Thursday, March 31, 2011

programming note

I plan to post a new Nosy Interview every Tuesday. I'd like to post one every day, but I don't want to shoot my snot-wad too early (readers are warned that excretions are not off limits on this smell blog). Is it tacky to write about how excited you are about your own blog on your own blog? I don't care! Nosy Interview responses are rolling in, and they are heartbreaking and transporting and insightful and hilarious. I can't wait to share them with you.

The rest of the site is a work in progress. You can expect more photos of distinctive noses, and chatter about what I'm smelling. Suggestions are welcome; nosy and bossy are old friends.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

warm wax & monkey nuts

Yesterday, I wore L'Artisan Parfumeur's Premier Figuier Extreme. I picked it in part because the label is green (even though I used a sample, I've coveted the bottle enough that its clean green label was fresh in my mind), but it wasn't quite right. I'm feeling that desperate lean towards spring, weather where I wear a light coat in the vain hope that nature might somehow cooperate with my poor choices.
Premier Figuier Extreme smells so much like warm candle wax to me, too soft and inside-of-a-church for yesterday's cool sunshine. Maybe I've smelled too many fig candles, maybe I would smell a fresh fig and think it smelled like wax, but I don't think so the melty, waxy quality of this perfume is such a comfort, it would be more welcome on a less sunny, promising day. I checked out the notes on luckyscent, and saw almond milk and coconut listed, perhaps these account for my waxy read. Anonymous from Pittsburgh had this to say:
"Ugh. I had hopes but this was too old smelling for me. Depending on what part of the country you live you might not get this, but I think it smells like a split open Monkey Ball with a soft baby powder like aftermath. I'd love to smell this when I hug my Grandma, but on someone my age (24), gross."
Monkey ball! I did not get that, Anonymous, but a little searching led me to the osage orange, which I have never tasted, nor smelled. Add that to the nostril list.

 photo by Frogboots

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Nosy Interview: Charlotte

I am so happy and grateful to have Charlotte kick off the Nosy Interview series; reading her beautiful, funny answers affirmed my whole reason for starting this blog. Charlotte keeps her online "cabinet of wonders" here.

What do you smell like? 

I don't know what I smell like. My husband [Brian] says I smell "like a person" which is phenomenally unhelpful. I own a few perfumes: a large bottle of something or other Brian's grandmother gave me once, several samples of Clinique "Happy" because I keep buying their makeup, and a bottle of Jovan "White Musk" which I bought at a CVS one day in a fit of high school nostalgia. I had to push the button to get a depressed CVS employee to come unlock the perfume case, I remember, so I must have really really wanted it to endure that embarrassment. And I have a small vial of "J'Adore" that I've been hoarding, because it's the only one of those perfumes I actually like. I hardly ever wear perfume because I'm afraid I'll put too much on and offend someone. I have sometimes been offended by others' perfume and I don't want to be that smelly. I think that I probably smell a little like the tea tree soap in the shower; I fear that I smell like soup, because I cook a lot, and I probably smell like my house, redolent of a winter's worth of homemade chicken broths and tomato-based stews. At least that's what I thought it smelled a little bit like when I came home after a weekend away, which is the only time I notice the smell of my house. I wish it were spring so we could open the windows again and smell the outside.

What do you like to smell?

I like to smell lemons, and rosemary, and sage, and basically any good fresh herb. I like the smell of my cat's fur, especially when she has been sitting in the sun. I love the smell of beeswax candles. Lilacs. Wood smoke. Fresh bread. A friend gave me some fancy coriander hand lotion from Kiehl's, and I like the way that smells too.

newman's nose

"Every time I get a script it's a matter of trying to know what I could do with it. I see colors, imagery. It has to have a smell. It's like falling in love. You can't give a reason why." --Paul Newman

olfactory flashcards

flashcards via

Even though I love talking about the way things smell, I don't have a very sophisticated vocabulary for doing so. I would like to be better able to identify not just notes in perfumes, but things I smell throughout the day. Studying with olfactory flashcards would be so much fun: carrot, celery, coriander, cucumber, cumin. I'd like cards with all the weird flavors from those labs in New Jersey, too: hamburger, bubblegum, banana malted milkshake.

 olfactionary photo by nathan branch

The closest available thing to a flashcard set might be Le Labo's Olfactionary or Mandy Aftel's Oil Kit. Le Labo's goal with the Olfactionary's "is to help you 'open your nostrils' in the same way good books open the readers' eyes to life. Philosophers speak about 'men with stitched-up eyelids' when referring to people who are blind to the basics of existence. Most of us live with stitched-up nostrils, having grown up in a world where smells are hidden away, and our olfactory senses are left to wither." I don't know that we willfully let our olfactory senses wither, but most of us don't spend a lot of time training them. I would love to set up my own little lab full of these tiny bottles, a makeshift perfumer's organ on our rickety old sewing table.