Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Guys, I don’t know if I can keep doing this. I really don’t. Does it accomplish anything? Anybody can tie a tie or cut down a tree, it doesn’t make a difference in the long run. You can be the most skilled, best dressed guy out there and it doesn’t mean jack-squat if you don’t have the right base to build off of.

The past couple of weeks, I’ve had my eyes re-opened to some things that I once knew. I have seen some things in a new light. The utter lack of concern, tenderness, and care that we boys (how dare we call ourselves men) show towards ladies is appalling.

Does a man ever try to take advantage of a woman, especially on a first date? Does a man cheat on a lady for years while constantly putting her down? The list goes on and on and on.

It makes me think back to when I was in middle school and the beginning of high school; I was part of an organization, and there was a strong ‘move’ among the guys to be chivalrous and treat ladies right. This sentiment was prevalent among the group and promoted by the adults and the students alike. These guys were some of the most gentlemanly men you’d ever see. A lot of females looked up to these guys, and us younger students that were just entering the group did too.

I went to a summer camp with the group, and guess what? I started to see the fractures. When the guys were in the dorms, two of the students that help head this push for gentlemanliness were talking about inappropriate things that I won’t divulge here. Not only that, when one asked me if I knew what the crude slang they were using was, and I said that I thought I did (unfortunately, I was right), he said, and I quote, “[insert other guy’s name here], this guy’s [me] cool!”

As time went on, the organization ended, and the true colors came out. 90% of those guys that pretended to be so chivalrous then have completely gone 180 degrees. I’ve heard some of the girls that had known them then express surprise at the change. Guess what? They never changed. They just stopped pretending.

I have seen the same thing happen with another group more recently.

Boys pretend to be courteous and to treat women right so that they can have sex later on. It’s the hard truth, and it makes me sick. Not every guy does this, some of us really do try to be gentleman, but it seems that we are all but extinct. I don’t think I can keep putting up information on how to be a ‘man’ knowing that most of the time, it will be misused and used to hurt women that we should be sacrificing ourselves to protect. I had allowed myself to forget the lessons I learned in the past and hope that maybe, just maybe decent guys existed out there, and we could learn to be men together. I was stupid and na├»ve to think so.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Male Protagonists (from The Escapist)


I stumbled across this article by “Yahtzee” on The Escapist (a website dedicated to video games), and it is a very interesting look into manliness vs. macho-ness. There was some cussing (for my thoughts on that see !@#(*^%&#$%!!!!! ) and some inappropriate jokes/references, but I have edited that out for the sake of the reader, and ---- will appear instead of the potentially offensive material. To give credit where credit is due, here is the link to the actual article.
________
Dead To Rights: Retribution, like so many shooters, is a game about manliness. It's about situations wherein big strong men with muscles like Greek statues spurt hot bullets---. That's when they're not sticking their heads in each other's armpits and grappling over which one gets to be the ----.
I'm not prejudiced. If you get a rush from ----then more power to you, but personally I find nothing more off-putting than an overly "macho" character. Now, I know that action game protagonists are almost invariably male because of society and marketing and all that, and that in games where a lot of things are required to be dead the heroes are going to have to be physically strong and capable in a fight, which are typically masculine traits. But the point I want to make is that there's a significant difference between being manly, an awesome masculine bad--- who we can respect and admire; and being macho, a muscular, insecure tosspot with no social skills. This is a distinction that more games need to realize.
Here are some examples of manly characters: Niko Bellic (GTAIV). Ezio Auditore da Firenze (Assassin's Creed 2). The Prince of Persia (Sands of Time / Two Thrones).
Here are some examples of macho characters: Jack Slate (Dead To Rights). Marcus Fenix (Gears of War). The Prince of Persia (Warrior Within).
The manly man equips himself appropriately. He wears clothing that combines protection with storage space while still allowing for flexible movement. He arms himself with effective, concealable weapons. In pre-industrial games, this will mean whippy, undecorated and razor-sharp swords. In gun-based games, he will depend on a simple handgun for small-scale firefights, switching when appropriate to the popular shotguns and rifles of the era.
The macho man will either wear the most overly complicated suit of armor he can find, emblazoned with skulls and spiky bits, or will run around in his pants in the belief that this will prove something about himself. His ideal length for a sword is roughly his own height, and for most situations requiring guns he will solely use devices that have been proved capable of completely disintegrating a heavy goods vehicle.
The manly man has a full emotional range. While fully capable of feeling and acting upon his anger and resentment when confronting his enemies, he is civil and even-tempered around neutral parties and warm and affectionate to his close associates. In his lowest moments of despair he's not afraid to let his emotions show as he seeks solace in his allies and perhaps sheds some dignified tears, but he is equally unafraid to confront the sources of his displeasure and take appropriate retaliation.
The macho man thinks emotions are for women and poofters. The only emotion he is prepared to display is screaming fury, especially as he leaps down from a first-story window, impossibly huge sword pointed directly at the eye socket of an upward-staring foe. When dealing with allies and neutral parties whose murder will be frowned upon, the macho character will at best be merely rude and indifferent, and at worst will grab them by the lapels, shove them into walls and bark gravel-voiced threats. In place of shedding tears, the macho character will only make a curious tight-lipped, boggle-eyed expression of distaste before stomping off alone to jam his giant sword into somebody's jollies.
The manly man respects his fellow human beings. While physically capable, the manly man understands that one's worth can't be measured in combat skill alone. He has the greatest respect for scholars and technical experts who have mastered necessary skills that he himself lacks. He is patient with children, and respectful of the opposite sex. The manly man romances women he finds particularly intriguing. ------
The macho man feels that anyone who can't knife-fight their way out of a giant kraken's embrace probably deserves to die, and when technical skills are required, will put the nearest appropriate boffin in an armlock like an overgrown school bully and force him or her to do the work. The macho character thinks girls are icky and avoids them where possible out of fear of cooties, or out of fear ---. The nearest thing the macho man gets to physical intimacy is having communal showers with his equally oversized buddies in between armed conflicts.
He then talks about a project that he is working on that has no relevance to this subject at all. I do not necessarily agree with everything that he says in the article I just posted, but I thought that it was very interesting.

On a different note, I will be posting less on Practicing Manliness, but when I post, it will be higher quality. I realized that I was posting some stuff that was sub-par; it scraped by (like this post!), but it did not adequately express what I was trying to say or otherwise was not up to snuff. A man does not just scrape by; he delivers his best with every attempt. This is why I will begin to focus on quality over quantity. Just a heads up.
Thanks for reading, and stay manly!
--Michael

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Motivation

This post by a friend inspired me to write what you will read below. I had been thinking about this stuff lately anyways, but it was icing on the cake.


Apathy

The past few weeks have taught me an interesting lesson. I had been clipping (or CLEPping) along at a good pace, testing out of my college classes at a rate of a class every couple weeks using CLEP exams. Well, I was studying for my College Mathematics CLEP, and I was finally ready to take it. I called the center to schedule my test, and I discovered that instead of testing a couple times a week like usual, they were not testing for another month. 

This utterly sapped my motivation to study. For several weeks, I just kinda messed around. Sometimes I would half-heartedly study, some days I wouldn’t even try. This affected other areas of my life as well; I didn’t blog. I didn’t write anything. My room is a mess because I let it go. I didn’t really do anything productive for that period of time; I laid around watching YouTube and engaging in mindless consumerism.

I’m starting to get back into the swing of things now, mainly because the testing date is coming right up, but I have learned from what I went through. It is easy to have “self-control” and be “self-motivated” when you are making progress, but when you go into limbo, that is when you discover if you really have self-control or motivation.

This applies almost everywhere, I think.

Fitness: it is easy to say in shape and to work out if you have a big game coming up, but if it is just you doing it for good health, and no one else is doing it with you, will you still do it? It requires a massive amount of motivation and control to force yourself to exercise instead of lounging about.

Spirituality: It is all well and good to be ‘close to God’ at a retreat or summer camp, or when life is good, but when things get rough, or you don’t have a daily “WOW!” moment, will you still follow God? Or are you just tripping along while its fun? This is why you see a lot of people who talk about having a spiritual “high” during a short-terms missions trip, summer camp, retreat, etc., then crashing when they come back to the real world. 

If you are constantly saturated in something (like with my CLEP tests), then it comes easy, but as soon as that gratification or experience is delayed, you crash and burn. Those are just two examples—there are a lot more out there.

But here is another thing I realized. By reducing myself to a consumer of entertainment, I had hit the killswitch on my creativity! I’m not opposed to YouTube, TV, movies, music, etc. (in fact they can sometimes inspire creativity), but when taken in excess, it smothers the creative workings of your mind. It’s like eating; if you eat the right amount, it gives you energy to work off of, but if you eat too much, you become lethargic and apathetic. Don’t believe me? Think back to after the Thanksgiving Day meal, or after an all-you-can-eat buffet that you gorged yourself on. I rest my case.

So I failed the test this time*. But now that I realize what happened, I can take that knowledge and train myself so that during the ‘easy’ times, I am building up motivation, control, and endurance for when I hit ‘harder’ times.

*When I say that I failed the test, I am referring to the test of being motivated and creative during periods of delayed gratification, etc. NOT the College Mathematics test. I am taking that this Tuesday, and I am planning on passing with a strong score.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

How to chop down a tree


So a couple notes about this video.
1. Do this at your own risk and use common sense!
2. Ideally, you would have good access to both sides of the tree. Until you are comfortable chopping on uneven (and somewhat unstable) ground, don't try to do what we did in the video and chop while downhill and while balancing on logs.
3. The tree was dead and needed to be removed. I'm not advocating going around chopping down every tree. We also plant trees; hopefully I do a video or post talking about the appropriate ways to plant trees in the future.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Manly Guide to Suits: Tying a Tie

Every man should know how to tie a neck tie; it is very lame for a grown man to be wearing clip on ties (or even the zip-up ties that have become popular in the past several years). There are many different ways to tie a tie, and each one has different pros and cons to them. The following is a break down of the three most common knots to tie:

1. The 4-in-hand knot. This is the most widely used knot to tie a tie with; the odds are, if you tie your ties, you use a 4-in-hand. It is the easiest to tie, can be used for many different levels of formality, but is a casual knot at its heart. If you are wearing your tie loose, this is the knot to use. The knot itself is narrow, sometimes to the point of being almost rectangular.

2. The Half-Windsor. This is a variant on the Full Windsor knot (see below); it has an extra step added on to the 4-in-hand knot, so it is slightly harder to tie. It is the most versatile tie knot that I know of, as it can be worn at highly formal occasions, or very casual ones. The Half-Windsor has a definite triangular shape to it, but it is not as wide as the Full Windsor, making it better for standard to smaller sized collar openings.

3. The Full Windsor (also called the Windsor). The Windsor has yet another step added on to the Half-Windsor, resulting in a very wide triangular shape. The size of the knot can make it a bit bulky to use with standard sized collars, but it can be used with them. It is formal knot, but it can be used in day-to-day use, if so desired.

Now that we've covered a little about these knots, time for my personal preferences! I use the 4-in-hand a lot, as I like to do a casual dressy look, but the Half-Windsor has started to push the 4-in-hand's popularity down, for me. I really like the shape of the knot that the Half-Windsor gives, but if you loosen the tie up, it is a little too big for my tastes. I personally don't use the straight up Windsor, the knot strikes me as over-the-top and unnecessarily large, but I am of smaller build, so it can over-power my frame. If you are taller or heavier set, the Windsor could provide the right size knot, and the 4-in-hand's smaller size might cause you to seem larger than necessary. Wearing a suit (and a tie) is all about balance and proportion, so this is something to keep in mind.

Finally, how do I tie these knots? Well, here is an excellent resource: CLICK ME! This link provides a visual and written walk-through of what you will be doing, along with some history of the knots. There are also three extra knots to experiment with, if you so desire.

Stay classy.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Caring and sensitive vs. aloof and impenetrable; which is manly?

So I read this tweet the other day:

The reason it's difficult for women to find men who are caring, sensitive and good looking...is because [sic] they all already have boyfriends

This really hit home; do you know why? Its because we, as men, have let the standard behavior of men get typecast as insensitive, uncaring, brutish Neanderthals that only care about what they can get out of a girl, cars, and beer.

A true man listens to those who need to talk, he doesn’t try and fix everyone’s problems, but he can listen to them. He doesn’t just listen either; he truly wants to know what is going on, and he cares about whoever it is he is talking to.

A true man is sensitive. I’m not saying this in the “oh no pass the Kleenex and bring a bucket to catch my tears” sort of way, but in the true meaning of the word. Dictionary.com puts it this way, “
having acute mental or emotional sensibility; aware of and responsive to the feelings of others.”
 
A man is aware of those around him, he knows when certain things are appropriate. A man doesn’t offend people on purpose (Sometimes people will be offended, no matter what you do, but you don’t try to offend people).

So now that we know what being “caring” and “sensitive” is, what do we do with it?

Try paying attention to those around you a little more. Evaluate what you are going to say to see if it is harmful or helpful. Most importantly, listen. Don’t try and fix anyone’s problems for them; just listen. You’d be amazed how helpful that can be. 

It is manly to care and be sensitive; any male who is dominated by his passions and lusts to the extent that they do not care and are not sensitive has lost his man-hood in a vain effort to find it.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Narcissism

Originally, I was going to write about camping, but I realized something else, so maybe I'll come back to the camping thing in a later post.

Here is a quick question for you: How many mirrors do you have in your house? I have a family on the larger side of "normal", so we have more than we would if we didn't have as many people, but still, we have (based off of memory) at least 10 mirrors around the house, not counting any small personal mirrors my sisters and mom may own. Compare that to families around the 1900's. If there were mirrors in the house, there were only one or two per house. Look at many tribes around the world; they have no idea what they look like.

What is my point with this? Am I saying that mirrors are bad? No, but I am putting out there that the abundance of mirrors reflects a shift in society's and individual's perceptions of themselves, no pun intended.

As a culture, we have become obsessed with ourselves. From our music to our advertising, as a culture we are completely infatuated with ourselves.

Most romantic relationships are selfish ones dedicated to making ourselves feel good; the guy wants the image of having a girl and the emotions that come with that, and the girl wants to feel better about herself by receiving any form of affirmation or acceptance by another. This is why we see so many relationships and marriages fall apart; instead of seeking the partner's interests, it is focused on "me". Once "I" stop feeling it, we terminate the relationship and move on to the next thing.

This whole "body image" obsession comes from narcissism. Guys work out, style their hair, whatever, to make themselves feel good about themselves.

Our culture is dominated by a "Get what you want when you want so you can feel like you want" mentality. Many old poems were dedicated to exploring nature and things outside of ourselves; much of modern poetry is dedicated to personal issues.

The whole idea of "passive activism" is highly self-centered. What am I referring to? Passive activism is a relatively new development; you see it on Facebook, for example, and it looks something like this: "Change your profile picture to a cartoon from when you were a child to help stop child abuse."
Does this accomplish anything to stop child abuse? No! No child abuser will stop beatings because someone has Tom and Jerry or SpongeBob as their profile picture. What this does do, however is make the user feel like they have "done their good deed for the day". They have made a difference. It allows us to do nothing, yet receive the gratification of making a change and helping others.

I realize this was a long rambling post, but I needed to get that out. Break out of the narcissistic mindset, think outside of yourself, help others.