What Makes a Man?: Introduction

What Makes a Man?: Introduction

What is a Man?

“It’s Funny. I can look back on a life of achievement, on challenges met, competitors bested, obstacles overcome. I’ve accomplished more than most men, and without the use of my legs. What… What makes a man, Mr. Lebowski?”



“I don’t know sir.”

“Is it… is it, being prepared to the right thing? Whoever the price? Isn’t that what makes a man?”

“Sure. That and a pair of testicles.”

That exchange in the comedic classic The Big Lebowski poses some fascinating questions on masculinity that I hope to address in the following pages of this book. Certainly being a man includes overcoming obstacles, beating out others for achievement and success. Being a good Boy Scout and always being prepared to the right thing especially in trying and difficult times. Anatomy certainly plays a role in what determines a man.

I just happened to have recently watched The Big Lebowski again right around the time two big Hollywood Blockbusters have hit the theaters. Barbie and Oppenheimer each with its own take on masculinity and 1950’s era history. Oppenheimer of course led the Manhattan project which lead to the creation of that atomic bomb which ended World War II and saved the lives of a million American men. Clearly one man’s achievements no matter how terrible or catastrophic can also have a tremendous impact on history and science. The surname Oppenheimer will live on long after most us have turned to dust, alongside the likes of Caesar, Borgia, Washington, Lincoln, Einstein, Nobel, Dumas, and others.

Juxtaposed to Oppenheimer is another movie about an inanimate object Barbie and her accessory Ken. The Ying and Yang of these movies being released together and the popularity of them both is a fascinating cultural phenomenon during this summer of 2023 in the USA. In our current climate of culture there has been a growing rejection of “classic gender roles.” Even though I have not seen this Barbie movie I have read that it is a modern day feminist take on the idea of gender roles. For the past decade or so Hollywood has been in the habit of remaking movies and recasting the characters of the past with different genders. Ghostbusters in the 21st century became a ragtag group of women hunting ghosts in New York City, Overboard in the 21st century became a single mom who had somewhat stereotypical masculine traits who fell in love with a rich immigrant man who had somewhat stereotypical feminine traits like enjoying to cook or being “cultured”. Despite what some real world statistics may say about the gender disparity of home chores, I like to think that we have made some progress over the last 40 years. There is more to being a man than being a down on his luck handyman who drinks and hangs out with loser friends and is kind of a slob and a mess and in need of a woman around to whip him into shape.

As a kid in the early 1990’s one way my father got me to do my chores which included using the vacuum was to show me the movie “Mr. Mom” which is an entire movie that also played with gender roles in society both domestically and professionally. The plot is simple, a man loses his job at the car manufacturer and has a difficult time finding another one. The stay at home mom and wife decides to apply for some jobs with the college degree she got years ago and scores a decent job. She begins to move up the ladder facing oppressive stereotypical men in corporate America believing women were taking all of their jobs from them. The husband stays home with the kids and realizes how much work the Moms and Wives of America do, he struggles with the school pick up line, the dinners, cleaning, and everything at first. But he gets the hang of it. At the end there’s a somewhat happy ending and the man gets a job with a raise and wife returns home having defeated a patriarchal asshole while on a business trip. It is a classic 1980’s family fun movie, and Michale Keaton plays the role perfectly like he did in the cross cultural classic Gung Ho. Any way this movie was a simple way to get me as a kid to be not afraid of things like laundry or the vacuum. The kids in the movie eventually help out more around the house instead of relying on Mom to do everything for them, so my father sorta used the movie to manipulate me into doing my own laundry and do some vacuuming.

That was how Hollywood portrayed feminism in society and gender roles around 40 years ago. Even though I have not seen Barbie I would bet that it does not include classic feminism of the 1960’s and 1970’s which was also influenced by Barbie. It probably does not have scenes of Barbie being a mother trying to get dinner on the table while juggling a job. Or an apple sauce empire being created in a small Vermont country home while raising a baby on her own and fighting corporate patriarchy like Diane Keaton did in the movie Baby Boom. This Barbie movie is a modern day movie that is probably more like a college level feminist lecture and critique on capitalism that touches on all the subjects of gender roles, anatomy, jobs, and sex but falls short of addressing it head on like the Working Girl feminists of New Jersey in the 1970’s and 1980’s.

The overall point of this introduction and the reason why I’ve referenced movies I enjoy is to make the highlight the point that external creative things outside our control influence the answer to the question “What makes a Man?” Hollywood movies are external to pretty much everyone in the USA unless you as an individual worked on the specific movie. Movies are part of the feminist/patriarchy capitalist system and have been for a very long time and will probably always be themes the capitalists who work in Hollywood studios use to make more money. The small extra spice of “overtaking the patriarchy” or a fictional “War between Men and Women” that comes from a marxist anti capitalist theology is a fun ingredient to add to a movie like Barbie. Nobody would go spend their hard earned dollars to watch a movie where barbie and ken just work and have jobs in Barbieland and have relationship problems, then escape to the “real world” just find more work and problems, and then return to Barbieland and come to some kind of worker agreement by forming some kind of Union of Kens who are demanding a better workplace environment. That would be a more boring and anti capitalist movie then whatever Barbie actually is. In reality Barbie is making a lot of money which is what movies are supposed to, which is the same for every creative pursuit. Creative projects are done not just for the love of creating the project by the artist or artists but also to make money.

Barbie as a doll captured a unique moment and shift in culture and the role of gender. The doll was released in 1959 when “New” things were all the rage. It wasn’t the iPhone, internet, dvds, air Jordans, or the tamagotchi like I grew up with. The 1950’s was a massive spark in innovation and changes in the roles of gender in both the domestic and professional settings. A little girl born in the mid 1950’s would have been over the moon as a 5-8 year old to get a Barbie doll for Christmas or birthday. One of the things that makes the doll an iconic symbol of American life is the fact that it was a completely different kind of doll than any that came before it. My grandma’s dolls she enjoyed as a little girl in the 1920’s and continued to collect always appeared a little creepy to me as a little kid, they were little babies with creepy eyes and handmade clothes that last 100 years for some unknown reason. Barbies on the other hand were made from plastic, Barbie had a lifestyle based in Southern California she was Hollywood but lived in Malibu, she was plastic and could be played with anywhere. Unlike doll houses of the past, Barbies could do anything and be anyone a Doctor, an Astronaut, a Teacher, President, Lifeguard, etc. Mattel exported the California dream of becoming whoever you wanted to be simply by getting to Los Angeles California and walking around Santa Monica and Venice Beach. This dream of course is not entirely a fiction, a young body builder in Austria followed his dream and got to Southern California, became an international movie star and Governor of the Great State of “CAlifornia” his name of course is Arnold Schwarzenegger and is an iconic symbol of masculinity in this modern time like Hercules or David was to the Ancient Greeks.

Reality is that even though people enjoy saying something like “They are trying to take us back to the gender roles of the 1950’s” when they discuss issues such as these we still very much live in a world based on the “New” things from the 1950’s. Barbieland is our real world in many ways. Color TV broadcasts began in 1953 along with radial tires, the wireless remotes began in 1955, optic fiber cables in 1955, solar power cels invented in 1954, the electric guitar in 1950, music synthesizer in 1953, Sony came out with a pocket radio in 1952, Power Steering in cars came out in 1951, Answering Machines in 1950, Nonstick pans in 1954, Velcro in 1957, AA batteries in 1957, the modem and hula hoop in 1958, “The Pill” in 1954, the computer in 1958, and of course in 1959 we have the microchip, pacemaker, and Barbie Doll. In 2023 there is not a new car in the world that does not include power steering, more than a few microchips, and a computer on board. There is also probably not a home in America that doesn’t have a nonstick pan or some velcro laying around. It also happens to be California state law that every new home in the state be built with Solar Panels, the technology of harnessing the power of the sun into electricity first became viable in 1954 in the USA when Daryl Chapin, Calvin Fuller, and Gerald Pearson developed silicon photovoltaic (PV) cell at Bell labs in Murray Hill New Jersey. Also everyday in the news is a story about access to contraception. That battle began in the 1950’s and has shaped feminism and concepts of masculinity ever since it was first introduced.

The “Real World” as we know it today are full of inventions and things and inanimate objects we take for granted that probably have their inventions based on the changing world of the 1950’s. Making slight digs of everyday life during that time, or make believing that everything in the 1950’s was just like you see in Leave it to Beaver reruns is a make believe fiction as fictional and odd as Barbieland is. People had lives and problems and issues just as complex and problematic in the 1950’s as we do today in the 2020’s and many of these problems probably existed in Vienna in the 1890’s that Freud had to listen to from his patients. The fictional battles that exist mostly in our own heads which we fight 24/7 on the internet and social media are not that much different than the fictional battles that were fought over 100 years ago.

Which brings me back to the topic of this book and question that was posed to the Dude at the beginning of this book. What makes a Man?

  • Is it his sexuality? If so what does heterosexuality look like in this day of age? Or what does male homosexuality look like? Or is it just really having a pair of testicles and that’s it?
  • Is it his job? Can a man be a man without having a job? Can a man be a man without making any money? Can a man be man without an occupation or prospects of employment or income?
  • Is doing something right and being truthful what makes a man? Clearly there have been men who have been very masculine who have made a lot of money by writing or telling tales of fiction and being dishonest. Oscar Wilde and Wyatt Earp are two completely different kinds of men, but both engaged in illegal dishonest, and for the period in which they lived in immoral behaviors that were against the societal norms of their times.
  • Is it Manners that make the man? The idiom “Manners Maketh the Man” is one of the oldest idols in the English Language and dates back to the Middle Ages. But manners alone certainly does not “Make the Man” having good manners and being polite while understanding the social norms and expectations of your surroundings is a good peoples skill to develop and practice. But having good manners alone does not necessarily mean that a man will form the social bonds necessary for economic success in society. George Washington is one of the greatest men to have ever lived, he wrote a book on manners as a teenager, but he did not develop the relationships needed to get him to become the man he was born to be until he married the wealthier and more socially connected Martha Washington. Abraham Lincoln is also one of the greatest men in American History, he was born poor in a log cabin, suffered from depression most of his life, and struggled to become a successful lawyer on his own. He practiced proper manners in the proper social settings, but it was not until he married the wealthier and more socially connected Mary Todd that he reached the levels of greatness he was born to become. My point being is that manners alone does not make a man, sometimes it’s the social bonds the man makes that helps the man become who he always was meant to be.
  • Is the ability to fix things that are broken something that makes a man? If masculinity has a feeling it could be fixing something small or big independently from others. For example: I have a 2001 year old Honda Civic that still runs great but the car being over 20 years old sometimes things break. Big things like the Air Conditioner are too complicated to fix it DIY style, that is easier to depend on someone else to fix and hire a mechanic. But yesterday the break lights turned on while it was parked, after some crack investigation that involved picking up some small broken pieces of plastic near the pedals and a few google searches and some YouTube videos, my Dad and I hypothesized the problem was a broken break stop pedal, which is a small piece of plastic like a plug that is attached to the pedal which depresses the break light switch on and off. This part is one I had no idea even existed in cars because I’m not a mechanic and no car I’ve ever owned had this problem. So I disconnected the battery to avoid draining the battery and the next day purchased the part from my local auto parts store and popped it in by feel, then reconnected the battery. The problem is completely fixed and I did not have to go to a mechanic to fix it or have them “diagnose” the problem. Whatever feeling this 10 minute fix does to one’s psychology I am tossing into the ‘Masculine Bucket of Feelings” Other examples are below.
    • My war with crows eating my tomatoes was solved by enclosing my plants with a bird net. Solving the problem.
      • Silver Skin on the bone side of ribs can be a pain sometimes to take off with a paper towel, this problem is solved by buying a $4 catfish skinning pliers from Wal Mart. If you go online and find the BBQ versions of these same things they cost over $15. Save money and go to Walmart.
      • Random self care bottles of shampoo, conditioner, bodywash, taking up space in the bathtub is kind of a problem everybody has and does not have a decent solution. I moved 2 years ago and had to stay in a Home2Suites by Hilton for a couple weeks until the new house I was moving into was finished. They had a dispenser thing in the shower which I thought was kind of clever for a hotel instead of having mini bottles of shampoo of conditioner that needed to be restocked everyday. When I moved in I went onto Amazon to see if they had something like that for home use, and I purchased a Better Living wall mounted (no screws) three chamber dispenser. And over 2 years later this $20 fix has completely solved the problem of random bottles taking up space and falling all over the place in the bathtub.
      • Plumbers charge a good amount of money to clean out obstructions in a sink drain. It can cost close to $200 for a plumber to come to your house and snake the drain. A backed up drain is a minor problem with an easy fix. I got a Ryobi drain auger for about $100 and in 10 minutes fixed the problem. The tool will last for years if it’s only used once or twice a year and basically after one use it paid for itself.
      • Pests and bugs are also a problem around the house that everyone has. Pest control companies can charge hundreds of dollars a year to homeowners to just spray pesticides around your foundation. I purchased a $50 cordless sprayer from Harbor Freight and $20 in concentrate from Home Depot, and every couple months I spray the foundation. This DIY fix is cheaper and just as effective as paying a company to do it for you.
      • Restaurants have gotten extremely expensive since the days when I was a kid. Several years ago I got a Blackstone Griddle and a Traeger, my Blackstone Pro Series 36 inch I got in 2019 on clearance for $200 at Wal Mart it was an upgrade over my first generation Blackstone 36 inch before they came out with the rear grease management system and hinged lids. My Traeger still rocks the pro controller from 6 years ago before PID controllers took over everything. The point being is that I have saved thousands of dollars over the years making hundreds of meals on these two things. The cost of BBQ at a BBQ restaurant is a lot because the price of meat has gone up and the time and labor it takes to run a BBQ restaurant is a lot, so the price of the food can be quite high. A burger is also a burger and when done right there is not that much difference between a “High End” burger and one that costs a fraction of the price from a burger place that knows what they are doing. I can turn out a restaurant quality burger from Sam’s Club’s frozen burgers on the Blackstone any time I want at a cost per burger of about $2 vs the $15 it would cost at a Red Robbin.
      • Before we moved to this new house, my Dad and I had to spruce up and fix some things at the older house I lived in. There were birch trees in the backyard which were dying, and instead of hiring a tree company to come over and remove it, we got a Ryobi 40v cordless chainsaw and cut down the trees ourselves. This saved a lot of money and was quite fun along with being a lot of work. Another project was that instead of hiring some painters to come spray the house for a few thousand dollars, we purchased a few buckets of paint and some brushes and rollers and painted the house ourselves. My Dad used to be a painter in the 1970’s and over the course of several weeks the house went from tan and green to a blue house with white trim. When I moved into this house we purchased a sprayer to spray the fence and because this new house has stucco and is one story I will probably have to one day paint it and so this sprayer will come in handy then as well. Brushing and rolling a stucco house is possible but more difficult and annoying. Any way by painting the House DIY we did a much better job and saved a few thousand dollars, the total cost of the paint, brushes, ladder, rollers, and stuff was about $1,200.
    • Saving Money and fixing things are two sides of the same coin, it doesn’t matter if it is a Sacagawea Dollar or George Washington Quarter or JFK Half Dollar, these two things are non mutually exclusive. You can fix something and save money (or more specifically: not spend more money then what is necessary) at the same time.
    • Is the presence of a Y chromosome what makes a man? Can we understand science to help inform us on what being a man is or not? Most of the time science gives us information that leads us to solid conclusions, and most of the time the presence of a Y chromosome is a defining feature of a man so the answer is yes, but there are some exceptions. There are genetic quirks that sometimes happen in which people are born neither with XX chromosome like females, or XY chromosomes like males. There are binary chromosomes X and Y just as there are two primary sexes male and female. Klinfelter syndrome occurs in about 1 in 1,000 births and these boys are born with an extra X chromosome their DNA is XXY. But the Y chromosome’s primary purpose is to trigger the development of testosterone in a fetus which almost always results in a male birth. However, there is a medical condition known as Androgyny Insensitivity Syndrome or AIS, which is a condition where fetuses with and XY chromosome chain and normal levels of testosterone still result in a female or ambiguous looking baby at birth. This condition is fairly rare and occurs in about 5 out of 1 million male births. The condition is caused by a genetic mutation somewhere in the DNA chain that makes the cells of the body unable to absorb testosterone through the cell walls. This results in people who even though are biologically male have the appearance of a female. There are other medical conditions similar to these that are rare. I have found that the existence of these cases to be a lesson in how science is never 100% certain on pretty much anything, because there’s always something new to learn. So the presence of a Y chromosome is what makes a man is not 100% an answer 100% of the time even though 100% of men have Y chromosomes. My point in including these examples here is to highlight the point that when people bring up these exceptions it is usually followed by the false argument that these exceptions are evidence that sex and gender are not binary and include multiple sexes. This false argument using these examples is not only offensive to the people who live with these medical conditions, but also is not true. Even if we were to hypothetically remove ourselves from reality for an instant and engage in the thought experiment of there being more than 2 biological sexes, the argument is still not true and the people who argue that there are two sexes are more right then those who argue for sex being a spectrum or something like that. Even if you concede the rhetorical ground in the argument it’s still not that much ground based on the size of the population. Not every human being born is born XX or XY, but roughly 99.95% of humans are born either XX or XY.

There is another mentally ill Dylan on social media who is not me, they/he/she have caused a massive drop in bud light sales due to their/her/his postings about living 365 days as a girl. Frankly I didn’t know who this Dylan was until about a year ago when conservative commentators on Youtube began complaining about this 25 year old guy who was on broadway. On one hand this person is clearly confused about sexuality and gender and is in their mid 20’s. I’ve met plenty of men and women in their early to mid 20’s who were also confused or experimental and were “figuring themselves out” but 100% of them didn’t cause some internet storm and cost Budweiser tens of millions of dollars. And I am happy to say that many of these women who experimented in homosexuality a few times as young adults and played with tom boyishness a little are now in happy and stable relationships with men and are moms. I want to go on the record and say I don’t have a problem with this Dylan social media influencer. I have a problem with people on the internet in general, He’s just one guy named Dylan doing stuff on the internet for attention and living in NYC. That alone shouldn’t lead to him/her/they getting an interview with the President or having Budweiser put their face on a can leading to Kid Rock shooting a case of beer and a massive boycott that costs an American company millions and millions of dollars. None of that makes any sense, even as a writer named Dylan it doesn’t make any sense, I want to go on the record that the name Dylan shouldn’t have this much pull in society, even though I get that it kind of does.

The name Dylan means “Son of the Waves” and is a pompous Welsh name given to a boy about a mythical boy. It is a man’s name through and through. The Welsh legend the name comes from is about a King named Math who would die unless either of two things occurred, he had to be at war commanding an army, or have his feat rested upon a virgin woman. As the legend has it, one servant woman whose job it was to have the kings legs rest upon her back was raped, which resulted in the birth of a boy. She had the baby in secret and forsaken him, King Math discovered the little baby boy and gave him the name Dylan. King Math baptized Dylan in the sea, and at his baptism baby Dylan swam away like a fish and became a “Son of the Wave”.

There is a rock and some legend stuff in and around Wales associated with this mythology. The name became popular due to a failed academic who was a miserable drunk. A very intelligent, smart, but also degenerate drunk named his baby boy “Dylan” at the turn of the 20th century. He dug up a lost dead legend of Wales and decided it was good name that had not been in use for a very long time. Apparently he thought the name “Would be a good name for a Poet” (probably came up with this after his son became a poet) this guys surname was Thomas. Dylan Thomas is one 20th century’s greatest writers and poets and also an example of sorts of manhood. His most famous line “Do not go gentle into that the good night” has been copied and repaid countless times over the last 70 years. He wrote the poem about his father. To say Dylan Thomas had “Daddy issues” is an understatement. However, Dylan Thomas’s father did resurrect a dead name, from the Middle Ages until Dylan Thomas there are few records of anyone having lived with the name Dylan. Dylan Thomas may have been the first person in a few hundred years to have had to deal with being named Dylan.

The popularity of the name Dylan increased after the death of Dylan Thomas. Dylan Thomas died at 38 years old in New York City and had a string of affairs with rich women who patronized his poetry and plays. Apparently his first love was woman named Pamela when he was 17 who then married someone else, and he later fell in love with a different woman named Pamela in his 30’s. He ended up getting married but passed away after a night of drinking while he was with another woman. Dylan Thomas was a wonderful writer and poet but he also knew how to play the role of the drunken poet from Wales. It is fairly well known in the public that Dylan Thomas was a severe alcoholic who drank himself to an early grave at 38. However, upon a little investigation it is probably more likely that Dylan Thomas couldn’t process alcohol as well as others. He would get drunk or suffer from alcohol poisoning after a few half pints of beer or six or seven shots of whiskey. He would also exaggerate and act more drunk than he was to impress others. According to the autopsy he suffered from chronic bronchitis which turned into pneumonia and passed away when odema got to the brain. The air pollution of NYC did not help his illness.

Several years after the death of Dylan Thomas a young man from Minnesota by the name of Robert Zimmerman arrived in New York City. He was a songwriter and folk singer and played in clubs in and around the west village. His first big hit was by Peter, Paul and Mary, but first he changed his name having been inspired by the poetry and writings of Dylan Thomas. He changed his name to Bob Dylan. History will record this musical legend as one of the greatest songwriters of all time with an almost mythical quality. Baby Dylan may have become a mythical legend of the waves at sea, but Bob Dylan is the God of the waves of Sound. Even though he may not have been born with the name Dylan, he certainly will go down in history as the greatest Dylan to have ever lived.

Funny story about me and my artistic skill of cooking and California having a mythology that everybody in California at some point has some connection to a celebrity. Several years ago some extended family from San Diego came over to visit and I cooked Beef Burgundy. After dinner, the conversation turned to the Last Waltz which I had recently purchased as a retirement gift to my Dad. The Band (as it is known as) was Bob Dylan’s band sometimes as well. Then my uncle from San Diego chimes in and mentions how back in the 1970’s his second cousin was an interior decorator and specialized in window coverings like blinds and curtains. My uncle mentioned how Bob Dylan hired her to do the drapes in his Malibu home that was being constructed. Then my other uncle remembered a story from his past that was loosely related to my father. He remembered being on some kind of double date with my Dad and his girlfriend at the time who was the daughter of rich Texas oil speculators and whose brother wrote songs for Iron Butterfly an iconic Los Angeles. She brought her friend who lived in Woodland Hills, and her friend told my uncle about her father who was a master mason worker and would build magnificent fireplaces in rich homes in the Los Angeles area. The story goes that Bob Dylan also hired him to design a fireplace in his Malibu dream home. The legend goes that he mocked up three designs in the room and asked Bob Dylan which one he liked best, and Bob Dylan looked at all three, could not decide on which one and told him to build all three of them. Now, rather this story is actually true or not I do not know because I’ve never been to Bob Dylan’s Malibu Home, it could something a girl said to a guy in the 1970’s to sound impressive, but I also think it’s too good of a story not share here.

When I was born in Santa Cruz California in 1986 the name Dylan was not yet super popular. Bob Dylan had magnified the popularity of the name but he was also kind of like Dylan Thomas, the only one around with the name. Bob Dylan’s popularity began in the mid to late 1960’s and in 1986 the cultural phenomena that is the name Dylan had yet to be turned into names of people with great popularity. However as a kid things began to change rather rapidly. In 1986 the name Dylan was 100% a masculine name and was the #149 most popular name and was given to .095% of boys.

In 1990Beverly Hills 90210 began with a character named Dylan Mackay. I remember this show starting a trend of younger people in the grocery other than me being yelled at by the name “DYLAN!”. By 1992 the name became the 28th most popular name given to boys at. Rate of about .7%. Which is an exponential leap in popularity in 6 short years. It has remained in the top 50 of boy names ever since. Thanks in part to Hollywood blockbuster movies that were released in July. Independence Day has the kid named Dylan, and also features a line stolen from Dylan Thomas in the epic speech by the President at Area 51. Several years later in the movie Enemy of the State there is a character named Dylan and Will Smith’s character famously says “You need to stay away from Dylan he’s a bad influence” (maybe not exact quote but it is close enough). There was a West Wing character named Dylan Clark (Clark is also my middle name) in season 6 who was working for the former Vice President’s campaign in the scene where they were discussing the terms of the upcoming DNC, which is quickly followed in an episode or so later about what is it with guys and having a “Dylan moment” in reference to Bob Dylan being an actual God of the sound waves. In the movie Sum of All Fears there is a Russian expert at the CIA named Dylan, and also in the show Madame Secretary there was a Russian expert from the CIA named Dylan but this character had glasses (I also have glasses). The final Dylan in pop culture was Justin Timberlake’s character in Friends with Benefits which came out about a decade ago. There was also a Geico commercial about a teenage Dylan who showed up to a girls house that was surrounded by a plastic bubble, and the actress delivered the line “Dylan” just like Will Smith did in Independence Day.

Since 2010 there has been some girls who were given the name Dylan at birth. However, it is a very unpopular name for women and is not necessarily a feminine name or indigenous. Dylan as a girls name has never cracked the top #100 in popularity and in 2022 was the 576th most popular name for girls. The name is a masculine name but also relatively not that popular having never cracked 1% of all boy names. Roughly speaking 1 out of 400 men have the name Dylan.

My point being is that all of these little cultural references that are entirely coincidental and outside my control and the fact that I lived near a Budweiser factory in Fairfield for 20 years has influenced me as a Dylan trying to get ahead in the world of 2023. At one point in my life I even went full Ken on a girl from my high school named Pamela just like Dylan Thomas did to married women named Pamela. Basically if you know a Dylan or are a Dylan my suggestion is to avoid married women named Pamela as the first rule about being a guy named Dylan. But one thing I’ve learned from watching tv is that eventually Hollywood fixes these real world vs fake issues. I’m currently watching the alternate history sci fi space show on  plus named “For all Mankind” and they made a character named Pam (not Pamela) but Pam a lesbian bartender who turns into a poet after moving to Austin and dumps her girlfriend so she can become President and maintain her marriage to her gay husband. Somehow that story arc fixed my past relationship issues with a girl named Pamela and a somewhat bizarre coincidence of women with sci names being into me. I once dated a Deanna and my ex girlfriend is a Lea which is both a Star Wars and Star Trek coincidence along with the Main Street of my old home town being named Texas.

This Dylan at 19 years old in Solano County California enrolled in Speech and Debate and ended up going to a national debate tournament in Houston Texas. I thought I would end this introduction with my first interaction with an American man at work in Texas. I was a little older then my teammates so it was my responsibility to sit in the front and pay the Taxi driver who was taking a group of us from the airport to the hotel we were staying at across from the Galleria Mall. I tend to have a face that looks a certain way in which people have no problems just unloading their troubles on, when I worked at Chipotle and JCP this was somewhat of a running joke among my co-workers. Customers would just get mad at me over Obama or share personal issues as they were purchasing some t-shirts. By the time I landed in Texas I had gotten used to it.

I simply asked the normal question “How do you like living in Houston?”

The Taxi driver responded with: “I hate this god foresaken place, I came here 16 years ago with my ex wife and have been trying to figure out how to get out of this town since my divorce 13 years ago. I’m originally from Chicago a real city with culture and things to do, this place is fake, every hill is manmade and every tree is planted by someone, nothing is natural in this city, its all just corporate crap, churches, strip clubs, and NASA”

So many thoughts went through my head as he was saying this like:

  • This guy has wasted like 15 years of his life living in a place he hates… who does that?
  • Everywhere is some kind of fake, at least they tried to make it look kinda hilly unlike Indiana.
  • This guy drives a cab he could just drive out of town and not come back at any time right?
  • Do busses not go in and out of Houston?
  • Can’t he just drive a cab in pretty much any other city?
  • That was not really a normal response to a normal question.

But instead of saying any of those thoughts I practiced good manners and responded with.

“I’ve been to Chicago, the Windy City is fantastic, there’s nothing like being at Wrigley and seeing the ivy against the fence. I went as a kid about 15 years ago and I remember stealing seats was problem people would just sit wherever, but I had a great time in Chicago. Indiana is kind of like this I guess, flat and boring, but I’m only here about a week”

He responded with “That’s another thing, there is not a decent fucking hot dog in this city!!”

We still had about 15 miles to go before we got to our airport, but that interaction got us out of the airport. Some quiet time followed and I looked around outside and realized this cab driver may have been on to something because I saw a lot of churches and strip clubs.

Being a man in America is kind of like this interaction, you never know what kind of character you are going to meet or when or where. You will face people who display random aggression and rage for no apparent good reason, but you can respond with good manners and notice those clever insights.

The first restaurant where I ordered a beer was at the Galleria, I was 20 years old and we ate at the bar. I remember the hostess asking us this bizarre question “Smoking or Non Smoking?” Having remembered that question being asked at restaurants as a kid in the early 1990’s in California I was surprised it was still a normal thing in Texas in 2007. I ordered my burger and beer, I took one bite of the burger, looked at my friends in amazement in how good it was and then looked at the bartender. He looked back at me and said “Is something wrong?”

I responded with “So do you guys here in Texas just save all the good beef for yourselves and send the rest of us in the USA the seconds and sloppy leftovers? Because this is freaking awesome man.”

The bartender legitimately laughed and asked me where I was from. When I said I was from California and this was my first night in Texas, he followed up with asking how Arnold was handling things and if Enron had actually screwed over the state. Later on my bill was about $4 less because he knocked off the beer for giving him a good line about Texas beef.

Being a man is also kind of like this Texas story, you need to adapt and be comfortable in different times. Several years ago California banned plastic bags in grocery stores, and I went along and conformed to not putting my food in grocery backs the same as tens of millions of other Californians. About 18 months ago I was visiting a family friend on the East Coast for my first trip to Philadelphia, NYC, and DC. I was in a Giant grocery store in Pennsylvania purchasing some Martins rolls and there was a guy who asked me “Paper or Plastic?” Which is a question I haven’t been asked in a California grocery story for about 25 years. 20 years ago baggers lost their jobs and it was the checkers who bagged the groceries, then they got rid of the plastic bags for the recycled ones, then they just got rid of the bags and the checkers and most of the time now at the grocery store I have to do all those jobs.

I responded with “Man you’ll have to forgive me for being from California I had forgotten Paper or Plastic? was even a thing. We banned plastic bags about 5 years ago…. Plastic is fine, Thank you.”

The checker (a guy) responded with “No worries man, they are going to do the same thing here in PA soon, it’s coming, this is just going to be one of these things that no longer exists anymore the same as so many things from the past.”

Being a man is kind of like this interaction as well. Sometimes things that were normal once in the past become something that just gets replaced with something else that everyone conforms to.

This book will be about looking at the past to try to form a better man of the future. It will be full of tips on how to be a man in today’s modern world and what makes a man a man?

This is a rhetorical book that doesn’t need answers. All the answers to life’s rhetorical questions can be found in the past, so I will look at the greats both real and fictional to try to create a book.

To wrap up my ongoing movie review of Barbie which I have not seen yet but know what’s in it based on my real world experience with feminists and men in charge of things like my experience as an intern in the CA legislature and as an intern for Governor Brown in his appointments unit.

One thing I’ve learned is that what feminists call “The Patriarchy” is basically professional men and women who are in charge of decisions. However, many feminist leaders in companies or politics never come the realization they have become the very thing they have been raging against for decades. In 2023 a woman can get more votes to be President then a man, they can be elected to the Vice Presidency, there are 4 out of 9 judges on the Supreme Court who are women. There is literally no office in the US Government where a woman can’t get an appointment to because she is a woman. And often times the people making the decisions on who gets what jobs are women, there isn’t a man in this country who has been President in this century that has had issues with getting advice from women. Donald Trump and Joe Biden are polar opposites in almost every single way, except both presidents have done a good job at getting more women to higher level jobs in the Federal Government.

The story line of Ken as I’ve seen on social media and YouTube is a feminist message that has some good things in it. First it requires you to look at the Barbie movie as a painting or art piece and look at it from different perspectives and different points of view to get a deeper meaning. The reality Ken knows in the beginning of the movie is one in which he is devoted to Barbie but lacks direction in life. He is obsessed with Barbie who constantly rejects his advances and does not like him. He’s following a classic story arc of original The Little Mermaid, she fell in love with a prince and gave up her voice to get to the real world, only to be rejected by the prince when he marries someone else and she eventually decides not to murder the prince to get her voice back and dies. Ken is in love with Barbie but has no real voice of his own. He finds it in the “Real World” and tries to implement his voice in the fictional feminist utopia of Barbieland where women rule everything. In essence Ken is doing what men and women are supposed to be doing, finding their voice and taking on the world to improve their life.

This causes conflict and more rejection for Ken when the Barbies who rule everything restore the natural order of things, which is followed by even more rejection for Ken when Barbie leaves for a life in the “Real World”. So Ken at the end sort of just stuck as a prisoner of sorts in a fictional world ruled by feminists where his voice is not wanted, needed, or listened to. Essentially Ken ends up being a woman 300 years ago in the real world back when women had pretty much no opportunities anywhere and were seen as maybe one step above slaves in a hierarchal system ruled only by land owning white men. Luckily this is not 1723 there have been some progress since then on some stuff. Ken at the end is left living in Barbieland and begins some quest of “self development” or “self actualization” which is a constant state of believing you have a bunch of problems and are working to solve them and improve, but the kicker being is that there is no end point of being actualized or finished. This fulfills his Little Mermaid story arc because in the original mermaids don’t have souls but live for 300 years before dying so she had to give up her voice for true love and a mortal life with a soul, but she chooses not to murder the Prince on his wedding night because her true love had found a truer love that works better for him, one who could talk, and floats off into the sea as some kind of fairy that exists in the in-between world of the after life and mortal realm but they have souls, so she has to spend some time doing good deeds before she can pass on into the after life of heaven.

Meanwhile Barbie ends up with leaving utopia because she wants to live in the patriarchal controlled “real world”

The subtlety of the movie is that the real life real world we all love in is more like the fictional feminist controlled utopia of Barbieland and the “real world” is more like the fictional evil empire feminists get hung up on in college they call “the patriarchy”.

I think I just typed that right.

Feminists overplay the feminist college ID card all the time and go Tropic Thunder with their complaining about men and society and stuff. They don’t have control over their fictional feminist id and let their egos get the best of them.

As a man I have to remind myself of that and realize women are just women. Some single unmarried women who are not yet moms have some wacky ideas about society and capitalism and politics. It’s okay, it’s nothing to get upset about or bent out of shape.

One real world trick that I am convinced helps dealing with this issue is to simplify things by making it Italian.

One of the the only societies that’s also a country that exists on this planet as both a country, city, and a religion is the Vatican in Rome. And the official language they speak is Italian, so to go to the real world patriarchy also means learning some Italian. One Italian word for “Late” is “Ritardi”. Knowing that word is one kind of important.

The Vatican always takes a long view on history. They are always late to the historical game of righting historical wrongs they’ve done in the past. The rest of the world can progress at whatever speed it likes but the Patriarchy that controls the Vatican will most likely be running a little “Ritardi” on social issues. There is also absolutely nothing anyone can do about it unless you want to become a priest for a few decades and play politics well enough to eventually maybe becoming a cardinal only to be surrounded by a bunch of other men who probably disagree with your radical progressive opinions. In short nobody has that kind of time.

There’s also a stereotype of Italians not being that punctual. They run late to almost everything. This is probably a fiction and a real world observation and probably has something to do with something being lost in translation from Dante’s divine comedy to one of Italy’s many dialects at some point in time. Clocks exist in Italy the same as everywhere else, business is done in Italy, but art can not be rushed if it is to be done right. The right words, the right brush stroke, the little chip on the sculpture happens when it happens and despite what people may want force upon it from the outside an artist will get to completing the project when the project feels and looks finished.

And being a man or woman is kind of like being an artist creating a work of art that never completes itself, the artist is always learning a new skill or technique, trying to market or sell something else, taking a broad brush to the entire painting to forget their past mistakes, or going over it with a fine brush to fill in missing details, or just sometimes covering it up and ignoring it for years just to go back to it every now and again to see what improvements could be made.

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