December Birchbox

Just hear those sleigh bells jingling … It’s the “All Wrapped Up” December Birchbox delivery, and I appreciate its celebratory yet non-denominational enthusiasm – i.e., the accompanying card is not red and green with holly on it.

What’s the haul this time?
First, a repeater:
Apothederm is mincing no words here – Another year? Another wrinkle? Count me in. I still say the name sounds like “a pachyderm,” however.
Next, another brand repeater:
I still don’t think Juicy Couture skews to my demographic, and can’t imagine that its marketers targeted 50-somethings with the tagline “Smells Like Couture.” When I see a “Smells Like …” tagline, I immediately think of “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” Nirvana’s smash hit from its 1991 album Nevermind. I don’t want a fragrance inspired by grunge rock, okay? Birchbox, please: If you’re sending perfume samples, Taylor Swift and Juicy are just plain wrong when I’ve ticked the 45-55 box!
Sometimes, marketing people just work too hard, and here’s an example:
The company that makes this product, The Balm, appears to have adopted wisecracking 40s Hollywood glamour as its M.O., and that’s fine, though a bit close to Benefit’s vibe. This product is a “luminizer” – hence, Mary-Lou Manizer. Get it? Actually, I’m being a mite harsh. Lots of their names are quite cute – BalmsAway for eye makeup remover; BalmShelter for lip gloss, TimeBalm facial cleanser, for example. Mary-Lou Manizer just seems strained in comparison.
Another name I don’t understand: 
I thought it was LA as in “ellay,” the city, rather than “la” as in the French article, but their website shows otherwise. What can I say, I just don’t like the sound of it. Fresh is totally weak in the cosmetics area, so it’s hard to distinguish yourself from, for example, this company. And adding “la,” which means “the,” isn’t enough. I do like some of their other good names (e.g., Divas & Studs canine care products), as well as their conservation focus, but fundamentally find the name La Fresh to be … not so fresh?
Finally, a timely travel shampoo for the gym: 
The brand here is Number 4 (apologies for the photo quality). Why 4 – I mean, I know why not 2, but still? (Couldn’t help myself there – sorry.) 
A look at the company website reveals an inspiration statement, and here’s where the stars align: It’s Paris. Yes, Number 4 is “inspired by French culture, virtues and debonair ideals.” Whatever that means. So this product, from the Lumiere d’Hiver line, is somehow supposed to be connected to the fourth arrondissement in Paris, otherwise known as the Marais district. 
That’s all well and good, but “Lumiere d’Hiver“? Winter light? Have you been to Paris in the winter? Not only have I been there, but I’m heading there very soon for Noel. And the forecast is for wet, gray weather. So if we’re talking natural light, it’s not a connotation that speaks to enhancing the beauty of my hair. However, if it’s the artificial lights and festive displays of Christmas, that could work. I’ll just have to let you know.
So a Joyeux Noel et Bonne Annee a tous – and with any luck there will be destination blogging aplenty in the nouvel an!

A reverence for teeth

Sometimes you know what a company is getting at in its naming process but the execution fails due to powers beyond their control. Take Theodent, for example:

The innovative ingredient in this toothpaste is described as “Rennouâ„¢, a non-toxic proprietary blend of a naturally-occurring extract found in chocolate” is derived.” Leaving aside discussion of “Rennou,” I note that since theobromine is the alkaloid found in the cocoa bean, it wasn’t hard to figure out how they put “theo” and “dent” together to form “theodent.”
But there’s a catch: I’ll lay odds (having recently been to Las Vegas) that “theo” is far less commonly recognized as suggesting chocolate (though this company is trying to prove otherwise, deliciously so) than it is as referring to religion.
Theos, in ancient Greek, means god or gods. Our language is full of theo-  and –theist  words: theology, theocracy, apotheosis, monotheism, ad infinitum. Theobroma, for chocolate? The food of the gods.
So when I see Theodent, I don’t think chocolate – I think religious or godly teeth. And then I think there’s something nefarious going on, which is of course overthinking, but I can’t be the only one with that takeaway, can I?

Bright line rules

I don’t think it’s wrong to say as a matter of principle, law, good taste, whatever, that food products should not be called by any name that includes “poo,” no matter how it’s spelled or what it means:

Wikipedia informs me that pu-erh is a variety of post-fermented tea; alas, that description does nothing to encourage me. And a chocolate flavored pu-erh? Lost my appetite completely.

Destination: Drinking in Vegas with my Ladybrain

Florence Nightingale here got the chance to escape the convalescing and now healthy patients for a weekend with good friends in Las Vegas. Now, I hate Vegas for myriad reasons, not the least of which is that you’re guaranteed to see someone smoking while wearing an oxygen tank and sitting at a slot machine. Everything in the suitcase needs laundering when you get back, and you’ve got a nagging cough that just wasn’t there before you inhaled a lifetime’s worth of secondary smoke in one weekend. But hey, good food and drink and good friends – it was worth it.

People-watching there is excellent, but I found more intriguing the billboards advertising legal services, like this one:
“Re-Defining Personal” indeed! If this ad isn’t targeted at women, with its pinkish tones and especially with the himbo on the left, I don’t know what is! We saw several other lawyer ads with the same type of glamorous headshots, but nothing like the open-collared gentleman in this ad!
Vegas is all about getting you intoxicated enough to do wild things and spend lots of money, as The Hangover movie franchise has deftly illustrated. Before the proprietor of a downtown liquor store yelled at me to stop taking photos, I snapped a photo of this candidate for the Drinking with my Ladybrain hall of fame:
According to the Crosby Lake Spirits Company, which makes Kinky, Kinky is a “naughty infusion of premium vodka” distilled with mango, blood orange liqueur, and passion fruit. The website? Well, its photos aren’t subtle. I’d say this drink is marketed to men trying to seduce women into doing something kinky. As I’ve still got a nearly-full bottle of Nuvo in my fridge, I think I’ll give Kinky a pass.
Finally, we saw some brand extension of what Nancy Friedman has called “the curse of strong drink”: 
Now you can find not just Feckin Irish Whiskey but Feckin Spiced, presumably for a feckin good time. And I do like how they let you click to “Find a Feckin Stockist” on their site! This one seems like good-hearted vulgarity, and not just vulgarity for vulgarity’s sake (Suxx Vodka, I’m looking at you!)
So Vegas was a good time, and since it’s a great midpoint for getting together with friends from Seattle. And for classic kitsch if you’re headed that way: run, don’t walk to the Peppermill – the bygone “glamour” of its Fireside Lounge is not to be missed.
P.S. A thank you once again to Nancy for reminding me to get back on the ladybrain drinking/blogging horse!