DC's

The blog of author Dennis Cooper

The Sporadic History of Aromatic Cinema *

* (restored)


Hans Laube & Mike Todd Jr. w/ The Smell-O-Vision machine

 

1906 – 1940

‘The use of scents in conjunction with film dates back to 1906, before the introduction of sound. In this first instance, a 1958 issue of Film Daily claims that Samuel Roxy Rothafel of the Family Theatre in Forest City, Pennsylvania, placed a wad of cotton wool that had been soaked in rose oil in front of an electric fan during a newsreel about the Rose Bowl Game. In 1929, during the showing of The Broadway Melody, a New York City theater sprayed perfume from the ceiling. Arthur Mayer installed an in-theater smell system in Paramount’s Rialto Theater on Broadway in 1933, which he used to deliver odors during a film. However, it would take over an hour to clear the scents from the theater, and some smells would linger for days afterward.

All of these early attempts, however, were made by theater owners and not part of the films themselves. The audience could be distracted by the scents instead of focusing on what the film director intended. Furthermore, because of the size of the theaters, large amounts of perfume had to be released in order to reach all members of the audience. This caused another problem: The human nose has a difficult time transitioning between smells until the molecules that triggered one smell are completely cleared from the nose, and with that volume of perfume, the scents would mix together, becoming muddled. Walt Disney was the first filmmaker to explore the idea of actually including scents with his 1940 film Fantasia, but eventually decided against pursuing this for cost reasons.

 

1941 – 1958

Emery Stern of Queens, New York, patented a more refined system in 1951. He envisioned a separate scent-selection reel to run in synchronicity with the film, though geared down to a much slower speed. Scents would be distributed through the theater’s ventilation equipment, with their release triggered by a photoelectric signal from the scent reel. Stern suggested using Lucite rods to carry the light signal and quick-dispersing Fréon as a vehicle for the scents. When a scene was over, a neutralizing agent could be released to remove traces of an odor. Late in 1951, the Government announced that patent No. 2,540,144 had been granted to Stern for a device which “will automatically release” various scents from containers built into TV sets. Set off by electrical impulses, the odors were intended to be appropriate to the type of program, e.g., peach blossom for romance. Stern’s system was overlooked in the rush to 3-D and wide screens.

 

1959

‘On October 17, 1959, The New York Times reported that Walter Reade Jr. was rushing to release Behind the Great Wall, a travelogue through China made by Italian director Carlo Lizzani, accompanied by a process called AromaRama to send scents through the air-conditioning system of a theater. “In addition to seeing the action and hearing the dialogue, our audiences will be able to smell the scenes,” said Aromarama’s inventor Charles Weiss. “More than 100 different aromas will be injected into the theater during the film. Among these are the odors of grass, earth, exploding firecrackers, a river, incense, burning torches, horses, restaurants, the scent of a trapped tiger and many more. We believe, with Rudyard Kipling, that smells are surer than sounds or sights to make the heartstrings crack.”

The system Reade used was similar to the one described in Emery Stern’s patents, though the scent track was contained on the movie print itself instead of a separate reel. Air was cleaned for reuse by passing it over a device called the Statronic, whose electrically charged surfaces attracted scent-bearing particles. Reade said his equipment could get a smell to every seat in the house within two seconds and suck it back out almost as quickly, though not all audience members agreed.


To Tell the Truth – Inventor of Aromarama

Behind the Great Wall was released on December 2, 1959, just three weeks ahead of Scent of Mystery, and the competition between the two films was called “the battle of the smellies” by Variety. The film received scathing treatment from New York Times reviewer Bosley Crowther, who called it a “stunt” that had an “artistic benefit” of “nil”. The accuracy of the odors was described as “capricious… elusive, oppressive or perfunctory and banal… merely synthetic smells that occasionally befit what one is viewing, but more often they confuse the atmosphere.” Not all reviews were unfavorable. The New York Herald Tribune said in its review, “Curiously enough, the smells do not give the impression of being blown in or wafted from any specific direction (although they are said to be linked to the airconditioning system.) Actually the individual smells simply appear in the nostrils without any effort being made to sniff or strain for them. And what is more remarkable, each individual odor disappears promptly when the image smelled leaves the screen.”

 

1960

‘When the romantic whodunit Scent of Mystery opened in Los Angeles, New York and Chicago, audiences were treated to more than just sights and sounds. As the projector droned, a device known as a smell brain pumped 30 different scents—wine, freshly baked bread, pipe tobacco, a salty ocean breeze—through a network of tiny tubes to movie viewers’ seats.

‘This was the debut of “glorious Smell-O-Vision,” the masterwork of Hans Laube, touted in publicity accounts of the day as a “world famed osmologist,” and the flamboyant, gimmick-loving Hollywood producer Michael Todd Jr. While Scent of Mystery wasn’t the first attempt to employ aromas in filmmaking, it was by far the most technologically intricate. Beyond that, it was the first—and apparently the only—motion picture that relied on smells as integral devices in the plot. And Laube and Todd had high hopes. Ads for the movie proclaimed: “First they moved (1895)! Then they talked (1927)! Now they smell!”


Peter Lorre in ‘Scent of Mystery’

‘Smell-O-Vision did not work as intended. According to Variety, aromas were released with a distracting hissing noise and audience members in the balcony complained that the scents reached them several seconds after the action was shown on the screen. In other parts of the theater, the odors were too faint, causing audience members to sniff loudly in an attempt to catch the scent. These technical problems were mostly corrected after the first few showings, but the poor word of mouth, in conjunction with generally negative reviews of the film itself, signaled the end of Smell-O-Vision.

‘The history-making nature of Smell-O-Vision aside, audiences and movie critics were unimpressed, and Scent of Mystery quickly evaporated at the box office. Today it’s remembered, if at all, as a bit of trivia on movie-buff websites. Yet Laube and Todd’s attempt to lead moviegoers by their noses presaged a postmodern culture in which the manipulation of scents has become a powerful tool in shaping consumer behavior, with manufacturers assaulting the nostrils with chamomile-scented carpeting and rosebush sofas and wristwatches and mobile phones that smell faintly like coffee. Synthetic aromas have become so ubiquitous that some people consider them environmental hazards. Laube and Todd, in fact, were visionaries.

 

1961 – 1980

Nothing

 

1981


John Waters ‘Polyester’ (trailer)

Polyester was the first of John Waters’ films to skirt the mainstream, even garnering an R rating (his previous films were all unrated or rated X). The film was set in a middle-class suburb of Baltimore instead of its slums and bohemian neighborhoods (the setting of Waters’ earlier films). Odors, especially Francine’s particularly keen sense of smell, play an important role in the film. To highlight this, Waters designed Odorama, a “scratch-and-sniff” gimmick inspired by the work of William Castle and the 1960 film Scent of Mystery, which featured a device called Smell-O-Vision. Although this approach solved the problems inherent in previous attempts at this technology, it did not gain widespread usage for other films.

‘Special cards with spots numbered 1 through 10 were distributed to audience members before the show, in the manner of 3D glasses. When a number flashed on the screen, viewers were to scratch and sniff the appropriate spot. Smells included the scent of flowers, pizza, glue, gas, grass, and feces. For the first DVD release of the film the smell of glue was changed due to, as Waters states, “political correctness”. The gimmick was advertised with the tag “It’ll blow your nose!” In the commentary track on the film’s 2004 DVD release, Waters expressed his delight at having the film’s audiences actually “pay to smell shit”.

 

1982 – 1994

Nothing

 

1995

In 1995, the BBC’s Children in Need brought scratch and sniff smell-o-vision to the masses. Through the Saturday evening family show Noel’s House Party, viewers could experience various odors to complement their television experience.

 

1996 – 2006

Nothing

 

2007

‘For Terrence Malick’s film The New World, Shochiku, the film’s Japanese distributor, teamed with NTT Communications to introduce that company’s new fragrance-delivery technology to filmgoers. On the floor of the Premium Aroma zone of the Salonpas Louvre (The New World was also shown this way at one other theater, in Osaka) sat several plastic globes about nine inches in diameter. These balls contained aromatic oils to be mixed and released during the film according to a network-server-controlled timetable.

‘Past smell presentations linked scents to objects visible or implied in the film, like pipe tobacco and baking bread in Scent of Mystery and old socks in Polyester. Scorning such vulgar literalism, Japan Aromacoordinator Association instructor Yukie Nakashima, who mixed the smells for The New World, sought rather to expand on the film’s mood than to play up its realism. This approach had two main consequences. First, the smell track imposed a certain reading—the same one indicated in the printed program, which exhorted the viewer to “enjoy a beautiful love story together with aromatic scents.” The New World was picked as the flagship for Premium Aroma not because Malick’s complex orchestration of image and sound cried out to be raised to the Gesamtkunstwerk level but because the Japanese distributor saw the film as essentially a love story in a pastoral setting and, as such, ideal for aroma enhancement.


The theater set up

‘Although woodsy smells celebrated the English arrival in America, and citrus pervaded the scene at the English court, in general the (predominantly minty) perfumes targeted romantic scenes between Pocahontas and Captain John Smith, making their relationship the focus of the film. Because the appearances of the Algonquin princess’s second admirer, John Rolfe, were usually odorless (so that a viewer might infer that whereas Colin Farrell sometimes smells like peppermint, Christian Bale has no smell), when, after meeting Smith, Pocahontas rejoined Rolfe and took his arm, the floral scent that was emitted put a perhaps sharper period to the narrative line than Malick intended.

‘The second effect of the smellifiers’ penchant for the suggestive was that when anything appeared on screen that has an odor in real life, its absence from the smell track became conspicuous. So, one sniffed the air in vain for boiling leather, gunpowder, or the ashes with which Pocahontas covers her face; and when, on taking up residence at the colony, Pocahontas smelled the pages of a book, the smell-sensitized viewer felt acutely the lack of a sympathetic aroma in the theater.

The smell release schedule

 

2008 – 2009

Nothing

 

2010

‘In 2010, the Norwegian film Kurt Josef Wagle And The Legend of the Fjord Witch by director Tommy Wirkola, previously best known for his Kill Bill spoof Kill Buljo and to his hit Nazi-zombie comedy Dead Snow, was released to cinemas with scratch and sniff cards that the audience could use while watching the movie. The film was a low brow parody of the current first-person horror craze a la Paranormal Activity and [REC]. It never quite got the same headlines as Wirkola’s earlier films, but it was nonetheless hailed by several critics as one of the more interesting films to have come out of Norway during the 00’s.

‘Also in 2010, self-proclaimed multi-sensory artist Megan Dickerson staged outdoor showings of the 1971 film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory for hundreds of people and used oscillating fans and artificially scented oils to distribute aromas of blueberry pie and banana taffy during the film. The problem, according to some audience members, was that the scents were layered on top of one another, and people got sick from all of the smells mixed together. Undeterred, Dickerson says she may hand out small, squeezable “scent bottles” in the future so that individuals can experience the fumes from their seats.

‘Inspired by Dickerson’s project, several film venues and festivals around the United States held screenings of Willy Wonka using a more primitive but, some have said, far more successful version of Smell-O-Vision. Unlike Dickerson’s method, or the original Smell-O-Vision, or its arch-rival AromaRama, these screenings didn’t involve installing expensive ventilation systems to pump artificial scents into the theater. Instead they went guerrilla – each person who attended got a bag of candy and smelly things. The pre-show instructions, delivered by a costumed Oompa Lumpa, explained that on-screen prompts would tell viewers when to smell, eat, chew or open the various objects in their bags. “And it worked,” according to critic Scott Berkun who attended a Seattle showing. “When 200 people all started eating chocolate at the same time, the room did smell like chocolate. When everyone ate cherry bubblegum, it smelled like cherry. This simple approach to the problem was definitely way more effective than Smell-O-Vision ever was.”

‘Lastly in 2010 came Charles Band’s marijuana sci-fi movie, Evil Bong 3D: The Wrath of Bong, presented in 3D and Smell-O-Vision. The film was predictably panned by critics, and the Smell-O-Vision was declared dubious and disappointing. According to the site Jackalope Ranch, “there were eight numbered scratch and sniff sections on our Sniff-O-Rama card, and when a number popped up onscreen, audience members were supposed to scratch and sniff the corresponding section. About half the scents were supposed to be some kind of marijuana, but either smelled like fresh cut grass or skunk spray.”


Trailer: ‘Evil Bong’

 

2011


Trailer: ‘Spy Kids 4’

‘The latest attempt is Roberto Rodriguez’ Spy Kids 4. It uses scratch cards that are to be used at particular junctures during the film, thereby releasing particular kinds of scents to suit various scenes. Avinash Jumaani, a distributor with Pictureworks, says he hasn’t used the cards yet. So he doesn’t really know what kind of smells will be released. However, he added that this kind of 4D is already being used in entertainment arcades. Spy Kids has renamed the cards 4D-Aromascope. They will have “eight smell options to use through the film, during eight kinds of sequences, after each number is flashed on the screen,” explained Jumaani. He added that what goes for 4D is an added feature, like “lights, water, heat and so on.”

‘Like John Waters’ earlier invention Odorama, Aromascope uses a card loaded with eight different smells that will be handed out for free at both 2-D and 3-D showings. But the process is more touch-and-sniff now. You wipe a finger over the scent the way you do with an iPhone or an iPad. A tutorial given by Ricky Gervais, who speaks for the movie’s robotic dog, will play before the story begins. “When each of the eight aromas are unleashed you will get to experience a special moment in the film and be transported into scenes in the family adventure film,” explains a spokesperson for film distributors The Weinstein Company. “This fun added attraction takes the audience beyond sight and sound and into a symphony of scents as the movie is coming to life.”’ — collaged from various sources

 

2012

We’re not entirely sure why people keep trying to bring back Smell-O-Vision, although Keio University’s success in printing scents using a modified printer gives us hope that this sort of thing might someday be somewhat feasible — and useful. It works by using an off-the-shelf Canon printer that’s been given a “scent jet,” Kenichi Okada told New Scientist. “We are using the ink-jet printer’s ability to eject tiny pulses of material to achieve precise control.” The scent dissipates quickly, after one or two human breaths. And while specific scents can be printed, there is as of yet no way to build a general purpose device. According to the University of Glasgow’s Stephen Brewster: “We don’t yet know how to synthesize all the scents we want. There is no red-green-blue for smell — there are thousands of components needed.”

 

2013 – ?

‘You are driving to work in the morning and a gentle scent of citrus fruits is keeping you alert. There’s a fly in the car, but before it starts to annoy you the tiny sensor on your cuff button detects it and releases a targetted mist of insecticide. 20 minutes later, you arrive at the office smelling great; that new perfume you downloaded from the web is really doing it for you. In the afternoon, after a stressful meeting, the tiny biosensors in you clothes detect that you need to relax, so a calming lavender starts to fill your personal scent bubble. This may sound like science fiction, but a handful of enthusiasts and international companies have been working quietly on the nascent technology.

‘Areas with potential for applying such technology are the virtual reality, computer gaming and of course the movie and television industries, says Takamichi Nakamoto, an engineer at the Tokyo Institute of Technology. In December 2008 he demonstrated the first case of “teleofaction” at the International Conference on Advances in Computer Entertainment in Yokohama, Japan. Teleofaction allows viewers to watch TV and smell what they are watching at the same time. “The addition of smell to TV and games makes them more realistic” Takamoto explains. His odour recorder can only recognise 10 aromas, but in principle it could recognise the whole spectrum of smells. He believes that in future, technology will allow for TV to transmit smell as well as audiovisuals.’ — Cosmos


Japanese revive “Smell-O-Vision”


Coming Soon: 4D Movie Theaters with Smell-o-Vision


Scent-Lok BaseSlayers hunting garments


Equal Strategy, Singapore-based scent technology


Sensory Design & Technology’s e.Scent™


Projet Eyeka – Brief : “What is the futur of digital scent?”


The Camera That Smells


South Park: The Fractured But Whole – Nosulus Rift Experience


Electric Smell Machine – generate virtual smell using electrical signals

 

 

*

p.s. Hey. ** Shane Christmass, Comfortable, that’s interesting. Feels right even if I’m not sure what that means either, ha ha. I don’t know ‘The Bacheloress’. Huh, I guess I should peek at it at least. I like dense fiction, but not dense stories so much, but hey. Ty Segal does an Amon Duul cover? Okay, this I have to hear. I don’t have Spotify, but I’ll track it down. Thanks, man. I have heard bit of the new Royal Try, but not the Kool Keith track, wow. I liked what I heard, duh. Download. The Vape Dick novel is going as smoothly as you need? ** Corey Heiferman, Huh, interesting. I love theory and contemporary philosophy, but I found and read it on my own not in school so it doesn’t have those connotations. I’m not sure what you mean by ‘soft academia’. I try not to think about things in general ways, but, if I try to, I’d say I’m pretty pro academia, especially in these grotesquely anti-intellectual times. And teaching Barthes seems like a big up to me in theory. I have no personal experience with what you call ‘the creative writing industrial complex’. I know writers who went through creative writing programs who found the skills acquisition aspect useful and successfully evaded the attempts to normalise their approach to their work, and I also know writers who found it nothing but destructive. So kind of a mixed bag, and, again, I don’t personally find consolidating all writing programs into a single, judgeable thing to be a useful way to think about them. My guess is that it depends? ** David Ehrenstein, Hi. Yeah, I remember in, I think, the early 90s virtually every person I knew was reading ‘A Lover’s Discourse’. My favourite Barthes, as I think you know, is a seemingly odd one: ‘Empire of Signs’. So, so beautifully written. ** Kleiston, Huh. Well, gym bunny, why not? I ran around ‘the track’ in a gym once for fun in my street clothes, but I think that’s it. I did not know that about office kitchens, it’s true, busted, interesting. I think one of my siblings did a genealogy thing about our family at some point. But I can’t remember what the reveal was. It must not have been very celebrity packed. Oh, I guess I’m distantly related to Sam Houston, the Alamo guy. Well, I’m deathly afraid of the idea of being in outer space or far up in the sky. Planes are no problem. But if I watch a movie, and if there’s a scene where someone looks out the window of their spaceship at the earth or, holy shit, takes a space walk, I literally start sweating and can’t breathe and have to grip the arms of my chair. So there’s that, fear-wise. Yeah, it’s weird, it’s true, I love magic and horror and the paranormal and all that stuff, but I don’t buy it for a second. Strange, that. When you stop going for the next level in your writing, you’re lost, it’s over. You might get famous and rich if you do that, but you’re toast. I liked the first 2/3 of ‘Get Out’ pretty well, but then it turned dumb ass. ** Bill, I did an image search using the book title in quotes, and there was all this stuff of all different kinds, and I fished around in the stuff to make absolutely sure that the images were deliberately, directly tied to the book, and then grabbed the ones that had je ne sais quoi and stacked them up. Yeah, pretty simple. Your gig is very Sirenic, sigh. Wait, what is ‘the Beanbender’s collective’? I don’t you’ve ever mentioned it before? I might be spacing. Knock ’em dead with your pre-existing wok as only you can do, maestro! ** Steve Erickson, Hi. I look forward to reading your new pieces over the weekend. Everyone, Your weekend will not be full-fledged until you read (1) Steve’s interview with music video and film director Joseph Kahn, and (2) his article on British rapper Slowthai. Great you’re doing the phoner volunteering. These elections couldn’t be more important. Yeah, I think ‘French maid’ is pretty pre-woke. ** _Black_Acrylic, Hey, Ben. I’m trying to remember what my first theory book was. Does Bataille’s ‘Literature and Evil’ count? Maybe not. Sure enough, I’ve never heard of Mickey Mallet, but he sure seems interesting. ** Alex rose, Hi, first letter of the alphabet + lex! My doorstep begins four floors down and there’s a door code that even I can barely remember, so no problem. Probably because the shithole who would succeed him is just as heinous if not even more so, and so, first, you would need to get those two in the same place, which happens rarely, and then fire two perfectly aimed headshots before the Secret Service wrestled you to the ground, and that would probably be very difficult? Ugh, about the silent treatment. Man, if it’s any consolation, and it’s not, most film programmers and curators are the rudest, most procrastinating, chickenshit bunch of people in power that I have ever had to deal with in my life. I’m cranky too. May our maligned souls eventually rest in peace. Love, me. ** Okay. You have what I’m thinking is a golden opportunity to learn all about the history of smell’s fitful relationship to cinema this weekend. Give it a shot. See you on Monday.

14 Comments

  1. Well, not to many zzz’s over here, but a little last night. I remember enjoying the smells of the John Waters film – most of them were disgusting as I recall, haha.

    My article on Genius is up today – and you definitely fit the bill! My friend’s magazines are beautiful and it’s a thrill to be published here, right before my book comes out. It’s a good nonfiction companion piece for the book, which is about a genius of a painter. Thought you’d like to see it:

    https://phanesx.com/2018/11/03/the-potential-for-genius/?fbclid=IwAR2CuKB8_52bgSy3A_xwtyMBjmnk1NqtDr4RIrSFF8SUwLR-AAlEiE37yc8

    And the Amazon link for the book, which is released on Tuesday:

    https://www.amazon.com/Mercurys-Choice-Kyler-James/dp/1608641317/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1541248812&sr=8-3&keywords=kyler+james

    Thank you Dennis. Like many absent-minded geniuses, you still haven’t given me your address! Maybe I can send it directly from Amazon to you, as I don’t have books yet. Love, K

  2. Never knew there were quite so many smelly movies.

  3. “Empire of Signs” by Barthes is a major book for me. It was the first book I read concerning Japanese culture. When I first lived or moved to Japan I took a copy of the Barthes book. “Empire of Signs” and any book by Donald Richie are the true gateway to Japan at the time. Now back to your blog for today!

  4. Shane Christmass

    November 3, 2018 at 10:11 pm

    Interesting – my assumption would’ve been that scented cinema would’ve peaked 50/60s then blipped again because of Polyester. I like all these uses of it in the 2000s and onwards.

    Yes – Vape Dick is rolling on quite easily. Nutting out the hard parts. But it’s becoming some big unwieldy dystopian romance novel. I keep telling people it’s a memoir as it clearly isn’t.

    Here’s a link to The Bacheloress – more interesting as an artifact- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Bachelor_Girl

    Although there have been four film adaptations – one with Edith Piaf!

    Quite possible the film is better than the novel – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-r_DkxCM68Y

    Take care –

  5. In post-Halloween news, the most intriguing thing I’ve seen linked on social media in weeks was photos and descriptions from a “sober Halloween” cosplay event in Japan. The concept has nothing to do with not drinking, but dressing up in banal, everyday costumes as a woman carrying sushi or a guy who spilled curry udon on his shirt. At first, I was convinced the person who posted this thread on Twitter was pulling our legs and the photos really were just people in daily life, but I realized they were all standing in the same convention center and wearing similar plastic IDs around their necks. Here’s the link to a website with photos from it: https://dailyportalz.jp/kiji/jimi-halloween-2018.

    We’ll see if more than 20% of the people I call tomorrow are willing to talk to me. 10%?

    Have you heard Earl Sweatshirt’s 23-second interlude on the new Vince Staples interlude? His Google Maps-parodying new video “FUN!” is excellent, especially its final shot, but it keeps up the teasing element of the EP itself by cutting off before the song ends.

  6. One other thing tangentially related to this weekend’s topic: the Regal multiplexes offer the “4DX” experience in one screen per theater for a few extra dollars. Usually, that means you pay to get your seat shaken, water sprayed in your face during an action movie. When I saw SUSPIRIA in their Union Square multiplex on Halloween, BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY was the 4DX movie. What the fuck! I can think of how a far more honest film about Freddie Mercury would be supplemented by liquid squirted on your face, but that’s not the one Bryan Singer and Dexter Fletcher made.

  7. Haha, if I stop now, I just get fatter. Paris is a total workout. After I’m in Paris, I come back to the States like, “You been to the Gun Show?” Haha, mine was revealing, my Dad just revealed my findings at his birthday party to the family and it went over well that great-grandma looked like Hally Berry and great-great Grandpa was just black. Dad said, “Grandma was a little dark.” hehe. On the other side there is one Portugese that turned our hair black on all lines. Hm, Sam Houston ::thinks:: ::quickly pulls pistol:: It’s really crazy to think of what you’ve accomplished, it’s virtually infinite. I’m scared of all kinds of stuff, I’m having increasing ghost issues, and my fuse especially more and more. I’m becoming increasingly physically violent. That’s freaky. Is that like a fear of the sublime? Ok so a question, if there’s something that can’t be explained, what’s the explanation? I know, I totally understood something driving around Stephen King’s town here in Florida. It’s good to make your writing a big deal. Some of the new horror movies are almost hitting it, it’s exiting.
    One of my dream jobs would be a super-smeller. Some boys colognes and some boys breaths. There’s this anise-breath thing that drives me wild.

  8. Dennis,

    I saw The New World in the theater when it was released and remember zero about there being a smell component to it. Perhaps AMC Theaters saw no need? Or were too cheap and skimped on Malick’s intent? Anyway, wow, that’s strange— I didn’t think Malick would be susceptible to such things. I just remember the movie being beautifully filmed, and green, lots of green.

    Dennis, may I have your Outlook email address? I lost all my contacts when my iPhone 5 died suddenly (like all unexpected deaths), and didn’t have a chance to upload anything to the cloud before I bought my new iPhone 8 a few weeks ago… which involved taking out a small mortgage, of course.

    I’d like your email so that I might send these Shibuya street video scenes to you!

    Much love from Shinjuku — ?

    James ❤️❤️

  9. Hey Dennis – Nice aromatic cinema day. Those fragrances related to Malick’s The New World are mind-altering. Just what were they… and how did the audience… and why would… I mean… !!

    I just saw “The Other Side of the Wind” – something I never thought I’d type. Do you have access to Netflix or has it opened there? Overall, I was really impressed by it, the first hour in particular. I’m sure Welles would have finessed it differently, but it’s amazing how they were able to make such cohesive film that feels like a follow-up to ‘F for Fake’ in its editing style and pushes that style even further. It’s quite dense and complex and look forward to seeing it again.

  10. Smell is so tough to work with and control. But maybe all the new miniature medical device technologies can help with delivery, hmm…

    The gig went ok, especially considering the unusual space (for us). Beanbender’s was a weekly new music series I helped to run. More info:
    http://www.danplonsey.com/beanbenders/beanbenders-old.html

    Just started the new Laird Hunt novel. Very nice so far.

    Sorry to hear about the gallery crankiness, Alex. The new pieces on your blog are intriguing and lovely; is that snake skin?

    Bill

  11. Dennis, Ha! Like Steve mentioned, they’ve got all these 4DX experiences now. I’ve not done one. I wouldn’t mind the seat shaking and moving and stuff, but I don’t think I want semen squirted all over my face. 😛

    No, LPS has never had therapy. His mom was supposed to get him into therapy after the stabbing, she said she did, but she was lying and never did. My mom and I have offered it tons of time, even just recently, and he’s always said he didn’t need it, wouldn’t go, and would run away if we tried to make him (and I think he really would).

    As far as the marijuana, there is legit science behind it, especially with how strong weed is these days. Really, it’s for any drug and the developing/forming young person’s brain, especially in the frontal lobe where all the decision making happens. However, I do think that LPS’s thing is more a confluence of several factors, not just the weed smoking, though I don’t think it has helped. But yes, his issues are myriad and I don’t think they can be narrowed to one specific thing.

    I saw BR last night. I tell you, I don’t know if it was intentional or not (it must’ve been because the directors obviously made these choices), but my friends and I all noticed how distinctly they portrayed his “straight” life versus his “gay” life. When he was “straight,” everything was peachy keen, but when he “became gay,” his life suddenly turned to total shit and put him in a downward spiral. It suggested, too, that he was lured into the “gay lifestyle” by a bunch of predatory gays. They fucked with the timeline a bit too. Seems he was diagnosed in ’87 but they had him diagnosed the week before the ’85 Live Aid performance.

    I guess part of it is that it’s from the point of view of Brian May and Roger Taylor, who were behind the film. It’s how they saw it. John Deacon wasn’t involved with the film at all, though he supposedly “approves” of it.

    One thing that was probably unintentional is that when he “became gay,” the other members really seemed to turn on him in the movie, disapproving of his “lifestyle.” Pretty much all the gay people in the movie, with the exception of his lover Jim Hutton, are portrayed as drug- and sex-obsessed villains. Kind of fucked up.

  12. Corey Heiferman

    November 4, 2018 at 8:41 pm

    Very sensible take on academia. I’m definitely not going back for anything humanities or qualitative social science, but I might just get to the point of appreciating it for what it gives other people and society at large, and maybe even reading some books written by tenured people with leafy lives surrounded by acolytes (do you detect a hint of jealousy?).

    The only intentionally smelly movie I’ve every experienced is Polyester with the Odorama cards. They all kinda smelled like glue. I’m not sure where the rep movie theater programmers found them. It was no more than five years ago, so I wonder if they tracked down cards from the movie’s original release and if they’d basically decayed by then.

    Talking more generally about 4D movies, the Bug’s Life attraction at Disney World really terrified me with the puffs of air that feel like little bugs running around at your feet. And to connect that to the theme of office kitchens, we’ve had some gross but amusing Halloween-timed drama in ours, in a country where there is no Halloween.

    My company develops boring test-prep materials and markets them online, but our CEO likes to give the office some trappings to make us almost feel like we’re in a much more dynamic and higher-paying start-up. One of these trappings that he bought us a few months ago is an espresso machine.

    As the second-biggest coffee addict in the office, I greatly appreciate it. It means I can alternate my Turkish coffee (the other option is in-my-opinion-undrinkable instant) with espresso and thus keep a resting heart rate within let’s say double what it should be. I admit to feeling more sophisticated with my espressos and macchiatos and feeling better-disposed toward the company and CEO. My love of the machine is obvious to my coworkers, so after we’d run out of beans for a few weeks and new ones arrived while I was abroad, they WhatsApp’d me a picture of the new stock telling me they were awaiting my return.

    On the day the machine appeared, the IT guy (biggest coffee addict in the office, drinks at least twice as much as I do, keeps a giant souvenir mug at his desk that he actually uses) put a note on it with instructions for how to give it voice commands. Some people fell for the prank and made fools out of themselves. The IT guy is the Pooh-Bah of the office who takes care of everything that hasn’t been specifically assigned to anyone else. This, combined with his love of coffee, made the machine his baby. He’s very short with a long face, I’m deeply curious about what goes on inside his imagination, and I once had a creepy dream about him lurking inside my apartment.

    Under the best of circumstances, getting the espresso machine to work properly is kind of like operating a steam locomotive. You’re always pressing this or that button, adding beans, emptying or adjusting a tray, changing the milkspout between cow and soy according to preference, running water through the milkspout to clean it, etc.

    Over the past several weeks our kitchen has been infested with bugs. I’ve spent a lot of time living in the woods so it didn’t bother me too much. I just made sure to wash everything well before I used it. Then, my coworker, who’s also a heavy coffee drinker, and I noticed bugs crawling inside the machine. We were disturbed, and she pasted a note to the machine telling folks not to use it because there are bugs inside. We sent word up the chain of command that it was finally, definitely time to call an exterminator.

    The IT guy took down the note, insisting that he cleans the machine every day. Since the exterminator hadn’t yet come, my coworker and I continued to distrust the machine. I resumed my dervish-level Turkish coffee consumption, and she returned to her pre-machine habit of bringing her own filter coffee with a little pour-over gadget.

    Others kept drinking from the machine. Everybody loves hearing tidbits of USA culture, so I joked about bug juice and high-protein high-caffeine cricket concoctions that are apparently the rage in Silicon Valley. After a whole ambiguous week, a higher-level employee who’s another Pooh-Bah of sorts finally sent out an email that the espresso machine shouldn’t be used until further notice. My boss replied never to fear, the exterminator would be coming in a few days.

    After a few days the exterminator did come. It wasn’t clear to us how he handled the espresso machine, but it seemed like a Catch-22: coffee coming out of it would be contaminated either with bugs or insecticide. People suspended their disbelief. There was never any official word given that the machine was safe to use, but it was just assumed that the exterminator and IT guy somehow took care of it.

    Until the higher-level Pooh-Bah, testing the waters, made herself an espresso and found half a bug in it. She emphasizes that this was only half a bug, and found this much more disturbing than a whole bug would’ve been. The moral of the story is if given a choice always take a raise and/or extra paid vacation rather than perks, and if not given a choice you can damn well look the gift horse in the mouth.

  13. hi dennis, thanks for the words

    haha, your ahead on my yellow king crossfire

    i wouldn’t worry about the s.s. as my head would be somersaulting 40 feet in the ny sky

    curators / film producers etc, i laughed at your reply as it so true then cried then masturbated, im complicated dennis, hahaha

    my tmr / your today is the start of a new week so let us behold all the horror and beauty that will unfold with seven days

    love you dennis, alex, xx

  14. A few years ago the DCA showed Polyester complete with Odorama card, and that remains my only Aromatic Cinema experience. The olfactory dimension seems very much underused.

    There was excitement over the road from me this weekend, as the Dundee Zine Fest took place in the Roseangle church just opposite my flat. Yuck ‘n Yum was hawking its Compendium of course, plus the room was full of assorted zinesters all showing off their wares. A friend of mine is using the name Paul Shark to create a kind of poetry for the Dundee lumpenproletariat, and I sprung for his risograph zine named Positiva (after the 90s dance music record label). It contains artworks and texts such as this .

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