Friday, August 30, 2013

Ask-A-Dude: Tears of a Clown Edition!

Hello, everyone! Welcome back to another edition of Ask-a-Dude!

Remember, you can ask your own questions using the submission form on the right!

Today's question is:

Q: Do real men ever cry?

A: No. Never.

However, they have been known to sweat from the eyes, shed some of the excess body oil that greases the ocular muscle and, in extreme survival situations, release a drinkable Gatorade-like substance from special eyebrow pores.

So, on occasion, it's possible you saw a man who LOOKED like he was crying, but was, in fact, merely helping his best friend replenish vital electrolytes lost after a fierce game of darts.

But no. Never cry.

Guys don't get crying. It's strange, to leak from the face. And we never saw any man we respected do it in public with the notable exception of Bruce Willis in Die Hard. In the classic scene from the first Die Hard, which came out a million years ago and was actually really, really good, unlike the current AARP commercial set in Russia, John McClane doesn't think he's going to make it out of the Nakatomi Building alive. Quick side note, the Nakatomi Building is referred to as the Die Hard Building by Angelenos. In the scene, John bids a teary farewell to his man-crush, Sgt. Al Powell, the Twinky-loving cop who's afraid to draw his weapon after an accidental shooting years before. . .

My god, just writing about this made me get dust in both my eyes simultaneously.

Anywho, McClane tells Powell to find his wife, ("Don't ask me how, by then you'll know how!") and tell her he loves her. For those of you who weren't born long enough ago to remember Bruce Willis before Cop Out, here's the scene I'm talking about.

Oh, wait, no it isn't, BECAUSE I COULDN'T $%#@ING FIND A CLIP OF THE SCENE! It's one of the most famous macho man crying scenes in all of American cinema and it's like it never existed!

Which actually makes total sense. There's probably not a huge demand for the scene. It's not like guys are logging onto YouTube and typing "Die Hard crying scene" all that often. It's like farting in an elevator. We all know it happened but we're all going to pretend it didn't, and we're certainly not going to go looking for it.

The Guy Mafia apparently scrubbed the scene from the collective consciousness. Never underestimate the length guys will go to to convince you they don't cry.

I bring up the scene because Bruce Willis actually had an argument with the director about keeping it in the film. The director, the awesome John McTiernan (who just sounds like the kind of badass who would direct a movie called Die Hard), didn't think crying was appropriate for the mega-action blockbuster. But Willis felt the film worked on a deeper level because John McClane was an everyman. And everymen aren't bulletproof. The more you fear for the man's safety, the more you care about him, the more the movie works. And what better way to get the predominantly male audience to care about the lone cop in the building than to show the guy busting up about not getting to say goodbye to his wife?

Willis won, the scene stayed in, and the rest is AARP history.

The scene works because the audience connects with the emotion of the moment. And while the movie was popular with both genders, guys made up most of the ticket sales which means they understood the scene as well. It's not like they were totally into the movie and then collectively all went out and got popcorn during that scene. No, guys were on board.

Okay, so maybe we DO get crying, we just don't like to do it publicly. We assume everyone's going to judge us. It's the same logic that makes a guy reluctant to wear a tux. God almighty, there is no act that more quickly brings out the three year old in a grown man than trying to get him into formal wear. A cumberbund? WTF?! I mean look at it, it makes you look like a human bendy-straw!

C'mon, guys. Everyone else at the party is going to be wearing one. And if you're nice about it and don't whine too much, you can even wear Iron Man cufflinks to spice things up.

Guys make too much of crying because most of the crying we see is coming from women, since the rest of us are too scared of being judged. And we're scared for a reason. From the looks of it, that crying shit is painful.

Side note: Kim Kardashian seems over-represented (by several orders of magnitude) in the search results for "ugly cry face." Also, The Claire Danes Cry Face Project is both my new obsession and the name of my One Direction cover band.

Guys, let's put crying in perspective:


Everyone does it, there doesn't have to be a reason for it, it doesn't make you weaker, it's not a big deal and no one in your circle of friends is going to judge you for it.

If we understood that crying is not a big deal, doesn't represent some kind of eternal shame, we might be willing to do it publicly more often, thereby showing other guys it's okay and unleashing a veritable flood of motor-oil flavored eye sweat.

And we NEED that to happen because, ladies, here's the dirty little secret: guys cry ALL THE TIME. Every single guy will deny this but every one of them will secretly remember that time he snuck into Dirty Dancing because the title is Dirty Dancing and cried when that douche dad tried to put baby in a corner. You'll get me into a cumberbund before I'll admit to you how much I weep in private, but I do.

Brothers, wouldn't it be liberating to not have to hide your ugly cry face? Your team made fewer score points in the ball-based competitive tournament? Let it all out, here's a tissue. Missed the bus? Don't hold back, hun, next one's along in five minutes.

And judging by these covertly obtained samples, women have NOTHING over men in the ugly cry face department.
Side note: white people seem to have the ugliest of ugly cry faces.

In answer to your question, we do cry. And if we could just get over the self-consciousness of it all, we would cry more openly. It would become a thing, like, "Hey man, saw you crying the other day about that thing with the Camaro. That was a good cry, yo. Sweet nose-bubbles." Like, we'd make it competitive and come up with ways of scoring it.

And then, if you lost at crying, then there'd be something to cry about.

Copil can be found on Twitter (@Copil), crying like Bruce Willis.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

August Comment of the Month Winner!

Thanks to everyone who leaves us comments on our From the Vault posts! As usual, we had some great answers and choosing our winner was difficult.

Without further ado, in answer to the question What’s your favorite inspirational writing quote, and why?

Christina_Kit left us this month's winning response!

She said:

A writer only begins a book. A reader finishes it." from Samuel Johnson. It's so so true, that it's a partnership and it reminds us that we have to write real, not assume the reader won't "get it", and it's the best way to strive for the best we can while accepting that our real goal is to let the words and our story live a totally separate life in the reader. (also a good way of making sense of bad reviews - all readers are different). 
Also "Appearance blinds, whereas words reveal."-Oscar Wilde Which is so true about EVERYTHING and EVERYONE (and a good way of making sure to create unconventional characters who act differently than we expect them to based on their appearance.)

Congrats Christina! Love the insight into the writer/reader relationship. Drop us an email at yaconfidential [at] gmail [dot] com and tell us what you'd like from The Book Depository as your prize!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Kids These Days

Whoa, 90s fashion was bad.
I’d be lying if I said that phrase hadn’t crossed my lips at some point in recent memory. And every time I even think it, I’m plagued with the realization that I’m becoming that person—the crotchety old-timer who regularly compares today to the “good ole days” when I was a teen in the 90s. Okay, I’m being facetious, but the fact still remains: I am no longer a teenager. *Gasp*

While I can honestly say that’s a huge relief (seriously, my teen years SUCKED), it has an impact on how I approach the books I read and the stories I write. How do I know what teens are into today, how they communicate?  Are they still using Twitter, Facebook, email, fill-in-the-social-media-platform? And then there are the labels…* What do you call someone who dresses in head to toe black? Are they goth, emo, fill-in-the-blank? Is something great considered cool, rad, fetch, whatever? I’m kind of at a loss.

When I was teaching junior high and high school, it was as simple as eavesdropping during class time (I know, I’m a terrible person), but now? I have to do a little more digging. And by digging, I don’t mean mining the CW for material. Because let’s face it, most of the so-called teens on their shows are closer in age to me in my thirties than anybody stressing over getting their driver’s license**, studying for the SATs, or kicking butt one equation at a time as a Mathlete.

So I guess you could say last Sunday's MTV VMAs were a bit like "research". After watching that train wreck of a performance by Miley Cyrus, I was left with a raging case of the olds. Like, “Am I just too damn ancient for this trash?”*** Do kids these days actually enjoy watching Hannah Montana twerk around some Beetlejuice wannabe in her nude-toned bikini doing questionable things with a foam finger? I’m guessing (hoping) not. To be perfectly honest, Teen Me would have been WAY more horrified by that spectacle than Thirty-Something Me. (Then again, Teen Me was a major prude, so…) Basically, I have no idea who their target demographic was, especially when you consider the two-second appearance by ‘N Sync. “’N Who?” you might be asking if you were a teen sometime in this millennium. My point exactly.

There aren't enough facepalms.
And I’m off on some weird tangent… 

What I often find myself wondering is: How much have teens changed since I was one myself? I’d like to think the answer to that question is “Not really all that much” and continue on my merry way, but it’s impossible to disregard the impact of such things as social media, the ever-present cell phone, and the world we live in today. When I was a teen, I never had to worry about cyber-bullying, people being able to reach me everywhere I went via cellphone, keeping up with the latest technology, and so on. Sure I might occasionally pine for the trappings of my youth—hand-written letters FTW (!) and rotary phones (not)—but I can’t ignore what makes today’s teens tick, whatever that might be. (Is it twerking? Please tell me it’s not twerking.)

But then I have to ask myself how much it matters whether I nail the expressions, the labels, what’s in, what’s out. By the time my story is written, these will no doubt be obsolete.**** As surely as yesterday’s Running Man has become today’s Twerking, times change, but at their very core, teens really don’t. Whenever I feel like I’m getting a bit out of touch, I just have to remind myself: Teens have many of the same all-consuming worries, crippling insecurities, and big, bold dreams that I had (and still do). And that’s where the story is. The rest is really just details.

* For the purposes of writing. Not suggesting labels are a good thing.
** Oh wait, that’s still me in my thirties…
*** PSA: Yes. Yes, I am.
**** Not to say that it isn’t important to be in the know.

Monday, August 26, 2013

From the Vault :: Autumn Reads

Every Monday, we post a reading/writing-related question for our followers, and at the end of the month, one lucky commenter is selected to choose a title from our Vault. Whatever we have available: ARCs, signed books, awesome new releases... OR the monthly winner may select any one book to be ordered for him/her from the Book Depository

(To enter, follow YA Confidential and make sure your email address is linked to your comment in some way. We'll need to get in touch with you if you win.)

Today's Question - Fall is right around the corner! Which autumn YA release are you most looking forward to?

Karen – JUST ONE YEAR by Gayle Forman. That woman could write the phone book and I'd be excited to read it. 

Jaime - Only a couple of the awesome books I'm eagerly awaiting this fall: THE DREAM THIEVES by Maggie Stiefvater, and ACROSS A STAR-SWEPT SEA by Diana Peterfreund.

Matt - Is there a list or something? I'm terrible about knowing what's coming up unless a friend of mine wrote it.

Leigh - I'm super-excited about the new Gayle Foreman release, JUST ONE YEAR! But I also need to read the one before it -- LOL! I've been in the cave so long, my TBR pile has gotten backed up!

Alexandra - THE BITTER KINGDOM by Rae Carson!

Alison - THE DREAM THIEVES by Maggie Stiefvater and JUST ONE YEAR by Gayle Forman. Those two rank right up there with my way too overly excited anticipation of Friday Night Football.

Jessica - UNTOLD by Sarah Rees Brennan! IT CAN NOT GET HERE FAST ENOUGH! *grabby hands*

Katy – I’m crazy excited about all the sequels and follow-ups coming up (THE DREAM THIEVES, JUST ONE YEAR, ALLEGIANT), and I also can’t wait to read FANGIRL by Rainbow Rowell, RED by Alison Cherry, and FAULT LINE by Christa Desir.

Erica - I am SUPER excited for PAWN by Aimee Carter - I am curious to see what she will do with such a different genre from her other books.

Your turn! Which autumn YA release are you most looking forward to?

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