Thursday, December 30, 2010

Made by God and Man

Godowsky and Mannes, that is.  A couple of musicians.  Who also happened to invent Kodachrome.

Which renders its last impossible color today in Kansas, at the last plant to develop those crazy saturated colors.

Sometimes I think it was the impossibility of the colors that both underscored and made palatable the shock that my grandparents' youth actually transpired in color.

I know that it was Kodachrome that made the Pepto-Bismol pink jello stuff featured in the Junket advertisement (full color!) in my mother's copy of Dr. Spock look so otherworldly good.  I could spend an hour imagining myself eating it...and did so, often.  What flavor COULD that pink be, after all?  Early musings, I suppose.

Not just the colors, but the blacks and the browns, which are of course a color, but...again, hyperreality.  So clearly not sepia tones.  A blackness that wasn't an absence, but something that could swallow you up.

I just found this out this morning.  Polaroid, I knew in advance.  I didn't care so much...Polaroid was my uncle's camera, for gadgeters.  With a most memorable smell when you wiped the squeegee across the prints that came out the first generation of those cameras/that film.  Polaroid was a good film to highlight the fleetingness of memory, always needing protection, always doomed to fade no matter what.

Kodachrome, though...Kodachrome made memory more than it could be.  Or so it seemed.  Now that I am older, I sometimes wonder if what Kodachrome did was capture a detail so full, I had trouble accepting how real it was.

Not realizing that even that intense amount of detail was not capable of rendering the full truth.

Life is beautiful.  Reproductions try.

They took my Kodachrome away.

It was a heckuva thing to find out on New Year's Eve eve.  But I do have some prints.  And my memories.

The Irish Times
The New York Times
a Kodachrome documentary is in the works, says the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle 
other food on Kodachrome at CHOW, "The Last Kodachrome Christmas"

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


A cull to action:  Did you have plans for your collection in 2010?  Do you for 2011?

Last poll of 2010 on the bar to your left there.  You can pick more than one answer.

Image is not meant to suggest that only women can/should vote.  It does happen to be from the first year they were able to in the United States.

image from Here, There, Everywhere blog; otherwise unattributed.  If you know, please share.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Storage, or, A Trip Down Memory Lane

Am scrapping other posts in the hopper, as I was visiting the Perfume Posse this morning, where March summarized her approach to storage.

The wise thing would have been for me to read and move on.  But, as often happens, I feel compelled to open my mouth.  And, as often happens, I attempted to find the balance between responding and oversharing.

Guess which direction I failed toward?

And guess what I am going to subject you to today?  Further meandering on the topic.  I'll start with my comment:

Erm…more than one storage system. Should I really tell?
Because…there’s the first “discovery sets” I picked up from Perfumed Court. Which I keep, still in their category grouping (“roses” “101″ etc) stuck into sea salt which is in odds and ends vintage stemware. Then there are the miniatures and precious morsels, a.k.a. put in the bottle by the maker items, which stay in the velvet lined drawer in my dresser. Then there are the Precious Decants and Smalls, Influenced by the Early Years which reside in a place of honor in my, erm, lingerie drawer. (LOL…lingerie in my mind conjures images of pegnoirs and camisoles and other dainties…suffice to say they are well cushioned, but not so much by silk and lace.) A few full bottles in the front of the other two drawers.
Decants in boxes, loosely grouped by house, unless they are workhorses grouped by season, in which case they are likely to be in a bigger bottle anyway. Back up bottles (yes, I have as many as five of those) with odd vintage things (Intoxication, Hay, etc) up on the high shelf in the clothes closet.
Sigh. I almost feel like this is a confessional. I can almost hear the perfume years zing past…I remember when I first fell, I had a bottle of Norell (picked up at an estate sale as a curiosity in memory of my grandmother), a few samples plus the discovery sets, and then a full bottle of Magie Noire, my first “real” perfume since I had KL in college and Carolina Herrera from my wedding day. (I didn’t wear perfume then, but felt like I should have something for a wedding.) Husband purchased that for me the summer I fell down the rabbit hole.
Smile. As long as I’m confessing…there’s one more box. Not full. But overflowing with memories. I keep the perfume I purchased in Paris in that one, along with a vintage bottle of Apres L’Ondee that I split with friends who came to me via perfume but have become very dear to me.
Which would probably summarize the storage system overall. There is logic and method to it, but all considerations are subject to and generally molded by sentiment and history.
I didn't even bother to mention the whimsy of how certain splits end up out and on display.  They are there to remind me to play with them.  Unless, of course, they are carefully packed away, a game of hide and seek I play with myself when I squirrel away treasures to be re-found at another time.  The display:

 One of the stemwares mentioned in my comment.

Vintage manufacturers samples, about to be gifted for the new year.  Samples somehow mixed with other ephemera in an eggcup.  Samples from long ago, still in the (intact) cup where I first put them.  Because when/how they came into my life is sometimes a better way to retrieve from storage than "A-Z" or "Manufacturer" or "author."

Mind you, I admire Bonkers' perfume refrigerator.

Hmm, this one must be a misfit.  

These photos are mostly pictures from a favorite spot to write. The perfumes are not those that I generally wear, or that are "in storage."  They are..."in process."  
Kind of like me, when I am here.
I tried to speak about storage before, in this post ("Door #1: Ways of Storing").  Go there for more pictures, if you like.  There will be madness.
What I did not try to address before is what I recognized in my comment to The Posse.  Which is...I treasure memories.  And this exploration into perfume is mapped by memories as much as it is by scent families or style or even type of bottle.  Memories of where I was in the journey, to a great extent.  Memories of how a certain perfume anchors outward, certainly -- usually broader questions like does it connect to a geography/vacation/season? does it remind me of a certain friend, because they introduced me to it/helped me learn to love that scent family? does it evoke a certain period in my life?  But sometimes simpler ones, like "did I panic houseclean when this one was out and it ended up in my son's closet?"
And, it turns out I not only treasure memories, I have allowed myself to allow them to trump any Dewey Decimal style of organization that I might try.  A fair number of what I have are entered onto a spreadsheet, separated into sections labelled "Sample" "Decant/Partial Bottle" and "Full Bottle."  But not all.  A number of my "regulars" are sorted into boxes by season (warm v cold, basically), but not all.  
A number of my treasures are cloistered in the dresser.  But not all.  
treasures, yes, but whimsically collected here, largely because size allows
It occurs to me that if I end up fully charting, with this combination of words and pictures, in serial post form, I might actually accumulate a functional mind map.  A portrait of How Things Work in there, as it were.
(That laughter you here might be yours, but it most certainly the author's own.)
Anyway, I offer you sincere happy wishes for warmth and good cheer as the holidays wind up and the year winds down.  I'd like to give you a hint of what else is coming this week.
But I know enough now to know that what I would offer is the muscle of plans hung upon the skeleton of intent.  All of which would be subject to that little box of whimsy.

all photos author's own

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Belief Willingly Put Into Suspension

A heterogeneous mixture in which solute-like particles settle out of solvent-like phase some time after their introduction.

Yesterday morning, I opened my newspaper to find a dream nearly smashed.  Fortunately, the author insisted it had been so.  Thus, despite the valiant attempts of the fact checkers, the dream remains.  

Around here, Jean Shepherd's A Christmas Story has become legend.  Yes, TBS runs the marathon on Christmas.  It's part of the culture now, so I'm thinking most of you know what I'm talking about.  But Shepherd hailed from the base of the lake, that area in Indiana where smelters used to light the night sky in a way that could be seen for long, long distances.  In his myth, he cobbled together a place that took a department store from Cleveland (Higbee's) and a department store window experience from Chicago (Marshall Field's) and put them in Santa's lap in a small town in Indiana.  With a "Red Ryder carbine action two hundred range shot and [here is the key] a compass in the stock and a thing which tells time."

My paper (The Chicago Tribune, a real live something in my hand, though some would say is also now a myth) informs me there was no such thing.  That when the production staff called Daisy, asking for a few models to use on set, Daisy tried to inform them there was not and never had been such a model.  Though another company once offered one.  The author, Jean Shepherd, insisted YES, there had been such a thing.  Daisy consented to create one for purposes of the magic of movies.  

And because Jean Shepherd insisted it was so, a gazillion people now know that in the Ralphie era, one could put one's eye out with a BB gun that said "Red Ryder" and located you in space and time.

Or, to put it another way, an author and the cinema once again successfully adjusted space and time.

Except for my father, who when he first saw that movie laughed his way through, but when it was over, said "I'm pretty sure the gun he asked for was really a Buck Rogers."*

(*see, what I heard; the Trib story tells me that what he probably said was "Buck Jones.")

Without an intervening structure, all of wheel's vertical energy is transferred to the frame, which moves in the same direction. In such a situation, the wheels can lose contact with the road completely. Then, under the downward force of gravity, the wheels can slam back into the road surface. What you need is a system that will absorb the energy of the vertically accelerated wheel, allowing the frame and body to ride undisturbed while the wheels follow bumps in the road.

My mother hated going to movies with my Grandfather.  Because my mother would be feeling imperiled by, say, passengers on a ship being tossed about in a storm, and my grandfather would start chuckling.  Because he was seeing clearly how the model was being worked.  Soon enough, he didn't need to say anything; his process was understood.  And understanding what was going on with him completely took her out of the movie.

Take the suspension out of a Cadillac and you get tossed from a pillow on a cloud to a few tons of steel crashing down into every bump and fissure in the road, with some question whether or not you'll be able to keep your land yacht pointed straight ahead.

There is an art to putting the facts in the right way, so that those who need them don't get their suspensions shaken...while those who would be interrupted by them are not shaken, either.

The particles in suspensions are larger than those found in solutions.  Components of a suspension can be evenly distributed by a mechanical means, like by shaking the contents, but the components will settle out.

We are nearly to the apex of one of the most willingly suspended times of year when it comes to belief.  A fat men puts his finger alongside his nose and immediately ascends and descends a chimney, about a bajillion times in one night.  A child, conceived without the typical introductions that lead to a zygote, is born.  Though days have clearly been getting shorter, we trust things will turn around and they will start to lengthen once more.

One spritz of No. 19 will successfully lead you through battle in the boardroom.  One of No. 5 on your bare skin is all you need to wear at night.

Personally, I am all about the magic.  Which sometimes surprises people, because I know, I'm a skeptic.  I like to pull things apart.  Heck, I spent a number of years with editors and foley artists and thespians and gels creating the storms at sea.  I know what what goes into the sausage.

Facts.  Work.  Perspective.

And magic.

That willing suspension of disbelief for the moment, which constitutes poetic faith.

 - Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Night sky, Isle Royale
(possible tapestry of curse words hanging over the lake?)
Tall Boy Adventures

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Perspective / Happy Solstice

There is an optical illusion that impressed itself upon my brain in my youth.  You are likely aware of it.

I retired last night, wondering if conditions meteorological and somnambulogical would allow for me to see a lunar eclipse on the solstice.

Alas, the heavens brought snow to ease the way for jolly old sorts in sleighs later this week, but obscured any hope of seeing glowing orange orbs hovering overhead.

Real ones, in the sky, at least.

My meandering thoughts took me past things razor's edge.  Lean this way, and things appear so.  Lean a little in another direction, and they are something else.  A lamp.  Two faces.

Mushroom.  The ghost of Apres L'Ondee.

The second would be, of course, Frederic Malle / Maurice Roucel's Dans Tes Bras.  In a phenomenon different from "morphing," when a perfume progresses from one something to another something, but consistently behaves as such from wearing to wearing, the olfactory illusion creates a different experience depending upon approach.  With Dans Tes Bras, if I come to it at just the right point in its drydown...just as the opening notes start to settle, before violet and heliotrope really first start to appear, the overlay between the opening and next unfolding smells like...mushrooms.  Yes, I get what people were saying when this one first came out.  Mushrooms.  Which I missed at the time.  And yet got something earthy.  Fifth trip in, I ran around with an "aha! Apres L'Ondee!! it's in there!!!" moment.

Fall.  Spring.  Something its own.  Something that puts a ghost in a prism.

All depending on what your perspective is that day, and where/when you put your eyes/nose to it.

Which got me to thinking about winter, and long nights, and icicles.  And how radically different scents come up as "winter," depending on who is talking or who is looking.  L'Eau d'Hiver, because it is white (Tom), or because it smells like that icicle (actually, she says snow) when it melts in your hand (Bois de Jasmin, who is writing again btw, oh happy happy).  Nuit de Noel, because it is the smell of that which is wonderful about Christmas Eve, snug and happy with loved ones (Patty), or because it's simplicity conveys all that is good about Christmas, simple pleasures and time with friends (Yesterday's Perfume).

There they are.  Both winter attached.  And yet very different, the light ethereal shimmery Hiver and the simple thick orange confection Nuit de Noel.  Perspective.

There is something fitting about these contrasts that should be either/or but become "and" when they pass through a certain part of your mental process.  Something fitting when apehelion and perehelion become bandied in ways you usually don't hear unless you are in science class.

Something a little wonderful about the fully "lit" moon, which is really just reflecting the sun's light, being obscured by your/our/the earth's shadow, which allows it to change color and character, if only for a little bit.

May your solstice allow for many happy discoveries.