Badass Women in Combat Gear: Valentine’s Day Edition, Or, Dorothy Parker Was Wrong

((For those of you who, like me, were not Math Majors in college, I apologize. But this particular blog post seems to need a ridiculous number of parentheses and a rather surprising number of braces {curly} and brackets [square]. Be warned.))

There is a fairly famous rhyming couplet by the 1920s Algonquin Round Table wit, Dorothy Parker, that has been widely anthologized (and it suddenly occurs to me that a whole slew [this is a technical literary term] of the editors anthologizing this were {white} men], which says, “Men don’t make passes/At girls who wear glasses.”

I have been thinking about this since Mike Allegra (heylookawriterfellow) asked me to add to my BWCG series some BWCGs who wear glasses. I thought of this most recently after viewing a teaser for this coming Tuesday’s Agent Carter, in which Agent Sousa (the delightful Enver Gokaj) says to (an injured and therefore unavailable-for-the-mission) Agent Peggy Carter (the even more delightful Hayley Atwell) that what they need for the coming mission is someone who can “blend in with the glamour and throw down in the gutter.” Damn, Spanky, I LOVE the writers on this show!


Any Gentle Reader who has spent any time at all reading this blog will recognize that this is not only the dual nature of what I look for in my Female Leads of TV, Film, and Life, but also a micro-blueprint of who I would like to eventually be. I have to admit that the second part sounds much less painful to me than the first part, because as Agent Dana Scully admits in the most recent New X-Files episode, running/fighting in three-inch heels is no country for really anyone, but absolutely not Women, Older Men or Sane People of any Gender. Okay, she didn’t say that.

But as Jane Austen might have said, “It was nowhere said, but everywhere implied.” Come on. Amy Acker has said that at one point her only “stunt ability was running in heels” (Citation, as Wikipedia would point out, desperately needed. My guess? A ComiCon. San Diego? Maybe. Who knows?).


My point here is simply that Dorothy Parker was wrong and Mike Allegra is right. (Full disclosure: I wear glasses. So sue me. {Twenty-odd years at MIT’s Writing Center (some of them more odd than others) has made me as blind as my cat Musashi, if not as a bat or a possum. [If M. were a little boy, he’d be wearing Coke bottle glasses and a bowtie]}.


So in honor of a Sunday-facing Valentine’s Day (black Tuesday meets the Lord’s day), I offer you some of my favorite female actors (Nope, don’t call me a teacheress, professoress, editoress or martial artistess; I avoid calling them actresses for the same reason) in glasses.


I tried very hard to chase down the pics I have seen online of Lucy Lawless as herself, rather than Xena, wearing glasses, to no avail. Similarly, her soul-grandmother, Linda Carter (the always-and-everywhere Wonder Woman, despite DC’s brilliant work with Gal Gadot).

And because I believe it is important to look back and forward at the same time, I also give you Ingrid Bergman and Scarlet Johansson.

Also, the classic, brilliant, unimitatable Katherine Hepburn on a skateboard, because duh.


To my pal, Mike Allegra, men and women who love women in glasses or, you know, on skateboards: YOU’RE WELCOME. HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY. NOW WE WILL LET THE WEATHER BECOME WARM AGAIN.

Post-Modern Quilting Zeitgeist


My roommate, Jack, is, among other things, a filmmaker. So far he has made at least three short films in the apartment, which generally means that all the furniture that was in one room ends up in another for about three days. And the cat is intrigued. When he is not making films here, he is usually making films elsewhere as he and his peers all serve on each other’s films in different capacities. Aside from being a fascinating study in collaboration, this situation means that my cat frequently gets to take over his room when he is not around, and Musashi is very much for that.

When he is around, Jack tends to start conversations about writing that last for a couple of hours, usually starting with the words, “So, do you think…?” Last night, when I came home very late (thank you, Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, for failing us yet again!) after a lovely dinner of Chinese food with my poetry midwife Pamela (the one I can always count on to tell me whether the ending of a poem sucks; apparently the ones I showed her yesterday do not; Huzzah!), I found Jack actually cutting up VEGETABLES for his dinner.

In my sheer amazement at this, I got into a conversation with him that lasted two hours, largely about Post-Modernism and the death of opportunity for artists to make anything new, since we are all just rehashing what has been done before. Part of this is in regard to an ongoing conversation about my rewriting the Xena narrative, which I would argue is, yes, rehashing, but rehashing to change the world, or at least myself, which is the only way we ever start changing the world, after all.

We were discussing, among many other things, the coming reboot of the X-Files with Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny, the coming Batman vs. Superman movie (link to the retro trailer) and other rehashings of popular culture, and he was bemoaning (no, really, he was: and how often do I get to use that word?) the state of our culture and how if we only redo what we did we will not have the time, money or energy to do new things.

He is not wrong, but I do argue that this is, if you will, not the whole story.

He described how he sees humans, with our technology that allows us to see millions of miles into space, fly at hundreds of miles per hour, and delve deep into the Earth, as godlike. But it is, as one of his friends phrased it, a prosthetic divinity. We can only do these godlike things with our fancy tools. And with those tools we can do great good or great destruction.

“Yes,” I said. “And that is the story of Ironman.”

Eventually, we agreed that archetypal stories have their place in human meaningmaking and identity production, and that as artists we can only be very intentional in what stories we tell and what stories we consume (read, watch, try to live into…).