Saturday, September 3, 2011

Man Caves

            Saturday. Labor Day weekend. Storming, rainy day passing through. On the couch watching Tarzan’s Hidden Jungle (1955) and thinking about man caves.
            I have heard the expression for a few years now, and I even have a partially developed man cave in league with the basement family room. What I did not realize was that man caves has gone beyond being an expression.
DIY Network airs Man Caves, Sundays at 8pm. It is a thirty minute show in the vein of Trading Spaces, Yard Crashers and other home design shows, but, as the title suggests, it involves taking a room and other spaces and turning them into a space for the man of the house. Most of the converted rooms are basements, and they are turned into football or baseball themed rooms. These rooms revolve around sports paraphernalia, large screen television and a sports bar. There are some pretty cool looking layouts.
And as I researched on the Internet, I found websites dedicated to the concept, or should I say, reality, of the man cave. The “official” Man Cave site was, followed by, and All these sites had sections and photographs dedicated to that man space. These rooms are quite colorful and sturdy.
Now, the words man cave may have been a recent combination, but man caves have been around for a while. The Art of Manliness website has a historical perspective of “14 Famous Man Rooms.” Authors Brett and Kate McKay take us into the rooms of Mark Twain, Teddy Roosevelt, Earnest Hemingway and other men of history. There are some awesome photos with the article.
All man caves center around themes of guy stuff and activities where a man can be a man. The colors are bolder. The furniture is more rugged. The d├ęcor are, but not limited to, cars, sports, and/or hunting mostly. Man caves are not a He-Man’s Woman Haters Club where Spanky and the boys said, “No Girls Allowed.” They are a place where most men hang out with their friends. As mentioned above, man caves have some common elements with large television screens and bars, but must also include seating for friends and refrigeration for cold beverages.
My man cave, more of an alcove, includes things that are more my individual focus of being a science fiction and fantasy fan. Yes, Star Wars is featured, but a charcoal drawing of Worf is included and two paintings: the Dungeons and Dragons box cover of the early 80s and the 80s book cover of Thuvia, Maid of Mars. My friend, Scott, has a Batman collection that dominates his man cave. I guess we have Geek Caves.
Anyway, the only thing really new about man caves is the current expression itself; they have been around, well, since the man needed some space of his own back when Neanderthals first hunted, have evolved into “bachelor pads” and will continue way into the future (see Captain Kirk’s or Captain Malcolm Reynolds’ rooms).
Speaking of man caves and watching Tarzan, check out his place, a man cave in a tree. For him, it was a jungle out there.

Friday, July 22, 2011

A Guy Kind of Show

The Deadliest Warrior television show has started season three with a head to head match up between George Washington and Napoleon Bonaparte. “Two Great Leaders Enter. One Leaves,” says Spike TV’s Deadliest Warrior web page.

Christopher, my son, is into military history and had been bouncing around on the cable network for entertaining and instructional shows about military tactics and events for years. Last year, he told me about The Deadliest Warrior and how they would match up the Ming Warrior against the Musketeer, or the Spartan versus the Ninja. This reminded me of boyhood conversation about comic book heroes if Superman went against Batman. Of course, in later years, the conversations were about Star Wars versus Star Trek, and Predator versus Alien (Predator, of course). I also witnessed a conversation of Darth Vader going toe to toe with Gandolf.

It’s a part of a guy conversations. Matching up opponents to see who would fair.

Now, let’s throw in some guys with the resources and knowledge to investigate these questions. Richard “Mack” Machowicz, Geoff Desmoulin, and Dr. Armand Dorian are the primary hosts for the season. All are experts in their field. Machowicz is a combat expert (former Navy SEAL) with a long resume'. His job is to analyze the effectiveness of weapons. He also hosts a show called future Weapons. Geoff Desmoulin is a biomedical engineer. He sets up the testing situation to see what damage can be done with whatever particular weapon. And Dr. Armand Dorian assesses the damage after the experiment is complete.

Also, these three guys are guys. When the cannon ball hits and the text dummies splatter, you see these guys yelling “O-oh!” But get this, so am I. With controlled firing situations, there is blood spatter and destruction of the text dummies that simulate wounds. The science of war is being tested.
The show also brings in experts who demonstrate, explain and teach the hosts about the weapon or warfare of whoever is being analyzed. There is some good-natured ribbing between the experts as they show how their warrior is the best. It is quite interesting how weapons are made, and their use and effectiveness are explained. Furthermore, with Washington and Bonaparte, there was discussion of battle strategy, supply issues, moral and leadership. These were figured into what the show called an X factor.

At the end of the show they run computer simulations based on all the factors they have studied, witnesses and discussed. Then, the computer spits out a ratio. While they run the results, they do a re-enactment of how the battle would go if the two should meet. Weapons and tactics are demonstrated. Washington and Bonaparte came out really close.

The show is entertaining and educational, which is a great combination for a guy show that also has the “did you see that?” factor. If you are curious, stop by Spike TV, 10pm on Wednesdays. Next up in the duel is Joan of Arc versus William the Conqueror.

The Deadliest Warrior shows that it has been a jungle out there for a long time.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

2010 Barbaric Yawp of the Year

Being that a yawp is a “loud, harsh cry,” and that Tarzan had his loud cry resound over the jungle, and that Walt Whitman wrote, “I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world, and being that this is my blog, I have created the Barbaric Yawp of the Year. This award recognizes a person’s yawp (voice, work, actions, life), and how it was heard “over the roofs of the world” (affect on others).

But first a few things as to the why. I like award shows that recognize the accomplishments of the past year. I like Time magazine’s Person of the Year. I like those American Film Institute’s Top 100 Lists. I like heroes and heroic stories of literature and of real life.  And I like those moments where the time is taken to say “Thank you.” So it boils down to, I like recognizing those people, movies, books, stories, pictures and moments that show excellence, heroism, courage and humanity that inspire us to achieve more.

For example, I give a Barbaric Yawp to the movie Dead Poets Society that illustrates the barbaric yawp. I give another Yawp to To Kill A Mockingbird for it is a great work of literature and gave us the noble and courageous Atticus Finch who was also named American Film Institute’s number one movie hero. I give a Barbaric Yawp to veterans and soldiers. I give a Barbaric Yawp to my brothers and sisters for they each have earned one through their lives and individual stories. I give a Barbaric Yawp to the student who stood in front of the tanks in Tiananmen Square, the fireman who cradled the body of a two year child after the Oklahoma City Bombing, the “Man in the Water” from the Air Florida plane crash in DC, and to New York firemen who’s first day on the job was 9/11. The list of Barbaric Yawps is long and overdue, and I will share more of these stories later.

Anyway, now to the 2010 Barbaric Yawp of Year.

Rob Kunik.

It will be almost a year since we lost Rob. His influence on students, peers and family was and is still present. He was a good teacher, husband and friend. His yawp was heard by many. He challenged students with reading diverse text. He stubbornly held them to high standards. He loved his kids and family passionately. He fueled dreams and caused laughter. He had the courage to confront. He was a man of books and sports, a good example of a renaissance man, a Tarzan. His yawp was heard over the rooftops of the world. I would say more, but knowing Rob, he wouldn’t want me to prattle on.

The yawp that some of his students return to him is, “O Captain, My Captain.” Yeah, he liked Whitman and was a fan of Dead Poets Society. So, stand on a desk and give a yell.

It’s a jungle out there.