Swag Wanking from Patty and Costa Rica

I’m just going to follow March’s rules on this. I do try, as much as I remember, to note when the manufacturer has sent something, and then I usually try to give away samples of it to run out the amount I got, which is usually small.  The number of full bottles of anything I’ver ever gotten I can count on one hand, and most of them are tragic and get given away or tossed.

Some comments in March’s original post noted  my association with The Perfumed Court could be looked at as a problem.  I do see how that perception could come about and really have nothing that I can say that would change anyone’s mind if they thought it was or might be. I do have a financial interest in TPC.  I have a full-time job in a totally nonrelated field that provides the bulk of my income.   I tend to review a lot more of the new things because I get ahold of them pretty early, either by buying them for my personal collection, getting a sample with an order I placed for other perfume, or because I’m doing the decanting of them for TPC, or I asked Lisa or Diane (my  partners in TPC) to send me a sample of something to sniff that I didn’t have.

I’ve always thought that because I like some things and trash some things, most of which is carried in TPC by me or someone, would suffice to indicate that I’m not willing to sell an opinion on a bottle of perfume for maybe a couple of bucks proft.

So either you think I’m honest about my opinions or not.  Nothing I say will persuade anyone thinking my opinion could be impacted by that assocation otherwise, so I don’t spend any time worrying about it.  I make no secret of my association with TPC, but I also never flog or link to the site in posts because that would be just, well, wrong.  But knowledge is usually the key – as long as y’all know that I’m involved with TPC, you can assign any skeptitude you feel appropriate to any of my perfume opinions.

Can we talk about Costa Rica now? We had an amazing time.  That little Capuchin monkey picture at the top was taken while he sat in the tree right next to the house we rented, along with about 30 of his friends and 30-40 of his Howler friends and even more of his spider monkey friends – not all at once. They’d make the circuit daily, sometimes several times.  It was like Monkey-vision entertainment off our deck.  Howlers woke us up every morning at 4:30 and serenaded for hours, and sent us to bed every evening.  If you’ve never heard a howler, google it.  They used that sound, with modifications, for some of the dinosaur sounds in Jurassic Park.  It’s spooky, but incredibly beautiful in some weird way.

I’m not going to touch on our stupidity when we were shocked that it got dark at 6 p.m.  Earth, angle, sun, seasons just weren’t computing for an hour or so as we puzzled our way through it.

I’ll have more about the trip on Thursday, today’s post just needed a little bit of follow-up on the Swag Wanking with respect to the TPC association.  My best advice, though, if you ever the chance to got to Costa Rica, do, and go to the Osa Peninsula. It is still so wild and beautiful.  AND one of our perfume friends that comments on here and I did manage to find each other. How weird that we were both going to CR and staying in the Osa about 2 miles away from each other.

  • Carla says:

    I don’t know what a swag wanking is but I have no problem with your association with TPC. Love TPC! (But now I live in Europe and can go to the local fancy parfumerie and try perfumes from lines that are hard to find in the US, rather than order samples.)

  • AnnieA says:

    There is definitely a big kerfuffle over “where DID you get the sample?” Really just posted to test the monkey emoticon…:(|)

  • sweetlife says:

    Patty, as one of the folks who thought clarification re:TPC would be a good idea, I’d like to emphasize that it wasn’t because I doubted your honesty. It’s simply a fact that some folks are in the know about how all that got set up and some aren’t, and if you aren’t then it can feel like something was kept a secret when you eventually find out (“Oh, really? She’s TPC? I didn’t know!) unless everything about affiliations is stated upfront.

    I believe it was Mals who talked about avoiding “the appearance of impropriety,”–that’s it exactly.

    • Patty says:

      Oh, gosh, sweetie, I didn’t think you or mals was suggesting there was an impropriety, just that it could happen, and I’m sure there are some out there that probably do think that, just not suggesting that either of you were making some accusation or suggesting that. 🙂

      I just cruise along thinking everyone that’s involved in perfume by already knows it, but I’m sure people who haven’t been hanging around forever don’t. I’m not sure how to put that somewhere, unless I just do a disclaimer over on the side or something? Not sure exactly how to handle that so it’s clear for anyone coming by int he future, but I’ll think of something!

  • Tara C says:

    I love your posts and it seems obvious to me that there is no commercial interest at play whatsoever. Carry on!

  • old crone who LOVES Perfume Posse says:

    I said this on the other post about swag, and I want to say it to you as well. (nothing unique or that hasn’t been said better by others, but I need to share it from my heart)

    I enjoy your posts so very much. From the deeply personal, touching posts, to the interesting travel posts, to the party/day-to-day fun stuff posts, and back to the excellent discriptive perfume review posts.

    (also, I am amazed and delighted at the meticulous, thoughful way TPC is run, it’s always a pleasure to order!)

    Anyway, keep up the good work. Love, old crone

    • Winifreida says:

      Ditto, have learnt so much from the Court, not just the actual samples but the way the categories are organised – notes, houses, new releases, vintage, etc…a mine of information.
      And how else could a frantic desperate life-threatening need for a bell jar with La Myrrhe in it be cured in the far-flung-est corner of the Earth??? 🙂

    • Patty says:

      Well, thanks!

  • Judith says:

    Hey Patty–It was wonderful to see you in CR! Our perfume world is particularly small!! And I agree–the Osa Peninsula is amazing! (Sorry we didn’t get pictures together).

    • Patty says:

      No kidding! I’m still shocked. Did you see anything more wild than the beautiful monkeys, birds, butterflies, etc? Puma, sloth?

      • Judith says:

        We also saw some peccaries and coatis. I think that is all. . . Loved the monkeys, though (and your picture is great!)

  • Ally says:

    I’ve never commented here before, but have been reading this blog for quite a while. Personally, I find it as non-commercial as is humanly possible. I honestly admit I’m having a hard time getting this whole Swag problem. It’s some kind of new regulation that’s only applicable in the US, isn’t it? Be that as it may, I absolutely don’t care where the reviewers on this blog get their samples and/or bottles. If you have the opportunity to sniff something before everybody else does and blog about it, that’s just great! But no review, however glowing, will ever make me rush out and buy something. It’s just another opinion, which I can agree or disagree with. As we all know, tastes differ – and I must admit I have disagreed with quite a few opinions posted on quite a few blogs. If somebody honestly believes that reviews posted on perfume blogs can affect their buying habits, that’s their problem. I definitely won’t add another item to my perfume collection only because somebody thinks it’s great. Granted, I want to buy something, I’d have to sniff it first 🙂

    BTW, being a non-native English speaker, I’ve never heard the word “wank” before, so the comments proved to be quite entertaining:d

    • Patty says:

      Welcome, Ally!

      I do understand the swag problem, and it probably applies more to larger ticket things and blogs that cover them. If someone were reviewing televisions, I’d sure want to know if he/she has the one they are reviewing and if they got it free or at a discount, etc. It makes a difference, because then you have to take that into consideration. Doesn’t mean it affected their review.

      perfume is easier because at most, and not very often, we may get some sample sizes or a 5 ml bottle or something. Big difference between a few dollars of freebies and maybe thousands.

      What you do is what everyone should do, with blogs or magazines. I think there should be more disclosure in magazines as well. I really want to know if that travel writer was comped at that hotel or resort or if that chain does a lot of advertising.

      • Ally says:

        I think there’s a weird double standard at work here – fashion magazines tend to get tons over tons of swag, and yet no one bothers to find out how “honest” their opinions are. On the other hand, bloggers are required to disclose the source of every drop of perfume they review.:-?

  • mals86 says:

    Thanks for addressing the issue – I’ve never thought for a *second* that you reviewed something in order to make a buck, whether by flogging or via TPC. Anyone who reads your reviews would know that, but I really appreciate your making your natural honesty the Official Stated Position.

    And how terrific that your vacation was such a joy and an adventure! Re: howler monkeys – my dad was prone to call any crying-for-no-reason child a howler monkey, in his attempts to amuse/distract. Sometimes it worked, sometimes not. It’s become affectionate family shorthand for unnecessary wailage.

    • Patty says:

      Oh, I know that! I do appreciate you bringing it up. I don’t doubt that there are probably people that do think it’s a problem or does influence me in some way. I was just trying to say that those who feel that way likely won’t have their mind changed.

      Vacation was amazing. Have you heard a howler? I never liken them to a kid. Way too adult sounding, and really magnificent from such little tiny things.

      • Louise says:

        My dad did research on howlers-facial anatomy and such. He would bring us to work with him on weekends, and occasionally dump us in the howler cage.

        I do a wicked good howler imitation after all the immersion training.

        ‘Splains a lot, no? :(|) ;))

      • mals86 says:

        I’ve only heard howlers on nature shows, and you’re right – they sound nothing LIKE a child. My dad was just being facetious. All the same, the phrase “howler monkey” has become part of the family lexicon.

  • Fiordiligi says:

    I already commented on the titles of this week’s blogs on Monday, as one of the resident Brits on the Posse….

    Patty, thanks for your honesty and openness; of course I would never dream of assuming that TPC would have any influence one way or another.

    Glad you had a fab trip. I would have been kerfuffled (good English word) by the 6pm darkness too. I also have no idea how the Scandinavians manage with 24 hours of daylight.

    • Patty says:

      Kerfuffled is a perfect word for it. We all had to go back to basic planetary science and remind ourselves what caused the seasons, tilting and all, then Alex was the only one who remembered which planet is where, which is useful knowledge to have at least four times in your life, I’m thinking.

      I reallly wanted to see a sloth. I’m sure they were out there, but your eyes start crossing as you look at the trees.

  • chayaruchama says:

    I never worried about you, March- anyone writing here-
    Re: integrity.
    A non-issue, for me.

    Now, HOWLERS.
    They look like my kinda furson…
    But I’ve always fancied myself to be a Snow Monkey from Hokkaido :d;)

    So glad you had a terrific trip.:p

  • Stephen says:

    Just to let you know that in Ireland and other anglophone countries, a wank is a pretty specific word for male self-pleasuring!! So I have giggled quite merrily through your last two posts. It might help me to stop laughing if you could explain the American meaning of wank. Isn’t the world a rich and wonderful place?!

    • UK reader says:

      Specific indeed, and not used in any other context in the UK at least. Makes these posts NSFW 🙁

      • Lee says:

        Yes, it does have more intensity here than in the US (and your two avatar faces are priceless in context), though I’d argue it has more than that specifically male onanistic meaning…Following on from wxxxer (I’m avoiding further offence) and the metaphorical meanings that word now has (jerk – ha!, loser, etc), its meaning has been extended beyond the literal to imply worthlessness, something tedious or lengthy, vacuous commentary, pseudointellectualism, or simply detail…

        • Stephen says:

          I agree the word wank is used in a much, much wider context than originally intended, but what specifically is the American meaning and where did it spring from?

          • March says:

            Hi, Stephen, speaking only for ME. Nobody here uses wank off or wanker the way it’s used there. I do have one Aussie male friend who calls everybody a wanker pretty casually, including me (a woman.)

            I used it because I have seen it used, in blogs/journals, as part of a discussion that is jokingly/self-consciously perceived as masturbatory — i.e., tedious, overly self-serious or referential. If we were history students we could all have a wank on the Tudors and their continuing relevance in modern society or some such.

            Does this help? FWIW as an outsider I didn’t perceive its degree of offensiveness to Brits (?) Here, calling someone a jerkoff isn’t nice, but it’s much less taboo than, say, the f-word.

          • Lee says:

            Tudors and wanking? I know the sort of smut you’re thinking about, missy!

          • March says:

            Hehe ssssssshhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!! :-$

          • sweetlife says:

            The American meaning is just exactly what Lee outlined–useless jerk, worthlessness, blowhard, etc. with a shade of the original meaning but without the original charge that it had in the UK (apparently). Just going out on a speculative limb here, but I’m betting that to American ears, the British version of what for us would be “j*rking off” sounds less offensive because, you know, it’s BRITISH, and we’re a colony, and that accent makes everything sound better. We use French terms in a similar way, to code or lessen the impact of something otherwise offensive…

        • carter says:

          Right. So talking about eating knobs (at night)…*-:)

        • March says:

          So how offensive IS wanker? I mean, I’ve heard it used so casually I didn’t think it was that big a deal (although it’s impolite, sure.)

          • Melanie says:

            I’ve heard “wanking” used in a musical context, as describing what, for instance, rock music guitarists sometimes do in jam sessions (think Grateful Dead, Allman Brothers, progressive rock guitarists–or Keith Emerson, lol).

    • Patty says:

      We use it a little more generaly, meaning someone who is just kinda worthless for anything useful and spends a lot of time staring at, um, their navel.

  • Nice post, finding a good perfume is not a difficult job, but finding a perfume in antique bottle is quite difficult.

  • Lee says:

    I want more :(|):(|):(|):(|):(|)

  • carter says:

    Of course your opinion is not influenced by your connection to TPC. Of course you’re not flogging for perfume companies.

    Am appreciative of your decision to apply the same simple and, in my opinion, extremely reasonable set of guidelines March has established for her own posts? Yes, I am. So thank you, Patty.

    Now, more please about Costa Rica and monkeys :(|) and whatever else that tickles your fancy.

  • tmp00 says:

    I think we all know real flogging when we read it. And we’ve all read it at one point or another.. :d

    • Patty says:

      Yeah, I’ve read some reviews of cosmetics or skin care that leave me scratching my head. It reads like marketing copy. Oh, hey, maybe it is! 🙂

  • So what does Costa Rica smell like? You know, you always read about a fragrance smelling like a forest in the morning. . .or at sunset. Did you catch a special smell in the air?

    On one of the “must reveal” blogs someone said that when two movie reviewers say similar things, no one thinks its collusion. There is no mileage for you to flog certain perfumes for profit. You create a body of work in your writing, and if you were flogging something for money, you would, over time, look inconsistent. And people would call you on it. And that isn’t happening. Case closed.

    • Patty says:

      Ylang and bamboo and ocean. 🙂 I have a report on the ylang growing in the trees for Thursday.

      I’ve always liked it when a bunch of reviews come out at the same’ish time. I think when concensus builds for a perfume or the effort, it helps people decide whether to even bother with it or not. If it’s overhyped or crap or just unexciting, it tends to not generate a lot of interest.

  • Laura M says:

    Once I figure out what “swag wanking” is, maybe I’ll worry about it. But I very much doubt it! People in general do like to complain.

    Those monkeys must have been amazing! (But not at 4:30 a.m….) Thanks for sharing the picture. Now you’re back, so you can catch up on your sleep!

  • ScentRed says:

    Glad to hear you had a great time in Costa Rica, Patty. It sounds incredible. Someday I must find my way there (dog sitting anyone?).

    I’ve always appreciated the transparency re: TPC and have never imagined for a minute that that connection would impact your reviews, except that you get access to a wider range of stuff than the average blogger and that’s good for us, right?

    Hats off to you and March for keeping the lines of communication open. Hopefully, what is also transparent is the respect and appreciation that so many of us have for all you Posse Folk 🙂

    • Patty says:

      It was so great, but I’ll give details on Thursday. I’m still digesting just the whole thing.

      I think transparency is key. I’m not sure it’s always easy to get because it doesn’t always occur to volunteer information because you just don’t think about it, or it feels weird to talk about it, like you’re fishing for people to say nice things. 🙂