Retro Relapse: A Checklist of 25 MORE Things to Ensure You’re a Manly Man

RETRO RELAPSE is a series of older articles from various places where I used to write before Talking Pulp.

*Written in 2015.

Are you manly as fuck? Do you feel that the word “alpha” is a cute little term used by bitchmen who aren’t as evolved as you are in your rugged robustness? Do you think that this is a waste of time because you have nothing left to prove to yourself, let alone the Internet?

Regardless of all that, for piece of mind, it is still good to question yourself once in a while in an effort to further strengthen your already ironclad confidence.

This is essentially the second such list I have done on this site. Hopefully you scored well on the first one. If not, use that bad ass yet bodacious checklist, crush those items out and then come back to this checklist to further reinforce your man status.

Here is the checklist to see how you stack up in manliness. There are also five bonus points that can be earned.

_You have a thirst to be outside and regularly find yourself in the wild.
_You have shaved your own bacon from a nice pork belly *(bonus point if you hunted the pig yourself).
_You don’t put ranch dressing on pizza or buffalo wings.
_You can fire an arrow with good accuracy using a bow.
_You gave your beard a name and have regular conversations with him.
_Your presence improves and enriches the lives of those around you.
_Your beard smells like a combination of pipe or cigar smoke, whiskey and red meat.
_You have read at least five Jack London stories *(bonus point for ten or more).
_You like and enjoy eating meats that are more exotic than just cows, pigs, fish and chicken.
_You don’t understand what someone means when they use the idiom “good luck.”
_You can bench press more than the body weight of the average man *(bonus point for 300 lbs. or more).
_You have killed a bottle of bourbon in a night, on your own, and still maintained court, socially.
_You walk under ladders and then the ladder has bad luck.
_You know how to sail.
_You don’t know what a furry is.
_You support craft beer because macrobrews are shit and your mouth deserves better than beechwood-aged bullshit.
_You can fix your own shit in your own house.
_You have made something useful out of metal.
_You think there isn’t enough fighting in hockey and athletes in other sports are total pussies.
_You like the smell of asparagus in your urine *(if this item offends you, deduct 10 points from your total).
_You know how to properly smoke five different types of meat *(bonus point for ten or more).
_You own a bust of Charles Bronson.
_You have wrestled some sort of animal.  *(bonus point if it was for survival reasons and you’re still alive).
_You have made a shelter from stuff found in the woods.
_You are confused when restaurants don’t have steak.

Here’s how you measure up:
25+ points = You are a savior to men, you should lead them all to greatness.
20-24 points = You’re on the cusp of ultimate manliness; you’ve nearly reached the summit of the gods.
15-19 points = You need to work on your shit but don’t be discouraged, even giants grew from tiny ovaries.
10-14 points = Dude, for real? Stop shopping for doilies and punch a tiger in the face. If it swallows your hand, punch with the other one.
5-9 points = Stop fucking ordering appletinis.
0-4 points = Deduct whatever points you have because you don’t deserve them. You’re a zero.

Retro Relapse: The Cost of Living by a Code

RETRO RELAPSE is a series of older articles from various places where I used to write before Talking Pulp.

*Written in 2014.

As I’ve become and adult, I’ve realized several things about myself as the years pile on. One of those things is that somewhere down the line, I started living by my own code. It wasn’t intentional and I didn’t notice it until recently and it was actually a significant other that pointed it out to me but it is what drives me and what makes me who I am.

I am not stating that my code is perfect or infallible. I am also not stating that I am perfect and never violate my own code. Quite the contrary. Life, like the code, is a series of trial and error experiments that take shape throughout time. I am not claiming that I am better than anyone or that I have some secret formula at how to be the best human being possible. At the end of the day, I am trying to be the best that I can be by the standards, ethics and morals that I set for myself.

Do I win at that everyday? No. Everyday comes with failure but also comes with success. It is what you learn from that failure that leads to a bigger success ratio.

There are some issues one must deal with when one lives by a code. I wasn’t able to put some of this into perspective until I realized that I was living by my own code. The biggest issue, at least for me, is the fact that most people don’t live by anything other than reacting and responding to each situation in life as it is handed to them. Concepts such as loyalty and respect are lost amongst these people. In fact, borrowing John Cena’s mantra, I’m a firm believer in “Hustle, Loyalty and Respect”. Most people, don’t seem to know what that really entails and certainly don’t have the ability to even entertain the thought of such a simple concept or code. I’m not attacking them, I’m just stating my assessment based off of my own personal experiences.

It is hard when, on a daily basis, I am faced with people who violate not just these core principles but lack almost any sense of morals, ethics and a general understudying of what is right and what is wrong. I deal with it in life and especially at work. There is just a complete lack of character from the majority of people. Again, I don’t perceive myself as better than anyone but I do seem to look at things at a much deeper level and give a lot of attention to how my actions and my presence effects those around me.

While that is partly due to how I was raised, it has more to do with who I am at my core. Lots of people are taught these concepts as children but for many, it is in one ear and out the other and they go through life unaware of their complete lack of character.

For example, there are several people I work with who take advantage of the system in place within the office and look for constant loopholes within the rules and general company protocol. In life they take advantage of every shortcut and don’t have the foresight to understand how they aren’t developing certain skills and methods to be more efficient and better people overall. They take advantage of situations, which often times results in making things harder for their peers. More rules are instated, more challenges arise from these people and management continually tightens their grip. And it isn’t a natural need to fight back against some form of oppression or workplace fascism, it is just them trying to take the easiest route possible at work and through life at the expense of those around them. It is hard to name specifics without incriminating anyone.

In life, there are people who just have no concept of how they effect those around them. Neighbors who always fight – loudly, people who cut in line, people who violently argue over a typo on a coupon just to save another 35 cents, those assholes who walk into a quiet waiting room yelling into their cellphone about some girl with a “nasty front butt” – these are just a few examples of things I’ve witnessed over the last few days alone.

Then I have to think, how do people like this exist? How are they not annoyed enough by encountering other people exhibiting the same behaviors? How is this normal to them? How do they not drive themselves crazy? And why the fuck don’t most people have that urge to want to improve themselves and become better people? And by “better people” I don’t mean becoming ‘roided up freaks, silicone factories or the new owner of a 10 year-old German car they can’t afford.

Maybe at 35 years-old I am becoming an old crank or maybe after 35 years, my tolerance for juvenile behavior by most adults, especially those my age, is just so fucking baffling to me that I find myself wanting to stay in more and to not hang out with certain friends because I know a few certain assholes will probably be in tow. I have tolerance for stupidity but I don’t have tolerance for ignorance, especially from someone who is at an age where they should know better and want to be better.

I get it, we all have flaws, that is what makes us unique. We should all be able to recognize our flaws and want to work towards eliminating them. Perfection is not possible but to strive for perfection or at the very least, improvement, should be one thing that drives all human beings.

When you are a person that understands these things and tries to employ all of this, it is detrimental to your sanity when you see so many people content with being exactly the same (or slightly worse) as each day, each week and each year passes by. I’ve walked away from many friends because I got tired of hanging out with 21 year-olds in 35 year-old bodies. And yes, I do hold people to the standard I hold myself to.

When these people were still in my life, they would comment on how I’ve changed like it was a bad thing. Like somewhere along the line I sold out. No, sorry to break it to you, I just grew up and I faced the responsibility of adulthood and worked towards being self-sufficient, self-reliant and my own man living by my own code of ethics, morals and standards. I decided to always learn new things and to better myself everyday, so that each new day I was at an advantage over the previous day. And that is how the great people in the world and how men and women historically used to carry themselves. And people wonder why things have turned to shit and get worse with each passing generation.

And that brings me to my next point. The truth is, this really shouldn’t even be a “code”, it should just be the way people are and how they live and manage themselves and their lives. This is how shit used to be and why people from just a few decades ago could probably kick our asses in every way.

In Fight Club, Tyler Durden said, “Self-improvement is masturbation. Now self-destruction is the answer.”

He’s right because what the modern world considers “self-improvement” is a complete fallacy. And the “self-destruction” he referred to was the internal fight against the modern world’s false idea of self-improvement.

Retro Relapse: 25 Things Men Should Do This Winter

**Not quite winter but the summer list was popular, so I brought this one back too.

RETRO RELAPSE is a series of older articles from various places where I used to write before Talking Pulp.

*Written in 2015.

I did a summer list about six months ago. So why not a winter list?

It is winter time. Well maybe not officially, as I am ignorant on the exact day it starts. I live in Florida though, so it is summer here from early March through late October. It is hot all the time and it kind of sucks, honestly. Can we have some damned snow, please? Please, baby Jesus?! But it’s December. It is probably definitely winter.

Anyway, it’s supposed to be cold and snowy and whatnot. This changes the outdoors and makes things pretty exciting if you love adventure and pretending you are on Hoth.

So what should a beastly manly MFer do with his time now that he has several months off from the heat and humidity (if you live in Florida)? Well, I’m glad I asked because here is a list of twenty-five things men should do over the winter.

1. Dig a hole in the ground, create a fire pit and roast a large woodland beast over it for you, your friends and family.

2. Cut a hole in a frozen lake and catch some big fish. Then eat those big fish.

3. Like on my summer list, go to a National Park and soak in the beauty of your surroundings. Everything looks different in the winter.

4. Take a long weekend and go on a minor league hockey road trip. Go see the two or three teams closest to you. Or better yet, go see a string of games in Canada, where hockey is most pure.

5. Pretend you’re a Cold War Soviet badass and run around nude in the snow chugging vodka from the bottle.

6. Go to Kentucky and travel the Bourbon Trail.

7. Wear an old Irish fisherman’s sweater.

8. Chop wood for your own fire.

9. Brew your own beer.

10. Go camping. It is the most fun in cold weather.

11. Start keeping a journal. Write down your thoughts, goals and plans. Hold yourself accountable to your written records.

12. Warm up by making a lot of sweet love with your special lady or your special dude.

13. Rent a cabin if you don’t own one and be wild for a bit.

14. Spend some time doing those much needed repairs around your house, if it is just too damned cold outside.

15. Go on a multi-day hike – the longer, the better. Also on my summer list but again, things are much different in the winter.

16. Build a canoe for you to enjoy in the summer.

17. Enjoy cigars and pipes on those cold winter days.

18. Get in touch with your inner creative, whether that is painting, writing, blacksmithing, etc.

19. Cut down your own Christmas tree from the forest.

20. Sit around a campfire and read the written words of Jack London or Louis L’Amour.

21. Go skiing or learn how to ski. You want to be your own winter James Bond, right?

22. Take up whittling or model crafting. Use your hands so they don’t go cold.

23. Listen to bluegrass in a rocking chair with a jug of moonshine in your lap.

24. Perfect your cooking skills. Create a great seasoning blend for meat. Master jerky making.

25. Allow your beard to reach full maximum winter plumage.

Retro Relapse: 25 Things Men Should Do This Summer

RETRO RELAPSE is a series of older articles from various places where I used to write before Talking Pulp.

*Written in 2015.

It is summer time. Well maybe not officially, as I am ignorant on the exact day it starts. I live in Florida though, so it is summer here from early March through late October. It is hot all the time and it kind of sucks, honestly.

Anyway, kids are getting out of school and all that, so it is summer time.

So what should a beastly manly MFer do with his time now that he has several months off from slaying yeti and frost giants? Well, I’m glad I asked because here is a list of twenty-five things men should do over the summer.

1. Have a badass barbecue. Invite your friends if you want to share all that glorious meat.

2. Take a long weekend and go on a minor league baseball road trip. Go see the two or three teams closest to you.

3. Go to a swimming hole and let loose. Swing from a tree like Tarzan and hit that water.

4. Teach yourself how to throw a tomahawk.

5. If it is too hot outside, stay indoors and fix some of the things that need tending to in your domicile. Your wife or lady friend will be really appreciative.

6. Go to a National Park and soak in the beauty of your surroundings.

7. Learn how to make soap.

8. Paddle a canoe. A real canoe. Kayaks are canoes for babies and people who have Speedo rewards cards.

9. Get certified in some subject or field that interests you.

10. Go on a craft brewery road trip.

11. Chop some wood. It is a great workout and you get more out of it in the heat.

12. Go on a multi-day hike – the longer, the better.

13. Play some type of sport outside with your friends.

14. Learn how to shoot a bow.

15. Spend way too much money on fireworks.

16. Read a book or twenty. Better yet, write a book.

17. Start taking a martial art.

18. Travel to somewhere you haven’t been.

19. Kill a wild boar and eat it because they are assholes to pretty much every ecosystem they’ve taken over. Plus, they are full of wild bacon.

20. Drink too much bourbon.

21. Do a lot of push-ups.

22. Eat an exotic meat. Buffalo isn’t really exotic.

23. Go camping, even if it’s hot. We’ve only had decent air conditioning for like fifty years. Or travel to a cooler climate and camp there.

24. Go fishing for dinner.

25. DON’T SHAVE YOUR BEARD! Deal with the heat like a man!

Retro Relpase: A Generation of Men Raised by Women, Volume 3: The Past and the Future

RETRO RELAPSE is a series of older articles from various places where I used to write before Talking Pulp.

*Written in 2016.

*This is the third part of an ongoing series where I am building off of what was discussed in the previous parts.

It has taken me quite some time to get to the third part of this series but here we are.

One thing I wanted to touch on was some of the reasons for why we are a generation of men raised by women and what can be done to prevent that in the future.

To start, many males from my generation were raised by mothers. Fathers were either part-time, minimal or completely absent in our lives. I’m not 100 percent sure if it was the effects of our parents’ “free love” generation or just advancements in women’s rights and the politics and social climate of the times but for whatever reason, these are the cards that many of us were dealt as young boys.

I know that in many instances, many of us had to deal with dead beat dads. Men who either just didn’t give a fuck about their responsibility in creating a life or who were just general pieces of shit that our mothers didn’t want around for our benefit. Regardless of which, there were a lot of shitty sperm donors.

A great number of us have grown up without a true rite of passage into manhood or a strong male figure to teach us and guide us in life. Regardless, we have gone on to survive.

Many of us have also gone on to be great men and good people despite the challenge of having to learn everything on our own. Sure, some have faltered, some have continued their dead beat dad’s shitty ways and some are just complete weaklings but I would say that most of us turned out pretty solid. And maybe that self-reliance and self-teaching actually benefited those of us adept enough to learn and see things clearly.

The point is, those of us aware of our situation and the challenges we had to overcome, who are no longer a big ball of angst about it on most days, can use our knowledge, our skills and our compassion for others in a similar situation to not make the same mistakes our fathers did. Empathizing with others who have walked a similar path can keep us on track of doing the right thing when it comes to our children and future generations of other little humans, male and female.

We know what it is like to have no one there or at the very least, just part of the time. We can relate to only having one side of the parental coin. Many of us didn’t have that strong male presence we needed and we know what kind of path that forced us down.

Our generation can choose to not be the shitty generation that birthed us.

The son of an abusive father can either carry that abuse on to his children or he can be smart and compassionate and strive to be nothing like his father. And while historically, abuse has trickled down through the ages, we are getting smarter. We see the forest for the trees better than any generation before us and we know that certain behaviors are absolutely not acceptable. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be bad apples in the mix but being a bad apple is a choice.

I don’t currently have children but if and when I do, it is my duty to be a father. Even if the mother and I aren’t a couple, it is still my duty and my responsibility to make sure that the child has a proper father figure.

We may not have had the rite of passage into manhood that we all wanted but that doesn’t mean that our children should be subjected to a similar fate. The truth is, we are actually stronger than the fathers who weren’t there – well, those of us aware of our situation and the broader picture.

If you’ve grown up and gotten your shit together, despite the challenges you faced, you are better off than most people. Additionally, you should be teeming with confidence at this point. You have had a different path to adulthood and turned out just fine.

If you still have a lot of pent up angst, get over it. In the real world, Project Mayhem would be treated like terrorists.

Besides, we had better get it right because snowflake Millennials are already starting to have kids and that is pretty fucking scary.

Retro Relapse: A Generation of Men Raised by Women, Volume 2: A Rite of Passage

RETRO RELAPSE is a series of older articles from various places where I used to write before Talking Pulp.

*Written in 2014.

*This is the second part of an ongoing series where I am building off of what was discussed in the first part, which was used as an introduction.

One thing that men of my generation and most men after haven’t experienced, is a natural and authentic rite of passage. This can be due to being a generation of men raised by women, as this article’s title implies. Whether a father was completely non-existent or just part-time on weekends and holidays, the young boy didn’t have that male figure there on a full-time basis to show them manly shit.

To be honest, many of these fathers, for whatever reason, weren’t necessarily true men themselves but that is an article I’m saving for a later date. Additionally, in some cases, maybe those fathers weren’t taught what they needed from their fathers as well and they were just part of the cycle.

So what do I mean when I refer to a “rite of passage”?

Well, in most cultures, if not all of them, there is usually some event or test or a passing of the torch where a boy becomes what his people consider a man. This “trial” as we’ll call it here for simplicity’s sake, is usually something that tests the boy or makes the boy have to prove himself before being accepted by his family, peers and community as an adult man. This goes back to the beginning of time and it is something ingrained in our macho testosterone-filled DNA.

Whether a man is aware of it or not, there is a natural desire to be “the man”. Most men become angry at themselves for not feeling like they have achieved full manliness and acceptance by those they perceive as the manly men.

Well, true manly men are a scarce breed in this day and age, anyway. Some men go beyond their own self-loathing in this regard and have a clearer understanding of their situation and find themselves angry at their father for either not being there or not bothering to take the time to pass something on to them. The primal response to this primal desire is anger. And when you do come across a manly man and feel like you don’t measure up, it is demoralizing and thus generates that sense of self-loathing and inner angst.

For me, as I know with many males of my generation and after, I never got that official rite of passage. I just woke up one day and had to come to the realization that I was now living in an adult world. The problem with that is that I didn’t feel prepared, I felt like a boy thrown to the wolves. Now I didn’t panic but I did feel grossly inadequate and ignorant of what I needed to do to survive and most importantly, thrive. And in some respects, I hadn’t grown past the need for a nurturing maternal figure because I hadn’t had a healthy dose of masculine balance in my upbringing.

To this day, I’ve never had that turning point where I’ve felt like “this is it, this is manhood.” Adult life has just been a learning process through trial and error where I’ve had to deal with things as they come and have had to figure out my own solutions. While even if I was prepared and “made a man” by my cultural standards, I understand that life is often times difficult and challenging. The problem is that it is more challenging if you don’t have that edge and the confidence and skills that come with having that edge.

Things can be learned, and that’s the point here.

I couldn’t build anything, I didn’t know how to start a fire, I was really bad with money, I didn’t really know how to swoon a lady, I couldn’t cook and I was lacking in a multitude of other things. I also grew up around kids with money, so it didn’t help when I saw my peers in similar situations just throwing money at the problem and having hired help handle all their adult shit. I didn’t have money, so I had to teach myself and ultimately rely on myself.

Also, technology has made it so that we don’t have to make a fire or even cook really. And maybe technology is part of the problem, in that our fathers didn’t find certain skills a necessity when they could just use an electric heater or a microwave. While I am a fan of technology, I can see where it has made us soft. Hell, it’s a no-brainer that smartphones give us a license to be lazy.

And with technology, a lot of the manlier type jobs are becoming nonexistent. Truthfully, I’m glad that less people have to slave away in a factory and that farming is less strenuous. There are less men risking their lives building skyscrapers and doing dangerous jobs. Technology has its benefits but with pros usually come cons and the con is that there is somewhat of a human evolutionary void because of this.

Sure, men still hunt; they go camping but they don’t have to and these things are mostly considered recreational. The only real exception is where men still hunt to get food, as a deer can feed a family for a long time. It can feed a single man for even longer. And boar hunting has become a necessary practice in order to bring balance back to ecosystems and environments that have become overrun by their invasive nature. Plus, boars are pretty damned tasty; they have a gold mine inside of them called “bacon”.

While I am not one to tell someone else how to raise their kids, I will say, from my experience and others I have talked to over the years, that it would benefit children greatly (boys and girls) to be taught the skills and life lessons they need, in order to be more prepared for the world.

It also wouldn’t hurt to take them camping and to teach them how to handle themselves in a wilderness situation. It builds confidence and character. In fact, even though I was lacking in the father department, I had a grandfather and uncles that did do these things with me and they were not only some of my best childhood memories but they at least showed me what a man could and should be. Unfortunately, I didn’t get as much time with these men as I probably needed and that is why I felt a sort of manliness deficit throughout my twenties.

I think that for a lot of young men out there, you’ve just got to grab the bull by the horns and essentially become your own father and your own man. Unfortunately, I think there is a lot of confusion over what a man is, as there are a lot of people trying to dictate their opinions about it to males desperate to feel more masculine.

Many of these people are the mothers that raised us, who may have a great grasp on how to be a decent human being but have never themselves been a man. And many of them probably even hold some grudges based off of their experiences with the slew of deadbeat dads and man children that populated their “free love” generation.

By the way, I sum up what the essence of manliness is in my article Misconceptions of Manliness. I’ve also written on the topic pretty extensively now on this website, so look around and read some other stuff.

While you may not even know where to start or what to do, I can say with confidence that the website Art of Manliness is a good starting point. Also, find some sort of mentor. You don’t have to be all formal and ask to be his Padawan but just befriend a manlier dude that isn’t an asshole and learn from him. A real man will most likely have sympathy for your situation and not have a problem showing you some things. Of course, don’t get all emo about it. Just hang out, learn how to do some stuff and buy the guy beer and red meat once in a while. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet several great guys over the years that I’ve learned some cool skills from.

The greatest thing that not just men but human beings can do, is to share knowledge and skills with one another.

To guys struggling with these things, just know that you are not alone and that this is a more common problem than most people realize. There is no definitive answer on how to overcome this but just make the effort. Do what makes you feel good and then expand on it. The world has changed drastically in the last century or so, much quicker than our evolution is able to adapt. So it is up to you to adapt in your own way and that is kind of a vital and fundamental principle at the core of what manliness is.

Retro Relapse: A Generation of Men Raised by Women, Volume 1: An Introduction

RETRO RELAPSE is a series of older articles from various places where I used to write before Talking Pulp.

*Written in 2014.

*This is a series I’ve wanted to start for awhile, as I want to cover multiple things that will be too much to put in a single post. I figured I’d kick this off with my story and where I am coming from in my life experience.

The character of Tyler Durden struck a nerve with the young male populace when in the Chuck Palahniuk novel and David Fincher film Fight Club he uttered the line, “We’re a generation of men raised by women. I’m wondering if another woman is really the answer we need.”

While the version of the line in the book was slightly different, in both mediums, this is the point that stuck out to me the most among all the great points that Palahniuk and later, Fincher tried to make. After talking to not just my male friends but my female ones as well, everyone seemed to be in agreement that this was the element that resonated above all others and in fact, it was the one line that truly summed up everything that was happening within the tale.

It has been almost twenty years since the book came out, which makes me feel pretty fucking old, actually. Additionally, it has been fifteen years since the film came out. In that time, I have read the book a half dozen times and seen the film more times than I can count. While it isn’t my favorite Palahniuk book, it is still, after all this time, the one that resonates the most and still pulls at some emotional strings. It is the book that I needed to find when I did back in 1997 when I was graduating high school and didn’t understand the angst I had and the lack of experiencing some sort of authentic rite of passage as the hands of time forced me into adulthood.

In my life, my father was around for the most part but we didn’t spend a whole lot of time together, as I mostly lived with my mother and when I did live with my dad, his job had him on the road quite a bit. I don’t fault him for that, as he was making money to provide for his family and when I wasn’t in school, I got to travel and work with him. I get why he had to do it and I got it back then. Besides, I usually enjoyed the experience of getting to work with him and I really liked the bonding time. It doesn’t mean that there wasn’t some deep seeded yearning for something more. Something I didn’t understand at the time because I really didn’t know any better and at the end of the day didn’t realize that I wasn’t getting all the pieces I later felt that I needed to move on in life, as a man.

My father and I never had a solid relationship and the time we spent together was usually spent arguing due to the inability of either of us to really connect. I wasn’t the easiest kid to deal with but for the most part I was a nice kid, I typically did what I was told and I was generally raised to be a good person and I believe myself to be one. I don’t blame my dad or myself for our never really being on the same page. It’s like that old adage says, “It is what it is.” Regardless, I know my father loves me and I know that he knows I love him.

One thing about myself, is that I have always been incredibly independent, often times to my detriment, especially as a teenager. This didn’t resonate well with any of my parents but at least my mother was able to come to grips with it and accept it around the time I was sixteen. It doesn’t mean that I ran all over her, she just understood that I was wired a certain way and respected it. It also didn’t mean that she stopped worrying, she still does today and now I am thirty-five. But in allowing me to be me, we had a very strong bond and a real level of respect. Looking back, I know that my chronic independence wasn’t a direct product of either my parents’ personalities, it is just something I have always had. And it is probably a major reason as to why my father and my stepmother didn’t seem to understand me. I never really dealt well with authority and one thing that my father and stepmother were, was authority.

I’m telling my own tale, not because I want people to know my intimate details but because I know that this is a similar story to what almost every guy from my generation and after has gone through to some degree, exchanging a few details here and there. Almost all of the boys I hung out with, as I was growing up, had a similar upbringing and a similar attitude. I noticed that the kids who still had both parents in their lives full-time didn’t seem to share our attitude and our outlook. They also seemed a lot more dependent on their parents and authority figures. They lacked the angst that many of us had and I noticed this when I was an adolescent. I was friends with pretty much every kid that was into comic books, video games, movies, music and sports cards but I gravitated towards those who were more like me, as that is just human nature.

We were the kids that drank, dabbled in drugs and partied. We also had sex (mostly unprotected) way before the prom. We were also the ones who took the normal kids and corrupted them into diet versions of ourselves. The thing is, we weren’t bad kids, we just felt incomplete to some extent and had a lot of built up angst that we didn’t know what to do with. I, and many like me, still have this angst. We just deal with it in a healthier way now. Well, those of us not in jail anyway.

I now know that those angst, independence and authority issues stem from having to rely on myself as a child because even if I had parents around, I had to carry my own ball through much of my early life. With parents who aren’t together, a kid typically has just the one that they can connect with on a daily basis yet that one still has less time to spend with the child, as they are usually working more than they should to support a family on one income. I don’t blame either parent in my case, these are just the times I was brought up in and the times we have lived in since.

But the point is, it is no wonder why guys (and girls, really) from my generation have grown up differently and exhibited different behavior that was not common to generations before ours. And I can understand why those older generations looked at us as bad seeds. Regardless of societal labels, I think that most of us weathered the storm okay.

The problem is, many of us still have somewhat of a void in us because what has been the natural upbringing of human beings for millennia hasn’t been what we’ve experienced. We’ve been raised by one parent or parents in shifts and learning things from both aspects of masculinity and femininity is somewhat incomplete. In most cases, the men of my generation lack that rite of passage into manhood and have been raised with an overabundance of feminine figureheads. The thing is, we are still men – mentally, physically and chemically. Although most of our younger experiences with men have been negative or nonexistent.

What I struggle with, I know a lot of guys struggle with. Many of us have attempted plugging our own holes and experiencing that rite of passage on our own. There is however, that natural need to feel some sort of paternal approval and acceptance and unfortunately, for many, that acknowledgement eludes them. Some look for it in the wrong places, like through a boss or some other guy who seems to be more “manly” than themselves. Truthfully, I don’t know if there is a right answer to any of this.

Moving forward, I want to discuss several different aspects of life and adulthood and how it relates to all this. However, I will have to write this over several parts and I think this post is long enough already.

Retro Relapse: A Checklist of 25 Things to Ensure You’re a Manly Man

RETRO RELAPSE is a series of older articles from various places where I used to write before Talking Pulp.

*Written in 2014.

I’ve done posts about what manly men should own, things they should do on a daily basis to be manly men, as well as things that make them look like pussies. Also, I wrote about the 10 Laws for Growing a Majestic Beard, which enhances your masculinity.

This list however, is simply a checklist. It is a checklist to see how manly you are. Don’t worry, this isn’t sexist, as women can play too. I don’t need PETA (or whatever that big feminist group is called) to come down on me for being a savage bodacious beast attached to a testosterone-filled meat stick.

Anyway, I’m going to present these twenty-five things. Print this out and check them off or just do the math in your head. Because when you get to the end, you can see where you stand, as I will provide a rating system for your final number tally. If you can’t do simple arithmetic, you’ve already failed. Go hang out on the Strawberry Shortcake message boards instead of here.

I’m just kidding. I’m really here to help you become the best manly man that you can be. But you should know how to add.

But anyway, here is the checklist to see how you stack up in manliness. There are also five bonus points that can be earned.

_ You own at least ten flannel shirts *(bonus point for twenty or more).
_ You can hike a minimum of six miles on moderate terrain.
_ You’ve made something useful out of wood.
_ You get daily compliments on your facial foliage.
_ You own more than one bottle of whiskey.
_ You have never seen an episode of American Idol.
_ You have used a bone as a toothpick.
_ Your diet is 75% red meat and/or bacon.
_ You own a legit survival knife that actually does its job.
_ You can construct a tent without instructions.
_ You need at least a six pack to get any kind of buzz.
_ You can’t tell the difference between kale and the stuff used to decorate Easter baskets.
_ You have at least one friend that is a wild animal *(bonus point for an eagle).
_ You find a legit reason to use your multi-tool multiple times per day.
_ You own snake-proof boots and actually have a use for them.
_ You’ve worked out with a log *(bonus point for throwing it after the workout).
_ You’ve made a fire without using a lighter or matches.
_ You’ve eaten a fish that you caught yourself.
_ You can accurately diagnose what is wrong with your vehicle *(bonus point if you fixed it).
_ You can cook a stellar ribeye in a cast iron skillet.
_ You have chopped your own wood.
_ You have read at least five Louis L’Amour novels *(bonus point for ten or more).
_ You have good accuracy with a tomahawk.
_ You make ribs that aren’t just mediocre.
_ You can make at least five manly cocktails.

Here’s how you measure up:
25+ points = You are a mastodon of manliness.
20-24 points = You’re still a beast and on the verge of greatness.
15-19 points = You need some work but every grizzly starts as a cub.
10-14 points = C’mon, dude. Turn off Bridezillas and go put a gorilla in a headlock.
5-9 points = Stop buying Justin Beiber CDs.
0-4 points = Deduct whatever points you have because you don’t deserve them. You’re a zero.

Retro Relapse: The Reality of Not Giving A Fuck

RETRO RELAPSE is a series of older articles from various places where I used to write before Talking Pulp.

*Written in 2015.

I don’t give a fuck.

To some people, that immediately makes me look like an asshole. To other people, they want to scream “fuck yeah!” because they love a motherfucker that doesn’t give a fuck – just like them. Both of these extremes misunderstand what it means to truly not give a fuck.

When I say that I don’t give a fuck, it means that I don’t really care what people think about what I have to say or about who I am.

Truthfully, we all care to some degree what people think but that boils down to which people exactly.

In my case, I care about what my family (well, most of them) and my close friends think. Everyone else doesn’t really matter to me because looking at the big picture, they’re mostly insignificant and I don’t have the time to pander and cater to everyone nor would I ever want to. My time is precious, as is my sanity.

Many want to use the term “I don’t give a fuck” to justify the fact that they are generally pretty shitty people that are tired of being judged so they build up some faux tough exterior of being even bigger douchebags that have to constantly let everyone know, that they don’t give a fuck. Or they have been hurt by people and can’t function like a grown ass adult.

Well, if you have to keep telling everyone, apparently you do give a fuck. You’re just a jerk that is saying that you are going to do whatever the hell you want and you don’t care how that effects other people. Not giving a fuck isn’t a license to be a shithead.

Those people lack confidence and respect. To truly “not give a fuck” only really comes with confidence and respect for yourself and those worth giving a fuck about. If you are confident in yourself and your abilities, as you traverse through life in the way you best see fit, you don’t give a fuck about the bullshit and the bullshit people because they hinder you from doing what you need to do. You have to just do you. The real motherfuckers will have your back; the leeches will just pull you down.

Getting back to confidence, reminding everyone about how much you don’t give a fuck with a daily meme on social media is not a sign of confidence. However, it is a sign of a lack of confidence.

But the phrase “I don’t give a fuck” is fun to say and it is catchy. Everyone says it when they feel the need arises. I get it, some days suck walrus dick and you are frustrated. But you are frustrated because you give a fuck. Saying you don’t give a fuck is just you trying to convince yourself, through an audience, that you don’t give a fuck when you do give a fuck. But it’s cool, we’ve all got an inner gangsta rapper in us. I say “fuck” a lot because I like the word. I probably like it because a tiny Ice Cube is chilling in my voice box ready to explode against whatever is oppressing me that day.

To those offended by those who don’t give a fuck, you may be right in seeing most as assholes. The ones who say it a lot are pretty big fuck givers. Those who truly don’t give a fuck, don’t have to say it. Why? Because they don’t give a fuck. And if you don’t like those real motherfuckers, it’s cool because they don’t give a fuck.

Now there are instances where it must be stated. Like if some jack off nitwit is annoying the fuck out of you and you have to put your foot down, lock with their eyes and bluntly state very clearly and authoritatively, “I’m going to say this one time motherfucker, I don’t give a fuck.”

My not giving a fuck is often times faced with adversity because I am pretty blunt about shit on most days. If I am not blunt, it is almost always out of respect for someone I do care about, as my bluntness may effect them in some way. Like I have to bite my tongue when a relative or significant other of a good friend is being a fucktard. I have to bite my tongue when it is something that pertains to my job. Why? Because I give a fuck about my loved ones and my livelihood.

But when you state that people who vape or ride around on those Alien Wheel things are fucking retards, those people get all butt hurt about it. People don’t like bluntness, especially if it comes with the confidence of not giving a fuck. Those people give a fuck, which is also why they jump on whatever shit ass fad is the cool, bizarre thing to do that week.

So there are things I do give a fuck about. Apart from certain people and paying my rent on time, the other things I give a fuck about are my passions. I give a fuck about the positive things that help me reach and obtain my goals. I give a fuck about the general state of the world. I give a fuck about the girl I’m trying to have sex with, unless I discover that she is an asshole or has chlamydia. I give a fuck about music. I give a fuck about good beer. I give a fuck about writing for those who actually read my shit. I give a fuck about where I buy my meat. I give a fuck about my tribalistic attachment to the Chicago Cubs, Chicago Blackhawks and New Orleans Saints. I give a fuck about movies. Everything else is just shit I don’t have time to give a fuck about or something I forgot to list.

Anyway, that’s it. If you think I’m an asshole… well, do I really need to say it?

Retro Relapse: 25 Ways To Become a More Refined Man

RETRO RELAPSE is a series of older articles from various places where I used to write before Talking Pulp.

*Written in 2015.

I have written about manliness for quite some time. I have also done countless lists on different parts of the overall subject of manliness. They will help you evolve from a cub to a full-fledged grizzly. But sometimes, the grizzly has to evolve as well.

While always maintaining the characteristics of being lord of the wilderness, we as human beings also have to adapt and grow in our own world. You can be a badass motherfucker who is self-sufficient and a true go-getter. However, we are also above the wild beasts and not just because we have opposable thumbs.

For instance, if you are invited to a regal gala as a guest, you don’t show up dressed like a lumberjack gnawing on a bone. I mean, I’d respect and love a guy who did but it isn’t going to get you past the doorman. And don’t hit the doorman, he’s just doing his job.

The point here, is that we are an evolved species. We are still in many ways animals but we are also human beings and human beings have qualities that animals don’t. Can a moose play a trombone? Can a gorilla make red wine reduction sauce? Can an alligator build a house of cards? Can a lion master Canfield solitaire? Can a bison drive a Ferrari 458? The answer to all of these is “no.”

However, a man can do all of these things and this is why we are better than creatures that simply succumb to their animalistic urges. We can do more, we want more and we can be more than the sum of animal parts because we have human parts.

Presented here, is a list of things that a man can do in an effort to make himself more refined. You don’t have to do these things and can continue to be a simple grizzly but don’t expect to woo as many womenfolk or to have them invite you to dinner at the Senator’s house.

And now, the list:

1. Learn enough about fashion to know what doesn’t work and then don’t wear what doesn’t work. Also, wear what makes you comfortable. You can have your own unique style but you also don’t want to look like a clown. Many people are terrified of clowns, especially ones acting like caged animals clawing at their silly clothes.

2. Listen to some real music once in awhile. All that EDM shit does is rot your brain. Sometimes I do like my brain to rot a bit but nothing says “refinement” in the musical realm more than a man that knows a little something about jazz or any other musical genre that uses real instruments.

3. Learn to play an instrument. This shows off your dedication, skill and passion. Any and all passion is good. I once tried my hand at the saxophone. I quit too early and have regretted it since. I was also really young and my mum didn’t push me into continuing. An instrument is something I would like to pick up again.

4. Learn how to find the answers to your own questions. Google is an amazing tool. Don’t constantly ask people simple shit you can find the answers to with a few keystrokes on your smartphone.

5. Stop being lazy. If you have a problem or something that needs to be taken care of, get off of your ass and fucking do it. A refined man doesn’t procrastinate and wait for something to potentially blow over. They attack it head on, deal with it and move on to the next thing.

6. Similar to number four, learn how to fix your own problems. Granted, some problems can’t be fixed alone but no one likes a guy that needs his hand held every step of the way through life. One thing punk rock taught me was “do it yourself.”

7. Learn from your experiences. Don’t keep making the same mistakes or asking the same people, the same questions again and again. You look like a fucking fool and no one will give a shit when you actually have a legit problem. Stop dating assholes, stop hanging with douchebags, stop finding yourself doing that same thing that always gets you into trouble.

8. Be mindful of your surroundings. Don’t over-project your presence on other people. Don’t be an obnoxious self-absorbed asshole. Know how certain things you do or say could affect other people in your immediate environment.

9. Learn how to express yourself in regards to difficult topics like politics and religion. Or just shut the fuck up about it, if you don’t have the self-restraint to not come off as a psychotic hot head. Assholes never convert anybody to their cause.

10. As an extension of number nine, when talking about difficult topics, know what you are talking about. Don’t just parrot what you’ve heard and take other opinions at face value: adopting them as your own. Know how to confirm facts and know how to hold up your end of a debate.

11. Put down the swill. This is in regards to beer, wine, whiskey and pretty much anything else that fits this category. Learn more about craft beer, fine wine, whiskey, cigars, pipes and other vices. Experience more refined choices in these realms and feel your own refinement grow as a result. No one ever looked at a Mic Ultra drinker and thought, “There’s a guy that’s got his shit together.” The Dos Equis guy is an actor.

12. Travel more. You can’t see the world from your own neighborhood. Even if you think this is something you can’t afford, you can always take small weekend trips in a car. Hell, get outdoors and pitch a tent.

13. Hike. Or hike more if you hike already. Walking around in the wilderness is good for your stress and it gives a man time to think on things. Most of my great ideas have come while hiking or working out.

14. Work out. Yes, get off the couch, get out of your office chair and move a little bit. Any activity is better than no activity. If you feel like you are so out of shape that you can’t perform at the level you’d like to, take solace in the fact that you are lapping every guy sitting on his ass.

15. Play a sport. Shoot some hoops or better yet, round up some other menfolk and play some baseball, football, hockey, tennis, racquetball or soccer. Make this a routine. Add this to your workout regime. Besides, other men can help motivate you to get your ass out the door, as you can motivate them in the same way.

16. Know how to cook something great. It’d be best if you knew how to cook multiple things greatly but if you don’t, start somewhere. Every man should have a nice signature dish. Refine your culinary skills and thus, refine the taste buds of those around you. Be the man responsible for the pleasing look on your guests’ faces. Make motherfuckers salivate.

17. Learn gratitude and how to express it. Don’t take small things for granted.

18. Learn humility and how to laugh at yourself. Learn how to deal with male bantering and ribbing. No one likes the guy who is a spoiled sport or a crybaby. And definitely, don’t be a sore winner.

19. Stop talking about how “alpha” you are. If you have to tell everybody, then you aren’t “alpha” – you’re something else that starts with an “a”. Besides, all that “alpha” stuff is bullshit (see here).

20. Hold a door for a lady. Pay for dinner. It’s just what a man does, even if the woman doesn’t act too keen about it. And don’t expect anything in return.

21. Don’t be a chameleon. For example, don’t idolize some cool dude and then mimic his style. Also, don’t fake that you are into something that a person or group of people are into just so that you can fit in. You won’t fit in and you’ll look like an idiot. Be yourself, didn’t your parents teach you that?

22. Expanding on number twenty-one, stop lying about small insignificant stupid shit. In fact, if you are confident and have character, you don’t need to lie at all. You don’t want to be one of those idiots who says, “Oh yeah, I loved that movie!” And then in another conversation later with the same person say, “I really need to see that movie!” You forget about stupid lies but the people you lied to don’t forget. This person is just a weasel and not worthy of anyone’s time. At least, anyone who likes people they interact with to be genuine.

23. Be confident without being a narcissist. People respect confidence but they loathe an asshole that is high on their own bullshit. Through your journey of refinement, you should gain confidence – if you don’t have it already. Know what you want, know how to get it and be sure of your quest and who you are while on that quest.

24. Always expand your palate. Be it in things you orally consume, the entertainment you seek out or the adventures you go on. Human beings get bored doing the same thing all the time. Challenge yourself, accept new experiences and try things. Don’t be the human equivalent of a turkey sandwich at Subway.

25. Have a thirst for knowledge. Always be down to learn new things. Pick up a damn book and read it. Learn a new skill. Constantly challenge yourself, expand your horizons and continually evolve. Know that you are responsible for your own education in life. You are the cultivator of your own experiences. You are the sole cartographer of your own personal atlas. Your atlas is your life and everything that comes with it.