Time, at long last, to wrap up Ask Me Anything! February 2012. Huzzah!
Roger, a consistent source of intriguing questions, has a multi-part query:
There's that woman from 2 Broke Girls that you and SamuraiFrog seem to...enjoy. I don't get it. I mean she's got big...she's well-endowed, but her face has a hardness I find singularly unappealing.
Oh, and do you think that beauty is tied to the role one plays. That woman from Castle you like was in an episode of The Closer four or five years ago as a young Russian woman, forced into prostitution. But in Castle, she's strong, which, I think, makes her WAY more attractive. Thoughts?
And where the heck is ROWR?
Well, there's a lot to dig into there. The 2 Broke Girls woman is Kat Dennings, who I do like a lot. I don't find a 'hardness' in her face at all; I like her full features, especially her lips, and...well, just in terms of physical attractiveness, she has gorgeous hair, her body curves, and her face has a '1940s movie star' quality to me, in some way. I also like her a lot on the show, even if the show itself isn't all that good. It's hard to argue logically about what I find attractive; I seem to recall Roger Ebert once writing that Gene Siskel's view on discussing erotica boiled down to "Try and talk a man out of an erection." So there's that. (My sample size on Ms. Dennings is pretty small -- Thor and 2 Broke Girls. I like her in both, but it's not really a large enough sample to have a good sense on her level of staying power.)
And from Castle we have Stana Katic, of whose work I also have a limited exposure – just Castle. But she's awfully, awfully good on that show, both strong and vulnerable; she gets a lot of the show's best lines (the writers do a really good job of spreading the wealth, dialog-wise); she shows a lot of good comic timing; and her chemistry with Nathan Fillion is fantastic. I find the character appealing in all those ways. The actress? Well, that she is able to embody all those qualities is pretty great.
But that's not the question asked – is strength more attractive, or appealing, than weakness? Probably. I've seen a lot of weak characters on all kinds of shows who were much less appealing than other, stronger characters, and there have been times when I've liked certain actors or actresses more in one role than another because of strength or lack thereof. Maura Tierney is a good example: I loved her in NewsRadio, where she was strong and intelligent and professional, but I liked her less – or I liked her character a lot less – in ER, when she seemed to fill the 'wallow in existential misery' portion of the show much of the time that I watched while she was on it.
I do try to really differentiate between characters and the people who portray them. I hated Izzie Stevens on Grey's Anatomy for a lot of reasons, but it was a while before I decided that I didn't like Katherine Heigl much, either, and that was to do with all kinds of stuff I read about how obnoxious she is as a person.
Finally: where is ROWR? For those newer to the blog, ROWR is an occasional series of posts where I highlight women whom I think are both very talented and very beautiful. The series started way back in the early days of the blog, when Britney Spears was still an object of fascination; it really bugged me that she tended to get enormous press and praise despite not being all that talented at all. I moved away from that focus as Ms. Spears started to suffer her own slings of outrageous fortune; it started to feel like I was kicking someone who was down, and that's never pleasant. (Not that she has the first idea who I am, nor should she. Nor should she care if she did.)
But even when I changed the name of the series, it sometimes felt to me like I was somehow engaging in objectification of women, which is something I really don't want to do. I don't know...you tell me, readers! Was I really objectifying? Or can I resume that series as the harmless admiration of beauty and talent that I meant it to be?
Roger also asks:
What is something you often do without realizing that you’re doing it? (I'm a hummer.)
I hum as well...and I tend to sing, under my breath. I also 'write' in my head, playing scenes from my work on the movie screen in my brain, sometimes long before I write them. When I'm doing that, I can get pretty absorbed, and when I get absorbed, I can get a pretty intense facial expression going on, and that particular expression is apparently more "angry" looking than "thoughtful", because people will often say things like "Wow, you look pissed!" Oh well. Can't win 'em all.
But anyway, I find it spectacularly easy to daydream. And I'm not terribly repentant about daydreaming, either. It's an ability that has sustained me through any number of boring lectures, dull meetings, sleep sermons, and repetitive jobs in my life, and it's through daydreaming that I get a lot of the 'heavy lifting' of plotting done for my fiction. Just the other day I solved a structural problem with the climax of Princesses In SPACE!!! (not the actual title) whilst daydreaming.
Roger also asks about the current state of my 'faith journey'. If there really is a journey going on, I'm walking in circles. I refuse to discount science and rationalism, which may make me unwelcome in a lot of Christian circles. My current pastor has a favorite saying, wherein he holds up the Bible and says, "When my life ends, I want to be able to say that I got this right." My problem with that is that the Bible, while full of amazing and wonderful stuff, is also full of stuff that sets my teeth on edge, and I know too much about how the Bible came to be to really be willing to unreservedly endorse it as "God's Word". I just can't help but think that if God was going to issue a book that communicates His will, he wouldn't issue it in as messy a way as he did the Bible. There's just too much humanity in the history of the Bible.
And besides, even if the Bible is an expression of God, by its very nature it's a faulty one, with all the collation and translation issues abundant within it, coupled with the fact that it gathers writings that reflect understandings of things that were in play 2000+ years ago and over a very long time period. It seems to me that the world itself must also be seen as an expression of God, and that if careful study of the world tells us one thing and a literal reading of a book tells us another, then, well, the book loses. Simple as that.
Ultimately...I'm just not convinced. Too much of it just doesn't add up for me. "God hates sin", I'm told...but why did God create a world with sin in it, then? And if God isn't responsible for sin in the world, well, how did we manage to create something that He didn't? I think a lot of a question posed by Plato: Does God love what is moral because it is moral, or are things moral because God makes them moral? Put another way: can God rewrite arithmetic so 2+2=5? I don't know that He can...which automatically poses a logical limit on a God who is supposed to be beyond limits of any kind.
Ultimately, I think I'm attracted to Christianity because I love the stories. But I'm not sure I can ever cross the line to total commitment. And I'm also not sure that this is a bad thing.
Roger also asked me to prognosticate on the Oscars, but I haven't seen any of the films that were nominated, even at this point, so I can't offer any thoughts at all. Sorry!
A reader who prefers to remain anonymous asks:
Do you like everything you read and see, or do you just write about the things you like?
Definitely the latter. I'm more likely to post about a movie I don't like than a book, because I'm much more likely to watch a movie I don't like all the way through than a book. If I'm not liking a book, I'll quit reading it and do something else. And if that happens, I'll rarely conclude that I don't like the book, but rather than I'm not in the mood for it or not attuned to it as of yet. I've had a lot of experiences where I started a book and just not connected with it (I call this "bouncing off the book"), but then returned to it years later and found myself liking it just fine, if not loving it outright. This happens with movies, too, but less frequently.
Ultimately, I'll post about something I dislike if I really really dislike it. A good example is Twilight, because I found my distaste for it kind of interesting, given that I really expected to like it a lot. I don't get as much enjoyment out of writing a good rant as I used to; I'd much rather steer someone toward something that they might like by virtue of my own enthusiasm. So no, I don't like everything. But I'm not a movie critic for a newspaper or something like that; I'm under no obligation to write about things I dislike.
Corduroy overalls, yea, or nay?
Also, denim, deep blue, or faded?
I had a corduroy pair once, but they really fit weird, and corduroy tends to 'hang' differently, so I rarely wore them and eventually I put them on eBay. I like how corduroy looks, but in my experience, I don't like wearing it myself all that much. I own nothing corduroy now, in any article of clothing.
As for the denim: either/or! I like nice, dark denim when it's still fairly stiff (but not super stiff – you gotta wash them a few times). But well-broken in and faded is nice as well. I also like black denim, and I wish they were easier to find (aside from Carhartts, which are ubiquitous – I like Carhartts except for, oddly enough, the style of the shoulder-strap buckles, which always feel kind of weird to me).
Sticking with the overalls, Andy asks:
I have noticed when I wear my overalls that I get A LOT of people doing a 'double take' when they see me. Does this happen to you as well????
I don't notice...but then, I don't pay a whole lot of attention to other people when I'm out and about. It's part of the whole "daydreaming" thing I mention above...I'm really pretty good at divorcing myself from the world, which is a useful skill to have because the world can really suck. I've seen this kind of thing once or twice, but generally I don't care. One time I do remember that I thought was pretty funny – I was shopping, and some girl was snickering when I walked by, and when I glanced back a couple of times, each time she was looking in my direction. Funny thing was...well, not 'funny', but I'm not sure what the word is...she looked terrible. I hate to say this, but...well look, she wouldn't have looked too out of place in that "People Of Wal-Mart" website. So I just consider the source.
From the same anonymous reader above:
Why on Earth would you want to get a pie in the face?
Because it's fun and silly. Do I need a better reason than that? Nope! Hey, don't knock it until you try it!
And finally, from one more anonymous reader:
So what is the title to 'Princesses In SPACE!!!', anyway?
When I know it, I'll tell you!
And with that, thanks for playing, everyone! We'll do this again in August. (Not that you need permission to ask me anything, anytime!)