Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Rambling: Fear and Glory and Music. (Oh, My?)

I'm not writing.

Anywhere.

Well, except for some forums.

What's the deal?

I suspect that the deal is that when I write, that seems to open up my thoughts, and worrying thoughts might creep out. Or burst out, waving axes and torches. Wearing scary masks. And howling battle cries. You know. Right?

So.

Um.

I'm less worried now, though I'm still nervously eyeing the cracks in my brain for anything planning an escape.

Yes, I realize that the best writing probably comes from those gangs of rampaging thoughts. But, well, I don't want 'em. I want to come up with brilliance without any discomfort.

But the rampaging thoughts remain.

And after seeing the Oregon Shakespeare Festival production of Into the Woods (three times?) the soundtrack for those thoughts is Miriam Laube singing "It's the last midnight."  Beautiful glorious song of doom. I want to hear it again. The production is over. Is she going with it when the show goes to Beverly Hills? I want that song available whenever I want to hear it, but I'm afraid that listening to any recording will wipe out the memory of Miriam singing it, and that's just not acceptable.

Why do I want to listen to a "song of doom" when I'm trying to flee from stress? I don't know.

Has OSF ever considered releasing soundtracks? I must ask.

It's interesting that the OSF productions that I most urgently long to see again are musicals. The Unfortunates will be showing at ACT in San Francisco in 2015, and we will be going. I don't much like San Francisco any more; my favorite restaurant in the world isn't enough to lure me there. But The Unfortunates are. Is.

Um.

That is all.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Random Perfume Comment: Carven Le Parfum

Le Parfum is pretty, clean, and well-behaved.

I like it anyway.

What's with that?

Friday, September 26, 2014

SOTD: Sonoma Scent Studio Yin and Ylang


This one isn't weird, either. But I like it. It's a comfort scent, both woody and floral, and with a sense of creamy chewy edibleness without any actual food scent. I keep wanting a little more of one note or another--a little more oak moss, or a little more sandalwood, or a little more of that edible vibe. I tend to assume that that stretching for a little more is a sign of a well-balanced scent, because surely if I had all I wanted of a note, I would soon be tired of it.

Want. I want De Bachmakov, too. My interest in perfume may be increasing again. That could be expensive.

Review Roundup: Now Smell This and Fragrantica and Cafleurebon. And surely someone else has reviewed this?

Monday, September 22, 2014

SOTD: The Different Company De Bachmakov

(Actually, the scent of the weekend. We went to Portland Feast. We're fatter. Yay!)

It's been a while since I liked a new-to-me perfume this much. It's catering to my current preferences--I perceive it as silky, rather than fuzzy or dusty or scratchy. It's not too sweet or too sour. It announces itself proudly for several minutes after wearing, and just when I might feel a little too perfume-soaked it backs off and settles for sending out an occasional welcome puff if scent.

So what does it actually smell like? According to LuckyScent, "cedar wood, bergamot, shiso leaves, nutmeg, coriander leaves, white freesia, soft chalk accord." And they talk a lot about melting snow. According to me? Lemon, an idealized lemon that leans toward the floral. I assume that the lemon comes from the bergamot and the floral comes from, well, the flowers. I'm not sure what "soft chalk accord" is, but I think that it's what's making me feel "silky" rather than liquid.

This has me eyeing my credit cards. I've been wanting the perfect lemon for a while. Fresh Lemon Sugar has too much candy. Din Dan...well, I love Din Dan, and maybe this is just new and shiny, but I think I love it more.

My only concern is that it's not weird. It's pretty. It's feminine. It's not the least, tiniest little bit offensive on any level. This worries me a little.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

TV: Orphan Black and the Reverse Bechdel Test

I posted this on a writing forum, and it occurred to me that in six months I might wonder, "So where was it that I was talking about Orphan Black and the Bechdel test?" So I thought I'd post it here, too.

So, I've considered the Bechdel Test to be a worthwhile concept--on a statistical level--since I heard of it. But it's only after watching a series that almost fails the "reverse Bechdel test" that I really understand the test's significance. I understand why some writers protest the idea that they should somehow make their stories pass the test, but I also understand even more deeply why it's a very bad thing, statistically, that so few movies pass the test.

The Bechdel Test, just so you don't need to Google, is an evaluation of whether a work of fiction has:

1) Two named female characters
2) who have a conversation
3) about something other than a man.

It's not a test that means that a single work of fiction is "good" or "bad." A very good work can fail it. A very bad work can pass it.

I see it as a test that evaluates whether a work has a significant number of important female characters. They don't have to be female characters that are strong or powerful or feminist or intelligent; they just have to be important to the fictional work.

The TV series Orphan Black has a lot of female characters. Sarah, Beth, Kira, Cosima, Alison, Helena, Rachel, Siobhan, Delphine, Gracie, etc. And it's about those characters. About their history, about their battles, about their relationships, about their safety and their happiness and their future.

Many fictional works have the smart guy, the tough guy, the funny guy, the uptight guy, the damaged guy, and the girl. Orphan Black has the smart girl, the tough girl, the funny girl, the uptight girl, the powerful girl, the damaged girl, and so on.

Of course, many of the characters can be described with more than one characteristic--Helena is tough and funny and powerful and extremely damaged; Alison is uptight and smart and tough in some situations and maybe just a little bit psychopathic, and so on. I'm not trying to describe the characters with a bunch of simplistic adjectives. I'm trying to do the opposite--I'm pointing out that Orphan Black covers a great deal of the complex spectrum of human behavior and personality, and it does it with women, instead of with men.

Orphan Black also has men. Felix, Sarah's brother. Donnie, Alison's wife. Daniel, Rachel's monitor. Paul, Beth's boyfriend. Leekie, Rachel's guardian and colleague. Art, Beth's partner on the police force. Vic, Sarah's ex-boyfriend. And so on.

These are great characters, well-rounded and interesting. But are you seeing a pattern here? The men in Orphan Black are defined by their relationship with the women. The story is about the women. It revolves around the women. And that means that when two men are talking to each other, they're almost always talking about a woman. The male characters exist to serve the women's stories.

And it would be hard to insert conversations between those men that aren't about the women. It's hard for Orphan Black to naturally pass the reverse Bechdel test.

Conversations between the men that aren't about the women would seem weird, seem like a waste of screen time. I can only think of one male-to-male interaction that wasn't about a woman--Felix's date with Nicholas. Even that is a little dubious--their first words exchanged refer ot the trouble that they've had with the police, trouble that was about Felix's sister. And their date is interrupted, because of Felix's sister and niece.

Ah, there was that scene between Henrik and Mark about the cow, but we eventually realize that that scene is about the women, even if it's not clear when we see it.

Anyway. Orphan Black is a story about women, in a world packed full of women--strong women, weak women, good women, bad women, smart women, stupid women, women in power and women with no power. Orphan Black amost fails the reverse Bechdel test.

I think that Orphan Black is a great series. But if most movies and TV series revolved around women as totally as Orphan Black does, I suspect that a lot of men would be annoyed. A substantial percentage of movies and TV series revolve around men as totally as Orphan Black revolves around women, and I am annoyed.

The Bechdel Test, again, isn't a test of the worthiness of an individual work. It's a test of the extent to which women exist, where "exist" means that they matter and their stories matter, in the fictional world of television and movies.

Edited to add: Hmm. There's also the conversation between Felix and Tony. But discussing that in any detail would get me into spoilers, which I was trying to avoid.

Link Roundup:

I see that Luz Delfondo at Disrupting Dinner Parties made the point about failing the reverse Bechdel Test long before I did.

Slate has an interesting article, The Brilliant Misandry of Orphan Black. I don't agree with the article's dismissal of the male characters, but it's interesting all the same.

Rambling: Sewing Brain Dump

I often write about big sewing plans that I don't carry out. It occurs to me that while writing them as plans and failing to carry them out is depressing, writing them as thoughts, ideas, a general sewing brain dump, might be fun to read later.

So.

I've been thinking about making a lightweight bathrobe, out of silk or cotton or linen or silk/linen or silk/cotton. Something drapey and not too crisp. I started out with a very conventional bathrobe pattern, but in reading reviews found it described as "slim-fitting." My hips don't like slim-fitting.

So we bought another one, Jalie 2567, which at least describes itself as loose-fitting.  I say "we" because I want to make one for Himself, too. I plan to make up a muslin the quick way (no facings, no hems) in throwaway dollar-a-yard rayon, because I'm just not sure what I want in the way of ease. Well, I want lots of it, but I don't think I can tell if the pattern will have enough or not, without actually putting it on.

However, I may end up making Himself's bathrobe(s) from the Jalie pattern and mine from a Vintage Vogue swing coat pattern, V1083.  It's designed with a whole lot of extra room; the reviews complain about it being too big. It doesn't lap nearly as much as a bathrobe does, but I'll see what I want to do about that when I've got a muslin together.

Once the pattern's right, I want an ankle-length version in something light but with a little body, and then a shorter one in the lightest possible thing, for travel. Well, at least I did before I went to the swing coat; I don't know if it will work in a short version.

Before that, I really should be making two more of the calf-length six-gore skirt for which I have a fitted pattern. I made it in black linen, and have worn it probably six times without ever getting around to adding a waistband hook--I kept using a safety pin. It's that useful and I'm that short on skirts. I have a length of brown linen and another one in a sort of subdued pumpkin, both of them preshrunk and pressed. With the serger I could have them made up fast.

Months and months ago I did cut a straight pleated skirt, very vertical, a pattern that I keep thinking would work very well for directional fabrics and prints that I don't want to break up. It interests me more than the gored skirt, even though I expect it to be harder to fit and to make. I can see it being made up in interesting rumpled fabrics with character.

To go with it, I really want a big drop-sleeved shirt, for interesting-fabric, rumpled, comfy outfits. Maybe with my little short boots. I'm finding it surprisingly difficult to find one; are drop sleeves wildly out of style?

An alternative for the big-and-rumply outfit could be the Sewing Workshop Haiku Two jacket. I discussed this...hm...over two years ago and never got around to making it. One advantage of this pattern is that I think that I can just cut the largest one and expect it to fit--"fit" in the sense of being able to put it on, even if I swim in it. I think. I don't remember why I think this--I suspect that I read a pattern review that indicated that even my hips wouldn't be an obstacle. Or maybe I measured the pattern. Anyway, with  the first one made up just for at-home-cardigan warmth, I can tweak it for fit.

Or I could try to trace, or rub off, or whatever you call it, my favorite ready-to-wear drop-sleeve shirt. It's really comfortable and I'm under the illusion that it's more flattering than the shape should be. It's a lightweight drapey denim -- I don't know if it will work in any other fabric or not.

I went to the Button Emporium (And Ribbonry) recently. I got (lemme count...) eleven kinds of buttons, including the ones in the picture. Aren't they beautiful? The nice lady told me that they were...um. OK, either German glass or Czechoslovakian glass; I 'm thinking the second one. Vintage. Last ones of their kind. I bought several "last ones".  Anyway, I mention them because I got several kinds of black or partly-black buttons, and two kinds of black trim, all of which would be dandy on a black jacket. Well, not all together.

While at the Button Emporium, I formed the theory that it makes sense to stash trims and buttons and other decorative notions instead of stashing fabric, because by the time you add those things to a garment, you usually know if the garment is a success. So if I'm going to overspend on something, overspending on the finishing touches seems logical. Right? Right. So I got some ribbon, too.

Ooh. It occurs to me that a black bathrobe with the hem weighted by some of the black trim that I got could be really cool. Funereal and gothic, but cool.

Hmm.

Plotting happily. That is all.

Image: Mine.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Type Something!

Why is it that when I haven't posted in a while, it feels harder to post? I guess it's because I know that this happened and that happened and the other thing happened and I didn't post about them, so what makes it worth posting now?

It's been two weeks, that's what.

So.

Um.

I've been reading Women in Clothes, a newly released book that's the result of surveying hundreds of women about clothes and appearance and such. This seem to be the "munchy book" about fashion that I've been wanting. I like it a lot. But I'm less than a quarter of the way through it, so it seems a little premature to review it.

We also bought Crazy Enough by Storm Large, and Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel. And I'm in the middle of a murder mystery...whose name I can't remember. I'm reading stuff.

I'm not so much writing stuff. I have been doing a little bit of sewing prep--cutting pattern pieces apart, preshrinking fabric and pressing it, and so on. And the previously mentioned threading of the serger. But nothing's been cut out or sewn.

Um.

That seems to be all.



Monday, September 1, 2014

SOTD: Bacon. And rambling.

No, it didn't come out of a bottle. Which is a shame. Who wouldn't want a really good bacon perfume? I fried it in a pan, the traditional way. We had bacon and pancakes for Labor Day breakfast-for-dinner.

We ate whatever we darn well pleased this weekend, and last weekend, on the principle of making up for our lost vacation. We've resolved that we're going to cut that out and start eating some semblance of a decent diet next week. Though probably not Tuesday. You can't combine going back to work and going on a diet, right? Right.

I'm trying to get myself into a good slow-sewing habit, maybe half an hour every other day. This weekend my half hour was threading the serger with a new color. It's embarrassing that that takes half an hour, but there it is. As a bonus activity, I preshrunk the fabric for a pajama top, and found the pajama top pattern. Next I'll press the fabric. Tum te tum te tum. Bitty step by bitty step.

I just ordered Women in Clothes (Heti/Julavits/Shapton/associate editor Mann--I previously incorrectly attributed the whole thing to Mann), due out on Wednesday. I don't know much about it, but I really like the idea of what little I've read. I'll let you know how it is when I get it.

It occurs to me that it would be logical to add a page up there next to "new to perfume?" and "fume scout" and all that, for all these books about women and clothes that I keep reading. Maybe I will. Eventually. It could happen.

Um.

I guess that is all.

SOTD: Tauer Carillon Pour un Ange, and relinquishing the meh

(And this was really the SOTD on Wednesday. Me pre-writing posts? What's with that?)

I bought it too fast.

I loved the sample. Falling-down, won't risk it going away, love. Bought it. Didn't like the first wearing. Went into denial and put it away. A year later, I'm trying it again.

Nope.

Wearing it gives me the same feeling as a glass of iced tea with too much lemon and not enough sugar. I'm not saying that there's any actual lemon--just that there's a sharpness that could be lovely and refreshing if there were enough sugar.

Maybe it's my skin chemistry.

I think that for the next attempt, I'll decant a little into a splash bottle. I tested it unsprayed, after all, so maybe...

I doubt it. The next solution is to give or swap it away, maybe with a few more just-accept-reality bottles. Swapping or selling is, of course thwarted by my Postal Regulation Phobia, so unless I coordinate with a perfume freak to meet in Portland on one of our lately-not-infrequent trips there, it's not all that workable.

I eye the collection for more of those accept-reality bottles. I'm always worried that someday I'll fall in love with something that I've given away. But there's no logic in that; it's a hoarderesque mindset. For one thing I use perfume so lightly that a 5ml decant would last me years, even in the regular rotation.

And, really, it's unlikely that I'll ever fall in love with a perfume for which my reaction is "meh." The ones worth keeping an eye on are the "Oh, my God, does it smell that way on purpose?" bottles.  Those are usually blind buys, which a light sprinkling of classics threatened by reformulation or discontinuation. (My Mitsouko, for example, and No. 5 before I started to appreciate it a little.) The blind buys were either rock-bottom-price discounter products, or things from indie houses that I respect. If I panic and buy something on the verge of discontinuation from an indie house, I figure that even if I don't like it, my money went to someone worthwhile.

Today's additions to the Out box:

Creed's Original Vetiver: Perfectly Nice. A gateway vetiver. Friendly. Nonthreatening. Cuddly. I'm past it. I might have an occasional craving, but I have four (four) (FOUR) ounces in one of those big Creed bottles from a discounter. I'll take a 5ml decant and give the rest away.

Alfred Sung's Sung: This is in the difficult "aldehydic meh" category. Someday I may learn to love aldehydes, and until that day, it's hard to predict which ones I might love. But there are a lot of likelier candidates--No. 5, Climat...OK, my mind blocks memory of aldehydes, but I know there are others. I'm going to let this one go.

Serge Lutens Bas de Soie: Pretty. Also, pretty. Perfectly Nice. And pretty. If Lutens has to produce the occasional Perfectly Pretty Pretty Nice fragrance in order to make enough money needed to bottle the weird, fine. But I'm going to let someone else appreciate it.

Lancome Mille et Une Roses: I have this because I bought that little set of classics, including the aforementioned Climat. I don't like this one, and I have never yet learned to love a rose fragrance that I didn't like at first sniff. It's odd, because I love roses, but maybe that's what makes it not-odd. It's like fried chicken; I'm so attached to the "right" fried chicken that I have no tolerance for the "wrong", the kind with too much pepper or other transgressions.

There will be more.

That is all.

(I didn't bother to link the above perfume names to the posts with the Review Roundup for the perfume. This strikes me as evidence that I am less and less a perfume blog. Is this wrong?)

Sunday, August 31, 2014

SOTD: Serge Lutens Tubereuse Criminelle. And many off-topic remarks.

(Actually, this was the scent of this past Monday, but I didn't get to the posting part of the post until today.)

Mmm, gasoline fumes.

OK, that doesn't sound good. Does "Mmm, mothballs" sound any better? At least mothballs aren't used as a mood-altering drug. I think.

This was my first Lutens bell jar. But I didn't go to Paris and buy a full bottle in a box. I ordered it from a decanter, with the last half ounce in it. The same for my second bell jar, half an ounce of Iris Silver Mist. That's the end of my bell jars.

What's my point? I don't have one. I'm just trying a SOTD post for old times' sake.

Of course, Tubereuse Criminelle is floral as well as petroleum. I seem to recall reading about oil-bearing grasses being raised for fuel. I imagine Tubereuse Criminelle being the scent of that grass's flowers.

Mmm.

Luckily, I'm not among those that get a rotting meat note from this. I love the weird, the chemical, the sweaty, the skunky, even a carefully tuned bit of the fecal. Rotting meat, not so much.

I've been thinking about starting a diary. See, on the one hand there are lots of things that are either too embarrassing or too boring to post here on the blog. And I often find myself wishing that I remembered certain things about my own past life. And sometimes I think that those memories might be useful for that theoretical book or books someday.

On the other hand, I struggle with the idea of all that writing never being read by any audience. Writing, to me, is communication, and how can you communicate when no one is ever going to listen? And, equal and opposite, I worry about the diary accidentally being accessed by someone and being read. It's a thicket.

Then again, it would be good for me to get over my addiction to being read. If I'm ever going to write a book, I'm going to need to write a whole lot of words that won't be read for a very long time. I should get used to that.

No, this isn't relevant to Tubereuse Criminelle. Probably. Except that the idea of resuming SOTD posts made me think of a diary.

Of course, a diary still would't be The Whole Truth. It would occupy some middle ground between what I'm willing to publish and what happens in my head. Does anyone really tell a diary everything that can be put into words?

I just deleted a paragraph in this post, because it felt off topic--the post seems to be about Tubereuse Criminelle and SOTDs and a dairy. So I deleted a spare paragraph about jewelry. Would I do that in a diary? Would I feel the need for coherent narrative flow?

Not that this is all that coherent.

Actually, I'm going back to jewelry. You've seen me thrashing around about clothes as my current phase of Being a Girl. But the problem with clothes is that a large part of the overall package is me. My shape. My posture. My movement and position. (Does it look OK when I sit down?) My shape. My maintenance. (Did I press it well enough? Are these shoes too scuffed?) My shape.

Yeah, that shape thing is an issue.

Perfume is less of a "me" performance. Especially for me, it's largely a consumption activity--usually, I apply so little that only I can smell it. And even when that's not true, I don't need to perform--I just make a choice in private, and the perfume performs independently.

Jewelry is a sort of middle ground. It's visible, so it's not all about personal consumption. But there's not much performance involved. Unless you have a pendant flirting with your cleavage or some such thing, the jewelry is mostly performing independently, like the perfume. My contribution, again, happens in private, when I make a choice.

Maybe that's why I'm moving on to jewelry--to challenge myself with choices. I'm no longer nervous about going out in public smelling like gasoline or mushrooms or a garage floor. But I am nervous about wearing those rhinestones with that Oxford shirt. Does it work? What do you think? It's a decision. It's a mild expression of taste. But still one that keeps me at a comfortable distance.

It occurs to me that I was more comfortable with "performance" decisions--clothes--in winter. Hmm. I guess wool tends to make one's shape feel less exposed.

Anyway. With perfume, I love the whacky. Now I'm trying to edge toward the whacky with jewelry. And someday I hope to get there with clothes.

Now, "the whacky" doesn't mean "Oh, my God, what is that thing crossing the street? Is it human?" It just means a step or two away from the completely safe standard. Ideally, the kind of thing that makes you turn your head and say, "Hmm. That's an idea."

That is all.

First Image: By Christine Matthews. Wikimedia Commons.
Second Image: Mine