Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Want You But I Don’t Phenomenon

In my reflections on sexual desireability, I have found one phenomenon that rather baffles me. I’ll call it “I Want You But I Don’t.”

The IWYBID Phenomenon occurs when you are fascinated by, even attracted to, a person who simultaneously repulses you. That person possesses qualities you find charming and charismatic...but other qualities that scream “run away!”

An excellent case in point is how I feel about the character Sheldon on CBS’s sitcom “The Big Bang Theory,” and likewise his three friends Leonard, Howard and Raj. The foursome are physics geeks severely lacking in social (and particularly mating) skills. Not a one of them is ugly—the actors are all cute in fact—but their hair, clothes, and mannerisms on the show do nothing for them. They are all nice guys, just appallingly lacking in the social graces. Intellectually the four could be called alpha-males, except everything else about them negates that fact.

So, here’s the crazy part: I’d love to date any of these guys, particularly Sheldon, who is at the same time arguably the most dysfunctional of the bunch. He is hilarious, which is always a plus, and a genius, ditto. But there are so many reasons to flee this self-absorbed, anal, rude, arrogant man-boy.

So I recognize I’d never want an actual relationship with a guy like this. But still, Sheldon fascinates me. I could listen to him all day rave about string theory or how to apply mechanical engineering to improve your RTA furniture. It’s pretty hot when he debates the finer points of World of Warcraft or speaks Klingon. Repulsive as he so often is, Sheldon is also sexy. It’s weird.

Geek characters are not the only archetypes that repel and attract simultaneously. I often feel that way about Dr. House, who is one moment so coldly cruel you want to smack him, and the next so adorable you want to kiss him. Clearly Lost’s Ben Linus creates conflicting emotions in a girl, but you know how attractive that guy is to a lot of us. I experience similar feelings toward Barney, the womanizer on “How I Met Your Mother,” and Jack Donaghy on “30 Rock,” and Dwight Schrute on “The Office.” There are so many men who, in spite of having some off-putting traits, just suck you in anyway.

The especially interest fact about the IWUBID Phenomenon is that a little repulsion seems to enhance the attraction. My theory is, the brain observes my desiring this undesirable individual, ergo (to use Sheldon-speak) I conclude his positive traits simply must be that irresistible.

However this works, it works. I wouldn’t accept a marriage proposal from Sheldon but I still want him on screen every minute of the show. I could rewatch a dozen times him joking about the hypothetical fellow looking for the circuit breaker in the heart of a black hole. Even in a Periodic Table of the Elements tee shirt, Sheldon looks pretty hot to me.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Kohls Guy and Jason Updates (Admittedly Loopy)

From our Sorry But Occasionally I Must Totally Objectify Men Files: the mystery has been solved!

Tonight my pal Rebecca reported to me that a reader of her blog identified our elusive Kohls/Chaps Guy at last. (My original report: Sometimes It's Just Physical.) His name is Kevin Rice and you can read Rebecca's full analysis (and see countless amazing photos) here.

My personal fave is reproduced for you below.

I had no idea how much I liked smiles until I saw this.

I'm delighted to have a name for the face at last. And for any of you clever observers out there that are thinking, "interesting how Diana Laurence, with her self-confessed blond beard fetish, has now posted two blond bearded guy entries in a row." For the record, Jason Danieley could be raven haired and baby faced and my heart would be no less in chains to that voice.

And also for the record, I played his songs for my daughter Amanda last night and she absolutely swooned. Why have you not listened to him yet people...are you afraid he will seize your soul? Well, he will!!! But it's totally worth it!!! (OMG, I've become a ditz and the triple exclamation points are coming out now. But it's still worth it.)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Voice that Makes You Fall in Love

Backstory: I’ve become a bit of an addict to the Broadway Channel on XM Radio. Broadway’s not for everyone, so don’t bail on me if you’re not into it…just hang on a bit, this is really about you I promise. You see, in the interest of your needs as a reader of Erotica with Soul, I’ve made it my mission to listen to all those Broadway singers and seek out the one whose voice makes one fall instantly in love. Not in my own interest, mind you, but so that I could inform you of who possesses such a magical voice, a voice that seizes one by the heart and sends the libido reeling.

Yesterday I found him at last.

It was an in-studio recording done by Seth Rudetsky for Sirius radio of a tenor singing the old Sammy Cahn number, “Be My Love.” By the third note (and believe me, the third note of “Be My Love” is inherently quite nice) I was clutching my steering wheel and thinking, “It’s him! It’s THE GUY!”

The guy was Jason Danieley.

Jason Danieley has the Voice. The Voice the Makes You Fall in Love. In the car, listening, I am clutching my heart with one hand and trying not to swoon on the freeway. He sings:

Be my love
For no one else can end this yearning
This need that you and you alone create
Just fill my arms
The way you’ve filled my dreams
The dreams that you inspire
With every sweet desire

Be my love
And with your kisses set me burning
One kiss is all I need to seal my fate
And hand in hand
We’ll find love’s promised land
There’ll be no one but you for me
If you will be my love

Will I? Will I? Sir, seeing as you have TVTMYFIL, which I have long been seeking among scores of Broadway tenors, baritones and basses, yes, my answer is yes!

Immediately after dinner I hit the internet to find out who this guy was. Well, he’s an award-winning Broadway performer known particularly for his portrayal of the title role in “Candide” about a decade ago, as well as more recent appearances in “Curtains” and “The Full Monty” and a concert production of “South Pacific.” He’s 37 and was born in St. Louis. His wife is also a Broadway star and also an excellent vocalist. That’s about all I know, and yet…all I need to know. After all, if I knew his favorite cheesecake I would only be compelled to mail him a cheesecake, and that’s a little stalker-y.

Now with a voice like that, Jason Danieley could have looked like a yeti and I would give him a pass. However, I don’t mind that he doesn’t look like a yeti, he looks like this:

Sigh. God, what did this man’s mother do to deserve such offspring? But before I feel compelled to burst into “Close to You” (as in, “on the day that you were born the angels got together and decided to create a dream come true…”), why am I wasting time? You must, of course, must hear TVTWMYFIL yourself.

So here, if you go to Jason’s website, the beginning of “Be My Love” will play for you on this page: Even better, there is a little player on his MySpace page that will let you hear the entire song as well as other tracks from his new CD “Jason Danieley and the Frontier Heroes.”

Go. Listen. Now.

Okay, see, what did I tell you? Don’t you want to marry him? Or at least sit at his feet adoringly while he sings, even if he is singing to his wife who is not you, God bless her? How can you not rejoice in being alive in a world where this man sings the words “and with your kisses set me burning”? My heart swells with gratitude! And other parts of me too!

At long last, my quest has come to an end and I can ask for this CD for Christmas so I can enjoy the bliss of anticipating the day I can fill my car with the voice of Jason Danieley at will (risking of course, swooning on the freeway).

I am making it my life’s mission to hear him in person some day, and sadly, he just did a concert a couple of hours away from Milwaukee like a month ago. But never mind, I needed a new quest anyway!

Now go! Listen to him again! What harm can it do, you’re already hopelessly in love!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

What Survivorman Has in Common with Me

I’m so amped that the new season of “Survivorman” premieres tomorrow! Ah Les, it’s been too long since we got to see you starving and struggling in some new inhospitable environment. Swoon. LOL
So in honor of this auspicious event, I wanted to share with you some very cool Les Stroud lore I discovered in a recent interview. The October Studio Monthly magazine included an article by Les entitled “Backwoods Warrior” that focuses on the filmmaking aspect of his career. (For those of you living under a rock, Les films his show all by himself. But of course, if you’re living under a rock, you really ought to be watching the show for survival tips.) I took particular interest in a paragraph in which Les talked about his motivation in making “Survivorman” as good as it is:

I sat down and meditated (call it whatever you want) on the fact that I had to make this film/this day/this next scene compelling, beautiful and inspirational. There may only be one viewer, but you owe them a great show. When you present a film or any other creative endeavor you take on, you’re asking each audience member to take an hour or more out of his or her life to watch what you did. What right do I have to ask that of them, if I haven’t put everything I possibly could have into this production? Surely they have any number of other things they could be doing with that hour. I owe it to them to put all my passion into what I’m presenting.

Wow, Les, this sums up exactly how I feel about writing romance fiction! Well, writing anything, really, including this blog.

I recently read a blog post on a website for fiction readers that took a very opposite tack. The blog writer took umbrage when an editor suggested some changes to the grammar and structure of one of his posts. His thesis was that his blog was a window into his head, and therefore it ought to be whatever he wanted, without regard to the readers’ interest or understanding.

That attitude kinda frosts my cookies, friends. I have no problem with doing that in my own journal, which is read by no one but me, but when you put writing on a public forum, you thereby invite others to read it. If you don’t care that you may be wasting their time, if you make no effort to be concise and comprehensible, then to me that is putting yourself above others. There’s enough of that in human society without encouraging such an attitude, if you ask me.

I’ve seen that same thing occur recently in other art forms. Case in point: I watched a cake-making competition the other day in which the assignment was to make a haunted house cake. One of the contestants created an ugly abstract mess that she considered “art.” She pooh-poohed the judges’ negative reaction and said they were “unqualified to judge such a contest.”

Hey, sister, guess what? It was their contest! Communication is about the audience, not the “speaker,” and the goal is to get your message across as meaningfully as possible, not to express your individuality at all costs. You’re free to express your individuality in lots of ways—make that cake for yourself if you like. But in art, entertainment, and communication, your efforts are wasted unless at least a portion of the populace gets and enjoys you.

On the flip side, it doesn’t have to be everyone…it simply can’t be, people are too different. That’s the other thing I loved about Les’s statement: Even if there’s only one viewer, even if only one person reads your book or blog post, you owe it to them and to yourself to offer your best work.

I know, due to individual taste, not everyone is going to want to read a vampire romance. But when I wrote Bloodchained I did know that a lot of people like that genre, and that they deserved, in exchange for their reading time, a well-written novel. I kept that charge in mind throughout the process of writing, editing, and publishing the book. I, like Les, consider myself the servant of my readership, not the other way around.

And that’s how the deal works. Artists should never lose touch with the fact that communication is an exchange of currencies: your work for your audience’s money and time. If your ego loses touch with that principle, don’t be surprised if you, like the “cake artist” who came in last, end up with no one watching or listening.

But to end on a more positive note: The nice thing about having Les’s attitude about your work is that it really gets results. “Survivorman” is a moving and beautiful show because Les puts his heart in every episode. I hope you’ll tune in tomorrow night and see what I mean!