Crucial Minutia
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Ethan Todras-Whitehill
Punch-for-Punch: Do You Know The Contra Code?
3 Comments | posted April 23rd, 2007 at 12:01 pm by Ethan Todras-Whitehill

Konami’s ContraI noticed the familiar grey box peeking out from J.T.’s half-closed chestnut entertainment center. It looked out of place among the Thai lamps, sleek electronic piano, and exposed brick walls of his penthouse loft, but there it was: a Nintendo Entertainment System—the original.

I dropped to my knees on the carpet and began shuffling through the games. My eyes lit onto a giant, flaming “C” and I pulled it out. “Contra. Sweet.”

J.T. smiled. “Yeah, but do you know the Contra Code?”

I looked at him like he was crazy. “Up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, B, A, select, start. Of course.”

He nodded sagely. “Ok,” he pronounced. “You are a man.”

*     *     *

Most guys in their 20s and 30s know the Contra Code. (It has its own Wikipedia entry.) And for many of them, it may just be the closest thing to hugging their male friends they have ever known.

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Ethan Todras-Whitehill
Punch-for-Punch: The Emotional Significance of Sports
19 Comments | posted April 17th, 2007 at 02:43 pm by Ethan Todras-Whitehill

Second semester Junior year of college is pretty much the universal “study abroad” semester at Tufts, my alma mater. My year, nearly half the class did a semester abroad, including my two best male friends (of cliff-jumping fame). My relationship with my then-girlfriend, H, was on the rocks, partially because without my male friends, I was so socially dependent on her. I lived in a basement off campus, and was fairly depressed. But instead of turning to alcohol or marijuana, I became addicted to sports.

Field of DreamsWednesday Night Hockey. Monday Night Football. Sunday Night Baseball. March Madness. Even the freaking NIT. My heart rate rose when I happened upon a West Coast baseball game, which usually went until 1 or 2 am. If a team I actually cared about was playing, I squealed with delight.

The thing is, if men have an emotional language, sports is it.

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Jennifer Gandin Le
Men, Eyeliner, and Sex Appeal
7 Comments | posted April 14th, 2007 at 11:28 am by Jennifer Gandin Le

To me, there is nothing sexier than a man who can work both eyeliner and a sharp suit in turn.

I am not a big hunky-testosterone-muscle-man fan.

I love men who are almost changelings, who can walk that delicious line between masculine and feminine with style. Any man who can do this instantly wins my heart and my loins.

Take, for instance, Eddie Izzard.

Eddie Izzard, from his website Eddie Izzard, in The Riches

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Ethan Todras-Whitehill
Punch-for-Punch: What Men Can Learn From Wenches
3 Comments | posted April 09th, 2007 at 02:08 pm by Ethan Todras-Whitehill

“A good wench is so hard to find,” laments King Phillip, sitting on his throne, speaking with Hank Hill. “You are fortunate. Yours seems sturdy. If I had her in my employ, it would solidify the bond between our two kingdoms.”

In the King of the Hill episode “Joust Like a Woman,” Hank Hill is trying to make a big propane sale to Phillip’s traveling Renaissance Fair. But Phillip refuses to drop character, speaking only with thee’s and thou’s in a British accent. (He’s voiced by Alan Rickman.)

Phillip’s kingdom is a misogynist’s fantasy. Women are put in the stocks for “the crime of offering her own opinion,” paid less than men, and have no rights. To help Hank make the sale, though, his wife Peggy agrees to work for Phillip. Upon discovering the inequalities, she goes to speak with Phillip, who ignores her unless she addresses him as King. When she asks him if he’s familiar with the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, he asks how could he be? After all, it is but the year 1590. Peggy tries to organize a revolt of the wenches by throwing tomatoes at Phillip, but the other women abandon her at the last second. To keep Peggy from the stocks, Hank agrees to fight a joust for Peggy’s honor—and the propane account.

“Take off that crown! I’m kicking your ass!”

*     *     *

Here’s the thing: men are in trouble in our society.

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Felice Belle
Stakes Is High: The Flavor of Love
2 Comments | posted April 08th, 2007 at 11:47 am by Felice Belle

Flavor Flaaaav!

With 3.3.million viewers, Flavor of Love 2 was the highest rated series debut on VH1 until it was bested by its spin-off I Love New York, which netted 4.43 million viewers.

Clearly VH1 hopes to strike ratings gold with the newest addition to the franchise — Flavor of Love Girls: Charm School.

Charm School will follow thirteen of the “breakout stars” from Flavor of Love, seasons one and two, as they compete in self improvement and etiquette-based challenges. The last woman standing will win $50,000 to help her achieve her life’s dream.

According to the video blogs on the VH1 website, Serious (not her real name) hopes to start a non-profit called Be A Role Model, while Smiley (also a fake name) aspires to “teach all of America […] to be their sexy selves” through the art of pole dancing.

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Ethan Todras-Whitehill
Women Prefer Sought-After Men, Men Eschew Sought-After Women
6 Comments | posted April 04th, 2007 at 12:26 pm by Ethan Todras-Whitehill

Ok, so this one is straight from the thanks-science-for-proving-something-everyone-already-knew department:

The Royal Society of London performed an experiment in which they showed men and women photos of the opposite sex. Photos of guys were paired with pictures of women either smiling in their direction or with a neutral expression on their faces, and vice versa. The study found that women were more likely to find a guy attractive when he had a positive female expression turned towards him, while men were less likely to find a woman attractive in the same circumstance. The guys, however, preferred a guy who was neutrally regarded by women. The study concludes that “within-sex competition promotes negative attitudes among men towards other men who are the target of positive social interest from women.” (From The Atlantic Monthly.)

Men & Women Attractiveness Study

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Courtney E. Martin
Composing a Life: Dudes and Babies
5 Comments | posted April 03rd, 2007 at 09:39 am by Courtney E. Martin

So I’m sitting on the train, headed God knows where, and a guy with Fu Manchu facial hair and a track suit wheels his fat-cheeked baby son on to the 5 train. He sits next to another guy—this one Asian-American and all suited up, pink tie, baby blue button-up. Fu Manchu tries to put his baby’s Timberland boots back on his tiny little feet and the Suit says, “Don’t you hate how those always fall off?”

“Yeah man.”

“You can get these little boots with velcro, so they don’t fall off, and the sole is softer so the baby can really feel his feet on the ground. That’s good for ‘em.”

“Cool man, where do you get those?”

I honestly thought I was going to cry. Not because this is unusual. I’m sure there are dads of different stripes trading parenting tips all over the globe, but I rarely witness it in such unabashed, matter-of-fact form.

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Ethan Todras-Whitehill
Punch-for-Punch: Don’t Listen To Darth Vader—Your Feelings Lie
1 Comment | posted April 02nd, 2007 at 11:27 am by Ethan Todras-Whitehill

empirestrikesback.jpg“Luke, I am your father,” Darth Vader informed Luke Skywalker in The Empire Strikes Back. “Search your feelings—you know it be true.”

For men, I would argue, feelings are a pretty piss-poor place to find truth.

After my scarring spring break trip to Cancun freshman year of college, I started dating a girl, H. The whole thing nearly fell apart because I followed Vader’s advice and trusted my feelings.

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Ethan Todras-Whitehill
Punch-for-Punch: Danny Tanner vs. Alcibiades in Cancun
6 Comments | posted March 26th, 2007 at 01:54 pm by Ethan Todras-Whitehill

My freshman year of college, I went to Cancun for Spring Break. This was a mistake.

I went with my hallmates. We were three nice guys, decent-looking, average builds. At our college, we were considered fine specimens. But in Cancun, we figured, we’d clean up. Our first act in arriving (besides purchasing a bottle of tequila), was to sit down and figure out a “point system” so we could determine who “won Cancun.” Should kissing a girl on the dance floor be worth more or less than kissing in a hotel room? Is a threesome the same if—well, you get the idea.

Don’t worry; we got what was coming to us.

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Ethan Todras-Whitehill
Punch-for-Punch: Don’t Be A Pussy
6 Comments | posted March 19th, 2007 at 04:13 pm by Ethan Todras-Whitehill

“Come on, guys! You barely need to get any air!” Trent called up, leaning against his ski poles fifty feet below us on the snowy slope. “Just enough to clear those rocks!”

Matt, my beanpole-shaped college roommate, took one last look over the edge and called back, “Sorry, Trent. My vagina hurts.” He skied around the precipice and came to stand with Trent and the girls below.

I nodded. Smart move on Matt’s part to go there; Trent would have no worse insult to add. I leaned over to look at the small cliff he had just jumped over. Mind you, this would be the second cliff I would jump off on this run if I did it—the last one was a five foot drop onto the steep, slushy slope that we had just skied down.

I couldn’t see the rocks very well, but it was a patch at least a few feet long. They were jagged, unforgiving granite. If I mistimed my jump, I could break my skis, my legs. But if I made it—Matt hadn’t done it. He usually took more risks than I did. I could leapfrog him, if only for that day, on the cojones scale. I carefully stepped my way back up the slope to get some approach speed. I peered down at the rocks again.

“Oh, just do it!” Trent yelled. “Don’t be a pussy.”

*     *     *

Pussy. In one form or another, it is the ultimate trump card a guy can play.

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