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What to Do (and Not Do) In A Fistfight

I have never really been in a fistfight. I've had some schoolyard scuffles, sure, but never had to launch or dodge a closed-fist punch. I was reminded of this rather abruptly the other day, when I saw a friend of mine nearly get in a fistfight in a parking lot. I was trying to back out of a space, but had been parked in by someone who'd rudely left their car directly behind mine. My friend said he'd "take care of it," which I assumed meant he would go inside the business we were parked in front of and see whose car it was. Instead, the next thing I know I see my friend getting into the offending car, which was apparently unlocked, and searching around for keys -- as if he were going to move it himself. Just as I was about to tell him I didn't think this was such a hot idea, the screaming began. A very large, very angry man was running toward him, yelling all sorts of things I can't type in polite company, so I ran over, thinking my friend was in need of a little backup.

Luckily, he wasn't -- the guy never threw a punch, though he looked like he was about to -- and the huge serrated scar along his neck made me think he had thrown (and received) plenty before. But I began to wonder what I would've done if he had -- and here's what I found out.

Don't get in one

This may seem obvious, but if you can use diplomacy rather than your fists, do it. There are around 16,000 murders in the US every year, and a not-insignificant proportion of those are committed with fists rather than guns. So if you don't want to kill someone or go to jail, do your level best to stay out of fistfights. Of course, we recognize that that's not always possible, especially among people of certain age groups; a survey reported that 8% of high school students get into fights every month that require treatment by a doctor or nurse. So it happens.

Don't use your fists

Unless you happen to have a roll of quarters handy to wrap your fist around, closed-fist punching is a recipe for compound-fracture disaster. Instead, use the heel of your hand or your elbow.

Find an escape route

Real fights are nothing like movie fights -- they're messy, they rarely end in someone being knocked out cold and they're usually over before you know it. The really dangerous fights, though, are the ones that don't end quickly, so increase your chances of a speedy end by making sure you've got a clear shot at the exit and beelining toward it at your first opportunity. Run, and swallow your pride ... not your teeth.

Don't kick 'em while they're down

Homer Simpson's famous advice on how to fight goes something like this: "First you gotta shriek like a woman, then keep sobbing till he turns away in disgust -- and that's when it's time to kick some back!" We'd like to officially discourage this technique, or really the kicking of any backs, spleens, faces etc. Spleens get ruptured, backs get broken, people go to the hospital and to jail. This ain't Mortal Kombat, and no fancy pile-driver or stomach-kick is needed to "finish him!"

Go for the soft spots

In the interest of ending the fight quickly, aim your attack(s) at one of your aggressor's "soft spots" -- the gut, the groin, the throat. The eyes are another soft spot, but we recommend a handful of sand in the face rather than anything pointy. You don't want to blind anyone, just incapacitate them for long enough to get out of there.

Bite!

Take a lesson from Tyson: the bite may be one of the most underestimated tools in the fighter's arsenal. It's effective, it hurts like the devil and if it's done through the clothes, it doesn't leave much of a mark. (The same can't be said for a punch in the face; giving someone a black eye will land you in jail much faster.)

The ol' steak-on-the-black-eye trick

If you wind taking a punch to the face, get something cold on it right away to stop the swelling. In the old days, Real Men used to lay a tenderized steak over their bruised ocular cavity with a bag of frozen vegetables on the other side -- and as it turns out, this isn't such a bad idea. (Just make sure you rinse off the meat to reduce the risk of some bacterial infection spreading to your tender new wound.) The meat form-fits to your eye/check perfectly, it distributes the cold of the frozen peas/ice pack very evenly over your face, and a nice piece of tri-tip draped over your face tends to make you feel like a badass. All good things.

Learn the Moves

Esquire has some great tips on how to move your body:

How to take down a bigger dude:
1. Knock his hands to one side.
2. When his body turns, put your head outside his front knee and your shoulders into his hips. Wrap your arms just above the back of his knees.
3. Pull in and to the side.

How to Escape a Headlock: Turn your head into the crook of his elbow and push it up over your head.

How You Should Stand: Crouch low, knees bent and with your hands up, like you're defending someone in basketball.

Decide if you're willing to throw a sucker punch

You're in a fistfight -- the rules of gentlemanly conduct are more or less out the window already. Some people might be too proud for this move, but I saw a friend pull it once, and it was surprisingly effective: his pretended to stop the fight and reconcile, went to shake hands with his opponent, and then -- bam, straight to the chin. Then he ran away like a little girl. Pathetic, yes, but effective.

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entertainment
13 Fascinating Facts About Nina Simone
Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Nina Simone, who would’ve celebrated her 85th birthday today, was known for using her musical platform to speak out. “I think women play a major part in opening the doors for better understanding around the world,” the “Strange Fruit” songstress once said. Though she chose to keep her personal life shrouded in secrecy, these facts grant VIP access into a life well-lived and the music that still lives on.

1. NINA SIMONE WAS HER STAGE NAME.

The singer was born as Eunice Waymon on February 21, 1933. But by age 21, the North Carolina native was going by a different name at her nightly Atlantic City gig: Nina Simone. She hoped that adopting a different name would keep her mother from finding out about her performances. “Nina” was her boyfriend’s nickname for her at the time. “Simone” was inspired by Simone Signoret, an actress that the singer admired.

2. SHE HAD HUMBLE BEGINNINGS.


Getty Images

There's a reason that much of the singer's music had gospel-like sounds. Simone—the daughter of a Methodist minister and a handyman—was raised in the church and started playing the piano by ear at age 3. She got her start in her hometown of Tryon, North Carolina, where she played gospel hymns and classical music at Old St. Luke’s CME, the church where her mother ministered. After Simone died on April 21, 2003, she was memorialized at the same sanctuary.

3. SHE WAS BOOK SMART...

Simone, who graduated valedictorian of her high school class, studied at the prestigious Julliard School of Music for a brief period of time before applying to Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music. Unfortunately, Simone was denied admission. For years, she maintained that her race was the reason behind the rejection. But a Curtis faculty member, Vladimir Sokoloff, has gone on record to say that her skin color wasn’t a factor. “It had nothing to do with her…background,” he said in 1992. But Simone ended up getting the last laugh: Two days before her death, the school awarded her an honorary degree.

4. ... WITH DEGREES TO PROVE IT.

Simone—who preferred to be called “doctor Nina Simone”—was also awarded two other honorary degrees, from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Malcolm X College.

5. HER CAREER WAS ROOTED IN ACTIVISM.

A photo of Nina Simone circa 1969

Gerrit de Bruin

At the age of 12, Simone refused to play at a church revival because her parents had to sit at the back of the hall. From then on, Simone used her art to take a stand. Many of her songs in the '60s, including “Mississippi Goddamn,” “Why (The King of Love Is Dead),” and “Young, Gifted and Black,” addressed the rampant racial injustices of that era.

Unfortunately, her activism wasn't always welcome. Her popularity diminished; venues didn’t invite her to perform, and radio stations didn’t play her songs. But she pressed on—even after the Civil Rights Movement. In 1997, Simone told Interview Magazine that she addressed her songs to the third world. In her own words: “I’m a real rebel with a cause.”

6. ONE OF HER MOST FAMOUS SONGS WAS BANNED.

Mississippi Goddam,” her 1964 anthem, only took her 20 minutes to an hour to write, according to legend—but it made an impact that still stands the test of time. When she wrote it, Simone had been fed up with the country’s racial unrest. Medger Evers, a Mississippi-born civil rights activist, was assassinated in his home state in 1963. That same year, the Ku Klux Klan bombed a Birmingham Baptist church and as a result, four young black girls were killed. Simone took to her notebook and piano to express her sentiments.

“Alabama's gotten me so upset/Tennessee made me lose my rest/And everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam,” she sang.

Some say that the song was banned in Southern radio stations because “goddam” was in the title. But others argue that the subject matter is what caused the stations to return the records cracked in half.

7. SHE NEVER HAD A NUMBER ONE HIT.

Nina Simone released over 40 albums during her decades-spanning career including studio albums, live versions, and compilations, and scored 15 Grammy nominations. But her highest-charting (and her first) hit, “I Loves You, Porgy,” peaked at #2 on the U.S. R&B charts in 1959. Still, her music would go on to influence legendary singers like Roberta Flack and Aretha Franklin.

8. SHE USED HER STYLE TO MAKE A STATEMENT.

Head wraps, bold jewelry, and floor-skimming sheaths were all part of Simone’s stylish rotation. In 1967, she wore the same black crochet fishnet jumpsuit with flesh-colored lining for the entire year. Not only did it give off the illusion of her being naked, but “I wanted people to remember me looking a certain way,” she said. “It made it easier for me.”

9. SHE HAD MANY HOMES.

New York City, Liberia, Barbados, England, Belgium, France, Switzerland, and the Netherlands were all places that Simone called home. She died at her home in Southern France, and her ashes were scattered in several African countries.

10. SHE HAD A FAMOUS INNER CIRCLE.

During the late '60s, Simone and her second husband Andrew Stroud lived next to Malcolm X and his family in Mount Vernon, New York. He wasn't her only famous pal. Simone was very close with playwright Lorraine Hansberry. After Hansberry’s death, Simone penned “To Be Young, Gifted and Black” in her honor, a tribute to Hansberry's play of the same title. Simone even struck up a brief friendship with David Bowie in the mid-1970s, who called her every night for a month to offer his advice and support.

11. YOU CAN STILL VISIT SIMONE IN HER HOMETOWN.

Photo of Nina Simone
Amazing Nina Documentary Film, LLC, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

In 2010, an 8-foot sculpture of Eunice Waymon was erected in her hometown of Tryon, North Carolina. Her likeness stands tall in Nina Simone Plaza, where she’s seated and playing an eternal song on a keyboard that floats in midair. Her daughter, Lisa Simone Kelly, gave sculptor Zenos Frudakis some of Simone’s ashes to weld into the sculpture’s bronze heart. "It's not something very often done, but I thought it was part of the idea of bringing her home," Frudakis said.

12. YOU'VE PROBABLY HEARD HER MUSIC IN RECENT HITS.

Rihanna sang a few verses of Simone’s “Do What You Gotta Do” on Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo. He’s clearly a superfan: “Blood on the Leaves” and his duet with Jay Z, “New Day,” feature Simone samples as well, along with Lil’ Wayne’s “Dontgetit,” Common’s “Misunderstood” and a host of other tracks.

13. HER MUSIC IS STILL BEING PERFORMED.

Nina Revisited… A Tribute to Nina Simone was released along with the Netflix documentary in 2015. On the album, Lauryn Hill, Jazmine Sullivan, Usher, Alice Smith, and more paid tribute to the legend by performing covers of 16 of her most famous tracks.

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Animals
Watch the First-Ever Footage of a Baby Dumbo Octopus
NOAA, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
NOAA, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Dumbo octopuses are named for the elephant-ear-like fins they use to navigate the deep sea, but until recently, when and how they developed those floppy appendages were a mystery. Now, for the first time, researchers have caught a newborn Dumbo octopus on tape. As reported in the journal Current Biology, they discovered that the creatures are equipped with the fins from the moment they hatch.

Study co-author Tim Shank, a researcher at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, spotted the octopus in 2005. During a research expedition in the North Atlantic, one of the remotely operated vehicles he was working with collected several coral branches with something strange attached to them. It looked like a bunch of sandy-colored golf balls at first, but then he realized it was an egg sac.

He and his fellow researchers eventually classified the hatchling that emerged as a member of the genus Grimpoteuthis. In other words, it was a Dumbo octopus, though they couldn't determine the exact species. But you wouldn't need a biology degree to spot its resemblance to Disney's famous elephant, as you can see in the video below.

The octopus hatched with a set of functional fins that allowed it to swim around and hunt right away, and an MRI scan revealed fully-developed internal organs and a complex nervous system. As the researchers wrote in their study, Dumbo octopuses enter the world as "competent juveniles" ready to jump straight into adult life.

Grimpoteuthis spends its life in the deep ocean, which makes it difficult to study. Scientists hope the newly-reported findings will make it easier to identify Grimpoteuthis eggs and hatchlings for future research.

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