Friday, August 21, 2009

Wil Wheaton & Stand By Me

Wil Wheaton's blog is one of the handful I eagerly await a new entry from. Yes, the actor - and now writer. I recommend his 2004 book Just a Geek.

Here's an excerpt from his most recent entry, along with the picture he is referring to.

This photo captures our personalities perfectly: River and Corey are focused and serious (Corey is even wearing a tie and drinking coffee!) I am listening to the same person they are, but I'm not even trying to contain how excited I am to be going on a television show that I had been watching with my Aunt Val since I could remember, in front of the whole country, no less.

My favorite part of this picture, though, is Jerry. It's almost like he caught my mom or dad taking this picture of us, and decided to strike a pose, just to be silly. I just love that he isn't taking the thing too seriously, and that he's just having fun and enjoying the whole thing. As I got older and began to feel like the teen magazine publicity stuff was taking over my life, it stopped being fun, and it started to feel like a chore. I always envied that Jerry seemed to take it all in stride, keep it in perspective, and just have fun with it. I heard him on the Adam Carolla podcast about a week or so ago, and he hadn't changed a bit: still silly, still cracking me up, still keeping everything in perspective.

I've always said that Stand By Me was so successful because Rob cast four young actors who were so much like their characters, but I think it's spooky how the four of us ended up being so much like our characters: River died too young, Corey struggled like crazy to get his personal demons under control, Jerry found success and happiness, and I'm a writer.

You can read his entire blog entry here. It's much longer than what I posted.

Here's a link to the ending of the movie. Scroll over to around the 6:45 minute mark. From there until the end makes me tear up every time.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


Just because I think it's funny...

Top Male Stars of All Time - Part II

I have that neat little device called FEEDJIT Live Traffic Feed that lists which web site each hit comes from, which site the person leaves to, and which specific blog page the person initially enters.

My friend Debbie obsesses about that information.

My friend Jason mentioned it in one of his entries, but I can’t find the specific entry right now. (Jason – Link please?)

Invariably, the specific page that draws my visitors (right now, 6 of the current 10 listings) is Top Ten Favorite Male Stars of All Time, usually from a Google image search.

Since that page is so popular, I thought I would revisit it. Then round out my Top Twenty.

Recap of the Top Ten:
1. James Duval
2. Stephane Rideau
3. Ryan Phillippe
4. Tommy Kirk
5. River Phoenix
6. William McNamara
7. Kevin Zegers
8. Ethan Embry
9. Steve Antin
10. Peter Facinelli

The Top Ten List has remained constant over the years. The rest of the list, leading to #20, does change.

Here is my current list, with pictures (click them to see larger) and some information on each person.

Name: James Marsden
Current Age: 35
Where You Probably Know Him From: Cyclops in the X-Men movies
Where I Discovered Him: The 1996-1997 TV show Second Noah
Best Place To See His Body: He has long shirtless scenes in the movies Heights and Sugar & Spice, and the TV show Second Noah. He has never done frontal or rear nudity.
Has He Ever Played Gay?: In the movie The 24th Day and at least one other. (I don’t want to reveal the other movie. I consider it a SPOILER.)
Sexual Orientation: Straight.
Did You Know?: He isn’t known for his singing, but sings (well) in the TV series Ally McBeal, and the movies Hairspray and Enchanted. Although not related to actor Jason Marsden, they are actually good friends and their respective wives have been friends since they were six.

Name: Jim Verraros
Current Age: 26
Where You Probably Know Him From: Season one of American Idol
Where I Discovered Him: American Idol
Best Place To See His Body: Google search (for magazine photo shoots)
Has He Ever Played Gay?: In the movies Eating Out and Eating Out 2: Sloppy Seconds. He doesn’t show any skin in either one.
Sexual Orientation: Gay. Came out in The Advocate in 2002.
Did You Know?: Both his parents are deaf.

Name: Kal Penn
Current Age: 32
Where You Probably Know Him From: “Kumar” from the three Harold & Kumar movies.
Where I Discovered Him: The movie Van Wilder
Best Place To See His Body: The movies Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle (rear nude) and The Namesake (shirtless)
Has He Ever Played Gay?: Not that I can find
Sexual Orientation: Straight
Did You Know?: His real name is Kalpen Modi.

Name: Sal Mineo
Current Age: Killed by a mugger in 1976, age 37.
Where You Probably Know Him From: “Plato” in Rebel Without A Cause
Where I Discovered Him: Krakatoa: East of Java – late night TV when I was a kid
Best Place To See His Body: The movie The Gene Krupa Story (shirtless) and the Harold Stevenson's painting The New Adam (full frontal nude)
Has He Ever Played Gay?: He was smitten with Jim Stark (James Dean) in Rebel. He played opposite Don Johnson in the 1971 gay-themed play Fortune and Men’s Eyes.
Sexual Orientation: Came out in the early 1970’s.
Did You Know?: In 1957, he had a #9 single called “Start Movin’ (In My Direction)”

Name: Ian Somerhalder
Current Age: 30
Where You Probably Know Him From: “Boone” in the TV show Lost
Where I Discovered Him: The very short-lived TV show (8 episodes in 2000) Young Americans – written by my #9 favorite Steve Antin.
Best Place To See His Body: The movies The Rules of Attraction, In Enemy Hands, and Marco Polo (shirtless), and the TV show Tell Me You Love Me (obscured frontal view)
Has He Ever Played Gay?: Yes, in The Rules of Attraction
Sexual Orientation: Straight
Did You Know?: He’s from Covington, LA – right over the Causeway Bridge from my house. No, you probably didn’t – or cared.

Name: Danny Nucci
Current Age: 40
Where You Probably Know Him From: Leonardo Dicaprio’s doomed friend from the movie Titanic
Where I Discovered Him: A 1986 episode of the TV show Growing Pains.
Best Place To See His Body: The movies Sublet (shirtless), Shark In A Bottle (rear nude), and the TV show Some of My Best Friends (shirtless)
Has He Ever Played Gay?: The movie The Unknown Cyclist and maybe other times
Sexual Orientation: Straight
Did You Know?: He was born in Austria, was raised in Italy, and moved to America in 1976.

Name: Rafael Nadal
Current Age: 23
Where You Probably Know Him From: Watching tennis
Where I Discovered Him: The same
Best Place To See His Body: The cover of a magazine, a Google search, or The Tennis Channel
Has He Ever Played Gay?: N/A
Sexual Orientation: Straight
Did You Know?: He is the only male player to have won French Open, Wimbledon, and Olympic gold medal in the same year (2008).

Name: Logan Marshall-Green
Current Age: 32
Where You Probably Know Him From: Played “Trey Atwood” on the TV show The O.C.
Where I Discovered Him: Played “Tyler Fogg” on the short-lived 2007 TV series Traveler
Best Place To See His Body: Short shirtless scene in a movie/TV show that I cannot yet identify
Has He Ever Played Gay?: Not that I know of, though he does more theatre work than movies/TV
Sexual Orientation: Straight
Did You Know?: He has a twin brother named Taylor Marshall-Green.

Name: Andy Roddick
Current Age: 26
Where You Probably Know Him From: Tennis on TV
Where I Discovered Him: A tennis tournament that I was watching in 2000 that he won the day he turned 18. I don’t remember the name of it. I just remember never hearing of him before watching that.
Best Place To See His Body: a Google search
Has He Ever Played Gay?: N/A
Sexual Orientation: Straight
Did You Know?: Roddick hosted Saturday Night Live on November 8, 2003, becoming the second professional tennis player to host (Chris Evert being the first).


Name: Jesse Spencer
Current Age: 30
Where You Probably Know Him From: Plays “Dr. Robert Chase” on the TV show House, though he hasn’t gotten much screen time in the last couple of years.
Where I Discovered Him: In the 2003 movie Swimming Upstream
Best Place To See His Body: That movie – he’s in a Speedo for most of the time.
Has He Ever Played Gay?: No
Sexual Orientation: Straight
Did You Know?: He is fluent in French.

As I mentioned in the original entry, if you enjoy male stars, you really should join my Yahoo group MaleStarsShirtless. And be sure to check out my other blog of the same name.

Cooking Challenge - Week Three

We have now made it through Week Three of my Cooking Challenge.

Last night, I cooked from page 67 of Jamie’s Italy by Jamie Oliver.

The recipe was Minestrone D’inizio Autunno (Early Autumn Minestrone). Click the link to see the recipe.

I think I am getting better at this cooking thing: The recipe was a bit complicated – and took almost three hours to accomplish – but for once, my finished product looked like the picture in the book.

Here is the picture from the book.

We had seven for dinner – Carlos, Christine, Karlie, Pam, Curt, little Karley, and me – so I decided to make an additional dish from that same cook book. Our main dish was Spaghetti con Gamberetti e Rucola (Spaghetti with Shrimp and Arugula).

I ended up cooking the Minestrone on Tuesday night and the main dish Wednesday night. Then slowly warming up the Minestrone on Wednesday evening. I followed the main dish recipe very closely, only substituting fettuccini for the spaghetti.

I didn’t find the recipe online so I have retyped it below, with the small changes I made.

Spaghetti con Gamberetti e Rucola (Spaghetti with Shrimp and Arugula)

This dish was on the menu in a little restaurant called La Gondola in one of the roughest parts of Palermo. I thought the combination of flavors was great, and very accessible to us back home in Britain. You can buy very high-quality frozen shrimp in supermarkets these days, so it’s a win-win situation, but if you can get hold of some super-fresh ones and peel them yourself, this can all of a sudden become very luxurious in flavor. A real crowd-pleaser. Finish off with good-quality olive oil and wild Arugula full of flavor and you’ll be laughing. PS, if using frozen shrimp, make sure they’re thawed out.

1 lb. dried fettuccini
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1-2 dried red chilies, crumbled
1 lb. peeled raw large shrimp
1 small wineglass of white wine
2 heaping tablespoons sun-dried tomato purée, or 6 sun-dried tomatoes blitzed in a blender
zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 handfuls of Arugula, roughly chopped

Cook your fettuccini in a large pot of salted boiling water according to the package instructions. Meanwhile, heat 3 good gulgs of extra virgin olive oil in a large frying pan and toss in the garlic and chili. As the garlic begins to color, add the shrimp and sauté them for a minute. Add the white wine and the tomato purée and simmer for a couple of minutes. When the pasta is ready, drain it in a colander, reserving a little of the cooking water. Toss the fettuccini with the sauce, squeeze in the lemon juice, and add half the chopped Arugula, using a little of the reserved cooking water if you want to loosen the sauce a bit, and correct the seasoning. Divide between four plates and sprinkle with the grated lemon zest and the rest of the Arugula leaves.

The pasta dish was really good, but the minestrone was definitely better – and a huge hit. Carlos said I should have led with the pasta dish and finished with the minestrone, but I went the traditional soup, then main course way.

I also set up a Parmesan cheese taste test station. Without marking any of the selections, I put out small bowls of:
1) Kraft 100% Grated Parmesan Cheese (from the familiar green/clear cylindrical bottle) - $.69/ounce,
2) pre-shredded Boar’s Head Parmesan Cheese - $1.16 per ounce, and
3) a block of top quality Parmesan Cheese ($1.96 per ounce) that I shredded directly before the taste test.

Predictably, the top quality Parmesan Cheese was the clear favorite. The #1 and #2 choices, however, were virtually indistinguishable. Our Top Panel of Taste Testers determined that the Kraft was fine for blending with dishes and with most other applications, and to use the block for special occasions. There was no need to spend the extra money for the Boar’s Head.

In keeping with our Italian theme, Karlie brought a beautiful and tasty appetizer: a small green item (olives), white item (I don’t remember), and red item (small tomatoes) – skewered on a toothpick. This was placed around a bowl of (I think) melted chocolate. I was rushing around cooking and really should have paid more attention to the details of her dish. It was delicious!

Pam came through this week with the dessert, bringing Italian gelato, sherbet and two kinds of ice cream. Yum!

We also drank at least three bottles of wine, but we may have had four. Everything was a bit hazy by the end of the night.

We discussed “rotating out” this crowd next week and expanding the Challenge to include first my parents and then my friends in the coming weeks, but decided that, since we had such fun last night, we should burn it out and keep the same crowd one more week.

Week Four of Cooking Challenge will be the most challenging yet: I am going to attempt a Tapas menu – 5 or 6 appetizer-sized Spanish dishes, both hot and cold, served in succession.

After next week, I may take a break. We’ll see.

Until then, Bon Appétit!