A few weeks ago Joel Stein, Time magazine columnist and author of Man Made: A Stupid Quest for Masculinity, was in Houston to to promote his book with a wine and food truck party here in Houston.
I was unable to make it, but, fortunately for me, I was still able to chat with Joel on the phone about the book, his thoughts on wine and a bit about parenting, among other things.
Although the book doesn’t talk much about wine, except to say that there’s “nothing manly about knowing a lot about wine,” on page 85, the book tour was sponsored by Stark Raving Wines.
Of course I was puzzled by the book tour being sponsored by a wine company, but I’m starting to think that Stark Raving Wines just might be manly after all. And Joel might have implied that when he said their wines were to be “gulped, not sipped,” and go great with takeout and pizza. (That all sounds pretty manly to me.)
I’ll share more about the wines, as well as food pairings for them straight from the food trucks on the book tour soon.
But first, back to my interview with Joel.
I have to confess that Joel’s Awesome Column in Time absolutely cracks me up just about every time I read it. He describes it as sophomoric, and to that I would have to agree. His perspective and hilarious way of sharing keeps me laughing, though, sometimes with my hand over my mouth of out amazement that he actually mentions half of the things he mentions.
So when his publisher sent me a copy of his book to read before interviewing him, I quickly proclaimed to my husband that I HAD to read this book for the blog so I could do an adequate job interviewing its author.
My very kind husband agreed to play along with this and even took the kids shopping so I could have extra time to read on a Saturday. Such torture I endure for VineSleuth.
Joel’s book begins as he and his wife find out that she will soon be having a baby boy. At this, Joel plummets into terror at the thought of having to teach his son all things manly. His boyhood was not peppered with Matchbox cars and fort building, rather he had sticker books and an Easy-Bake Oven, among other more typically feminine things. Joel is not a manly man.
So, with a baby boy on the way, Joel decides to get some ‘man’ experience and shares his thoughts and adventures along the way.
He tells of 24 hours spent with firefighters, his first Boy Scout camping trip, and braving both Marine and Army basic training, with the added experience of firing a tank. In his quest he also fought with UFC legend Randy Couture, learned how to throw, catch, and hit a baseball with two-time Major League Baseball All-Star Shawn Green, experienced the rush of day-trading $100,000, and learned how to drink Macallan Scotch, and an assortment of more manly-sounding things. (I’m not a man, so I can’t be sure of the manliness factor of all the activities. But they did all sound stereotypically manly to me.)
His journey helps him compile notes for a list of advice both for himself in parenting as well as life wisdom for his son. Some of this advice comes from an 11 year-old Boy Scout named Wiggles. And some of Wiggles’ insight is actually quite good.
As a woman and mom, the wisdom I enjoyed most was from Captain Buzz Smith, the firefighter who organized his time with the Los Angeles Fire Department.
He said “Not to dismiss your entire premise, but none of the activities or skills you plan on doing define becoming a man. A man is honest, kind, and courageous, protects women, is humble, bold, moral, seeks truth, loves children and fights for what is right.”
But I guess that wouldn’t make an exciting a book or be such a crazy adventure to experience.
And his book, just like his columns for Time, is definitely a crazy adventure.
But before you go…
Please tell me in the comments:
What do you think is manly? And do you think wine is manly?
All photos courtesy of Joel Stein.