Hunk of the Day: Prateik Babbar

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Certain hunks smolder, certain hunks sizzle, and certain hunks burn with the fiery rage and heat of a volcano in full eruption. Prateik Babbar does a little of each. After appearing in a few ads, he’s moved into film, and has already worked on several movies. This marks his Hunk of the Day debut.

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Cyclamen Circus

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One of my favorite flowers is the cyclamen. For years I tried to coax the hardier varieties into bloom in a shady nook of the garden, with extremely limited success. I managed only one season of bloom, and the blooms were so small I almost missed them. (It doesn’t help that their foliage dies back in the middle of summer so there’s nothing to remind you that they’re still there.) I gave up after that, and so did the cyclamen, despite their supposed Zone 5 hardiness.

It wasn’t until a trip to Seattle that I was able to see them blooming outside in their natural habitat, and they were a joy to behold. Like little pink or white butterflies, the blooms floated just above the ground. Though small, the masses and clumps were of such number as to make an impact on any traveler lucky enough to pass their way.

The cyclamen seen here are the ones you’ll find in florist shops – overblown and hybridized, they put the wild cyclamen to shame with their showy blooms and boffo foliage. They’re a garish and gaudy version of the more elegant outdoor variety, and there are pros and cons to both I suppose. Sometimes I long for the simple and small, other times I want big, bold and banging.

Either way, a flower is a welcome sight at this time of the year.

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The Banana Trifle

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“I’m not asking much, just a token, really, a trifle…” ~ Ursula, ‘The Little Mermaid

To be fair, I don’t really know or care whether this is a proper trifle. It’s the recipe that Magnolia Bakery allegedly uses for their banana pudding, but for all I know it’s an internet hoax. It doesn’t really matter – anything that uses instant pudding mix and condensed milk has to be good. Three cups of heavy cream whipped into a peaking frenzy can’t be bad either. The online comments raved about this one, and if it was good enough to approximate, or actually be, something from Magnolia Bakery, that seemed a decent-enough pedigree for me.

There’s nothing tricky about this trifle; mostly it’s about the assembly and properly-plotted timing for the pudding to set and then the trifle to rest. This was my first time whipping cream (I’ve only ever whipped ass before), but thanks to the Kitchen Aid mixer it went quite smoothly, and soon enough there were peaks and fluff and I was folding it in like a real functioning person. For some of us, it’s the small kitchen victories that mean the most. Here’s the recipe, followed by a few scant hints of what I learned on this culinary journey.

Magnolia Bakery’s (Alleged) Banana Pudding

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 ½ cups water
  • 2/3 cup instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 1 (12-ounce) box vanilla wafers
  • 4 bananas, sliced thinly into coins

DIRECTIONS

Mix together the water, pudding mix, and sweetened condensed milk until smooth. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight until it sets up.

Whip heavy cream until soft peaks form. Working in thirds, fold the whipped cream into the pudding mixture until well incorporated.

In a trifle bowl, layer vanilla wafers, sliced bananas, and pudding mixture; continue until you’ve used up all the pudding mixture. Refrigerate for at least a few hours before serving so the wafers have a chance to soften. {Yields 12 servings}

A few tips I gained via the internet and this virgin experience: chill the mixing bowl and paddle before you whip the cream, and add a few drops of the very best vanilla extract. Martha insists. The recipe originally called for letting the trifle rest for an hour, but I let it sit overnight, ensuring that those vanilla wafers had a chance to soften and become like a sponge cake – the end result was wonderful.

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Hunk of the Day: Tony Milan

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Adult performer/porn superstar Tony Milan brings his own brand of magic to this Hunk of the Day post, with those dusky eyes and patch of chest hair. We don’t do sex-shaming here in any way, so I’ll always celebrate a porn star. Who are we to judge how someone else makes their money? Besides, being sexy doesn’t necessarily negate being smart or kind or decent. Congrats to Mr. Milan on this Hunk of the Day honor.

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Fiercest Feud of All-Time

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Some of us have been waiting for Ryan Murphy to wow us again ever since the first, and best, season of ‘American Horror Story’ – and a few extra-critical folks have been waiting for such a feat since the first season of ‘Glee’ – I’m one of the former, and ever since Jessica Lange left ‘AHS’ it’s gone decidedly downhill. Murphy’s next entertainment salvo however, looks to be a doozy: a look at the legendary feud between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, specifically during their time shooting ‘Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?’ Lange stars in the more difficultly nuanced role of Ms. Crawford – nuanced only in comparison to the ferocity of Ms. Davis, played by Susan Sarandon (the only thing that gives me pause right now). Murphy knows his way around a diva – let’s see how well he does with two.

The real deal, below.

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The Madonna Timeline: Song #134 – ‘Inside Out’

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{Note: The Madonna Timeline is an ongoing feature, where I put the iPod on shuffle, and write a little anecdote on whatever was going on in my life when that Madonna song was released and/or came to prominence in my mind.}

HOLD ME CLOSER, FULL DISCLOSURE

LET IT OUT, LET ME IN

ON YOUR KNEES, CONFESS TO ME

EVERY DOUBT, EVERY SIN

THAT’S HOW LOVE’S SUPPOSED TO BE

Every work day begins with the same ritual: the walk from the car to the office building. Whether I’m being dropped off or parking on site, there is always The Walk. Throughout a decade and a half of state office work, I’ve had a number of variations on this theme, but The Walk has remained constant. From a parking lot where my Subaru would bake in the hot sun, to a comparatively luxurious covered-garage where the path to my desk was entirely shielded from the outside weather, The Walk was different for every location, but its essence was the same. These days I’m lucky enough to be driven to the side of my office building, where I make a brief but important fifty foot trek to the door. It’s short, but a lot happens in that small distance.

I WANNA KNOW WHAT YOU’RE ALL ABOUT

YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL WHEN YOU’RE BROKEN DOWN

LET YOUR WALLS CRUMBLE TO THE GROUND

LET ME LOVE YOU FROM THE INSIDE OUT

EVERY SCAR THAT YOU TRY TO HIDE

ALL THE DARK CORNERS OF YOUR MIND

SHOW ME YOURS AND I’LL SHOW YOU MINE

LET ME LOVE YOU FROM THE INSIDE OUT

It is here where I truly “dress” for the day. No matter what extravagance I’ve draped over my body, no matter which coat and bag I’ve chosen as armor, I’m not completely dressed until The Walk. You see, or you don’t see in this case, the most important thing a person can wear is not on the outside. It’s how you carry yourself. Do you believe enough in who you are to wear whatever you want? Or do you falter and waver, relying on a power suit or black dress to instill the confidence you lack? To me it depends on the day. Sometimes I am that strong, sometimes I’m not. No matter which it might be, I take a moment on The Walk to prepare myself for whatever may come. In the darkness of a winter morning or the bright emboldening sun of the summer, in the balmy humidity of August or the dry chill of February, I make The Walk, and try to decipher a little bit more of who we dare to be, and why.

LET’S DISCOVER ONE ANOTHER

KISS ME HERE, TOUCH ME THERE,

PUREST FORM OF ECSTASY

TRUTH OR DARE, DON’T BE SCARED

LET ME SOLVE YOUR MYSTERY

I summon the spirits of Miranda Priestley, Norma Desmond, and Margo Channing. I conjure the regal bearing of the kings and queens that history has worshipped and deified. I become imperious, haughty, untouchable and divine. With each step I inhale the brisk, blunt, bold persona I so desperately want to embody, and I build myself up to mythic stature through sheer force of will. If I believe it, they might believe it too. By the time I enter the building, I am, in my own mind and countenance, a formidable force. If only a fraction of that comes through, I might be all right. I might make it through the day.

I WANNA KNOW WHAT YOU’RE ALL ABOUT

YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL WHEN YOU’RE BROKEN DOWN

LET YOUR WALLS CRUMBLE TO THE GROUND

LET ME LOVE YOU FROM THE INSIDE OUT

EVERY SCAR THAT YOU TRY TO HIDE

ALL THE DARK CORNERS OF YOUR MIND

SHOW ME YOURS AND I’LL SHOW YOU MINE

LET ME LOVE YOU FROM THE INSIDE OUT

On most work days I take my lunch alone. I prefer it that way. In my line of work I have to deal with people all day – phone calls, meetings, discussions (even going to the bathroom can be a social booby trap) – so when I get a break I revel in whatever moments of solitude I can find. Yet even on my own, I’m keenly aware of how people react to me. I notice every furtive stare, every stolen glance, and I’m extremely, though inwardly, self-conscious about it. It’s a vicious little cycle – in paying attention to others, I’m deflected into paying attention to myself, which, contrary to all apparent evidence and popular belief, is not how I prefer to spend my time.

LET’S CROSS THE LINE

SO FAR WE WON’T COME BACK

CAN’T READ YOUR MIND

I SHOULDN’T HAVE TO ASK

CYNICAL SMILE

TIME TO TAKE OFF YOUR MASK

I’M ON YOUR SIDE

SO LET ME LOVE YOU

LET ME LOVE YOU

LET ME LOVE YOU FROM THE INSIDE OUT

Last week, for some unknown reason, I didn’t notice the people noticing me. A few surely were, I did catch one or two, mostly because I had a ridiculously over-the-top coat on. But then I looked down at the sidewalk, and then up at the buildings and storefronts, and when I stopped noticing them noticing me, I was overcome with a wild sense of relief, and a wonderful feeling of freedom. ‘When one’s mind is on one’s own business…’

Maybe it’s a sign of growing up. Maybe it’s a sign of authentic confidence. Maybe it’s a sign of genuinely not giving a shit what others think. When you play at something long enough, it tends to come true. 

I WANNA KNOW WHAT YOU’RE ALL ABOUT

YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL WHEN YOU’RE BROKEN DOWN

LET YOUR WALLS CRUMBLE TO THE GROUND

LET ME LOVE YOU FROM THE INSIDE OUT

What does this have to do with a Madonna song? I’m not entirely sure. Madonna has always been about self-reflection/self-obsession, and a song like ‘Inside Out’ can be read as a simple ode of love to another, or as a way of getting to know your own self better. It’s one of the more majestic cuts from the ‘Rebel Heart’ opus, a beautiful power ballad with a meandering bass line and magnificent bridge. Pop perfection in a world that has lost touch with melody and song structure. At a more risky and romantic time, I would have given myself to this song, and to whomever held my interest at the time. I’m older now, and yearnings have quieted into something resembling sense.

EVERY SCAR THAT YOU TRY TO HIDE

ALL THE DARK CORNERS OF YOUR MIND

SHOW ME YOURS AND I’LL SHOW YOU MINE

LET ME LOVE YOU FROM THE INSIDE OUT

I still make The Walk every morning I go to work, but some days I forget myself, not bothering to build up the image that I expect others have of me. I forget to channel Madonna and Miranda and Margo, and I walk in without artifice or attitude, content to study the air, seeking a hint of spring, searching for something bigger than myself.

SONG #134 – ‘Inside Out’ 

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A Hint of Madonna to Come

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Tomorrow the next installment of the Madonna Timeline returns with a cut from her latest album ‘Rebel Heart’. When in doubt, I always come back to Madonna for inspiration and invigoration. This song proves no exception, but before we dive into the beauty of ‘Inside Out’ here is a quick look back at the last few timeline entries, as there was a bit of a stretch without them.

Easy Ride‘ ~ American Life

Devil Pray‘ ~ Rebel Heart

Pray for Spanish Eyes‘ ~ Like A Prayer

Messiah‘ ~ Rebel Heart

Spotlight‘ ~ You Can Dance

Jump‘ ~ Confessions on a Dancefloor

Survival‘ ~ Bedtime Stories

Wash All Over Me‘ ~ Rebel Heart

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Hunk of the Day: Barclay Beales

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“Happiness is not determined by what’s happening around you, but rather what’s happening inside you.  Most people depend on others to gain happiness, but the truth is, it always comes from within.” ~ Barclay Beales

Thus spoke the Hunk of the Day, Barclay Beales, a musical artist who brought yodeling to the masses in his turn on X Factor (which also brought us previous Hunks such as Jack Walton, Matt Cardle, Drew Chadwick, Sam Callahan, Ray Quinn,  and Sean Smith). Also a member of the boyband Stereo Kicks, Mr. Beales has wisely gone solo. Those looks and that talent is too grand to be bound to a group scene. Congrats to him on this solo honor too.

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Throwback Shower Shots

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This gratuitous throwback shower post is less about how young I once was and more about what atrocious shower tile we used to have. A remnant from the era in which the house was built, this pattern was designed to work with the avocado green that formed the color theme of the original master bathroom. If you have a nightmarish imagination, you might be able to conjure the shag carpet that was also part of the bathroom (because the most practical thing for a bathroom to have is shag carpeting). While our kitchen renovation was a marvel, the bathroom revamp was heaven-sent.

It is, oddly enough, one of my favorite rooms in the house, thanks to the extensive Tom Ford Private Blends collection on hand (among Hermes, Diana Vreeland, Byredo, Frederic Malle, and Jean-Claude Ellena). It’s the place where I open and close the day with a pair of showers, some of which turn into the closest thing I can muster for a spa experience. It also affords me a place to think about the day – whether it’s the one to come or the one that just went away. Rather than an in-between rushed space, it’s become a destination unto itself – for preparation, for relaxation, and for urination. I love a room that’s so multi-functional.

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Jude Law’s Naked Bum

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This one goes out to all those gentlemen who make a blessedly regular habit of pulling down their pants and showing off their pert bums in film or television. Previous trouser-dropping do-gooders include Ryan Phillippe, Matt Bomer, Harry Judd, Channing Tatum, and Jamie Dornan.

Today’s featured backside belongs to someone well-versed in disrobing for his various roles: Jude Law. He’s been starkers here before, and likely will again. When you’ve worked so hard to sculpt something like that, you want to show it off. At least, some of us do, and we’re nothing if not grateful. (Still holding out for David Beckham and Ben Cohen.)

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Being Groomed

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I am totally this monkey.

This monkey is totally me.

No explanation is necessary.

It speaks for itself.

We are us.

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A Mother’s Birthday

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Today we celebrate my Mom’s birthday, and as the woman who brought me into the world and has had to deal with me ever since, she deserves more than mere accolades. We’ll do a proper dinner at our house tomorrow evening, but for now here’s a birthday place-card. Here’s wishing the happiest of birthdays to the person who gave me a sense of style, showed me a sense of purpose, and loved me even when I didn’t always deserve it.

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Hunk of the Day: Jeffery Self

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Madonna once sang that, ‘Rejection is the greatest aphrodisiac,” but many of us have found that laughter beats rejection any day, for both its enjoyment factor and its aphrodisiacal elements. Case in point is the Hunk of the Day Jeffery Self. A actor and writer, he is the author of ‘Drag Teen’, a work I’d wished was in existence as I was navigating the rocky roads of high school. Now he can lay claim to proper Hunk of the Day status.

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The Best Way to Reheat Pizza

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From time to time I like to think that this blog delivers a really useful nugget of information that changes the way we live our lives. This is one of those times. If you’ve ever mourned the passing of a fresh pizza, and sighed at the reheated sogginess of the microwave or the dried-out desert of the oven, check out this method of reheating your leftovers. Even the most hungover of you should be able to master this in a few minutes.

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Tuesday Morning Man Candy

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Nick Tortorella comes very close to winning his third Hunk of the Day crowning with this post. One more sexy photo shoot and he’ll likely be granted his triumvirate. Until then, today’s excellent entry will have to shirtlessly suffice. That thick thatch of chest hair, that wonderfully versatile head hair, and the gaze that seduces and stuns all coalesce into a singular spectacular package.

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