Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Why Engineers are Sexy

I've blogged before about the appeal of science geeks, for example this post about the guys on "Mythbusters" or this one about the guys on "The Big Bang Theory." But today I want to focus specifically on engineers. There is scientific, verifiable proof that they are hot.

My first experience falling for the engineer archetype occurred back in high school. A classmate of mine named Greg used to regale me with tales of his inventions. He came up with the mathematical concept of "upsilon," which was one divided by zero. You could do all kinds of fun things with math by employing this impossible number. It was really quite like magic. Greg also invented (on paper at least) the self-harvesting potato. I know you'd love to hear the details (chah, right) but suffice it to say, I was a sucker for this cute guy who could draw diagrams of complex apparatuses (apparati?) and tell me the astounding things he could achieve through science. We both knew he was kidding but that only made it sexier.

I mean, if a funny guy is hot, then it follows that a funny, smart guy is deadly. And the thing about engineers is, they employ a lovely mix of competence (always attractive to women) and mystery (because who can follow what they're saying?). Therefore a funny engineer is nearly irresistible.

Take, for example, this little anecdote from my day job. By day I blog about engineering, and in that capacity I came upon an engineer named Todd who keeps a blog called "An Engineering Mind." Todd makes funny videos on engineering this one:

Todd cracks me up. Sure, he's making all this stuff up, but the point is, he can talk about engineering stuff in a manner convincing enough that you can tell he's smart. Smart and funny and competent, how's a girl to resist?

Another case in point: Last week the awesome show "Lost" returned to the airwaves, and it would seem this season will be giving prominence to Daniel Faraday, the island's resident engineer. Daniel is, I guess, a Time Engineer. His specialty is the space/time continuum. He alone has a clue as to why the island keeps leaping forward and back in time, he alone can advise the Losties how to cope. Well, clearly he's a wizard; Sawyer even nicknamed him Dr. Wizard. Women love wizards, from Harry Potter to Gandalf, and when they're as cute as Daniel, we're goners. All the females in my family are ga-ga for this guy and I suspect he will rival Ben Linus for Lost Heartthrob of the Season.

So many hot engineers to choose from....There are mechanical engineers, like the Mythbusters, who can build robots and Rube Goldberg machines. And nuclear engineers, who can boast that whichever of them discovers cold fusion will pretty much change the planet. There are agricultural engineers who, like my friend Greg, may develop the self-harvesting potato. And astronautical engineers like Howard on TBBT, who do cool things like drive the Mars rover. There are electrical engineers who invent stuff like the iPod. And geological engineers who can predict quakes and eruptions like Pierce Brosnan's sexy character in "Dante's Peak."

What they all have in common is special, arcane knowledge that makes them seem magical. Never mind how they dress, their muscular development or lack thereof, their strange quirks. They are dead sexy, admit it.

Watch Todd and see if he doesn't seem a bit more attractive than his face alone would suggest.

And see if Daniel on "Lost" doesn't become a big hit in the weeks to come.

You read it here first. It's engineers.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Last Night I Hit That...

One of my favorite lines from a TV show last year occurred on "House MD." The long-awaited kiss between Drs. House and Cuddy finally occurred, and was actually rather romantic. However, the next day at the hospital, House downplayed the event by tipping his head toward Cuddy and telling his team, "Last night I hit that and now she's all up in my jock."

I can't tell you why I found this so hilarious, except that it was completely unexpected, and well, I always find House hilarious. Meanwhile, however, the irony is that in general I find this attitude toward sex pretty annoying.

Don't get me wrong, I'm no prude. While I've never indulged in a one-night stand, I've had a couple short flings and am certainly capable of being shallow about sex from time to time. I also understand the human insecurities that prompt us to downplay our romantic encounters out of a desire to protect our egos (which clearly was House's motivation, and made it therefore forgivable). But what does irk me is when the objectification of the sex partner becomes a regular and chronic practice, when every lover is referred to with an impersonal pronoun, as in "I hit that."

Casual sex is the oldest act in the world. I have no reason to believe it's any more prevalent now than in any other age. However, the words our society uses to describe sexual activities currently don't exactly thrill me. "I hit that" is funny in contexts like the one on "House," but when it honestly expresses the sentiment that the sex partner was no more than a toy with flesh, it's actually pretty sad.

And while I'm not one to criticize the vernacular generally, I'm not a big fan of "hooked up" either. I'm not sure why exactly...I guess it just sounds so mechanical, and well, almost boring. "Hooked up" conjures up this picture of two people saying to each other, "Well, I'm here, you're here, we're horny, why not?" There's no seduction--heck, it doesn't even sound like there's much fun involved!

"Getting it on" at least sounds energetic. "Making out" sounds goal-oriented and like you are happy about succeeding. "Pitching woo" and "making whoopee" are cute and silly, which is still an improvement. "Hooking up" just sounds so intentionally temporary, so unmotivated, so dull. Even when a friend exclaims excitedly "You mean you guys actually hooked up?" the excitement is ironic. You might as well be jumping up and down as you say, "You guys ran into each other at the mall?" or "You guys ended up on the same elevator?"

I understand that words are just words, and the affect behind what is being said is what matters. But I can't help but wonder why this kind of phraseology prevails at the moment. Is everyone so highly motivated to make sure the significance of any sexual encounter is downplayed? Is that because we really don't take sex seriously, or because we do, and therefore we are terrified other people will find out it matters to us?

It was pretty plain on that episode of "House" that the doctor did care about having kissed Cuddy, so much so that he made a point of belittling the encounter at his earliest possible opportunity. And I suspect that's the most common reason for the nonchalance of our current sexual terminology.

Heaven forbid we should call it "making love," hey? :-)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

How to Get Over a Crush

I’m a big fan of wikiHow, and this morning one of the “how-to” topics offered by this great site was “How to Stop Having an Inappropriate Crush.” Some of the advice in this posting was quite helpful, don’t get me wrong. But I have a feeling that a lot of people hoping to get help from this wikiHow will be disappointed.

The main premise of the article was “Having a crush on someone is not the problem. The real issue is your own restraint and self-control.” In my experience, most people are okay with exercising restraint when they are obsessed with the wrong person. Most times it’s painfully obvious there’s no way you can act on your feelings. You can’t hit on your married boss, you can’t ask out Robert Pattinson. You don’t need someone to tell you, like in this article, to focus on all the reasons why your crush is hopeless. Usually that’s painfully obvious.

I suspect people googling “how to get over a crush” are most interested in making the feelings go away. Unfortunately, the article only addressed the issue this way: “If you’ve tried to fight it, all to no avail, and you still find yourself sighing over him/her, then make it right.” Well, there’s usually no way to “make it right”—your boss is happily married, and Robert Pattinson is not going to go out with you.

As a person who has experienced four decades of inappropriate crushes, I can only speak from my own personal experience and share what has helped me. So here goes:

1. Don’t make yourself feel worse by beating yourself up. Having a crush is not a sin, it’s just feelings, and people can’t help their feelings. Infatuations are a natural part of being human, and no one is exempt. If you’re crushing on the next door neighbor in spite of your being happily married, don’t interpret it as a sign your marriage is failing. As the saying goes, you are married, not dead. You will still respond emotionally to attractiveness in other males, and that says nothing about the strength of your marriage.

2. Try to keep in mind that you are probably not really in love with a real person, but rather you are in love with what him/her represents to you. This is especially the case with celebrity crushes, but usually just as true with other infatuations. As you read this, you may be balking at the idea, but that’s because you don’t want to let go of the hope that this “awesome person” is really as awesome as they seem to you. But read on as to why what I’m telling you is actually good news.

3. Work on disassociating the idea of the person you adore from the flesh-and-blood individual. Think about this: have you ever really loved a character in a book? Thought about actually being with that person? Wasn’t it fun to imagine, even though you knew full well that wonderful character was just “pretend”? Well, your fantasies about your crush are like that. If you find it hard not to fantasize about the person, work on being happy just enjoying pretending about them. And remember, in real life, being with the person would doubtless not be as wonderful as your fantasies, in which you can imagine him/her as perfect for you.

4. Rejoice that the pretend version of your crush truly does belong to you. As my regular blog readers know, I’m a believer in the theories of psychoanalyst Carl Jung (and I wrote a book about this stuff called Living Beyond Reality). Jungian psychology teaches that each of us has an opposite sex aspect to our personality buried in the unconscious, called the animus/anima. The only way we interact with that “person,” that lost part of our psyche, is by projecting it on others. If the object of your infatuation seems perfect for you, that’s because you’re projecting your animus/anima upon him/her, seeing those qualities your soul most longs for, your very heart’s desire. No wonder it’s so wrong, but feels so right! Well, it takes lots of practice, but you can learn to recognize that the person you feel you adore is not actually Robert Pattinson, but this inner male ideal that is, in a real sense, your soul mate. He’s already yours, always has been, always will be. He is an autonomous part of yourself, you and yet not you.

I realize #4 is a very new concept to most people, but believe me, if you can get your mind around it, nothing works better for dealing with inappropriate crushes. If you find the idea just too far out there, then go back to #3, which is just another version of #4. The point is to diminish the pain of your crush by feeling like you have control. Rather than pining for someone you can’t have, you take the whole thing into the realm of imagination, where all the control belongs to you.

If you still don’t like the idea of letting go of “the real person,” I suggest you take a cold, hard look at the real person and try to find his/her flaws. Because I guarantee you, there are things about that guy or girl that would disappoint you if you really had to live with him or her. Apply yourself conscientiously to this exercise and you’ll figure out that your pretend version of the person is actually more fun “to be with,” even if you have to sacrifice the benefits of real flesh-and-blood.

Here’s one bonus tip for you: If you feel any interest going on in your mind towards a less problematic individual, then try to redirect your attention there. It’s the basic principle that “the universe abhors a vacuum”’s hard to replace a crush with nothing, but substituting a different crush can work. So, for example, if you’re pining for Robert Pattinson, see if you can’t obsess instead on the character of Edward Cullen as you personally dream him to be.

Dealing with a troublesome crush is never easy! But there are things you can do to help yourself. Good luck!

ADDENDUM 8/31/09: As you can see by the abundance of comments to this post, a lot of people have come to me with specific advice for their problems. Before you post asking for my help, I want to remind you that I'm just an author, and this post was meant to share some concepts that have been helpful to me and may be helpful to you. If you are truly tormented by an infatuation you can't shake, PLEASE SEE A PROFESSIONAL. I feel for you, but I'm severely limited in my ability to help...this is just a blog, and I'm just a fellow human wanting to present some tips that might work for you.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Are You in Love with the Dark?

Apparently I am, and I wonder if there are some kindred spirits out there.

By “in love with the dark” I don’t mean caves and closets. I mean the mysterious, the sinister, the creepy, the dangerous. (All you “Twilight” fans can count yourself in, by the way.)

I think it all started when I was in high school, and I fell for this guy named Mark. It was the first time I was interested in a boy not because he was cute, but because he was mysterious. My adolescent mind decided Mark was an Enigma, yes, with a capital E. This conclusion was due almost exclusively to one paradox I had observed about him: although he was a member of the Brains clique (today known as Geeks), he wore his hair shoulder length like a Freak.

Brains were generally pro-Establishment, conservative types and wore their hair short. Freaks skipped school, did drugs, drank, and listened to music like “Brain Salad Surgery” and Frank Zappa. Mark aced his tests, did volunteer work, and was polite. But the hair...what was the meaning then of the hair? He had to have some secret counter-culture attitude, some rebellious streak. He had to have a Dark Side.

I wrote a poem about my feelings for him, called “Dark to My Light.” In it I spoke of my own ever-cheerful, sunny persona and my longing for the darkness Mark represented. I’m quite certain there are a lot of us who feel our families, co-workers, and society in general depend upon us to be positive sorts. Meanwhile, we feel a great lack of the negative in our inner lives. So we are drawn to sinister characters, horror movies, macabre stories. We have fantasies that are dark and sometimes quite twisted.

The dark is much on my mind lately. My latest story collection, Soulful Sex: The Darker Side is about to go to press. And I am finishing up editing a very dark romance novel called (do you sense a theme here?) Looking on Darkness. To make matters worse, I am reading Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book. Meanwhile, I find my nocturnal fantasies seem to be set in the most ominous locales, like, for example, Hell.

I’m sure anyone who knew me personally would tell you, I’m the last person you’d expect to fantasize about Hell. But fact is, the people who seem all sunny and upbeat are generally the ones whose secret thoughts are dark like this.

I’ve had this thought concerning Mr. Gaiman many times. His public persona is just so darn, well, cuddly. He seems for all the world like the kindliest English gentleman you’d ever want to meet. He loves children and cats. I’ve not read one report of him being rude or mean. And yet, the places this man’s mind travels are terrifying at times. In a sense you could rightly say that Death whispers in his ear: indeed, Death is his muse. Death of course, having been personified in The Sandman comics Neil wrote, personified as a very sweet, funny, attractive young goth girl (before goth was a craze).

I recently found this awesome illustration which currently serves as my wallpaper. (Sadly, I renamed the file and can’t find the original source, so if it was you or if you know, please tell me so I can give proper credit here!!) It’s the character Death, playing her muse role for Neil Gaiman. Brilliant.

And if you could see an artistic rendering of myself writing, there would be this dark fellow standing behind me, murmuring in my ear. He would look a bit like Neil, a bit like Mark, a bit like Jonas Tammany from my comic book. He would look a bit like every dark male character who has inspired my imagination over the years, including the various fellows in The Darker Side and Looking on Darkness, and Bloodchained.

Can’t help it...I’m just in love with the dark.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

OMG I've Written a Comic Book!

This is another one of those events in my life that is HUGE to me and I'm sure makes other people just stare at their monitors, puzzled. But yes, I am beyond beyond thrilled today that this miracle has actually happened. I have written a real comic book. And this glorious thing occurred due to the amazing talents and hard work of my beloved illustrator, CC Rogers.

It is not long (12 pages), but it is a real story. I had to write a real comic book script. And CC pulled off what IMHO is a beautiful, sexy, suspenseful, fascinating series of illustrations. I think the thing truly justifies its existence. But you read it (in the nifty viewer provided by and please let me know what you think.

I'm not gonna lie, I'm officially in love with Jonas Tammany. He's WAY hotter than Mr. Opportunity ever was. I'll bet Erin Esurance herself would lust for this guy.

Oh, and in two to three weeks the book will be available for purchase from Living Beyond Reality Press. Will let you know!