Friday, January 21, 2011

Lava Cake: For my Tweeps

Recipe for Lava Cake, those half baked mini-chocolate cakes with the gooey middle, for my Tweeps who tweeted about it all day yesterday and left me craving them.

  • 1 stick butter
  • 8 ozs. bitter or semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
  • 4 large eggs plus 1 yolk, room temp
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsps all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 400. Grease eight 6 oz ramekins well. Melt chocolate and butter in the microwave at 50% power, checking and stirring until fully melted.

Beat eggs, yolk, vanilla, salt, and sugar about five minutes until volume triples and mixture is thick and smooth. Spoon over melted chocolate and butter, sprinkle with flour, and gently fold the mixture until blended.

Pour into ramekins and bake 12-13 minutes until set but still jiggly. Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and hot fudge.

nom nom nom

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Sevenfold Spell: Guest Review


I posted a guest review of The Sevenfold Spell by Tia Nevitt over at Jennifer Estep's blog. Check it out!

Sevenfold Spell

Also, if you haven't read Jennifer's Elemental Assassins series and have the remotest interest in Urban Fantasy, you need to rectify that RIGHT NOW.

Elemental Assassin Series

Happy Reading!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Ringling Bros, Barnum & Bailey: A Review. Also, A Metaphor.

If you haven't seen the circus since you were a kid, you need to go. I took the Pirate today and could not believe how full throttle awesome it was. I think the Cirque du Soleil people have raised the bar for everybody. The circus lends itself to real life comparisons in many ways. Observations:

Kids are more excited about it than grown-ups.  The "I have a driver's license" set didn't get into the whole thing until the action started. The kids were wound like Slinkys about two coils too tight just in the line for tickets.

Pacing is key. No matter how cool something is, it gets old fast. You gotta move on to the next act.

A little mystery goes a long way. I've seen the schtick a gazillion times. I still can't figure out how the magician pokes swords through the box containing the lovely assistant and doesn't skewer said assistant in the process. Therefore, it hasn't gotten old.

You need some humor to break the tension. Between the motorcycle-on-a-high-wire act and the guy-in-a-cage-with-six-lions act, they had clowns doing funny stuff. Not the old school Pennywise kind of clowns. Cool ones with saxophones and trumpets. A nice combo of street theater and performance art. But whatever it was, it let you unclench from the "death-defying" tension of whatever came right before.

Accidents happen, so expect the best and plan for the worst. Yep. Even at the circus. During the motorcycles-in-the-spherical-cage-ball portion, they had three motorcycles scoffing at gravity while circling the cage. The damsel suspended from the wire extended her legs in an athletic mid-air chinese split and clipped one of the cyclists. He crashed in a man/motorcycle heap at the bottom of the cage. Everyone cued in immediately. The remaining cyclists came to careful halts, spotters swarmed the cage, and everyone emerged unharmed. But damn if they didn't all know what to do the second something went off script.

The show must go on. After the motorcycle crash, the performers took their bows and the next act started. No malingering on the mishap.

Everything is better with glitter. Everything is better with glitter.

My only other observation is that there is no excuse for a $10 bag of cotton candy. Ever.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

I Won a Contest!

Okay, the prize was a $25 gift certificate and a copy of this:

Snooki's Book

So I wouldn't consider it a big resume boost. But still, I won! Sarah over at Smart Bitches Trashy Books did a live blog reading of Snooki's book, A Shore Thing, last week. Cover to cover. I was glued to my computer for the duration. Absolutely the most fun I've had in a year or better. The book packed a lot of humor, all the more for being frequently unintentional, but the Bitchery outdid themselves with the commentary. If you have a few minutes scan through the blog. You won't be disappointed. My review:

I laughed. I cried. Usually concurrently. This book is to great literature what Showgirls is to great cinema.

(In all fairness I believe they did what they set out to do. It is a fast beach read sort of book and absolutely fits with the image I have from watching two minutes of Jersey Shore. There is no pretense of contention for a Pulitzer or Oprah's book club. If you think you might like it, you probably will. If you think you won't like it, you might be surprised at how much you will laugh.)

Those of us participating waited with bated breath for the scenes of teh sexxxy goodness that must surely lie within. From chapter one the MCs, Gia (Snooki in disguise) and her cousin Bella are ready to find some hot gorillas and GO! (Really. They say that. Gorillas.) I found myself particularly captivated by Bella's love interest, Tony "Trouble" Tortino (or something similarly Italian). Tony is grade A prime Guido gorilla material (again, not my words). But I found him ambiguous. He owns a gym, lives with his grandmother, fastidiously irons everything, including his sweats, obsesses on fabric softener, and wears eyeliner. (FOR REAL!) 

That is gonna be some more sexxy, right? The McLovin scene? NO! Total fade to black and check back in when the characters are picking their clothes up off the floor. I cannot tell you what a disappointment this was. The descriptions in other parts of the novel were so unique, so memorable, that we were on the edge of our seats trying to figure out what metaphors would be used for coitus. I offer these examples of the pop-off-the-page writing, the kind that really brings the scene alive:

Snappy dialogue: "I'm not a whore. I'm a slut. There's a difference."
Description: "A circle of hippies on the beach were huddled together like a family of Ellis Island immigrants just off the Mayflower. "
Mood setting"Up close he smelled grungy yet fresh, like a parking lot after a rain storm."

You can imagine the disappointment (and yes, perhaps a soupcon of relief) that there is NO ACTUAL SEX in this book. So Sarah hosted a contest. Write the missing sex scene. It was a perfect opportunity for me to explore the characters of Bella and Tony, delve into their motivations, really study them. I embraced it fully and took the plunge. Here is my best effort, in 200 words or less, at capturing the unforgettable voice and characters of Snooki's work:


“This is my room, baby,” Tony said proudly as he held the door for her. He was super classy. “Like it?”

Wow. Gia would shit herself. Animal print everywhere. The crochet bedspread had a leopard print pattern. And it didn’t even smell like Axe in here. More like…Drakkar Noir.

“It musta taken your grandmother forever to make that bedspread.”

Tony closed the door.

“Nah. I did it. I used finger weight yarn, merino/silk blend, and designed the pattern myself. If feels so good on your skin. Go on. Try it.”

She’d promised herself a hookup and dammit, it was time to follow through.

“Okay.” Bella stripped and moved to the bed. It wasn’t scratchy or anything.

“I love how your boobs stay just right even lying down.” Tony took off his shirt. His eight pack reminded her of the underside of a lobster. She wondered if it would be good covered in melted butter. He unbuttoned his jeans and pulled them off, revealing a gorgeous package stretching his shiny black banana hammock. When that came off, he was totally bald.

“I want you to suck my bald eagle, baby. Then we’ll get the wax and I’ll do yours."


My mom would be so proud. If she knew I had a blog. Still, I don't think I'll mention it just yet.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Breaking The Silence

Six people are dead. A little girl born on THE September 11 is one of them. A woman is fighting for her life and facing recovery from a horrific brain injury.

"It's Sarah Palin's fault!" screams the left.

"The shooter was a Marxist!" screams the right.

The shooter is a disturbed, most likely schizophrenic man. He is clearly sick. What happened in Arizona is not the fault of Sarah Palin or Karl Marx. The toxic rhetoric in this country may have focused this man's disorder on politics, but it could have been anything. It could have been a church, the Safeway grocery chain, an army base, anything that captured his diseased imagination. If we're going to focus on hate speech as the sole cause of this tragedy, then let's be honest. We are all guilty. We don't get to define hate speech as only what the other side spews.

Much has been made of the Sarah Palin hit map but no one has mentioned the Democrat Leadership Committee's 2004 election map. Which is which?

Is it hate speech to hang Sarah Palin in effigy? Or does that get a pass because Palin is odious? How about punishing your enemies at the voting booth? Or bringing your gun to the knife fight? Or blowing up Rush Limbaugh's brain?

My friend Pete pointed out that the media coined the term "battleground states." Politics is war. Not just here, but everywhere. In the US we are lucky to have a reasonable expectation that when we engage in the business of politics we will not be killed for it. We take this for granted and speak in hyperbole with the understanding that people know we don't intend physical harm to George W. Bush when we put his visage in the center of our dartboard. I don't think this guy actually believed that someone would really assassinate our president based on his work.

Hate speech is not the sole vehicle of the right. Both sides engage in violent imagery. Both sides make inappropriate jokes about assassinations and putting the enemy in the crosshairs.

But while we engage in this national debate about who talks the ugliest and how this might have affected a mentally ill young man, six people are dead. A little girl born on THE September 11 is one of them. A woman is fighting for her life and facing recovery from a horrific brain injury.

Stop it. Stop pointing fingers and yelling at each other. Stop looking for problems and start looking for solutions.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Closet Super Mom

I'm not sure, but I think I might qualify as a super-mom. Once in a while. I mean, I didn't have either one of my kids in "reading for babies" or "baby gym" programs, or anything, but every now and then I find a boon of bonding time in the strangest places.

In the large stack of evidence against my being a super-mom, I live for bedtime. The kid's bedtime. About 3 pm I start counting the minutes. Unplanned deviations from the expectation that bedtime is 8 pm and I will then be "off duty" do not play well in my reality. But if somebody wakes up from a nightmare, or with a nosebleed, or just because, I do alright.

Today the Princess went down for a "nap" at 4:30. She went down HARD. Full nasal whistling, cover tossing, sleep-through-an-earthquake hard. She showed all signs of sleeping straight through 'til morning. I was optimistic enough that I did not wake her for dinner. But the little tyke woke up about 9 pm asking for cartoons and curious about the odd sound outside the house (freezing rain hitting the windows).

She "helped" me fold two loads of laundry, cheerfully helped me put them away, ate a PB&J, and then we went to her room. Just me and her, Brother was asleep in his room, Daddy in ours. Me and the Princess read some books, listened to Beethoven's 9th, and snuggled with two dogs and a cat. We had a good time. Much to my surprise.

Maybe I have a latent mom superpower I didn't know about. Maybe I really am "Supermom." My kids seem to think so. At any rate, the Princess is back to somnolent nasal whistling after feeling really special for a couple of hours. Not a bad return on my investment. My kids might need therapy, but I hope to give their therapist cause to tell them they didn't really have it all that bad.