Friday, January 31, 2014

Ask-A-Dude: Fedora 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: My boyfriend is thinking about getting a fedora. And wearing it. On his head. What do I do?

A: Glad you asked me that, m'lady. My first question is, "How fast can you run?" Like, can you run so fast it turns back time to the day you met him, and then, at the crucial moment when you two met cute by the water fountain outside of homeroom, you trip your most hated enemy into the line of fire, and they end up together? Can you do that?

Because if you can't, you're effed.


Let me be very clear on this: there is no good that can come from a fedora-wearing boyfriend. None. Unless, of course, your boyfriend is Matt Bomer or Taye Diggs.


Is your boyfriend either of these guys? No? No fedora for him, then.
Also, if you're a famous, globe-trotting acheologist, or a 1960's-era advertising executive with a mysterious past. That's about it.

There was a fascinating thread on Reddit a few days ago talking about the "Fedora Persona." What is the Fedora Persona, you ask? You probably know at least one, every school has one. Here are some defining characteristics:

1. He calls you m'lady
2. He kisses your hand upon meeting you for the first time
3. His fedora is cheap, likely second hand, always ill-fitting
4. Stained, screen-printed tees and jeans round out his outfit
5. Dusters or trench coats, never a hoodie or jacket
6. Awkward syntax when talking to women, as in, "Perchance would you care to accompany me on an outing?"

If you don't know this guy, consider yourself lucky. The problem here is not about fashion. As you can see in the pictures above, it is possible to pull off a fedora. But even a handsome man in a fedora, who meets one or more of the criteria I listed, will come across as a creeper.

Why do guys wear the fedora? That one's easy. They've seen good-looking guys, who have tons of admirers, wearing them. Who wouldn't want to look like Cary Grant in his prime?

Soon after this picture was taken, Hand Fedoras really took off.
But notice the difference between the picture above, and this one:

Does this hat make my celibacy look big?
Here's the thing, the guy in the second picture looks handsome enough. A haircut, a shave, some clothing that doesn't fit him like a mortician's suit, fix all that and you have a bro with a chance to charm some young man or woman into a dinner date. But even if you did all that, but don't get rid of the Fedora Persona, the make-over is a bust.

I get hats. Trilbys, newsboys, fedoras, cloches, even cowboys, they all have their allure. And when you see them in the catalog, they look great. This is because the model wearing them has been airbrushed to within an inch of his life, his clothing chosen by a highly-paid fashion consultant whose job is it to make him look good. But it's not about the hat. It's about the clothing and the confidence that goes with it, the background, the props. If you wear a cowboy hat, you'd better be wearing the right boots, sitting atop a fine horse, and have the American midwest stretching out behind you.

If you're wearing a cowboy hat, cargo shorts and a hoodie, I just, I can't, I don't even.

As helpful Redditors explained to the person who asked "Do women really not like the whole 'fedora' persona?" it's not the fedora part that's always off-putting, it's the persona part. The man who dons a Fedora Persona pretends to be a romantic. He's so fed up with the sickness of modern society that he affects the trappings of an earlier time (conveniently forgetting that those earlier times weren't exactly awesome for the very women he might be trying to woo). He's a white knight, railing against the brutish gorillas always hitting on the love of his life, the man or woman he won't tell how he feels because he's "afraid of ruining a beautiful friendship."

A lot of us have been there, man, pining for someone who, deep in our hearts, we know doesn't see us that way. But we think that making ourselves available to that person at any time of day or night to offer a reassuring hug or a supportive word, might make them eventually realize we're the best thing they have going. The problem, of course, is that, by putting someone on a pedestal, you're placing them in the proper position to look down on you.

More importantly, if you create an image of someone as being perfect, what do you think happens when that person turns out to be human? The fedora-wearer gets angry, talks about being "friend-zoned," plays the victim. All because the object of his affection obsession had the audacity to not live up to his unrealistic expectations. 

I wore weird stuff in high school (double-breasted suits, berets, glitter ties), for the same reason a lot of awkward people wear fedoras now: I wanted attention, but didn't want to put the effort into earning it. Rather than ask a girl her name, and learn the art of banter, it was easier to just let her laugh at me. I'd join in, make a joke about it, own it. But I never dated in high school for the same reason the Fedora Persona creeps out a lot of women: I was wearing a personality, instead of having one.

The guy in the Reddit thread had several hundred responses from women, overwhelmingly against the Fedora Persona. Even a few LARPers and Ren Fair enthusiasts came out to say the Fedora Persona was bad news.

Bro, when the LARPers are telling you to tone it down, you best heed their advice.

There was so much opposition to the Fedora Persona, one Redditor wrote, "I feel like this guy's world is coming down around his ears." To which, I suspect, the guy answered that, no, it wasn't, because the protective brim of his fedora deflected most of it.

Clearly he missed the point. As worn by most guys who don't know a dress shoe from a boat cleat, the fedora is not only unattractive, it's a HUGE red-flag that the wearer should be avoided at all costs.

So what does Fedora Guy do in the face of excellent arguments and personal anecdotes that point to the creepiness of the Fedora Persona?

Why, double-down, of course. The user who started the thread seemed genuinely surprised that women wouldn't want him to slobber on their hand upon first meeting them, or essentially erased their personally-defined womanhood in favor of his idealized version. More shockingly, the guy picked through the answers to highlight the two or three comments that actually said they liked the Fedora Persona.

It's a big world, so, yes, there is probably someone for everyone. But it kind of makes the point that the only women who actually like the Fedora Persona, are women who have arrived at that conclusion for themselves.

So, m'lady, what to do about your boyfriend who's thinking of buying a fedora?

Ask him why. Is it because he wants to look like Taye Diggs? Remind him that Taye is wearing about $9,000 worth of clothes with his, and is confident as hell. That last quality alone makes up for a million fedoras.

Does he want one because he wants to stand out in a crowd, to make an impression, to be seen? Calmly explain that wearing a creepy clown outfit would have the same effect, and likely result in fewer eye-rolls.

Whatever you do, DO NOT SUPPORT HIM IN THIS. I know being supportive of our partners' dreams is critical to a healthy relationship. But you wouldn't support your honey if he or she wanted to try meth, you know, just for giggles, right? Meth, fedora, to-ma-to, to-mah-to, it's all the same. Even one experiment with either can end in a barrel of acid. You know I'm right.

Fedora, Not Even Once - FEDORA NOT EVEN ONCE



Copil's day job is at the Trilby Hat Manufacturers Association. His negative view of fedoras is in no way related to his employment. For more conflicts of interest, follow him on Twitter (@Copil).

Thursday, January 30, 2014

January Comment of the Month Winner!

We're so excited to see some new folks swinging by and taking part in our From the Vault Mondays this month. Yay! We're so happy you decided to join us. Thank you to everyone who left such great responses to the questions we asked in January. We'd love to send all of you all the books, but sadly, we can only pick one winner.

We asked you:
What's your comfort book, the one you reread when times are tough?

And JENNY BAILEY said:

"I have a bunch of cozy mysteries that I inherited from my grandmother - the Cat Who series by Lillian Jackson Braun - they are not particularly sophisticated and most of the characters are 80 years old but they are very nostalgic for me. Reading any of them makes me feel like I'm nine years old again, sitting out on the porch of the lake house where I spent my summers, wondering why anyone in their right mind would write a book where old people actually dated, but enduring those parts because the cats were cool."


Congrats, Jenny! Just send us a quick email at yaconfidential [at] gmail [dot] com with your choice of book from The Book Depository, and we'll get that sent off to you right away. Thanks again, everyone, for taking part in our From the Vault Mondays!


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

New Year, New Operatives!!

. . .bee-doh, bee-doh, bee-doh. . . 
!We have new Operatives!

Guise, guise, guise! This is bigger than Bitcoin! And we want everyone to know! We want to scream it through a bullhorn! We want to put on glittery Louboutins and sing pagan celebration ditties while wearing form-fitting silk gowns!

No? I'm getting word that apparently everyone agreed a simple post would be more dignified. Whatevs.

*reluctantly removes glittery Louboutins*

In all seriousness, we are so proud to announce the newest members of our family. Expect to see their signatures under brilliant posts in the months to come. Please help me welcome Sarah Ahiers and Tracey Neithercott to our Operative ranks!

Love! Love EVERYWHERE! 
Below is more information about Sarah and Tracey. Take a moment to visit their personal blogs and follow them on Twitter. You'll soon discover exactly what we did: both of these women have serious YA street cred, work like squirrels on meth, and one of them may be responsible for a series of bank robberies in the Pacific Northwest. Nope, we won't spoil the surprise, you'll just have to friend them on Facebook.

And, this just in!
Get it? Just In? Justin?
(be here all week, folks) 
Head over to Sarah's blog RIGHT NOW! As we were putting the finishing touches on this announcement, Sarah had one of her own. One of our newest bloggers is newly agented! We're so happy for you, Sarah!

Now, please put away your safety-scissors, grab your lovey from its peg, and sit quietly on the rug. I SAID QUIETLY! This is YA Confidential, not some Cumberbitch Tumblr free-for-all! We. Have. Rules.

That's better. Please say hello to our new Operatives!


Operative: Tracey Neithercott

Codename: T-Bone

Legend: Once interviewed with the CIA. If she told you the rest of the story, she’d have to kill you. Now, she interrogates subjects for magazine articles and writes YA books about stubborn girls, persistent boys, and worlds not quite our own.

Known Whereabouts: http://thewordsonpaper.blogspot.com, @T_Neithercott

Known Accomplices: The Husband, who believes she’s a lowly desk clerk at a nondescript company.



Operative: Sarah Ahiers

Codename: Que Sera Sarah

Legend: Once put out a mattress fire in a dorm room with a bucket of water. Yes, the fire extinguisher would have been quicker and smarter, but the bucket and sink were right there. Currently writes about teens in fantasy lands or terrifying places, showing that sometimes the light shines brightest in the dark.

Known Whereabouts: http://falenformulatesfiction.blogspot.com, @SarahAhiers

Known Accomplices:  A house full of critters and a legitimate clone

From all the rest of of us at YAC, welcome aboard, newbies! We LOVE YOU!!


Monday, January 27, 2014

From the Vault - Comfort Books


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: What’s your comfort book, the one you reread when times are tough?

Copil - NIGELLISSIMA: EASY ITALIAN-INSPIRED RECIPES by Nigella Lawson

Matthew - I don't really read to weather tough times, instead I drink cheap wine from a box, but when I was younger, I read THE LORD OF THE RINGS every spring, and it brought me no small comfort.

Jaime - I don’t really pick up and reread any particular book(s) for comfort, but I do turn to books in general to distract myself. There’s nothing quite like getting lost in a completely different world to take you out of yours for a bit. For this reason, I think I tend to migrate toward sci-fi and fantasy to help facilitate that escapism.

Katy - Jandy Nelson’s THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE is one I keep going back to. The writing and the angst and all those kisses -- so beautiful! Any of the HARRY POTTER books are great for rereads as well.

Tracey - I have nothing against deep, meaningful books that say great things about the world, but when I feel like crap I want the literary equivalent of an entire box of jellybeans with all of the black licorice ones removed. I’m not talking about fluffy books with poor character development or lame plots, but fast-paced and funny novels with romances that end up happily ever after. My favorite: AUDREY, WAIT! by Robin Benway. Which, by the way, happens to be one of my favorite books for any mood because of its hilarious voice and killer dialog.

Leigh - I usually pull down either a Sarah Dessen (THAT SUMMER is a fave), Deb Caletti (HONEY, BABY, SWEETHEART) or THE BEAN TREES (Kingsolver). THE BEAN TREES always makes me laugh... <3

Sarah - For me I have two comfort books: HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN (J.K. Rowling)(natch) and DRAGONSONG by Anne McCaffrey. I've read DRAGONSONG so many times that I've worn copies out and had to replace them. The only problem is, once I start reading it, then I want to read all the other Pern books and there are a lot of them. And PRISONER OF AZKABAN is either my favorite or second favorite Harry Potter book (#3 and #5 are tied for me).

Chihuahua Zero - Comfort book? Sorry, but I find that an album like Cermonials by Florence + the Machine is better for those tough times. Literature is more of a drawn-out burn to me, while music can bring me up in a shorter amount of time.

Your turn! What’s your comfort book, the one you reread when times are tough?

Monday, January 20, 2014

From the Vault :: 2014 Releases

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 ~ What are your most anticipated 2014 releases?

Copil – RITES OF PASSAGE by Joy Hensley (September, 2014). I was so fortunate to have an early peek at this one, and it is absolutely fantastic. A pitch-perfect YA about the first girl at an all-boys military high school, and the cabal that wants her out. Such an interesting world, told in a beautiful way.

Matthew - GRASSHOPPER JUNGLE, by Andrew Smith. RELAX I'M A NINJA, by Natalie Whipple. GUY IN REAL LIFE, by Steve Brezenoff. CONTROL, by Lydia Kang. THESE GENTLE WOUNDS, by Helene Dunbar. 100 SIDEWAYS MILES, by Andrew Smith. NOGGIN, by John Corey Whaley. I could go on forever with these.

Katy – INTO THE STILL BLUE by Veronica Rossi, FROZEN by Erin Bowman, OPEN ROAD SUMMER by Emery Lord, DREAMS OF GODS AND MONSTERS by Laini Taylor, ISLA AND THE HAPPILY EVER AFTER by Stephanie Perkins, COMPLICIT by Stephanie Kuehn, PUSH GIRL by Jessica Love, BLEED LIKE ME by Christa Desir, and THE EIGHTH GUARDIAN by Meredith McCardle. Those should keep me busy for a while!

Jaime - I haven’t sat down and looked at everything coming out this year, but I do know I’m eagerly awaiting: INTO THE STILL BLUE (Veronica Rossi), CRESS (Marissa Meyer), IGNITE ME (Tahereh Mafi), DREAMS OF GODS AND MONSTERS (Laini Taylor), RUIN AND RISING (Leigh Bardugo), RAVEN CYCLE #3 (Maggie Stiefvater), THRONE OF GLASS #3 (Sarah J. Maas), RAGING STAR (Moira Young), ISLA AND THE HAPPILY EVER AFTER (Stephanie Perkins), THE GEOGRAPHY OF YOU AND ME (Jennifer E. Smith), and loads more I’m quite certain.

Chihuahua Zero - I'm out of the loop when it comes to literary releases. From a quick scan of upcoming books, PANIC by Lauren Oliver stands out. Even though REQUIEM was a bit of a letdown, the author still interests me.

What about you? What 2014 books are you most eagerly anticipating? 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier


Formally one of my biggest gap books (YA from the 70s--who knew?) I've finally finished Robert Cormier's classic tale of teenage bullying and prep school cruelty THE CHOCOLATE WAR, and am here to tell you: there's a reason this one's considered a classic. Before I get to my reaction, let Goodreads fill you in on the basics:

Jerry Renault ponders the question on the poster in his locker: Do I dare disturb the universe? Refusing to sell chocolates in the annual Trinity school fund-raiser may not seem like a radical thing to do. But when Jerry challenges a secret school society called The Vigils, his defiant act turns into an all-out war. Now the only question is: Who will survive? First published in 1974, Robert Cormier's groundbreaking novel, an unflinching portrait of corruption and cruelty, has become a modern classic.

It's a little difficult to compare this book to modern YA, because plot conventions and rules for POV and so on were different back then, and there was really no such thing as YA at the time (my used mass-market paperback copy actually had the category crossed out, and YA written in with pen), but it's fascinating to see and think about what makes this story work anyway.

For example, it's told mainly from the point of view of its would be hero: Freshman Jerry Renault, in a 3rd Person POV that is a little hard to pin down on the limited-omniscient spectrum, but there are also sections that focus on the so-called antagonists, Archie Costello, his benefactor (and the acting headmaster of the school), Brother Leon, and countless other boys who attended Trinity with them, sometimes showing up even for only one short "scene."

And yet ... it works. Partially because Cormier's characters are so vividly drawn, and his understanding of the subtleties of human nature (especially cruelty and skilled manipulation) runs so deep, but also partially because it's a setting so ripe and ready for conflict and tension that very little in the way of forward moving plot is necessary.

Don't get me wrong, there is a plot, but it's so brilliant in its simplicity it could have been almost anything. Yes, there's a chocolate selling drive that any of us in our 30s will recognize well from our youths, and yes there is a "war" so to speak over who will sell the chocolates and who will not, but this story isn't about chocolate or school spirit or any of that nonsense.

This story is about human cruelty, and the lengths that we will go to perpetuate the positions of institutional power or social prominence that we may at times achieve. There are no real heroes, and no true villains, but every single character is portrayed with such brutal honesty, I was shocked to think how old the book was.

These are some of the stars:

Archie Costello - technically probably the antagonist, Archie is a real ass, a true sadist, and the kind of person I would probably avoid or get into a fistfight with in real life, but as a writer, he was probably my favorite character. There is something about the way he moves about the page that speaks to true artistry and mastery of the craft. Many people seem to agree.

Brother Leon - a real lowlife, Brother Leon is of course in a position of great power. As cruel as Archie, but less creative, to me he ended up playing second fiddle to our fabulous villain. I mean, he was great, to be sure, and Cormier beautifully played out the adult/teenager teacher/student administrator/underling dynamic on many occasions, and in any other book Brother Leon would be a great villain, but he gets upstaged by Archie too much.

Jerry Renault - technically the hero or protagonist, Jerry is great, and you have to love him for his determination, "I'm Jerry Renault and I'm not going to sell the chocolates," but he's also a bit of a brooding young fellow, and I can't help but wonder - in the 70s, was every single played on the football team called a guard? Seems like everybody plays guard in this book.

Anyway, this one is highly recommended for anyone who loves YA. It's a classic for a reason.

Has anyone read it? What do you think?

Monday, January 13, 2014

From the Vault

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: Have you set any reading or writing related goals for the New Year? 

Copil - Sometimes I pick up a book and think, "I should be reading something else, something in my genre." But I've given myself permission to read whatever I'm passionate about and trust that the stuff I love will take me where I want to go.

Matthew - Get an agent, sell a book, get rich, rule the world.

Katy – My writing goal is to revise and polish the manuscript I wrote last year so it’s read for CP/beta/agent feedback, and have it ready to go on submission sometime mid-year. Reading-wise, I don’t have a specific goal for the number of books I read, but I do want to focus on talking about the books I love even more, as well as give them plenty of hype on my blog.

Chihuahua Zero - Writing-wise, I'm determined to finish at least one novel by the end of the year and have it in a publishable state. I'll then either start querying or prepping it for self-publication.

Your turn! Have you set any reading or writing related goals for the New Year? We’d love to hear about them!

 
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