And happy New Year's Eve to all!
I've updated my list of favorite links once again, FYI. And I also have a few random thoughts to share...
Re: Recent Films
* The Golden Compass: Thumbs Down
Despite a ridiculously large budget and significant star power, this film lacks thoughtfulness, coherence, and emotional impact. It reminds me of later Lucas films, tripping over its own effects and, in the process, losing its soul. I've read the novel, and the film seems like a rapid-fire Power Point presentation that captures its events while missing the actual story.
* I Am Legend: Thumbs Down
Richard Matheson's important novel was adapted in a much more sobering and sophisticated way in 1964's The Last Man on Earth. (I just watched it again for comparison's sake, and despite a couple of brief moments of cheesiness, it holds up remarkably well. I recommend it.) Although Will Smith's acting is fine, the script sacrifices the book's haunting ending for a saccharine, predictable "feel-good" conclusion, and the overuse of cartoonish CGIs completely undermines the viewers' sense of empathy. Rather than feel for and fear the victims, I wanted to laugh at them. I appreciate Matheson's excellent novel more than Philip Pullman's book, which is why my hopes were higher for I Am Legend than The Golden Compass, and why I left with an even stronger sense of frustration from this film.
* Sweeney Todd: Thumbs Way, Way Up
I had great expectations going into this movie, and they were met and exceeded. As we might expect from Burton, Depp, Bonham Carter, Rickman, and company, this is a beautifully crafted film. It's a joy to see this kind of storytelling transferred so effectively to the big screen. I can't praise it enough; if you don't mind characters breaking into song or slitting each others' throats, I highly recommend it. :)
Re: Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab
As some of you know, I am a fan of Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab. I first became interested in BPAL when I learned they had an entire line of scents based on the writings of H.P. Lovecraft. I soon discovered many of their perfumes had literary inspirations, and since then they've added lines based on Neil Gaiman's work, as well. What's not to love? Because I know several of my friends are also BPAL fans (and some of you have been my enablers, as a matter of fact), I thought I'd do an end-of-the-year summary of my experience with their scents thus far.
My Very Favorite BPAL Scents (I Have Big Bottles of These)
A quick note, FYI: in general, I love pumpkin, coffee, cinnamon, clove, ginger, nutmeg, mint, dark chocolate, musk, patchouli, and incense. I am allergic to tree-related and tobacco scents.
A Picnic in Arkham
Miskatonic University: The scent of Irish coffee, dusty tomes and polished oakwood halls.
Shub-Niggurath: The lust incense of a corrupted Astarte. A blend of ritual herbs and dark resins, shot through with three gingers and aphrodisiacal spices.
Jack: The scent of warm, glowing jack o'lanterns on a warm autumn night: true Halloween pumpkin, spiced with nutmeg, glowing peach and murky clove.
Elixir XI: Oof: Sinus Pain Relief (It works!)
Sin and Salvation
Vice: Voluptuous and indulgent! A deep chocolate scent, with black cherry and orange blossom.
El Dia De Reyes: The Day of Kings, the Celebration of the Magi. In Mexico, on January 6th, children place their shoes by their windows. If they have been good during the previous year, the Wise Men tuck gifts into their shoes during the night. Hot cocoa with cinnamon, coffee, and brown sugar.
Gingerbread Poppet 2007: Warm, cozy gingerbread spiced with nutmeg, clove and cinnamon.
BPAL Imps I Have Available to Trade/Share
The Coiled Serpent: A potent yogic oil that stimulates the kundalini, provokes spiritual awakening, and releases the energy seated in your root chakra.
Santa Muerta: Santa Muerte, Saint Death, is not a harbinger of doom and symbol of entropy. She is the Queen of Mercy, a source of motherly comfort, and a symbol to all sweethearts that love lasts even beyond death. She is a vision of beauty in her own right: glittering rings adorn every bony finger, she is draped in a cloak of the finest satin, and her grinning skull, beneath her cowl, is crowned by a bejeweled tiara. A deep, resonant scent, both comforting and soft: lovers' roses, solemn chrysanthemum, dark vetiver and dazzling cactus flowers.
Nocturne: An olfactory serenede. A somber, contemplative scent -- dreamy and subdued. Deepest violet touched with lilac and tuberose.
Thanatopsis: A deep, solemn earthen scent containing pine, juniper and musk.
Robin Goodfellow: Now the hungry lion roars,
And the wolf behowls the moon;
Whilst the heavy ploughman snores,
All with weary task fordone.
Now the wasted brands do glow,
Whilst the screech-owl, screeching loud,
Puts the wretch that lies in woe
In remembrance of a shroud.
Now it is the time of night
That the graves all gaping wide,
Every one lets forth his sprite,
In the church-way paths to glide:
And we fairies, that do run
By the triple Hecate's team,
From the presence of the sun,
Following darkness like a dream,
Now are frolic: not a mouse
Shall disturb this hallow'd house:
I am sent with broom before,
To sweep the dust behind the door.
Dark musk, moss-covered wood, ragwort, heather, and sage.
Muse: A light, invigorating floral and citrus blend. Tuberose, lotus and jasmine with a hint of lime.
Sin and Salvation
Scales of Deprivation: And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. Thin, dark, and shadowed. A scent that offers no sustenance, comfort or satiety: lemon peel, white sage, frankincense, lavender fougere, sandalwood, vetiver and labdanum.
Midnight Kiss (inspired by Shojo Beat): Eternal desire, unquenchable passion: red musk, cocoa absolute, Nepalese amber, red sandalwood, aged patchouli, nicotiana, and blood wine.
BPAL Scents I Hope To Try
Incidentally, I also love and highly recommend the related soaps offered by Black Phoenix Trading Post. My favorite thus far is the Lovecraft-inspired "Al Azif Soap."
Through bare trees
I can see all the rickety lean-tos
and sheds, and the outhouse
with the half-moon on the door,
once modestly covered in
Through bare trees
I can watch the hawk
perched on a distant branch,
black silhouetted wings
shaking feathers and snow,
and so can its prey.
Through bare trees
I can be winter's innocence,
the thin and reaching limbs
of a beggar, longing to touch
but the hem of the sun.
- Lisa Lindsey, "Bare Trees"