Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Um...So Your Fantasies Aren’t Like This?

I’m a freak, I know it.

When I was in grade school, a conversation with my best friend led to the discovery that not every child makes up stories for at least thirty minutes every night in bed. I was honestly convinced I was normal until that conversation. But other kids, it seemed, did not make a point of going to bed at least a half hour before they needed to go to sleep, just for the purpose of fantasizing. Sometimes these stories lasted 45 minutes, an hour, and/or ran night after night like continuing soap operas.

As a busy adult I don’t spend quite that much time fantasizing before I fall asleep. And often, this is the time I use for planning for the fiction I’m writing. But sometimes I still do as I did as a little kid and just make up stuff for fun. What kind of stuff? Are you sure you want to know?

Okay, at the risk of revealing what a total weirdo I am, here you go.

Lately I’ve been working on a really great 19th Century, Dickensian tale featuring my current fave celebrity crushes. In it, I’m a 16-year-old homeless orphan girl named Pip. I was living miserably on the streets until, cold and starving, I was found one night by a renowned hero of the “dodgy element” of London, a fellow called Mister House.

Think Fagin meets House M.D.

He has converted an old decrepit workhouse to a clothes making shop/dormitory for homeless kids like me. And instead of training us in pick pocketing like Fagin, Mister House operates the place as a legitimate business. The older kids sew simple clothes, the younger ones do mending jobs and make easy things like handkerchiefs. I happen to have learned from my deceased mom how to embroider, so they set me to work doing monograms.

Mister House is a stern, curmudgeonly taskmaster, but actually much more beneficent than his modern TV doctor equivalent. He uses the profits of the business not to get ahead, but to provide food and shelter to as many kids as he can. He may not show it, but we all know he loves us from his deeds. Naturally he’s just as humorously belligerent as the TV version. And, of course, I’m sweet on him in my girlish way.

All goes well until one day on the streets I encounter a new fellow--or at least, he’s new to me. Handsome, with dark, curly hair and a long black coat, this guy arouses my curiosity right away. He’s a storyteller, and goes around the neighborhood telling tales, mostly to crowds of children. I’m intrigued, but before I can check him out more closely, Mister House intervenes. This stranger is no stranger to him; he’s the Man in the Black Coat, and House’s urchins are forbidden to go near him. Why? No explanation, just orders!

If you can’t guess who plays the role of the Man in the Black Coat, you must be new here. :-)

Well, one day I’m out wistfully staring at a fairy tale book in a bookshop window, coveting it. Who should appear next to me but the Man in the Black Coat! Before I can escape, he engages me in a fascinating conversation about how I don’t need the book, I have fairy stories, complete with pictures, in my head. I’m enthralled. But then he tells me he knows I belong to Mister House, and understands why I can’t come hear him tell stories to kids in the street.

Which results, of course, in my sneaking out to hear him tell stories. And of course he’s incredible at it and I’m head over heels. Still, I don’t want to disobey Mister House and know there must be a good reason for his command. Oh the conflict! There’s nothing like a fantasy with two charismatic protagonists at odds!

At this point in my fantasy, House M.D. character Dr. James Wilson insisted on joining the cast. Hey, no problem. He plays a wealthy, successful doctor from the upper crust, who also has a heart of gold and therefore provides free care to House’s kids. The two of them are longtime, trusted friends.

So, after my surreptitious spying on the Man in the Black Coat telling stories, I end up lost, and he ends up finding me. You know where this is his rooms, of course. Soon I’m fed, entertained with more tales, and bundled up in bed. Now the innocent Pip, so na├»ve and trusting, learns why the Man in the Black Coat has a bad rap with Mister House. But the thing is, I don’t mind doing what the Man suggests, because I think he’s super dreamy.

Meanwhile, back at House’s place, my having gone missing has become an issue. But just then, Doctor Wilson arrives, having seen me with the Man and suspecting where I ended up. Mister House expresses his vehemence not to go anywhere near “that vile Gaiman fellow” and recruits Wilson to rescue me.

In the morning he arrives chez Man, and demands my release into his care. The Man in the Black Coat complies in a most genial manner. I’m confused as heck. But the doctor seems very kind. He takes me to his office to make sure I’m okay and talk to me about what’s happened. With amazing candor for the 19th Century, we discuss the issue; I still don’t understand what I may have done wrong and Doctor Wilson tries to enlighten me about the inappropriate nature of the Man’s advances.

He takes me home. I get back to embroidering, musing all the while on my situation. Evening comes and with it our master, who has made an especially big profit on our wares and brought us a feast. Ham, bread, potatoes, carrots, etc. and even a lovely big almond cake--it’s like Christmas. All us kids party it up, but all the while Mister House ignores me. I’m afraid he’s really mad. At long last it’s lights out, and we all curl up on our little pallets. It’s only then that Mister House tells me to come to his study. What will he say? I’m so worried!

And there it is! Can’t you see why I’m eager to go back to bed?

I told my husband about this fantasy and he just shook his head in disbelief. Needless to say, nothing like this goes on in his brain at night.

Now you might say, this is just how it is with writers, we just write stories in bed. But I still think it’s all kind of weird. For example, here we are in London, and Mister House could legitimately speak with a British accent like Hugh Laurie actually does...but he’s American. Why? I have no clue! Meanwhile, it’s not so strange that the Man in the Black Coat has a British accent, on any count (all the years in Minnesota haven’t put a dent in how Gaiman speaks). But it’s really wack that Doctor Wilson is British too, not American.

And I really got excited about that almond cake. Why an almond cake? Who knows?

So truly I am not so deliberate with nocturnal fantasies as I am with story-writing. I would never, in a story, have a character that resembled Neil Gaiman in any way be possessed of a nefarious character like this guy; it’s really sick and wrong. But in large part this whole thing is happening to me, you understand--I’m not totally in control.

Sorry this entry was so long. I caught you up on like a week of stuff here. But yeah, this is what it’s like being me.

I’d shake my head too if I were you.

Friday, October 24, 2008

“The Look”

I don’t know about you, but if there’s anything I can’t resist, it’s The Look. You ladies know what I mean. Even the most boring-looking guy gets a hotness boost when he employs The Look. And when a sexy guy does it, well, there’s nothing better.

I was made mindful of The Look this week when my daughters and I made our annual trek to see “So You Think You Can Dance Live.” I’m pretty fond of all the dancers from the show, but among my faves is Hawaiian native Mark Kanemura. And let me tell you, this guy knows how to do The Look. The choreographers recognized it too, and gave him a lot of chances to show it off. Here’s Mark from two angles doing The Look in his inimitable way:

Kill me now.

The Look involves, basically, a guy tucking his chin and looking out the tops of his eyes. And men have been doing it to us for centuries. From days of yore, check out 1920’s heartthrob Rudolph Valentino doing The Look:

Does a guy have to be Valentino-handsome to pull off The Look? Hells, no. One of the most classic examples of all time is the famous shot of Malcolm McDowell in “A Clockwork Orange.” Malcolm, by nature, is more quirky-looking than hot, but when he does The Look, well, who can handle it?

And then, there’s the alternative of a really good-looking guy performing The Look; say, Ewan McGregor. You get improvement every time, people, just check it out:

Now you may have noticed already that the specific emotion conveyed by The Look can vary. Ewan, in our example, is sort of wistful, or pensive, or perhaps even simply casting his attention with no particular intent. The emotive content of The Look is not so important as the two key elements of it: (1) whites of the eyes showing under the irises, and (2) tucked chin.

Let’s check out another Champion of Successful Look Usage, Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker. The Look is equally effective when the emotion is:

sadness, or...

anger, or...

pure evil.

Fascinating, isn’t it? [Sidebar: You know what’s fascinating? While I am writing this post, on my XM 80s station they are playing Roxette’s “The Look.” My life can be so weird.]

I honestly think that certain archetypes of males are deemed more sexy simply because they make regular use of The Look. For example, take magicians. Nothing conveys “I’m mysterious and powerful and in control of you” like this facial expression. Here’s Criss Angel, who does it so well and often:

Meanwhile, same story with vampires, and you know I’m right. For a contemporary example, here’s Robert Pattinson, who will be starring in the new “Twilight” movie:

Truly savvy men understand this whole thing and make the most of it. I’m convinced, for example, that Hugh Laurie uses it as much as possible in his portrayal of House. I triple-dog-dare you to count the number of “Looks” in any given episode. I mean, doesn’t this expression look familiar, House fans?

Oh yeah, that’s the stuff. If only I had him in my closet to pull out whenever I’m in the mood...oh, what?...sorry! Where was I? Anyway, CC Rogers, the talented illustrator who is currently working on a Bloodchained comic book with me, is just as savvy as Hugh. Check out her portrayal of the comic’s protagonist, Jonas:

As the kids say, [dies].

Well, I only wish I understood how this works exactly. What does The Look, that particular pose of face and cast of eyes, say to us that translates to “unbearably sexy”? If any kind of emotional content works, what is it about that facial expression that holds the power? Darned if I know. All you Erotica with Soul readers who are psychologists who specialize in body language, please enlighten us!

And men, please don’t stop.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Oldies But Goodies: My Top Ten Over Sixty Men

I was talking to my octogenarian widower father this morning about my daughter’s recent success with (if you should ever read this, yes Nate, I’m referring to you!). Dad joked about signing up. We discussed how he actually doesn’t need to get the attention of the ladies: he’s a regular rock star at Alexian Village. LOL

This discussion inspired me to consider the subject of oldies but goodies. So for your consideration, I selected some of my own personal favorite sexy sexagenarians and septuagenarians. I just wish I could include Paul Newman in the bunch. Miss you, Paul!

Jeremy Irons, age 60. Back in the days of “Brideshead Revisited” (1981) I thought him possibly the handsomest man ever born. Age hasn’t set him back much.

Malcolm McDowell, age 65. I went mad over him in “A Clockwork Orange” (1971) and just haven’t been able to let it go. I guess I’m not alone; I hear he’s expecting a child next January!

David Steinberg, age 66. Fun story: It was on David that I had one of my first huge crushes, back when he appeared on “The Smothers Brothers.” I was 14, he was 28…and my heart nearly broke over the fact that he was much too old for me! Oh for the days when 28 seemed old!!! Anyway, David’s not real visible now but is a brilliantly successful director of TV and commercials and one of the greatest comedic minds of our time.

Patrick Stewart, age 68. And he sure doesn’t look it…has this guy made some pact with the devil? Anyway, yes…I had a mad crush on Captain Picard—I’d “make it so” for him anytime.

Anthony Hopkins, age 70. The start for me was “Magic,” 1977. He was just as attractive in “The Edge” at 60. The man may be my favorite actor and I simply adore him.

Donald Sutherland, age 73. I fell hard for him when I saw him in “Ordinary People” back in 1980. He still sets my heart a-fluttering.

Omar Sharif, age 76. In 1968 he took my breath away back when I saw him in “Funny Girl.” Goodness he’s aged well.

John Williams, age 76. My very first post on this blog was about the maestro; I’ve adored his music since I was 14 and he is the next best thing to God in my book.

Leonard Nimoy, age 77. No list of men I loved in childhood would be complete without Spock. In grade school that character owned my heart, and Leonard did too. And I admire the fact that of all the Enterprise crew, he’s always maintained that sexy dignity throughout his career.

Clint Eastwood, age 78. Clint, without a doubt, is the Supreme Poobah of Aging Well. He’s sexy, fit, and a creative genius who shows no signs of stopping. May he live to a hundred and beyond!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

That Face, Heaven Save Me!

Sorry, today I’m going to be shallow. Horrifyingly shallow. You all know how I’m usually so cerebral and/or spiritual. All that talk diminishing the physical, with only the occasional lapse that sinks to the level of eye candiness (see my recent post about the Kohls Guy). Well, I’m not in the mood for being sensible today.

Okay, you know how sometimes you find yourself really attracted to someone physically, except there’s that one thing you have to overlook? Sometimes it seems like nobody, even the most perfect, is perfect.

Some examples:

I am secretly in love with Dr. Wilson as well as Dr. House. Robert Sean Leonard has one of the best mouths in human history, IMHO. Personalities aside (which of course I can’t really do), he’s got it all over Hugh Laurie handsomeness-wise. However...there’s the brows. Slightly too thick. Damn it, so close...

My passion for Survivorman Les Stroud is not any kind of secret. I also really like his face. I’m a sucker for men with thin lips, and his nose is very nice, and he has those wide-set eyes that I’d have given all humans if I were God. However--so sorry, dear Les--the hair is departing. I’m sure that’s why Les so often wears a banana or some awesome hat. With a hat he’s pretty perfect.

In days of yore I was wildly, desperately obsessed with Sting. What cheekbones. No, I mean really, what cheekbones. This man in his youth had godlike looks, no lie. A little too godlike to my mind, for a few years into his career, he had his nose done. The pre-surgery nose was strange, a little large, and absolutely gorgeous. The post-surgery nose was BORING. So sad. (And yes, he has the same hair problem as Les, I know. C’mon, we all age.)

This is so often the case with that nearly perfect guy. You wish his chin was a tad shorter, or his mouth less crooked, or more crooked. Even people who make their living by their faces can’t be perfect, right?

How ironic, then, that the guy with the absolutely perfect face is a writer.

I saw a couple previously undiscovered photos of Neil Gaiman today, and honestly, I almost want to smack the universe for there being someone like this in existence who can’t simply be my personal possession. Now just to reassure you, that is my attempt to explain the feeling I get looking at him, not my personal goal for 2009.

Respect, Diana, respect--this guy is your colleague after a fashion! This man is one of the greatest fantasy/horror/comic writers of all time.

Yes, yes, I know that. But the nose, God, the nose! This is a nose even more thrilling than the one Sting felt compelled to redo. And the mouth--it makes me say “Robert Sean who?” even though seven paragraphs I said “best in history” blah blah blah. Sigh, swoon.

And try telling me these eyes aren’t beyond the beyond. I love eyes with lower lids that just seem to cradle them like that. What kind of God would give a man writing skill like his AND eyes like this? It’s insane!

Best. Hair. On the planet. Sorry, Les, length does matter. Especially when curly and black. Neil has to be aware of this and is simply torturing us women by not cutting it short. Let’s pray he never changes his mind. And yes, I realize the woman who has a blond beard fetish is saying all this.

And the topper, the really incredible thing, is that you can’t blame Neil’s looks on tricks of the camera, or hair and makeup experts. I’ve seen him in video interviews. He really looks this good “in real life.” (In fact, real life brings in the voice, which is in a dead heat with the voices of Les Stroud, Edward James Olmos, and Hugh Laurie for sexiest in the known world. Kill me now.)

I’ve tried to find it, I’ve tried, but in this face I wouldn’t change a thing.

How absolutely maddening it is that one of my favorite minds in all the world lives behind this perfect face. It’s a very lucky thing that three gazillion other people are as obsessed with him as I am, so there’s only a .00000215% chance he’ll ever come upon these raving words. I’m so embarrassed, but I’m at the mercy of that face.

I can only hope you’ll keep this to yourself! I’m suffering enough....

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Let’s Talk Addictions

I was blessed to be born without a propensity for addiction. (My first husband was the opposite sort, so I’m fairly familiar with the traits of an addictive personality.) So I’m a poor candidate for alcoholism, obsessive gambling, chronic shoplifting, and their ilk.

But those of us resistant to those hardcore kinds of addictions still have our little, fairly harmless ones. When you get right down to it, all of us have some things we’d really rather not have to live without.

Dr. House has Vicodin, David Duchovy has (had?) sex, Mythbusters Jamie and Adam have blowing-stuff-up.

My daughter Katie has hanging-on-to-things, my other daughter Manzi has Hitchcock movies, my husband has talk radio.

Our cats Selke, Alice and Cody have, respectively, scraps of paper, fleece clothing (to eat, not wear), and salad dressing.

And me? Well, here’s my current top ten list of addictions:

10. Olives (all colors).
9. 80’s music.
8. Guys with blond beards.
7. Tracking my web traffic and book sales.
6. Anything written by Neil Gaiman.
5. Potato chips.
4. Watching old “House, MD” episodes.
3. Cubs baseball (six months of withdrawal, coming right up!).
2. The Internet.
1. Writing about love and sex.
Happily for me, it would seem that reading about love and sex is on a lot of people’s Top Ten Addictions lists. This past week I saw that happen in a couple of interesting ways.

First of all, there’s my Google Books tracking. (Yeah, I warned you about me and tracking!) I get reports every day on how many of my books are viewed on Google Books, that neat new service that lets you search by word through bizillions of books. I also get reports on the number of pages viewed. Now a person can’t read every page in a book on Google books, but from the tracking I can tell that a lot of people do a search, find one of my collections, and end up reading all the pages Google Books lets you. The average person reads five to fifteen pages.

Google Books doesn’t tell me the search terms, but I can just imagine, based on the terms that lead people to my website and this blog. So...some person is google-book-searching on “candlelight bound slave auction” or “erotic she was brought from the harem to the king's quarters” or “rain shelter blanket arousal nipple” (I swear, these are terms people have actually used to find me). And she or he turns up one of my books, and reads a page. And keeps reading, for fifteen minutes till the Google preview ends. Aha! Hooked!

Secondly, I had a really fun, rare experience this past week. Someone bought my book Bloodchained in ebook format from my online store one night. The next day she bought Soulful Sex Volume I. Two days later she bought Soulful Sex: The Fantasy Collection. This woman is one fast reader! And imagine how I feel to find someone can’t wait another day to read another of my books! A person could get addicted to that feeling pretty easily. LOL

Well, I guess for the truly-not-addictive personalities like most of us, there’s a fine line between enjoyment and wanting not to go more than 24-hours without the thing. You gotta try not to let the latter get the better of you when it matters. But most days, it’s not a big problem if I watch a couple episodes of “House” while eating a few chips...and it’s never a problem if I want to write about love and sex.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

And Now, for Some Turn-OFFS

I write a lot on this blog about the things that excite me about men--real ones and fantasy ones. Hey, what can I say, I’m a glass-half-full kinda chick. But just for a change of pace, I thought I’d think about the qualities and characteristics that for me are sex-appeal-killers, even in the most physically attractive of men. ‘Cause my opinion matters and I’m such an expert. Just can take my list or leave it, or post your own ideas!

1. Smoking. This one’s an absolute deal-breaker for me, although a guy who’s quit is of course exempt. So what’s my problem, besides the basic ick factor of the habit? To me it’s a sign that a person is either dumb, has insufficient self-discipline, or both. Sorry, but it’s just plain stupid to throw all that money away and harm your health. (And if you just think it’s cool, then you’re really stupid.) I understand that kids are dumb and some people just get hooked that way, but everyone grows up, and that’s where the self-discipline comes in. Quit. It’s not easy, but it’s obvious. Okay, you can be a valid human being and a smoker, but you can’t be sexy--at least not to people like me.

2. Stupidity. Even among non-smokers. I don’t need a guy to be a genius, but common sense is a must. He should especially not be stupid about things like money, health, and personal safety.

3. No self-discipline. Even among non-smokers. It’s a turn-off when a guy can’t control his alcohol consumption or his eating habits, or when he can’t stick to his exercise plan even allowing for the occasional lapse. Self-indulgence indicates he’s more interested in pampering himself than giving of himself.

4. No spine. Just as even someone as quirky looking as Dwight Schrute can be hot by having a spine, the opposite is true. A guy without opinions or the grit to stand up for them just does nothing for me. This doesn’t mean you have to be an alpha male to get my attention. But to have my respect you must care about something and express that appropriately. You also can’t be the aimless kind who has no plan for his life, no goals or dreams, content to go where the wind blows.

5. Bad manners, being inconsiderate. Just as opening car doors and picking up the tab are much bigger turn-ons than guys even realize, bad manners do nothing for the libido. They indicate a guy is too self-interested and self-absorbed.

6. Being self-absorbed. Speaking of, yes. A certain amount of arrogance can be sexy, but when a guy always thinks of himself first, the effect is the opposite. A woman’s interest increases with her sense that the man can and will look out for her, even protect her; if it seems like he may not even notice she needs assistance or attention, forget it.

7. Judgementalism. I like a guy with principles, a guy who believes in objective truth, in good and evil. But if he elevates those opinions that are merely a matter of taste into rules for acceptable belief, that’s a bad thing. The more appreciation he has for the various delights of living, the better. Even people/subjects/stuff he doesn’t like himself, he ought to be able to respect.

8. Sloppiness. This is just a personal thing with me; some people don’t mind a slob. And it’s a lifestyle, not a moral stance! But for me, a guy who leaves a mess behind him, doesn’t care about the look of his environment, and relies on others to clean up for him is SO not sexy.

9. No sense of humor. This is the kiss of death to sexy, people! The most gorgeous guy, unless he has wit, does nothing for me.

10. Ignorance. No one can be an expert on everything, but if a guy has no awareness whatsoever of things like pop culture, politics, history, literature, music, film, and sports, he’s not going to be sexy to me.

Gosh, I much prefer being positive when it comes to sex and men! I think this is the last time I do this. But hey, female readers, if you need to use my list to wake up your men, please do...maybe that way it will do some good. I’m sure males everywhere feel that it’s a terrible thing to fail to impress Diana Laurence. Uh-huh.