Monday, October 28, 2013

Fashion Is Crazy (Book Review: Simon Doonan, The Asylum)

You want to learn about the ins and outs of fashion? Read Simon Doonan's "The Asylum." Before I started reading the book, I thought this was fiction, but really the book is a collection of essays about Mr. Doonan's experience working in the fashion industry. (He has been responsible for Barney's windows for the past 20+years) I thought the book would be fluff, to be honest, but it is insightful, witty, and he talks about a lot of truths. It was like spending a nice afternoon at the Barney;s restaurant with this fabulous guy who knows and has worked with some of the giants in the fashion industry. I mean, name it - he has an anecdote about them: Diana Vreeland, Suzy Menkes, Anna Wintour, Tom Ford. Some of my favorite stories include a story about his adventures friend's boyfriend, who is a dancer from The Gaiety (I actually know that man, believe it or not) and his involvement with Rei Kawakubo as she was developing her first scent for CDG. I feel like Mr. Doonan and I were in the same New York City at the same time and have fond recollections about his reminiscences. The book reads like the wind. I couldn't stop reading it, and found myself finishing it in the wee hours of the morning, sleep be damned.

Good Is Great All the Time (Television Review: The Good Wife, Season Five...So Far)

Last night's episode, "Hitting The Fan," of The Good Wife (CBS, Sundays at 9 pm) was the game changer for this series, which I think is one of the best on television right now (Michael Ausiello of TV Line says it is the best show on television right now) Things have been boiling slowly but surely for the first four episodes of the season, and last night everything exploded! Diane Lockhart (played by the hottest cool intensity by Christien Baranski) finds out that Alicia Florrick has been planning to leave the firm and told Will Gardner  (Josh Charles, his best performance on the series yet) and Will explodes: firing Alicia on the spot. Hell ensues and not even five minutes has passed in the episode. What happens next is a master class of fine storytelling, with everyone miles away from where they started at the start of the episode. Is there a more nuanced actress on television right now than Julianna Marguilles? Her Alicia is vulnerable, strong, hurt, bull headed, strong and weakened all in one episode, and she goes through all these emotions so effectively, and you re a viewer are torn between loving her, protecting her, getting scared for her, and joyous at her freedom. Josh Charles has always been competent in the series btu last night he showed a ferocious intensity that is almost scary. And I mentioned Baranski, and she is magnificent, her eyes icy and menacing. they all play off each other so well, you root for all of them at once. Matt Czuchry has always been an underutilized here, and still is, in my opinion. Hopefully they let him flex his chops soon. This story/show  ill just keep on getting better, and we all benefit. I cannot wait.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Road Leads Back To Love (Book Review: Michael Thomas Ford, The Road Home)

Michael Thomas Ford's novel, "The Road Home," reminds me of the fiction I used to read in the 90s. (Even the front cover is very 90s styled, I think) Well, maybe because I have been reading Mr. Ford's work since then. This is a recent novel , though, published in 2010. It tells a story of a middle-aged gay man who has a car accident on his birthday. He badly injures his knees, and has to be in a cast. And since he is single and alone, he has to go back to his childhood home with his father (and his new girlfriend) to recuperate, forcing him to face old demons. Along the way, he finds a new version of himself. It's your run-f-the-mill story, but Ford knows how to craft modern characters: Burke, the main character, is instantly likeable, if flawed. You will want to instantly follow his plight. He even touches upon issues such as gay midlife crises, marriage equality, even how closeted youth in this day and age. His situations never seem contrived, and he doesn't resort to lazy writing just to propel the story forward. There's a mildly interesting subplot of a gay relationship during the civil war, and it helps beef up the slim storyline. I liked this book a lot.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Legal Counsel (Film Review: The Counselor)

You know that time when you are watching something, and yo u are confused and it ends and you ask, "what just happened?" That seems to be the perfect description of my experience watching "The Counselor." There's such a dearth of (in my opinion) interesting movies for me to watch and the all-star cast here drew me to see this movie. Michael Fassbender. Penelope Cruz. Cameron Diaz. Brad Pitt. these are all marquee names, and they are well worth the money. Each one, especially Fassbender, give star performances. You can tell they try their amndest, and combined with their star power, they, in the words of Tim Gunn, "make it work."  And they almost succeed. Ultimately, the confusing, pretentious screenplay bogs then down, and the film, for me is more a miss. The worst thing about the movie? Cormac McCarthy's screenplay. I haven't read any of his novels, so I don't know if he usually makes his characters talk this way: flowery, vague, all generic life lesson mumbo jumbo. All you can think of is that normal people don't speak this way. Sure, he has peppered the movie with characters that are all vividly colored, but without a straight man in the center, it all becomes a muddled mess. You don't know who you are rooting for, and when each gets their fate, you don't care either way. Plus. the set up of the story takes half the movie hat if you aren't patient, apathy will take over. And the complex plot never really gels. I still don't know who did what and what happened in the end.  There's a lot of sex and violence here: Diaz has sex with a yellow convertible, and on the last eighth of the movie, it turns too gory for my taste. Director Ridley Scott keeps the action going, and he keeps you in suspense until the last frame, but you don't really understand how or why.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Don't Make Me Over (Book Review: The Make Over, Karen Buscemi)

A couple of pages in Karen Buscemi's "The Make Over," I grumbled and thought to myself, not another novel that's a rip off of "The Devil Wears Prada." This tells the story of Camilla Rhodes, a monster editor in chief of a fashion magazine. She is shrewd, ruthless, impeccably dressed...and well, a couple more pages in, she gets fired from her job at the magazine. This story tells of her fall, and how she rebuilds her life. It's sort of a fairy tale story in reverse, and interesting. But, also a little bit unbelievable. For example, someone with that stature will not be shunned that easily. But if you ignore some of holes, you will find that this is a pleasant read - it's easy to get into, and there's even a heavy handed morale that you can rally behind. The characters are easy to like, and the conflicts are engaging enough. I wish there were a little more weight to it, but I really wasn't looking for that in the first place.

Cinderella's Scent For The Ball (Perfume Review: Miss Charming, Juliet Has A Gun)

Juliette Has A Gun's Miss Charming reminds me of the story of Cinderella. I think this would be the scent Cinderella would wear to the ball. She would be picking strawberries earlier in the day, and then she would wear her gown, and Prince Charming would give her a rose corsage, and she would dance the night away, and her natural musk would come out, and then she would go home with her glass slipper. The story would be in that order. As you spritz Miss Charming on, the first thing that I got was strawberries. Most strawberry note perfumes in the market has that plastic-y strawberry smell, but this one is not screechy, and that is because it is accompanied by a rose, in full bloom. There is a slight lychee here too, that gives this coldness, and the full effect is really quite elegant, for a fruity floral. This stays with you for a long long while, before white musk sets in to round it up. The longevity is massive, with a decent almost-quiet sillage. I think it's a "pretty" scent and works better, for me, in the colder weather. If this was a designer fragrance, it would be a grand slam. But the fact that it is from a niche label, and done by Nina Ricci's grandson, well, I kind of expected more from him. It's well done, for sure, but really not the most imaginative thing. Wear it, and you may end up with a Prince.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Coming Home (Book Review: All American Boy, William J Mann)

Sometimes you just don't connect with a book. I started reading William J Mann's "All American Boy" a while back and it took me the longest time to finish it (I think I finished three books in the course of reading this) Walter Day gets a call from his mother asking him to come home, and he does, and he is forced to face a lot of things when he does, like his mother's declining mental state. Plus, he has to face his first love, whom he wronged many years ago. It's a great set up for a story, but I just did not like any of the characters, starting with Wally. He treats his own mother like shit, and that just did not sit well with me, as I come from the school of always treating your parents well. I kind of wish his reunion with his first love was a little more heartening, but I guess this is not that kind of book. The writing style here is a bit muddled. he changes from dream to reality in a sentence, so it can just a bit confusing. I totally lost interest in the characters at some point, and I just went through the motions of finishing this without caring. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Isn't It Queer (Television Review: Queer Eye For The Straight Guy 10th Year Reunion)

How time flies. Last night, Bravo had a television reunion special: Queer Eye For The Straight. The "Fab Five," as they were called, got back together to dish and reminisce with Bravo bigwig Andy Cohen. All of them were present: Carson Kressley, the fashion expert, Ted Allen, the culinary guru, Kyan Douglas, in charge of  styling , ThoM Filicia, the interior decorator, and Jai Rodriguez, the "lifestyle guru." (After all this time, I still don't know what Jai was responsible for) it wasn't the first make over show ever, but it had a unique hook: five gay guys would go and re-invent a straight guy.  I guess that at time it was kind of revolutionary, as this was before anyone even thought of marriage equality as a reality. I remember loving the show when it first came on, and I even remember where I was in my life then. I thought they were so entertaining and found myself tearing up whenever they had one of those straight guys whom everyone thought was impenetrable. I've also got to say that the five of them had fantastic chemistry, and it was still evident during the reunion show - old jokes were rehashed, and they were all laughing like no time has passed. I wish I liked Andy Cohen as a host - he just seems an instigator who doesn't care about guests' answers, and here that still shows. He asked them if they would all do the show again, and all of them said no. They are right, maybe the best things should be left alone, in memory.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Friends Of You And Me (Book Review: The Myth Of You And Me, Leah Stewart)

I started reading Leah Stewart's "The Myth Of You And Me" on an afternoon and found myself up until 2 am trying to finish it. I found myself instantly engrossed in it, and the strange thing about it is that this book does not even have a lot of "action" in it. It is one of those I call "internal" novels. Told in first person, we get to know the main character, Cameron inside and out, warts and all. This novel is a story of friendship, and what happens when two people are too close that a combustion is bound to happen between them. It presents a point that the friends we acquire in our lives are pre-destined. And I kind fo believe that. People come and go in our lives and sometimes change just happens. At the same time, some friends stay in our lives no matter what. This novel was presumable written before 2005 (when it was first released) and there are times that I felt some of the conflicts could have been resolved had the characters used their cell phones. But then I realize that at that time, smart phones aren't as prevalent. So I just told myself to let go and fully enjoy the book. So I did. I still find myself thinking about the characters after turning the last page.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Merry Mary (Music Review: Mary J Blige, A Mary Christmas)

What has happened to me? I used to really adore and look forward to the yearly Christmas offerings, but lately I have been getting more and more apathetic towards them. Old age? Cynicism Overload? I got Mary J Blige's Christmas album, "A Mary Christmas" a couple of days ago and I just played it. I was kind of looking forward to it, as I am a big MJB fan. This disc was produced by David Foster, and, honestly,  cannot think of a more mismatched producer for Mary. One of the most fantastic things about Mary is her attitude - she ain't the Queen of Hip Hop and Soul for nothing. Foster has surrounded her songs with mostly "traditional" arrangements, all beautiful and lush, that I don't even remotely recognize this Mary I am hearing. Mary isn't street here, she is ensconced on a glamorous penthouse, wearing a fur coat overlooking the twinkling lights of New York City, not down in the ghetto with the girls. I mean, she even duets with Barbra Freakin' Streisand, so you know now that she is mingling wit the rich and famous. This album is sleek, but I wanted edge. I wanted rap collaborations, I wanted a raw and rowdy Holiday from her, and what I am getting is an incarnation of a Michael Buble album. She breezes through chestnut classics like "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" and "Little Drummer Boy" well, and even in a jazzed-up "Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer," everything sounds safe. Blige isn't the best vocalist, and she does sound good her - matching Jessie J, for example - but it all feels so calculated. Every song has a purpose, a nod to a demographic (duetting with Marc Anthony) or an appeal to the gospel circuit (The Clark Sisters)  In the end, this is an appealing album: lush and comforting, just like what we want our Christmas to be. Blige sings as if on auto-pilot, and she hits everything in place. What it lacks is the one thing she s known for...soul.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Only Hope (Book Review: Hope In A Jar, Beth Harbison)

Beth Harbison's "Hope In A Jar" is one of those books I would describe as "comforting," akin to a well worn tee shirt, or yoga pants. It has relate-able characters who you instantly like, antagonists who you instantly hate, and a love story that is all sorts of fantastic. Romance, like a navy blazer, never goes out of style. It is a story of two best friends who meet again after a twenty-year reunion, mindful of the fact that they had a following out years before, without getting any kind of closure to tie up the one loose end in their friendship. It is also the story of best friends who don't realize they are in love with each other. I enjoyed both stories, and even though the story reads 'familiar,' I found myself delighted by the twists it took. There's nothing in here that anyone hasn't seen before, but Harbison makes everything sound real, and fresh that you don't mind any inconsistencies or holes. I read this very quickly, and while I probably won't retain a lot of it in years to come, it was fun while it lasted.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A Frame Of Vetiver (Perfume Review: Keiko Mecheri Vetiver Velours)

I have not been truly impressed by Keiko Mecheri, but I must also admit I have not tried a lot of her creations.  Even when I saw her perfumes, I find myself not trying them. Someone gave me her "Jasmine" a while back, and it just sits towards the back of my collection, though I think I find it pleasant enough. Maybe that's the impression I get from her line: pleasant enough, but no wow. Until I got her 'Vetiver Velours," from her BeSpoke collection. Here is how they describe the collection:

"Bespoke is the essence of Les Parfums Keiko Mecheri in its purest form. It's a collection conceived in harmony with the artistic value of Kimura, who used only the choicest raw materials of exceptional quality vintages to create sumptuous, rich tactile sensations."

Vetiver Velours is fantastic. If you are a fan of vetiver, and  want a variation of it that is unique and imaginative, then I kbnow you will love this. The vetiver note is not front and center, like Guerlain's Vetiver, but it frames the whole fragrance well, and you are always aware of it. It starts grassy, but a well-blended heart of spice and aromatic notes give it a luxurious, opulent feel. Not one note overwhelms, though I do get agarwood and sycamore. What is interesting is that when I first wore this, on a warmer day, the white musk came out, and gave it an earthy, sexy feel. But today, on a colder day, it is more woodsy and I get more an oud feel. For me, that is the definition of a well-done fragrance: its complexity gives it a lot more character. While I have read that this was intended as more "summer" fragrance (the scent is a bloomer) I find that it could be a huggy comforting one for winter evenings.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Love Is Wasted On The Old (Movie Review: Enough Said)

Nicole Holofcener's "Enough Said" attempts to answer a couple of age-old questions. First, can love still happen to the middle aged and older? And do you know better that time 'round, or are you so set in your ways that you cannot adapt, you cannot compromise, you cannot bend. James Gandolfini utters a line here that sums up what I think: "You broke my heart, and I have no more time for that shit." As you get older, you have no more time for the mating game, and a lot of times you just don't want to deal. But his character and Julia Louis Dreyfus' give it the old college try here. They meet at a party, and even though they initially are not attracted here, they find that they click. They find that they get each other. (We then ask another old-age question: can love be learned if it's not there at first sight?) Holocener captures the ease and breeze of realizing you are falling in love. And it doesn't hurt that Gandolfini and Dreyfus have combustible chemistry, and give such believable performances here that you root for them at first sight. It feels like they are old friends of yours you never realized were right for each other, but know now that they do. I am that rare breed of someone who never saw "The Sopranos" so I was surprised to see how charismatic an actor Gandolfini is: a subtle teddy bear of a leading man. Dreyfus' neurotic foil is the perfect match - she is one of those rare actresses whose face still registers expression (Please don't succumb to Botox)  There's a sitcom-ish twist that tears them apart, and even though the ending is a little ambiguous, you kind of think they make it work. The cynic in me tries hard to differ, but the romantic in me knows the truth.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Scent Of A Woman (Book Review: The Perfume Collector, Kathleen Tessaro)

I was instantly attracted to Kathleen Tessaro's "the Perfume Collector" because of its title. I am a collector of scents and I knew in my heart of hearts that I would love this book no matter what. I started reading the book, but for some reason or another, I just couldn't get into it, so I stopped. Cut to a couple of days ago, and I started reading it again, and I finally responded to the story. Perhaps because I just came from a European trip, and this book was mainly set in Paris and London. Or perhaps I needed to be at a different place in my life to fully appreciate the story. I find that as I get older, I find that I am more and more interested n historical fiction .In any event, I loved the book. It tells the story of Grace Monroe who gets an inheritance, out of the blue, from a woman named Eva D'Orsay. She has no clue who this woman is, and she travels from London to Paris to find out. Her story is paralleled by Eva's story, and we embark on the journey finding out. Halfway through the book, I kind of figured it out, but I also enjoyed the path it took linking the two stories together. I wish the resolution was a little less predictable, and some of the characters I thought I were a too two-dimensional for the sake of propelling the plot forward. I loved the way Tessaro frames the stories through vivid descriptions of New York, London, and Paris from the 20s to post WWII Europe. But what I loved most about the novel is how it wove perfumes throughout the story, akin to a separate character. I loved the fact that I learned a lot of information about perfume in this book, as it is a subject I am quite interested in. In particular, I loved how Eva's story can be linked by different scents throughout her life. The book is not an easy read, I thought. Some small integral details can be missed if you are not paying attention. The payoff is astounding: you will feel like you knew these characters perfectly, and in particular, it was quite rewarding to see Grace find herself. I dare say I discovered a little bit more about myself, too.

Eureka !  Found an interview of hers and her love of perfume:

Kathleen Tessaro on perfumer-interview-the-perfume-collector/

Friday, October 11, 2013

No Glee In Glee (Glee, The Quarterback)

I just can't quit GLEE. Even though at times I think I have "outgrown" it, I find myself coming back. Last season's episodes sat on my DVR until I binge-watched it, and I actually found myself liking the final episodes. This season's first two episodes focused on Beatles songs, and I finally saw them last night, and found them really well-done, especially the first one. Case in point, I found myself crying at Blane's proposal scene for Kurt, set to "All You Need Is Love." I am one of those people who like Beatles songs when they are re-interpreted by other singers, (yes, I am an anomaly) so the episodes were pitch-perfect for me. And of course, I just had to watch, in real time, last night's episode, "The Quarterback: Farewell to Finn." Of course, I was balling by the first number, two minutes into the episode. Even though I am not the biggest "Rent" fan in the world, I think it gave us a solid song in "Seasons Of Love" (just about the only song in the score I could stomach) and that song was used perfectly in this episode. I needed two Kleenex by the time they showed his picture at the end of the song. As the characters reminisced about Finn, I felt their pain, since I have been a faithful watcher of the show since its very first season. When Rachel finally showed up, I was a hot crying mess. And I have had Lea Michele's version of the Bob Dylan's song "Make You Feel My Love" on constant rotation since yesterday. Even though the critic in me thinks there are not-so-honest moments in her interpretation, when I saw her singing the song on-screen, I felt every word essayed her pain. I knew the tears she were shedding were real. 

As the series moves forward, my curiosity is piqued: Rachel gets the Fanny Brice role, which really makes it very interesting for me. I wonder what will happen to the rest of the characters. I think Blane and Kurt are too young to get married, so I wonder if they will tie the knot. I guess we will know after the hiatus.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

And Rain Will Make The Flower Grow (Book Review, The Last Camellia, Sarah Jio)

After reading through a couple of pages in "The Last Camelia," by Sarah Jio, I searched on Google what a camellia looked like. It's a beautiful multi-petalled flower, and apparently it has a citrus-y scent. (I curiously have not seen  it being featured as a note in any of my perfumes)  This book, a light mystery, is centered on The Middlebury Pink Camellia, which apparently is very rare. We weave through two stories - one from the past, and one from the present - and between the stories of two women - Addison and Flora - we piece together a tale of murder, deceit, blackmail, and love. It is mpstly set in England, and the anglophile in me got immersed very quickly. This is a book of details more than emotion, and I wish I could say that I was more emotionally connected with the book, but I just wasn't. I cared about what would happen to the characters more than I cared about the characters. This is not to say I did not enjoy the book. I did. The "mystery" part was fairly interesting, and the plot glided along quickly and smoothly. I did not get bored for a second. Flora's plotline was reminiscent of Maria Von Trapp's in "The Sound Of Music," or maybe I am just projecting. All in all, an easy read and perfect to get me back in the groove of raading.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

It's Rose, It's Citrus, It's A Citrus Rose ! (Perfume Review: Tokyo Moli Gin & Rosewater)

I was reminded of the Tokyo Milk brand during my recent trip when in one the hotels we stayed at, their products were the featured toiletry. It's a brand that is a little bit under the current, but, in my opinion, deserves more attention. But then again, perhaps not. In some ways, I want it to be my little secret.  they do not make the most inventive fragrances, for sure, but they do solid work on the ones they do. Plus, I love that they do 1 oz. bottles for $20.00 or so, which makes them real cheap thrills. The quality is quite good, but still has an artisanal vibe. In the hotel they have something called Mandarin Mimosa, but I just checked their website and perhaps they only manufacture that exclusively for hotel chains. It turns out that one of my old old Tokyo Milk bottles, Gin & Rosewater, has a similar foundation,  The predominant notes in here are mandarin and mimosa. But this also has "citrus zest," which gives it a fizzy alcohol feel, and all of it is underlined by rosewater. I love rose scents, and this strikes me (in theory) as a yellow rose, brightened by a streak of sunshine. It's truly pretty, and I am wearing it on these crisp fall days, which brings out a depth to it which I suspect may not be there during summer days. The fragrance is a great pick-me-up. the citrus top notes give it a sweet/sour combo the blending with the rosewater makes it smell pretty, and easy to wear. The sillage is discreet, and even though the longevity could be better, it won't break the bank to reactivate it.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Early End To An Innocence (Film Review: What Maisie Knew)

When I was in Spain, posters of "What Maisie Knew" were all over the Metro stations, and my first thought was that is the film that I have from Netflix at home. The disc has been sitting, unwatched, since mid August. Apparently, the film had limited distribution stateside in May, and released to video shortly after. Well, I finally saw the movie this afternoon and I ask myself, why did I wait this long? Based on the novel by Henry James from the 1890s, the movie (and the book) essays a story of how a pair of bickering adults affects a child. Played with innocence by Onata April (I don't know why, but this child actor reminds me of the young girl who plays Lily in 'Modern Family') we see the world through the eyes of a child, and we see an early end of an innocence: of she is forced to adapt to the world marred day to day by her parents' selfishness and pride. The action is set in modern-day Manhattan,  and the complexities of her daily life is compounded by her being tossed around from one apartment to another every ten days, as per court order. Her father has shacked up with their live-in nanny, and her mother marries and younger man. She is left most of the time with these two people, and she develops deep affinity for them. At this point in the movie, I was weeping, which was opposed to the irritation I felt for the parents during the first quarter of the movie (I had to stop and pause the disc in irritation a couple of times) Across the board great performances here, but the standout for me was Alexander Skarsgard, who showed sex appeal, vulnerability, and fatherly figure. Julianne Moore, who normally can do no wrong, shows less humanity than normal as a mother with no maternal instincts, but I guess she is just drawing from a character that's slightly underwritten. I am just a little disappointed that this movie did not get a wider audience in its theatrical release, but as a rental, you can really do much much worse.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Let's Face The Music And Backstreet (Book Review: Facing The Music And Living To Talk About It, Nick Carter)

I don't know what I was expecting when I chose to read this book. All I know is that I was watching "Watch What Happens Live" and Nick Carter was a guest, and they started talking about his breakup with Paris Hilton, and that their story was in Nick Carter's autobiography. At that point, I didn't even know he had written one. So, I hunted for it, and started reading it. And I am sorely disappointed by it. I guess what I got wasn't nowhere near what I wanted to get from this book. Ninety percent of this book is inspirational self-help mumbo jumbo. I am sure Carter feels fantastic about his recovery from addiction, and I am sure he is making a positive impact in his life, but frankly, this book reads like his AA journal. It's his writings to remind himself to stay on the course, and live a better healthier life. The book may be an interesting souvenir for his die-hard fans, but for only casual fans like myself, it's a whole bit of nothing. I think, actually, that if you took out those parts in this book, you would probably be left with a chapter. I mean, fine if he did not want to diss Paris Hilton in the book by being level-headed about their whole relationship, but a little bit of dirt would have added just a little flavor. His personal stories here would probably account to a long essay. Even his chapter on healthy eating could have been more specific. I guess I should have known this from the bland title of the book.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Sean's Way (Television Review: Sean Saves The World, NBC< Thursdays at 9 )

I was looking forward to last night's premiere of "Sean Saves The World" (NBC, Thursdays at 9 pm) because of Megan Hilty. Yes, ever since her stint at SMASH, I have been and will be a lifelong fan of hers. Honestly, if not for her, I don't think I would make an effort to look for this show. While I don't dislike Sean Hayes, I don't find consider myself a fan of his as well. This is Sean's dog and pony show, though.  He was on every single scene on the pilot, and he did everything but drink his blood on last night's premiere. (Perhaps he is saving that for sweeps)  My verdict? I needed to remind myself that this is a comedy, because I did not even crack a small smile in the entire half hour it was on. The jokes were all tired, and Hayes' brand of physical slapstick humor just isn't my cup of tea. He jumps, he mugs, he tried every trick in the book last night that I felt so exhausted after. Again, if it weren't for Megan Hilty, I don't think I would have stayed after the first commercial break. She wasn't given enough to do: she plays your typical sassy office mate, and I hope she is given a little more as the season goes on. There's Linda Lavin, too, playing Hayes' sassy mother, and that could hold some promise, though her character is reminiscent of Mullaly's Karen Walker from Hayes' alma mater sitcom. I am hopeful for this show, though. I will keep it on my DVR and I will see if it improves. It is obviously being given a prime spot by NBC, in the hopes of revitalizing their Thursday night comedy line-up. (I have not seen Michael J Fox's show which follows this)  The one thing I have noticed, though, is that Hayes' character being gay is such an afterthought. I guess we are living in such times that this is so normal and commonplace that it didn't even warrant more than a joke or two last night. If this sitcom was from fifteen years ago, his being gay would have been a bigger deal. Progress?

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Exotic Marigold Scent (Perfume Review: Penhaligon Vaara)

I was doing laundry the other day from my month-long trip, and chanced upon a shirt I used that was so fragrant I buried my nose in it before I dropped it in the washer. Vaara, I thought to myself, from Penhaligon's. I used Vaara a couple of times during my trip, based on a couple of samples I got, and fell in love with it every time I wore it. But, it wasn't love at first sniff. 

When I first read about this release, I was very excited. Can you imagine the idea behind it? It was inspired by the Royal House Of Marwar-Jodphur in Rajhastan. His Royal Highness Maharajah Gaj Singh commissioned nose Bertrand Duchaufour to create a perfume for his granddaughter, named Varra. It is meant to symbolize their connection to Jodphur, and Duchaufour himself traveled there to get inspiration for the scent. So, in my mind, I was imagining something more exotic, perhaps reminiscent of the spices I associate with India. (I thought for sure this perfume would have a cumin note) I was expecting a complex fragrance - layered with sweetness, of spice, of heat. Imagine my surprise when I sprayed it that I got a fruity floral. I thought to myself, how generic. 

But then as I wore it, I found myself enamored by it. It's a fragrance with a rose heart - always a plus with me, but I senses something slightly sweet-sour in the forefront. At first I thought it was pineapple, but apparently it's quince, a fruit I am admittedly not too familiar with. A quince, apparently, is a cross between a pear and an apple, and there's a light sweet lemon tinge as well. There's just a bit of saffron in here to give the scent some "weight," but it disappears quickly, and it stays on the sweet side. And the rose never leaves, here I imagine it's a bright yellow one, with petals tinged with a pink outline. The overall effect is pretty, and I imagine I am wearing this on a nice Spring day, in casual wear but still a little dressed up. I want to own it, though, honestly, I am not rushing. It's like a nice shirt to own, but I can wait till it goes on sale.