Archive for the ‘General’ Category

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Final Post of Men on the Moon

30 June 2014

If my grandfather were still alive today, he would have turned 100 this month. Raymond Hitchcock made it to 88, having lived a generous, courageous life. There were the remarkable occupational elements of his career: he exercised considerable skill in farming, automobile repair, business management, and real estate. He did everything with great determination. He was and is an icon of manly strength to me. All importantly, Raymond was known for his kindness. He showed tenderness to his family, friends, and neighbors. He demonstrated sacrificial integrity. He told great stories. He was famous as the designated hugger at his local Methodist church.

I mention Raymond Hitchcock as I close shop on this long-standing blog. It was started six years ago as a way to explore aspects of masculinity in the modern world. So often manliness is understood as a kind of oppressive imperative, some kind of social conduct which burdens men with high, even unrealistic, expectations. This blog has tried to show that masculinity can affirm many of the great traditions for men without demanding of them exact codes of conduct and being. Men can walk on the moon.

I close this season of my e-life with gratitude for the men in my life who instilled in me a solid core. My father, my pastors, friends like Mark and Travis and the guys from the Round Table and MKP. Men like Raymond Hitchcock. They affirmed that men can strive to be true men – from a starting point of real manhood. My grandfather had a center, and from that center he lived joyfully.

I wish the same for you, friends and strangers. May you be free men.

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Light Weight for Distance

29 July 2013

I’m training for my third Heavy Games competition (also known as the Scottish Highland Games). The light weight for distance is a 28 lb. implement, thrown after accelerating it a couple of times with spins in a 9 ft. trig. I’m up around 50 ft. in practice this week – but check out these international competitors launching it in France:

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Brothers Get Back-to-Back Holes in One

29 May 2013

Astoundingly, on May 27 two brothers, ages 11 and 9, got back-to-back holes in one. Playing on the Hillsview Golf Course in Pierre, they sank the 14th hole from 148 yards and 128 yards, respectively. Josh and Alex Rowe were, as one might expect, elated.

Pure elation? Not exactly. First a note of competition from the older brother: “[W]hen Alex found his ball in the hole and realized he had also shot a hole-in-one, Josh said he was a little disappointed, at first, before he found out just how rare it was for two brothers to shoot an ace consecutively on the same hole” (Argus Leader, 29 May 2013, 7A).

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Cosmopolitan Courting Pre-teens through Boy Band

9 November 2012

Cosmopolitan magazine, long established as the publication for hip but insecure modern women, is being more aggressive about pursuing an untapped demographic: pre-teen girls.  For the very issue dedicated to achieving a sixty-minute orgasm, Cosmo features One Direction, the boy band of the moment.  That’s one way to use candy.  Somehow the magazine felt it warranted to usher 12 year-old girls from the theme of pop star crushes to the theme of performing advanced sex positions with a bored playboy of a boyfriend.  Profligate journalistic executives have no business reaching out to middle schoolers.

Others are wowed by the novely of an all-male appearance on the cover of a women’s magazine.  I cry foul.

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Men Losing It: Five Cult Albums

10 August 2012

Occasionally men lose it. They flip. They get their heart smashed and then plummet, or absolutely erupt, or both. That makes for a dangerous situation, resulting in some really unsavory headlines. It also produces some of the most fabulous, gut-wrenching cult albums of all time. Here are five of them from men at their best, worst moments. I highly encourage you to listen to these albums. I also strongly suggest you don’t, if you enjoy being happy.

1. Sugar – Beaster (1993). As the B-side EP to Copper Blue, these tracks should have been the scraps. Au contraire. These are the juiciest cuts. Together, it makes up the  feistiest, most explosive material from Bob Mould, who rails about betrayal and angst. Sugar’s punk past festers wonderfully at this juncture.

2. Weezer – Pinkerton (1996). After the eminently likeable blue album, Weezer did an about-face and released a most unpopable sound. A rock opera gone bad, Pinkerton features Rivers Cuomo’s terrifying descent in self-pitying loneliness after a series of obliterated relationships, including a misguided crush on a lesbian.

3. Chris Whitley – Din of Ecstasy (1995). Many artists, especially after receiving popular acclaim on their first album, take a new turn. Whitley jumps off the rails. His American steel bluegrass is replaced by soaring electric guitars and soulful noise rock. Drugs and anger play out more strongly here than on any of his other work. Underneath the abrasive presentation is sheer genius at work.  Was the album was released twenty years too soon – or too late?

4. Damian Rice – O (2002). This very well may be the most self-loathing, girl-loathing, life-loathing album ever made. Yet just when you think Rice’s dysfunctional libido has consumed him, he bounces back with an inscrutable sweetness.  Watch the movie Closer to maximize the psychological pain.

5. The Afghan Whigs – Gentlemen (1993). Greg Dulli lives in hell most of the week, with breaks to go to the bar. It’s unclear what sent him into his emotional spiral, but the grunge rocker knows all too intimately the terrors of his self-destructive eros in “Gentlemen” and “What Jail Is Really Like.”  This is one of the unsung albums of that strange foray Americans took into alternative rock.

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The Lure of the Wild West

10 April 2012

This last month I came close to owning a little bit of the prairie.  There is an acre lot east of Sioux Falls with a beautiful view of the plains and the Big Sioux River, and for a month I ran through every fantasy of life in a semi-rural environment.  For my wife there were related motivations, but for me it had to do with having my piece of the frontier.  This was going to be my wild west.

Though only a mile outside of city limits, it’s amazing how a whole different set of questions arose than the issues normal civilized folk have to face when relocating in the urban setting.  In the city you worry about crime rates, proximity to good schools, neighborhood property values, and whether the renters across the street will get drunk on their front porch each Saturday (yes, they will).  On my new property I was asking wild west questions: Can I dig deep enough to install a septic tank?  What does it take to hook up to rural water?  Will the street be snow plowed – and by whom?  How long will the surrounding area be zoned as agricultural?  Is geothermal heating or propane the more reasonable expense?  Can I shoot at pheasants just down the street?

As things turned out, the seller was unwilling to budge on his list price, even though the property had gone unsold for many months.  For the time being it looks like our fantasy is evaporating, much like the West did for all those daring men of the 19th century.  Like them, I have been imprisoned, banished to the center of the city.

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Manly T-Shirts

25 February 2012

The folks at http://www.cafepress.com continue to hawk an abundance of funny (and disturbing) t-shirts pertaining to manly virtues and vices. Here’s one of my favorites:

T-Shirt