Friday, December 30, 2011

Friday Night Fu Review: Shaolin

This was such a hard movie to review, and I'm not even sure why. Shaolin (2011) was beautifully filmed, finely acted, with multiple satisfying character arcs and quality fight choreography. It also featured a charming and hefty-yet-well-balanced cameo by Jackie Chan, but didn't allow the guest mega-star to steal the show.

Shaolin has a historic biopic feel (seems to be the fashion in Kung Fu of late) though as far as I know, it's not based on any actual events or figures. It stars Andy Lau, a talented performer whom I knew best from The Warlords (2007), offering a solid screen presence if not a surfeit of charisma. Playing the baddie was Nicholas Tse, whom I mistook for Huang Xiaoming the entire movie. In my defense, both actors are also former pop stars. They must have twin-like pop-star facial features. Anyhow, Tse played a believable power-hungry, sadistic dictator figure, though like Lau was also just a little short on charisma…though for all I know, that could be the fault of subtitle translation.

I won't bore you by summarizing the plot, which was your classic, thoughtful war epic, as well as a culture clash between ambitious military generals and pacifist-but-still-bad-ass Shaolin monks whose temple is under siege and caught between the two warring factions. It also becomes adoptive home to the protagonist after he (of course) loses everything he loves as a result of his ambition and back-stabbing. Enlightenment and vengeance ensues.

The fight scenes were solid and innovative, with a just a taste of that over-the-top Kung Fu reliance on invisible wires for stylization, which personally I can really take or leave. They were well integrated, but I think what didn't work for me in the movie was the overall tone… It was, at times, heartbreaking and gritty and grief-stricken. Then at odd moments, bordering on slapstick (perhaps because of its guest star, though I don't blame Chan for the mad-cap components.) It was never wacky, but the wacky-ish moments didn't jibe with the heartrending scenes, which were many. The movie didn't suffer from a complete personality disorder, but a more consistent mood would've helped. And maybe I'm greedy, but I wanted more fight scenes. And more training montages. Always more montages!

I really enjoyed Yu Xing's supporting performance (according to IMDb trivia, he actually is a 32nd generation Shaolin monk!) I knew his face from the Ip Man films, and he and another actor did a great job in two minor-ish roles, soft comic relief in the form of charmingly wayward monks. They added a lighter element without it feeling too discordant, given all the wartime sturm und drang. Also deserving praise was the young performer (and actual Shaolin monk, I believe) who played the perhaps twelve-year-old monk fighter featured in the final quarter of the film. He was fabulous, though I wasn't able to track down his name to credit him.

So overall, a solid Kung Fu war epic, if not the most memorable one. But if you're intrigued, check the trailer:

Thursday, December 29, 2011

2011: A Very Thrusty Year in Review

I thought for this final Thrusty Thursday post of the year, I'd take a look back at my favorite of the fifty-odd thrustees of the past twelve months. Do join me! In unbiased order of appearance, I give you my…


1. The now tragically late Andy Whitfield, thrusted upon January 13:

2. Jamie Dornan, April 21:

3. Vincent Gallo, May 5:

4. David Gandy, June 9:

5. Romain Duris, July 14:

6. Sam Worthington, July 21:

7. Shirtless Jason Statham Rescuing a Baby Owl From a Fire, September 8:

8. Henrik Lundqvist (oh, Lundy), November 10:

9. Michael Fassbender, December 8:

10. Joe Manganiello, December 22:

Happy New Year, everyone! See you in 2012 with a fresh crop of man-flesh for your she-perving enjoyment. And hopefully by this time next year Gandy and Lundqvist will have finally settled the loin-burning question of who's more sickeningly handsome by naked-pudding-wrassling each other for the distinction. I will adjudicate, naturally.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Release Day!

Hey all! I'd be remiss if I didn't at least pretend to be half-decent at self-promo and mention I have new book out today. Headstrong is now available as an e-book from Samhain (and via Kindle and Nook, though Samhain has the best price at the moment.) It's a full-length contemporary love-triangle romance. Here's the blurb:

Libby Prentiss is ready to simply be herself. After half a lifetime rebelling against her privileged family’s expectations, she hopes her biological research trip to New Zealand will cut the cord for good.

It doesn’t take long to spot the hopelessly amateurish spy her overprotective father has hired to keep an eye on her. Fortunately, Reece Nolan’s desperation to save his family’s pub makes it all too easy to convince him to turn double-agent. Yet there’s something different about him. His icy reserve sets her on fire…and ignites a secret yearning to let him see the mass of insecurities she hides behind her provocative persona.

Where Reece is a glacier of cool self-control, his brother Colin is a hot-blooded, unpredictable volcano. Libby’s instant friendship with Colin is more satisfying than anything she’s ever known—and traps her in completely foreign territory. She’s caught between one man determined to hold her at arm’s length, and another who offers her the intense connection she’s worked so hard to avoid.

Something’s got to give or the fallout could tear them all apart…and put the Nolan family’s future in serious jeopardy.

If you'd like to read an excerpt, you can find one on the book's Samhain page. Thanks for your attention! We will return to the Kung Fu reviews and creepy man-lusting and recipes shortly.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Thrusty Thursday: Joe Manganiello

I just ran across Joe Manganiello for the first time while co-curating the Raggedy-Ass Men Tumblr. Christ, do I ever feel ripped off. There's been some guy out there, perfectly pre-fabbed to cast as any number of my books' heroes, and I hadn't known?! He's most famous for his werewolf role in HBO's True Blood, so maybe this is what I get for lacking the paranormal gene. Still, better late than never. Now I'm going to have to buy the series, because in it he appears to wear (and remove) an inordinate number of plaid work shirts. But let us waste no further time lamenting when we could be thrusting, thrusting upon his majesty! (Oh and by the way, he used to box. Gasm.)

And here it is, your moment of Zen.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday #17

This week I thought I'd pretend I'm remotely good at self-promo, and share six sentences from my December 27 Samhain romance release, Headstrong (aka the New Zealand love-triangle book). The basic deal: Libby Prentiss has an unrequited crush on Reece Nolan; Reece's brother Colin has an unrequited crush on Libby. Colin is bartending at the Nolan family's pub, and Libby is sitting across from him.

From where he leaned against the back counter, Colin flung a coaster at Libby that bounced benignly off her forehead. She raised her chin to fix him with a stare, and her wide lips twisted into a haughty smirk. Colin was willing to bet this was exactly how her face would look as she coaxed the zipper down the front of his jeans.

“Don’t make me hurt you, Nolan.”

He flashed her an unapologetic grin.
God, if only.

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

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Thrusty Thursday: John Abraham

Since I began co-curating the Raggedy-Ass Men Tumblr a couple weeks ago, I've had to spend far more time than usual Googling images of doable men. It's been a real hardship. But while I've been dutifully, joylessly Googling said doable men, I noticed one particular fox coming up again and again, whether I was looking for a "hot coal miner" or a "sexy forest ranger" or a "muddy male model". His name is John Abraham, and he's a thirty-eight-year-old Indian-born actor. Oh and he used to model. Can you tell?

Anyhow, in tribute to his interwebz ubiquity and general thrustability, here's a mantage!

Oh and look, here he is, all wet and sandy! Dag, I better put that one in the Tumblr queue…

And wet again!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday #16

Another snippet from my weird-ass work-in-progress. I'm currently at 93,000 words and praying I can wrap this beastie up within the week. Here's the book's anti-heroine explaining the vigilante anti-hero, Boston's bicycle-riding, paintball gun-wielding, bargain basement-quality Batman.

The Badger fights violence with violence. If you ding a pedestrian or cyclist with your car, he’ll smash your mirrors off with his U-lock. But if it’s something less heinous, you just get balled—run a red light or splash somebody with dirty puddle water, and he’ll nail your window with a white pellet shot from a Glock-style paintball pistol. Harass or intimidate somebody on the street, or generally be a dick in any way to your fellow man and get caught—thwack! big white bird-shitty splatter all over your nice new coat.

Given what a career coward I am, you can see why I’d find the Badger both terrifying and hugely compelling; I hate a scene, and he’s a human scene. He’s everything I’m not and can’t ever be, not outside of painkiller withdrawal.

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

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Thrusty Thursday: Michael Fassbender

Every straight woman I've ever met has a lady-boner for Fassbender, so I'm not even bothering with an intro. Here he is, chum to you insatiable sharks.

But that's not all! There's more.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday #15

A bit more from the anti-heroine of my weird-ass work-in-progress this week. I'm determined to finish the first draft of this sucker in the next couple weeks. Just 15,000 words to go.

The only time in my life when I could have been described as anything resembling brave would’ve been the not-quite two years I spent addicted to Vicodin. For the second half of that period I moved back in with my parents, so they could “keep an eye on me”. Or keep an eye on the wild animal they’d invited to inhabit their house, sleep-walking through her days, hungry and snarling when the fleeting pacifism of chemical hibernation wore off. When I came down from those suckers and wanted more, I was ballsy. I was fearless and I was dumb as shit, and I’d steal anything that wasn’t nailed down.

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

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Recipe: Collard Greens with Garlic and Parmesan

Simple, quick recipe; makes a great side to compliment a pilaf or a meat-dish. This makes enough for two or three. Allow about ten minutes of prep and cooking time, just before serving the meal.

Photo credit to

1. Rinse and dry about six big collard green leaves. Remove the stems by tearing or slicing. Cut the leaves into smallish strips. Set aside.

2. Finely chop or mince four cloves of garlic.

3. In a skillet or wok, heat a tablespoon of olive oil on medium-high heat, hot enough so when you drop in the garlic and greens, they sizzle.

4. Sautée the green and garlic on medium heat for about three minutes, turning frequently, until the collards are bright green and soft.

5. Turn off heat. Sprinkle greens liberally with salt, add two pinches of red pepper flakes, a teaspoon of lemon juice, and a quarter-cup grated parmesan cheese. Turn until evenly coated, and serve hot.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Donate December

It's now Donate December. Hooray! That means it's no longer Novembooze, which means I can drink again! Though to be honest, I did cheat when Thanksgiving rolled around. Sue me. It's been eleven months, now; the charm of this deprivation marathon began wearing thin around late summer.

But December is easy, as far as Discipline Year experiments go. All I have to do is choose a nice item to donate to charity each day this month—clothes, furniture, appliances, etc. I don't really like acquiring stuff, so this month's challenge isn't much of a…challenge. But after nearly an entire year of these ridiculous, willful endeavors, I'm happy to round out 2011 on a painless note.

To the donation box!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Le Jeudi Frotteurible: Benjamin Millepied

As requested by my charming Twitter pal @EdieHarris, I present for your Thursday thrustening, foxy French (I know, I know, they're always French on here, aren't they?) ballet dancer and choreographer and actor (and probably most infamously, Natalie Portman's baby-daddy) Benjamin Millepied. He's got thighs like unh.