Tag Archives: men and women

On Conditioning The Brain (For Love)

In nearly every love story, the actual process of falling in love is the easy part. A man sees a beautiful woman. A woman see’s a handsome man. A man see’s another beautiful man or a woman see’s another beautiful woman. Sexy romantic activities follow. People don’t need much incentive or reason to fall in love is what I’m saying.

The real challenge, and the main struggle in those same love stories, is convincing someone else to love them back. It can be an all-encompassing, all-consuming struggle that inspires epic quests, blood feuds, and kinky fantasies of every kind, from the genuinely heart-warming to the downright disturbing.

In most stories, those elaborate efforts either pay off or make for the kind of Shakespearean tragedy that crushes the spirits of every high school English student for generations. Love stories have a special knack for hitting a broad spectrum of emotions, from the kind that makes us cry to the kind that makes us horny. That’s a big part of their appeal and that’s the kind of appeal I try to capture in my novels.

As epic as these love stories can be, on top of the sex appeal they inherently bring, there’s one key element to love that’s easy to overlook, but impossible to avoid. No matter who you or a character in a story falls in love with, you can’t do much with that feeling if the person you love isn’t receptive to it on some level. Even if they don’t eventually love you back, you work under the assumption that they’re open to love.

That’s usually a pretty safe assumption. Between the novels I write, as well as the many other epic love stories that have been written, it’s clear that humans are a very passionate species. We fall in love almost as often as we go to war for stupid reasons. It’s literally hardwired into our brain.

However, it’s that same wiring that makes love such an erratic, fleeting emotion. It’s the primary reason why that, until recently, a marriage built around love was seen as unstable. That makes an unsexy bit of sense when you think about it. Given how easily we fall in love with others, or how horny we get after being with one person for a while, relying on love to hold a marriage together seems like a bold bet with long odds.

Granted, it’s a beautiful thing when it pays off. However, as with any bet that has such high stakes, it’s safe to assume that someone will try to cheat in order to change the odds. Why else would so many stories involve love potions, spells, and elaborate lies that blow up in someone’s face?

While those kinds of manipulations can be dishonest, and more than a little creepy, it’s also understandable. It’s an unfair world full of unfeeling people who seem eager to crush your emotions, burn them to a crisp, and spit on the ashes. If there was a way to just nudge someone’s emotions to be in line with your own, wouldn’t you take it?

That leads to a distressing, but relevant question. It’s part philosophical, part practical, and part ethically suspect. I know those are a lot of conflicting parts, but bear with me because it affects our love lives and our sex lives so it’s pretty damn important. Here it is and feel free to take as much time as you need to contemplate it.

“Is a love that is conditioned, coerced, or magically conjured in someone any less sincere?”

I know what the knee-jerk reaction to that sort of question is. The idea that any kind of love that’s forced is somehow sincere seems like something you shouldn’t imply unless you’re wearing a suit of adamantium armor. Most love stories built around forced love tends to either fall apart or turn into some twisted form of BDSM erotica. It can even show up in classic Disney movies, albeit indirectly.

In a perfect world full of singing animals and naked supermodels, love would never have to be conditioned or coerced. Those in love would just need to follow the steps laid out in every John Hughes movie ever made and that’s it. You’ll win the love of whoever you desire.

Sadly, we know this isn’t a perfect world. Animals don’t sing. You have to pay to see naked supermodels. Love and heartache aren’t always mutually exclusive either. Every other love song ever made is proof of that. So why shouldn’t we entertain the thought that a magic love potion every now and then might be warranted?

The substance of this question was inspired, in part, by the post I did about the less pleasant details of Marvel’s defacto Wonder Woman, Carol “Captain Marvel” Danvers. Early in her history, one of Carol Danvers’ most defining stories came when she was manipulated by a powerful being named Marcus Immortus into falling in love with her.

Sure, he did it so he could impregnate her and be reborn before he died of accelerated aging, but his tactic worked. He did get Carol to fall in love with her and bear his child. It might be one of the most infamous Marvel stories that doesn’t involve clones, time travel, or deals with the devil. Some go so far as to call it rape and that wouldn’t be entirely wrong in certain jurisdictions.

That still doesn’t change the actual results of Immortus’ efforts. As much as asshole as he is, does that make Carol’s emotions in the story any less real? From her perspective, does it really matter if the love she feels is forced, conditioned, or magically conjured? It’s easy for anyone not in Carol’s position to be disgusted by that kind of treachery. When you’re in love, though, you tend not to care much for those kinds of details.

It has been well-documented in both science and any number of one night stands. Being in love is like a drug, one that induces a sense of euphoria on par with a cocaine binge with Led Zeppelin. Your brain, being the crude hunk of biomatter that it is, doesn’t care about the circumstances. It loves to love. It wants to love. It doesn’t give a wet fart where it comes from. When it happens, it lets us know how awesome it is.

It doesn’t help that the brain is incredibly easy to fool. Con artists, street magicians, and used car salesmen all know this better than anyone. The brain, as wonderfully complex as it is, can be tricked and manipulated. If someone can evoke the right chemical cocktail in your cerebral cortex, it won’t ask twice. It might not even ask once. If it checks all the right boxes, we’ll get that same passionate rush.

It’s a disturbing thought, but it’s distressingly easy to imagine. Say, for instance, that someone conditioned another to love them the same way Marcus Immortus did with Carol Danvers. That person now loves them with all their heart. They don’t know, nor do they care, how that love happened. They just feel it and that’s all there is to it.

Now, imagine that same person living the rest of their life with that conditioned love. They never find out that it was forced or conjured within them. To them, it’s as real as any genuine, non-coerced love that we’ve ever felt. They love someone and feel loved in return. They go to their graves having felt that love, experienced it, and cherished it with all their hearts.

While the idea of creating that kind of love seems distressing, requiring that someone has no respect whatsoever for someone else’s individual autonomy, it does seem oddly pragmatic. It even seems like a win-win on some levels. One person gets the lover they want. The other gets to live a life immersed in the high that is love. Other than the guilt one person might feel for resorting to such tactics, it’s not like anyone really suffers.

I don’t bring this issue up to undermine the profound nature of love. As an aspiring erotica/romance writer, contemplating these things and asking these sometimes unsexy questions are just part of the job. Capturing the appeal of love in a novel is something I try to do with every story I write. I did my best with “Passion Relapse.” I hope I succeed even more with “Rescued Hearts.”

However, there’s no denying the complexities of love and the passions behind it. They’re not always pure. They’re not always sexy either. Stories like that of Carol Danvers and Marcus Immortus highlight a fundamental tension, of sorts, within the nature of love. Our brains can’t always tell the difference when a feeling is real or induced.

At the end of the day, though, does that really matter? Isn’t a feeling as powerful as love worth it? It’s something to contemplate when scrutinizing love or telling sexy stories. As long as we remain such a passionate species, we’ll keep seeking that feeling with our hearts, our genitals, and everything in between.

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Do Prenups Help (Or Hurt) Marriages?

Whenever we hedge our bets on something, be it a major life decision or a poker game, it’s often a tacit admission that we may fail and more often than not, that’s the first step towards failure. Being careful or proactive doesn’t give the impression that you’re all that confident. A lack of confidence is also not very sexy either so some people may not be inclined to be that careful.

Granted, there are some bets we don’t mind hedging on. Why else would we buy insurance or demand that our heart surgeons be licensed? It doesn’t matter how confident you might be. There’s nothing sexy about getting heart surgery from the medical equivalent of a drunk plumber.

We, as a society, are somewhat erratic about the things we should and shouldn’t hedge our bets on. There’s a constant push and pull between being proactive and being bold. We want to sound confident, but we also don’t want to risk crashing a drag racer into a hill just to get laid.

With that in mind, here’s a simple questions that we’ve all probably asked ourselves, albeit indirectly. Just how proactive should we be when it comes to our love lives? I’m not talking about avoiding parents or wearing condoms either. Specifically, I’m talking about marriage and how we approach it. Even more specifically, I’m talking about prenuptial agreements.

It’s somewhat telling that most people don’t know much about these fairly mundane, legally-binding contracts that have been around for decades. They’re not complex financial laws or esoteric provisions of the tax code. A prenup is a simple, legal way to ensure that if a marriage fails, the hard, heartbreaking work is already done.

According to FindLaw.com, the simplest purpose of a prenuptial agreement is to “establish the property and financial rights of each spouse in the event of a divorce.” If children are involved, it can resolve that too. Again, it’s like doing the hardest work ahead of time, just in case it becomes necessary. In terms of being proactive with your love life, it’s both prudent and practical.

It also has an unspoken, but distinct stigma to it and for entirely understandable reasons. The mere act of considering a prenup for your marriage implies that you think it’s possible it may fail. When you’re young, in love, and still having great sex, who wants to think that? Hell, if your lover even joked about it, what would that reveal about your relationship?

It’s a distressing thought. That’s why prenups are usually associated with rich people and famous celebrities. In fact, the provisions of some of these prenups seem downright insane to non-famous, non-eccentric people. That may be why prenups have a somewhat mixed reputations.

However, celebrities and the super rich have a lot more to lose than their hearts in a marriage. It’s understandable that they’d be more proactive than most. Unfortunately, it also means that celebrities are more than twice as likely to divorce. That may be another part of why prenups have a bad reputation. They’re loosely correlated with more divorce.

That brings me back to the title of this article and the obvious question that too few people ask. Do prenuptial agreements help a marriage or are they detrimental in the long run? Based on what I’ve just explained about the mentality behind prenups, the answer would seem obvious. That’s just it, though. We really don’t know.

At the moment, we’re still clinging to the mentality that if you want a prenup, then you’re setting your marriage up for failure. That’s a dangerous, not to mention short-sighted understanding of marriage and relationships. While there is some research to hint that having a prenup doesn’t increase your chances of divorce, there’s very little information on what this means for the health of a relationship, as a whole.

At the same time, we constantly hear the whining from the family values crowd about the declining rates of marriage. It’s not at all unfounded, either. Fewer and fewer people are getting married, especially among younger people. There are many potential reasons for this, but there’s one in particular that I want to focus on, as it relates to prenups.

I’ve talked about it before, albeit in part. This time, I want to be a bit more blunt. To all those worried about declining marriage rates, increasing divorce rates, and young people humping without consequence, I have an important message that needs to be belabored.

If you’re a man, marriage for is a TERRIBLE deal.

I know it sounds like I’m just echoing timeless words of Al Bundy, but bear with me. In order to show just how bad a deal marriage is for men, allow me to paint a scenario. It’s not a thought experiment because this is, for all intents in purposes, how it plays out in the real world.

You and your lawyer are sitting across the table from a potential partner and their lawyer. Their lawyer presents you a partnership contract. In that contract, it says that you are to only ever conduct personal business with them until the day you die. If, however, the other party decides to dissolve the contract at any time and for any reason, then they get half of your assets, by default. If you happen have any children, the partner very likely take sole custody of them, as well. Would you sign that contract?

Most people, if they looked at the fine print in that scenario, wouldn’t sign that contract, even on a dare or while drunk. It’s a horribly unequal contract. It effectively asks the man to go against his own interests. It also gives the woman a distressing amount of incentive to end the marriage. When there’s a financial incentive to do anything, it usually skews the odds. Marriage is no different.

This scenario also reflects the impact that “no-fault divorce” has had on marriage in recent decades. That’s a fairly recent development, as well. Instead of needing a reason to dissolve a marriage, it can be done on a whim and the man, who may not have even done anything wrong, gets screwed over. In that context, the decline in marriage is entirely understandable.

It should also explain why men are so reluctant to get married in the first place these days. The incentives aren’t just awful. It creates a legally-binding inequality within a relationship. In both marriage and divorce, the woman has the benefit when it comes to custody of children and alimony payments. Even so, a man who is reluctant to marry is seen as someone who doesn’t love his significant other as much as he should.

This brings me back to prenuptial agreements. As it stands, only five percent of divorces occur in couples who had a prenup and only three percent of couples planning to get married have a prenup. While the number of marriages that have prenups are increasing, it’s still not that common and there’s still a stigma to it.

So what would happen if every marriage from here on out required a prenuptial agreement? Moreover, what would happen if the structure of the marriage made the responsibilities between the man and the woman equal? It’s an honest, sincere question because, as an aspiring erotica/romance writer, I’m all for love. I’m all for marriage. I too would like to get married one day.

However, marriage in its current state doesn’t just scare me. It seems downright unsexy. It almost seems to take advantage of men who are so hopelessly in love that they don’t think about what will happen if something goes wrong . Granted, no man wants to think about that, especially when they’re in love, but it can cause a lot of pain and heartache down the line.

I’m not saying prenuptial agreements will fix the current state of marriage or gender dynamics between men and women. However, I do think that we’re straining our ability to love each other when our relationships are so inherently unequal. I’ve championed love between equals in the past. I think that’s the kind of love that will improve our love lives, our sexy lives, and our marriages in the future.

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On Nice Guys, Women, And Whining

We’ve all heard it before. We’ve either experienced it, know someone who has, or seen at least fifteen movies built around the concept. There’s a guy sitting myself, his head held low as his lips quiver with sorrow. He’s sad. He’s lonely. Nobody likes him and women would rather endure amputation rather than touch his cock. When anyone asks about it, he tells the same boring story.

“I’m a nice guy! Why don’t women want to be with me? I’m not some jerk or asshole. What’s wrong with them?”

On some levels, we have sympathy for guys like that. Yes, I know there are women who feel this way too, but a generation of teen movies, romantic comedies, and high school drama has conditioned us to hear a male voice every time we hear this overplayed diatribe of angst.

Since I’m not in a position to undo that conditioning, I won’t try. Just bear with me because this is an important message to anyone who has either said those words or heard them from someone else. I don’t want to underscore the depths of that loneliness and angst. I’ve been there too. However, there is a context worth pointing out here.

Call it what you want. We really don’t have a label for it. I call it it “The Nice Guy Whine.” Unlike the wine you can drink, this one doesn’t get better with age. It’s one of those overplayed tropes that play out way too much in both the real world and in fiction. Movies like “10 Things I Hate About You” and “She’s Out Of My League” try to make it interesting and sexy. It doesn’t make the whining any less annoying, though.

They’re frustrated, isolated, and in utter despair. They’re nice guys. They do the right things. They’re generally well-behaved, law-abiding, and friendly. They don’t hurt anyone or go out of their way to make trouble. They’re just genuinely nice guys. So why won’t the beautiful women they want to get with hook up with them?

I don’t deny it’s hard and I’m not just talking about genitals here. As I’ve said before, we humans are a social, passionate species. We seek connection and intimacy. I’m not just talking about the kind we do between the sheets either, although that is part of it.

We want to find love. We want to be with someone. In terms of core needs, that’s right up there with food, water, and sufficient WiFi. When we don’t get that connection and intimacy, we get lonely and upset. That’s to be expected. Our brains and bodies know we need that intimate connection. When we don’t get it, it tries to do everything possible to get you to seek it, even if it means the occasional awkward boner.

So what’s going on here? Why is it that nice guys just can’t get any? Well, as someone who once asked those same questions and did plenty of Nice Guy Whining himself, I’d like to offer a clear and concise answer. For all the fictional characters and real people in this world who’ve whined like I have, listen up. This might be the most important thing you hear that doesn’t involve the IRS.

“Being a nice guy isn’t enough. The vast majority of the planet is full of nice people. By whining about it, you’re indirectly insulting every man or women who doesn’t want to be with you because you make it about them and not you.”

Reading that out loud, I’m sure it sounds harsh. Trust me, it’s not meant to be that harsh. It’s supposed to reveal a simple truth and it’s actually uplifting on some levels when you think about it.

It’s true. Most of the people in this world, including the guys, are nice. We only think it’s full of mean assholes because they’re the ones who make the news, get reality TV shows, and star in movies, albeit for all the wrong reasons.

The fact that these assholes get our attention is actually proof that most people are nice. Things don’t get our attention unless they’re rare, dangerous, or shaped like female breasts. Even science bears it out. People today are generally nicer and more decent to one another than they’ve ever been.

Why does this matter? Well, it matters because by whining about being a nice guy, you might as well be whining about the sky being blue or water being wet or tits being awesome. You act as though the mere fact you’re alive and not dissecting animals in your basement is reason enough for your dream girl to be with you.

Step back for a moment and think about that. You’re a nice guy. I don’t doubt that. Even so, why should that be your primary appeal to a woman? What else do you have to offer? What sort of skills, passions, and personality traits do you bring to the table? I’m not saying you’re devoid of those things. I’m just saying these are questions you haven’t bothered answering.

I ask them with the full understanding that I’ve done plenty of whining like that too. There were plenty of times, especially in my teenage years, when I whined about the girls I liked not wanting to be with me. For a time, it left me very depressed and extremely isolated. It was not a good feeling.

However, I’m not good at lying to myself so I was able to answer that question on my own. In addition to having a debilitating acne problem, I had piss-poor social skills and did not take care of myself. I like to think I was pretty nice in general, but how does that make up for the utter lack of benefits I would bring to a woman?

I know I have much more to offer now because I’ve actually worked on myself. I’ve taken the time to develop new skills and abilities. In addition to being nice, I’m very physically fit. I run at least 15 miles a week. I lift weights. I try to watch my diet. By most measures, I’m a physically attractive man.

In addition to my looks, I’ve got other benefits to offer. I have a car. I have no credit card debt. I have a steady job. I’m very skilled in terms of writing passionate, sexy stories meant to moisten panties. Believe it or not, these are skills that women find attractive. Just being nice is only a base requirement. Everything else on top of that are premium features.

It may sound cynical, the idea that being nice isn’t enough and you actually have to sell yourself somewhat. It gives the impression that people only want to be with you because you can do something for them. Well, how is that any different than what you want from them? It’s a bit crass, I know, but it’s entirely pragmatic when you think about it.

Part of being a social creature is bringing something unique to the table. Maybe it’s a skill. Maybe it’s a personality. Maybe it’s a certain type of energy that stands out from the others. Whatever it is, it’s part of the overall package that is you and you actually control what’s in that package. You have the ability to make yourself appealing. There’s nothing, other than sheer laziness, to stop you.

By just whining about being a nice guy, it’s like you’re trying to shame others for not having lower standards. You give the impression that someone is evil just because they prefer a smartphone with more features than an old flip phone.

In a sense, that undercuts your whole “nice guy” persona because wanting to do the absolute minimum to achieve the maximum desired results isn’t very nice. If anything, it’s as big a dick move as any Biff Tannen wannabe ever pulled off.

With that, all those whining nice guys out there have their answer. You know why being a nice guy isn’t getting you anywhere with your current crush. I even told you how to fix the situation. It may be harder for some than others, but the opportunity is there. You just have to take advantage of it. I’ll even add that most women, in my experience, will be attracted to men who takes advantage of those opportunities.

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Comics, Milkshakes, And (Failing To Fight) Internet Trolls

Before I say anything, I need to make one thing clear. I am extremely reluctant to talk about an issue that’s still fresh, so to speak. In general, I prefer to wait until he uproar has died down and/or the angry masses of the internet have tired themselves out over an issue. I usually find it easier to sift through the rubble after the storm has passed.

This may very well be the most hesitant I’ve ever been to talk about a particular issue. Think about that for a moment. I’m someone who has talked about sex robots, awkward boners, and his own circumcision. If I’m reluctant to talk about a topic, then it must be pretty nasty.

Well, don’t adjust your gag reflex just yet because it’s not that kind of topic. This isn’t something that just sparks revulsion or passionate disagreement. This is the kind of stuff that just brings out the worst in everybody. It’s like licking the shit stains on a toilet before they’ve dried. It just makes a bad topic that much worse.

However, I’m willing to suck in my gut, brace myself, and ignore my reluctance because I feel like this is something that needs to be said while certain people are still listening. Plus, it involves comics and the comic book industry. Other than the erotica/romance industry, few are quite so near and dear to me.

Even those who don’t follow the industry probably noticed an unusual hashtag trending in the news recently. It involved an incident with some of Marvel’s editorial staff. When I first saw it, I had no idea it was a controversy. I thought it was some new promotional effort. Marvel, and most comic companies, do that all the time.

For once, I’m sad to say that this had nothing to do with an ad gimmick. The hashtag in question was #MakeMineMilkshake and it was inspired by this innocent-looking tweet from Heather Antos, who happens to be an editor at Marvel.

I actually saw this on my Twitter feed. I thought it was a nice moment. It put a smile on my face. It involved milkshakes, comics, and cute girls in the comic book industry. I honestly can’t think of something more appealing to me without adding pizza, the beach, or free tickets to a football game.

Then, some asshole internet trolls, of which there are many, had to look at this happy little moment and mess it up for everyone. They did this by replying to the Tweet with a bunch of crude, vulgar comments. I won’t get into the substance of those comments because they’re not worth spreading. I won’t even make an assessment over how bad they were. I’ve been to the many toilets of the internet. I know how bad it can get.

However bad it was, it created a hashtag that has spread like a wildfire and burned away any faith you might have had in humanity, comics, or peoples’ ability to discuss an issue rationally. Like other hashtags before it, #MakeMineMarvel has become a catalyst for two sides of a pointless debate to whine and moan endlessly about how right they are. It’s a debate that nobody can ever win.

The hashtag, which I doubt Ms. Antos intended to start, has created this rage-filled rant on toxic sub-cultures like comics. On one side, you have those claiming that it’s full of angry young men who don’t want to see women screwing up their favorite toys. On the other, you have those who feel like they’re being demonized for comments that just a few idiot trolls made. Again, nobody wins that debate.

It was frustrating to me because, being a man, it made me feel like I’m being lumped in with the same group of assholes and I want no part of that. I didn’t respond to Ms. Antos’ tweet. I didn’t respond to anyone who asked me to respond. This was just a hornet’s nest that I didn’t want to poke.

An abandoned hornet's nest my dad found in his shed that he hadn't been in for a couple years. The head is apart of a wooden statue it fused with.

Then, the hashtag kept trending and people at Marvel and DC, two rival companies mind you, began responding to it. They even made milkshakes into counter-protest, of sorts, using it to fight against internet trolls and toxic subcultures. Considering some of the other protests we’ve seen this past year, I think that’s a fairly innocuous method.

However, the mere fact that this is even a thing speaks to a much larger issue. It’s one of those things where neither side, be it Ms. Antos or those who now despise her, can see the forest from the trees. After it started trending, Ms. Antos posted this tweet and understandably so. There are just certain parts of the internet and certain people who use it that completely warrant that sentiment.

Now, here’s where I start saying things that I know will rub certain people the wrong way. I’m going to try and be very careful with my words here.

I don’t want to start a new hashtag or anything. I also don’t want to get blocked because I follow people like Heather Antos on social media. I’ve said enough dumb things in the past and I’m trying to limit that, especially in these sensitive times we live in. I’ll do my best to be polite about it, but I’m not going to shy away from the truth. I’m just going to add what I hope is meaningful context.

With that in mind, I’d like to send Ms. Antos an important message that I doubt she’ll never read. That same message should apply to others who supported her since #MakeMineMilkshake started trending. Here it is and excuse me while I brace myself with an adamantium shield.

“The trolls have already won. You’re letting them win with every word you say about this issue. PLEASE change the way you fight them.”

I’m going to keep that adamantium shield up just in case, but I know this will probably take some uncomfortable explanations. I’ve talked about dealing with internet trolls before. I’ve also talked about professional trolls who go out of their way to start digital shit storms like this for their own benefit. What I’ve seen with #MakeMineMilkshake is basically a case-study in how not to respond to trolls.

Now, that’s not to say that Ms. Antos’ intentions are misguided. I don’t doubt for a second that she responded to the comments she got in the best way she thought possible. Maybe she didn’t intend for it to start trending. Nobody can really know whether or not something will become a thing, especially if it doesn’t involve cute animals.

Even if #MakeMineMilkshake didn’t start trending, though, Ms. Antos’ response would’ve already ceded some form of victory to the trolls. Like punting on third down in a football game, she didn’t adapt her game plan. Given how quickly this unfolded, I doubt she thought she even needed one.

The problem with turning her response into a hashtag, albeit indirectly, is that doing so gave the trolls exactly what they wanted. With every retweet, response, and cute quip, they get even more. That’s because trolls don’t deal in the traditional currencies of shame, sorrow, and basic human decency. They only understand one form of coin and that’s attention.

It may very well be the most important currency of the digital age. It may even be more than just a currency. It could very well be the life force with which trolls need to sustain themselves. Like Galactus, devourer of worlds, the hunger is never sated. Lacking heralds or The Power Cosmic, these trolls must resort to the lowest lows of the internet to feed their hunger.

With #MakeMineMilkshake, they basically got a free buffet and a complementary desert. I guarantee that once this hashtag started trending, they didn’t cower with fear, dread, or remorse. They’re probably still grinning and twirling their fake mustache. If they could make a collective statement towards Ms. Antos and everyone who came to her defense, this is what they would probably say.

“Ha! I did it! I got under her skin. I made this person who is more successful than I’ll ever be cry out for help, play the victim, and seek validation. They can call me a racist, bigoted, sexist pig all they want. It doesn’t matter. They just proved they’re a bunch of thin-skinned, hyper-sensitive snowflakes. Now, thanks to the hashtag, the world knows it! They know it and it’s all because of me! Mwhahahahahahaha!”

I concede that the evil laughter might be an exaggeration, but since this involves comics, I think it’s appropriate. Internet trolls are the closest thing most of us have to villains. Other than former child stars and the IRS, it’s hard to think of anyone more devious.

It pains me to say it, but the trolls won this round. Ms. Antos, whatever her intentions might have been, gave them what they wanted. She gave them attention and they’re using it. They’re already turning this misguided hashtag into Round 1,283,285,206,809 of the angry alt-right versus the bossy progressive left. It’s a fight that never has any winners.

Again, I know Ms. Antos is never going to read this post. I’m not successful enough or smart enough to have that kind of audience just yet. I’m working on it, but Ms. Antos is so far ahead of me that I can totally understand her not responding to every aspiring writer who tries to add his thoughts to an overly-complex issue. She’s an editor at Marvel. She has far more awesome things to do with her time.

If I could send her a message, though, I would offer her a simple bit of advice. When dealing with trolls, you have countless ways to lose and only a few with which to win. Anything that gives them the slightest bit of attention, no matter how negative, counts as a victory for them and a defeat for you.

To defeat the trolls, the best thing you can do is ignore them. Don’t just instinctively block them, though. Let them whine, yell, and complain with the worst digital drivel they can come up with. Either they’ll get bored or they’ll make an ass of themselves. In either case, you’ll save yourself the frustration and not embolden those who would frustrate you.

If ignoring them isn’t possible, then the second best thing you can do is fight them with kindness. I know that sounds cheesy. I know that sounds like something Superman, Captain America, or Spider-Man would say in an after school special. It still has merit, though. Your capacity for kindness, even to those who insult you, shines a brighter light on the kind of person you are while also exposing the kind of person the troll is.

The worst thing you could do is take what these trolls say and turn them into a rallying cry, of sorts. That doesn’t just give the trolls even more attention. It gives them a larger target to hit. It’s the digital equivalent of Newton’s Third Law. For every action, there is an equal an opposite reaction. With respect to trolls, poking them just makes them poke back harder.

If Ms. Antos is still with me at this point, I thank her. I know there are some who have already decided to block me at this point. I’m hoping I can still reach those willing to listen so here’s my final thought.

Trolls, in whatever form they take, should never be used as a basis to judge larger swaths of a population. Using these trolls to condemn all men, comic book fans, and Twitter users is a huge mistake. It’s basically a bonus to the trolls on top of the attention because it means more will identify with the trolls than their victims. That’s the last thing you want and the last thing the internet needs.

I don’t doubt for a second that there will be other misguided hashtags like #MakeMineMilkshake. I suspect there will be far worse trolling down the line. That’s because people are always going to say stupid shit, both online and in real life. It’s just part of the package that is the human condition. It’s how you react to it that determines whether you’ve saved the day or aided a Skrull agent.


Update: Well, I wrote this post under the assumption that Ms. Antos, or anyone else who is many times more successful than me, would ever read it. I was wrong and I’m more than relieved to say that. Ms. Antos did actually read this post. As a result, there’s something I need to clear up. Several hours after I posted this, Ms. Antos issued the following tweet.

I sincerely thank her for her response and I apologize for the impression that my post had given. In reading it over again, I realize I had implied that she was the one who started the #MakeMineMilkshake hashtag. She did not. I never thought she did, but I implied otherwise. For that, I sincerely apologize. Apparently, I was not careful enough with my words. I’ll try to be mindful of that in the future.

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When Love (And Lust) Is Genuine

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Does she love me?

Does she love you?

Is our love real?

Is the sex good?

Is the sex really that good?

Is this love the real deal?

These are all questions I’m sure everyone has asked themselves at some point. If not, then chances are you’ll ask yourselves these questions at some point in the future. Sometimes you may not even ask them with a completely sober mind and I’m not just talking about shots of tequila.

Love, lust, and everything in between is a beautiful thing. It’s one of the most powerful experiences we can have as human beings. In fact, according to research from MIT, being in love can produce a high similar to that of cocaine. In another life, maybe Pablo Escobar could’ve been the ultimate love guru. I guess we’ll never know.

I know I say it a lot, but it’s worth saying again, especially for a topic like this. We are a very social species. The human race thrived, despite bodies that were easily crushed by hungry bears, because we could collaborate and cooperate. We worked together, shared resources, and made beautiful love that resulted in more humans. Now, we’re the most dominant species on the planet. Bears just cannot make that claim.

As beautiful as it is, sometimes the answers to those questions are tragic, if not downright heartbreaking. It does happen. Sometimes the love two people have isn’t real. Sometimes the lust they feel is fake. Sometimes the sex is only a minor step above having someone watch while you masturbate. The challenge is finding out how to answer these questions.

I bring up this topic because I recently got into an interesting discussion with some people on a comic book message board. Now in general, I try to avoid most of the discussions on message boards. I’ve found that over 95 percent of them involve fans whining about the current situation in their favorite comics and how they hate it so much, but not enough to stop talking about it.

Every now and then, though, there will be a more meaningful conversation. I really enjoy being part of that conversation because it brings out some interesting perspectives. A lot of those perspectives can apply to real life, even in comics that involve clones, time travel, and poop jokes. Yes, I’m referring about Deadpool.

Specifically, the conversation I had involved a discussion about how genuine the love and romantic chemistry is between two particular characters. In this case, one of those characters was Spider-Man, whose romantic history is almost as vast as Wolverine’s. While I do criticize Spider-Man for being an incompetent hero, the man is still pretty good when it comes to getting laid. For that, I do respect him.

However, like a lot of comic book characters and real people, his love life is subject to a lot of variations. There are times when his emotions are not entirely sincere. By that, I mean he’s with someone because they’re there. That’s it. Then, there are times when he really does love someone, enough to marry them and make a deal with a devil with them. Like I said, there’s a lot of range with Spider-Man.

Sometimes it’s hard to make sense of these situations. Within the discussion I had, there were all sorts of conflicting opinions about just how sincere Spider-Man was and how much potential the relationship actually had. For every one person in the discussion, there were at least five different opinions, including my own.

Comic book fans are notoriously stubborn for how their characters are portrayed, but when it comes to our love lives, the stakes are a bit higher. In the discussion, I noticed a few common themes that set genuine love apart from the kind of love that end with Spider-Man getting his ass kicked by the Green Goblin.

One of those elements is luck. I know that doesn’t sound very romantic, but it’s an unavoidable function of life. Sometimes you’re in the right situation at the right time to take advantage of something, be it love or a winning lotto ticket. You can’t always control it, but it happens.

With respect to genuine love, though, luck plays a very specific role. If a relationship relies on luck to work, then that relationship is basically a reverse lottery. Over time, the odds just aren’t in anyone’s favor. The Law of Averages is both a harsh mistress and an outright sadomasochist. Spider-Man finds that out on a regular basis with how badly his relationships turn out, often due to forces he can’t control.

In addition to luck, there’s also the chemistry aspect. This is much sexier and much more romantic than luck. There’s no question about that. It’s also one of the hardest component to really nail down.

We all understand what romantic and sexual chemistry is to some extent. If two people are drawn together and struggle to keep their clothes on around each other, that’s a sign of pretty potent chemistry. Like real chemistry, though, some mixtures are more potent than others. Some are downright volatile.

If the chemistry is restricted to lust, then that’ll make for some hot sex. However, it won’t make for much else. Now I’ve got nothing against hot sex. It’s a wonderful part of being human. It can just be shallow and crude though. It can be a key ingredient for sexual chemistry, but it can’t be the only ingredient.

Add love to the mix and that’s where the potency shows. Genuine love complements one another. Genuine love involves two people cooperating, sacrificing, and sharing on a level that you just don’t do with a total stranger. Genuine love is usually equal for the most part. It’s rarer than hot sex, but beautiful. It even shows up in an X-men comic every now and then.

Lastly, one key element in genuine love involves reasons and excuses. I know this isn’t very sexy either, but it’s a necessary practical element of love. It can be either the glue or the napalm that binds/destroys a relationship.

Specifically, it deals with the how and why two people are involved in the first place. If they’re in an arranged marriage, which still happens a lot these days, then that’s a fairly unambiguous reason. If they’re together because they just don’t want to be alone, then that’s not much of a reason. That’s more of an excuse.

Sometimes Spider-Man is just with someone because they’re part of his life. They happen to cross paths with him both in and out of the mask. That’s often the case with characters like the Black Cat, whose about as genuine as a very hungry, very horny wolf. It rarely makes for a very genuine connection.

Sometimes two people start out as friends and the connection deepens. This often happens in a lot of teen movies and sitcoms, but it happens in real life too so it’s not entirely flawed like most movie tropes. That can sometimes be a solid foundation for genuine love.

There are also cases where two people are together purely for pragmatic reasons. A beautiful woman is with a man because he’s rich. A man is with a beautiful woman because she’s sexy. Sometimes people are just friends with benefits. That does happen and can work, despite what an Ashton Kutcher movie may claim.

That doesn’t mean pragmatism is necessarily genuine though. If two people are together because not being together would be too much work or too inconvenient, that’s not genuine. That’s just plain lazy. If two people are together because one has a great deal of leverage over the other, then that’s not genuine either. That’s exploitation.

Overall, there are a lot of components that go into a genuine romance and, without spoiling too much of the discussion I had, Spider-Man sucks at it. Characters like Superman, Wonder Woman, and even Starfire, to some extent, have a much better track record.

In the real world and throughout history, you’ll find plenty of examples of genuine love. They don’t always make for great stories or good erotica/romance, but that doesn’t make them any less genuine. In the end, genuine love combined with genuine lust makes for the best and sexiest connections. Not everyone can find it, but that’s what makes it so precious.

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Sexy Sunday Thoughts: Easter Edition

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Happy Easter, everybody! I hope everyone spends the day gorging on scrambled eggs, chocolate covered eggs, egg-shaped candy, and ham. I know the ham kind of seems like a non-sequitur, but I’m not going to argue against a holiday that combines meat and candy.

Now like many, I don’t really understand why Easter is considered a religious holiday, yet we celebrate it with colored eggs, rabbits, and ham. Rabbits don’t even lay eggs, last I checked. They don’t even eat chocolate. It’s confusing. Again though, it still involves meat and candy so I’m not going to complain too much.

It doesn’t help that Easter has roots in pagan fertility festivals that treated spring as a sign that it’s time to start having sex like rabbits. Actually, I take that back. That does help. That actually does make Easter a bit sexier. It still doesn’t make a lot of sense, but as an aspiring erotica/romance writer, I can always appreciate some added sex appeal.

Regardless of how you justify combining chocolate, rabbits, and eggs, it’s still a holiday. It’s still an excuse to get together with your family, have a good meal, and make love to your lover. Hopefully, it’s not in that exact order. Go out and enjoy it!

So in the spirit of Easter, chocolate bunnies, and pagan fertility rituals, I offer another holiday version of my Sexy Sunday Thoughts. If they can aid in whatever fertility rituals you may or may not take part in, then that’s just a bonus.


“The story of Adam and Eve makes a lot more sense when you consider how many stupid things people do when they’re naked.”

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I’m no biblical scholar. I’m not a theologian either. I’m not even an expert on the decision-making processes associated with nudity and I’m a guy who loves to sleep naked. I just know that people are prone to making stupid decisions and nudity tends to facilitate those decisions.

Now I’m not saying nudity is to blame for the fall of man. I’m not even criticizing whatever deity wired humans to be the way they are. I’m just saying that when we’re naked, we’re not exactly inclined to think things through and behave responsibly. Whether we’re in the Garden of Eden or bar in New Orleans, you can usually expect stupid decisions to coincide with nudity.


“You know your fetish is extreme if doing it in front of a police station earns you more than a citation.”

 

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Being an erotica/romance writer, I’m convinced that everyone has their own level of kink. Some are more elaborate than others. Some involve handcuffs, whips, stilettos, ice cubes, and an industrial sized barrel of lube. I encourage everyone to embrace and explore their kinks as responsibly as possible.

However, if you’re worried about just how extreme your kink may be, just imagine what would happen if you did it in front of a police station. If it earns you more than a public indecency fine, then that’s a pretty clear sign.


“As soon as science perfects repairing a man’s penis, the number of exceedingly dangerous sex acts is bound to skyrocket.”

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This may happen sooner than we think. Bionic penises are already a reality. There may come a day where getting a new penis is as easy as getting a new phone. When that day comes, I believe men will be a lot more reckless with their sex lives. I pity the poor EMTs and doctors who have to treat these men and listen to the kinky stories behind their injuries. Then again, maybe some of them will make for good erotica/romance.


“Women should treat their vaginas like they treat their phones. Keep it close, keep it up-to-date, and make sure the equipment is perfectly specified for your tastes and others.”

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This is just common sense. I see the way women treat their phones these days. They’re more precious than jewelry, makeup, and their parents’ credit card. They’re so careful and coy with them, always making sure they’re updated and functioning properly.

Now imagine how much better their sex lives would be if they treated their vaginas with the same care? It’s not taboo to take care of your phone, but vaginal health is still somewhat taboo for reasons that can’t be good. So moving forward, I propose that women use the way they care for their phones as a model for how they care for their vaginas.


“Obesity tends to increase in societies where holidays involve too much food and no fertility rituals. Coincidence? I think not.”

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There are some traditions from our ancestors that are best left in the past. I don’t think it benefits society in any way to go back to ritual animal sacrifice in hopes of a bountiful harvest. However, I think some ancient ideas deserve a second look and fertility rituals should be at the top of that list.

Say what you will about our primitive ancestors, but they knew how to party when it came to celebrating fertility. When there was a holiday, they made sure they celebrated the joys of fertility and sex. These days, we just celebrate with eating a lot of food. Given the ongoing obesity epidemic and the amount of calories we burn during sex, I’d say fertility rituals could go a long way towards balancing things out.


“Tax evasion would not be as big a problem if all tax returns came with a free blowjob.”

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Nobody likes paying taxes. That’s a given. Who can blame anyone for trying to avoid it? Sure, it undermines entire countries and the very foundations of civilization, but you still can’t blame anyone for wanting to avoid it.

Rather than crack the whip, I say we start dangling a carrot. Few carrots are as juicy and universally appealing as blowjobs. Even if you’re the greediest, meanest crook this side of a Charles Dickens novel, a blowjob appeals to you. I say use that appeal to make paying taxes more rewarding. When it comes to rewards, blowjobs are a nearly universal currency.


“Timmie Jean Lindsey, the first woman to get a boob job, deserves to be way more famous than she is.”

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The name Timmie Jean Linsey probably doesn’t sound familiar to you, but every porn star and trophy wife owes her a debt of gratitude. In 1962, she agreed to take a bold leap for mankind and volunteered for the first ever boob job.

The procedure was new, untested, and potentially dangerous. It may even do serious damage to a serious part of her body. Ms. Linsey, with a bravery that puts Neil Armstrong to shame, took that chance and the world is sexier because of it. So on behalf of all men, thank you, Ms. Linsey. From our heart to our genitals, we thank you.


I hope you’re now inspired/horny to go off and celebrate Easter in your own special way. Whether it involves fertility rituals or gorging chocolate bunnies, I hope this helps. So once again, from me to you, have a safe and sexy Easter.

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Sexy Sunday Thoughts: Power Edition

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It’s the end of another week and we survived without being crushed by a giant monster. By most standards, that makes it a good week. Some people set a higher bar than that. For me, not being sick and not being crushed by a monster are the only criteria I need to feel like I’ve succeeded on Sunday.

Why do I bring up monsters and being crushed? Well, this weekend saw the release of the new “Power Rangers” movie. For any kids who grew up in the ’90s, that is the equivalent of another Pamela Anderson sex tape. It’s got fans whose parents spent an obscene amount of money on toys more excited than a hamster on crack.

Given the crowded field of superhero movies, it’s hard to say whether this will succeed. Then again, nobody thought a Deadpool movie or an Ant Man movie would succeed. The accountants who cash the checks at major studios are probably still laughing their ass off. Since the old Power Rangers show was on right after the X-men cartoon I was so fond of growing up, I really do hope it does well.

I can appreciate a story about five hormonal teenagers dealing with crazy issues that involve aliens, monsters, and an evil Elizabeth Banks in a skin-tight costume. Some things just have universal appeal in that respect. I also feel as though comedy and dirty jokes have that kind of appeal.

I’ll leave the aliens and monster fighting to the Power Rangers. I hope they give me the same courtesy for comedy and dirty jokes. With that in mind, here’s my official “Power” edition of “Sexy Sunday Thoughts.” Enjoy!


“Actors like Bryan Cranston and Hugh Jackman were willing to get naked for their iconic roles. Coincidence?”

In a recent interview on the “The Late Show,” Bryan Cranston joked that he had a nudity clause in every contract. Hugh Jackman has gotten naked in multiple X-men movies on multiple occasions, never once using a body double or CGI.

Both these men were willing to show off their manly goods for all to see in pursuing their iconic roles. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. I think that says a lot about nudity and dedication.


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“A man’s desperate effort to get laid has a equal chance at ending in triumph or humiliation, which says as much about the woman as it does about the man.”

This is more an observation than a thought. Go back and watch any teen sitcom, teen movie, or romantic comedy. More often than not, a desperate man does something crazy in an effort to win over a girl and/or get laid. Whether or not it works is usually decided by the karma equivalent of a coin flip.

While this is entertaining, it also says something about the women involved. For one, it says they attract some pretty crazy men. It also says they respond to them in some pretty crazy ways. In terms of entertainment value, you can’t get much more potent than that.


“Some women don’t have to try very hard to get sex. Those same women, however, often have to try harder to enjoy it. From a gender equality standpoint, that’s perfect balance.”

This is another observation. I’ve known plenty of women who could walk into any bar, club, PTA meeting and get sex with minimal effort. A flirty look, an overt tease, and a detailed map of the nearest motels is all it takes.

However, getting sex and enjoying sex isn’t the same thing. To really enjoy it, the woman has to put some effort into it. For a man, it’s no harder than maintaining an erection. As flawed as nature may be at times, it knows how to balance things out.


“A woman who willingly flashes her breasts has no right to be appalled when a man exposes his dick.”

This is another instance of our innate disdain of hypocrisy. We, as a society, will tolerate a lot of crazy things, from boy bands to reality TV. We still draw the line at hypocrisy. It doesn’t have to be the kind of hypocrisy that causes a major scandal with a well-known priest. It can be simple.

For women who eagerly flash their breasts, many of which grace the streets of New Orleans and Las Vegas, they dramatically increase the chances that they’ll see a stranger’s penis at some point. So if you’re going to flash your tits, make sure you enjoy the sight of penises. Otherwise, you just risk greater hypocrisy.


“When you think about it, the difference between an orgy and a group hug is only a matter of degree.”

As I’ve said before, I’m a hugger. I know the inherent value of hugs. When done right, they bring affection, intimacy, and a sense of well-being to two people. In that sense, an orgy does the same thing, but to a much greater degree. I’m not saying the two gestures are one in the same. I’m just saying they live in the same zip code.


“A doctor who installs breast implants can actually say he has the hopes of men and women alike in his hands.”

A woman seeking breast implants has greater hopes for her body. Any man fond of big breasts hopes that there are more of them in this world. In that context, the doctors who actually install breast implants actually hold these hopes in their hands. They even take it a step further. They actually turn those hopes into something tangible, beautiful, and sexy.

Plastic surgeons are heroes is what I’m saying. To those brave men and women, I thank you.


“At its core, strip poker is the act of making foreplay subject to chance.”

I love a good game of poker as much as the next guy. I also love foreplay as well and support any effort to cherish its value. However, like peanut butter and napalm, some things just aren’t compatible. They do nothing to damage the other, but they do make both a bit harder to operate.

When you’re playing strip poker, you’re basically putting an extra obstacle between your lover and nudity. There are enough obstacles to good foreplay these days. I’d rather we not add more.


“We tend to get bored with things we do too much, but masturbation is a major exception.”

As a kid, it’s easy to get bored with something. As an adult, it’s even easier, especially if you have a high-speed internet connection. Boredom is a common human trait that keeps us from doing things that no longer stimulate us.

When it comes to masturbation, however, that core human trait basically gives us a mulligan. No matter how many times we do it, regardless of our gender, we don’t get bored with it. That shows that nature is willing to make exceptions when warranted.


I hope that helps everyone feel a bit more powerful. It’s probably not on par with piloting a giant robot or fighting an evil Elizabeth Banks in a skin-tight uniform, but I hope it’s a close second.

Some get their power through the morphing grid, a special energy that permeates all life throughout the universe. Some get it through dirty jokes. Since mine doesn’t require guidance from a giant floating head, I think mine works a bit better.

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