Call Me, Cumin (Perfume Thoughts: L’Autre, Diptyque)

51pn+WiQUPL._SY355_There was a time when I really hated cumin as a perfume note.  The sweaty, dirty aspect of the note really turned me off, because it always reminded me of body odor. Even as a spice, I avoided it. Whenever I see it listed on an entree, I always looked at it like a deal breaker for me not to order. Perfume wise, though, it always fascinated me, and I proudly have a lot of these sweaty, stinky scents in my wardrobe.

One of which is Diptyque’s L’Autre. I got this at the Diptyque Sample Sale in New York, and never really liked it. I never got rid of the bottle and very rarely (never) used it. So when I randonly opened it from my boxes from storage, I just went in, close my eyes, and sprayed. Yes, that cumin note is there, and I still think it smells like body odor, but I really warmed up to this. Paired with a bright citrus accord, I appreciated its ying and yang, framed by the freshness of the citrus ( I think its cardamom, based on the notes from Diptyque) It is very peppery, and the base has that dirty patchouli note, though this is a tidy patchouli, and on my skin not as soily. I am enjoying it, even with the hot-and-cold Los Angeles late summer weather (70s during the day, low 60s by night) I like the bloom of the perfume, with its earthiness, and dankness. And maybe as an added bonus – a friend of mine hates it with a passion. (Got to keep them on their toes)

Take Me To The World (Stage Thoughts: The World Goes Round, Reprise 2.0 at The Freud Playhouse, UCLA)

CORRECT+PHONE+-+NO+DISCOUNT+SOCIAL+MEDIA+CARDOne of the things I miss most about living in New York is theater. To say there is less theater in LA is an understatement. You have to dig deep to find something here,  and what you get can be not necessarily worth it (I refuse to see touring companies, and yes I admit I am a snob) But once in a while, you do get something worth your while, and I found that in the Reprise 2 series production of Kander & Ebb’s ‘The World Goes ‘Round’ at the Freud Playhouse at UCLA.  I remember the Off-Broadway production well, at the Westside Theater in Midtown West, before all the gentrification there took place. Look at who was involved at the original production – Scott Ellis directing, Susan Stroman doing choreography, and look at the cast: Robert Cuccioli, Karen Ziemba, Karen Mason among others. It was a memorable evening.

I am a realist, and did not expect this cast to be as memorable. And to be frank, they aren’t. Dawnn Lewis (from the television show ‘A Different World’) and Valeri Perri (she was in the 2nd National Tour of Evia in the 80s)  are both fine, and the latter gets the showcase-y songs (‘Isn’t It Better’ from Funny Lady, ‘Colored Lights’ from The Rink) The rest of the cast is dependable enough, if at times forgettable: Larry Cedar, Kelly Dorney, and Michael Starr. Okay so maybe Starr’s is a bit more hard to forget after he plays a naked ‘Arthur’ in ‘Arthur In the Afternoon’ (his muscles are fine)

All in all, not a bad night of theater, f we go by Los Angeles standards. I am mostly marveling at the songs, as it is always nice to have these songs sung live. Richard Israel’s production skews more cabaret than musical theater (A lady next to me asked her companion – ‘are they just gonna sing’) but I’ll take what I can get, and this isn’t too bad.

Sierra Brings The Creeps (Movie Thoughts: Sierra Burgess Is A Loser, Netflix)

large_sierra-burgess-posterI was excited to check out Netflix’s ‘Sierra Burgess Is A Loser’ because I am liking this new slate of Netflix rom-coms, and also, it has Noah Centineo who is really very easy on the eyes. But I found the film to be a misfire. First off, the film’s premise has a Cyrano meets Catfish plot, and it made me uncomfortable a lot of times. (As my friend said while watching it, ‘this film just stressed me out’)  Also, the film has a very unlikable lead character, and Shannon Purser, who stars as the title character, just isn’t appealing or charming enough. It is so bad that you find yourself rooting for her antagonists. A lot of the plot is just plain creepy, and if Sierra was my child, I would have slapped her four ways if she behaved like that. And i felt the character of Sierra got away with a lot of things without any kind of remorse for what she did. Even the cutie Centeneo (underused) couldn’t save the film. Try to see other things on your Netflix ‘My List’ before playing this one.

All the Bitterness (Perfume Thoughts: Honeysuckle and Davana, Jo Malone)

375x500.51266When I first tried Jo Malone ‘Honeysuckle and Davana,’ I couldn’t decide if I really liked it.  I was at Bloomingdale’s walking on my way to lunch and spritzed it, and almost forgot about it. Then I started to sniff my arms where I sprayed and I thought it was quite mossy. I guess I was expecting a sweet honeysickle flower. The weird thing is that we went to a Jo Malone stand alone store after lunch and I sprayed again, and this one felt more flowery, as if blooming on a summer day.  I asked, could he department store version be different? (‘Of course not,’ she says) Maybe I just missed the top notes earlier – which smells like a flower out in the sun, faded by the glare. It’s a bit like shampoo accord, for sure, but its brightness was unmistakable. And then the green – the mossy notes come in, and it adds that bitterness that I was talking about earlier. And then I am instantly reminded of a fragrance I have known since childhood: Cacharel’s Anasis Anais, with its floral/green/mossy combination. Suddenly, I started to love this scent more. I asked for a proper sample and now I am trying it for a day and I already feel like it should belong in my wardrobe. It’s very un-Jo Malone like, too – it is not light and airy, and this has tenacious strength. A small bottle may be in order.

Reading Unrequited (Film Thoughts: The Bookshop)

a952a61e5e6b29332f8f0bed00b472cf1410ae20In a lot of ways, ‘The Bookshop’ is your Anti-Summer movie. It’s small, kind, genteel that it made me wonder how it was greenlit. But, I am glad it exists. Isabel Coixet’s film is very British – set in a sleepy British seaside town, about dry English characters, set in mid century, and the whole movie revolves around the existence of a book store.

Emily Mortimer stars as Florence, who wants to turn an old moldy home into a book shop. But the village diva (Patricia Clarkson) is in her way – she wants to make the place an arts center – where you can do chamber concerts. That is basically the conflict, and really, I thought – why can’t they have the bookshop the same place where you can do chamber concerts and readings? I mean, the little corner of the place could serve that purpose. But no, this is the 50s, and besides, they couldn’t have chosen a better villain than Clarkson, who sashays her way into every scene, and really, she is so fabulous here I want to take her side anyway.

The film very slowly chugs along, and the Anglophile in me loved a lot of it. But admittedly, it could use a lot more action, even interaction. Bill Nighy plays a small memorable role as a customer who defends Florence, and makes a strong presence, but over all, this film is probably too niche for your average American.

Once There Was Calyx (Perfume Thoughts: Calyx, Clinique)

1813168_fpxBack in the late 80s, a scent caught my ears: Prescriptives Calyx. I remember it being a fruity floral before I knew what a fruity floral was, and I loved wearing it in the summertime when I wanted to smell like ripe fruit (ready for the pickin’) I remember it became somewhat of a ‘signature scent’ of a very young me, and I remember being scared going to the women’s Prescriptives counter wanting to buy it. (As it turns out, Prescriptives’ liquid foundation was my first ‘grown up’ foundation brand anyway so it became a one-stop shop)  Prescriptives, of course, is no longer, and Estee Lauder wisely never discontinued Calyx, and it is now under the Clinique umbrella. Aparrently the perfume has a bit of a following, from I would guess people of the same age range as myself.

But here I am today wearing Calyx, and I marvel at it. It’s fruit concoction is as potent as ever – a mixture of grapefruit, guava, papaya. The hothouse lily of the valley heart is pungent as ever, and the berry drydown still juicy. This is a unique scent, so well-made in the vein of its day (Sophia Grojsma, she of YSL Opium is the nose) and this perfume brings me to a time I was younger, less jaded, almost innocent. And you know what? it still works perfectly on my screen, and I don’t think the current version is as reformulated as other big titles. It’s a bit loud than more modern perfumes, I suspect, but I don’t care. I will still wear it proudly.

Love Is The Destination (Film Thoughts: Destination Wedding)

MV5BMTU3NzM5NDU3NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNjAxNjk3NTM@._V1_I know ‘Destination Wedding’ would probably rub a lot of people the wrong way. But then there’s me, who totally understands these characters. Maybe because I am like the characters in the film: middle-aged, lonely, very cynical about life and especially love. We have this skewed view of the world, and admittedly, yes, even at times very bitter. But, we persevere, and I know that deep in the recesses of our hearts, we hope. Though we would never admit it.

Victor Levin’s film may come across as very jaded and negative, but in it we get a romantic comedy as enduring and endearing like the best of them. It truly has been a good season for the rom-com, and this film is a welcome addition to this summer’s selections. And we get dyed-in-the-wool committed performances from Winona Ryder and Keanu Reeves as Lindsay and Frank, as never want to be would-be lovers who get stuck with each other at a destination wedding in Paso Robles. The groom is her ex, and his brother, and, boy, there are mixed feelings here, there, and everywhere.  My favorite scene is one where both of them are huddled in a corner mocking and making fun of all the guests in a wine-tasting ‘activity’ attended by everyone in the wedding party. The film is all and only about the two characters – the dialogue exists only between the two of them, so it feels like you are eavesdropping on their conversation, giving the film an immediate intimacy. And yes, you will find yourself rooting for the couple, even as they both try to stop themselves from falling. But who are they kidding, right?