Friday, 29 April 2011

Honey(moon) Cake

I'm up early because today's a very important day. Far too important for me to waste time watching anyone get married, for a start. Today I am BAKING - because this weekend I've got to cater a medieval feast for 20 LARPers :-)  Dust off the corset again, Janine, and get cooking!

The menu:

Pea & Mint Soup, with bread and butter
Brie & Saffron Tart
Mulled Pears
Beef & Vegetable Stew, with dumplings
Chestnut Cobbler
Rocket & Herb Salad
Date Slice
Honey Cake
Cheeses, Dried Fruit, Oatcakes, Sweets

All for less than £10/head...
Here's my recipe for Honey Cake:


4oz / 125g margarine
7oz / 200g caster sugar
4 tablespoons runny honey
2 eggs, separated
half a teaspoon salt
half a teaspoon cinnamon
half a teaspoon mixed spice
half a teaspoon ground cloves
6oz / 175g self-raising flour

For the topping: 
2oz/50g soft butter
4 tablespoons runny honey
1 heaped teaspoon cinnamon

1) Cream the sugar and margarine. Blend in the honey and yolks.

2) Mix the salt and spices with the flour and stir in.

3) In a SPOTLESSLY CLEAN AND DRY BOWL, beat the egg whites until stiff. Fold gently into the mix.

4) Bake in a 8" square tin at G4 / 350F / 180C for 40-45 minutes until set. It's quite a wet mix.

5) In the meantime, whisk the topping butter until light and fluffy. Then whisk in the honey, a teaspoon at a time, until smooth and shiny. Whisk in the cinnamon.

6) Spread it on top of the hot honey cake and bake for another 5 minutes so the top goes all gooey. (Actually, you can spread it on toast and forget the cake altogether if you like. Yum.)

This cake tastes better underdone rather than overdone.
See y'all next week!

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

The Compleat Pirate

Heh heh - I made it back from my highly successful shopping trip ... I mean, weekend of LARPing.
I BOUGHT A NEW BASTARD SWORD! (It's been a few years since I've been into combat and the latex on my old sword had gone crunchy.) Oh, you have no idea how good it felt to have a weapon of my own in my hands again - it's a good heavy one but nicely balanced, and I use it two-handed because my brain can't cope with the multi-tasking involved with sword-and-shield.

I felt whole again.

I also bought a beautiful wool coat and a pistol that fires real caps. I am happy!

Other than the shopping ... well, being new to the Maelstrom system I did start with the overwhelming impression that I was being asked to sit an exam they hadn't let me see the course notes for, and this feeling persisted until, oh, sometime Sunday afternoon, but after that I stopped panicking. And got rather drunk.

In fact I was plied with a lot of free booze and cake that weekend. They are a generous bunch!

Things in real life that LARPing has taught me to be grateful for:
  • Zippers
  • Jeans
  • Chairs with backs on
  • Hot showers
  • Coffee vans that are open for breakfast
  • Not having to wear a corset unless I want to.

Ghastly Middle-Aged Moment:

I was swapping e-mail addresses with an Avian woman  (if you want to learn magic you are best doing it from another player in downtime). Avians are heavily made-up so I have no clue what she looked like under the feathers. I noticed she had a university e-mail address.

"Oh, are you at Durham University?" said I. "That was where I went, many years ago!"

"Hey! Were you in Treasure Trap?" she asked. [TT is the university LARP society]

"Yep. In fact, I was the very first person in the society to get myself a latex sword, back in the days when we all used gaffer weapons. But I sent off for a latex one through the post and everyone went Oooooh! That would be in ... oh, 1989."

"In 1989," said she, "I was two."

Monday, 25 April 2011

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Happy Birthday Jo!!

Best wishes Jo! - winging their way to you from a LARP event in a field in Oxfordshire. I may be dead already. I may be drunk. But I'm wishing you a very very happy birthday whatever!

Friday, 22 April 2011

With This Ring - out now!

Now I know how people feel waiting for their wedding day... but it's here at last! Time to celebrate! Wedding anthology With This Ring, I Thee Bed, edited by Alison Tyler and published by Spice, is on sale as of this week! You can find it up on Amazon US right now. Romantic Times has already given the anthology 4 stars.

My contribution is the story Forsaking All Others, which is, if I say so myself, one of my filthier works :-)  But don't just take my word for it - the reviewer on Fangs, Wands and Fairy Dust described it thus: "I enjoyed most stories, but here are a few standouts:  Janine Ashbless' Forsaking All Others struck a nerve, it is just so, and I mean this in the best way, perverse."

Now that's a compliment!
In Forsaking All Others, Debbie is sitting and looking through her wedding photo albums - the normal one and the second, ever-so-secret one - and reminiscing about her wedding night spent with husband Roy and their two best friends...

This is where the second photograph album starts.

Snap: I’m kneeling, out of my dress but back in my veil. It hangs down over my face and torso, so sheer that it doesn’t hide those big breasts of mine cradled in their beautiful lace La Senza bra, or my wide-eyed expression as I gaze out at the camera. The two men either side of me are faceless and fully dressed, only their midsections visible in this print. Each has one hand on my shoulder pushing me down to my knees and another hand tight round one of my wrists, holding it up. My fingers are curled helplessly, my lips parted in anticipation of what’s to come.

Snap: Head-and-shoulders shot. My veil is flipped back now. I’m kneeling between two sets of bare male flanks and two cocks, erect and angled toward an apex, like swords held at a salute for when the bride exits the church. I’ve got one cock in each hand and my head is turned toward Roy’s – you can tell it’s him because of the dark pubic thatch and the hairier thighs - and my lips are wrapped round his bell-end, sucking hard.

Snap: Closer yet: the two cocks are almost touching over my head. Champagne foam escaping from a newly-opened bottle oozes and slops down their flushed shafts and drips into my open, eager mouth waiting below.

Snap: I’m topless and pantyless now, leaning back against a male torso, breasts upthrust. Champagne is being poured down my torso from the bottle tilted over my tits; it gushes in runnels off my erect nipples, sluicing over my belly to run into the shaven split below. You can see bubbles freckling my skin. Calvin’s sandy head is between my thighs and he’s lapping champagne and sex juices from between my spread pussy lips. God, we got champagne everywhere. On the towels, on the carpet, on the coverlet ... Everywhere.

Snap: My back to the camera, the veil hanging down to my ass-cleft, my spine a shadowy sinuous line under the transparent fabric. I’m sitting astride Roy’s lap as he perches on the edge of the bed. With one hand he’s holding my wrists cruelly together at the small of my back, and with the other he’s twisting my head sideways so I can suck Calvin’s cock as he stands beside us.

Snap: Just my spread thighs, poised over the smooth column of the champagne bottle’s neck as if I’m about to impale myself upon it. My thighs are glistening with moisture and my sex lips visibly unfurled.

"Can you take it?” Roy whispered in my ear as he held me.

Snap. Yes, I could. All the way.

Mr Ashbless has just pointed out how appropriate this publication is for the Royal Wedding, heh heh! It hadn't occured to me but yes - What great timing! Wouldn't it make a fine souvenir?

Buy at Amazon US

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Via Ferrata

Sorry, not totally with it this week. There's too much going on! My 8-yr-old nephew is up for a visit, so yesterday we were here:

Doing this sort of thing:

There's nothing like wading up to your neck through ice-cold water to take your mind off smut!

Monday, 18 April 2011

Eyecandy Monday

There just hasn't been enough mancandy on this blog recently.
So come on guys - show us what you can do!

That's more like it!

Sunday, 17 April 2011

TftD: Storm

This "beat" rant has been round for a while, but recently acquired some visuals :-)

Friday, 15 April 2011

Original sin

In honour of the publication of Carnal Machines: steampunk erotica this month, which includes my lighthearted Victorian tale of lewd behaviour and class transgressions, The Servant Question, I thought I'd post some Victorian and Edwardian smutty pictures.

Photographic porn was, of course, invented approximately 30 seconds after photography itself, when someone thought "Goodness, I can take pictures of boobies! And goodness me - I can sell them!!"

Of course, there was no porn aesthetic in the early days. No blondes. No plastic tits. No razors (I went "Aaargh!"). And no particular requirement for models to be facially attractive.

But there was already kink:

And there was guy-on-guy:

And girl-on-girl ...

There are more pictures here and here - be aware, very NSFW.
And a wonderful comedy site with silly captions here.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Second shot

Quite by chance,  I discovered that my short story Shot to the Heart, which originally appeared in Xcite paperback Sex, Love and Valentines last year, has been re-released along with 4 others from that anthology as an e-book - with a new cover and my story taking title place :-)

New blurb!
Buying a Valentine card for someone else in front of your boyfriend might not seem like the wisest thing to do. But Nikki’s act prompts Oliver to show her the reason why hearts appear on those cards – and it involves a trip to the fanciest department store in town. In the lingerie department, stripped to her panties, Nikki discovers what it really means to be pierced by Cupid’s arrow.

Available for a mere $3.69, the mini-collection also includes Charlotte' Stein's short story Dirty Boy

More details and download available here.

Now, wouldn't it have made sense for Xcite to have told me?

Monday, 11 April 2011

Eyecandy Monday

Waiting, waiting, waiting ... patience has never been my strong suit.

I have stuff to tell you: a novel sale: short story sales: not one but two requests by publishers to write books for them, a potential public reading. I'll tell you what I can, when I can - but not just yet. In the meantime I'll carry on gnawing the mattress.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Carnal Machines - out now!

"I say, Caruthers! Have you heard? That new anthology of unexpurgated and positively shocking fictive adventures, Carnal Machines, is available from the Amazon Emporium as of now. Just ask the man behind the counter for "something for the weekend," and he'll sell you a copy wrapped in plain brown paper. I warn you, it'll make your moustache curl, old bean. And whatever you do - don't let the servants see it!"

From the Carnal Machines: steampunk erotica blurb:

The Victorians wrote some of the best and most enduring erotica. For such a tightly-laced age, people spent a lot of time thinking about things carnal. The rich and slightly decadent visuals of the steam age lend themselves perfectly to the new carnality of post-punk era. And, of course, what is repressed will be even more exciting once the corset is unlaced. Steampunk, even without sex, is erotic; with sex, it’s over-the-top hot.

There are brothels, flying machines, steam-powered conveyances, manor houses, spiritualist societies. The following stories afford intelligently written, beautifully crafted glimpses into other worlds, where the Carnal Machines won’t fail to seduce you, get you wet or make you hard, so lie back, relax; a happy ending is guaranteed.

Steampunk - I love it! And my own contribution to this collection, The Servant Question, is a jolly romp in which the puzzle of how to find reliable, hardworking domestics who fulfill all your individual requirements is solved, in an ingenious manner suited to the age of invention:

Thus, every time he added a new routine to Eliza’s repertoire, he felt again the pride that Michelangelo must have felt at his labours upon the Sistine chapel: the pride of the true artist who brings something unique and incomparable to a discerning and exalted employer. Eliza seemed more beautifully wrought each time he visited, both more lifelike and more inhumanly perfect. Perhaps this was because her new owner had had her dressed in a fine uniform, complete with all the layers of undergarments so necessary to the soft feminine form – and so unnecessary in Eliza’s case. To open the panel at her back involved Mr. Tulliver partially undressing her: undoing a myriad buttons and loosening the tight stays and delving beneath the layers of lavender-scented frillies. The mannequin was so lifelike in form that this actually brought a blush to his cheek, as if he really were undressing a servant girl in front of her mistress. He was always sure to close the curtains before starting, in case some passer-by should glimpse the operation and misunderstand.

“Mr. Tulliver, I do believe you are becoming an expert on the mysteries of the female undergarment,” Mrs. Petherton teased him gently from the sofa, as he pulled out the crossed laces of the Housemaid’s corset and wriggled the boned garment down to her porcelain hips.

In the glass over the mantle, Eliza’s perfectly formed lips seemed to smile at him. Her ceramic breasts were pert and unyielding under her chemise. 

“I assure you, madam,” he answered jocularly, feeling the heat rise behind his tight collar, “that after the complexities of such apparel, the mere workings of a thousand interlocking clockwork cogs is as nothing.”   

In point of fact Mrs. Petherton’s requirements of Eliza were exacting and particular, and the new maid had to be implanted with the precise techniques for several new chores. The beating of carpets, for example, seemed to be a task not to be undertaken with brute force but with measured blows and a particular upward flick of the wrist that Mrs. Petherton insisted was superior for driving out dust; not having personal experience of domestic chores, Mr. Tulliver could only assume that this was derived from the store of feminine wisdom. The polishing of champagne flutes (two fingers inside, and a twisting motion of the wrist) caused him some small trouble with the minute adjustments to Eliza’s mechanism, but Mrs. Petherton pronounced herself very pleased with the results. Then there was the occasion he was summoned to improve the housemaid’s technique with the dolly-tub. Mr. Tulliver considered that anything that took the backbreaking work of pounding laundry out of human hands must be an improvement, but apparently that too had its particular techniques that he had not foreseen. To optimise efficiency, according to Mrs. Petherton, Eliza must employ a back and forth motion of the hips whilst working the dolly-stick.

Carnal Machines, edited by D L King, is available NOW from Cleis Press and Amazon US,  and may be pre-ordered from Amazon UK (out May)

"God save the Queen and Empire!"

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Adult Fantasy

Heh. Jeremy came across this cover on his bookshelves, and says that for some reason it reminded him of me.
I can't think why!

Monday, 4 April 2011

Eyecandy Monday - Sucker Punch movie review

Sorry, this is going to be a long one!

Sucker Punch, the new movie from Zack ("300," "Watchmen,") Snyder, has been garnering reviews so bad that they actually verge on a hate campaign. I don't happen to agree with those reviewers (who are in some cases actually flat-out lying about what appears on screen).

On the other hand, if you saw the trailer and thought, like me, "Wow, this looks like a silly romp," you'd be wrong too. It's fecking grim. Grim without being gritty, if that makes sense. And you have to pay attention while watching, to work out what's really going on between the lines.

It actually has a lot of thematic parallels with "300" and could be seen as a feminine version: small group of good guys battling against utterly overwhelming odds; the indomitable human spirit; true autonomy being defined by a willing choice to die for a cause; balletic violence. Oh, and - of course - Good Guys who wear surprisingly little clothing.

The other thing that seems to have had a massive influence, stylistically, is Japanese manga and anime. This crops up in all sorts of ways - the first fantasy sequence which is set in temple attacked by giant Samurai-era warriors; the mecha robot suits, the kick-ass fetishised warrior girls; the 20-year-old heroine who looks and dresses much younger; the victory-through-sacrifice ending.

The structure is odd, and I'm going to describe it here as I understand it.

Reality: The framing story. This takes place in the late 50s or early 60s. A young woman is incarcerated in a high-security female mental facility by her evil stepfather after they fight and her little sister is killed. The asylum is dirty, neglectful and corrupt - one of the orderlies is taking bribes to lobotomise patients. You see almost nothing of this objective reality during the film: only in the first and final five minutes.

Level 1 Fantasy: Almost all of the narrative takes place on this level: the protagonist sees the asylum as a nightclub-brothel, in which she and the other girls are imprisoned, making money for their shudderingly vile, self-justifying manager/pimp by dancing and turning tricks for customers. The girl here receives the nickname Babydoll - you never know her real name, or those of the other inmates, btw. Now, a lot of the criticism of the film is directed at this level - "It's exploitative," "Why is this her escapist fantasy?"

The fact is, it's not escapist at all. It's more glamorous than reality - the girls are suddenly beautiful, sexily dressed and patently sane - but on the evidence we have to go by, it's actually worse than the reality of asylum. The girls live under constant threat of rape and violence, including murder. All the men are monsters, all the women are victims just struggling to survive (This film has a 12A certificate btw, but you would have to be stupid to take any child to see it). Too damn right it's exploitative. That's the point! It's is however NOT trying to say that this is fun for the girls.

It occured to me that if this was a Terry Gilliam movie instead of a Zack Snyder one, this level of fantasy would be missed out altogether - they'd alternate between Reality and Level 2 Fantasy. So what's the point, apart from window-dressing? I think from Babydoll's perspective, oppression is genderised. It's explicity based on sexuality. Her stepfather tried to attack her little sister. The police/orderlies/staff  - all those who've destroyed her life - are all male. Her mother has died, the ultimate failure as a protector. The female psychologist is re-imagined as a dance-instructor who is just as much under the thumb of their manager as any of the girls - whereas in fact in real life, it turns out she has rather more authority and power. Babydoll sees a world where having a vagina literally makes you a prisoner. The other point I think this level of unreality is making is that Babydoll is genuinely crazy. She does not see normal reality at all. Although it's not very explicit, it does seem that she was the one who killed her sister while trying to save her from their stepfather, which is probably enough to break anyone.

Level 2 Fantasy: When Babydoll dances, she slips into a deeper level of fantasy. This one is genuinely escapist - she and her companions become martial-arts warriors with HUGE GUNS who mercilessly mow down whole armies of baddies. These fantasies are spectacular, anachronistic, set pieces of full-on CGI warfare. She is imagining a world where she has power, where she can change things. The baddies are never human btw - they are golems, clockwork zombies, orcs or robots, depending on the fantasy settings. These fantasies are metaphors for the girls' attempts to escape (carried out in Level 1 Fantasy) which are in turn metaphors for unseen attempts to escape in Real Life. Are you confused yet? Babydoll is the ultimate unreliable narrator.

In fact, she's not really the narrator at all.

Like in "300", there isn't a uncomplicated happy ending. Victory is moral rather than physical. Mr Ashbless certainly found that too depressing.

But Zack Snyder wants this movie to impart a message. It's totally explicit: we all have agency. No matter how awful your circumstances, it's your choice whether to be a helpless victim or member of the escape committee. You can give in, or you can take a stand. Because it's what goes on inside your head that really matters, not how much of a pounding your body takes.

This rallying cry to a subjective reality may or may not be problematical, but goddamn - this movie made me think, which is why I enjoyed it. And yeah, it was a sugar-feast for the eyes too, I'll add!

Oh, there's another thoughtful and positive review and discussion of Sucker Punch here.
And some more enthusiastic analysis here.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Into the Maelstrom

Aieeee! I've just signed up for an Easter weekend of LARP with Maelstrom. Do you have any idea how long it is since I did any serious live roleplay?  Not to mention on a camping weekend?

But I've heard great things about Maelstrom. Those who go become wildly enthusiastic about it. Unlike the alternative big events in the UK, it doesn't centre around an inevitable battle. It's adult-only. The advanced rules/serious background are only discovered by experience. Its feel is Renaissance onward rather than Medieval, with tons of added wierdy stuff. There will be tricorn hats and people with animal heads (Black Lace would not aprove!) and blackpowder pistols. And, no doubt, mud.

Does this count as my midlife crisis?