Scratchy Glitter

Observations for the easily irritated.

Category: Unwanted Reviews

Easter Eve: L’Artisan Passage d’Enfer

(Note: The below is an excerpt of my review of this fragrance on makeupalley, and no, I don’t know how I got the photo in that awkward location, and all my attempts to fix it only make it worse.)

I joined MUA to find my signature scent–a concept I’ve always loved, even though one hears the term “fragrance wardrobe” more often these days. I also asked my husband for input, since I really had no idea where to start. He said, “You should smell like cool, misty dusk or dawn in an interesting place.” I referred this poetic description to the MUA fragrance board, and they recommended notes like sandalwood and incense. DH then elaborated on his suggestion, saying my perfume should evoke “a chapel that smells at the same time like the fresh wood when it was newly built, and like the incense that’s been burned there for years–that chapel at dawn.” He actually got a little choked up, describing this fragrance for me. Two of the specific fragrances the board recommended were woodsy/incense scents–Tam Dao and Passage d’Enfer. Tam Dao is more Asian temple incense. Passage d’Enfer is churchy, so that’s what I ordered a bottle of, all the while thinking, “They can’t get everything he said into a bottle.” Well, that’s exactly what they did, plus a “bonus” gray-stone note which completes the mood perfectly. The wood note is light and bright, as is the lily. The incense is also airy, and only a little smoky–as if the incense is not burning now, but has been recently. The tawny feline sweetness of benzoin becomes more noticeable in the drydown, as it mingles with the musk. I liked this fragrance immediately, but it took me awhile to fully appreciate and love it. It’s comfortable in any weather, appropriate for any occasion. But it’s not merely wearable. It’s also lovely, elegant, and distinctive. It’s composed of contrasts, marvelously resolved–rich yet light, smoky yet fresh, or, to quote my husband yet again, “intoxicating yet austere. It makes me want to bite you.”

I wrote that in 2004. So why is my signature-scent question still not settled? (A question all the more pressing, considering I first started looking when I was 14.) Two reasons:
     1. Do I like PdE better than the perfume of my dreams, Mitsouko?, and
     2. Shouldn’t I really be wearing a rose scent?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

gray concrete column inside vintage building

Photo by Flickr on Pexels.com

Baby Shark: Review and Analysis

The above video was being played by a child repeatedly at McDonald’s. Watch it now (praying that it will not then become an earworm forever, but your prayer will be in vain), and we will discuss.

The video opens with a pair of fish engaged in animated conversation. But THEN, the shadow of a shark looms over them. We are alarmed, until the little yellow shark smiles, and we are relieved to discover it’s just a baby after all. It sings:

“Baby Shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo

Baby Shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo

Baby Shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo

Baby Shark!” (subtitles are provided in case you’re having trouble following along)

Baby Shark then swims behind some sponges, but then a bigger pink shark emerges and sings:

“Mommy Shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo

Mommy Shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo

Mommy Shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo

Mommy Shark!”

She is readily recognized as a female by her lipstick and long eyelashes. She swims behind the clump of sponges, and a bigger blue shark emerges. (Are you sensing a pattern here?) In a deeper, booming voice, he sings:

“Daddy Shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo

Daddy Shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo

Daddy Shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo

Daddy Shark!”

I thought they would start with the narrative exposition at this point, but no, the entire cast is not on scene yet. Next to emerge from the convenient bank of sessile organisms is a shark with wrinkles (I kid you not) and spectacles, in what I guess is meant to be a faded shade of pink. She is, of course,

“Grandma Shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo

Grandma Shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo

Grandma Shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo

Grandma Shark!”

Gee, who will emerge from the sponges next? By now, I was sort of hoping that Grandma Shark was a widow. But no–he’s green! With white eyebrows! And a white mustache! He is, he informs us,

“Grandpa Shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo

Grandpa Shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo

Grandpa Shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo

Grandpa Shark!”

Luckily, my fears that they would introduce both sets of grandparents, and maybe some cousins, were unfounded, and they now advance the plot.

“Let’s go hunt, doo doo doo doo doo doo

Let’s go hunt, doo doo doo doo doo doo

Let’s go hunt, doo doo doo doo doo doo

Let’s go hunt!”

Oh no! (doo doo doo doo doo doo) we think–they’re going to show small children what sharks actually do! Especially when the little fish join the chorus:

“Run away, doo doo doo doo doo doo

Run away, doo doo doo doo doo doo

Run away!”

An unrealistic note of suspense was introduced in one frame, in which the little fish are chasing the shark family instead for some reason. I did not notice until about my sixth viewing (the things I do for you people…) that there are a couple sea anemones watching all the action. But the smaller fish find, I guess it’s a dead sponge–something with a bunch of holes, at any rate–and dive into it, and, you guessed it, burst into song:

“Safe at last, doo doo doo doo doo doo

Safe at last, doo doo doo doo doo doo

Safe at last, doo doo doo doo doo doo

Safe at last!”

However, they are dangerously elated by their narrow escape, and by the demands of musical theater, because they pop back out of their refuge so they can sing AND DANCE:

“It’s the end, doo doo doo doo doo doo

It’s the end, doo doo doo doo doo doo

It’s the end, doo doo doo doo doo doo

It’s the end!”

Which it indeed is, since the whole Shark family is lurking behind them, brandishing forks and wearing bibs. The little fish notice this and stop smiling, causing the sharks to start smiling, and we fade to black.

The moral of this story: If you’re playing hide and seek, don’t jump out and dance around. It all makes me want a fish sandwich. Doo doo doo doo doo doo.

 

A Poem Lovely As a Tree: Diptyque Tam Dao

brown close up hd wallpaper surface

Photo by FWStudio on Pexels.com

Choosing a photo for this review was easy for this perfume, which is all about wood. Choosing a title, however, was not, because, unlike several of the scents we dealt with previously, Tam Dao does not evoke a scene or mood for me. All it does is smell great.

We are now at the other end of the spectrum, as it were, of scents which were recommended to me as a result of Rom’s suggestion of something cool, misty, and dusky. We started with blue florals–violet and iris, went through more complex blends, such as the two Guerlains, and are now back at simpler scents, but focused on woods and resins this time.

Tam Dao, created in 2003, is basically about sandalwood. The opening is raw and rough, almost splintery–probably the cypress that’s listed as a note. There’s almost a rosy tinge to it, too. I don’t know how rosewood smells, but I can imagine it smelling like this. The fragrance quickly settles down to a beautiful creamy sandalwood, smooth and soothing. There isn’t much more I can say about it, but nothing more needs to be said.

YOU DON’T GET ALTERNATIVE-TO-PERFUME CONTENT TONIGHT BECAUSE I WANT TO GO WATCH THE SIMPSONS WHILE ROM MAKES DINNER. LIFE IS HARD.

Oh, and vote for me, even though I’m deserting you.

 

A Distant Ship: Jean Patou Normandie

woman in body of water

Photo by Rene Asmussen on Pexels.com

Normandie was created in 1935, and named after the luxury ocean liner. All first-class passengers on its maiden voyage received a sample of this perfume.

It was recommended to me as a powdery amber, and that, plus spicy carnation, is pretty much it to my nose. That plus–THE PAST. Like Le Dix, which I reviewed previously, Normandie smells dated to me. It’s a time machine in a bottle,  going back to a time before my own. Why this smells too old-fashioned to me, and L’Heure Bleue, which also has powder, spice, carnation, and a sweet drydown, does not, is a mystery.

Like Niki de Saint Phalle, Normandie is no longer in production, but can still be found on Ebay, in its art-deco-patterned box.

AND A P.S. TO THE PREVIOUS POST

Fiber-supplement experimentation–Congratulations, Metamucil! WAY to find an orange dye which withstands the digestive process!

The Hissing of Summer Lawns: Niki de Saint Phalle

nature animal green lizard

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

When Niki de Saint Phalle perfume was recommended to me as one of my dusky scents, I was eager to try it. How could I not be? The bottle is blue glass (favorite color!) with colorful snakes on it, and I have a cobra tattoo on my arm! Plus, it was released in 1987, the year Rom and I got married! How could I not love it? As it turns out, I didn’t, but it is an interesting scent, and definitely unique.

Niki de Saint Phalle was an artist and sculptor, and designed the snake-trimmed bottle for her fragrance. The scent is a combination of many unusual notes–pine, grapefruit, marigold, geranium–and thus smells hissingly green and spiky. It’s a bit too acerbic for my taste, even though I love green scents. But what fascinates me is the picture it evokes–that of a garden in late summer, when the only flowers still blooming in the blazing sun are, you guessed it, marigolds and geraniums. Dry, hot, and pungent. It would be the perfect scent if you love the scent of marigolds. But I don’t.

(Correction: It turns out that NdSP was created in 1982. 1987 is when I first heard of it.)

PART II, NO SEGUE ATTEMPTED

My current least-favorite commercials:

–“My hiney’s clean! I’m Charmin’ clean!” Yeah, it’s OK to show something’s butt if it’s a cartoon. If we learned nothing else from South Park…

–and the mouthwash commercial that shows a bunch of people’s gross mouths and the problems they have–Dry mouth! Garlic mouth! Cotton mouth! Stop showing me this! It’s not even a cartoon! Come to think of it, we did go from end to end here.

Speaking of which, now that “Nausea, heartburn, indigestion, upset stomach, diarrhea!” has been done in country and soul formats, we need a rock version.

‘WHOA, WE’RE HALFWAY THERE, WHOA-OH, GIBBON AND ECLAIR!’

Yes, the quotation marks above are incorrect. This will come out in hearings after I am President.

You know you’re sitting near a nerd when you hear the sentence, “They just rebooted their entire mythos.”

Speaking of nerds, a nerd on the bus solved a thorny theological problem–“God could have created evolution!” I’ve been saying this for years. Well, not on the bus.

Mmmm…Mitsouko by Guerlain

clouds countryside dawn dusk

Photo by Tim Savage on Pexels.com

Mitsouko haunts me. This is the only perfume that brought tears to my eyes the first time I smelled it, and the only one I wear in my dreams. (I dream about shopping for others, but if I apply perfume in a dream, it’s always Mitsouko.)

Part of its spell for me is obvious–its basic building blocks of peach, rose, and oakmoss are my favorite notes. But Mitsy is so much more than the sum of its parts, and in a way that’s hard to explain. It’s like faith–if you understand it, no explanation is necessary, and if you don’t, no explanation is possible. It was created in 1919, and thus qualifies as unfashionable now, yet it transcends fashion. It smells like peaches, roses, and forest floor, but liking all those smells doesn’t guarantee you’ll like it. It smells intensely autumnal, but is glorious on a summer day (especially in the dampness which is such a hallmark of the climate here). It’s an introverted scent with its dusky woodsiness, yet it’s dramatic. Maybe melodramatic. Introverted yet intense.

It’s not a crowd-pleaser in this “Eww, someone’s wearing perfume” era. But it’s a masterpiece nevertheless, and ever the more.

IN NON-OLFACTORY-WORK-OF-ART-RELATED NEWS…

On pumpkin-pie box at McDonald’s–“Packed with all the flavor it could possibly hold.” Well, isn’t that true of everything? Apparently not, since one of their meal combos was described as “Just the right amount of yum.” Because yum isn’t something you want too much of.

I am in postage-stamp heaven. Currently available are–not only rose stamps but DRAGON stamps! (“Who uses stamps anymore?” Nick yawns, but he is just out-of-sorts because his picture is not on any of them. Also because I haven’t made him my running mate yet.)

HOW TO PROTECT THEM FROM THEMSELVES?

Cat Esmerelda fell off the top of the door, leaving claw marks on the way down.

Cat Glamour will eat any bits of kitty litter scattered on the floor.

This seems to me emblematic of our current political situation.

VOTE FOR ME. I’M THE OUTSIDER AND I WILL MAKE ALL THESE POLITICAL ADS STOP.

Outside Looking In: Guerlain L’Heure Bleue

photography of turned on street lamps beside bay during night time

Photo by Reynaldo Brigantty on Pexels.com

You should know, I suppose, that I choose the illustrations for these posts very carefully–it sometimes takes me more time to do that than it does to write. When dealing with that most quintessential of dusky scents, L’Heure Bleue (“The Blue Hour”), it took the most time yet. I knew I wanted a sunset shot, but I wanted it to convey a very particular mood, which I was having trouble finding in the very many sunset photos available. I finally settled on this one for no other reason than its resemblance to downtown Riverside Drive in my own city. But once I enlarged and inserted it, I knew it was perfect. It expresses, in a way familiar to me, the feeling of a long road home.

L’Heure Bleue was created in 1912, so it has the built-in nostalgia factor of a bygone era, especially poignant for being before the World Wars. But its nostalgia value for me is more personal.

I wanted to try LHB, loving its name and image, but I was expecting to hate it. It features anise and carnation, two of my most-detested notes. And I did indeed loathe it the first time I tried it–visions of mothballs danced through my head. What changed? I don’t know. I’m not even sure why I bothered trying it again. But then…

…still anise, still carnation, but I found them unsettling in a weirdly pleasant way. This was alienation in a bottle. For some reason, it reminded me vividly of a field trip in the fourth grade. The only thing I remember about the trip was the bus ride home. It was winter, and the sun was almost down at 4:30. I was the new kid in school (my radio-announcer stepfather moved us to a new city almost yearly) and had no friends. I was lonely and misunderstood and self-pitying. It was, well, the kind of time you write about later.

LHB’s sharp powdery opening then swirls into flowers and powder and smoke, beautiful in a blue-gray sort of way, like the unhappy memory once you’ve had time to process and make sense of it (and perhaps recast it in a more appealing light).

And then…the happy ending. The scent changes to golden vanilla with an almondy cast, as if you end your journey in a brightly-lit kitchen, filled with the smells of your grandmother’s baking (rather than the smells of my mother’s wine-inflected sauces–appetizing, but not perfume material). Or, to change metaphors, the effect of the sun still glowing on the horizon, giving hope to mortals.

AWKWARD SEGUE

Well, it’s food-related, anyway.

–Manager at McDonald’s–“Where’s the sausage-and-egg biscuit?”

–Employee–“Right there, with the red side of the paper up.”

–Mgr.–“That’s not how you’re supposed to wrap them.”

–E.–“Well, how are you supposed to wrap them?”

Let me hazard a guess–WITH THE WORDS “SAUSAGE AND EGG BISCUIT” FACING UP?? Or, for the illiterate, the orange side of the paper up.

 

 

Art-Deco Garden at Dusk: Goutal Heure Exquise

close up of leaf

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

When exploring dusky scents, how could one omit “Exquisite Hour”? Iris, rose, and sandalwood (the Goutal website used to call it a rose scent with iris, and now thinks it’s an iris scent with rose, I suspect to distinguish it from the many other rose perfumes they have) — I love these cool, powdery notes. This one is indeed super-powdery (but not baby-powdery) and super-sophisticated. The sandalwood adds an incensey quality, but no smokiness–it’s like an unburnt incense stick. If I had to sum this up in a few words, I’d say “floral incense powder.” Glorious. It does not smell like it was created in 1984, but I refuse to call any fragrance introduced during my lifetime “retro.” Just like a ’65 Mustang cannot be an “antique” car.

IN OTHER NEWS

The franchise owner at McDonald’s was there yesterday to see how his order kiosks were doing. This turned into Customers Explaining Why They Don’t Use the Kiosk. “I just think it’s a better customer experience with human contact,” one woman said. Another said, “I suppose it could speed up order time and cut down on the length of the line, but…” as she stood in said line. Score one for the human race in their Rage Against the Machine! ROBOTS WILL NOT REPLACE US. OK, ROBOTS WILL ONLY REPLACE US IF WE LET THEM. Many people don’t know that, as Trump likes to say.

RAGE AGAINST ANOTHER MACHINE

I was trying to get an insurance question answered (“Why did I have to pay $800 for something you told me beforehand was free?”), but I hadn’t been on the site in so long, I’d forgotten my password. Typed my information into the “Forgot Password?” fields, was told “Unable to retrieve password. Your information is not on file on this site.” OK, I thought, maybe I never set up an account here in the first place. But the “Register New Account” screen said, “Unable to create new account. Your information is already on file on this site.” Umm…

NOW A ROBOT IS STALKING ME

“This message is to confirm your upcoming appointment. In the interests of speaking to you personally, we will contact you again in several hours about this matter.” My phone rang several hours later, and I hastily answered it, since they wanted to speak to me personally. But it was the same machine as before! I should have known it was a trick–no actual person from a doctor’s office would be calling me on Sunday.

SPEAKING OF STALKERS

“But, but,” Nick is stammering, “I thought your next post was going to be about…you know…” The Fall Festival, right.

FESTIVAL FOLLIES

Walgreen’s still has their “RESTROOMS ARE CURRENTLY CLOSED. SORRY FOR THE INCONVENIENCE.” signs up. But they can’t really  be sorry, since the Festival is over. I suspect they thought, “Hey, let’s leave it up, so we won’t have to keep unlocking the bathroom door for people.” I’m guessing the manager doesn’t come in until Monday. CVS, on the other hand, has removed the “NO PUBLIC RESTROOMS. PLEASE DON’T ASK.” sign.  (I find “Please Don’t Ask” almost endearing.) Of course, they don’t have to let people in to theirs.

 

 

 

 

Creepy and Eerie: Serge Lutens Iris Silver Mist

black and white gray grey smooth

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Continuing our exploration of misty fragrances in general, and iris perfumes in particular, how could we omit one named Iris Silver Mist?

Serge Lutens may be the most esteemed genius perfumer currently working. His scents are considered works of art, but they are often compared to pictures you admire in a museum, but wouldn’t necessarily want hanging in your home. ISM is no exception.

Various reviewers have said that Iris Silver Mist should be worn by:

  1. Cathy’s ghost in Wuthering Heights
  2. a Star Wars stormtrooper
  3. a Terminator cyborg
  4. a character in Frank Herbert’s Dune
  5. the White Witch of Narnia
  6. various Harry Potter characters–a. Dumbledore, b. a Dementor, or c. Lord Voldemort himself (yes, Nick, I said his name)

So you can see that this perfume takes a lot of living up to.

Most reviewers say that it smells like roots and dirt in the opening. I don’t get that, probably because I’m not a gardener. What I get is a well-blended but spare mix of iris, incense, and sandalwood, cold and extremely austere. I love it, but the thing about it is, well, the strange effect it has on my emotions. An effect I find hard to explain.

OK, the analogy just occurred to me. It’s like Clive Barker’s writing. Barker is a horror writer beyond compare, and I own a lot of his stuff, but I don’t think I’ve read any of it more than once. It just creeps me out too much. The stuff in it is utterly implausible (and Barker himself doesn’t actually believe in any of that occult nonsense), but I feel like if I read it too much, I would believe in it. And then I’d go insane.

How could a perfume, as coldly beautiful as it is, have a similar effect? Who knows? I just know that Iris Silver Mist is the opposite of a comfort scent for me–a discomfort scent, if you will. It makes me nervous. It’s what my evil twin would wear. Fittingly, Rom hates it more than any other perfume I’ve tried. He literally ran out the door the first time he smelled it.

Let’s stop talking about it now, shall we?

STUFF OTHER THAN IRIS SILVER MIST

Taco John’s has finally removed their one wobbly table with the two (2) wobbly chairs. Yes, I know this because I without-fail always picked that one to sit at.

Ad at Taco John’s–“Potato Ole’s. Call them crispy, golden slices of heaven.” OK, if you insist.

Another ad (yes, Taco John’s is all I did today, other than buy some body wash, after a lengthy discussion of the coupon policies of CVS)–“Upgrade your drink to medium or large, scan the code on the cup, and enter to win food, Cabela’s gear, or a Yellowstone adventure trip!” Hint: if the Cabela’s gear I hope to win (not that I will, having no smartphone to scan with) is just clothes, I’m not the right candidate for a Yellowstone adventure trip. Or any other adventure trip, really. OK, or any adventure whatsoever.

EXCEPT, OF COURSE…

…the adventure that is the Presidency! Vote for me! I’m the Outsider! And yet a Radical Centrist, at the same time! How do I manage it?

 

 

 

Nothing But Blue Skies: Hermes Hiris

nature sky clouds blue

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Continuing our exploration of dusky, bluish scents–Iris was recommended to me, as well as violet. These two are what are referred to as “blue florals.” I love these cool, powdery notes–iris more than violet, since it isn’t as sweet. My favorite color of iris is the lavender-blue type, but Hiris is like a sky-blue iris (if such a thing exists) set off by fluffy white clouds.

As a child, I asked, as all kids do, “Why is the sky blue?,” but the answer never satisfied me. Sure, the light in the visible spectrum reflects mainly the blue wavelength (or something like that, and frankly, I’ve had too much apple ale to look it up), but why?  Hiris doesn’t provide an answer, but perhaps its beauty is answer enough.

Hiris (the in the name harks back to Hermes, known mostly for purses and scarves, but also a damn fine fragrance house) was created by Olivia Giacobetti in 1999. I first tried it in 2004, and disliked it heartily. It reminded me of mashed turnips. The scent of iris is created by the roots (known as orris) rather than the flowers, so I suppose that’s appropriate, but I don’t like turnips. It took many years for me to appreciate this fragrance, but now I love it. No turnips, just an airy, casual-but-sophisticated scent, so elegant, but not fussy. It’s very “blue” in feel, and blue is my favorite color.

BUT MEANWHILE…

Vote for me! I’m the Outsider! (Yes, now I capitalized it!) If elected, I promise to nominate Supreme Court justices for their ability, not for how they’ll vote on a given political question. Won’t that be fun?

Yes, I’m making a mockery of the democratic process. Thanks for asking.

Also…people who came on board recently have been puzzled by the tone of this blog. Just assume that nothing is serious, except for the perfume reviews.

AND ALSO…

…Halloween merchandise was spotted in the stores, like, 2 weeks ago, but I was too deathly weary to report it.

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