Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Birchbox October 2014: Sports and stuff

It's that time of month again, boys and girls! Birchbox showed up in my mailbox all dressed up as a football because they teamed up with the FX show The League. This was the heaviest box I've received to date, which is mostly attributed to the fact that they literally sent me a package of rocks. The theme was something to do with being a fan of something, I think it was in relation to some sport... There really is no way to know for sure.

Birchbox sends me samples of stuff that makes me smell nice.

A very cryptic box.

The lineup (*not intended to be a sports reference)

Warning: Not for use on face.

Not complaining or anything, but I feel like they could call this thing “Baxter Box” with the amount of Baxter of California samples they send me. Again, not complaining because the vast majority of samples from this company I love. I was thoroughly ecstatic about getting another shaving cream sample, because shaving is the best especially when you use a safety razor setup. That elation was short lived. This stuff was shaving cream in the same way that sand is an asian stock exchange market. There was virtually no lather which left no reference as to where I should pass next. I’m used to a large puffy cloud on my face. It worked poorly with my shaving brush, and only slightly better when I lathered it on with my hand. I had to use far more of this sample than I wished to and on top of it all It didn’t smell nice, didn’t feel nice and I eventually just gave up in favor of my Proraso shaving cream. Needless to say I was completely devastated beyond consolation.

For the viking in your life.
Jack Black Hand Healer

I am not a not a hard man. This is a product geared towards men that, I’m assuming, are oarsmen on viking long ships or lumberjacks. I thought it worked just fine, I allowed my wife to give it a shot and she seemed to think it did the trick well enough. Slightly greasy, but very moisture rich (I think that’s a thing) it more or less worked as advertised, but wasn't anything particularly special. Again, I need to emphasize I work in an office with no windows for 10 hours a day. I am not the target demographic, maybe once I take up whaling or rock climbing or shuffle board I can give a more accurate review.

Smell like a beach bum!
Das Boom everything wash

In regards to shower gel, I’m used to scents with names like “Irish Spring” and “Activ3” that use adjectives for describing their smell that are only appropriate for catastrophic forces of nature. While I, of course, enjoy smelling like a hurricane I was given the opportunity to try something entirely new! According to the bottle I was embarking on offactory adventure that would leave me smelling of rum, smoke and dirt… roughly the same scent that a vagabond living on the beach might sport. Of course this alcoholic-tripping-in-the-dirt-after-a-bonfire scent is spiced up enough to be socially acceptable. It’s a nice all-in-one kind of deal that lathers nicely on hair and offers a unique and manly smell... I love it.

literally just rocks.

W&P Mason Stones

Three words: reusable ice cubes. The future of beverage cooling rests solely on this concept alone. At least that’s what the gift section of any department store would tell you based on the amount of whiskey stones crammed onto their crude wire shelves. Receiving a set of whiskey stones was pretty much the ideal sample. I have always been curious but never wanted to spend the money on purchasing a set. Take that with the addition that I apparently don’t have anyone in my family inconsiderate enough to purchase that particular random piece of crap as a quick gift Christmas gift for me. I should look upon that fact with gratitude and affection, but I don’t. Thankfully, Birchbox saved the day! There are a number of issues with these rocks. First and foremost, they don’t do a fantastic job of cooling down beverages. They fail at their primary directive. The second caveat is that they are rocks. Mixing that fact with a hefty dose of gravity and a close proximity to teeth certainly makes me nervous. and third, while they’re smooth, the offer little surface space making them almost useless for skipping across a pond. On the plus side they look pretty sweet. If I ever build that terrarium I’ll have a boss Stonehenge replica.

No nearly enough in this bottle for a double-pits-to-chesty.
Atelier Cologne: Absolute Santal Carmin

I think it’s become a ritualistic phase for western male adolescents to first love and wholeheartedly embrace overbearing aerosol based cologne and then slowly come to abhor it as is accustomed to nature. thanks to nostalgia we seem to have echoes of this barbaric practice reverberating into our adult lives. Such is the case with this cologne. It’s basically a less invasive version of Axe “Dark Temptation”. I mean, for all I know it could be the same thing, but due to a higher dollar amount you’re not as inclined to spray half a bottle on yourself. I don’t mind it, but my lady friend (wife) is not a fan.
It's like The one ring of the kitchen except not like that at all.
Olo's Chipotle Paste

At first I was confused. Chipotle is not generally something I would choose to rub into my hair, wash my face with or use to lather on my body. Then it dawned on me. This isn’t a cosmetic product! This is something I can eat! This is the highlight of the box, because I love food and I love spicey and I love chipotle and this was all of those things! I used it on a breakfast sandwich, making a nice smoky aioli sauce (I just put some of the paste in my mayonnaise), eggs and a turkey sandwich. This is earth shattering, and I now own a surprisingly large bottle of a product that can add “chipotle” to the name of whatever I choose to eat. It’s the kind of power I’ve always dreamed of having.

This box was packed full, which made it all that more satisfying to try everything. The biggest surprise was the Chipotle paste which is delicious. The Das Boom body wash smells like dirt in a way that I absolutely love, maybe it's due to some primal instinct that I've lost while working in an office.

Birchbox is $10 a month for Women and $20 a month for men. The men's box includes a lifestyle item, (this month was the Mason Stones). Here is my referral link and consider this my personal recommendation for a service that has introduced me to some pretty great products.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Awkwardly Early September Birchbox

Well you parasitic sacks of entrails, the swag is mine. Once again Birchbox delivered my box about a week before the month ended, so I have been a little late in getting this review out, but none of you would have known that had I not been so honest. I genuinely cannot remember what this month's theme was supposed to be, but the boys at Birchbox Man teamed up with Bonobos which is apparently a store that sells overpriced clothing that looks like it's well worn fair-trade crap. It's a hipsters paradise. But we don't like to be called hipsters. We hate labels. I think I'm just bitter that I didn't get one of the Golden Tickets this month for a $100 gift card to the Bonobos store, they have some fantastic plum colored dress slacks. It was either buy the pants or buy a new graphics card and I have to see what all this Skyrim hype is about.

The goods

I keep it in it's protective sleeve to retain the value.

A man’s sophistication, class and refinement can wholeheartedly be judged by the quality of his pocket square. Therein lies the problem; they rarely look good when not used in conjunction with a tuxedo. While the opening sentence is hyperbole, it’s hardly far from the insinuations that the BirchBox community would have you believe based on their included marketing literature. This lovely little 100% cotton handkerchief is that it deceptively looks like something I would consider a “casual pocket square”. A dash of spice to add to a business casual outfit that isn’t too flashy but adds a little oomph to your ensemble. 3 steps into the office and I quickly learned there is no such thing as a “casual pocket square”. I had a literal target in my breast pocket. I had to constantly informing coworkers that I wished for them to address my face and not my chest. I may as well have gone worn my tuxedo complete with red bow tie and cumber-bun.

Was easily confused as a roach-clip

Is there anything more infuriating, on a primal level, than a necktie being out of place? A gust of wind, jumping jacks, parkour; all of these become culprits to the atrocities that can be avoided with a tie clip. I’ve never experienced the sheer joy of NOT having to worry about the essential accessory running rampant. 6 years of speech and debate in the Home School Legal Defense Association and not once was I able to prevent the embarrassment of an unkempt tie at bay. Why? Because I wasn’t equipped with the correct tool to protect myself. Never again. With a rugged wood finish, I can clip ties to my shirt with style and comfort.

The Emperor's New Deodorant.  

I require adequate underarm protection. Not necessarily for myself, but for those I am closest to...proximity wise that is. My skepticism for a more natural deodorant was not lessened with this sample. I have not had the opportunity to give this a rigorous trial, which is disconcerting due to the fact that after only 5 hours I already feel the vulnerability of impending body stank. Perhaps that’s a testament to the product. While I’m used to a much stronger scent, this one has very little. Despite my concerns no one has complained, cringed or died due to it’s ineffectiveness. This is not my favorite deodorant, but it will work in an emergency far better than using a sample of cherry blossom body butter from Bath & Body Works. The real test comes this weekend when I prepare to spend a weekend at PAX with thousands of sweaty nerds.

Washin faces all day e'r day.

I’m in the market for a good face wash. I’ve grown accustomed to a cheap walmart brand that smells like candy, which is making it all that much harder to switch to something that smells closer to a car freshener than my delicious zours. Billy Jealousy offers an effective wash that has a pleasant enough smell, albeit light. The consistency is similar to that of suntan lotion but thankfully not greasy. It toats exfoliating properties. It’s as exfoliating as a down pillow. I’ll have a better idea on how much I enjoy it after a few more uses, but initially it’s just alright.

Sounds delicious!

It kills me that there are marketing jobs out there with the sole purpose to create exotic sounding descriptions of products. Mental images of sandy paradises imprint themselves into the minds of readers with only the use of words. You know where this cologne took my wife? Asthma City. With a few sprays I hold her respiratory life in my hands, and I don’t know if that’s a power I’m ready to wield. I personally didn’t find the scent too invasive, if anything almost too light. Fortunately for the misses I didn’t go on any kind of crazy cologne bath with it. The smell is musky and rugged with written descriptions of spices that would leave anyone preparing a proper Turkey dinner drooling. Of the three sample scents I’ve been mailed it is by far my least favorite.

It was a fine box, but not a spectacular one. There was very little wow factor to it. The face wash was nice, but as I said, they pocket square was not as practical as I had anticipated, perhaps it'll grow on me. That leather bracelet I railed on lat month? I ended up wearing it quite a bit, so I'm either a liar for the sake of entertainment or I have more changes of heart than Pharaoh when dealing with the Israelites. I think Birchbox is trying to cause a cultural shift in my brain. I have two styles that are at constant combat with each other, causing my general appearance to remain in flux. Having spent the last weekend at PAX I would say the no shaving, free T-shirt wearing persona has taken the lead this month.

If you're interested in trying out Birchbox follow this referral link!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

PAXing it up: My Top 5

The Penny Arcade Expo has become the mecca to all game loving nerds. It’s essentially a four day feast in which developers give consumers a chance to test out new games, and see what's in store for the future. It also offers opportunities to revisit or discover games that have been on the market for a while. This was my first year attending, and while I only managed to make it to the last two days I think I got the basic gist of it. Deodorant is optional and you can pass gas anywhere you want because with 75,000 people crowded together no one will hear anything and it will be impossible to pinpoint the source. I managed to get my NES Tetris cartridge signed by the creator of the game,Alexey Pajitnov, which I was pretty excited about. While in line I also learned something that I should have assumed all along, pro-gaming is taken seriously. Projected on a giant screen above the autograph line were two gentlemen in suits commentating on a pro Halo match and it sounded almost exactly like a football game.

Anywho, I’m going to give my top five games I experienced while at PAX Prime 2014. Shmee also has a similar list, which I recommend checking out.

I need to preface this with a few things. I was fed all the delicious food I could eat (including bacon maple donuts as an horderve)  and given absolutely anything I wanted to drink while playing this game. Then to top things off I was given a T-shirt and mousepad. That combined with the exclusivity of the event and the atmosphere of where we played it made it the best part of my PAX experience. That aside, Fortnight was an absolute blast to play. You and a team of 3 friends must farm resources by destroying your generated environment, then take the gained resources and build forts and weapons to defend against zombies that come at night.

The most apt description of this game is a mixture of Team Fortress 2 and Minecraft. It’s hilarious how you can destroy almost anything to get resources, and the AI associated with the monsters is always changing in order to adapt to your strategy. Different levels gave us different goals, so we had a chance to try out a lot of what the game had to offer.

The Shadowrun universe enters the tabletop deck builder world. It’s definitely not a casual gaming card game...which is kind of a bummer. It was a blast to play, and the cooperative game play was unique and only rivaled by the combat system.

I was really impressed with the ease of learning the game combined with the large amount of possibilities associated with a deck builder. True to the Shadowrun universe, runners can upgrade themselves by the use of "karma" a type of currency used to buy new skills for the next time you play. It’s expensive and has some quirks that I could have done without, but it’s a blast.

Valiant Entertainment is home to a group of little known comic book characters that I was completely unaware of until having an opportunity to play a Tabletop RPG based in their universe. I felt that the demo didn’t give enough time to fully understand or enjoy the setting of the RPG, but the rules were dead simple, which is insanely awesome. When you approach something like Shadowrun or Pathfinder, you’re dealing with a dictionary full of rules that can cause your gaming sessions and character creation to drag on for a proverbial eternity. I showed up after the rules were explained, sat down and was able to pick up the rules as we played. Despite having such a lite rule set, the game wasn’t lacking. you got to RP as superheroes, and it was easy to learn.

I got the opportunity to play as a super bubbly teenage girl with the ability to fly.

Essentially a simplified and themed version of egyptian War (rats/rat slap/rat screw/rat kill/whatever you call it). Each player has 6 lives and there is a deck with 3 types of cards. If you’re the first to slap the gun card and point at another player they lose a life, unless they managed to slap their base in time to protect themselves. If you slap the cannon and point the player loses a life regardless of if they slapped their base. If a bronco card pops up the first person to slap it loses a life, or the last person to slap their base if no one slapped the deck.  

It’s a simple, quick indie card game that’s competitive and gets your heart rate going. They’ve successfully completed their kickstarter so it should be hitting shelves soon. Or you can still back them and pre-order it for yourself.

Disney teamed up with Harmonix to create a more organized rhythm based Fruit Ninja. Using the Xbox Kinect, The game has the players perform a number of hand motions in order to gain points. The basic idea is that you’re conducting an orchestra. While not the most original concept, and certainly hitting on some familiar territory, that didn’t prevent Disney from going all out on their booth. I played it twice and enjoyed myself probably more than I had any right to. It’s a silly dancing game, in the same vein as just dance, sans silly moves. Like Guitar hero, the music is dependent on your motions matching those on screen. When you’re in the midst of it, you and another player are syncing movements and controlling every inch of the music (not really, but it feels like it). There are other elements to the game, but I’m sure anyone can understand the basic gist, and if I owned an Xbox, I would be buying this.

Here's a little game-play footage for you.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Highlights of my Future Vacation

Roughly 4 years ago I moved from San Juan Capistrano, California to Lynden, Washington. The culture shock of moving from the ever busy and always entertaining paradise that is Orange County to the small, primarily Dutch farming town in the Pacific Northwest was jarring, to say the least. With my family remaining in California, it has afforded me the unique opportunity to spend vacations in a part of the country that I grew up in. One of these vacations is rapidly approaching and below I will list a series of vacation things that I hope to partake in. If you're ever in the area I can recommend almost all of these on first hand experience. Just a heads up, this list will primarily consist of food and will not contain Disneyland (or the beach) because Disneyland is always the best choice when visiting Southern California.

Toast Box
In Westminster California is an eclectic, yet somehow generic Thai cafe. You can get food, bubble tea, and a number of desserts. When told that the crowning culinary achievement of this small establishment was something called "Toast Box" I was skeptical. It was described as a hollowed out loaf of bread with the insides chopped up, toasted and placed back inside the empty husk and drizzled with sweetened condensed milk. At the urging of my mother and siblings I gave in and tried made the trip to Westminster, where they didn't place a loaf of bread in front of me; they placed this:
That is a far cry from some toasted crumbs soaked in milk! This thing was cream cheese frosting, ice cream, sweetened condensed milk, fresh fruit, chunks of sweet (french toast sweet) bread and topped with a scrumptious macaroon! I mean, I love my family but if this had been described to me accurately in the first place I would have spent my whole vacation in the Tebo Tebo Tea Lounge. There was so much to this dessert, and all of it complimented each other so well, it was like your taste buds are holding court to a room full of extremely polite flavors all attempting to put the others before themselves.

Korean BBQ

There are a number of places that serve Korean BBQ, and I'm not familiar with the correct term, but I'm talking about an all you can eat joint where waiters bring you whatever raw meat you want and you grill it in the middle of your table. I made the foolish mistake of ordering a rather intimidating food; shrimp. As it turns out, shrimp doesn't come to you in their perfect pink little spirals, they've got antenna, legs and scales. I had to ask my restaurant neighbors how to even begin eating the monstrosities, and by the time I was finished with them I felt like the mercenaries in District 9. I enjoyed my meal at Gen Korean BBQ in Huntington beach. It was all you can eat, but if you didn't finish something you had to pay for it. Overall the quality was well worth the price and it was a delicious meal. 
 Medieval Times

Medieval Times is about the kitschiest dinner show around, and it is absolutely fantastic. Audiences are thrust into the midst of a Medieval tournament. Seating is sectioned so each group cheers on a specific knight for the fights. The food is pretty good, but it certainly fits the theme. Within a half hour of being in the building I was tearing into half a roast chicken with my bare hands while cheering for "The Red Knight". My cheering subsided as our knight was killed in the first bout. I spent the rest of the tournament sulking and drinking pepsin from my goblet. 

Elvis!? Karaoke Studio

I cannot sing. I enjoy singing on occasion, but that will never change the fact that I cannot do it. Because of this dichotomy, I have naturally been drawn to the popular Japanese business model of rented Karaoke rooms. These are small rooms that you rent for an hour or two with a group of friends with your own private Karaoke machine. You are free to sing your heart out to absolutely any genre you want and only the people you choose need suffer through a butchered rendition of  "Pretty Woman". Elvis!? Karaoke Studio in Costa Mesa is a small establishment that offers these amenities as well as too expensive refreshments. It's not the nicest place in the world, but it's a blast with the right group of people.

End of the Line Concert

On the subject of music; a couple friends of mine have joined a band and I'm excited to get to see them in concert while I'm in town. They've thrown together a little rock band called End of the Line and they sound fantastic. Give them a listen!


Pathfinder is a Pen and Paper RPG in which the players assume the roles of various adventurers in a land of magic and adventure. If there is a token nerd character in any movie you watch it's almost guaranteed that he's into these types of games. This game is similar to Dungeons & Dragons and I can't wait to sit down and force my parents to play a session and record the audio.

Honorable Mention: Irvine Woodbridge Movies 5 is a small theater in Irvine that shows movies that are not quite on blu-ray yet for $2. It is fantastic.

I don't know how many of these I will manage to check off my list in September as I will be busy sleeping on a beach or playing board games (it's my vacation, I'll do what I want).

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Martin and the Dentist part 1

It's been a while since I've released any fiction on this blog, so I may as well start with a weird one. Bellow is a short story that may or may not become a series of connected stories about a fictional man named Martin Montgomery. I hope you enjoy the first introduction to this little personal writing exercise of mine. I would love to hear your

BONUS: Now with 2 minute sticky note cover art!

Martin and the Dentist Part 1
  The scientific, theological and metaphysical implications of a man’s emotions violently ripping themselves from his being to become sentient life forms is a disturbing and puzzling notion to comprehend, let alone see. This is especially true when those emotions choose to begin manifesting themselves the day the man in question is scheduled to have his first root canal. Curiously, this is precisely what happened to Martin Montgomery, an unassuming 27 year old young man of an utterly dull mixture European descent and a hint of Japanese ancestry. Consequently he is completely unaware of this dash of Asian flavor to his bloodline. Like a large number of young caucasian men, he simply attributes his love of Japanese animation to some sort of pretentious notion that the Japanese animation film industry is lightyears ahead of the western industry in both style and story structure. Even comparing the two industry makes him chuckle smugly. He is mistaken, he likes it because it’s in his blood.

Martin enjoys the thrill of going to the dentist as much as the next guy; which is to say he enjoys it less than the notion of playing dodgeball with an irate pufferfish, but he wouldn’t mind giving Waterboarding a go if it meant skipping a trip to Dr. Brenton. Nevertheless after foolishly reading health consequences associated with NOT getting a much needed root canal on WebMD, he opted to subject himself to one of the last legal forms of torture in America.

The morning of his appointment, Martin’s day was indistinguishable from the previous 345 days (not counting weekends, of course). It’s all the usual rabble you see in movies. Picture a montage of a man observing his disheveled self in the mirror. His hair is laughably (not to the audience, but probably to the writer of the film) messy, he yawns exaggeratedly and begins brushing his tee- no. We’re skip all this.

Martin doesn’t sit down to a nice breakfast consisting of toast and eggs with a tall glass of orange juice set next to a hot mug of coffee. This is because he’s single and he’s actually human being and not some advertisers pipedream. He goes to Mcdonald’s and gets three breakfast burritos. His impending dental procedure is going to cost him more money than he spent on his trusty Oldsmobile, so he wants to save all the money he can. This is, however, a dietary habit he unsuccessfully attempts to kick after reading the WebMD article on high cholesterol.

Martin sat in the deceptively comfortable examination chair, awkwardly facing a wall that had the nerve to exist without so much as a single optimistic poster featuring a kitten clinging to a rope. Dr. Brenton waltzed into the room, which was no real feat as the room had no back wall. each exam room consisted of three walls. Rather than erecting a fourth wall with a door in the middle, the architect must have consulted a psychiatrist who informed him that a sense of camaraderie thrives among individuals suffering similar traumatic experiences together. Now Martin could clearly hear the shrill sound of small drills boring through tooth enamel, and the sharp grunts of pain emanating from the other patients wafted through the non-existent wall and door.

Dr. Brenton was the kind of woman who knew what she wanted and when she wanted it, and she was determined to dedicate all 349 pounds of her body weight to the sole purpose of hollowing out Martin’s upper left second molar. Martin donned a pair of dark glasses in order to retain some semblance of masculinity. It was futile, the tears flowed freely. The procedure didn’t start out as bad as he had anticipated. He was less annoyed with Dr. Brenton’s thick Boston accent than he was with the frequency in which she used it to make small talk that demanded a response. Removing one's mind from a given situation is a rigorous process that takes deep, deep concentration. It becomes exponentially more difficult when your skull is in a constant state of rattling.

“You hahdly need a proerceduh this invasive” she explained, offering information that would have been far more pertinent before the drilling started. “It’s bettah to get it ovah with though. Bettah Nah than latah.” Martin would have laughed if he hadn’t been so extremely uncomfortable. The roof of his mouth was the Sahara desert, hot, dry and cracking. The lower half of his mouth however had become the Atlantic ocean, a body of water he was more than capable of drowning in. Discomfort was ok. Even drowning was fine with Martin, just so long as this professional sadist didn’t snag a nerve. Which she promptly did.

“Why is she electrocuting my head? No. Wait, she’s just lit my mouth on fire, that’s all.” Martin thought to himself as he inhaled the entirely of the ocean resting at the base of his mouth and squealed like an infant banshee who was in need of a diaper change and a good feeding. The sharp sound and sudden jolt was unexpected by poor Dr. Brenton. She had assumed that this rather masculine looking fellow in dark shades was incapable of letting out such a high pitched plea for mercy and a swift death. Because of this she, much to the relief of the furniture in question, slipped off of her stool, and drove her drill through the remainder of the nerve. Martin saw a white light, that he knew wasn’t death’s sweet embrace, but he ran to it, just in case he was mistaken.

The pain coursed through his body in a way that reminded Martin of his 4th birthday in which he did not receive “Homeward Bound” on VHS, except that had been a deep depression and this was something else. sheer, raw and unfiltered pain. Martin was screaming, Dr. Brenton was screaming- or cheering for the Red Socks, Martin wasn’t sure- and the humanoid shape emerging from Martin’s shoulder was screaming as it protruded rapidly from his body. As the pain subsided Martin’s screams grew louder, fear replacing pain. In the corner was Dr. Brenton laughing at the scene, primarily due to the large amounts of Nitrous Oxide she was forcing herself to gulp down as a coping mechanism to the horror that was unfolding.

The now fully developed being plopped onto the floor of the dental office and with it plopped the remainder of that shockingly electric feeling in Martin’s mouth. The thing was no longer humanoid, it was human, a man to be exact, fully clothed in a pair of cheap gym shorts and a rumpled T-shirt.. Martin had, for all intents and purposes, given birth to a fine young man. Martin fainted and dreamt that he was staying up late worried sick about someone that was out well past their curfew.

When he woke, Dr. Brenton was white as a sheet and in a much less talkative mood. She had apparently placed the crown and finished up the rest of the procedure with no more people emerging out of Martin. As he signed the credit card receipt Martin attempted to approach the elephant that wasn’t so much in the room as it was the room itself. “What, uh. What was-”  “STAHP!” Martin and Dr. Brenton stared at each other. The procedure was the last one for the day, and everyone else had gone home before Martin was finished. It was just the two of them as the local soft rock station began it’s late afternoon “love songs” show saturated the air.They stared deep into each others eyes. Had a fully grown man not popped out of Martin and, more importantly, had Dr. Brenton been anyone else, Martin might have felt almost obligated to kiss her. However, it WAS Dr. Brenton and, though now he wasn’t 100% sure, he at one point during the procedure thought that a man just might have popped out of his shoulder.

The silence was long and uncomfortable, but it wasn’t eternal. two seconds before the bell indicating that someone had entered the office rang, Dr. Brenton went, as impossible as it seemed, even whiter. Martin turned around to face a grimacing individual that had features strikingly similar to his own and was wearing a crumpled T-shirt and black and blue gym shorts. Two words managed to escape his racing brain: “My son.” it was a stupid thing to say, honestly Martin wasn’t even sure why he said it. What he had anticipated to be a nightmare fueled by pain and anxiety was now standing before him, hunched over and grimacing. “Oxycodone.” the grimacing man replied in a gravelly voice that oozed pain. Martin began hyperventilating. He didn’t know what that meant, he didn’t know who or what he was looking at. Dr. Brenton knew one thing at least. “Hear!” she snapped, with no hint of her trademark accent. “Oxycodone.” she tossed a crumpled up prescription at the man that had just entered. It bounced off of his head and onto the ground. The man let out an exaggerated groan as the paper lightly hit him on the head. “Pick it up, will you Marty, my knee feels like it’s about to gnaw it’s way out of me.” Martin picked up the prescription and held it out to the man, wondering just what he meant about his knee. He then bowed politely to The dentist and then the man. It was a gesture he had never used before, but it seemed appropriate. He then swiftly left the office and decided to scour webMD for illnesses that affected ones memory and how exactly to contract them.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Get off my lawn, Birchbox. You're too early. August 2014

Embrace luxury you filthy swine.

Birchbox is trying it’s absolute hardest to convince me that it is August. My calendar disagrees. Despite it being the 29th day of July, I received my Birchbox in the mail yesterday, which is fantastic because I have very little patience in regards to when my anticipated mail arrives. For the uncultured swine that may read this and are unaware what Birchbox is I’ll clue you in. Birchbox sends me a few samples of grooming product and one lifestyle item every month in the mail. I pay them $20 and they make me smell like the manliest of roses; more commonly known as pine cones or moss rocks. My wife was using a lot of reverse psychology on me with this box. There was a lot of “that scents going to give me an asthma attack” and “That bracelet looks weird” so naturally I knew she loved the whole thing.
Good luck keeping your precious calluses.

Baxter of California; Moisturizer: I’m not really a lotion kind of guy. My problem isn’t necessarily that I enjoy cracked skin, it’s that I don’t want to reverse the years I’ve spent culturing these manly calluses on my hands. Seriously, they’re bound to pop up within a year or two at this rate. My fear is that if I apply lotion every night my hands will become indistinguishable from my wifes. That being said, this stuff isn’t greasy. The benefit of this is that your hands don’t feel like you’ve just massaged a hagfish and if you find yourself in a room that spontaneously catches fire you won’t be trapped because your hands are no longer compatible with standard door knobs. It’s a good lotion that does the trick with little scent and no grease.

Warning: Does Not Prevent Backney.

Ursa Major; Face Wash: Endless emerald fields of mint and rosemary violently erupt into your minds eye when the invigorating aroma of this face wash permeates your olfactory system. Until it suds up and blocks your nostrils so you breath out of your mouth and suddenly discover it tastes nothing like the smell. Suddenly those fields blur into a dark bitter world filled with sharp, irritating sensations. The effect is worsened by attempting to wake from the nightmare. Pain jabs into your retinas like hot needles should you attempt to raise your eyelids prematurely.. You can’t breathe, you can’t see and all you feel is pain. Aside from making a few minor mistakes while using this, the experience was quite pleasant and my skin felt nice and fresh. Would use again (with slightly more attention to caution).

Actually just a nice smelling rock.

Dr. Squatch; Pine Tar Soap Bar: This tar black bar of soap was responsible for an (arguably) pleasant aroma that I originally took to be bug spray permeating from my mail box. I can’t decide if this is the best bar of soap I’ve ever used or the worst. The bar itself smells like essence of pine-soul. That is to say the soul of a pine forest, not Pine-sol the stuff used to poison that little girl in The Sixth Sense. The Birchbox itself smelled like a concentrated dose. The soap smelled nice, but seemed to have left it’s strength lingering within the box. It contains chunks of oatmeal in it so that you get a nice exfoliating clean feeling. This furthers the illusion that you are in fact rubbing a pine cone against your more sensitive areas. And when they list pine tar as an ingredient, they aren’t kidding. This thing bleeds black, to the point where the bottom of my tub looks like a black hole. It’s the best smelling coal pinecone you’ll ever groom with. I think I love it.

Wait...This isn't Dapper Dan!!!!

English Laundry; Pomade: This is some Don Draper next level pomade right here. The goop has a silicone futuristic look and feel to it. I was skeptical when I scooped a small heap onto my fingers. My concern was this: What if Birchbox had successfully set up a subscription grooming business for the solitary purpose to prank thousands of paying customers into putting glue or acid or something on their head. The board members would laugh and laugh and I would look like a fool. Unlikely. I spread the concoction through my mop and suddenly had complete control of my otherwise anarchic hair. Neo learned Kung Fu in seconds using futuristic technology; I got nice hair. This is probably my most likely “re-buy”.

I don't even- I can't belie- What am I suppo- Huh?

Bison Made; Double Wrap Bracelet: I once left my home riding a schwinn one-speed bicycle wearing a fedora, boat shoes, and a deep V neck T-shirt. I was also wearing Rayban aviator shades and had my zune sitting snugly in my khaki thigh length shorts blasting NPR so that I wouldn’t have to trouble with my bluetooth headphones. I did this all for the sake of going to the local food co-op to pick up kale, greek yogurt and some coconut water. I felt less pretentious that day than the moment I put this leather scrap onto my wrist. This is seriously a thin strap of leather that’s meant to wrap around your wrist twice. That’s it. It wouldn’t be so bad if they didn’t claim the regular retail price to be $40. FORTY DOLLARS! We’re talking more than the Pathfinder core rulebook, more than a couple expansions for Smash Up, more than the Cornetto Trilogy on Blu Ray! Is it comfortable? sure, as far as much as a thin leather strap on your wrist can be. Does it look good? You bet! for a leather strap. Am I wearing it? Absolutely! I had to give it a fair test drive, and it’s at least worth the judgmental glances my wife gives it when she sees it smugly resting on my wrist. It’s like a hippie merit badge. Pretty soon I’ll be on my way to becoming a Woodstock scout (like Eagle Scout...get it? it sounded better in my head) like my sister, Julie. ***That top story never happened. I haven't succombed to that level yet.***

Julie covers her blemishes with bracelets. 

Conclusion: I was absolutely aware that this bracelet was a potential lifestyle item this month, but I was really rooting for the boxer shorts (again). Every month it seems like they’re giving out good quality boxer-briefs and let me tell you, there is nothing in the world so fantastic as wearing a brand new pair of high quality boxer-briefs. Try as I might, this leather wrist band would never pass for a pair of underwear. All in all, I’m still enamored with my subscription to Birchbox. I’m trying out products I would have never bought in a million years, and it’s awesome getting goodies sent to my door each month

If you’re interested in trying it out, the investment is small and in my opinion worth it. Men's box is $20 a month and Women's is $10 a month but comes with no lifestyle item. I get a bonus if you use this link, so use it.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Birchbox man: July 2014 review

The box is like a very impractical cardboard drawer. But isn't it cute manly? 

I have become an elite member of society, distinguishing myself from the common vermin that plague the majority of the surface of the world. I've earned this new position by paying $20 a month to an online company that sends me fancy soaps and lotions every month. Because of this, I look and smell like a 1970s department store mannequin. It’s fantastic. This month’s Birchbox was delivered far earlier than anticipated, which certainly helped boost that impatiencey vibe I've had going on lately. It contained a few surprises, the lifestyle item not being one of them, because I cheated and watched a “preview” video before obtaining my box-o-loot. Also, I need to point out that like 90% of the people that review Birchbox have a similar table as me. Enough chit-chat let’s get cracking on this review.

If I didn't want to, I wouldn't even have to look at the items in the box.

Alfred Lane “Bravado” Solid Cologne:  This is a cologne that you don't spritzing on, rather, you dab your fingers into the waxy concoction and massage it onto your "pulse points". Despite using cologne very infrequently, and never in the past while on vacation, I would say the tin and solid-state makes it a decent travel companion; though a little on the quiet side and terrible at road trip bingo. The scent is described as having hints of tobacco, gun smoke and victory. If a campfire decided to attend a Halloween party dressed as a sexy cowboy, it would smell like this. It’s a very manly scent, but since that term is in constant flux I would say it’s the Val Kilmer as Doc Holiday sort of manly, rather than the Val Kilmer as Ice Man.

Does it smell like a sexy campfire in here to anyone else? 

Clinique For Men SPF 24 Moisturizer: It being the 4th of July this weekend, and me being an American, I played baseball (or Chicago ball, I should say. It’s similar to baseball except it’s slow pitch and requires no gloves because the ball is so large and soft). And because I played baseball, I was out in the hot sun, which gave me a chance to use something that has become absolutely necessary after living in Washington State for over 3 years; Sunscreen. Now normally it is not a necessity, but because it was actually sunny outside for a change, I was going to have my newly developed vitamin D deficiency challenged. I didn't burn and it wasn't greasy like other sunscreens, so it worked!   

You mean I can moisturize my face while protecting it from the evil sun? 
Coola After-Sun Lotion: I ventured out last week and made a lemon meringue pie completely from scratch for the first time in my life. It was absolutely beautiful. The crust was buttery and flaky, the filling tart and fresh, and the meringue was thick and perfectly browned on top, becoming an excellently sweet compliment to the other components of the dessert. Had I been so inclined (and it was tempting) to place my face gently into the center of the pie dish and then rub it around for a while, it would have smelled about the same as this after-sun lotion did. The product worked well enough, but I have found greater relief from the sun with a simple bottle of aloe vera with a less powerful smell.

Warning: Not Edible

Number 4 Hair Hydrating Shampoo (and Conditioner): I received a generous sized sample bottle of the shampoo and then a small foil packet of the conditioner. Smell is a huge factor in my enjoyment of these samples, and this one wasn't unpleasant. It did, however make me think back to when I was 9 years old and spending the weekend at my grandparents and they decided my hair was far too long for a respectable young man and that it ought to be cut by their personal barber who happened to work at the nearest fantastic Sams and had an incredibly thick Vietnamese accent (run on sentence! it was going to be longer but I got lazy). It smelled like that trip. A little of this stuff goes a long way, I put, what I thought was a conservative amount onto my hand and lathered it right up. Within seconds it was as if I was massaging a smooth mixture of soft serve ice cream and peanut butter onto my scalp. In texture, that is not smell.
The conditioner had a simple, clean smell to it. unlike other conditioners I’ve used in the past, it washed out. It’s always a nice feature, when you can wash the conditioner out of your hair, because who has time to wait an hour before your hair stops feeling like pond scum? Also it made my hair silky smooth.
"He must have just come from the salon; look at that hair!

Harry’s Truman Razor: It has been close to three years since I used a cartridge razor. As it stands I’m a firm “double sided safety razor” kind of guy. I love my Merker, and enjoy a closer shave at a fraction of the price. I’ll say this for the “Truman Razor”: it offers a ton of flexibility. You can shave any which way and the flexible head will bend to your every will. It offers a close shave and comes in a variety of stylish colors to match… you know, stuff. The handle, though as stylish as Danny Zuko, is made of plastic. Just like every American man, I received a gillette razor in the mail for my 18th birthday for free, and that was a stylish razor that felt far more sturdy(and had a precision trimmer to boot!). I also miss the double sided nature of a safety razor. I could have two good swipes without having to rinse, with the cartridges I was forced to rinse twice as often. If only the handle were slightly longer, I could have had a decent tool to combat unsightly back hair. When I finally decide to shave my chest hair into the Batman logo, I'll have the correct tool for the job.

It's the razor your face deserves, just not the one it needs right now. 

Conclusion: The Razor was honestly a bit of a disappointment. I knew that it might be coming, but expected a sturdy construction. It gave a decent shave, but not near enough of one to sway me from my current routine. My hair is silky soft, and my skin is glowing (I hope that's normal). The cologne was my favorite bit this month, it has unique and convenient packaging, and smells pretty great. The beauty of Birchbox is the veriety you get in stuff to try. If you like something from your box, you can buy it from their online store with free shipping.

If you're interested in signing up for Birchbox yourself, I'll give you my referral link so that I can glean from your impulsive lifestyle get points for your decision. They have a women's box as well, it's $10 a month and does not include a lifestyle item.

Check out my review of June's box here.