Sunday, June 30, 2013

Old Fashioned Conversations

Face-to-face conversations almost appear to be on the verge of becoming an obsolete, lost, and forgotten art in the digital age we are living in today. People are becoming increasingly addicted to new technology and gadgets, and tweeting and texting seem to have fallen into favor over traditional communication. Likewise, it has become difficult to have a conversation with someone without their attention diverting to their smart phone at some point during the duration of the discussion as well. 

It may seem archaic, but what you are witnessing in the photograph above, is a couple of guys, exchanging a few words, and having a good old fashioned chat on a classic cedar picnic table while sipping on coffee. Moreover, if you take a closer look, you will also notice that neither of these two gentlemen are texting, updating their Facebook status, or checking their Twitter feed on their smart phones. Furthermore, you may have also noticed that they are not listening to iPods, but are enjoying the music of mother nature instead. It is certainly not uncommon to see people sitting on their picnic tables, decks, or patios, or walking or jogging, with their iPods plugged into their ears during the early morning hours. The question of why anyone would want to deprive themselves of enjoying the sheer and utter brilliance of the birds chirping after dawn will likely always remain a mystery to me. 

At any rate, while some of the new technology we enjoy today may be entertaining and fun, nothing is an adequate substitute for quality face-to-face conversations, which people have enjoyed for thousands upon thousands of years, and long before the advent of cell phones and the internet. I hope you have enjoyed this post, as well as the photo which was intended to remind everyone of a simpler time.     

Till next time, 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Ford F-150: A Manly American Vehicle

1968 Ford F-150 Camper Special
1994 Ford F-150
The Ford F-150 has been the best selling truck in the United States for more than three decades, and also carries the reputation of being one of the  manliest vehicles on the road as well. The Truth About Cars, for example, listed the F-150 as the ninth most masculine vehicle on the block in 2012 with 87 percent of F-150 drivers being men. While ninth place may seem a little low, the vehicles which placed ahead of the F-150 were, for the most part, expensive sports cars such as the Ferrari California and the Porsche 911. Therefore, among affordable vehicles, you would be hard pressed to find a manlier ride than a Ford F-150. It is worth noting, however, that on the Truth about Cars' list, the GMC Sierra actually placed slightly ahead of the F-150, and landed in eighth place, as 87.5 percent of Sierra owners are guys. However, that is neither here nor there, and even though "I'm a Ford truck man" to quote Toby Keith, I am really not that biased when it comes to the manliness of pick-ups as I think that all trucks whether Ford, Chevrolet, GMC, or Dodge are quite masculine. Moreover, a mere half of a percent makes for a de facto tie in my book! 

If interested, check The Truth About Cars' full list of the top ten manliest automobiles right here:

At any rate, the Ford F-150 is also a quintessential, and classic, symbol of Americana. Therefore, I was pleased to read on an article published on F-150 Online  earlier this week, on June 25th  to be exact, that has now published their annual American made index, and revealed that the Ford F-150 has more American made components than any other vehicle on the road which marks the first time in four years the F-150 has achieved this feat. 

2012 Ford F-150

Till next time, pals! Feel free to leave your comments!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Tombstone vs. Wyatt Earp: Who is your favorite Doc Holliday?

The movies Tombstone and Wyatt Earp, both released in the 1990s, are valiant and commendable attempts to capture the life and tell the story of the legendary American lawman Wyatt Earp on film. In doing so, both movies also feature the enigmatic John "Doc" Holliday - the hard-drinking, gambling and gun-slinging, tubercular southern gentleman who was a loyal friend to Earp and his brothers. However, Holliday is portrayed a bit differently in each film, and I would like to compare and contrast his depiction in these two movies, and then I would love to hear what others have to say so please feel free to comment.

In Tombstone, Holliday is portrayed by Val Kilmer, who plays the part very colorfully. As a matter of fact, the first time I watched the movie Tombstone when I was a youngster, I was captivated by Kilmer’s portrayal of  Holliday, and I still am to this very day.  He brings a heavy dose of artistic liberty to the role and delivers an exceptionally memorizing performance. It is arguably the finest work of his career, and many, including myself, believe that he was robbed of a best supporting actor award. In Wyatt Earp, Holliday is portrayed by Dennis Quaid, who plays the role more cantankerously in my opinion. Holliday’s wittiness and sense of humor still exists in Wyatt Earp, but it is more sporadic, whereas Kilmer displays these traits more effectively, frequently, and memorably throughout Tombstone. Quaid played a grouchy and solemn Holliday, whereas Kilmer, on the contrary, played the role rather humorously and people are still quoting his famous lines nearly two decades after the movie's release.  

Some have argued, however, that Quaid may have had the edge in a few categories. For example, it has been said that Quaid looked a bit more like the real Holliday, as he had dark brown hair in contrast to Kilmer’s reddish hair. Moreover, in regards to the vernacular,  some also believe that Quaid adopted a more prominent Georgian accent, but I personally thought that the southern dialect Kilmer spoke in was impeccable nevertheless. Lastly, it has also been argued that Quaid appeared more sickly than Kilmer. I happen to agree with this point, and Quaid has even stated publicly that he lost over 40 pounds to prepare for the role.  

Wyatt Earp and Tombstone share the commonality of implying that Holliday did not have many friends aside from the Earp brothers, and I thought Kilmer and Quaid both did a tremendous job showing Holliday’s unwavering commitment to the Earps. Tombstone and Wyatt Earp accurately depict how Holliday followed Wyatt Earp and brothers, Virgil and Morgan, to the O.K. Corral, to take on the Clanton’s and McLaury’s, even though he was coughing up his lungs and walking with a cane. Moreover, both movies also show how Doc traded Virgil his cane in exchange for the "street howitzer" shotgun as well, which historians agree he did in fact use at the actual gunfight at the O.K. Corral.   

Holliday's character is more fully developed in Tombstone, as Wyatt Earp focuses mainly on the life and adventures of Earp, which results in Holliday’s part in the latter being tragically abbreviated. In Wyatt Earp, Holliday does not even appear until approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes into the film. Earp meets Holliday, who is drinking whiskey and playing solitaire, in a bar in Texas while on the trail the historic outlaw Dave Rudabaugh. In their first conversation, Holliday reveals details regarding his background, such as the fact that he hails from Georgia and was once a dentist. This information, though historical and accurate, is never mentioned and is surprisingly omitted from Tombstone, and this is one of the few times Quaid's Holliday has the historical and biographical advantage over Kilmer's.  Tombstone, on the other hand, ventures into many other aspects of Holliday’s life, and the barrage of one liners Kilmer dishes out more than makes up for the absence of a small portion of his biography

Holliday, unlike in Wyatt Earp, appears very early in Tombstone, in the midst of a poker game, looking sharp, with Kate, his Hungarian girlfriend, at his side, and the ivory handles of his Colts exposed and at the ready. The viewer can literally smell the aroma that surrounds him. It reeks of booze, confidence, and the diseased air he coughs. Moreover, in Tombstone, the viewer also gets a wider glimpse into Holliday’s impressive levels intelligence, intellectualism, and sophistication. For example, he and Johnny Ringo, one of the main antagonists of the film, trade insults in Latin, and, in the director's cut, Holliday also quotes poetry after the death of Morgan Earp. It is true that in real life Holliday was very educated, intelligent, liked to dress well, spoke Latin, as well as French, and played the piano which is also shown in Tombstone when he drunkenly and flawlessly performs Frederic Chopin’s nocturne No. 19. 

Although Quaid delivers an admirable portrayal of Holliday, he is not given enough screen time. There is a reason why the film is titled Wyatt Earp as opposed to Doc Holliday. As I mentioned earlier, I would really like to turn this discussion over to anyone who may be reading this, so please feel free to leave your comments and let me know which Doc Holliday you prefer.  If, by any chance, you have not seen either film, I would recommend you watch both movies, but I would suggest that you watch Tombstone first. If you are interested in a fresh, original, charming, and clever take on a complex historical character then you will not be disappointed. Even if you are not as big of a fan of the western genre as I am, you will thoroughly enjoy watching Val Kilmer steal the show.


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Thought for the Day

I am a big advocate and believer of positive thinking, and therefore I would like to recommend Jeffrey Keller's "The Secret of Being Lucky," which essentially tells you how you can create your own luck by following a few simple steps!

You can find it by following the link right here:'s_notes.htm

Till next time,

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Read Books and reap the Benefits

Dear readers,
The photograph above shows three of my favorite novels. Starting clockwise at 12 O' Clock they are the following: The Nick Adams Stories by Ernest Hemingway, The Lord of The Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, and The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien. I am sure you have all heard the old cliche that "reading a great book is like watching a great movie," but I, for one, happen to believe that reading a great book actually supersedes watching a great movie. While I must admit that I enjoy watching movies as much as the next guy, and there are certain movies such as The Shawshank Redemption, Braveheart, and Tombstone which I will never grow tired of, I happen to believe that reading has the ability to spark our imaginations in a way that Hollywood films simply cannot. When we read a novel, we have more control over the story than we do when we are watching a movie. We are able to picture and visualize the characters and scenes for ourselves. For me, the 2008 western film Appaloosa is a great example of how the characters contrived in our imaginations, from the stories we read, do not always resemble the characters that appear when the same story finds its way onto the big screen. 

In Appaloosa, Ed Harris plays Virgil Cole, the main protagonist of the movie which is based on the novel of the same name, and Harris also directed the movie and co-wrote the screenplay. Although I think that Harris is a great actor, I did not picture him as Virgil Cole, but visualized a character who was more akin to the actor Sam Elliot instead as I read through this Robert B. Parker masterpiece. I must admit, however, that I still really enjoyed watching Appaloosa, and I thought it was a well done, and faithful, adaptation of the novel.  

There have also been many instances when film adaptations of novels have been less than faithful, and material we have enjoyed from the novel gets left behind when the book becomes a movie. For example,  in the 2003 film Dreamcatcher, which is a film adaptation of Stephen King's Sci-Fi thriller of the same name, and tells the tale of four lifelong friends who encounter extraterrestrials on their annual deer hunting trip in northern Maine, the characters are not nearly as fleshed out as they are in the book. Furthermore, we are also robbed of seeing the character Beaver's shoulder length "hippie hair," which is described in the novel, as well as the character Henry's "owl like" horn-rimmed glasses. Furthermore, if I may cite another example, for as great as the Lord of the Rings movies are, Tom Bombadil, the enigmatic character from the LOTR novels, is unfortunately omitted from the film trilogy.     

I would like to encourage anyone who may be reading this post to begin reading more novels. Take a movie that you enjoyed, that was based a novel, and if you have not already done so, go out and read the novel and then compare and contrast the movie to the book. 

I would also like to take a moment to further explain the title of this blog post. One of the reasons I wanted to advocate reading is because in addition to helping our imaginations, I happen to believe that reading is also beneficial to our vocabularies. It introduces us to new words, and consequently, having an enhanced vocabulary allows us to become more eloquent speakers. I believe that all of us should strive to be intelligent, articulate, and well spoken and I believe that reading more novels is a great way to help us achieve this goal. Moreover, talking about books you have read almost automatically makes you appear more intelligent, and you may very well be asked to name the last book you have read during a job interview someday! 

Till next time my friends and happy reading!


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Ben Franklin's Thirteen Virtues

Today I would like to pay tribute to a man I greatly admire. He is a man who discovered electricity, set sail on a two month voyage across the Atlantic to Paris in the fall of 1776 at the age of 70 in order to convince France to join forces with America during the American Revolution, and is one of only two of America's founding founders to be on the currently who was never President (Alexander Hamilton is the other).  I am talking about Benjamin Franklin, and I would like to chat briefly about Franklin's thirteen virtues. I believe that every man needs to be aware of Ben Franklin's thirteen virtues, and I also happen to believe that every man could greatly improve their lives by merely picking out one or two of them to practice.

Many men have looked to Franklin's virtues as a great code, or set of rules, for a man to live by. In Frank Miniter's book The Ultimate Man's Survival Guide, which I have already mentioned I am reading, he lists Franklin's thirteen as one of "Man's Greatest Moral Codes." Moreover, Brett and Kate McKay also have a great article on Franklin's thirteen virtues on Art of Manliness which can be found right here: They also add a paragraph of their own insight for each of the thirteen virtues as well.

Below are Franklin's thirteen virtues, as he wrote them himself, at the young age of 20.

1. Temperance: Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.
2. Silence: Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.
3. Order: Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.
4. Resolution: Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.
5. Frugality: Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing.
6. Industry: Lose no time; be always employed in something useful. Cut off all unnecessary actions.
7. Sincerity: Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.
8. Justice: Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
9. Moderation: Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
10. Cleanliness: Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes, or habitation.
11. Tranquility: Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
12. Chastity: Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another's peace, or reputation.
13. Humility: Imitate Jesus and Socrates.  

Till next time -

Friday, June 7, 2013

Be a Pal

       As I alluded to in my previous post, I am currently in the process of reading Frank Miniter's book The Ultimate Man's Survival Guide. Without giving too much away, one of the points Miniter makes in his book, which I would like to expound upon, is the fact that we are loosing our buddies these days. In order to show how friendship was stronger in the past, Miniter reaches back in time and speaks of important historical friendships such as the one Meriwether Lewis and William Clark had. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark were, of course, the men who led the epic Lewis and Clark westward expedition after Thomas Jefferson made the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Miniter also discusses the famous friendship of the legendary writers C.S. Lewis and J.R.R Tolkien, who brought us the fantasy worlds of Narnia and Middle Earth, and also taught together at Oxford. Miniter also speaks of the more contemporary friendship of Apple co-founders Steve Jobs and Steve "Woz" Wozniak, as well as a few other famous friendships, and proceeds to ask the question of what would have become of these individuals if it hadn't been for their pals.
       In part seven of the book, which is titled "Pals," Miniter speaks of a 2006 study, which was published in the American Sociological Review, that showed one quarter of Americans do not have any close friends at all. Moreover, he also writes of how in 1985, the average man had four buddies, and then goes on to state that the study showed that this number had fallen to a mere two in 2006. I also think that it is important to note that in the social media age people have hundreds of friends online, but hardly any close friends in real life. I think that it is time we reverse this trend and start being buddies with one and other again. Another point Miniter makes in his book is that one of the by products of loosing our friends, is that we are becoming more self centered. An Alpha Male is certainly not an arrogant guy who puffs out his chest, picks on people, and thinks he is better than everyone else. He is a strong, kind, and trustworthy person who is a loyal friend. So gentlemen, I would like to encourage you to call up a few of your old buddies, start up a man club, start playing card games with them one night a week, go on hunting and fishing trips with the guys, or start up a writers club like "The Inklings" which J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis were members of. It is time we got our pals back. 

Till next time, friends-


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Leonidas and the 300

As I promised in the “About Us” section, this blog will occasionally take a historical detour, and it is my distinct pleasure to delve into my first historical topic which will be about King Leonidas of the ancient Greek city-state of Sparta. In 490 B.C., King Leonidas took over the Spartan throne following the death of Cleomenes I, his older half-brother, and his name would never be forgotten due to the events which unfolded a decade later [1]. As Frank Miniter explains in his book The Ultimate Man's Survival Guide, the movie 300, based on Frank Miller's graphic novels, introduced a whole new generation, which happens to be my generation, to the story of King Leonidas and the selfless sacrifice he and the 300 Spartans made at Thermopylae. Discussing 300 and the Spartans is always a fun topic, and I thought it would make for an interesting and entertaining blog post. 

I first viewed 300 during the summer of 07,’ after it had been released on DVD, and enjoyed it despite the fact that I was not crazy about some of the fantasy elements such as the unrealistic monsters. It is not that I am "anti-imagination," I just personally believe that additions such as these do not have any place in a historical film. 300 is narrated by a Spartan soldier named Dilios, who is one of Leonidas’s 300, and begins by showing a young Leonidas during his boyhood and adolescence. The film depicts the rigorous military training program, which was known as the agoge, Leonidas and most Spartan boys were required to enter into at the age of seven [2]. The film then shows his brave act of spearing a wolf, at the end of his training, which is essentially described as his rite of passage. Leonidas then becomes King and the film leaps forward into depicting the conflict the Spartans had with the Persian Empire in 480 B.C. One historical fact which was omitted from the film, and may be surprising for many to learn, is that Leonidas was believed to have been between 50-60 years of age at the time he lead the 300 Spartans, as well as 6,000-7,000 other Greek soldiers, into the "hot gates" of Thermopylae[1],[5].

After the plot for the film is set into motion, 300 depicts the Spartan's strategy of "funneling" the Persians into the narrow pass at Thermopylae. Each Spartan was armed with a spear which was 6-10 feet long, an iron short sword 12-20 inches long, as well as a revolutionary "argive" gripped shield called a "hoplon" which I thought the film did a good job of showing [1],[3],[4]. However, the Spartans certainly did not fight bare chested, as shown in the movie, but were equipped with 30-50 pounds of bronze armor including a breastplate, and greaves a.k.a. shin guards, in addition to the feathered helmets which are actually shown in the film  [4]. I also thought that the film did a good job depicting the way that the Spartans soldiers, who were called "hoplites," fought shoulder to shoulder in a formation known as a  phalanx  [1],[3],[4]

In the film, after Leonidas and his troops initially find success, he has a face to face with the Persian "God-King" Xerxes and Xerxes attempts to bribe Leonidas and offers him wealth and power in exchange for pledging allegiance to the Persian Empire. Leonidas turns down Xerxes's offer, which causes Xerxes to send his best soldiers, and also his elite personal guard, who were called the "Immortals," to battle the Spartans. Scholars believe the Immortals received their name from the fact that, whenever a man would die, another would immediately take his place and therefore they always fought at the full-strength of 10,000 soldiers [7]. However, the Spartans would prove to be able to hold their own against the Immortals.      

In the film, the events take a turn for the worse when the traitor Ephialtes tells Xerxes of a secret path he and the Persians could use to surround the Spartans. In 300, Ephialtes is depicted as a severely deformed hunchback who wishes to join the Spartan army, but Leonidas turns him down due to the fact that he believes Ephialtes would compromise the phalanx due to his inability to lift his shield high enough. Therefore, Ephialtes, being angered by Leonidas's rejection, goes to Xerxes and informs him of the secret path he can use to surround, and defeat, the Spartans. However, in real life, Ephialtes most likely did not appear as physically grotesque as he does in the film and his betrayal seems to have been motivated solely by greed [6].

Returning to the film 300, after word had spread of Ephialtes' betrayal, the Arcadians, who had been fighting with the Spartans up to this point, desert. Leonidas then gives a speech to his remaining soldiers, from the original 300, and tells them that surrender and retreat are not options.  However, it is imperative to note, that in real life, although Leonidas did, in fact, dismiss the great majority of his Greek allies, many brave Thespians also stayed behind and fought with the 300 and so did a few hundred Thebans [6]. The Greek Historian Herodotus, to whom we can attribute the great majority of our knowledge about Leonidas and The Battle of Thermopylae to, wrote of how the Spartans, "resisted to the last" and fought with their swords, granted they still had them, and if they did not, they fought with their hands and teeth until the Persians finally overwhelmed them with their arrows and spears [6][8]. All of the defenders perished except for two who both had eye maladies [6].   

The sacrifice of Leonidas and the 300 unified Greece and ultimately led to a Greek victory over Persia [4]. In Frank Miniter's aforementioned book The Ultimate Man's Survival Guide, he claims Leonidas and the 300's sacrifice gave the Greeks a "rallying cry" which was subsequently used to defeat the Persians[5]. Since this is a blog which is dedicated to admirable attributes and characteristics of the Alpha Male, which is described in the "About Us" section, I thought that discussing Leonidas's famous and heroic act of selflessness and bravery at Thermopylae would be a good place to begin for this component of the blog. The fact that the Greeks were outnumbered nearly 50 to 1 by the Persians at Thermopylae, but remained fearless and vigilant nevertheless,  stuck to their code, and stood against tyranny, is impressive and commendable [9].  Please leave me your comments, and let me know what you think about this post!

Till next time, friends - 


1 “Leonidas,” The History Channel website, (accessed Jun 2, 2013).
2 “Spartan Boot Camp: Killing Machines,” The History Channel website, (accessed Jun 2, 2013).
3 “Spartans: Implements of Death,” The History Channel website, http://www.history.com (accessed Jun 2, 2013).
4“Deconstructing History: Spartans,” The History Channel website, http://www.history.com (accessed Jun 4, 2013).
5 Miniter, Frank. The Ultimate Man's Survival Guide. Washington, D.C. Regnery. 2013.
6"Ephialtes - The Traitor." Awesome Stories. (accessed Jun.. 4 2013).
7"Xerxes and the Immortals."Awesome Stories. (accessed Jun. 5 2013)
8 Herodotus. "The Persian Wars" (Accessed Jun. 5 2013).
9 “Last Stand of the 300: The Kill Zone,” The History Channel website, http://www.history.com (accessed Jun 5, 2013).

Monday, June 3, 2013

The Perfect Pasta

The photograph above shows one of my favorite pasta dishes which is comprised of whole grain elbow noodles, marinara sauce, asparagus, and lean, tender, and delicous steak bites. It almost reminds me of a meal Artie Bucco would have prepared and served at his upscale Italian restaurant Vesuvio in the show The Sopranos! 

I would just like to take a moment to talk about the health benefits of whole grain pasta. Janelle Commins has a nice article on, which is entitled "Whole Grain Pasta vs. Regular Pasta," in which she describes some of the benefits of selecting whole grain pasta as an alternative to regular pasta. She acknowledges that while whole grain pasta may, in fact, take longer to cook and chew there is no denying the fact that it is usually higher in fiber and that it also contains important B vitamins.

Michele Turcotte, MS, RD, also has a great article on in which she makes the claim that whole grain pasta can actually help lower cholesterol and could even help prevent cancer.

I would also like to recommend the article "History of Pasta" by Justin Demetri on If you are interested in reading about pasta throughout the ages, and learning a few fun tidbits such as the fact the average Italian consumes more than 60 pounds of pasta per year, which happens to dwarf the mere 20 pounds the average American eats each year, then I think you will really enjoy reading this article.

Till next time,