Thursday, September 29, 2011

Thrusty Thursday: Michael Emerson

I saw an ad for Person of Interest during last weekend's extremely depressing Patriots game, and it reminded me of one of my favorite head-scratch crushes of all time—foxy Napoleonic a-hole Ben Linus from Lost. Sure, I wanted to bang Sayid, but Ben always stuck in my brain like a splinter, well after the biceps faded with the credits.

I bet the actor who played Ben is sick of people pointing at him and shouting, "Hey, it's Ben Linus!" so I'll be respectful and call him Michael Emerson, since that's his name.

And there he was with Ken Leung, a foxy bonus two-for-one! Watch where you stick that bamboo chute, Emerson.

Here's the teaser for Person of Interest (from J.J. Abrams, the creator of Lost):

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Man-whore release day!

Hey all! My evil conjoined erotica-writing twin Cara McKenna has a new book out today! It's called Curio, and it's as romantic as it is filthy, so I am deigning to endorse it. This is the so-called "Parisian man-whore book", with the virgin heroine and the male prostitute hero, and you may have caught some snippets from Six Sentence Sunday posts of late. If you'd like to read more, here's the official excerpt. And here's the blurb:

Caroly Evardt never expected to find herself patronizing a male prostitute. Then again, she never expected to be weeks from her thirtieth birthday and still a virgin.

When a friend mentions that a gorgeous male model in Paris sells his body as well as his image, Caroly’s intrigued. Finally, a chance to sample the gifts of a beautiful man—no strings, no stakes, no fear of rejection.

But she soon discovers that Didier Pedra amounts to more than a striking face and talented body. He’s a kind, charming, damaged man, and after a few evenings of pleasurable education, Caroly’s interest blossoms into something far deeper than mere lust. Her simple arrangement is suddenly feeling downright dangerous…

If you're interested, you can buy it here (and on Amazon, B&N, All Romance eBooks, etc. in the coming days). Five bucks for several hours with a French prostitute! What a deal! It's also on Goodreads, if that's your scene.

Thanks for sitting through the promo!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Recipe: Butternut Squash Soup

Preparing a squash is kind of a pain in the ass, but man, is it worth it. Took me a little over an hour to make this recipe, and it serves 6–8.

Have I mentioned lately I'm not a food photographer?
You'll need:

4 tbsp. butter
1 butternut squash
5 new potatoes
1 medium onion
6 cloves garlic
1 qt. water
black pepper

1. Melt the butter in a large stew pot.

2. Prepare the squash, by peeling it with a potato peeler. Cut it in half length-wise and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Cut it into 1-inch cubes and toss them in the stew pot. Flex your aching wrist. Also cube the potatoes—I didn't bother peeling them, because their skins are thin and give the otherwise smooth soup some nice texture. Toss those in. Mince the onion and garlic and add those as well.

3. Set the burner on medium-high heat, turning all the ingredients in the butter and cooking/stirring until the onions are clear and the kitchen smells awesome (about five minutes).

4. Add enough water to just cover the ingredients (you can also use chicken or vegetable stock, but I didn't have any and the water worked just fine). Bring to a boil.

5. Reduce the heat to low and cover. Let simmer for 30–40 minutes, until the squash and potatoes are soft.

6. Purée the soft ingredients in a blender, then return them to the pot.

7. Keep the soup simmering, adding spices to taste. I used a LOT of cumin, a dash of cinnamon, a ton of black pepper, and quite a bit of salt. Serve.

8. Leftovers will keep for a few days in the fridge, and for ages in the freezer. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday #7

Greetings, sixers! As promised, another excerpt from my evil twin Cara's upcoming romantica release, Curio (out this Wednesday), aka "the Parisian man-whore book".

I slid my hand back to feel his damp hair, the heat of his neck. He cocked his head, the kiss still closed-mouth but promising more, soon.

I let myself imagine the acts he’d mentioned doing with others, and though they’d thrilled me before, now I couldn’t picture such things. In this moment he was my cautious first date, my maybe-a-boyfriend. He was no other woman’s, and he’d never kissed any girl and made her feel this way before. His body was far from innocent, but I fantasized that his heart was as untouched and virginal as mine.

Thanks for stopping by! Now head here to check out all the other Six Sentence Sunday excerpts this week.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday Night Fu Review: The One

The One ★ ½
I was prepared to be wowed, but sadly I wasn't.

There was a lot of potential awesome going for The One (2001)—Jet Li, Jason Statham, several more Jet Li multiverse alternate reality clones… And yet it fell flat.

Let's back up, though. Here is what the movie's about, in a nutshell. It's a biggish budget sci-fi action flick, and Jet Li plays the bad guy, a dude who travels through worm holes to assassinate his many other iterations in alternate universes, thus gaining himself superhuman powers en route to becoming The One, a majorly evil unstoppable bad-ass. He also plays the good guy, a mild-mannered martial arts enthusiast cop version of himself, and the final guy the evil Jet Li has to kill to become The One. Jason Statham—never shirtless and with far too much hair on his head for my taste—plays an inter-universal agent, trying to help the good guy and stop the evil guy.

The unbilled star of this movie, for better or worse, was the year it was made—2001. It comes through in the pervasively nouveau cock-rockish post-Marilyn Manson soundtrack, the Matrix-wannabe effects (and affects), in the sheer colorization and cinematography of the thing. Heck, maybe it just wasn't meant to be seen by a viewer for the first time in 2011. But it's dated.

The major issue for me was that this movie lacked the charisma of a more over-the-top, pure martial arts romp (i.e., the original Drunken Master or Ong Bak). Its choreography was solid, stunts decent, star undoubtedly talented…but that magical, borderline wackiness of a true classic was missing, replaced with unconvincing slow-down/speed-up special effects. (In my snotty opinion, a good Kung Fu movie's wow-factor comes from the actors' physicality—the magic is in the "holy shit, did you see that dude flip?" moments, not the "holy shit, did you see that CGI?" moments.) It also could have used a lot more cheek and humor—Li and Statham both have it in them, but sadly, the writers apparently did not.

But I'm being mean, and asking it to be something it never promised it was. I mean, look at the cover—it's clearly at least 50% sci-fi. So here are some pluses to balance out the criticisms. Cool premise. Fast paced. Likable supporting heroine character. Quality stunt double action in the scenes where Li battles himself. Some innovative fight scenes and settings (in addition to some really tired ones). If you like nouveau cock-rock, the perfect soundtrack. An ending that's both sweet and utterly schlocky, utterly Hollywood. But I'm afraid that's about it. Tons of potential, but in the end, a limp-yet-noisy rehash.

Now behold the trailer:

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Thrusty Thursday: Laurence Fishurne

So I've been watching a slew of seminal cycling movies in the past week, so-called inspiration and research for a work-in-progress neither me nor my evil twin will yet claim authorship of. But this last weekend we watched a real hum-dinger of the genre—Quicksilver.

It stars Kevin Bacon as a stock trader turned bike messenger, and it is like the eighties filtered through a lens made of pure eighties. I recommend it. Highly. The soundtrack is like…uhn. It also reminded me of a fact one must not let slip from one's daily consciousness—Larry Fishburne is a fucking fox! He may just get my nomination as one of Hollywood's Top Five Foxes of All-Time. Behold his dishiness as it transcends role and age:

Goddamn you and your stern-but-dreamy eyes, Fishburne!

And of course, here's the trailer for Quicksilver (1986). It's slightly more OTT than the actual movie…but only slightly:

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday #6

Greetings, sixers! This week and next I thought I'd share excerpts from my evil twin Cara's September 28 romantica release, Curio. Possibly better known as "the Parisian man-whore book". The virgin heroine has just admitted to the male prostitute hero the extent of her inexperience…

And it was in that moment in Didier’s living room that I realized, maybe not tonight, but some day not too far off, I could leave this place with that weight lifted from me. I could walk down his street and be like everyone else. I could have a lover. This is Paris, after all—having a lover is like having a pancreas, and I was suddenly very ready to quit being a medical anomaly.

All Didier said to my pronouncement was, “That is very interesting,” then he paused and squinted in such a way that it seemed he were taking a drag off a psychic cigarette. I worried he was about to tell me he had a policy against deflowering his clients, but he merely added, “It’s very flattering that you’ve come to me.”

Thanks for stopping by! Now head here to check out all the other Six Sentence Sunday excerpts this week.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Le Jeudi Frotteurible: Melvil Poupaud

My evil twin is awobble about the upcoming release of her man-whore book, so let's go French again this Thursday! Though the story is really just her typed-up perv-o fantasy about sleeping with a broody, Parisian version of David Gandy, I found an authentically French fox to exploit this week—actor Melvil Poupaud. Let's mantage!

And here, watch him speak French! To spare my fellow English-speakers the banality of knowing what he's saying (because who cares, really?) I found a clip with Spanish subtitles. And incidentally, he kisses guys in this movie, if that's your thing. Très uhn!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

10 Worst Infomercials Ever

Thanks to the Husbo for this little Wednesday workday pick-me-up:

Monday, September 12, 2011

Very Sad News

Quick post to share that Welsh-Australian actor Andy Whitfield (Spartacus: Blood and Sand star and highly popular thrustee here on the Super Lucky #1 Fun Blog) passed away yesterday at age thirty-nine, after an eighteen-month battle with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Very sad. If you haven't seen Spartacus, I urge you to check it out on Netflix Instant Watcher—both Whitfield and the entire show are fantastic.

For more about Whitfield's passing, here's a link to the BBC News article.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday #5

Greetings, sixers! This week I thought I'd share six sentences from my current work-in-progress, Meet Your Match. The heroine has just inherited a boxing gym from her estranged father, which she plans to close so she can use the space to open a matchmaking service…

Where the stairs doubled back, Jenna passed a landing with a water cooler, a huge vintage fight poster framed and hung beside it, Marciano v. Walcott. What struck her then was the smell—sweat and rubber. Leather, disinfectant. The odd, pungent potpourri of her father’s legacy. The sounds came next, slapping and grunting and the squeak of equipment joints. Jenna took a final breath and stepped through the open double doors and into the gym.

Thanks for stopping by! Now head here to check out all the other Six Sentence Sunday excerpts this week.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Thrusty Thursday: Hijacked in the name of AWESOME!!!

Letting my evil twin Cara commandeer Thrusty Thursday, to celebrate her ten thousandth tweet by presenting you with the awesomest thing there is and ever could be…


No doubt my design professors will be relieved to know I'm not letting my Photoshop training go to seed.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Make Yourself a Dress, Part 4

Once I had all my fabric carefully marked, I was ready to begin actually sewing my dress. Which brings us to…

Make Yourself a Dress, Part 4: The Bodice

This section really ought to be titled "Do Whatever Your Pattern Says To". The entire remainder of the process could fall under that banner, actually. So we'll now diverge a bit from this series masquerading as a true how-to, and instead I'll just share what steps I've been muddling my way through.

1. Baste. Basting is the process of loosely hand-stitching the pieces together as marked (including darts), sort of a dry run, so you can try the bodice on for fit. If the fit's off or you make a mistake, you can simply pull out the stitches as opposed to having to laboriously seam-rip a machine-stitched hem. [Romance authors, insert bodice-ripping joke here.]

2. Actual sewing! Once you're satisfied that the garment fits, follow the pattern's instructions and begin sewing the bodice together for real, including darts. Pay close attention to where any closures will need to go. I recommend ironing the seams once you're done, to "set" them. Before finishing any seams (folding them in and stitching them together to prevent fraying) try on the garment again to confirm the fit's still looking good. Now is also the time to decide if you might not just prefer to keep the dress as it is—in my case, as a fashionable owl-patterned belly shirt.

You too can be the proud owner of an owl-patterned belly shirt!

3. Facing. The next step for my dress was to attach the sleeve and neckline facing. Facing is a piece of fabric that lines the openings, giving them a tidy, more tailored look (as opposed to just turning down the edges). I thought this was overly fussy and complicated at first, but I changed my tune when I saw how nice the sleeves and neck ended up looking.

4. Finishing. Finishing your seams can be done a few ways. I went with a method where you fold any raw, joined edges in one each other, and sew them together (then press them with the iron). For the facing, I added another step, using bonding tape. Bonding tape is basically heat-activated glue, which comes off its spool resembling a spent dryer sheet (you can see my spools in the photo below). You lay a strip of it between the fabrics, then press with a hot iron to bond them. My facings were a bit gnarly, sticking out at awkward angles no matter how much I pressed them, so I found this step very helpful. Two notes about bonding tape, though—stick with a very thin/fine variety (you'll still be able to separate the fabric if you screw up) and TEST IT FIRST on scraps of the fabric you're using, to make sure it doesn't darken or discolor the material.

Here you can see the inside of the back collar, where I've finished and bonded the collar facing.

And now your bodice will be nearly done, with the possible exception of a zipper or other closures. In the next step, I'll be talking about assembling the skirt.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday #4

Letting Cara, my evil conjoined erotica-writing twin, take over the post this week. She's got a paperback anthology coming out on Tuesday, called Stray Hearts. It contains all three novellas (previously published as ebooks) in her Shivaree series, about the angsty travails of Shane and Gabriel (and often Natalie). Much male/male sexxorings and m/m/f menage, if that's your scene.

Six sentences from the first story, Backwoods, when Shane's drunkenly struggling to keep a grip on his soon-to-be modified heterosexuality:

He was more beautiful than any woman Shane had ever been with—hell, than any Shane had ever seen—and it made his body ache. Any minute now, Shane would find his sense and turn all this carnal curiosity into male insecurity, quit with the friendliness and get back to good old-fashioned defensive bigotry. Not that he was a bigot. That was the one thing he hadn’t inherited from his old man. But he sure as hell wished he could muster a taste of it right now…might give him the scare he needed to beat it the fuck out of this room and get a purchase on his manhood.

Gabriel set the bottle on the table with a distinctly empty-sounding clank.

Thanks for stopping by! Now head here to check out all the other Six Sentence Sunday excerpts this week.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Make Yourself a Dress, Part 3

In the last post in this series, I talked about trimming the pattern, pinning it to the fabric, and cutting the fabric. Now it's time to mark the fabric. Marking the fabric precisely as the pattern directs is the difference between a garment that fits, and one that looks like a hot mess. Mine may still wind up a hot mess, but not for lack of trying. So, onward!

Make Yourself a Dress, Part 3: Mark that Biotch

As I said before, I chose to go about this the old school way, so I can't share any wisdom on the process of using tracing carbon and a tracing wheel to mark the fabric. Instead, I used a combination of tailor's tacks and a pen. Both techniques have their headaches and advantages, and next time I suspect I'll give the tracing carbon a shot. So…

1. Tailor's tacks. The purpose of these are to temporarily mark the fabric with the various guides included on your pattern pieces. With a sewing needle and thread, you simply sew loose stitches through the pattern and the fabric, so that once you remove the pattern, your fabric will still show all the pertinent marks, such as where to hem, or join a dart, or sew one piece to the adjacent one. This gets a bit tricky when you're marking a doubled-up pair of pieces, and I recommend you Google "tailor's tacks" and get a more experienced dressmaker's take on the process. I think I know what I'm doing, but to be honest, I'm only about seventy-percent confident. Still, they worked!

You can see the tailor's tacks I've added here—the yellow thread sewn through the pattern and
the fabric beneath, marking important guide spots without damaging the fabric.
And once you unpin and gently remove the pattern, the temporary guide stitches remain.
2. Just use a damn pen. There were a couple of pattern pieces with which, I will admit, I totally lost patience with and couldn't bear to use tailor's tacks for every little guide. So instead, because my fabric is dark and also colorful, I just used a red roller-ball pen, marking the guide with tiny red dots. Saved me ton of time, so no regrets. But full disclosure.

In the next step, things finally start getting exciting, and I'll talk about the stage I'm currently in, sewing the bodice and finishing its seams.

Friday, September 2, 2011


Oh yes, to quote Ruthie Knox, unh… Unnnhhh, big time. Thanks to Zoë Archer for tweeting this decadence from Swoonworthy, as it's probably—no, it's definitely—the greatest poster for anything, ever. I saw the trailer for this movie a couple months ago and my loins promptly exploded, because, as anyone who knows me is aware, fighters do things to me. Things that make me unh. You're welcome to all the cowboys, the SEALs, and especially the billionaire tycoons, so long as you forward all the bruised and bloody, battered men straight to me.

Right, one last ogle then it's back to work on this new Blaze proposal…which, handily enough, is about a fighter. Unh.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Thrusty Thursday: Joseph Gordon-Levitt

I won't go nuts objectifying this week's thrustee, because I must admit, I'm mildly uncomfortable about the crush. Even after I saw Inception, Joseph Gordon-Levitt was still frozen in my head as his character on 3rd Rock From the Sun, and adorable though he was…uncool. Way uncool. My undersized low-cut pink leopard-print tee-shirt does not rhinestone-sparkle proudly with the proclamation, Cougar! thank you very much.

Then last week I saw Hesher, and it threw my lady-bits into turmoil. No! You're too young! Wrooong!!! But once a Google search revealed he's only a year my junior, I gave myself permission to perv on out.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt…charisma. You has it. Use it wisely.

For your consideration, the movie trailer:

Switch-Off September

Never fear, never fear—Thrusty Thursday will be along later. But first, let me tell you about a month I've been dreading a bit…

Oh come on, now. Don't look at me
like that, Matt Paxton.
It's now Switch-Off September, the month in my year of Lents when I'll be giving up television. Giving up the device itself is a non-challenge; I haven't owned a TV in perhaps seven years, nor lived with one for the past four. Though as a writer I do snatch glimmers of inspiration here and there from TV, I can't really be trusted to get anything done with one around. I know my own weaknesses.

But now you can watch TV online! This has been a very nice development, since my husband and I can't listen to NPR every minute of the day (no matter what filthy liberals we are), and we've enjoyed lots of great shows over the course of a thousand dinners, thanks to Hulu and Netflix. Nothing sinful about that. And my habit of zoning out to an episode of something truly awful and voyeuristic (The Bachelor, Millionaire Matchmaker, and Hoarders, oh, Hoarders) well, that's not so bad either, really. It's a pleasant if guilty escape, and helps me turn my brain off after a long day of writerly whatnots. But I often wonder, what would I get done between five and six p.m., my down-time between finishing work and starting dinner, if I weren't zoning out to reality TV? Well, I guess I'll find out.

As with Meat-Free May, my husband can take or leave TV, so he's joining me in the project. We watched our final few shows last night, a Daily Show we'd missed (again, filthy liberals) and a couple episodes of Sarah Silverman. And then, all went silent on the laptop. We've ordered the latest installment of a dorky puzzle video game we like, Rhem (think Myst) and have lots of Angry Birds to tackle. And there's always an after-dinner walk around the park. I've also loaded up my iPad with the first wave of a digital ton of new books, and I'm looking forward to catching up on what my friends have been writing and recommending.

So, here we go! Let's find out exactly what I can accomplish with an extra hour or two a day…