Thursday, April 30, 2015


I've been wearing Oud, Maison Francis Kurkdjian's bewitching 2012 fragrance, lately.

Given a name like "Oud," you might think that this fragrance is the smell of oud, the unusual resinous Asian wood whose unduplicable smell has been valued since the time of the Sanskrit Vedas. Well, there *is* oud in Oud, but oud isn't the smell of Oud. The rush of saffron-flower — a burst of late-afternoon sunshine — followed by cedary, leathery, incensy smells, with a quiet but distinct trace of patchouli (a smell I usually find repugnant, as does Catherine, but which we both find just perfectly framed here), and swirls of half-hidden pepper and pine, is all held together by just the right amount of resinous Laotian oud.

It's like making a stew with fruits and vegetables and meats, and then making it all come together with just a touch of paprika, and then calling the soup "Paprika." You can see why when you smell it, but it's not really even the main part of the fragrance. Maybe it's more like calling this picture "Red":

Perfect, right? Some artist would name it that, and you'd immediately know why. The exact right red in that hat suffuses the entire picture with meaning. It's a perfect metaphor for the way oud operates in Oud.

This is one of those newer fragrances that revive an older trend from the 70s and early 80s. You're always in dicey territory when you do that, because nostalgia can go both ways. I lent a sampler of Cuir to a friend whose wife couldn't abide it because it reminded her of the going-out-of-date fragrances of her childhood, and couldn't get past it. Similarly, Catherine, though she liked the smell on paper, always ended up thinking "old man from the 1970s," which isn't a thought every husband wants to call up in his wife. (Bonus: a gay friend teases me to no end about wearing a cologne called "Queer.")

But Oud is simply beyond that. It's definitely in the musky world of men's colognes from that period, but updated to feel utterly modern. To my nose, it doesn't smell nostalgic at all: less like Ford's new Mustangs than like the new Thunderbirds, every line and contour justified and all else sent away.

It settles down into a very subtle glow that just smells like incredibly great-smelling skin, and stays that way for hours. Very very complex, as it's made from several notes that are themselves complex, it's divinely hard to pin down in the mind: celestial, dark, smooth as hand-rubbed mahogany, masculine, satiny, powdery, sensual.

This is the first fragrance I've been really excited about in a long time. Catherine is too. She can't stop sniffing and nuzzling. Near-perfect.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

the movie slide game

I just realized that a favorite pastime is gone! They used to show slides before the movies started in theaters: the game was to try to read the entire text — every word — on a given slide before it went to the next slide. A fun contest, now obsolete!!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

a mad men ending

Catherine and I have only just watched the first episode of this final season. (The second airs tonight but we won't watch it for a few days.)

I have, though, come up with a great final scene for the series. Don gets out of the car, wearing one of his outfits that signals he's in California, and goes into some place (restaurant, hotel, something). The person brightens with recognition and greets him, "Right this way, Mr. Whitman."

Friday, April 10, 2015

'get hard' and sex

Tonight we saw "Get Hard," the movie about a white-collar criminal's attempt to harden up for a real (non-Club-Fed) prison. It's a negligible movie, but Catherine was so in the mood for something fun that she was thoroughly entertained, and *that* was quite entertaining to me.

It in no way passes the Bechdel Test — it's so un-Bechdel that the only actual female character is a cardboard first-prize fiancee, a near-total waste of Alison Brie's razor-sharp talent. Interestingly, there were two movies previewed that passed the Bechdel Test in the *preview*. And, not surprisingly, they look like actual good movies.

The main message of "Get Hard" is that there's nothing worse in the entire world than prison because prison means gay sex. What could be worse than gay sex prison? They may have gyms and yards and cells and cafeterias but the main thing is lots of gay sex, which can only be avoided by being protected.

As we were going out to the car, I chirped the remote to remind us of exactly where the car was, and Catherine, half-jokingly, said, "Male privilege." I can chirp my car remote because I don't mind everyone around knowing where my car is, because I'm a man. Interesting!

It hit me that men are so afraid of prison because it's the only place where a man is as likely to get raped as a woman.