Tuesday, July 31, 2012

My Hot & Spicy Top 10 Fragrances

My summer's been all about discovering olfactory as well as culinary pleasures, sugar and spice and everything nice to use an ol' cliche about what it is to be a girl (and I haven't been a girl for many years, although I still resonate to things nostalgically girly); my midsummer Top 10 list looks like my early summer Story of Eau list but with lots of spicy additions. I've discovered that although coriander isn't a favorite note for me in perfume, I've become completely charmed by Fifi Chachnil and its modernized ambery Oriental composition with a candied-anisic, almost licorice twist (could there be caraway seed in here?). How else could I describe it? Well, I've reviewed it before and compared it to Houbigant Chantilly (with obvious differences in the quality of the current version) which to me is a predecessor to a whole family of post-Shalimar ambery Orientals - a family that includes Calvin Klein Obsession, Must de Cartier, Frederic Malle Musc Ravageur and a host of other sweet and spicy, smolderingly fragrant concoctions.

These days, I'm most often wearing my favorite citrus eaux (Tom Ford Neroli Portofino and 4711 which I've been comparing this week) but trading off with the occasional ambers to keep things interesting. I'm having lots of fun comparing Fifi Chachnil with Serge Lutens Fumerie Turque, Guerlain Cuir Beluga, Must de Cartier, Calvin Klein Obsession, Organza Indecence and many others. I think Fifi Chachnil is similar to a lovely vintage perfume named Corday Toujour Moi (1924), with the modernized aspect most resembling a cross between By Kilian A Taste of Heaven (2007) or the the "gingerbread-y" trendsetter Dior Addict which came before it, and at the risk of making people cringe at the comparison, the licorice note resembling Hard Candy Liquid. Anyway, these spicy scents are most delectable because of the treasure of a dry down that is characteristic of all of these: vanilla, the very essence that made textbook Oriental Guerlain Shalimar legendary.

Whether you're incorporating a touch of harissa or gochujang in your summer recipe, or cooking up some mititei to wash down with something ice cold (my choice: homemade lemon squash), a little heat is nice to spice up your dish, but it turns out spices also work well in fragrances for a midsummer reverie. At this rate, I might be reviewing the famous Yves Saint Laurent Opium soon - a classic spicy fragrance that could be described as the feminine counterpart to the gentlemanly drugstore favorite, Old Spice. Together, these two would have a baby named Tabu but that's a story for another day.

Aside from these, I'm wearing Pink Manhattan Purrfume again, my go-to olfactory peaches-and-buttercream! Oh, the sweet life!

Enjoy The Olympics 2012 in London, and Happy Summer!

My current Top 10:
1. Fifi Chachnil
2. Tom Ford Neroli Portofino
3. Serge Lutens Fumerie Turque
4. 4711
5. Guerlain Cuir Beluga
6. Must de Cartier parfum
7. Calvin Klein Obsession parfum
8. Givenchy Organza Indecence
9. Frederic Malle Musc Ravageur
10. Kenzo UFO

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Sam Ash to Leave Historic 48th Street Address

Some musicians in front of Sam Ash Music store on 48th street.
Some musicians in front of Sam Ash Music store on 48th street
by Rudy Pop Shuvit on Flickr

Sam Ash to Leave Historic 48th Street Address - July 24, 2012 Musical Merchandise Review

"The first to leave will be the brass, winds and drums shops on the north side, said Paul Ash, a son of company founders Sam and Rose Ash.

"“Eventually we’ll move all of them,” he said. The ones on the north side, in the base of a garage, must go soon because the property owners are “planning a condo.”" The day the music died on 48th Street - by Steve Cuozzo, NYPost July 24, 2012

New York's famous W48th Street aka "Music Row" will never be the same! But the spirit of the music scene will forever remain. Did you catch Sammy Ash's interview on MMR and his nice comments about Rudy's Music? It's still the coolest scene on Earth, and that's how it always was down on 48th Street, a microcosm of the global "love and good vibes" world of professional musicians.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Magnolia Vanilla Buttercream

Here's another one of my irreverent "smorgasbordy" posts, but in case anyone's interested in making vanilla buttercream (with or without the cupcakes that should go with it), I got my recipe here: Magnolia's Vanilla Cupcakes - recipelink.com

I can't recall if it's the same taste as the vanilla buttercream I had at Magnolia Bakery (prolly not exact...also, if you like it extra sweet, I tried adding a spoonful of honey which gave it a richer taste), but the Magnolia buttercream recipe is way better than the Magnolia cupcake recipe which tasted to me like cornbread (Note to self: sift flour, use real cake flour next time). The cupcake I had at Magnolia was a very white, delicate cake, like photos I've seen of cakes made with shortening (maybe I'll try that as well). Anyway, this buttercream turned out so well, even the chocoholics in my life are forgoing the chocolate buttercream in favor of it (Another tangent note to self: use Ghirardelli next time, which also makes great ganache). If you're planning to use it as cake frosting, don't overdo the milk, or the buttercream will be too thin, although it can be fixed by adding more confectioner's sugar. Haha, I sound like I think I'm a pro in the kitchen. I'm sure that to learn to make cupcakes well, it'll take at least as long as it takes to learn how to blend a perfume, even a basic one. Happy mixing!

On a side note, I'm thrilled to learn that the bestseller at Magnolia Bakery is their vanilla cupcake, which really is divine. Sometimes, with so many chocolate lovers around me, it's hard to believe that others enjoy vanilla (and white cake) as much as I do, but yes, vanilla with vanilla buttercream is in fact their most popular flavor of all. (Image: Pictured in the most popular pink version, Magnolia cupcake, timeoutchicago.com)

Saturday, July 14, 2012


Image: from Bible-Science Guy

This is a lot like what the elevator in the apartment building I grew up in looked like. Did you notice something? That's right, there's no 13th floor. Actually, technically the 14th floor is the 13th, but because of the superstition that 13 is an unlucky number (Triskaidekaphobia), many New York City buildings have omitted a thirteenth floor. However, 13 is also a good number depending on the culture you're from or are part of. For instance, in Judaism, 13 is a holy number. See Maimonides The 13 principles of faith and Thirteen Attributes of Mercy on Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia.

"Many Christians have long believed that Friday was unlucky because it was the day of the week when Jesus was crucified. The number 13 was believed to bring bad luck because there were 13 people at The Last Supper. Since there were 12 tribes of Israel, that number was considered lucky." Friday the 13th — Infoplease.com

"The number 13, especially Friday the 13th, has long been considered lucky in Judaism, and some think that the general population's fear of 13 stems from anti-semitism." 13 (number) - Wikipedia

"The number 13 could also have been considered pagan because there are 13 months in the pagan lunar calendar. The lunar calendar also corresponds to the human menstrual cycle, connecting the number to femininity." How Friday the 13th Works by Tom Harris - How Stuff Works

"It is believed that the fear for the number 13 stems from primitive man being unable to count past 12." List of phobias Friday, lucky or not - Didyouknow.org

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Killers - new album Battle Born preview (Flesh and Bone)

Published on Jun 7, 2012 by alaskos

Song titles confirmed for the record include 'Heart Of A Girl', 'Flesh And Bone', 'Carry Me Home' and 'Runaways' and producers credited with working on the LP include Madonna collaborator Stuart Price, Steve Lillywhite, Damian Taylor and Brendan O'Brien.

LISTEN to the new track: The Killers - Runaways @ PINK MANHATTAN Music Blog

Monday, July 09, 2012

Asians need Neutral, not Yellow, Makeup (plus Summer Fragrance Report from Sephora)

Devon Aoki, supermodel

Fabulous ladies and gents! If you're Asian and are looking for a foundation or concealer for your face, try these tips: #1: Whilst at your local Sephora or any other lovely shop where live salespeople will assist you with finding the right color for your pretty face, don't let them talk you into too yellow a tone. I say this because today, a young woman tried selling me (good intentions notwithstanding) on the importance of finding a yellow (meaning yellow-based as opposed to pink-based beige) color over and over, showing me colors that were supposed to be "yellow enough" for me, but of course, this brings me to my tip #2: you need to try the colors on your own skin. While I appreciated that the SA offered up her hand as a palette / easel for the yellow colors she picked out for me, even the palest of the yellow was too dark for me, which I couldn't know by looking at the colors on her skin but by trying them on mine. Don't be afraid to transfer the colors on the SA's hand onto yours as you would with a painter's brush. You don't buy clothes without trying them on, either. Finally, #3: Ask for a shade that's between pink and yellow, or a neutral beige. The term "neutral" is subjective, but basically, it's one that's neither too pink nor yellow. I found the right shade of concealer for myself today in Make Up For Ever 05. When I showed my SA how well it blended into my skin tone, I expected her to beam that it was the right shade of yellow, but she didn't. The color was called Vanilla. #4: Honey, you're not yellow, and neither am I. xoxo

On the fragrance front: I retested Balenciaga and Balenciaga L'Essence today, both of which seemed more aldehydic-powdery but lighter on the woods that I remembered. I like them, but I'd have to be in the mood for talc, even the greener L'Essence which dries down to a similar talc-like note. I also liked PureDKNY Verbena, which starts lemony fresh and ends with an aqueous but slightly Chypre-esque finish, reminiscent of Chanel Cristalle but sportier. It's very nice, actually. I like the original Pure DKNY, too, but I prefer its beginning stage when it smells like honey and sugar, not when the coconutty accord comes out in the dry down and reminds me of Ralph Hot and Benefit So Hooked on Carmella, which are nice scents, too, but I'm more in the mood for citrus nowadays. I was also drawn to something else yellow today: Versace Yellow Diamond, which is sort of like a cross between MJ Oh Lola (love!) and Kenzo Le Monde Est Beau (also gorgeous, cheerful and fresh!). But I'll stick with Tom Ford Neroli Portofino for now (or 4711 again - I'm tempted to compare it with TFNP for reals)...speaking of which, I wonder when Sephora will stock the Tom Ford!

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Candy Candy

This is a must-read for anyone who has interest in Yumiko Igarashi's fancy and emotionally expressive, finely detailed illustration style, as well as people with interest in Japan and the influences of westernization / Christianity on the culture. Candy is an orphan who grew up with two moms, both nuns, who eventually leaves Pony's Home by Lake Michigan to live an adventurous life that takes her to the other side of the Atlantic and back. The scenery is breathtaking, whether the backdrop is in the early 20th century Midwest or London, and the haute couture dresses and parasols are oh-so-frilly as is the cake served at the estate, hand-decorated piece by piece with lavender.

A word of caution: In the original Japanese manga version, Candy, the main character, gets slapped in the face by her first love, Anthony, like Rita Hayworth as Gilda gets smacked by Glenn Ford's character in the movie, Gilda (1946). Needless to say, there are moments such as these in the story that would not be considered kosher by today's standards. I remember there were also some moments where certain ethnic groups were not depicted in good light, comparable to awkward moments of racism found in the old Disney, Bugs Bunny or Tom & Jerry cartoons. Here's a link to Candy Candy translated into English, but please read it with these points in mind, as it is an older series, and I haven't looked through all of the pages that were translated in the online version to see if anything was censored. From what I was able to gather, the artwork is authentic and the translations are quite accurate; the only difference is that it now reads from left to right.

With all its faults, Candy Candy is one of the greatest comic book series ever produced, a timeless classic that has endured over the years since the 1970s, a work of art that will show international readers the level of excellence to be found within the variety fueled by freedom of expression that makes up the Japanese legacy of manga and anime art.

Candy Candy on Wikipedia

Saturday, July 07, 2012

A Little Love Story

"Chiisana Koi no Monogatari" (A Little Love Story) by Chikako Mitsuhashi is a manga series that began in 1962 when it was first published as a four-frame comic strip in a teen magazine. The first book was released in 1967 to become an enduring bestseller. Since 1970, new books are published each year in May, continuing on schedule give or take a few years between the last couple of books, up until volume 42 published in 2011. The romantic comedy was geared toward girls in primary and middle schools, but the unique combination of Chikako Mitsuhashi's art and poetry has been loved cross-gender and by all ages throughout the years in Japan.

The story is about a platonic love between the shortest girl in her class (her nickname, Chitchi, means "small") and the love of her life who just happens to be the tallest in his class and handsome (his nickname, Sally, is derived from The Beatles' song, "Long Tall Sally") and an ace at everything he does.

The story would be incomplete without their friends and family: Tonko (Chitchi's best friend and mentor who has weight issues but is "voluptuous"), Yamashita (her gentle, faithful boyfriend), Mayumi Okamoto (a beautiful, naturally curly-haired exchange student from Hokkaido who makes all the guys weak, but seems to have no interest in boys), Kishimoto (the popular captain of the tennis club who seems to adore Chitchi), and more. Taking the reader through picturesque cyclic seasons, the timeless classic manga gives you glimpses of life in Japan, progressively from a now-vintage time period till today.

Visit the original blog by Chikako Mitsuhashi, "A Little Love Diary" (An English translation by Google (which is not great but you'll get the gist) is available at this link)

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Tom Ford Neroli Portofino

I can't rave about this scent enough; if you're a sweet citrus lover as I am, I hope you'll go test it. I ain't gonna lie, it smells a LOT like 4711, so if you've always been a fan of *the* classic refreshing original neroli fragrance but didn't want to admit that roughly 10 fl. oz. of your favorite cologne can be had for under $40, you can now say you wear a Tom Ford. If Tom Ford is out of your budget, you can settle for 4711 until you save up enough to rock the hottest, FIFI-winning perfume in town (2012 UK FIFI Men's, Limited Distribution), and even enjoy the perks of having a similar color motif of turquoise and gold adorn your dresser or bathroom cabinet. But I'm sure you and other well-trained noses would be able to pick out the differences once you've worn both and have tested them side-by-side.

I don't remember why I stopped wearing 4711 (when I do, it usually has to do with my assessment of the dry down), and I no longer own it to be able to give you a definitive comparison, but I can tell you Neroli Portofino wears very consistently in linear fashion, meaning the scent stays true from when I first spritz it on, to when it fades, quite like a fade out on a record, performed by an engineer on a fader button on a mixing board at a recording studio, instead of in a classic pyramid style where each note depending on evaporation rate fades according to its own molecular weight, meaning, naturally, that the top notes fade out first, heart or middle notes at an intermediate rate, base notes last. Technological advances allow citrus lovers to spritz on their favorite aroma that happens to be light and fleeting, only to find it can now last longer - I say that's welcome progress!

According to Perfume Intelligence, the notes in 4711 Original (Created by Wilhelm Mülhens, 1792) are bergamot, orange, neroli, rose, musk, vetiver and sandalwood. The same site lists citrus, floral notes and amber for Tom Ford Neroli Portofino (filed under "Tom Ford Private Collection"); Nordstrom lists the following for Tom Ford Private Blend 'Neroli Portofino' Eau de Parfum: bergamot, lemon, mandarin, lavender, myrtle, rosemary, orange bitter, Egyptian jasmine, neroli, orange blossom water, pittosporum, woody amber accord, ambrette seeds, angelica root. This is a scent I'd like to have in soap, candles, just about everything the line has to offer.


I hope you had a great Fourth! :-)

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Svetlana Boginskaya

Svetlana Boginskaya - 1996 Olympics Compulsories - Floor Exercise

Svetlana Boginskaya - 1997 World Professional Championships Day 2 - Floor Exercise