The Sunday Magazine: Why the Search for the new Jeopardy! Host is Getting it Wrong

For almost thirty-seven years Alex Trebek was the host of the television game show Jeopardy! If you’ve ever read stories of contestants or heard Mr. Trebek in numerous interviews you heard the same thing. He would tell contestants prior to taping “You are the star of Jeopardy!”. For every show he hosted that was the case. He knew and innately understood this was a show where the intelligence of the contestants was the prime directive. Not placing the spotlight on the host. Which is why this current guest host as auditions is a failure.

Since the beginning of the year there had been a series of guest hosts. They came from all different places. They were able to shepherd the game professionally, but it never felt like any of them understood the contestants were the stars. They were too busy campaigning. There was one big, surprising exception to this.

A couple weeks ago they decided to name the executive producer of the show Mike Richards as permanent host with actress Mayim Bialik as host of special episodes in primetime. Then the children who inhabit the internet had to get to work tearing down those choices. They succeeded in driving Mr. Richards off the show and out of a job entirely. In the meantime there was unseemly campaigning from those the internet wants to have the job. For most of the last month all you’ve heard about in relation to Jeopardy! is nonsense about the host.

Current 18-Day Champion Matt Amodio

What makes all of this particularly annoying is nobody has mentioned the current 18-day champion Matt Amodio. He will be returning when new episodes begin to air. He is the third highest money winner in the history of the game. He plays an aggressive game hunting for Daily Doubles and betting big when he finds them. He is on the kind of streak Mr. Trebek loved to see and applaud. Have you seen a single story about him heading in to the new season? No you haven’t. You have heard every jerk trying to shove their way into the role forgetting who the star of the show is.

I did mention an exception. When ex-player Buzzy Cohen was named as guest host to oversee this years Tournament of Champions I expected more of the same stuff as the other guest hosts. Especially because as a player he was an extroverted look-at-me type. Except when he took his place behind the podium, he remembered who Mr. Trebek told him were the stars of Jeopardy! and he acted like that. He gave each champion their opportunity and space to thrive in the annual tournament of the best. Of every single guest host he was the only one who remembered who is important on Jeopardy!

I don’t know who they’ll eventually pick but I hope someone paints above their dressing room mirror, “You aren’t the star of the show, they are!” Until someone takes that to heart this is going to be a failure.

Mark Behnke

Discount Diamonds: Elizabeth Taylor White Diamonds- La Liz Shows the Way

Every trend has a beginning. Prior to 1991 the idea of putting a celebrity’s name on a perfume was unheard of. After the success of Elizabeth Taylor White Diamonds the brands couldn’t find someone to partner with fast enough. Even this was a slow burn. White Shoulders was the third fragrance released with Ms. Taylor’s name. Two gendered versions of Passion preceded it. At this point in time Ms. Taylor was an all-caps large font “star”. The public fascination with her was voracious in a time where that played out in supermarket tabloids instead of Gawker. She had her own nick name La Liz. Because of the less relentless pressure she was able to ride that wave of notoriety without wiping out.

Her foray into fragrance wasn’t a failure through the two versions of Passion. It was just that nobody saw the popularity of White Shoulders ahead of its release. Perfumers Carlos Benaim and Olivier Gillotin were seemingly tasked to create an “elegant” white floral. This is all happening right on the cusp of fragrance trends taking a hard left towards fresh and clean. To their credit they designed White Diamonds as if that was never going to happen.

Carlos Benaim

White Diamonds felt like a throwback even in 1991. The perfumers throw a cloud of aldehydes over a fresh lily. In hindsight I can say here is where a little fresh resides. It disappears when a floral ingredient as exuberant as La Liz appears in tuberose. This is a full volume version. The indoles add a skank to it which jasmine and narcissus call out to. It heads towards a patchouli and sandalwood base given some warmth via amber.

White Diamonds has 6-8 hour longevity and above average sillage in its current formulation.

The bottle I own is from around 2000. I also picked up a mini of the current version. The biggest difference when comparing is there is more jasmine in the heart now. It still doesn’t hesitate in showing off the indoles. The base is also less complex, but I can’t quite put my finger on it. It isn’t as intense as it was in the original. Something is missing. I don’t think it dramatically changes things because it is the aldehydic top accord and the tuberose heart which makes this.

White Diamonds was a gigantic best-seller for well over a decade. Even after the trends went far away people kept buying it. Re-visiting it I forgot the freshness of that top accord and what a contrast the dirty indoles make with it. It still seems like an artifact of an earlier fragrance era. The influence was really felt in the hundreds of celebrities who would rush to put their name on a perfume.

Disclosure: this review is based on bottles I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Ferragamo Spicy Leather What a 2021 Powerhouse Smells Like

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There are days when I reach for one of the 1970’s powerhouses that I feel I am showing my age. I don’t care but fifty years on these old warhorses feel like a relic. They remain great perfumes just not part of today’s fragrance landscape. In the current transparent world of scent I’ve been wondering if you could convert one of those older styles into a 2021 version. Ferragamo Spicy Leather comes close to doing that.

Earlier this year the brand released Intense Leather. I found that an interesting effort to lighten up a leather accord as part of a spring floral. Perfumer Antoine Maisondieu crafted a lightweight leather accord that fit the intent. He is also the nose behind Spicy Leather. This time he takes some of pieces of the 1970’s and re-assembles them into a modern analog.

Antoine Maisondieu

M. Maisondieu achieves this concept by again featuring a lighter leather accord. This is a more compelling version than what he used in Intense Leather. It has a little more grit. Just enough to be an interesting nucleus.

The leather accord is present from the start. He adds in saffron to create the early contrast. The saffron shimmers over the leather instead of impregnating it. What does penetrate the leather accord is a healthy dose of black pepper. Most of the time this would get pushed to the side by a fuller leather accord. Here it adds the promised spice. Clary sage and nutmeg attenuate some of the rougher parts of the pepper. The base is a fraction of patchouli and dry sandalwood. This completes the opaque construction.

Spicy Leather has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

This is a smart modernization of those classics of fifty years ago. It doesn’t necessarily smell like any one of them. What it does is offer a 2021 perspective on a similar recipe perhaps leading to today’s version of powerhouse.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Salvatore Ferragamo.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Trudon Aphelie- Among the Vines

When we lived in Massachusetts, we had a trellis next to the front porch where roses grew. One of the pieces of caring for them is to prune them back after the first frost of the fall. It was not one of my favorite tasks. I always ended up with scrapes from the thorns. Many was the year that I thought about digging them up at this time. After I was done, I’d take off my gloves and apply some antiseptic to my cuts. As I would pick up the gloves the scent of rose scented vegetation came off them. I thought it was a nice natural fragrance. Trudon Aphelie seemingly is designing a perfume to mimic that memory.

Julien Pruvost

Trudon is the perfume brand of the well-known luxury candle makers Cire Trudon. Creative director Julien Pruvost guided the brand into the perfume business four years ago. What I admire about his direction is he avoids being a trend follower. He is willing to ask his perfumers to think beyond them.

Antoine Lie

For Aphelie he reunites with perfumer Antoine Lie who did Bruma in the debut collection. In this instance the name refers to the aphelion or when the earth is at its furthest point from the sun. It fits with my autumn day pruning being close to that moment. Aphelie is designed to be a very green vegetal fragrance.

This begins in a tangle of ivy. This is one of my favorite vegetal notes. It doesn’t get used enough. There is a strong leafiness attended by a slightly peppery spiciness. M. Lie cranks it up. He then laces a simple rose through his vines. They never come close to being on top. They act as an ameliorating presence. Blackcurrant bud adds a sticky sap to this. This was that smell off my gloves where the sap was stuck. Moss adds in a soft green contrast. Like a plush green upholstery. As it all clicks in place the rose sticks up among the thick vines. The whole thing is framed by a dry sandalwood.

Aphelie has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

This makes the eighth Trudon perfume. M. Pruvost is assembling a formidable collection thorns and all.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review DS & Durga Sweet Do Nothing- West Texas Vastness

When I was in graduate school, I drove cross-country with one of my roommates from Georgia to California. We picked up I-10 and drove west. Of the 2400 miles of the highway a third of them are in Texas. There was a time when it felt like we would never get out of the state. This was especially true once we left San Antonio behind. There were small towns and truck stops dotting the West Texas landscape. It was high summer in the desert. When we would stop to stretch our legs there was a scent to this part of the world. The access roads were lined by wooden telephone poles soaked in creosote. The dry winds always carried the sharp smell. There was also the scent of the green vegetation that grew and a bit of the flowers that thrived in this environment. DS & Durga Sweet Do Nothing reminds me of all this.

David Seth Moltz

This is the second Texas inspired fragrance from independent perfumer David Seth Moltz. Six years ago he was inspired by the city of Marfa in creating El Cosmico. It was a relentlessly dry woody style impregnated with creosote. It was monolithic. With Sweet Do Nothing it seems as if he is giving it another attempt.

The biggest difference this time is the telephone pole is part of a more complex landscape. Mr. Moltz doesn’t even get to it first. He opens with an accord built around neroli and orange blossom. The green piece of neroli finds some vegetal partners. The orange blossom is made creamier through fig. Incense evokes the dryness of the West Texas air.

It is now where the creosote comes in. Creosote has a smoky terpenic scent profile. It is sharp. It can also be unpleasant. Mr. Moltz finds a place for it to thrive among the green and florals. Cedar rises in prominence over the later stages as if the late afternoon heat is washing things out. This time when it is just the creosote and cedar it feels like a completed journey.

Sweet Do Nothing has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

This is an interesting contrast to El Cosmico. I enjoyed it much more than the strident predecessor. Sweet Do Nothing seems as vast as the plains of West Texas.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Diptyque Kyoto- Paging Tom Robbins

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Of all the questions I am asked about perfume, “What is your favorite book on perfume?” is one of the most frequent. My answer has always been Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins. I’m not going to recap the plot except for one thing, there are lots of beets. I’ve been waiting for a long time for a perfume that gives beets their due. Diptyque Kyoto is it.

Myriam Badault

Diptyque is pulling out all the stops celebrating this 60th anniversary year. For the fall they are releasing a limited-edition Grand Tour collection. Along with Kyoto, Venise is the other. A lot of times when perfume brands go all out for their anniversaries, they can lose what made them last so long. Creative director Myriam Badault has overseen a set of releases this year which have done a great job of showcasing what makes Diptyque remain relevant as they get their AARP card.

Alexandra Carlin

Kyoto is inspired by Japan. As of late inspired by Japan has become equivalent to rolling out cherry blossoms. It has almost become a perfume caricature. Which was why I was pleased to see perfumer Alexandra Carlin go in an entirely different direction.

I’ve never visited Japan. If I use the last thirty years of perfume inspired by it there is an efficiency which sets apart the best. Kyoto is an example. Mme Carlin uses three keynotes in rose, vetiver, and incense. The fourth ingredient is beetroot. It acts as a catalyst pulling together the three ingredients through a unique scent profile.

A spicy Turkish rose opens things. This is a sultry swoosh of piquant petals. Vetiver comes next with its green grassiness out front. It adds a significant amount of freshness keeping the rose from becoming too overbearing. The final keynote, incense skirls through the rose and vetiver in austere silvery spirals. For a few minutes these pieces are present but nothing special. Then the beetroot changes everything.

Beetroot is a fascinating scent profile. It has a soil-like earthiness akin to geosmin, but way less intense. It also has that sweetness that beet sugar comes from. This is also markedly sweet but also much lighter than other choices. Here the sweetness grabs the rose adding texture to the floral. It also coaxes the earthy part of patchouli out from behind the grassiness. The incense just adds a resinous veil throughout.

Kyoto has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

Diptyque has been one of the brands which has been consistently doing transparent without becoming boring. Now in their 60th year the rest of the perfume world has caught up. I’ve been waiting for a perfume to use beetroot in this way. I wonder if I should let Mr. Robbins know?

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Nordstrom.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Ariana Grande God is a Woman- New Direction, Same Quality

Over the last three years the fragrances with Ariana Grande’s name on them have been surprisingly good for celebuscents. One reason is the creative team, who I am still frustratingly unable to identify made a smart move. They hopped on the transparent floral gourmand bandwagon right away. Starting with Cloud and followed by Thank U Next and REM they produced three of the better examples of the trend. They also chose to house them in eye-catching bottles which for a change weren’t the only creative thing on display. I was wondering if they were going to keep on working the trend or if they might make a change. Ariana Grande God is a Woman signals that maybe a new day has begun.

Perfumer Jerome Epinette is behind this new perfume. He was the composer of Thank U Next. His general style fits the transparent goals of the brand. That characteristic remains. What is different is instead of floral gourmand, God is a Woman is a fruity floral. Some might think that is an undetectable distinction. The three earlier releases while being sweet used cookie or pastry-like accords to partner the floral. Here it is a recognizable fruit in pear.

Jerome Epinette

The pear is what begins this. Now this is probably the creative team jumping on another trend. Especially in the mass-market sector it seems like there was a sale on the pear perfume ingredient. I feel safe in saying I have received a perfume featuring pear at least once a week this year. That doesn’t make it good or bad because it is the rest of the fragrance which determines whether it is enjoyable.

In this case M. Epinette takes the botanical musk of ambrette seed and wraps it around the pear. Having this up front gives the pear a subtle shading so that the fruitiness doesn’t blare off the skin. It diffuses it until its floral partner arrives. Iris comes forward in a way I don’t usually get in a mass-market release. He uses the powderiness which is usual. It adds to the hazy fruit. What also comes out is the rootiness in the carrot-y way iris sometimes has. It harmonizes especially well with the ambrette seed. This is an unusually kinetic accord for this kind of fragrance. A little vanilla adds some extra sweetness like a spritz of whipped cream on top.

God is a Woman has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

The creative team behind these Ariana Grande perfumes is doing a fantastic job. They are choosing good perfumers while allowing them some freedom to design differently. While I have no idea of the gender of God, I do know this creative team knows what they’re doing.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Ulta.

Mark Behnke

The Sunday Magazine: The White Lotus

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Just as I hope those who visit Colognoisseur find my opinion to have some value, I have critics who I like a lot. Much of the books, music, movies, and television I partake of comes from when there is a consensus among them. Every once in a while, I walk away baffled at what they are praising. This was my experience with the TV series “The White Lotus”.

The reason I was so interested was HBO had given critics the entire series for them to review. Most of the time they only get a few episodes. Almost uniformly they wrote of this satirical look at class in America. It was created by Mike White who also created one of my favorite series “Enlightened”. That was a sharp commentary on the business world that I enjoyed. I thought this could be similarly illuminating.

The premise is The White Lotus is an exclusive resort in Hawaii. Guests are brought there to have a luxurious vacation experience. The show focuses on a pair of newlyweds. A neurotic woman there to spread her recently deceased mother’s ashes. A family headed by a woman who created her own company accompanied by her family. Their stay is overseen by the manager of the hotel. In the prologue in the first episode you learn somebody dies. The following five episodes reveals who it was.

Here was my dilemma. By episode 5 I was hoping all of them were the body in the box. This was a collection of unpleasant people doing unpleasant things. Every single one of them. The only sympathetic character is the woman who runs the spa. Her story ends in tears because one of these selfish rich people didn’t give a damn about this person.

I am not sure what Mr. White was after. After nearly six episodes of these characters throwing emotional shrapnel not caring about the collateral damage. They all walk away without any illumination. Oblivious to the horrible people they are. Even when it seems like a couple of them might learn something the moral becomes “the money/status is too important to give up”.

I get that might be realistic, but I watch television to see a story with an arc. This story starts out with a bunch of assholes and ends with a bunch of assholes except one is in a coffin. I wish I had these six hours back.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Burberry Hero- More of the Same

I am always interested when a fashion brand’s creative director chooses to take a part in the fragrance piece. Most just contract it out to a licensee. Previous creative director at Burberry, Christopher Bailey oversaw the fragrances from 2000-2015. During that time the brand became known for making some of the better designer fragrances. For the last five years it has been under the stewardship of their partners at Coty. This has been a span where the brand has been chasing trends. Mostly buying into the transparent style. These have been better than average but nothing overly exciting.

Riccardo Tisci

Riccardo Tisci took over as Burberry Creative Director in 2018. He has spent most of the last three years finding that sweet spot where fashion appeals to TikTok trendsetters and the older demographic they have always appealed to. On that front it is a fascinating work in progress. His collections have been fascinating to watch evolve. Earlier this year Sig. Tisci announced he was going to be creative director for the new summer release, Burberry Hero. If he was aiming for the same intersection this could be equally as interesting as the fashion.

Aurelien Guichard

He chose to work with perfumer Aurelien Guichard. What they produced is a fragrance more pointed towards a younger demographic. Hero continues to hew to the transparent way of designing perfume.

Right from the first moments you understand what Hero is about, cedar. A very fresh accord of three sources of cedar is the beginning, middle, and end of Hero. I received my sample in the summer and cedar works really well for me in the heat. It did the same here. There is a clean woodiness which makes it such a pleasing ingredient. As it develops there is an interesting piece of time where black pepper and astringent juniper berry find some space in the solid woody construction. This is when Hero is at its best. Eventually they fade away and the cedar returns to finish things.

Burberry Hero has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

It isn’t obvious to me where Sig. Tischi’s hand is apparent in Hero. If I didn’t have the press release, I’d be hard pressed to see it as different from the last few years. It falls into that better than average cedar perfume that has become the current standard. Just as his fashion is an evolving aesthetic perhaps the same might happen if he returns to oversee a second fragrance. For now it is just more of the same.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Bloomingdale’s.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review By Kilian L’Heure Verte- The Flip Side

Back in 2007 I remember meeting Kilian Hennessy at a personal appearance. He had traveled to Boston to launch his new fragrance collection, By Kilian. In those days the price tag and presentation staked out new ground in the rapidly expanding niche perfume market. As he introduced us to his line, I kept thinking how good it was. These were perfumes which were taking the idea of artistic perfumery to new places. The brand has become one of the most recognizable luxury perfume brands in the world.

Kilian Hennessy

Out of that first collection one which has always been one of my favorites was A Taste of Heaven. Calice Becker spliced absinthe into a traditional fougere architecture. It was an abstraction of absinthe taken for a crew cut. Fourteen years later absinthe takes center stage again in By Kilian L’Heure Verte.

Mathieu Nardin

L’Heure Verte is the newest addition to “The Liquors” collection. So far, the previous releases have been focused on not creating an abstract of alcoholic ingredients. It is closer to assembling a realistic version. Working with perfumer Mathieu Nardin they create a flip side to that earlier fragrance.

I drink my fair share of absinthe. What I enjoy is the herbal licorice-like bite as it flows over my tongue. M. Nardin uses that as a place to begin. The wormwood accord to represent absinthe has a boozy quality without getting syrupy. It has its nose pointed towards those licorice aspects. He amplifies them by adding licorice. To those who think of this as Twizzlers it is the European version. What that means is an edgy herbal-based candy. It finds the absinthe and forms the fragrance version of the bite on my tongue. To make sure it doesn’t go all dark some violet leaf revives the green pieces of the top accord.

One of the most important ingredients to be fractionated is patchouli. It has provided perfumers a broader vision when they want to use it. M. Nardin chooses one which has the dirty earthy part accentuated. It made me think of clandestine evenings drinking absinthe to distraction. Vetiver acts as the green anchor to keep things from becoming too strident. A dry sandalwood provides the foundation for this bottle of absinthe to rest upon.

L’Heure Verte has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

If you also like A Taste of Heaven, L’Heure Verte adds a more focused experience than that. I will want both because sometimes the flip side is preferred.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Neiman-Marcus.

Mark Behnke