Wednesday, October 31, 2012

50 Books

John made a list of his 50 favorite books published since 1976 (the year of his birth). Here are the rules as he laid them out:
No anthologies, no reissues of classics, no multi-author books, no translations, and I could not, under any circumstances, have known the author before I cracked their book. And no fibbing.  Since 1976, in order of publication: 
1) Too Loud a Solitude by Bohumil Hrabal (1976)
2) A Bend in the River by V.S. Naipaul (1979)
3) Mulligan Stew by Gilbert Sorrentino (1979)
4) About Looking, by John Berger (1980)
5) Housekeeping, by Marilyn Robinson (1980)
6) Earthly Powers, by Anthony Burgess (1980)
7) Notes from Echo Lake by Michael Palmer (1981)
8) Camera Lucida, by Roland Barthes (1981)
9) Teaching a Stone to Talk, by Annie Dillard (1982)
10) Glass, Irony, and God, by Anne Carson (1983)
11) The Well-Tempered Sentence, by Karen Elizabeth Gordon (1983)
12) The Assault by Harry Mulisch (1985)
13) You’ve Had Your Time, by Anthony Burgess (1985)
14) Cassell’s History of English Literature, by Peter Conrad (1985)
15) Lonesome Dove, by Larry McMurtry (1986)
16) Dancer from the Dance by Andrew Holleran (1986)
17) Bill Knott: Poems 1963-1988 (1988)
18) Tomas Transtromer’s Selected Poems 1954-1988 (1988)
19) The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien (1990)
20) The Widening Spell of the Leaves, by Larry Levis (1991)
21) The United States, by Gore Vidal (1992)
22) The Designated Mourner, by Wallace Shawn (1995)
23) The Collected Stories of Evan S. Connell (1995)
24) American Visions, by Robert Hughes (1995)
25) A Green History of the World, by Clive Ponting (1995)
26) Emerson: Mind on Fire, by Robert Richardson (1995)
27) Let it Bleed by Gary Indiana (1996)
28) The Three-Arched Bridge by Ismail Kadare (1997)
29) Byzantium: The Early Centuries, by John Julius Norwich (1989)
30) King Leopold’s Ghost, by Adam Hochschild (1998)
31) Diminutive Revolutions, by Daniel Bouchard (1999)
32) Africa: a Biography, by John Reader (1999)
33) Collected Poems of James Merrill (2001)
34) The Eternal Frontier, by Tim Flannery (2001)
35) A Tortoise for the Queen of Tonga, by Julia Whitty (2002)
36) Europe Central, William Vollmann (2002)
37) My Life, by Lyn Hejinian (2002)
38) The Hermit’s Story, by Rick Bass (2002)
39) Rising Up and Rising Down, by William Vollmann (2003)
40) We Need to Talk Abut Kevin, by Lionel Shriver (2003)
41) The Name of War, by Jill Lapore (2003)
42) Enlightening the World by Philip Blom (2004)
43) Mothers and Other Monsters by Maureen McHugh (2005)
44) Light, by M. John Harrison (2007)
45) Quinnehtukqut by Joshua Harmon (2007)
46) Love and Obstacles by Aleksandar Hemon (2009)
47) NixonLand by Rick Pearlstein (2009)
48) Calendar of Regrets, by Lance Olsen (2010)
49) Lyndon Johnson: The Path to Power by Robert Caro (2012)
50) Collected Poems of W.S Merwin (2013)
I think the "no fibbing" rule is there so he wouldn't feel compelled to make the list perfectly representative of all genders, races, and cultures and therefore beyond reproach. But I find it to be impressively diverse in any case; John reads widely in many genres and the above list includes novels, short story collections, biographies, history and art history, poetry, sci fi, lit theory ... if I were to create a list of my 50 favorite books published since 1979, it would be mostly novels with a few nonfiction and poetry books thrown in. (I don't have many favorite books of poetry, but I do have favorite poems.) 

So what would be on my list? I'll be thinking about it. And speaking of birth years, I've got two days left of being 32.

Friday, October 26, 2012

My life as a troll

I had a conversation with a friend yesterday about Twitter and he told me that he sometimes hides my tweets. I asked him what governs it, and he said he hides me when I start "trolling" and then he'll start to miss me so he'll unhide me again. I was like, "What?! I don't troll!" and he said something like "Oh you know, when you make really provocative statements just to get a reaction." Huh. I wasn't offended, but I was surprised. I don't feel like I MPSJTGAR (Make Provocative Statements Just to Get a Reaction), but maybe trolls don't feel like trolls either?

Does everyone go through periods when they hate themselves? I don't hate myself, but I have sudden insight into why some people hate me. In Houston, I had a flash of memory about my brother telling me something a mutual "friend" of ours had said (looking back, I guess we weren't really friends); he said, to my brother, "Your sister has all your worst qualities, only more so." I think he meant self-righteousness. I thought it was funny at the time, and I still think it's funny, but it also makes me ... not sad exactly, but wistful. Thank god I had the obliviousness of youth on my side, so I didn't walk around with the crushing knowledge that a lot of people had, shall we say, reservations about me. Another mutual friend once said that my Indian name would be "She who gets too much attention."

I've become obsessed with the fallout (ha ha, ugh) from the "Yellow Rain" segment of Radiolab. I haven't even listened to it yet, the original or the edited version, but I'm experiencing some extreme form of self-righteous (natch) indignation and schadenfreude just reading the angry comments on the Radiolab site, as well as Matt Salesses's essay on the segment, its failure as storytelling and as good science (good scientists don't begin with a foregone conclusion). This is the second time that NPR has taken a highly charged topic (the other being factory conditions in China) and totally botched it with a format that is just quintessentially not built to handle such serious and controversial material. I know it's not fair, but I'm just utterly convinced that the segment was racist and sexist. I asked a younger coworker, who is Taiwanese, what he thought, and he seemed very placid and neutral. I told him "You need to work up some more world rage!" Some rules of thumb for adult life: When in doubt, assume the guy is hitting on you, and assume almost everything is racist and sexist.

In less depressing news, I loved this interview with Dita von Teese in which she talks about her beauty routines and beauty in general:
I loved selling makeup, I hated doing makeovers…but I had a theory: when I was doing people’s makeup I would always—and this always worked for selling—look at them, study how their makeup was done, and I’d do it the exact same way. [Laughs] Hopefully a little better, or change a little something. I discovered early on that people have their ‘drag’… and very few people really, truly want to stray from it. Generally, and I include myself in this, I have my drag and I don’t want to anyone messing with it. I remember when I was little, I was watching the Phil Donahue show or something—that shows how old I am—and they were doing makeovers and they took all these ladies that had been wearing the same makeup for 20 years—you know, the green eye shadow, red lips, bouffant red hairdo, that type of lady. These were ladies who had never had their hair and makeup done any other way. I remember seeing the final makeovers and I was so devastated by how boring they made these women look…and how they looked kind of deflated, kind of disappointed, like they didn’t want to be made-over. Don’t take a lady’s green eye shadow away. 
I pencil my mole in a little, but it’s tattooed now; I had it tattooed when I was 21. I went to a famous rockabilly tattoo parlor down in Orange County, and I actually wanted to have him do it in a heart or a star, and the guy was like, ‘There’s no way I’m putting a heart or a star on your face.’ Thank God he said that. [Laughs] He said he would only do a dot, thankfully.

Confidence is the important thing with beauty, mostly. It’s really about doing what you believe is beautiful. I feel most beautiful when I have my red lips on and when I have my cat eyeliner on and my hair curled—that’s what I feel good in, even though lots of people will see me with straight hair and no makeup on, and they’ll say I look so much younger. I don’t really care, though. I don’t care if they think I look prettier without the makeup and hair—it’s about what makes you feel good about yourself. I like having makeup on; I like the discipline it requires.
The confidence thing is a platitude I suppose, but it's the "I don't care" angle that I love. People always think you are doing things to please them, and that's why they try to get you to change. I mean, if you want to make people happy, there are probably better ways to do it than with your haircolor. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Conversations about cats

J: speaking of cats, Fry ran away. He's been gone for a week and they've given up hope. They seem to be handling it pretty well, though...

Me: oh how sad!!! Fry was the one I liked? seemed like they were pretty bored with having cats anyway.... :(

J: Yeah, Fry was the cute one (i.e. not the fat one). They're dealing with their grief by deriding Cooper. "Of the two of them we had to lose Fry! Look at Cooper: he's so dumb. I mean just look at that blank stare. We could leave the door open all day and he wouldn't even want to check it out." I think they're pretty done.

Me: hahaha! how sad. maybe he'll die of a broken heart.

J: Heart attack maybe, but he seems pretty oblivious.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Proust questionnaire

Your favorite virtue (of your own) 

Consistency in morality; valuing actions over words and goodness over politeness.

Your favorite qualities in a man

Confidence without arrogance (or with minimal arrogance). (“PARTY TIP: A real man is masculine and feminine.”)

Your favorite qualities in a woman


Your chief characteristic 

Self-assurance? [sic]

What you appreciate the most in your friends

Loyalty. “Unconditional like.”

Your main fault

Stubbornness. Followed by lack of ambition.

Your favorite occupation


Your idea of happiness

Laughter in the company of old friends.

Your idea of misery

Being betrayed. Or guilt over having betrayed.

If not yourself, who would you be?

Like me but richer.

Where would you like to live?

New York, but with Denver’s weather and cost of living.

Your favorite color

Shades of red and blue.

Your favorite flower

Lilies and tuberose.

Your favorite bird

Hawks and crows.

Your favorite prose writers

Kazuo Ishiguro, Joy Williams.

Your favorite poets.

Wallace Stevens, Anne Carson.

Your favorite hero in fiction

Calvin (of Calvin & Hobbes)

Your favorite heroine in fiction

Scarlett O'Hara

Your favorite painters

The abstract expressionists.

Your favorite composers

The Russians.

Your heroes in real life


Your favorite food and drink

Food: Tomato sauce, chilaquiles, enchiladas, poached eggs, pizza, sushi. Drink: Wine, Campari.

Your favorite names

Georgia, Annick, Adam, Sasha (for a boy).

What you hate the most


The military event you admire the most


The gift of nature you would like to have

Musical talent.

How you want to die

By meteorite.

Your present state of mind


Faults for which you have the most indulgence


Your favorite motto

“Luck is a skill.”

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Mini-Reviews: M.Micallef Art Collection Vanille

Full disclosure: Samples of the below fragrances were sent to me by M.Micallef.

M.Micallef Vanille Orient – Probably my favorite of the four new vanilla-centric scents from M.Micallef, Vanille Orient is not, as the name might suggest, a complex, classically structured oriental with a bergamot top note and a floral heart. Instead it’s a very simple woody vanilla perfume, along the lines of Un Bois Vanille from Serge Lutens but lighter and less smoky – or, if you prefer, like Kate Walsh Boyfriend without the patchouli. When I first sampled it, it seemed quite nice, like a version of Gaiac, an older scent from the same line, with more creamy vanilla. The problem emerges when you wear them side by side: Gaiac is just a better perfume, richer and fuller and more balanced. There’s vanilla there, but it’s in perfect balance with the resins; the overall effect is of a spicy amber, like a slice from the end of Ormond Jayne Woman, or a sweeter version of YSL Nu. Next to Gaiac, Vanilla Orient feels like it’s missing some notes on the base end (too much treble). It also feels like they tried to dry it out with a woody amber, i.e. a smidge of chemical headache. Again, when I tried it on its own I liked it, so there’s nothing really wrong with it per se, and if you love vanilla and hate amber you might prefer it. But I’d go for Gaiac every time (it also happens to be cheaper on a per-ml basis, which can’t possibly be due to the cost of materials).

M.Micallef Vanille Cuir – Much stranger and more complex than Vanille Orient, Vanille Cuir comes out of the gate with a floral leather accord that is creamy-sweet with vanilla and musk and, at the same time, bitter-acerbic with bergamot and lavender. There’s also a cool, almost metallic touch of mint, like that chilly vanilla-mint aroma you get in the back of your mouth from white Tic-Tacs. If you think of smells in terms of music, it’s high-pitched; if you think in terms of color, it’s pale, like chamois. The leather is present throughout, as is a soapy note of orange blossom. It took me a while to figure out what Vanille Cuir reminds me of, but it hit me an hour or two into my first wear: The base is similar to Putain de Palaces, AKA Hotel Hooker from Etat Libre d’Orange. After completely different openings (PdP’s is a trashy-sweet, retro rose-violet accord), they both end up in the same bizarre union of creamy, sweet, and animalic, like Dove soap and a raunchy armpit all at once. Like Putain de Palaces, this is both fascinating and a little gross. Definitely worth trying if you love weird leathers.

M.Micallef Vanille Fleur – More like Vanilla Fruity! It’s not that this isn’t floral, but the fruity (banana-like) aspects of ylang are what you mostly notice, and it’s got a huge tropical fruit note to boot, creamy and a little funky – the notes list peach, but I smell a gargantuan mango. It’s overdosed to the point of being medicinal. Vanille Fleur is far too sweet for me in the initial stages, and commits the ultimate sin of a niche fragrance, as far as I’m concerned – namely, it doesn’t smell expensive. It kind of smells like a scented lotion you’d get from Bath & Body Works. To be clear, I really, really didn't like it. In fact, I scrubbed it off and gave away my sample, so this review is based on one partial wear. YMMV. For a vanilla floral done right, see By Kilian Sweet Redemption.

M.Micallef Vanille Marine – This is the one of the four I was most afraid to sample, because marine notes can be really disgusting – see L’Eau d’Issey, which I wore in high school; 12 years later I realized it smells like industrial cleaning solvents. Even natural seaweed absolute, as in MCMC’s Maine, turns my stomach. But the marine element here is quite subtle and fleeting, a far-off whiff of a chlorinated pool. If there’s Calone in here (the melon-y, aqua-blue smell in the aforementioned L’Eau d’Issey as well as CK One, the original Escape and other ‘90s clich├ęs), it’s in minuscule amounts. Instead, it’s a soft fruity floral in the style of Pink Sugar Sensual, a pink-lemonade-and-cupcakes scent for sexy tweens that, I’m not ashamed to say, I bought a bottle of for next to nothing at TJ Maxx. This makes sense because the top notes are lemon and blackcurrant. But Vanille Marine does have a slightly salty-savory edge, which reminds me of celery (vetiver?) more than the sea. Over time that aspect fades and it just smells like a bare fruity floral. There’s nothing horribly wrong here except that, once again, it doesn’t smell expensive in the slightest.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Regression/confession session

* Not to be like that girl in junior high who complained about having too many potential dates to the dance, but sometimes I wish I were good at less things. What I mean is, wouldn't it be better to focus my energies in one area, and really excel at it, instead of just having these 75% hobbies? But I think the only reason I feel this way is because I'm constantly saturated in media and it creates pressure to be an entrepreneur, so I feel like I should stop screwing around and start a real blog, like a fancy blog on a paid domain with a single topic and SEO it up and take real pictures with a good camera and monetize it and so forth. I mean isn't that how you get a book deal, by proving there is an audience slavering for your smoky-eye vids and DIY body scrub recipes? I'm sure this is just a phase; I was just in Houston hanging out with old college buddies and most of them make more money than me. What's funny, though, not ha-ha-funny but sad funny, is that my brother easily makes twice as much as me and he obsesses about why he isn't worth more too. By the way, this is us, at Goode Company Tacqueria getting a Tex-Mex-brex on Sunday:

* I normally hate cutesy shit (I recently vowed on Twitter that my next book will be devoid of cuteness), but lately all I want to wear is Pink Sugar Sensual, which smells like pink lemonade and cupcakes. Then there was that whole crayon thing. What's going on?

* I enjoyed the debates tonight, not just because Obama was present and holding Mitt accountable, but because the other half of the country was finally addressed (the ones who don't have pensions penises).

* Here are some random lines from the poans (koan-poems) I've been writing over the last few months:
I love when men say the word pretty.
I told myself, “Be thankful for your enemies; they make you more yourself.”
But what if the truth isn’t elegant?

I rarely transgress in a dream; I dream of the guilt that follows transgression.

Time moves so fast I want it to move faster. 
My dream life has its own past, memories I only access when asleep.

But shame, a friend told me, can be comforting. 
Adulthood is knowing that someone is watching, an increasing sensation of things being fixed.

I have a Post-It on my desk that says BE AN ACTIVIST.
The only way past is through.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Mini-reviews: Underwear Perfume

Lingerie stores love to sell perfumes, and probably rake in tons of dough from impulse counter buys – the woman who buys herself expensive matching bras and panties that must be washed by hand is generally looking for a package deal, a head-to-toe sexpot-in-a-box experience. And perfume is part of that glamorous package; I bet lipsticks would go like hot cakes too. Even better, it's a way for the stores to find customers in people who want in on the fantasy but don't see themselves actually wearing the lingerie. When we were far too young to buy the push-up bras, my friends and I would still go into Victoria's Secret to smell all the lotions and gels and things.

These days, the VS fragrances are mostly complete trash, a step or two down from Bath & Body Works in quality, but several high-end lingerie lines have some pretty great offerings in the perfume department. Here are a few of the ones I've tried (I can't speak for any of their underthings, I'm afraid).

Fifi Chachnil: I had never heard of this perfume until a few weeks ago, when someone in a blog comment somewhere named it as their favorite rose perfume. For some reason the name stuck with me, and when I had to place an order at Surrender to Chance for some decanting supplies, I put a sample of Fifi Chachnil in my cart as well. Rose and tobacco are two of my favorite notes; what could go wrong?

The perfume lovers among you know it can always go very wrong indeed, but this one doesn't. However, I wouldn't classify it as a rose perfume myself. The top notes smell briefly and classically of bergamot and baby powder, but the next thirty minutes or so are dominated by a certain aromachemical I've been smelling in a lot of things lately, which I strongly suspect is Safraleine. According to Givaudan, "Safraleine exhibits warm, powerful, leathery and tobacco facets but its complexity also reveals characteristics of spices reminiscent of natural saffron, enriched by rose ketone-like floral aspects." (Just the other day, John was lamenting his students' tendency to overuse words like "aspect" in their papers.) Those facets 'n' aspects are all present and accounted for here, and it's certainly a complex and interesting smell, but it's not one I particularly like. More than "saffron" or "leather" or "oud" as it's sometimes designated, I get a chemical effect that brings to mind shoe polish and refrigerated air. Luckily, the perfumer didn't just dilute this stuff with alcohol and say, "Look! I made a fragrance!" (the impression I got from Bond No. 9's Harrods Amber). Rather, Fifi is fuzzed out with florals (more orange blossom than rose, to this schnoz; at times it's a little soapy) and spices (a coriander note that's softly peppery and a bit sharp) and a very nice, powdery tobacco accord with a long drydown.

Most reviews of this fragrance say it's super-femme, but I wonder if they aren't swayed by the incredibly silly pink pinup boudoir bottle. I find leather and tobacco notes, like wingtips and mustaches, to be masculine in almost any context, and though this is sweet and pretty I think a guy could pull it off if he so desired. From a distance, the impression is not unlike my vintage Shalimar – a powdery floriental with a smoker's cough.

Natori: Natori EDP, which comes in a lovely modern bottle that's kind of half Orientalist, half sci-fi, is a rather strange, abstract perfume; no one note stands out as particularly legible. It opens with a noticeable dose of aldehydes, giving it that throwback cloudy "This is perfume" smell, then it settles into a low hum of a fragrance, with a honeyed, boozy feel like fruit stewed in wine, and enough leftover aldehydes and synthetic musky, woody notes to call to mind the air in a dressing room after women have done their hair. It's sweet, warm, and vaguely intimate, somewhere between (the reformulated) Rochas Femme and Hanae Mori Magical Moon, but more age-appropriate, in my case, than either. It's more sultry than all-out bombshell, which seems to suit the brand.

Agent Provocateur: Expectations are, if not everything, powerful stuff. When I originally sampled and reviewed this perfume, a few years ago, I thought it was amusingly prim and proper for a lingerie company. And when you first put it on, it is: a green, even uptight geranium-rose with a chypre backbone and a big saffron-coriander top section that verges on sour. But wait ... for the drydown. This gets much darker and dirtier with a few hours of wear; the base feels very lived-in, a long-lasting skin-like musk plus vetiver and earthy patchouli. It loosens up but never gets sweet, so the effect is kind of mean-sexy. This is older than the above fragrances by a good 5 to 10 years and probably served as inspiration, given the similar note lists. Not for everyone, and doesn't work in every season, but I've come to think of it as a contemporary classic.

Agent Provocateur Strip: Some flankers offer a simple twist on the original, while others share almost nothing but the name. This flanker, which is no longer in production, veers pretty far from Agent Provocateur. But like the original, it seems designed to scare off half the people who might pick it up. It goes on dark and medicinal with an incredibly mentholated patchouli note up-front, rendered further minty with geranium, and reminding me of some ancient lotion that my grandparents used to keep on their bedside table. After ten minutes or so the stink-waves begin to burn off and I get a subtle fruitiness, which smells more like the fruity "aspects" of vanilla beans than fruit per se, and a whiff of cherry tobacco. It's animalic in a way that reminds me of the oily leather in Histoires de Parfums 1740 (the Marquis de Sade one), but less aggressively so. Eventually you end up with a musky amber, very nice and very comfortable but not as unusual as the drydown of AP. Strip smells more like a niche masculine than a mainstream feminine, so I can't say I'm shocked it was discontinued. My skin seems to amp up certain kinds of patchouli, making them go all barnyard (on paper, the balance between the patchouli and geranium is more apparent, and I see the link to AP more clearly), and accordingly this is one of those fragrances I'd probably rather smell on someone else, preferably a dude with a beard.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Live-tweeting The Shining

Because #2K1 was so fun, Sommer and I are organizing another live-tweet. And this time, it's spoo-OO-ooky!

Many of you told me this is the scariest movie you've ever seen. Well, IT'S TIME TO FACE YOUR FEARS.

Fine print: You will need to rent or own the movie to play. Start on time to be NSYNC. Use hashtag #redrum (shorter and better than our original plan for #TheShining). See you on Twitter!

Friday, October 5, 2012

This is the scariest movie I've ever seen

John made me watch this movie years ago and it scared the living crap out of me. The trailer alone is killing me.

What's the scariest movie YOU'VE ever seen?

By the way, Sommer and I are planning another live-tweet for the end of the month, with a Halloween theme! Stay tuned ...

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Mini-Reviews: Considering the Lilies

John recently bought me a bunch of lilies (my favorite!), big magenta lilies with brown-black spots inside like banana seeds. Even when lilies aren't white, they have a white floral profile, smelling perfumey initially and in snatches but, like tuberose and gardenia, displaying all sorts of weird facets that aren't floral at all. Fresh lilies start off smelling waxy and rubbery, a little like latex, which is interesting because their petals are waxy. The longer they sit cut on your counter, the more they start to smell meaty. If tuberose has notes of rotting chicken, the meat in lilies is more appetizing, with a briny, smoky, cured smell like ham or salami, but without letting go of the slightly plasticky, rubbery smell. So right now, on their third day, these deep-pink lilies smell like a perfect cross between high-end cold cuts and the inside of a tent. Tarpaulin sandwich!

My favorite lily fragrance, and one of my favorite perfumes period, is Donna Karan Gold. (Once again, Calice Becker FTW.) Here are a few more I've tried recently:

Serge Lutens Un Lys: Musk and vanilla always seem to play a part in a fresh lily accord. This presents a problem when the musk gets a little too fresh and starts to smell like laundry detergent, a fate that Cartier Baiser Vole doesn't manage to avoid. (DK Gold, for the record, sidesteps this problem with its salty amber base; the resins serve as a cloak so you're never subjected to naked musk.) At first, Un Lys smells like a more expensive and more controlled version of Baiser Vole – but eventually (inevitably?) it too succumbs to a flat, sweet, clean muskiness (owing to that certain lavender-gray musk I hate so much) with none of the weird complexity of lilies. Et tu, Lutens?

Ineke Gilded Lily: For Gilded, read Gourmand. And for Lily, read Patchouli. This reminds me of nothing so much as Bond No. 9 New Haarlem, which reminds me of nothing so much as maple syrup. In other words, I'm getting immortelle, big time. Which of course isn't listed among the notes (pineapple, rhubarb, grapefruit, elemi, Goldband lily, patchouli, oakmoss and labdanum). But then, it's not listed in the notes for New Haarlem, either (patchouli, lavender, vanilla, coffee, cedar and bergamot). Immortelle, real or imagined, aside, I smell citrus and a slightly spicy, ambery patchouli, but this doesn't read as "lily" to me; it lacks that tactile freshness. It's interesting I suppose, but nowhere even close to comparable to DK Gold in quality, and as a weird gourmand, not really as good as New Haarlem either.

Yosh Stargazer: Compared to Gilded Lily, Yosh Stargazer smells decidedly floral, but it still doesn't really smell like lilies. After a complex few minutes that hint at the prickliness of indoles, this sinks into a purple, lilac-like sweetness that is almost grapey, like some jasmine accords (see Alien for the best example). And it just gets sweeter and more syrupy with time. Weird like British candy.

Frederic Malle Lys Mediterranee: Finally: lilies! More than any other lily perfume I've tried, Lys Mediterrannee actually capitalizes on the meaty odor of lilies, and the central accord here is like floral baloney. In his review of this fragrance, Luca Turin remarked on "that strange sensation that lilies give that the smell is about to fall apart into its component parts any minute." I'd go a step further and say that the smell of lilies always is falling apart into components, reassembling itself and then falling apart again, and this perfume reenacts that, much more so than Un Lys or Baiser Vole, which smell like a static sketch of a lily, not a living flower. All that said: I find that a number of perfumes in the Frederic Malle line are "too perfect," the way a woman can be too perfect to be truly attractive, and I'd put Lys Mediterranee in that category. It broadcasts excellence, it undeniably smells expensive. But it's just so on the nose. It doesn't feel personal or lived in. This is what I want to smell in a hotel lobby, more than on my skin. Still, beautifully instructive and necessary. Note that as it dries down, the dreaded lily musk begins to show through – a smell I'm starting to feel on my tongue, like the burn you get from eating too many Sour Patch Kids.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Men on Women

"Women are considered deep – why? Because one can never discover any bottom to them. Women are not even shallow." – Friedrich Nietzsche

"Those people who have for years been insisting (in the face of all obvious evidence to the contrary) that the male and female are equally capable of rational thought may have something. The difficulty may just be that we have never yet discovered a way to communicate with the female mind." – Richard Feynman

"The great question that has never been answered, and which I have not yet been able to answer, despite my thirty years of research into the feminine soul, is 'What does a woman want?'" – Sigmund Freud

"The reason novelists nearly always fail in depicting women when they make them act, is that they let them do what they have observed some woman has done at some time or another. And that is where they make a mistake; for a woman will never do again what has been done before." – Mark Twain

"The man's desire is for the woman; but the woman's desire is rarely other than for the desire of the man." – Samuel Taylor Coleridge

"The opinion I have of the generality of women – who appear to me as children to whom I would rather give a sugar plum than my time, forms a barrier against matrimony which I rejoice in." – John Keats

"I don't think a woman should be in any government job whatever. I mean, I really don't. The reason why I do is mainly because they are erratic. And emotional." – Richard Nixon

"If a woman hasn't got a tiny streak of harlot in her, she's a dry stick as a rule." – D.H. Lawrence

"It has been our experience that women usually prefer thin, undernourished, flatchested females, dressed to the teeth, as a concept of 'feminine beauty' – and that men prefer exactly the opposite: voluptuous, well-rounded and undressed. The women's idealization of woman is actually a male counterpart, competing with man in society; man's view of women is far more truly feminine." – Hugh Hefner