Not necessarily in that order...

Not necessarily in that order...

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Blood Sugar Sex Magic


I remember discussing the concept of Sexiness with a friend many moons ago. I'm most definitely full of opinions on the subject, and I'm more than happy to share them!!

First and foremost, sexiness is a state of mind, not a state of being - which is to say, you can't force it. You can certainly fake it, but the average person can indeed smell a fake. Lack of belief in ourselves is usually as plain as the nose on your face. And if we don't feel it, it just won't be there. Think of the things you find sexy in your partner, or simply an object of your lustful affections. Odds are, you find them truly sexy when they aren't doing anything more than being themselves. I find my boyfriend incredibly sexy when I get to watch him doing something he loves, or when I see him experiencing something for the first time. Or when he's just waking up and he looks at me with a true happiness, and says he wants to kiss me but he has awful morning breath. I couldn't possibly care less right now - all I want is a kiss.

Having said this, sexiness comes from confidence, NOT cockiness. True confidence to me can be defined very simply as having comfort in your own skin. None of us are physically perfect, not a single one. It's not possible and honestly why is it even desirable? It's our flaws, or I should say differences, that make us interesting. We should all do the work needed to feel best about ourselves, but not at the sacrifice of the moment's enjoyment. This attitude of "I will feel better about myself if I lose 20 pounds" - ok, AWESOME, do it, lost those 20 and feel better! BUT - feel good NOW too. I'm mostly talking to the women here - men of course have their insecurities but for some reason they are better equipped to deal with it. Most guys go indeed think they have it goin' on no matter what the external! And yeah, we ladies may roll our eyes and wonder why exactly that guy thinks he's God's gift - but we should steal a little of that swagger for ourselves too. Just a little though. We still have to care. It's not the ego that's sexy. It's the comfort - it's putting effort into yourself without obessing about it. It's being your very best you. And making that very best you be an almost effortless task. Care about how you look. But care about other things more.

And take that confidence with you behind the closed bedroom door. Remember what I was saying before about sexiness basically being a person's happiness and enjoyment? I wasn't just talking about a great meal or a beautiful painting. The pleasure our bodies are capable of feeling and giving are a gift to us. And again, I'm talking more to the ladies here for now - I've asked many a man about bedroom antics, and there is indeed a consistency in their responses for what they find sexy and sexually attractive, and it has nothing to do with how big your tits are or aren't, nor does it have anything to do with how much your ass does or doesn't jiggle. All of that is just icing, because trust me - only the DOUCHEBAGGIEST of guys aren't madly in love with the sight of a naked woman no matter what her state of physical perfection. What a man loves about a woman is her enthusiasm. All guys talk about is that they get the most enjoyment out of watching their partner feel good, about knowing they are making her happy, and that their satisfaction isn't complete unless they know she is satisfied first. If your man doesn't have that mindset, please do consider trading up. And in the same token, think about why that is such an attractive quality in a man - because his enthusiasm is tangible. Skill levels can be improved upon with communication and education, so try not to sweat any of that if the act is fraught with various technical difficulties. Great things in life are always worth the work. But when his quest is your pleasure, my god....don't you just melt at the simple thought of that? Of course you do. And he deserves the same. He also loves seeing that you're enjoying making him feel good, that his pleasure enhances your own.

Ladies, your body is a weapon. Your lips, your eyes, your hair, your hips, your ass, your breasts, your gams, your hands and fingers, your tootsies, your shoulders and the nape of your neck - ALL of these parts that come standard on the female body of any shape are just tools of your sexy trade. They don't have to be on prominent shameless display to have their allure showcased. You simply have to know they are there, and enjoy that feeling. Let your moods shine through your eyes, let your ass wiggle more to the left and right when you feel sassy in your new dress, let your fingers slide across the neck of your skin because that softness is their for your enjoyment as well. Just FEEL how beautiful you are. And it will show, even when you aren't trying at all. And suddenly you will find that you are absolutely irresistible.

And nothing at all is wrong with that, baby.


After a long and inexplicable hiatus, I returned this weekend into one of my most pleasurable arenas – Cupcakery. It annoys the crap out of me that cupcakes are trendy now, that 10 times out of 9 there is nothing special about a cupcake anymore. For PERFECT example, my office (in wonderful office form) brought in a massive box of grocery store cupcakes to acknowledge the birthdays for the month we just concluded. They were chocolate cupcakes with green frosting, and topped with little plastic rings in the shapes of footballs, baseballs and soccer balls. (I didn't realize this entire company was run by 10 year old boys, but that's another subject.)

Let me count the ways I hate the average grocery store or bakery cupcake. First of all, and it's crappy of me to consider this a fault but, they are made on a massive scale. The average baker at home makes a batch of around 20 cupcakes, while bakeries while make dozens upon dozens, constructed from recipes using pounds of butter, sacks of sugar, etc. And that's all fine, I understand the concept of supply and demand. But think about the difference in taste between a store-bought cookie and a homemade cookie. The homemade cookie probably lacks physical perfection - it might be misshapen, there might be uneven distribution of things like chocolate chips or raisins. But - and I say this in absolute seriousness - you can truly taste the love in a homemade cookie. And no, I don't mean baking that dough you picked up at Papa Murphy's and passing it off as the real deal - like those commercials back in the day of the powdered cappuccino drink the lady would sneak off to the kitchen to make to impress her hubby, all the time making espresso machine wooshy foamy noises with her mouth? (I must Youtube that shit.) Ya put a dress on a pig, ya still got a pig. Let me taste the love, people. And for the record, love has nothing to do with sugar or butter content. Though it certainly can't hurt. :)

My foray into Cupcakery began during my Weight Watchers era. Anyone who has gone through the WW process or the equivalent knows the desire you have to find desserty 'naughty' options that won't sabotage you. There simply MUST be a way to enjoy things I always did, but in a healthier way. And there almost always is. In nosing around the WW message boards I stumbled upon something ingenious - seriously don't you ever do something and wonder who the hell the first person was to do it and think it was a good idea? Like eating cottage cheese, for example? Who was the first person to look at cottage cheese, basically one stop in the cheese aging process, and decide hey, that looks like it's already been eaten - let's have a taste! And this was one of those moments - someone on this website had discovered that if you buy box cake mix and substitute 2 egg whites for the required eggs, and 1 12 oz. can of diet soda of a flavor that coordinates with the cake flavor instead of adding oil, you're saving EPIC calories and fat. So what the hey, it sounded ridiculous - let's try it! My first stab at it, I bought lemon cake mix and added Diet Sprite. I thought for sure the texture would be creepy, or they wouldn't rise, or the flavor would just have some chemicaly weirdness. I was WRONG. Not only was the soda-ness flavor undetectable, they were the lightest fluffiest cupcakes I ever did have.

And an obsession was born. If you know me, you know I've taken this semi-homemade technique and raised to an art form. I've used diet sodas, flavored waters, cider, coffee, applesauce, pumpkin puree, oatmeal, even champagne. In my obsession and need to create new things, I ran through the basic types fairly quickly - chocolate cake with white frosting, yellow with chocolate, lemon with strawberry, etc. Yawn. Time to think bigger. So I began to draw on inspiration from other things - I began to recreate the flavors of other desserts, and even some drinks or cocktails, in cupcake form. I'm limited by the box cake flavors, but they also provide a blank canvas for me to explore as well. I still think my greatest success to date is my Banana Cream Pie cupcake. Yellow cake, with cream soda and pureed ripe bananas, topped with vanilla butter cream frosting and crushed shortbread cookies. Another one people remember, although I was personally underwhelmed, was the Root Beer Float cupcake. Visually adorable, but for me a bit lacking in the taste department - it just didn't quite get there. I still have new ideas I'd like to try - my most recent creation was inspired by neopolitan ice cream (Juka said it was the best cupcake he'd ever had!!!), and I have future plans to create cupcakes as homage to peach cobbler, s'mores, hazelnut lattes, caramel apples and even grape soda.

It's nice when you tap back into a passion. I look forward to seeing what else I can surprise myself with. And by the way, I'm trying my damndest to come up with a way of creating a Peanut Butter & Jellycupcake, but I just can't think of how to pull it off - any suggestions?


Thank God The Bers arrive tomorrow! I'm dying a slow death of cinematic boredom!! Ok yeah, I haven't been to the movies in a while now - I did check out Eat Pray Love and The Expendables but was left underwhelmed by both when sadly as usual I was expecting some fun times. With a chill starting to creep into the air, it's time for a fresh batch of horror. Last year around this time we were absolutely spoiled by the double bounty of Paranormal Activity and Zombieland (oh yeah, and The Fourth Kind, you disappointing liar of a movie you). So far the only thing I've seen on the horizon is Saw 3-D. And indeed like everyone else I am over 3-D it's ridiculous, but at least the Saw movies are entertaining if not revolutionary. And with this being the last one, we'll say good night to a very imaginative series and a cool killer, who was creepy despite his own passive agressive killing style. :) Who knew we could be scared of someone who killed you from a different room?

So I take solace in another of Autumn's creepy offerings - the Halloween store!! My locals know that there will be a Spirit store opening up in the old Expo building, which would make it a store of EPIC MAGNITUDE!! I hope they pull it off. :D Where else you can buy ballpoint pens shaped like bloody syringes, or gigantic rubber rats, or glow-in-the-dark cobwebs, or candles shaped like fingers that melt down into bloody rivers as they burn? Ahh, heaven. One of my favorite Halloweeny inventions is the candy bowl with the little hand in the middle. It's motion activated and as you reach in to grab candy, the little hand will reach down and touch you. It's more of a startle than a scare, but it's delicious.

Many a joke has been made how in recent years Halloween has turned into a reason for women to dress slutty and have it be totally acceptable and even encouraged. I have no issue with this as well - while you are drifting away from the idea WAY behind a Halloween costume (lending itself to all costumes needing to be horrific in nature), we all still like to play dress-up. But ladies who choose the slut route - at least do it with some wit. Tap into a classic sexual archetype like the school girl or the nurse or the maid. I grow so bored of Sexy Pirate and Sexy Vampire. True brilliance to me comes when sexy meets horrific - a trueClash of the Titans. I DREAM someday about being a corpse bride, but far darkier and sexier than Tim Burton's take. I'm talking Michael Jackson's Thriller level of corpse-itude, in a beautiful dress that we imagine has been RAVAGED by the elements. Like someone took a bride and threw her in a meat grinder, and now...she's understandably pissed. Cleaveage should be abundant, and abundantly covered with blood or scars or oozing wounds. Hose-covered legs should be visible through slits in her exquisite white dress, and maybe her calf is torn open and some bone peeks through. A perfect balance of gorgeous hideousness.

Who will you become this year?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Walking Wounded - May They Eat And Viddy Well


Now I lay me down to sleep
I'm getting old, my bones are weak
If I should wake before my alarm
It would be just like any other day.

I assume the discussion of one's health issues and feeling highly unsexy would be the antithesis of 'Sex'. But hey, 'tis my blog and I can do what I want. Neener neener neener.

I have one famous injury, an injury of legend: my dislocated right shoulder. Long story short, I took an unfortunate tumble down the front steps of the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco at my Senior Ball, and in the process of landing on the sidewalk my right shoulder went PFPFPFPPPBBBBBT and popped out of joint. It was pain pain pain, the worst pain I've ever experienced. Unless I experience childbirth or take a bullet, I assume (God willing) it will be the worst pain I shall ever feel. But hey, at least I did it all in a $400 dress, full makeup & hair and a killer pair of heels. Literally. They were killers. Little bastards didn't help me recover one bit. But I forgive them. Cuz they were sexy, and it wasn't their fault they were strapped to the feets of an idiot.

I have two other injuries/issues of lesser note but more frequent torment. The first and more disturbing would be my heart arrhythmia. It was diagnosed around 3 years ago, and has to proven to be of no genuine issue, more of an oddity (which completely runs in my family - if someone ever had a malady that baffled the professionals, they're probably on my family tree). Three Aprils ago I was a few days away from hitting Disneyland with The Real Katy Perry and I erupted with a sore throat that wanted to level me. What timing, HOW could this be happening! I'd never experienced strep throat before (or since - I don't know how I've managed to dodge that bullet for 31 years), but knowing it's highly contagious and the pain level I was in, I suspected that was it. My regular doctor couldn't see me on short notice, so I hightailed it to Urgent Care instead, totally thrilled at the idea of paying way too much for antibiotics. The doc checked me out, said my throat did look a little red but there was no sign of infection. WTF. I just paid $50 to be told I was overreacting. But then he listened to my heart and got That Look on his face. Moments later I was attached to an EKG machine, and being told to relax. Yeah right. He said my heartbeat was irregular, like WACKY irregular, and I needed to get in to be diagnosed by a cardiologist. Ok....I was levelheaded, he didn't say my heart was gonna explode momentarily so no need to freak out just yet. Can it wait a couple weeks, I'm getting ready to go on vacation - of course, just get the appointment set up as soon as is reasonable for your schedule. And a few weeks later I was fitted with a holter monitor, a really big thing that every doctor describes as "small" or "hardly noticeable" that hangs around your chest by a strap and monitors your heartbeat for generally 24 hours via about 9000 electrodes on your chest. Since I had to go a full work day wearing this thing and wasn't much interested in being asked why I had turned into a lab rat, it posed quite the wardrobe challenge to disguise but I pulled it off.

I went back soon after to hear the doctor's take on my heartbeat - and apparently my heartbeat is comical. In general with a holter, you see let's say 80% normal heartbeat, that normal little blip you see on heart monitors in the movies, but every once in a while you see a wacky blip. The heart goes a little wonky. Me, I took that shit and flipped it. My doctor had a hard time finding a NORMAL heartbeat rhythm buried in my festival of wonky irregular rhythm. It was like nothing he had ever seen. But there was an odd comfort in that, he said....because with my heartbeat THAT consistently wack, then abnormal was actually my normal. Without being physically aware of the oddity of the beat, and having none of the side effects that normally accompany a heart issue, I was told I was free to go! The standard advice followed - lose some poundage, try to lay off the caffeine, get more exercise, all of which would be advice worth taking even if my ticker was showroom new. And so it continues. I visit the cardiologist every 6 months, my heart arrhythmia makes occasional guest appearances, but the verdict is - if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Then there's my back, which is being a bitch as we speak and is what inspired this portion of the old blog ride. My back first went weird about 7 years ago. Just like with my shoulder dislocations (people always want to know if I jacked up my shoulder having acrobatic sex or swinging from vines in the jungle - and the answer is no. The last time I did it, I was turning off my alarm clock one Friday morning.), I did nothing special to invite this problem in. I was at my dad and stepmom's house, and went to sit down on their sofa presumably to watch some tube. I didn't sit down weird, I didn't go ass over teakettle. I simply sat down in normal human fashion. And it was like I had sat down on a spear that had buried itself in my spinal column. Hot burning agony. Blinking hurt. Searing hot pain shooting down my lower leg, across my tush and down into rivulets in my leg. Of course that's nerve damage, even in delirious pain that was obvious. And there's only one nerve system that follows that pathway - the fucking sciatic nerve. With one innocent movement, I had Sciatica, a plague of the elderly and/or chubby. That first flare-up was annihilating, it took around a week before I was able to walk. There was no position that was comfortable, no sitting or standing or lying offered relief, and going anywhere usually involved falling on the floor first (oh, the dignity of it), recovering from that pain for a few minutes, then managing some sort of crawl from the sofa to the bathroom or bed, and vice versa. It's never hit me quite as bad since, but moments like now I was just have an intense soreness, a lower back ACHE that makes me walk like I have a load in my pants and makes me feel highly unsexy. No amount of lipstick can make one recover from that.

But I think about that disease that causes EPIC premature aging, I think it's called Progeria or something to that effect. Extremely rare luckily, but the babies who sadly have the luck to be born with it are so old before their time. Sweet 10-year-old boys and girls, with young high pitched voices and bright smiles, trapped inside the body of a 60-year old if not older. Stricken with arthritis, covered in age spots, all their hair has fallen out long ago. And any other disease that eliminates the ability to live a normal life - the true struggle with cancer, or Parkinsons, or hemophilia, or physical abnormalities like missing fingers or limbs, or burn scars. I think about the friend with Celiac's disease and see what a huge impact it had on her life, on her ability to make simple choices while out living her life. I think about the friend who had gastric bypass surgery, who I was out with one day and she grabbed lunch and unfortunately ate a few bites too much and it caused her to have an accident because her body simply COULD NOT hold even one extra bite of food anymore. I think about my friend who was a normal healthy and sexual-as-hell woman, she simply had a few problems associated with her monthly visitor, and so she was put on birth control to regulate the problem, and her body went insane - she gained tons of weight, her chest more than tripled in size, and her sex drive vanished truly without a trace. I think about my friend who has been diagnosed with a terminal disease and who thus far has sailed through with flying colors.

The old cliche goes "At least you have your health!", and it's very very true. Even small problems, which seem daunting in the moment, are rarely more than bumps in the road. We'll all crash headlong into walls that will slow us down in this life, but if the problem is something we can overcome or at least learn to live with, then we need to remember how lucky we are to have a shot at being on this earth at least one more day.

What doesn't kill us makes us stronger. I fucking well hope so.


I have a genius plan. At least I think it's a genius plan. What's one of the most aesthetically stunning foods out there? Sushi. Simple, but artfully presented - and simple is always best. One single bite, for the most part. An amuse bouche of total fresh ingredient harmony. So why not take that idea, the roll concept (essentially a Japanese sandwich) and play with it a little?

Here's what I propose: sushi for breakfast. Just shut up and hear me out. We take the basic concept of a California roll and expand on it. To wit, the California roll is a crab and mayo mixture, paired with avocado, cucumber and sometimes carrot, wrapped with seaweed and sweet sushi rice, and sometimes coated with sesame seeds or tobiko (fish eggs). So I want to take that basic structure and recreate it with breakfast foods. Watch how I explain them like I'm pitching them for a restaurant menu. :)

Classic Roll: a chunk of egg white nestled with ham or bacon or sausage, or perhaps small pieces of all three. Wrapped around it would be a medium-thickness pancake, lightly dipped in maple syrup and either toothpicked together or better yet tied off beautifully with a softened vanilla bean. One gorgeous breakfasty bite. 4 to 6 of those arranged artfully on a plate with a glass of juice or a coffee, maybe garnished with some blueberries or sliced strawberries. Another variation would be to wrap the egg and meat with french toast. It probably doesn't have the stability of a pancake, but it would bring a different flavor profile and would also pair better with the vanilla bean tie. You'd get enhanced eggyness, plus vanilla and cinnamon notes. It could even be better that way. That could be called a French Roll.

Denver Roll: Julienned ham, bell peppers and onions wrapped up a buttery scrambled egg wrap, topped with cheddar probably needing to be quickly melted in a broiler. Or better yet, a flat omelet-like scramble with cheddar or montery jack melted on top, then sliced and wrapped, letting the cheese be a sort of adhesive. This one is likely to be very messy or flimsy, so should be served with toast points, VERY lightly buttered.

Egg Roll: Get it? They say if one can't perfectly cook an egg, they have no business in a kitchen. So pair up multiple preparations of egg into one big eggstravagnza! Hard boiled egg (either white or yolk or both) wrapped in a scrambled egg pancake, resting on top of a soft boiled egg. This one would be eaten with a fork in presumably two or three bites. You use the fork to slice the roll down the middle, dividing the bites and most importantly piercing the soft-boiled egg yolk so that the hot yolk spills onto the plate to make a sauce. Also would be good with toast points, especially sourdough - a bread with a strong flavor of its own to cut the extreme of the eggyness.

Rancheros Roll: Julienned tomato, onion and bell pepper (and perhaps one miniscule sliver of jalapeno), wrapped in lightly fried tortilla, and wrapped again with cooked egg white, then drizzled with HOT cooked yolk. The only trouble with this one is it would have to served and eaten very quickly so that the yolk didn't cool off at an unpleasant rate. Could also be dusted with finely chopped cilantro.

Blintz/Crepe Roll: Fresh blintz or crepe wrapped around sweet cheese mixed with chopped fruit, probably strawberries, blueberries, peaches or apples. Topped with whipped cream and sprinkled with powdered sugar.

Hollandaise Roll: Served atop a biscuit or English muffin sliced in half. Canadian bacon wrapped around a soft boiled or poached egg, whichever held up better, and lightly topped with hollandaise sauce, garnished with orange slices and dill.

Can you think of any more, or any variations?


I wonder sometimes why movies became My Thing. Everyone has their Thing - something that they know everything about because they love it, something where the learning and appreciation is effortless and the consumption is pure pleasure. And movies became my thing pretty damn early on. I have wonderful memories of my dad coming home with two rented VHS movies in hand, one for him and my mom, and one for me. My dad brought me The Princess Bride, The Secret of Nimh, The Last Unicorn, and sometimes the old Disney cartoons, and even the occasional Betty Boop or Gumby & Pokey. Once in a while together we would watch The Three Stooges and The Little Rascals. And sometimes I was invited to join them for the feature, and I saw greats like Aliens and Amadeus. My dad joked once that I was raised on MTV and Star Wars, and I think he was quite accurate in naming those two things as genuinely formative influences for me. Movies and music, what else is there really.

I love all the memories I have associated with the movies, or the statistics of the movies that became part of my life. Such as:

*The first movie I was ever first in line for on opening night was Independence Day, which if you recall was of course slated to open on July 4th but for some reason (probably to rack up a bigger opening weekend gross) was pushed up to July 3rd.

*I remember asking my mom what movie she had seen the most in the theater, and it was West Side Story, 5 glorious times. And with that, she gave me a goal. I realized that goal with Mortal Kombat, not the most dignified of successors but one that still had a lot of personal greatness for me. I rose to the challenge again with Titanic. I did see it a mere 5 times in the theater, while Alicia saw it 7 times and Katy saw it 11 times. And a new goal was born. That goal was realized and later surpassed by The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. 18 times, kids. That's over two days of my life simply spent viewing that movie in the theater (I've watched it at least 10 times at home on DVD).

*The movie I watched the most in one day is Stand By Me, at the height of my River Phoenix obsession, I watched it 8 times start to finish in one day...which indeed means I watched it all damn day. The movie I have watched the most total I can't state for sure, but I can guess with confidence that it is Terminator 2: Judgment Day. I'd put it around 70 times. I joined that movie's fan club. I had posters of The (future) Governator in sunglasses and a leather jacket on a motorcycle on my teenage bedroom walls. I had t-shirts. I bought the annotated fully illustrated screenplay. And it's the movie I've bought the most times, at a current total of 4. Twice on VHS, once on DVD, and most recently a copy for my iPod.

*The most movies I've seen in the theater in one day is 4, on the glorious day when Katy and I partook of the Afterdark Horrorfest on its lone visit to the Pleasant Hill theater. In my desire to see all 8 of the movies in the festival in as short a timespan as possible, Katy created an Excel spreadsheet showing all the times on all the days, and we did find a way to cram four in one Saturday. We watched Borderland, The Deaths of Ian Stone, and two other inferior ones I can't even remember the name of.

*I've rated over 3000 movies on Netflix, which means I've given them my personal one-to-five star rating. Here's how my rating system breaks down:

-A one star movie fails The 30 Minute Test. The 30 Minute Test is something I devised one day after realizing that more than once I had wasted 90+ minutes of my life slogging my way through a movie that was a genuine piece of crap. Doesn't my life have more value than that? I have the right to choose and control my fate, dammit. And here's the thing, straight outta my film schooling: The first 23 to 31 minutes of a movie, the first act, are devoted to what is called Establishment of Status Quo. That is, we meet the main characters, we learn about who they are, how they live their lives, what's important to them in the world they live in. And somewhere between minute 23 and 31, something will happen: Disruption of Status Quo, aka Plot Point 1. Their motivation arrives, something changes that spurs on the action, the problem the hero must solve. Basically the plot shows up. So if by that point, I still don't give a shit what happens to these people, or the issue they're tackling has me checking my watch or checking the exits, I turn the movie off. Because I have the power! What Fatboy Slim and others call The Weapon Of Choice. Wield it!!

-A two star movie I made it all the way through, but sadly at the end was disappointed. Maybe it was a good idea poorly executed. Maybe it was dull in spots. Maybe the writing was pedantic or expository. Maybe the characters were underdeveloped. Maybe they didn't earn their ending. Maybe it was just all bullshit. Who knows - the point is, it didn't work for me, and I shant be revisiting.

-A three star movie is the beginning of happiness. I enjoyed this movie. As the credits rolled, I felt satisfied. I didn't want my 2 hours or $10 back. Good solid quality entertainment. Could be revisited if I come across it in the $5 bin at Target, and would be a feasible option if I'm flipping through channels in a hotel room and see that this movie is on. It will do just fine. This is definitely my most common rating.

-A four star movie - now we're talking! This was a damn good movie, I had a blast! Maybe it was a fresh spin on a familiar formula, maybe it was a very pleasant surprise. Maybe I laughed my ass off, maybe I cried because I related to these characters so much, maybe the blood and guts genuinely made me jump. What is most likely the case, and there is personally no higher praise I think I can offer a movie, is that I was just told a very good story. I will most likely add this one to my home collection, but will probably wait it out a few months to give the DVD price a chance to drop a little. Time and money VERY well spent.

-A five star movie is rare. This is a diamond in the rough, this was a genuinely transporting experience. I think back to the way I felt when I was a kid when every moment felt perfect and simple and beautiful. This is my new cinematic best friend. I've never seen anything like this movie, and hopefully never will again. I guarantee this movie touched something in my soul. It will definitely be added to my home collection as soon as is humanly possible no matter the cost, and I will likely be forcing friends to watch it with me.

An important distinction in my five star rating, and an argument I frequently get into: there is a difference between 'A Movie You Hated' and 'A Bad Movie', and adversely 'A Movie You Loved' and 'A Good Movie'. To classify a movie as simply good or bad to me is the more sophisticated opinion if handed out thoughtfully and not flimsily. I don't think this qualification should be handed out as anything more than a sum of a movie's parts. A Good Movie told a strong story, it was well written, it was original even if familiar. It was perfectly cast. Sound, lighting and score were used to perfection to create the mood, the film's world. The money was clearly well spent. The camerawork was strong and purposeful, every pan and zoom became part of the emotional journey. This movie was technically great across the board, these filmmakers are top class. Having said that, movies like this frequently win the Best Picture Oscar. And these movies are frequently not publically favored. It's a rare moment when a movie The People clearly connected with gains critical recognition. Not that it should necessarily be relevant, let the grosses and People's Choice Awards speak for themselves. But a movie you love is something special. It isn't likely to be an Oscar-worthy epic. It more likely was just a damn good time, no matter the emotional arc of the film, you had a seriously good time watching it. It spoke to something inside you. You will never forget it, and you will watch it again and again like a visit with a dear friend. And so of course, A Bad Movie is clearly made without love. It has no soul. It likely exists solely to make money, not because someone had a great story to tell. But A Movie You Hated - man, that crap sucked. How could people think this was great? How could THAT have won Best Picture? Were we at the same movie?? Clearly that movie just wasn't your cup of tea. But I do not think one's personal opinion is a qualifcation of a film's greatness, because a movie is far too personal an experience. The next time you have yourself a CineRant, contemplate that. Make your opinions sophisticated and thoughtful, not swift or vapid.

Thus concludeth the Longest Blog Entry Ever. Thank you, New Job, for not making me work and giving me the free time to do this. I suppose this makes me a professional writer - by composing this blog at work, I officially just got paid to write. Awesome. I'm living the dream. :)

Monday, August 16, 2010

There Will Be Blood....cuz it's medium rare....


In college I took an exquisite film analysis class discussing gender roles in horror film. If you want to discuss cinematic gender roles, there's really no other genre except comedy (notice it's the two extremes) that is even worth exploring. And there are several ways to look at it. The first and most obvious being what they talked about in the Scream rules: Sex Is Death in a horror movie. Notice how this only applies to a couple though when you know the guy's name? If Tiffany and Chad bump uglies in the creepy cobweb-filled bedroom in the abandoned cabin, they'll both be hanging from meathooks in no time. If instead you're watching Tiffany hump on Frat Party Guy #2 at the big grad party, she's a dead woman. As for FPG2, he'll likely be standing in the doorway wordlessly backlit watching the chainsaw decimate Tiffany's head before running away, wearing nothing but boxers and a blood smear across his hairless chest and being all but ignored by passerby.

Death As Punishment For Sex goes deeper though, in any horror movie worth paying attention to anyway, and probably not in a way one would automatically realize. And there is no better example to be had than the movie that is a centerpoint of all gender argument in horror: Psycho. Everything should apply to the remake as well but in my mind the remake/redux leads a pointless existence, it's all about the original Hitchcock film.

The gender roles in Psycho are simple. Marion, the female lead, is the heroine. The movie opens with her lounging in her underthings in post-coital bliss with her lover (not husband or boyfriend). From frame one, she is cast as a strong but inherently sexual being.

To step back for a minute, one of the greatest things about Psycho is its non-traditional narrative structure. Not wacky in the sense that Pulp Fiction or Memento are. But for about 40 minutes we watch a woman dissatisfied with her life seize an opportunity - a large amount of money crosses her path, and so she steals it (from someone too wealthy to really miss it, so it isn't like she's ruining someone's life) to escape her circumstances and start over, to run away to what she calls 'a private island'. She leaves the Los Angeles area and drives towards Fairvale, Arizona where her lover awaits, soon to hopefully become more. She drives at night and deviates from the main highway and winds up on a small road in the middle of an ugly rainstorm, and is forced to take shelter in the nearest place she finds - the Bates Motel. Behind the front desk sits an unassuming and handsome young man named Norman Bates, who Marion finds through polite conversation (that occasionally deviates into the awkward to downright unnerving) that Norman has taken over the run of the motel from his sickly mother. Marion overhears Norman's mother berate him from the nearby house they share. Over a late dinner, Marion and Norman connect on seen and unseen levels - he winds up convincing her through no effort of his own to return home to accept responsibility for her theft, and she inspires great longing in him for the life of freedom and leisurely lust someone caring for a sick elderly parent can't experience. Marion retires to her motel room for the evening, and before bed decides to take a shower. In the motel office on the other side of the wall, Norman spies on Marion through a surreptitious hole, watching her undress for her shower and his longing visibly turns into a sexual lust for her that we assume will come to pass during her stay at the motel. Why else would these two paths have crossed in the film's story? Why indeed....

To bring two horror gender roles to sparkling life. When Marion dies after multiple stab wounds in her shower at the hands of who we assume is Norman's unhinged mother, she is receiving the ultimate punishment for her self-assured sexuality. Both by having a somewhat illicit affair, and by awakening the sexual feelings in Mrs. Bates' son. Any mother/son team in horror is fraught with Freud, and by the time Psycho concludes we find out that Mrs. Bates is in fact long dead. Norman, who has a passion for taxidermy, has not only kept his mother alive in a sense by keeping her well preserved body nearby in the basement (wig, dress and all) but also kept her alive in his head, even going so far as to imitate her voice so they can have arguments out loud with each other. A woman who enslaved him in life succeeded so well that she continues even after her death, quashing her son's sexual instincts with what is apparently the more acceptable alternative - murder.

And don't forget, Marion's death in the infamous shower scene occurs about 45 minutes into the film. You spend the first half of the movie totally latched on to her story, and like a blow to the gut suddenly our main character is taken away from us, and we must instead move our focus to aftermath of her death as orchestrated by the mysterious and angel-faced Norman Bates.

So what is the lesson? Pay attention the next time you settle into a horror film, a classically well-formed one in particular. Sex brings death for women, and sex brings torment for men. What is one to make of just a regular person trying to have sex in a horror flick, which let's face it the average character tries to do a lot of? Those who seek sex have a death wish. The virgins always survive. I can't think of one exception. If you can, PLEASE tell me! Maybe people who criticize horror movies for being a bad influence, ill guided, etc., need to look closer. Maybe there is a more of a morality play here at work than the average viewer is open to realizing. Not all lessons come in a shiny happy coating, in the movies or in life.

My life is rather full of those 'Maybe it's just me' moments. Which I don't have any large objection too, not all enjoyments need be shared. But then again I have moments where I wonder if ANYONE else feels like that?!? For example, I discussed my favorite thing in the world, food porn, with My Lobster and joked about how there probably aren't many people in the world who could become sexually aroused at the sight of a man standing over a grill putting The Most Perfect Cross-Hatch Ever on a steak. (More on the [sexual] power of food to follow below.) And while it doesn't seem wrong, it seems a tad odd. Luckily he feels the exact same way – caloric consumption borders on religion. Ahhh, bliss.

I enjoyed one of my Best Meals Ever last weekend, 5 courses of epicurean bliss at Ambience in Sacramento. To wit:

Course One - Roasted fig and apricot halves stuffed with goat cheese and pecans with a garlic arugula chiffonade salad
Course Two - Dayboat scallops in a saffron cream sauce with chardonnay butter, with mushroom agnoloti and wasabi-scented caviar
Course Three - Asparagus puree with lemon creme fraiche

Course Four - Seared buffalo with a port wine reduction and tarragon-balsamic reduction, over garlic crusted yukon gold potatoes and grilled asparagus

Course Five - Raspberry and mango mousse cake with fresh berries and mango puree

I have gone through a wonderful evolution in my life over the past approx. 6 years. Tipping those damn scales at 241.3 pounds, I finally decided to do something about it and joined Weight Watchers. Over about 18 months, I got down to 186 pounds. I've gained most of it back, I'm back at 229, which I'm not exactly okay with, but I take full responsibility for of course. I don't lie to myself about bad habits or pretend that chocolate-dipped strawberries are a health food. But here is an upside, and something I'm so very grateful for. Anyone who has known for many years knows that back in the day I was an insanely picky eater. I was a nightmarish eater as a kid and only got marginally better as a teenager and into my 20s. And I thought I knew how to cook, I thought I appreciated food. I was wrong. I enjoyed food - but I didn't appreciate it or having a proper understanding or respect for it. My mind was closed even though my mouth was WIDE open.

Joining Weight Watchers reintroduced me to food. If I wanted to survive, not spend my days starving, to succeed in my goals, I had to relearn that relationship. I had to try new foods, I had to learn new ways to prepare and combine meats and vegetables to keep myself interested. When food smothered in cheese and/or deep fried is no longer an easy and feasible option, things have to change. And over time I learned how amazing food can be. How different things can be prepared different ways and create entirely new flavors. How boiling vegetables destorys their flavor and nutrients, and that grilling or steaming them not only is healthier but their flavors become new and enhanced and downright heavenly. That chicken can be grilled or roasted or baked, that chicken can be my canvas and that my spice rack can be my paint.

I firmly believe that life should be lived with passion, and that nothing as blissful as a custom we enjoy 3 times a day should be treated lightly. Not every meal needs to be an event, sometimes simplicity is key. But don't waste an opportunity. If there is a food out there you cannot stand, try it in its finest preparation. Maybe there is a peace to be found there. Try not to intimidated by an odd texture and instead try to appreciate the nuances that come from it, how the texture would change your perception of the flavors. Also enjoy how food and cooking is an art form that engages all 5 senses. Think about cooking bacon. You recognize the smell immediately. People can be downright comforted by the sound of bacon sizzling in a pan. When you place the bacon in the pan it evolves from a cold meaty strip into a crispy rippled treat - the meat changes color, the fat becomes translucent and provides the bacon with its own oil to cook in. And then the taste. They say bacon makes everything better, they even put it in ice cream. And that's just one food - a slice from a piggy's belly and look what we get out of it.

So before I make the vegetarians vomit, I'll wrap this up. Just know I'm grateful for the evolution a totally unrelated goal gave me - my intention was to lose weight. Instead, I discovered a passion. I'm now the adventurous one, frustrated by a hesitation I see in others to try the wackiest thing on the menu. Our food is just one way we can infuse true delight into our lives - experience it, people, for the wonderful wonderful thing it is.

Thursday, August 5, 2010



I find myself lost in thoughts of New Orleans . It might have something to do with the fact that my newly energized Starbucks fixation has me contemplating coffee and has led my thoughts to drift back to exquisite café au laits at the Du Monde. I talk all the time about the correlations between food and sex, my favoritest joke after eating a great meal being "Food, it's the second best thing in the world!" And in a town like New Orleans where all you basically do is eat and sweat, how could the very best thing be far from your mind.

I remember my 3rd or 4th night there, I ventured out alone on the Vampire tour. The small group met in Jackson Square right in front of the St. Louis Cathedral. The energy at night in that town is electric anyway, but try it in the warm September air at 10 PM in front of a gothic church backlit by neon, when a walking tour of bloodsucker haunts is your agenda. Try not to feel just a little bit \m/ and a lot bit randy. Or maybe it's just me. But hopefully that's why you like me.

The tour itself is inherently delightful because our guide, a guy in his 40s who has clearly been living The Life, talks about vampires not the way so many tour guides do, where it's clear they are reciting from memorization. He relates stories and facts like he's telling stories from his own past, the passion and familiarity is tangible and quixotic. Even the staunchest doubter would have a hard time not getting caught up in the delicious mood made unavoidable by our guide and inescapable by our decadent French Quarter surroundings. In this setting, you could very likely see a pair of gleaming eyes staring out at you from a dark alley or a corner window or a high-up balcony, it just wouldn't occur to you to be scared. Things that go bump in the night must live somewhere, must need a place to crash when they aren't out scaring the Normals. And that place, my friends, is the French Quarter. Rue du Iberville in particular. You walk that street and you literally feel the air shift and chill. In the muggiest Southern twilight, you will shiver because the ugly history of that street is as noticeable as the very few people who dare to brave it on foot. Horses drawing carriages will inexplicably refuse to turn down that street.

And what does all this have to do with sex, you're probably starting to wonder. Precisely this. At the halfway point of the Vampire tour, we took a break. On a normal walking tour, the break is necessitated for resting feet and using the facilities. A tour break in New Orleans means your glass must be empty and you need to step back up to the bar. Just like in Vegas, drinking on the streets is perfectly legal – it's simply public intoxication that remains the no-no. I had tapped out my cash flow at the FIRST bar we all popped into as part of the tour, so I decided to just hang back and enjoy the closest thing to a quiet moment one can get in New Orleans. I stood people-watching outside the bar, actually recognizing faces after only 4 days. The guy who had guided my Haunted New Orleans tour the second night was drinking with buddies nearby. I was among friends despite being among strangers. And while I took it all in, I became aware of a very clear presence behind me. A pelvically motivated, breath-against-your-hair type of presence. And in a city full of handsome men and endless opportunities, I was curious to see who was knocking. To my surprise, it was a guy I recognized from inside the first bar – an African American gentleman I would put somewhere around 45 give or take, in a dark blue Henley and khaki shorts. The sweat I could feel just pouring out of my skin was very visible on his, glinting under the nearby streetlights and immediately turning him from a predator into a human. In any other circumstances it would have reviled, but here the sweat forms a kinship. We can't avoid it; we just have to revel in it.

His intentions, despite a genuinely friendly smile, became apparent very quickly. There were many items on his menu, and every single one of them was resting underneath my sweat-drenched clothing. We bantered, no professional-courtesy space bubble between our bodies. He was a local, one of the apparently populous tour guides in the Big Easy, catching a late night drink at the oldest bar in the Quarter. His apartment was just around the corner. How long would I be in town, because he wanted to invite me to his home and cook me a fine dinner. And I must say, I respect a gentleman who will earn his way into a woman's underthings. I told him I had a boyfriend – a lie. He said he didn't care, and I told him that I did. He offered no strings, no attachments, simply an evening where he could put the thoughts clearly running through his head and so very visible in his eyes into action. Of course a part of me was tempted. This was no catch, no ideal circumstance. This was a guarantee of near anonymity, A Moment. And I know he saw my resolve weakening, my knees buckling with the feeling of being so shamelessly lusted for with no obligation.

Over my suitor's shoulder I see the vampire tour guide, watching the scene with a mix of amusement and concern. I had no fear in me, but I suspect he saw that he was about to lose a member of his group and in the interest of who knows what (liability, self-preservation, some protective instinct), he joined our conversation and in an act of extraordinarily gentlemanly cockblocking, he informed my suitor that it was time for his tour to move on. And that we did.

I finished up the tour that night feeling like every person I walked past had their eyes on me, like I could feel the energy of the street lights and the neon electrify my skin and provide a cooling despite the humidity offering no respite. What did I do that night besides enjoy a city tour and a flirtation with a stranger, what more substance to it all was there? I'll tell you – the substance of feeling alive, of feeling beautiful in my skin, of feeling noticed and acknowledged, my womanhood desired and my intellect of little relevance. Maybe I'm not supposed to enjoy that feeling.

Or maybe my life should be lived in pursuit of that feeling. Not on a daily basis. Just once in a while. A shot in the arm. An awakening. An unmistakable glint in my eye.


Why do they put caffeine in pain pills? Seriously, what is the medical logic behind that? Not that I'm complaining, Excedrin is my BFF. But I know it's like mainlining speed, I'm not lying to myself. Why why why?


3 horror movies are on their way from Netflix, all put on my radar by My Lobster. I'll name them and discuss them post-consumption – in the meantime, just know that bloodthirst theme of this blog continues, yet ends, right here. :)

Monday, August 2, 2010

And in the beginning, there was Buffet....

And here it is, my very firstest blog entry. Been encouraged by several to get a blog going, and I suspect if I do find my groove with it, 'twill be a delightful mixture of cathartic and ridiculous. Which is kinda how life should be.

I have named my blog after The Three Best Things Ever, not necessarily in that order on a daily basis. I hope each entry will have an update on all three fronts!! Here goes Nut N' Honey.....


On hiatus. Boo hiss.


Day 12 of the new job, and while the job itself brings really next to nothing worth talking about, various side effects of it do. I had hoped to land new employment in San Francisco for various reasons – the change of scenery, the opportunity to explore a new area and maybe try some new eateries, and a masochistic desire to become a frequent BARTer. But it was not meant to be, I could practically spit out my apartment window and hit the building I work in now. Which has its ups and downs. The proximity that is…not the spitting. That's really all downs.

There is a Chinese buffet right across the street from this new office. For some, that thought probably inspires delight, and for others instant revulsion. For me? Curiosity. Right off the bat the place is a cliché-ridden mess – the sign outside the place advertises (and I quote): "Chinese – Japanese – Italian Food." The sure sign of quality, marketability and stability – a strikethrough. The parking lot is a touch messy and cramped, and is designed like those mazes you used to see printed on the inside of matchbooks (how much did I just age myself?) – one in, one out, and 97,000 difficult-to-access parking spots! I humbly suggest getting there on footsies. Neon blazes through the front windows, advertising beer brands I've never heard of. You walk in the door and are greeted quite literally by a WALL of little crank machines, the type where you put in a quarter and you get a sticker or a gumball or some other piece of plastic to forget in the back seat of Mom's car.

The first thing I see once I'm seated and make my way to the food at this Chinese/Japanese/Italian eatery? Pizza. I'm confused already – didn't they read the sign??? But just like Lee, I press on.

In the salad bar metaphor for life, the lettuce of this place would be the epic of vats of meatless fried rice and chow mein. They are piled to the rafters and they are clearly presented in quantities to be a base, a canvas. Knowing that chow mein is a far greater art form, I avoid avoid avoid and opt for the fried rice as my canvas. Options for dumpage are now plentiful, and I decide to go for the safe (Beef with Broccoli) and the shakey (Pepper Chicken). The beef is shockingly good – tender, well cooked, the broccoli is steamed perfectly and the brown sauce has a nice sweetness to it! The Pepper Chicken – here's the thing. It's deep fried pieces of chicken tossed in a colorless sauce, mixed with red bell peppers and jalapenos. I'm sure that sounds delightful to you spiceheads, but the snob in me knows jalapenos belong nowhere near this menu. The Chinese have far more inventive ways to infuse a dish with heat than making a run for the border. So boo hiss, I'm not impressed there. In terms of other meat/sauce/veggie traditional Chinese fare, I move on – what's left is generally fish based, resting in coagulating yellowish sauces and appear to be unwise options if I value my gastrointestinal health.

Next, the fun part really – appetizers! If you know me, you know I love pot stickers – like I would kill or die for a great pot sticker. Sadly this joint's Vat O' 'Stickers is down to the dregs, and the little soldiers left behind are wilty and steamed into oblivion. But in the name of science, I must sample. I also grab an egg roll, a cheese wonton, a slice of teriyaki chicken, something called a Chicken Stick, and a couple pieces of California Roll. The Chicken Stick is a revelation – chewy in the really good and satisfying way, marinated and infused with lots of soy gingery flava, and of course the fun of being on a stick. Everything else is yawnworthy.

I sit down to eat and am the only person dining alone in my vicinity. This is apparently a place you come to with 40 of your closest pals, and I stick out like a sore thumb but hope to be perceived merely as a non-snobby professional, maybe I can even pull off The Pretty Girl Dining Alone. One can only hope. As I eat my Italian food, I take in the décor and am greeted by the bestest cliché of them all, and admittedly one that immediately makes my heart melt and confirms that I will be back to dine here again – there are Christmas decorations on the wall. In July. In a couple random places, so it isn't even unashamed laziness in leaving them up all year, or laziness disguised as creative flair. What it looks like is "EEEeeeeeeehhhhh, that's too high to reach, just leave it." It's one stretch of pine-tree-like garland sprinkled with a few lights, floating in the middle of a wall like some galaxy in the otherwise vast darkness. It's hard to even imagine what they were going for with decorations at full blast, I guess I will just have to wait a couple more months to find out.

And just in case you were wondering, I passed on the pizza.


Slim pickins lately! My last venture to the theater was a dooblay, saw The Kids Are All Right (4 stars on the Netflix scale, aka ****) and The Girl Who Played With Fire (****). Kids didn't live up to the hype for me because while entertaining and indeed full of wonderfully realistic moments, it lost me by taking what felt like an easy way out. SPOILER ALERT – SKIP TO NEXT PARAGRAPH!! The two moms in the film are lesbians, and only one (and to me an admittedly weak) attempt is made to suggest that these women have any lingering or existent attraction to men. But the major loop that these characters have to overcome is one of them having an affair with the man who donated his sperm so they could have their two children. The affair isn't justified at all, the audience is expected to swallow a 50-ish year old lesbian falling into bed repeatedly with a man as if we were just watching her switch from Coke to Pepsi. As an emotional anchor moment, it feels cheap and very unearned. It does provide some good laughs, and the revelation of her partner's infidelity gives Annette Bening one of the strongest moments in the whole film. But it doesn’t' save the whole experience, and to me takes the film out of potential greatness and instead dumps into mediocre pedestrian territory.

The Girl Who Played With Fire, the much anticipated continuation of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, I had heard from all directions was a superior film. Which not only is incredibly rare for a sequel, it's also simply not true. The first film, while it doesn't necessarily break new ground, it visits familiar ground in a very engaging and deliciously twisted way. Fire has a new director and the difference shows, the camera is no longer making love to the characters. They haven't lost me though, I look forward to the Swedish version of Hornet's Nest with much glee.

Netflix has also been underwhelming lately, and of course that is 100% my fault for filling my queue with bonafide crapola. I sent back 3 movies today that I've had since FEBRUARY for god's sake. Time to shake things up. With no horror in theaters lately I've added a few to my list, so hopefully my bloodthirst will be slaked soon. Dead Snow, the highly recommended and ridiculous Nazi Zombie Movie, woke all that yummy stuff back up.

And that's that. To sum up:

SEXYes please!

FOOD – Keep an open mind.

CINEMASummer, you suck this year.