How to be a badass?
September 9, 2007 9:14 PM   Subscribe

How does Clint Eastwood light matches on his stubble? I am really not cool, and learning this talent would make me cool. Thanks.
posted by trim17 to Science & Nature (20 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I could be really wrong about this...however, I think I remember reading about matches that will light on anything (I believe they have white tips). But, I also think I remember reading that these are not produced any longer because of obvious dangers.
posted by AlliKat75 at 9:17 PM on September 9, 2007

Yeah, those aren't safety matches.
posted by orthogonality at 9:26 PM on September 9, 2007

They're called strike anywhere matches, and you can strike them, well... anywhere.

In truth, you'll need something finely rough that will provide some of friction. A rock, your zipper, even a rough seam on blue jeans is often enough. You can also light the heads of two of them together for a neat trick. Stubble would be tricky, but I'm sure it's possible. We had great fun with these things back in boy scouts.

Incidentally, they're also used to make things like tennis ball bombs, since they just require just a little friction to get started. Use appropriate caution when dealing with them.
posted by chrisamiller at 9:31 PM on September 9, 2007

I think you just have to be Clint or toughish for that.
I used to do it off my teeth or one handed off a thumbnail.
posted by Iron Rat at 9:42 PM on September 9, 2007

Lighting them off my broken, casted arm was fun. But i doubt that lighting strike anywhere matches on stubble would be possible with the type of matches they produce these days.
posted by Widepath at 9:49 PM on September 9, 2007

I've struck matches off my jeans and the edge of my shoe-sole since I was a wee lass. It really is incredibly badass.

(you can also do that thing where you flip your Zippo open and light it by running the wheel along your jeans, and it's still pretty badass. Just don't set your leg on fire, as it is far less badass unless you're willing to stand there and calmly burn)
posted by padraigin at 9:51 PM on September 9, 2007 [2 favorites]

He lights them on his stubble in the movies using a technique called a "special effect" (wikipedia page). This is not something which can be done outside of the movies. Unless of course I'm wrong, in which case you can.
posted by pwally at 9:59 PM on September 9, 2007 [2 favorites]

From some places online, it would appear that the only place nowadays to get strike anywhere matches is from a company called Penley, and that the only people selling these on the internet are River Junction.

Also, it would appear that true strike anywhere matches are a serious fire hazard if you have children or rodents(!). So, watch out.
posted by TypographicalError at 10:46 PM on September 9, 2007

Seeing as it's Sunday and I've got a fine weekend stubble going, and I happen to have a box of Diamond Strike Anywhere Matches, I just spent five minutes dragging a match across my face.

I do not think it's possible--as rough as my face feels, when I drag the match across it, it doesn't feel like it's providing the right kind of friction. Try rubbing the side of a pencil or pen across your stubble. It's not really that much friction.

Perhaps my modern day skin-care regimen has softened my stubble. Try wandering the desert, with hot sun and dry air, and nary a Neutragena product in sight, and let us know how it goes.
posted by IvyMike at 10:47 PM on September 9, 2007 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: I looked up the "Special Effects" thing. It seems really complicated to me. Am I supposed hire someone from DreamWorks, and then they will follow me around and light the matches for me? Isn't that somewhat inconvenient?
posted by trim17 at 10:49 PM on September 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: @IvyMike:

I tried using a Zippo on my two day stubble. If I jam it against my jawbone, it sounds like a spark is produced, though I can't be sure because I can't actually see it.
posted by trim17 at 10:54 PM on September 9, 2007

Walmart (yes, boo hiss etc.) carries Diamond Strike Anywhere matches.
posted by jamaro at 11:02 PM on September 9, 2007

Try this instead. Preferably when you've got a drink in your other hand. Just realize that it's really easy for something like this to come off as cheesy and trying too hard. The times I got the best reactions from this was when I did it out of necessity without thinking about it.
posted by JakeLL at 11:04 PM on September 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

If you can learn to strike a match off your fingernail, it's pretty easy to give the appearance that you're striking it off your stubble. Just be sure to "drag" forwards, under your chin, and to thumb "flick" after you've cleared your chin. Really important bit, that bears repeating: Flick after you clear your chin. [Hint for novices learning to strike off your thumbnail: Flip your thumb away from the match head, instead of chipping the match head towards your palm, to avoid nasty results from trapping burning sulfur under your thumbnail, or deflecting sizzling embers into the skin of your palm.]
posted by paulsc at 11:18 PM on September 9, 2007

Sorry to double comment, but in the interests of safety suggestions for the novice, I also suggest learning to blink in coordinated fashion with your thumb flick. It's really easy to send small, sizzling ember fragments containing phosphorous off your thumb flick, and you don't want to chance getting these in your eyes. Helps to rotate your wrist down and away from your face for the match flare, too, as flaring matches themselves occasionally throw hot sparks. Once the match has flared, just smoothly rotate your wrist up to light your stogie.

You probably ought to learn and practice behind safety googles.
posted by paulsc at 11:34 PM on September 9, 2007

Also, you can light a safety match off a regular pane of glass. I haven't done it in some time, but it can most certainly be done. From memory the trick was to press quite firmly against the glass and slide the match along rapidly. You don't need to press so hard you risk breaking the glass.

This could be cool if you light off a glass tabletop, or maybe (don't know if it's possible) you could learn to light a match off a beer glass or bottle.
posted by tomble at 5:38 AM on September 10, 2007

if you're already uncool, this trick has the serious potential to make you look like a giagantic asshole, especially if it goes awry, but even if it doesn't. it's something the young Woody Allen would do to try to impress a girl, and set his head on fire.

please reconsider. the first rule of cool is, don't try to be cool.
posted by matteo at 5:46 AM on September 10, 2007

Maybe it's the brand, maybe it's the feds, maybe it's time for the damn kids to get off my lawn, but the Strike Anywhere's I can get these days suck. You can maybe strike them on concrete, and a few other good surfaces but not anywhere. I think Diamond is the brand I've bought here.

When I was a kid we'd get Ohio Blue Tip Strike Anywhere and you really could strike them anywhere - jeans, shoe soles, another match, thumbnails, windowglass. Anywhere. They were great.

But I can't find Ohio Blue Tips here. Maybe they are still good.
posted by dirtdirt at 6:18 AM on September 10, 2007

Folks sell boxes of old Ohio Blue Tips on eBay, if you want to take a chance they'll still work.
posted by mediareport at 7:07 AM on September 10, 2007

If I were doing this for a movie and lighting the match under my chin, I'd use some adhesive and attach a little sandpaper there. I doubt you can light a match on actual stubble. Strike anywheres require some friction and a dry surface. You face isn't really good for that.
posted by chairface at 10:10 AM on September 10, 2007

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