I’m a dude and I’m wearing nail polish

My friend Kristen, who does nail polish tutorials and blogs for a cosmetics brand, and who uses the superior -en spelling of her name (who am I to argue?), recently commented that her husband will not let her do his nails.

She conducted a quick verbal survey of the men within earshot, asking, “Would you let a woman put nail polish on you?” I summarize the collective response thusly: NOOOOOOOOOOOO FREAKIN’ WAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!!!!!!!

That is, the ones who didn’t immediately run and hide said that.

Witnessing this event unfold, my inner non-conformist felt a surge of adrenaline. My inner non-conformist is also well aware of my slow philosophical evolution on gender roles in modern society (in short, I’ve come to believe gender roles are largely meaningless constructs that often hold us back from being happy and pursuing interests for fear of being judged and ostracized).

All of which led to me announcing, “I’ll do it.”

The way I remember this moment, it was a TV show and the camera cut to me just after I spoke and the room had instantly fallen silent. A fine piece of comedic editing.

I picked the colors, but otherwise, Kristen knocked out this design in about 10 minutes today with no planning. And you know what? I’m just as much of a dude as I was before. Imagine that.

Eric's nails

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Eric's nails

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If you click on the last picture you’ll (probably) get a closer look. My favorite is the ring-finger web, though the middle finger bat is cute.


Diversity on TV

Note: For blog-friendly brevity, I’m only discussing ethnic diversity right now. LGBT representation on TV warrants a separate post I don’t feel qualified to write.

Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) - The Walking Dead

Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) – The Walking Dead

“Diversity on TV” was not improved simply by allowing all-black shows like Family Matters and Moesha to co-exist alongside Seinfeld and Friends, the latter two taking place in an alternate-reality New York populated almost exclusively by white people. Rather, in the 1990s we experienced “Segregation on TV.” Of course, large ethnic minorities want and should have TV shows that appeal to their lives and interests, but it’s hard to argue that most mainstream TV producers and writers were anything less than oblivious to the diversification of western culture in the last decade of the 20th century. Even most of the shows targeted at black audiences featured suburban families that were “relatable” to white viewers.

I bring this up because my friend Janna Noelle wrote on her blog today about a TV character that had a huge impact on her younger self. Not central to her theme, but still important, was what she viewed as a surprising amount of ethnic diversity—for a ‘90s series—on said show (read her post to find out).

Janna closed her piece by asking what TV shows her readers are watching these days. I responded with Doctor Who, Sleepy Hollow, and The Walking Dead, and it occurred to me as I wrote my answer that all three shows are notable for their diversity, at least in terms of a white/black dynamic (we’re still falling short with Asian and Hispanic characters on television).

The stars of Sleepy Hollow at Comic Con

The stars of Sleepy Hollow at Comic Con

3 of 6 principal cast members on Sleepy Hollow are black or, if you prefer, people of color (Lyndie Greenwood is mixed race). The Walking Dead, after a bit of a rocky start diversity-wise, has moved beyond tokenism and has given its black characters plot-central storylines. Former spare part Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green, top image) has become an integral player in season 5 and was essentially the star of last night’s episode.

Doctor Who still retains its white doctor/white companion dynamic. Only season 3 (of 8) featured a non-white companion, Martha (played by Ghanaian-Iranian actress Freema Agyeman, incidentally one of the prettiest people on Earth). That said, the modern era of the venerable British sci-fi show has featured numerous recurring characters and featured guest roles played by people of color and has also depicted mixed relationships (and LGBT characters) in a positive light.

Common to all these shows is the “colorblind” storytelling. That is, the ethnicity of the characters rarely matters. Their storylines and experiences are interchangeable in that way.

And some would say that’s a problem. It’s certainly complicated. For a progressively minded white feller like me, I might see this as a great sign. “Look, skin color doesn’t matter in time travel or in the zombie apocalypse. Progress!”

On the other hand, some people don’t have the privilege, like I do, of racism being a choice. People who have been on the receiving end of institutional racism might consider the colorblind approach to be so much BS. “That’s not how it would happen,” they could quite rightfully say. “Not progress!”

Still others of any background might argue, “We’re not going to get past this issue if we keep harping on it. Progress?”

What do YOU think?

15-year-old Courtney Woods, the first woman on the moon (according to Doctor Who)

15-year-old Courtney Woods, the first woman on the moon (according to a recent episode of Doctor Who entitled “Kill the Moon”)


Here’s another song from my album

Yeah, yeah, I’m recycling some of the images from last time. My same excuse: no budget, time, or  equipment for a proper video.

The song, however, is short, fun, bouncy, and energetic. We almost didn’t record it because we thought it a bit silly, but it ended up being one of my favorites. Tony and I share songwriting credits on every tune, but I must give proper (and by that I mean informal, somehow) credit. Tony wrote the words and the music. I contributed to the overall arrangement and came up with my own guitar parts, but otherwise it’s Tony’s song.

Once again:

Tony Parisi on bass guitar and lead and backing vocals

Me on drums and guitars

Clicking that album cover icon to the right will take you to iTunes, and you can also access the iTunes and Amazon links under my Music tab up top.

May the seed of your loin be fruitful in the belly of your wildebeest.


Short-story writers… I need your advice

confused orangutan

Translation: Why do the research myself when I have you?

As I continue to plow through the third draft of my novel (still no bleeping title!), I’m also poking around the short stories on my hard drive to look for anything salvageable.

I have to do something to fill time once spent eating oreos and pop tarts. Severe calorie rationing forces us into tough decisions!

So anyway, I fished out a story I penned a few years ago called Gardening, which I briefly considered serializing here, but then I thought, “I haven’t experienced good old-fashioned rejection in a while and probably need to re-thicken my skin for when I start shopping my novel next year.” What makes Gardening marginally more publishable than my other shorts is its 4000-word length (versus the 10k-15K dead zone I usually write in).

Here’s where I need your help: I have no idea where to send it, because, as usual, it’s outside a definable genre. I’ll give you the elements. It’s an off-beat, bittersweet love story; it’s literary; and it’s Twilight Zone. Not one of those Twilight Zones with Martian invaders or monsters on airplane wings. One of those quiet, thought-provoking ones that would never get made today.

It is absolutely not paranormal romance. I’m not criticizing the genre at all, merely saying that this story will not appeal to that audience.

I believe it requires either a print or online fiction destination that considers off-beat, slightly supernatural women’s literary fiction.

Here’s a log line I made up for it about 11 seconds ago:

How much would you sacrifice for a chance to find your soulmate? Lonely divorcee Matt Marshall is about to walk through the doorway of a kitschy seaside tavern, unaware that very choice awaits him on the other side.

That’s the best I can do on short notice. Any ideas where I might submit?


I Wish I’d Written That #1

Jacques-Louis David "Patroclus"

“Patroclus” (1780) by Neoclassicism’s most revered painter, Jacques-Louis David

I scarcely need to ask: Have you ever come across a sentence or phrase so exquisitely capturing an idea or feeling that you were compelled to shout, “Why didn’t I write that!”

Charles Dickens and Oscar Wilde might be popping into your head about now.

It happens to me all the time, but I then I forget because I’m a flake. Well, guess what. I’m going to keep track now.

Today’s entry belongs to art historian Hugh Honour and appears in his book Neo-Classicism, which was published in 1968 but not discovered and bought by me until two weeks ago at the Princeton Public Library’s used book section for $1.

Honour was talking about conventions so familiar to writers and artists that we master their use but no longer think about what they mean on a cultural or philosophical level.

He called such conventions “Furniture of the Mind.”

You have achieved total victory, Hugh Honour.*

*unless someone else thought of it first and I’m too much of a Philistine to realize that Honour was simply borrowing it.

Please share a thought or phrase below that made you go, “Why didn’t I think of that?”


Fat shaming

No, I said "fat" shaming, not "hat" sha... never mind.

No, I said “fat” shaming, not “hat” sha… never mind.

Don’t worry. I’m not getting on my soapbox twice in one night.

Of course, no one is entitled to fat-shame others, and I doubt it produces the allegedly desired effect of  weight loss in the recipient of the shaming.

Unless that recipient is me! That’s right. I’m fat shaming myself. I’m allowed to.

For the past several years my Sketchers have been holding up 200 pounds, or 91 kilograms, of dude. Though I am only of average height, I carry my weight well because I am solidly built. That said, 200 pounds is not great for my health. I didn’t get this way eating carrots.

I decided it was time to lose weight (for real this time). Unfortunately, my willpower is far from amazing, which is why I often diet down to about 195 pounds and then put it right back on.

Two weeks ago, when I started dieting again, I said, “I’m going to do a post about my weight loss goal. Fear of public embarrassment helped me hit the first and second draft deadlines for my novel, so maybe it will work for my diet.”

My Significant Other said, “Yeah. I wouldn’t do that if I were you. You’re far more disciplined as a writer than as an eater.”

The actual comment was probably closer to, “Don’t embarrass yourself, Chubsy Ubsy,” but I’m trying to make her look more supportive than she really is.

Anyway, the scale read 195 pounds this morning. My goal is 175.

I’m not setting a deadline because I have no idea how long it will take, and because I don’t need one. I will either continue to lose weight, or I will cave in to the lure of junk food well before I get anywhere close to 175 pounds.

Wish me luck!

If you’re curious, my diet method is the only one that ever works without the assistance of a surgeon: Burning more calories than I take in.


Catcalling

australopithecus

The Daily Show’s Jessica Williams did a field report on catcalling this week, which you can watch in the two clips below (I don’t know why the segment is broken into two clips, but it’s shorter than six minutes total).

Predictably, the “real men” of the internet who watched the video think all the “sluts” out there should learn how to take a compliment. A few samples from comments thread attached to the Yahoo.com article about the aforementioned Daily Show segment:

catcalling

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Dear Catcallers,

You may consider “Hello,” and “Can I have your number?” to be compliments when directed at a woman passing you on the street. At worst, they are innocuous comments, right?

The thing is, it doesn’t matter if you think it’s harmless. What matters is that women DON’T LIKE IT. Why can’t you get that simple concept into your tiny australopithecine brains? They do not want to be catcalled. They don’t think it’s a compliment. It doesn’t make them feel special. It makes them uncomfortable. Ergo, don’t do it.

It’s all about context. Say “Hello” when you are invited to a party and meet a woman there who was also invited. If she is receptive to your conversation, keep talking. If not, leave her alone. The part about “Can I have your number” should come much later in the conversation. If you’re not a jackass and treat her with respect, she might even ask for your number one of these times!

No one is denying attraction between the sexes or insisting that you can’t look at someone you find attractive. But leering at her and feeling a sense of power because you are making her uncomfortable has nothing to do with attraction. It has to do with you getting a rush at someone else’s expense, which is what catcalling and related behavior really is. If you’re upset at being criticized for that, tough.


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