Malena Valcarcel is a Spanish artist who transforms used books into the works of art you see here. Utterly enchanting and wonderfully whimsical, this is a glimpse into the way art causes us to pause, to examine, and to thrill at the world of possibility. More about Malena here.
They rise and arch like a summer fountain, scaled with green until the very end of the season, when they turn salmon and rust like amber waves of grain. The seeds of the Northern sea oat have become a bit pesky in the garden, spreading their beauty a bit further than I’d like, but it’s still a handsome plant.
Emblematic of the harvest, they wave and flutter in the slightest breeze – all elegance and simplicity and a lesson of life in one glorious visage. There comes a time when we must reap what we have sown, when our preparation and actions come to fruition and judgement. Who among us can stand up and own the fruits of our labor? In the garden it’s the goal – whether fruit or flower or simple miraculous survival. In the rest of our lives, it gets a little trickier.
I think I prefer the straightforward, no-nonsense game of the garden.
Canadian singer and songwriter Shawn Mendes takes his bow as Hunk of the Day. In a throwback to the 90’s (the decade in which he was born, in the year of our ‘Ray of Light’) he recently released an MTV Unplugged album. I didn’t even realize they were still doing that. This is a pleasant reminder.
People Magazine, long past its pop-culture relevance expiration date, just named Blake Shelton as the Sexiest Man Alive. I guess it’s reflective of the world in which we live. Not that I find Mr. Shelton all that objective on the physical front, I just think I’d be able to find a gazillion guys who are far sexier. (And I guess it’s ok since Adam Levine already won that title a while back. David Beckham too.)
Climbing up the brick with the first burst of chartreuse freshness as its spring wardrobe was only the start of this ivy’s show. It ripened from that into a deeper green as the summer progressed, waiting out the heat that brick likes to collect in that season. Here we see it finishing out 2017 with a flourish of fall color. Soon, only its spindly structure will remain, the spidery tentacle-like suction cups that so ruefully deface whatever they touch will hold the skeletal branches up through the winter until, if the winds haven’t been too harsh and the temperatures to cold, it was sprout again, picking up where it left off, rising higher than it ever did before. It will run on and on like these sentences, not bothering to see whether it’s a nuisance or not, whether it will bring ants into the interior or cracks to the exterior. Bounding ever upward, to the sky, not knowing that there is a limit to how far it can go, that there is always a limit.
It’s better not to know.
The temperatures have turned frightful, but the sky is still blue. Thus far, November has skirted the usual somber tones of gray and brown. Soon, though, the color will drain from the season, and we will have only the holidays to keep our spirits warm. Until then, a look back at the last week.
Four hunks vied for the second Triple-Time Hunk of the Day…
…But only one HOD could be victorious: Nick Adams.
It’s that time of the year: a new Ben Cohen calendar.
This is Daniel Goodfellow, a healthy dose of guy-candy for a mid-Monday moment. Mr. Goodfellow has already been named a Hunk of the Day, and if he keeps releasing photos like these he will likely be again. The Speedo has long been the official outfit of choice for ALANILAGAN.com, and will continue to be for the foreseeable future.
It doesn’t take much for me to find a quick and easy theme and throw a dinner party around it. In this instance the gold rim of these cocktail glasses provided all the impetus Andy and I needed to surround ourselves with four of our favorite people. The earliest hints of the upcoming holiday season glittered in the background as I served up a few Ginger Gold Rushes, recipe below.
GINGER GOLD RUSH
1 ½ OZ. BOURBON (BLACK MAPLE HILL)
1 ½ OZ. GINGER LIQUEUR (CANTON)
½ OZ. FRESH LEMON JUICE
SERVE WITH CITRUS TWIST.
Of course the real secret to a good dinner party is not in the cocktails or hors d’oeuvre, not in the tablescape or entree, but always, and only, in the guests. Which is what made this gathering one of the best.
“Well, you never knew exactly how much space you occupied in people’s lives. Yet from this fog his affection emerged–the best contacts are when one knows the obstacles and still wants to preserve a relation.” ― F. Scott Fitzgerald
Sometimes a single GIF is enough to merit a Hunk of the Day crowning, which is quite nearly the case with Eric Balfour and the animated beauty you will find below. Mr. Balfour may have been featured here before the big blog revamp of 2012 (my memory is not what is once was), and it’s high time he came back to the fold.
Libation literature would have it that a classic cocktail has to be tried and true with minor but not major room for variation. The Martinez defies this, made in several wildly differing forms, each one just too drastically separate from other incarnations because in this one every ingredient is vital, and every change results in a totally new drink. For my purposes, I used one of the more common versions to get a feel for the usual before branching out into anything outrageous. Only when you know the rules can you break them.
With its gin and sweet vermouth base, this is largely considered the love child of a martini and a negroni. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about that, since I love each dearly, and can’t picture a happy hybrid. Fortunately, like its parents, the Martinez is distinctive enough to stand on its own. Consider it the Liza Minelli of cocktails. Here’s the recipe I used for my first try:
3 1/2 ounces Old Tom Gin
1 3/4 ounces sweet vermouth
2 bar spoons maraschino liqueur, preferably Luxardo
4 dashes orange bitters
Orange twist, for garnish (optional)
They say Old Tom Gin is the traditional one for this, but I used the Bombay that was already open. For me, the key to this drink being good is in the sweet vermouth. There’s a lot of crappy sweet vermouth out there, and more dangerously, the longer vermouth stands on your shelf, the worse it gets. It’s imperative to use fresh sweet vermouth – the Carpano Antica Formula is delightful, and it conveniently comes in smaller bottles to avoid a batch getting stale. (You can also drink enough on a regular basis so that this isn’t even a question.) In a negroni, the campari is so prominent that you sometimes get away with less than stellar sweet vermouth – in this one you need the best, because there’s no disguising it.
The other trick is to get that bottle of maraschino liqueur – you will use it for the Last Word if you have any sense. And bitters. Orange bitters. They will accentuate and highlight the orange peel with a deeper complexity and resonance than if you make one or the other stand alone. The devil may be in the details, but heaven is there too.
This shameless and lazy social media cross-pollination post is only to gain more followers and friends, but when one is so transparent and honest about it, some of the sassiness gets blunted, no? Here is my please for you to follow me on Instagram or Twitter. Here is my ask for you to friend me on FaceBook. On all three, I’m a little more candid and up-to-date than I am here. Raw. Open. Hard-core. And you thought it couldn’t get any more naked…
Nipper appeared to be the dog at the end of the rainbow, but as we approached it became clear the rainbow ended somewhere else. Did you ever try to find the pot of gold espoused by folklore? I always knew such talk was nonsense, but as a child when I saw a rainbow hovering near the end of my street I decided to give it a go. I bounded down the road and into the field that led to my school. Across the clover and the unmown grass, I sprinted and gave chase to the elusive pastel bands of color. As fast and as far as I ran, almost halfway to McNulty, the rainbow remained constantly ahead, always out of reach. It faded even as I tried to hold my focus on each color. I’d look away for a moment, then back, to try to catch it in its escape. It began to only appear when I shifted my gaze, and soon I couldn’t find it at all.
It’s been far too long since we’ve done a proper Ben Cohen post, but with his 2018 Calendar now on sale, it’s time to welcome him back to the fold of fierceness. Shot by Leo Holden of Snooty Fox Images, the calendar looks to be full of great photographs and inspiring images. Mr. Cohen has been an admirable Ally to our community over the years, and for the superficial purposes of this blog he’s always been a reliable source of eye candy. Still, it’s extra nice when your idols bring a genuine set of moral concerns with them whatever they do. Especially if they’re doing it in their underwear. Thanks to Ben Cohen for bringing us into another year. Get your calendar here.
In a runaway victory, Nick Adams was voted the next Triple-Time Hunk of the Day. He is only the second man to make it into that coveted realm, joining Ronnie Kroell to make a very beautiful pair. Mr. Adams is, rather fittingly, a triple threat himself – dancing, singing, and acting his way across the Broadway, and national, stages. Having originated the role of Adam/Felicia in the stage version of ‘Priscilla: Queen of the Desert’ he’s also appeared in scene-stealing form in ‘A Chorus Line’ (where his arms were rumored to elicit some body envy from a buff Mario Lopez), ‘Chicago’ and ‘Wicked’.
He may be best known for his star turns in the Broadway Bares events, where a lack of clothing showcases his finer points. Some call it gratuitous, I call it shrewd. When you know your best assets, it’s always best to highlight them. Perhaps better than all of that, however, seems to be a genuine nice-guy attitude and a winning smile that disarms and enchants the moment it grows wide across his face.
Of course, one must have more than a great smile and a chiseled body to be considered for a three-time Hunk of the Day. Adams puts forth some fascinating insight and commentary on his Twitter feed, and lots of beauty and inspiration on Instagram. He’s not afraid to get political, and that’s a refreshing, and courageous, component to any celebrity these days.
Now that he’s secured his third Hunk of the Day honor, he’s in prime position to nab the very first Quadruple HOD award.
Tomorrow we crown the next Triple-Time Hunk of the Day. The votes are in and there was an indisputable winner who took the lead early on and kept it (thanks to a kind retweet for his many fans). As I mentioned in the original post, a little promotion goes a long way. In case you missed out, here’s one more brief look at the contenders, because they’re all worthy:
Nick Adams – triple threat of the Broadway stage
Griffin Barrows – adult performer and model
Simon Dunn – Olympic athlete, activist, and model
Philip Fusco – model turned underwear entrepreneur