habanita by Molinard. If lovin' it is wrong, I don't want to be right. Does anybody else see this as the better-behaved older sister of Vivienne Westwood's Boudoir? Katie: ♥

Pearl Harbor

2,390 died on Sunday morning December 7, 1941; half of the casualties were from the battleship USS Arizona, which now lies beneath the Pearl Harbor Memorial.

Google quote of the day: The quickest way to a man's heart really is through his stomach, because then you don't have to chop through that pesky rib cage. - J. Jacques


Beauty Everywhere

To see a World in a Grain of Sand/
And A Heaven in a Wild Flower/
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand/
And Eternity in an Hour.
William Blake

Auguries of Innocence
(c.1800 - 1803)

Today's fragrances:

on our left hand, we have NellyRodi Parfum 1: INCENSE by perfumer Alexis Dadier of MANE with notes of Rosemary, Cinnamon, Noix de Muscade, Incense, Styrax, Rose, Vanilla, Santal.

and on our right hand ... NellyRodi Parfum 2: RHUM by perfumer Olivia Jan of ROBERTET with notes of Rhum, Saffron, Muscade, Styrax, Patchouli, Papyrus, Gaïac, Santal, Vanilla.

#1: I'm an incense fan but I swear the rosemary drags Incense into the food netherworld ... I smell Rachel Ray leaping from behind a (rosemary) bush on this one, with all her preternatural perkiness and desire to make soup. Once that rosemary evaporates, though, I think this will be a nice, serious, absolutely non-sweet (despite the vanilla) fragrance. But since I prefer a sweeter incense, meh. And if there is rose in this, it's well hidden.

#2 The Rhum scent is a wonderful surprise. I really like it and I can scent the saffron right away, always a plus. And I like patchouli, when it plays well with others as it's doing here. This will still be serious scent -- but festive somehow. I really am not sure what rum is supposed to smell like, but there's a sharp -- maybe liqueur-ish -- way about this that's not unpleasant. The vanilla is peeking through, as is the sandalwood. Nice.

So far, that's MANE = 0 for 2 and ROBERTET = 1.


Scent of an Artist

From Chandler Burr in yesterday's New York Times ...

"About a year ago, Mikhail Piotrovsky, the director of the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia, was looking at one of the collection's most famous paintings, "The Lute Player," by Caravaggio. He took in this 16th-century portrait of a boy - the luminous skin and thick hair, the tones in the wood of the musical instruments, the pears, the figs, the roses and the iris - and realized that it held a kind of perfume.

So he contacted Laura Tonatto, an esteemed Italian perfumer whose collection was just unveiled at Barneys New York. Tonatto worked with Alessandra Marini, an art historian at the University of Perugia, who described to her the meaning behind each object in the painting.

From there, Tonatto created the sumptuous aroma of a room in a 16th-century villa - what you'd smell if you were standing next to this boy: the scent of Italian plums, orange leaf and jasmine, as well as the wood of the lute, the sheet music and the rich smell of cloth.

The Hermitage introduced the eau de parfum Caravaggio during a November exhibition of the painting, along with an olfactory installation. Can the smell of 'Les Demoiselles d'Avignon' be far behind?"

Oh, I think it's been done. Boudoir by Vivienne Westwood.


It's *Almost* The Season

I've beaten my brains out all day over civil procedures and legal ethics, and I want something fun!

Although our halls aren't decked yet (someone in this family doesn't think it's appropriate until mid-month ... although frosted Christmas cookies are somehow acceptable at any time), I want to feel festive!

So, slap on some more silver eyeliner and here's a beautiful tree!

Today's fragrance: Nelly Rodi Parfum 3: CARDAMOME
Perfumer: Fabrice Pellegrin/MANE
Ingredients: Cardamome, Cedar

It's hard to find information about Fabrice Pelligrin ... but in what I could dredge up about his company, he is not a lone artist, sitting at the perfumer's organ, hand sorting scents which he tests with his very own nose.

MANE is a fragrance technology firm which has "developed their own proprietary technology to capture the molecules emitted by parts of botanical species [isn't this headspace?] while respecting their environment. This non-destructive extraction technique coupled with modern analytical tools have lead to the identification of high odor value molecules with low detection threshold, thus enabling the design of breakthrough olfactive accords such as the 'marine accord' which paved the way to modern perfumery in the late 1980's throughout the last decade of the 20th century."

So, for those of you who hate the marine accord, here's who you have to thank.

Cardamome, the third fragrance in the Nelly Rodi collection, smells pretty much like wood to me ... although there may be high odor value molecules with low thresholds wafting around and I don't even know it.

I must be missing something, because this seems like an extremely simplistic rendition of what Tam Dao, CC10 and many others do in so much more complicated, and beautiful, a fashion.

It's pleasant ... but I shouldn't have read all the technology stuff. I really dislike that aspect of perfumery and I'm afraid that I'm letting that information shape what I'm smelling here.

They're Married! *snif*

awwww, look at the happy couple! Yes, Marilyn Manson and Dita von Teese [my alter ego] tied the knot! *Annie, did you know her real name is Heather Sweet?* heh.

Google quote of the day: There is always some madness in love. But there is also always some reason in madness. - Friedrich Nietzsche



When we're in extremis -- deep pain, deep fear, deep shame, deep loneliness -- what keeps some people attached to the world, what keeps them from deciding the best alternative is to just let go?

I'm in the middle of studying for finals, and one of our last assignments is to write an essay on legal ethics, as they apply to the case of two Seattle attorneys who took drug money to represent members of a local cartel. The charges also include what they tried to do to hide the illegal money -- which, by legal fee standards, was nothing.

I know how I'm going to write the essay -- I have the Rules of Professional Conduct in front of me; I can define and discuss the particular rules that were broken ... but what about these men?

By all accounts, they are not bad people. Part of the assignment included reading 18 pages of endorsement letters from their colleagues, friends, people they've helped -- and reading their attorneys' pre-sentencing memos, pages detailing what these men contributed to the legal profession, and to their communities, before they fell.

Both were still sentenced to prison.

All that time and work invested in law school, all that effort to make it in a profession that's singularly hard to make money in -- but they had already been successful before they took the relatively small illegal payoff that landed them in prison. They had accomplished, they had achieved some prestige and status -- in a culture that singularly values accomplishment and status.

All that is gone.

And I can't guess why they did it. One of them spent the money to pay off debts and take trips to Fiji and India -- that didn't seem to be money taken for desperate purposes: there was no sick child who needed extensive, expensive care, no aging parent-with-Alzheimers that needed to be cared for.

See, the judgment is creeping in. And they will face this kind of criticism for the rest of their lives. My hope is that they do feel the pull of gravity keeping them in this world, despite their tremendous self-inflicted loss.

And I hope they find a way to rebuild lives that, for whatever reason, they tore apart.

Today's fragrance: Barbatia is Right! In an Agent Provocateur/Coriandre sidebyside comparison, the fragrances are darn close! To my nose, a slight fennel/anise undertone to the Coriandre, and a rose geranium tinge to the Agent Provocateur ... but darn close! Especially when you consider Coriandre is so available and inexpensive ... and AP isn't!


Bucky Loves Winter!

Yesterday we finally got snowfall and the weather made Bucky a very happy dog. Oh, there was no cavorting ... that wouldn't have been dignified.

Rather he planted his broad butt on his customary hydrangea throne and just let it snow around him, and on him. It was a beautiful sight to see ... the majestic black dog supervising his kingdom as the white fell all around.

*I made him come in periodically to warm up and dry off*

But you can tell he sees himself as the regal Nanook, dog of the North. He isn't half as enthused about the usual downpour.

Google word of the day redivivus: living again; revived; restored.


Youth Dew's Most Modern Daughter: Amber Nude

From the land of the big cities, where Tom Ford wears his artful stubble and his crisp white shirt unbuttoned just so, comes Youth Dew Amber Nude.

Every woman of a certain age remembers the almost sugary sweetness of the original Youth Dew, that fragrance of sock hops and beehives with the ribbon clip in back ... and most of us have tried very hard to forget it.

*Although, I gotta tell ya: the scent has a weird attraction to me even now. Yes, I know it doesn't have a subtle molecule in its bottle, and you can smell it coming a mile away ... I still kind of like it.*

But now, thanks to the wisdom and marketing acumen of the Estee Lauder cosmeticonglomerate, we have the next generation of Youth Dew: Amber Nude.

And darned if I don't like it, too.

Opening our Now Smell This bibles to the correct page, we find "a lightly spicy oriental scent that pays homage to the original Youth Dew but throws in a smattering of modern notes (bare skin accord, fresh tea, ginger, chocolate). It is considerably lighter and softer than Youth Dew, but it isn't a sheer perfume by any means."

Robin says she couldn't go all the way with Amber Nude because she doesn't like amber ... since I love amber, it would have been that &*^% chocolate note that turned me cold. But, happily, it didn't. I don't discern chocolate at all ... although I can parse a bit of the ginger and tea, and I like where they're planted in the scent.

So, Trina (of MyLifeMyWordsMyMind), thanks for the lemming ... I have neatly filed it in the As, for amber. Another amber lemming, just what I needed. *mwah*

In a separate and unrelated note: Rabbit! Rabbit!