Thursday, December 22, 2011

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

programming note no.4: happy holidays!

Nosy Interviews will be back in the New Year! Starting Tuesday, January 3rd, your regularly scheduled weekly interviews will return. In the meantime, I hope you're smelling (& eating) all the best foods with your loved ones.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

must be swell

image via

There are too few side-profile shots of Steve Martin (and his superior nose) on the internet. Finding the image above led me to this smell-related moment from Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (good viewing choice for the holiday season):  
Del (John Candy): I got the seat just where I want it, but I can't reach my feet 
to get my shoes off.

Neal (Steve Martin): That's just fine. Leave your shoes on.

Del: I can't relax if I've got my shoes on.

Neal: I don't care to breathe your foot odor. Leave the shoes on. 

Del: Gee it must be swell being so perfect and odor-free.
These lines immediately precede what must be the finest exchange about ball-adjusting in all of American cinema. You can watch here, but you really need to see the whole movie to appreciate the moment. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Nosy Interview: Nancy Lili Gonzalez

 Nancy laughs in As Above, So Below, © Boris Štromar

Nancy has a special place in my nosy heart as she was one of the first strangers to wander over here and leave a comment. When you put a new blog out into Internet-oblivion the idea that someone who doesn't know you could find it is both a surprise and a comfort. We haven't met in person, but I've gotten to know her a bit better by reading her blog,  La Linterna del Monstro (where you might head next to leave an encouraging comment for a relative stranger).

What do you smell like?
Artificial smells I rub on:
* Vanilla cupcake scented shampoo by Sephora (birthday gift, will run out soon)
* Mandarin scented conditioner by Herbal Essence (because I'll always love their 1990s-orgasm campaign)
* Oatmeal scented body wash (smells more like sweet milk, not oats)
* Sometimes (very rarely, to be honest) an orange-scented deodorant
* Amber and mahogany scented body lotion (I think it's sexy, but my partner thinks the amber's too strong)
* Cetaphil facial lotion (how would we describe it's smell-less smell? I like it.)
* Vera Wang's Princess perfume, two sprays each morning (in my defense, it was a Christmas gift three years ago that won't run out. The second half of the bottle sits there in it's little heart-shaped container, taunting me. To be honest, its lady apple and "vanilla chiffon" smell has grown on me. Which scent will I switch to when I've finally used this up?)
Natural smells I pick up:
* Argentinian coffee (because I grind it, brew it each morning for my partner and myself. After working as a barista for four years, smelling daily as though giant, dirty beans lived inside my pores, I now prefer this subtle hint of coffee that stays on my hands and in my breath, making only one pot's worth.)
* Car's leaf deodorant, the black leaf that smells like men's soap (This smell that doesn't seem to fade. Considering I hop in my car at least twice a day, I'm sure some of this man-smell rubs off on me, my pants.)
* Amber- sandalwood- bergamot- scented Glade spray stuff (sprayed in apartment on a regular basis, and sometimes the spray particles follow me)

What do you like to smell?
* Winter and cigarettes-- particularly because this is the clearest smell I identify, and it smells like road trips to Devil's Lake with my dad, when my brother had fallen asleep in the back seat, and it was just us two up in the middle of the night, staring at the lone road ahead of us, everything black except the blue lights from the radio, a talk station on
* My partner, between his armpits and his ears (a mix of Calvin Klein's One and Cetaphil and cedar and sweat)
* Marijuana (Can I say that? I don't smoke it, cross my heart, but I used to-- who hasn't?-- and practically everyone I know still does. When it's good marijuana and it's extra-skunky, I love to smell it, just love it. Sue me. Or walking into a room in which marijuana has been smoked, the quiet, almost clean smell of it is nice, too.)
* Cinnamon sticks (and cinnamon tea!)
* The pines
* Mint (is there such a thing as mint-scented candle? I'd like one of those.)
* Freshly baked bread and freshly made pizza (how to melt a human, deeply inhale this)
* Puppy breath (never dog breath)
* Heads of babies (all babies smell like potato chips!)
* Bleach (every now and then, it's almost refreshing-- in a bathroom, in a pool. Too much of it, however, and it is what a migraine smells like.)
* Toothpaste
* Crayola Crayons

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

nosy gift guide

There's nothing like a good gift guide to bring out my shamefully rampant inner-consumer. Here are some gifts to put under your nose:

1. Bring your host or hostess a Soap & Paper Co. Patch NYC Stag Votive. Somehow the raspberry and cilantro conspire with the Siberian fir to make this candle more pleasing and perfectly Christmas-tree-like than any others I've smelled (and I always try a few around this time of year). I would recommend this especially as a hostess gift so that the recipient can enjoy its considerable throw throughout December.  (I upgraded to the larger size this year, and it's filling the room even unlit).

2. Encourage your nosy writer friends with a Write Like a Motherfucker mug paired with something fragrant and energizing to sip from it. I recommend Mariage Frères' gorgeous Marco Polo Tea, the yummy Jaipur Avenue Chai sampler pack, or a kit to make Blue Bottle's scrumptious New Orleans iced coffee (delicious year-round).

3. Lavish your nearest and dearest with anything from Aftelier Perfumes.  I would like my whole bedroom giftwrapped by Mandy Aftel, please. Everything I've ever purchased from Aftelier, down to the tiniest samples, has been elegantly packaged in gorgeous little pouches and richly printed papers in deep purple and molten orange. And everything smells as good as it looks. My favorites are her jasmines: Cacoa is sumptuous and comforting, and the Jasmine solid perfume is a sunny, sexy dream. 

4. These crystal bits are made from Acacia tree resin, and they sparkle, smell like amber, and class up any surface on which you place them. A great gift for anyone with a vanity table or aspirations for an elegant powder room.

5. A new, giftier volume was just published, but for my money the original is still tops. Perfumes: The Guide is the gateway book for many a perfume addict, and it's fun reading for anyone who is curious about fragrance, or even smells. If a book of perfume reviews isn't really your speed, might I suggest something from the Nosy Book list?

6.  Lush's Snowcake is the soap equivalent of a hug. Give a bar of this creamy, almondy goodness to anyone needing comfort during the cold winter months to come. 

7. Everybody knows that charitable people smell better. Get them a goat!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Nosy Interview: John Balsley

John in the Light Echoes from the V838 Mon, © NASA

John and I first met on the internet in 1999, when it was harder and weirder to meet someone online. He deserves some kind of special designation on the nosy blog (Patron Nose? Nosy Hero?) because this summer he sent the most generous, amazing learning tool I could have received--a kit of notes! I dreamed of such a box set when first starting this blog, and having these tiny vials in my apartment has been such an enormous treat. Visit John's professional website, and then come back here to leave suggestions for the nosy knighthood ceremony in the comments.

What do you smell like? 
These days I smell like a kid -- the outdoorsy life in Wyoming leaves remnants of campfire, charcoal briquettes, bicycle grease, and mud on my clothes. Sunday, my laundry basket is a pastiche of whatever adventures I've gotten into during the week: "oh yeah, Tuesday I pet that wet dog while wearing this shirt."

My hands tell a more immediate story -- the floofy natural hand-soap my landlady buys, or permanent marker from creating a puzzle for the kids I work with. The mildly decaying, pleather steering wheel in my ancient Hyundai remains on my fingers, a smoldering plastic-cum-french-fry tableau. Some nights, it's John Varvatos cologne, which invariably devolves into beer and Parliaments. Or more dog. I don't even like dogs, but it feels right when you're out West.

What do you like to smell?
Sometimes my memory fails me; perhaps a misspent youth smoking away synapses is to blame for forgetting who was there, what song it was, the non-punchline part of the joke. But smell can transport me instantly to visceral memory, smashed together with other times that share the same odors, a family reunion of similar recollections, even if in truth they haven't much in common. A whiff of cloves takes me to a dozen Greek Easters; gasoline in the hot sun recalls countless trips in my first car. Nostalgia, that false emotion, nonetheless seems important when triggered by smell, and the details I mix in my mind may be as incomplete as ever, but it feels more real, correct. Chlorine will always bring to mind holding Jack, then an infant, in a rooftop pool in downtown Chicago, grinning at each other as we bob around its perimeter, and just as quickly I'm a pre-teen at Sunset Beach in Claysville, Pennsylvania, almost feeling the sandpapery diving board under my feet as I try not to chicken out.

It always starts positive, these remembered smells, and even if the delicious clove-infused ham Yiayia prepared was tempered by obvious tension between my father and the Republican contingent of the family, or the teenage, windows-down freedom of the '87 Chevy Sprint ultimately ended as a broken down heap on Route 19 (still stinking of gasoline), I still like those smells, those triggers. I've lived a lot of places, and sometimes smelling things links DC and Milan, Chicago and Seattle, Wyoming and Claysville, New York and Pittsburgh. A family reunion of the Diaspora of memory.

Monday, December 5, 2011

advice for all time

[image via]

If you search for Paul Newman nose (no quotes) the first result is a wikihow page called "How to Deal With Having a Huge Nose." I guess their best advice is to look like Paul Newman and, when that fails, look at Paul Newman.

Friday, December 2, 2011

bloodhound gang

One nugget that has stuck with me from Rachel Herz's The Scent of Desire is the idea that a dog could smell a single Hershey's Kiss in a city the size of Philadelphia. I love the specificity of that chocolate drop, imagining it lonely on some street corner, a dog hot on the chase. I also like the way it makes us think about dogs' powers of smell being so beyond what we could really conceive of. (We couldn't see candy in a city of any size, and we so often compare dogs' sense of smell to our sense of sight.)  

Tonight I came across the Congohounds, a project based in DR Congo's Virunga National Park. These beautiful bloodhounds are being trained to help sniff out human activity in the park; they'll help prevent gorilla poaching, as well as locate critically injured park rangers (at least 11 of whom have been killed in 2011 alone). When I last checked, the project had raised 0% of its $7,428 goal. (Edit: A closer look reveals they have raised closer to 12% of their goal, but the donation thermometer is malfunctioning).

I was lucky enough to visit the mountain gorillas (on the Rwandan side of Volcanoes National Park) this summer, and I was so moved by the relationship between the gorillas and the guides, many of whom are former poachers. Watching this video of Christian, a park ranger, and Sabrina, a bloodhound, I thought about the pure joy that animals can bring to our lives. This project aims to protect rangers' and gorillas' lives, provide meaningful employment, and help to invigorate Congo's tourism industry. All good and noble goals, but maybe you just want to give because you can't resist those sweet droopy bloodhound faces, or the light in their human partners' eyes.