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· Culture Notes: Notes on desert island films
· Culture Notes: John Lennon part 2
· Beauty Notes: Serenity
· Montale Aoud Blossom and Boise Vanille (preliminary sniff)
· Culture Notes: What I'm listening to
· Perfume
· Beauty Notes: Diptyque

· January 20, 2008 2:17 PM by Blogger Dain
· January 20, 2008 3:07 PM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· October 13, 2007 6:59 AM by Blogger Dain
· October 13, 2007 7:09 AM by Blogger Dain
· October 13, 2007 10:21 AM by Blogger Chez Moi
· October 13, 2007 10:29 AM by Blogger Dain
· October 13, 2007 1:52 PM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· October 13, 2007 1:55 PM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· October 13, 2007 2:11 PM by Blogger Dain
· July 26, 2007 8:09 PM by Blogger Forever Redeemed
· July 26, 2007 11:13 PM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi

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Culture Notes: Notes on desert island films
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Saturday, January 26, 2008 2:39 PM (Eastern)

Heroic Trio (1993)...I saw on one of the Turner stations, TBS or TNT, late one evening. They aired an amazing total of three Michelle Yeoh movies that night, one after the next. I believe it was Heroic Trio, Heroic Trio 2, and Wing Chun.

I was entranced by the first the time Wing Chun rolled around, it was extremely late and I was falling asleep. The Heroic Trio movies are a bit like Jackie Chan's Hong Kong movies, largely action with some comedy. If you like Jackie Chan, you must get hold of Heroic Trio. This is just a trailer, and captures but a smidgen of what the movie's all about.

Heroic Trio Trailer (1993)

Akira Kurosawa's Dreams (1990) is perhaps an obvious choice: it's long and sumptuously made. Dreams consists of eight individual dreams, which capture the edges of childhood, environmental concerns, post-War Japan, Van Gogh's art...there's a lot going on here.

The Peach Orchard Pt.1

A Taxing Woman (1987)...unfortunately, the only clip on Youtube is a mishmash of promotional films for various Japanese movies. I did find a trailer here: A Taxing Woman (1987).

What made A Taxing Woman was perhaps the first movie I saw portraying a professional woman in a wholly non-negative way. The trailer implies the film centers around the relationship of the tax inspector and the tax cheat, but I didn't see it that way. I had to laugh though..."He has a yen for her, but he won't tell her where it's hidden."

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Culture Notes: John Lennon part 2
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Saturday, January 19, 2008 10:18 PM (Eastern)

(see Culture Notes: John Lennon part 1)

Here I was looking for the film Imagine--I'm sure that was the name--one of those art films John and Yoko had made around the time of the album. I saw it in the theatre, where it was pretty much dissed, similarly to, say, the early work of David Lynch. What would make the original Imagine movie stand out now would be the lush youth of John and Yoko, against a fabulously verdant English backdrop, and various noodlings such as trying to morph two faces into one (predating the computer programs which do so now). And Yoko showing off her perfect figure.

Instead I found this; the entire movie is up if you care to watch it.

Imagine - The Movie John Lennon Part 1

Where was I yesterday? I've realized it's not that easy writing a piece on John Lennon. Part of me still doesn't want to believe what happened to him. Of course I remember that, I was fifteen... It is still sad.

But, it's pointless to bury someone's work. I tried finding more from Walls and Bridges, but there are only a few songs up.

Rock 'n' Roll (1975)...hmmm, there's a Wiki. (Isn't it great?)

While still encumbered with the US government's attempts to have him deported, Lennon found himself threatened with a lawsuit, by Roulette Records chief Morris Levy. Lennon had admitted in an interview that his song "Come Together" both borrowed stylistically from Chuck Berry's "You Can't Catch Me", published by Levy, and re-used one line ("Here come old flat-top") from the song. Levy sued Lennon for infringement, but agreed to drop the suit if Lennon recorded at least three songs that Levy published, on his next album (after Mind Games). Browsing Levy's music publishing catalog, Lennon found so many of his old favourites that he decided to do a full album of cover songs, by Levy's artists and others.

Rock 'n' Roll was interesting in that, as much as the Beatles have been lauded as the greatest thing since sliced bread, their chief influences were 1950's American rock 'n' roll artists such as Chuck Berry and Little Richard. When I first heard the album, I found it a tad Anglicized...keep in mind I'm old enough to have heard most of the originals first (1950's and 1960's music got frequent radio play in 1970's Virginia). Hearing it now though, it sounds...fresh.

Rock 'n' Roll John Lennon

Double Fantasy came out in 1980. Here I wanted to embed Yoko's song, "Every Man Has a Woman Who Loves Him," because it was a lovely pop tune. Unfortunately there isn't much Yoko on Youtube. I'm not blaming would be hard to go back and make videos for these songs. I'm hearing it playing in my mind right now.

Every man has a woman who loves him
In rain or shine, life or death...

Why do I run, when I know you're the one
Why do I laugh, when I feel like crying?

There were several hit songs on this record, starting with "Starting Over" (John doing Elvis :D), then going to "Watching the Wheels," "Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)," and "Woman" (which was still considered an unusual feminist statement).

I remember this period as magical. I went out and bought the record and played it many, many times.

beautiful boy (darling boy)

After John died, there was this sort of hollow feeling. It just seemed incomprehensible, yet there it was.

1984 saw the release of Milk and Honey. This was my last complete year to live in Virginia, and for whatever reason, the popular songs of 1984 and 1985 reside vividly in my memory--Don Henley's "Boys of Summer" and "All She Wants to Do Is Dance," Madonna's "Material Girl," Wham's "Freedom," the stuff on U2's The Unforgettable Fire. I don't actually associate Milk and Honey with 1984 though; it just seems to float, timeless, brave, and stellar.

Nobody Told Me

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January 20, 2008 2:17 PM, Blogger Dain said...

You know what's odd? I feel a pang too, even though he has always been gone to me. But you can definitely feel the void, it is strange. He was the rarest of celebrities, a figure of intelligence, yes, but intelligent people can be socially selfish, even when they have liberal values. But John, he always had empathy.

January 20, 2008 3:07 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

It was hard going back on it. It's funny, you don't think about it day to day, but some of these songs, I haven't heard in years.

I was going to do a follow-up of sorts, with Yoko, Julian Lennon, and Sean Lennon. They all have a lot of stuff up on MySpace. Maybe I'll do that later on.

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Beauty Notes: Serenity
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Wednesday, December 05, 2007 1:36 AM (Eastern)

It's well to find ways to keep your morale and energy up, no matter what's going on. Not that it's easy to do. In fact it's a skill, that should probably be taught in school along with mathematics (the two are not as dissimilar as they may appear).

Serenity & Music

What better way to get everything in alignment than to put on some music? (Do people still say that, or did this expression recede with the vinyl recording?)

alicia bridges - i love the night life COQUIGUATE

This was one of my favorite songs of the disco era. It's subtler than Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive," and as sexy, in its own way, as Grace Jones' "Pull Up to the Bumper."

And speaking of Grace Jones...she was a prominent figure in the tail-end-of-disco, birth-of-New-Wave period, and I miss her. I didn't know until today that LL Cool J's "Doin' It" was sampled from a Grace Jones song:

Grace Jones - My Jamaican Guy (Live)

Serenity & Perfume

Finally got around to trying my sample of Serge Lutens' Fleurs d'Oranger today.

serge lutens fleurs d'oranger

In its own right, it is a highly soothing composition, with waves and billows of honeyed orange blossom, whiffs of the orange itself, smooth white starts out with a small burst of the same bright sweetness of Fracas, in fact...all reminiscent of crisp white cotton shirts, sunny gardens, and general tranquility.

I can never in a million years see buying this, mind you; it's not "me." "You," in your perfume-buying decisions, should be the perfumes that bring you peace. My Montale Aoud Blossom/Boisé Vanillé blend never fails to soothe, nor does Annick Goutal's Passion. I'm mulling over the idea of trying Jean Patou's Sublime again (I haven't smelled it in a decade, easily, and don't want to make the same mistake I made buying Samsara after not having smelled it in about as long.)

Serenity & Jewelry

turquoise, labradorite and keishi pearl necklace

I had the idea of trying to capture the sea around Jamaica, without using obvious maritime symbols such as mermaids or shells. This is American turquoise and labradorite, with a natural pink keishi pearl. In the end I couldn't resist the golden anchor (in real life, it looks more like a fleur-de-lys than an obvious anchor).

Here a great deal of the calming aspect is making the piece itself. It's not unlike knitting, which I've recently thought about taking up (I was a complete screw-up at knitting in my youth), in being able to take the same elements and redo them, with very little waste (okay knitting trumps jewelry making, but if you stick with it long enough, you don't make that many mistakes anymore).

Serenity & Comedy

Springtime for Hitler

Sometimes you really need to laugh. When I saw The Producers originally, it was sometime in the early to mid 1970's, when the horrors of World War II were still relatively fresh. I had to blink to believe what I was seeing, it was that hysterically funny. Likely some of its jibes are less pointed now, but the opening number for Springtime for Hitler is a classic.

image courtesy

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Montale Aoud Blossom and Boise Vanille (preliminary sniff)
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Saturday, October 13, 2007 1:54 AM (Eastern)

I couldn't resist trying these both (even as I had a concoction of Powder Flowers and White Aoud on, with a bit of Blue Amber to boot). It sounds like a right mess, but that is how I used to sample perfumes, after all--go to Nordies or Macy's or Needless Markup, try three or four scents on different areas of each hand, sniff hands obsessively...

I'm rather glad I did. I've decided against Powder Flowers, even though it smells yummy and Chanel-No.-5-y, only without an allergic reaction on my part (one of the perfume tragedies of my life is I can't wear No. 5). Powder Flowers doesn't have enough sillage for me, even though I know it would carry much better sprayed on rather than dabbed on from a vial. I need to narrow, at least for now, so whatever Montale's I choose have to be the end-all and be-all of all perfumery. grumbles...

Boise Vanille is, at first, just as literal as Chypre - Fruite (part 1, part 2). Wood + vanilla, without any refinement, as if you took a piece of wood (okay, a nice piece of wood) and soaked it in a bit of vanilla extract. Voilà! Boise Vanille.


Of course it doesn't stay that way; it softens up nicely, although--so far anyway, I've had it on a few hours--it does remain essentially just that, woods (this part becomes more complex) and vanilla. This smells almost unisex. More woods than vanilla, and not particularly sweet. What's drawing me here, admittedly, is the sillage. It is good...the strong woods meet the nose, and the vanilla is subtle and dry.

Aoud almost the polar opposite, all soft flowers, and with only the tiniest bit of oud. I'm getting tuberose here...and violets...these flowers are well blended though, you get an intense floral sensation without any one flower standing out.

I can't really compare Aoud Blossom to anything else I've smelled, exactly. The blended quality of flowers is similar to that of Creed's Fleurissimo, but Aoud Blossom is by far softer, sweeter, less assertive, and with a combination of flowers more attractive to me (more white tropical flowers, softer violets, not much rose).

I could also compare to Diptyque's Do Son but I don't want to. Do Son is far less of a traditional blended floral scent and more of an attempt to capture a real live garden.

The crazy thing is how good Boise Vanille and Aoud Blossom smell together. I put one on one side of my wrist and one on the other, but I keep trying to smell them both at the same time. In fact that's what I'm going to do tomorrow--layer one over the other.

Speaking of contrasting elements that somehow click, I fell a bit in love with the Marilyn Monroe-Marlon Brando montage (the original version is not embeddable), with photos by Milton Greene, over Monroe singing with Frankie Vaughan. Somehow this combination totally works, better than any other ever could (say, with Yves Montand singing, or Frankie Vaughan in the photos).

I liked it so much, I looked up more scenes from the movie (which I've never seen in its entirety). What I had seen of it before had seemed stilted, not very tempting to add to one's Netflix queue. Yet the musical number is quite wondrous, likely due to the combination (Monroe with her pauses in all the right places, Vaughan sounding very New York for an English guy, Montand dancing):

Marilyn Monroe - Let's make love - Let's make love

You'll just have to excuse the Spanish dubbing in the beginning. :D

images courtesy Wikimedia Commons

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October 13, 2007 6:59 AM, Blogger Dain said...

We shall not see their likes again. I've heard that Lindsay Lohan is the "Marilyn Munroe of our day", and in a sense I can see a slight similitude, in that Lohan is also a tragicomic beauty, a girl who wants desperately to be loved, who seems inevitably destined for a bad end, but it's like comparing water to wine.

On a superficial note, I've been thinking of silver glitter polish, and those shoes of hers have confirmed it.

October 13, 2007 7:09 AM, Blogger Dain said...

What's with the timing?

October 13, 2007 10:21 AM, Blogger Chez Moi said...

Boise Vanille layered with just the slightest hint of rose sounds like something I've been dreaming of. Again, where'd ya get yer samples?:)

October 13, 2007 10:29 AM, Blogger Dain said...

Carol (forgive me if I'm wrong)? How've ya been?!

October 13, 2007 1:52 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

Dain: Marilyn Monroe was a fans' actress, I think, more than a commercial success. For example, Elizabeth Taylor got paid one million dollars for Cleopatra...I read Monroe was making a fraction of that, even though her films were as well-attended.

I'll go so far as to say she's still a fans' actress, that's why her image has survived. If you look at it, she was very strong, she came from nothing and nowhere, she hung in there longer than the next person would have. They say a weaker person would not have been able to live as long as she did, with that level of pills and booze. I don't think she intended to die, she just miscalculated how much of this and that. Maybe she was over-confident.

The Net has probably only created more fans, because Monroe posed for thousands of still pictures. People get hold of them and digitize them... Again it could be said, she was simply harder-working than other actresses or models of the time who were more commercially successful. She was an interesting broad, people are still trying to figure her out.

Carol: Hey! :) These samples came from They're more expensive than, but they carry some scents aedes doesn't. I got Boise Vanille, Aoud Blossom, Intense Tiare, and Blue Amber...and these are the last perfume samples I'm planning to buy.

Montale is expensive...they had a big blowout sale at the Swiss Montale a while back (apparently they were closing the Swiss branch), and it would have been worth the hassle of ordering from an overseas site, but I'd only just gotten into Montale and didn't want to buy unsniffed. As it is, I'm really trying to narrow down which Montale's to buy.

Imo, Blue Amber is genuinely better than Tabu. But it is also quite similar. It's drier, more vanilla, a bit softer, but basically it is strong amber, and vanilla.

Boise Vanille is already on my short list. I'm going to try it out today with the Aoud Blossom layered over it.

BV is drier and less sweet than other woods-and-vanilla scents I've tried, it's next to unisex and I think a man could actually wear it. But it's not sharp enough so I'd dismiss it as man's scent. I don't do men's scents well.

I'm warming to the idea of getting this and a floral scent to combine it with. Expensive, yeah, but ultimately it might be better, in the sense of being able to "tune" the scent to exactly what you want, and being able to wear each on its own (and the cost is the same as buying two higher-end perfumes, which is what I was thinking of doing anyway).

October 13, 2007 1:55 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

Ugh I screwed up the time on this. I have to add three hours, half the time I get it wrong.

October 13, 2007 2:11 PM, Blogger Dain said...

Lol. It's funny to have comments that come before the post.

Marilyn Munroe is fascinating without even trying. I'm partial to the poise of Grace Kelly and Elizabeth Taylor, because they are much stronger, self-possessed, graceful women, compared Munroe's sort of helplessness to make your heart break. I find her, oddly enough, a rather bad actress, but I don't begrudge her for it. I think if I could really name anyone contemporary who has that level of charisma, it would probably be Justin Timberlake. He's not the most attractive or the most talented, but he has some genius for selling himself.

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Culture Notes: What I'm listening to
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Sunday, September 09, 2007 9:30 PM (Eastern)

I loved this the first time I saw it. Sure it's a bit dated, but I found it overwhelmingly positive. Always kinda dug Nancy Kwan, don't know why people used to rag on her. To the best of my knowledge, she never did the subservient thing. She was always pretty boss in her movies.

I Enjoy Being a Girl Nancy Kwan Flower Drum Song 61

This, I have no real explanation for. It's Sean Lennon and a French guy known as -M-; French version of "Parachute."

Sean Lennon et M - L'eclipse (duo) clip

Some random comedy...was looking for an episode of The Goon Show to post; unfortunately there aren't many of them up. There's a series of the last Goon Show made, but I wanted one from the original run.

From there I started checking out Spike Milligan's material. There was a reference to Dave Allen in one of the films (Spike Milligan - First Irish Rocket To The Moon).

From there, this sketch. Dave Allen was better known for monologues, told from a distinctly Irish point of view, so maybe I'll put some of those up later on (or you can check 'em out yourself, there's lots of them on Youtube).

Dave Allen - James Bond

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Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Wednesday, August 29, 2007 12:25 PM (Eastern)

I searched "perfume" on youtube. Not sure why, perhaps because there are now so many good videos pertaining to cosmetics, I thought there might be a few for scent.

Ugh! A whole spate of clips for the movie Perfume: The Story of a Murderer. I haven't seen the movie, but what an unpleasant association.

How we have changed. I also found several for 1992's Scent of a Woman, featuring Al Pacino, Chris O'Donnell and Gabrielle Anwar. I saw this in the cinema; it's a quiet film, unassuming, yet the older blind guy, who can detect and accurately name women's perfumes, among other things...rather haunts me now.

Check out this scene, where Pacino shows O'Donnell how it's done:

We have become a culture of the obvious...or have we? Do the guys of today still pursue, the way guys used to? Hm I should watch this movie again.

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Beauty Notes: Diptyque
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Thursday, July 26, 2007 2:06 PM (Eastern)

diptyque shop
google street view of the Diptyque shop on Maiden Lane

I'm slowly wending my way through my Diptyque samples. It's a different experience from, say, going to Nordstrom and spraying a few perfumes on your hands (trying to fit about three scents per hand). It's a much more leisurely process.

I compared Olène to Do Son the other day. They're quite similar to my nose; both intense, complex, brilliant florals.

For that matter, I compared them both to my remaining sample of Givenchy Ange ou Démon, since I finally got around to writing a review for it. Ange ou Démon, in comparison with these two exquisitely delicate florals, is a workhorse of a perfume: dab it on, it'll last until you shower it off, and cling to your clothing an extra day beyond that. If it's strength you're seeking however, may I recommend Givenchy Organza. It's all that and still yummy, without hitting you over the head.

It would be redundant imo to own both Do Son and Olène, unless you're one of those floral fanatics. For me, Do Son narrowly edged out Olène. There's just this extra shot of yum there, that makes this a bit more insanely addictive than Olène.

You are giving up some of the strength and lasting qualities of the older-style perfumes...which is why I layer btw. I layer a stronger, longer-lasting scent, with a more ephemeral one. It's not that I'm not happy with either, and I don't layer them one upon the other, rather I place the longer lasting scent lower down (back of knees sort of thing) and the lighter one higher up.

Here is what Do Son brought to Yup--it's that good.

"Falling in Love Again," Marlene Dietrich, from 1929's The Blue Angel

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July 26, 2007 8:09 PM, Blogger Forever Redeemed said...

Great use of Google Street View!

July 26, 2007 11:13 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

Thanks! I was surprised there were so many views of Maiden Lane. I've got pics of it from either end (it's a very short street).

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