Saturday, December 31, 2005

Bad Cinema and Other Year End Observations

My resolution for 06 is to live a bit more simply, write more, whine less.

So, I started by ditching most of the Cable. Took the addressable convertor back to Cox a couple of weeks ago and am supples to just have the barebones minimum package, which is fundamentally just clear access to most network stations. I don't watch other other channels anyways. And I am saving over $40 a month with this move. So, what happens? I take the convertor back and attach the cable to my small by any standerd television, and for some reason I am getting HBO now.... It'll probably go away really soon. This would be a good thing. It is a mind-suck of the nth magnitude..especially when you're down with bronchitis and need some quick escapism.

Tonight was a truly terrible experience in modern cinema: Oliver Stone's Men in Skirts, aka "Alexander". I'm fanatical about my history. Not my fault, I was raised that way. My late mother loved ancient Greece, read us stories from the mythology, had little plaster statuettes and busts of the gods. She passed me Mary Renault's Alexander trilogy when she was done with it...when I was in high school. We drove to a hundred miles to the MFA in Boston to see the Alexander exhibit back in '82. We saw the Pompeii exhibit as well.

I don't want to think what mom would have thought about Ollie's sandle-opera. Well, she wouldn't have liked the nudity. She had standards. A good film can dispose with naked and most of the best films do. A good film can dispense with smarmy "messages" and faux-weepy moments and drawing characters out of the pop-psychology handbook and deconstructing history through the lense of the modern mindset. It makes for dull storytelling that in no way transports the viewer or the reader for that matter when talking about good books.

Part of a good book is the opportunity the writer gives us to step outside of our own headspace and see things from a different viewpoint or through the lense of different values. We are enriched by that experience, and perhaps become better for it, rather than indulging in simple "validation" through characters who think and act no different than modern fashion no matter the era they live in.

Am I making any sense?

2005. I made some wonderful friends this year. Bless the Bunions and their spouses and offspring. Good friends are rare, honest friends are even rarer. Someone who will still be your friend after you rip into their ms is a price above rubies. You guys kept me sane this year. Thank you. I haven't laughed this much in a long time.

Reality television... you couldn't write fiction this strange.. What is this that it has become fashionable to hang ones dirty laundry up in public on purpose? Have people become so blind to themselves that they are no longer capable of being embarassed? Food for thought there. It's almost as if people want to be disagreeable for the sake of being disagreeable.

Interesting study I read on the psychology of blood donors. The study said that blood and especially platelet donors have "lower self-esteem" than average. I would prefer to think that blood donors had a more "realistic self estimation" and that we realize that no man is an island. We're perhaps a little less self involved, a little more understanding, a little more desirious to do what we can for others. It's also a cheap way do do a hell of a lot of good. Doesn't cost anything and you just might score a teeshirt in the bargain... I have a drawer full of em. This is something I am proud of... 70 double units of platelets and still going strong.

Almost time for a new year. That means a couple months of typing "2005" in error.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Joy To The World

I am supposed to be deep in the study of The Thirty Years war, immersing myself in human misery and vagaries, and killing scads of paper people.

Instead? I have found myself listlessly wandering the internet, blog hopping on such diverse and trivial matters as the history of dance, metal forging, and perfume.

Do you remember far back? When there was "The One Perfume"? and it's name was Joy. The advertisements were in the Vogue we read at the public library: we who splashed on a little of our mom's Jean Nate' for lack of better. Joy's message was clear: "You don't have the money to even think of affording me." And so it was.

And we perhaps, hoped for the day when we would be old enough, and careered or married well enough, to move to a city that had a swank department store that carried Joy. And maybe we'd get some on Christmas from our husband or boyfriend who always in our fantasies looked like Donald from "That Girl". It was a bottle of dreams and we knew that Joy was the most perfect perfume...even without smelling it.(this was before scented strips in magazines and before the anti-scent backlash against the same that removed them from magazines) It was the magical and touted $100 an ounce price point. It meant something, talismanic. That was luxury, perfection in the rounded off 100. No 99.95 shenanigans with Joy.

A friend at work told me about her aunt who had a bottle of Joy, a gift from her husband. The aunt kept her Joy boxed and wrapped and in the refrigerator.

So back to now. I am wandering the internets and stumble upon the modern perfume monolith stretching from such established houses as Guerlain to the oddly named "Dinner by Bobo". And behold, the iconic has been surpassed, the talismanic sent to the ranks of the "very good but old-fashoned".

The House of Creed has not a "Singular and Iconic" scent pricing about $100 but at least 20 such scents! All at $150.00 and above retail. Molinard has poured old perfume into new perfume flasks and the dowager Habanita that you could find on close out shelves a couple of years back is resurrected at $295 a 3.3 ounce bottle. The ranks of the $75+ are legion. Are they all beautiful? Worthy? Hardly. I am close enough to places to sample upon occasion. There is some delightful work out there. There is also stuff that smells like nothing more than burning rubber or a Yankee Candle shop. This holds even at the sky-high price points.

Fashion is all but dead. The speed of the wired world demands a new novelty by the minute, a new lure, and it is becoming the "artisanal" or "niche" perfumes or "scents" as they might properly be called. I tried one that was lovely, simply lovely if I wanted to call back the smell of being in church at Pascha on midnight. Pure Russian incense vibe. I don't care to go around all day smelling like I should be at confession. But it is lovely for the exercise that it is. It's not wearable except to evoke memory, like bonfires in autumn evoke the desire to wear wool and start back to school. It's the preciousness of impossible to wear haute couture, but sold to the masses for $75.00 eau de toilette strength 1.7 ounces.

And it is no longer about having ones "signature" scent that renders one memorable. Perfume has become the province of collectors for whom nothing but having one of everything will do. This should be a book, I think. An amusing if cautionary fiction of smell wars and credit-card counts and countesses. I'd tell you where they hang out on line, but then I'd have to kill me.

Feel free to pop over to my side bar and pay Luca Truin a visit on his blog. He's an amusing eccentric, a bio-physicist and smell guru. He's also snide and writes fairly well if with the soupcon of hyperbole himself. His emperor may or may not be wearing clothes. I'll leave you to judge that if you feel you need a break from the endless writing.

Then there is the interesting case of the "haute" on and off line perfumieries touting my favorite Bandit at something around $50.00+ for 1.7 oz. It's an old leathery chanteuse of a perfume, going back to 1944 and enjoying a popular revival of sorts. So it is mythified by the shills. The hyperbolic writing would mean an automatic reject to the trash-can if one tried to pass it as serious writing:

Bandit: Piguet launched the spirit and scent of Bandit, his first fragrance (and, incidentally or not, the first chypre) on the couture runway in 1944. Intent on evoking the aura of the outlaw, he dressed his models in Zorro masks and staged them brandishing toy revolvers and knives. The fragrance is a mischievous and seductive statement accessory - not for every woman, but perfect for a certain woman...and, it should be noted, for a certain man as well. (fair use I hope)

Hint to the frugal....you CAN buy Bandit for $16.00 elsewhere without the flourishes.

And as for the lady who wore Joy? She likely had better things to do than blog about it online. Like a charity opera ball to organize, or a New England Christmas to orchestrate.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

My First Post

OK M.G. & Dana. I now have a proper blog. Talk to me.