January 27, 2007
Wear Marie Antoinette's perfume
Historian Elisabeth de Feydeau has uncovered the recipes for Marie Antoinette's fragrances.
"Last month, Sillage de la Reine — "In the Wake of the Queen" (top) — an amber essence of jasmine, orange blossom, tuberose, iris, cedar and sandalwood was released for public sale," wrote Molly Moore in a January 19, 2007 Washington Post story.
$10,500 for 8.5 oz. of the deluxe version in a numbered Baccarat crystal flask.
Ten were produced and five have already been sold.
Order yours here.
Prefer to sample before plunging for the big kahuna?
I can understand that.
Tell them bookofjoe sent you and you'll get special treatment.
No — it's a surprise.
Here's the Post article.
- Traces of Marie Antoinette, Caught in a Phial of Perfume
When Francis Kurkdjian, one of France's premier perfumers, set out to re-create a fragrance of Marie Antoinette, his greatest fear was that it would stink.
After all, he reasoned, the 21st-century nose might have little tolerance for the potent potions that the famous queen and her royal court used to mask the smells of their opulent but odiferous 18th-century environs at the Chateau de Versailles.
Last month, Sillage de la Reine — "In the Wake of the Queen" — an amber essence of jasmine, orange blossom, tuberose, iris, cedar and sandalwood was released for public sale. The deluxe version, 8.5 ounces in numbered Baccarat crystal flasks, costs $10,500. At that price, it's kept in a locked vault, available for purchase only via the Internet. For aristocratic pretenders with less princely pockets, a crystal phial containing just under an ounce is available for $450 in the chateau gift shop.
"It's a real queen's perfume," said Elisabeth de Feydeau [below],
a historian and professor at the Versailles School of Perfumes, who made possible the revival effort with her discovery of the recipes for Marie Antoinette's favorite fragrances among musty boxes of centuries-old documents warehoused by the French government. "It's very luxurious. The person who buys this perfume wants to own something a queen should have."
The floral bouquet carrying the moniker of the queen who was beheaded in 1793 during the French Revolution has become one of the chateau's most elaborate commercial marketing ventures in recent years. Ten of the $10,500 Baccarat bottles were produced, of which five have been sold, including one to Sultan Qaboos bin Said of Oman — who also purchased 25 of the smaller perfume phials, according to Versailles spokesman Jean-Francois Quemin.
The chateau is using the proceeds to purchase Marie Antoinette's ornate wooden traveling case from a private collector at a cost of $455,000.
But historian Feydeau said her initial suggestion to longtime perfumer friend Kurkdjian that he try to replicate a fragrance from the royal court of more than 200 years ago, met with an adamant: "Impossible, impossible — it would be too expensive."
"You can play music from the 18th century, you can restore paintings, why not try to re-create a perfume from the 18th century?" said Feydeau, 40, who spent two years researching the recently published book that was the perfume's inspiration, "A Scented Palace: The Secret History of Marie Antoinette's Perfumer."
Kurkdjian, 37, who'd made his name designing fragrances for Guerlain, Christian Dior and Elizabeth Arden, began studying 18th-century materials and techniques used to make perfumes. Only natural ingredients; no synthetic scents like those used in today's productions.
Together, he and Feydeau researched Marie Antoinette's favorite flowers — roses, jasmine, orange flowers, tuberoses — and pored over the notes of the palace perfumer, Jean-Louis Fargeon, who insinuated himself into the court at Versailles creating perfumes, soaps and pomades for the royals.
They roamed the vast gardens of Versailles once trod by Marie Antoinette. They wandered the labyrinth of private dressing rooms and bathrooms behind the queen's lavish bedroom of gold and rust brocades. They stood over the small, intricately inlaid dressing table where Fargeon presented his newest creations to his highest-profile client. The table was part of the furnishings in a small room painted blue-gray and studded with miniature gilded motifs of the pots used to burn perfume to mask the stench of human waste that was carried in the open ditches outside the shuttered windows of the palace.
They spent hours studying the bathing habits — the queen introduced the novelty of bathrooms to Versailles — and the personality of the enigma that was Marie Antoinette, first loved by her country as a winsome young Austrian-born queen, later reviled as the embodiment of monarchal excess.
They decided to focus on the fragrance of the more private, sympathetic queen, the period after the birth of her first child when she often eschewed the public arena (even during childbirth she had been ogled by an audience of witnesses and attendants). She favored the scented gardens of the smaller, more secluded Trianon on the grounds of the Versailles estate.
Reading the words of the queen's personal perfumer — "fruity, heavy, flowery" — Kurkdjian said he began developing "an olfactory sketch in my mind, more of a feeling than an actual recipe."
"The biggest difficulty was to explain to the responsible people at Versailles that it wasn't an historical perfume," Kurkdjian said. "Usually at Versailles, you restore something, you find the right piece of wood, you re-create something the same way it was." But the perfume "is something Marie Antoinette could have worn, it is possible she could have worn — we're not sure she did."
He used rhizomes from a Tuscan iris — cured for five years, just as they were in the queen's day — along with the highest-quality essences and oils.
After six months of floral experimentation, Kurkdjian said, he reached "a point when what you have in front of your nose matches what you have in your mind."
Does "In the Wake of the Queen" capture the true essence of Marie Antoinette?
"It's not the perfume of the queen," Feydeau said. "In the 18th century, you weren't just a Chanel No. 5 woman. You had many perfumes because you couldn't keep the essences very long."
The chateau describes it as representing "the olfactory preferences of the young queen."
Feydeau said the perfume — which bursts out of the bottle in a bouquet of competing scents, then after a couple of hours of wear settles into the fragrances of a summer evening in a lush garden — turns heads and elicits compliments when she wears it to events at the chateau.
She confessed, however, that two of her friends who've bought the smaller phials, copied from the queen's original perfume containers on display in one of her private bathrooms, consider the royal fragrance too valuable to ever unseal or wear.
You can purchase a copy of Ms. Feydeau's 2006 book,
"A Scented Palace: The Secret History of Marie Antoinette's Perfumer," for $18.60 at Amazon.
BehindTheMedspeak: Vaccination by mail?
Coming to a mailbox near you in the near future may be your flu vaccination.
Long story short: Iomai Corporation of Gaithersburg, Maryland has created a patch (above and below) which, in the event of an epidemic, could be mailed to individuals in the affected area, eliminating the need to congregate at clinics, hospitals and doctors' offices to get vaccinated.
Michael S. Rosenwald wrote about the new new thing in preventive medicine in an article which appeared on the front page of the January 22, 2007 Washington Post Business section; it follows.
- Patch Could Stretch the Supply of Flu Vaccine
Iomai Seeks a Partner To Exploit Technology
Executives at Iomai Corp. see the future of flu vaccinations like this: A small patch containing the vaccine, along with stimulants to make it more potent, is mailed to patients who stick the patch to their arms for a few hours, then toss it in the trash.
It is a far off but potentially paradigm-shifting approach to vaccination, and last week federal health officials gave their strongest indication yet that Iomai's patch technology has broad public-health possibilities. To stretch the vaccine supply for pandemic flu should an outbreak occur, the Department of Health and Human Services awarded the Gaithersburg company, founded in 1997, a contract worth as much as $128 million to develop both the patch and the immune-system stimulant it contains.
Vaccinations work by setting off an immune response, creating antibodies to fight disease. If Iomai's patch stimulates a stronger immune response, the government theoretically could use smaller amounts of a vaccine for each person, because a small dose would provoke a reaction equal to a full dose. That would allow more people to be vaccinated.
"It is a very interesting technology," said Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. "If it works."
Drug giants Novartis and GlaxoSmithKline were also awarded contracts under the government's program to stretch vaccine supply using stimulants added to pandemic-flu shots. News of Iomai's contract last Wednesday sent the company's stock up 15 percent, to $5.88 a share, though it has come down slightly since then, closing at $5.73 on Friday.
Analysts said the contract attracted attention from investors who had overlooked the company since it went public last February at $7 a share, and had little news to report until now.
"This caught on to investors' radars," said Angela Larson, an analyst with Susquehanna Financial Group, which has had banking relationships with Iomai. The contract "is a third-party validation to their approach to vaccination," she said.
David Webber, an analyst for First Albany Capital, which has banking business with the company, said: "For investors, it's certainly important because absent other events it's the only way that investors can tell if this company is likely to achieve its goals."
Iomai has been developing patches since 1998, after company co-founder Gregory Glenn, then a researcher at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, published a paper on the technology's potential in the science journal Nature. The patches contain potent immune stimulants, called adjuvants, that travel into the skin to cells that are a major part of the immune system. Those cells are then activated by the stimulants and travel with the vaccine to lymph nodes where the immune response occurs.
Iomai, which has 116 employees, has four areas of development with the patches: to prevent traveler's diarrhea, to boost the flu-vaccine response in the elderly, to extend the pandemic vaccine supply, and finally, perhaps the holy grail, for use as a seasonal flu vaccination in a market that could reach more than 100 million people.
The diarrhea-prevention product is in late-stage human testing, but the others are in the relatively early stages. For the pandemic flu product, the government initially awarded Iomai $14.4 million for early human testing. The company could get $114 million more upon successful completion of those tests.
Stanley C. Erck, Iomai's chief executive, said the company is seeking a partnership with a major drug company for its seasonal flu vaccination, since that market requires both a large sales force and the ability to produce new vaccine components every year.
One intriguing possibility that Erck did not rule out is a partnership with MedImmune, the Gaithersburg company that makes the nasal-spray vaccine FluMist, the only needle-free flu vaccine. MedImmune's venture-capital group has invested in Iomai and owns 5.3 percent of the company. Iomai's chairman is M. James Barrett, whose venture-capital firm New Enterprise Associates is Iomai's largest shareholder. Barrett is also on MedImmune's board.
Erck said MedImmune is "one of the vaccine players that could possibly have an interest in this program." Novartis, GlaxoSmithKline, and Sanofi Pasteur also sell flu vaccine in the United States.
Jamie Lacey, a spokeswoman for MedImmune, said the company does not comment on third-party discussions unless it has a disclosure obligation under federal regulations. "MedImmune Ventures has invested in Iomai and we congratulate them on receiving the HHS contract," she said.
Rick Weiss's January 21, 2007 Washington Post Style section front-page story about the ongoing search
for the perfect nanotech hazard warning sign caught my eye — but not nearly as much as some of the over 400 entries
from 24 countries so far received by etc Group, the Toronto-based organization which created the competition.
See for yourself.
From the website:
You're late again.
But wait a minute.
Got your keys?
We thought as much.
Never fear — Doorganizer is here.
Forget about tying a string around your finger and just hang one of these handy pockets on your doorknob.
You'll never lock yourself out again.
There's even room for mail.
Made of canvas.
12" x 5".
What took so long?
I don't know how many times I've locked myself out of my hotel room because no one had the sense to invent this earlier.
Red or Black.
Age-O-Matic: 'What will your job do to you?'
It ain't very pretty.
No-Skid Measuring Cups
No — it's not what you think.
Enough is enough.
From the website:
- Measuring Cup Set
Now here’s a set of cups that really measures UP!
No bending those creaky knees, no squatting by the counter — you can read these measuring cups from up above.
Just set cup on the counter, and add liquid or dry ingredients till you see it reach the desired measurement.
Measurements are printed both inside and outside, for complete versatility.
Cups include metric and American volume measurements (1/4, 1/2, 3/4, 1/3, 2/3, etc.), plus fluid ounces.
Whisk liquid ingredients right in the cup — gently rounded bottoms make mixing easy, while non-skid base holds cup in place on the counter as you stir.
Crystal-clear, sturdy polycarbonate cups nest nicely in a space-saving stack.
Set of 3 cups: 1-cup, 2-cup, 4-cup.
4-cup measure includes handy snap-on storage lid.
Designed and manufactured by Zyliss, Swiss purveyor of fine kitchen tools for over 50 years.
Freezer- and dishwasher-safe.
John Patterson on 'Filming the unfilmable'
I happened on Patterson's August 6, 2005 article in The Guardian yesterday and found it most interesting.
You might too.
Only one way to find out, what?
Here's the piece.
- Story is the hardest word
How do you film an experimental novel about a man 'unstuck in time'? John Patterson salutes directors who have brought unwieldy books to the screen
"There is," Norman Mailer once wrote, "a particular type of really bad novel that makes for a really great motion picture." He might have been referring to such superselling potboilers as Mario Puzo's "The Godfather" or Margaret Mitchell's "Gone With The Wind" or, indeed, any number of middlebrow literary atrocities whose cinematic adaptations have entirely transcended their trashy sources.
However, a proposition diametrically opposed to Mailer's is equally workable: acknowledged literary masterpieces, by and large, make for terrible, terrible movies. In support of this claim let me simply cite the lesser works of writer-director Richard Brooks, the man who failed to tame Conrad's "Lord Jim" for the screen. Rather more memorable (in terms of world-beating badness, at any rate), was his 1958 version of "The Brothers Karamazov", starring one of my all-time dream pairings: Yul Brynner and a brooding, young William Shatner. Similarly, John Huston wasted a good half of his career on rotten adaptations of good books. "Moby Dick" is the most famous of them, but he also soiled his CV with versions of Flannery O'Connor's "Wise Blood" and - ye gods! - the Bible. Only when he picked orphan novels or stories like Leonard Gardner's "Fat City" or B Traven's "Treasure Of The Sierra Madre" did Huston really earn his place in Hollywood history.
But there is a third, more fascinating category somewhere between these two, and that is the novel widely deemed "unfilmable" that has in fact been transferred to the screen. We'll get to some of these anon, but to start, we should consider some of the things that render a certain kind of novel resistant to adaptation from the page to the screen.
An obvious subcategory here - and one that has steadily shrunk with the maturing of public sensibilities and the decline of censorship since the late 1960s - is the kind of novel that used to outrage public decency; the kind, to borrow Mervyn Griffith-Jones QC's famously ill-chosen words at the Lady Chatterley trial, that you "wouldn't want your wife or servants to read", those with the fabled "tendency to deprave or corrupt" those who get their filthy masturbatory mitts on them. That being said, novels that once fell into this category have since become the kind of property that self-proclaimed "edgy" directors will stab one another to death in order to film. When I read "Last Exit To Brooklyn" in the 1970s, with its 10 capitalised pages depicting the gang rape of the hooker Tralala, or its nauseating description of a man masturbating his infant son, I felt I could safely wager I'd wouldn't be seeing it at the Odeon in Guildford any time soon. Well, director Uli Edel and Jennifer Jason Leigh — who was Tralala — have long since proved me wrong.
Likewise, various works of Henry Miller, Pauline Réage, Jean Genet, James Joyce, JG Ballard and William Burroughs, all of which thronged with penises, vaginas, wayward sexuality, raw sodomy, extensive heroin use or maximum sicko violence, have made it to the screen, prompting short-lived expressions of civic and critical outrage.
Certain of the last-named works were — and indeed remain — unfilmable in a narrower, formal sense. That's to say, they deploy certain formal techniques — Burrough's "cut-up" process; Ballard's indifference to narrative tension and "realistic" characterisation, his reliance on startling, Daliesque imagery as the core of his achievement; Joyce's radical upending of everything from literary convention to punctuation and typographic styles — that find no workable equivalent in what suddenly, in the face of all these innovations, seems the stubbornly inflexible and primitively visual cinematic form.
The results are only occasionally successful as movies. One that works very well is released this week on DVD: George Roy Hill's marvellous adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut's "Slaughterhouse-Five", which switches back and forth from the bombing of Dresden, a German POW camp, post-war America and the fictional planet of Tralfamadore, where the hero Billy Pilgrim is taken by aliens and forced to mate in a glass dome with film star Montana Wildhack (the impossibly pneumatic Valerie Perrine). As adaptations of strange and "unfilmable" novels go, this is one of the finest. And, incidentally, as alien-abduction experiences go, Pilgrim's is many notches above the usual rectal-probing favoured by our intergalactic cousins.
Other writers have made a much greater effort to ensure that their work remains unfilmable. Kazuo Ishiguro, "The Remains Of The Day" notwithstanding, has often stated his pride in the relatively cine-hostile properties of his other novels, such as The Unconsoled, a Kafkaesque interior monologue that resists easy summary or even comprehension. Neither should we expect to see Thomas Pynchon's "Gravity's Rainbow" at the flicks: formal innovation and its central image of shit-eating should put paid to that idea.
Some directors take a novel's perceived resistance to adaptation as a challenge. Take David Cronenberg, who went from filming the unwatchable in his early horror masterpieces of the 1970s to filming the unfilmable, with immensely approachable, albeit free-form versions of Burrough's "Naked Lunch" and Ballard's "Crash", the twin gold-standards of unfilmability — until they were filmed (he didn't attempt to visualise Ballard's image of a woman whose breasts spurted liquid faeces, but you can't win 'em all). Michael Cunningham's "The Hours" was another succès d'estime long deemed impossible to render on film, and yet it has been done, as have Philip Roth's "The Human Stain" (very badly) and Chuck Palahniuk's "Fight Club". Indeed, the supposedly unfilmable Palahniuk currently has no fewer than four of his other novels in development. Even such aggressive formalists as Marguerite Duras and Alain Robbe-Grillet, avatars of the French nouveau roman in the 1950s, have reached the screen — though often only with screenplays, such as "Last Year At Marienbad" or "Le Camion", as baffling and alienating as their novels.
Whether it's all worth it can sometimes be gauged by the reaction of the original authors. Ballard, famously a lover of movies and bad TV, is an enthusiast for adaptations of his work (I wish someone would make the greatest grown-up British TV series of all time from The Kindness Of Women, his most beautiful and approachable novel). But Bernardo Bertolucci must have blanched when he read the reaction of Paul Bowles to his version of the deeply interiorised "The Sheltering Sky": "It should never have been filmed. The ending is idiotic and the rest is pretty bad."
Which brings us finally to James Joyce, he of the monolithically unadaptable Ulysses, which, to my astonishment, has been filmed three times. Not very successfully, it has to be said, but there you go. "Ulysses" bashed the novel form from within, upended every variety of storytelling from stageplay to newspaper item, and added plenty of dirty sex to outrage Irish bluenoses and the princes of the mother church. Joyce had everything going against him cinematically, but nothing will deter a director like Joseph Strick, who made his version back in 1967. The Irish board of film censors only deemed it fit for public consumption in 2000 — so he must have got something right. He made quite the cottage industry out of the unfilmable, following "Ulysses" with a version of Miller's "Tropic Of Cancer" in 1970 and "A Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man" in 1977. Obviously the commercial drubbings the movies took did not cool his ardour.
But pride of place in this regard must surely go to one Mary Ellen Bute, who in 1966 undertook the insane task of adapting Joyce's notoriously difficult last work, "Finnegans Wake". It pretty much sucked, and she never shot another inch of celluloid, but yes, she made it, and that was achievement enough.
Or perhaps Fan Radio would be better.
How about let's go to the website?
- Fan with Radio
Portable air flow for pool, beach and camping
Stay cool and entertained with this nifty portable fan.
It's battery-operated so it can go anywhere you go.
It comes equipped with an AM/FM radio with rechargeable battery — listen to tunes or keep up-to-date on news and sports, even during a day at the beach.
Oscillating fan has high/low speed settings.
Waterproof plastic casing.