Saturday, November 13, 2010

Julmonster, by Ed Shepp

Click on the picture to hear the Julmonster commercial!

(Click on the picture to hear the Julmonster commercial.)

Introducing Julmonster, the holiday home fragrance by Ed Shepp. A frenzy of fir, green leaves, spices, leather, woodsmoke and musk, Julmonster is unprecedented, indefatigable and emphatically undeniable. Intense enough to be smelled from outer space, but intimate to enjoy in one’s one home. In small doses.

Julmonster. Experience the ferocity.

…if you dare.

Monday, October 04, 2010


I suppose, since I just finished the book last night, that I should put up my thoughts about Jonathan Franzen's Freedom before I read any more reviews of it (Why do I do this? I read/listen to/watch something and then see what other people thought!?!) or let too much time pass. Why am I putting up my thoughts about the book? I guess it's just because I can, because it's not because the book changed my life (maybe that remains to be seen--I did just finish it last night) or that I think it has something extremely important to say that people need to hear (I'm thinking of those nonfiction books that I want people to read. Against Love, for me, falls into this category) or because it will improve the world. I guess I just want to tell people that the book lives up to the hype, and that y'all should read it, just as I would with a superior movie or taco salad or something. So here we are.

Like I just mentioned, I have to do this now, while the book is fresh in my mind. Because I almost feel like I'm in a state similar to mourning. I choose that word deliberately, because most of us who have read about the book are aware that there is a death in it. And that this death may feel like it's too convenient for the story or that it's improbable. Maybe. And maybe the character wasn't as completely fleshed out as the others (maybe not; I'm not a literary critic), but those criticisms didn't bother my enjoyment of the book. And the way the character's death is dealt with in the end is still deeply affecting, and I think that it justifies the entirety of the subplot. Just to lead to the book's final sentence. So there!

Now I'll get into a rehash of what I wrote for the review on linkedin, perhaps with some additions. Keep in mind that, as I said, I'm no literary critic, so if you're expecting a synopsis of the plot and quotes from the book and trenchant analysis and all that gawizzlywozzlyfinoo, then you might want to read the many fine reviews that exist out there in the literary landscape. I'm sure they're there (see that? I may not be a lit critic, and I may be stupid as a pile of doll hair, but at least I can respect the difference between they're, there and their. Recognize, b9itches! Not me---recognize the words!!! There, I saids it.) at the NYTimes and BBC and the Guardian la la la.... All those places. So, well, yeah.

I bought this book a while ago, and let it sit for a week, maybe two, daunted by its 562 pages, and finished some shorter books before even thinking of tackling it. When I started it, though, I was very pleased to find that it reads with the same breathless, page-turning pace as any Stephen King book or trash novel (for the dim bulbs out there, this is a GOOD thing). 300 pages into it I realized that I didn't want the book to end. I wanted it to stretch out to thousands of pages. The story lines and how they're presented--it's so compelling that you don't want the journey to end.

I was surprised to find myself gasping aloud at twists I didn't see coming, becoming excited to see plots begin to intertwine and become clear, and (most surprising of all) to find myself weeping during the last chapter, most especially at the final sentence (although after the final sentence, perhaps bawling is the more appropriate word; I mentioned there's a death; the bawling I felt conspicuously mirrored, although in a milder fashion, the experience I once had upon hearing that someone close to me had passed). The book is, above all, heartbreaking, but not in the sense of an all-consuming tragedy. (It's not Dancer in the Dark, which I confess to not having seen, but which was described to me as the opposite of those films that are nauseatingly sweetness and light and preposterous happiness. Apparently DitD is more preposterous despair. Well, that's how it was described to me.) I could venture to say that the book has a happy ending, in so far as it can, with the nature of the characters and, let's face it, the nature of this life.

I doubt I even have to mention it, but the book is more than heartbreaking--it's brilliantly, virtuosically written. (Is that a word, virtuosically? Well, it should be, if it isn't.) All the characters felt imminently real, as if I knew them well. And I felt like I could also see parts of myself in most of them. A few characters in the book are only briefly sketched out, but those are minor characters. When I think about how the characters are so fully developed, each having hir own psychology and quirks and flaws (if not voice--sure, maybe Franzen doesn't vary their individual voices enough, and yes, one character's autobiography reads just like Franzen's writing, but my though is, "Who cares?! Suspension of disbelief, people." Besides, her autobiographical excursion is long and necessary to the story. I'd rather read it in Franzen's voice. AND a character does note later that Patty, the autobiographer, expresses herself very well. At least Franzen doesn't torture us by writing the characters in dialect. One of the character's has a slight Indian accent. Franzen doesn't write in her accent when he gives her quotes, and thanks flunking cod! I've always found that distracting and annoying, and I'm very glad that Franzen does not do it in this book.), I can't helprecalling a quote from Fernando Pessoa, when in describing a store clerk's suicide, he notes that there are characters in books that are more real to him than the faces he sees every day on the trams or in the streets. Pessoa had characters like the ones in this book in mind. I can tell you that I feel more intimacy with Patty or Walter Berglund than I do with a lot of people I saw every day at work or on the subway. It's Franzen's uncanny ability to describe human feeling and illuminate his characters' inner worlds that makes them spring off the page and make them real to you. Some, I think, have said that his characters are unlikeable. I didn't find that at all. I found them human, complicated, real. There were even a couple I was rooting against, which I think added to the novel's feeling of realism.

I realize that I'm not conveying here the full extent of Franzen's accomplishment in this book. His humor, his incisiveness, etc. I refer you to more competent reviewers for those points.

Now that I've read all 562 pages, I'm a little sad to be finished with it, a sadness I liken to the end of a great holiday (and, of course, which I relate, perhaps too much in the moment, to the grief of bereavement). I have another fiction book waiting to be read, but I may wait a day or two for this experience to wear off before venturing into it. Especially since the other book could almost certainly never compare to Freedom.

On a purely semantic note, I also have to mention that it felt strange, just after I finished the book, to be at "the end of freedom."

In conclusion, if you read nothing else this year, read Freedom. You will not be disappointed.


Sunday, October 03, 2010

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Read This Article

An excellent article in Slate, and for once the comments (thus far) are not idiotic!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Aiiiight, it's out there on the iTunes, y'all. My aromachemical/perfume-inspired album, If I Can't Make A Perfume Then I'll Make An Album. Go buy it here. To support my struggle. And if you don't buy it for me, then buy it for Mark Baratelli, who improvised the piece called Caramel Furanone 3%. Or Nils Harning, (min fästman, by the by) whose voice is used in Harningal (the theoretical aromachemical that bears his name). Here's the link.

Interesting that after I'd sent the album to CDBaby and all, it occurred to me: "....but I CAN make a perfume!" Not meaning that I'm such an amazing and imaginative perfumer that I could make the next Red Delicious or Fergilicious Eau Fraîche (did you see what I did there?), but rather in this sense: Why CAN'T I make a perfume?* Everyone's doing it; the chemicals are available; you don't need a 100-acre factory in New Jersey and 700 billion dollars in an a marketing budget to introduce a fragrance. You don't need Saks or Bloomingdales or TJ Maxx or anything like that. Not when you have facebook and the interwebs. (to go further--why does it even have to be a perfume? It could be a home fragrance, or, rather, "olfactory art." Not unlike the sonic art I've done. I think you see where this is going. I think people saw where this was going years ago, before I did...) But anyway, yeah. I just wanted to point out what I saw as the ironing there.

A shame I finished/lost interest in the project before I could do Cyclopidene, Cyclal C, Indolene, Koavone or Labienoxime 10%, but hey. That's just how it be happen, yo, 'n stuff. Besides, I have a feeling I'll be making more audio pieces dealing with smell anyway. I mean, how could I go through life without ever doing a piece inspired by cis-3-hexanol or Stemone? Glerp. Yes, glerp indeed.

Now go buy the album. For my struggle.


*Quick note from a regular 30something to any aspiring anythings: If something's important to you, there are ALWAYS going to be people (sometimes everyone you know) telling you that what you want to go can't be done. That it's crazy, that you're living in a fantasy world. I haven't achieved much, but I can't remember anything that I did achieve that anyone believed in but me. Listen to people when they're ripping your ideas, and know that anyone who's attempted anything heard the same. "You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus." -Mark Twain. I found that quote at the beginning of a chapter in a book by Michio Kaku. A physicist, not a motivational speaker. So there.

Friday, June 25, 2010

I Know What You Did Last Midsommar!

Click here to get to SAFI's piece from Midsommar in Battery Park 2009.

It’s Midsommar time again, y’allz. So to mark the occasion, Nils and I, as the Swedish American Futurimagineering Institut, are uploading our coverage of last year’s Midsommar celebration in Battery Park, NYC. Enjoy, and glad midsommar!!

(Click here to download an outtake, with Nils singing the midsommar song. The quack quack one.)

-Ed Shepp & Nils Harning

Friday, May 21, 2010

Gendered Fragrances

So I've always thought that the idea of gendered fragrances were stupid. But today I had to go to a wedding event, so I chose my "inoffensive masculine," Equipage by Hermes. (This is in contrast to my offensive, or potentially so, masculines. That is, Yatagan, Halston Z-14, or what's left of it, and perhaps Lauder.) And as I thought about it today, I recalled my view of the past couple decades of gendered fragrances: that the idea behind them was stupid, and that it should be done away with. But then I thought: Wait, maybe not. Maybe gendered fragrances, for the moment, are a good thing. Because they force you to wear certain frags at certain times. Which , of course, force you to NOT wear certain frags, essentially making them taboo.

Example: I could definitely NOT wear the Lauder Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia that I found at at antique (!!!!!) shop recently; and I couldn't wear my Spellbound by Lauder either. I'd be forced to wear Equipage or Bel Ami or something like that. And I thought: Is that such a bad thing?? Maybe it's a good thing. In that, at least, if I wore a "women's" fragrance, it would still be transgressive. And if society had abolished the idea of gendered fragrances, there wouldn't be any transgression. If there are gendered frags, at least you can still raise an eyebrow by wearing against type (if you're a man; if you're a woman wearing a masculine, I genuinely don't think anyone would actually notice). And that's something. They say that when there's a repressive "moral" environs in your society (think 198os; now think Madonna), then you can really easily draw attention to yourself by violating said moral code.

So maybe the idea of gendered fragrances, for the moment, isn't such a bad thing.

Sure, it's a half-baked idea, but what would you expect??? I'm not a professor paid to come up with bullshit! If I were, this entry would be a HELLUVA lot longer and include a LOT more bigger words. And probably some Shakespearean quotes too! So there! Anyway, make of it what you will. It was just a passing thought that occurred to me while listening to David Sedaris today.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Aromachemicals Series

I suppose I would be remiss if I didn't mention the nascent collection of soundpieces that's been spilling out of my brain onto my computer. I'm referring to it as The Aromachemicals Series, and it looks like it may grow into an album, which would allow me to use a title that I thought up some time ago: If I Can't Make a Perfume, Then I'll Make an Album! We'll see how it develops.

So I've been posting them as they come along. So far I have three:

  1. Isocyclocitral and Unhappiness
  2. Caramel Furanone 3%
  3. Calone 1951: A Tribute to Aromachemicals that have Defined Their Time

So far I've just been putting them up on The Neld Adventure, so go there to hear them. But I suppose I'll put them on music sites or whatever eventualish.

Ed Shepp

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Neld Adventure

Aiiight, everyone go look (now! not later!) at The Neld Adventure, at

For the more digestible introduction, check out Nils's Introduction in Nine Parts (which should have shown up first, but I couldn't figure out how to make the draft thing work). The picture below will sweep you there:

For the longlongLONGLONGLONGLONGLONG-ass prose introduction, which I don't think I have to even say is mine, click the beautiful picture below.

Here's to one helluva 2010.

Ed Shepp

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Mount Dora

Click on the (above) picture of my dream house to read The Daily City's excellent coverage of me hometown, Mount Dora (known as "Mount Whora" to students of Eustis "Useless" and Tavares "Ta-fairies" highs school). Beep.