Sunday, November 30, 2014

Decking the Halls with Birchbox Man

You're on the internet. You're always open.

Fa la lalala you filthy animals. That’s right it’s that time of month again where I can tout my superior grooming techniques for all seven of my readers. I pay some company money and they send me a bunch of cutesie samples in the mail every month. Then, get this, the BRIBE me to write reviews of the products with points that I can use to get discounts in their store. This month’s reviews are crucial because A) it’s Christmas and I have to get my lady friend (wife) some fancy lotions and B) these reviews will put me over the 500 point mark before the year ends which will qualify me for their VIP “Aces” program. So, let’s get started.

The goods.


The official smell of Fort Knox

English Laundrey Notting Hill Cologne: Well well well, English Laundry, what a surprise! Those of you that have read previous reviews may have noticed that this brand is pretty much a standard. Just from their cologne line I’ve received at least 5 samples. That being said, they’re still a quality brand and one of the only ones that I’ve actually made a full sized purchase from. This Cologne, for starters, comes in a gold colored sample container. That, so despite it’s scent, despite anything about it I already felt like Scrooge McDuck getting ready to be covered in sweet, sweet gold. Thankfully, this stuff smelled better than money. While it, of course, gave my wife an asthma attack, she managed to gasp out that she otherwise enjoyed the smell. The scent has a lot going on, but not overwhelmingly so. With a quick spritz you too can envelop yourself in a cloud of gold dust that smells like the manliest lemon grove you’ve ever encountered.

I don't care that it's a sawdust covered cough drop, I'm in love with it!


Ernest Supplies Awake and Exfoliate Body Bar: There is nothing more inconvenient in life than having to put liquid soap onto a washcloth. You’re literally wasting your time, which as it turns out is eerily similar to wasting money, by taking the step of applying goop to a piece of fabric before rubbing it over your body. Oh sure! you could just put the soap on your hands and wash that way, but you know as soon as you’re under running water it’s all going to slip out of your hand and you’ll essentially just be washing with tap water. Maybe others won’t know just how low your lack of hygiene has sunk, but you’ll know. It’s a round-about way of saying it, but my point is I love bar soap. Ernest Supplies offering this month is the best I’ve tried. Imagine that a first rate soap making factory was next to a sawdust factory (probably a real thing) and there was a freak accident where the two accidently combined their products….and both were made better by it. This bar of soap smells like a cough drop that was accidentally spit out in a Christmas tree lot and got a bunch of pine needles stuck to it (I think I have a problem conveying positive imagery...point being, it smells good). The bar has bits of not-quite-sawdust embedded into it that gives an exfoliating feel to it without killing fish like those plastic bead exfoliants. It’s an invigorating smell and feel that will allow you to wash WITHOUT a washcloth.

Pomade is very, very different from lemonade. 

Hanz de Fuko Modify Pomade: I embarrassed myself last week by blubbering on about how much I liked the Hanz de Fuko sponge wax pomade that came in my last birchbox… I like this one even better. This stuff has an even lighter hold to it and is far easier to apply to your hair. You can’t expect to have Johnny Bravo-like waves, but you can have that “I just got out of the shower” look all day long, which looks great and also gives the illusion that you showered. The application process is painless and not greasy. The stuff easily spreads even in cold weather and manages to blend in nicely with wet hair. I have yet to try it with dry hair, but I imagine it will be a lot easier than my current pomade of choice. Scent-wise it’s not overbearing nor unpleasant, just a faint clean smelling pomade that’s the easiest to use out of any I’ve received thus far and my current favorite.  
If someone fears a pirate with one eye-patch, imagine how they'll fear me with TWO eye-patches!
  

Recipe for Men Under Eye Patches: The last time I ventured out to try an under-eye product I was at the AHAVA factory near the Dead Sea in Israel. They had a number of samples out and, after trying out the most expensive ones, I found myself face to face with some cream that was meant to make you look younger. Being 19 at the time, I thought it would be hilarious to try some out. About two seconds after putting this stuff under my eyes I started to experience that burning sensation people often feel when they light their face on fire. My eyes began to get red and puffy and I spent the bus ride back to the moshav looking like a mother getting no sleep due to her young triplets keeping her up all night. Flash forward to today. I get a pair of these patches from “Recipe for Men” and gave it another shot. To my relief, I felt a cooling sensation. The patches are gooey and feel kind of like big slugs, to the point where I questioned if this was actually something I wanted on my face. But, after the required half hour with them on I peeled them off to reveal a more hydrated looking and feeling face. While I’m not glowing by any stretch of the imagination, it was thoroughly refreshing, and something I absolutely would not have tried without a free sample.

They're like mittens for your feet.


Nice Laundry Socks: I was given the chance to choose from a small list of items, what to recieve as a lifestyle item this month. With no hesitation at all I chose to get some new socks. I’ve been waiting for months to get a sample of socks or boxer briefs, and this was the first opportunity for such. I got two pairs of these things and they are, without a doubt, the best socks I own. They’re comfortable, soft and very durable. However, I got this package shortly before a cold snap and I’m finding out quickly that they are not particularly warm. While they would be fine most of the year, it’s currently below 20 degrees (which is intangible for someone that grew up in southern California) and my toes are a bit chilly to the point of feeling like they’re needing to be lopped off from frost bite. The colors are the best. When  

If you're interested in signing up for Birchbox click here to access my referral link! Birchbox sends you a unique box of samples every month based on your personalized profile. Men's boxes are $20 and include a cool lifestyle item. Women's boxes have no lifestyle item but are only $10 a month.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

How I get Paid to Take Surveys

*Not an accurate representation of $30.

Since the dawn of the internet I've heard the legends that people can get paid to take surveys. The story goes you get paid to answer consumer questionnaires and make a fortune in no time! The mythological money making experience has eluded me for the majority of my life...until 10 days ago. While browsing the internet I stumbled upon a forum where people were discussing quick ways to earn cash. Something called "Amazon Mechanical Turk" was mentioned. I skipped over it, because I have a limited attention span. I stuck with my current form of earning extra cash, donating plasma, and went along my merry way. Until, again, I saw "Amazon Mechanical Turk" mentioned again. I gave it a shot and, 10 days ago and now have $30 that can either be transferred to a bank account or turned into Amazon credit. As a Prime subscriber this is gold. Now 30 bucks is hardley the fortune I was initially promised at the ripe old age of 12, but, with Christmas coming up, combined with donating plasma (oh yeah, and working a full time job) it was going to make things a lot easier.

Here's the deal: Amazon has this service that allows businesses and individuals to offer compensation for tasks that people can accept. These tasks (or HITS) are essentially "Micro jobs" that you complete and get anywhere from 2 cents to a couple dollars (more if you put in the time and get certifications for different jobs). It's not much, and to be honest it was a little discouraging completing tasks for pennies. However, it added up. You're on a 10 day probational period when you start, meaning you can't access your balance until 10 days of performing tasks. In those 10 days I managed to accumulate $30 simply by hopping on their website when I had a few minutes to blow and completing easy tasks that computers find hard. Sometimes I was filling out surveys, sometimes I was drawing squares around people in Europe. That 10 day probational period most likely prevented me from spending my balance, forcing me to accumulate the money I have now, which is just about enough to purchase one of the gifts I was going to use my own money to buy anyway. And that's just in 10 days! You put however much time you want into it, and if you get good enough at searching you can score $.40-$.50 hits consistently.

So, if you're interested in earning a little extra scratch head over to Amazon Mechanical Turk and sign up. You'll need to create an Amazon Payments account and be approved (usually takes a day or two) before you can get started. It's all super easy, especially if you already have an Amazon account.


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!