It’s the final Tuesday of the year, time to see what Miss Plumcake is…
Reading: A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby. A re-read for me, since it first came out in 2005. You’d think a novel about a quartet of people trying to commit suicide on New Year’s Eve wouldn’t be very sweet or touching (or funny) but it is, with a good slathering of misanthropic mustard to keep it darkly funny. You can pick it up pretty much for the price of postage at Amazon. Just click the link.
Watching: It Happened One Night starring Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert, directed by Frank Capra. As I mentioned earlier, I don’t love It’s a Wonderful Life, preferring instead this, the ne plus ultra of all screwball comedies. As a fashion side-note, you’re probably already aware that Clark Gable did irreparable damage to the undershirt industry when he unbuttoned in this film and revealed nothing more than a hairy chest under his dress shirt.
Hearing: Handel’s Messiah. I sing a lot of Handel, rare is the week I don’t have two Handel arias in the works and another one on deck. You’d think I’d get bored of GFH’s greatest hit. I don’t. Yes, I still prefer it at Easter, but Christmas is no time to be pedantic. The Rutter/Royal Phil is my favorite widely-available recording.
Smelling: Filles en Aiguilles by Christopher Sheldrake for Serge Lutens. I am an old and jaded frag hag. I roll my delicate nostrils at 99% of mall fragrances. I don’t jump at the newest niche release and I’ve almost given up hope on Jean-Claude Ellena ever releasing anything truly brilliant again –he’s the house nose for Hermes now, which means he’s got marketablity to think about– I am, according to Angela’s brilliant list at Now Smell This, a stage four perfumista. Which is why getting a fragrance that really excites me is a rare experience. Filles en Aiguilles (literally “Girls on Needles” though it’s a play on words, since the French slang for stilettos is talons aiguilles) excites me. A lot. A LOT a lot. Aiguilles opens as a pine bomb like I’ve never experienced, with just a bit of camphor,then it develops into something more resiny. It evolves into a high mass on Christmas eve, where the incense and the wreaths and the smell of old polished wood melt together into something transcendent and just slightly wild around the edges. As it dries down you’re left with a bit of warm pine and buttery skin incense. Equally good for men and women, it’s only available in the states at Barney’s.
Loving: Jon Richardson’s BBC 6 podcast. Generally speaking, comedians and humorists are –as a species– little more than seething balls of neediness, sexual deviance and empty takeout containers. It’s true. I mean, I’m not. It’s a well-documented fact that cartoon bluebirds dress me every day and when I smile you can literally hear the silvery ting! of sunbeams and happiness. But the rest of them? Useless, impotent and in need of a bath. Which is why it’s rare for me to bestow my highest honor —the Order of The Good Egg— to comedian Jon Richardson. I admire his work professionally but more importantly, he is responsible for propagating good deeds hither and yon via his Deed-ication feature. Basically he invites his listeners to write in with their good deeds for a chance to have the show dedicated to them, which is brilliant. Co-presenter/sidekick Matt Forde receives entrance into the Order of The Speckled Puppy for being adorable, endearing and definitely not allowed on the couch.
Hating: Bad Chocolate. I don’t know much, but I do know this: life is too short for small jewelry, faked orgasms and bad chocolate. I’ve managed to eradicate the first two, now if ONLY I could get people to stop giving me the third.
Wanting: Laphroaig Whisky. Islay malts aren’t to everyone’s taste, but they’re certainly to mine. Laphroaig, easily the most famous and accessible is It’s a big peaty smoke bomb of deliciousness. In my head, this is what Mister Badger’s sweater smells like. Drink it neat, with a drop of spring water or for an interesting take on a martini, mixed 1:4 with Hendrick’s gin.
Buying: Kiva Gift Certificates. By now everyone knows about Kiva, the microlending project that’s revolutionized charitable giving. I’ve been into microlending for years, ever since I met a group of women from southern Malawi. If you’re new to microlending, check it out.