Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Blogspot Mobile

Time for a whiff of fresh air,
I'm corresponding from the plush bucket seat of a luxury coach, somewhere between Hartford, Connecticut and Boston. Yes, friends, we can now coddle our laptops as we cross state lines at 55 mph, all for a paltry $10 thanks to the Bolt Bus!

I'm three hours into the trip, and we just took a break at a truck stop/Burger King for some stretching and snacks. I didn't buy anything, even after spacing out at an ad tacked above the urinal for "2 for $2 Cheez-Its or Meat Stix" Well, now I'm paying the price 'cause the whole bus smells like fries. Steve just called them "devil's fingers" to try and cheer me up but all I can do is sit here and miserably pine for BK while steeping in the smug self-satisfaction of having "will power."

Thursday, May 21, 2009


1. Cigarette smoke wafting in from the downstairs fire escape
2. Fried chicken grease/MSG from the Take-Out Chinese Joint next door
3. Turmeric from the kitchen
4. Pot Smoke from under the door on the second floor
5. Fried chicken grease/MSG from under the door on the second floor
6. Home-grown cilantro!

Thursday, April 23, 2009


For all of my local readers, I present the New York City Subway Smell Map, courtesy of Gawker. Don't be fooled by the "no maps here" writing all over the image. Simply click out of "subway" mode and into "hybrid," then scroll over any subway stop to view reported odors at that station.

Pretty gross.

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Smell of Coffee Tables in the Morning?

Last night, while walking in circles on Powers Street, I had an idea for a Coffee Table Book. It will be about 12" x 12" and an inch and a half thick, with a posh leatherbound cover: something that Indiana Jones or Dumbledore could be proud to have on top of his coffee table. Inside the book, every page will be blank. They'll all be sprayed with a different fragrance, with a sheet of fancy wax paper separating each one (the same kind of wax paper that is unnecessarily inserted into wedding invitations). Fragrances will range from the ordinary such as glossy x-men cards and tile cleaner to rarities like historical colognes and out-of-production perfumes. Don't you wish you could smell Elizabeth Taylor in the 70s?

In the back, there will be the solutions, as a Magic Eye.

Preorder at

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Pizza Signs

It has been approximately three years since I have enrolled in an English Literature course, and I sometimes find myself making up little assignment prompts in order to better understand language and meaning. As I was walking past Danny's Pizza II on the way home from the corner grocery today, the doughy smells coming out of the place were intoxicating as usual. I asked Alisha whether she thought the smell of pizza could be considered a symbol, which seems absurd until we agree on one key point:
the smell of pizza is not pizza-in-itself
Now lets throw some definitions up on the board (courtesy of
Sign: Signs are events or things that direct attention or are indicative of other events or things.

Symbol: A symbol represents something in a completely arbitrary relationship. The connection between signifier and signified depends entirely on the observer, or more exactly, what the observer was taught.
These are fairly close in meaning, but I'm sure as hell nobody taught me to love the smell of pizza. So it's official: pizza smell is a sign, which points to pizza. Please feel free to comment with supporting/debunking evidence.

Just so you don't think I'm taking credit for anything.

Thursday, December 25, 2008


My good friend Mr. Dylan McKeever recently posted a comment regarding SHARKS. Now, as any real child will tell you, sharks can smell a drop of blood from miles away (you'll be able to spot the nerds--they'll say that sharks can detect "one part per million"). Sharks possess nature's most deadly nostrils, but it gets better. Just like our ears can detect the general location of a sound source, i.e. you turn your head when you hear your name called from over there, sharks' "nares" (noses) can do the same. They have STEREO smell!

Let's consider stereoscopic sensing for a second. We can see in 3D because of our brain's understanding of the differences between the two images received from our two eyes. We hear in stereo because our ears are spaced six or so inches apart and rotated away from each other, which leads to slightly different sounds entering each ear. Now let's pretend I just received a new boombox for Christmas. If I place the two speakers right next to each other, the sound all seems to come from one place, and all the instruments seem squashed together, packed into a narrow corridor of sound. But if I space them twenty feet apart from each other, it sounds like the band is spread out really wide! It's easy to tell where each instrument is coming from within the stereo "image." NOW, lets apply this concept to our favorite swim team mascot, the Hammerhead Shark. What at first seems like merely a good aesthetic decision becomes a hell of a tool. Because the nares are spread to the tips of the hammer (up to a meter wide), they create a more pronounced image of the smell, and they are able to track their prey with great accuracy. Don't you wish you could smell in stereo?!

ACTIVITY: Hammerhead Kids
"Smell in Stereo!"

bike helmet
wooden dowel, 1 meter long
aquarium filter tubing ~1.5 meters
electrical tape

1. Attach wooden dowel to bike helmet using electrical tape

2. Cut aquarium tubing in half, attach the end of each half to the ends of the dowel, tape thoroughly

3. Insert free ends of tubing into nostrils.

4. Explore your new world!

Friday, December 19, 2008

First In a Series: The Seven African Powers

Name: The Seven African Powers
Cost: 50 cents for 22 sticks
Verdict: B+

As Xmas approaches lets not forget that two out of three of the original gifts were smells. Frankincense and Myrrh are two sappy resins and the main ingredient of certain high-quality perfumes and incense. In Ancient Rome, Myrrh was worth more than its weight in gold (it can now be found in mouthwash and "gargles"). Although I would like to review these two luxury scents, I don't have the means. But I won't let simple poverty stop me from giving the gift of smell!

I crossed the street to my neighborhood 99 cent store and picked up a box of "The Seven African Powers" incense. The purple bilingual package features an image of Jesus on the cross, surrounded by seven catholic patron saints. A smorgasbord of symbolic imagery is littered at his feet, although I could only make out a few of the more prominent items including a spear, a ladder balanced on air, and a chicken on a pedestal.

The sticks are a brilliant purple color, matching the box. In the bag, they smell soapy, crisp, and clean. Once lit, the burning wood combines with the aromatics to form a surprisingly palatable log-cabin-fireplace meets old-man's-aftershave blend. The ash takes forever to drop and ends up in a Chinese snake banana. It leaves a nice little aftersmell: when I left the room and came back a few minutes later I was pleasantly surprised. It is certainly not of highest quality, but an inoffensive incense is rare in itself and it is a bang for the buck. B+.