Monday, December 15, 2014

IT'S TIME TO CHRISTMAS-UP THE PLACE!!!

this is not my house, but I almost wish it was...

It really seems like there are way less decorations everywhere I go than usual.  The skimpy tree and one single strand of garland is almost worse than nothing at all.  I don't know if it's a symptom of PC non-Christian corporate policy kind of thing or just laziness or actual flat our apathy... But it really sucks.  So, even though Christmas is only 10 days away, it's not too late to do your part.  Throw a party!  Invite everyone over and make decorations, make cookies, make punch, make MERRY!!!


I had my tree trimming party over the weekend and I made this non-alcoholic punch which I highly recommend.  Of course you can serve all the booze you want but this punch is seriously thirst quenching and the kids will get a nice sugar rush : )


I also made these chewy molasses cookies.  The recipe is here.  Make sure to have a lot of milk on hand because these cookies beg for it.


I found these adorable nutcracker cupcake wrappers at Target.  I just made chocolate cake from a mix and buttercream frosting then pressed a handful of shredded coconut from Trader Joe's into the frosting.  Pretty and delicious!


Don't forget the classic popcorn and cranberry garland!  I think it totally makes the tree complete.  Just pop the cheap grocery store bag of corn the day ahead of your party.  It's much easier to string when they are a bit stale as they don't split as easily when you stick the needle through.


I bought some boxes of plain Christmas balls in red, silver, and clear and glue and glitter.  Some people are a bit more successful at this craft than others : ))  But everyone has fun trying!


Pandora has a multitude of Christmas playlists.  My favorite one is called Christmas Radio.  And if the tree and baking aren't enough to fill the house with scent it's both pretty and tasty to light a bunch of scented candles - pine, cinnamon, apple etc.  It hardly costs anything to do this.
I almost feel like the movie Elf where I am trying to save Christmas spirit to make Santa's sleigh fly! Come on everyone, I'm not singing all by myself, I know you're out there!!!

Monday, December 8, 2014

PERFUME UPDATE

Glass perfume bottle by Roger Gandelman

I am inspired to write this little "update" (my last perfume post was 2 1/2 years ago...) by the commitment I have just made to my 20015 New Years Resolution.  I am finally going to finish the natural perfume course that I started 4 years ago.  I have begun revisiting Fragrantica, a site I have been a member of for around 4 years.  I have posted about a dozen reviews over there... 12 divided by 4... Yeah.  Not exactly diving in head first to the perfume pool.  So, now that I have announced my commitment to the Internet, it's time to pick up the pace.


Top Notes: Green Leaves; Bergamot
Middle Notes: Lily-of-the-Valley; Lilac; Jasmine*
Base Notes; Sandalwood; Civet
*the middle notes other than these take a neutral stand for me so I'm skipping them in my list

Diorissimo was created in 1956 and is centered around Christian Dior's favorite flower - Lily-of-the-Valley.  He was kind of obsessed.  It has wonderful folklore in France and is symbolic of hope, happiness and joy.  This scent, it would follow, evokes such feelings.  Especially if you are French. And from the 50s.  And are lucky enough to have a bottle of the 'original recipe'.  It seems in these modern times Lily-of-the-Valley is synthetic, as is civet.  That said, the modern version is still giving it's all to make Christian Dior full of joy, wherever he may be.  The scent is very Euro/French/lunch at a Parisian bistro/Springtime/riverbank/gloves/snappy little dress... It's 50s Dior!  In other words-awesome!




Top Notes: Bergamot; Orange Blossom
Middle Notes: White Flowers; Musk
Base Notes: Leather; Wood

Gucci Premiere was created in 2010 and is supposed to invoke the red carpet experience... Not for me.  First of all, the 'red carpet experience' for most of us is not terribly exciting.  And the words 'red carpet' evoke the scent of desperation, synthetic aspiration, and prescriptive meds.  Not really a good perfume experience.  Luckily this scent was inaccurately named.  I like it very much.  It is a romantic night out kind of scent.  Soft, sexy, powdery, gentle.  Way too intimate for the red carpet.  I picture an art deco dressing room with a small window open and a breeze fluttering the curtains while a woman of substance sits at her vanity, fixing her lipstick and layering that last spritz of Gucci Premiere before stepping out for an evening to remember.  An evening that does not include photographers.




Top Notes: Pink Pepper; Lotus Flower; Orange Blossom
Middle Notes: Pink Peony; Wild Rose
Base Notes: Amber; Musk; Blonde Woods

David Yurman's Delicate Essence is a fresh floral that is indeed delicate.  With it's main flower being Rose it does not scream Rose, as many others do.  I like this scent as a daytime, even morning, scent.  It is sort of dreamy but also clean and thoughtful.  It was inspired by the gemstone Pink Tourmaline which I like quite a bit so I think the inspiration was a success.


Top Notes: Bergamot; Mandarin; Lychee; Lily-of-the-Valley
Middle Notes: Tuberose
Base Notes: Caramel; Sandalwood; Vanilla; Musk

Dolce and Gabbana - The One Desire is delicious.  I would call this a gourmand even though it's categorized a floral oriental.  The caramel and vanilla are enough to make you think of dessert.  In a good way.  Like a gorgeous chocolate bite with a glass of champagne or a sweet after dinner wine... I don't know.  Something to do with a fantastic dinner and now it's time for a yummy sensual lingering treat.  That's this perfume.  Actually, I could imagine falling asleep after a lovely evening like that and still having a bit of this on my wrist to send me off to a perfect sleep.  ( And the bottle is gorgeous!)

I do love perfume.  I have no idea why it has taken me forever to finish my perfumery course ( which is complete when I create my own scent!) but I will surely be posting more fragrance reviews in 2015!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

RUMI V RILKE

*the internet lives of two great poets-





























































































I thought maybe Rumi v Rilke would be a good idea for Epic Rap Battles of History.  Lots of material... some of this poetic soul-searching seems to bother some people though...


































There's always a bitter smart-ass in every crowd!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The History of Goth



Goth·ic
ˈɡäTHik/
of or in the style of architecture prevalent in western Europe in the 12th–16th centuries, characterized by pointed arches, rib vaults, and flying buttresses, together with large windows and elaborate tracery.



Goth culture or the Gothic Scene has it's history in history.  Today's Goths owe their existence to the 1980s but the scene itself derives it's motifs and aesthetic from Gothic architecture; poets Lord Byron, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Edgar Allan Poe; and fashion from Victorian mourning attire.  These are the roots of the culture.  The early years...


The character Lydia Deetz, spectacularly played by Winona Ryder in the 1988 film Beetlejuice, is the golden standard of the teenage Goth girl.  She's wonderfully melodramatic and melancholic, she contemplates suicide, her best friends are two ghosts that live in the attic, she dresses with such beautiful dark creative style and is startlingly childish and womanly simultaneously... and no one in her household takes her at all seriously.  She is the ultimate troubled teen.  But she is also very smart and caring and amazingly love able.


Of course Siouxie Sioux had already perfected the look in the late 70s.  But there was no 'Goth' scene at that time.  She was just doing her thing.  And so was the Cure and a couple of years later Bauhaus.  They were creating the Goth music scene unintentionally.  Or at least without corroborating with one another.


The sudden interest which quickly became an obsession with vampires coincided with the dark music scene in it's timing.  Anne Rice's book Interview with the Vampire was first published in 1976.  It gained popularity and became a component of this scene.  The gorgeously stylish, clubby, original and sexy movie The Hunger came out in 1983.  It was the first of an endless stream of sexy, stylish vampire movies.  But The Hunger can never be topped if for no other reason than it featured Peter Murphy on stage in the night club scene at the beginning singing Bela Lugosi's Dead.





The 80s took Goth from a handful of 'gloom and doomers' to a full on sub culture.  By 1991 they had a LARP game all their own called Vampire the Masquerade, 1993 gave the world Jack and Sally via The Nightmare Before Christmas and 1994 was the year Interview With the Vampire came out on the big screen.  The normal world was now aware of the Goth kids.  


Then the whole beautiful dark and lonely scene sort spiralled out of control in the mid '90s with episodes of Jerry Springer featuring Goth kids and the final death knell... Hot Topic.  




Well, that's my version of the History of Goth.  If you don't like it - bite me!
Happy Halloween kids!

Friday, October 3, 2014

F.Scott Fitzgerald, Edith Wharton,Evelyn Waugh: Apocalypse Now!

'What fresh Hell is this?'  - D.Parker

Many people feel, and rightly so, that the current 21st century is the beginning of the Apocalypse.  Lots of people are 'prepping' for the endgame.  There is much concern over the world view - global politics, global economics, global warming... All very dire and very urgent.

I have done some research and deduced from said research that the 'beginning of the end' actually started at the outset of the 20th century.  My extensive research involving novels and short stories from such authors as Fitzgerald, Wharton and Waugh.

Edith Wharton is especially important because she gives us an incredibly personal and  detailed account of the daily lives and habits of the old ruling New York 'Society' of which she was actually a member ( and a wonderfully gifted writer!).  We get a glimpse of the routine and lifestyle of the very structured and solid and seemingly permanent elite class of Americans who got caught in the early 1900s with their proverbial pants down by the new and unpredictable 'youth movement' that in very little time erased all that was meaningful and holy to these refined and tasteful clans.

- It is worth mentioning that the 'Jazz Age' was accompanied by a distinct interest in and frequent use of alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, cocaine and heroin.


What looks to us now as fun times, fashion and carefree spirits was actually in many cases a very speedy decline into hospital, a 'long rest' with 'relatives' in 'Italy' or a quiet family funeral.  The times were 'fast' and so was the damage.  Lost fortunes, unwanted pregnancies, dis-inherited socialites... Very messy.  F. Scott Fitzgerald favors these kinds of stories.  ( and yes, the coats and hats are amazing!)
We can relate to this narcissistic escapism and extremely reckless behavior of the 'bright young things' because teens and college kids have never stopped behaving this way.  It started then.  And why it started is what concerns me, or rather confuses me.  Also, that it won over very established, very old traditions.  That confounds me.  How did these young drug addicts and malcontents manage to usurp authority?  And why does 'youth culture' remain so powerful...


It seems to rest with disillusionment.  Certainly the 'Big War' had a sobering yet literally inebriating effect on the Euro youth.  I can understand the backlash.  But America was little affected by the war.  We entered late and it was over there.  But we did have the nightmare of Prohibition.  I think Prohibition was one of the worst things to happen to this country.  It created the 'Scofflaws'.  A huge majority of city dwellers who basically scoffed at a law they felt was ridiculous and consequently willingly became law breakers.  This in itself was very damaging.  And probably added to the f--- you behavior of the young flapper crowd.


Before Prohibition women weren't allowed in 'saloons'.  Nor were they ever seen smoking in public.  These behaviors were seen as vulgar and unseemly but in the face of a law that blatantly gives the government the right to dictate morals it seemed the right kind of action.  The wild partying and promiscuous clothing just sort of followed along that law breaking vein.



Next thing you know the 'Selfie' generation was born.  Hollywood stars and movie magazines as well as gossip pages of crazy nightlife took over the general mindset of the young and bored pre-depression American.  And there was no turning back.  To quote Father Rothschild in Evelyn Waugh's Vile Bodies, "I know very few young people, but it seems to me that they are all possessed with an almost fatal hunger for permanence."  I would think this goes as well for today's 'young people' and might explain the obsession with capturing every moment of every day in a photo. Yes, Apocalypse Now started then.
The horror, the horror.

                                  **********

Some of my favorite vocabulary from Vile Bodies :

This is really all too bogus.  Don't you think...or don't you?
Too too spirit-crushing
sad-making; shame-making; shy-making and very better-making
it's really such a bore isn't it...or isn't it?


Sunday, September 7, 2014

7 UP & UP & SO ON...


This series which began in 1964 and follows the same group of people every seven years until the last installment in 2012 which was called 56 up.  It's fascinating to say the least.  You can't help but fall in love with several of these seven year olds based on the very candid and thoughtful answers they give to questions about the world around them.  First of all 1964 was a time of serious social change and these children are clearly going to experience radical change in the next seven years to 1971 England.  But 1964 England was still entrenched in it's past and was technically just recovering from the war.  The children all - rich and poor - speak a more gentile English language.  The ones in fancy schools are extremely bright with extraordinary vocabularies and very thoughtful, generous means of expression.  They have the mannerisms and speech patterns of their parents and teachers most likely but it is a very noticeable difference to todays English.  This early '60s group of children earnestly cared about social issues without spewing the words of a learned ideology.  In fact Neil, who is the most endearing and adorable of the 7 year olds, imagines a person of many colors like purple and yellow when he is asked a question about 'colored' people.  Jackie points out that it's just an issue of brown skin versus 'sort of pinkish' and that the differences stop there.  They are not reciting learned answers and making grand gestures of acceptance the way children would today.  You can see on their faces that they are really trying to sort out some of these issues so that it's fair to everyone.


This little boy Neil is everything that you think a happy, healthy seven year old boy should be.  He draws you in and really makes you want to just hug him.  You have high hopes for him and then you see him at fourteen, which, granted is a low point for most human beings, but we see that the sparkle and confidence is clearly gone.  And then it just completely unravels over the next few decades.


He manages to pull out of complete obscurity but not at all the life we all wished for him.  He is a wonderful, thoughtful, intelligent man who has some of that charming little boy in his adult character, but the very sad fact is that if a very intelligent, energetic young man doesn't find his way in the world in a way that suits the times then he is lost to homelessness.  He needed to sort things out in his own way and time and truly had to fight for his right to live as a sort of hermit.  He managed but it was obviously a little too humbling and very difficult to come back from.  His story is worth a very careful consideration.  Obviously we really know very little about this person from the ten minutes once every seven years but you do get a good glimpse into these faces and you do see that seven year old still there over all the years.


My other favorite was John.  An extremely intelligent and gorgeous boy who seemed to be the only one really who was comfortable with himself throughout.  He had a strong sense of fairness and a healthy dose of ambition and a very mature personality even at seven.  By fourteen it was abundantly clear that this boy knew where he was going.  The show sorted steered you into seeing John as a privileged product of a system that would make sure he succeeded.  But that was unfair and untrue as we do watch others with possibly more privilege that do not succeed as he does.  I think it is odd that they never point out that he is incredibly disciplined.  He lets us know through some answers to questions that he studies fiercely and has very little free time.  He works hard.  You don't get into Oxford and play concert piano and have ambitions of landing in Parliament by being lazy or by scooting through an already mapped out agenda.  Perhaps some do but it's clearly not the case with John.  He is exceedingly articulate and very English in the best sense.  He grows up to be a very lovely and responsible man which should be no surprise.


I think my least favorite person involved with the project is the director Michael Apted.  I just feel like he tries too hard to show this sort obsolete concept of class ism and as the years roll by he becomes a little too modern to the point of accusing Tony of being racist in the last installment.  It's completely absurd and Tony being nothing but honest and hard working seems like a scapegoat for Mr. Apted to try and make this 21st c installment relevant or something when he should really step as far away from the camera as possible and let the thing almost film itself.  He seems to take a bit too much credit for a project whose real credit belongs to the person who thought it up and the patience and perseverance of the subjects themselves.  In the end the real luck was in starting the thing in 1964.  Sort of the beginning of the end in so many ways and lots of those ways being almost accidentally captured on film by this candid interviewing of these unsuspecting suspects.  They certainly had no idea at the time that they were making a lifelong commitment and yet they almost all did. I applaud these human beings!  


BTW - the entire series is available on Netflix and also a boxed dvd set.

Monday, August 25, 2014

VEGAN, VEGETARIAN, LOCAVORE


I could easily go on a twelve page spew about how 21st century Americans have no reason at all to slit the throats of animals in order to survive.  But that's not what I have chosen to say.  For obvious reasons - I probably already lost some readers with that first sentence.  The reason being that food is a highly emotional issue.  It's psychological, and for some it's even religious.  So in essence it's extremely hard to get people to change their ways.

I was inspired to write on this subject by a lecture at my gym recently which had the same title as this post : VEGETARIAN, VEGAN, LOCAVORE...
Being a vegetarian myself for most of my life I wasn't in need of too much info. ( I am also an information junkie).  But I was very curious to know how this would be presented and who was showing up.  Also, since the two presenters are dietitians I hoped for maybe one or two pieces of knowledge I hadn't previously absorbed from my incessant Internet research.


Needless to say, the whole thing was a waste of time (one precious hour).  But the next day I realized I did learn something.  No matter what you tell someone about their diet, they will have a very irrational fear of change and talk their way into years of procrastinating.  Most of the people were there as a form of procrastination.  They currently have no idea how much B12 they are getting from their meat source or how much iron they are assimilating or whether or not they are getting all the proper amino acids etc.   But all these questions came up as a way to put off 'giving up' their favorite foods.  One woman was totally perplexed as to how she was to incorporate coconut oil into her diet.  She had bought some because she heard it was all the rage but had no idea what to do with it.  So I am sure that was reason enough for her to go to the supermarket and buy some breakfast sausage.


It didn't seem to matter to anyone that the lecture started out with graphs and charts and quotes and facts stating that a plant based diet reduced your chances of death by cancer by 60%.  They had more important issues like where would one even purchase hemp seed and can you still eat fish (the topics of mercury and radiation were never discussed).  Somehow they got into a conversation about the benefits of eating liver until one man cited the potential problem of liver containing toxins and diseases being that  it's function in the body is as a filter for those things.  I started to wonder if these people were in the right room and if any of them ever used the gym... they seemed fairly unhealthy.



The speakers trudged along mentioning all the wonderful power foods like kale, chia seeds, nutritional yeast, Greek yogurt... but people still wanted more.  'What about eggs?'  That got a big grin out of one of the dietitians.  She was thrilled to report that eggs are a great source of nutrition and that the yolk was where all the good stuff was.  So eating one egg a day is a good idea.  People were skeptical...

Then it turned out, to my relief and sympathy, that there was a representative from the farmers market association there.  Hands flew up.  No one seemed to know how to type in the words 'nearest farmers market' into google.  She was patient and adorable and aware of her obstacles.  She came armed with handouts that she printed from her computer after typing in the afore mentioned google search.



The next day I thought about the whole trying experience of the day before and suddenly it became clear.  No one wants to 'give up' anything.  There is a reason some dishes are 'comfort foods' and why something that tastes like 'home cooking' has an appeal.  Food is tightly connected with memories and emotions and for some is a psychological replacement for something missing in their lives.  If the fact that changing your diet will lengthen and improve your life is not motivation enough than those people obviously have issues.  So, the best solution is the one that the sweet and prepared farmers market rep offered.  Buy your meat and produce from farmers.  It will be massively better for everyone involved.  If I can't influence anyone away from animal consumption then at least I can try to get people away from corporate food factories.  I realize animals are lower on the evolutionary scale and that man has been hunting them forever.  And I have always been ok with people raising and killing and butchering their own farm animals.  I am not ok with the extremely uncivilized, brutish, inhumane treatment of animals in this country.  It is absolutely not acceptable.  I have only included pictures of animals living in their appropriate conditions in this post because I cannot bear to look at the pictures and videos showing what actually goes on in the industrial farms.  I still have nightmares from some videos I watched on YouTube...

The oceans are a whole separate nightmare unto themselves... When they go, so do we.
Don't procrastinate, don't give up bacon or steak or whatever, just by it from farmers not from factories. Animals deserve better than that.