Atomic Dog: The Testosterone Principles
An Interview With the Atomic Dog
by Chris Shugart
Testosterone Nation, to the casual observer, is a collection of articles about exercise, nutrition, and supplementation. These articles are supported by an interactive public forum. There's a store filled with exclusive, high-tech supplements. There are pictures to look at. T-Nation is a vast and varied country, and like a country in the real world, it contains an enormous variety of people with an enormous variety of opinions.
But for almost ten years, this well-muscled nation has had one constant voice. Part-warlord, part philosopher-king, maybe a little man-behind-the-curtain pulling levers, TC has basically set the tone for Testosterone Nation through his Atomic Dog columns.
Once a week for almost a decade, TC has given voice to the modern male. Sometimes he does it by making us laugh. Sometimes he motivates us with a verbal kick in the pants, whether the subject is talking to curvaceous women or getting our asses into the squat rack. And sometimes he just flat pisses us off. But here's the kicker; he always makes us think.
Now, whether they're ready for it or not, mainstream America is about to get bitten by the Atomic Dog. TC's long-awaited book, Atomic Dog: The Testosterone Principles, is set to hit the shelves. Cry havoc and let slip one of T-Nation's top dogs.
Luckily I was able to grab him for an interview before Matt Lauer and the birds on The View could tangle with him.
Testosterone: First off, why a book?
TC: I want to help mankind regain its manhood, one testicle at a time. This is my mission in life. No, no, like most writers, putting out a book is pretty much pure vanity.
I work hard at these columns, and it's disappointing to see them disappear into the Internet ether after only a week, most times never to be seen or read again.
Grouping the best ones into a book — arranged into related subjects — makes me feel damn good. I'm also hoping it'll introduce my stuff to new readers. As great as the Internet is, it's still hard to read long articles on a screen. Besides, with a book, especially my book, you can start reading it anywhere, and if I've done my job right, you'll have quick access to some inspiration or some laughs.
The best indication I got that it just might do okay with the general public had to do with my cousin. This kid hasn't read a book since high school, but he picked up my book and read the entire thing in just a couple of sittings, laughing out loud more than just a couple of times. He had kind of a glazed look in his eyes afterwards and there was a trail of spittle at the corner of his mouth, but he finished it.
All that being said, I do harbor a secret hope that this book might help some people reevaluate their safe little lives. I wouldn't mind if some young guys who are at a crossroad might derive some sort of wisdom from its life lessons — life lessons peppered, of course, with a lot of penis jokes.
I can't tell you how many times I've heard that one of my articles prompted someone to get out of a bad marriage or relationship, or to change careers. I take that kind of influence — if indeed I have it — very seriously.
"Testicularity is the last vanguard of civilization; what ties us to nature, what makes us want to excel, what makes us want to discover, invent, and conquer. Don't let your balls go the way of the appendix."
— Page 21
Testosterone: One section of your book is all about sex. Another is called "Men vs. Women." Yet another is about the feminization of males. Finally, you rage against the women out there who keep their hubby's testicles in mason jars. So which is it? Are women the enemy, the spoil of war, or our ultimate allies?
TC: I love women. I respect women. I harbor no prejudices whatsoever regarding women in private life or professional life. Women rock. Of course, that doesn't mean I'm not going to imagine any woman I meet naked.
In truth, I wouldn't have any reason to get out of bed — or into it — were it not for women.
That being said, there are women who are just a pain in the ass. I have little tolerance for close-minded women with Puritanical viewpoints. I'm lusty. Freakin' Gandhi was lusty. Everyone with normal hormonal levels is lusty. Live with it.
And when I speak of the feminization of males, I often wish there were a different word for it, because the traits I see in men that I rail against are not exclusive to women.
I hate weakness of character. I hate cowardice. I hate indecisiveness. Those traits aren't inherently female.
Testosterone: Who do you think is going to love your book? Who do you think is going to have an aneurism?
TC: It's a funny thing. One of my good friends is a research scientist. He's basically pure intellect and often doesn't "get me". He likes opera. He doesn't care for sports. When he reads my stuff, he looks at me like I'm a bug.
I tell him that the Atomic Dog articles are an honest reflection of me but he just won't believe it. He thinks I'm being juvenile or puerile "for my audience." He doesn't see the countless references to history, art, psychology, science, and philosophy — all he sees is the occasional reference to hoo-hahs and he probably wrinkles up his nose and takes a quick sip of his aperitif to wash away the bad taste.
Guys like him probably won't like the book. However, people who are a little more open-minded, who like their irreverence fed to them with a little learning and a little humor and washed down with whiskey — who are looking for someone to voice the thoughts and feelings they thought were theirs alone — should enjoy it.
Sports fans should like it because the book contains some hard-core sports columns included. Brainy guys should like it because there are a lot of pretty solid science articles. Guys who can't articulate their true nature to their female friends will like it. They'll be able to say, "Here, read this and get back to me."
"We masturbate all the time when you're not around. In fact, house dust is nothing but dessicated semen."
— page 358
Testosterone: How do you think women are going to respond to your book?
TC: Some of my biggest fans are women, but in general, women will probably respond in much the same way the men do: some will like it, some will hate it. One of the points I make in the book is that there's a species of woman on this planet that thinks men should be just like women. They don't understand the effects hormones, genetics, breeding, and culture have on the sexes. They don't want husbands, they don't want lovers, they want hairy roommates.
Just because you like to go antiquing and collect plush stuffed bunnies, don't be bewildered and crushed when your husband doesn't. What I'm trying to say is that women who understand men will be fine with my book. They'll laugh. They may even learn a few things about how hubby thinks and it may even improve their relationships with men.
Besides, women like bad boys, don't they?
Testosterone: You're an intellectual, a really smart guy. You're also a lifter, a warrior of sorts, and a tough guy. Most people just don't associate books and barbells with the same guy. So is that the essence of man: smart and ballsy?
TC: Well, you gotta' admit that smart and ballsy is preferable to dumb and pusillanimous.
Pusillanimous. I like that word. We ought to use it more.
Anyhow, most people have a serious talent, and God willing, they discover it and cultivate it. Unfortunately, a lot of people cultivate their serious talent to the exclusion of all other minor talents, sometimes, it seems, out of spite.
Smart guys often abhor strength and physicality. Strong guys sneer at intellect. Sprinters are disdainful of marathoners. Dry cleaners smack-talk Laundromat owners.
I think giving some equal time to one or more lesser talents is important. Since we're talking about me, I was a nerd. Nerd potatoes. Gangly. Weak. So I figured I'd just work out as much as I read. I took a lesson from the ancient Greeks — -balance.
And, at a pretty young age, I adopted a sort of mantra that's stayed with me: Be the man you want to be. For better or for worse — I like to think for the better — I'm the product of sheer will.
Testosterone: Reading some of your work, the term "anti-marriage" comes to mind. In fact, you've been accused of being that in the past. Are you?
TC: I'm not anti-marriage at all; I'm anti BAD marriage. There is nothing in this world that will kill a man or woman's spirit like a bad marriage, but the pathetic thing is, those are generally the only kinds of marriages you see.
Often, guys get married at a young age because that's what's expected of them; either that, or they need surrogate mommies. Marriage shouldn't be tantamount to giving up your freedom, but that's essentially what it often is.
I remember this great Seinfeld episode where Kramer explains marriage to Jerry:
"What are you thinking about Jerry? Marriage, family? They're prisons! Man-made Prisons! You're doing time! You get up in the morning, she's there. You go to sleep at night, she's there. It's like you have to ask permission to use the bathroom. [Whiny voice]Is it alright if I use the bathroom now?[/Whiny voice] And you can forget about watching TV while you're eating. Because it's dinner time. And do you know what you do at dinner time? You talk about your day. How was your day today, did you have a good day today or a bad day today? Well I don't know how about you, how was your day?"
It was funny, but painfully true, too.
Marriage often means the death of all your previous friendships, the death of ambitions, the death of dreams. Single friends no longer fit into the equation. You can't aspire to be a film director or a professional athlete or the owner of the biggest pizzeria in Fresno anymore because you've got responsibilities and you've got to work at Kinkos until the day you die because you've got a mortgage and kids who need braces.
If you're single, you can take chances without hurting anyone else. If you fail, you sleep on a friend's couch until things work out. If you're married, you play it safe.
Of course, there are always exceptions. A good marriage gives you a teammate who neither suppresses your will nor squelches your dreams. A good marriage can be an amazing thing, but so can a two-headed unicorn. Both are exceedingly rare.
"As soon as you get married, the Goddess becomes a mere mortal. Out come the sweat pants. Out goes the make up. All that exotic underwear that she used to turn you into a slobbering lap dog with an erection about yay big? It lies moldering in a little used drawer. Once in awhile, you furtively slip into the bedroom to excavate a pair of those exotic, memory-filled panties, place then against your face and snort like a pig looking for truffles, but instead of getting a scent of her perfumed Hoo-Hah, you just get a dose of Lemon Pledge and have to make an appointment to see an asthma specialist."
— page 232
Testosterone: Okay, you're not anti-marriage. How about "anti-kids?" Don't you call babies "totally dependant blobs?" Aren't you in fact [dramatic courtroom drama music here] anti-procreation?!
TC: No, I'm just tired of parents thinking they did something special by having a kid. You know, once something's been done, oh, I don't know, about 8 billion times, it's no longer a miracle. I'm tired of mothers who don the mantle of superiority because they have a baby in a carriage. No laws pertain to them, no rules of courtesy. "My baby is the Little Lord of the Universe, so you should all bow down to him. And if he screeches uncontrollably, feel blessed to have your auditory canal assailed by such a divine child."
I'm tired of all the endless discussion of what is and what isn't good for children. You know, the concept of childhood is only a little over a hundred years old, at least in the Western world. Children used to be apprenticed off when they were about 8, so all this hand-wringing about how the most trivial event is going to permanently scar Junior gets old.
Have your children, treat them well and hope they're in the 99th percentile of their class at the "Niles and Frazier Crane School for Effete Boys," but keep quiet about it, will you?
Testosterone: In The Testosterone Principles, you write a lot about, well, Testosterone. Is the general public starting to get the idea that maybe this hormone isn't the root of all evil, or is there still a big battle to be fought?
TC: The general public? The general public can't spell or pronounce Testosterone, let alone know what it is or isn't. So sure, there's still a big battle to be fought. Testosterone is responsible for every major achievement of mankind. It's responsible for modern civilization. They say necessity is the mother of invention, but beyond that, ambition is the mother of invention, and Testosterone is largely what drives ambition in both men and women.
I've also long maintained that Testosterone is the ultimate "recreational drug". Testosterone equals exhilaration, endless excitement about the prospects of life — excitement about challenges, opportunities, and of course, sex. I actually think the country as a whole would be a lot better if everyone spent a little time maximizing their Testosterone levels, either through lifestyle changes or supplements or injections.
It would toughen everyone up. The world would be a lot better place without all that whining.
Of course, I'll be the first to admit that Testosterone is also responsible for a lot of the bad stuff. You probably wouldn't have as many wars if the world were run by eunuchs.
"Testosterone and its partner, manhood, is like standing on a bluff overlooking the ocean on a sunny day and diving in, emerging from the spray of the surf into the cool breeze like King Neptune, only to be greeted by something beautiful with big tits lying in the sand."
— page 47
Testosterone: You like discussing politics. Any Testosterone related agendas you'd push if you were Commander in Chief?
TC: Prostitution would be legal. Pole dancing would be on the curriculum of all public schools. Children would be neither seen nor heard. Those German guys who invented spray-on condoms would be Saddam Husseined on national television.
Whadda' ya' think? Wanna vote for me?
Okay, I'm kidding...sort of. I actually wouldn't want to be President. Dictator, yes. That way, I wouldn't have to attend committee meetings, which are one of the worst inventions of modern civilization.
Testosterone: You caught a lot of flack once by simply writing two words: "Experience sex." Why the flack?
TC: Hypocrisy. Tight assed-ness.
Sex is just such an integral part of our psyche and existence in general that I feel perfectly comfortable acknowledging its importance. C'mon, everything most men do is for sex, either overtly or subconsciously. Why seek money and power if not for sex? Why get up in the morning if not for sex?
Helen's was the face that launched a thousand ships, not Larry's.
By the same token, some guys, paradoxically, work so hard for a goal that they actually forget what the goal was. They deny themselves carnal pleasures because they have to work, but believe me, on their deathbed, they'll wish they'd gotten laid more often instead of wishing they'd nabbed one more account.
"If I were single and really out on the prowl, I'd limit my hunting to the gym. It's hard to hide serious flaws (cellulite, a vestigial penis, etc.) when you're wearing shorts and a sports bra. Why, many was the time, in my single days, when I would meet some seemingly attractive woman at a night club, take her home, and peel off her tube top and skintight Lycra slacks, only to be engulfed in mounds of flesh that, suddenly freed, had come gushing out like dough out of a Pop 'N Fresh muffin canister that Mom had whacked against the kitchen counter."
— page 217
Testosterone: Where can readers pick up the book? Can Blue whales order in bulk for a mass book burning outside Wal-Mart?
TC: That's funny you say that. I was just thinking that the best way for this book to get some publicity was if some influential group that hated it got a hold of it. They'd spend so much energy assailing it that everyone else would pick it up to see what all the fuss was about.
Anyhow, for now, the only place you can buy the book is here at Testosterone Nation. It sells for $19.99. Later on, hopefully, it'll be available at Amazon.com and maybe, if enough T-Nation members buy a copy, at local bookstores. I'll admit that it would be fun to scorch the eyeballs of average Americans.
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