Thursday, April 23, 2015

Leather Bar (Perfume Thoughts: Tokyo Milk Dark Tainted Love)

Margot Ellena's Tokyo Milk is a line I don't really talk about much, but I should. It's a cheap thrill in the best sense of the word. And it's Femme Fatale series - darker, more mysterious scents - really gives you big bang for your buck. At $30 for a 1 oz bottle, your return of investment is huge. Today I am wearing Tainted Love, and it's glorious. I know marketing is just marketing, but the scent really evokes something dark and mysterious. It's tonka bean, and it clings close to skin. It has a rubbery note that reminds me of a basement of a leather bar. It has white musk that is sexy and raw. And there's vanilla, but the effect isn't of a baked good, but more sensuous. There's even a bit of tobacco and clove. I am trying to think of something else that is similar, and I am getting a lighter version of Bvlgari Black, or a sweeter Etat Libre d'Orange Tom of Finland. And for some reason, this doesn't turn too sweet on my skin, as most fragrances do. It definitely is interesting, a head-turner, a head shaker.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Starting Over Again (Book Thoughts: Cure For The Common Breakup)

Minutes into the book, Flight Attendant Summer Benson has gone through two devastating things: surviving a plane crash and getting dumped by her pilot boyfriend. So where does she go? Black Dog Bay, a town in Maryland where all broken hearted people go (She read about it in the inflight magazine)  Immediately, she begins her life anew, and, of course, falls in love with the town's mayor (after running over his rose bushes) Kendrick has a light hand in her writing - the book is always funt o read, and the town's characters are quirky and interesting. Cliches abound, though, and Summer's character is never really consistent - one minute is is smart, the next she is dumb and gullible. But, this is perfect beach read, and is guaranteed to  put a smile on your face.

Monday, April 20, 2015

And When I Grow Too Old To Dream (Movie Revew: The Age Of Adaline)

When was the list time I Paid attention to Blake Lively? I mean, she wasn't even my favorite in "Gossip Girl." But here, in Lee Toland Krieger's "The Age Of Adaline," she is a major movie store. She is beautiful, luminous, and charming. Dhe knows how to use those traits for the camera, and I predict people will notice, as I have. The movie? It's a mixed bag. Lively makes the most of an underwritten character, and her co-stars also shine (Harrison Ford is unforgettable in a smaller role) all their efforts cannot mask a tepid screenplay. We never really know who the real "Adaline" is, and her character is written a little too "modern" for someone who was born in the early 1900s.  But all in all, I liked the movie a lot more than what confused me about it. The story was believable enough (even with the scientific mumbo jumbo explanation as to why Adaline doesn't age) and nowadays it's kind of hard to find a movie aimed at adults.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Bears Repeating (Television Thoughts: #Repeat After Me, ABC)

Everything old is recycled again. Once upon a time there was Candid Camera, and the idea of a hidden camera foisted on unsuspecting people came about. Over the years there have been variations to this set-up, and the last one I remember was Ashton Kutcher doing "Punked" for MTV.  "#Repeat After Me"'s premise is more or less the same, with the twist here being that celebrities are the ones paying jokes on unsuspecting people, with the orders barked by the host, in this case it is Wendy McLendon-Covey. My initial reaction was, wasn't this idea initiated by Ellen DeGeneres? Then I saw the credits at the end of the show and it did say that one of the executive producers was DeGeneres. In any case, I found this show hilarious - good natured humour, and the episodes I saw (Episodes 7 & 8) never crossed the line to cruelty. If for anything, the jokes were more on the celebrities than the people they were playing a joke on. Believe it or not, I found myself squirming with laughter at some of the situations, and one that really got me was Josh Groban at the Fredericks of Hollywood store sniffing negligees. Who says nice doesn't make it anymore?

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Bad History (Book Thoughts: The History Of Us, Leah Stewart)

Life gets in the way of my reading sometimes, and then I get stuck with a book so slow that it takes me a while to "move on." Leah Stewart's "The History Of Us" was so slow and unengaging that I read it for two weeks, and I got in a rut.  I liked the premise enough - a 28 year old woman, Eloise gets stuck taking care of her three nephews and nieces after their parents die in a car accident. But the book does not focus on that. Rather, it fast forwards to years after, when the kids are all adults. And there's not one likeable kid in the bunch: all selfish, manipulative self-centered pricks. I wouldn't want to spend any time with these fools, never mind  read a book about them. 

Friday, April 17, 2015

Some People Can Get A Thrill (Movie Thoughts: Such Good People)

"Such Good People" is kind of a rare thing: a gay screwball comedy. Actually, it can even be just a screwball comedy, because the "gay" aspect of the main characters is inconsequential. Randy Harrison and Michael Urie play a couple who finds a million dollars inside a house they are sitting. What would you do if you were int heir position? It is not an easy decision, of course, and everything gets compounded by the actions of another couple, played Carrie Whilta and James Urbaniek. The best thing about this movie is the easy performances of Harrison and Urie, and actually by everyone else, including cameos by Lance Bass and Alec Mapa. The movie tries hard, it tries way too hard to be funny, and I couldn't say that it was, for me, too successful. Too many plot points and not enough laughs. But I give it an A for effort - smooth technical elements present a very professional job. And for some people, this movie can be satisfying. 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

New Lady SIngs Lady (Music Thoughts: Rebecca Ferguson, Lady Sings The Blues)

Color me impressed. When I first heard this album, I had no idea who Rebecca Ferguson was. Apparently, she was a contestant in the UK run of X-Factor from 2010, and had some semi-success as an R & N singer/songwriter. And apparently, she released an album of songs as a tribute to Billie Holiday. Interesting, as this year is Holiday's 100th birthday year, and there have been a bunch of people paying tribute, and I wonder if she knew. In this album "Lady Sings The Blues," we get a great singer interpreting wonderful songs. I get a sense that she did not just randomly sing these songs. I sense a singer who understands the material. At the same time, there is no mimicking, or copying Holiday, She puts her own stamp in her interpretations that at once the songs sound modern. The style veers more pop than jazz, but with jazz stylings. I love the arrangements - they pay tribute to the original orchestrations but infused with very modern elements. Listen to her version of "Stormy Weather," it's a mixture of Chaka Khan and Beyonce but neither referencing either. This album is a pleasant and wonderful surprise.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

You Gotta Have Friends (Television Thoughts: Younger S01 E05 Girl Code)

Is it just me? This episode seemed rote. While it had a lot of good things - Debi Mazar gets more than one scene! - it was just a bit predictable. So Liza hasn't been spending a lot of time with Maggie and they plan to go out, in this case, go to an art opening at the gallery showing Maggie's art. And then we see a little bit of conflict - Kelsey and her friends naturally do not initially warm up to Maggie. I kind of thought that was the predictable part. I think maybe it should have been better had they got along. Later on, of course, they all help Maggie, because of the "girl code," and I thought that reaction was just as predictble. A little "friction" between these freinds - who obviously have differences - would have given more dramatic possibilities for Liza (I can see episodes of her just juggling both sets of friends) But it was also nice to see Liza and her younger boyfriend "advancing," although that also is going the way of boring. I hope next week's episode gets better, for me a least. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Good Grace (Perfume Thoughts: Creed Fleurissimo)

If you weren't invited to Grace Kelly's wedding day in 1972, you can at least have the olfactory experience of being there when you are wearing Creed's Fleurissimo, which was commissioned by the Royal prince Of Monaco for her to wear on her wedding day. Can you believe I never smelled this perfume until today? But, finally, I tried on a sample I have of it. It;'s a white floral, with notes of tuberose, violet, Florentine iris. It's a nice restrained floral, and I don't know if it was originally done like this, what with modern reformulations. The tuberose is discreet, not having the traditional indolic tropical feel of most tuberose scents, and I think it is because of the violet note which gets more prominent in the middle and dry down of the scent. I like it, but don't love it. Without the "back story" behind this, I don't know if I would even give it any attention, though I have to admit the idea is very tantalizing. 

Monday, April 13, 2015

EIght Second Romance (Movie Thoughts: The Longest Ride)

I don't think I have ever read a Nicholas Sparks novel. However, I think I have seen most, if not all, of the movie adaptations of his noels. For some reason, his movies are easier to take than his novels. Yes, they are sentimental and sappy, but let's face it, I am the target audoence for sentimental and sappy. The newest movie adaptation, "The Longest Ride" is as sentimental and sappy as they come, and I loved every minute of it. I can always check in logic and disbelief when I watch a Sparks movie, and I gladly do it to experience and see people falling in love, and having them beat all the odds to achieve a happily ever after. I don't think I am spoiling anything anyway by saying that - I think a Sparks story guarantees a HEA, right? But before that, everything but the kitchen sink gets thrown at them. In here, we even get a 1 for 1: a modern couple, Luke (Scott Eastwood) and Sophia (Britt Robertson) in a city vs country love affair, and a 40s romance set amidst the second world war. They are both simple stories, and perhaps was put in to augment the thin storylines. Eastwood is in a star-making appearance: the camera objectifies him at every turn and we are so much better for it. He is one of those actors who the camera loves, and I gladly will look at him for two-plus hours. In fact, I can barely remember Robertson. I credit the movie for having a bit of spice: the 40s characters are Jewish, and the faith is mildly displayed - nice to see diversity in a Sparks movie which more often than not has Christian subtexts. If you are a fan of romance, you will be satisfied and if you aren't, you shouldn;t even be looking at a poster of this movie.

(A bizarre thought, though: why is the movie loaded with so many horror movie trailers? I would think teh two genres would have two different demographics?)

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Three's Company A Crowd (Television Thoughts: One Big Happy)

"One Big Happy," whether intentional or not, made me think of the classic sitcom "Three's Company." It has the modern day equivalent set-up: Luke and Liz have been best friends for years, and they made a pact that by age 30, if they are still both childless, they would have a baby. Enter Prudence, a British illegal alien who has a quick affair with Luke, and they get married. We now have the set up of the sitcom with all three of them living under the same roof. Hilarity ensues, right? The pilot was just okay, and I gave it a chance - Eliza Cuthbert as Liza has a nice goofy charm, and Nick Zano is funny in a John Ritter kind of way(he even looks like him, kinda) But whatever charm they have cannot salvage the idiotic scripts they have to work with. I swear I did not even crack a smile by the third episode - they are put in tedious situations with predictable gags. I wish it was even offensive but they were just kind of lame and corny. Executive produced by Ellen de Generes, I bet this show bites the dust by the end of Springtime. 

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Drive By Diana (Stage Thoughts: Diana Ross, The Essential Diana Ross, The Venetian Theater, Las Vegas)

Checking off my bucket list: seeing Diana Ross in concert.  I can't say that I am her biggest fan, but I do like her recorded output, though in reality I like her solo recordings more than her work as a member of The Supremes. But she obviously is one of the few living legends we have nowadays and it would be a treat, I thought, to see her. I wasn't mistaken. She still has that voice, and it's as robust. Sure, the styling is wispy, whispering, but it has always been that way. This is a Vegas show, so "The Essential Diana Ross: Some Memories Never Fade" barrels through all her hits in a seventy five minute show. Blink and you'll miss one. I guess she is more a 'nostalgia' act nowadays, as evidenced by the older-skewing demographic of the crowd. Still, the energy was palpable, and she got off on that - she is one of those "divas," I suspect who gets her kicks from people adoring her. Seventy five minutes go by very quickly here, and it mostly satisfies like junk food: before you can appreciate a song, she is moving to her next one. The repertoire is heavy on the uptempo, and even in the ballads (where I prefer her) she seems to be barreling towards them. And of course, her trademark sparkling sequins and feathers are in evident here. It seems like she spent just as much time changing as performing. But, no complaints there - she has a magnetic stage presence and you can't help but stare at her on stage. The whole experience felt like a drive-by shooting: quick fast, does what it is supposed to do. I think it's money well spent. 

Friday, April 10, 2015

Young And Foolish (Movie Thoughts: While We're Young)

I never know what to expect whenever I see a Noah Baumbach movie. I like half of them (Margot) and loathe the other half (Frances Ha) But I always feel something, and I because of that, I hold his films with high regard. So of course, I was looking forward to "While We're Young."  I even liked the idea of the plot - a couple in their 40s (Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts) befriend a young one (Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried) and discover things about themselves. The film starts out funny, and I can identify with a lot of the situations. This is one of those New York movies - perhaps only New Yorkers can really understand the film - and this one even has a Brooklyn touch. Stiller and Watts are so convincing as a couple - I have met and known this couple - and Driver and Seyfried represent the typical young hipster couple to a T. But I wanted more a movie that is more internal than the semi-morality play that we have here. There are tons of funny bits, but the last third of the move turned irritating for me. It's still worth seeing all in all - the performances alone is worth the price of a ticket - but your mileage may vary. 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

White Man (TelevisioN Thoughts: Happyish, Showtime)

Oh, the white man mid-life crisis - that's not a well documented phenomenon, is it? Well, looks like we have another new television show that - if the pilot is to be believed - will focus on it. Steve Coogan stars as Thom in "Happyish," where he stars as a 44 years old man who resists the changing of the times. Here it deals specifically with how a Gen Xer has to adapt to a world dominated by the digital age and social media. He resists it, even as the advertising company he works for is bought by young Swedes. Coogan is good, delivering the right amount of angst. The role was originally intended for Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and I do think Coogan is a much different actor that I wonder if the tone of the show was changed after he took over. The supposrting cast is wonderful - Bradley Whitford stars as Coogan's boss, and the wonderful Carrie Preston (from The Good Whife) is his co-worker. If the show evolves to something beyond the white man angst, I could just be interested more. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Embraceable me (Perfume Thoughts: L'Artisan Skin On Skin)

I remember I was at Harrod's London when I sampled the first batch of L'Artisan Parfumeur's Explosions d'Emotions trio, and of the three releases - Skin on Skin, Deliria, and Amor Noctourne - I opted to purchase Deliria (which is still me favorite of the three, a sort fo a winky nod to the fruity floral)  All the releases from the series have showed up in the discount sites, and I ended up getting all of them for a song. So I am now, today, wearing Skin on Skin. When I first smelled it, I remember thinking that it was okay, but it's been done before, most notably from Dior and their classic Dior Homme.  A bed of iris, dry, powdery, sultry, sure. Skin on Skin doesn't go too far away from that formula - but with these added notes: Iris, suede, leather, saffron, whisky, lavender, rose, musks, skin effects.  Add to that this copy: “Skin on Skin awakens our animalistic instincts – to touch, to get closer, to smell…A carnal creation to be used without moderation, ” and that little blurb of the scent being a "wanton embrace."  If you were to go by their marketing, you would think thsi would be a sexy, leathery fragrance, but on my skin, on this cold-ish Spring day, it's still just iris - and it's a pretty iris. I never get the animalistic notes (skin effects?and where are the musks?)  I just get a powdery, powdery, and more powdery. I get a little bit of aldehydes, and it amps up the iris. I wish it was more interesting, but it isn't. I don't even get that explosion of notes that the Harrod's salesperson was selling - how notes come and go in a circular notion as you wear the scent. This is a well-done iris fragrance, at a ginormous price point. I never succumbed to that, but at teh discount that I got, it delivers only at this level.