The Sunday Magazine: Real Time with Bill Maher

As I have related in many versions of this column I am fond of the late-night talk show. I have also stated previously that I believe we are in a Golden Age of these shows. There is one for everyone which should provide you a smile to take with you to bed. There is one host who I think does not get enough credit for the longevity of his late-night career, Bill Maher.

I remember discovering this weird show on Comedy Central back in 1993 called Politically Incorrect. The host was a comedic actor who I’d seen in a few movies and TV shows but nothing that memorable; that was Mr. Maher. The concept of the show was simple Mr. Maher would spend his time discussing the topics of the day with a diverse panel of four guests. From the very early days he would have experts from all over the political spectrum into which he would add celebrities. One of the more famous pairings on the show was that of Florence Henderson and Marilyn Manson. What took place was a substantial discussion beyond their surface images. It is something the show excelled at. In 1997 it would move to ABC where it would run until 2002. ABC would cancel it because of remarks by Mr. Maher about 9/11 which were judged insensitive.

In this photo provided by HBO, Bill Maher hosts the season premiere of

Bill Maher

One year later HBO gave him one hour per week to do Real Time with Bill Maher and he has been there ever since. In many ways the freer atmosphere HBO offers for the kind of discussion Mr. Maher encourages on the show has been freeing. Plus, nobody has to be concerned about language on HBO. To be informed you need to hear both sides talk about their ideas. Real Time is one of the few places where this interaction takes place. Mr. Maher has gotten very good at guiding the action over the 20-plus years of doing this. The panels are the centerpiece of each episode of Real Time but it is not my favorite part.

That comes at the very end when Mr. Maher does “New Rules”. In this segment he starts off with a series of topical jokes which lead up to a longer commentary on the final “New Rule”. It is in that longer soliloquy that I find Mr. Maher challenges my notion of the way I think. It provokes me to consider his perspective see if there is something there I want to take in more seriously.

I think Mr. Maher is underrated considering he was one of the earliest practitioners of this “news as comedy” format. There have been many great examples since Politically Incorrect but Real Time with Bill Maher reminds me that one of the originals is still going as strong as ever.

Mark Behnke

Sniffapalooza Fall Ball Oct 21-23- Visit a Perfume Company and Shop NYC

Sniffapalooza has been doing events twice a year in New York City for over ten years now. The upcoming Fall Ball will be the twenty-fifth edition of these events. For this anniversary the two founders, Karen Adams and Karen Dubin, have put together a very special program.

On Friday October 21 everyone is invited to visit Twisted Lily in Brooklyn for a special cocktail party where you can mix and mingle with your fellow perfume lovers from 5-9PM while trying the latest new releases.

Here is the very special event for this year’s Fall Ball.


On Saturday October 22 we will begin the day at 9AM inside the offices of Symrise one of the major perfume companies in the world. At their NYC site while we eat a light breakfast we will listen to a presentation called, “From Idea to Shelf”. We will hear from an entire Symrise team on how a perfume is created and marketed using a recent example of a perfume on the market. This first part is, unfortunately, limited seating so only the first 75 people to sign up will be admitted.

After leaving Symrise we have a little time to stop at Bergdorf-Goodman before heading to lunch at Brasserie 8 ½. Over lunch you will hear a continuation of what we heard from the Symrise team in the morning as two of their most recent clients from Phlur and Potions Fatales talk about their experience creating a new perfume collection with the staff at Symrise.

If you have ever wanted a peek behind the curtain at how perfumes get made Saturday at Sniffapalooza Fall Ball will give you unsurpassed access to the process.

After lunch you will be able to visit the midtown NYC locations of Molton Brown and Penhaligon’s.

The day ends with a luxurious cocktail party sponsored by Parfums de Marly.


Sunday October 23 is all downtown in what I call The Fragrance District of NYC where single boutiques of some of the most famous niche perfume brands are located.

At 9:30AM Annick Goutal invites us in to their boutique for a mini Master Class and the debut of their latest fragrance, Rose Oud.

After that there are open house events at Diptyque, Le Labo, Atelier Cologne, and Red Flower. Each has special surprises for all Sniffapalooza attendees.

At 1PM yours truly is the host of the lunchtime EAU (Emerging Artisans Uncorked) de Sniffapalooza Showcase. I will open with some thoughts about our fabulous speakers; Stefania Squeglia of Mendittorosa, Stephen Dirkes of Euphorium Brooklyn, and Irina Adam of Phoenix Botanicals.

After lunch you have two choices. One is to visit The Scentarium where for an additional cost you can be guided through the process of designing your own perfume by expert Sue Philips.

Or you can visit the Byredo Flagship Store where their new Unnamed fragrance will be displayed. Then you can end at Harney & Sons Fine Teas to have a cuppa to allow you to reflect on this jam-packed weekend.

If you’ve attended Sniffapalooza before the entire program around Symrise on Saturday is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a consumer to see how perfume is made. Remember the attendance at Symrise is capped at 75 so if this is what you want to see you need to register early.

All of the details can be found at this link.

I really hope to see some of you at the end of the month in NYC. I’ll be the one in the hat and Hawaiian shirt.

Mark Behnke