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Mike Reyes, aka Mr. Controversy, has considered himself a writer ever since he was a child. He wrote for various school publications from about 1995 until 2006, and currently runs both The Bookish Kind and Mr. Controversy, which is an offshoot of the regular column he wrote in High School. He's also a film journalist/critic for Cocktails & Movies and CinemaBlend, as well as the author of several short stories such as "The Devil v. George W. Bush". Any inquiries for reprinting, writing services, or general contact, should be forwarded to: mikereyeswrites@gmail.com

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Friday, December 19, 2008

The Cannonball Read: Entry 3 – “The Way You Wear Your Hat: Frank Sinatra and the Lost Art of Livin’” by Bill Zehme

CANNONBALLENMAVENHOYYYYYA! It's that time again, kiddies! Entry 3 for the Cannonball Read is up, and it's a great one! Though I must say, I'd like to get a little variety into the list. (I'm even considering reading...*shudder* Twilight, just to see what the fuss is all about.) If anyone has suggestions, requests, or dedications, feel free to post them on the Comments Board. As always, for the uninitiated, here's where to go for all the background you need on this epic quest, http://www.pajiba.com/cannonball-read.htm . Special thanks to Brian Prisco for allowing me, and all the others, to participate in this clusterfuck of literary wonderment. What? You want to sign up? Start here: http://gospelaccordingtoprisco.wordpress.com/choose-your-weapon-the-combatants/ Who knows? You might just get your review published on Pajiba! (Hint hint, Prisco. =P)

It seems, for the most part, that manhood is dead. I don’t know what you call what the young mannequins on television, on the radio, and in the movies; but they’re not men. Pop culture has started to champion the neutered male, the guy who “always calls, takes care of himself, cares about how he looks, and he’s sooo sensitive”. Some call it “metrosexuality”, I call it by its proper name…horseshit. Why? Because Frank Sinatra did all of this shit long before any of these little bastards jumped out of their father’s nutsack, and he didn’t have to look borderline homosexual to do it.

“The Way You Wear Your Hat” began as the Esquire article, “And Then There Was One…” which was also written by the author, Bill Zehme, a senior editor for the magazine. Zehme’s impetus behind his quest: “Men had gone soft and needed help, needed a leader, needed Frank Sinatra. So I wrote to him and appealed on behalf of manhood and mankind.” The book is composed of questions and answers from said article, and is filled with anecdotes, pictures, and mentions of anyone and everyone the Chairman of the Board himself may have bumped up against. Don’t go thinking it’s all Pro Frank propaganda, because he owns up to a lot of stuff that doesn’t seem to make it into all of the portraits painted of him.
For instance, while he was indeed a womanizer and had trouble holding down a marriage, he always felt that he should indeed be a married man. Perhaps it was a product of the culture, or some sort of moral compass, but he enjoyed coming home to someone familiar at night. Everything from his thoughts on fatherhood (he gave Bing Crosby a dressing down on the set of “Robin and His 7 Hoods” about how he beat his children), to his thoughts on love (Ava Gardner was his one and only), to even his sense of style (always, ALWAYS dress formally, preferably in a tux, when doing a show) this book pretty much covers it all. Frank Sinatra was an intensely loyal friend, a person who loved to help others and was more modest than his legendary status would allow him. He also hated being alone, and was always there for his kids, even if he wasn’t always there in person. This book is an easy read, and it just generally makes you realize how much the world still needs the mythos and the facts of Frank Sinatra’s life.

Which brings me back to my initial point…manhood is dead. Manhood is doing all of that stuff that I mentioned in the beginning, but not having to label it or package it. In my humble opinion, a man does whatever the Hell he wants, provided that he doesn’t slight anyone, always plays fair, and always leaves the room a little nicer than when he found it. That means being polite while being fun, and always swing. I would even go so far as to say that in Hollywood today, not only are there few “men”, but there are even fewer (if any) stars. Sure, there’s a lot of “celebrities” but very few stars who shine and brighten up the craft they belong to. This book only further highlights that fact by pointing out that Sinatra hated giving himself praise. He was always the perfectionist, but he didn’t congratulate himself to excess, that was for amateurs. Whether the world will admit it or not, people like Frank Sinatra were popular for a reason. That reason is general likeability, as well as a strong work ethic. He gave so much to the world that he’s still a very part of its fabric to this day. He always will be too, because that old adage still holds true to this very day, “It’s Frank’s world, we just live in it.”

The Next Couple of Books I Intend to Read Are:
- "Oscar Season" by Mary McNamara.
- "Why We Suck: A Feel Good Guide to Staying Fat, Lazy, and Stupid" by Dr. Denis Leary
- "Blood Memory" by Greg Iles
- "Next" by Michael Crichton
- "Twilight" by Stephenie Meyer (*shudder*)

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