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Sometimes moving, often funny, always revealing: These essays from the Style section of The New York Times chart the course of love in all its varieties, from romantic infatuation and new-parent jitters to the deeper complications wrought by loss, death and irrevocable change.
The best of The New York Times's Travel section, the standard-setter in travel journalism. Beguiling photos accompany articles that serve as practical guides for readers with wanderlust.
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The journalist, author and New York Times perfume critic offers unique insight into the world of scent. His thorough reporting on the art, science, business and culture of scent provides a rare glimpse into the $31 billion industry.
Friday nights, I push aside my books and student papers, and instead of working, working, working, I turn on my TV, put in a DVD, and there he is: a boy I once believed I loved 20 years ago and never spoke to again, now starring on a popular television drama.
I have been renting this man -- this TV drama, rather -- on DVD for weeks, tuning in addictively with a plate of pasta balanced on my knees, and hitting the ''Play All Episodes'' button with abandon. I keep a bottle of wine and my two cats close by as I study this actor, whom I remember as distinctly as the green dress I wore for him, the margarita he offered me across a candlelit table, or the scent of his garden's gardenias.
He was beautiful then, and aware of his beauty, and I see on this DVD that he is more beautiful now, and seductively less aware. He is a solid middle-aged man who moves his body without embarrassment or pride, comfortable in his perfect skin. He delivers his lines without affect. He's pragmatic, a charmer, a flirt. He drinks circumspectly. Occasionally, he lies. And he seems to know I am sitting alone in a dark, unfurnished house, unable to look away as the drama unfolds.
The TV Guide I bought with my frozen lasagna reports that he is a doting father, a quiet family man who's shy, especially about kissing. I turn the pages, pour more wine?
The heat. The traffic. The crowds. That's all anyone ever talks about when you say you're going to Bangkok. All of it's true, of course -- particularly the part about the traffic, as you will discover if you bypass this city's efficient mass transit system and instead find yourself trapped in a one-hour cab ride covering a distance that, on a map, looked like no more than a 10-minute journey. But there are surprising pockets of tranquillity in this city of nearly 9 million people -- leafy temple complexes, graceful neighborhoods, inviting restaurants -- that offer a chance of momentary rest or rejuvenation before you head back out into the mesmerizing chaos that is Bangkok.
DRINKS AT SUNSET
The Chao Phraya River, with its constantly running ferries, water taxis, long-tail boats and freighters, is one of Bangkok's most beguiling features, and there is perhaps no better place to take in its charms than the terrace bar at the Oriental hotel. Have a Singapore Sling -- if not here, then where? -- as you watch this watery procession glide by. Ferry stop: Oriental (N1).
The contemporary Thai art scene hasn't generated the buzz of either China or Vietnam, but you can get a quick glimpse of what local artists are up to at Eat Me (1/6 Soi Pipat 2; 66-2-238-0931; www.eatmerestaurant.com). This coolly elegant restaurant, with seats in both the sleek dining room and the inviting outdoor garden, features rotating exhibits of local artists, often in conjunction with the well-regarded H Gallery on nearby Sathorn Soi. Among recent offerings were lemongrass prawns with coconut cream and betel leaves (260 baht, or about $8 at 33.5 baht to the dollar), a tea-smoked spatchcock with eggplant relish and tamarind butter (590 baht) and a dessert of "spiced, drunken fruit" with ginger ice cream (280 baht). Skytrain stop: Sala Daeng.
(EMMRICH. 1839 words.)
SCENT NOTES: A CLICHED FRAGRANCE SELLS BETTER THAN IT SMELLS
By CHANDLER BURR
From T: The New York Times Style Magazine
Copyright 2008 Chandler Burr
+ (one star)
Allure Homme Sport
Scents are constructed with very different philosophies and aesthetics and, as a result, differ fundamentally from one another. The works of every artistic medium, from painting to literature, lie along this continuum. Music, for example, can be pure art (Bach), intellectual art (Schoenberg), political philosophy (Dylan) and commercial product (Ashlee Simpson).
Allure Homme Sport illustrates this better than perhaps any other fragrance. Chanel still puts excellent, expensive raw materials into its juices: Ernest Beaux's 1922 perfume Chanel No. 22, reedited by Chanel perfumers Jacques Polge and Chris Sheldrake and reintroduced last year, is one of the medium's greatest works of pure art. (It is a floral.)
Antoine Lie and Antoine Maisondieu's Rossy de Palma, for Etat Libre d'Orange, is intellectual art (the smells of rose plus blood), and Jean-Claude Ellena's L'Eau d'Hiver for Frederic Malle is political philosophy (defiant utopianism).
Polge's Allure Homme Sport is commercial product.
That Chanel would launch a scent whose sole reason for existing is to make money is not unreasonable. Chanel is a for-profit company. And Allure Homme Sport is by all technical measures -- diffusion, stability, structure -- a precision machine. Which is exactly the problem: It is a machine, of a very particular type.
Key to the Ratings:
(0) Do not inhale
(**) Eminently sniffable
(****) Total nose job
(BURR. 1004 words.)
Jeff Seglin's The Right Thing
THE RIGHT THING: A SICK IDEA
By JEFF SEGLIN
Copyright 2008 Jeff Seglin
RIGHT-THING-COLUMN -- You've cleared your calendar so that you have nothing scheduled for the upcoming weekend. You plan to complete several projects around the house that you have been putting off. All goes according to plan until the weekend rolls around and you are felled by a miserable cold that has been going around but that you had avoided ... until now. You find yourself sneezy, congested, lightheaded and relegated to a weekend of tissues and bed rest. No home projects for you. By the time Sunday night rolls around, you're feeling better -- certainly well enough to go to work the next day -- but that's no help with your home chores. How can you ever hope to get this work on your house done?
That's the scenario painted by a reader in California. His question: "Would it be ethical to call in sick on Monday to work on my house, instead of going to work, even though you're 100-percent healthy?"
Like everyone else in the office, my reader was asked to participate. She declined, stating that she already cleans up after herself. "I have reared my children and I taught them how to clean up after themselves," she writes. "I don't see why I now need to be a maid to these lazy people." She was told that she would not be included on the clean-up committee, and indeed she wasn't.
So, is my reader really all that wrong to consider bending the truth a tiny bit in the interest of fixing up his house?