France is a wonderful country, renowned across the globe for its wine,

cheese, and ambiance. Young lovers honeymoon in gay Paree, nibble

delicious croissants at sidewalk cafes, and and ride the gondolas as

they cruise down the beautiful Seine. On market day, French farmers

bring their fresh fruits and vegetables to the cities and towns.

 

Impressionist paintings, such as the work of one of France's favorite

sons, Claude Monet, grace all the arthouses. Beautiful chateaux dot the

French countryside. Philosophers wearing black berets ponder the

existential riddles of Camus and Sartre and smoke exotic cigarettes.

Central France is the home of many uranium mines. Corsica, the home of

Napolean Bonaparte, is a land of plenty for the humble chicken

farmer and a weekend Mecca for cockfighting afficionados. Yes, this is

France.

 

And like the films of Jean-Luc Godard or Francois Truffaut, Les

Comptoins de Provence milk soap is uniquely French. As I understand,

"Les Comptoins de Provence" translates to "The Counters of Provence".

Provence is the location in France from which the bar of soap was

purchased. With this in mind, I deduce that The Counters of Provence is

a toiletries botique that sells a wide variety of soap and doesn't bother

to name its products. The packaging of the soap consists of a piece of

unmarked and unlabeled piece of cellophane. The unique square shape of

the soap showcases the unconventional yet functional streak of the

French. It looks odd at first glance, but fits neatly into the palm of

the hand, where it is less likely to slip from one's grasp. The diameter

of the milk soap is approximately 2 1/2 inches by 2 1/2 inches wide and

3/4 of an inch thick. My palm is about 2 inches at its widest, so it

fits perfectly. The coloration of the milk soap is a pure, beautiful

white, not unlike the snow which caps the peaks of the mighty Alps.

 

There is an indentation 1/2 of an inch into the bar of soap with an

molding on the left side of the bar of milk being poured from a milk

bottle into another container, possibly a butter churn. The right side

has "Les Comptoins de Provence" carved into the right side with "Lait"

and "Milk" written beneath. "Lait", of course, is the French word for

milk. I should point out that the white on white lettering is nearly

impossible to read without glaringly bright lighting. The back of the

soap also has an indention 1/2 an inch in with "Pur vegetal" impressed

into it. "Pur vegetal" translates into "Pure vegetable", which indicates

that the soap is made of 100% vegetable matter. "100g-3.5 oz" is written

below that, indicating the soap's weight in metric terms. "Composition

aromatique : 1.5%" is written below the weight of the soap. "Composition

aromatique" translates to "Aromatic composition". I would guess that

this phrase means that 1.5% percent of the soap is a perfume of some

sorts. "Product of France" is written at the bottom of the indentation

in English. Provence is a tourism hub due to its university, which

specializes in foriegn languages. This explains why there is English

writing on a French soap. The soap is a little bit chipped and beat up,

but that's to be expected when you bring a bar of soap aroud the world

with nothing but a piece of cellophane to protect it. The soap doesn't

smell like milk, but milk really doesn't have much of a scent. The aroma

is similar to Lux or Ivory, but not as harsh. It's an agreeable scent

but indistinct and forgettable. The soap feels smooth and not at all

greasy or slippery. It flakes easily, and is soft enough that you can

gouge it with your fingernail. Milk may be one of the ingredients of

this soap, but you sure as hell can't taste it. It's really bitter, and

the flavor sticks to the tounge. If you use this soap, be careful not to

get any lather in your mouth.

 

Aesthetics aside, the real test of a soap is how well it cleans. I wrote

"Treasure" on my right hand in blue ink, and it took me 12 seconds to

wash the word off of my hand under warm water. That's not bad at all.

The soap left a very slight odor on my hands that faded after about 5

minutes. The soap's lather is very, very creamy and rinses off easily.

 

If milk baths are good for the skin, and I'm inclined to believe that

they are, this soap would make a good facial soap. It also does a good

job of moisturizing dry skin and softening the hands. These traits make

it perfect for people who like the scent of Ivory or Lifebuoy but have

delicate skin. Obviously, most Americans can't buy this soap, but it may

be possible to order it through the mail by writing to:

 

Carline en Provence, 27 Rue de la Balance, Avignon, 90823802. I assume

that the string of numbers are the store's zip code, but they may be its

telephone number. If you don't speak French or are unwilling to write to

the address listed above, you could just as easily purchase a domestic

milk soap, found in better health food stores everywhere.

--

GOD IS NOT MOCKED

From Leonard Maltin's TV Movies and Video Guide 1990 Edition:

"Octagon, The (1980) C-103m. ** D: Eric Karson. Chuck Norris, Karen

Carlson, Lee Van Cleef, Art Hindle, Jack Carter. OK Kung Fu drama with

Norris taking on all comers when hired by Carlson for protection from

Ninja assassins. Fair of its kind, with above-average production

values."

 

Colgate's Octagon All Purpose Soap has much in common with the motion

picture that shares its name. For example, both star bearded karate

experts and frequently appear on TBS late at night. I'm kidding, of

course. The real star of Colgate's Octagon is its brawny cleaning power,

which manages to equal Lava without the benefit of pumice. Octagon is

also famous for its supposed high edibility factor. But does it live up

to the hype? We'll see.

 

Octagon is wrapped in waxy white paper and has a stiff protective sleeve

inside. This is common enough, but you have to wonder why they even

bothered when you see the soap. The bar looks much more like a brick

than a piece of soap, but I'll get to that later. The packaging is white

with black and red printing. The front of the package is taken up by the

Octagon logo, which is extremely plain. The logo consists of the word

"Octagon" written in thick black letters that seem to be slightly

elongated. "Colgate's" is written above "Octagon" in thin black letters

that look squat when compared to the primary logo, "All Purpose" is

written below "Octagon" in white letters inside a curving red banner,

and "Soap" is written beneath the banner in the same kind of black

letters as seen in "Colgate's". There are three red lines running

vertically around the entire package, although they are frequently

covered by the Octagon logo or other information. The first line is

positioned between the "O" and "C" in the Octagon logo printed on the

front of the packaging. The second line appears between the "A" and the

"G", and the third and final line appears between the "O" and the "N".

"Net Wt. 7 OZ" is printed in the lower right-hand corner of the front of

the packaging. Seven ounces is about two ounces heavier than most other

bars of soap, so Octagon probably lasts longer in the tub than other

soaps.

--

GOD IS NOT MOCKED

(Note: This review came at a great personal cost to me. Every time I'd sit

in front of this infernal box, I would develop a splitting headache or

become angry and frustrated at nothing in particular. Also, the icy fall

winds has chapped my hands to the point that I can't even clench the fuckers

without ripping open the skin over my knuckles, making them manifestly unfit

for testing soaps. It's clear that SOMEONE didn't want me to talk about

soap, so I had no choice but to churn out this rather spotty review as

quickly as possible, to type and be damned. Hopefully, this will teach the

bastards to leave well enough alone and keep the hell out of my body. On

with the show.)

 

As an American citizen, I am often isolated from foreign views and products,

such as communism, Cuban cigars, and soaps. I can do without communism and

stogies, but it is impossible to claim objectivity in my reviews when I

am limited to corporate American soaps. While the United States government

is not actively preventing foriegn soaps from entering the country (yet),

the average citizen has a devil of a time obtaining an Asian or European

soap. But thanks to the information superhighway, I have been contacted

by a noble British citizen by the name of Chris Salt who, free of charge,

sent me a box full of fine English soaps. Before the advent of the personal

computer, I could only obtain British soaps by travelling to England or

knowing someone who lived in England. Now the world is my oyster.

 

Unfortunately, personal conflicts that are frankly none of your business

prevented me from reviewing these soaps until now, months after my recieving

of the beautiful package. These issues have been resolved, and I now intend

to subject these exotic new soaps to an almost harmful amount of scrutiny.

Upon first examining the British soaps, I decided that the most intriguing

sample was the The Body Shop's Mostly Men Rhassoul Mud Soap. The mud soap's

most obvious deviation from the normal soap was its round yo-yo shape and

granite coloring. It also has one of the most pleasantly distinctive odors

I've encountered, and I'm sure I'll be racking my brains for words that

adequately describe the smell.

 

(It should be pointed out that a soap composed of mud is a fucked up and

ridiculous concept, right up there with drinks that make you thirsty and

shoes that hurt your feet. Mud makes you dirty. Soap makes you clean.

Dirty and clean are two mutually exclusive concepts, and any attempt to

create a synthesis is doomed to failure. This soap is a complete failure,

and I'm only anylyzing it in hopes that the world can learn from the Body

Shop's mistake)

 

The wrapping consisted of nothing fancier than clear plastic wrap and a

round sticker on each side. The front sticker (or at least the sticker on

the end I took for the front) is black with white lettering, and isn't all

that fancy. the top features The Body Shop logo, which consists of nothing

fancier than the phrase "The Body Shop" written in popped-out letters with

a wreath between "Body" and "Shop" and "The" hovering above. Beneath that

and taking up most of the sticker is a white capital M tilted on to its

side. It's tilted on its left side, and the thickness of the lines that the

M is composed of varies in a distinct pattern. The top line, which would be

the right end if the M were uprighted, is quite thick. The line after the

next is of the same thickness, which makes the line sandwiched between the

two seen very thin. The final line is as thick as the seemingly thin line.

"Mostly" is written in black inside the top line of the M, and "Men" is

written in the other thick line. "Rhassoul Mud Soap" is written in white

at the FUCK FUCK FUCK bottom of the sticker, and is curved to hug the very

rim of the sticker. It's hardly a striking design, and does nothing to

suggest that the product is a soap.

 

The back label is even less distinctive. It consists of a white sticker

with small black lettering concerning the soap. The first phrase

written on the sticker is "Ref: 1147". I'm not sure what Ref: 1147 is,

or what it has to do with the soap, but I imagine it has something to do

with a legal bill passed concerning the issue in the next phrase:

"AGAINST ANIMAL TESTING". This implies political activism more than

company policy. On the other hand, it does not actually state that they

don't test their soap on animals. Granted, it's not very likely that they

do, but I wouldn't put it past the soap-makers, considering some of the

unscrupulous policies employed by some soap manufacturers. (Ivory comes

to mind.) Beneath that, it says "100% Vegetable Base" in a smaller

font. Personally, there are some vegetables I wouldn't want to bath

with. Onions, for example. Onions smell worse than dogshit. And green

peppers have all those little seeds that probably get right up the crack

of your ass. Even tomatoes would be fairly gross to wash with. In fact,

I couldn't think of any vegetable substance that would produce a good

soap base. Also, mud is a mineral substance, which makes me wonder what the

hell they meant by "Mud Soap". Two lines down "C 0 7 9 5" is found. This

could indicate the date of manufacture- July 1995. It also could serve in

place of a bar code, which is noticeably lacking from the package.

Ref: 1147 could also replace the bar code. FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK

FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK Under the possible date in noticeably larger

writing is "e 100 g", which, as the next line indicates in a smaller bold

font, is the phrase "Net Weight When Packed". The following two lines give

the address of the makers: "The Body Shop", "BN17 6LS, England". A town name

is noticeably absent from this addres; perhaps the code at the start of the

second line serves as a replacement. I'm not knowledgable about

European postal standards. There was at one point a price sticker on

the packaging, but I fucked up and lost it. Sorry.

 

The soap itself is impressive in such a way as to make up for the lack

of impressiveness in the package, although not so impressive as to

require such awkward phrasing on my part. The shape of the soap is

round but slightly flattened, as if a ball of play-dough or silly putty

had been rolled between the hands and pressed slightly- in other words,

oblate. The color, as I have said, it reminiscent of granite, or

cookies and cream ice cream if the cookies in question had been crushed

very finely, almost as though it had been ground into dust. I like

cookies and cream ice cream, and I like granite (although I prefer

cookies and cream ice cream), so the color is pleasing. I should note

that the combination of the granite coloration and the oblate shape

caused my brother to mistake this for a paperweight, perhaps provided by

an auto detailing shop. However, he found it a very pleasant

paperweight. There is a definite and rather obvious flash present, but

I have never found flashes to be particularly repellant. The top of

the soap as the Body Shop logo imprinted on it. This consists of a

circular wreath-like design with The Body Shop printed at the top of the

circle. On the bottom, there is a small circular indentation, exactly

big enough to hold a dime. If you wanted to have a tasteful yet

decorative dime holder, or to store a dime near and dear to your heart,

you should try to obtain this soap. Without any doubt or reservations

whatsoever, the most favorable aspect of this soap is its odor. The

odor resembles that of Irish Spring, but goes far beyond that in that

there is no hint of soapy odor in it whatsoever. The smell is total

aftershave, or perhaps men's cologne; musky, with a deeper smell of Old

Spice, perhaps. Now, I don't use Old Spice, or any other cologne. In

fact, right now, I stink like a fucking wino, though I don't usually;

it's just early in the morning. But I appreciate the fine, sharp odor of

a good cologne. For that reason, I advocate this soap if the fine odor

has an impact on you. It feels like soapstone. Although I know eating

soap is very bad for you, and you should never do it, in the interests

of experimental thoroughness I tasted a portion. It tasted salty and

spicy, and not at all soap-like. The taste is rather reminiscent of the

taste one gets from licking human skin, with a soapy aftertaste. It

actually tastes quite nice, compared to the other soaps I've tasted. So,

keep it away from children who might eat soap. When listened to, the

soap is perfectly silent. That covers all five senses. The only truly

enthralling sense is that of odor, although visually it's quite nice.

 

I proceeded to inscribe "Meatloaf" very sloppily on my hand with a

"Pentel Rock'n Write" ink pen. It took 45 seconds to completely erase

the word "Meatloaf" (which was written with a fairly thorough pen) from

my hand. It was a very unpleasant wash. The lather felt like mud, and

I'd wager that the flecks in the soap are actually some sort of

dirt-like concoction. This is a fucked-up and evil soap. It says on the

label that this is a "mud soap", but I didn't realize the implications

of this until I went to wash with it. You don't wash with mud, you wash

mud OFF your goddamned body. The entire idea is antithetical to the

concept of soap as we know it. It's like taking sleeping pills to keep

you awake. However, I should note that my hands did indeed smell

very nice after I washed them with it. Also, I feel obliged to point

out that a soap called "Mostly Men" from a company called the Body Shop has

definite homoerotic undertones for me. That probably says a lot about me,

psychologically. In essence, this is a bad soap concept executed well.

Avoid it unless you want something to hold your dimes in. Not that it will

be especially hard to avoid for most of us in the States.

--

GOD IS NOT MOCKED

[Note: This story was penned, as were the soap reviews, by Paul Lynch.]