Friday, 22 April 2011

Do Men Who Wear Glasses...?

When you look at Clark Kent when he's working at the Daily Planet, he's a reporter. He doesn't fly through the air in his glasses and his suit. ---Gene Simmons

What’s the old adage? Do girls make passes at—? No, that’s not it. It’s Do guys make passes at girls who wear glasses? Ah, that age-old question. 

I mean, when Dorothy Parker’s famous quote hit print in 1937, Men seldom make passes at girls who wear glasses, it cemented the concern in spectacle-wearing dames from that day forward. Doomed them to a life void of passes from gents. The poor Janes! Cursed for having four eyes!

Why didn’t Parker wonder if girls make passes at guys who wear glasses? Why did she single out girls to be the heiresses of that blight? I don’t suppose we’ll ever know.

But what about men who wear glasses? 

Speaking for myself, I’ll tell you in a heartbeat: I find spectacle-wearing men sexy as hell, very much so. What is the allure? 

I’ll tell you what attracts me to them, but first let tell you this…

Anyone who knows me knows I’m a big fan of silent films. And right up there with my beloved Rudolph Valentino is Harold Lloyd, the comedic genius of the silent era. His talent is unparalleled. He didn’t need sound to be funny. He didn’t need a voice to jangle my bells, to trip my little ol’ arousal switch. All he needed was that goofy grin, that nice athletic shape and…his glasses.

Yes! His glasses! The horn-rimmed spectacles that stand between me and that hidden tiger. The optical paraphernalia that promises mystery just the other side of those two circles of glass.  A terribly handsome, sexy man lurks behind those frames. 

If you don’t count Timothy from my second grade classroom—or a boss from days long past who used to ignite my then-twenty-year-old libido when he’d look at me over the rims of his reading glasses—then Harold Lloyd is the object of my first imaginary love affair with a spectacle-wearing fellow. I fell in love with the silent hunk with the manly charisma and boyish good looks the second I laid eyes on him. 

Oh, I know what you’re going to say. It’s the Clark Kent syndrome.  You’re going to tell me that I think there’s a Superman behind those specs. Nah. It’s not that. Or is it?  
You just might be right. 

I stumbled across an interesting piece about my silent film hero, and this information would not only interest Superman lovers, but Harold Lloyd fans as well. Seems that the character, Clark Kent, was based partly on Harold Lloyd. Who knew? And I found it even more interesting that Kent’s name was derived from combining the names of two actors, Clark Gable and Kent Taylor. Go figure. Did you know that? I didn’t!

So my darling Harold is a super man after all! Well, sort of.
But still. I couldn’t have known that in second grade, when I daydreamed about Timothy, when I had the most agonizing crush on him. Later, in high school, there was Michael. And Alex. Ricky. And then later, Billy.  Bill. Tom, my husband.

To me, there is something so very sensual about a man stopping to take off his glasses when it’s time to make love. There. Oh, geez, I said it. Yes. I admit it. What an exquisite, wonderfully sexy experience. You’re already excited, he’s done his preliminary work by teasing you, driving you crazy with anticipation. You’re ready for the hungry panther to make the kill—with YOU as the target.

But wait.

He pauses to pull off his glasses and, with that careful deliberation (partly not to break them, of course), folds them shut and sets them on the table. He’s ready for business. The aroused panther is ready to consume his prey, and he’s not letting that Pearl Vision Center prescription get in his way.
Come on, can you sit there and tell me that is not intensely sexy?  He’s undressing without undressing. Getting naked without even unfastening his belt. One silent gesture to signal the attack is coming. 

Oh, I never entertained sexual thoughts with Timothy in second grade. But maybe, just maybe, I sensed—even at that delicate age—the future allure those pieces of metal or plastic and glass would have on me. 

So, yes, in this girl’s book, guys with glasses do get passes. Always have. Always will. 

I can hardly cross paths with a man, any man—tall, short, dark hair, light hair, no hair—wearing glasses and NOT wonder who is behind them. Is he shy, retiring, like so many mistakenly assume just because he sports spectacles? IS he a Clark Kent, the classic powerhouse-in-frames? Or just a regular Joe with less-than-perfect vision? It’s that luscious mystery that optics-wearing men offer, a teasing door one must look beyond to find out.

To me, glasses lend a man this touch of something...what is it?...that softens without compromising masculinity. Something so touchable, so warm and comfortable which does not forfeit sex appeal, but heightens it.

So, to my darling Harold. To Timothy, Michael, Alex, Bill, Billy, and Tom—to spectacle-wearing men wherever you are, I salute you! May those who cross your path see your hidden Clark Kent!

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Gladiator: An Author's Thoughts on Reviews...

The important thing to me is that I'm not driven by people's praise and I'm not slowed down by people's criticism. I'm just trying to work at the highest level I can. ----Russell Crowe

Damn, I love Russell Crowe. I mean, he is so…oh, wait a minute. Wrong subject. This blog isn’t about Russell Crowe; but it is awfully cool to me that, while browsing for inspiration for this blog, I happened upon his quote on the subject of criticism. Because one of my favorite—if not THE favorite—of his roles was Maximus in Gladiator. You’re scratching your head, I know you are, asking what does this have to do with anything?

Well, the gladiator experience is just what I’m blogging about today. My experience in the arena, the big literary coliseum—the review.

I’d received a google alert which advised me that my book was going to be reviewed the following week on a popular review site. So, like the gladiator of old, I was doomed to wait for the reviewer to post it as I watched many of my fellow authors go boldly into the arena before me—some to march away with high rankings, some not so high.

You want me to tell you what my rating was, don’t you? Well, I’m not. That’s not what this is about. The rating itself is not important, or rather I cannot allow it to be, whether it was good or bad.

What it IS about is the experience—the anticipation, the event, and the aftermath…the lesson.

The event itself? Oh, pretty much what you’d expect.

I learned important things in the arena. You don’t argue or defend yourself. Sure, you want to. I chomped at the bits to protest, but I didn’t SAY my story was a mystery, and hey, you spelled the bad guy’s name wrong, or hold on there, the EDITIOR told me to use that word!

Why, though, would I argue? With real fighters in the arena, you do NOT talk your way out of it with them. You just face them. A true sport will be gracious and will not lash out at a review, no matter how bad.

Just like in the coliseum of old, there are the anxious spectators, which in cyber terms are those posting comments. Some can be very considerate and kind to the gladiator, but some shout with chants of thanks, now I know I won’t buy that book! Thanks for the warning! I’ll pass on this book! Taking this book off my TBB list!


But, if it really were a coliseum, would it do any good to turn to the jeering masses and blubber, Stop laughing at me! Of course not. It would only goad them on and make you appear silly. So, with true gladiator courage and composure, you simply smile and understand that spectators are simply part of the game.

While standing alone, staring down the lions, every word of advice I’d ever been told by fellow writers rushed to my brain. It’s only opinion. You can’t please everyone. You can’t take it personally. And I found that, after this expedition into review-land, all this advice is true—all of it. And it is good counsel.

One of the most VALUABLE pierces of advice I received was one I feel compelled by duty as an author to pass on. And it is this: Weigh the negative points in the feedback and, if there is substance to it, think hard about it. There is the chance that the reviewer is spot-on, that they really have spotted weak links in your writing. Don’t brush it off. Be open minded. If you CAN learn from it, then LEARN from it.

If you cannot be humble enough to admit you might have flaws in your writing, and if you refuse to learn when it is legitimately pointed out, then you’d best just drop your pen right now and stop writing. Because you’ll never grow unless you allow your craft to be nurtured by solid advice and feedback.

Sure, some feedback is strictly a reviewer’s personal opinion. They are humans with different tastes just like anyone else. The next reviewer may adore the very thing that the other found annoying.

Just as fellow writers tell you that a bad review does not necessarily mean your book was bad, the same applies to a good review. It is, bottom line, one person’s evaluation. Period.

Here’s s surprise for you. I’m realistic and humble—or maybe it’s just a horrific lack of self-confidence—that, when a review of my work is TOO good, I tend to scratch my head and take a second look at my book cover on the site. Wait a minute here. Are you talking about MY book? Are we talking about the same book here? My book’s not THAT good! As much as I adore and genuinely radiate at the wonderful praise, I am my own biggest critic. And I will know, it my gut, that my book just simply had flaws that the reader missed.

But there’s sweetness in the missing of the flaws by a reader who just enjoys your work and is not looking beyond the pleasure of your story. When a reader just lets it BE a story and isn’t critiquing it, isn’t digging for mistakes OR good points. When they grasp the things that were most important to you when you wrote the book—the emotions, the characters. When they forgive your errors and love what you wrote just the same. We may not learn from this kind of acceptance, but we can beam if maybe—just maybe—the heart of the story was NOT missed and was embraced. I can’t let myself be sidetracked by that beauty, though, to the point that I feel I need not try to correct something simply because it’s invisible to some.

And my own advice? Do not hinge whether your writing has been ‘worth it’ based on a review—any review. I’ve heard more than one comment since I began writing from authors who, when reviewed with praise, felt their writing endeavors had been validated because they were sanctioned by a review site.

I personally can only use a review as a possible tool for learning, and I refuse to allow it to be a measure of my writing worth, to employ it as a gauge of my success.

I cannot and will not crowd my writing ambition into such a narrow little space of worth. I will not gear my writing toward hopeful positive reviews. If I did so, I’m afraid I’d lose my natural flow, my voice, and I’d be writing for the wrong reasons.

I hope to NEVER walk away from a good review with any arrogance; but, even more importantly, I intend to never exit a bad review with any chinks to my armor of self-esteem.

To fellow authors: If you get a bad review, learn from it and move on. But DO NOT jump off the writing cliff because you think you are a failure with one bad review, with ten bad reviews. You have two choices: you can walk away from the edge and devote yourself to strengthening your talent, or you can just…jump and crash. Depends, I suppose, on how badly you want to write and why you’re even writing in the first place.

To reviewers: As authors, we and our publishers entrust our products to a reviewer to observe and offer feedback. And we have the right to demand—not ASK, but demand—that they treat us respectfully in their report. They do not have to like our writing, they do not have to like us. They do not even have to say nice things about our writing. But, as a representative of the site who enlists their services, they owe it to us, to their websites, to readers and potential readers, to respect us and to show dignity in their presentation.

If a reviewer fails to do this? Then they must understand that their opinion will not be taken seriously…not by this writer, anyway.

As a kid, I used to have a recurring dream in which I was (who knows WHY) pitted against a lion, much like the gladiators of old, no weapons, no nothing. Well, in every dream the lion overtook me. And, surreally, I laid there beneath him and he began to…well, to do what lions do. LOL. And, as one can ONLY do in a dream while a lion feasts on them, I thought to myself, This doesn’t hurt as bad as I though it would. And neither has the review experience.

So I stand before you, fellow writers, to say Zampas Maximus has survived.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011


She glances at the photo, and the pilot light of memory flickers in her eyes. ~Frank Deford

This morning, while rummaging through my desk at the office, I stumbled on the printed program from my father’s funeral. He died in 2009 and, for some reason, I’d kept the little memento in my desk drawer. I’d forgotten it was there; so, to come unexpectedly face to face with Daddy—at the office, of all places—something inside me just tuned up, and I cried.

Somehow, in my romance writer’s mind, thoughts of Daddy dredged up a memory of something he and I shared, something that I realized ended—the sharing of it, anyway—when he died.

What was that something? A fantasy that my father unwittingly ignited inside me long ago. Goodbear.

Since he is a real person, I won’t divulge Goodbear’s first name. I wrote about him long ago in another blog, using a fictitious first name, but today he blossomed in my mind and my heart once again with the sight of Daddy’s funeral program, and I want to think about him for a while.

Goodbear was an army buddy of my father’s during World War II. I first saw him years ago while browsing through my parents’ scrapbook. Although the album was filled with many, many black and white photographs taken during Daddy’s army days, Goodbear’s picture stood out among the others. And, here I was—this young girl who lived in dreams with her books and writing and drawing—having a crush on an illusion in a sepia snap shot from long ago.

Back then, I suppose I liked him because he was different. He wasn’t a blond, home-town boy like the other photos. There was just something--something special--about him.

Today, as a woman, I know what it is about Goodbear that appealed and continues to appeal to me. Sure, as an adult, I appreciate his lithe body as he stands perpetually frozen in time with his leg causally bent and his hand resting on his hip. I shiver a little at his nice form, his dark complexion. I think, just as I did when I first noticed him, that he is so very handsome, so very sexy. Seems my appreciation for the dark men started long, long ago.

But every time I look at the photograph, my attention is drawn to his face—his sort of sad, knowing, serene eyes and the gentle smile. So relaxed, yet so unique from the other boisterous young men in the other photos. As though Goodbear had a secret, as though he KNEW someone would look at his photo one day and wish they knew him. As though he knew I would see him and wonder about him.

Daddy didn’t know much about Goodbear, only that he was American Indian from Oklahoma. The seemingly quiet fellow would playfully torture the Japanese cooks by grabbing them and thumping them on their heads. And that’s about all my father recalled of Goodbear. It had been, after all, over sixty years.

But every time I saw my father, we still talked about his army days, and he still recounted the same details about my secret crush, Goodbear. Daddy seemed to enjoy the telling of it all, and I treasured the hearing of it.

Well, Daddy is gone now. And, only this morning, did the truth settle sadly into my heart that, with my father went Goodbear as well. I realized that, with his passing, Daddy and Goodbear are both mere memories. I see now that the mysterious young dark-headed man was not only a fantasy of mine, but a link between me and my father’s past. Goodbear served as a piece of memory that my Dad loved to relive, of a time when he was young; and it offered me a brilliant photograph of the man my father was BEFORE he became Daddy.

So, Goodbear, I owe you, man. I knew, and I think—somehow, mystically—you knew, too, that you’d serve a purpose in my life, somehow, somewhere, down the road. Everybody does, I think—serve a purpose in other lives, that is. Wherever you are now, Goodbear, thank you.