Friday, September 30, 2011

A Recipe for Autumn...

I absolutely love cider; nothing says fall like it. I also happen to enjoy baking and tinkering around with recipes any time I get the chance. Just last week, I had a creative spark and made something that turned out very good. Of course, I don't always measure things exactly, so it can be tricky to make something exactly the same way all the time. But still, I figured I'd change things up and share this recipe with all of you. Here's something unique to make for breakfast on those cool autumn mornings.

Mulled Cider Pancakes

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup apple cider
1 tablespoon apple butter
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon grated orange peel
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder

1. Heat a large skillet brushed lightly with oil or butter over medium heat.
2. In medium mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and blend with a wire whisk just until thoroughly mixed. (For a thicker batter, add an additional 3 tablespoons of flour.)
3. Pour approximately 1/3 cup of batter at a time onto hot skillet. Turn pancakes over when large bubbles begin to burst at the surface (1-2 minutes) and pancake is nicely browned. Cook an additional 1-2 minutes on the opposite side. Serve immediately with butter and maple syrup.

Yield: 6 medium-sized pancakes

(If you don't have apple butter, you can try substituting with 1 Tbsp. applesauce and 2 drops lemon extract.)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Spirited Spirits...

If there's one bad habit I refuse to get rid of, it's enjoying a cocktail or glass of beer/wine from time to time. Now that doesn't mean I down gallon after gallon of it. (Maybe a few times back in my early college days.) But it's a nice way to unwind. Believe it or not, paranormal-themed spirits have been slowly making their way into stores across the nation. Here are a couple of them, just in time for Halloween.

Back in early spring, I had the pleasure to enjoy some of Dan Aykroyd's Crystal Head Vodka. It boasts a few different things, like being made with pure glacier water, quadruple distilled, and filtered through Herkimer diamonds (to give it some added boost of psychic energy). It comes in its own glass skull decanter which is actually quite nice and useful long after the vodka ceases to exist. And as far as the alcohol goes, it's not bad at all. And if you're all for things without any additives, this is your vodka. The price tag is a bit steep, but it's a neat conversation piece... if it lasts that long. You can hear the whole story from Dan--including the tale of the crystal skulls--in this video:

But there's another booze on the market, and this one supposedly has some haunted history to it. According to the website for Frozen Ghost Vodka, the spring in Western Canada where the water used in the production of this vodka comes from was the scene of a murder. Tobias, the victim, was buried in the ice at the site by a neighbor; the man confessed after being haunted by the ghost of Tobias. Rumor is that Tobias still keeps watch over his spring. Of course, we can only take their word for it. They don't reveal the exact location.

Even so, this booze boasts a spooky bottle to go with its watery contents from a haunted site. And at half the price of Crystal Skull, it's a bit more in reach of anyone who doesn't mind paying for premium vodka. And there's also Kraken Spiced Rum. While it's not "ghostly," it does involve a cryptid creature from myths. And it's actually rather good too. I'm sure there are whiskeys, rums, and other liquors out there with a supernatural twist, so keep your eye out as autumn gets into full swing.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Night Jimmy Fallon Dissed Me...

It's been an interesting year. Overall, I wouldn't rank it in my top ten best years ever, but there've been a few shining moments and amusing times to keep it from being a complete disaster. The important thing in life is not to lose your sense of humor, because really, life is funny and absurd. But no matter what, the best source of humor is always yourself. If you can't laugh at yourself, I don't think you should feel that good about laughing at other people.

So imagine my surprise this week when I was on Amazon and happened to see a Listmania! book list with my book Queer Hauntings staring back at me under the title "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon." Now, I watch about as much television as a blind man, but I thought something had to be wrong. There's no way... right? So, I did a little searching and discovered Fallon's ongoing segment of his "Do Not Read List" of funny, weird, and downright strange books. And there it was: on August 29th, Jimmy held up my book.

Now, I know some people might be outraged; nasty emails must be flying around from enraged writers horrified to hear that someone made fun of their work. And there are other books, like this one, that probably could've used just as much (if not more) razzing. For me, it was basically shock... followed by a bit of chuckling as I watched. Why? Because he basically said all the things I've heard, all the jokes passed around, since I wrote the book! Even I had to admit that while writing it, there's a certain level of absurdity that comes along with writing something as bizarre and unexpected as a book about gay ghosts. In fact, I tried as much as I could not to write something too serious. After all, the topic just can't be taken that seriously!

It did help things fall into place for me, though. About a week ago, I was on Amazon and by book sales had suddenly skyrocketed. I just assumed it was with Halloween coming up. Now, I have a better idea. Although really, I didn't think that many people tuned in to Jimmy Fallon or any other late night shows. Let's face it: SNL was his peak. Still, his ratings have rebounded on Late Night... he even earned an Emmy nomination for it.

As they say, "all press is good press." Things like controversy, humor, and absurdity sell. How else could people like Sarah Palin sell any copies at all? And it wasn't even bad press. He never actually attacked the book; he just had a good laugh at the basic idea of it. So, I don't hate you, Jimmy Fallon. You might be on par with Conan O'Brien in the comedy department, but I don't hate you. I'm happy I could provide you with some good joke material just this one time. And in return, in those two short minutes, you probably provided the most publicity my book has received in the past two years.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Mainstream Horror Goes a Little Gay...

Just in time for the Halloween season, there's a new film debuting this month. Well, technically, it's four films, each from the mind of a notable director of twisted scary movies. Dubbed Chillerama, it's most certainly not for the faint of heart or anyone with a distaste for the somewhat perverse. But if you're fine with porn stars, killer sperm, Hitler, and zombie spoofs, then it just might be up your alley. And the first film happens to be more than just a little gay-friendly.

Somewhere between the fictional worlds of Grease and Twilight, I Was a Teenage Werebear fits in quite neatly. In this musical comedy takes lycanthropy in a whole different direction. Set in the 1960s, it's the story of closeted teenager Ricky (Sean Paul Lockhart, a.k.a. Brent Corrigan) who runs into a rebellious gang who turn into a leather daddy "werebears" (one played by Ron Jeremy) when turned on by other guys. I'm serious. I kid you not. Don't believe me? Check out the trailer:

Now I have to give kudos to Sean for being one of the first porn stars to successfully make a leap from adult films to regular cinema. (Some of you might remember him as the merman from Another Gay Sequel.) While the other films sound just as weirdly amusing, I'll confess I'm slightly disappointed in one of them. And that would be The Diary of Anne Frankenstein. It's not because of the storyline (a comedic version of Hitler trying to create the perfect human killing machine); it's because when I first heard about it, I thought it was a different Diary of Anne Frankenstein. Unlike the one in Chillerama, the off-Broadway play of the same name seems a lot more hilarious. I just wish I had seen it when it was playing, but at least there's the video interview for Under the Pink Carpet:

That would've made this a truly must-see movie in my eyes! Still, I'm sure this film won't disappoint. You can catch the world premiere this coming week on Thursday, September 15th, at Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Other dates are being added to the official website as they are arranged. I'm sure such a risque film might not necessarily make it to a theater near you, but you can always wait for it to come out on DVD and watch it later.