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May 29, 2006

'A sensory superpower is both a blessing and a curse'


The quote is from a May 23 New York Times story in which Harry Slatkin (above), founder of the New York fragrance maker Slatkin & Company, told Times reporter Christopher Elliott why having an exquisitely tuned nose can make for some very unpleasant, at times even physically sickening, moments.

Here's the article.

    I have a nose for scents.

    It's something I've developed after years in the fragrance industry. I can sniff out a compound in a perfume that most other people couldn't detect.

    But there is a catch: I can't turn it off.

    My sensitive nose is in the permanent "on" position — even when I travel.

    We all know what it's like to be downwind from the lady at the opera who slathered too much tuberose on herself before the performance.

    You feel as if you're going to pass out.

    Welcome to my world.

    My defense is a long scarf and a bottle of Black Fig and Absinthe, a licorice-hinted fragrance that I created.

    I spray the scarf and cover myself with it while I'm on a plane or in a cab.

    The scarf can lead to some misunderstandings, though.

    In December, I flew to London to attend Elton John's wedding.

    I had hired a car to shuttle me around London, but once I took a seat and closed the door, I caught a whiff of the driver's cheap cherry-scented car deodorizer and knew I had two options: either hang my head out the window or wear the scarf.

    I opted for the scarf, and it worked.

    But when I got out of the car at Claridge's Hotel, which was being staked out by paparazzi, I suddenly found myself surrounded by flashbulbs.

    When the scarf came off, you could see the disappointment in the photographers' faces.

    The perfumed garment doesn't always work.

    On a train from Paris to London, I had the misfortune of sitting in the smoking section.

    Cigarette smoke penetrates the scarf easily, leaving me with only one antidote — my Black Fig.

    The woman I sat next to sucked down one unfiltered cigarette after another, enveloping us in a plume of noxious smoke.

    I whipped out the bottle and aimed at the space between us, hoping to neutralize the cloud of carcinogens.

    But I ended up spritzing her. In the eyes.

    Within seconds, the war of smells had turned into a full-blown international incident.

    The woman, who spoke only French, cursed angrily at me.

    A conductor arrived on the scene to mediate.

    I apologized repeatedly in English and my very bad French, but she didn't seem to understand. (The strategy worked, though, and for a while, my chain-smoking seatmate stopped lighting up)

    There are other smells that the scarf can't protect me from.

    Gardenia, a heavy floral perfume, is one of them.

    One time, a client asked me to drive a shipment of more than 100 gardenia-scented candles to her house in the Hamptons.

    Even though I drove there from New York with all of the windows down, the strong, heady odor of the candles overpowered me.

    I spent the next two days in bed recovering from my nausea.

    Since then, I haven't been able to come near anything that smells like gardenia.

    I've found that my scented scarf helps with more than the smells I encounter while I'm traveling.

    Whenever I check into a hotel, I get the "What are you wearing?" question — a reference to the scent.

    I take out a few samples of Black Fig, and distribute them to the cluster of hotel workers who usually gather around me.

    The employees show their gratitude by upgrading me to a better room.

    The last time I visited China, my suite at the InterContinental Hong Kong had a magical view of the harbor, thanks to my scent.


Tell you what: I had the crack research team hot on the trail of Slatkin and Company's Black Fig and Absinthe fragrance within a New York minute of finishing the story.

If it's good enough for Harry Slatkin it's good enough for me.

The scent is characterized as "A deep, woodsy blend of Absinthe and Black Fig infused with Black Currant, West Indian Patchouli, and exotic Kashmir woods with a hint of Black Licorice."


A 3.4 oz. spray bottle of the Eau de Parfum is $60.

But perhaps mademoiselle prefers a more inexpensive introduction to this redoubtable scent.

No problema: also available are shampoo ($24), hair conditioner ($24), bubble soak ($24), foaming body wash ($24) and hand cream ($22).

I went with the body wash.

May 29, 2006 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Your own private 7-Eleven [hot dog roller]


If you're at all like me whenever you happen to be in a 7-Eleven and have to wait in line you can't help but look at those wizened hot dogs slowly rolling over and over in the clear box next to the cash registers.

How long have some of them been in there?

Who buys them?

These are among the great mysteries of our civilization.

But I digress.

From the website:

    Hot Dog Roller

    The key to a perfect hot dog?

    Even grilling.

    But keeping tabs on a grillful of dogs is no picnic.

    This professional hot dog roller keeps them turning in sync and with total precision.

    And when the dogs are done to perfection and ready for their buns, it also serves as a spatula to lift the roller from the grill.

    • Specially designed wood-handled tool turns roller safely and easily

    • Evenly cooks up to 10 hot dogs (or five foot-longs) at a time

    • Measures 12-7/8" x 1-1/4" x 15-1/2" assembled

    • Stainless-steel



$30 (hot dogs not included).

[via Holly E. Thomas and Michelle Thomas, in their "Sunday Shopper" column in yesterday's Washington Post]

May 29, 2006 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Digital Art of Linda Nizan — Venue 23 in Shaftesbury during Dorset [U.K.] Art Weeks


Just in this morning, the following email from the U.K.:


    From: squirtink@btconnect.com

    Subject: Dorset Art Weeks

    Date: May 29, 2006 9:35:34 AM EDT


    We are taking part in Dorset Art Weeks [May 27-June 11].

    We are Venue 23 in Shaftesbury.


    Pop in to see Linda's digital images [above and below].


    Or visit her website —





    Linda and Joss


So should you find yourself in Dorset


this week or next you know what to do.


Tell Linda and Joss bookofjoe sent you.

Or not.

May 29, 2006 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Fridge — Ultimate Chill



Why did it take until now for someone to twig that putting that blue ice stuff inside a drink holder would create the ultimate hand-held?

From the website:

    The Fridge™ keeps your last sip colder than your first!

    The best way to keep drinks cold when you're at the beach, on a picnic, or working in the yard.

    On a hot day, your favorite soda or microbrew will stay icy cold to the last drop.

    The Fridge surrounds your beverage bottle, can or glass with an insulated wall of gel that has been frozen to stay cold for hours.

    It's one of the best ways we've seen for keeping drinks cold!

    Nontoxic and reusable.

    Freezes fast for reuse.


Nominated for a coveted bookofjoe Design Award 2006™.

$6 (drink not included).

May 29, 2006 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Stonehenge in the City


Michael Pollak wrote about it in the May 21, 2006 New York Times as follows.

    Q. I've heard about a "Manhattan solstice," when the sun supposedly lines up along the streets. Is it for real? When does it happen?

    A. Here's the lowdown on the sundown, courtesy of Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History.

    On May 28 and on July 13, the sun will fully illuminate every Manhattan cross street (not the curved or angled ones) on the street grid during the last 15 minutes of daylight, and it will set on each street's center line.

    The sight is breathtaking.

    This is a special photo opportunity, with parts of Manhattan's canyons getting illumination they normally don't get.

    If the Manhattan street grid ran north-south and east-west, the alignment days would be the spring and fall equinoxes, the two days when the sun rises due east and sets due west.

    But the Manhattan grid is angled 30 degrees east from geographic north, shifting the days.

    There are two corresponding mornings of sunrise right on the center lines of the Manhattan grid, Dr. Tyson wrote in an e-mail message: Dec. 5, 2006, and Jan. 8, 2007.

    Those four solstice days will shift no more than a day over four years as a result of leap days, Dr. Tyson wrote.

    But the shift is so small that if you went out only on these dates, you would see the effect just fine.

    "In fact the effect is good for a day on either side of the advertised days, typically offering a range of weather choices for the avid viewer," he wrote.

    As for the sunset next Sunday and on July 13, Dr. Tyson wrote, the sun will line up on the center lines just as its falls halfway below the horizon.

    The official sunset, when "the sun's last smidgen sets below the horizon," lines up on slightly different days, but this one makes for a nicer photo.


Guess what, Gotham gang: you're in luck.

'Cause "In fact the effect is good for a day on either side of the advertised days [one of which was yesterday]...."

So make sure you're out on the street around sunset today if you have any remaining Druid sensibilities — or simply want to pose.

One more thing: how is it that Allan Moult in Tasmania, who emailed me this story last night, saw it and I — who purport to religiously scour the hard copy version of the Times every day for stuff like this so you don't have to, and can go about your very important business — didn't?

You can bet your bottom dollar my crack research team's gonna be taken out back to the woodshed (it's adjacent to my skunk works, in case you were wondering how bookofjoe World Headquarters™ is laid out) for what we call in these parts a good old-fashioned talking-to.

[via Allan Moult and leatherwoodonline]

May 29, 2006 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Black Diamond Butler — Mountain Gear for Urban Life


From websites:

    Black Diamond Butler

    Great for sit-starts, dynos, circuits, traverses and similar moves, the one-inch thick Butler is half sport pack and half bouldering pad that converts into a rucksack to carry your gear.

    Removable padded shoulder straps and a beefy full-length zipper let you throw your rack, your shoes — even your keys — in the middle, zip it up, and head to the boulders or crag.

    Dimensions (open): 36 x 36 x 1 inches (92cm x 92cm x 2.5cm).

    Weight: 3 lb. 5 oz. (1.5 kg).


I see this device as an ultra-cool, technical yet low-tech briefcase/carry-all/backpack for anything and everything under the sun.


If it's tough enough to go mountaineering it can certainly handle your sweaty gym gear, funky lunch and anything else you might happen to pick up in the course of your day.

Nice color too.


By the way — what's a dyno?

May 29, 2006 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Guy Goma — 'The Wrong Guy' — gets big


Just up, his website: guygoma.com.

If you're one of the six people left on the planet who hasn't yet heard of this 21st-century Chauncey Gardiner (above), now you can remedy your shortcoming.

His site's got a link to the now-legendary interview that put him on the map.

But maybe you don't have time to fool around visiting websites and all while you're at work: you're important, a legend in your own mind, as Dandy Don Meredith memorably said of his Monday Night Football broadcasting partner Howard Cosell.


I feel your self-importance.

Here's a direct link to the video.

Now take a chill pill already, eh?

As Edgar Hilaire Germain Degas (yes, that Degas — actually Dugas, but I really don't have time for this kind of nonsense, I'm a very, very busy man) once remarked, "Some forms of success are indistinguishable from panic."

Ring a bell?

Or was that the clue phone in the background?

Hard to tell, what with all the excitement at your place.

As if.

As regards TV commentary by talking heads, screenwriter William Goldman once said of Hollywood, "Nobody knows anything."

That goes for BBC television as well.

And don't even bother wondering about the U.S. networks, dead companies walking all.

Long story short, by Dan Mitchell in the May 26 New York Times:

    The Wrong Guy

    In retrospect, it seems inevitable that Guy Goma — the man accidentally interviewed by the BBC last week in a case of mistaken identity — would become an Internet celebrity.

    The BBC hauled Mr. Goma onto its soundstage and started asking him about downloading music.

    He had no idea what was going on, but he answered well enough.

    The interviewer thought he was Guy Kewney, a technology journalist, but he was just a guy who was there looking for a job.

    The video has been passed around the Internet, and is featured on a new site, guygoma.com, dedicated to the incident and to Mr. Goma's job search.


Here's a link to a May 16 BBC story about its own goof; on the page is a link to the video that's made him a household name worldwide — except in the six households referenced in the second sentence of this post.

May 29, 2006 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Scale Clock


I confess to having a weakness for devices that exhibit even a glimmer of AI.

This is one such object.

From the website:

    Salter Aquatronic Scale

    Measures dry and liquid ingredients and then automatically switches to 12/24 hour clock when hung from utensil rack or wall.

    • Touch screen with superlarge LCD display.

    • Hanging bracket included.

    • US and metric.

    • Stainless-steel.


I also very much like the alien artifact look of it.

$69.99 (lithium battery included).

May 29, 2006 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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