reading: wine, wine, wine

On August 29, 2015 by theseventhsphinx

wine books

Sense a theme? We are very into wine.

Red, White, and Drunk All Over, Natalie MacLean — An entertaining and practical book by a young, stylish wine writer – half the story of her life as a wine writer and half useful wine user’s manual. A condensed and approachable guide to serving and enjoying wine. Often funny as well, as the title implies.

Adventures on the Wine Route: A Wine Buyer’s Tour of France, Kermit Lynch — A passionate importer shares tales from the road. If you’re not already into wine this might not provide enough context but quite interesting if you’re into French wine. Lots of vignettes/mini histories of his favorite producers.

How to Love Wine, Eric Asimov — A general call not to be intimidated by wine from the New York Times wine critic. Not bad as an opening text if you are just getting into wine, with the basic concept that wine is meant to be enjoyed, and advice to help you avoid all those pitfalls that can make it no fun at all (i.e. stressing out about impressing people (probably you are good at other things), being intimidated by your lack of wine knowledge (you don’t need any to know what you like), worrying that your palate isn’t good enough (it is), bad wine (not as common as it used to be), paying too much (you don’t have to), etc.). Likely preaching to the choir if you already love wine but satisfying to have someone writing intelligent things about wine with which you can agree, reaffirming your good sense.

Bordeaux/Burgundy: A Vintage Rivalry, Jean-Robert Pitte — Great if you are into the history of these regions, which is vast and complex. Lots of rich detail. Reads a bit like a thesis in parts (could be a translation issue – originally written in French, which we like) but obviously well-researched. [See also this interesting tasting/debate with Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson on the topic]

Tasting Pleasure: Confessions of a Wine Lover, Jancis Robinson — Jancis Robinson is to Britain what Robert Parker is to the U.S., the most influential wine critic. Unlike Parker, though, Robinson seems infinitely more personable to me, and more in line with my approach to wine (she doesn’t think much of scores, for example). She co-authors the definitive World Atlas of Wine, did a great series of videos on major grape varieties for the BBC, did an interview/ tasting with the quirky WineLibraryTV (pretty funny contrast between host and guest), and is the author of dozens of books about wine, including this memoir.  This chronicles how she sort of stumbles into being such an influential wine critic, and some of her memorable tastings and projects. I’ve liked all of her writing, and really all of her speaking, which is intelligent and no-nonsense with a good sense of humor…I like her.

Reading Between the Wines, Terry Theise — Wine philosophy. Theise reflects on what it means to make wine, what it means to make good wine, what it means to enjoy wine, what it means for wine to be beautiful, what it means for anything to be beautiful…if you are interested in thoughts on what makes a good life, this is a really interesting read.

Passion on the Vine, Sergio Esposito — Of all the wine memoirs* I’ve been reading, this is the best memoir in its own right, independent of wine data. Funny, with life and wine nicely integrated, engaging writing.

*I’m calling them wine memoirs, books written by people who are passionate about wine that are partly about the people and partly about their experiences with wine, though some are more guides or manifestos than memoirs.

Reflections of a Wine Merchant, Neal Rosenthal — As with the Lynch, you want to be pretty into wine to go for this, otherwise it’s a bunch of people and regions and details about wine. OK, but Lynch and Esposito were more interesting to me.

 

mirror, mirror

On August 23, 2015 by theseventhsphinx

“Staring and staring into the mirror, it sees many faces within its face – the face of the child, the boy, the young man, the not-so-young man – all present still, preserved like fossils on superimposed layers, and, like fossils, dead. Their message to this live dying creature is: Look at us – we have died – what is there to be afraid of?

It answers them: But that happened so gradually, so easily. I’m afraid of being rushed.”
― Christopher Isherwood,  A Single Man

“Whatever may be their use in civilized societies, mirrors are essential to all violent and heroic action.”
― Virginia Woolf,  A Room of One’s Own

“Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror.”
― P.G. Wodehouse,  Right Ho, Jeeves

reflection

Mirrors are undoubtedly strange. Common, so we get used to having them everywhere, at least in privileged areas of the world, but for me they never lose their strangeness.

There is the strangeness of the mirror-image itself, the version of the self most familiar to the self, yet bizarrely wonky when compared to a photograph (or reality), the version of the self most familiar to others. Like the discrepancy between your voice as you hear it and your voice on a recording. I have a staunch loyalty to my versions, feeling a shame that the world only gets these diluted, misshapen versions of me.

There is the strangeness of knowing what one looks like at all, the technology for mirrors—and especially accurate, clear mirrors—being relatively recent in human history. There’s a bit in the mockumentary What We Do In the Shadows wherein the vampires, who cannot see their reflections, ask one another to draw their likenesses so they can see what they look like. The drawings are comically bad, which is the bit, but it rings true that they would want to know, and take any scraps of information they could. I want to know. I want every scrap of information.

Then the strangeness of making eye contact with oneself, and seeing (almost seeing) what other people see. And the strangeness of knowing that, because you can only be yourself, you aren’t necessarily seeing what other people see at all, not noticing what they might notice. And so, in a way, you are not able to see yourself at all. I often have this thought with clothing, when I can’t quite decide how it fits. Sometimes I’ll take a photo, and look at that, but what I really want is to see a body identical to mine but not mine wearing the same thing. Then, it seems, on some other being/mannequin/stand-in, I would be able to judge it properly.

reflection

I have a suspicion that I spend more time than the average person in front of the mirror. Likely due to some combination of having a lot of mirrors around, giving my skin a lot of careful attention, doing a fair amount of making up, wanting to check on things generally, not trusting my hair to be where I last put it, and liking the act of looking at myself.

This last reason is not, it is important to clarify, because I think I look so great.* I am equally or perhaps even more interested in looking at myself when I look awful, or just unremarkable, which I mean in a matter-of-fact way, sans negativity.** I mainly look unremarkable (that is, normal). Still, I don’t seem to tire of inspecting my reflection, as if it might tell me something.

*Though I do sometimes think this, or something like this. It is more that I now and then have a glad feeling toward my face, like I might toward at anything that pleased me in the moment.  Not necessarily because it is ‘pretty’^ in that moment (not because it’s been made to look so-called pretty), but because I just like it, for whatever reason.

^Pretty is a problematic term, no? I use it but as a commercio-cultural construct it’s difficult.

**Negativity is aimed directly at various blemishes and scars to maintain a good relationship with the face as a whole.

reflection

My face and body, though in a sense random, genetically random, don’t feel random. They feel integrated. Not significant, exactly, not as if they mean anything, but influential, yes. Perhaps this is only my attachment to the material world.

 

new gold

On August 20, 2015 by theseventhsphinx

Remember my gold python print spirit bikini?

gold python print bikini

I just found it some sneaker soul mates. Cream, white and gold, basically all of my favorite things.

new balance gold salt sneakers jcrew

These are New Balance 620s in gold salt, a style created for J Crew. Love them?

Gotta love birthday sneakers.

x

 

the gladiators

On August 16, 2015 by theseventhsphinx

Damn I love a gladiator sandal.

Free People Cypress gladiators

These are the Cypress gladiator sandals from Free People, which carries a bunch of appealing gladiator styles, if you’re on the hunt. This was the year I finally found the knee-high gladiator. No support in the footbed so some kind of supplemental padding is in order, at least for me, but I’m pleased with their badassness overall.

Free People Cypress gladiators

What is it about the gladiator? The ancient Greece connection, for sure. Basically those statues in the MFA? That’s exactly how I want to dress. Actually literally exactly. Sometimes.

Then there’s the encasement of the foot and possibly also leg, which can be pleasantly intricate or, equally pleasantly, simple, all while conforming to the shape of the foot (not masking or disguising the silhouette of the human foot but still enhancing it). The classic natural leather (or, these days, at least made to look natural). This kind of timeless design is invariably versatile, easily holding its own in a much more formal context. I don’t think I care about that, though…I just like them.

Have you seen designs from the brand Ancient Greek Sandals? Fantasy sandals.

[Then, also, Scandal.]

Free People Cypress gladiators

theseventhsphinx

Often I think my profile looks bizarre, I think because I hardly ever see it. Strange how different a face can look when you just shift the angle a little.

theseventhsphinx fotd

Quick face breakdown: Kjaer Weis Desired Glow cream blush (love), Becca shimmering skin perfector in Opal (also love, but I like a lot of other highlighters as well. I love highlighter. I should write a post about that…), Benefit Gimme Brow, Milani blush in Luminoso (a little too shimmery for some purposes but a lovely peachy coral, famously popular in the youtube/bloglands), Charlotte Tilbury Color Chameleon in Amber Haze (so easy to work with, a great eye crayon), MAC Cream in Your Coffee lipstick (a new one, so good! My new favorite neutral, more mauve than I expected it would be from swatches), Koh Gen Do Aqua foundation (so, so good for a natural, light-medium coverage, only detectable where my skin was too dry), Charlotte Tilbury pressed powder. I’m late to the powder party but I believe in the power of powder now. I still don’t always wear it, but I believe.

Oh! And a few individual lashes (Ardell, short bunches), which, at least in person, make a massive difference. Kind of a pain at my bottom-rung lash application experience level, but they make a difference.

Free People Cypress gladiators

From the front, though!

Express hi-rise cutoffs, Madewell belt, Skagen watch, Free People sandals, the wooden earrings I think from a street vendor? Other stuff thrifted. A peasant blouse that isn’t too…forced, is hard to find, but so worth it when you do.

This look is quintessential summer to me: white shirt, jean shorts, great sandals, minimal accessories.

Free People Cypress gladiators, summer essentials

Skagen watch theseventhsphinx

Love how mannish this watch, yet not comically oversized on my in fact not-really-that-small wrist. I am often wearing one Skagen watch or another.

x

violet mood

On August 13, 2015 by theseventhsphinx

What is it about violet?

A bit of red, a bit of blue, beautiful on all skin tones and eye colors in some shade or another, unmistakably a color in the child’s sense, non-neutral, not of the earthground. Purple was, historically, my favorite color. The color that had, from the age one can identify discrete colors to, say, 13?, no peer. A sage green snuck in on it around then, and I grew more diplomatic and embracing in my preferences, but I remember an abiding love for purple.

Can you recall a time when all something had to be was a certain color to ensure success in your eyes? For me it hardly mattered what the thing was, so long as it was some compelling shade of purple. Preferably leaning toward violet, which—perhaps I have only made it up?—is more blue. So simple!

I am still like that with some shades. Even something quite worthless or otherwise unappealing can catch my eye if it strikes a chromatic chord. All that has changed is: the nature of the shade is more precise, and there is more than one.

Here are some of the violet lip things I like, ranging from lavender to fuchsia.

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Revlon ColorBurst Matte Balm in Shameless, MAC lipstick in Heroine, OCC lip tar in Butch, NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream in Copenhagen, MAC pencil in Nightmoth, Buxom Full-On Lip Stick in Havana, ColourPop Grind pencil, Rimmel Violet Pop lipstick, Kat Von D Everlasting Liquid Lipstick in Bauhau5, NARS Audacious Lipstick in Vera

Though there are so many species of purple, I like shades across the spectrum. I think it’s not so much about finding a shade that works for you in the broad sense of warm vs cool or pale vs dark, but a much more particular question of finding specific shades within each region. I think this goes for all colors, reds and oranges, pinks and so on. And for all wearable things, really, not only lipstick. Lipstick is a good example, though, as it is produced in such a crazy volume of often very very very similar shades, and you can establish fine distinctions in compatibility within each shade family.

It means, too, that lipstick lives on those borders between shade names. It’s a great reminder of how hazy the distinctions between colors are, and how fluid a creature color is. I think we can forget this with our shorthand color names, forget that those names are abbreviating small worlds of visible color.

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This ability to hone in on a precise shade is powerful because while vaguely hitting the target of a shade that is flattering to your complexion is effective, hitting the bullseye is devastating. The impact of the right color (colors, there are many) is incredible. You can look more awake, healthier, arresting, demure, sultry, chic, classic, alive in some new, different way to your usual, everyday aliveness. If you haven’t yet had this experience…I’m pretty sure you need to try on more colors.

There is the added appeal of purple being decidedly outside the realm of typical lip colors. It stands out. Whatever the shade, it reads in bold print.

Mini reviews:

Revlon ColorBurst Matte Balm in Shameless : Love this formula, this is not the best of the shades in terms of payoff but: drugstore purple! This is the truest purple of the bunch, the closest to your rainbow purple.

MAC lipstick in Heroine: Needs a lip pencil but a great, medium purple for yellow or olive skin tones. It’s bizarrely bright, and fantastic because it is so, so, so not your natural lip color. I don’t know of anything natural that is quite this color.

OCC lip tar in Butch: A pain to apply but really fun colors, and they stay put. This hovers on the border between lavender and powder blue. Good to have a few fun colors like this, I say.

NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream in Copenhagen: was just talking about this, these can be messy to apply as well but great colors and a great price – this shade the darkest of the lot: autumn all over.

MAC pencil in Nightmoth: MAC pencils are a little dry but this also means they don’t move around on you and make a solid base. Nightmoth is a deeply pretty pinky aubergine.

Buxom Full-On Lip Stick in Havana: I don’t love this formula, somewhat patchy and smells poorly perfumed (semi-disguised play-doh), but this color is a great dark aubergine if you stick with it. Actually I don’t at all recommend this, but I don’t dislike it enough to ditch it, quite.

ColourPop Grind pencil: quite pleased with these pencils. Decently creamy, nicely pigmented, great out-of-the-box color selection, $5. This is a great match for MAC Heroine, just a little less yellow.

Rimmel Violet Pop lipstick: an easy, bright raspberry. Keep it up, Rimmel.

Kat Von D Everlasting Liquid Lipstick in Bauhau5: A vivid hot-house fuchsia. Lips that practically leap off your face. Fantastic long-wearing formula.

NARS Audacious Lipstick in Vera: A perfect warm aubergine. Slick and creamy formula, really lovely. As with most formulas, some colors perform better than others.

And some swatches done haphazardly on the back of my hand, taken with my phone, in a different order, with Revlon forgotten. You’re welcome!

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MAC Heroine, MAC Nightmoth, Buxom Havana, NYX Copenhagen, KVD Bauhau5, ColourPop Grind, Rimmel Violet Pop, NARS Vera, OCC Butch

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IMG_9946

sweet william, oregano, mini cala lillies

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