Sunday, December 6, 2009

TWRT 12.6.09

This Week’s Random Thoughts –

Perhaps I’m cranky, but do you ever wonder why certain people go to the trouble to post their masses of reviews on basenotes and MUA when you find the majority of them worded like this: “well, I don’t usually like tuberose (floral orientals, chypres, just fill in the blank) so I loathed this and needed to scrub it off my wrists.” Personally, I don’t need anyone, who prefers sheer citrus scents like Annick Goutal Duel, to review Amouage Gold from a dab-on 1 ml vial, and tell me it’s just “a big heady, cloying 80’s scent.” Thanks but your opinion is useless. I often wonder why these people do this. Are their lives so boring that they get an ego boost out of being a “top reviewer” on MUA or basenotes? If you are not inclined to like anything sweet, heady or powerful then don’t bother buying a vial of the stuff to tell me how much you dislike it.

So, Serge’s next release (L’Eau)is as fresh as a dryer sheet. I’m not reading anything mysterious or mythical into his choice aside from the fact that he’s a sell out just like everyone else and needed a fresh cologne in his line-up.

On the cooking front, I made turkey pot pie this week for the first time. It was an exercise in using up Thanksgiving leftovers. I learned that you need to boil the potatoes before putting them in the pie to bake. It was otherwise good.

Amouage Ubar smells a bit like bug spray. And I normally like big florals like this.

I’m having a huge affair with Strange Invisible Perfumes lately. It might end badly but for the moment I’m anxiously awaiting a big box. For those who need to know, Heroine has been reissed in parfum concentration. And, just to clarify, because I was dopey and didn’t get it myself, it’s heroine with an ‘e’ on the end, as in female hero, not heroin the very bad drug.

I thought I was doing well this year with holiday shopping. Suddenly I realize it’s December 5th and I have loads to do and I’m stressed as usual.

I ordered Angel Excessive Parfum in the limited edition bottle because it was on sale. I’m so happy I did because the bottle is a thing of excessive tacky beauty and the juice is as powerful as a nuclear explosion. I want to hide it away and sniff it in 20 years and see what I think then.

Guerlain’s Chypre Fatale is not really a chypre nor fatal. It’s very fruity with a little patch in the base. Oriental Brulant is the nicest from their Elixir Charnal limited edition series.

My nose is changing. Now when I go back and sniff things from a year or two ago I seem to smell them more clearly (if that makes sense?). I wore Divine eau de parfum this week and was in heaven. This is truly some gorgeous glamour juice. It’s such a well done ‘big floral.’ I don’t know that I’d call it buttery, like LT in The Guide, but I will call it amazing. It’s big, blowsy, retro and oh-so -feminine and pretty. To me it’s a big powdery tuberose but when it dries down it seems to turn into a lovely bouquet of hyacinths.


Ines said...

I've been thinking the same thing lately - I seem to smell more than I did a year ago and appreciate things I never thought I would (well, a year ago). :)

Mals86 said...

I avoid MUA for just that reason - the reviews saying, "Smells like rotting old ladies," and "This is the best perfume! My boyfriend luvvvvs it cuz he says its so sxxxxy!!!!" (Of course, I do post on fragrantica - but it's not quite so full of inanity, possibly because its membership is much smaller.)

Turkey pot pie is da bomb. I made Boeuf Bourguignon yesterday, and although it took up a good ten hours start to finish, it was WORTH IT.

Had to laugh at "heroin" - have you seen The Commitments? If you have, you know what I'm referring to. If not, hie thee to Netflix, stat! Funny-sad movie, my favorite kind.

And either my nose, or my preference, has been changing over the past year. I'd like to think it's becoming educated.

We have SNOW. I'm pulling out the Alahine parfum today (squee)!

Tania said...

I think those reviewers are the same type of people who post 'so and so is... having a cup of tea' on their Facebook status. Nobody cares!

I agree, Sl is selling out there. I doubt I'll spring for a dryer sheet cologne with his name on it.

Ugh, Christmas shopping, don't remind me! ;-) I'm about half done, but my weekends are so booked up it will all have to be either online shopping or after work, which I hate.

thecavewoman said...

I agree about the pointless frag reviews, but it's also nice to have a variety of opinions on things, including from people who know next to nothing about perfume and just want to smell "nice". There are some frags I love but I wouldn't wear because I don't think people on the bus would love them as much. (Original Aoud, for instance).

And yeah Serge is a bit of a sellout for his L'Eau, but I was actually starting to wonder if he ever got tried of people calling things "Lutensian" or his dried fruits and spices routine. I kind of respect that he is willing to try something different, and maybe get some perfume n00bs interested in his line. And perfume has never claimed to be a "pure" art.

Zazie said...

I don't agree on your comment on MUA reviews or such. Why do they write? For the same reason you write your blog. For the same reason Tania S coauthored a book. To tell whoever maybe interested their *~* opinion. and/or to make some $ out of it. Bloggers are usually more articulate, but the bottom line is the same... I usually don't like this house/note/nose and this perfume is no exception... Or: I should point out however that my boyfriend/sister in law/colleague/pet said:"..."! So, do you really feel that different?
Unfaithfully yours, Mua commenter Zazie33

Brian said...

Zazie, it breaks my heart to learn that you're unfaithfully ours.

On another note, I don't see massive similarities between blogging and board reviews. Generally, yes, we're all just clocking in an opinion here, but saying these things are the same is like saying a movie made for TV and a movie made for an Imax screen are synonymous, the same kind of experience. My neck says differently.

I understand Abigail's frustration. I was told by a publisher recently that more people read the customer reviews than the critical blurbs and comments on any given book. My gut reaction? Oh shit. I say that as an author and as a consumer.

People seem to look at customer reviews differently, for whatever reason. Customer reviews are given a different kind of weight and are used as a different kind of resource, as a different kind of barometer for the value of a book or a movie or a piece of music. Or a perfume.

A few days ago, I went on Amazon to look up one of my favorite movies. I've read everything there is to read on it but I find myself going back to the amazon page every once in a while to see what people are saying. The movie mostly gets high marks, but someone had given it two.

I looked to see what else she'd reviewed. It wasn't just that she didn't normally watch this kind of movie. She has a huge bias against the subject and is hostile to what it's about. When I look up my own book and see the same kind of thing, it always really annoys me. So you know you have a canker sore but you pop a lemon drop into your mouth anyway? Why are you telling me this?

I think what Abigail is talking about are the kind of reviewers who review everything that flies anywhere near their orbit simply so they can be regarded as "top reviewers", whatever that means. Personally, I tend to avoid reviewers with that volume (unless it's someone like Foetidus on basenotes, who is always thorough and thoughtful, whether I agree with his opinion or not).

I'm impressed by a reviewer's desire to be encyclopedic, but when I consult an encyclopedia (to look up, say, Cambodia) I hope for a wider field of reference than, "a stupid little plot of land inhabited by, as far as I can tell from here, funny-looking people I wouldn't invite to lunch." Call me opinionated and needy. And again, I wouldn't say we're writing for the same reasons. I have no desire to tell you how Hummer test drove, unless I was pleasantly surprised by what I discovered--and Abigail and I can both tell you, having been contacted by the people who pay them, that many "customers" are writing for the money and are expected to log a very specific opinion by the manufacturers of the products they're "reviewing".

Of course, it's a free country, which is why you posted your rebuttal and I'm posting this, so it all boils down to preference and opinion, and my opinion is that some make-up alley reviews are a waste of space and yours is that they're all precious real estate.

Abigail said...


Basically, ditto to what Brian said above me.

I was commenting *specifically* on certain unnamed reviewers. Those who log hundreds of reviews just to become "top reviewer" status and along the way they trash tons of perfumes in a useless and totally biased way. I was thinking of someone in particular who only likes citrus and sheer scents (as a rule) yet still reviews (from her 1 ml dab - which is another issue for me) orientals and big florals which she inevitably abhors! Of course she hates them - she knew she would - it's not her taste - yet she for whatever reason insists on reviewing everything under the sun and telling us all that they are scrubbers.

Unbiased customer reviews are a great thing and for the most part I read the reviews on basenotes and MUA all the time but I have an issue with a very specific type of reviewer - do you see my point?

And I certainly don't do this as a blogger (and I surely don't make any money whatsoever! zilch! not a dime!). I don't review a fragrance I know I will hate just to tell folks it's a scrubber. What's the point of that?

Anyway, I'm not trying to change your mind - just clarify my point. That's all. Not a problem - we can agree to disagree :-)


Zazie said...

Oh well, I thought I posted an answer to Brian yesterday, but I must have messed up, as I so often do! Abigail, Brian, I do get your point, and I do not think everything under the sun is real estate $$$. However I do appreciate negative reviews and I filter the abundant opinions available on the www by the reviewer taste and style. I, like most people, tend to review and muse about perfumes I love, but it is not completely right. And I do think many amouages are completely overrated, BTW. Big floral from the '80s... Well it tells someone like me that I probably won't like it!! However, I see how some reviews are pointless: I just skip them :)!
Well, thank you for your kind answer to my previous comment...

Brian said...

Zazie, don't get me wrong. I visit make-up alley at least ten times a day. I'm one of those customers who gets something out of those reviews--a lot. I depend on them, and scour them before and even after a purchase, judging my reactions against what others have said. And I like the whole spectrum, really. Abigail and I were talking about it yesterday, sort of laughing between ourselves about the reviewers we think are baffling. One of the reviewers on basenotes gives 9 out of 10 fragrances a thumbs down. You start to wonder what brings her to fragrance, when she finds she despises the overwhelming majority of them. I think that's really what we're talking about, and we just figured we wouldn't have to name names, but the problem is people then think you're talking about everyone. I would hate to end up on make-up alley one day and find the variety I enjoy missing. Every time I read someone say "I'm not good at describing notes but..." I remember all over again why I'm there.

Anonymous said...

Well, I think I am thinking about another "top" reviewer on Basenotes, someone with 800+ reviews!, who stomps on perfumes after sniffing them on paper. Doesn't like anything that isn't "big" with lots of sillage. Duh. (thinks sillage represents value for money) And even then, just loves to rip into them...

He's *my* pet peeve.

If you are going to be fair, if you are really interested in understanding a perfume, you need to do more than sniff a strip of paper.

And equating sillage with value is the same as when I was little, and my mother equating it with how dramatically short my hair was cut -- didn't matter if it made me look ugly, just that it took off a lot of hair. (and no, I never buy her perfume!) Makes about as much sense.