Category Archives: Guy stuff

Kathleen Parker on the Marine nude-photos scandal

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Marines in combat in Afghanistan in 2009.

Kathleen Parker, in her reaction to the Marine nude-pictures scandal, takes an iconoclastic approach, as she tends to do in her best work.

Of course she condemns the actions of the Marines, as anyone should, and links it to our tawdry, “narcissistic, show-and-tell-all culture,” to which neither male nor female Marines are immune.

But she also brings to bear a couple of themes of her past work, such as her dim view of sending women into combat, and our society’s recent failure to value males qua males.

You won’t see many leading columnists make such points, especially the male ones; they wouldn’t dare:

Must men be treated as women? That is, should they be trained to be more “sensitive”? If so, Kathleen Parkercan you simultaneously create sensitivity in the desensitizing, killing culture that breaks down an 18-year-old’s humanity and instills in him an instinct for extreme brutality?

Put another way, how stupid are we?

There’s a reason we say in times of great peril, “Send in the Marines,” and it’s not because of the few brave, committed women among them. But try to find someone in today’s military willing to say so….

Then at the end, she quotes a retired Methodist minister who counsels veterans navigating post-traumatic stress disorder:

“Marines embrace the warrior archetype more than other branches. The shadow of this is patriarchy, misogyny and brutality. We are trained to be killing machines, deadening all emotion except anger. We’re told we don’t have the luxury of sensitivity, so we objectify everything, including women.”

Still, he’s optimistic, saying that we need to return to “the embodiment of the hero archetype in the medieval knight. Aggressiveness can be coupled with honor, nobility and compassion.”

Maybe so. But knights typically didn’t joust with women, which may be the most salient inference. That said, chivalry has a place here. An apology to the women who exposed themselves to the few, not the proud, would be appropriate — both as gesture and punishment.

How can a man with no gray in his beard be interesting?

'Stay thirsty, my friends!" An official portrait of the Most Interesting Man in My House.

‘Stay thirsty, my friends!” An official portrait of the Most Interesting Man in My House.

In a profile last year, NPR told us some interesting things about Jonathan Goldsmith — the actor who had for years portrayed Dos Equis beer’s “Most Interesting Man In the World.”

Here’s how he got the job of doing those ads:

He arrived at the audition and, to his surprise, was surrounded by hundreds of young, Latino actors.jonathangoldsmith-042714-038rt-8456a1b9f98cd0b98234ac641be288e6a29eeb67-s1500-c85

“The line is out into the street. And I said, ‘Oh boy,’ ” Goldsmith says. “If they’re looking at these Latino guys, I better put on an accent.”

The voice of the late Argentine-born actor, Fernando Lamas, instantly popped into his head. The two were sailing buddies and good friends, and Goldsmith had perfected an impression of him.

“So I thought about him and how funny he was and how charming and a great raconteur, so I put on my best Fernando imitation,” Goldsmith says. “And they started laughing.”

Barbara received a call from Joe Blake, the casting director. He told Barbara that they loved Goldsmith’s performance, but they felt like they had to go younger.

“And in her infinite wisdom, she took a long pause and she said, ‘Joe, how can the most interesting man in the world be young?’ ” Goldsmith says. “He said, ‘I’ll get back to you.’ “

Exactly! How can some young punk be the world’s most interesting man — someone who is not worldly, who has not been there and done that many times? (Imagine that in a Fernando Lamas accent.) The answer is easy! He can’t be!

And yet, mere months after that story was told celebrating Goldsmith’s success, Dos Equis retired him — sending him, not merely out to pasture, but on a one-way trip to Mars!

And replaced him with the tenderfoot shown below! A mere puppy! There’s no gray in his beard! There’s no way sharks would have a week dedicated to him!

On behalf of all men old enough to be interesting (whether we are or not), I’m taking this personally…

mere-pup

 

 

Boris, could you please first do something about the hair?

I said this on Twitter earlier today:

But that’s not exactly right.

Trump’s hair and Johnson’s do have things in common — they’re both light-colored, they’re both flamboyant and they’re both ridiculous.

Boris Johnson's actual Twitter profile photo.

Boris Johnson’s actual Twitter profile photo.

But there’s a huge, defining difference, which actually makes them opposites: Trump’s hair is ridiculous because it’s so obvious that he goes to far too much trouble to make it look like that. Johnson’s is distracting because he goes out of his way to look like he does nothing with it, that he has never in his life seen a comb or had anything to do with one.

In any case, both are distracting, and do not inspire the kind of confidence one would like to have in the head of a major country.

Boris’ hair in the actual, formal portrait photo at right, reminds me of my grandson — he resists anyone combing his hair, firmly declaring that he prefers that it remain “bumpy.” In a 4-year-old, this is endearing, and I have been known to compliment him on the bumpiness of his hair. In fact, I regularly reach out and muss it up for him.

But in a grown man who wishes to be taken seriously by other grown men, it is ridiculous.

Now is the time on bradwarthen.com when we all harrumph together over men among us with ridiculous hair.

Harrumph, harrumph, harrumph, harrumph, harrumph…

What sort of hair should a serious world leader have? The sort that we don’t notice. The sort that, if someone asks us to describe it when we’re not looking at it, we can’t. We shouldn’t even be able to swear whether he has hair or not, unless it’s right in front of us. It should be that understated and unobtrusive.

I’ll pause now for a moment while you all say, Hear, hear!

Hear, hear! Hear, hear! Hear, hear! Hear, hear!…

Sometimes ‘realism’ is taken to unreal lengths

With all the talk about guns in the wake of the Orlando massacre, we got to talking on an earlier thread about the role of firearms in American history, which started me (as a child of the ’50s, who felt naked without a toy six-gun on my hip) to start riffing on that peculiarly American art form, the Western, and how it has evolved.

So I thought I’d expand on the subject in a separate post…

I, and others my age, grew up on unrealistic westerns in which every man went around with a gun in a holster, except for wusses such as shopkeepers or bankers. I’m pretty sure that is an exaggeration, and I suspect that people who went obviously armed were probably looked at askance by the townspeople, although it may have seemed marginally less bizarre than it would today on Gervais Street.

Just as gunfights were nothing like the ritualized affairs we know from movies, with two men approaching down the dusty street, pausing with their hands hovering over their holsters, scrupulously waiting for the other guy to go for his gun before drawing.

Gunfights such as the one at the OK Corral were wild, confused affairs more akin to what happened at that video game storethe other day…

Modern westerns, of course, go for realism.

SPOILER ALERT!

I’m belatedly watching “Deadwood.” I’m not binge-watching because, as one whose ancestors stuck to Civilization — by which I mean the East Coast — I can only take so much profanity, filth, crudeness, naked avarice and utter disregard for common decency at a time. (As much as it would scandalize my 6-year-old self, I have come to suspect as an adult that had I lived back then, I likely would have been a “dude.” Which wasn’t as cool back then as it sounds today.) Thirty seconds with the “Deadwood” character Al Swearengen (based on a real guy) can make you want to write off the human race as beyond redemption. At the very least, it should persuade a discriminating person to give the Wild West a wide berth.

I would not want to live in the same territory as this guy.

I would not want to live in the same territory as this guy.

Anyway, I’m in the first season, and in the last episode the death of Wild Bill Hickok was depicted — VERY realistically, with him being shot in the back without warning while playing poker.

Such realism is preferable, I suppose. And the clean-cut, 1950s-style western was ridiculous (compare above the guy who played Hickok on TV when I was a little kid and it was my favorite show, the version from Deadwood and the real guy).

Although enough of “Deadwood” and you can start to long, at least a little, for the Disneyland version, with the good guys in spotless white hats.

Or at least for characters you give a damn doggone about. So far the only relatively likeable person on this series is Calamity Jane, and you don’t want your kids in the room when she’s talking.

Bottom line, I’m sure something like everything you see on “Deadwood” actually happened at one time or other in the Old West. But not distilled to this extent, not as unrelenting with the soul-wearing nastiness. Just like, unlike on cop shows, real cops can easily go their whole careers without discharging a firearm in the line of duty.

Surely they had to let up and give it a rest sometime — go through a day with a killing, or maybe speak two sentences in a row without an F-bomb, just to give their profanity mills a rest.

Or else it seems that after a couple of days, they’d get exhausted with it all and skeddadle back East. I know I would have.

Quick: Whose catchphrase was, “Hey, Wild Bill! Wait for me!” The answer is below…

Is there such a thing as ‘Men’s spring wardrobe must-haves’?

must have

I’m serious here. Unless one is naked and freezing — or naked and therefore in danger of a ruinous social faux pas — how could there be such a thing as a “wardrobe must-have?”

I speak particularly from the perspective of a man — since that’s who this come-on assumes must have these things — but the same would seem to apply to women as well.

What wardrobe item, nakedness on a cold day aside, is necessary, to the extent that one’s existence is threatened without it? Under certain circumstances, perhaps, a pressure suit or a Kevlar vest or a crash helmet, but why must one have, for instance, chinos — or a light jacket, a button-down shirt, loafers or athletic shoes (those being the items specified in the email)?

I have no idea.

Mia McLeod trashes Identity Politics

Sometimes Rep. Mia McLeod loses me with her rhetoric. But hey, I — or some other grumpy heterosexual white guy — could have written this, from a missive she sent out Saturday:

A reporter asked me whether I chose race over gender when I supported Sen. Obama over Sen. Clinton in 2008. But he didn’t stop there. Next, he wanted to know whether I’m supporting Hillary now because she’s a woman.

Really?

His questions weren’t meant to be offensive. They just were.

I didn’t choose race then or gender now. I chose the person I believed to be the best candidate…the one whose vision and life experiences resonate most with me…the one whose passion and purpose move and inspire me.

So why are my choices presumably defined by or limited to race and gender?

If race trumps everything, shouldn’t I be down with Dr. Ben Carson, whose neurosurgical skills I’ve always admired and respected, but whose politics I can neither understand nor appreciate? Should I believe he’s the right “prescription for America,” simply because he’s the only black man who’s running?

And when it comes to gender, am I expected to support any woman who runs for office…just because she’s a woman?

If that’s the general sentiment, I can see how we got Nikki Haley….twice….

So how is Mia is trashing Identity Politics just as I would do? I guess because our “life experiences resonate.”

You see, we were both born in Bennettsville

Cruz would be less appalling if he were more of a, y’know…

You’ve heard by know about Donald Trump’s nodding, winking, mock-shocked repetition of a vulgarity aimed at Ted Cruz. And if you haven’t, well, excuse this violation of my civility policy:

“She just said a terrible thing,” Trump said with a smile. “You know what she said? Shout it out.”

The woman shouted louder, but still couldn’t be heard throughout the cavernous arena.

“Okay, you’re not allowed to say and I never expect to hear that from you again,” Trump said with mock seriousness, like a father reprimanding a child. “She said — I never expect to hear that from you again! — she said: ‘He’s a pussy.’ That’s terrible.”…

There’s been a goodly amount of appropriate harrumphing over this, but I haven’t seen any address the “substance,” such as it was.

And the thing is, Cruz would be a more appealing, or at least less appalling, if he were just a wee bit more of a, well, you know.

There’s a long tradition of tough-talking in our politics, but Sen. Ted Cruz takes ersatz machismo to a level that is frankly embarrassing, such as in the video above, in which he promises that “if you wage jihad against us, you’re signing your death warrant,” and that he will never “apologize for America.”

You know what? As uncharacteristic as it would be for me, if Ted Cruz gets elected, I will apologize for America.

Here’s the problem for people like Cruz and Trump both: As much as they’d like to portray the president as a “rhymes with wussy,” Obama’s been actually killing terrorists right and left, including the grand kahuna of the jihad crowd himself. We all know that, if you get mixed up in terrorism, you make Obama’s list.

But he does it like a man of respect, like Vito and Michael, never uttering a threat, but quietly whacking guys left and right as needed. The heads of the other four families thought Michael was a, you know, but they found out different.

Cruz is a wannabe Sonny, only without the rep to back it up. Really, when did Cruz make his bones? Never, to my knowledge.

Cruz needs to get in touch a bit more with his, um, gynecological side, just enough to dial back the empty strutting about. It would make him less contemptible. Maybe then we could take him seriously as a man…

tough 2

The look that’s supposed to scare the terrorists.

Y’all are all getting ads like this too, right? I said, RIGHT?

The ad at right, generated by Google Adsense to appear in the right-hand rail of the blog for my viewing pleasure, is weird on a number of levels.testosterone

  • What’s the connection between hot women and low testosterone? Is the theory that guys who have need of the product will look at the picture and think, “I feel nothing, so I must have low T”? I would think that most heterosexual males would be persuaded, by looking at a picture like that, that one thing they do not need is more testosterone. I mean, seriously, did Ulysses think he had low T as he was tied to the mast, his naked ears tortured by the sirens sweetly singing?
  • Who are the ad wizards who wrote that copy? You’re saying this is “What Happens When You Take a Testosterone Supplement?” Well, then, no thanks! I don’t want to look like that! (I mean, it might be gratifying to see Bruce/Caitlin Jenner turn green with envy… but not that gratifying.)
  • Finally… why am I seeing this? I promise you that I have not searched for “What do I do about low testosterone?” or “Large-busted young women who wear T shirts that are way too small.” Hey, maybe that’s the problem! Maybe Google assumes that if you’re NOT searching for such pictures, you must have low T….

But of course, it’s not just me, is it? All of you fellas are getting the same ad, right? I said, right?

I don’t know. I just think it’s weird. And what about all those ads about meeting Asian women? Is that just because I’ve written about going to Thailand?…

But we’ll all keep reading ‘Playboy’ for the ‘interesting articles,’ right, guys?

And we’ll mean it — if we bother. Which I doubt. Seriously, those of you who are no longer adolescent boys — when was the last edition you bothered to pick up?

The shocking news:

Last month, Cory Jones, a top editor at Playboy, went to see its founder, Hugh Hefner, at the Playboy Mansion.

In a wood-paneled dining room, with Picasso and de Kooning prints on the walls, Jones nervously presented a radical suggestion: THE magazine, a pioneer of the revolution that helped take sex in America from furtive to ubiquitous, should stop publishing images of naked women.

Hefner, 89, but still listed as editor-in-chief, agreed. As part of a redesign that will be unveiled in March, the print edition of Playboy will still feature women in provocative poses. But they will no longer be fully nude.

Its executives admit that Playboy has been overtaken by the changes it pioneered. “That battle has been fought and won,” said Scott Flanders, the company’s chief executive. “You’re now one click away from every sex act imaginable for free. And so it’s just passé at this juncture.”

For a generation of American men, reading Playboy was a cultural rite, an illicit thrill consumed by flashlight. Now every teenage boy has an Internet-connected phone instead. Pornographic magazines, even those as storied as Playboy, have lost their shock value, their commercial value and their cultural relevance….

In other developments:

  • Apple will no longer produce cool gadgets for the consumer market.
  • Coca-Cola will drop its line of sugary soda.
  • Carter will no longer produce its little liver pills.

OK, that last one might have actually happened. At least they don’t call them that any more. But you get the idea.

Frankly, I’d call this a desperate plea for attention. I mean, seriously — if nudity has become passé, why remove it? Why not have your models nude sometimes and not nude other times, as the photographer chooses? Since it’s so last century and all to care about it.

Also, you know, there’s nothing particularly new about this. In the past, the centerfold models were often partly clad. Partly because that was sexy, and partly to distinguish “Playboy” from “Penthouse” and “Hustler.”

I’m thinking the plan is to get people to run out and buy the first edition under the new policy just to see what the clothed centerfold looks like, then everybody will say “uh-huh,” and go back to not buying the magazine, ever.

Because, as everyone knows (hence the joke), the articles around the nekkid women weren’t really that “in-ter-esting.”

The last “Playboy” I bought for the “interesting articles,” and I suppose the last one I bought, period, was the November 1976 edition — the one with the Jimmy Carter “lust in my heart” interview.

And you know, I haven’t missed it. I don’t think I will in the future, either.

The unremarked passing of Tapiture, a.k.a., ‘Pinterest for Dudes’

tapiture2

I say “unremarked” because if you search for “Tapiture” in the Google news feed, all you get is stories about a race horse.

Thus endeth the sad effort to create a Pinterest for men, populated with pictures of steak and guns and hunting dogs and babes in lingerie, instead of decorating ideas and cute shoes.

It was probably meant to fail, but to pass with this little notice? That’s like the social media equivalent of an unmarked grave. Like Mozart in “Amadeus.”

Not that I’ve looked at Tapiture for awhile. I only knew about its demise because I received this release one day this past week:

Tapiture

That’s it. That’s all he wrote.

Sad. But guy sad. Like, Jim Brown getting killed at the end of “The Dirty Dozen” sad.

 

I knew Strom Thurmond. And Joe Biden is no Strom Thurmond (yet)

Washington is abuzz with how Joe Biden has apparently devolved from good ol’ Uncle Joe to the “Creepy Uncle.”

The latest cause of these musings — and perhaps the last straw, some are indicating — is the incident in which the veep was all over the wife of Ashton Carter while the new SecDef was being sworn in:

This has led the media, both new and old, to recall similar incidents. New York magazine has put together a slideshow. Enjoy.

The Washington Post has run a fun piece imagining an intervention in which everyone Joe knows — “Jill, Barack, Michelle, Sasha and Malia, John (Kerry), John (McCain) and several women he recognizes only from having told them, once, in passing ‘No dates ’til you’re 30!'” stage an intervention to put an end to his pawing and whispering. An excerpt:

“Do any of these women look comfortable?” Sasha asks. She produces the most recent picture.

Joe squints at the picture. “Looks pretty comfortable to me,” he says. “Jill, that’s a comfortable face, right? That face says ‘I’m comfortable around this suave man.’”

“No,” Jill says….

Then there’s the Top Ten list of what Biden may have whispered to Stephanie Carter, courtesy of David Letterman:

10. “Let me know when this gets weird.”
9. “What is that, Pert Plus?”
8. “You have the clavicle of a much younger woman.”
7. “Have you seen ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’?”
6. “Is that the necklace I gave you?”
5. “I haven’t heard a word your husband said.”
4. “You look like young Jeanne Kirkpatrick.”
3. “Ever heard of a second Second Lady?”
2. “I don’t have a time machine but I do have a hot tub.”
1. “In the words of Ruth Bader Ginsberg, ‘I’m not 100 percent sober.'”

Not everyone is taking it lightly, though. Here’s a more serious piece setting out why our gregarious vice president should “probably” cut it out.

Yet Joe is a piker, a paragon of 21st-century Proximity Correctness, compared to his old friend Strom Thurmond, whom he famously eulogized so eloquently right here in Columbia.

Just to give you an idea of the difference, let’s turn again to the pages of New York magazine, which, in a piece about Sally Quinn, quoted from a book about Strom by our own Jack Bass:

Washington writer Sally Quinn told of a 1950s reception where: “My mother and I headed for the buffet table. As we were reaching for the shrimp, both of us jumped and let out a shriek. Senator Strom Thurmond, grinning from ear to ear, had one hand on my behind and the other on my mother’s. As I recall, we were both quite flattered, and thought it terribly funny and wicked of Ol’ Strom.”…

Perhaps we should stage the actual intervention sometime before Joe reverts to that standard of groping…

 

Like we really needed another place like this…

store

Yesterday, my wife was trying to dress my grandson, who’s two-and-a-half, to go outside and play in the chill. She couldn’t find a coat that fit him. Then, she found one of his older sister’s heavy coats, and tried to put that on him.

“No!” he said.

What was wrong?, she asked.

“Purple!”

She corrected him: “No, it’s pink.”

“Girl!” he said. He has lately taken to calling himself, rather emphatically, “Boy,” and instead of struggling the way he used to to call his sister by name, she is “Girl.” As are each of the Twins, his cousins.

We don’t know where he’s gotten this all of a sudden (not from me, not from my wife), but it’s taken quite a hold on him. Call it pink, call it purple, call it what have you, he wasn’t having any of it. Nothing against girls; they can wear that if they’d like. But it’s not for him.

So today, we went to find El Machito something he would accept at Once Upon a Child in Harbison. We found something that we hope he’ll like. It’s safety-vest orange on the outside, and has an olive drab quilted liner that he can pull out and wear separately. He might think the orange is too much like pink. We’ll see. The main point is, it’s warm.

But that’s not what I wanted to tell you about…

After we got the coat, I dropped my wife off at the store that went into the space that once held my favorite store in the world, the Harbison Barnes and Noble. I wanted nothing to do with it. I went to run an errand at the mall.

When I came back, she was still in there. So I made myself go in. And you know what I found?

I found a place that looked, to me, almost exactly like Marshall’s and T.J. Maxx and Ross. Yet another place like those. Nothing special about it. OK, technically, this place had brand-name items those other places lack. My wife showed me a pair of canvas Adidas shoes the right size for our grandson, as she was explaining this place was a little more expensive than those other places.

I said it wasn’t too bad — less than three dollars for a pair of toddler tennis shoes. She said, “What are you talking about?” I said, look, they’re $2.97. Then I looked more closely: $29.97.

Thirty dollars?!?!” I said. “Thirty dollars for a little kid’s canvas shoes, like Keds?” She told me to lower my voice and said yes, and that this was very reasonable; elsewhere they’d probably cost $45.

I was happy to get out of there. Is just seemed so unfair. The B&N had been a special place. Yes, it was as chain, but I liked it better than any other B&N, and I like them all.

There was nothing special about this, not to me.

But you know what really hurt? I had had trouble finding a nearby parking place outside. That never happened when it was a Barnes and Noble. Which doesn’t seem right. In that same shopping center were two other stores that looked just like this one, regardless of quality of merchandise. The bookstore was special. But there it is.

Bryan Caskey’s shotgun tie

Caskey tie

I had lunch today with Bryan Caskey at his club.

We’d had drinks at my club recently, so it was his turn.tie closeup

We talked about the kinds of things gentlemen talk about at real gentlemen’s clubs (as opposed to the trashy kind) — politics, whether one can actually travel ’round the world in 80 days, shooting for sport, etc. Then in the middle of the shooting part, I noticed his shotgun-shell tie.

So I thought it only right to share it here.

Then we went back to harrumphing about those political chaps, most of them vile Whigs and Jacobins, don’t you know…

James Taylor now wearing LBJ’s cowboy hat?

James Taylor

Yeah, I know he lost his hair and no longer looks like this. And guys who lose their hair often wear hats, even in this post-JFK era.

I still found it disconcerting to see him wearing LBJ’s cowboy hat, in a promo picture with a Groupon offer for tickets to a concert in Charlotte.

Or was it Ike’s hat? Or Harry Truman’s? Or FDR’s? Or W’s?

For whatever reason — maybe it was the suit and tie, which also seemed weird for James Taylor — he didn’t look like a cowboy, but like a politician trying to look like a cowboy…

lbj-cowboy-hat

1348488portraitofformerimagesBMUd0Kv

 

bush_hat_wave

Shell Suber on things we should know about prostate cancer

Last month, we did what we could to fight breast cancer. Now, we tackle another nemesis.

I’ve known Shell Suber since he was the Richland County chairman for the Republican Party several years back. Some of you may know him, too. Good guy.

Whether you know him or not, those of you of the male persuasion should listen up to what he has learned, the hard way, about prostate cancer. This being Movember, the message is timely. Actually, it’s always timely. This is from his blog:

I have prostate cancer

By Shell Suber

NOTE: This was originally published as a small series of posts on Facebook on November 6, 2013. Published here in its entirety with minimal edits.

130916-103539I have prostate cancer. I found out a few months ago and I haven’t told many people. I didn’t see the point. After some surgery next week I won’t have it any more so why make a federal case of it? I had my gallbladder out last year. How is this any different?

But it is different. Read on to see what I mean.

First, I need to assure everyone I feel fine. No symptoms at all. In fact, I might have gone years without even knowing I had prostate cancer if not for a lucky break. More on that later.

Second, and this is important, PLEASE DON’T SAY ANYTHING TO MY KIDS. They are 9 and 5 and we decided to just tell them Dad is going to have another thing taken out, like that gallbladder last year. No sense bringing up the “C” word when it’s not going to be an issue after next week. Sadly, Abby and Walt have ample reason to associate hospitals/cancer with funerals and we don’t want them to be scared that this is anything like that, because it isn’t. Thanks.

This is a good place to share a few quick facts about prostate cancer. If you don’t have time to read all this, just read the capitalized part at the beginning of each paragraph.

CANCER IS ALWAYS BAD, BUT SOME IS WORSE. It depends on size, speed, and location. Prostate cancer, if it is caught early like mine, is on the “not as bad” side of the cancer spectrum. To be sure, prostate cancer can be serious, but most men diagnosed with prostate cancer do not die from it. In fact, more than 2.5 million men in the US have been diagnosed at some point and are still alive today, like me. This is because it’s usually a slow moving cancer and it’s in an organ that doesn’t have a lot of high-level involvement with your blood (like your liver, lungs, and pancreas do.)

IT’S RATHER COMMON. Only skin cancer is more common. About 1 man in 6 will be diagnosed with prostate cancer. The older you get, the more likely the diagnosis. About 6 in 10 cases are guys 65 and older. It’s rare before 40. At 47, I’m on the “fairly young but not unheard of” side.

ONLY MEN GET IT. If you didn’t know that already, you aren’t quite sure what a prostate is, are you? I wasn’t either, to tell you the truth. Anyway, I won’t go into what role it plays. You can look it up. Just know that any man can get it. And it’s also worth noting that black men get it at a noticeably higher rate for some reason. And, as far as they know, there aren’t really any behaviors that “cause” it (like smoking/lung cancer).

IT’S EASY TO FIND. Prostate Cancer is, as cancer goes, an easy catch. There is a simple blood test called a PSA test that gives the doc a fairly good indication that all is good or, if not, more testing is needed. If you want to read more about the PSA test and your PSA “number,” there are a million articles out there. All you really need to know is that it’s a blood test like all the others you have ever had – one needle in the arm and you are done. The OTHER way to check is… well… do you remember the Moon River scene in “Fletch?” [ Moon River ] Anyway, Dr. Babar was checking to see if Irwin’s prostate was the size and shape it should be. If it’s not, you may be in for more testing. In my case, that meant a biopsy. It’s an outpatient procedure that takes no time at all and they even give you a Valium afterwards if you want. Sort of like getting a really great lolly-pop.

IT’S NOT NECESSARILY HEREDITARY. There are some cancers that are very hereditary. Breast cancer, for instance. But prostate cancer doesn’t work quite that way. So don’t go thinking you are in the clear because nobody in your family has ever had it. You aren’t. I wasn’t. Nobody in my family has ever been diagnosed as far as I know. Some of you may know cancer took my mom five years ago and her father last year. Both of those were unrelated to mine and to each other. Oh, and when I say “nobody in my family has had it,” that’s probably not true. Read on.

IT’S USUALLY TREATED IN ONE OF THREE WAYS. Because it’s such a slow cancer, sometimes when they find it in an older fellow, they just watch it to see if it’s growing so slow it won’t cause a problem. I mean, why bother if it’s not going to kill you before you’re 110, right? Other times they just try to slow it down with radiation. Again, so it won’t get you before something else does. Then there’s me. I’m only 47. They can’t slow it down THAT much. Besides, the risk is always there that it could “get out” of the prostate and that would be, um, bad. So for me, it’s removal of the prostate, a treatment you avoid if you can (because of the side effects) but it’s a virtual cure (as long as the cancer is all in the prostate.)

If you just read all that, you now know a lot more about prostate cancer than I did.

HOW I FOUND OUT I HAVE PROSTATE CANCER. As I said before, I might have never found out – for years maybe – but for a lucky break. Last year my wife and I decided, after much talk and, I feel, a sufficient period of procrastination on my part, that I should have a vasectomy. So I went to see my lifelong friend Tom Edmunds. Tom and I have known each other our whole lives and played a little football back in the day. He’s a urologist now and the man to see if you are going to get snipped. Blood work was done pre and post and my follow up PSA numbers gave him reason to be suspicious. [A note about PSA numbers: High is bad. Low is good. But CHANGE is what gets their attention. If your PSA number is the same this year as last, that’s good. If it’s higher, well, you may be in for more tests.] Anyway, had I not “manned up,” as Tom is fond of saying, who knows? We might not have known until it was too late.

LATE EDIT – After my original post, Tom, my urologist, shared this about PSA numbers…

Get a baseline PSA at age 40. 0.7 is the mean. If your baseline is above 1.5 at age 40, it needs to be watched yearly. Also, a rise of 0.4 in 1 years’ time is a reason to be checked out. Make sure your doc does an EXAM. Many don’t. African American men have twice the incidence. If your insurance company won’t pay for a PSA, get it anyway! What is your life worth? – Dr. Tom Edmunds

If you need more information (or a good urologist), contact Dr. Tom Edmunds at Capitol Urology, vasectomycolumbia.com, (803) 251-6602, info@capitolurologysc.com

SIDE EFFECTS. Next week I am going to have my prostate removed. Simple as that. They take it out and I don’t have cancer any more. Besides, after you are done making babies, you don’t really NEED it any more. So what’s the catch? (You just knew there must be one, right?) Well, there are two rather unpleasant possible side effects. Without getting too graphic, the prostate is right down there near a handful of nerves that we men are VERY fond of – the nerves that make it possible for our buddy down there do all his jobs. Removing the prostate damages these nerves. Most of the time the impact is temporary. But sometimes it’s not and that sucks, which is why they avoid taking it out if they can help it. But being dead is worse, so…

WHY AM I WRITING THIS? At first I was going just keep this quiet. I didn’t want to be “that guy with cancer.” People sort of treat you differently – you know what I mean – and I didn’t want that. Besides, after my surgery next week, it will be gone for good, along with my prostate, so why tell the world? Here’s why. Because this is one of those things that if more guys get tested, there will be more old guys for me beat in golf in 30 years. More PSA Tests = Less Funerals. Simple math. I’m too busy for funerals. So there you are.

Before he outmaneuvered Obama, Putin whupped a congressman at arm-wrestling

And it was a Republican congressman, so the Russian leader’s humiliation of U.S. political leaders has been non-partisan, and has covered two of the three co-equal branches of our government.

Maybe he and Justice Scalia should go out on a shirtless hunting trip together, and see who can bag more game. Or something.

Anyway, courtesy of Slate, here’s the story:

During an interview with KPCC that aired yesterday, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, a California Republican, was asked if he had ever met Vladimir Putin. It’s safe to say his answer was more than a little unexpected.

Turns out, during the early 1990s, Putin, then only a local official, traveled to Washington with a Russian delegation. While there, Putin and two other Russians ended up playing a game of touch football with Rohrabacher and a few of his “right-wing” buddies. Things only got stranger after the game:

“We all ended up going to the Irish Times Pub afterwards, and we were having a little bit too much to drink I guess. But anyway, we started arguing about who won the Cold War, etcetera. And so we decided to settle it like men do when they’ve had too much to drink at the pub. So we got down to these arm-wrestling matches, and I ended up being paired off with Putin. And he’s a little guy, but boy I’ll tell you he put me down in a millisecond. He is tough … his muscles are just unbelievable. And then his bodyguard gets up and this buddy of mine and says ‘oh I’ll take him.’ And my friend put his bodyguard down, so it was good.”

But was Obama RIGHT about Kamala Harris?

I’m really not terribly interested in whether President Obama’s compliment about California Attorney General Kamala Harris was “sexist.” After all these years, I’m still trying to figure out an accurate, consistent definition of the term. It seems to shift, depending on context.

I’ll let y’all hash that out. Anyway, here’s what I’m talking about:

Speaking at a fundraiser in a wealthy San Francisco suburb, President Obama praised the looks of California Attorney General Kamala Harris.

“You have to be careful to, first of all, say she is brilliant and she is dedicated and she is tough, and she is exactly what you’d want in anybody who is administering the law, and making sure that everybody is getting a fair shake,” Obama said. “She also happens to be, by far, the best looking attorney general in the country.”

“It’s true! C’mon,” he added, to laughter from the crowd…

And why did they laugh? Because most of the people in the crowd, male and female, had probably had more or less the same thought.

Coming from Obama, I take the remark as pretty benign. If it had come from Bill Clinton, I might react differently. Poor Obama — he’s seen as so aloof, so one time he tries to be a regular guy, to give an honest human reaction, even be gallant, and he ends up having to apologize for it. With Bill Clinton, the remark would be superfluous because we already knew he was a “regular guy” — and not in a good way.

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And really, I want to hear from everyone on this. I’m not looking for the male reaction. Women are equally fine judges of pulchritude. I’m not looking for anything salacious or lascivious. I’m thinking more on the level of that episode of “Seinfeld” when George said of Joe DiMaggio, “Now that is a handsome man.”No, for once, I’d rather stay away from the value judgments, and ask a simple question: Was the president’s observation accurate?

When I started writing this post, I meant to link to a site that would show us all of the attorneys general. Unfortunately, the only link I’ve found that looks like it would enable us to do that doesn’t seem to be working. Maybe a lot of other people had the same thought, and overloaded the site — I don’t know.

I can say that, based on the photos I’ve looked at, she’s the best-looking attorney general I’ve ever seen. (Henry McMaster may have been tall and well-coiffed, but come on…) But I may have missed some unusually handsome examples of both genders; I must admit that.

I’m just trying to help the president out here, on the theory that truth is an effective defense…

7-year-old boy suspended for being 7-year-old boy

Passing on this bit of news from Maryland:

GLEN BURNIE, MD (CNN) – A 7-year-old Maryland boy was expected to return to school Tuesday after serving a suspension for forming his breakfast pastry into the shape of a gun and allegedly saying the words “bang, bang.”

Children at Park Elementary School went home on Friday with a letter explaining there was a disruption in school.

Josh Welch and his father B.J. say the disruption lead to a two day suspension for the second grader in Brooklyn Park.

Academics are hard for Josh, who suffers from ADHD, but he excels in art class. It is Josh’s own creativity that may have gotten him into trouble.

Josh was enjoying his breakfast pastry when he decided to try and shape it into a mountain. “It was already a rectangle and I just kept on biting it and biting it and tore off the top and it kinda looked like a gun but it wasn’t,” Josh said.

Josh takes full responsibly for trying to shape his breakfast pastry, but admits it was in innocent fun. “All I was trying to do was turn it into a mountain but, it didn’t look like a mountain really and it turned out to be a gun kinda,” Josh said.

When his teacher saw the strawberry tart he knew he was in trouble. “She was pretty mad? and I think I was in big trouble.”

Reminds me of when the elder of my sons was a toddler in his high chair eating toast. He ate it down to where he had two crusts left intact in an L shape. He then grasped it by one side, and aiming the other around the room said “Pow, pow!” Nearly broke my wife’s heart. She felt like she had done something wrong raising him — after all, his older sister had never exhibited such “violent tendencies.”

But boys will do things like that.

The fact that this one did it with a dessert-type item reminds me of a bit of silly dialogue from the original version of “The Office:” It was only a trifling matter. Nevertheless, they took him into custard-y.

The Obama skeet-shooting brouhaha

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Something I saw over the weekend and neglected to post was the above official White House photo of the POTUS allegedly shooting skeet.

And I’m inclined to believe that, even though the elevation of the weapon seems a little low, more like Dick Cheney’s style of shooting.

I post it now in case y’all are at all inclined to discuss the whole “does he or doesn’t he, and if he does, does he ‘all the time'” thing that was going on for several days last week. An excerpt of an NYT story, to get y’all started:

WASHINGTON — When President Obama mentioned last week that he had picked up a new hobby — skeet shooting at Camp David — it was a surprising disclosure by a president whose main identification with guns these days is his effort to ban assault rifles and high-capacity magazines.

To some, Mr. Obama’s newfound enthusiasm for shooting clay pigeons — he said in an interview that he did it “all the time” at the presidential retreat — also seemed a bit suspicious.

So on Saturday, the White House tried to silence the skeptics by releasing a photograph of Mr. Obama shooting on the range at Camp David in August. The president, wearing protective glasses and ear-muffs, is squinting down the barrel of a shotgun moments after pulling the trigger. Smoke is shooting from the front of the gun…

Actually, to me it looks like the picture was taken in the very same second that the president pulled the trigger, not “moments after.” But what do I know, compared to somebody who actually still gets paid to work at a newspaper, and The New York Times, no less?

Bottom line, I think we can still safely say that the president’s weapon of choice is the drone…