Monday, June 30, 2014

Music Video Monday: Lay It Down

I don't know what to make of this video.

For one thing, it has a clown in it, and clowns are made of fear and evil and children's nightmares. But the clown is only the second creepiest thing in the video.

The creepiest part is the implication that the bulk of the video is a little kid's birthday wish.

Okay, I admit that's not such a strange premise on the surface. I could see a nine-ish-year-old kid wishing to play in a rock band when he grows up. Kids love the idea of messing around with noisy musical instruments, and "rock star" is cultural shorthand for "super awesome person." The only problem is that the video shows not terribly much of this:

And an awful lot of Ratt frontman Stephen Pearcy sensuously wooing a sexy blonde lady while wearing a shirt he stole from Fabio's closet:

Okay, it's implied that the kid has a crush on the little girl in the opening sequence and the two grown-ups in the main body of the video are his fantasy images of him and her, but what the hell kind of prepubescent boy thinks like that? He must be a really early bloomer who hasn't gotten the birds-and-bees talk from mom and dad yet, so he thumbed through some of mom's spicier romance novels* to find out what this "sex" thing that adults like so much is all about. All I know is that a kid who probably can't even count his age in the double digits yet shouldn't be making this face while he's thinking about a grown woman:

Oh geez. When I went back to get that screenshot, I picked up for the first time on what the kid's name is. Stephen. And he has dark hair, and a roughly similar facial structure, and...

You know, maybe it's best not to ask what Stephen Pearcy wished for for his ninth birthday. 

*Dad must have either hidden his Playboys really well or convinced his son that they were some sort of trade magazine for those nude artists' models.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

On This Day In 1986...

Congress voted to give aid to the Nicaraguan rebel group known as the Contras. 100 million dollars' worth. Fortunately it was just a one-time payment, and no one, like, sold a bunch of weapons to Iran for the money to keep on funding...Oh, crap.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Music Video Monday: Run Runaway

And now, a brief tourism bulletin written by English glam rock band Slade:

Come and visit the lovely British Isles!

See historic Eastnor Castle, where kilted bagpipers march in unison and every rock band has a violinist as well as a guitarist! It's all quite quaint and picturesque and British.

Also, Slade vocalist Noddy Holder might randomly invade your personal space and make weird faces at you!


Oh. it no mind. That's just something he does every now and then,! We also have a welcoming committee of occasionally-fist-shaking Scotsmen!

Plus one big, slightly angry-looking fellow who looks like he's up for a spot of tossing the caber. Right into your stupid tourist face.

Hmm. This isn't going very well, is it? What we're trying to say is...

Damn it, Noddy!

Uh...Thanks, guys, but I think we'll just visit my husband's grandpa in Florida again this year. Love this song, though. The violin is a nice touch.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Cooking With Lady Evil: Lamb Tagine

My parents came over for dinner last week. Like I usually do when my parents come over, I pulled out all the stops to put forward the appearance of being a serious cook who doesn't live on peanut butter and jelly. I had recently stumbled upon this recipe and decided to give it a try. Or at least to give something similar to it a try. I have a bad (?) habit of unnecessarily fancifying every recipe I try. Here's my version (along with my reasoning for stuff I changed or added):

Lamb Tagine


3 1/2 pounds bone-in lamb shoulder chops*
2 whole cloves*
1 tablespoon dried parsley*
2 teaspoons dried basil*
7 garlic cloves (4 whole, 3 chopped or crushed in a garlic press)*
1 teaspoon salt*
8-10 whole black peppercorns*
1/2 cup dried chickpeas**
1 cinnamon stick
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin***
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 tablespoon fresh chopped ginger
2 large tomatoes, diced****
1/2 cup whole dried apricots, snipped in half with kitchen scissors
1 tablespoon tea-rose petal preserves*****
Sea salt and ground black pepper
1 10 oz box plain couscous******
1 pinch saffron threads******

The day before cooking the stew, trim away excess fat from lamb chops and carve into 1" cubes. Put meat into an airtight container and store in fridge for later use. Put bones from shoulder chops into a stockpot and pour in enough cold water to cover--about 6 to 8 cups. Bring to a boil. An opaque gray froth will form on top of the boiling liquid; carefully skim the froth off with a spoon and add the cloves, dried parsley, dried basil, 2 of the whole garlic cloves, whole peppercorns, and 1 teaspoon salt. Partially cover and simmer over low heat for 2 hours. Meanwhile, put chickpeas in a medium saucepan with enough water to cover them by an inch or two.

Strain the broth through a fine sieve and discard bones and spices. Let cool and skim off fat. Pour into airtight container and store in fridge. Let chickpeas soak overnight.

Drain chickpeas, return to same saucepan, and add water to cover. Add the remaining 2 whole garlic cloves and cinnamon stick. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 45 minutes, until chickpeas are tender. Drain and discard garlic cloves and cinnamon stick. While chickpeas are cooking, toast coriander seeds in a small skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes. Transfer seeds to a mortar and add red pepper flakes. Coarsely crush seeds and pepper flakes with a pestle. Mix in cumin, cinnamon, paprika, cardamom, ginger, and turmeric and reserve in mortar.

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Season lamb cubes with salt and pepper and lightly brown on all sides. Transfer lamb to a medium bowl and gently saute chopped garlic and chopped ginger, about 2 minutes. Add spice mix and saute 1 minute more. Add tomatoes and lamb. Add 3 cups of reserved lamb broth. Bring to boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer about 1 1/2 hours. Stir in chickpeas and simmer until heated through, about 10 minutes. Stir in apricots and rose preserves and simmer for 5 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Cook couscous according to directions on box, substituting remaining lamb broth and saffron threads for water. Serve stew over couscous.

My Verdict:

This recipe was amazing. It smelled delicious, tasted even more delicious, and the flavors intensified and improved as the leftovers sat in the fridge. However, it was also labor-intensive and hella expensive, and its spice levels might be too high for some peoples' palates. Great thing to make for special occasions and impressing your foodie friends; not a good choice for a quick, simple meal for that friend or relative who always orders plain cheese pizza. 

*My local grocery store only carries whole shoulder chops, and I hate wasting food so I decided to make broth from the bones and use it instead of the chicken stock the original recipe calls for.

**It turns out the measly 3/4 cup of dried chickpeas in the original recipe becomes a huge crapload of chickpeas once they've been re-hydrated and cooked. I recommend reducing the amount a bit.

***The original recipe calls for whole cumin seeds. I didn't have any.

****The original recipe calls for canned diced tomatoes. See what I said above about unnecessary fancification.

*****I really like the extra bit of sweetness they add to the aroma and flavor, but I do acknowledge that they're kind of an acquired taste. Also they're 12 bucks a jar.

******I wanted to use up the rest of the lamb broth. Again, hate wasting food. By the way, saffron is even more expensive than the rose petal preserves: sixteen bucks for a .8 ounce jar. That's POINT eight ounces. Not eight ounces. If you want saffron, I recommend asking for some for Christmas rather than buying it yourself. 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Book Announcement: I Got Reviewed!

Yeeehaw! My book just got its first review!

You can read the review here. In fact, you should read it, right now. It's a great review.

Many thanks to Becky for agreeing to feature my book on her lovely blog, and to Rachel for doing the reviewing.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

On This Day In 1983...

Sally Ride becomes the first U.S. woman to go into space!

Where, according to Wikipedia, she also became the first woman to operate the space shuttle Challenger's robotic arm, using it to retrieve a satellite. So basically she got to play a super-epic scaled-up version of that stuffed animal claw game from the carnival in space. And got paid for doing so. No wonder every kid wants to be an astronaut.

Also, reporters at the time apparently saw nothing wrong with asking her dumbass questions like, "Will the flight affect your reproductive organs?"

Really, reporters? REALLY? You meet the first woman in the country to have a career piloting awesome space-robots, and all you can think to say to her is that idiotic string of words? You might as well have said, "Durr hurr hurr, yer a gurl! In space! Gurl in space funny! Durr hurr."  

So here's to you, Sally Ride. You broke barriers, and you never once* punched out a stupid-question-asking 1980's reporter.

*That I know of, anyway.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Music Video Monday: Tattooed Millionaire

Ever watch a music video made between 1980 and the first few years of the 1990's?

If you like weird imagery, bright colors, and flashy costumes, and also just hate it when things make sense, then you really ought to watch a few. Trust me, that weird shit will be right up your alley.

Case in point: "Tattooed Millionaire"* by Bruce Dickinson:

What Happens In The Video: 

Bruce Dickinson, Iron Maiden frontman, successful solo artist, pilot, and creeptastic peeping tom, has decided to take some time off from being an awesome international superstar and spend a nice relaxing day spying on the citizens of Los Angeles from a submarine.

That is not the hair of someone who does not spend an unhealthy amount of time watching his neighbors have sex through a high-powered telescope.

He probably immediately regrets his decision, as the first thing he sees is the shoddily bandaged victim of some unlicensed back-alley plastic surgeon:

He's so LA! Probably also so infected with every strain of hepatitis.

Then Bruce wanders around the city surreptitiously gawking at people for a while, getting a visual overload of brain-melting weirdness. It starts off with relatively harmless stuff like a douchey rocker dude pretending to drive his red sports car while a tow truck hauls it away and a politely applauding studio audience with spoons hanging off their noses. 

Then there's stodgy-British-banker-on-stodgy-British-banker knife violence, and people wearing unsettling African masks stand near a stately white-pillared building looking like members of some secret cult of congresspeople. Then we see the rocker dude again, and discover that he and his hot wife literally live in three feet of raw sewage. And they don't seem to care one bit:  

Also their closets are infested with fat 80's businessmen. Which happens when you don't lay down traps** for them. 

Then, after bravely putting up with a few more scenes' worth of men wearing shoes on their heads, money being flung carelessly into the air, and women walking down the street in fur coats and lingerie, Bruce packs up his submarine and leaves our shores for the safety and sanity of his native England.

And that's the video. I'm sure it's all very artsy and symbolic of how shallow and materialistic late 80's/early 90's LA was.

What I Think It's Really About:

Bruce Dickinson heard a lot about this super-popular "Los Angeles" place on the west coast of the US and came to check it out. When he got here, he discovered to his dismay that it was overrun with criminally insane lunatics and hightailed it back home. If we're lucky, maybe he won't return with that submarine of his packed with water-to-land torpedoes and a burning desire to cleanse the city of madmen with fire.

*By the way, if you want to watch this video without the sound on for some reason, don't do it late at night. Without the nice upbeat music to put things in context, it looks super-creepy in places. 

**To catch 80's businessmen, bait your traps with money, real estate, and copious amounts of cocaine. Be sure to include the money and real estate or you might trap Steven Tyler by accident.    

Thursday, June 12, 2014

I Did Stuff! (Part II)

You know how some books have pictures?

You know how some books don't have pictures and you have to (groan) pay attention to the description and (uuuungh kill me now) use your imagination to picture what all the characters and places look like?

I kid, of course. Using your imagination is great.* But in case you don't agree, I've made reading my book just a little easier on you:  

I made a web comic to go along with my book! You can view it on my website here. The comic begins where the book leaves off and continues the characters' adventures, but you don't have to read the book to follow the story.** I post a new strip weekly on Thursdays.

By the way, many thanks to my excellent artist, Candace Ellis. Check out her deviantART page:

*I like doing it so much I wrote a whole book while doing it.

**I can't imagine why you wouldn't read it, though. Free ticket to heaven, remember?

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

I Did Stuff! (Part I)

So I dropped out of the blogosphere for a while.

Don't worry, I haven't been neglecting my blogging duties because I don't like you anymore. I've just been busy with some big, busy-making stuff:

  1. In early February, Technomancer and I threw all our stuff into boxes, put most of the boxes into a moving truck and the few that remained into our car, and drove right the hell away from the east coast before another nor'easter or freak hurricane decided to fling ALL THE TREES at our house for funsies.
  2. We took our stuff out of the boxes and put it in a house in Michigan, safely out of hurricane blast radius.
  3. And finally, the biggest news of all:

I published my book! 

I published my book!

Yeeehaw! I published my book!


Anyway, this is what the cover looks like:

And you can buy it here:

And here:

And here:

And here:

As I mentioned in my previous post, my book is about a demon named Cain Pseudomantis who rises to hair metal stardom in the early 1980s, and I strongly believe that you should read it. It's made of concentrated awesome and epic guitar solos, and everyone who reads it automatically gets a free ticket to heaven.*

So...that's half the good news. I'll tell you the rest tomorrow.

*Rock and roll heaven, that is. Readers looking for admittance into hog heaven, doggie heaven, that nightclub in London called Heaven, etc. should seek supplementary reading material.