Grab Bag Round-Up – June 2015

Hello everyone, I hope you’re all having a good weekend. It’s time for this month’s Grab Bag, with a look at random things from news articles on popular fragrance genres, top Arabian perfume brands, synaesthesia, and the science of smell, to the more personal things occupying my attention this month.

Scientific Articles on Smell & Scent:

  • The Guardian had something really interesting to me: “Smell, evolution and the sex brain: why we’re monogamous and use perfume.” The piece argues that “Today we have a global fragrance market equal to the GDP of a medium-sized country, because of a gene mutation that made smells less sexy to us.” Basically, we used to have a gene — nicknamed “Adam” by its discoverers — that transmitted sexual scent messages (largely about ovulation) to our brains, but we lost it about 16m years ago because of evolutionary pressure to maintain monogamy and the family bond. However, the neural pathways that responded to such messages will still respond to “sensual perfumes made from – among other things – the sexual signals of musk deer, beavers and civets.”
  • From Science News: “Sense of smell is strictly personal, study suggests.” The article’s focuses primarily on genetics, neuroscience, and how we have “olfactory fingerprints,” thanks to a “new test [that] can distinguish individuals based upon their perception of odors, possibly reflecting a person’s genetic makeup[.]” However, there are obviously indirect implications that support what most perfume bloggers always say, that smell is subjective and subject to wholly personal variables.
  • From Aeon Magazine, a really fascinating piece asks “Are we all born with Synaesthesia?” It covers synaesthesia in literature (Nabokov’s Lolita, Mary Shelley, and the Enlightenment philosopher, Rousseau) before looking at the neuroscience, child psychology studies, and different forms of synaesthesia (musical notes, numbers, letters, or one poor woman who reacted viscerally to mere fabric textures). It’s a really interesting, in-depth piece that covers some unexpected issues.


Articles on Fragrance from the Last Month:

  •  It’s hot and miserably humid where I am right now, so we should probably start with an article from The Guardian called “How to wear perfume in summer: what to cherish, what to avoid and why.” The subject matter should be self-evident. Personally, I go by mood, not seasonality or the weather, when making my perfume choices and I’ll continue to swear that Chanel’s Coromandel is actually better in the heat, but there was a brief, passing moment yesterday when I could see the appeal of the cool, crisp citruses suggested by the article. God, the humidity is utterly heinous in my neck of the woods.
  • From Arabian Business, a piece called “Revealed: Five of the UAE’s most luxurious Arabian Perfumes.” The focus is on brands, not specific fragrances, and looks at RasasiHind al Oud, and 3 other companies.
  •  From the L.A. Times, two pieces focus on perfumes that take on the bouquet of various beverages or alcohols. First, “Perfumes with a spot of tea or coffee” talks about fragrances in the coffee or tea genre, and quotes Franco Wright of Luckyscent. Second, “The intriguing scents and business of mixing liqueur, wine, perfume” examines boozy fragrances, with a particular look at several Kilian releases. It also mentions scents from Parfums d’Empire, Demeter, Lubin, and Caron.
  • From The Guardian, Katie Puckrik pens a response to the news that came out in April of a French perfume company that says it has developed a scientific way to bottle the scent of your deceased loved ones. Ms. Puckrik’s response is called “Bottling the smell of dead people won’t capture their essence.” Naturally, it covers the Suskind/Parfum issue.
Hannibal Food Photo by Janice Poon via

Hannibal Food Photo by Janice Poon via

Food: I haven’t made anything exciting or creative in months, and I’m totally going to lose my Foodie membership card. I did have an urge to make one of my more elaborate dishes one night after watching Hannibal (the tv show, not the film), but I had no energy to get up from the couch and the mood soon passed. As a side note, I haven’t figured out yet if watching Hannibal is counterproductive to hunger or not. On the one hand, you have mind-blowing, magnificent food feasts (created by food stylist, Janice Poon, in consultation with famed three-Michelin star chef, José Andres). On the other, you have… well, surreal horror involving that food. My stomach ends up very confused.



Books: Camus is my favorite author, so when I read an NPR article called “Algerian Writer Kamel Daoud Stands Camus’ ‘The Stranger’ On Its Head,” my heart skipped a beat. The book is called “The Meursault Investigation,” and is essentially the flip-side tale to L’Etranger/The Stranger. Here, the brother of the victim (“The Arab”) tells the tale of what happened to his family after his murder, but really responds to Camus’ book and overall philosophy, with underlying commentary on the failures of post-colonial/independent Algeria and the country’s growing religiosity. I practically fell over myself to order the book from Amazon, especially after reading another rave review from The Guardian that called it an “instant classic.” (If you’re interested, you can also find it on UK and French Amazon.) The book should arrive tomorrow, so I’ll let you know what I thought of it next month.

Aidan Turner as "Poldark."

Aidan Turner as “Poldark.”

Television: As some of you know, Game of Thrones finished two weeks ago. I’m a die-hard fan generally, but the last three episodes were very difficult for me to get through and I felt positively battered by the time the finale faded to black. I’ll never give up on the show, but I desperately hope the next season isn’t quite so sadistically bleak. Watching some of those episodes at the same time as Outlander‘s torture porn (and THE worst rape scene that I’ve ever seen — anywhere — let alone for male rape) really pushed my limits. (I think it says something that Hannibal seems positively soothing in comparison.) So, after all that grimness, the new version of Poldark on Masterpiece comes as a bit of light relief, and Aidan Turner seems like a good fit. (I don’t know if I would go so far as to say, “Move over, Mr. Darcy,” as so many British newspapers have done, but we’ll see.) I’m more ambivalent about Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on BBC America and the second season of HBO’s True Detective thus far. The latest season of Midsomer Murders was a disappointment, and I think the show has gone downhill. I watched it on Acorn TV, the new television service I talked about last month (I got the kinks in my service worked out), and Acorn is also where I saw a great Australian soap-opera-ish drama, “A Place to Call Home.” It’s set in 1950s Australia, and covers everything from WWII and the Holocaust, to anti-Semitism, the abominable treatment of homosexuality back then (including medically), socio-economic class issues, romance, marriages of convenience, and more. I binge-watched both seasons in a row, and loved it. Less appealing was another Australian Acorn show, the Anzac Girls, a true story of nurses in WWI. Meh.

Taye Diggs via

Taye Diggs via

On a totally shallow note, I watch the detective anthology series, Murder in the First, which stars Taye Diggs (and Kathleen Robertson), and it always tickles me that he’s one of the blog’s Twitter followers. (Has been for more than a year, in fact.) So, not only is Mr. Diggs a good actor and a hunk, but he’s a niche perfume lover, too.

Joy This Month: See, Taye Diggs up above. See, also, below, re. The Hairy German.

The Hairy German.

The Hairy German.

Hairy German News: My Teutonic Overlord is better. The hideous horrors of bloody flesh and oozing, gangrene-like pus are over, thank God, and most of the negative side-effects of the medication cocktail are at manageable levels. However, it’s not all happy news. The medications have resulted in painful colitis and some extensive… er… bowel issues that I will not go into. Even more frustrating, the minute I finally stopped the steroids, the scabbed-over lesion begun to turn raw again. I started up again on the steroids before it could turn into bloody meat, and got myself a referral to one of the top animal medical centers in America.

The Hairy German at the dog park.

The Hairy German at the dog park.

I made the long drive with The Hairy German, stayed in a pet-friendly motel for a few days, and had him examined by specialists. They essentially confirmed everything my main vet has said and done is the right course of treatment. It’s simply going to be a guessing game, where we continuously adjust the medications to the changing conditions. I also asked about new medications and alternative remedies, including those that a few of you were so kind and thoughtful to email me about. The doctors thought that it’s better to stick to the tried, tested, and proven treatments for the moment, especially there have been no major studies showing things like testosterone injections, for example, have any effect on PF. In the same way, there have been no major studies covering potentially negative side-effects, like aggression, so they wanted to stick to less radical methods for now. The fact that I caught His Highness’ condition early means my situation is not as dire or limited as it might have been, and I have more options.

As a side note, I have concluded The Hairy Kaiser is a raging snob. We stayed at a very nice, modern motel, and had a large, clean room. Judging by his genuinely disgusted, indignant expression, you would have thought I’d taken him to a hovel in Hell. Each time we left the room for a walk, he was quite literally running out of the courtyard and down the driveway, ignoring all his training to pull me on his leash, in an obvious attempt to escape out of there. And this was even before we got to the medical center and he found out he had to have tests. Actually, he was perfectly fine there. It was simply the motel to which he objected. No amount of bananas eased his misery, and his relief when we got home today was so palatable, I can only laugh.



Music This Month: At times of stress, I tend to go back to my roots, so I spent a lot of this month listening to Eurotrash ’80s Italian and French pop music. I doubt the following discussion will mean anything to the vast majority of you but, if you’re a European reader who lived through the ’80s, did you ever listen to or like Toto Cutugno? He’s one of my favorite, old-time singers, perhaps in the top 3 alongside Joe Dassin and Dalida. So, I listened to a lot of Cutugno’s stuff this month, along with Richi e Poveri, Eros Ramazotti, Jeanne Mas, Sandra, and some Modern Talking. I don’t suppose anyone happens to have fond memories of Baltimora’s “Tarzan Boy,” Desireless’ “Voyage, Voyage,” or Ken Laszlo’s “Hey, Hey Guy“? Those were on the rotation, too, this month, along with an old CD I found called Gelato! (Best of Italian ’80s Pop). That has some songs that were very big Euro summer hits, like Off’s “Electric Salsa,” Sabrina’s “Boys, Boys, Boys,” Valerie Dore’s “The Night;” Moon Ray’s “Commanchero;” and Ryan Paris’ “Dolce Vita.” Much of this was my happy summer music, particularly the Euro club anthem, “Live is Life” by Stargo. When I lived in Monaco, that was THE summer song in THE nightclub to be, Parady’z. (I have rather fond memories of dancing with friends on a few tables at 3 a.m…. (Ahem).) Since the video for that one is too, too embarrassingly ’80s, here is Toto Cutugno‘s L’Italiano, followed by Off‘s Electric Salsa:

Perfume & Upcoming Reviews: I’ve tested a lot of stuff while dealing with my Teutonic Overlord’s medical situation and during my silent blog periods. I’ve held off reviewing the new SHL 777 duo, Mortal Skin, and the Harrods exclusive, until Mortal Skin is closer to release and I get some official information from Stéphane Humbert Lucas, but I hope to cover those soon. I can tell you now that I think Mortal Skin will probably be popular, though it’s no Black Gemstone or masterpiece. It’s not my thing, but I liked some parts of it. It was much better than the Harrods exclusive which I hated, absolutely hated. Passionately. A total scrubber, both times, and I’m dreading writing about it. (On top of it all, Monsieur Lucas sent a full bottle. Oh dear.)

I’ve also tried a few fragrances from a new American, artisanal/indie brand, Thorn & Bloom, that just launched last week, and I found their quality to be excellent. There is an orange blossom one that I greatly appreciated, while the leather reminded me of the smoky, intense, butch leather from Mona di Orio and Carner Barcelona. There are 5 new releases in total, and all are natural fragrances. I’ve only tried two thus far, so I’ll have to give all of them more thorough testing before I write about them (which may just be short blurbs on all 5 in one review), but so far, nice job.

Other fragrances I hope to cover in the next 10 days (if all goes to plan) are: Chanel‘s new Misia (I dragged my heels over my Chanel issues); two oldies from Parfumerie Generale and I Profumi di Firenze; and, probably, a 2014 release from Antonio Alessandria (who made Nobile 1942’s great whiskey scent, Rudis) called Noir Obscur. We’ll see what my mood is like and how the schedule goes, since I’m also trying to plan an actual holiday for the third week of July. The goal is Italy, if everything works out.

So, that’s my news. What is going on with all of you?

53 thoughts on “Grab Bag Round-Up – June 2015

  1. I’m so glad the Hairy German is feeling better. I know that he’s in excellent care as you no doubt dote on him in a very motherly way 🙂 And it shouldn’t be any other way!

    • Thank you, my dearest Hound. It’s been a huge relief to see him stabilize, at least a little, since last month was truly awful.

      On a side note, happy, happy Pride! This year more than ever, I think. 😉

  2. Glad your very handsome dog is doing better! You’re such a tease, all of those Rania J Reviews and then withdrawing before Lavande 44. I love you anyway and hope that you have a marvelous vacation. It has been beastly hot (upper 90s) and humid here in DC this entire month until yesterday. Torrential rains ushered in a cold front (or vice versa) and this morning when I left for work it was a blessed 63 degrees. The relief will be short but sweet.

    • Aww, I’ll try to squeeze in Lavande 44 for you. Anything for a man who knows and loves Leila Josefowicz. 😉 😀 (One day, I hope to hear about your opera career, my dear.)

      As for DC in the summer, I feel for you. I had a judicial internship there one summer and the humidity was pretty ghastly. That said, it’s even worse where I am, and the rain only results in a wall of humidity so thick that it’s practically visible. In short, never come visit. LOL (Especially not in August when the heat index regularly goes over 110 or 115. Ugh.) Weather aside, I hope your summer is going well thus far. Are you watching Poldark or Last Summer in Halifax?

      • Haven’t seen much TV since switching places of employment. I did see one very special movie that you should catch if it is playing near you: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. I know it doesn’t sound very promising but it was the audience favorite at Sundance and had them on their feet cheering. I loved it!!

        Which swampy environ do you call home?

        • I will definitely look for “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.” You’re right about the title, though. LOL 😉 As for your other question, I’d be happy to tell you in a direct email, but wouldn’t want to intrude and use your email address without your permission.

  3. Recovering from a month long hospitalization in March/April is taking longer than I thought it would. Mostly just sitting on my rear reading books. Yesterday I weeded part of my garden. I actually was happy that I was up for it.
    Good news about the Hairy German. I’m so happy for him and you. Hopefully, the medications will continue to be effective.

    • Oh gosh, one month???! Noooooo, that sounds awful. You poor, poor thing. I won’t pry about the specifics, but please know how sorry I am to hear that you were that unwell. The recovery may be going slower than you’d like, but I suspect it’s very good that you’re taking it easy. I do know you’re probably feeling a little restless though, so I hope you regain more strength and energy in the days/weeks to come. Hang in there, Ellen!

  4. So happy about the German!
    I’m not so sure about the “Adam” gene. Seems to me monogamy is often – not always – social conformity with a lot of secret “hanky-panky” going on. 😉

    • Hahahaha, I snorted up my coffee when I read that. So cynical, so funny, Maya. 😀

  5. Hello hello
    If you see images rather than words when reading, is that a form of synesthesia? I’ve read the developmental psychology studies about infants 3weeks old that turn towards an image with bumps on it after sucking on a bumpy pacifier and the same for smooth. Unimodal perception. That then differentiates. I also really enjoyed William James essays on radical empiricism and the primacy of experience.
    Will recommend the Algerian take on Camus to my guy.
    And Yeay Eurotrash!!!!!!! Ramazotti hilarious…I love voyage-voyage. I once made CD where it was every other song. Tarzan boy was on that mix too. And I knew it was love with my boyfriend when he sang along knowing all the words to Dalida tunes bc of his grandmother 🙂
    Welcome back to snob-land Zola, we’re all happy that you have enough energy to demonstrate disdain and pull on your leash.
    Glad things are. Better now Kafka, and thanks for sharing.

    • Synaesthesia seems to have a lot more forms than I had ever realised, judging by that article, so your image situation may fall under it. I don’t know, I’m afraid. I’ve always considered synaesthesia in the perfume context, where odors have colours, taste or other elements accompanying the olfactory side, so I haven’t thought much of the more literary aspect. William James was referenced in the Aeon magazine article, so you might find that part interesting.

      YAY for another fan of Voyage, Voyage and Tarzan Boy. How funny about your CD, because I used to do something similar (repeating songs that I loved) for mixed tapes. (Remember THAT dinosaur from the past?!) In my case, I definitely did it once for “Boom, Boom Boom, Let’s go back (to my room).” heh.

      Your BF sounds like a gem. A man who knows all the words to Dalida songs…. very special. Let me know if he gets the Camus novel and likes it.

  6. Fantastic Round-Up as always! I’m happy to hear the Teutonhund is feeling better, and his disdain for the motel had me laughing. He must have really been unhappy if his beloved bananas didn’t appease him. lol

    The weather here has been hot and humid with heavy rains and flash flooding. I have captured some dramatic, brooding skies on camera though. Today(Sunday) the weather was only in the 60s and breezy, yet it was humid so I had chills whilst sweating. I’ve also managed to have an ENT infection that won’t leave. My ear is so plugged up and throat sore but it’s getting better. Nothing worse than a summer cold and I don’t think I’ve ever had one either.

    Camus has some quotes I love although I haven’t read of his books. I try to read every night but I end up going off on so many tangents while I’m reading so it takes alot longer to finish a book. 🙂

    I haven’t seen any of Highlander although I would love to. The rape scene was the worst shown in tv history from what I’ve read. Games was beyond bleak! I didn’t know there was a new Poldark. My library had the old series.

    Lots of new perfume releases of late that I’ve seen on Fragrantica that have interested me and I am curious about Noir Obscur; the leather Thorn & Bloom one sounds like I may like it. The other night I was looking on Aus liebe Zum Duft searching for Cerchi Nell’ Acqua’s line. I wore my sample of Rosa Nigra today. It is a bit better on my skin; it’s still not something I’d ever buy though the ingredients are high quality. I really liked Opus 1144 and Malbrum’s Tiger du Bengale;
    now that is FBW for me…

    I have been trolling Youtube and other sites for interesting music
    I have heard Eros Ramazotti and remember Baltimora. Baltimora’s singer died in the 90s. I was listening Praga Khan/Jade4U last night remembering my days in the early 90s going to clubs. I definitely would have been on a table, speaker, cage (yes cage) @ 3 am. Fun times, those. 😀 😀

    • I’ll have to get a sample of Malbrum’s Tigre du Bengale, because this is he 2nd or 3rd time that you’ve mentioned it and you sound very smitten!

      In terms of Poldark, I tried to watch the original series, but it was so dated that it was actually painful to watch. TOO dated, in a bad way. As for Outlander’s male rape/torture scene… ugh. I’ve never seen anything like it — on television or in films. So painful to watch.

      Did Baltimora’s singer die in the ’90s? 🙁 I’ll have to go look that up later on tonight. At the same time, I’ll look up Praga Khan/Jade 4 U, as I don’t recall ever hearing anything from them. Some of my ’90s club music was Captain Hollywood Project and Dr. Alban. (In fact, I was just listening to both of them today, actually.)

      • I really enjoyed Ben gale/Malbrum. I’m down to three samples so I’ve really gotta get something. I’ve been doing a lot of browsing on Base notes and Fragrantica plus sites like the German site. I’ve got so many brands that really sound nice. I’ve checked out those Arabian brands you mentioned above and I they’re interesting also. Ugh…I can’t stop at
        at just one Kafka! I could give you a list of what I’m looking at. I really liked that A. Tepe brand; very woody, pineyesque smoky but linear. I wore my Rasasi today in the grocery store and a mom and her little boy walked by me and she said how good someone smelled ( I was the only one in aisle). I am always afraid if I suggest a fragrance I love to you that you’ll find it awful! Our likes are very similiar but I find myself liking or even loving so many samples that if I wrote a blog I would give a thumbs up for ALL! 🙂 My Chergui is almost empty so I will be looking for a new Oncle Serge on a discount site. I want Cuir Mauresque, but every discount site is out of stock. Do you know of any other sites that sell it discounted. I’m waiting for the new Penhaligon’s Halfeti though I’m sure like As Sawira
        it will disappoint.

        I didn’t watch the old Poldark- the library has them on VHS. Lol I love British programming so much that at the age of 11 I was watching Masterpiece Theatre and Mystery on weekends obsessively with my little b&w tv. I was the odd ball in school. When I moved from Phila. to the rural area, kids in my new school actually asked if I was from England. I should have said yes and kept up the pretence til graduating. And in the mid 80s I had a small clique of friends who listened to British New Wave/New Romantic/Goth…Besides Bronski Beat, Siousxie and the Banshees, The Creatures, Depeche Mode, Cocteau Twins, Lush, Roxy Music, Kate Bush, Alison Moyet. Pragha Khan is part of Lords of Acid. Jade4U is Nikkie Van Lierrop “Queen of World Beat” that came out of Belgium. My tastes turned towards the Belgium/Holland club/techno scene cause of the incredible djs. I am going to see about getting some.Sisters of Mercy cds from that site I mentioned. Oh, I love the Scottish band Texas. My tasted are so varied. I even love Yma Sumac. The singer from Baltimora died in 95 I think of HIV related complications. I believe he was from Ireland. I remember Captain Hollywood Project.
        Cool! I also love classical music emphasis on piano. Rachmaninov especially, even though he’s on the end. I like Shostakovich (not sure spelling). For violin it’s The Devil’s Trill. Oh, one more thing: another singer I love is Tarja Turunen, former Nightwish lead singer-now-solo. Soprano operatic rock symphony kinda. Plus Doro Pesh and Nina Hagen for meine frauleinen. Haha

        • P.S. I am familiar with Modern Talking. Some other bands I liked: the Damned, Shamen, NewOrder, Dead or Alive.

        • I’m rushed for time, Don, so I can’t respond to this as I’d like, but a quick reply to your Cuir Mauresque availability question: have you tried eBay? If there is nothing really discounted there, my only suggestion is to be patient in searching and be thorough in checking out whatever small shop links show up on Google.

          • I really do appreciate that you answer my question that was buried in my “insomnia” ramblings, which I need to kerb. And no, I hadn’t thought of EBay. Good God I didn’t think of that! :/ Merci beaucoup. 🙂

  7. So glad your Hairy Lord is better. This is , indeed, great news. And the fact you’re planning a holiday. Not so delighted to hear you’re watching all that horrible TV. I don’t think it does any good to your mood. Although I do have an unhealthy inclination towards the morbid and the depressive, my better half is always stopping me from watching something too grim. He knows the consequences. He’s annoying but he’s right.
    In my neck of woods things are quiet but fine. As I have some writing assignments for a perfumery’s website I’m testing new things on a weekly basis and writing about 8 short perfume descriptions every week. This is on top of my work and home duties plus the occasional blog post. So yeah too busy to do a lot. I bought some perfume too: Anubis, a partial MKK bell jar, SPerfume 100%Love. I’ve started reading H is from Hawk, the story of a lady that overcame her grief after loosing her father, through buying and training a hawk. Interesting and well written, and obviously the psychologycal fabric of the book is a lot richer and more complicated that my ultra brief description. I’m not watching any TV, and in terms of music I listen to tango pieces and my usual Depeche Mode.
    All the best darling, talk soon x x

    • How wonderful about the writing assignments for a perfumery! CONGRATULATIONS, my dear! I know you’ll do an exquisitely poetic job on them, as you always do.

      I have a vague recollection of you mentioning a few months ago that you had really fallen for SPerfume 100% (the name stood out to me), so yay that you got a full bottle. I shall have to see if STC over here carries a sample next time I put in an order. And Anubis…. HURRAH! I know you smell fabulous!

      I was touched by your gentle but loving suggestion that I stay away from such dark shows, and it made me smile. (In addition to wanting to give you a hug!) I know you’re right, but I’d be lying if I said that I would give up Game of Thrones, at least not unless it gets significantly worse. The rest, though, I will probably back away from. That Outlander thing was supposed to be a fun, romantic, historical, time-travelling show! Arrrggghhh.

      • Agree with fun, romantic, historical. This what I would watch too. I’ll send you a decant of Sperfume 100% Love . Not that you or me see eye to eye with Mr. Turin very often but 100% Love got 5 stars from him. I have a feeling you’ll hate it. It does smell odd, kind of yeasty and plasticky but it draws me in and there’s nothing I can do. It’s unlike anything else out there, and it’s also very wearable after the first yeasty 15 mins. It stays a little bit strange for most of its life though. But I can just mentally picture one of your scathing reviews for it and I’m laughing heartily.

        • LOL at your description of the scent and your mental imaginings of my response. 😀 It’s so incredibly thoughtful of you to offer a decant, my sweets. I couldn’t accept, though, but I do promise to look for it on the US sample site I use once I come back from my holiday. Plus, at that point, I’ll have a lot more free time for perfume testing than I do now. Having so little time for new things is part of the reason why I couldn’t accept a decant, but I have noted the perfume name and promise to look into it upon my return! xoxox

  8. I am really glad to read your Hairy Keizer/Kaiser is feeling better. Hope he continues to react to his Treatment positively.

    Looking forward to your review of Misia 🙂

  9. Great round up of articles. I too started to switch off from Game of Thrones, it’s too one-note – to much violence. I reckon Jon Sno-o-w will be saved by the witch woman though.

    Re’ the first article on ovulation being hidden. I wonder about that. The science of hormones is very complicated and though I’m not knowledgeable about this area I somehow doubt scientists have a full grasp on it as yet. Anyway, I hope this isn’t tmi, but I know for a fact that men behave differently around me mid cycle, they’re much nicer to me at this time! Also, for me, the three ovulatory days are when a man who’s interested makes the move. I used to keep a diary in my busier dating days and noticed this phenomenon quite by chance.

    So I wonder if much of our sense of smell has become subliminal. Take perfume for example, it’s only through practice and finding ways to describe or recognise notes that we can communicate what we’re smelling and identify perfumes. For the non perfume obsessives that can appear almost like a super power! As we all know though it’s not, it’s just a neural pathway that says ‘thank you’ for some attention, I think.

    • A lot of excellent points, Rose. I agree with you that much of our sense of smell has become subliminal or, at least, we’re motivated subconsciously by the things that we smell without recognising it. A very astute point of yours. As for the cycle/ovulation issue that you’ve noticed, how fascinating. No, really, I mean that. I find that truly fascinating in terms of just how subconscious and primal our reaction is to the possible hormones or pheromones that one might be giving off. If you ever find any studies or articles detailing similar findings, I hope you’ll let me know.

  10. Thank you so much for this wonderful and informative Grab bag post, I’ll read all the fragrance related scientific articles as soon as possible. Sounds very interesting!

    And yeah, the 80’s! I grew up in Bavaria which meant holidays in Italy and back at home listening to tearjerkers (is that the right expression???) like L’italiano or songs from Gianna Nannini (Bello e impossibile) or Al Bano & Romina Power (Felicita!!!). To me Italian is the most beautiful language.
    But here in Germany music from the 80’s is still very popular, there are a lot of TV shows featuring best of the 80’s songs with celebreties commenting on them. Some favorites are still Falco, Rio Reiser, Nena, Snap and – I could go on and on…(the dancing on the table thing was obligatory!). It’s hilarious that you even listened to Sandra and Modern Talking. You really made my day!

    Perfumewise I discovered Papillon Artisan Perfumes and completely fell in love with Anubis. It was a big surprise for me since – as you might know – leathery fragrances are usually a bit tricky on my skin. But this one blew me away, I am really addicted and started saving for a FB. Another mind blowing one was Maai from Bogue (and I am not a tuberose person, either). So this one went on the Christmas wishlist (and of course I reread your excellent review on Maai).

    As everyone else has already written, I am glad that your Schäferhund is feeling better!
    Have a nice week!

    • Al Bano & Romina Power! Nena! Falco! OMG, voices from the past, and each one instantly bearing a strong message. Melodies floating back from the past. 99 Luft Balloons. Der Komissar! And, my God, someone who also listened to Sandra! (“In the heat of the night,” and “Maria Magdalena” are now suddenly clashing with Der Komissar and the entire Modern Talking collection in my head. I Luuuuurrrrrrrrved Modern Talking!) You’ve made *MY* day, Anka, so thank you. (Actually, I was happily surprised that even 3 or 4 of you knew what I was talking about, because that was about 3 or 4 more than I had hoped, even though I know I have a lot of European readers.)

      As for your new perfume loves, I’m tickled pink. Maai and Anubis, my 1st and 2nd choices for the Best New Releases of 2014. 😀 😀 I couldn’t be more pleased that both of them were such a hit with you. Now we just have to get you to try SHL 777’s Black Gemstone. It is smoky like Anubis, but in a completely different way.

  11. Bonjour, Kafka! I am truly delighted that you are having some success at least with treating the Hairy German. It is time, perhaps to exhale and enjoy the moment? A holiday sounds exactly what YOUR doctor perhaps would order? I’m back from my usual haunts, with a visit to the Isle of Mull and Iona. Iona was sublime and so very peaceful. I wore the last of my sample of Reve d’Ossian from Oriza L. Legrand as my scent de jour while away and so I have just ordered a bottle from Paris. The bottle was 120 euros and the Oriza L. Legrand website did not charge for shipping, so that was a savings of between $30 – $35 from retailer sites in the U.S.A.

    I have binge watching Netflix series since coming back home as commercials have become more than a nuisance on regular cable TV. I enjoyed sense8, though it was brutal, but I counterbalanced it with Amazon Prime’s Catastrophe, which was charming despite its name. I also enjoyed the first episode of Mr. Robot on USA for it’s cyber-alienation – much like my previous life before retirement. (Not really!:-))

    I send my best hugs and wishes to you and a virtual banana to the Hairy German.

    Yours ever. F

    • My dearest C, it’s so lovely to see you. How is the Gaelic going? Are you fluent now? How long were you in Mull and Iona? I can just imagine how beautiful they must have been. Lucky devil. Any closer to perhaps a permanent transatlantic move?

      Congratulations on your bottle of Reve d’Ossian. It was smart to get it directly from Oriza because they do have free shipping on all perfume worldwide. I hope they send you the new Violettes du Czar, because I would be interested to know what you thought of that one.

      Thank you for the tip on “Catastrophe.” I’ll look for it on Amazon Prime. I tried to watch Sense8, but the pilot episode was hard to get through for me. I think the Wachowski brothers may have a different sensibility than I do, other than the Matrix films, because they seem to focus on hyper stylization over plot or character development. But if you enjoyed Sense8 so much, I’ll try to give the series another shot. As for Mr. Robot, I have that taped on my DVR, haven’t watched it yet, but am really looking forward to it! The actor was great in The Pacific, and the plot seems like the type of thriller that is right up my alley. 🙂

      • I’m afraid I’m not even close to fluent in Scots Gaelic, but I can carry on a basic conversation and have a private tutor now as well as two of the three Isle of Skye Gaelic college introductory classes under my belt. It’s a beautiful language and the music and song always strike the heart strings.

        I am planning longer stays in Scotland, but no plans for permanent residency – yet. I’ll be in Edinburgh for a month in the Autumn and then maybe stretch that to 3 months or longer per year as I get the hang of longer term leases, possibly using airbnb.

        The last time I ordered from Oriza they only did free shipping after a certain amount was spent, so I’m guessing from your comment they changed their policy some time ago? I’ll have to check my samples and see if I have Violettes du Czar!

        I think you’re absolutely right about sense8 being more setting and ambience than character development, but after the 2nd episode, something kept drawing me in. But then I also enjoyed Hinterland and Happy Valley – if enjoyed is the right word for either of those.

        I’ve watched Outlander through the first eight episodes.I have to say I found the 18th century Scottish setting intriguing, but I was somewhat disappointed in the Gaelic as it seems mostly of the nudge nudge wink wink variety – though that said, hearing Gaelic on the tele is hugely cool! My experience with Gaelic speakers is that they are unusually kind and very eloquent and not given to ONLY short bursts of loaded content and when they are insulting, it’s much more elaborate than a few gutteral sounds.:-)

        • Oh gosh, Hinterland and Happy Valley…. That last one in particular was rather grim towards the end from what I heard, though I never got that far. As for Oriza, yes, they changed their shipping policies. About 8 months ago, I think? Maybe longer? xoxo

  12. Thanks for all the linky goodness… and it’s great to hear that the Hairy Teuton is doing much better!

    We could use some of that hot sunny weather here in Michigan; it’s been damp, cool, and rainy for the last four weeks (unusual for us this time of year). My garden plants have gone all sullen and are refusing to grow; the lawn, OTOH, is almost impossible to keep up with!

    Funny you should mention Live is LIfe; I’ve been listening to some of the Oktoberfest compilation CDs (pls don’t laugh) that I bought when I lived in Germany in the late 90s, and one of them has a house-style cover of Live is Life (it’s a hoot). Not to mention other Euro-pop goodies like Ö La Paloma Boys, Mambo No. 5, Porque te vas, and the obligatory David Hasselhoff tune (Looking for Freedom). Also plenty of 80s Neue Deutsche Welle gems (Nena, Spliff, Peter Schilling). Fun stuff!

    Perfume-wise I’m trying to organize random boxes and drawers full of decants. There are a few new things I’d like to sample (Neela Vermeire’s Pichola is at the top of that list), and I’m still saving up for an FB of Bogue Maai.

    Am looking forward to your upcoming reviews, especially the new SHL 777 and the Parfumerie Generale oldies!

    • Oktoberfest compilation CDs can be great! I would never laugh at that. Plus, with my eclectic music taste (including so much 80s Euro pop), I’m hardly in a position to laugh at anyone for odd, unusual, or wacky music tastes. LOL That said, I admit that I grinned at seeing David Hasselhoff’s name. I was living in Europe when his Baywatch was HUGE and he was the biggest star around. I never quite understood that. heh.

      In terms of plants dying, I have a Black Thumb, but my mother is some sort of gardening magician, and she often revives plants with a mix of coffee grounds, egg shells and, sometimes, I think even banana peels (buried deep in the soil). Apparently, from what little I’ve understood, it helps replenish poor soil or add nutrients removed by excess rain. Something like that, I think. Maybe that will help your plants?

      Good luck with the perfume organization! And I hope you get to try Pichola soon. 🙂

      • Thanks for passing on your mother’s gardening wisdom! I started putting my coffee grounds out in the garden a couple of weeks ago, so I may end up with caffeinated zucchini (there’s a concept!) sometime later this summer. I’m glad to know that other gardeners do this too! Will have to recycle my egg shells and see if I can scare up some banana peels from friends and neighbors (I hate bananas myself).

        Oh, and I have a Janus-faced Black/Green thumb; I can grow plants outdoors (usually), but I can’t get indoor plants to survive no matter what I do. It’s bizarre (and aggravating!).

  13. So glad things are looking rosier for your pooch. Here’s one for a good laugh, when I first started reading your blog I thought the “Hairy German” was your husband!

  14. Great Grab Bag, and good news about the Hairy German!

    I, like you, feel that Midsomer has dropped in quality recently (I think changing the show’s longtime producer and the original lead actor at pretty much the same time was a bad move). If you feel like something a bit gentler than Game of Thrones, may I suggest you try New Zealand’s own Brokenwood Mysteries? I know it’s on Acorn, it features lots of our beautiful countryside and a very Kiwi sense of humour. Would love to know what you think!

    • I’ve actually seen an episode of Brokenwood Mysteries. I’m afraid it didn’t grab me quite so much as Midsomer originally did, way back when, but I have to give it a 2nd try. As a side note, what a beautiful, beautiful country you have. It’s been high on my list of dream places to visit for quite a number of years now.

      • The first episode had a lot of set-up but it finds its feet after that, maybe you will like it more :-). We do have a lovely country and tend to be rather proud of it!

  15. I’m so glad for your Hairy German and you!! Such good news. Fingers crossed that he’ll keep improving.

    So, I see I’m not the only one having trouble with the weather. We have a huge heat wave in France and it’s making me miserable. I’m really not one for excruciatingly hot weather. Really, really not.
    The heat doesn’t exactly make me want to try new fragrances so I don’t have much to say on that front. My Serge Noir-Lutens friend did receive the sample of Ambre Loup I sent him, and loved him, as I expected. I, for one, might commit to a bottle next fall (the idea of wearing it during the summer, in this heat, makes my head spin).
    I do, however, have a lovely story to tell that I think you’ll like. My father has had a new special someone in this life for some months now, which my sister and I were delighted to learn. Except for a few months, he remained very secretive about her. One of the first things I learned about her, if not the first, is that she was a Lutens fan. 🙂 So we’d trade recommendations about perfumes through my dad before I even knew her name. I’ve now met her, and I can confirm that she is, as I suspected, a pretty fantastic lady. (It so turns out that she’s also a long-lost childhood friend of my dad) Funnily enough, we bonded over quite a lot of things, aside from Lutens. Next time she’s in Paris, we’re going to Jovoy, which she has never visited. We have rather different tastes in perfumes -she favours greener and woodier scents-, but I’m trying to get her to give De Profundis a shot. I think she might like it.
    Anyway, I figured you might enjoy this example of the endless surprises fragrances and Uncle Serge have for us.

    • I love that story, not only because she sounds wonderful, but primarily because I’m so happy for your father at finding someone special. Hurrah for new loves and new romances!

      Re. perfume, I had to laugh at your reaction to the thought of wearing Ambre Loup in the summer heat. That would be rather… intense… heh. I actually live in a place where all our summers are substantially and significantly more humid (AND hotter) than what Europe is currently going through, but we’re equipped for it here. Europe is not. No arctic central air-conditioning everywhere, so I really feel for you. I hope it cools down soon.

  16. Dear Kafka, So so glad that Zola is better, the best news!

    Your story of how he ran out of the hotel is hilarious, and reminded me of a short holiday I had planned with my best friend, and her GSD, years ago. We rented a bungalow somewhere, and her boy was leading in front. The caretaker opened the door, he ran in, and then,….out in the fastest way possible. Not here!!! And he was right, the place was awful. We left for a 4 star hotel, which he was slightly more pleased with.
    I hope very much you will manage to have a holiday, will you do the perfume course there you posted about some time ago (it is in the back of my mind if he ever offers it again, my husband who is beginning to like perfume, and has a good nose, was interested as well…we’ll see)?

    We have been watching Game of Thrones, but as many viewers, were disappointed and I am not sure if I will watch it again. I miss the dialogues, it seems to make up for some of the character developments in the beginning (Jaimie), by bad effects and too much violence. I hope next season will turn around, if not I am no longer interested.
    During a holiday we just had we watched Black Sails, and I enjoyed it tremendously. I think you mentioned it in earlier grab bags.

    As for interesting pheromone/scent etc. articles, I can recommend a book: Lyall Watson’s Jacobson’s Organ and the remarkable nature of smell, it is a bit of a ‘grab bag’ of different bits and pieces, but I enjoyed reading it a lot.
    Thank you for this post, always very enjoyable.
    Big hugs for you know who.

    • Haha, your friend’s GSD sounds equally disdainful of anything below his sense of style and luxury. 😀 I actually thought of you, Hamamelis, as Zola was galloping down the driveway and fleeing for dear life, with me running behind him, yelling “Where do you think you’re GOING????!” I kept wondering if your Angela Merkel would ever drop her perfect training out of sheer disgust. (I doubt it.) I also kept wondering just what that particular room must have really smelled like to a GSD’s acute nose, versus a human one. Who knows what Zola was really detecting in there that I couldn’t.

      In terms of the perfume course, the June one ended and there were raving, unbelievably happy posts about it on Facebook by people who went to it. There is another one at the end of July that still has some spots open if you’re interested. July 22nd to July 27th. I know that is a bit of short notice. On the other hand, you may meet a certain someone there if planning/scheduling goes well….. 😉 If you want more details on the course, email me.

      • My Angela isn’t perfectly trained dearest Kafka…we like to have a good cooperation with her, whilst it is clear we are the most responsible, most of the time. If she would run out of a hotel room I would take it seriously and consider it may not be a good place to be, like you wrote we don’t know what they detect.

        I would love the course, and meeting a certain someone there would add more than 100% to the fun, We just came back from 10 days in Spain, and our hands our tied to our business which is (finally) picking up some momentum.
        I hope he will do the course next year again.
        If you manage to attend I hope you will blog about it, and wish you many inspirational hours in Italy.

  17. Happy to hear the Hairy German is better. Someday, he should try Hawaii grown apple bananas.

    Interesting articles on scent. I accepted “Sense of smell is strictly personal, study suggests.” but … what about who’s wearing the scent? I think we should put the fragrance wearer in a Johari window, and have a beer and pizza, or crudites and canapes.

    Weather’s warmer now in the tropics.

    I agree about wearing a scent despite the climate. Question: In the warmer weather, Dior Leather Oud top notes are salty. Unlike December. Is that an acceptable description? Any other suggestions?

    My best to the Hairy German, and his friend.

    • I had to look up a “Johari Window,” because I was unfamiliar with the term. The results were very interesting, so, thank you, Penguin, for teaching me something new. 🙂 It makes your comment about putting the fragrance wearer in such a window even funnier, but it’s also a very good observation. How we think we smell when wearing a particular scent is often NOT how someone else is smelling us. A reader just made a similar sort of comment regarding a vanilla fragrance she was wearing in another thread/post. So, the Johari reference is very apt and astute indeed.

      In terms of Leather Oud, I haven’t tried it in hot or humid weather to know about any salty top notes, but I wouldn’t be surprised. In refreshing my memory of the complete note list, I saw amber and labdanum listed in addition to the vetiver. I don’t recall Leather Oud containing ACTUAL, real ambergris which is the most likely, typical suspect for salty notes out of that list of notes, but a synthetic version may well replicated the marshy, salty facets as well. Vetiver can also have a salty, marshy side– that’s most frequently visible in all the Vero Profumo scents that include vetiver, particularly Onda. So, bottom line, if you’re experiencing salty notes, there are a few possible explanations as to why.

      In terms of other suggestions, are you asking for things similar to Leather Oud or for things with salty notes? I don’t know how you feel about animalics or the hardcore Middle Eastern style of oud (totally diff. stuff than Western quasi-synthetic, fake “oud”), but Rania J.’s T. Habanero recently made me think of Leather Oud, only with a lot of tobacco and smokiness added as well. But T. Habanero isn’t a scent that I would recommend to everyone, especially those who may not like barnyard notes. Leather Oud has civet, which is animalic in a very different way, but this can be quite, quite BARNYARD and cheesy in the beginning. You may want to do a search for that review and see if the scent sounds like something you might enjoy.

  18. Thanks for giving warm weather Leather Oud top notes – “salty”, a try at analysis. I will look back at your reviews, but for now, I’m well-stocked, so I don’t expect any purchases in the near future. Maybe some Maybe Patchouliful, because I have aloha shirts.

    My best to the Hairy German.

    • HA, yes, the Happy Hawaiian King is definitely one for you to sample. 😉 🙂

  19. Glad to hear that The Hairy German is doing better. Smooches to him.

    TV wise, I’ve been obsessively watching “Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries”. I forget now if I’ve mentioned this show to you before. It’s from Australia and is set in late 1920s Melbourne and is about this wealthy, glamorous woman who works as a private detective solving murders in conjunction with the local police. It’s very much the antithesis of “Game of Thrones” or “True Detective” or “Hannibal” or any of the shows you mentioned. If you don’t like your television light and frothy, it’s probably not your cup of tea but it would the perfect antidote to all the shows you do watch. Great costumes, set design, music, and wonderfully feminist characters. It’s very woman-centered without turning into romantic comedy territory.

    Bookwise, I’m now reading “The Talisman Ring” by Georgette Heyer. I’m slowly working my way through her romances. So far, I’m loving Miss Sarah Thane and Sir Tristram Shield.

    Music wise, last year I ripped all my CDs into MP3s and loaded them onto my laptop. So I’ve got it on random shuffle. So lots of soundtracks, Bollywood, Top 40, etc. Nothing in particular.

    • I love, love, LOVE Georgette Heyer!!!! I have the whole lot, and must have reread each of them before I was 12. The Talisman Ring is actually one of my favorites, far more than some of her more popular ones like The Grand Sophy (though I do like the Grand Sophy a lot). Gosh, The Talisman Ring…. what a great, great book. You know who else you should look into, if you haven’t already? Patricia Veryan. Two different chronicle series, largely set in the Georgian period post the horrors of Culloden, the famous battle where the Scot supporters of Bonny Prince Charlie were defeated by the British. Veryan’s historical period is different, her writing is more serialised than Heyer, but her characters may be even more fun by virtue of experiencing dangers and not always being stuck in an Almack’s ballroom. PLEASE give Patricia Veryan a try once you finish the Heyers!

      As for the Miss Fisher Murder series, you’ve mentioned in the past and I now always think of you when I see the name. The series is on Acorn, and I keep meaning to watch it, but I’m afraid I haven’t gotten around to it yet with everything on my plate. But I promise you, I will definitely give it a try as soon as I can! Perhaps upon my return from Italy.

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