Saturday, November 15, 2014

This November I am Thankful for the Christmas Season

Today, I am going to buy my first carton of Eggnog of the season and I am going to sit down and watch one of the most under-appreciated Christmas TV specials of all time. "A Muppet Family Christmas" is a made-for-TV special that features The Muppets, Sesame Street and Fraggle Rock spending Christmas with Fozzy's mother at her farm house. Currently the only DVD version available is horribly butchered due to licensing issues. However, you can watch it in it's entire 47 minute glory on Youtube. Or, you know what? Lets just put it right here.




Thursday, November 13, 2014

Greg Hardy Has Quite the Alma Mater

This is an old video that was recently re-brought to my attention. Greg Hardy of the Panthers calls himself "Kraken" and states that he went to Hogwarts during a football game. It is by far my favorite moment in any professional football game.


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Birchbox is Making Me Thankful This November



Once a month I'm forced to come out of my hygienial hibernation and test out some quality grooming products. I pay twenty bucks to BirchBox and in return they make me look like a million bucks.

Programs! Get your programs! You won't know whats what without em!
Scrubbing bubbles for your face.


The never ending quest for a decent face-wash continues as Birchbox sent me their third offering. I really like my wife’s Walmart face wash because it smells like a lemon drop. However, I’ve come to the conclusion that I need something of my own, and the last two offerings have been...underwhelming, in a chemically smell kind of way. This stuff, however, has a mild scent to it that’s simple and soothing in the same way that warm laundry soothes a cat, or myself. But the best part? The bubbles. This stuff foams and feels like you’re brushing your teeth, but got carried away and just decided to go the whole nine yards and lather up the rest of your face. Your face ends up feeling good and clean… just like all the other ones, but with a better smell and more enjoyable journey.

Not actually for use with sponges.



My first official BirchBox purchase was some English Laundry Pomade that I ended up loving. I like this stuff better. Sometimes I don’t have the 60 seconds it takes to do my hair. My usual routine involves me kneeling outside the tub and placing my head under the faucet at full power. I then apply my product of choice and go on my merry way. This wax shaves my routine of the precious seconds it takes to half drown myself in the morning. Yes, you caught me, I don’t shower EVERY morning. Did you ever think that maybe I just shower at night because I don’t like going to bed sweaty and gross? This stuff makes it possible to mold my hair into whatever shape I desire...which tends to be just regular hair shaped.



Someday I hope to be worthy enough to use these.

These are $12 pencils. Despite feeling nice, looking great and coming in a fancy box; they are still $12 pencils. I love the way they look and I’m enamored by the fancy packaging. I feel like they’ll make me be a better writer and that I could maybe draw really well if I used them. But that’s mostly because they’re $12 pencils.


My biggest problem with this notebook is that I feel I’m incapable of filling it with anything worth it’s cover price. I mean, it’s not the best looking thing in the world, but a stylish notebook like this deserves better than what I can offer it. The pages are heavy duty paper with stylish grid dots. The whole thing has a very minimalistic feel, again making me feel woefully unsophisticated because of my general use of cheap knock-off brand notebooks. Unfortunately I did not receive the red notebook. As was the case with the Wallet they sent me a while back, I got the blue version. If they really cared about me, they would have scoured my social media posts to find out that red is my favorite color (even though it’s secretly purple).


Might I interest you in some pepper water?

To my wife’s horror, I’m developing quite a collection of asthma inducing aromas. While I don’t mind being prepared for any situation, this was a less than ideal scent. It was spicier than previous samples I've received, but not in a pleasant way. On the whole, it was unremarkable, which is saying something from a small glass bottle that came packaged with an exotic postcard in a sheer rice paper envelope. I mean, cologne and perfume is known for it’s pretentious marketing schemes, but usually they have a strong enough scent to warrant the proverbial parade that this thing was packaged in. I’m familiar with this brand, and I realize that all their samples are packaged as such, but out of the three I have, I only like one. And that’s only because it smells like lemonade.



Birchbox continues to mock my sedentary lifestyle.


This was the second month in a row  that I've been given a product for gentlemen with rough hands. I think BirchBox is subtly hinting that I need to have a more active lifestyle. The jokes on them, I’ve been spending my days off working in a cabinet shop using my own two hands to move rough slabs of wood from one area to another. While my hands are far from calloused, they managed to get nice and dry on the knuckles and this stuff did the trick, soothing my burning finger tips and chapped knuckles I was able to endure the pain. I am, however too embarrassed to offer such a product to the gents that work full time doing this, as they have never complained about such problems despite having hands that look like chunks of sandpaper.  

Birchbox is a monthly subscription service that sends grooming samples and lifestyle items based on a profile you customize. Here is my referral link, you can use this get me bonus points so I can buy myself nice things.

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.

Conclusion
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.

Conclusion
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

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).