Archive for November, 2011


Manly Man Gifts, Christmas 2012

24 November 2011

What?  You’re tired of me pontificating on gender theory and obscure men’s movements?  Fine.  Here’s your ultra-practical, no-fail list of men’s gifts for Christmas 2012.

1. Manpacks.  Manpacks delivers fresh socks, shirts and shaving supplies to that special guy on a monthly basis.  No more last minute desperation runs to Target.  Starting at $14 for 3 months.

2. Robert Rothschild Farm Blackberry Chipotle Sauce.  Slather this on pork tenderloin for something unbelievable.  Pour it over cream cheese and serve with Triscuits.  Berries have never been so masculine.  $9.

3. Beretta PB Copper Knife.  If a man needs to pull out a knife for some high-skill application (like slicing off ribbon), he should have something to show off to everyone at the same time.  This replica of the 1940’s Beretta knife has nice talking points, including a shell extractor.  $40.

4. South Dakota Magazine.  Forget another subscription to People.  Go for something unique, like a magazine from a state he’s talked about visiting but never has.  South Dakota Magazine is a well-run monthly publication with articles on great tourist spots, historical legends and local culture.  $19/year.

5. Antique Maps.  Find an original antique map on eBay, then mount it.  Replicas can be found all over the internet, such as this one of Geneva:


Can the Stache Be Used for Good?

19 November 2011

I have a tenuous agreement going with my wife in which she allows me to shave a mustache for exactly one day a year.  I say “tenuous” because she really hasn’t ever agreed to it.  This day almost always falls on the pheasant hunting opening day in South Dakota.  A buddy and I shave creepy little lip blankets, put on orange clothes and grab a couple of shotguns.  Beef jerky and obnoxious music are involved.  Personal hygiene that day is discouraged.  My wife hates mustache day.

Would you believe that the moustache expressed a similar deviation from the norm a hundred years ago?  According to Christopher Oldstone-Moore in the Journal of Social History, men in early twentieth century America expressed their allegiance to national and social agendas through clean-shaven faces.  Showing skin expressed conformity to one’s peer group and good teamsmanship.  Conversely, donning a mustache meant you were independent.  That independence didn’t have to be expressed as roguishness, explains Oldstone-Moore.  It could suggest one’s patriarchal status in the home or business as he worked to create society.  But the mustache made a man a stand-out for those with the luxury of standing out.

Fast-forward a hundred years.  We are seeing the growing popularity of Movember, in which men grow moustaches in November to bring attention to various causes (usually men’s health issues).  The official Movember web page notes that participants have exceeded the million-stache mark.  Mustaches for good?  Mustaches for charitable sociality?  I can’t decide whether the staches-for-social-good phenomenon is in keeping with older patterns or if this suggests a more radical domestication of the face caterpillar.

So long as that hairy streak crosses my face, my wife insists it will never be aligned with the forces of light.


Vietnamese Men Have to Get Their “Second Visa”

10 November 2011

A Newsweek survey earlier this year found that a mere 8% of men had cheated on their significant other on a business trip.  That debunked a long-standing myth about men on the road.  But when it comes to international travel, particularly travel to Vietnam, wives aren’t resting assured.  Vietnamese men traveling back to their economically-depressed country of origen find a highly flirtatious group of women looking for romantic, wealthy boyfriends.  The reputation is bad enough that Vietnamese businessmen speak of having to get a “second visa” – this one from their wives – in order to travel back to Vietnam.  A California newspaper reports.


Rah! Rah! Rah! for Male Cheerleaders

2 November 2011

I just had to share this.  The following comes from Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac.

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It’s the birthday of cheerleading, which made its debut at the University of Minnesota on this date[2 November] in 1898. Pep clubs had been around for a couple of decades, especially at Princeton, where their all-male pep club led the crowd in unified chanting to motivate the football team. In 1884, Princeton alum Thomas Peebles moved to Minneapolis, and brought the pep club concept along to the University of Minnesota’s football games. Two of the university’s rugby players, John Adams and Win Sargent, came up with a “team yell” that same year to cheer on the rugby team: Ski-U-Mah, which neatly rhymes with “Rah, rah, rah!” But all of these chants and cheers were led from the stands.

In the fall of 1898, the U of M’s football team had suffered three consecutive losses, and fans were desperate for a way to raise team spirit for the season’s final game against Northwestern. The pep club brainstormed plans to further involve the spectators, and nominated a group of “yell leaders” to lead the crowd in the now-traditional chant, “Rah, Rah, Rah! Ski-U-Mah! Hoo-Rah! Hoo-Rah! Varsity! Varsity! Minn-e-so-ta!” One of the yell leaders, Johnny Campbell, took the radical step of running out to the playing field with a megaphone. He faced the crowd, whipped them to a frenzy, and got much of the credit for Minnesota’s victory.

Cheerleading was a male-only sport until 1923, when the first female cheerleaders took the field. This phenomenon didn’t really take off until the 1940s, when the male student body was depleted by World War II. The ’20s also saw the advent of acrobatics, human pyramids, and dance moves to accompany the fight songs and chants.