Tuesday, February 22, 2011


When I posted this week's haiku theme of perfume, I was expecting to get a bunch of mini 5-7-5 paens to, oh, I dunno, actual perfume. The first one you ever spritzed. Or sneaked off your mother's dressing table. Or purchased for a beloved. Or sneezed until your eyes bled.

What I got, however, were eleven-plus haikus covering a variety of scent-sual topics, from dead skunks to sand and sea to lunchroom snacks and sex. Lots of sex. Sex in the sea, on the sand, and even, in a couple instances at least, sex accompanied by snacks. (Although, thankfully, not dead skunks.)

Once again, judging was a daunting task.

Because I have a tight schedule and will be gone most of the day, I'm going to submit a truncated rundown of my reasoning for choosing a winner, but not without first giving each and every one of you a pat on the back for a job well done:

Submitted his first-ever haiku, a kiss-the-girls-and-make-them sigh ode to fun and frolic with Fishy, which had her looking for the shotgun and the rest of us going, "Ah, hah. That explains why they've been married all these years." Seriously, Fishy. You go around wafting two of the world's great va-va-voom scents, Chanel No. 22 and Joy; what do you expect? It was also a dang good haiku, both in its technique and in its ability to, um, evoke.

Once, Boxer didn't think she could write haiku. Now, she consistently produces some of the most beautiful odes to her native PNW that vividly bring to life the mis-en-scene of her existence. This one paid tribute to elements that perfume her daily life: namely, sand and sea. Lovely.

What happens when women leave their men alone for a day or two? Most of us don't really want to entertain the notion, but in Buzz's case it means he gets to mess around in the kitchen making things he doesn't normally get to eat. And then write a haiku to celebrate. About making chile. And if you don't think that's a neat trick, go back and read it. We know Buzz can cook. He can also write in such as way as to make you wish you had a big bowl of chile right now.

Speaking of mouth-watering. Chickory hit us with two haikus of tremendous skill and nostalgic force: One, the way-back-when-before-we-knew-suntanning-caused-skin-cancer-and-ruined-all-our-fun memory of the smell of teenaged Coppertone-ed slathered bodies on the beach; the other of what was probably the only good smell to ever come out of a schoolroom kitchens—the wafting of baking yeast rolls. She submitted the latter, which actually started my mouth watering when I read it.

When not busy fighting off Blowfish, Fishy is one of our most talented—and prolific—haiku-ers, producing no less than a good half dozen exceptional haikus each and every contest. Fishy waited until the last minute to choose her elegant ode to one of the most famous perfume bottles ever designed. Architectural, indeed. Thanks to Fishy, I just know all y'all are going to rush out and buy yourselves a bottle of Joy. Do it. Now.

Simply put: Foam writes great haiku. This one, an ode to dead skunk in the middle of the road, is not only subtly, skillfully alliterative to the point where you don't see a single seam showing unless you look for it, it also punches you in the nose with an actual smell. Which as we all know, is one hell of a poisonous waft of eye-watering proportions. Unless you use it to make a perfume. In which case, you get Patou's Joy.

I love this short but sweet ode to springtime—and a reminder that some of the best-smelling perfumes are produced by Mother Nature. Reading it, I was instantly reminded of my favorite past time in spring: Driving through Albuquerque's neighborhoods to catch a whiff of the intermingling of lilac, Spanish broom, and newly watered grass.

One of a handful of haikus that dealt directly with bottled perfumes, Kym declares her love of the two perfumes that contribute to her magnetism. And all along, we thought it was just her cooking . . .

Milk River Madman:
Ooooo, clever, clever man writes a clever, clever haiku, in which he wistfully wonders what perfume Ann Coulter douses herself with. Chanel No. 5 or something containing jasmine? Which made me laugh out loud because jasmine, usually such a naughty little hot house flower, is boiled down to a cool, aloof abstract in No. 5, which in the end seems to me exactly what Ms. Coulter's body chemistry would do to that particular flower. Yes. Ann Coulter wears Chanel No. 5. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Like her daughter, Pam also specifically mentioned a series of perfumes in a snappy little double entendre-ed piece singing the praises of certain men's scents (there's that sexy thing again; go figure). All of which 'fumes work for her and also work for her. Clever and funny! Which makes me wonder what would happen if she and Milk River collaborated on a haiku together. Look out!

Came in with one of the more mysterious haikus of the challenge, a reach back into his memory banks to describe what I think is a boyhood encounter with his Swedish nanny, a gal whose talent for making cinnamon buns somehow got co-mingled with goodness-knows-what-else (la, la, la, la, la). Yes, he nicked the title of my baking blog, but Troll knows how stick his tongue in his cheek before he embarks on walking the tightrope between flattery and suck-up-edness. In the end, he created one hell of a haiku, one that edged Boxer, Foam, Chickory, and Blowfish out by a hair and everyone else by a hair and a half.

Seriously, he had me at cinnamon and that marvelously mysterious last line that had me walking around all day going, "What are they? What, what, WHAT?!?"

Baker's Math:
Undaunted Baker:
Cinnamon intoxicates!
13 scented sins.

Congrats, Troll. Let me know where I can send your prizes.


sparringK9 said...

wow. you give great write up, moi. I really look forwardt o tuesday mornings! Congratulations, senor Troll. Its all the fun of a cinnamon bun without the thunder thigh risk. What will he do with a bottle of honeysuckle?

moi said...

K9: Well, the inspiration is all you guys. As for Troll, use it to confuzzle his Democrat friends? It's actually rather unisex. It starts off sweet, then goes bittery/leather.

Buzz Kill said...

I'm still not sure what the 13 scented sins are, but it is intriguing and leaves it to the reader. But I do think he crossed the suck-up line just a little. Bwahahaha

He's a shark in the aquarium, but good job Troll.

As an aside and ironically, the latest episode of "Episode" has a subplot concerning Matt LeBlanc's cologne that smells like - cinnamon.

Buzz Kill said...

Oh, Moi. Brilliant and entertaining write up. You know perfume like sommelier's know wine. Thanks for hostessesssing.

darkfoam said...

nice write up on the haikus! i'm very impressed. troll really seems to understand haiku. and he wrote a darn good one. congrats to him!

Milk River Madman said...

Congrats to Troll. It's a great haiku. Your write up took a lot of time and effort and was tremendous. Well hosted. Cheers to you.

Jenny said...

Congrats to Troll and to you for being such a wonderful judge with your fabulous write up and gifting of some equally fabulous prizes.

I'm also curious about these 13 sins.

I hope Troll's new lady friend likes things that smell pretty.

Anonymous said...

Delightful high-bar write-up and probably the most commented upon Haiku Contest yet.

Please give the perfume to the runner-up or save it for next week's prize pool.

Really did NOT expect to win.

As to flattery/sucking up, I struggled for a good adjective other than "Large-Breasted" for "Baker" that fit Mrs. Lundemach's personality. "Undaunted" did. Has a good sound, to my ear.

The parental units insisted I call her "Mrs. Lundemach" even though she was in her 20s.

(I was 19! Grrherhahhahaha).

Thanks much. Will think about theme and a plan to write a half-decent Tuesday recap.

Unless someone volunteers to judge!

(I wasn't really 19.)

( I don't think she actually fit the definition of "nanny". She just came over to feed me when Papa Troll was in prison and Mama was over-worked and/or making conjugal visits)

Anonymous said...

As a substitute prize you can have Blowfish!
Congratulations, it was very clever and to tell you the truth, I thought the butterfly and orchid haiku eloquent.
Great job. I applaud your selection. On a tiny note of history, there is argument about the JOY bottle! Most accounts credit the design to architect Louis Sue, others say it was conceived by Jean Patou. Either way I love the art deco architecture of the bottle.
(My favorite was checkerboard picnic.)

Master Basho's Ghost said...


I wrote the one about the orchid and butterfly. About 450 years ago.

Anonymous said...

Nice job Troll!

An' mahvelous write up Moi.

I thought 13 sins were 13 cin-buns:
Undaunted baker's dozen.

moi said...

Buzz: Yes! I saw the Episodes episode with the 'fume subplot. Hilarious. How'd your chile turn out, by the way?

Foam: Well, you were right behind him. Since he has asked that I pass along the prize to the runner up, that's you. If you don't want them, they go to Blowfish or the first person who raises their hand.

Milk: I have sent a letter to Ann Coulter's agent specifically asking that she get back to me on Coulter's choice of perfume. That there's a conservative Montanan sittin' on a snowmobile just dying to know.

Boxer: It's little things like that—things that get stuck in and then grooved into my brain—that win people contests. Also, I think it was pretty darn near technically perfect. In contrast to the last time I judged, when the entries were more emotional, this week's were more form-al.

Troll: Prison papa? Harried mamma? Randy Swedish nannies and tempting cinnamon buns? Alrighty, then. Totally fascinating and yet at the same time, just a wee bit . . . wrong on so, so many levels. I suppose one day, you'll expound further?

Fishy: The orchid and butterfly was brilliant, wasn't it. But it was written 400 years ago by a man whose ghost now inhabits Troll. (And, in all likelihood, Mrs. Lundemach.) As for Blowfish, he was a top three contenda. If Foam doesn't want the 'fumes, they're headed your way. Interesting info on the Joy bottle, BTW. I don't know much about bottle history, only the usual, obvious Baccarat stuff.

Anonymous: Yeah, that's what I figured. Which means he was either very well educated by the end of the affair, or just downright chubby.

Karl said...

Good afternoon Moi,

My dear you are the hostess with the mostess!

Congratulations Troll.

darkfoam said...

i was runner up? wow! and troll doesn't want? i want!
i'm so tickled. :-)

moi said...

Karl: Thank you! It's always fun for me to judge good writing.

Foam: Yes, you were No. 2! Before Troll snagged the win, you had me with all those bouncy esses. Let me know how to contact you for shipping. We could go through, for instance, Chickory—you email her, she emails me, etc.

Pam said...

Love the write-up and congrats to Trolly! And, as I have mentioned to MRM, I'm concerned about his A.C. obsession since I am semi-convinced that A.C. is, in fact, a man. I've dated men with smaller adams apples. Meanwhile, great theme, lots of fun, and honorable mention or special awards to Blowfish! And I'm glad to see lots of ghosts helping out this week.

chickory said...

lets go back to perfume for a minute.

what do you mean about a scent being too abstract? wouldnt vintage perfume smell bad? isnt there a shelf life? what ever happened to the dreaded perfumes made by "dana". jungle gardenia and tigress come to mind. i remember the packaging but the fragrance was a sure headache. the worst.

i hate overpowering fragrances. i hate being in a confined space with someone who over indulges on scents. i had a sculpture professor that wrote on the syllabus you could not wear perfume to his class and if you did he would kick you out. He was awesome.

moi said...

Pam: I have similar concerns about A.C. (although, whoa: AWESOME HAIR!) I think MRM's obsession with Diane Lane is way better.

Chickory: Alrighty, you asked! (I could write for hours on this). Buzz actually said something quite astute when the likened perfume to wine. Perfume should, all things being equal, last forever. I have bottles in my collection that are over 75 years old and the juice is fine.

Light and extremes of temperature are the enemies and can "turn" a perfume, much the way wine can turn. Sometimes, the top notes (the molecules used to define the perfume's initial character), get ruined by age, but the middle and end notes are fine. More often than not, a vintage perfume will be in perfectly good shape and, given the bans on natural substances by the fragrance goons in Europe, much more beautifully composed than the version made today, thanks to this hysteria over "natural" ingredients being allergy-inducing, for which there is little to no evidence. These regulations are systematically destroying the old works of art, like the Guerlains, Carons, even the Chanels, which are assiduous about quality control and manage to guard their jasmine and iris fields like Ft. Knox.

Then again, general consumer tastes are much less sophisticated than they used to be. Everyone wants to smell like candy and fruit today. The reason why most people find old perfumes too "strong" or "old lady" is that they have never been taught to "smell," much in the same way many people are not taught how to look at art, read literature, or watch film. Those age-old accords of oakmoss and bergamot and sandalwood are now being replaced by strawberries, bubblegum, and "clean." So women now smell either like little girls, or they smell sterilized. We're being infantalized and dumbed down.

By abstract, I mean, in part, that one cannot detect a single note; that every one of the notes or accords (scent molecules) used, blend in such a way as to create a perfume that exists more as a seamless whole, than as a perfume made up of parts, with a defining character as an oriental, a mossy green, etc., or with a definining accord (a mix of notes), like the tuberose and neroli based accord in Amarige, or the accord that makes Gucci's Rush smell like a night out at Studio 54 in the '70s, or the way A. McQueen's Kingdom smells like a boxing ring lined with lemon and roses. In other words, there's nothing to hang on to, if that makes sense. In addition, abstract also feels to me like it's been constructed, built from the ground up to exist in and of itself as an object, with no discernible story or emotion. To some "noses," No. 5 is warm and soft. To me, it's a Brancusi sculpture.

moi said...

Chickory: Oh, and finally, funny thing about people who are "sensitive" to perfumes, and I certainly don't want to insult those who truly are nor do I want to suggest that we all over apply to the point of noxiousness.

However, would you say that you'd be insulted to walk in a room that had beautiful works of art hanging on the wall? Drive a high end sports car? Eat a perfectly prepared steak? It's the same thing, for me at least, with perfume. To me, they exist as works of art, and nothing thrills me more than catching a whiff of something gorgeous wafting off a man or a woman and asking, "What are you wearing? It smells great!" Much like I love turning the corner in a neighborhood and seeing a cool house or walking into my neighbor's yard and having the smell of her Spanish broom hit my nose. I think we the public needs to chill a bit and figure out what it is that we perceive as being assaultive and what, in fact, truly is. Like smoking. I used to smoke. I loved it. I gave it up because I made a personal, INDIVIDUAL decision not to continue to treat my body like a toxic waste dump. But would I BAN cigarettes? No. If I smell one in public, I either leave and never frequent that venue again, or I wait for the smell to dissipate, or I deal with it. It's not going to kill me. Same with perfume :o)

sparringK9 said...

ive been schooled. great comment Moi. I understand about its parallel to art (now). Ive never been taught to smell, and I am one of those who likes "clean". I wear philosophy grace - im sure you probably dont respect it as it smells like ivory soap. I also like sugar which you ripped on at the summit, but lately i wear the fresh hersipides super green fragrance with dirt like i told you a few comments ago. I also really like the pink peppercorn perfume from the body shop - its weird i dont know how to describe it.

Ive worn calyx and cristalle and even wore Krizia long time ago - dont know if that was the real one or not. but i do think some of the classics smell like old ladies. maybe because i have only encountered old ladies wearing them. of course, at the time, old could have been 38.

now. about the headaches. i agree with you about cigarettes -its doesnt bother me. but there are some perfumes and i am not joking when i say this, where i can feel molecules go thru my sinus and when i hits my brain i have an instantaneous headache. i also think over perfuming oneself is an affront to civility. yeah, pass by and give a hint of scent. having a room still reek of you when you leave is wrong. very very wrong.

thanks moi!

moi said...

Chickory: Actually, I like Philosophy's Grace very much. And I wear a lot of "clean" scents myself (although I refuse to ever, ever capitulate to "Sugar" :o) ). What I'm actually ripping on is the trend to "dumb" down fragrance by producing nothing BUT fruity florals and clean scents (and doing it badly, in the majority of instances), which to me is akin to the dumbing down of art on all levels. Like, the difference between a light comedy from the 1940s and Jennifer Aniston's latest piece of crap.

There are also a gazillion cheap, drug-store scents that I think are great (somebody, please, bring back Faberge's Babe) and a gazillion "high end" creations that I think are crap, or at least not "all that." In other words, we don't have to accept the status quo in perfume that is thrown our way (cheap fruity florals OR poser high end) anymore than we have to accept our living rooms designed by Broyhill or our clothing by Gaultier.

There are people who over apply perfume who should never be allowed to ever wear it again, and I'll be the first to let them know. It ruins it for the rest of us. And I know exactly what you mean by that headachy feeling. I have a similar response to many perfumes. Then there's Calyx, which I wear at least once a week, but if I spray it on myself in a closed room, walk out and then immediately back in, I'll start coughing. Once it's on my skin, I'm fine. So I have to go outside and spray it on.

darkfoam said...

speaking of perfume. at one time, a long, long , long time ago as a young woman i thought i enjoyed Opium. and i did. so i bought some and very lightly put it on myself and instantly became nauseated. i thought it was a fluke. but every time i put it on i became nauseated. so, i gave it up and now i'm very careful what i put on myself.
speaking of smelling a scent right now. somebody just sat down behind me and they smell like patchouli .. lol ..
i'm currently on the terrace of the grove park inn, btw. actually right now i smell of all the lotion sampler scents that i tried on at the grove park inn spa store.
i'll send chickory my contact info so she can forward it to you.

moi said...

Foam: Patchouli is a wily smell. I hate it in its pure form, but melded skillfully with other smells, I'm okay with that. Let me know what you think of these, esp. A*Men :o)

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Once, Boxer didn't think she could write haiku. Now, she consistently produces some of the most beautiful odes to her native PNW that vividly bring to life the mis-en-scene of her existence. This one paid tribute to elements that perfume her daily life: namely, sand and sea. Lovely.
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